We are in a world where everything is digital when it comes to making music. We don’t need anything more than a laptop with the right software and sounds. All we need is the right set of techniques for making your tracks sound good. Here are some production tips for efficient production.
1. Layering kicks and bass
Instead of using just one kick sample, you can even layer kicks for example, like if you are using say an 808 kick, you can add another layer of kick which doesn’t have the same characteristics of the 808 but compliments the 808 and adds to the highs of the kick. This gives you a round and fat kick sound.
Similarly, instead of using just one bass sound, it’s good to layer a few bass sounds, this will cover more frequencies and will make it sound sonically good and fat. You can add a sub bass if you are not using an 808 and the add a synth bass over it to make it sound good. Sometimes even layering an acoustic bass sound might work out. But layering is never wrong.
Quantizing is a major part of a production when you are dealing with midi. When it comes to electronic music it’s almost fully quantized and sounds like a mechanically produced track.
When it comes to acoustic drum production, a majority of the times its good to quantize to almost perfect level say 90% quantized. If you are quantizing it to a 100% then it is good to use the swing option to give it a human feel to it.
The swing option is present on all DAWs and this gives more liveliness to the rhythm and to the melody.
3. Removing the lows
Almost for all the layers, this process is a must, go to your favorite eq, and make sure you do a low cut for almost all the sounds so that you can have the kick and bass setting in properly at their frequency without having a frequency clash with other layers. This will also clean up your song and will remove the unnecessary low frequencies and will not make it sound muddy. This can be done for any genre of music and to any track that you are producing. This is one of the golden rules of producing clean music.
4. Side Chaining
We are able to see many artists come up with amazing records from their laptops. In this era of electronic music, you cannot hear one track that is not side chained. By side chain I mean when the kick and the sub bass don’t clash or meet at the same time. This is very common in EDM or House. My go to plugin for sidechaining is the Nicky Romero Kickstart.
5. Track grouping
Always group tracks with similar frequencies after adding individual effects on each track. It will be easier to add an overall effect like reverb, sidechain or even eq them overall to make it sound even better.
6. Using sends for effects
Always send effects like reverb, delays through busses and not directly on the insert of every track. By doing so, you will reduce your CPU load by a huge margin. This gives more tweaking opportunity to edit the wetness of the reverb or any other effect you add. This is something I do for every track and its super helpful.
7. Exporting & Headroom
The last stage is when your track is ready for the final mix. This stage is when you are done adding your own effects to your track. This is part of the production process.
It is a must to know how effects like reverb, eqs, compressors work. This way you will know how exactly you want your track to sound and what you need to do to make it sound good.
It is better to have a pre mix of your song ready for the mix engineer.
After this is when you export/bounce every track and send it to your mix engineer. Make sure you have enough head room for the track to be mixed and mastered. Never send your stems for mix with hot levels.