Learning how to produce music is an epic never-ending journey. That’s what’s so fun about it – the learning never stops! Even your favourite producers are constantly discovering new techniques and improving their skills as they take their sounds in new directions, striving to be cutting edge. When you’re dying to improve your production skills but feel like you’ve hit a brick wall and don’t know what it is that you’re doing wrong, it can feel incredibly frustrating. Here are some quick tips that We have learned over the years that helped me to get much cleaner sounding productions. These are some of the areas you may be going wrong in:
When you’re dying to improve your production skills but feel like you’ve hit a brick wall and don’t know what it is that you’re doing wrong, it can feel incredibly frustrating. Here are some quick tips that I’ve learned over the years that helped me to get much cleaner sounding productions. These are some of the areas you may be going wrong in:
How To Produce Music: Eight Mistakes To Avoid
- Not separating the sub from the main bass in a separate track/channel. The reason why this is necessary is that we have to treat the sub differently to the main bas sound. You’ll almost always want to sidechain the sub with audio from your kick, because they both occupy the same low frequency range and you can’t have two sounds playing in the same frequency range at the same time, as it leads to major mixdown problems including phasing and a muddy low end, using up all of your headroom and sucking audible sonic energy out of your song.
- EQ cutting too steeply to low cut and high cut your sounds. This will sound unnatural and unbalanced in terms of frequency range balance.
- Not low cutting every sound/track/channel. We need to do this to save low end energy for our sub, kick and bass low ends.
- Using very quick attack times (1 or 2 ms) and release times (20 ms) on compressors to try to get a punchy drum sound. We get punchy drums by doing the opposite – try an attack time of 30 ms and release time of 200 ms and play around with settings around there and you’ll have much punchier sounding drums instantly.
- Not making full use of the whole stereo panorama. Especially with highs such as pads, we can use the Haas trick and other techniques to widen these sounds, leaving more room in the center for the kick, snare, sub and bass.
- Not doing subtractive EQing. You may be boosting your EQs most of the time, which is seen by most as the wrong way to do things. Rather than boost frequency range that we want to hear more of, we should be attenuating or removing frequencies that we don’t want. In this sense, less is more.
- Over-compressing and over-limiting everything. Your sounds should retain most of their natural dynamic range. If you are compressing them too much because you want them to sound louder, or crushing them up against the digital ceiling of 0 dBFS, just turn up the volume on your amp or monitors instead. Let your sounds retain their natural dynamic range more and consider not using compressors at all on some tracks.
- Not using reference tracks to get your songs sounding well balanced. Without a well mixed song to compare your song’s frequency and stereo balance with, trying to get your songs to sound sonically awesome can be like trying to find the fire exit while blindfolded.
So now that you know some of the most important things to avoid, you should now be able to make some big leaps forwards with your production, but don’t forget, it’s not just the production side of things that’s important – many people focus too much on the engineering side and forget to focus on actually writing a song that moves people and sounds original. We would say focus on the creativity side of things first and try to write some nice material, then do all the production stuff later.