Beginner’s Guide to Music Production Software (How To For Beginners)

Покупатель: Admin Admin

Despite what some recording “purists” might say…

There’s no denying that with each passing year…

The classic analog gear of decades-past is slowly but surely, being phased-out…

As computers get faster and recording software gets ever-more sophisticated.

But with so many tools available…

It’s not always easy for newbies to understand how each piece-of-the-puzzlefits together…to form the “big picture” of today’s modern recording studio.

So for today, that’s exactly what we’ll cover, in this piece entitled: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Music Production Software.

First up, the mother of all recording software…

The Digital Audio Workstation

pro tools 12Commonly known as the “D.A.W.“…

The Digital Audio Workstation is the software hub that lets you:

  • Record
  • Edit
  • Mix

…an ENTIRE song, right from your computer.

Modeled after classic analog consoles, the original goal in creating the earliest DAW’s was to retain a majority of same workflow and design.

It wasn’t long though, before improved versions of the software became the newindustry standard, replacing analog consoles in all but the most elite pro studios.

Up next…

Software Plugins

software pluginsWithin every DAW exists dozens of other integrated programs known as “plugins“…

Which are inserted on individual tracks to perform specific jobs.

Through this brilliant method of “plugin-insertion” DAW’s can minimize processing resources, while at the same time offering users an unlimited selection of add-ons from 3rd-party companies.

Up next, we’ll cover the most common types of plugins, and how they’re used.

First up…

Virtual Instruments

Native Instruments Komplete 10Since few of us have enough “real instruments” to produce an entire song…

We need a good way to “fake” certain sounds from time to time.

The solution here, is to use virtual instruments, which can offer access to dozens of instrument sounds for only a few hundred dollars.

While they CAN’T convincingly replicate everyinstrument (such as guitars)…

They CAN replicate some incredibly well (such as drums or piano).

They may not sound as great as a $5000 electronic drum kit or keyboard.  But the good news is…if your playing-skills aren’t superb…

Virtual instruments have built-in features which allow you to edit the notes so precisely, it almost feels like cheating.  ????

Up next…

Editing Software

These days, music is often criticized for being just a little…”too-perfect”.

And this new standard of perfection is due mostly to the fact that editing softwares have become SO sophisticated…

Recording engineers can now take a hot girl who can’t sing AT ALL, and make her into the next big pop star.

(Ok, slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.)

Anyway…like it or not, editing software is here to stay.  And used responsibly, it can be a valuable weapon in your arsenal.

The two common forms of editing we’ll cover next are:

  1. pitch editing
  2. time editing

First up…

1. Pitch Editing

Auto TuneMost of us know it by its most well-known incarnation:

The infamous Auto-Tune.

Perhaps the most popular and highly controversial music software tool of All-Time…

Auto-Tune gives you the power to fix even the most out-of-tune vocals with razor-sharp precision.  And haters have long argued…it’s TOO MUCH power.

Whether or not YOU use it, is entirely your call.

But the fact remains…Auto-Tune has been used successfully on countless hit records over the past few decades.

Up next…

2. Time Editing


While not typically used as a plugin…

Time editing tools normally exist as built-in functions within most of today’s popular DAW’s.

The simplest versions fix timing problems by allowing you to cut-out certain notes, and paste them back on beat.

While this method is effective on percussive sounds (such as drums)…

It’s NOT so effective on more sustained sounds (such as electric guitar).

For these, the alternative method of time stretching works much better.

With today’s advanced algorithms, you can now easily stretch or compress a section of audio, WITHOUT affecting pitch (as was previously the case).

Another popular use for this technology, commonly used by electronic musicians, is “beat-matching“, which aligns the tempo of one song to another, allowing you to blend them in various creative ways.

Up next…

The 3 Essential Mixing Plugins

mixing pluginsOf the dozens-of-plugins used in a given song…

The are 3 core tools used on virtually every track.

They are:

  1. Equalization (EQ)
  2. Compression
  3. Reverb

Using just these plugins, you can mold and shape the tone of any instrument, so that all sounds blend nicely as one unified “mix“.

And here’s how:

1. Equalization

avid eq IIIWhen you listen to a good commercial mix…

One thing you’ll notice is that ALL instruments can be heard clearly ALL times.

The way this is done, is with EQ.

You see, normally…

When two instruments are strong in the same band-of-frequencies, they COMPETE to be heard.

Whichever one is louder at a given moment, is the one that gets heard, while the other is buried in the mix.

However, through the smart use of EQ, you can craft a unique space in the frequency spectrum for every track…

So that no-two-instruments compete for the same band of frequencies, and each one has its own “real-estate” to be heard.

2. Compression

digirack compressor limiter

The next thing you notice about a good commercial mix is…

Every single note can be heard clearly, because they play back at an evenconsistent volume.

Normally, the natural dynamic range of most instruments makes it so that some notes are much louder (or softer) than others.

And while this may work well for certain genres such as classical and jazz

It DOESN’T work well in modern pop/rock music, and almost all other types of recorded music you hear.

In these genres, the dynamic range is much narrower…

Because through the use of compression, we level-out those fluctuations in volume, so that all notes play more evenly…and sit better within the mix.

Plus, as a nice side-effect, compression also fools our ears into believing that a mix sounds “louder” than it really is,  because it raises the average signal-level-over-time.

3. Reverb

altiverbBefore echo chambers and plate reverb were popularized in the 1950’s…

The only reverb you could really add to a track…

Was the natural ambience of the recording room.

This one fact was perhaps the greatest barrier to home recording, because at the time, it was virtually impossible to record a nice sound, if you didn’t own a really nice room.

Today though, it’s much easier.

By using acoustic treatment to essentially remove the natural room-sound from the recording…

It leaves us free to artificially insert the acoustics of any room, with a tool known as digital reverb.

With this plugin, your tracks can sound as if they were recorded wherever you like…

  • from a Roman Cathedral…
  • to an underground cave…
  • to a cardboard box.

Just like EQ and compressionreverb provides a powerful way to bring a sense of unity to a mix…

In this case, by tying all the tracks together under one “room-sound“.

Up next…

3 “Effects” Plugins

Now that we’ve covered the essential plugins…

Next I’ll show you some of the less-common ones, which you can use optionallyfor creative purposes.

First up…

1. Delay

echoboyPerhaps better-known simply as “Echo“…

Delay plugins have a wonderful way of filling up space in a sparse mix…

Using the sound of distinct, fading repetitions….much like you’d hear after shouting “HELLO!!!” while overlooking the Grand Canyon.

While frequently lumped into the same group-of-effects as reverb, many folks argue that delay deserves its own category…

Because unlike reverb, it’s a “special effect” that is intended to be consciously heard, rather than merely perceived.

Perhaps the best demonstrations of delay can be heard in Dub music, the popular sub-genre of Reggae, where it is used both extensively, and quite skillfully.

2. Modulation

filterfreakA large and loosely-defined category of plugins…

Modulation effects can technically include anything that employs some type of “oscillation“…

Which simply means:

To shift back and forth over time.

Common examples include:

  • phasing/flanging – (shifting PHASE ALIGNMENT over time)
  • tremolo – (shifting VOLUME over time)
  • vibrato – (shifting PITCH over time)
  • autopan – (shifting STEREO POSITION over time)

While each of these effects might sound completely different in comparison…

The common theme tying them together is:

Their ability to add movement and complexity, to musical phrases that might otherwise be boring on their own.  That is why a single keyboard note, with the right blend of effects, can sound as rich and full as an entire orchestra.

Decades ago, when modulation effects were first introduced to the world, they quickly became trendy, and according to some, way over-used.

These days though, they tend to be use far more subtly, as too much of them can quickly grow tiresome.

3. Stereo Imaging

izotope ozone stereo imagingUntil recently, the only good way add stereo width to an instrument was…

To actually record it in stereo.

While engineers knew several ways to build “fake” stereo images, using various delay tactics and split EQ

They were ALL difficult to master, easy to screw-up, and far-less-effective than simply doing it the old-fashioned way, using traditional stereo recording methods.

These days though, there are a number of plugins that can fake it quite easily, with excellent results.

Certain ones, such as Izotope Ozone, even have “multi-band stereo widening” which allows you to spread higher frequencies wider across the stereo image, while leaving lower ones closer toward center, where they sound best.

While these plugins CAN be used on individual tracks as necessary, they are most often used for mastering, to widen the entire mix as a whole.

Up next…

Plugin Bundles

Waves Gold BundleNow that we’ve finished the list…

To end this post, I’d like to talk about the various options to actually acquire these plugins.

For beginners, I recommending starting out using just the free ones included with your DAW.

But once you’ve outgrown them, and you want to premiumplugins, you have two options:

  • Purchase them all individually, or…
  • Buy them as a bundle.

I recommend the second method.  Because with bundles, you save both money, and time on research.

Plus, you get exposed to new tools which you might never have otherwise discovered.

While there are TONS of bundle options aimed at a wide-range of demographics, the 3 that I recommend universally to almost anyone are:

  1. For the essentials: the Waves Gold Bundle
  2. For effects: the Sound Toys Native Effects Bundle
  3. For a multi-purpose channel strip: Izotope Ozone.