Q&A – Music Production

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Here’s part 2 of the instagram questions and answers in written form. I decided to split the Q&A into more than two parts, because I realized that it was getting quite lengthy while I was writing. I hope you will find these useful, please let me know your thoughts in the comments below, I’m always happy to read them.

What is the best free synthesizer to make Dubstep?

A lot of the synthesizers that come with your DAW are more capable than you might think! Ableton Live 10 for example comes with a synthesizer called “Wavetable” which is amazing and you can definitely make Dubstep basses with it. The reason why good VST plugins aren’t free is because the developers spend a lot of time and resources on creating them and they also need to make a living, so I think it’s only fair that they get money for their work.

Favorite Granular Synthesizer?

Grain Scanner (for Max4Live), NI Form (for Reaktor) and Grain (In Reason 11) are my favorites at the moment. I use each of them for a different purpose, because they all have their own quirks and ways of working.

Favorite VST Plugins?

The VST Plugins that I actually use frequently are Fabfilter Pro-Q3 and Pro-MB, Saturn 2, Oeksound soothe 2 and the Reason 11 Rack plugin. These are the plugins I would install on a new setup right away, because I consider them essential to my process and style. However, I do believe that you can also make great tracks without any additional software or plugins, they just make your life easier and open up new possibilities.

Best Synthesizer for a new Producer?

Serum is really great for a new producer. It gives you a lot of visual feedback on what it’s doing and there are just endless resources online to learn how to use it. It’s a good starter to learn how things work, which you can then apply to other software.

Post Processing Methods?

Post processing refers to effects and processing applied to the sound after (post) the synthesizer. When working with Serum for example I usually resample the sound to audio clips pretty early and then rearrange and stretch it to create unique flows and sounds. Then I add a lot of effects to it and sometimes resample it again, import it into a granular synthesizer and resample again and so on. The more I process the sound, the more unique and hard to recreate it becomes. There isn’t really a general rule for which effects to use, because each sound calls for different ways to be processed. I think the best way to go about it is to experiment as much as possible and to understand how each effect affects the sound you’re working with, so you can then make educated decisions in the future. Experimentation is always a key part of my process and it’s what keeps it fun and exciting.

Any secret Sound Design Tips?

I don’t know if there’s really any “secret weapon” or something like that, but I would recommend experimenting with vocoders on your basses! A vocoder can be used in many ways and it can change the way you do sound design.

Why do your Tracks sound so “mono”?

I believe that the elements you want the listener to focus on should be front and center. Imagine you’re arranging your sounds like instrument players in an orchestra. The elements you want your audience to focus on are in the middle, so that they can be heard loud and clear. Things like background effects can be further on the sides, since they add atmosphere to the track, but they aren’t necessarily the elements of focus. Another reason is that some live setups in venues are mono, so the wider an element is in your mix, the more you risk phase cancellation issues when it’s brought back to mono. I usually keep my basses mono when sound designing and then just add a little width to the higher frequencies at the end of the chain using something like a reverb.

How to make Sounds pleasing to the Ears?

You can either use a tool like soothe 2 by oeksound, which deals with this issue for you, or you can try to find sharp and unpleasant sounds by removing narrow ranges of unpleasant frequencies with an EQ. You can also pay attention to which effects you use in the first place and adjust their settings accordingly. It’s always better to fix an issue at the source than to try to fix it with EQs later.

Sound Design Process for “Erosion”?

For some of the heavier tracks like Erosion I like to start with just a simple random sample, arrange it and process it with lots of distortion.

How do you master your tracks loud and clean?

The goal of mastering is to get the maximum volume out of a track without destroying your mix with distortion or too much compression. There are different ways to go about this, but mastering isn’t a magic solution to fix problems. If you can, you should always fix issues in the mixing process. A good way to go about mastering is to push your track into a soft clipper until it starts to sound distorted, then to pay attention to which element gets distorted first and then to realize that in order to go louder with your track, that element is the one that would have to be made more quiet in one way or another. Usually lower frequencies are the ones that use up the most “space”, so often times if you wanted to go louder, you would have to make compromises in the low-end.

How do you make intros?

An intro is a great way to bring your listener into the vibe and atmosphere of your track. Depending on the style it can also be used to get the listener excited for what’s to come. I like relatively quiet intros, so that there’s a strong contrast between intro and bassline. The intro slowly introduces some of the sounds from the bassline and prepares the listener for what’s to come. If you see it that way, you can pick the elements you want to use accordingly.

What are your thoughts on Cakewalk, the (free) DAW

I haven’t tried it and from what I’ve seen it’s far behind paid software. I believe if you can, you should invest in a proper DAW, it will definitely be worth it especially if you make money with music.

Keep an eye on my IG (@infektdubstep), I’ll let you guys know when the next part is out!

Much love,
Christian / INFEKT

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