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DigiNut
You kids get off my lawn!



Registered: Dec 2002
Location: Toronto, Self-proclaimed Centre of the Universe
Music Production FAQ

Greetings, fellow producers!

Since you're on the production forum, it probably means you have a couple of questions. And since hundreds of producers visit this forum on a regular basis, it means there's a good chance your question(s) may have already been answered. I'm sure you'd all like to get the answers you're looking for *right now* as opposed to waiting several hours or days for them, so please read below to see if the information you want is already posted.

I apologize in advance for some of the cynicism in here. I've tried to keep it to a minimum, but a certain amount is necessary and those who use this forum frequently will no doubt understand.

Veteran members: don't hesitate to let me know if I've missed something important!

First of all, if you have a general question about :


Getting Started (beginners)
Equipment/Studio
Drums
Synths/Effects/Plugins
Vocals
Chords/Theory/Composition
Equalizing (EQ)
Dynamics/Compression
Mastering

Then please check the Tutorial Master List for info.

Now, onto the FAQ.


------------------------------------------------------

Table of Contents
1. How do I rip a [vocal / drumloop / other element] from a track?
2. Where can I find the acapella for [some track]?
3. Where can I find a serial/crack for [some program?]
4. Does anyone have an invite to [audionews/audiofarm/some other well-known warez/bootleg site?]
5. I've got good ideas but my tracks don't sound professional. Can somebody tell me [what presets to use / what buttons to push] to make them better?
6. What computer should I buy?
7. What equipment (speakers, sound card, rack synth, etc.) should I buy?
8. What sequencer should I use?
9. Where can I get a MIDI with the chords/melody in this track?
10. Where can I find good samples?
11. How do I get vocal and stutter effects like BT, Hybrid, etc.?
12. How do I make basslines like Benny Bennassi, Eric Prydz, etc.?
13. How do I make a super saw?
14. How do I make good leads/drums/pads/basslines/etc.?
15. How do I master my track?
16. My CPU is maxed out / my sound is stuttering/freezing. What should I do!?
17. Why does my track sound great in my sequencer but terrible when I render it?
18. How do I prevent clipping?
19. Can I get some feedback on my latest track?
20. My track kicks some serious @$$. Which DJs/Labels should I send to?


------------------------------------------------------

Questions you will never have answered on this forum:

1. How do I rip a [vocal / drumloop / other element] from a track?
You don't. You can't. There is an article here that explains in detail the challenges behind eliminating the vocals from tracks to create a "dub" - the exact same principles apply to "extracting" the vocals from a track to obtain an acapella. And of course, these principles apply equally well to other elements of a track, not just the vocals.

In any event, bootlegs are a violation of copyright law and are therefore not supported by forum members and owners, and not to be discussed on this site. Please and thank you.


2. Where can I find the acapella for [some track]?
Not here. This question is effectively the same as question #1. Acapellas from released tracks, even if obtained legally, are not legal for distribution. This isn't an acapella site. If you're looking for an acapella site, Google is your friend.

3. Where can I find a serial/crack for [some program?]
Not here. Feel free to hunt around on IRC and UseNet, but once again, these are illegal so please do not ask for them. Yes, many people do engage in software piracy, but the smart ones don't advertise it to people they've never met (hint hint).

4. Does anyone have an invite to [audionews/audiofarm/some other well-known warez/bootleg site?]
Most people would expect this to be covered by #3, but some people seem to think that there's some sort of subtle difference. There isn't - just as members here don't distribute illegal items, they also don't disseminate information on how or where to obtain them.

5. I've got good ideas but my tracks don't sound professional. Can somebody tell me [what presets to use / what buttons to push] to make them better?
Production is an art. Producers usually spend several years mastering that art and developing their own sound, style, and workflow. There are no easy answers because the parameters never stay the same from one track to the next.

If you asked an artist how to make your paintings professional, he/she would laugh in your face. The fact that music production is done on a computer does not mean that the entire task of producing a track can be automated into a few button clicks. Most techniques are relatively simple in theory but take a great deal of experience to get right in practice, and even the experts usually have to go through a great deal of trial and error for each new production (they just do this more quickly and accurately than the inexperienced producers).

Sorry, but there is no substitute for hard work and perseverance in any art form. The only button you can push that will help you is the one below:


Opinions are like assholes... (everybody has one)

6. What computer should I buy?
This question comes in many forms:

PC or Mac?
Personal preference. Some people here could write pages on why Macs are better. Some people could write pages on why PCs are better. Ultimately, all these people have the primary motivation of justifying their preference (and often, their purchase). They're just computers, and they'll both get the job done.

AMD or Intel?
Doesn't matter. I should qualify that: if you want to run Windows XP 64-bit edition you'll need AMD, but keep in mind that 64-bit application and driver support is not universal. Most people will end up running traditional 32-bit Windows XP or 2003, and in this case, the brand of CPU makes no difference.

Should I buy Dell, HP, Alienware, or build it myself?
There are thousands of reviews of various brands and models posted online - read them. Google is your friend. Just remember that you get what you pay for, so if an HP model is half the price of a Dell model that looks the same or similar, you're probably overlooking something important.

What are the minimum specs to produce?
The best specs you can afford on your budget.

7. What equipment (speakers, sound card, rack synth, etc.) should I buy?
When it comes to audio equipment, there is just *so much* out there that choosing the "right" studio monitors is almost like choosing the "right" running shoes. There are many quality products and quality brands, and choosing the right one for you is going to require some research.

Here are a few rules of thumb to follow when looking for equipment:
* You get what you pay for. While it's true that in some cases you might be paying more for a brand label, if you see something that's half the price of everything else in the same category, it probably sucks.
* Listen to it! It may save you money to order online or eBay it, but if you can, you should still go a store to actually check out various pieces of equipment and compare the way they sound. Particularly in the case of studio monitors and headphones, the ones which are the most "honest" are usually the ones which sound very dry and thin.
* Read reviews. Sites like Zzounds often have tons of reviews of all the major product lines.

Also check out the "equipment" section in the Tutorial List mentioned at the top of this thread. Some links that might help you are:
Tweak: The "Best" Sound Card
Tweak: The Truth About Studio Monitors
The Official Hardware Synth Thread (compiled by DarkSword)


8. What sequencer should I use?
Which car should you drive? Which cell phone plan should you pick? Should you BBQ that hot dog or nuke it?

Who cares? All cars get you from point A to point B, assuming you know how to drive. All cell plans will allow you to call your friends, assuming you pay your bills. And as long as that meat is cooked, it doesn't really matter how. They're all tools, and although everybody has their personal preferences, they all get the job done. Sure - some cost a fraction of the price that others cost because they're less sophisticated. At the same time, if you're just beginning to produce, then you're shooting yourself in the foot if you automatically dive into the most complex programs available.

Most software vendors will make a trial version of their program(s) available. The best way to find out which sequencer you should use is to try all of them out and see which one suits you best.

Unless you're trying to incite another forum war, you don't want to ask this question. You don't even want to tiptoe around it. People argue enough about this topic *without* being prompted for their opinions.


Location, Location, Location

9. Where can I get a MIDI with the chords/melody in this track?
First, check here: http://www.nonstop2k.com

If you can't find it there, request it in The Newer and Improved MIDI Thread. Please use that thread and that thread ONLY - don't post your request as a new discussion!


10. Where can I find good samples?
The thread listed below has more links than you can shake a stick at:
Where to download quality samples


Everybody else is doin' it

11. How do I get vocal and stutter effects like BT, Hybrid, etc.?
At some point in time, I will get around to creating a tutorial on this. For now, use the search function and check this page:
Fractal Tendencies


12. How do I make basslines like Benny Bennassi, Eric Prydz, etc.?
Search for something called "sidechaining" or "side-chained compression". Please do not create a new thread about it. I'll have a clean tutorial on this later as well, once I get the appropriate information for certain sequencers that I'm less familiar with.

13. How do I make a super saw?
If you want to make a lot of people happy, then don't make one. If you absolutely must, there are some super saw links in the tutorials thread.

Making It Professional

14. How do I make good leads/drums/pads/basslines/etc.?
The best way to learn how to do this is to read some tutorials, and the place to find those is the Tutorial List. Some particularly useful and famous threads are:
Exploration of Sound
Your Favorite Basslines: The Fight Against Oompa-itis
Derivative's Theory Tutorial
The Perfect Kick


15. How do I master my track (to make it sound professional)?
The most important things to understand about mastering are:
a) Mastering is about the "subtle" changes. Mostly, it's about raising the overall volume, although it can also be used to "soften" or "sharpen" a track sometimes. If you think your track needs a *major* adjustment in order to sound good, then the problem is probably in your mixdown, not your master.
b) Poor mastering can easily wreck a great track, but the most brilliant mastering in the world cannot save a poor mix. Very often, producers with dull-sounding tracks will assume that the problem is simply their lack of experience with mastering, but a well-mixed track doesn't need to be mastered at all in order to sound great.
c) Mastering involves compromises. Most of the time, the purpose of mastering a track is to make sure that it sounds "good" on all mediums and all sound systems, rather than "great" on a few systems and terrible on others. Thus, during your mastering phase, you need to try and listen to your track on as many systems as possible!
d) Mastering requires emotional detachment. I can't stress this one enough, folks - TAKE A BREAK from your track before attempting to master it. If you are still very "intimate" with your track, then you are not going to be able to make objective decisions.

There is some good information about mastering in the Tutorial List, and an ongoing discussion in the Exploration of Mastering thread.


Troubleshooting

16. My CPU is maxed out / my sound is stuttering/freezing. What should I do!?
Since this is such a long-winded topic, I've created a thread dedicated to answering this one solitary question:

CPU maxed out? Sputtering? Freezing? Read here!


17. Why does my track sound great in my sequencer but terrible when I render it?
In almost all cases, this is evidence of clipping. Unless you're mixing in the analog domain, make sure that the master volume on your track never goes above 0 dB (in the analog domain it's 2-3 dB). If it does, then your track is clipping.

Some people don't understand why this would make a track sound bad on the render but not in the sequencer. The answer is simple: most people have the master volume on their computers set to a moderate level, significantly below 0 dB. If that master volume is, for example, set to -6 dB, and the track volume in your sequencer goes as high as +6 dB, the resulting volume on your PC will not go higher than 0 dB. However, if someone else's PC had their master volume cranked all the way up, it would distort on their system. And when you render the audio, it is simply not possible to encode values higher than 0 dB; attempting to do so will only result in distortion and noise.

A more detailed and technical explanation is beyond the scope of this FAQ; if you still don't understand what clipping is, read this link.


18. How do I prevent clipping?
There are two answers to this question. The first one is easy, but doesn't really solve the problem. The second one does solve the problem, but you won't like it.

The easy answer: Use a master limiter. This will prevent clipping, but if your mix has extremely high peaks, then it will cause another artifact called "pumping", which is very noticeable on high-fidelity equipment and every bit as irritating as clipping. To make a long story short, pumping sounds like someone's holding onto the volume fader and jacking it up and down very quickly. Sometimes producers will intentionally use this effect in a more subtle way, but in those cases it is rhythmic and controlled; pumping caused by too much limiting is random and unpleasant to listeners.

The hard answer: learn to mix. Mixing is not just the art of balancing out all the elements, it's also the art of controlling the dynamics enough to leave headroom. Many beginning producers want their mixes to sound loud and proud, but mixdowns should actually be kept quiet - mastering will increase the apparent "loudness".


Wrong forum!

19. Can I get some feedback on my latest track?
You sure can, if you post it in the Music Producers Promotion forum.

Please note: your odds of getting useful advice if you post your track in there are proportional to the quality and quantity of reviews you've given to others. Your odds of getting useful advice if you post it in here are near zero.


20. My track kicks some serious @$$. Which DJs/Labels should I send to?
At best, this question will probably be ignored by most of the community - at worst, you might get flamed for it. Signed producers are generally going to be pretty wary of giving away their contacts (and with good reason!).

You might be able to get better answers by posting in the Music Producers Promotion forum. Also, if this is your first time submitting a track to labels, the link below might help:
Submitting a demo for the first time

Here's another link that might help you:
Electronic Musician Bookshelf


___________________
My party schedule:
2009-02-21 - DJ Attention @ I'm So Popular
2009-06-18 - DJ Annoying @ People Need To Know Where I'll Be
2012-11-32 - DJ Insufferable ɸ Or At Least the Stalkers I Complain About
2048-06-66 - Spastic & Whocares Although I'm Actually Flattered
9999-45-81 - Tweaker Gimp I Probably Won't Even Go To This But I Have To Make Sure I Fill Up All The Available Space Here

Last edited by DigiNut on Jan-27-2007 at 23:25

Old Post Oct-23-2005 03:05  Canada
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slyfoxark
Senior tranceaddict



Registered: Feb 2005
Location: Rochester, MI

Fantastic post, great work! You should add something about "which software is the best" because that seems to be the most popular question on this forum. [oh wait, you already said that about the FAQ, my bad]

- Adam


___________________

((( Listen. ))) ~+~+~+~ SlyfoxARK@aol.com adamkellymusic on AIM

Last edited by slyfoxark on Oct-24-2005 at 02:02

Old Post Oct-23-2005 23:40  United States
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sooper
Beat Slut



Registered: Jul 2001
Location: Toronto

Nice job Aaron!

You left out the part about smoking doobs, tripping balls and the consequent bursts of creativity - an essential part of production!

Keep up the fine work


___________________
I gots some of them there songs I wrote, mmm hmmm that's right ---> www.TrevorKay.tk

We are the ones we've been waiting for

Old Post Oct-24-2005 15:30  Canada
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DigiNut
You kids get off my lawn!



Registered: Dec 2002
Location: Toronto, Self-proclaimed Centre of the Universe

quote:
Originally posted by slyfoxark
Fantastic post, great work! You should add something about "which software is the best" because that seems to be the most popular question on this forum. [oh wait, you already said that about the FAQ, my bad]

- Adam

I added the "which sequencer should I use" question. Meant to add that the first time around but I forgot, thanks for reminding me.

quote:
Originally posted by sooper
You left out the part about smoking doobs, tripping balls and the consequent bursts of creativity - an essential part of production!

Bahahaha, as if I would open up THAT can of worms... you never fail to crack me up! Thanks!


___________________
My party schedule:
2009-02-21 - DJ Attention @ I'm So Popular
2009-06-18 - DJ Annoying @ People Need To Know Where I'll Be
2012-11-32 - DJ Insufferable ɸ Or At Least the Stalkers I Complain About
2048-06-66 - Spastic & Whocares Although I'm Actually Flattered
9999-45-81 - Tweaker Gimp I Probably Won't Even Go To This But I Have To Make Sure I Fill Up All The Available Space Here

Old Post Oct-25-2005 01:34  Canada
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krew
Senior tranceaddict



Registered: Mar 2005
Location: São Paulo, Brazil

great post!


___________________
Pleas help me to ID this tracks:ID1 ID 2

Old Post Oct-25-2005 02:00  Brazil
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John
In Praise Of The Sun



Registered: Sep 2001
Location: Delft / Den Haag / Dordrecht,

great work!


___________________


ta-forum-members midi site

Old Post Oct-25-2005 21:57  Netherlands
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Tech0rz
Supreme tranceaddict



Registered: Jan 2005
Location: Above the Clouds


Fantastic resource for people on all levels. I knew alot of the 'rules' and advice you gave already but all these useful links in one page covering the wide range of areas they do, was just...Digi-NUTS!!! ( Sorry )

Old Post Oct-26-2005 12:30  United Kingdom
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xmotleyx
Senior tranceaddict



Registered: Apr 2001
Location: Seoul, South Korea

Sweet stuff !!!

The link to the following products (of course I am refering to the one at the top of the list) may help those looking for an answer to number 12.

http://emusician.com/embookshelf/


cheers...

Old Post Nov-07-2005 04:04  Canada
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DigiNut
You kids get off my lawn!



Registered: Dec 2002
Location: Toronto, Self-proclaimed Centre of the Universe

Updated with a link to the "CPU Problems" thread. Hopefully we'll have a few less instances of that being asked!


___________________
My party schedule:
2009-02-21 - DJ Attention @ I'm So Popular
2009-06-18 - DJ Annoying @ People Need To Know Where I'll Be
2012-11-32 - DJ Insufferable ɸ Or At Least the Stalkers I Complain About
2048-06-66 - Spastic & Whocares Although I'm Actually Flattered
9999-45-81 - Tweaker Gimp I Probably Won't Even Go To This But I Have To Make Sure I Fill Up All The Available Space Here

Old Post Nov-18-2005 03:13  Canada
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DigiNut
You kids get off my lawn!



Registered: Dec 2002
Location: Toronto, Self-proclaimed Centre of the Universe

Mega-update. Hopefully this should address several of the more recent n00b questions that have been popping up.


___________________
My party schedule:
2009-02-21 - DJ Attention @ I'm So Popular
2009-06-18 - DJ Annoying @ People Need To Know Where I'll Be
2012-11-32 - DJ Insufferable ɸ Or At Least the Stalkers I Complain About
2048-06-66 - Spastic & Whocares Although I'm Actually Flattered
9999-45-81 - Tweaker Gimp I Probably Won't Even Go To This But I Have To Make Sure I Fill Up All The Available Space Here

Old Post Jan-13-2006 03:29  Canada
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Storyteller
Supreme tracneaddict



Registered: Feb 2005
Location: The Netherlands
Re: Music Production FAQ

quote:
Originally posted by DigiNut
Greetings, fellow producers!
Also, if this is your first time submitting a track to labels, the link below might help:
Submitting a demo for the first time



Fun to see that end up here, I made that tutorial


___________________

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Stephen J. Kroos - Europa (Storyteller Remix)
Anthony Mea - Get It On (Storyteller Remix)

quote:
If less is more think about how much more more would be.
-Frasier

Old Post Jan-17-2006 23:22  Netherlands
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peejunk
Junior tranceaddict



Registered: Jun 2005
Location:

I find one thing that repeats throughout the FAQ really funny -- "You get what you pay for" is something that only someone oblivious of marketing and economic rules and practices could really beleive.

The price of a product doesn't reflect anything other than what is assumed (e.g. from market research) that the market is willing to pay for the product in the desired amount of units. In most cases, the product costs will off course exceed the summed costs of development, production, distribution and marketing per unit, but even that is not always the case (e.g. PS2 was sold underpriced while the real money was expected to come from developer licencing). How much is added will only depend on how much they think we are willing to pay for it, and will not reflect actual quality or whatever one assumes it reflects with such a statement.

While this is not a marketing but a musician FAQ, having a ridiculous statement from that field isn't a biggie. However it's still wrong to perpetuate that "school of thought", especially if this is ment to be helpfull.

Old Post Jan-25-2006 14:42  Bosnia and Herzegovina
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