Browsing Tag

Mixing

Watch Part 3 of our Miniseries: Ableton Live 10 In Depth – Mixing w/ Push 2

In a new series, we take a look at Ableton Live 10 in depth with Thomas Glendenning, one of many of our expert instructors in London and one of just 200 (give or take) certified Ableton trainers in the world. For the second video, the focus is on using Ableton’s amazingly intuitive Push 2 controller which is frankly the best and easiest controller to use with Ableton Live 10, due to the level of integration. Thomas teaches Introduction to Music Production (Ableton) with us here in London which, as well as acting as a standalone course, is an integral part of our degree and diploma programmes, both in London and online.

Watch the video below to watch Thomas create a mix with his demo track. Learn about panning, volume levels, compression and EQ, as well as some tips and tricks to help make the mix as clean as possible.

Want to learn how to use Ableton from expert instructors like Thomas? As well as the ITP course, we offer much longer and comprehensive courses, foremost among them our new BA (Hons) in Music Production and DJ Practice, and BA (Hons) in Music Production and Sound Engineering. You can also take the latter as an online degree from anywhere in the world. We offer courses covering production techniques like these at all of our schools, which are completed by Los AngelesIbiza and Mumbai. Any questions? Please get in touch.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

LONDON W OUTLINE

The post Watch Part 3 of our Miniseries: Ableton Live 10 In Depth – Mixing w/ Push 2 appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

Read more here

Learn Seven Ways to Make Better Masters

Mastering is often perceived as the murkiest and most impenetrable stage of the music production process. But our with these tips and techniques to make better masters, hopefully we can get you off on the right track. Mastering forms an integral part of our BA (Hons) in Music Production and Sound Engineering degree, with a dedicated module and more tips and instruction as part of our Art of Mixing and Advanced Mixing modules too. For a taster of what there is to learn, we bring you seven helpful tips to get you on the way to making better masters for your tracks.

  1. Quality in, quality out

The first step on the road to a great master is a great mix, so if you approach the mixdown half-heartedly, thinking you can make up for it at the mastering stage, you’re coming at the whole thing from entirely the wrong direction. The mix should sound essentially ‘finished’ before you render it as a stereo audio file for mastering, with all the dynamics wrangling, EQ shaping and stereo spatialising of every track and bus done and dusted. And when it is time to hit the Export button, remember to remove any mix bus limiting and leave yourself around 6dB of headroom (ie, have the master output peaking at -6dBFS), to give your mastering plugins room for digital manoeuvre.

  1. Reference, reference, reference!

The importance of A/Bing your in-progress project with carefully chosen reference tracks when mastering simply can’t be overstated. You might think your ears are as golden as they come, but even the most experienced mastering engineers will constantly compare the mix they’re working on to other tracks in the same genre, ensuring consistency with proven artistic and commercial standards. It’s good practise to maintain an up-to-date (ie, refreshed over time as the sound of your genre of choice evolves) collection of reference tracks that you both love and know inside out, sonically speaking; and plugins like Sample Magic’s Magic AB and Mastering The Mix’s Reference can make the process of comparing them to your own masters effortless.

Magic AB from Sample Magic will dramtically help you reference tracks

  1. Welcome to the future

There are some incredible mastering-orientated software processors on the market these days, some of them using artificial intelligence and other such sorcery to actively assist you in your engineering. iZotope’s industry-leading Ozone 8 mastering suite, for example, introduced the Mastering Assistant feature, employing machine learning to apply automated EQ and dynamics sculpting to your master, based on genre-specific profiles or an imported reference track. Then there are various ‘matching EQ’ plugins, including IK Multimedia’s Master Match (available singly or as part of the superb T-RackS 5), FabFilter Pro-Q 2 and the one built into Ozone 8. These extract a representative frequency curve from one or more reference tracks, then impose it on your master using spectral processing and EQ. As long as these powerful tools are used as guides rather than definitive ‘set and forget’ solutions, the results they deliver can be truly spectacular.

iZotope Ozone 8’s Mastering Assistant feature uses machine learning to apply automated effects

  1. Don’t overdo it

The most frequently made mistake on the part of the novice mastering engineer is the over-application of compression; the second most frequent is the over-application of EQ. Mastering is mostly about these two particular processes, of course, and approaching either of them without knowing what you’re doing is more likely to damage your mixes than improve them. We can’t teach you everything you need to know here, but if you find yourself cranking the ratio control on your mastering compressor higher than 2:1, you’re probably going too far – head back to the mix and sort whatever dynamic issues you think you’re hearing there instead. Similarly, the need for EQ boosts of more than about 1dB anywhere in the frequency spectrum imply that the mix is unbalanced, so load up that DAW project and take another pass.

  1. Analogue or digital?

Whether to build your mastering chain using analogue-style plugins (or hardware) or the super-transparent processors that only software makes possible will depend on the colouration of the source mix, the amount of corrective compression and/or EQ it needs, and, of course, the kind of sound you’re looking to achieve at the end of the road. For example, if the track has been recorded and mixed using analogue gear or tube-emulating plugins, you might want to keep your mastering effects as unobtrusive as possible, in which case, transparency is the way to go. If, on the other hand, you’re dealing with a sterile, fully in-the-box production, the warmth added by a real or virtual analogue chain can prove transformative. You can, of course, combine the two as well: follow your flawlessy transparent linear phase EQ cuts with an analogue-style limiter, say.

T-RackS Vintage Compressor is one of hundreds of analogue-emulating VSTs that can give you that warm glow

  1. Mastering reverb – handle with care

If you’re really confident in your aural judgment and a particular track feels like it might significantly benefit from it, a very light touch of reverb at the mastering stage can add effective depth, space and air. Obviously, you’ll want to use the highest quality reverb unit or plugin you can get your hands on for this, and extreme caution must be taken in terms of setting the length, dynamics and frequency shaping of the tail. If at any point you get even a fleeting sense that your reverb is incongruous or just too much, dial it back or take it out altogether, and consider going back to the mix instead. And to be absolutely clear, reverb at the mastering stage should only be used to work in a little bit of ambience, never as a frequency or level balancing tool.

  1. You don’t have to do it yourself

Mastering is an art unto itself, requiring not only in-depth technical knowledge of the gear and specific engineering techniques involved, but also – ideally – years of experience. Although mastering suites like Ozone and T-RackS put the tools required to produce amazing masters in the hands of anyone with a few hundred quid to spare, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with hiring an expert to do it for you, especially if the project is important and/or potentially money-making. Online mastering services from big-name studios such as Metropolis, Abbey Road and Real World are affordable, convenient and guaranteed to yield top notch results – and most even let you discuss the mastering process with your assigned engineer via Skype or phone, adding an invaluable educational element into the deal. Certainly worth considering while you’re learning the mastering ropes for yourself.

We hope you find this list helpful, but no article can compare to the proper instruction you will receive when studying the craft. As well as the aforementioned degree programmes (also available online), we teach two shorter courses that cover mastering in London, the Mixing and Mastering award, and Audio Mastering. If you have any questions about any of these courses, or would like to book in for a studio tour, please contact us on +44 20 7729 4884.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

The post Learn Seven Ways to Make Better Masters appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

Read more here

Learn seven ways to get better bass

The bassline is often the most important part of a track although it rarely gets the recognition it deserves. A great bassline either holds the music together, combines with a kick to provide the backbone of the track, or even comes screaming out of your speakers to take the lead. But with such varied uses, bass can be a difficult beast to tame… unless you follow these tips to get better bass. Want more? Check out our music production degrees for the most in-depth tuition we offer.

1. EQ is everything

EQ is the obvious way to bolster a bass, but don’t just assume that randomly boosting your bottom end at all points will do the trick – a good bass sound covers a lot more of the frequencies than you might believe, and is not just about the lows. First, enter the region of approximately 60-100Hz and boost by 6dB and listen to how that sounds. It should add more width or ‘girth’ to your bass sound, but be careful as excessive boosting here can also quickly muddy the low end. If you want more definition then you’ll want to be looking more at the mid-frequency range, and boosting by 6 to 8dB between 500Hz and 1kHz should really make your bass sound stand up and be counted. To increase punch, you sharpen the attack of the sound which you can either do by decreasing its envelope attack time or, within your EQ, by nudging things up around 3kHz (although this will very much depend on your sound and could go up to around 6kHz). Experiment with the bass solo’d and then within your whole mix and you’ll soon hear the drama that happens within each part of its frequency range.

2. Compress to impress

Compression is cool because it helps with two bass-heavy tasks: smoothing out the volume of an uneven bassline and helping add some punch to your sound. A compressor basically controls volume but it’s how it does it that is key and that is all down to the compressor’s settings. To create a more even bass track, you set a threshold to stop the volume of the bass going above a certain level – say -6dB – and a ratio to determine how much it reduces the volume if it goes above that threshold. Two other settings – attack and release – determine how quickly the volume is reduced and then increased after the signal drops below the threshold. A medium attack time will let some of the bass transients through and so give you more punch while a faster attack time and slower release will help smooth over an uneven bass. The actual settings on your compressor really depend on the type of bass sound you are using, but try these settings for punch: a ratio of 4: or 5:1 and attack and release times of between 50 and 100ms. Be careful not to go too fast on either of these as you might introduce some distortion. To smooth out an uneven bassline increase the ration to 6:1, the release time to 250-400ms and lower the attack time to as little as 5ms. At the end of the process, you might want to nudge the gain up as you’ll have reduced it in places. Again, use these settings as a starting point because experimentation is key!

3. Lay your bass on me

Creating the perfect single bass sound with EQ and compression is the ideal scenario but if you’re feeling lazy, don’t be afraid to layer different bass sounds together to toughen your lows up. In the same way as you can layer kicks of different types together – say a boomy sub kick and something a little more clicky – to create one almighty kick drum sound, so you can double up with basses. Just make sure that each one you layer doesn’t clash with the other and that each assumes a different role in the overall sound – one might be responsible for the attack part of the sound, for example. And, if necessary, be prepared to surgically EQ them away from each other so that their frequencies don’t clash.

4. And talking of kicks…

Your kick and bass will be the backbone of your track, but because they have a similar dynamic their relationship can be complex because there will be some crossover in terms of frequency and their pan positions (as both should be placed centrally in your stereo mix). So unless you are aiming to layer the kick and bass tightly together, almost creating a single sound – perhaps using a sine wave type sub-bass sound as part of your kick drone – you will need to make sure they sit apart in your mix so they don’t clash. This could be as simple as not playing a bass note at the same time as the kick but this obviously limits your arrangement options. The best idea is to take some of the EQ ideas from the first tip above. Use a spectrum analyser to examine both the kick and bass sound visually so you can see with surgical precision where each sound clashes so can either ‘lift’ the bass away from the kick or vice versa (lift the kick or lower the bass).

5. Programming your bass

You might want a bassline to stay static and unnoticed and that’s fine. If its job is just to bind your track together or to act as its backbone then a solid bass sequence doesn’t have to do much at all – just keep it punchy and not too overpowering in terms of girth (see tip 1). But if you want more interest you can easily get more dynamics with some simple programming tricks. A lot of synth bass sounds alter with velocity – the harder you press a note, the higher the resonance, for example – so at the very least introduce velocity changes as your bassline progresses. Adding legato – where notes almost sweep and slide into each other – is also a great option to introduce a more dynamic feel to a bassline, and even simply taking a note or two within a sequence up an octave will also make a bassline stand out and bounce along.

6. The many uses of the filter

Early dance music introduced the idea of subtle – actually not that subtle – filtering of basslines. Those early acid squeals were all about resonating and raising filter cutoff frequencies of the TB-303 bassline synth, and while that sound endures to this day, the filter has become an important tool for other bass programming tasks. You can use high or low pass filtering to keep sounds away from one another in the mix – as described above with EQ – or use a high pass filter to remove unwanted low end rumble frequencies (sub 30Hz) in either a kick or bass sound. Another tried and tested filter idea is to introduce movement to a bassline via an LFO. Apply this to your filter cutoff frequency for all sorts of effects – from acid screaming to dubstep wobble – or at a much lower rate for really subtle changes in the sound as it progresses through a sequence.

7. Effects? Not really…

Finally, as a general rule, ease off the effects with basslines because they can quickly be overpowered and muddied. Delays, in particular, can sound great in isolation but can quickly get out of control in a mix and reverbs and choruses can start spreading your bass love across the soundstage – not a great idea as you should keep it central. Distortion and overdrive effects can work on a bass sound if it’s quite a simple sub or synth sound to start with, but try not to go overboard.

So there you have it – seven easy-to-follow tips for getting the most from your bass. We offer tuition in music production at all of our school in London, Los Angeles, Ibiza, Mumbai and online, so if you want to get into more detail – you know what to do. To find out more, give us a call or drop us an email, finding our contact details here.

 

The post Learn seven ways to get better bass appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

Read more here

Sample our Brand New BA (Hons) Online Degree Programme | Week 4: The Art of Mixing

If you’re looking to get a taste of what it’s like to learn on our innovative online platform, here’s your chance! We’ve now updated our sample courses to include a taster of our new Online BA (Hons) in Music Production and Sound Engineering degree course. The course consists of eight modules included in the full online degree programme, designed to give you a taste of what you can expect when you study online with us. This is the fourth week of eight in which we’ll be giving you a taste of what each module entails, as well as showing you one of the videos from the corresponding module’s course materials. Don’t forget, we also have a host of online courses besides our BA (Hons) degree programme covering music production, sound design and much more – head here for our full range of online courses.

In week four we take a look at one of the most important aspects of making music of any kind: the mix. At the end of the module, students will gain knowledge of balancing, panning, EQ, aural perception, compression, limiting, gates and effects, plus a myriad of tricks and hints from working industry professionals. For the free sample course, you can take a look at three pages from the module using both Ableton & Logic. The first looks at corrective compression, which smooths peaks in volume leaving a much smoother sound. The second looks at convolution reverb – essentially sampling real or virtual spaces, for a more roomy reverberation. The third looks at using a high-pass filter: cutting the low end from instruments and components that pick up baggage from the room or effect manipulation. Take a look at the video above for a video introduction to the high-pass filter in Logic Pro.

To take the sample course yourself, head here, and get a flavour of the quality, style and content you can expect when studying online with Point Blank. Remember though, this is only a taster – to get the full experience complete with live interaction with tutors, forum interaction with fellow students and assignment feedback, you’ll have to enrol on a live course!

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

If you register with Point Blank, you can access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

The post Sample our Brand New BA (Hons) Online Degree Programme | Week 4: The Art of Mixing appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

Read more here

Monthly Roundup December 2017: Look Mum No Computer, Sweatson Klank & More

As we ease into the new year, bleary-eyed from the near-hibernation of the festive period, we thought it a good time for a reminder of our favourite content from last year’s final month. This is no exercise in buying time until the cobwebs are shaken though – before our annual retrospective we produced some of our favourite content of the year in December, including as always the educational, the interesting and the informative. Check out our Monthly Roundup December 2017 below. As always, our content is designed to help students and curious readers alike to gain insight and expertise in all facets of the music industry. To take this to the next level, head to our pages for schools in London, LA, Ibiza, Mumbai and Online.

Look Mum No Computer – Live at Point Blank

We welcomed him back once again last month, and once again he finds himself at the head of our list of our favourite content for the month. Infectious and inspiring stuff from one of the most enthusiastic performance you’re likely to see at the knobs and keys.

Seven Ways To Make The Perfect Mix

Seven more tricks, this time to help with the mixing process. Pointers like these are commonplace but, having tried these out ourselves, know they are well worth giving a go.

Sweatson Klank on Teaching at PBLA

Sweatson Klank exudes that cool, easy-going demeanour that LA people seem to be born with. Don’t let that fool you though, the producer is an incredibly hard-working professional, and has been with Point Blank LA since it opened its doors. Here he speaks with us from his favourite LA digging spot, High Fidelity, about what teaching and mentoring means to him.

Behind the Scenes at Point Blank: Ricky Vianello

Every now and again we try and catch up with one of our extremely talented team of employees to give you a taste of what everyone is getting up to when they’re not helping to make the school the industry leader it is. This time we caught up with our senior studio assistant Ricky Vianello, also one half of Tapefeed, to find out about his productions and parties.

A Beginners Guide to Making a Track in Abelton

PB Instructor Saytek is joined by DJ Ravine for a very basic guide to making a track in Ableton. Beginners can follow this – all you need is a free trial version of the software and some free sample packs – and begin their own journey in making music.

If you enjoy this content, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. If you’d like to get into music production or take yours to the next level, then consider our BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering Degree in which you can learn everything you need to know about music production including mixing, mastering, composition and music business. We also offer an online alternative, our online BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering Degree. You can check out our whole range of online courses here.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

The post Monthly Roundup December 2017: Look Mum No Computer, Sweatson Klank & More appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

Read more here

Join Us for the next PBLA Open House w/ Brian Markman: December 7

We’re back with another PBLA Open House event at our gorgeous location in the Mack Sennett Studios in Los Angeles. Point Blank Los Angeles will be open to the public on the evening of December 7, giving anyone curious about the school, or our courses, the chance to get the answers they need right from the mouths of those who teach them. PBLA expert instructor Brian Markman will be giving a special masterclass on how to have a powerful workflow with Ableton Live, from the studio to the stage. Also, take a tour of our home in the famous hundred-year-old studios and get a look at the state-of-the-art equipment we exclusively use. All you need to do is click attending on Eventbrite to book your place.

Join PBLA instructor Brian Markman for Powerful Workflow with Ableton Live: from the Studio to the Stage. Markman began his career over 12 years ago playing records in acid jazz clubs before becoming one of the US’ most notable champions of drum & bass, which he used to play at raves around the country. In 2011 he became an Ableton Certified Trainer and he now teaches engineering, production and performance. For this very special masterclass, he will be bringing hardware synthesizers to the table as well as demonstrating different racks and set-ups in Ableton Live, looking at both production and performance.

The full itinerary for the event is as follows:

7:00pm: Open House arrival, welcome and meet the instructors
7:30pm – 8:15pm: Powerful Workflow with Ableton Live Masterclass with Brian Markman.
8:15pm – Close: Prize giveaway / networking /  tour

Don’t forget, to grab a free place at the event you’ll need to RSVP to the Eventbrite page here.

Thinking of joining us at PBLA? We offer more introductory courses in production and DJing, plus more advanced courses in audio mastering and the art of mixing. You can mix and match any of the three-month classes we offer and take up to three at the same time. For more information, contact a course advisor or, if you’re in the USA, give us a call on 323 282 7660. If you’re calling internationally, use the number +44 20 7729 4884.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

The post Join Us for the next PBLA Open House w/ Brian Markman: December 7 appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

Read more here