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Bass Programming Tips for MIDI & Synths

Updated: Beat Production
bass sequencing tricks

Bass programming is my second favorite part of making beats right after the drums. Laying down the initial, fundamental groove of the song helps the rest of the process move along without any problems. And that needs to be the order of operations: Bass then drums or drums then bass. The problem is most of us are going to have a real hard time dealing […]

The Circle of Fifths Explained

Updated: Music Theory
circle of fifths explained thumbnail

Typical discussion about the Circle of Fifths is largely for beginners and intermediate music theorists, and the tricky part is there's no way to avoid using other technical jargon that a beginner may not know when explaining it. We're going to keep it as simple as possible with explanations of any new terms. So get ready for a wild ride made easy as we work […]

10 MIDI Programming & Sequencing Tips

Updated: Beat Production
10 midi tips

There's nothing better than MIDI for getting ideas out of your head quickly and accurately. The faster you can do this without the distractions of tinkering with hardware and software, the better. Staying in the left-brain mode can be the difference between a #1 hit and a dud. When it's time to pump out a beat and the ideas are rolling, the last thing you […]

Open Back vs Closed Back Headphones

Updated: Studio Recording
open vs closed headphones

There's so much more to the story when it comes to choosing a set of headphones. If you score even a higher tier of consumer level headphones then that's about all you'll need. They'll have a 1/8th inch headphone jack and probably a 1/4 inch adaptor. You can plug them into your smart phone or MP3 player and you're rocking and rolling. But what about […]

Condenser vs Dynamic Mics: 10 Myths Busted!

Updated: Studio Recording
condenser and dynamic mic myths

Some of these issues are flat out mythology and categorically false, while others are true in some applications and false in other scenarios. No wonder there's a lot of contradiction to be found on message boards and websites. Couple that with people pretending to be more knowledgeable than they are and others simply parroting bad advice and you can quickly see how the confusion continues […]

What is a Headphone Amplifier? Do I Need One?

Updated: Studio Recording
headphone amp

Even once a person discovers headphone amps, they usually first encounter the snake oil audiophile type that are meant to misinform and syphon money out of your pocket, attempting to charge as much as $20,000 and more for some gear that can get the job done for $200 and even less at times. So what's the truth? The reality is completely different than some people […]

7 Studio Must-Haves for Comfort & Productivity

Updated: Studio Recording
7 studio must-haves

As you continually visit the same room day in and day out and start accumulating years of your life spent in it, you begin to get hyper-sensitive. Little things can become giant distractions. Minor annoyances can cause you to flip out out of frustration. The big things can make you throw your hands up and be ready to quit forever. There are moments when you […]

13 More Vocal Recording Tips

Updated: Studio Recording
tips for recording vocals

The difference between solid production and perfect production all boils down to which recording engineer is willing to go the extra mile to take advantage of those last diminishing returns. Most of the time, the temptation is to grab your best mic that's probably already plugged in and on a mic stand, stick it in front of the vocalist, and press record. The reality is […]

Close Miking in Recording: Why, When, & How?

Updated: Studio Recording
close miking

Everyone has heard of this term. It's so common that people who have zero clue what they're talking about will offer up the solution: "Just close mic it!" But what does this really mean? Why was the technique developed? What does it offer over other techniques such as distance miking? How do we use it and when should we use it? There are other microphone […]

Anticipate Success: Make Marketing Easier With These 8 Music Production Tips

Updated: Careers & Marketing
8 production tips

Imagine this scenario. You or your band release an EP of six tracks and three of them are awesome. You've printed CD labels and slip covers into those thin jewel cases and started handing them out to friends. One of your friends went the corporate route and ended up playing your music in the car with a wealthy businessman on their lunch break. It just […]

Recording Studio Cables: All You Need to Know

Updated: Studio Recording
studio cables

"No, no! Not the Cat-5, bring me the XLR. No, that's the TRS to TS! No, not the optical... Nevermind, I'll get it myself." It's easy to get frustrated and have zero tolerance for audio cable confusion, but that was all of us at one time or another. You have to start at the beginning, but that doesn't mean you can't take the accelerated course […]

10 Compression Myths & Mistruths

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
10 compressor myths debunked

Most of us in the recording industry have a solid understanding of how compressors work. We know how to tweak the settings to achieve our goals in a mix. But even the most well-informed of us are hanging on to some misconceptions about the technical aspects of how these crazy machines function. Let's start with the most simple myths and misguidance that's out there and […]

What is a Studio Compressor? What Does It Do?

Updated: Studio Recording
what is a vocal compressor

An audio compressor is one of those pieces of gear that everyone tries to get by without for some odd reason. Guitar players, for instance, feel they should be able to achieve the effect with their fingers. Vocalists try to do the job of the compressor by moving closer and further away from the mic. Some mixing engineers will even automate the volume or literally […]

What is a Preamplifier? Why Do We Need Them?

Updated: Studio Recording
what is a preamplifier?

It goes like this: If you're recording with a microphone then you need to use a preamplifier, no questions asked. It is 100% possible to record without one and you have the same percentage of a chance to get horrible results. The reason I'm so adamant about this is that I recorded my first 30 songs or so without one because I had no clue […]

5 Tricks to Bring Your Drum Programming to Life

Updated: Beat Production
drum programming on fire

There's a ton of advice out there being spewed every time someone asks "How do I program realistic drums?" The answers are always the same... Learn how a real drummer drums Use real drum samples instead of synth-based Layer your sounds on top of each other Yeah yeah yeah. Here's the problem with that nonsense. Knowing how a real drummer swings his sticks tells you […]

Mixing with Reverb: How to Use Reverb for Depth Without Creating a Mess

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
mixing with reverb

Do you ever listen to professional mixes and wonder how in the world they have so many lush reverbs flowing throughout the soundscape, yet everything still sounds crystal clear? How come you can't achieve the same? The answers are here. Most of the time we jump in, grab a reverb that has a sound we like, dial it in to a certain volume on varying […]

What is Tape Saturation? Which Are The Best Saturation Plugins?

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
what is tape saturation?

Lots of listeners hear older recordings and realize that something sounds different than the new crystal clear, extremely sterilized, computerized recordings of today. It's not just a sense of nostalgia. There is definitely a difference but it's hard to put your finger on it. Even audiophiles have a difficulty nailing down just what that subtle feeling is that separates the new from old. There's a […]

Vocal Warm Up Exercises for Singing

Updated: Gigs & Live Performance
how to warm up your voice for singing

There are countless occupations that ask for you to put your best voice forward. From singers, actors, and radio personalities, to teachers, salesmen, and almost any other professional... it's not only what you say but how you say it. The key is preparation through vocal warm up exercises. Confidence and trust arises out of consistent daily practice and pre-performance warm up routines. Knowing your material […]

14 Tips for Recording and Mixing Vocals - The Right Way...

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
14 tips to better vocal recording and mixing

The two most important aspects to "recording and mixing vocals" is implied in that phrase right there. There is the recording phase and then there is the mixing phase. When recording, representing your voice in the most accurate and pristine way is about what not to do. It's a somewhat passive stage where as long as you nail your performance while dodging specific recording mistakes […]

Music Industry Artist Networking & Branding Basics

Updated: Careers & Marketing
music business branding

We all believe that success in the music industry should be based on musical skill of some sort, whether that's songwriting, technical playing prowess, or some other talent. But unfortunately the industry has been taken over by businessmen who have their sights set on one goal... profit. This means that these record executives, A&R scouts, and anyone else looking to turn a buck or two […]