Why are you not getting the sound you would like to? This is not an easy question to answer, but I will give my best to give you as many as possible steps on your path to getting the sound you would like.
If you clicked on this blog with this title, then you most likely have a problem making your tracks sound as you would like to. This video will be theoretical and I will address several necessary points you should understand if you expect to have a better sound.
Point no.1 “You don’t need fancy equipment to get the great sound”
Studio Equipment can be divided into 3 types, sound sources (synthesizers, samplers and other gear that produce a sound), the second type signal processors and fx (reverbs, delays, compressors … etc) and equipment for listening. In this point I will speak about the equipment for listening, and the rest I will address in the next video points.
“You don’t need fancy equipment to get the great sound”
This is the quote that I put as the first point as I believe this was the one which pushed me away from making progress in making my tracks sound better and made my progress slower. At first, I strongly believed that better equipment will push me forward and that I will get the right sound and the sound I wanted for my music.
Now the second question that can be pulled from the previous question is “Can you have a great sound with less expensive gear?” Yes, I believe you can. But, with better equipment, you will have better results, and you will get those results much faster. With better equipment, you won't benefit only with more time, as if you make good results faster, you will have much better self-esteem.
Now The second reason is that if you have better equipment, and by better equipment for getting the better sound I mean on speakers, converters and Room acoustics.
As for better sound, we need to have as best possible signal coming from our DAW to our ears and brain. This is what I call signal path. The path that signal goes through from our daw to our brain. So if we want to make the best decisions while we deal with any instrument or channel in our tracks, it will be very important how good the signal that we receive is. If there are any changes in the signal while it goes through this path to our brain, it will influence our decisions while we process the channels in our tracks.
Now the beginning of our signal is our computer where we store the audio images. Now we all should know that we cannot store the sounds on our computers, as sound is alive, and it needs time and space, we can store only the images of our sounds, which we can call samples, stems, tracks, or what so ever.
Now, to pass those sample stems, and tracks to the speakers, we need a conversion! We need to convert this digital signal, or digital image to an analogue signal. This is the job of our sound card, the audio interface as all of these units have DA converter.Once you plug your speakers into the Output, that Output most likely has the DA converter before it. This is the first important step for our signal. How good the DA converter is, and how good it will translate those images to the analogue signal that our speaker's receiver, is of extreme importance for our signal? The better the conversion is, the better or more accurate the signal is. An important thing to mention is that after buying better DA converters, you will not get better listening results. You will get a more accurate signal, and most likely your previous work will sound worse.
I will give you one example: Several years ago, Captain Hook started his project, and everybody spoke about his great quality. At that time, I had cheap equipment back home, and I wasn't able to hear this quality. I had the impression that all of my tracks sound way better from captain hook. But after I heard the same tracks on the festivals and big PA systems, I was blown away and I became so confused. Why do those tracks sound so good at the festival while mine sounded terrible in comparison with those, and why do I have an opposite impression in my studio? The answer is that the single I was receiving in my studio wasn’t accurate, and it was lying to me. But be aware, only buying a better sound card, without upgrading other signal path steps will not give you the results you want. You can expect high-end results only after you upgrade all the steps for your signal path.
Now the second step is that our speakers are receiving the analogue signal that came from the DA converter, and they need to reproduce the information they get. By using some electric power and moving the membranes or drivers, our speakers will make pressure on the air in the room we sit in, and it will produce sound waves. How good our speakers are, that good the signal they will fill the room will be.
Now the third is the room. If the room can absorb the soundwaves that can reflect from the cell; ing, walls or floor, then we will get more clear signal than if our room dons.t have any acoustic threads.
And the last part is our ears which have eardrums, and our eardrums are working the same way as microphones, they receive those sound waves, and they have nerves connected to them, and this signal is again converted to a digital signal and passed through our neural network to our brain. Now, we can’t do much for our eardrums besides saving them from some loud enrolments, but the more we listen and pay attention to what we are hearing, we are going to build these neural network paths stronger, and we will; increase the resolution of our listening by time. The more we listen, the more details we are going to hear. This is what we call training.
And after we receive the signal to our brain, we can apply some of the knowledge we got all these years.
The main point is, that investing in all of these steps mentioned, will only help you to get better results much faster!
So can you do it without good equipment, Yes you can, but not good enough as you would do it with it!
This strategy is maybe the most expensive in a material way, but it is the cheapest if we talk about our time. As with better listening equipment, we will get the results much easier and much faster, and without any frustration.
If you are not in a position to invest in all of the steps, I would also advise that you can hire a mixing engineer to do that part of the job for you, and you can spend more time being creative, as struggling to make good sounding tracks will kill your creativity. Trust me on this one, I speak from personal experience.
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Point no 2:
“I follow all the rules and still I don't get the sound I want?”
There are many channels, videos, and courses that will teach you so many rules you should follow to get better sound, but from my perspective, most of the rules and techniques are made by the people that had a problem, getting the sound they want by listening, most likely because of not having the signal path good enough, and because they couldn’t trust their ears, most of us are trying to rely on our eyes. So we start trying to mix and make our sounds sound better with our eyes. Using many visual tools such as analyzers, and oscilloscopes, and following certain rules that we heard somewhere or from somebody in the hope that it will give us the results we want.
But trust me on this one, the sound is alive, and I have been following so many rules and techniques, and I never got the results I wanted. Once I invested in my single path, I decided to get rid of all the rules, and once I started testing and listening to what will happen if I break those rules, I started to get way better results. And the most important thing is that I started enjoying and being frustrated and going into rabbit holes.
I will give you another story about sound being alive. In This studio, the acoustics are built by a professor from Serbian University, Profesor Dragan Novkovic. And Dragan told me that he knows everything about sound reflections and how sound moves. But every time he makes a project and plans for the studio, it never world! Even if he knew everything and followed all the rules and techniques. He said that every studio is a different story And that every time he needs to fix one by one thing. Measuring, understanding what is wrong and fixing it, and then moving to another.
The same goes for mixing. Listening, finding the problem, solving it and moving to the next one. Just while mixing we should rely on our listening, as the professor did all the measurements for us, and now we receive a good quality signal and we can trust what we hear.
if the signal path is good enough, Relying only on what you hear, you will understand straight away what is not right with certain sounds and what you should do to fix them.
Finding the right speakers, and DA converters are not easy, and it can take a while, but I would advise you to put it on the first spot on your priority list if you want to make your mixes by yourself. I’ve been switching from speakers to speakers and moving things around, but if you are patient and persuasive enough, once you find what suits you the best, you will realise that string away, as the frustration will go and you will start feeling much better from what you do.
I wanted to address many other points as well, but because I started writing the scripts for the videos, to be more accurate and to prevent forgetting something important to say, I believe those two are enough for this video.
Again if you like my videos, you can find the online courses on my website and also like, subscribe and share will be of huge hello for this channel.
Thank you very much for watching and see you soon in another video.