Sign in to follow this  
zircon

zircon's ReMixing Tips Compendium

Recommended Posts

Here you will find links to each of my "ReMixing tips" tutorials. I have recently added a fourth, which covers effects processing. Part five will be a followup to part four, covering EQ, compression, and filtering (I suppose this is closer to mastering than anything else). I hope these guides will be a resource to both inexperienced and skilled ReMixers alike, and I'm definitely open to suggestions on any of them.

PART 1 - GROOVY DRUMS

Explains how to create and process catchy drum grooves and fills, even with low-quality samples.

PART 2 - WORKING WITH REAL INSTRUMENTS

Explains how to breathe some life into sampled instruments like piano and strings.

PART 3 - SYNTHESIZERS

Covers the basics of subtractive synthesis, the important controls, and practical applications.

PART 4 - EFFECTS PROCESSING

Covers reverb, delays, chorusing, distortion, overdrive, phasing, and flanging. Lots of audio examples.

PART 5 - PRODUCTION VALUES

Covers methodology to producing a song; choosing sounds, processing them, mixing, and even mastering.

I would like to emphasize that these are not be-all end-all resources. The synth and effects guides, for instance, are more like manuals than anything else. I know that it took me years to figure out what the controls on a synth did, and how to use most of the effects in FL. All the stuff I googled online was highly technical and not really helpful, when all I wanted to know were the practical applications. Above all things, while I may make recommendations of how to do certain things, and post audio examples, I am NOT TELLING YOU THE "BEST" WAY TO DO ANYTHING!!! I've only been writing and producing music for three years. I'm the first person to admit that there are lots of things I don't know about. All I'm trying to do here is summarize my knowledge on certain topics to give people a place to get started with mixing, refine their technique, and maybe learn a thing or two they didn't know before. That's all.

Feel free to ask questions or discuss any of these guides here. Enjoy!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can't wait to see a "mastering" tutorial and all the n00bs raging on about it after that. "zircon said so... I'm a master in masterin nowx0rz!".

Mastering is Art

and as Bob Katz wrote in his book

Attention to detail. The last 10% of the job takes 90% of the time.

I guess this should be clearly stated in your 5th episode, zircon. Still some nice "starter" tutorials. Thanks bro.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Can't wait to see a "mastering" tutorial and all the n00bs raging on about it after that. "zircon said so... I'm a master in masterin nowx0rz!".
Mastering is Art

and as Bob Katz wrote in his book

Attention to detail. The last 10% of the job takes 90% of the time.

I guess this should be clearly stated in your 5th episode, zircon. Still some nice "starter" tutorials. Thanks bro.

If you have a moment, you should see if you two can get together and co-author something, or maybe you can add to the series and write something to help people out. This series of tips is the closest thing we have to an "introduction to remixing" as we have on this site.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you have a moment, you should see if you two can get together and co-author something, or maybe you can add to the series and write something to help people out. This series of tips is the closest thing we have to an "introduction to remixing" as we have on this site.

Maybe I'll write something end of the year. The problem is, if I write something like "guide to mastering", every otehr newbie comes along, things "what a great thing, I'll adapt it" and half a year later you have "pseudo audio engineers" roaming around on OCR who read only "one tutorial", while I for example took years (and will still take a couple of years more) to gain my knowledge and put it into proper action.

I'll see what I can do, but the first sentence in the tutorial will be something like this "These are no set rules nor is this a guideline in terms of mastering, that's what Audio Engineers are for". Always keep in mind "if" I write a new tutorial.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice Zircon. The 4th part should be really useful, and I love the fact that there is a thread (stickified too) that has all of the parts together.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Maybe I'll write something end of the year. The problem is, if I write something like "guide to mastering", every otehr newbie comes along, things "what a great thing, I'll adapt it" and half a year later you have "pseudo audio engineers" roaming around on OCR who read only "one tutorial", while I for example took years (and will still take a couple of years more) to gain my knowledge and put it into proper action.

It's always the risk of writing a tutorial to ANYTHING and it depends on how much pride one has in his art -- I can understand how you can be bitter about this, but the thing is that a noob will never become a veteran if they don't have a place to start. How did YOU learn how to master? Was it something you were born with, or did you read books, work with audio gear, talk to pros, and practice?

Frankly, anyone who believes that reading a series on Zircon's remixing tips will make them a pro-musician, or that talking to Compyfox about mastering will make them an awesome audio engineer, or that buying an expensive book online and reading it cover to cover will make them totally awesome is deluding themselves. HOWEVER, every little bit helps someone who's thinking about getting into it. If I have no clue what mastering is, and want to learn, I'm going to have to go somewhere and read something... and I'm going to want to read something, then I'm going to read something written by someone who knows what they're doing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Compy: Withholding knowledge is a bit selfish, no? There's nothing wrong with writing a tutorial, I think your "pseudo audio engineers" thought is really reaching.

Yeesh! Everyone's been so pessimistic lately.

Thank God zircon FINALLY wrote some new tutorials, and no doubt they're going to be able to help a lot of people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Arcana is right. Everyone has to start somewhere. Like I've said over and over, these guides are not the be-all end-all, or even remotely close to it. They are either basic explanations and suggestions for starting points, or techniques that I've learn or developed and that I'm sharing (and still not claiming they're the best).

This would be a good time to say I'm not leaving. All of the negativity I got yesterday came at a bad time for me overall. I've had difficulty adjusting to college life and I've been pretty down as of late.. yesterday was really the straw that broke the camel's back, and I just couldn't stand it anymore, especially after having spent the entire previous day working on tutorial #4. It was a moment of weakness for me, I admit it. I let a bunch of idiots get to me when they shouldn't have. But I'm human, and I make mistakes like everyone else, so hopefully you guys won't hold it against me. From now on, I'm not going to take any shit from people who hate on me for no reason. I'm here to help the community I love, and the amazing amount of support I got between yesterday and today has really restored my faith that I am doing some good here.

Expect part 5 coming up very, very soon. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not pessimistic. "Audio Engineering" is art. And yeah I learnt it by myself from reading books, intensive studying with demo tracks, having contact to professional engineers, etc. The problem hereby is really that you can't teach everything.

Another problem is also "you can't do everything" either. You can be an allrounder, you can be a pro in scoring, composing, mixing, or whatever your heart desires. But you can't be everything at once, only what you focused on. A thing that a lot are forgetting especially in terms of "studio in a box" as it is possible and so easy to access nowadays. I have no problem saying "I suck at writing my own music" (which is true) cause I have other strong points.

And the risk with writing a tutorial is that there will be those who think "OMG mastering is soooo easy, I'll do it from now on by myself", which sure is not - or why do you think I do this for a couple of years now and I still learn something new. Then again even here on OCR it isn't really clear what the difference between composing, production, postproduction, premastering and mastering is.

Also if you look around on the internet or reading magazines, noone shares their secrets (especially not all). What zircon and I are doing in the ReMixing forums is completely out of our own free will. Stuff that we learned over years, private/in school/from befriended engineers etc.

Is it really fair from you to demand from "us" to lay open what we learned and use every day (maybe even if we do it for a living)? Just because spoonfeeding is easier than researching? I don't want to sound picky here, or pessimistic. But ever thought about that point of view too? We can give you a small insight, true. But I sure won't give out all my secrets.

I'll see what I can do in terms of tutorials, but I won't promise a thing. However I at least want to correct the "solution for clipping" postings and offer them as PDF or something. But this will definitely take a while.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I just want to thank Zircon for his awesome guides. They are like some form of tasty bread, except more informative. Mmmmmm. Bread.

Anyways, I would also like to thank most of the remixing forum. Before I registered, I lurked 'round here for ages, and it is amazing what you can learn here if you pay attention. There is a huge amount of infomation - but it is largely unsorted. Sure the search function helps, but it doesn't pull up every topic on a subject, and brings up a lot of unrelated stuff. Which is why I think this thread is great. It concentrates knowledge, even if it is just Zircon's tutes.

Compy, I think you have given a great many tips 'n tricks with mastering and all that jazz already, but its spread all over the place. A thread that just consolidated that would be unbelivably awesome. If people are going to run around thinking they are some sort of awesome master of mastering because they read a single guide on it, well, I say let fools be fools, and perhaps the rest of us will learn something.

After all, you can't stop the signal [/serenity]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'll see what I can do in terms of tutorials, but I won't promise a thing. However I at least want to correct the "solution for clipping" postings and offer them as PDF or something. But this will definitely take a while.

No one's demanding anything, Compyfox... but if you're going to post in this thread and write, "Can't wait to see a "mastering" tutorial and all the n00bs raging on about it after that. "zircon said so... I'm a master in masterin nowx0rz!"" then I'm going to look at that and say, "Well, then, tell us how it's done." I know you have a lot of pride in your work, and you repeatedly remind us that mastering is difficult, but there's no need to be sarcastic. Just like there are n00bs who submit to OCR after posting in the WIP forum and getting "OMG YOUR SONG IS SO AWESOME", there are going to be n00bs who will read a tutorial and think, "OMG I KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT MASTERING!" All you have to do, Fox, is sit in the corner and smile, knowing that there'll be no threat to your job security any time in the near future.

Anyway, I think my point is really not to pass judgement on the people who read the tutorials, and not to speak out against tutorials just because someone who reads it might misrepresent himself as an expert. At the same time, don't speak out against the person who wrote the tutorial either; just because you don't personally think it's useful doesn't mean that no one else should see it either. If there's something that's truly wrong with the tutorial (incorrect facts, poor presentation, etc.) then leave the writer of the tutorial a PM and suggest that they repair it. Of course, there are such thing as BAD tutorials, but I don't think anyone can say that zircon's tips should not be read.

zircon, nice to hear that you've decided to stay around. Your presence around this site benefits the community.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sit in the corner and smile, knowing that there'll be no threat to your job security any time in the near future.

so that's what u do while we're not looking eh?

btw thank u so much zircon, this tutorial is excellent, and OMG I KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT REMIXING!!!!!11!1!!! :wink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's not pessimistic. "Audio Engineering" is art. And yeah I learnt it by myself from reading books, intensive studying with demo tracks, having contact to professional engineers, etc. The problem hereby is really that you can't teach everything.

Another problem is also "you can't do everything" either. You can be an allrounder, you can be a pro in scoring, composing, mixing, or whatever your heart desires. But you can't be everything at once, only what you focused on. A thing that a lot are forgetting especially in terms of "studio in a box" as it is possible and so easy to access nowadays. I have no problem saying "I suck at writing my own music" (which is true) cause I have other strong points.

And the risk with writing a tutorial is that there will be those who think "OMG mastering is soooo easy, I'll do it from now on by myself", which sure is not - or why do you think I do this for a couple of years now and I still learn something new. Then again even here on OCR it isn't really clear what the difference between composing, production, postproduction, premastering and mastering is.

Also if you look around on the internet or reading magazines, noone shares their secrets (especially not all). What zircon and I are doing in the ReMixing forums is completely out of our own free will. Stuff that we learned over years, private/in school/from befriended engineers etc.

Is it really fair from you to demand from "us" to lay open what we learned and use every day (maybe even if we do it for a living)? Just because spoonfeeding is easier than researching? I don't want to sound picky here, or pessimistic. But ever thought about that point of view too? We can give you a small insight, true. But I sure won't give out all my secrets.

I'll see what I can do in terms of tutorials, but I won't promise a thing. However I at least want to correct the "solution for clipping" postings and offer them as PDF or something. But this will definitely take a while.

Hmmm, well I myself have been making music, off and on as a hobby for about three-four years, and I still get REALLY hung up on the mastering process at the end of a song. I literally have about 15 songs that are 90% done, that if I correctly mastered, having some sort of idea "how" or where to start, it would be much easier for me. I'm not some n00b who will take your advice and suddenly become "supar mastar MIx0r", I'm just someone without direction, and on a trial basis, I have always come up with what "not" to do, rather than figuring out for myself what sounds good. My brain just isn't able to see the big picture I guess. So if someone did write a tutorial, with some guidelines, I'd be really appreciative.

It would be similar to how I react to the rest of zircon's tutorials, for the most part, anything he stated was pretty helpful, if only to reaffirm something I had already discovered, or get me thinking about "other" ways to go about it that I'd already figured out. I think there are probably a lot of people like me who feel the same way.

And, as technology advances, some things are going to become easier to do, and the people that had gone about making it work the hard way are going to be "griping" about all the new people coming around, thinking they are the bee's knees, etc. That's how it's always been. But wouldn't you want for people to have a good grounding in the basics instead...And wouldn't you also, if you know what you're doing, want to help out some newbie with a little advice, instead of them finding out from some other source that's not so knowledgable? Bleh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Small mixing/mastering pseudo-tutorial.

First off, get some decent studio monitors. You're going to be wasting your time if you don't have a pair.

Second, find yourself a good set of compressors and EQ's. The ones built into most hosts aren't very good, and there are even some good freeware ones out there. You're also going to need a good hard limiter, like the W1 or BuzzMaxi3.

Now, where you probably want to start is with the bass, since it kind of centers the whole song, and in my experience makes everything easier to mix around. Your general setting for every channel is going to be the EQ going into the compressor, so set that up now.

With bass, one needs to roll off the sub-bass frequencies that most speaker systems aren't able to produce, so I generally take a high pass filter to around 40 hz, with a steep slope. This keeps things from getting muddy. Next, you have to tweak the upper frequencies of the bass... think around 800hz and 2000hz for this part, and use your ears. It shouldn't take too much adjusting to get things sounding pretty good.

So the bass is EQ'd, and now it goes into the compressor. For bass, you don't need to compress very heavily... set your threshold so it's just 3-4 db deep into the peaks, and experiment with a compression ratio of around 3. Attack doesn't have to be too fast, and release can be slow. It helps to think of the waveform an instrument makes when you compress.

You don't need as much compression as you think, and relatively low ratio's and thresholds can work wonders.

The rest of the song is mixed much like the bass part. Here's a few tips:

Keep the faders down, stuff doesn't need to be as loud as you would think at first. Listen to professionally produced albums to get a feel for what I mean.

Roll off ALL frequencies an instrument isn't using. This will keep your mix from becoming muddied or cluttered.

You can free up a nice amount of space by cutting a few db from an instrument in the 1000-2000hz range.

You can't polish a turd. If a part sucks, re-record it, because no amount of engineering is going to save something that's badly recorded.

And most importantly use your ears! If it sounds good, pay attention to why. If it doesn't sound good, keep tweaking.

Mastering is pretty simple. Just load your limiter up into your master effects chain, and smash everything into it. Tweak things until the clipping isn't too noticable, but it's still loud.

Okay, really, mastering isn't that simple. You should never smash things into a limiter. Put your EQ before the limiter, adjust everything so that it sounds peachy. Use the limiter to add a bit of gain, and then adjust to taste. Adjust the EQ and volume of everything that seems out of place from the limiting, and then you're ready to go. You might also want to try putting Colortone Free or something before the limiter to get that PHAT TUBE SIGNAL PATH EMULATION (through convolution no less!), but if you've gone through the effort of EQing every instrument, your mix issues should have pretty much solved themselves and you shouldn't need something like that.

Finally, I want to say that there is no "secret" to good mixing and mastering. The difference between a good mix and a bad one is simply down to two things:

1) Turn that goddamn reverb off.

2) Taking the time and effort to compress and EQ every channel carefully.

That's it. It's not putting a mastering plug-in on the end of your chain and loading up a preset. It takes time, and it can be frustrating. Keep with it, and eventually you'll be able to develop a feel for things.

LINKS:

http://www.x-buz.com/Products.html

BuzzComp plugin bundle and BuzzMaxi 3.

http://www.savioursofsoul.de/Christian/Plugins.htm

Posihfopit EQ.

http://magnus.smartelectronix.com/

NyquistEQ, MJCompressor.

http://www.betabugsaudio.com/plugs.php

W1 Limiter (exact clone of waves L1 limiter).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah.. I'm in the process of revising them and re-hosting them. First 3 are mirrored on my website with additions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been going through these very thoroughly, in which i'm now on "Effects Processing". The "Synthesizers" section set a lot of things straight for me.

I'm very much obliged, and am waiting intently for #5 :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well hot freakin' dog, my weekend is now occupied.

EDIT (4/30): Looking through these tutorials was more tedious than I thought, but it kicked me up a notch. I even went through the extra ones hosted by ThaSauce.

I can't thank you enough. You've certainly went above and beyond.

These are perfect for my preparation for school in June :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Zircon, I was wondering, can you synthesize "vocals" on FruityLoops? I don't mean like actual lyrical singing, just the well you-know. As in the vocals found in "Shadows Among the Ruins" by er...who was it again?? DOH by YOU. Rofl, well then I guess that makes selecting an example much easier ;).

If Zircon is unable to reply, can some one else explain then? Thx for reading/considering this thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this