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
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.
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!)
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