10 Music Production Tips For Beginners

In Tips & How To by MusicGearo

Do you sometimes struggle while producing music? Is your music production chaotic or monotonous? Now, we will try to explain to you how to avoid that and make your music production easier and much more effective, especially if you are a beginner. Here is a list of the beginner’s tips for music producing in 2019.

1. How To Finish The Track Fast

If you are struggling when adding new sounds on your timeline while you are working on the entire project, try to open new project dedicated only for making the new sounds. This will help you get into “creativity mode” where you are not distracted by other things that you have to do in the whole project. Instead of that, you focus more on making specific sounds. When doing so, make sure you are working only on one type of sounds like pads, leads, melodies, single drums, etc.

It’s a tremendous advantage because it doesn’t happen very often that you can’t make new single sounds. On the other hand, when working on the project as a whole, it’s way more challenging to be focused and the consistent. The point is that your brain will give you better results by focusing on small actions rather than the one significant action (working on the project and creating new sounds at the same time)

This is an excellent practice when you have time to producing music, but you don’t feel very creative and productive. With this practice, you will be able to use your sounds later in your projects. It’s like a piece of the puzzle in the music production process.

2. How To Use Stereo Imaging Correctly

When adding a stereo image to your sounds, there are few rules to make it properly and keep your correlation at proper levels. The first thing is obvious but always make sure your sub-bass is in the mono. The reason is that sub-bass has the most significant impact on the correlation. It means that if your sub is in the mono, it’s impossible to keep your correlation in green (as in the picture)

Stereo imaging

Stereo imaging of Martin Garrix feat. Bonn – High On Life

So when you make your sub-bass mono, it’s time to make your bass wider. There is no secret that your bass would sound bad by using stereo imaging, just you need to pay attention to a stereo analyzer that will visually let you know what’s going on. After that, you can adjust your bass as you like to make it sound pleasant and fit in the mix.

When you have these two things done, it’s time to make another thing. For example,  pads would be pretty wide and will don’t affect your correlation when playing together with the sub-bass. It’s because sub-bass has more weight meanwhile pad is light stuff. You can also add some slight AutoPan processing to your pads, and even that cannot cause the phasing issues.

When it comes to kicks, it may vary. In the case that kick has more sub frequencies, it’s recommended to keep it in the mono. But if you still want to have some stereo wide on it, make sure you add the side low-cut at very low frequencies to avoid the fluctuating the correlation and keep it rock-solid.

Percussions – it’s good to have a wider stereo on percussions to stand out of the mix and make it more pleasant, and it still cannot affect the correlation (Also, make sure that you are removing any low-end frequencies when adding more wide to your sounds, because then your correlation may start to swing.

Claps/Snares –  These drums can be wider, but when doing so, make sure you are making more layers of your snares and make one main snare that sounds best and makes it mono. The mono is king and core of the sound. When you do this, you can start adding new layers with slightly widening and adjusting according to the main snare to sound pleasant together.

Izotope Ozone Imager

What you need to avoid is to trust your ears when it comes to stereo imaging. The reason is that if you add the snare and use it without checking the imagery, for the first time it would sound great for you with the full stereo, but when you go totally in the mono with this sound, what happens sometimes is that it may have no mids and only sides (This is not happening too often with fresh new/raw samples, but in the later stage of your processing when actual sound going from stereo to mono will sound very different.)

This was based on my experience when I first ignored going to mono, and then later I’ve had to reduce the sound of stereo imaging on the master bus but when I did it, the sound of the snare was completely different because there was too much stereo (sides) and very little mono (mids.) But for me, the sound of the snare was perfect but back then I had to use the stereo analyzer a lot more to avoid this problem.

That said, you have to trust your ears when producing, but also you need to use the right tools to make sure everything is great and don’t cause issues.

General Advice – It’s good to use the pre-made presets from the VSTs to have that specific stereo wide for a specific instrument, but when it comes to correlation, use the tips above to stay balanced, and your tracks will sound great across any sound systems.

How To Fix The Phase Of the Low-End Using EQ Plugin

Also, for fixing the correlation issues, you can use the EQ with Built-in mid/side processing. In this scenario, we will use the Fab Filter Pro Q3. So here is that in the steps:

1. Open Fab Filter Pro Q3 and create a band (double-click on that)

Fab Filter Pro Q3 mid side EQ

2. Right Click on it and go to -> Stereo Placement -> Side

FabFilter Pro Q3 Mid Side EQ

3. Right Click -> Shape -> Low Cut

Fab Filter Pro Q3

4. Right Click -> Slope -> It depends on where are the frequencies you want to fix.

FabFilter Pro Q3 Mid Side EQ

Open your Stereo Analyzer to see if your low-end have good correlation or not. If not, click on the band we’ve created in the Pro Q3 and drag to the right side until your phase and balance looking good in your analyzer.

You would also use the plugin like A1Stereo Control from Alex Hilton for the phase correction, but, in the end, the fewer plugins you have, the better!

3. How To Make Atmospheric Pad Sounds With 1 Click (For Any Genre)

It’s another plugin from the NI. This time it’s Absynth 5. We will create new sounds with only clicking on one button. It will uniquely generate new

sounds. It would seem like a weird technique, but it’s beneficial if you feel like you don’t feel so creative, so all you need to do is use the “Sound Mutation” section inside the plugin. Sound strange, but it works great for making pads.

Absynth 5 VST Plugin

With this method, you will generate new exciting pads in a different way. Sometimes you need to click longer to get results, but it’s worth it. Also, when generating new sounds, make sure your volume is low because it can create high-resonance but also loud sounds.

4. How To Be More Creative When Producing Music

When you feel creative, don’t stop working on your project and don’t distract yourself for any costs. Reason? It’s simple – you cannot force yourself to be creative, and when you are, it means that you have that great moment that will last for some time. Don’t interrupt it until you are satisfied.

5. How To Avoid Chaotic Composing in Music Production

When making changes, make sure you avoid to minimal changes. Instead, make bulk changes – you need to make sure that when you made a little adjustment, it needs to be changed across your whole track, not only at one place somewhere in your project.

On the other side, these “micro-changes” are useful when you want to give attention somewhere in your track so you will make this little special thing. But when doing so, make sure that it’s more like an effect than defect.

Also, when composing, try to avoid using the playback button at the same place. The reason is that if you only play the part that you are working on, you will not be able to connect with your previous section and it would cause that your tune will sound chaotic. Just make sure when working on some part to scroll a few bars back to make a sweet and smooth transition.

6. How To Avoid Being Monotone When Producing Music

The exact opposite of being chaotic. Monotone tracks are more stable and have a solid structure. If you want to fix it and don’t have it so flat, you need to approach to your track like it
has its micro tracks.

That said, you need to add new layers of sounds that will fit together and try to make an actual part a bit different from the previous part. For example, you have 2 x 16 bars. You want to make the first solid sixteen, but when starting next, all you need is just a slight difference between the first and second part. It doesn’t need too much effort to avoid being monotone.

When it comes to the third section (third 16), you need to make more visible change to make it sound more assorted and pleasant. The secret is in the constellation of the sounds you’ve used on your timeline, which needs to fits perfectly together and to make great harmony.

7. How To Prevent Hearing Damage When Producing Music On Studio Headphones

This is more about my personal experience than the fact. I used to mix the music without limiter on the master. Also, I am using only studio headphones for composition and mix my music. It was only a clean project and nothing on the master, but the actual composition was very loud, and after time I had some pain in the ears when the loudest part started playing.

In our 30 tips we for Creative music production we have mentioned that it’s recommended to keep the clean master channel for the quality of your workflow. But on the other side, it’s also good to consider put the limiter if you are using the studio headphones very often. Not sure about monitors, but for studio headphones, I would recommend using the limiter on the master channel.

8. How To Progress Your Tune Consistently and Productively

It’s simple. Work on something few hours a day and do it daily for five days. On the first day make a template and general picture of the whole track. On the second day start to shape your track f.ex. By adding transient plugins and removing additional sustain from your drums. Always make sure you are making significant changes more often than clicking on the play button.

In next days you want to do everything – adding and improving the sound, checking the stereo (Izotope Imager, IXL Stereo Analyzer) and spectrum analyzer (SPAN, IXL Spectrum Analyzer) to making your track better than it was yesterday. With this technique, you will never feel like your track sound worse today than the version before.

9. How to avoid problems with transient processing when producing music

The problem with transient processing will happen if your attack parameter is set too much. You have to find the balance between all sounds to avoid the very edgy attack of the one sound and lack of the attack on the other sound. For example – if your kick has a lack of the attack and hi-hats has a very high attack, this will cause that your kick will be hard to feel and hard to recognize in the mix when hi-hats and kick are playing together. It may happen anytime when you over-process the sounds with the feeling that everything is right. You just need to pay more attention and find a balance between the sounds.

10. How To Use Signal Analyzer

Great comparison tool. For instance, this little VST will show you how rough your snare is in comparison to your kick. If it’s very thin, or maybe thick, and you can fix it by reducing compression, or decreasing the sustain in the transient VST plugin.

When you start doing changes, analyzer starts capturing the sound, and you can adjust it for your needs by manipulating with the source parameters.

Even though this is not necessary to do, this still might be very useful in some genres when you can make the drums sound the same and bring it some consistency to your mix.

Signal Analyzer RS-MET

You can get this plugin here for FREE:

Signal Analyzer by RS-MET

Please share these tips to reach other people and help them with their struggles. Maybe they will find the answer!