Share Some Production Tips You Wished You Had Known Earlier

WhoSayReload?

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I'm all for making production as easy as possible for everyone, particularly when dnb can feel ridiculously hard to produce at times (balancing 30+ layers of drums is a bitch). So it seems right to level the playing field out and make the engineering side of production as accessible as possible.

...So I thought it would be a good idea to set up a thread where we can share tricks and tips that we wished we'd known earlier. These tricks are now an essential part of our production and have made a hell of a difference to the quality of our track, mixdowns etc.

For me...

  1. Split your bass into different frequencies (learnt this from Lockjaw and swear by it now), this technique gives you so much freedom when balancing your track (bass vs kick drum for instance), means you can mono your sub, limit it and leave it alone, whilst distorting and fucking up bass frequencies higher up and widening the stereo image on frequencies higher up amongst other tricks.
  2. Compress or even limit your sub bass until you get a flat signal (meaning it stays at a steady volume and doesn't jump up and down!) Sub takes up a hell of a lot of space in your track and getting that signal nice and flat makes a huge difference to your power in your bottom end.
  3. Don't go crazy with transient shapers on your drums, they can be an essential tool to get your drums sounding nice but clicky transients can quickly sound horrid when pushed too hard. Instead try adding more layers, get your samples correct and duck frequencies that compete with your kick and snare on other tracks using a spectrum analyser.
  4. Reference the tracks that you make regularly to musicians that you look up to. This can help in so many ways, from knowing if your drum layers are phat enough to knowing if there are enough elements in your track to keep it interesting. It can also give you a great bench mark for an idea of what the different levels of your track should sound like e.g. how loud your drums should be vs your bass.
  5. Get plenty of layers in the your drums. I remember hearing BCee say this in a tutorial that he can tell the difference between a pro vs am track often by the presence of a lot or only a few layers of breaks. High end drum layers really fill your percussion out, give your tracks a lot of movement, vibe and sheen. Sample packs are great for this and you can take breaks and high pass just for that top layer sheen.
  6. File the different tracks in your project into collapsible folders and colour code them, this makes a massive difference when you jump back into a project and would otherwise struggle to know where to begin. Use the same colours for say, all bass tracks, all drum tracks, FX etc. in each project, this will make things easier too
  7. Set yourself deadlines for your tracks to be completed by, or to at least have a playable version. This forces you to actually finish your tunes rather than just sitting there looping the same unworked version, before opening up a new project and I find I often learn something new each time I finish a track (or get hopefully close :/)
 
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Mike Z

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Here's a couple of tips I've learned, that made a big difference to me, might be common knowledge for most?
  • Use a frequency band with a low q and high gain to sweep for problematic areas, then do a cut when you find one.
  • Create aux channels for effects, especially reverbs and delays, then put an eq on it and cut the lows and maybe some highs depending on what you are after.
  • Boost sides for more space, and wider stereo sound without mudding the middle.
  • That snare better be sick!
  • Use white noise for sidechaining kicks and snares, and not the actual kick and snare sounds.
  • Use white noise to improve impact in transitions.
  • Use white noise to increase energy levels in drops.
  • Get quality tools for the marble sculpting.
EDIT:
So this is a nice one I picked up a just a few days ago. It's about the smiley curve on the frequency spectrum. Or rather avoiding it. I've gone through most of the tunes I've made this year, and they all have it to some degree (some a lot, and some even more). Read more about it here, combine this info with the Ear Training videos by Pensado, and you should be able to improve your mixes quite a bit.
 
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WhoSayReload?

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Here's a couple of tips I've learned, that made a big difference to me, might be common knowledge for most?
  • Use a frequency band with a low q and high gain to sweep for problematic areas, then do a cut when you find one.
  • Create aux channels for effects, especially reverbs and delays, then put an eq on it and cut the lows and maybe some highs depending on what you are after.
  • Boost sides for more space, and wider stereo sound without mudding the middle.
  • That snare better be sick!
  • Use white noise for sidechaining kicks and snares, and not the actual kick and snare sounds.
  • Use white noise to improve impact in transitions.
  • Use white noise to increase energy levels in drops.
  • Get quality tools for the marble sculpting.
Yeah using aux channels keeps everything nice and clean, there's endless creative possibilities too using FX on send / return channels, I'm just starting to get into guitar rig and fucking love sending audio to it and making it all sound weird.

About the white noise - why is that?
 

WhoSayReload?

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Another couple of tips - using shelfs in your EQ can be better than low passing / high passing. You don't always to remove all of those frequencies, that can make sounds thinner.

I find my self ducking a lot time and time again between 1500hz and 4k, these frequencies make your ears bleed.
 
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Mike Z

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Yeah using aux channels keeps everything nice and clean, there's endless creative possibilities too using FX on send / return channels, I'm just starting to get into guitar rig and fucking love sending audio to it and making it all sound weird.

About the white noise - why is that?
As I understand it, white noise gives better control over the signal used to sidechain. Check out ARTFX's youtube channel, he explains it better than me. Tbh, I haven't been able to hear any difference, but what he explains about it makes sense.

I also recommend watching Dave Pensados videos on ear training, they really give some valuable insight into how the ear perceives sounds at different frequencies.
 

logikz

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Get a cheeer hobby, that is less hard. Like sculpting marble.
what the hell ivans, do you have any idea how funny you aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeee, fking 10/10 and loads of kenny ken bro

edit: also your jago - euphoria track is fking amazing, what is that a compo track? love it man, so professional sounding
 

IV4

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what the hell ivans, do you have any idea how funny you aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeee, fking 10/10 and loads of kenny ken bro

edit: also your jago - euphoria track is fking amazing, what is that a compo track? love it man, so professional sounding
Awweeeweeee yeeeeeeaaaaaa, Jargo was a compo winner.!!! He made an awesome track.
 

logikz

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Awweeeweeee yeeeeeeaaaaaa, Jargo was a compo winner.!!! He made an awesome track.
ooooooooooooh ok shoot, i thought it was yours haha (i did think jago was a bit of a shit name, even if it is from othello BY SHAKESPEARE)
why dont you link some of your own musics instead of everybody elses. ive been decieived. you have to be lin kuei or youre not scorpion
 

IV4

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ooooooooooooh ok shoot, i thought it was yours haha (i did think jago was a bit of a shit name, even if it is from othello BY SHAKESPEARE)
why dont you link some of your own musics instead of everybody elses. ive been decieived. you have to be lin kuei or youre not scorpion
One time I was running down a hill and I spotted a deer. The deer distracted me for only a moment and that is when the ground began rising swiftly to meet my face. My feet had betrayed me, and choose to engage with a rock. This action caused a domino effect that endend with me on the ground. Writhing in pain I began to fourmulate a plan to seek out vengeance agaist my trattorias feet. “Eureka!” Exclaimed a squirrel. I said, “what?” But the squirrel did not respond because he’s an asshole. And that is why my dear boy I got off topic and forgot about why I am writing this.
 

logikz

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Blame my parents, they gave me it as a middle name
MY MAN hell yeah, your parents are clearly educated, you have class, clearly, my good man.

unlike ivan. hes rouge, a loose cannon, must be reeled in, but cannot be controlled by the same rules that govern the rest of us

he goes his own way, but what he doesnt know is that there is a roadblock in his path, and that is me and my karate death punch
 

m:ekz

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Louder is not always better. Before I used to be dead set on making a track as loud as a mastered release, and without having any knowledge of compression/mastering. Knowing what I know now it really does kill the sound. Nowadays I aim to have my track between -12 to -6db (if I'm sending it off to be mastered). I do however add my own comrpession/master onto the master bus as I am making the track just so I can get a good feel for how it will sound when fully finished. I simply just turn this off before sending away to the pro.
 

fanu

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Not all breaks can actually be made to sound really fat.
Sometimes it's fine to leave them "non-fat", because 1) trying to make them really fat just may kind of clutter them up and 2) some skinnier breaks leave more room for bass…think early Photek…his breaks weren't that fat, but the bass was great.
 
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Zore

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Dont stress over the technicals before you have a groove established in your project.
 

logikz

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It's not about analog synthesizers or tube compressors that's going to make all the difference in your sound once you get money and finally invest, collect samples and build a sample bank that does what you want it to. If you can make a lead or a Reese or a pad, save it and think of it like an instrument. I learned this from stakka and skynet. I never did this btw, I always create everything from scratch which is unnecessary but it's my craft and I approach it like a purist. It's not very productive, in fact it's directly counter productive but I'm an artist, not an assembly line worker.

Finally don't make the drums first, write the theme and the melodies and the bassline first, the drums will take care of themselves. Its a million times easier finishing a song that's got the strings and the arps and the bassline ready than a file with a cool drum break and some bass hits.
 
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