Music Production

Barong Family use SendMusic for their Remix Competition!

General, Music Production, SendMusic News

With the release of their new album ‘Hard in Bangkok‘, heavyweight EDM label Barong Family used SendMusic to engage with their fans and drive new music creation!

They…
1. Set up a SendMusic Paid Account to enable them to brand their page
2. Uploaded acapella parts from their latest release
3. Used their SendMusic Profile Link to have producers submit their remixes for consideration!

They then quickly and easily went through the scrolling inbox to pick the best ones and declare them the winners…  Why not run a demo drop or remix competition for your label today?

Sign up for our top tier Security Plan account to do the same!

Interview with disco don Yam Who? aka Qwestlife!

General, Music Business, Music Production

I interviewed Yam Who? in this week’s blog post and asked him some questions that might just capture your imagination a wee bit. So who is  Yam Who?. He’s the internationally known alter ego of disco producer Andy Williams. One of the most consistent DJ’s on the circuit, every weekend you’ll find him rocking the dance floor at clubs & festivals around the globe including Glitterbox, Lovebox, Ministry Of Sound, Horse Meat Disco, Love International etc.. He’s featured on line ups with the world’s finest selectors including Greg Wilson, Joey Negro, Melvo Baptiste, Tiger & Woods, Purple Disco Machine & Danny Krivit. So let’s dive into the questions!

 What do you currently do?
Currently I wear a lot of hats, but in a nutshell I do the following:

  • DJ as Yam Who & Qwestlife
  • Artist / Producer as Yam Who & Qwestlife
  • Owner of 3 labels – ISM, Midnight Riot & Black Riot 
  • Songwriter
  • Journalist – Mixmag disco editor, providing a cutting edge platform for the modern disco, boogie & house scenes

 How did you break into the industry?
I started DJ’ing at university. Then there weren’t many DJ’s back then (it was a long time ago lol). Then suddenly it seemed to become very cool and there were too many. Throughout this period I always had the disco bug. I was also always into technology and instruments and I seemed to naturally drift into music production. I realised early on that the only way into music was through production and I started Yam Who. From this I naturally progressed into setting up ISM Records in 2009. Following on from ISM I sensed a missing niche in the market and started Midnight Riot and the label literally took off. I learnt a lot from starting ISM that really helped with Midnight Riot being the success that it is. Anyways all this led to getting a gig at Mixmag as their Disco editor and from here I ended up getting signed to Glitterbox which was a dream come true. I still remember getting a call from the team there and what a surreal feeling it was. I loved the label and they said they wanted to create some synergy and I now have an album coming out on their label under my production guise ‘Qwestlife’ with Tom Laroye.
I have to point out that this whole process spans 30 years, I started in music back in 1989. I firmly believe that the only way to break into the scene now is to set up yourself correctly, through things like Bandcamp and having a strong brand and releasing great music. Internet technology has levelled the playing field. The way to do it is through perseverance, ingenuity and creativity. 

How long did it take you to be a success?
As I mentioned above it’s taken me 30 years and it’s just really getting going now! There have definitely been key, formative events on the way, like when I first got into Hip Hop in 1983. MOre than just music this was a movement centred around music, dancing (breaking), art (graffiti)  and fashion – all things that I love. Even with Midnight Riot, I came up with the name after the Tottenham Riots in 2011. They had just happened and I was trying to get home at midnight, (I live in Tottenham)!
Everything comes together in a weird way. I feel nowadays everyone wants an instant fix but you have to take your time, hone your craft, practice and be creative as that breeds longevity. If it’s any consolation I’ve made a ton of mistakes on the way. 

What advice do you have for producers trying to break into the industry?
Persevere, be creative, hone your craft and hustle. Also make your music with passion, you have to come with the right intentions and be authentic.

How is it best to send music out to DJ’s, labels and Management companies?
I use SendMusic for this, as it’s so fast and reliable and you guys are brilliant at helping me out whenever I need it!

 What are your favourite go to plugins?
I’m a software junkie I think, but here are the staples:
– Arturia – V Collection
– Xfer – Serum
– Fabfilter – Pro Q, Saturn
– Native Instruments – Kontakt, Massive, Reaktor
Everyone has their own system, find what works for you, but really master whatever it is you use. Most DAW’s come with insane stock plug ins now to be fair. I also use a ton of hardware as well, loads of outboard synths. There’s something special and organic about capturing analogue signals that gives your music real warmth and depth. I think this can be lacking sometimes with solely plugins.

Do you have your own tracks mixed and mastered by someone else?
Yes I now use someone else, even though I can do it and used to do it all myself. But you reach a certain level where it’s better outsourced and I prefer the separation of the stages now.
Mixing and mastering duties fyi are done by a certain Matt Bandy, he’s great!

 What trends do you see in the scene this coming year?
The Disco vibe is just starting to really get going – it’s going to get bigger this year I believe.
Our debut Qwestlife album is out this year on Glitterbox, so excited for that and hoping that trends!
Also i’m seeing a collective of people / producers / songwriters making big songs again with  great vocals and great songwriting. It’s an exciting time in the scene.

Who are your favourite producers
There are a ton out there but right now i’m digging the following:
– The Vision – Kon and Ben Westbeech
– Art of tones
– Michael Gray
– Joey Negro
– Purple Disco Machine

How can our users get you music, for either getting signed to one of your labels or inclusion in your DJ sets?
If you go to my SendMusic Profile Page here, just send it via that! Like I said, it’s my file transfer method of choice 🙂

That’s it for this week. Finally, thanks Yam, it was great talking to you and best of luck for the rest of 2020. We look forward to hearing your art!

Pal

pal@sendmusic.com

 

 

 

 

 

15 mixing tips for making great sounding songs

Music Production, Production Tips

Mixing is something of a dark art with many of the best mixing engineers and producers keeping their secrets under lock and key. It’s not surprising really as who would willingly give away their acquired knowledge, built through years of trial and error. In recent times the secrets of mixing have been getting revealed to us mortals much more through relatively new channels like YouTube, Online courses (with some legendary mix engineers I might add) and the internet in general (blogs etc.). I remember when I first started producing, yes a long time ago now, resources were few and far between and they usually cost quite a bit to get your hands on, hence why back in the day I and probably most other young producers botched our way through the whole mixing process.

In a nutshell mixing is the process of making the track you have written sound good. This can be done through the use of tools such as volume control, panning and things like reverb, delay and any number of effects that are now available. Mixing in my opinion is an art and if you look at a lot of the hit records out there, they are often mixed by names that pop up over and over again. Many of these mix engineers are stars in their own right now. I’m talking about people like Dave Pensado, Greg Wells, Manny Marroquin and they even have their own plugins in some cases. I myself love the Manny Marroquin range available by Waves, check them out! 

I’ll delve more into actual mixing engineers and their tricks in a future blog, but today I wanted to highlight a general checklist of steps you should consider when mixing any music you make. It’s taken from the Mixing Engineer’s Handbook, which is a super resource by Bobby Owsinski, I would suggest getting your hands on a copy.

 

  1. Does your mix have dynamic contrast? Does it build as the song goes along? Are different instruments, sounds, or lines added or muted in different sections? 
  1. Does your mix have a focal point? Is the mix centered around the instrument or vocal that’s the most important? 
  1. Does your mix sound noisy? Have you eliminated any count-offs, guitar amp noises, bad edits, and breaths that stand out? Each one may not seem like much, but their effect is cumulative. 
  1. Does your mix lack clarity or punch? Can you distinguish every instrument? Does the rhythm section sound great by itself? Is the balance between bass, kick, and snare correct? 
  1. Does your mix sound distant? Try decreasing the level of the reverb and effects, starting with the wettest and then working your way to the least wet. 
  1. Can your hear every lyric? Every word must be heard. Tweak the automation if you’re using it; automate the track if you’re not. 
  1. Can you hear every note being played? If solos or signature lines are being masked, automate the track to hear every note, or tweak the automation until you can. 
  1. Are the sounds dull or uninteresting? Are generic synth patches or predictable guitar or keyboard sounds being used? Try modifying them with an effect. 
  1. Does the song groove? Does it feel as good as your favourite song? Is the instrument or instruments that supply the groove loud enough? 
  1. What’s the direction of the song? Should it be close and intimate or big and loud? If your current direction isn’t working, try the opposite. 
  1. Are you compressing too much? Does the mix feel squashed? Is it fatiguing to listen to? Is all the life gone? Decrease the mix buss compression first. Decrease the main instrument or vocal compression next. Decrease the rhythm-section compression next. Decrease the compression on everything else lastly. 
  1. Are you EQing too much? Is it too bright or too big? Decrease the upper mid range EQ on the vocals, guitars, loops, and snare. Decrease the low-frequency EQ on the bass and kick. 
  1. Are your fades too tight? Does the beginning or ending of the song sound clipped? Adjust the fades until the attack transients of the notes are distinct. 
  1. Did you do alternate mixes? Did you do at least an instrumental-only mix? 
  1. Did you document the keeper mixes? Are all files properly named? Are you sure which file is the master? Have you made a backup?

Getting good at mixing takes time and practice and like most things, the more you do it the better you get. All the steps you take and processing you do should be done with the big picture in mind and that is to have a great sounding song at the end of the mixing stage. It’s easy to focus on certain elements of a song like the kick and  bass or vocal and lose focus on the song as a whole. Try and listen to your song as a whole entity.

I’ve also taken great songs I’ve written and ruined them with awful mixes, sucking the life and soul from them through over processing and getting tired of listening to them.  To combat this my advice would be to take regular breaks, A/B reference your song against songs you love and lastly don’t spend too long mixing as you get tired of songs this way. For this last point I would recommend really focusing on mixing when you do it, best done by turning off your internet and not having distractions when you actually sit down to mix. Basically – FOCUS! 

Personally for me there are 3 stages to making music. 1. Writing the song. 2. Mixing the song. 3. Mastering the song. All stages are important in their own right and all take time to master, so have fun in the process. On that note, happy mixing and  music making! 🙂

 

Industry insider interview with….Kemal

General, Music Business, Music Production

10 Key questions with….Kemal

Some questions to you guys:

  • Do you make music?
  • Do you want to get your music on the radio?
  • Do you want to know if record labels, blogs etc. actually listen to the music that you send to them?

Well in today’s blog and the first of this year’s interview series, I interviewed SendMusic co-founder and music industry aficionado Kemal.

What do you currently do?

  • I do a few things actually including but not limited to the following:
  • Produce the Diplo & Friends show on BBC Radio 1 & 1Xtra
  • A&R for the Grammy nominated production trio The Invisible Men
  • Building SendMusic as the best platform to share unreleased music

How did you break into the industry?

  • I followed my passion for music. At University I started DJing. When I finished Uni my friend and I started working in Community (some might call it pirate!) radio. I also started writing music reviews for a magazine, putting on club nights and doing as many music related things as I could. It was just a case of connecting with people who had the same type of dreams.
  • It all culminated in me enrolling to do a sound engineering course. The universe then worked in my favour and I saw that 1Xtra were launching and advertising for jobs. It took me a year from the first interview to get a continuous role there – but I’d managed to gain some of the skills and experience needed with the things I was doing in my spare time and was able to work across both 1Xtra and Radio 1 late night shows before bringing Diplo to the networks.

What advice do you have for producers trying to break into the industry?

  • Your first 100 productions will be poor, get through these as quickly as possible. Try to make 3 beats a day instead of one a week – it’s a journey and a process. The quicker you get the 10,000 hours in, the quicker your path to success will be. Like anything that is skilled you need to really batten down the hatches and practice your craft, a lot, over and over again. I think anyone can make good music if they are focused.

How would a producer with a great track get it onto the following:

 A Diplo or other big DJ mix?

  • They would have to get a track to either Diplo or one of the guests we feature on the show. The best way to do this is to build your own brand. By brand I mean your artist name, releasing high quality music regularly and building a fanbase. This way other dj’s will hopefully start to like your productions and support you. Every Diplo show features plenty of music from hot new DJs / artists / producers. Try to get your music to these people instead of Diplo initially if you’re not getting the support you’re expecting. Research plays a big part of success here, find out who to send music to that has a connection to Diplo, or whoever you’re trying to reach. If your music is good, it’ll travel.

A Radio 1 playlist?

  • Again your focus should be to build a brand and create a fanbase. A producer or musician’s job is to make music that is undeniable and then try to build a big enough fanbase so that people talk about and support it. Trust me, Radio 1 will take notice, but it’s a long and lengthy process so keep at it. Put out as many high quality tracks as regularly as you can, to build a fanbase and get regular support. Also remember that Radio 1 may not be the best home for the music you’re making so try to find the right channel for whatever style of music that you produce. Use some thought here and consider what places are best for your music to submit to.

A Spotify playlist?

  • This I think has more to do with building a presence on the platform as you can now pitch for inclusion to playlists. Get as much support as possible and start with the smaller playlists. The cumulative effect of this is that it kicks in the Spotify engagement algorithm which works to put you in better contention for the larger playlists. Remember that to get onto the big Spotify playlists you need to probably be established with a solid monthly streaming number. Start with small playlists, even with 100 or 1000 subscribers, before long you will hopefully progress to 10,000 subscriber playlists and beyond.

How is it best to send music out to DJ’s, labels and Management companies?

  • First stop would be to look though the SendMusic directory (send.mu/directory) as we’ve got some major players in there – so sign up! Do your research, look at their relevant social spaces, they usually have demo drop details. Most of the information you need is on the internet, so just start digging.
  • Format wise I prefer when people send 1 track (your best!) and never more than 3. More than that and the reality is most people working in the music industry just won’t have the time to go through them all. I get 15 emails a day asking me to listen to music so if you’re sending 12 tracks it’s just not going to happen. If they want to hear more, they’ll get in touch and ask. Make sure that it’s a high res mp3 with contact details on how to get in touch, which is best done in using the file name effectively.

Does anyone really ever listen to the music at the record labels, blogs, Spotify playlists in your opinion?

  • Yes, most people get into the music industry because they are passionate about music. The underlying issue is that these people are inundated with tracks. Getting through as many tracks quickly and securely and sending feedback is why we created SendMusic!

 Do you have to have a massive social media presence to get signed now?

  • No, but you need something unique, whether that’s your personality shining through online or your amazing music making skills making you stand out. There are lots of smaller labels that support artists without huge followings. If however you’re definitely looking to be a top 10 pop star then yes, you most probably do need to work on your social media presence and have an audience already.

Do you need a Radio Plugger?

  • Radio pluggers help after you reach a certain level – when you’ve had time in a scene and built some connections. As a general rule of thumb they are more for pushing music to daytime shows and rotation. Good radio pluggers should have connections with presenters and radio production staff that can help get your music heard but you don’t necessarily need one – especially if you’re making underground specialist music.

What is the best way to keep on top of trends in music?

  • For music trends look out for what’s hot using different indicators, such as charts, sales / streaming, what’s being played on radio shows, in the clubs and in DJ mixes.
  • From a business angle read things like Music Week or Music Business Worldwide to find out about who is doing what at labels, publishers and more.

Is it better to be independent in this day and age or with a management company that can align you with singers and an infrastructure

  • This depends on the artist. I’m an advocate of doing as much as you can by yourself until managers approach you. Lots of upcoming artists think the answer is to get a manager, but the vision still needs to come from the artist – where he or she is going artistically. A manager is just an enabler. I guess the questions underlying this is – as an artist do you want full creative control or do you need help navigating the industry? It can be complex, there are lots of tricky roads to manoeuvre, e.g. record deals, publishing contracts, licensing, touring etc. You can do it all yourself (it’s easier than ever with more and more tools evolving every year) but the independent path doesn’t let you focus 100% on the craft of making music.

What plans do you have for SendMusic in 2020?

  • 2020 is already gearing up to be our best and most exciting year yet!
  • Our Mobile App will launch at the end of March and I think you are going to love it – there are also big plans in the summer centred around some key music tech events.
  • We’ll be heading back to ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) in October, where we were shortlisted as a ‘Company 2 Watch’ last year.

 

AI seeps further into the music arena

Music Production

Artificial Intelligence, AI for short, seems to be seeping more and more into the world as we know it. From healthcare to education to even real estate, the touch of AI can be felt in ever increasing regularity. It’s also now being seen more and more in the music industry and in particular plugins. A number of major industry players as well as young upstarts are harnessing its power, to enable music professionals to make and produce better sounding music. In today’s blog episode I am going to highlight 5 of the companies / plug-ins best harnessing the power of AI. So let’s dive right in.

Humtap

Humtap listens to your voice and turns your hums into songs. I’m sure lots of us have had the idea to create something like this, I know I did, but Humtap actually turned intention into reality. The app records your hummed melody and chosen rhythm and applies AI algorithms to compose, arrange, perform and produce an instrumental track — all you need to do is hum your tune and select a drum track on your phone’s screen. You can even choose a musical genre, such as Depeche Mode or Metallica.

Humtap’s CEO predicts a future where anyone, even without musical training, studio equipment or financial resources will be able to make and produce music. AI will do the production and mixing for you, all you will need is a smartphone and the app.  

LANDR

AI has also infiltrated the Mastering arena heavily. One of the companies riding this wave is LANDR. Their AI powered mastering engine listens to your unmastered song, identifies the genre and applies the relevant mastering equalisation, multiband compression and other processing. All without human intervention. The processing is adaptive, responding to the needs of the song by continuously tweaking the EQ, compression and other processing tools throughout the track. Each time LANDR masters a track and listen to new music, the better it becomes, thanks to self-learning algorithms.

LANDR are currently mastering over 330,000 songs per month, more than all the studios in America combined. That is very impressive to say the least. It’s also gotten to a level where differentiating between a song mastered using LANDR or an actual mastering engineer is difficult. Personally for me, I still like going to a mastering session with an actual engineer and having a direct input into a session. But who’s to say this will not be possible with future versions of the service in some way and to be honest, if I were a betting man, I’d say this method of remote AI mastering is just going to grow in popularity to a point where it’s seen as the ‘normal’ way to do things.

Izotope

Izotope are an American company that develops award winning audio software and plugins for mixing, mastering, restoration and more. They were one of the first companies out of the blocks to really leverage the power of AI in the plug ins. Since the 2016 release of Track Assistant in Neutron, they have been developing ‘assistive audio technology’ as they call it to help producers with their audio productions. Their stated goal is to eliminate the time-consuming audio production tasks users experience, so they can focus on being creative.

Their assistive audio technology analyses audio and provides custom presets to tailor the sound, helping you to get it to where you want. 

Their assistive audio technology consists of 3 pieces:

  • High level user preference

Before running any assistive tech you are asked to specify broadly the type of sound you are going for. This helps prime the assistant to get a sense of what you are going for and make the appropriate changes you’re looking to make

  • Machine Learning

A machine learning algorithm characterises your audio in some task specific way, e.g. the instrument classifier in Neutron (Izotope’s mixing plugin). This information then tees up the software to make the required changes to get your audio to where you need it to be. 

  • Intelligent DSP

Further analysis of specific audio properties is then carried out, taking into account your user preferences to set parameters of different DSP modules like a Compression module, a Tonal Balance module etc . For example, the dynamic range of your audio is analysed and then parameter values are selected for a compressor module to affect your audio in a way that enhances it (hopefully). I say hopefully as it doesn’t always work as you’d expect in practice but more often than not the results are very good. This process is referred to as ‘Intelligent DSP’ – where DSP stands for digital signal processing, i.e. your audio signal gets affected after AI analysis and then treated with resultant AI powered recommendations. 

Actually one of the competitors to LANDR is Ozone 9, Izotope’s Mastering plugin It makes use of an AI system called ‘Master Assistant’. Essentially what this does is analyse your audio and actions changes for you. You can accept or cancel these changes and also tweak them further manually. It’s very good, with lots of modes to give your music either a vintage or modern feel.

Oeksound – Soothe

This is one of my favourite plugins to use AI – Soothe by Oeksound. Originally billed as a vocal processor, it’s exceptional quality makes it superb as a processor for any audio type. It acts as a dynamic processor for mid and high frequencies.

Basically soothe is a dynamic equaliser with self adjusting frequency bands. Soothe analyses the signal in real time and adjusts the frequency based reduction based on the input signal. This saves time manually automating problematic mid and high frequencies. The reduction kicks in where needed and when needed, without affecting nearby frequency areas. 

For any mix engineers or producers out there soothe really excels in the following areas:

  • Sibilance issues on a vocal
  • Fingerboard noises on a guitar
  • Whistling type sound on cymbals etc.
  • Overly bright piano and guitar tracks

This plugin does an amazing job at taming these sorts of cases and is brilliant. I’d really suggest giving it a try. It’s already a favourite plugin for mixing legends such as Greg Wells who’s mixed Timbaland, Katy Perry and Adele, amongst many others.

Soundtheory Gullfoss

Another amazing plugin is Gullfoss by Soundtheory. It’s an intelligent equaliser that listens in real time to a signal and decides how to prepare the audio so that your brain can get the most information out of it. Gullfoss allows for quick and precise fixes that would require significant time and automation to fix. It really is a time saver and game changer for engineers like me, who can spend hours tweaking eq automation lanes to get them audio sounding right.

Gullfoss leverages a new patent pending equaliser technology that processes audio superbly. This equaliser can change its frequency response 300 times per second, without any audible artifacts or degrading signal quality! Currently it’s the first and only product of its kind and is consequently really making waves in the industry.

Conclusion

As you can see, AI is really starting to make serious headway into the music industry. Some of the services and plugins out there save so much time and effort that they are already invaluable tools in the arsenal of many a music maker. As AI gets more and more powerful will it be able to make songs? Well with companies like Juke Deck, recently acquired by Tik Tok, it already can. How well? I’ll leave that for you to explore and find out. 

Personally I for one could never automate audio tracks to change 300 times per second like Gullfoss can. But at the same time I’m not sure I want to one day maybe getting fed music hits made with no human input, which could in theory could happen if the AI systems making the music become intelligent enough. Anyways, I guess at that point I’ll be getting chased down an alley by a Terminator asking why a human is its master. Whatever does happen it’s a very exciting time in the music industry with exceptional tools and services on offer that are continuing to democratise music making by allowing anyone to create it to a good level, which really is a good thing.

A few good plugins can go a long way

Music Production

As you probably don’t know (very sadly for your ears!), I make music and have been making music for a long time now. I’ve had my music published and synchronised to some cool things, an Audi ad, Disney channel bits, Sky tv etc. Now it’s by no means my full time job, but it’s nice to get a bit of change, (money), every so often from doing something I really enjoy. In today’s episode I thought I’d share a few of the plugins I love and why they are so good. There is a bewildering array of plugins to choose from these days and I must mention that the stock plugins that come with most DAWs are brilliant. But I am going to focus on third party plug-ins today. 

Now, let me share some hard learned knowledge before I even get into the actual plugins. After a stupidly long time i’ve come to a basic realisation, and that is before you get obsessed by using third party plugins or even stock plugs – start actually FINISHING SONGS. Get into the habit of finishing whole songs, even if they sound crap. I can’t reiterate that enough. So many of us music types are twiddlers and ‘loop masters’. We sit there having made a loop and listen to it endlessly, imagining the hordes going wild for it, but it’s not a song, it’s just a 4 bar or 8 bar loop. Look, I said it right there, it’s not a song, it’s just a loop. Once upon a time my computer quickly became a loop graveyard! Some brilliant, some average, but all unfinished and just clogging up disk space. After listening to anything 1000 times you get bored of it, regardless of how good it sounds. 

When I sit down to make music these days I’m very clear about what I want to do. Some days are playing about days where I experiment and have fun, I program synths, try effects tricks etc. and yes I do create loops. But most of the other days I sit down solely with the focus of finishing a song. Creating a song finishing habit is essential if you want to be successful in music.

So to a few of the plugsin I love and use every session at the moment:

Serum by Xfer Records – Software Synthesizer

Serum is a wavetable software synthesizer that has quickly risen to the top of the pile. It sounds brilliant, there are a ton of tutorials and also sound patches out there for it, and it’s got a huge fan base. It was 3 years in the making and was created to have inaudible levels of aliasing (those harsh artifacts you can hear when playing high pitched sounds, typical on most other soft synths).

As a result Serum sounds amazing. It’s also got a superb, visually pleasing user interface. In terms of pick and play it is relatively easy to learn and also program. Even if you don’t want to program it, the sounds included are fab and there are loads of free sounds and banks out there for you to use.

The one downside of Serum is that it is really processor hungry. I often find that if I have more than one instance of it open it kills my CPU and makes my laptop lag. In some ways this is actually a positive as I have to commit to sounds and bounce them down to audio. Sometimes constraints like this are actually beneficial, I guess it’s how you look at it! I would definitely give it a try, I doubt you’ll look back.

Soundtoys 5 – Multi effects bundle

Ok so this isn’t a plug in per se, but a bundle of plug ins, including the following:

  • Crystallizer
  • Decapitator
  • EchoBoy
  • Little AlterBoy
  • EchoBoy Jr.
  • Little Plate
  • PrimalTap
  • Devil-Loc Deluxe
  • Radiator
  • MicroShift
  • Tremolator
  • Sie-Q
  • FilterFreak
  • PhaseMistress
  • PanMan
  • Little MicroShift
  • Little PrimalTap
  • Little Radiator
  • Devil-Loc

The centrepiece of this great bundle is the Effects Rack. In this you can build your own effect chains using any of the included plugins. Once you create your own chain you then have a global control that lets you treat the Rack as a single plug in. Trust me, Soundtoys 5 is a real joy to use and it’s not really a shock that it’s a staple of many of your favourite producer’s studio set ups. The way you can craft, emphasise and mangle sounds can be spectacular and you can end up playing around with the effects for hours on end.

A couple of my favourites from this bundle are Decapitator and Crystallizer. Decapitator is an emulation of analogue saturation. There are 5 different style buttons that are modelled after legendary hardware studio preamps and input channels, including the Neve 1057 and Ampex 350 tape drive. If you want to make a sound pop out in your mix this is a great first port of call. Hear it in action yourself here: Decapitator Tutorial

Crystallizer is a granular echo effect. It delays a portion of audio that you feed into it and this is called the Splice. You can then create lots of weird and wonderful delay type effects with this Splice function. It can also be synced to your session tempo. Have a listen to it in action here: Crystallizer in action

Fabfilter Pro Q 3 – Equaliser

Last but not least is my favourite Equaliser plugin. An equaliser is one of the most important tools that an engineer or producer uses. It lets you balance the frequencies of an individual sound, vocal or whole mix. How do you balance these frequencies? Well an equaliser allows you to boost some frequencies and cut others. 

As you can see above the interface that the Pro Q 3 has is beautiful, it shows the frequency spectrum of the audio source you are treating and you can drag the yellow line up to boost a frequency or down to cut a frequency. It is so easy and intuitive to use and innovative that there have been lots of copies. None seem to match this, the original, however.

You can refine your boosts and cuts using the Q setting and you can also split the signal between the mono and stereo channels and treat each separately. I literally use this plug in on everything and would really suggest giving it a go. 

So that’s a little breakdown of some of the things I use. I’d love to hear what you guys rate or use, comment below or drop me an email – pal@send.mu

At the end of the day less is more when it comes to plug ins I believe. I used to have so many at one point and could hardly use any well. Now though I have a few and know them really well. This approach has really raised my production level and get the sounds out from my head and out through my speakers.

Keep creative!