The Texture Trick: Lifting Light Parts Of The Mix (Video)

Texture tracks are repetitive sounds that can be effected to fill space. They’re there if you need them, and easily removed from the mix if you don’t.

Processing these texture tracks can take them from sounding ordinary to sounding exceptional. Modulation can change the sound and bring extra movement to the track. Delay can create interesting patterns and depth. Reverb can create a real sense of space and distance. When you put them all together, you can change a simple texture track into an ear pleasing sound.

In this video, I’m going to show you how to lift your mix with a texture track and some processing know-how.

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3 Essential Plugins That Didn’t Come With Your Daw

You can lock me in a room with a band, my rig, and stock plugins. I really wouldn’t mind at first. (It would be almost exactly the same a my current life) The stock plugin packages that come with DAW systems have been getting better. So much better that I use them instead of plugins I’ve spent money on. But, I still lean on a few key plug-ins that aren’t stock. (And I like them so much that I’d eventually claw my way out of that room to get them) The DAW I use is Pro Tools, but this list should work across most DAWs.

  1. Drumagog

This plugin will use your individual drum tracks to trigger sounds. This can be put on a kick drum track and set to trigger a sampled kick drum every time the wave crosses the sensitivity threshold. It can sample dynamically and loads several samples per drum. So there are separate kicks triggered for different volumes (if you use a truth drum set kick within the program and the kick drum was hit lightly in the audio you captured it will be replaced by a lighter sample of that same truth kick drum. Same thing goes for louder hits and inbetween dynamics). You can even use a bus to print your Drumagog sample to a new track. That way you can have the original captured sound and the sample play back at the same time. This makes it very easy to adjust the balance using your DAWs faders. The features are in-depth, and the demo is free for 14 days! Follow this link to test drive Drumagog 5:

  1. Melodyne Studio 3

Melodyne is a vocal correction software that gives you manual control over an artists vocal performance. Adjust the singers pitch, vibrato, even make harmonies by duplicating and changing the pitch of the main vocal. I prefer to use this standalone studio rather than a plugin. The demo of Melodyne Studio 3 gives you access to all of its features. Unfortunately, the demo will not let you export any audio from Melodyne. Try out the Melodyne Studio demo (as well as the other versions if you’d like) by following this link:

  1. Vocalign Project

Vocalign was originally developed to aid our friends in the film sound industry. It’s meant to be used to synch audio recorded in a studio to audio recorded on-set, so that actors can re-take lines that didn’t come out clearly. The focus was making the lines said on in the studio match the lip movement of the actor on set. It turns out that this is PERFECT for getting your doubled vocals tight. I’ve even used it to tighten gang vocals. I suggest the project version of this plugin. It’s cheaper and does a great job for those of use working on short parts of songs. You can get a demo version here:

Try out these demos and let me know what you think. Your recordings will get significantly better the moment you start using them properly. So lock yourself in a room with your rig and test everything about these plugins before your trial periods run out.


The Ultimate Recording Studio Buying Guide For Producers On A Budget

The big multi-million dollar studios are slowly going the way of the dinosaur. That’s fantastic news for anyone entering music production. We’re now living in an age where minimalists get fat, and gear-heads get slaughtered. So today’s recording studios need to buy efficiently.

I’ve seen a lot of buying guides out there for recording studios, but very few of them cross the T’s and dot the I’s. I know from owning several recording studios, the price of a piece of gear isn’t just the sticker price. If you buy a $99 SM57, you also need a microphone cable, and a microphone stand. Depending on your application, the microphone stand can be a cheap regular model or a more expensive boom stand. So, lets take all the estimation and guess work out of it.

There are two different recording studio applications explained below. One is a recording studio with the capability to record drums. The other is a recording studio without the capability to record drums.

  1. Get Pro Tools. It’s the industry standard. I hardly ever see this advice out there, and I’m not sure why. But, you can get Pro Tools today for $29.99 a month. (If you’re a student its only $9.99 a month!) You’ll need an iLok 2.0 ($49.99) to hold your Pro Tools license and activate the software. This iLok will come in handy when you purchase other software licenses as well.

Total Cost: Student $60

Non-Student $80

  1. Get the right audio interface for you. I suggest going with a company whose business is based around its audio interfaces. There is constant updating being done to your software and your computer operating systems. This sometimes interferes with your audio interfaces ability to integrate with your DAW. (Digital Audio Workstation – In this case, Pro Tools) Here is a list of approved interfaces for Pro Tools 12

Take a look at the non-HD options. If you’d like to expand your search, I also suggest trying out something from the Focusrite Scarlett series. They are not on the officially approved list but audio interfaces and preamps are part of Focusrite’s core business. It’s important to their business that they stay compatible with your DAW. If tracking drums is important you can choose the Scarlett 18i20 ($499). It has 8 preamps built in. If you won’t be tracking drums, I’d suggest an interface with two preamps like the Scarlett 2i2 ($149).

Total Cost: Drums $499

Non-Drums $149

  1. Make your monitoring choice headphones. There is more than one way to monitor your audio. Headphones are a fantastic choice for startup recording studios. It’s likely that you have a high-quality set of headphones already. If you don’t, you can try out headphones at music stores and retailers like Best Buy. Remember, if you choose this option, you need two sets of headphones. One set will be for you, the other set will be for your artist. I would suggest sticking around the $49-$79 range when it comes to headphones. That is when they begin to be studio quality. Check the specs on your interface to make sure it has at least two separate headphone outs or invest in a signal splitter.

Total Cost: Two Pair Monitoring Solution $100

One Pair of Studio Headphones $50

  1. Make your monitoring choice traditional monitors. Starter M-Audio and JBL monitors are priced around $129. If possible, go take a listen to these monitors in a music store before you buy them. Keep in mind that you will still need headphones for tracking. Remember that you will need two speaker cables to hook up your monitors. Some monitors come with cables; otherwise this should run you about $12 each ($24).

Total Cost: Monitors Only $129

With Speaker Cable $153

  1. Re-use your microphones. You’ll be able to track everything except drums with only two microphones. A condenser microphone will give you the sound you’re looking for on your vocal and acoustic instrument recordings. A condenser mic is also great as a drum room mic or a drum overhead microphone. I suggest the Rode NT1-A ($229) as a starter condenser microphone. It usually comes with a pop filter a shock mount and an xlr cable.

Next you’ll need a dynamic microphone. Go with a Shure SM57 ($99). You’ll need an xlr cable to go with this ($16). The sure SM57 is great on guitar cabs and percussive instruments. If you’re doing drums you can use this for Snare or Toms.

Now, if you’d like to mic the whole drum set I would suggest something like this to start out. This is the set-up low budget solution I would use. You have an SM57 already. Use that on the snare. Pick up two more SM57’s for the Rack Tom and the Floor Tom ($198).

Next, I would go with something used for a bass drum microphone. Used microphones give you the option to pick up high-end gear at low prices. The reason I like buying used bass drum microphones is simple. They never get hit by a drum stick and the never fall from very high. Check eBay for an AKG D112 ($120).

Now here comes a strange piece of advice. When you’re starting out, it’s likely that you do not have an acoustically tuned room. So for now, skip the room mic. Take the Rode NT1-A and pair it with another Rode NT1-A ($229). It sounds expensive but it’s a very cheap way to get high quality overheads. Consider your choices, you can either buy two cheap microphones to use as your overheads or you can buy one more high-quality Rode NT1-A microphone to provide you with a better solution for a very similar price.

Every one of these microphones is going to need a microphone stand. OnStage is a cheap reliable provider of mic stands. Boom stands are about $25 each but there are bulk discounts.

If you need enough stands for a whole drum set you can get your first six in a set for ($149).

You can get a sturdy kick drum mic stand for (26.95).

If you just need two mic stands you can get them as a set for ($44.99).

You will need Microphone cables for the two extra SM57s and the D112. Planet Waves classic cables are a great solution at about $16 each. ($48)

Total Cost: Drums $1115

No Drums   $389

We are assuming that you have a desk to put your gear on and your computer has the ability to run Pro Tools. Minimum requirements can be found here:

Lets add up the total cost of starting your recording studio!

Item Student Normal

Pro Tools w/ iLok 2











Interface No Drums Full Drum Kit










Headphones All Monitoring Only for artist










Studio Monitors N/A Starter Monitors w/ Cables










Microphones w/ Stands and Cables No Drums Full Drum Kit











Total Studio Startup Cost





For those of you looking to get professional drum sounds on a tight budget, check out the Drumagog demo. It will trigger sampled drum hits right inside of your DAW! It’s free for 14 days at this link:

So this buying guide is not about getting your dream gear. It’s about getting started. Instead of expensive acoustic panels, you can use blankets. Instead of building an echo chamber you can use plugins. If you get yourself set-up this way, you can easily upgrade your equipment when the time’s right.


The Mix Bus A-B Technique (Video)

Having a mix bus lets you apply plugins to your entire mix without applying it to any sample mixes. This allows you to use the A B technique.

A sample mix can be placed inside of your DAW that skips the mix bus and goes directly to your speakers. This keeps the sample mix true.

If you apply the plugins to your master track, the plugins will also affect the sample track. Take a look at this video to see how mixing with a mix bus can help you improve your workflow and ultimately, lead to better mixes.

This video will show you how to apply this to your mix.

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The Four-Dimensional Record Producer

Audio Recordings tell a story in a four-dimensional world. So, we should be thinking about all of those dimensions as we produce a song. Here, I put together a guide for thinking like a four-dimensional record producer.

  1. Depth

Use depth to create a sense of space in the mix. Volume and distance don’t go hand-in-hand when mixing. Clarity undermines distance. So, use effects like delay and reverb to create distance. Start studying sound in your everyday life. Consider what it sounds like to talk to someone who’s in another room. Some high-end gets cut out of that person’s voice because of the indirect route the sound waves take to get to you. You would also likely hear some reverb. If you’re talking to someone through a door, you’ll hear a muffled voice that loses a lot of its high-end. Use your experience with distance in the real world to create depth in your mixes.

  1. Width

Use width not only to separate, but also to build. Panning is a great way to cleanly hear two guitar parts by separating them so each ear can clearly hear one. More importantly, we can tease the listener’s ears with balance adjustments. When the track feels off balance, the listener subconsciously wants to hear it balanced. You can use this to create a sense of tension and release throughout the mix.

  1. Height

Use height to bring one sound over the top of another. When talking about height, we should focus on the faders themselves. Bringing up certain parts creates a hierarchy of importance for our listeners. Listeners focus mostly on the top line, which is usually the vocal and melody. In other parts, you can replace the top line with a different important part by bringing that part to the top.

  1. Time

Use time wisely on recordings. At a show, artists get away with more repetitions and less layers simply because the fans eyesight is engaged. But on a record, we need to add layers (lead guitars, pianos, drum changes, new vocal motifs, background vocals) to keep the listener’s ear engaged. These should be used to build and transition.

Good producers spend time getting great sounds. Four-dimensional producers spend time thinking about where those sounds will fit in the mix. Get out there and start creating four-dimensional recordings!


The 3 Step Guide To Buying A Pro Tools Compatible Computer

You’re ready to make a big investment in a new computer for your audio recording needs. You’ve probably looked up Pro Tools compatibility specs (I’ll include the specs in this article). But, you haven’t been told the whole story. This guide will show you how to get you the gear you need. It will stop you from making mistakes that will cause compatibility problems. And, It’ll save you A LOT of money.

  1. Don’t waste money on system resources you don’t need.

I’m guilty of this one. I went online to the Mac Store and built myself a real beast. It had much more ram and processing than I ever needed. Well over $1000 of ram and processing sat idle while I mixed. Do not invest in extra components. I mixed a record on Pro Tools 12 last week. I used my 2011 MacBook Pro. I had the minimum 4GB of ram and the 2011 version I7 processor. Pro Tools minimum requirement specs are all you need to get started. I’d suggest a ram upgrade if you plan on doing some heavy processing. This means that if you plan to use a lot of virtual instruments or you want to use a significant amount of plugin on 30+ tracks, consider getting 8GB’s of ram. You can even go up to 16 or 32GB’s of ram, but your extra ram is likely to sit idle. So, even if you think you’ll be doing a lot of processing, try out 8GB’s first. Ram upgrades are easy to do. (Unless you buy a Macbook with a Retina display. You cannot upgrade the ram in those.)


  • Intel® Mac with Mac OS X 10.9.0 – 10.9.5 or 10.10.0 – 10.10.3
  • Intel® Core i5 processor
  • 4GB RAM (8GB or more required for video playback)
  • Internet connection for installation
  • 15GB disk space for installation
  • USB-port for iLok 2 authorization
  • USB-port, FireWire-port or Thunderbolt-port for CoreAudio-supported audio device
  • Supports 64-bit AAX plug-ins in Pro Tools


  • Intel® PC with Windows 7 64-bit (Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate Editions) or Windows 8/8.1 (Standard and Pro Editions)
  • Intel® Core i5 processor
  • 4GB RAM (8GB or more required for video playback)
  • Internet connection for installation
  • 15GB disk space for installation
  • USB-port for iLok 2 authorization
  • USB-port or FireWire-port for ASIO-supported audio device

Supports 64-bit AAX plug-ins in Pro Tools

  1. Keep all of your sessions on an external hard drive.

Don’t believe people when they say that you need a Mac because Macs don’t get viruses. I prefer Macs, but you can get a much cheaper PC with very similar specs. If you’re worried about viruses and computer crashes, get a Glyph Drive. Glyph seems to be the industry standard but any drive that spins at 7200 RPMs will work. (This means you can’t use your slower drives so make sure you know the speed.) Solid State drives will also work. Now, just keep all of your sessions on your external hard drive, and you’ll no longer need to worry about viruses and computer crashes. I suggest you frequently backup the information on your external hard drive as well.

  1. Buy used

There are a lot of great computer resellers who make a living in the secondary market. This is especially true when it comes to Macs. They completely wipe used computers and customize it to your needs. Most of the computer resellers are very familiar with the needs of different software’s and will be able to explain how the computer will perform while running Pro Tools. A good place to look for these resellers is on eBay and Amazon. Remember, you’re not looking for a computer from some random person who’s selling his personal computer. You’re looking for a professional who does this for a living. So, take a look into their reviews before you contact them.

Just one more small but important piece of advice. Remember that you need 2 USB ports JUST FOR PRO TOOLS (one for your iLok and one for your interface.) It’s likely that you’ll need a usb port for your keyboard and/or mouse as well.

You’re all ready to go find a computer.