This will be a thread for those who want to learn how to produce music, talk about techniques, and share their work.
Although this is a very large topic, I will begin with the basics on getting started.
Picking a DAW:
What is a DAW?
A digital audio workstation (DAW for short) is an electronic device or application software used for recording, editing and producing audio files such as musical pieces, songs, speech or sound effects. DAWs come in a wide variety of configurations from a single software program on a laptop, to an integrated stand-alone unit, all the way to a highly complex configuration of numerous components controlled by a central computer. Regardless of configuration, modern DAWs have a central interface that allows the user to alter and mix multiple recordings and tracks into a final produced piece.
DAWs are used for the production and recording of music, radio, television, podcasts, multimedia and nearly any other situation where complex recorded audio is needed.
Examples of DAWs include Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Cubase and FL Studio.
What DAW do I pick?
I recommend doing research on which DAW has the most compatible plug-ins for what you are looking to do. Currently, I use Logic Pro X because I am a Mac user. I also use Logic because I prefer the interface to any other DAW. Producing EDM is something I have done for awhile but I now feel comfortable sharing my expertise with all of you. Another reason I chose Logic Pro X is because many famous producers whose music I like use it as their primary DAW. These names include Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Knife Party and DJ Mustard.
What does a DAW look like?
Here you can see I am working on a cover of Sick Boy by The Chainsmokers. At the top you can see basic commands like play, pause, rewind, metronome and a count in. On the left you can see the VSTs and Plug-ins I am imposing on the current track selected. (Channel EQ, Compressor, Tape Delay, etc.)
Virtual Studio Technology (VST) is an audio plug-in software interface that integrates software synthesizer and effects in digital audio workstations. VST and similar technologies use digital signal processing to simulate traditional recording studio hardware in software. Thousands of plugins exist, both commercial and freeware, and a large number of audio applications support VST under license from its creator, Steinberg.
Examples of VSTs include Sylenth1, Alchemy, RDGAudio, Omnisphere.
What VSTs should I use?
This all depends on what kind of music you want to produce. If you are looking to make rock or acoustic music, I do not recommend using a VST for instruments because a real guitar will always sound better than an electronic one. This holds true with just about every instrument. However, you can use VSTs to load samples into your project that can boost your production even if you are producing pop punk or rock. For example, you can load in a sample snare, lets say Paramores, and use their snare as they have the opportunity to record their snare in a million dollar studio.
If you produce rap or edm, I recommend Sylenth1 or Nexus. These VSTs have a large preset library and a lot of options to truly make your own sound. Metro Boomin, DJ Khaled, The Chainsmoker and even Jay Z have used these VSTs to produce their music. There is a catch... These can cost hundreds of dollars, but the demo versions are free! This is a great opportunity to learn what the VST does before buying the actual item.
What does a VST look like?
This is an example of a VST that produces an authentic bass sounding synth. This is the realest bass VST I have found and I believe Charlie Puth has used this on his track "Attention". You can see that you can change the drive of the synth itself by pulling out the treble or bass, or even use the articulation tab (on the right) to get a a more precise knob.
A plugin is just as it sounds. A plugin is something that you can use inside of your DAW to help tweak a frequency. There are plugins called VSTs (which were mentioned earlier) that are instruments. Their sole purpose is to replicate or create a new sounding synth or instrument. There are also plugins that will help aid your sound like compression, EQ, pitch correction, etc. You may place multiple plugins in your bus to create the sound desired. Expensive plugins like Sylenth1 sometimes have these other plugins built into their VST plugin.
Examples of plugins include Nicky Romero Sidechain, Compression, Reverb and Space Designer.
What plugins should I use?
There is no set rule on what plugins to use, similarly to what VST you want to use. It is highly recommended that if you do choose to record something, place compression on it. You will also want to use an EQ to cut out undesired frequencies within your sound. If you are recording vocal tracks,
you may use pitch correction or vocal transformers. I recommend looking on Youtube as to what plugins you should use for what sound you are trying to create.
What does a plugin look like?
Here is a list of plugin folders in my DAW that can be placed on an instrument I have made.
Audio mixing is the process of taking recorded tracks and blending them together. Tracks are blended using various processes such as EQ, Compression and Reverb. The goal of mixing is to bring out the best in your multi-track recording by adjusting levels, panning, and time-based effects (chorus, reverb, delay).
Essentially, mixing is the art of making sure all of your sounds shine through in a song. I can not emphasize panning enough. Usually when recording, you want to pan instruments so that they occupy a certain space of your head per se. Vocals and drums are usually in the center, guitars and pianos are panned on the sides of the middle, and finally risers and low end instruments are panned on the outside.
When you EQ an instrument you will most likely want the brightest part of that instrument to shine through. You raise the volume on the frequency you want to hear slightly, and take out the frequency that you do not want to hear. Using compression allows instruments to not vary in volume so your mix isn't all over the place in terms of volume range. It helps with instruments that have softer sustains or loud attacks. Reverb and other delays are important in mixing so that the echo effect does not overpower the original audio.
If you have any questions on how your mix sounds (not song, but MIX) I will be happy to listen to it to tell you what you may want to tweak.
Mastering is the final step of audio post-production. The purpose of mastering is to balance sonic elements of a stereo mix and optimize playback across all systems and media formats. Mastering also ensures uniformity and consistency of sound between multiple tracks on an album.
In other words, this ensures the volume and clarity of your track is the same throughout the song on headphones, in a car, out of your phone, etc. Mastering also allows all of your songs on an EP or album to be at the same volume level and quality.
This is a popular audio interface that allows you to plug in your mics. I use a USB microphone so I do not need one, but if you do not want to do that, I recommend this. I have used them in the past for monitoring different instruments but since I am in a small room in college I do not need one.
Since this is just the basics, I will go more in depth with replies to posts. If you need help, make a post! If you need help with plugins, I can also help you determine what sounds best and what you might want to add in order to make your production sound the best it can.
I am open for suggestions about what you want to have added to the thread.
The following 19 users thanked Ethan for this useful post:
Adman, nice to see you are following your dream. I liked the lyrics and thought they were very original. The rhyme scheme was good, but the flow seemed unnatural. In both songs, it seems like you are trying to put too many syllables into one bar. On your song Success, lower the vocals and bring up the beat. I can't even hear it on my monitors.
The producer needs to brighten the mix with a space designer. When listening, I can hear all the instruments in the center of my head. Trying panning them out on the sides more so that the mix becomes more thick.
I do not know your budget, but I know Audacity is free. If you can, try recording your vocals in a DAW so you can add effects to your voice. I see you listen to a lot of Kendrick Lamar. He loves putting ReVerb on his vocals and thickening them with a technique called "chorus vocals". You should try it!
Hey Ethan, this isn't really much of music production, compared to what you do, but here's a short video of me playing guitar. It's a guitar cover of Sail by Awolnation. I just downloaded it from my snap story lmao.
I plan on recording some better videos in the future. Trying to work on making backing tracks.
TastyCereal wrote Hey Ethan, this isn't really much of music production, compared to what you do, but here's a short video of me playing guitar. It's a guitar cover of Sail by Awolnation. I just downloaded it from my snap story lmao.
I plan on recording some better videos in the future. Trying to work on making backing tracks.
Bro! Thanks for posting that! How long have you been playing? You should do a full cover of it, that would be sick!!!
Ethan wrote Bro! Thanks for posting that! How long have you been playing? You should do a full cover of it, that would be sick!!!
Yeah man, thanks for getting back to me I'll make a full cover and post it back on here! I've been playing guitar for 3 1/2 years, but I've been playing bass guitar for 7 years, so I'm way better at bass.