Category Archives: Productivity

Bedroom Producer Setup – Process, Gear, and Tips

It’s now easier than ever to become a bedroom producer, but with so many options, there can sometimes be very little guidance as to how to get started. A good bedroom producer setup should be in tune with you musically. You should also think it out beforehand so you know it will work with your musical goals. Then, you won’t make any unnecessary investments. 

This article will take you through the basic steps of setup, creating a place to mix and master, and how to tackle the challenges if you are a bedroom producer, don’t have budget to master, or can’t afford much analog gear. 

We’ll also touch on some of the best plugins, whether there is any given genre for a bedroom producer and more. Plus, we’ll look at the easiest way to cover every part of the signal chain for cheap, and what to do if you don’t have space for a proper studio, so read on for the comprehensive guide and some tips for getting started. 

So you want to create a home studio 

So you want to create a home studio and become a bedroom producer. Even though this might sound like it will cost a huge amount of money, it’s really not that hard. One of the biggest considerations is soundproofing and finding the pace where you can safely keep your gear, as well as setting up a monitor for your DAW and finding an area for taking good recordings, whether vocals or mic’ing up an amp. 

Soundproofing a bedroom producer setup

Soundproofing is one of the hardest parts of setting up a home studio and often one of the costliest. You can minimize a lot of the cost simply by choosing the right space to begin with. 

If you’re a bedroom producer, you most likely won’t be able to soundproof your room fully. Normally, soundproofing involves the use of a floating floor and floating walls so there is a gap between the walls and floor of your studio and the main part of the house. This prevents sound traveling through the walls to the space you’ll be recording in. 

If you can’t manage this, then, how do you soundproof a room? You will need to simply add more mass to muffle the acoustics. You can do this by adding floating fabric panels to the walls or at least one wall, as well as investing in a mic shield and pop filter for when you are recording vocals. 

Monitors

Finding a good pair of monitors is always important! If you’re really on a budget, you may be able to skip this step and just listen to your music through a pair of high-quality producers’ headphones. However, if you’re really serious, it’s best to ultimately invest in a good pair of studio monitors that will allow you to hear your track out loud, like your listeners may do. 

How to choose monitors for your bedroom producer setup

Essentially, you can expect to pay up to around 300 USD for monitors at a beginner level, but that’s not including the costs of other parts of your monitor setup such as mounting them on stands or the foam cushioning needed for this. Brands like Yamaha and IK Multimedia do affordable budget monitors that are ideal for beginner home producers. 

With monitors, you should consider whether you want active or passive speakers. Passive speakers are less expensive, but each variety of speaker or monitor comes with its pros and cons. Passive speakers have to be plugged into an external power socket whereas active speakers have an in-built battery and therefore don’t require external cables for the amplifier. 

Most studio monitors are active and that’s because passive monitors have to be split into multiple components such as subwoofers or eternal amplifiers and so on. This also means that matching impedance within your speaker and amplifier is important so opting for passive monitors, although initially cheaper, is more complex. However, some prefer them as they offer more sonic flexibility over actives. 

Space Consideration For Your Bedroom Producer Setup

When setting up as a bedroom producer, there are a few extra things you should consider in terms of space. Even if you don’t have the ability or budget to put extensive soundproofing in because you’re in a flatshare or similar, you can still do your best to ensure the best sound simply by looking around the room. 

One thing you will have to look out for is standing waves, which can cause interference when sound waves bounce off the walls. This means your mics then sense them. You can do this by positioning your set-up away from any major reflective surfaces. When you position your monitors, they’ll also have to be at least half a meter away from the wall and pointed toward where you will be sitting to produce. Therefore, consider where in your space you set up with reference to the entirety of your workflow. 

Gear

When choosing gear for your bedroom producer setup or home studio, you may have a limited budget and limited space. As a result, think carefully about what you want hardware gear for, how often you will use it, and your genre. What things do you have to have and what can you find a VST substitute for? There are some great VSTS out there on the market now and you may not necessarily have to get the hardware version. There are no specific bedroom producer plugins, although it sometimes hints at lofi, bedroom producer setup does not imply a genre so focus on what you would want to buy as hardware instruments and take it from there. 

That said, some of the top things we think it is good to have hardware of simply because of the scope of sound include a good hardware synth, depending on your genre, one or two amps and the necessary mics for them, and potentially a drum set depending on the genre you are using. You may also like something like Ableton Push depending on your preferred style of working. 

One of the most crucial bits of hardware you will have to get is a MIDI keyboard. Yes, you can go without one, by entering notes manually on your laptop or by only using analog recording, but it broadens the scope of instruments you can use and saves you time. 

Mastering

You may wonder whether it’s worth getting any gear for mastering. You may be a bedroom producer, don’t have budget to master, or don’t want to get into the complexities of the mastering process. Don’t worry. Mastering is a process all of its own and in professional studios artists do it with a mastering engineer who specifically on focuses on this. You can substitute with an online mastering service such as the many you can find reviewed on this blog

Remember, there is no right or wrong genre for a bedroom producer. However, some genres might require more analog gear that takes up more space, such as a classic rock band with a full drum kit set up. If you’re stuck, remember you can get a lot of these classic instruments as really good true-to-life emulations

Common Mistakes Before Bedroom Producer Setup

There are lots of great products and places for advice on how to start with a home studio setup. However, there are also some common pitfalls to avoid. Though by no means exhausted, some of the ones to watch out for as a bedroom producer just starting out are: 

Not doing enough research 

Research, research research! How can you know what gear would suit your setup best until you have tried it out? To fully get your space in order, it’s best not just to read reviews (although we have some great ones here) but also to do physical research, watch tutorials, and so on. 

Think about what you want – is tone and technically a big deal or are you just making a studio for fun? Is versatility most important or do you need specialist gear for a niche genre? Knowing also what gear works with your space in terms of acoustics as well as different types of technology such as active or passive speakers will also help you decide, as well as knowing your genre for a bedroom producer setup. 

Not Understanding Sound And Signal Flow

It may sound obvious, but in the excitement of buying gear it’s easy to forget this. Having a basic knowledge of signal flow from your mic to your monitors – whether that’s a mic for vocals or a drum kit or amp – is crucial. This will allow you to see how your gear fits together, where you will work, and so on. 

Understanding basic sonic concepts like decibels, ohms, and standing waves will also allow you to get to grips with your monitors and the sound of your space and therefore let you choose your gear and setup more wisely. Yes, you can learn this stuff as you go along. But doing a bit of research can take you a long way. 

Trying to cut costs 

Whilst this may be tempting if you can’t wait to get producing, trying to cut costs may hold you up further down the line as you end up with gear that doesn’t work the way you want or suit your workflow. Yes, it can be fun to have lots of gear, but in a limited space you may find that something that isn’t right for you means there are gaping holes left up in your setup before you research this. 

Conclusion 

All in all, one of the hardest parts of being a bedroom producer or creating a home studio is the actual getting started. As it sometimes means you have to prepare your space beforehand, it may not seem like you have the opportunity. However, with some smart thinking, even the smallest space can be converted into a decent home studio for a relatively low cost. Plus, this can be one that will hopefully inspire you and get you in the mood for creating killer mixes right from the comfort of your bedroom.

Like tutorials? Remember, we have a whole section here.

Musicians’ Guide to Midi Polyphonic Expression: What is MPE, MPE VSTs, and History DONE

MPE is one of the most significant developments in synthesis since the introduction of digital. Yet still, many musicians still find themselves wondering ‘what is mpe’ or ‘what does mpe stand for?’ when they see it listed on a synth. So, if you may have seen the term ‘midi polyphonic expression’ and are unsure about what it actually means, his article is your crash course.

Here, we will break down common questions like ‘what is mpe midi’ and ‘how does mpe work?’ as well as going deeper into the best compatible gear out there and when and why you might use it, so read on…

What is MPE?

What is MPE? MPE, standing for midi polyphonic expression, is one of the latest innovations in synthesis since the development of digital FM synths. However, MPE is not a kind of synthesis. Instead it is a way of playing that makes synths sound more like actual instruments. 

How does it do this? MPE gives the musician control over specific parameters of individual notes such as velocity, glide, aftertouch, and so on. It is these qualities that give music an analog, human-like feel, even if it was digitally created. 

When MPE first burst onto the scene with the brand Haken, it was unclear as to whether it would catch on. However, MPE has come a long way since then. It now spans a range of instruments from controllers to digital VSTs to full-fledged synths at more affordable prices. Read on for the breakdown. 

What Can MPE Do?

MPE can apply all the parameters when you play a non-synthesized instrument. This are things such as string bending, velocity, aftertouch, individual note loudness, and so on – to individual synthesized notes. 

In case you’re not sure why this is a big deal, at one point this was very difficult to do on a synth. If you wanted to pitch bend, for example, you could use a pitch bending wheel. However, this would apply the bend to all the notes. So, if you were playing a chord, every note would be bent. This led to synthesized music being obviously that – and could sometimes be clunky compared to playing an actual instrument. 

No more. MPE brought in the intuitiveness of playing a physical instrument, to synthesis. Now these minute details and expressiveness could apply to individual notes, bringing the warmth and human character to synthesis that some might have felt it was lacking. 

Why might you want to use it? 

At first, some musicians thought midi polyphonic expression might just be a gimmick. However, as time wore on, it has become a relatively embedded part of playing. It enables you to play synths like you would a stringed instrument or piano, which is no small feat. The differences between MPE and non-MPE might not seem easy to hear at first, but in the end, there is an expressiveness lacking from tracks that don’t have it – and some of the weird sounds, layers, and textures you can get from midi polyphonic expression enable you to take synthesis to new territory. 

In short, MPE is great for: 

  • Creating solo lines that sound like a guitar or violin 
  • Experimental music
  • Layering sound and creating texture 
  • Blending with real instruments 
  • Making synthesis sound more human

The Story of MPE and Equipment Guide

You may also find yourself wondering about mpe equipment, or ‘what is mpe ableton’ and if it is the same. Likewise, if you want mpe explained, it helps to know this process operates across VSTs, hardware instruments, AND specific controllers.

MPE in Ableton does refer to the same technique. It merely shows the popular DAW is mpe compatible, especially with mpe controllers. These are ways of adding midi polyphonic expression to your tracks and to instruments that don’t have a built-in expressive keyboard.

At the most basic level, MPE controls are quite fiddly and expensive for synth manufacturers to build into their machines. This is doubly difficult if you don’t have a keyboard on your machine, as is the case with many desktop synths. 

Here comes the MPE controller. You may have heard of machines like the ROLI Seabord series or Linnstrument, but what do these controllers actually do? Simply put they are keyboards (in the broadest sense, for not all of them follow the black and white keyed layout of a classic midi keyboard) that you can hook up to your computer. In this way you are able to control a VST synth, or hook up to a hardware synth to control it that way. 

Beyond the ubiquitous controller, some synths have built-in MPE capacity to some extent. This is regardless of whether it applies only to aftertouch, or they have a few glide wheels thrown in. One of the biggest, however (made in tandem with Haken Audio) is the Expressive E Osmose. The Osmose has unique keys that can control midi polyphonic expression through wiggling or gliding them. This allows ultimate fulfillment of parameters with the granular detail of being able to apply them to individual notes. 

What Are Some of the Best MPE Instruments?

The ‘best’ MPE instrument is a hard choice, but we’ve made this short and handy table to demonstrate the different categories. Our criteria involved creativity but also intuitiveness and how good the gear is as a gateway into MPE. 

SynthsControllersVSTs
Sequential OB-6LinnstrumentSurge XT
Expressive E OsmoseHaken SLIM ContinuumArturia Prophet 5
Ableton Push 3ROLI Seabord SeriesAbleton Drift
Haken Audio Eagan Matrix ModelROLI Block MMoog Animoog and Moog Model 15
Sequential Prophet 6UVI Falcon
Modal Electronics SKULPTXFER Records Serum
Ashun Sound Machines Hydrasynth SeriesNative Instruments Reaktor

Of course, this is no means an exhaustive chart of the MPE-compatible gear that is out there. However, these are some of the most well-known and popular that are worth further research if you want to get started.

MPE Parameter Guide

So now you have an overview of MPE, what is this technology actually like to use? We have briefly summarised some of the main musical features that midi polyphonic expression can provide you with, and how it does this in a way that surpasses what you could do with an ordinary synth…

Vibrato

Vibrato is exactly what it sounds like – the means by which musicians playing a stringed instrument would subtly vibrate the string for extra emotion. What’s more, vibrato is common for vocalists, guitarists, and violinists, but it’s hard to achieve on a keyed instrument like a synth and even harder to achieve on a single-note basis.

Depending on the model of synth you have, you may have a feature called something like ‘wobble’ to indicate vibrato. Simply said, on a fingerboard or other controller, wobbling your finger side to side can create a fantastic individual note vibrato that sounds just like you were on a real guitar – yet with whatever sound or waveform you desire.

Velocity

Velocity is a term you might be familiar with from synthesis. It broadly refers to the strength and intensity with which a note comes in. It’s easy to do on a synth but hard to control on a note-by-note basis before the introduction of MPE.

Aftertouch

Aftertouch refers to the subtle changes in sound as you lift your finger from a note. This is a feature that gives your playing much of a human element. It’s also why synthesis can sometimes sound mechanical or robotic. Aftertouch is not confined to mpe and is a bonus feature of many well-created synth keyboards.

Glissando

Lastly, glissando is another term for glide – similar to pitch bending, gliding from one note to another. This was hard to recreate on a note-by-note basis but with midi polyphonic expression, you can now experiment with in all its glory. It was previously hard to replicate on synths but with mpe has become much easier.

Pitch Bending

Pitch bending is also exactly what it says. It refers to how on an instrument like guitar you would bend a pitch up towards your desired note. Thus, you are creating a smooth and melodic sound that encompasses half tones and microtones too.

Controlling this on a note-by-note basis is again one of the great features of midi polyphonic expression, allowing for never-seen-before layering of sound that can create fantastic atmospheric backdrops or leads.

Final Thoughts

This is just a brief rundown on the history and development of MPE, and its modern manifestations. The field is still relatively young, in synthesis terms – so it’s likely we may see it catch on more until it becomes an expected staple. Furthermore, it’s ripe for new developments, and the pioneering minds behind modern synths are making sure to include MPE more and more. 

If you liked this article, we have more on the specifics of MPE, such as the best MPE-compatible VSTs, as well as MPE synths compared with our guides to everything you need to get started with in MPE. 

Best MPE Hardware Rundown: MPE Synth VST Compatibility, Price, and Sound

We’ve previously done an article on the best MPE software – namely, great synth VSTs that are compatible with MPE controllers such as the ROLI Seabord series – but what about the best MPE hardware itself?

This list spans both controllers and MPE-compatible synths. Due to the nature of MPE, hardware can range from individual machines to controllers that are meant to operate with a VST to full-fledged synths with keyboards. Read on for a breakdown of just some of the great variations within this category. Stuck choosing? This overview should help you see where you might get started if you want to add some hardware to your home studio… 

Best MPE Hardware Controller Overall: The Linnstrument

The Linnstrument has been going for quite a while and like the Haken Continuum (below) has been one of the pioneers in MPE hardware controllers. It takes the intuition of a piano keyboard and adapts it to the requirements of expressive playing more in the manner of a stringed instrument. 

This means you don’t get a classic octave or two of piano keys, instead, its unique grid layout of buttons is arranged in semitones so that the subtle bends and slides you may want for expressive composition are easier to achieve than ever. 

It has five dynamic and expressive modes of playing each individual button, which has informed later instruments such as the expressive E osmose, pioneering the idea that touch has more than one dimension and opening up the airwaves for more nuance in playing. These are: 

  • Strike velocity 
  • Pressure
  • Left Right
  • Front back 
  • Release velocity 

Again, these are an average selection of what some of the best mpe hardware fingerboards can do. But it’s a great reason why the Linnstrument still stands out as it’s one of the easiest and most iconic, and doesn’t take long to master these controls, even if you are a newbie.

Linnstrument Price: Averages 1000 – 1300 USD

Availability: https://www.rogerlinndesign.com/linnstrument

Best MPE Hardware Classic Controller: Haken Continuum

The Haken Continuum may be old by MPE standards, but it makes this list due to it’s pioneering nature as well as the fact that it’s had recent updates with the arrival of the Continuum slim keyboard. All in all, the continuum does what it’s name suggests and is all about smooth, continuous analogue-style sounds. 

MPE is about getting the character and nuance that comes with playing analog plucked or keyed instruments to apply to digital synths. Think of the individual differences in volume of sustain that affect the keys on a piano as well as the slides and pitch bending of any great guitar player. The continuum is a keyboard set up to allow you to mimic this with as much sensitivity as playing a real guitar, piano, violin, or other instrument. It is available in either 70 half-step or 46 half-step versions. However, it also has its own internal sound engine, containing the following:

  • subtractive synth engine
  • physical modeling
  • spectral sets with micro analyzation
  • 330 microsecond scanning of keyboard surface for ultra sensitivity
  • EaganMatrix modular sound engine

Continuum Price: Ranges from 4000 to 6000 USD depending on the model. Yes, it’s not cheap! However, this is one of the original pioneer instruments in MPE – or at least an updated remodel – so you are really getting a bit of music history too.

Availability: https://www.hakenaudio.com/slim-continuums

Best Higher-Investment Keyboard Synth Crowd Pleasers: OB-6, Prophet 6

Now for two actual synths! These guys aren’t MPE controllers in themselves, but from Sequential, both the OB-6 and Prophet 6 are fully compatible with your MPE controller of choice. They also both come with keyboards.

If you’re just getting started and want something that hits the sweet spot, producing interesting yet classic sounds without being too experimental, both of these are for you. 

However, if you are stuck, here are the similarities and differences to see what great features you could be adding MPE to: 

OB-6Prophet 6
faithful recreation of the original Tom Oberheim ring modulator and phase shiftersemi-weighted 4-octave keyboard also features velocity and channel aftertouch
faithful recreation of the original Tom Oberheim ring modulator and phase shifterfresh, newly designed VCOs with variable, triangle, and sawtooth waves, 4 pole lowpass and two pole high pass filter
digital effects but entirely analog sound due to true bypasssemi-weighted 4 octave keyboard
one knob per functionmore complex programming, including unison mode. entirely analog signal path.
semi-weighted 4 octave keyboard also features velocity and channel aftertouchsemi-weighted 4-octave keyboard
x modulation, polyphonic step sequencer, filter cutoff and filter mode, sync steps to external MIDI clockArpeggiator also syncs to MIDI clock
500 factory programs, 500 rewritable user programs 500 factory programs and 500 rewritable user programs as well as live panel mode where sound and effects follow exact positions of knobs in real time

OB-6 Price: 2500 to 3500 USD

Availability: https://sequential.com/product/ob-6/

Prophet 6 Price: 3500 to 4500 USD

Availability: https://sequential.com/product/prophet-5/

Best MPE Hardware Synth for Portability: Audiothingies MicroMonsta 2

As a desktop synth, the MicroMonsta, true to its name, is small and portable. It’s ultimately up to you which controller you use with it, but as it’s MPE compatible, it’s the perfect choice to add your Linnstrument, ROLI Seabord series, or more to. This is one of the best mpe hardware desktop synths and we’ve included it here as a cheaper option. However, it also shows just why you shouldn’t overlook desktop options in favor of more publicized mpe specific synths.

We like it for the best features to compactness and ease of use ratio. But if you have something specific in mind, the Micromonsta stands out with the following features for you to experiment with to my heart’s content:

  • 3 LFOs and three oscillator, lag, and multi-operators
  • deep modulation matrix
  • delay and reverb, 8 filter types with FM synthesis
  • per voice and per oscillator detuning for ultra-organic, authentic analog sounds
  • portable desktop synth that is easy to take on tour or to gigs
  • character parameters for filters – hard, soft, mean and so on

Price: 290 USD – definitely one of the cheapest pieces of gear on this list and just a small look at the great desktop mpe synth options.

Availability: https://www.audiothingies.com/product/micromonsta2/

Behringer UBXA: Best Classic Emulation

Behringer is known for making affordable versions of favorite instruments and this time is no exception. We include the Behringer UBXA because it’s an affordable version of a classic synth that is MPE compatible, bringing vintage sounds right into the era of present innovations. In this case, it represents the Oberheim XA Poly. It’s also one of the best mpe hardware options with a split keyboard, for creating walls of sound and cinematic layering, really exploring all the nuance mpe can do.

This is our choice for those who like a combination of classic and modern. Just some of the great features include:

  • VCOs and VCFs modeled off the original oscillator design chips of the classic Oberheim XA poly 
  • Faithful recreation 
  • Ability to split the keyboard and layer riffs and sounds 
  • 16 voices 
  • Velocity and aftertouch 

Price: 1000 – 1500 USD

Availability: https://www.behringer.com/product.html?modelCode=0722-AAF

Waldorf Iridium: Best Outside the Box Synth 

The Waldorf iridium works in much the same way as some of the other instruments on this list. It doesn’t have a keyboard of its own to realize MPE, but it’s compatible with any great MPE controller like the Seabord series or the Linnstrument. 

What causes it to make this list is its character and qualities as a synth. It’s not often that you get both the expressiveness of MPE compatibility with the following great features: 

  • Particle synthesis (both sampling and granular) 
  • Wavetable, waveform, and resonator synthesis
  • Kernel synthesis 

These give you, again, unprecedented sensitivity and nuance. One of the best things about the Iridium is that these kinds of synthesis are found less often. So, to have them available in such an intuitive synth WITH MPE compatibility is basically the cherry on top for an instrument that is very exciting and underrated anyway.

Price: Ranges from 1800 to 2000+ USD

Availability: https://waldorfmusic.com/iridium-en/

Final Thoughts

So, we have a varied selection. We can’t include every great piece of MPE hardware here and it’s difficult to choose whether to get into the nitty gritty of different controllers or the synths you can attach them to. Overall MPE is a very broad category that ranges from cheap VSTs to highly expensive fingerboard controllers. However, we have endeavored to include a range of choices on this list so there is something for every level and budget.

Our criteria here range from features to playability to how well the sounds of a synth in question go with the possibilities unlocked by MPE. All in all, it’s a really hard decision, but we hope the choices here can show you an inspiring snapshot of some of what is out there. 

If you liked this, we have more in our great hardware section here. And if you want more on MPE, we have the guide to MPE software as listed in the introduction of this article, plus a comparison of different MPE gear here. 

7 Tested Ways for Sampling Great Sounding Guitar

Guitar sampling is great for inspiring any guitarist, but did you know you can use it in more ways than one to spice up your production? Likewise, as a producer or electronic musician, lush guitar samples can make or break a track if used in the correct way. 

However, without knowledge of the other side, you may end up falling back on VST instruments and pre-made loops. This article is for if you want to go beyond the basics and learn some creative ways to incorporate guitar samples into tracks from pop to rock, indie, alternative, industrial, and beyond. 

1. Experiment With Handheld Recorders for Guitar Sampling

Handheld sampling is exactly what it says. Generally, it’s using a handheld recorder held near your source of sound. This creates a more rough and ready sample that you can modify depending on how slickly produced your track is. However, it creates a fantastic sound for alternative pop, rock, and indie music. 

What Is The Best Portable Audio Recorder for Guitar Sampling?

To start off with this, we would recommend a handheld sampler like the Tascam DR – 0X7. This one samples in stereo and provides great clear sound yet is also easy to work with and portable. Click here to see listings available on reverb.com

Best for: When you need a relatively low-key and organic sample that you can be flexible with. 

3. Get the Most Out of Hardware Samplers

Why might you want to use a hardware sampler for guitar? Adding some elements that cross lines between guitar and synthesis can take your production to the next level. It can really get you thinking about the sound of guitar like a synth player – and what builds it from the bottom up. 

Hardware samplers mean you can combine your guitar samples with other FX, bring them together with a sequencer, and much more.

What is the Best Portable Handheld Sampler?

We recommend a great affordable handheld sampler like Teenage Engineering’s PO-33 for this. However, classic brands like Roland also have their own options with the Sp-404-SX at a higher budget.

How to Use Hardware Samplers for Guitar Sampling

Most hardware samplers have plenty of FX. Therefore, combining guitar sampling with a hardware sampler is an excellent way of using guitar samples in your live shows. A bigger budget hardware sampler like some of those by Arturia or Elektron (such as the model:samples) can give your samples a great live sound. Plus, they have all the benefits of a physical instrument that tend to suit guitarists best.

Best for: modifying the sound of your original sample and combining analog synthesis with guitar-based music. 

3. Don’t Discount the Room Mics

How can you use room mics for guitar sampling? Depending on the type of mic you’re using (more on this later!) they can actually be a great source of samples. In fact, you can modify them to give you sounds slightly different from just plain guitar recordings.

Using Room Mics in Guitar Sampling and Recording

Even when you do this, the quality of your original sample is still important. It also still has an effect on your end result. However, this can be a great tip for when a sample doesn’t end up how you like it. Turning it into an atmospheric background means you can still use it even if it didn’t end up how you wanted. 

Best for: atmosphere, especially for creating weird samples that are originally guitar based but which don’t end up sounding like guitar.

4. Choose the Right FX to Add

It’s easy to debate whether taking great samples in the first place with great playing is more important, or whether you can save bad samples with decent FX processing. In truth, there’s a bit of both involved. No amount of good recording equipment will fix a bad guitarist. Likewise, no matter how well you process it, you can’t always cover up a bad sample. 

Why Use FX Processing on Your Guitar Samples?

Despite commitments to authentic sound, FX processing is still a really important part. This is what can get you a granular sound in terms of genre. A basic electric guitar sample can be warped beyond recognition for industrial or kept low-key for an indie-pop track.

Best for: Adding extra emotions or atmosphere to samples and defining your sound

5. Touch Up Guitar Sampling With Envelope Modification

You can use envelope modification to touch up guitar samples in many ways. One of the difficulties guitarists might encounter is there can be simply too much extra noise. Adjusting the decay and sustain can reduce this and make guitar samples sound crisper and cleaner. 

Likewise, if your original samples are not very punchy, adding more attack can ensure that they hit hard enough. 

How to Find the Perfect Sound for Guitar Sampling with ASDR Envelopes

The one thing to bear in mind is for an analog instrument like a guitar, there is a limit to what an envelope can fix. There’s no point in adjusting tons of envelope parameters if your original sample isn’t any good. But consider using the envelope creatively to warp samples and in the same way as you can use FX. Try giving your samples some really long decay, for example, for really weird-sounding guitar that you can then save to a pad…

Best for: Touching up samples after you’ve taken them

6. Choose the Right Mic

Mic choice is always important when taking great guitar samples. When using a handheld sampler, the reality is you don’t have much control over mic choice. Yet, you can add FX and touch ups later on during the processing stage. 

How To Choose the Right Mic for Guitar Sampling

However, if you’re taking samples via recording, it helps to know which mic is which. Dynamic mics are high quality, crisp, and clear, but are less warm than condenser mics. They are great for amplified instruments like guitars and you can use them to sample guitar amps. Meanwhile, you can use condenser mics for guitar, even though producers generally tend to apply them to vocals. Lastly, super-sensitive ribbon mics can function as overheads and work well for taking atmospheric samples. You can then turn these into an instrument or pad in their own right. 

What is the Best Mic Shape for Recording Guitar Samples?

There is no one best mic shape – as with anything, this is an art, not a science, and it’s not set in stone. Mic shape depends, in fact, on your preferences. Cardioid or super-cardioid mics can offer the precision you need for capturing super-clear samples. Likewise, angling the mic correctly ensures you get exactly what you’re looking for. 

Best for: Getting the kind of samples you want in the first place

7. Take Advantage of Direct Input

Lastly, direct input is often overlooked as a way to create crisp, clear samples. Sometimes it may feel like cheating, but ultimately, there are no rules in music. 

Direct input can be great for bedroom producers who want real guitar samples but don’t have the space to record amplified guitars. It also means your sound will be super clear with no room noise, ready for FX processing.

When Should I Use Direct Input for Sampling Guitar?

This can either be good if you want to start with a blank slate sonically. Or, it can work if you are planning on adding plenty of FX for artistic value and don’t want something with too many different layers of sound to start off with. This can, in fact, prevent your mix from becoming cluttered or muddy. 

Best for: Starting with a blank slate

Final Thoughts

Sampling guitar might sound like a simple task just dependent on recording skills, the right mics, and good playing. Yet, doing it creatively depends on bringing in different techniques from all areas of music and leaving nothing out of bounds. Whether heavy, acoustic, indie rock or blended with synths in genres like industrial or new wave, sampling guitar can make you look at your instrument totally differently. And, you can come up with some of your most creative ideas. 

Liked this? We have more tutorials in our dedicated section here, as well as lots of great reviews of music hardware and music software. Check them out to find the best FX, plugins, synths and samplers to add to your guitar playing.

Best Microphone for Metal Guitar Recording – Our Top 5 Choices

Picking the best microphone for metal guitar is a tough choice. Condenser, dynamic, or ribbon? Yes, there are industry favourites, and many guitar mics suit multiple genres. In fact, I’ve looked at the topic before with the best mic for recording electric guitar in general

However, from high-octane shredded solos to dark, crunchy riffs, the best microphone for metal guitar needs some specialist consideration. Read on as we dig deep into what’s on offer in terms of the ideal cab mic for your studio.

Best budget microphone metal guitar – Audix i5

The Audix i5 is a specialist cab mic that can handle sounds up to 140dB. As a result, it’s perfect for metal guitar and makes for a great budget mic for recording guitar amps  in general. It’s a great alternative to popular Shure mics, such as the SM58 which we cover in this article here. Yes, Shure has made a name for itself for really affordable and durable mics like the Sm57 and Sm58. They can easily take the kinds of sounds of metal guitar, but they’re not the only option.

The Audix I5

The Audix i5 is brilliant if you don’t want quite the same kind of sound as everyone else. Yet the i5 is also great if you want to emphasize the upper frequencies. This can bring some much-needed brightness to heavy or even detuned guitars. Therefore you can create a wall of sound when you need, but also have the option to tone things down for breaks or quiet moments. 

General specs: dynamic cardioid mic with a 50 Hz to 16 kHz frequency response and over 140 dB SPLPrice: Around 100 USD on Reverb.com. Please click here to see current offers and if you buy using our links we will get a small kickback, so you will be supporting idesignsound.com

Good contender: the Sennheiser e906

We’re mentioning this one for 2023 because of the fact that these choices don’t have to be either/or. We’ve seen some musicians even use the e906 alongside the Audix competitor, the SM57, for an ultra heavy sound. 

However, we mention the e906 here for its super-cardioid pattern, robustness, and sensitivity. This is a mic that is, firstly, quite hard to damage. Second, it’s versatile. It’s also great for drums, so it can cover a decent part of your recording setup if you’re on a budget. Its fast attack makes it brilliant for detailed metal solos.

And it’s three-position sound character switch means that you can create and sculpt atmosphere by going bright, moderate, or dark. 

It IS slightly more expensive than the Audix i5, at approx 160 USD depending on the retailer. That’s why the Audix i5 slightly wins out for us. However, we mention it here if you want some more variety that is not just entry-level. 

Best Shure alternative and complement – Sennheiser MD421

Like some of the other mics on this list, the Sennheiser MD421 is often known as a broadcasting mic. Although you could opt for a condenser broadcasting mic like the Earthworks Icon Pro, dynamic mics like the MD421 are preferred by many musicians as they prevent your track sounding muddy. Like the i5, it’s a great alternative if you don’t want one of the ubiquitous Shure mics. However, it can also work to complement them. if you’re not super familiar with how to mic electric guitar, note that you’ll rarely just be using one mic on a guitar cab. Therefore with two different microphones, you get more options for controlling tone.

Sennheiser MD421

This is a cardioid mic, meaning that the sound pickup pattern extends far in front of the mic but minimizes pickup from the back. Therefore, when you point it at your desired source of sound (normally your guitar amp) it minimizes reverberations or room noise from behind the mic.

General specs: dynamic cardioid mic, 30 – 17,000 Hz frequency response, max SPL of 150 dB

Price: Arround 300-350 USD on Reverb.com. Please click here to see current offers.

Best supercardioid microphone metal guitar – Sennheiser e609

One thing you may find is metal guitar mic placement needs a lot of precision. Like its sister mic the Sennheiser e906, the e609 is super-cardioid. Like a cardioid mic it’s very sensitive to the sound that you point it at (called the axis). However, instead of finding the least sensitive point at the back, it has two on either side of the 360 degrees surrounding the mic.

Like how some other cab mics are popular in broadcasting, super-cardioid mics are a favorite in the film industry. The reason they work for metal is that on the one hand they offer the slickness and sensitivity of a cardioid to prevent muddiness. On the other, they pick up sounds at the back means there is just enough atmosphere. This is also less delicate than ribbon mics like the popular TSM MT84, but has equally good clarity.

This makes the e609 perfect for alternative metal genres and for creating a soundscape as opposed to raw power.

General specs: dynamic, super-cardioid mic, 40 – 150000 Hz frequency response, max 150 SPL

Price: Arround 100 USD on Reverb – click this link to see current offers.

Mid-range best metal guitar microphone – Heil PR40

This is one of the most versatile mics on this list in terms of usage for other instruments. Why it’s a great choice for metal guitar is because you can also use it for bass and drums. So if you’re on a budget this is a mic that can accomplish multiple roles in the studio.

Where it shines is as a cab mic due to its clarity and smoothness. Some users have even found that it can be comparable to a ribbon mic. In fact, one of the things that makes Heil mics in general stand out is the tightness of their cardioid pattern.

The PR40 IS more expensive. Yet, due to the extent of its high-range frequencies, it also boasts the additional ability to cover bandwidths that would normally be the territory of a capacitor mic. These mics have a super thin diaphragm that is super sensitive to high frequencies, reducing the need for increased amplification. With metal guitar, you may have already turned everything up to 11 anyway. As a result, this can really help how easily things go in the studio.

At the time of the latest update, there are some close contenders. The biggest of these is the Neumann TLM 102. However, this is on the more expensive end of mid-range guitar mics, generally retailing between 500 and 600 USD. 

We’re mentioning it because Neumann has designed it specifically for withstanding high SPLS (sound levels). Therefore if you want a high-quality mic that you don’t have to worry about damaging (unlike some ribbon mics), it’s a great option to kow about. However, we list it alongside the PR40 to give readers the choice of the PR40’s extra sensitivity vs the robustness yet higher expense of the TLM 102 and the fact it’s pretty much made for recording amps and cabs.

General specs: cardioid dynamic mic ranging from 28Hz to 19kHz and 148 dB max SPL (sound pressure level)

Price: around 350 USD on Reverb – click here to see current offers.

Best additional features – Electro-Voice RE20 dynamic mic

And to wrap up this list, we have an option that is again not necessarily designed as a metal guitar mic. It’s more on the expensive side but is great for situations with tons of FX.Why is this a microphone metal guitar players can benefit from so much? The humbucking qualities of the RE20 can easily manage high amounts of gain and distortion.

In case you’re noticing a theme, this is another mic that you can find in broadcasting. All these mics are capable of giving you crisp, clean sounds. This is especially so when working on the low frequencies so you can prevent muddiness. However, if you’re wondering ‘what microphone for death metal?’ you’ll inevitably need something different than if you’re making symphonic metal or classic 80s thrash. Fortunately this mic has a tone shaping switch that makes it more adaptable than many other options. This essentially acts as a high-pass/low-cut filter, giving you the ability to adapt based on your subgenre and rest of your gear.

Some users have found that a quirk of this mic is it doesn’t pick up as much room noise.

General specs: dynamic cardioid mic, 45 – 18000 Hz frequency response

Price: around 450 USD on Reverb – click here to see current offers.

Final Thoughts

Metal guitar can be hard to choose a mic for. 

With a myriad of different subgenres, ‘what’s the best mic for recording metal guitar?’ is not a simple question. However, we aims for the mics on this list to give you plenty of budget friendly,  colourful  options that you can start to experiment with recording amps.

No matter what mic you choose, remember it will only amplify both the best and worst parts of your playing. When recording in a studio, no amount of great production will fix a bad recording in the first place. However, choosing the right mic goes a long way to getting you the sound you want.If you love analog recording and want more in-depth coverage of music hardware, we have a whole section here.

How to Do Online Music Mastering With CloudBounce

There so many options for online music mastering now that many musicians feel spoilt for choice. As AI develops, more and more producers are opting to use automatic audio mastering platforms. We look at what is good and bad about the online music mastering service CloudBounce in our comparison with two of its major competitors here. Already decided to opt for this stripped-back audio mastering software? This guide breaks down not just how to use it but what quirks about it can give you an edge.

What is CloudBounce online music mastering?

CloudBounce is an AI-based audio mastering service that uses machine learning technology to professionally master your track. However, just because the service is automated doesn’t mean you can’t use it in a creative manner. CloudBounce isn’t just great for a straightforward pro-quality master. It also offers an in-depth selection of genre and mastering controls, ways to improve your own skills, and develop reference tracks with it.

How to use CloudBounce for professional audio mastering

There are lots of great tricks you can use with CloudBounce. First, however, a basic rundown of how the platform operates will show you what’s needed. You first need to go to their website by clicking here. Disclosure: if you use that link and register for their paid service, we get a small kickback so you will be supporting us.

The only thing you need to start off with is your mixed track. Users of CDBaby and Soundrop actually get two free masters with CloudBounce. So if you want to test the platform this is a great way. However otherwise, you can purchase a single master for 10.90 USD or opt for one of the infinity plans. If you’re having trouble choosing, this is something we go into later on in this article.

Next, there is the option to upload or drop a file. CloudBounce supports all major file types. However, the key point is you should be completely satisfied with your mix to start off with. Otherwise, it’s harder to know whether you’re happy with the master.

Cloudbounce has a desktop app!

The CloudBounce download process for the new desktop app is pretty simple and just requires you to create an account. Once you’ve got past this you’ll need to choose your genre. You also get the chance to choose mastering options if you already know them. These are parameters like warmth, dip, bass, boost, and brightness. You can actually change these in the post-mastering stage too.

Then, click ‘master my track’! This process is very fast (within minutes) and offers you the option to keep or discard afterwards based on whether you like the master.

How to make your tracks sound louder with CloudBounce

The loudness wars are the infamous phenomenon by which tracks are being mastered to sound louder and louder. Though controversial, it’s a given that you need to have the right level if uploading a track to Spotify or Soundcloud. In fact, Spotify actually alters it for you so all masters on the platform sound roughly the same. For many producers, CloudBounce is an easy way to reach the right level yourself and maintain your track’s desired sound.

Using CloudBounce to master your track for Spotify and SoundCloud

Both Spotify and Soundcloud have different loudness requirements they apply to your track to let it get heard. Fortunately, it’s simple to use the inbuilt limiter on CloudBounce to set your target loudness level and match this. This goes up and down in 0.5 LUFS steps and lets you manually reach the loudness levels for different platforms. Platforms like Spotify actually alter all tracks’ loudness to -14db LUFS. So if you master to this level with CloudBounce you know your track will sound as you expect it when uploaded to streaming services.

The good news is CloudBounce is creative enough that you can do this without losing too much of your sound. And, if in doubt provides a guarantee that your track has the professional quality needed.

Online mastering for rock music, hip hop, and more: how to use CloudBounce for genre-specific mastering

if you’re wondering how to use CloudBounce, we’ve previously covered how the sheer number of different combinations between genre options and mastering option. Together, these give CloudBounce the most flexible and high-quality results sonically.

To really dig deep into these, one way that works is to find your rough genre. Then alter the mastering options as a way to warp it. This allows you to zero in on the sound quality you want. For example, if your genre is hip-hop but the AI master is too commercial for you, simply adjust qualities like loudness, brightness, and warmth until you hit what you want.

Is it the best online mastering out there?

Ultimately, there are lots of options and competitors. however, one thing that makes CloudBounce stand out is that it realizes there’s more to music than just technology. Whether it’s musicians asking ‘do online mastering services work?’ or knowing that many users are still looking for free online music mastering, CloudBounce is usable because the developers understand it’s not going to replace real musicians.

CloudBounce founder Anssi Uimonen actually claims this kind of AI is still in its infancy and has a long way to go. With CloudBounce what’s great is you can approach the platform as another tool to use. It’s not about perfectly predicting what you want from a master. Instead, you can use it to compare options and sounds until you find a sweet spot. The big bonus is this builds your own skills along the way.

Using CloudBounce for mastering with reference tracks

Cloudbounce allows you to upload your own reference tracks or use ones that are pre-included. However another creative way you can use the platform is to master a track digitally and then use that master as a reference for making your own. That way, using online music mastering can actually help you develop your own mastering skills.

Is CloudBounce worth it? How to pick an online music mastering plan

CloudBounce has either 3 or 4 different options depending on how your look at it. The fourth of these actually lets you work with a human mastering engineer from London’s iconic Abbey Road Studios. The other three are one-off mastering purchases, its infinity monthly plan, or its annual infinity plan. Ultimately it comes down to how productive you are as a musician. Do you intend to graduate from CloudBounce to mastering your own tracks? If you plan to use the platform for a longer while, the yearly infinity plan is best, especially if you’re planning on releasing lots of singles or albums.

CloudBounce Pricing:

Cloudbounce offers one off track masters for 10.90 USD, a 21.90 USD Infinity monthly plan, and a 219.00 USD infinity yearly plan.

Not a CDBaby or Soundrop customer? At this time of writing, they have YouTube content that offers a free master in return for a share on Facebook or Twitter.

You can check the current offer by clicking here.

What else can you do with CloudBounce?

The last thing CloudBounce is good for is comparing variations of a master. With one of the infinity plans, you can make subtle variations on the same track. You can do this with altered mastering options or even based on two different genre references.

This feature is part of why CloudBounce’s many options to do with genre are so great. It allows you to compare versions of what you want the finished master to sound like. You can download these and play with post-mastering in your DAW. Therefore, if you’re indecisive about this, want to play around with genre, or don’t feel your track fits neatly into one box (we’ve all been there!) it’s an absolute life-saver. Overall, CloudBounce is one of the best online mastering options for this due to its number of combinations.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately CloudBounce is a strong competitor for Landr, Emastered, and Ozone. Yet it’s when you get to its different choices that you find you can also use it creatively to improve your own mastering, help make creative choices for albums and singles, and much, much more.

Love checking out the best software for music production? We have an entire section here. Likewise, our reviews section gives you more in-depth coverage of the best gear for musicians out there, both software and hardware.

Elektron Digitakt Loopcloud Integration – How This Update Promises to HACK Your Studio Workflow

Earlier this month news broke about Elektron’s Digitakt Loopcloud integration in the OS 1.50 update. This essentially allows you to drag and drop loops from the platform directly to your Digitakt. Yet, this is just the start of what this new update promises to have in store. We break down below the features that make this integration so exciting.

Elecktron Digitakt Loopcloud review – why integration of the two can change your production game

The Elektron Digitakt is one of the industry’s leading drum machines. We’ve covered just why this is before when it made our top 5 options for music production hardware 2023.

Yet, now the Digitakt OS 1.50 update lets you connect directly to Loopcloud, the world’s largest sample library. Whichever position you’re starting from, this upgrade is exciting as it can introduce users of Digitakt to Loopcloud and vice versa.

If you’re starting from Loopcloud, the upgrade means that if you’ve been considering getting a Digitakt, there’s all the more reason. And if you’re starting with a Digitakt but have been on the fence about the world’s largest sample library, Loopcloud gives you access to tools like Loopcloud Drum and Loopcloud Play that you can integrate with hardware.

Pairing Digitakt with Loopcloud vs Splice – why Elektron’s decision works so well

If you’ve also been wondering about the various benefits of Loopcloud vs Splice or other sample libraries, there’s a good reason Elektron opted for Loopcloud. It’s simply got more flexibility and creativity in terms of altering samples. So, if you’ve been wondering which of the two is better and are currently in possession of a Digitakt, the update unlocks Loopcloud in a whole new way that regular users can’t access.

Loopcloud is the perfect match for the Digitakt, partly due to its focus on the little things that make or break a piece of music. That means you can search for sounds via incredibly specific parameters, such as level of swing, or bassiness. By focusing on less obvious things, Loopcloud helps producers sift through a realm of samples, easily, to find options that work with the kinds of creative and slick sounds you can make with the Digitakt.

To put it simply: both the Digitakt and Loopcloud are varied enough that you’ll never get bored of either. Loopcloud loops are royalty-free, and Loopcloud can actually connect to FL studio via a VST plugin, so this added interconnectivity can boost your production too. Either way, for an uninterrupted workflow, the two are a match made in heaven, simplifying massive amounts of sonic potential.

How does the update make your workflow easier?

  • The first thing is that Loopcloud has its own 8-track editor and pattern creator. You may have everything you need with the Digitakt. However, integration means you can create parts of tracks, beats, or samples on Loopcloud first – and then transfer them for further modification. Plus, Loopcloud helps you keep the tools needed all in one place. 
  • Loopcloud offers a whole new selection of routes to work with your Digitakt. In fact, you can control your Digitakt through Loopcloud from your computer. This feature is particularly great for naming files, streamlining, and organizing, without you having to spend tons of time on this.
  • The integration has been created with the musician in mind. Why? The connection between Loopcloud and your Digitakt allows you to store Loopcloud loops for live performance. This is great if you can’t access your computer – or want the portability of the Digitakt with the variety available on Loopcloud. 
  • Intelligent technology picks up Digitakt tempo and time-stretches it. This means that Loopcloud will provide options that are ALREADY tempo-matched to the project you are working on. In short, yet another way the integration allows your Digitakt to seamlessly communicate with the world’s largest loop and sample library. 
  • Create whole new patterns by using Loopcloud as a shortcut. Loopcloud allows you to multiply and divide sample tempo, change pitch, and export the results to your Digitakt. Want easy ways to sculpt and modify sound and then use these new creations as samples themselves? Simply do a mixdown on Loopcloud and send results to your Digitakt!

Song mode – how the Digitakt Loopcloud integration could revolutionize this feature

Digitakt’s song mode is a feature that allows you to combine multiple beats, loops, and sequences as a single track. It’s perfect, for example, if you need a backing track to improvise over or even for creating soundtracks. Here, the massive range of sounds from Loopcloud lets you make whole, fully functional sonic layouts with the Digitakt. Plus, dragging and dropping mixed and mastered samples to your Digitakt on Loopcloud too. In this way, you can prep the individual parts of a track on your computer before piecing them all together on your drum machine.

Loopcloud’s online sound and sample editor

Ok, so we’ve gone over the good points about Loopcloud, especially in terms of Loopcloud vs Splice, Arcade, and its other competitors. But let’s look a bit more at how the two work together. Digitakt Loopcloud integration ultimately lets you work however suits you best. For example, if you prefer to work mainly with a DAW or with Loopcloud’s time-stretching capacities, you can. However, if you’d rather not lay a finger on your computer, samples, sequences, and more can be edited directly in Digitakt. 

Loopcloud

Plus, the integration between Digitakt and Loopcloud means there are multiple stages of creative sound warping to play with. It’s not one of the other – for example, you can start off getting a beat sounding great in Loopcloud. Or, you could time stretch it, transfer it to Digitakt, and add some lush reverb or gritty distortion for an additional layer of sonic manipulation. 

Elektron Digitakt

Is Loopcloud worth it? More reasons Digitakt integration will upgrade your production either way

With this many choices, it’s possible to take sounds far away from their original forms. In this way, the only creative constraints are down to your imagination. The Digitakt Loopcloud combo is also great for those with a minimal studio setup without many other options. There are SO many possibilities here, in such a compact form, this combo could serve as all you need for creative music making on the go. If you’re still on the fence, the upgrade and integration comes with the following:

  • Comes with two months of free access to Loopcloud if you own an Elektron Digitakt. 
  • From then on loopcloud is affordable at only 6.99 EUR/month (5.99 GBP or 7.99 USD). However, the full range of Loopcloud subscription options includes a free option (though with minimal credits for sounds)
  • ability to drag-and-drop samples makes your workflow significantly more efficient

Final Thoughts

Loopcloud is already great by itself, as is the Digitakt. However, this integration is just another way that Elektron has thought through every inch of the process of work for both musicians in the studio and on the go. It’s this that made the Digitakt such an industry leader in the first place – and why the Loopcloud integration will just add an extra level of creative potential, and we’re very excited to see what this update leads to in future…

If you love the latest music production and sound design news, we have a whole section here. Plus, for gear reviews and breakdowns, we look at some more of the most exciting products here.

Cloudbounce Online Mastering Service Honest Review

This month, we’re looking at CloudBounce online mastering for an underrated browser-based platform and desktop app that generates killer master tracks from your mix. We’ve already compared the best online mastering services before. Yet, for producers looking to maintain their sound, we go in-depth into one of the best options below…

Cloudbounce online mastering: super-fast music mastering with intelligent AI

CloudBounce is an AI music mastering platform similar to LANDR. Like its competitors, cloudbounce online mastering offers the option to upload a mixed track and let its AI master it to an industry standard, master unlimited files with its infinity plans and keep things secure with cloud backup. 

Based partly in Finland and partly in the US, it gets granular with specific genres. However, it also offers flexibility with both CloudBounce online and the CloudBounce app on desktop.

How does CloudBounce online mastering compare to a professional mastering engineer?

Essentially, the platform’s AI analyses the audio file and uses different audio processing tools to modify your track’s parameters by just the right amount. CloudBounce excels at sounding professional while still sticking to your original creative intention. 

This is one of its biggest selling points. With over 15 genre options it doesn’t require you to force your work into any particular standard. 

How does the CloudBounce post mastering options compare to it’s competitors?

CloudBounce online mastering has been gaining an edge over some of it’s competitors. So, we decided to look at why. 

Cloudbounce’s main competitor is LANDR, but when you look at the options you have to tweak your master, it’s pretty obvious. LANDR only offers three mastering styles on it’s Plugin – warm, balanced, and open. 

These more or less correspond to different eras and trends in audio technology. 

One area where LANDR has an advantage is that it offers controls. Fore example, the plugin has an equaliser section with low, mid, and high knobs. It also has automatic compression and a de-esser. 

These controls are not as diverse as the range of post mastering options that cloudbounce offers. However, they do allow the user more control. This means you can get slightly involved with the mastering process as opposed to leaving it all to AI. 

On the flipside, the cloudbounce post master options let you make it louder, warmer, dip or boost the mids, and control brightness, bass, and stereo width. 

We go deeper into what this means for the user below. However, first, let’s see how cloudbounce online mastering stacks up by itself.

Real producers tested CloudBounce: here’s what they found

CloudBounce was actually run past the ears of industry pros in controlled testing. This was to demonstrate whether people could pick out a track that employs machine listening and AI from those mastered by a professional mastering engineer. These found that masters made with CloudBounce were almost impossible to distinguish. This is due to how CloudBounce’s lightning fast AI quickly analyses sound characteristics and adapts to them.

Reasons to use CloudBounce online mastering service

Genre specifics are just one reason to use Cloudbounce. However, there are a few other things that give it an edge over other mastering options.

  • Smart technology: separating genres successfully enough to keep even the most detail-oriented producers happy is no small feat for AI when you think about it. Honestly, Cloudbounce wins out on this point. Plus, it offers specific subgenres in addition subjective qualities like warmth or openness. This means you get greater choice in an easier form. 
  • Not too polished: Furthermore, the above means the qualities that make genres such as punk appealing don’t have to be lost just because you’re using an AI mastering service. 
  • Major industry credibility: Cloudbounce is actually an alumnus of Abbey Road Red, which is the legendary recording studios’ tech incubator wing.
  • Lets you control parameters like boost, dip, warmth, and more
CloudBounce has a desktop app!

Cloudbounce mastering honest review: what else is good about it?

The biggest appeal is this is a very naturalistic AI. However, the industry quality technology means that it’s even been recommended by label founders. This is especially as a way to ensure your track gets heard when submitting to professionals. In fact, it is actually recommended as a way to optimize your music for Spotify. 

How does the AI work?

Cloudbounce does this through complex stereo imaging using audio processing ingredients like EQ, compression, and an inbuilt limiter. This boosts your sound quality like a real audio engineer would, both online and on the desktop app, and also adds polish.

How much does CloudBounce cost?

Depending on which plan you go for, Cloudbounce pricing can range anywhere from 10.90 USD to 219.00 USD. You can click here to go to their website and check out the current price.

CloudBounce mastering subscription options: one-off purchases vs infinity, CloudBounce desktop app, and more

One great feature of CloudBounce mastering is that it actually lets you purchase tracks on a one-off basis. So if you’re not immediately sure, you don’t have to sign up to any packages. CloudBounce is a small company and there have been complaints in the past about it’s lack of customer support. However, the one-off purchase option lets you try things upfront.

Best for testing things out: An individual master, which costs 10.90 USD and includes 16 and 24 Bit Wav as well as 320 kbps MP3. There’s no limit to the amount of individual masters you can purchase. 

Best for casual to serious music producers: The Infinity Monthly Plan – everything included in a one-off master for 21.90 USD. Plus you can store unlimited files with its cloud backup.

Best for passionate musicians and unlimited mastering: the Infinity Yearly plan offers the same for 219.00 USD. This truly gives you the unlimited masters needed to experiment if you don’t get your ideal sound quality first time around.

CloudBounce vs LANDR

Ok, what makes CloudBounce online audio mastering stand out from other mastering options that do a similar thing? There are a lot of companies that offer to give you a commercial-level sound via high-quality audio mastering. So let’s see how it compares to LANDR. 

Does it matter that CloudBounce is missing some of the features of LANDR? 

CloudBounce online mastering, and the (since 2020) new desktop app, are still one of the best mastering options for freedom and flexibility with your sound. In fact both online and the desktop version have over 20+ settings for the final result.

Yes, LANDR offers options like instant shareability. However, CloudBounce gives you more scope to keep your individual sound as a producer. Should you choose CloudBounce over LANDR? Why or Why not? 

Ultimately as we said above, CloudBounce has been gaining some significant popularity in recent years. Heres why we think it more than makes up for the areas where LANDR superficially is better. 

WHY CLOUDBOUNCE WINS (DEPENDING ON YOUR REQUIREMENTS) 

  • So, so much cheaper. The mthly subscription model and pay per song strcture of cloudbounce mean it is jsut so much mroe affordable for the averga emusician. Enough said. 
  • LANDR may be slightly more interactive (more manual controls), but the automatic post mastering setting on cloudbounce offer more variety
  • Much easier to use. You don’t have to have any prior production knowledge. And the genre names and descriptors don’t require much technical know-how either. 

Ok, so it seems like CloudBounce’s pros are finally getting recognised. What other great features does it have? 

Cloudbounce 2 free masters for CDBaby and Soundrop customers 

If you’re already a CDBaby user, CloudBounce allows you to get two free masters to see if you’re a fan and offers the same for Soundrop customers. So, in the end, this partly makes up for its lack of other distribution features. 

CloudBounce new desktop app- the biggest update since this platform’s inception

The new CloudBounce desktop app actually offers more exciting mastering options compared with the browser-based version. Here, it offers reference-based mastering where you can upload your own references or choose from those provided. This feature is actually limited to the desktop app, which requires you to subscribe to either of the two infinity plans. 

CloudBounce review in summary: 

PROS:

  • Ability to purchase masters on a one-off basis 
  • Desktop app has reference-based mastering options (including using existing genre references)
  • Exclusive free masters for users of other services (CDBaby, Soundrop) 
  • Granular, genre-specific mastering styles help you maintain the sound that you want both on the desktop app and on your browser
  • Both the browser version and desktop app supports the ability to upload multiple audio files
  • Compatible with all major file formats (WAV, AIFF, and MP3 on the single purchase and OGG, FLAC, and AIFF on the infinity version) 
  • Instant previews let you discard a master that you don’t like
  • Master entire albums and specify album-wide settings, track order, and more

Cons:

  • Relatively few additional options at a high price. However, this depends on individual producers preferences.

You can go to the Cloudbounce website to see the current offer by clicking here.

Final Thoughts: 

Ultimately CloudBounce is one of the best quality options in terms of naturalistic, human-like mastering AI. It’s not concerned with giving you an innumerable amount of tools. However, it IS perfect for authentic, varied masters that don’t compromise quality. 

If you love detailed reviews, we have a whole section of them. Plus, for more music software to hack your production, check out our software section.

Training Your Ears for Electronic Music Mixing

Often, music mixing ear training is a process many musicians have to go through without formal training. Yet here, we look at one of the best bits of software for guiding you through this process.

Dream studios of tons of gear can make our music sound better. Yet it never hurts to practice getting your ear in tune with the basic building blocks of sound. That way, you can make ANY equipment sound amazing. We’ve reviewed Train Your Ears before, but this time we look at how it can help electronic musicians in particular, so read on.

What is Train Your Ears? Why does it stand out for music mixing ear training?

Martial artist Bruce Lee said ‘I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but the man who has practiced 1 kick 10,000 times’. Train Your Ears EQ Edition is an app that focuses on ONE SINGLE yet VITAL part of the mixing process – EQ.

It shows you how to differentiate bandwidths and other EQ processed, plus, how to use this knowledge. By perfecting your ability to use EQ, you will likewise be able to perfect your tracks so they go from amateur to pro.

With Train Your Ears, you’re essentially fast-tracking the process of immersion within the sound that a professional mix engineer experiences in the studio. This immersion is why pros have the ability to intuitively know what to change in a mix. They’ve been surrounded by sound day in and day out and got used to changing the subtlest of parameters by instinct. This happens by zeroing in on one of the core processes of mixing and using it as a perfect training ground to increase your sensitivity to sound in general. Depending on how you use it, TrainYourEars can give you that same in-depth knowledge, in miniature.

The basics: what does train your ears involve?

The train your ears app is available for both iOS and Windows. The best part is it is applicable to a wide variety of genres of music. 

It consists of a set of exercises that are designed to be used alongside a live music player. With this, you can route the signal of your computer’s sound card. Consequently, you can practice with tracks from your iTunes library or recordings from your latest projects. This kind of practice in context makes Train Your Ears stand head and shoulders above other similar apps. Ultimately, it allows all musicians to adapt the practice to what’s relevant to them at the time.

Train Your Ears is a piece of cake to set up. It allows you to use practically any audio source you like, We cover this more in our other article here. 

The real goldmine is the ‘exercise designer’ section. Once you have a piece of music up and running, you can get stuck in with breaking down sound.

The exercise designer includes the ability to: 

  • learn to recognize octaves with a bandpass filter
  • practice with low and high cut and shelf filters 
  • 4 and 7 band EQ emulators (so you can connect what you’re hearing to what you’re seeing) 
  • Q factor exercises 
  • practice distinguishing which bands have been boosted and/or cut 

How does Train Your Ears help with electronic music mixing?

Being able to tell the difference between frequencies is particularly important in electronic music. In some ways, your mistakes are all the more visible. Here are some ways the program helps electronic musicians specifically.

One tip is to keep TrainYourEars open whilst you mix. When the mix is feeling stagnant, practicing with similar songs on the program is a great source of inspiration. It can also help you identify what you do or don’t like about them. Likewise, because it shows you what has been altered, you can work out how to apply a similar sound to your own mix. 

How to use it with synthesis:

Sometimes, you’re not able to fully pinpoint what may be wrong with a mix. This can even be the case with synth patches you may have created. This can very often be an EQ difficulty. It’s hard to tell if an instrument needs more low-end or high-end unless you have a finely tuned ear. TrainYourEars is perfect for helping develop this.

Having a way to break down EQ can also help design your dream sound. As we said in the introduction, you may not have the studio you wish. Nevertheless, you can add richness and tone to your instruments with clever EQ. TrainYourEars is one of the most simple and comprehensive ways to get to the stage.

What else can I use it for? (Electronic Music!)

One thing which can be hard when sculpting sound from scratch is actually deciding on when things sound ‘perfect’. This can be the case with both synthesis of all kinds, and sampling. It can be really easy to get caught up in making small changes.

This is where you can use TrainYourEars to compare multiple different EQ options across different creative ideas. And, this is without having to actually apply these parameters to the track you’re currently working on. How? Reference tracks!

By adding your reference tracks to TrainYourEars, you can hear better predict how changes in EQ will affect the sound you’re going for, without having to tamper with your actual project. This can be life-saving if you want to avoid messing up your mix. Plus, the program can also help you get more in tune with the specific track you are working on. 

A routine for music mixing ear training with Train Your Ears

  • Reference tracks. If you have a current project, add one of your reference tracks to the program and see how EQ changes affect it. Then, you can compare this with your own project to see what bits you need to change.
  • Working through the exercises. It goes without saying, but the program has already done most of the work for you.
  • Working with undertones and overtones. TrainYourEars helps you figure out what bandwidths add richness or remove muddiness. This can help craft your sound from scratch, especially if you’re starting with a pure tone, as with synthesis.
  • Learning the difference between different kinds of EQ. For example, what does a high pass filter sound like when compared to simply cutting lower frequencies? These differences can have huge effects on your mix.

Final Thoughts

We’ve gone on about how great Train Your Ears is, firstly in this review we did last year as well as in our article focussing on how to use it with guitar. One of the things which makes it such a valuable app to keep open alongside your DAW is how it lets you take charge of your learning and do things in the context of where you are NOW in the mixing process and your current projects. However, what makes it especially useful for electronic musicians is it offers you a shortcut through the difficult process of working out the sonic nuance which takes electronic music from good to great.

Train Your Ears is available from their website and is currently on offer for 49 EUR. You can get it by clicking here (takes you to the official website and if you buy using this link we would get a small kickback. Thanks!)

If you love reviews, we have an entire section of them right here.

Train Your Ears for Guitar – Why This Ear Training Software Actually WORKS

For guitar, music ear training apps can be of varying quality. Yet here, we review the best and simplest which shines because it includes the MOST relevant and easy-to-understand parts of the mixing process.

This is Train Your Ears EQ Edition. As a guitarist who tried to learn EQ from tutorials online, I found the immersive experience of Train Your Ears was the missing link I needed. We’ve reviewed it in general before, plus we’re also covering how it worked for electronic musicians this month – but here, read on for why it’s so great when adapted to guitar.

OK, why is Train Your Ears so great for guitar music ear training?

This involves two things that make it stand out. The first is it looks at patterns, not learning by rote. The second is that it’s adaptable to however you want to use it.

When we say Train Your Ears teaches you patterns, this means that the developers have looked at the crucial building blocks of understanding EQ and focused on showing how you can use them and apply them to anything. This links to how it’s adaptable. Train Your Ears doesn’t teach you in a fixed context. It simply gives you the independent ability to apply your knowledge to whatever tracks you like.

As guitarists, who are often more used to doing things by ear, this can work amazingly.

Is Train Your Ears easy to use?

I personally found the setup for Train Your Ears to be really intuitive as they basically do everything for you on the website. After downloading the app, you drag it to the folder you desire on your laptop as usual and you’re presented with a page of options when you first start it up, one of which is ‘play some music’.

To do this you can use any track, whether one of your own or something from your favorite bands. I used a track from the modern UK grunge band Dirty Modal Souls, so there was plenty of delicious crunchy guitar to practice ear training with. However, you’ve first got to get the track to play in the app. 

This is a simple drag and drop to the audio player, so you can add the track as an m4a file from your iTunes library or as an mp3 file or WAV file – the choice is yours and sometimes it can help to use a variety so you can hear the difference between compressed and uncompressed audio. 

Using the app this way makes it fun to practice as you are listening to your favorite music at the same time. 

How can I use Train Your Ears when practicing?

You can actually get the app to play tracks directly from your iTunes library, as in order to do the exercises you need the track to play live. You can do this by routing the audio of your computer so that train your ears receives audio input internally direct from your laptop. 

If you’re using iOS, you need to download BlackHole which fortunately you can do from the train your ears website live player page here. However, when you have the app open it also gives you simple instructions. If on Windows, you can likewise use the program VB cable which you can also get from the website we’ve linked above. 

After running the installer and following the instructions on the train your ears website to route your internal audio correctly, you’re all set and can play from iTunes and other places on your computer. 

Likewise, you can use your audio interface to route external audio such as from an iPod or other music player. 

Best guitar music ear training tips: how to get the MOST out of this software

  • Ensure you’ve got the right song for the exercise 

It goes without saying, but make sure you pick the right song for the exercise. If you’ve always struggled with separating bandwidths in big walls of sound, pick a song that has this and hop on board with the first exercise, recommended by Train Your Ears, which is on guessing which bandwidths have been modified. 

As a beginner exercise, this is simple and easily helps you understand the quirks and nuances of different bandwidths and what they sound like. This ranges from the echoing, booming sounds that come from giving the middle a boost or the way cutting lower frequencies can make your track sound toppy or thin. 

However, the exercises do get harder. 

  • Use multiple tracks in the same genre as reference points 

Another way to get the most out of Train Your Ears is to use multiple tracks so you’re not just practicing within one environment. Using multiple tracks helps you spot the patterns of sound between tracks and genres. You’ll end up knowing what compression or different bandwidth cuts sound like despite what’s going on with the rest of the instruments. 

Ultimately by learning the patterns and processes behind mixing audio, you will end up with an aural skillset that can help you adapt to any track. 

As a guitarist, to vary things it helps to practice on a couple of slow tracks with less guitar (such as ballads) as well as with a couple where there’s more going on, such as anything with double-tracked guitar or layers of sound. Focusing on guitar solos is also a separate area as here you’ll gain experience with frequencies up at the high end of the spectrum and how they change based on other instruments.

So, why does Train Your Ears work so well for guitar music ear training?

The takeaway is, nothing exists in isolation. Although Train Your Ears is deceptively simple at first, it provides a really comprehensive set of exercises that offer you new challenges in new contexts based on the tracks you choose to use, so keep challenging yourself, and it will likewise keep challenging you – and pay off, as well, 

It doesn’t try to teach you – it lets you teach yourself (and it’s easy to set up!) 

Train your ears allows you to adapt the exercises to whatever your preferred genre is. This makes it consistently relevant to your playing, even down to what you may be working on RIGHT NOW> By doing away with orthodoxy, set teaching programs, and conventional ways of doing things, it works with how many guitarists learn in the first play. 

Final Thoughts

Ultimately I found Train Your Ears works because it reminded me of learning to play guitar in the first place – I was teaching myself and learning about how the fretboard worked in the context of my favorite songs. Train Your Ears does just that with the EQ spectrum and more. It covers pairs of contrasts such as high cut and low shelf filters as well as challenging you from new angles such as with exercises that ask you to find bandwidths. Ultimately it’s a program you can keep returning to, because it stays consistently relevant to whatever you’re currently working on. Plus, it doesn’t become too easy, because of the sheer variety of ways in which you can use it.

Train Your Ears is available from their website and is currently reduced to 49 EUR. You can check the Train Your Ears website by clicking here. We are affiliated so if you click on our link and buy the product, we get a small payment which supports the work we do here at idesignsound.com.

If you love reviews, we have more of them in our reviews section where we break down other fantastic software for guitar and more!