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!

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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.)

Mac:

  • 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

Windows:

  • 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.

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