Finally Understanding Levels and Clipping

Posted April 14, 2016, 2:42 p.m.

Over the years I've seen a lot of confusion out there about levels and clipping during mixing - but only recently I came to realise that the confusion was so deep that people were altering their mixes to avoid clipping that wasn't even really happening! Once and for all, I thought I'd lay out for people in highly technical terms, but hopefully still keeping it fun too, everything they need to know about digital audio and clipping so that they can finally realise how little they really need to know. If your the type of person who has found themselves worriedly watching the meters more than your listening to the sound, this tutorial will put your mind at rest and your concentration back to the fun part: making music.

/Ryan

 

Professional Vocal Mix Techniques

Posted March 15, 2016, 8:06 a.m.

Nothing can elevate a beat to sound like a catchy real song faster than a good vocal. But on the other hand, nothing can sabotage an otherwise great beat to sound like an amateur mess than a bad vocal. And sometimes, all that stands between one thing and the other is mix technique.

In this video, Ryan shows us how he added vocals to his own song and went about making them sound every bit as polished and perfected as the instruments that make up the beat. You'll see how to make your vocals pop out of the mix, get natural tuning, and find that balanced with effects that are audible without being overpowering.

Try out Reason 8 free for 30 days here!

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Find vocals on Allihoopa to use in your own song here!

Posted March 15, 2016, 8:06 a.m.

New Rigs launched today

Posted Feb. 26, 2016, 3:20 p.m.

So glad to finally have the new version of the Rigs out the door!

Ever since we first launched the first series of Rigs a year ago we planned to keep these new and fresh, by adding new products every year. We wanted to help customers to find a good selection of Rack Extensions and Refills that would complement each other. We wanted to target them to different users - an acoustic, a synthetic and a "Outboard Rig to rule them all”. The Rigs have been hugely popular and a great success for participating companies. So, it’s with great joy that we now launch the second generation of these Rigs. 50% more products have been added to each Rig. The products in Rig 2 are some of the most well loved REs out there.

The Rigs also gave us an opportunity to crete Refills on a different level than we’ve been able to in the past. For the first time, we could create ReFills that uses more than one RE as we know precisely which REs and ReFills the user own. This creates opportunities for some really nice Combinators. Employing the best sound designers and mix engineers we could find to create tremendous presets - J Chris Griffin and Kevin Schröder have really done an amazing job. This is a great opportunity to glimpse over the shoulder of these professionals.

Outboard might not have been the best name as it wasn’t self-explanatory what it actually contained. So, we renamed it to Mix & Mastering Rig. The focus of the Mix & Mastering Rig as much on the tutorials on how to mix and master a song as on the included Rack Extensions and presets. The included video course combined with the presets makes it possible to drastically improve the sound of your songs.

And speaking of video tutorials, one aspects of the Rigs that we felt didn’t get enough attention were the video tutorials that AskVideo prepared for the each Rig. Each participating product gets one video on how the RE is actually working and one video of how it’s used in a song. The course is laid out so you gradually build up a song, so by the end of the course you’ll hear a finished song. In total, AskVideo produced 137 videos, that’s more than 8 hours of tutorials for the three Rigs!

For more information, check out the video below or go here!

/Mats Karlöf

 

Posted Feb. 26, 2016, 3:20 p.m.

Random Melodies

Posted Feb. 15, 2016, 9:08 a.m.

Here's a nifty trick that might not have a occurred to you before. It comes - again - from my nasty shameful habit of using hardware, where often necessity can be the mother of invention.

We're going to use the RPG-8 arpeggiator to randomly generate a melody. You might think of this as a tool for inspiration, or perhaps even some kind of semi-generative, or algorithmic method of composing. I like to think of it as cheating.

The long and the short of it is that we're going to set  up the RPG-8 to play a very slow arpeggio using a random pattern, but then we're only going to allow it to play the first note of the arpeggio. Essentially, for every note in the melody, instead of specifying a single note, we suggest several possibilities, and leave it up to chance which note is played.

First, decide the shape of your melody - where do you want the notes to play? Then decide which notes you want to select from. In this example, I've used the Akebono scale, quite common in traditional Japanese music. At each position on the grid where I want a note to sound, then, I've added all of the notes in the scale starting with A: A, B, C, E, F, and A. Where I felt the melody should descend, I used the same notes, but discarded the top A and played the E and the F an octave lower - see the screenshot below.

This clip is repeated throughout the piece - as you can hear, it plays differently each time.

The next part of the trick is setting up the RPG-8 to choose one of the notes to play at each step in the melody. Set the arpeggiator mode to random and decide on your range. If you want the melody to use ONLY the notes that you've entered, then leave the default range of one octave. I've selected two octaves, so that not only will the melody use the notes I've laid out on the grid, but also notes an octave above.

The most important step, though, is this: make sure that the step interval you choose for the rate is the same as the shortest gap between the notes in your melody. In the example here, no two notes are further than an 1/8 note apart, so I've selected a rate of 1/8.

It's adaptable, too. As noted above, if you feel that at a certain point the melody should descend (or ascend), you can shift your block of notes - all of them or just some of them - down (or up) an octave, almost like an inversion of a chord. You can add or remove notes from your block. Or, rather than leaving things up to chance, you can even remove all notes but one if it's important that a particular note plays at a particular point. And it doesn't need to be limited to melodies only - you could use the same technique to add some unpredictiability to your rhythm patterns, for example.

Posted Feb. 15, 2016, 9:08 a.m.

Two Knobs That'll Change Your Mixing

Posted Feb. 3, 2016, 12:12 p.m.



Sure, the title of this video reads like classic click-bait but in this case I actually stand by its claim! There are two knobs in Reason's mixer that far too often get overlooked by people new to mixing. Unsurprisingly, these knobs are seldom overlooked by professional mix engineers and once you learn to use them, you'll start using them just as much in everything you do.

The High Pass and Low Pass Filter in Reason's main mixer helps you achieve something called "frequency slotting," which is just jargon for this result: Your instruments won't be fighting each other for the same space in your mix. In this tutorial, Ryan shows us how to get clarity and definition out of your mix by mindfully considering the important frequencies for each instrument in your music.

Try out Reason here:
http://propellerheads.se/tryreason

Posted Feb. 3, 2016, 12:12 p.m.