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  • Philip Marsden

10 Quick Production Tips | #5


1. Need a bigger chorus?

Put your mix through some parallel compression with a fast attack, long release time and a fair amount of gain reduction. Blend to taste and only switch it on when the chorus kicks in. On the right song, this can add a lot of energy and thickness to your chorus.



2. Produce with your ears, not your eyes.

Try to avoid over analysing meters. If that 12db of compression sounds good, it is good! 



3. Automate Reverb

You can automate the level of your reverb to draw attention to certain phrases, give more atmosphere for a certain section or even automate the length of the reverb to suit changes in pace and rhythm throughout a track. The possibilities are endless!



4. Tame Those Plosives

If you’re trying to get rid of some irritating P’s and B’s, try some multiband compression. Excessive plosives typically trigger a big boost in the low end, so open your favourite multiband comp, find the frequency band that it sits in and attenuate it with some band-specific compression. You’ll probably want a fairly fast attack and release for this.



5. Record Everything

Even if you’re just trying out some different sounds, or practicing a part ready for some takes, press that record button. You might just capture the perfect performance before you were even ready! 



6. Be One Step Ahead

When you’re recording, have your vision for the final mix in mind at all times. How will that acoustic guitar sit in the finished song? Do you need to record it in mono or stereo? How should it sound on the recording?



7. Save Plugin and Instrument Presets

Often using similar plugin settings or instrument sounds? Save them as presets, so that next time you open the plugin/instrument you can get straight to business.



8. Compression to Get Your Vocals Sitting Right

If you’re struggling to get your vocals sitting nicely in the mix, some sidechain compression may help. There are a few ways to do this, but usually I’d send all of my midrange instruments (guitars, keys etc) to a bus channel and put a compressor on it. From there, go for a moderately fast attack and release, high ratio (something like 8:1) and set the sidechain input so that it’s triggered by your vocal. Then, pull down the threshold until you’re getting around 2db of gain reduction. Now, your midrange instruments will duck out of the way of any singing, meaning you can pull the vocal back into the mix a bit further, without it getting lost. If you want to be more subtle, you could try this with a multiband compressor (I like the FabFilter Pro-MB) set between 1-5kHz.



9. Use Ear Candy Every Four Bars

Four bars of straight 4/4 with no variations will bore most listeners. Use drum fills, synth flourishes, FX and risers regularly to grab attention and keep things interesting. Don’t give your listener a reason to skip, because they will! 



10. Free Plugin - BitterSweet

BitterSweet is a free transient shaper by Flux, perfect for getting more snap out of your snare drum or taming some overly spiky cymbals. It even has mid/side processing, which adds a great amount of control when dealing with drums loops or even your mix bus. You can download it here!


Read the previous instalment here.


Want to get better at producing vocals? Download my free guide - Vocal Production Start to Finish



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