Last week in the Heavyweight Bass Facebook group, members had a lengthy discussion on their go-to vibes in the studio. There were so many good ones from some of the best producers, mixing engineers and mastering guys in the business, we’ve decided to post them in a series of articles for all of you!
Johann Willenberg – Sidechain compression works great for creating space in the mix. I often sc the lead vocal to an m/s compressor (bx dyn Eq) and have it trigger the mid only of the instrument buss. Keeps the stereo feel of the synths while slightly ducking the middle when the vocal is singing, giving space for the vocal.
Nicholas Roberto Di Lorenzo – Fooling around with the attack time on the API2500… or for that matter any compressor. It is so much fun people able to have so much control over the articulation of a WHOLE mix, or individual elements. Can be a life saver in some circumstances.
Ivan Gough – I love enhancer plugins to give my sounds a little warmth, sparkle, etc.. Just used sparingly.
Matt Sephton – I like to get random ‘found sounds’ rocks, glass, whatever, and stretch and mash the shit out of it -reverse, stutter, twist and tweak. Some new idea nearly always emerges. And then use waves RBass on the low synths.
Josh Emerse Field – When wanting to add more crunch to a snare transient I use the compressor and allow as much transient through as I want with the attack and set a low threshold to essentially work like a transient shaper/enhancer. Then I’ll feed it to a clip distortion (g-clip is great for just top and tailing and free) l. Adjust levels to suit and final compression if necessary to tame any transient spike still there.
Paul Rogers – I find its useful to process vast amounts of audio before thinking about anything else when producing. Building a arsenal of these processed parts, sounds or random fx helps me create a nice bed, foundation and and feel which can trigger all sorts of new creative ideas. Make 1 day a week a sound design day.
Leo Severity – For me it’s cleaning up/shaping breaks or drum/percussion loops using manual volume automation envelopes. Much more control and granularity than say, using a noise gate or compressor!! Get the sound you want, bounce, and it’s like a whole different loop.
Josh Emerse Field – When wanting to add more crunch to a snare transient I use the compressor and allow as much transient through as I want with the attack and set a low threshold to essentially work like a transient shaper/enhancer. Then I’ll feed it to a clip distortion (g-clip is great for just top and tailing and free). Adjust levels to suit and final compression if necessary to tame any transient spike still there. Also, seeing distortion is my theme of the day, parallel distortion on vocals to brighten and sweeten. That’s a Winning tip any day of the week. Changed my vocal game.
Jason Timothy Ward – Using sidechaining as a mixing tool. I may use up to 3 or 4 on a pad or return effect. Cleans things up when a kick hits or when a vocal part comes in, or anything that needs to punch through the mix. It’s kind of a “sidechain by priority”. Saves me having to automate minute changes throughout a track. Also the sinoid fold setting on the saturator, but no volume added. Helps sounds cut through better.
Matt Thomas – Multi-band transient designers – best way to shape your mid range & top end without filling up the mix. Look at Izotope Alloy or Waves Trans-X, they add or reduce volume at the front end of a sound; the multi-band varieties split the sound up into frequency bands and treat each one differently.
Colin Cameron Allrich – Bring a dimensional layer to your main melodies by creating a new MIDI track of the melody and assign a favorite synth pad to it, get the attack up enough so you can just hear the pad coming up to support the melody. Use a M/S processor to crank out that Side information that pads are great at, and listen to how “big” your lead sounds now.
Jeremy Drakeford – Autotune 7/8; Alter the ‘throat length’ to give vocals a darker/sinister sound or to blend better (usually use this on delays).
Also love cranking the autotune just on the delay (so lead is tuned normally, then it repeats in the background in T-Pain style). Can blend that with throat length too to make it really disfigured.
Pitch shift is also great, or even just going nuts and drawing in random curves. I’ve even made risers by holding a vocal note then drawing in a slide over a few bars.
Very underrated plug-in and super powerful when you REALLY learn how to use it.
It’s also not limited to vocals either.. Try cranking the throat length of instruments or drawing in cool pitch artefacts. Can really get creative.
Paul Newcomb – When EQing a particular sound in a mix, listen to every other sound instead of the one you are EQing and see how to EQ changes affect them.
Rohan Deshpande – When writing drum and bass using high quality breakbeat samples that float above the main drum sounds, usually put some compression on these. Chorus for getting sounds funky and wide. Layering for mid range sounds, maybe play an octave lower and put the volume low, maybe pan it a bit. Really can add some warmth to the sounds.
Jason Timothy Ward – Ableton tip: Grabbing a drum loop & setting the warp setting to Beats, then selecting —> As you pull down the value from 100, each transient gets more and more gated. Great for adding interesting grooves without taking up too much space in a mix.
Klaus Hill – Parallel Compression; I use it for everything these days – drums, bass, vocals. It gives me way more control over my mix processing. I hardly ever compress individual sounds anymore.
Sameer Sengupta – Saturation – I often use parallel saturation instead of compression on certain elements now, as it tends to sound more natural when it comes to volume management, while obviously colouring things in the the desired way as well. I’ll rarely use compression on vocals at all these days, using instead a combination of automation & saturation, which is then fed (post fader) into cascading L1/L2 type limiters, each with slow and gentle gain reduction, that only ever catch the peaks. The result is a vocal that just *sits* there, yet doesn’t sound squashed.