Getting a great drum sound is paramount to getting a great mix. Today I want to share my simple four step process to getting a tighter, fuller, clearer, and more punchy drum sound in your DAW. Anyone can do these four simple moves, they’re that simple. Let’s jump in!
Today I’m wrapping up a three part video series on what I call The #1 Rule Of Home Recording. It’s all about limiting your options in the home studio so you can actually churn out better sounding tracks in less time. We’ve already looked at the power of limitations and specifically how it applies to purchasing gear for your studio. Today let’s talk about how to apply it to music production: namely recording, editing, and mixing.
I’m back with another video in my #1 Rule Of Home Recording series, only this time we’re going to look at how the rule specifically applies to your gear. Things like which computer you should buy, which DAW to use, which interface to record through, and what microphones you need. We’ll even talk about investing in plugins. Oh my!
On the heels of last week’s post about plugins being the worst investment in your studio, I have an announcement to make: it’s time for a plugin purge. Maybe not for you, but for me personally in my studio, it’s time to shed some dead weight and narrow down my actual day to day plugin list. So today’s post will be a bit more personal, to my situation, but hopefully it will get you to think.
How Much I’ve Spent On Plugins Over The Years
I tried hard to think back on how many plugins I’ve purchased over the past 10 years and how much money that represents. Here’s what I could come up with. In the past decade I’ve spent at least $3500 on 3rd party plugins. And that is excluding any DAW purchases or upgrades (which I estimate as probably at least an additional $1750!). If we exclude any of my other DAWs and look primarily at Pro Tools, this puts me with a total plugin count of around 75.
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Today I want to make the case that plugins are the absolute worst investment you could make in your studio. And honestly, I use the word “investment” with a hint of sarcasm. Now before I jump in, don’t get me wrong: I have and use many great plugins. But on some level I know that plugins have been the worst place to spend my money over the years. Let’s discuss why.
You Already Own An EQ, Compressor, And Reverb
Let’s get this point out on the table right away. You do not need any 3rd party plugins to make a killer mix. In fact, your stock plugins are likely really good. The plugins that are shipping stock with DAWs these days are powerful, useful, and sonically they sound great. Are they dripping with vibe and analog goodness? Maybe not, but they are clean and professional. And at the end of the day, that’s what you need.
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There is one guiding principle, one core concept, one single rule that is the foundation of everything I try to do with music in my studio: both for myself and for all of my clients. This one rule exposes both the paradox of choice (so wonderfully articulated by Barry Schwartz) and the power of limitations. I call it the #1 rule of home recording and today I’d like to unpack it a bit for you.
The team over at Slate Digital has done it again. The Virtual Buss Compressors (VBC) plugin is here and it’s amazing. There’s a reason why I own every one of Steven’s plugins: they add something unique and magical to my mixes, and the VBC is no exception. I literally demoed this for 5 minutes on a mix for a client and I knew instantly that this was doing something special to my tracks. You have to hear it to believe it, so I’ve put together a little review for you. Enjoy!
What you hear out of your studio monitors has a huge impact on how your final mix will turn out. It affects your recording and mixing decisions, which ultimately sculpt the sound of your tracks. And with many of us recording and mixing in non-ideal spaces, what we hear isn’t normally the truth of the matter. Enter the ARC 2 Room Correction system from IK Multimedia. Is it the savior of your mixes? Let’s find out.
Could The ARC Help Me?
Your speakers don’t tell you the whole truth. I’ve written about speaker placement being a critical move to accuracy. I also recommend some basic acoustic treatment to tighten up your room. Both of these in tandem will tremendously help you balance out and tighten up the reflections in your room to get a more accurate sound in your room, helping you make better mixing decisions.
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One of the most popular questions I get via email each week is about how to start charging or making money from recording and mixing on the side. Many of you want to make a living in audio one day and you don’t know how to bridge the gap from hobbiest to professional. Instead of writing some long winded post I decided to simply speak candidly about how I crossed that bridge and how you can too. I hope this helps give you some ideas and serves as a guide to step out and do it!
What do we do when we buy a brand new plugin for our DAW? We throw it on a track and start flipping through presets. Why? It’s simple: we trust the plugin manufacturer to know the product well enough to have created some great starting points for our tracks. And truly, presets are a great way to learn your way around a plugin, discovering what it is capable of.
Your Own “Signature” Presets
But the reality is, as fun as plugin presets are, they can only help you get so far. The plugin programmers have no idea what kind of music you work on, the quality of your recorded tracks, or the sonic vision you have for your mixes. How could they? Consequently, many of us avoid using presets and instead learn the tools well enough to set our own settings as we see fit. Seems reasonable.
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