Do you sometimes struggle while producing music? Is your music production chaotic or monotonous? We will try to explain how to avoid that and make your music production easier and far more effective, especially if you are a beginner. Here are 10 unique tips for music production in 2020.
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 a new project dedicated only to making the new sounds. This will help you get into “creative 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 sound, such as pads, leads, melodies, single drums, etc.
On the other hand, when working on the project as a whole, it’s way more challenging to be focused and consistent. The point is that your brain will focus better on the particular thing and you will get better results by focusing on small actions rather than one significant action (working on the project and creating new sounds at the same time).
This is excellent practice for when you have time to produce 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 stereo image to your sounds, there are few rules to do it properly and maintain correlation at proper levels. The first thing is obvious, but always make sure your sub-bass is in mono. The reason is that sub-bass has the most significant impact on correlation. It means that if your sub is in the mono, it’s impossible to keep your correlation in green (as in the picture)
When you make your sub-bass mono, it’s time to make your bass wider. It is no secret that your bass sounds bad when using stereo imaging. You just need to pay attention to a stereo analyzer that will let you know what’s going on from a visual standpoint. 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 can be pretty wide without affecting your correlation when playing together with the sub-bass. It’s because sub-bass has more weight while pads are light. You can also add some slight AutoPan processing to your pads without causing phase 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 mono. If you still want to have some stereo width 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.
Percussion – It’s good to have a wider stereo imaging on percussion to stand out of the mix and make it more pleasant. Plus, it still won’t affect the correlation (Also, make sure that you are removing any low-end frequencies when adding more width to your sounds, because 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. Take one main snare that sounds best and make it mono. Mono is king and the core of the sound. When you do this, you can start adding new layers while widening and adjusting according to the main snare so that they sound pleasant together.
Izotope Ozone Imager
What you need to avoid is trusting your ears when it comes to stereo imaging. The reason is that if you add the snare and use it without checking the imagery, it might sound great for you with full stereo, though when you shift into mono with this sound, what happens sometimes is that your snare may lose mids and only retain sides (This is doesn’t happen too often with fresh new/raw samples, but in the later stage of your processing, moving from stereo to mono can sound very different.)
This was based on my experience when I first ignored going to mono. Later, I had to reduce the sound of stereo imaging on the master bus. However, when I did it, the sound of the snare was completely different because there was too much stereo (sides) and very little mono (mids.) For me, the sound of the snare was perfect, though I had to use the stereo analyzer a lot more to avoid this problem.
With that said, you have to trust your ears when producing, though you also need to use the right tools to make sure everything is great and doesn’t cause issues.
General Advice – It’s good to use the pre-made presets from the VSTs to get stereo width 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 system.
How To Fix The Phase Of the Low-End Using EQ Plugin
For fixing correlation issues, you can use EQ with Built-in mid/side processing. In this scenario, we will use the Fab Filter Pro Q3. See that technique below in a few steps:
1. Open Fab Filter Pro Q3 and create a band (double-click on that)
2. Right Click on it and go to -> Stereo Placement -> Side
3. Right Click -> Shape -> Low Cut
4. Right Click -> Slope -> It depends on where are the frequencies you want to fix.
Open your Stereo Analyzer to see if your low-end has good correlation or not. If not, click on the band we created in Pro Q3 and drag to the right side until your phase and balance look good in your analyzer.
You can also use a plugin like A1Stereo Control from Alex Hilton for 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 by only clicking on one button. It will uniquely generate new sounds. It might seem like a weird technique, but it’s beneficial if you feel like you don’t feel so creative. All you need to do is use the “Sound Mutation” section inside the plugin. It sounds strange, but it works great for making pads.
With this method, you will generate new and 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-resonances and 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. Reason? It’s simple – you cannot force yourself to be creative. When you are creative, it means that you have a 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 make a little adjustment,you make changes 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 on your track to make something special. When doing so, make sure that it’s an effect rather than a 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, which cause your tune to sound chaotic. Just make sure when working on one part to scroll back a few bars to create a sweet and smooth transition.
6. How To Avoid Being Monotone When Producing Music
The exact opposite of being chaotic is being monotone. Monotone tracks are more stable and have a solid structure. If you want to fix so it’s not so flat, you need to approach your track as a series of micro tracks.
With 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 sixteen solid, but when starting the next section, all you need is a slight difference between the first and second parts. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to avoid being monotone.
When it comes to the third section (third 16), you need to make more visible changes to make it sound more assorted and pleasant. The secret is in the constellation of the sounds you use on your timeline, which needs to fits perfectly together 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 a limiter on the master. Also, I only used studio headphones for composition and mixing my music. It was only a clean project without anything on the master, but the actual composition was very loud. 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. On the other side, it’s also good to consider puting a limiter there 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 a 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 the next days you want to do everything. Work on adding and improving the sound, checking the stereo imager (Izotope Imager, IXL Stereo Analyzer) and spectrum analyzer (SPAN, IXL Spectrum Analyzer) to make your track better than it was the previous day. With this technique, you will never feel like your track sounds worse today than the day before.
9. How to avoid problems with transient processing when producing music
The problem with transient processing happens when your attack parameter is set too much. You have to find the balance between all sounds to avoid the very edgy attack of 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 have a very high attack, you might find your kick 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 thick, and you can fix it by reducing compression or decreasing the sustain in the transient VST plugin.
When you start making changes, the 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 the drums sound the same to bring it some consistency to your mix.
You can get this plugin here for FREE:
Please share these tips to reach other people and help them with their struggles. Maybe they will find the answer!
Based in Ampang, Malaysia. I go by M4-P. Started as a rapper/songwriter back in 2015 then quickly and gradually developed my skills to become a beatmaker, music producer, sound designer, and audio engineer. I currently work in a local underground record label called KOKADAIMON that has a number of very talented artists and producers.