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Now, Slate Digital, the company know for very very good emulation of hardware outboard unit, have released this very good pdf booklet about mixing vocals.
Vocals are extremely tricky to get right given the dynamic nature of the human voice, the broad range of frequencies it covers and the somewhat hard to obtain sweet spot of modern music mixing.
If guitars were rifles, pedal effects would be ammunition.
There’s only so much you can achieve with a clean guitar sound, and it’s more than safe to say that effects such as Chorus, Flanger, and Phaser are capable of completely shifting and changing your tone, for better or worse.
Now, skilled guitar players instinctively know the differences between various pedal effects, but most of the time people are more concerned about where and when they can use a certain type of sound rather than wreck their heads trying to explain ‘how and why’.
Today we are going to attempt to thoroughly examine some of the key differences between chorus, flanger, and phaser effects, so buckle up and stay for a while.
The ‘chorus effect’ is easily one of the most iconic pedal effects among guitar players.
We could go as far as to call it ‘choir-us’ mainly because it’s supposed to make the guitar sound much bigger than it actually is.
It’s ideal for single-guitar bands, troupes, and performers who want to duplicate (or triplicate) their sound in a live setting and for studio musicians who don’t particularly like laying down numerous tracks where they can achieve the same effects with a pedal as simple as this.
How it works
The Chorus effect modulates the pitch of your tone ever so slightly; it basically reproduces the exact signal of your guitar’s vibrations but at a slightly different pitch and time.
The potential of the chorus effect is vast, which means that it can subtly enhance the depth of your tone or it can simulate another live guitar, depending on how you set its parameters.
In a bit more technical terms, the chorus effect is achieved when the pedal takes the signal before melding it with pitch-modulated copies of the original signal.
Depending on the model and parameters, the post-produced signal copy can be singular or there could be numerous. The more ‘layers’ the pedal makes, the bigger your tone will become.
How to use it properly
Essentially, it’s a straightforward effect that doesn’t exactly require much skill and experience to be used, although it’s kind of addictive in the sense that it may leave you with the feeling that you always need ‘more’.
It’s a modulation pedal, which basically means that it’s supposed to sit at the back end of the signal chain, right after wah-wahs, compressors, overdrives, or distortions.
Due to the fact that chorus pedals aren’t necessarily the most intricate contraptions and feature only a handful of control knobs, you’ll typically only have depth and rate to worry about.
Set these parameters low to enrich your sound in a subtle, delicate way; when set at halfway you’ll add plenty of character to your tone while going anywhere beyond this point is not recommended if your signal chain is encumbered as it is.
Flanger in a nutshell
The flanger effect is one of the most enigmatic guitar gizmos to this day; it was artificially created (by accident) in old-school studios back in the tape-recording days (4-track and 8-track machines) by touching the flange (the rim of the tape), although nowadays the process of ‘flanging’ has been tamed and digitalized.
The ‘flanger’ effect sports characteristics of numerous other pedal effects – it’s based on delay pedals, but its unpredictability often leads it towards phasers, overdrives, and distortions, obviously depending on its parameters.
Furthermore, this effect was created by playing two tracks at the same time, which further means that it also shares some similarities with choruses to some extent. As we’ve already discussed, chorus pedals modulate and blend the altered signal with the original one, which is partially what happens with the ‘flanging’ effect too.
How it works
Flanger works in the same way as most modulation pedals do; this pedal splits the signal in 2 identical paths where the original is untouched and the second one is just slightly delayed (measured in milliseconds).
The tweaked signal is then modulated both by speeding it and slowing it cyclically. The ‘modulated’ signal is then blended with the original signal.
What’s most important to understand about flangers is that their altered signal is actually tweaked at ‘random’ unpredictable intervals whereas other modulation pedals offer more control and precision.
The randomness of this effect is the reason why some people use it as their go-to pedal and other guitarists avoid it.
How to use it properly
Flanger pedals are by default wild and pretty hard to tame, but there are more ways than one by which you can gap the small obstacles they present.
The most intimidating parameter of typical flangers is the ‘manual control’, which basically allows guitarists to pick and choose which frequencies they want to alter.
When untouched, the pedal will automatically calculate compatible frequencies and reinforce them (incompatible frequencies will always nullify each other), leading to a slightly clearer tone without sacrificing the punchy feel.
Most flangers typically feature ‘resonance’ or ‘intensity’, both of which relate to the same thing. This parameter affects the effect’s intensity by clipping or feeding a portion of the delay straight back to the original input.
By increasing the ‘intensity’ you’ll add more grit to your tone and achieve a more distorted high-gain sound.
Phaser pedals sound almost identical to laymen and beginner guitarists, but in actuality, they share more differences than similarities.
This effect can potentially be used to achieve a mild flanging effect only if its parameters are basically untouched and set on ultra-low settings.
A well-known fact among veteran guitar players is that the phaser effect was introduced to the scene around the same time when flangers came to be. This is probably the reason why new-school players typically don’t make a clear distinction between the two.
In a nutshell, Phasers create a swirling-like sound, much akin to a plane taking off with the only difference being that it is constantly circulating in the fashion of stereo speakers.
One of the most notable benefits of Phaser pedals is that it allows guitar players to create a much bigger atmosphere and ambient, even with smallish amps and relatively mediocre gear.
How it works
Flangers and phasers operate on similar principles; the original signal is divided into two paths, one path is modulated and the other is completely untouched.
The modulated signal path passes through a series of all-pass filters, which shift the signal’s phase revolving around a variety of (pre-calculated) frequencies. In this regard, the Phaser is not as unpredictable as the flanger, but it’s not as controllable as the chorus.
The modulated signal path is later mixed with the untouched signal path, which results in the ‘swooping’ circular tone.
How to use it properly
The Flanger effect is significantly less punishing towards beginner players; its parameters are not as sensitive, and it’s a bit more versatile altogether.
As far as we’re talking about the signal chain, most people don’t use both flanger and phaser pedals, so you should ideally place either of the two near the end of the chain (after distortion, equalizers, compressors, delays, and choruses).
Typical phaser pedals (such as MXR’s Phase 100) feature simplistic tone controls like Intensity and Speed. The ‘intensity’ basically governs the number of phased stages whereas the ‘speed’ affects the rapidity of signal shifts.
In simpler words, the ‘intensity’ knobs allow you to create different ‘geometric’ signal patterns while the ‘speed’ knobs are there for you to finalize and shape them in more concrete ways.
Similarities between Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger
Essentially, Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger pedals belong to the ‘modulation effect’ category.
Aside from this little formality, they’re also meant to be used in similar ways and operate under similar principles.
All three of these effects divide the original guitar signal path in two after which they alter it in different ways. Although the outcomes are vastly different, these split signals all utilize delays to modulate the frequencies.
From a more practical side, all of these effects have been made available in both pedal and plug-in formats.
The initial modes of achieving chorus, flanger, and phaser (particularly the last two) were almost unwieldy and required a dose of technical expertise, whereas today these effects are beginner-friendly and suitable for use by immediate beginner players.
In technical terms, these pedal effects always leave one signal path completely untouched, which means that at least ‘half’ of your tone will remain exactly the same as it originally was, even though this is not entirely a quantifiable matter.
Even though there are numerous minor other similarities, the most crucial and highlighted ones are:
Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger effects all belong to the ‘modulation’ category
The same method of operation and functional principles
The unfiltered signal path is always non-modulated and identical to the original
All three effects utilize delays to affect the filtered signal path
Modern-day pedals have made these effects more accessible to beginner guitar players
Differences between Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger
Now that we’ve touched upon the similarities between Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger it’s time to dig into the main course – the key differences that separate them.
Though there are many dissimilarities between them, we’ve plucked out the most notable ones and grouped them in the appropriate categories, starting with…
The Chorus effect is, essentially, much different from Phaser and Flanger, at least sound-wise. It’s ‘mellow’ tonally whereas Phaser and Flanger are closer to overdriven types of sounds.
Even when the parameters of a Chorus pedal are set to their extremes the end result still boasts clarity when isolated. However, choruses are seldom used as standalone effects.
This pedal effect is more of an ‘adhesive’ type in the sense that it extends itself across the spectrum of other effects used in the chain. Phasers and Flangers tend to dominate the chain with their grit.
Differences in application
Distortion effects are commonly associated with rock & heavy metal while chorus, phaser, and flanger effects can be used in pretty much any music genre and can fit into any playing style.
These effects are as versatile as the player’s creativity; in that regard, they can be used in almost any song or performance piece, although exceptions should be obvious.
Since phasers and flangers affect the frequencies of the guitar’s signal in a relatively similar way, they almost cross each other out.
In simpler words, most guitar players use either a phaser pedal or a flanger; rarely both.
Differences in versatility
In this particular scenario, ‘versatility’ refers to the flexibility and freedom as far as tweaking with control knobs and parameters are in question.
Tuning up all the knobs to their extreme would make any sound muddy, but especially so in the case of phasers and flangers.
As mentioned before, these effect types tend to dominate the signal chain, which oftentimes diminishes the presence of other pedals and effects.
In that regard, Phasers and Flangers are slightly less versatile than choruses.
Obviously, Phase and Flange pedals are fairly different between themselves too. Phasers are slightly easier to control, but more importantly, they offer a more calculated and more predictable approach to tone-tweaking.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Flangers don’t affect the tone so drastically and can be used for extended periods of time without compromising the tone’s integrity.
The swirling of Phasers makes them ideal for song parts that need to be accentuated (particularly solo sections) whereas Flange pedals can easily substitute for overdrive and distortion when need be.
Every pedal effect type is different. Moreover, every model is different from another; two different pedals that belong to the same category can be so strikingly different that some people would assume they serve different purposes.
Even so, the contrasts between Chorus, Flanger, and Phaser are undeniable and to a certain extent obvious.
From the variance in sound, over dissimilarities in application to differences in application, by now we hope that we’ve helped you make a distinction between these pedal effects.
The search for tone is a never-ending quest most musicians embark on after trying out a couple of different instruments and amps.
Most of tonal ‘originality’ is in the fingers of the players, though, but there are other means by which you can influence how your instrument sounds like.
Not many people are in such a position where they can afford to buy dozens of amps and guitars, so the best alternative is to shape up your sound with guitar pedals.
Today we are going to talk about when and why you should use different kinds of guitar pedals, which work in harmony, and how to create the ultimate setup in the easiest way possible.
A foreword about guitar pedals
Guitar pedals are meant to introduce ‘effects’ that directly influence the behavior of the instrument.
Some alter its tone slightly while others drastically change it, and knowing which pedal to use will mean the difference between shaping up a unique set of voices and ruining your guitar’s tone.
The smartest way to approach guitar pedals is to get to know your instrument a bit better and see which models will complement your axe the most.
Guitar tonewoods & pedals that work best with them
Guitars made of alder and basswoods are in a very balanced position on the tonal spectrum, sitting right in the middle between warm and bright.
Pedals that drastically affect the tone will have a slightly diminished effect on them, but on the upside, these guitars typically work great with every guitar pedal type.
Mahogany-made guitars are dominant in the lower-end price point categories; cheap guitars typically feature these tonewoods and are much warmer than, for instance, guitars made of Walnut.
Maple is one of the brightest-sounding tonewoods while Rosewood is one of the warmest.
The reason why you should consider the composition of your guitar is quite simple; axes made of bright-sounding tonewoods typically work best with overdrive and distortion pedals, pitch-shifters, and phasers while warm-sounding guitars tend to get the most out of wah-wah pedals, delays, and other ‘cleaner’ effect types.
At the end of the day, you can always even out the differences your guitar has with tone knobs on the amp you’re using, but it wouldn’t hurt to go with the flow rather than trying to ‘swim upriver’.
Guitar amps & pedals
There are far more amp brands and manufacturers than there are guitar tonewoods, which makes the issue of choosing the perfect pedals for your amp a fairly complex question, so let’s stick with the basics for the time being.
The most common types of guitar amps are analog and digital amps. In short words, tube amps lend their unique tone and tonal versatility to pedals while digital amps are basically meant to be used as they are.
Regardless of whether you have a solid-state or a tube amplifier, analog amps will help you find a ‘starting’ tone, which you will be able to shape even further with guitar pedals. Think of an analog amp as a sketch of a painting that requires the finishing touches.
Digital amps normally feature ‘artificial’ presets based on analog amps. Even though you’ll be able to make tweaks and adjustments on them, a good deal of your pedal’s tone-shaping potential will be lost on them.
In conclusion, you should avoid major tone-altering pedals, such as distortions, phasers, and pitch-shifters if you are using a digital amp, whereas you are free to use any pedal you like if you own an analog one.
Types of guitar pedals and when to use them
Let’s get started with the main course – when and why to use each guitar pedal type. In this section, we will briefly explain the most notable characteristics of each guitar pedal before stating where they can be efficiently used, where they should be avoided, and why.
Whenever there’s talk of guitar pedals, most people immediately picture a distortion pedal.
Basically, distortion effects form a category that consists of various sound-distorting effects, such as overdrive, fuzz, crunch, and obviously, distortion effect pedals.
What all of these pedal types have in common is that they ‘clip’ the guitar’s audio signal; this way they are reshaping the structure of the instrument’s waveforms by adding warm and bright overtones at the same time.
Plainly speaking, distortion effects add ‘grit’ to the tone in varying intensities. Overdrive and fuzz pedals are a bit ‘weaker’ than rock-hard distortion pedals, but they’re all meant to recreate the sound of a high-gain analog amp.
Interestingly enough, these pedals work perfectly well with analog amplifiers, and you might think ‘why do I need a high-gain amp sound if I can already achieve it on my amplifier?’; basically, gain ‘stacks’, and you will be able to merge different gain stages of different gain frequencies this way.
When to use:
You should use distortion, overdrive, fuzz, and crunch pedals to add punchy overtones to your tone, and this can be done in any number of scenarios. In mellower musical styles distortion effects are used to pronounce solos or dynamic bridges whereas these pedals are active non-stop in genres such as rock and metal.
Distortion effect pedals are clear-cut and very pronounced, so they generally don’t leave much space for experimentation with music genres they aren’t already popular in.
When not to use:
On the flip side, there are certain music styles where distortion effects would work against you. Genres such as polka and pop music, as well as musical styles that do not have the guitar in their spotlight wouldn’t welcome distortion pedals with open arms.
You may hear faint and weakly distorted guitars in certain pop songs, but you may not necessarily need a distortion pedal to achieve such sounds and timbres. Usually, a mediocre analog amp is all you need, provided that it has at least a 3-band EQ.
Amplitude effects alter the dynamics (volume) of your guitar. Several types of pedals fit into this category, including Booster pedals, Compressors, and Noise Gates. Since these three serve three distinctly different purposes, let’s address each of them separately.
Boost pedals (boosters) enhances the audio signal’s amplitude. In simple words, it ramps up the volume, exceeding the limit of the amp.
When to use:
Boosters are ideally used for guitar solos, as they can be used to immediately strengthen your guitar’s volume without any signal loss.
When not to use:
Prolonged use of booster pedals will inevitably make other players struggle to keep up with the audio output, so it shouldn’t be overused.
Compressors are basically catalyst pedals that balance rampant sounds and noises. They are capable of taming punchy lows and calming thundering highs automatically. Generally speaking, compressor pedals ‘crop’ the dynamic range of your instrument, preventing the sounds from leaving the pre-configured bounds.
When to use:
Compressors are a necessity in complex, multi-pedal signal chains where the signal is all over the place. These pedals create a safety net that will prevent the tone from becoming unexpectedly warmer or brighter, which makes them perfect for any kind of pedal chain.
When not to use:
The only time you don’t need a compressor is if you are not using other pedals, to begin with.
Noise gate operates in a way that is completely different from compressors; rather than containing the frequencies, they keep background static and hum at a minimum.
In that sense, noise gates actually ‘expand’ the guitar’s dynamic (lower) range, allowing the quietest, barely audible sounds to replace bass-driven tones.
To put it plainly, noise gate pedals do not ‘eliminate’ hums, hisses, or static; they simply replace these sounds by even quieter ones that can’t be perceived by human ears.
When to use:
If you are standing close to your amp on stage, or if some of your pedals are creating feedback or static, a noise gate pedal will be able to take care of the issue.
When not to use:
Sometimes static and feedback sounds are what musicians are after, especially in rock and metal music genres. Noise gate pedals will prevent you from finding these sounds.
While dynamic-altering pedals set frequency-based ‘borders’ around your tone, filter pedals strengthen or weaken different frequency regions.
While dynamic-altering pedals are generally active all the time, filter pedals are passive most of the time and are only activated when such effects are needed.
The wah-wah pedal is a perfect example of a filter pedal; it alters the entire frequency spectrum of the guitar when activated, creating unique and peculiar noises.
When to use:
Filter pedals change the guitar’s tone drastically, and they are best utilized when you want to accentuate certain parts of the song, such as the ending of a solo for example.
When not to use:
Filters rarely work well when used as standalone pedals, so you shouldn’t rely on them too much if you don’t have a quality distortion/overdrive pedal in your rig as well.
Modulator effect pedals change the strength of the signal, by either mixing it with another signal or by splitting it in two. Some of the most popular modulators are chorus pedals, flangers, phasers, tremolos, and vibratos.
Generally speaking, all of these effect pedals affect the strength of your guitar’s signal, creating different variations in terms of pitch.
Chorus pedals aim to replicate the effect of actual choirs or string orchestras; these pedals split the signal into numerous smaller fragments, each being slightly different than the next in timbre.
Flanger pedals create artificial effect sounds that resemble those that airplanes make; phaser pedals are quite similar, but instead of mixing two distinctly different signal parts, only one part is actually altered (phased).
When to use:
Modulation effects can be dramatic or mellow, dramatic or subtle. They can completely change the dynamic and feeling of a song, or they can simply add nuanced details, making a riff a bit fuller, but unchanged.
These pedals are generally great to use in practically every scenario as they enrich the guitar’s tone and timbre by adding extra layers to the signal.
When not to use:
Modulators are very difficult to master, and oftentimes they can lure musicians into thinking that they need ‘more’. Actually, ‘less is more’ applies here perfectly, especially if you don’t have a well-shaped idea of what fragments of the song you want to modulate.
The pedals that fall under this category are so different that a general definition wouldn’t be able to encompass them all.
What they all have in common is that they all change the time at which the signal ‘hits’, whether it be by delaying it, making it ‘echo’, or playing it back as a ‘loop’.
Delay pedals ‘duplicate’ the signal, playing the second one back right after the initial one. The duplicated instances and the speed at which they are emerging after the original signal can be specified with most pedals.
Loop pedals are basically used to create ‘backing tracks’ or better said, ‘backing riffs’. Musicians can record a lick with them and play it back within a repeating cycle.
Reverb pedals can be used to simulate sounds that would have otherwise be produced in acoustic spaces, like for instance halls or churches.
When to use:
Just like modulators, time-based pedals can be used to fill in the sonic gaps in your guitar’s tone regardless of the situation. They can make your tone sound a bit fuller, and they are perfect for experimentation with other guitar effect pedals.
When not to use:
Time-based effects create ambiance but take away the ‘clean’ bit of the song. They shouldn’t be used with hooks and parts that are meant to be ‘catchy’.
Guitar pedals are wonderful tools that can completely reshape how an instrument sounds and projects through the amp.
We hope that we’ve provided you with useful tips on how different types of pedals can be utilized, and keep in mind that these are only pieces of advice; you are free and even encouraged to experiment and think outside of the box. After all, that’s what music is all about.
– Diploma from a world class instituion, – Weekly online masterclasses, – Personal, 1-on-1 tutorials every 2 weeks, -Recordings of all classes available on demand, – Student forum and alumni network, which includes leading DJs and Producers
It was a though decision, but due to its laser sharp focus on DJing only, and the quality of the content, as well as the price, the DJ Courses Online program takes the number 1 spot.
DJ Courses Online Bundle- Key Facts
Duration: Unlimited / On Demand
Instructors: DJ TLM– DJ and producer with 25 years of experience Isaac Cotec– Certified Ableton teacher Nick Trikakis– Former employee at Native Instruments and AKAI, producer, and DJ.
What’s Included?: – Over a hundred of hours of videos – 14 full courses for all skill levels – 30 day money back guarantee + email support
Price: Starts at 19$
It’s been chosen as the ‘Best Music Production School’ by the readers of DJ Mag.
Point Blank DJ Skills – Key Facts
Duration: 3 months live course (Not on demand)
Instructors: Ben Bristow aka Mr Bristow– DJ, producer, beatboxer. Has played in Space (Ibiza), as well as ministry of sound, scala, and cargo. Darren Henry aka Quest– Dubstep pioneer DJ Nigel Hosten aka Mr. Dex– DJ for the Wu-Tang Clan, Sway, Scratch Perverts and DJ Jazzy Jeff. David Clarke aka DJ Davine– Has played Ministry of Sound, The Garage and the Mother Live 333.
What’s Included?: – Weekly online classes, bi-weekly 1-on-1 online classes – Access to student forum – Diploma upon completion
Price: Starts at around 450$
It’s the school that Goldie turned to when he wanted to learn ableton live, it’s where Patrick Topping honed his skills as a producer, and its where countless many other leading artists went to hone their skills before making it big.
And that’s where Point Blank really shines- It’s student network is simply unrivalled.
And this extends to their online DJ courses too.
By enrolling in the DJ Skills course, for example, you’ll have access to the student forum, whatsapp groups, and weekly masterclasses with your peers, many of whom will undoubtedly make a name for themselves in their craft.
Even if you’re not looking to network, Point Blank is well worth its price.
It’s one of the most practical dj courses in this list, teaching you not only the skills needed, but the whole logistics and operations behind managing your music library and gigs.
For those of you who don’t know, Armin Van Buuren is an iconic DJ and producer from the Netherlands. He’s the 4 time consecutive best DJ in the world according to DJ Mag and one of the four “trance” artists nominated to a grammy.
Armin Van Buuren Masterclass – Key Facts
Duration: On demand
Instructors: Armin Van Buuren– Legendary house/trance producer and DJ What’s Included?: – 3+ hours of video – PDF workbooks – Student support forum
Price: Starts at around 50$
Now masterclasses tend to have the reputation of being sometimes light on the technical side, though we didn’t find that to be the case for this program.
There is one caveat though: The course focuses a lot on the production side of things with Logic.
However, there is still a solid amount of content regarding playing live sets, including the following lessons:
Approaching Your DJ Set
Building a Set: Edits and Mashups
Using the Decks: Basics
Using the Decks: Armin’s Techniques
Performance DJ Tips
The good thing about masterclass is that you can pay monthly, starting at about 20$, so once you get done with the DJing classes, you can cancel your subscription without doing the rest of the course. Though we do recommend the rest of the course if you’re interested in trance / EDM music production.
This subscription also allows you to stream hundreds of other high quality courses, including courses by deadmau5, Hans Zimmer, Timbaland, and more.
If you want to learn to DJ from the one of the best, look no further.
In the same vein as #3, Young Guru’s DJ course on skillshare is a must have for any hip hop DJ.
It’s a very solid course for beginner and intermediate DJs on how to setup your gear for a live performance, but we rank it after DJ Symphony’s course as we found that it wasn’t as in-depth and hands-on.
It’s still a great course, coming from a legendary engineer and hip hop producer responsible for many hits from Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.
Its important to note that this course focuses solely on setting up your gear and software. No major techniques are discussed, though there are a couple of nuggets of information that are really interesting.
Hosted by Mister Gray, this skillshare is, like most skillshare courses, short and sweet.
It will take you about an hour to complete, and in the end, you’ll have increased significantly your knowledge of how Serato DJ works and how to make the most of it. Particularly if you’re a beginner in the ways of Serato.
The teacher is a somewhat successful DJ and producer from the United States who focuses on hip hop and EDM / dubstep.
The production value of this course is insane, as is the case with most skillshare courses.
The major downfall, however, is its lack of depth. This really is a course for beginners.
In fact, many of the amateurs and semi-professionals will always have a hard time setting up vocals the right way. But the last thing you want is to have a quality singer sounding awful in the mix.
With this in mind, we’ll try and explain a thing or two on how to properly EQ the vocals.
Choice of a microphone is essential
Before we get fully into it, we need to point out that the quality of the input is of essential importance of any type of recording or a live show.
There’s no amount of editing and mixing that can help you if the original recording sounds awful.
So before even getting anywhere near the mixing console or your EQ plugins, make sure to have a suitable microphone for what you need.
Look into different polar patterns and think whether you need a dynamic or a condenser mic.
Each microphone picks up audio differently and will focus more on specific sets of frequencies. This is the reason why you really need to take this into consideration before recording or tweaking the EQ knobs.
It’s all about the vocalists
If you’re recording entire bands, or setting up the EQ and levels for live shows, there’s an order of operations you’ll need to respect.
Start with the lower-end spectrum and go from drum sets, then move to bass guitars, guitars, keyboards, and then the vocals.
The idea is to make them all work together and not have them go into each other sonic “territories.”
And before setting your hands on lows, mids, and highs on the mixer’s EQ, you’ll first need to be setting the gain knobs for each of the instruments.
But while setting the EQs of all the individual instruments, bear in mind that you’re giving enough “room” for the vocals. If you do everything step by step and tweak the way you should, laying the vocals on top will be like a breeze.
The way you should be looking at the EQ is that you not only boost but also cut specific frequencies. This is especially made easy with parametric EQs.
Depending on the type of the microphone, the singer’s voice and technique, the room you’re recording in, and the rest of the band, you’ll need to be cutting some frequencies in the vocals.
And these unwanted frequencies can be all over the spectrum. In addition, the vocals can have a lower end boost to them if the singer is too close to the microphone. This is also known as the proximity effect.
The microphone will also pick up the other instruments, and that’s also something you’ll need to be thinking about while setting up the EQ.
Tweaking over the spectrum
So when doing the vocals, you should first start with high pass filters and cutting off everything below a particular frequency.
Some may suggest that you cut off everything below 100 or 150 Hz, but this depends on various factors and the given situation.
After dealing with the lower end of the spectrum, focus on the lower mids or the higher low-end range – somewhere around 330 to 360 Hz.
This is a bit of a “muddy” area, and if we’re talking about male vocals, you might get a really muffled sound if these frequencies are pronounced.
Start cutting a few dB at a time and listen to what happens. The point here is to allow the vocals to stand out in the mix by cutting frequencies in this area.
Go up the spectrum and try and find potential issues if there are any. For instance, the higher mids or the 2.5 to 4 kHz area might add some unwanted harsher “grinding” vibe to the tone.
However, if you cut this area too hard, you might lose some clarity. So be very patient and focused when tweaking these parts.
Then we have the higher-end spectrum where all the sibilance is and where all the harsh consonants might pop out.
This is usually between 5 and 7 kHz, and you’ll need to find the exact spot to filter out in this area, depending on the singer. Again, cutting too much here will reduce overall clarity.
Everything above 8 kHz can help you add that cutting edge to the lead vocals.
However, this is also where all the cymbals and high-end noises are. If you overdo on these frequencies, you might pick up too much of the unwanted stuff in the vocal mic.
Of course, cutting is a bit more complicated if you have an analog mixer. You’ll need to be looking at the “Q” control, or the bandwidth, as well as the frequency range knob for lows, mids, or highs.
Of course, everything these days is more accessible with digital mixers or plugins.
Listen to the whole picture
After setting it all up, you’ll need to take time and listen to the whole picture.
If something sounds like it’s lacking, try and boost these frequencies a little bit, without bringing too much of the unwanted noise.
For instance, if you think there needs to be more lower-end in the vocals, boost narrowly somewhere around the 200 Hz area. If you need more clarity, try narrow boosts around the 6 to 8 kHz territory.
In case you’re doing a live show indoors, it would be a good idea to walk around the venue and hear if every part where the audience should be doesn’t have any unwanted noises.
At the end of the day, setting up vocal EQs is not only about the vocals. It’s about the whole picture and helping singers stand out in the mix without making everyone’s ears bleed.
Getting into the world of music takes more
than just learning music theory and proper technique.
Whatever is the instrument of your choice –
guitar, piano, violin, or even your vocal cords – there are so many aspects
that you’ll first need to get into in order to get your tone right.
Especially with an instrument like an electric guitar where setting up your tone requires extensive research and sometimes even years of experience.
In fact, many have literally turned this
into a scientific field, and there are actual engineers working on designing
and tweaking pedals, rack-mounted units, and other effects.
We could easily say that being a good musician these days, especially a guitar player, is a combination of music theory knowledge, tight technique, knowledge of how pedals work, and experience.
With all these traits checked out, you’ll be able to know when to apply which effect for a particular genre or a situation.
With all this being said, we’ll be getting into some “secrets” about one of the most important effects in the world of modern music – distortion.
The iconic Boss DS-2 Turbo distortion pedal
Although often associated with guitars and rock music, you can find the effect used, one way or another, with other instruments and various genres.
Of course, EDM musicians will also use distortion, mostly as vst plugins, although it’s not uncommon for some DJs to even implement guitar distortion pedals in their setup.
The same could be said for some solo string players, like violinists or cellists, who like to mingle and experiment with these effects.
The particular issue that we’re getting into has caused confusion among many musicians over the years.
We all know about overdrive, distortion, and fuzz pedals. We’re also somewhat aware of their sonic properties.
But there must have been at least one moment where you wondered about what are the actual distinctions between these three effects.
If you’re having trouble understanding the
difference between overdrive, distortion, and fuzz – worry not! After this
guide, you’ll get familiar with some of the technical details and will also
know how to implement these effects the proper way and in required situations
to perfectly fit your style. So let’s get into it.
What you need to know first
Before jumping into the technical details of how these three effects work, there are a few things you need to know first.
We don’t want you to end up with more questions than answers.
The first important thing you need to know is that all of these three effects are actually distortion by definition.
Look at it as an umbrella term for these three distinct types of effects. Yes, this might get a bit confusing since among these three we also have an effect labeled as “distortion.”
This subcategory of distortion, that’s also named “distortion,” is just a widely accepted (dare we say commercial?) name for an effect that’s achieved by heavy clipping.
We’ll get into all these details in a few moments, but what you now need to know first is that distortion, as an audio signal processing effect, is divided into three widely accepted commercial categories – overdrive, distortion, and fuzz.
Now that we have this part covered, a few other things you need to know. Below, we’ll be explaining a thing or two about the clean signal, what headroom means, what’s clipping, and how the musicians back in the old days achieved.
Let’s take the ordinary unprocessed clean guitar tone.
This kind of signal can be represented as one smooth continuous sine curve.
Now we get into a physics aspect of it.
The signal has its wavelength, which is the length of one peak of the sine curve to the next one, and peak-to-peak amplitude, which is the height of the curve from one peak to the other.
What we’re interested here is the amplitude.
The more you push the volume, the “wider” the peak-to-peak amplitude gets.
This means that a louder signal will have a bigger amplitude compared to a quieter one.
To fully grasp this, here’s a graphic representation of a continuous sine curve with all the important elements marked on it.
As you can see, by increasing the amplitude, the signal eventually reached the limitations of a certain device – let’s say a pedal.
It appears almost as if someone literally clipped off the top and the bottom ends of the otherwise perfect-looking smooth sine curve.
Now we get to the most important part.
By doing this “clipping,” the resulting tone gets distorted.Most of the distortion pedals achieve the effect through a 2-step process.
Step 1- the original signal is amplified through the so-called operational amplifiers (or op-amps for short) which are integrated within the circuit.
Step 2- this amplified signal is clipped using the transistors or diodes, depending on the type of pedal. The whole point of these components is to bring the threshold down and clip off the signal.
We should also mention that there are symmetrical and asymmetrical types of clipping.
The clipping is usually done by two diodes or two transistors, one clipping the bottom end of the sine curve, and the other one the top end.
If you have two different types of diodes and transistors, they cut the signal unequally on top and the bottom, causing irregular wave shapes.
This is referred to as asymmetrical clipping and can be found with some overdrives these days, usually as a switchable mode.
What you also need to understand is the concept of “headroom.”
In the above section, we explained how the limitations, or a threshold, of a certain device, like an amp or a pedal, cause clipping and distortion.
The headroom represents the “space” between the peak of your clean signal and your amp’s or pedal’s threshold.
In this area, the signal will be “safe” from any clipping or distortions. Depending on the device’s purpose and design, they can either have larger all smaller headroom.
How they did it in the old days
Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and get into the history of the distortion effect.
Back in the old days, the late 1940s and the early 1950s, it wasn’t exactly easy to achieve any kind of distortion.
What’s more, there was somewhat of a disagreement between guitar players and engineers. The first group loved that dirty distorted tone and always did their best to find any means to achieve it.
The latter group, the engineers, looked down upon clipping and distortion as if these were their arch enemies. To them, the distortion was an error.
Since all of the guitar amps in that era were tube-based, the guitar players noticed that by pushing the volume control to some “dangerous” territories, the tone would get all distorted.
But it wasn’t exactly the kind of distortion we hear today. It was more of an ambitious competition between the guitar players and bands to sound louder and more unique. It was just a slight coloration, something like a milder yet ear-piercing overdrive these days.
There are a few early examples from the late 1940s of distortion being used in popular songs at the time.
But arguably one of the best-known examples is “Bob Wills Boogie” by Bob Willis. His guitar player at the time, Robert Junior Barnard, pushed the amp over its limits and got that “hot” and slightly distorted tone. Maybe not exactly heavy by today’s standards, but it was still pretty exciting for the era. You can listen to the song below:
As time went by, guitar players found more and more ways to distort their tone.
However, some of the distorted tones on singles and records were a result of happy accidents.
One of the most prominent of those accidents comes from 1951 and it happened to a guitarist named Willie Kizart.
Playing with Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm, the group was all set to record a tune named “Rocket 88” in the studio.
Unfortunately, Kizart’s amp got damaged in transport and, of course, the tone suffered. He was left with no choice but to record using what he had at the moment. But surprisingly enough, the resulting tone turned the song into a hit.
After this, everyone was trying to replicate the buzzing sound, marking the beginning of a true revolution in modern music.
As a result, many began deliberately damaging their amplifiers to achieve the effect, making it a trend that continued well into the mid-1960s.
In 1960, Marty Robins and his band entered the studio to record a song called “Don’t Worry.” It’s not certain whether it was the idea of the engineer there or Marty’s guitar player Grady Martin, but the guitar was recorded through a faulty channel on the mixer.
The resulting solo was pretty heavy for that era. The song was released in 1961 to critical acclaim.
Going further, there were some other examples of distorted guitar in popular music, with some musicians even getting in touch with engineers to help them create distortion devices.
However, the first commercially available distortion pedal was FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone, released in 1962 by Gibson under their subsidiary brand Maestro.
This device, initially marketed as some sort of a proto “multi-effects” piece, only got more attention after Keith Richards implemented it for The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction“, which was released in 1965.
The iconic FZ-1 Fuzz Tone pedal by Gibson
It’s too bad that no one told the guys from The Kinks about the pedal since they resorted to slashing the speaker of an innocent amp to record 1964’s “You Really Got Me.”
Well, at least they achieved a great distorted tone and went down in history for being one of the pioneers of modern rock and hard rock music.
Later in the 1960s and the early 1970s, guitar players used the potential and properties of their tube amps to get a distorted tone, with companies deliberately making it easier for them.
Some guys like Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore or Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi used a clean booster, Dallas Arbiter’s Rangemaster.
This way, they pushed the signal and made it hit the threshold of their amplifiers more easily, achieving more clipping and distortion in the process. This particular method is being used even to this day, mostly by those who are fans of vintage-oriented tones.
The 1970s saw the rise of guitar pedals as we know them today.
Thanks to the invention of transistors and their implementation in the music equipment, the distortion became easier to achieve.
Of course, there’s the unavoidable mention of the piece like Fuzz Face by Dallas Arbiter from the late 1960s, a pedal that’s being produced to this day by Dunlop Manufacturing Inc.
And this was really the golden age for guitar distortion.
Some of these same circuits, with some components improved or altered, are still being made.
There’s the Boss DS-1 Distortion that made its debut in the late 1970s, as well as the revolutionary Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi from the early 1970s. Another piece that also changed the game was Ibanez’s iconic Tube Screamer, developed from Maxon’s old OD808.
These are just some of the examples of pedals that came into the spotlight and helped guitar players change the course of history.
During the 1970s and the 1980s, we got the final distinction between the three types of distortion that we’ll be discussing today.
So how are they different? Let’s find out.
First, we start with the overdrive, the “mildest” of the three.
Many beginners, or even novice players, look down upon overdrives as distortions with less gain.
However, this is far from an exact definition of overdrives and how they work.
In fact, their tone has very little to do with the amount of saturation but rather how it is achieved.
The difference comes down to the type of clipping.
First, with overdrive, we have the so-called “soft” clipping. The sine curve of the clean signal is cut in a softer manner and the shape of this new clipped waveform has no rough edges. The resulting tone often resembles what you would get by pushing the old amplifiers over their limits. The only difference here is that you usually don’t get any kind of dynamic response with just the overdrive pedal.
Here’s a simplified example of the
difference between soft and hard clipping.
The soft clipping in overdrive pedals is usually achieved through diodes, while the classic distortion or fuzz pedals use transistors. There are three types of diodes – silicone, germanium, and LED-based.
Overdrive pedals can often be seen used in pair with tube amplifiers.
This way, the overdrive pedals serve as a boost that will further push the limits of the tube amp and cause its own “organic” clipping.
In addition, there’s clipping going on in the pedal itself, which will add some coloration to the overall tone.
Overdrive pedals can even be used paired
with dirty channels of tube amps to create natural-sounding tones in the high
gain areas. This is exactly why many metal players have been using Ibanez Tube
Screamer or Maxon OD808. Another great example would be Zakk Wylde and his
signature MXR ZW-44 Overdrive pedal.
As for those milder tones, a piece like Boss OD-1 or BD-2 Blues Driver works well with clean channels of both tube and solid-state amplifiers. Their soft clipping and a somewhat muffled tone come as a great solution for vintage-inspired bluesy tones.
What guitar players and other musicians often refer to as “distortion” is the distortion effect with hard clipping.
This nomenclature might cause some confusion since the subcategory of the effect bears the same name. However, we can clearly hear the distinction and tell it apart from overdrives.
The classic guitar distortion effect has that “fried” or “scorched” tone, going into more “dangerous” territories while keeping the tightness.
The clean signal gets processed through operational amplifiers and transistors, just like with overdrive pedals. However, the signal here gets cut abruptly, causing the wave to get sharply distorted.
While there is certainly an abundance of different distortions, this particular effect is usually associated with hard rock and heavy metal music, along with most of the subdivisions of these genres.
Famous pedals that come to mind are Boss DS-1, Boss MT-2, MXR Distortion Plus, TC Electronic Dark Matter, Pro Co RAT, just to name a few.
Compared to overdrives, hard clipping of distortion pedals is most often achieved using transistors.
The most often type of a transistor you can find these days is silicon-based, although there are some rare instances of germanium ones.
If you really want to go off the charts and have a psychedelic-drenched tone, then get yourself a fuzz pedal.
The closest thing we can find to describe the fuzz effect is a broken amplifier, similar to the tone achieved in the above mentioned “Don’t Worry” by Marty Robbins.
The main distinction that makes fuzz different from other types of distortions is pretty simple – it features extreme clipping.
The waveform is so distorted that it resembles a square shape. This way, you not only get a very “disfigured” tone, but also a very rich harmonic content. This effect is usually achieved without the use of operational amplifiers, but rather just transistors doing extreme clipping.
However, fuzz is not for everyone’s liking. It’s mostly present in psychedelic rock, blues rock, or stoner and doom rock music, and is usually not the favorite choice of classic virtuoso shred-type guitar players. Nonetheless, the effect requires very tight technique and great control over your playing. You don’t want to get anything wrong with the fuzz effect turned on.
The first commercial fuzz pedal was the Maestro FZ-1. Other famous examples include the well-known Big Muff Pi, the legendary and very rare Univox Super-Fuzz, as well as the Fuzz Face which was originally produced by Dallas Arbiter.
The Fuzz Face got some significant popularity due to the fact that Jimi Hendrix used it back in the day.
This same model, with some changes in the circuit (the inclusion of silicone instead of a germanium transistor) and the overall design, is now manufactured by Dunlop.
What about boost?
You should not confuse boost with distortion pedals.
Boosters just amplify the signal without any clipping done inside the pedal.
They come in handy paired with tube amps, letting them do all the organic-sounding clipping and helping them achieve distortion on their own.
They’re not exactly the most exciting devices, but they have their purpose.
What you should also know
Technically speaking, a clipped signal is pretty close to a dynamically compressed one.
Compressors increase the volume of quiet parts and decrease the volume of louder parts, making the overall output dynamically more even.
The distortion itself comes with some compression with it, ultimately making an impact on the dynamic response of your guitar tone.
The harsher the distortion and the harder the clipping, the more compressed your tone will get.
What’s the best option for me?
The choice of the right distortion comes
down to your personal preferences, the style of music, and the types of guitars
and amplifiers that you have.
Overdrives usually work best for old school type of stuff, although you’ll find them in pedalboards of modern metal players who use them for enhancing the tone of their tube amps. Giving the softer, mellow, yet mid-range oriented tone, they’re a great option if you use clean channels of tube amplifiers.
Distortions are a classic choice for any hard rock and metal player. Whether you’re playing through a solid-state or a tube amplifier, they’ll always be able to create those scorched yet controlled tight tones for both rhythm and lead playing. They’re the most popular choice for most of the genres these days.
Fuzz effect is a bit tricky and is for those with very specific tastes. First off, it’s not easy to have things under control with a fuzz pedal on, and it’s mostly useful for single notes. Having a rich harmonic content, playing power chords with a fuzz pedal might not be the best choice, especially if there is more than one guitar in the band. It’s mostly a choice for stoner, doom, psychedelic, and blues-rock guitar players.
But at the end of the day, we are not bound by any laws and written rules.
You’re always free to experiment and go outside of the conventional boundaries of any genre.
However, knowing some of the rules and old trends will help you in your creative endeavors and you’ll be able to create a better tone for a given situation.
The first thing you need to do is to check out the CPU load directly in the FL Studio.
In the top screen of the FL Studio, you’ll see a small window tracking down CPU usage and RAM memory usage.
In case any of these values are getting too high, it means something’s not right.
Symptoms might include unwanted clicks and glitches in the audio. If you’re experiencing poor performance or any other issues, keep your eyes on the memory and CPU usage window.
Configuring audio settings for FL Studio
Poor performance sometimes might be due to the inadequate settings for the hardware you have.
For instance, if you set the buffer size to the minimum, or somewhere close to it, but your computer can’t handle it, you should consider raising it to the spot where it stops being an issue.
The bigger the buffer size, the easier your computer will respond to all the things going on in the program.
However, a larger buffer size increases latency, which can be an issue with the real-time instrument or vocal recording.
In case you’re not doing any kind of recording but just mixing, there’s no need to keep buffers at a lower level. But if you’re recording, try and find that sweet spot that doesn’t make it impossible for you to perform and that still allows normal operation.
For this, you’ll need to go to Options, Audio Setting, and then select the “Asio4ALL” or “FL Studio Asio” in the “Device” menu.
You can increase the buffer length to where it works best for you. Try and set the sample rate to 44100 Hz and the “Priority” to “highest.”
There are a few other switchable options in the audio settings, including the “Triple buffer” and “Mix in buffer switch”. Try stitching them on and off and see if there’s any change in the overall performance. If nothing happens, set them back the way they were.
Enable the “Smart Disable” feature in FL Studio
Another option you’ll find in the Audio Settings is the “Smart Disable” feature.
You can then enable it and go to Tools Menus, Macros, and then select the “Switch smart disable for all plugins.”
This way, all the instruments and effects plugins will be turned off when they’re not making any sounds. Depending on the type of project, this feature can significantly decrease your CPU usage.
You should also know that the Smart Disable feature is only active during playback. It will be disabled during any rendering.
Look at how many channels are you rooting in the FL Studio mixer
What you also need to be paying attention to is the number of channels you’re routing to in the FL Studio mixer. The larger the number of channels, the higher the chances that CPU load will rise faster than usual. In order to prevent this issue, you might want to plan everything out in advance before starting a project.
Look whether your plugins are 32 or 64 bit
Whenever you’re using any kind of plugins in the FL Studio, it is important to see whether they are the correct VST version.
For instance, if you have a 64 bit FL Studio version, then you should use only 64-bit versions of VST plugins.
Using the 32-bit plugin versions on the 64 bit FL Studio, there’s a high chance your CPU usage will skyrocket. This is because your computer will need to adjust to the same version. This whole process is referred to as “bridging.”
Check whether your CPU is running at full speed
There are also things you need to check outside of the FL Studio itself.
For instance, you might have a certain power saving setting on that is preventing your CPU from running at its full speed.
If you’re using Windows, then open up the settings (can be accessed via Start menu), go to the Control Panel, System and Maintenance, and then select Power Options. You should then select your power management to the “High Performance Mode.” If you’re using a laptop, always make sure that you’re plugged in and not running solely on the battery.
As for macOS, go to System Preferences, then Energy Saver, and then find the “Computer Sleep” slider and select it to “Never” mode.
Or, instead, you can check the box labeled as “Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off.”
There are a few other power-related features in the settings that might help you use your computer’s full CPU potential.
Investing in an online music production “masterclass” course is one of the best decisions you will make this year.
This might seem like a bold statement, specially for those of you who have previously tried free courses or dabble around some youtube videos on production, but it’s the truth: Knowledge is more important than any piece of gear in your studio. Furthermore, enrolling in one of the below courses is nothing like doing a free course or watching youtube videos.
These online music production masterclass courses allow you to follow a tried and tested structure devised by top producers and engineers, plus incentivises you to follow through, as you have money invested.
Duration: Over 20 000 hours of video + over 20 books. 1 077 Courses 17 979 Individual Tutorials.
Main DAW used: All DAWs available.
Our Rating: 9.5/10
Skill Level: Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced
Certificate upon completion: No
High quality of content
Content available on all formats and platforms: Video, books, Desktop, iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku.
Very affordable on a month-to-month basis
High quality instructors
Most comprehensive library of learning resources
Lack of focus
Can be overwhelming
We’ll start with our favorite online music production course: Groove3. What an absolute gold mine of music production knowledge.
If you watched all of groove3’s videos back-to-back you’d take over 2 years to finish, probably much more, given that they update the content regularly.
There’s tutorials on all topics you can image, including all DAWs, Plugins, and musical styles. If you search around the forums, it’s often mentioned as a student favorite, along with some of the masterclass courses we’ll review below.
When it comes to price, an all-access pass costs only 89$, with b&hphoto. This represents without a doubt the best value of all courses.
We’ve found this to be a great way to stay focused for idle studio time. Simply browse around their website, find an interesting video, watch it, then apply it to your current project.
The first course we’ve had a chance to review is Deadmau5’s Masterclass Course.
Music style: EDM / Electronic
Financial Investment: Low / Moderate
Duration: 6 hours of video + assignments
Main DAW used: Ableton, though teachings can be applied to any DAW.
Our Rating: 9.3/10
Skill Level: Beginner
Certificate upon completion: No
Very entertaining, huge production value. Very easy to follow through with the teachings.
Very well-rounded. All major topics are discussed (mastering, mixing, synths, drums, music business, live performance, and more).
Composed of videos, assignments, and discussions.
Great community if you’re willing to engage.
This 6 hour course will set you back 90$. It’s not a cheap course by any means, but we found the cost/quality relation to be quite good.
It’s a short course. It could benefit from going more in-depth into certain topics.
The course has 23 lessons, all delivered through video classes. It also has assignments and discussions.
The classes touch upon the following topics:
The Deadmau5 Production Process
Building Your Home Studio
Digital Vs. Analog Synths
Sound Design with Effects And Processing
Drums / Beats
Mastering (includes case study)
Starting a Career
On Stage Performance
Overall, this is a solid and very well rounded online music production masterclass course. It won’t hold your hand and automatically offer you a career in audio engineering or music production, but if you follow through with all the tips shared, your chances of making it will increase exponentially.
Furthermore, if you take your time to network and reach out to the community, you’ll likely make some useful connections out of this online music production masterclass course.
This is a great course for anyone looking for a well-balanced course on electronic / pop / hip-hop / digital music production, with no specific focus on any are of the music production process, but rather a wholistic approach. It gives you a framework, the one used by deadmau5, to produce a song. It is not a case study, i.e- it won’t show you how deadmau5 produces a song from scratch, but it will show you every single step of the process. We recommend deadmau5’s online music production masterclass course to people that are starting out and want something a bit lighter (shorter) and more fun.
Up next is Hans Zimmer’s online music production masterclass course.
Music style: Film Scoring / Soundtrack / Sound Design
Financial Investment: Low / Moderate
Duration: 4.5 hours of video + assignments
Main DAW used: N/A.
Our Rating: 8.5/10
Skill Level: Intermediate
Creating with Synths
Scoring to Picture
Scoring Under Dialogue
Case Study: Frost/Nixon
Working With Musicians
Feedback & Revisions
Learning by Listening
Life of a Composer
This is a very interesting course. The simple fact that you get to hear Hans Zimmer talk on the first person about stuff that he has never revealed on interviews is worth the cost of the program.
However, we found the structure a bit random.
Unlike deadmau5’s course, this program kind of jumped around topics, with one class being solely about Hans’ career and progression in the industry. To be honest, if we wanted to learn about that, we could just check one of the hundreds of interviews that he’s given.
Having said that, there are loads of golden nuggets there about his process, inspiration, and process. It is packed loads of synthesiser tips as well as general aesthetic in sound design.
To finish off our selection of Masterclass courses, we’ll have a look at Timbaland’s online music production course.
Music style: Hip-Hop / Pop
Financial Investment: Low / Moderate
Duration: 3.5 hours of video + assignments
Main DAW used: Ableton
Our Rating: 8.5/10
Skill Level: Beginner / Intermediate
Studio Session: Making a Beatbox Beat
Building Beats: Tim’s Process
Making a Beat: Getting Warmed Up
Song Origins: “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”
Making a Beat: Starting With a Chord Progression
Making a Beat: Tweaking and Layering Drums
Song Origins: “Pony”
Making a Beat: Manipulating Vocal Samples
Making a Beat: Creating a Breakdown
Song Origins: “Gossip Folks”
Making a Beat: Adding a Topline
Song Origins: “Are You That Somebody?”
How to Persevere
We found this masterclass to be the least technical of all online muic production masterclass courses reviewed. Perhaps on purpose, as Timbaland’s production process seems to be based a lot around feeling, leaning on his team to fill in the more technical gaps.
We still found it very useful and inspiring, with some pretty straight forward but useful tips such as thinking about drums through beatbox.
His team of “co-producers” also share some gems on drums layering, chord progression and more.
If you’re a hip hop head, you’ll love this course. You’ll learn about how Timba produced hits for Missy Elliot, Jay-z, and others, as well as some inspiring tips on how to succeed in the industry. If you’re not a hip hop nerd, then you might find it not that inspiring. Though we still recommend purchasing it as part of the masterclass bundle of classes.
Point Blank is an well established English music school, which has opened it’s expertise to the online sector. The sheer diversity of courses that they offer, including Music Business courses, is practically unmatched. This Online Music Production Masterclass Course set is both formal and fun.
Music style: None in Specific
Financial Investment: Medium-high
Duration: Depends on the subject of choice.
Main DAW used: Ableton
Our Rating: 9.5/10.
Skill Level: Intermediate-High
The “Online” courses of Point Blank Music School are actual real-time/live lecture by teachers, customised to you as a student. You get to ask questions and interact with your teacher via webcam. Each course thus has it’s own structure.
So this is clearly something different. Theere are no pre-recorded sessions, like the others. This would also explain the high price point compared to the others. As a drawback, their online music production courses are not instant, you have to enroll like you would to a school. Only that the school location is your home, if you cannot access the offline schools Point Blank Music School has running in London, L.A., Mumbai, Ibiza and China.
We feel like this product is for the more advanced music production, since asking questions is key here.
If you feel like you have run out of material to study on your own and feel like it’s time to get 1:1 with a teacher who can guide you further then look no further and click the button below to access the Point Blank Music School website.
Producertech is a well established music course provider. It was founded in 2009 by Rob Jones. Of all their online music production courses, EQ fundamentals is one of our favourites. Here’s why:
Music style: None in Specific
Financial Investment: Low
Duration: 2.5 hours of video + assignments +
Main DAW used: Ableton
Our Rating: 9/10.
Skill Level: Intermediate
Introduction to Frequencies
EQ in Isolation
Frequency Demo #3 – Combining the Piano and Sine Wave
The Frequency Spectrum Explained
EQ with respect to other parts
Common EQ Practices
EQ’ing Kick and Bass
EQ on the Master Channel
EQ In The Mix
This course is, in our opinion, a must do for all aspiring producers. Having a solid grasp of EQ can be the difference between an amateur sounding song and a commercial grade end product.
Producertech’s EQ Fundamentals online music production masterclass course will give you the foundation you need to make clean sounding mixed, at a very accessible cost (25$).
It doesn’t have a rock star teacher or cover 10 different topics, but that is, in our opinion, a strength. There is no magic pill that will make you a successful musician. Instead, the path to success is continued investment in small courses on different topics. This laser focused course will give you a very complete foundation on one of the most important skills in the game: EQing.
It also comes with the EXPOSE software, which allows you to “test” your final mix for any potential issues. We were positively surprised by the production quality of the course. Here’s a sample video from the course:
There is a special focus on bass and kick mixing, thus making it slightly more relevant to electronic, hip-hop, and pop producers, though it really suits any kind of music style.
Berklee is one of the most famous music schools in the world. This institution is a pioneer in online music production courses, having started in 2002! They still are an industry leader and offer the most formal type of education you’ll find in this list.
Music style: Electronic
Financial Investment: Moderate
Duration: Around 6 months (4 hours / week recommended)
Main DAW used: Ableton, though teachings can be applied to any DAW.
Our Rating: 9.5/10.
Skill Level: Beginner / Intermediate
Certificate upon completion: Yes
The Technology of Music Production
Introduction to Ableton Live
Creating Sounds for Electronic Music
The Art of Vocal Production
This is a solid course for students looking for a serious commitment and some degree of credibility. It teaches all the theoretic background + gives you a solid foundation in ableton production and recording / mastering vocals.
If you’re looking for some credibility in the industry, the Beerklee is something to stick in your CV that can also teach you some good theory.
However, there are more advanced and complete courses in this list in terms of knowledge.
Finally, one of the main advantages is that coursera offers financial aid to certain students.
All in all, it is pretty inexpensive, at 39$/month, and if you’re feeling motivated, you can knock it off in a couple of months, getting a “mini” degree for a very affordable price.
Next up, we have a couple of udemy courses. We’ll start with probably the most popular music course in the platform, “Music Production in Logic Pro X”.
Udemy has a lot of online music production course programs on it’s website, they mostly have a similar structure to the Logic X one which is our reference.
This course was developed by Digital Music Masters, a well established music school.
Music style: None in Specific
Financial Investment: Low
Duration: 38 hours of video + articles and resources
Main DAW used: Logic Pro X
Our Rating: 9/10.
Skill Level: Beginner / Intermediate
This is mostly for those more advanced. What we like is that you can just pay for one “topic” and not buy the whole online music production masterclass course package like with the others. You just get to Udemy, shop for what you want to know and that’s it.
These courses are mostly focused on daw workflows, with some specific items covering hardware gear like the Maschine and others focusing on specific sub-genres like music for games. All in all we think it is good product if you just want to fill some specific empty spaces in your skill arsenal.
Steven Slate has posted a nice explanation of when you should cut or boost EQ.
I would add here that having a proper mixing workflow is something that improves sound dramatically.
Right order of using reductive, additive EQ and other mixing processing (limiting, compressing, saturating) is equally important to understand.
The workflow I learned from professional mixing and mastering engineers is to start with filtering unnecessary frequencies (do you really need low end on your hi-hats?) then saturate, then reductive EQ, then compress, then do additive eq (otherwise it would fight with compressor). Make sense?
We have already covered some of the MIDI-CV modules that allows you to easily sync Eurorack with your DAW. In my opinion two of the best options as for Today are: Intellijel uMidi 2 and Endorphines Shuttle Control.
Watch new ADSR video on modular and Ableton Live sync via Audio (using audio signal as a clock source).