The following production tips were
posted on Facebook by Stimming in
I collected them into this presentation.
Tips by Stimming
Design by Shahak Shapira
Graphics were used from www.stimming.org
“ CLAP SOUNDS THIN AND
IF I MAKE IT 'LOUD ENOUGH'
IT DESTROYS MY MIX
put a one shot shaker
on top of it. this also
works really well on all
kinds of snaredrums!
“ SOMETIMES CONFUSED OF
MY OWN TRACK AND LOSE THE
Use the colours from your
DAW and name your tracks.
What I also do pretty often
is bouncing things like the
added shaker on the clap bounce this as one signal so
its easier to stay focussed.
I try not to have more than
twenty tracks in one
things are becoming too
complicated for me.
“ THOSE FREQUENCIES ARE
OVERLAPPING EACH OTHER AND I
DON'T KNOW THE RIGHT WAY TO
CLEAN THINGS UP
I know this sounds like a weak tip, but EQs are
made for decreasing frequencies, not so much for
increasing in the first place. I decrease frequencies
in 70% of my eq usage.
so, how do you do this? you increase one eq band
with as much db as the eq gives you, then dial in a
very narrow Q and search for the frequency where
the signal goes crazy. then decrease this frequency
as much as needed. Do this as often as needed.
“ LEVELS ARE MESSED UP EVERYTIME
I INCLUDE THIS AMAZING BASS INTO MY SONG
One, if not the most important task for EQs is the
lowCut (or high pass, thats the same) - I generally
clean up all my signals from unwanted/unneeded
lower frequencies. I do this on EVERY signal except
bass und bassdrum. even there I look on my analyzer
if it makes sense to cut. everything below 20Hz makes
sense to cut away. but - use the best EQ you have,
phase problems are a reason for smeared bass
frequencies (and cheap eqs tend to make things
imprecise). look for "linear phase" ones.
and take care that you don´t cut away too much,
cause signals tend to lose punch through this. its
always a tradeoff.
in general - the lower the frequency the more energy
it has, that´s why low frequencies are causing the
biggest problems in mixing.
if you cleaned up everything and there are still
problems on your master level... that´s another day.
“ MID-RANGE PERCUSSION
SAMPLES DO SOUND SEPERATED
AND NOT 'AS ONE'
a short reverb (e.g. plate) usually works very
well for fusing different sources together. I
would also suggest to compress and/or
saturate this signal. you can either do this
via a bus: route all of your perc sounds on
one bus and put a plate reverb as an insert
with a wet factor of maybe 10-30% and then
compress the whole bus a little bit.
or via send: send a little bit from your perc
signals to the same reverb send and then
saturate this reverb channel if needed.
don't overdo the compression,
this will make the reverb sound flat.
“ SOFTSYNTH SOUNDS
CLINICAL AND BORING
put a one shot shaker
on top of it. this also
works really well on all
kinds of snaredrums!
“ MATTER WHICH CHORUS/
WIDENING EFFECT I USE, THE
STEREO EFFECT STILL COULD
play the hook, percussion or
whatever by your own hand,
twice, don't quantize and then
pan one to the left and one to
the right. you might need to
practice this a little bit try to be as tight as possible.
human playing makes the
stereo effect amazingly
(and the organic feel in general)
“ AMAZING ORGANIC
SHAKER LOOP I HAVE SEEMS
TO MAKE MY GROOVE SLOWER
shakers are the main/most important
ingredient for the feeling of a groove
and they usually work best when they´re
added very quietly. its on them to make
a groove laid-back or uplifting.
you can move them a little bit on the msec
scale but this works just in certain limits,
because an interesting shaker loop has a
feeling of its own. experiment with
different shakerloops to get an idea of
how different the feeling is they add to an
when you increase high frequencies you
can make ´em audible even when they´re
“ I'M HONEST TO MYSELF, VERY
OFTEN I DON'T FEEL CONCENTRATED
ENOUGH TO OVERVIEW MY SONG
AND MAKE THE RIGHT DECISIONS
I figured out that I'm only able to focus completely on what
I'm doing when I slept enough and took care about eating
enough. Since the beginning of this year I eat complex carbs
for breakfast and I feel a difference in the ability to
Making music is a very tiring activity, it seems that our brain
calls for a lot of calories. so - if you're somewhere stuck, think
about a little break, eat something and sleep the amount you
I know this is a very basic thing, but its a very important basic
for the ability of doing good work in general.
“ BD/BASS STRUCTURE
SEEMS UNCLEAR AND MOULDY
the first thing you should try is placing the bassline
notes on different ones than the bassdrum. once they
share a rhythmic note there´s about twice the energy
which usually makes problems (it's not such a big
problem if you chose the right frequency for the
bassdrum - change it slightly after knowing which
bass you wanna use. if you're doing it "right" here,
you may not need the next steps)
the problem is that this usually leads away from your
initial idea. so, there are two more options: try to
reduce the velocity of every shared note (for us, this
is every quarter note) or apply a sidechain controlled
compressor, which is controlled by the bassdrum. this
will duck away the bassline on every bassdrumhit and
is my preferred method.
for this task, compressor quality pays out.
I used to use the api 2500.
“ ELSE CAN I USE SIDECHAIN COMPRESSION FOR?
I very often use sidechain compression on fx
busses - this is a very convenient way for
delays/longfxreverbs being in the groove
grid. just build a return bus with weird
plugins (delays don't even have to be in
time) and the last plugin on the chain is a
sidechain controlled compressor.
my foundsounds are sc compressed as well.
on chord and pad sounds this works very
well too (but don't overdo it here).
the threshold and ratio are the two
important parameters for compression
attack=0 and release=between 100 and
300ms (on 120bpm an eight is 250ms)
“ DO YOU CONSIDER A GOOD MIX?
When the master level is very close to 0db, without the use of a
limiter. I recommend not to use those little helpers like limiters
on the master level, cause they curtain the quality of your
My last step to a finished track always is
listening while watching the master level
indicator to identify the little bites where
frequencies are overlapping. I zoom in this
bite and recover it by hand (cut it out,
decrease volume or use the EQ)
don't use a limiter on your master chain,
this is the mastering engineer's purpose and
he knows better than you/he has better
equipment how to do this right.
“ I NEED A HEADPHONE?
yes! they allow you to immediately
hear your mix from a different
angle which is very valuable.
If your mix sounds good on your
speakers AND your headphones
then its fine.
I found out that everything
I tweak on the headphones
makes sense on the
speakers as well.
you need headphones built for studio
work though. The ones I have:
akg k702 and shure srh 840
BUILDING A LOOP IS FUN,
BUT IT GETS BORING PRETTY QUICK
therefore you need 'carry-over'sounds. these are small effects, little
melodies or little drum-fill/-variations
which you put in every 4, 8, 16 and/
or 32 bars. I recommend doing them
smaller as they come more often and
bigger, more dramatic if they appear
look out for soundfx libraries, this
will help to get an idea of what I
mean in the beginning.
you can also do stuff like the first
note of your hook in a long reverb,
bounced, reversed and put at the
end of every 16bars... there's a lot of
room for being creative!
these little variations will make your
mind willing listen again to your
WHATEVER I TRY, MY PERCUSSIONS
SOUND LIKE PLASTIC
The mixture between samples and real, organic sounds is
really interesting for our ears. this also holds good for synth
My advice for perc sounds: go to a music store, buy two
different shakers, a pair of bongos, maybe some other drums
and a Shure sm57 (add some high frequencies on shakers
after the recording).
Add your own sounds to your samples. If you find it difficult
to play a whole loop by your own you can start with one-shot,
self-made samples to add. this will automatically make your
sounds/tracks very individual as well.
“ CAN I USE A GATE FOR?
If you do what I mentioned yesterday, sooner or later
you will be upset about the noise your recording has,
simply because you usually will not have a "quiet" room
(me neither, still).Therefore, a gate processor will
become a good friend of yours - it will help you to get
rid of the unwanted noise in your recording, but its
helpful for creative sound shaping as well.
Don't like the reverb from a sample?
cut it away with your gate.
you only want to use the attacks/transients from your
guitar loop? use the gate with a "high" threshold (here
this means low numbers 0 to -5db). You want to know
how your bassdrum sounds when its shorter? use a gate
but, please, cut it by hand afterwards.
For these actions you can also use an envelope shaper,
but a gate is the more radical but also more neutral
Take care that your gate doesn't cut away the very first
transients. there are some on the market which "look
forward", use this.
“ IT MAKES SENSE TO BUY ANALOGUE HARDWARE, LIKE
COMPRESSORS OR EVEN PREAMPS WHEN YOU CAN BUY A
DIGITAL 'RECREATION' FOR A TENTH OF THE PRICE?
Yes, it makes a lot of sense. real (good) analogue
hardware adds a certain presence or attendance
which plug ins aren't capable of (still?!). good
preamps make a sound similar to 'being carved in
also, they very often colour sound in a good way.
and some devices make a sound come out always
better than before. which, in the end, helps you
to save time and stay focussed on the music
you might recognize - I'm in love with real knobs,
real electricity. Unfortunately, there is a reason
why some are more expensive than others gearslutz.com is the source to look for before
“ DOES YOUR
BASSDRUM COME FROM?
my bassdrum usually comes out of a jomox mbase.
but apart from that - how a bassdrum sounds in a mix is strongly
dependent of the mix-hierarchy. that's why its necessary to decide
for a bassdrum at the very beginning of a track (unfortunately).
the tuning of your bassdrum in relation to other bass-sounds is
important too, i try to slightly detune the bassdrum away from the
bassline center frequency.
higher -> more uplifting, lower -> deeper, handbrake like
some jomox parameters and their tweaks:
decay: 20-40 (a mbase bassdrum shouldn't be longer than an eigth
note, I find something between a 16th and an eigth usually suits
in these free soundsets you find a lot of my bassdrums:
“ IS THE MOST FORWARD
izotope iris - a sampler
which displays your loaded
sample in a fft spectrum. in
this spectrum you can draw
with photoshop-like tools
and play it on your keys
I'm very much bored from
the 8945th synth emulation
via software - its time for
new possibilities and iris
really does it!
“ DO YOUR EFFECTS COME FROM?
my favourite effects are the ones from
ina/grm. I also use NI's reaktor and its
prebuilt instruments like the mouth a
the best general sound improvement in
my opinion is the uad - I don't like their
marketing behaviour, and you will not
need all those plugs but if you just buy
their basic ones (the la2a and 1176
emulation, the 88rs is a good 'bread
and butter' one as well) and some from
the precision series (the precision eq
and the precision maximizer (for live)
are my favourites) you can easily
enhance your soundquality.
if you guys will add the one's which
stand out for you we can have an
interesting list over here. and - if you
know native plugins which reach the
uad quality - add them!
Lasse Bruhn Svendsen:
Fab Filters - Saturn
Soundtoys crystallizer, for
some good things in break
downs, presets are great too..
bounce all audio apart from
the kick and white noises and
affect the audio block with
I really like the PSP Audio
plugins, vintage warmer 1 & 2
or lexicon emulation
Slate Digital VCC, VTM & VBC
all have outstanding sound
lexicon reverb, dmgaudio eq
Softube Tech Tube - PE 1C
“ DO YOU BUILD
Arrangement building is the part of our making which is
very similar to storytelling. there are similarities to
cooking and painting, but the arrangement basically is
storytelling. that means - you need to know where you
wanna go before you start. a writer knows where his
story leads to before he begins to write therefore we
need to think about this very early as well. Once I have a
satisfying loop ready I play around with different effects,
with filters, see from which element I gain tension from
(which element is bringing me to the climax) and once
there pops up an idea I start to build.
unfortunately, no plan survives the incident on the reality.
that's why its important to be flexible, usually what works
is pretty close to what I imagined. and sometimes
something completely different does it. this is the one of
the biggest reasons for being frustrated during process, I
see this as a fight which I usually win - sooner or later.
CRITERIA WHICH MUST MEET
YOUR SOUNDS TO BE USED:
if you build up an emotional relationship to
your sounds you gonna use 'em different than
'usual' or 'functional' ones
the reason why I said so much about recording and
playing stuff by your own wasn't the sound quality or
individuality in the first place - sounds which needed
your effort to build are automatically used with more
respect and care, and thats audible!
I recommend having at least one sound in your track
which was very tricky to build. later it might be necessary
to use 'simple' sounds as well, but I found for myself that
I need a relationship to the material I'm using, because
this helps a lot for not getting stuck. this is why I love all
kinds of hardware and stuff which happens 'out of the
box' that much - its increasing the value of my signals.
for me. No listener will be able to tell "ah, this little noise
has been a tube, leaving the central station", but the way
you gonna use it will be recognized.
FINISHING TRACKS IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM FOR ME
Well, a finished track is the sum of all decisions you
made. so, the problem truly is that you can't decide.
Decision making is the main challenge we have to
face, and its only finalized decisions which you learn
from. Basically its about making mistakes and to
learn from those. If you hide from making decisions
you will not improve and you will not move forward.
These are the two factors which shall guide you your levels (the master out) and your TASTE!
don't go above 0dbfs, trust your own taste and
ears exclusively and learn the rules to be able
to break them.
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