• Philip Marsden

10 Quick Production Tips | #6

1. Elevate your chorus

Three great ways to elevate your chorus and give it a bit more life are to add some percussion like a tambourine or shaker to bring out some high frequencies, add wide pad synths to thicken the sound or add some subtle volume or eq (high shelf) automation on the mix bus to highlight the section slightly.


2. Easier volume automation workflow

When you want to use volume automation, put a gain plugin at the end of your signal chain and automate that instead of the channel itself. This way, if you want to adjust the level of the entire channel later, the fader is still usable as normal, saving a ton of headaches.


3. Maybe less is more

Struggling to get an element in your mix to where you want it to be? Maybe less is more. If you’ve been adding and tinkering with plugins for the past hour, try taking some off or starting fresh instead. You may be over processing the signal and over complicating the process.


4. The key to referencing properly

If you’re referencing professional mixes to get yours to where it needs to be, make sure that you’re level matching them. If your reference is playing back much louder or quieter than your own mix, your perception of the frequency spectrum will be altered and you may make inaccurate decisions.


5. Turn to the side instead

Recording dynamic vocals with some sudden loud phrases? You may have heard that you should lean back from the mic for those louder parts to get a more level performance, however, you can lose a lot of the bass from your voice when you do that. Instead, try turning slightly to the side. This way, the directional and more harsh, high end frequencies will be reduced, but you will keep the depth and bass in your voice due to the proximity effect. (Closer to the mic = more bass)


6. Think about the role of the part you’re recording

A good engineer will know exactly what role a part should be playing in the mix before they record it and they will base their mic placement and recording technique on this. For example, if you’re recording an acoustic guitar, is it a finger picked part that leads the song all the way through? You may want to record in stereo to get a big, rich sound that can command the song. Is it a strummed, rhythmic part that’s backing up other elements of the production? Recording in mono and double tracking it might be better. Do this with every part of your track.


7. EQ with your faders

Is your frequency spectrum unbalanced? Maybe you feel your mix needs a bit more top end? Instead of reaching for an EQ right away, try turning up some the more treble based elements on the faders. The way your mix is balanced on the faders is your first line of EQ, get this right before anything else.


8. Fatten up your rhythm parts

A good trick to gel together and fatten up your rhythm section is to send your kick, snare and bass to an aux channel and apply a fair amount of compression to it. Use a medium attack and a fast release to get it pumping with about 5db of gain reduction. Then, blend this with the dry signal to taste.


9. Don’t be afraid to use tune and time align parts

Tuning vocals is an important part of the production process if you’re aiming for a modern, competitive sound. It doesn’t have to sound unnatural and it doesn’t make you inauthentic. The smallest adjustments to tuning and timing can really polish up a recording and take it to the next level.


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