Improving Sound Quality?

Audioscope

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I have been making computer music for just over a year now + have made a fair few tunes
but one thing i have noticed is that when i mix my tunes with other psy trance tunes there is a noticable difference in the sound quality:Sad: .

Does anybody have any tips in improving sound quality???

Would buying a sample cd do the trick or is there more to it??
 

Fromem_Ory

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its not sound quality really, its all about production... its an ongoing evolution of self-education, and it just gets better with time really... as your ear becomes more and more tuned to sound, you'll learn about EQing and compression and all aspects of production, and when your music is released it'll likely be proffessionaly mastered. stick in there man... ask yourself how much better ur tunes are than they were 6 months ago...
 

Fromem_Ory

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p.s. stick on the forum, theres always good advice goin here and also, sample CDs are good but dont rely on other peoples sounds to better your own. and samples only really become your own when you fuck em right outta shape...
 

AEON

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what i found really helpful was...

think when you listen to your music. really listen and really think - and really listen some more! :Wink3:

using 'professional' tracks as a reference can be invaluable in terms of figuring out how you want your track to be defined sonically (if you know what i mean). pick a few that you really, really know well & listen to them before & after your tracks; get an idea of how they fill the soundspace.

i'd say 90% of the difference can & will be made by you. the rest is a combination of shiny skills, super-shiny mastering stuff, and well-trained ears...

also don't try to listen to too much for too long, or in fact too loud. try to get your tunes played on the biggest systems you can, because that's also really instructive :Smile3:
 

Speakafreaka

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I think one of the best way forwards is to 'borrow' other peoples kick drums, because it took me aaaaages to figure out how to get them in the right spot making them and figuring it all out myself. Most drum machines are shit. One or two work really well. But work on layering your kicks. Once you get the kick right, then the bass line follows, and it gets much much easier from there.

Eventually, one day (or year, if you are like me) the penny will drop and you'll find that your ears start doing it automatically. And that rolling your own kick drums gets much easier.

I wouldn't buy a sample CD as such.

Use two reverbs on a mix. One for room reverb (percussion parts, and leads if you like) and one ambience reverb (hard to find a decent cheap one. If you don't like the sound of your reverb on long settings, try sticking a chorus before it in the chain, so if you were using cubase, you may want to use a group channel for that) for pads leads and FX in general.

Of course, if your kick drums and reverb are spot on then I apologise for this random and rambling post. Just trying to say what helped me.
 

JPsychodelicacy

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Oooh - potential for a loooong thread here. Is it actual sound 'quality' as such, or is it simply that your tunes are quieter?

Back when I started, I had a habit of turning everything up to 11, which meant that the bass tended to be so overpowering that the mid-synths, the cymbals and hats got lost in a big mush... it actually meant that I had to export my tunes quieter becuase I'd turned everything up so much. The thing that helped me more than anything else was learning that while the kick should be the most focussed element, you need to turn it down a little and leave a little room for your other sounds. This space is known as 'headroom'.

If you *really* want to get into sound placement and get the most out of it, get hold of a spectrum analyzer... Elemental's Inspector is very good, and free to boot. Low frequency (bass) on the left of the graph, High frequency (hats and some synths) on the right... when the graph is maxed out you have no more room there, so try filtering the sound at a different frequency. If somethnig seems too quiet in the mix and you have room, turn it up! :Smile3:

J.
 

jackrabbit

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Audioscope couldn't hear your track as safari ceashed when trying to listen.
Do you have proper monitors? I have rescently replaced my kef hifi speakers for some modest active monitors. I am now going over my best tracks and mixing them again. Now I realise I dont need half the plugins I used(can now hear how shit it really makes things sound). Just invested in a good vst EQ thats easy to get the hang off and now my tunes are really starting to sound very defined and crisp(even on crappy portable cd player).
 

AEON

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oh yeah - and beware the curse of subjectivity.

i am convinced that my tunes have never sounded 'professional', but that's partly because i'm listening for flaws & imperfections, subconsciously evaluating my music and comparing it to others.
 

Lost Soul

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JPsychodelicacy said:
Back when I started, I had a habit of turning everything up to 11, which meant that the bass tended to be so overpowering that the mid-synths, the cymbals and hats got lost in a big mush... it actually meant that I had to export my tunes quieter becuase I'd turned everything up so much. The thing that helped me more than anything else was learning that while the kick should be the most focussed element, you need to turn it down a little and leave a little room for your other sounds. This space is known as 'headroom'.

You should export your tunes at a level where they aren't clipping at all really, and then master them to make them as loud as possible by compressing, EQing and the basically whacking the volume right up (so the track distorts a bit, but doesn't sound distorted - beware distorting it will change the frequency balance a bit so try to tie the EQ and volume increase in together).

Also worth mentioning on the mixing front, is that the idea is to get the frequency balance of the tune as flat as possible. IE, the same volume for each frequency. Having some frequencies too empty leads to an empty sound in the mix. And worse is having some frequencies too full/loud, as the tune can only be as loud as the loudest frequency. So if one frequency sticks out too much the whole tune becomes quieter.
 

ferguts

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Thanks people for all the advice.... i will try and put it into my music. I think that by spending more time Equalising every layer of each individual track before mixing them down will help considerably.

I also recently invested in 2 Denon S5000s and a Pioneer DJM3000. will playing my tracks through my decks and recording the tracks with Effects back into cubase help the sound quality
 

JPsychodelicacy

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ferguts said:
I also recently invested in 2 Denon S5000s and a Pioneer DJM3000. will playing my tracks through my decks and recording the tracks with Effects back into cubase help the sound quality

I seriously doubt it, to be honest. What it will do is add effects to the tracks that you only have a limited amount of control over. The equipment you're talking about is optimised for ease of use and quality in performance situations, not for production.

Trust me, stick with smart EQ'ing and level control and it will be all the boost in 'quality' you could ask for. Remember, the tighter your EQ, the louder you can have something in the mix without it causing clipping as it crosses frequencies with other tracks/instruments. If, by 'quality', you mean the definiteion of individual instrument,s I tihnk that's the best advice you will get.

I'm a little sceptical of some of what Lost Soul is saying, though they're mostly right. However, the more compression and limiting you apply to the final mix, the less room you have for dynamics, which can be real fun when you get to play with them. :Smile3:

J.
 

Goran

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Lost Soul said:
...and then master them to make them as loud as possible by compressing, EQing and the basically whacking the volume right up (so the track distorts a bit, but doesn't sound distorted - beware distorting it will change the frequency balance a bit so try to tie the EQ and volume increase in together).
No. It'd sound really flat and boring, after the initial "oh wow that's loud" reaction. It'd also very likely breathe/pump noticeably, especially around breaks (where there's a natural contrast in dynamics, precisely for that purpose). Polishing cack with a multiband compressor will not yield "professional" sound quality either, just mime it badly. I'd recommend paying attention to volume first, rather than at the end.
Lost Soul said:
Also worth mentioning on the mixing front, is that the idea is to get the frequency balance of the tune as flat as possible. IE, the same volume for each frequency.
Now that's just plain wrong. I suggest you read up at least a little on psychoacoustics (google will do). As a quick hint, aim for -6 or -3 dB/octave. Why do you think some spectral analyzers offer to show these guidelines?
 

JPsychodelicacy

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Although conversely, it does mean that your mixdown will tend to sound similar to other people's...

No bad thing if you've not been at it long (as I learned the hard way :Wink3:).

J.
 

Wee Waw

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Some more advice..

If you think your track still doesn't have the umpf (or whatever it's called!) after you've rendered it. Put it in Sound Forge. That program has a good normalise function, where you can give your track some proper welly, without the clipping. You can turn up your track by about 5db, because instead of normailsing to 0db, it can go higher, and simply compresses the peaks. Sorry, I'm trying to make sense of what I'm thinking.. Hope this is of some use!
 
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