What if I want my songs to sound a little bit better

What if I want my songs to sound a little bit better
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Hi FH Did not know your new name:) I like when folks go a little sideways in a post. You learn about them and I find that very interesting. I’m too old to argue or fuss tho. The best to you




I didn’t realize that. @ColdRoomStudio Andrew, given the quality of work you do, I too would have assumed otherwise. This makes perfect sense then, if you choose to compete with everyone around you on the quality scale, but not pressuring yourself to match the economic and efficiency scale of studios that compete based on exactly that.

That has a lot to do with it. I can remember spending several hours having to patch up a horribly tracked session. Haha…I’ve had sessions so bad that I had to outsource hundreds of dollars worth of autotuning to other people on this website.

This is part of a highly competitive mentality. Feel free to opt out. I noticed the same thing in lawyers, accountants, chefs, and computer programmers. Like…the guys who learn to punch key commands on their DAW’s like they’re playing a video game, all so they can 1-up all the other assistants in the company…it doesn’t have much do with ACTUALLY mixing.

I remember Marcella Araica in an interview (I think it was on Pensados place), talking about how producers in NY nicknamed her ‘turtle’ (I think…or something like that) because she was soooooo slow on her daw. But if you don’t care to compete with insane speed mister DAW operators in New York city, I doubt it’ll matter much if you get your mixes prepped in 60 minutes opposed to 45.


I’m only a couple of years behind you “old-timer”. Now, why did I sit down at the computer?


Props Andrew, that must have took some courage. :slight_smile:

[quote=“ColdRoomStudio, post:19, topic:1505”]
Some songs take a lot of prep before you even get to mix
[/quote]Ain’t that the truth! As I said in my earlier post, the editing can take longer than the mixing sometimes.

From your perspective, as someone who enjoys the process that makes sense. From my perspective, I don’t really ‘enjoy’ any part of the recording process, it’s a blight, a compulsion. The sooner I can get a mix wrapped up the happier I will be - and I don’t mean from a professional viewpoint, I mean from a personal one. That’s the polar opposite of your approach!

I hate the prospect of being faced with a shedload of editing before I can even start mixing, so when I’m recording a client, I do all the editing on the fly, I make it part of the recording process. The client doesn’t really notice that much, it’s just a quick 30 seconds here, one minute there, in fact it seems to de-intensify the session and give people a chance to calm down, eat a sandwich, have a quick chat etc.

I guess that doesn’t apply to you much Andrew, correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re more of a ‘mixing/mastering’ services kid of guy? But if you actually enjoy the editing, maybe that’s bonus for you.


Thanks Adrian…

No, I don’t particularly enjoy editing, especially timing and tuning. Fortunately, of late, most of the stuff I’ve had to mix has been pretty much editing-free. I’ve gotten much faster at editing over the years, but it’s still time consuming.

…and you’re right - I don’t have people come and record at my studio, unless they are close friends or bandmates, so most of my comments are made from an “online mixing” perspective.


Really glad you posted this summary Andrew… very illuminating. I totally understand that feeling of how your attitude changes when what was once something done purely for pleasure becomes the livelihood. It’s a big reason I give thanks that I abandoned music for science as my career-- music has remained pure pleasure. Cheers!


First, feaker, thank you for allowing this to go a little sideways. It’s my fault…I just saw the perfect opportunity to ask a question and maybe see if anything I could do might help Andrew if there was a need.

Andrew, so sorry for forgetting about your new name. I remember now but for some reason, it didn’t hit me until you mentioned it.

Next, I’m sorry for making you feel uncomfortable with discussing the internal studio stuff. I honestly stuck a hand out in hopes that if you needed me, that I would be there to try my best to help. I also thought of messaging you privately, but felt a little awkward myself. So apologies for any awkwardness and sincere thanks for giving us a glimpse of what goes on. That really means a lot that you shared that and again I thank you.

Also, just so you know in case you may have forgotten, I am, and always have been a fan of your work. So if it takes time and is therapeutic to you, you are right where you want to be.

A little about me if you’re curious. I’m totally against quantity over quality. I will never sacrifice it to a client and have only sacrificed quality one time in my life with my own personal project due to a record company mistake where I didn’t have s choice. It was release the first album or miss the boat. The album quality is not very good compared to even some of the demos here…and it haunts me every day. It actually sold fairly well and helped put me where I am. But hey…I didn’t know what I know now in 1989 which was when I started the album. :wink:

Anyway, always quality first for me. But, with a growing business comes deadlines and sometimes like my album, you can miss the boat. Once I got all the issues with monitoring out of the way, my life changed for the better. The mixing part took form on its own. From there, my practice routine was to learn how to work smarter, not harder.

I have what I call lab work two times per week that I make time for no matter what I have planned. 3 things that always happen…date night with my fiance every Wednesday, lab work with procedures on Monday morning and lab work experiments on Friday morning.

The Monday morning procedures lab is me experimenting with how to do things better and faster that take time out of my day. A lot of this is keystrokes where I press one or two buttons to do something where I’d have to use a mouse with movements before.

Editing: for some dumb reason, I’m good at this and can go so fast through it, if I ran video you would think I sped it up. The other side of that coin for me is, I don’t do it unless I have to or it’s requested of me.

Fortunately for me, I’m at the stage where I’m secure enough to pick and choose my jobs. I know that sounds cocky but it’s not meant to. Why take on a job that someone slopped together that needs 4 hours of editing before you even start?

If you need the business or you enjoy that sort of thing, it’s great. But I’m a record, mix, master guy…not a garbage man. Not meaning to imply those that do editing are garbage men. I’m just saying…I’d rather not do it and not be taken advantage of. I kill all dead spots in audio and have a tool in sonar that will batch process all that. So I don’t even have to manually do it anymore. “Remove silence” with a little trial and error is an incredible tool. Dangerous too of course if you don’t tweak it. :slight_smile:

Or, I simply use gates and set them accordingly. I don’t mess anything up as every track is auditioned individually and I take notes on the super low pieces that may be in the wave file. But 9 times out of 10, I can have an entire project edited in an hour or less.

Drum replacement editing etc…I have awesome tools for this that speed up everything to where it’s near foolproof. I have a sample library that is just sick. Most of my colleagues want my library left to them when I die. Lol!

I can take a real.drum and have a replacement that sounds just like it the right way in seconds. Tuning, room sim, resonance etc…I have all this stuff built into my template already.

So quite a lot I’ve done already. Some.of my templates have taken a month to perfect. So I’ve done some serious work there and of course they need altering from project to project. But it’s amazing the time.I’ve saved just doing things like that.

One of the things we pride ourselves on is turn around time. I’m honestly booked to mid 2018 already with bands coming from all over. I do massive online work, court stuff for small municipalities that still run cassette tape on their hearings that we send to flash drive or digital media. We do phone messaging to big corporations when you call and get all the prompts. School orchestra stuff, ad spots, recording video lessons…it’s super cool and never a dull moment.

My reason for saying that, with all that stuff going on, if someone here hired me for something, I’d find the time to get it done sometime this week if possible. I don’t like turning people away. It’s not just the money…it’s sincerely about helping people and making a difference in their lives for the better.

I’m not the best at this stuff and never claimed to be. People talk you up when you’ve done something to make a difference in their world. You know how it goes…you too have some loyal and loving fans. :wink: But I’ll always choose quality over speed. Though, speed is sort of important in what I’m doing too. As long as the speed doesn’t ever overthrow the quality. Thanks for the reply…much respect and admiration brother.


I had no idea that you have put this much of your life/time into your craft, but I should have know listening to your music. Kinda what I said before about hearing such a difference between my final project and someone who knows what there are doing.

You have a great system for sure. I often will take a vox track and listen to all the garbage in between verses etc and think nothing of leaving it there. I have tried to, break the track, cut a chunk out, and then delete it. sounds just wrong. Also tried to just cut that chunk and really lower the db’s. that works better, but still doesn’t sound natural. You see, you took it to the next level and have something in place for that. Fantastic I say. I don’t envy, but more like greatly appreciate somebody that is so much more talented than me. They earned it. I can weld better than most on any type of metal. I am good at it because I studied it and practiced. I also know there are the hobbiest like myself who are very fortunate to be even allowed to be on a forum like this with all the folks that have so much talent. It is embarrassing to me not to be able to contribute to most conversations without the knowledge that many have here. (taking a deep bow) To those that have studied and earned it, I salute you. To those of us that make music for fun, just be dam glad you have an opportunity to be seated next to pro’s:)




Great post Danny, thanks for sharing all that info (and in the previous posts on this thread)!

I really like the Lab Work commitments. You explained that Monday was “better and faster”, and I am big on keyboard shortcuts so I work on this from time to time. I didn’t see where you explained the Friday “lab work experiments” though, and was wondering if you would mind expanding on what that is about? Is it more how to get certain sounds or effects? I remember Brandon used to allocate a whole day of the week to “synth sounds” or whatnot, and it’s something I have been meaning to do.


Thanks Danny - cool insights.


Sure Stan…the Friday lab is messing with techniques that I learn or create on my own. I also try a lot of the hyped up things people swear by that are supposedly making things better.

I spent quite a bit of time on side chaining to see what all the hype was about. What I found out is…it’s nothing more than a band aid for frequency masking and an alternative to automation.

Neither impress me. However, I have managed really cool results with rhythm guitars and lead guitars with side chaining. Rhythms lower when the lead hits and then come back to where they should be after the solo section. But even using it that way, nothing drops out like the examples most use especially in techno stuff with synths. I hate the whole trade off thing…I still don’t see the need other than for those not interested in dealing with handling like-instruments the right way.

I love messing with impulses to help with enhancing direct recording. Stuff like that…different plugs in different positions, it’s a blast. My current lab project is an attempt to make a sound source larger. Not stereo widened effects, I’m literally trying to take a small sound and increase it without blatant widening or HAAS effects. So far I’ve been semi successful with a few things I’ve been working on, but nothing that replaces mic capture sound size. I came up with something that’s pretty impressive but I need a little more testing and then I’ll gladly share it…or if it works too well, I’m keeping it to myself. Lol! :wink:


Sounds like a good one, I’ll have to try it out. I have usually done it with volume automation, but that’s pretty static, and your method may allow for it to be more dynamic. I have used side-chaining on background music for voice-over quite a bit, and that has worked well.

Fascinating, I would certainly enjoy it if you found something you were able to share! I really like this methodology of testing interesting ideas and myth busting … kind of like an audio “mad scientist”. :sunglasses:


Here…you can help me get mine down. I’m getting back into actually mixing music from a couple years of just writing and arranging it, as well as doing a ton of broadcast and post stuff.

What DAW are you on, what control surfaces are you using, and how do you deal with sorting through an un-godly amount of pesky plugin menus? I don’t use 90% of my library for broadcast. Its almost always stock PT EQ, almost always the Waves rennesance compressor with a Waves C1 gate, and an L1 limiter. That’s pretty standard for spoken word, broadcast, and voiceover. And its about as exciting as having a retirement account full of US treasury bonds. But I haven’t had to maneuver around the plugin library in the last few years quite as much as I need to get used to doing again.

Do you call your plugins to the insert slots with a keyboard and a mouse? Or what? Lemmie know :smiley: Thanks


Sure I’d love to help you. I have cakewalk sonar producer edition and absolutely love it. We have screen sets, scene mode and lots of options for plugin windows and menus.

Two of the things I like to use are track templates and project templates. I open a project and everything is already there. Or, I can bring specific track templates right into a project.

From there screen sets save whatever I see on the screen 1-10. So screen 1 can be edit view, 2 console view, 3 all plugin windows of compressors, 4 midi editing and so on.

We then have scenes that allow you to mix an entire project using whatever plugs you want, and then start another mix using all different plugs and press a scene number to revert back to the mix before, and bang, right back.

Plugin menus are by manufacture name, type or you can create your own like I do so I know where everything is at all times. I’m really impressed with Sonar and am astonished it’s not more popular. I’ve used every DAW at least once in my life but have been with sonar since is came on floppy disk. This is by far the best and most stable version.

Anyway, most of my projects are ready to go. I have about 30 templates I use that come loaded with the plugins of my choice. So I’d have to dive deeper into what you need as well as what the differences are between our DAW’s of choice.

Let’s talk and see what we can come up with. :slight_smile:


Paul, I hear you loud and clear. I wish I had started my audio journey 30 years ago. I tend to enjoy the moments that I am lucid to remember the latest trick or tip that’s going to change my sound, or a setting I discovered once and may or may not find again! It sucks getting older. I try to remember to be kind to myself and enjoy the journey as I strum and tweak my efforts! The rest of time it’s about watching Net Flix with my wife till the next surge of creativity arrives! :gun:


Hi Gredd I also wish I would have started recording a long time ago. Lets face it, things come quicker and stay longer in your brain when you are younger. I thought for a short time that one of my songs would be heard on the radio some day, but I know that will never happen. I can still enjoy the music and the process. I get most of my ideas from strangers conversations that I overhear. ha ha

Good luck to both of us




Take me ages too, but these days Cubase is an arrangement writing tool as much as a mixing tool. I do it all , usually starts with a guitar riff then add drums and build up an arrangement i’m happy with…(very little plugins) just raw tracks until the arrangement feels good. Then re record all parts, bass, guitars , etc… Once the vocals are in and rough level mix is done then the real mixing can begin… (time consuming) that’s before any mixing even starts.i have found musicians to be so unreliable … shame cause id love to get out and play but others cant even decide on a time to book a room and im done with being the driver. (but that’s another story) Back to thread.


SC Interesting. I start with a guitar riff, usually with my acoustic watching tv and muting a commercial. ha ha Then I run for the studio before I forget it ( takes about two minutes) Then I set a click track. Next is a vocal. It all works I guess. I know when I am done, the song’s usually about 50 % as good as it could be. I know this because I have had two of my songs taken over by others and they came back awesomely dong. Sooooo, I know there are folks out there that are true professionals that are very capable.




Feaker, i record mine into an iphone app , just ideas, got 100’s of them then pull out the one that draws me to it and turn it into something. A good song/arrangement but ok production is way better then a shite song great production imo, do what ya can enjoy the process… write more and get it out there… Do you mean 50% arranged or production? I think arrangement needs the most work (mixing is way easier with a good arrangement) almost mixes itself.


Gosh…sorry man. I must not have seen that you responded 12 days ago! My fault.

How do you manage your bus channels? Do you pre-load them in your template, or instantiate the plugins as you go?

Do you place your effects busses to the left or right of the source channel? Or do you keep them grouped together at the bottom of your DAW?

Where do you place the returns on your desk? I noticed Chris Lord Alge straps the returns to his minifaders. I’ve been playing around with placing them on swap channels. So if my vocal is on channel 10, I hit the swap button and have immediate access to the FX bus return for AUX 10. I don’t know. The S5 has digital summing, so I can take a stereo return bus and run it in true stereo with one fader. But my meters can show me the main track and the swap track at the same time. How did you do this on the Icon?

Some people opt to keep their high end stuff like their Bricasti’s, Tape Delays, and Pultecs in the same place (usually toward the center of their console).

Another thing I was wondering is how you call plugins? Do you use your mouse to open the menu and scroll to it every time? I assigned button sequences on the S5 that call them up, but sometimes I end up going back to scrolling menus with the mouse. I’m not sure which way is faster, because my muscle memory hasn’t really kicked in yet. I think I can make 3 or four button pushes on the console faster, but I’m not sure. I’m also finding it sometimes depends on where exactly the specific plugin is on my menu. Its not so much the time per se, its the disruption to the workflow that I’ve found incredibly irritating lately.