Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Discuss the hardware/software tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by RichardT »

You get better gear and your music doesn’t sound so good.

= success!
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by FullPoker »

RichardT wrote: Thu Mar 23, 2023 8:44 pm You get better gear and your music doesn’t sound so good.

= success!

Thanks to all, now I know that the gears I have are more than enough (i.e., it will take a lot a time/learning before they will play any significant limit to me). Good! This is very important to me. Now I can concentrate on the next steps.

As for the next steps, I think the following in a chronological order. Please comment/amend as needed:

1) Get fully familiar with the DAW layout (I have FL Studio Signature bundle). I am learning how the Channel Rack, Piano Roll, the Mixer, etc. do work. I think I am 50% through here. But learning shortcuts is key to save time and avoid frustration and slow progress...I miss still a lot there...

2) Learn how to create my own sounds! Besides the signature bundle, I have Augmented Orchestra and Quadra by UVI. So, I get a lot of nice preset sounds and effects in the package. But...I think that nothing is better than your on sounds, right? I have ZERO knowledge how to create sounds. I read that there are many different types of synthesizers (negative, FM, etc...) no clue yet what all that means. My priority is to create nice Chords, Pads, cinematics quality. Any specific tool where to initially focus to start learning and have some practice?
3) Once point 2 is achieved (I think it will require a lot of effort) what next? I I would learn the most important types of effects beyond reverb/delays. Probably EQ, Limiter, Compression are key right? I have have ZERO knowledge here too...

Thanks for any feedback you may give me on that...

Cheers,
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by RichardT »

Personally I would skip the learning to create new sounds at the moment - starting out, you can create great results just by using presets. I'm not saying it's something you shouldn't do, you absolutely should, but I'd put it down the priority list for now. Others may not agree!

I think you have two main strands to develop - musical and technical.

On the technical side, yes, you need to learn your DAW and then the essentials of producing and mixing. I'd recommend Mike Senior's book (I mentioned it earlier) to learn pretty much all you need to know about mixing and the use the of EQs and compressors etc.

On the musical side it's up to you how far you go and in which direction, but for sure the more you learn the more variety you can inject into your music.

One very important area that crosses the musical and technical boundary is arrangement - what instruments play what notes at what time. I think this is an area where the very best producers often have an edge.
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by Kwackman »

RichardT wrote: Fri Mar 24, 2023 10:36 amOn the technical side, yes, you need to learn your DAW and then the essentials of producing and mixing. I'd recommend Mike Senior's book (I mentioned it earlier) to learn pretty much all you need to know about mixing and the use the of EQs and compressors etc.

Agreed, and there's also great articles from SOS magazine that are freely available, for example
https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/post ... e&p=860429
https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/post ... e&p=860429

and the glossary is very handy for "what does that mean" moments.
https://www.soundonsound.com/glossary
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by Drew Stephenson »

Think you might have your links a bit confused there Kwackman!
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by Drew Stephenson »

FullPoker wrote: Fri Mar 24, 2023 10:23 am 2) Learn how to create my own sounds! Besides the signature bundle, I have Augmented Orchestra and Quadra by UVI. So, I get a lot of nice preset sounds and effects in the package. But...I think that nothing is better than your on sounds, right? I have ZERO knowledge how to create sounds. I read that there are many different types of synthesizers (negative, FM, etc...) no clue yet what all that means.

Richard's point about using what's already available is a good one - especially when you start playing around with the options in the preset and then adding your own effects and automation.
But when you do decide to dig into that particular rabbit hole this extensive series on synthesis would be a great place to start: https://www.soundonsound.com/series/syn ... ound-sound
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by Kwackman »

Drew Stephenson wrote: Fri Mar 24, 2023 12:13 pm Think you might have your links a bit confused there Kwackman!

You're right!
My fault and too late to edit now.
So, here (hopefully correctly) are the 2 first links
Compression
Reverb
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by FullPoker »

Thanks to all for the excellent support. I will do accordingly.
To be continued...

Cheers,
FullPoker

ps I am wondering if it would be wise to share here the mp3 of the cover I did to get some feedback better tailored to my beginner level...
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by Wonks »

Why not. Songs for critique go in the Mixing, Mastering & Post Production forum.

The SOS site doesn't host files, audio or photos, so you'll need to host elsewhere e.g. Soundcloud and provide a link.
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by FullPoker »

Wow...Mike Senior's book is worth the money!

I wish I had known it earlier...

I have already read 20% of it in one shot...

Among many things, nice to learn that something I perceived as very weird in my cover of Better Off Alone is not weird at all! I am referring to notes in the piano-roll that are perfectly synched to the DAW grid, but despite that do not sound perfectly in synch. And similarly with the pitch! I had spent tens of hours to try to fix it with only partial results. Now I know that it is a real issue and not something that I was just imaging...Nice to learn also that the notes before the one that sounds out of synch might be the cause of the problem and not necessarily that note...

Looking forward to keep reading the book. Sorry, but I could not help sharing this as I was considering synch and pitch as something like math rules which is totally wrong...Our brain does " nice" things...

Cheers,
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by FullPoker »

I finished to read the book!

WoW, it was an experience... I learned the following:

- It will take me ages before I will be able to implement the learning effectively. I hope to get enough energy/fun/motivation to keep me going while I will try to apply what I have learned "on paper", otherwise the risk to give up is very high
- I found it surprisingly complex from a technical point of view. I am an engineer, with technical background in the electronic domain, but still I had some difficulties to understand some of the technicalities presented. I think that non-technical people can understand it only via practicing it in the DAW- I do not think they have a chance to understand it real-time while reading it
- The most positive aspect is that I found described in the book all (really all!) the problems I encountered in my cover: a) I got almost crazy with the fader of some instruments. Too loud, too weak, to average...my good! Now I know why!; I have to compress, equalize, etc...As little as needed...;b) I have to prioritize the most important tracks; they will compete and I have to give them space from both a time and frequency point of view according to their priority

I am really happy to have posted this post in this forum...
Thanks to those you have given me such valuable advice.

To be continued...

Cheers,
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by Drew Stephenson »

It is a really good book, :) my copy is on the shelf behind me with plenty of pages marked for reference.
Like you, I read the whole thing through, but also like you I didn't fully understand it until I tried putting it into practice.
And yes, it takes ages to get really good at this, certainly longer than I've been doing it!
But the good news is that you can make a lot of progress quite quickly, so it's still a rewarding experience as go along.
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by RichardT »

Getting hands on with some of the techniques will help you get to grips with them - especially compression where there are lots of dials to turn.

Mike talks about lots of tools in the book, but I’d suggest, to start with, you should concentrate on EQ, compression and reverb/delay. In my experience, 90% of problems with sampled instruments can be fixed with those (and that’s excluding dynamic EQs and parallel compression).
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by Drew Stephenson »

I'd agree. 90% of mix issues can be fixed with EQ and Compression. But 90% of mix issues are caused by them too so make sure you're regularly checking back against your unprocessed sounds and reference mixes to make sure what you're doing is actually helping! :D
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by The Elf »

Drew Stephenson wrote: Thu Mar 30, 2023 1:33 pm I'd agree. 90% of mix issues can be fixed with EQ and Compression. But 90% of mix issues are caused by them too so make sure you're regularly checking back against your unprocessed sounds and reference mixes to make sure what you're doing is actually helping! :D

Wise words. Good though Mike's book is, I personally don't always gel with everything he says, yet for some it's become a bible of facts, as opposed to one way of doing things.
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Ain't that always the way...?

To be fair to Mike, he is describing techniques that work for him and which he thinks (rightly) will help novices to make inroads into making good recordings and mixes.

There are always other ways and other techniques, and some might work better for some than others. Mixing on headphones being an obvious one... :D
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by The Elf »

Don't get me wrong. I think Mike's book is great. I recommend it myself! :lol:

My point is that it's just too easy for beginners to believe that it's the only way. It becomes a manual, rather than guidance. That in itself can be dangerous and limiting. Even more so if the guidance is applied without the understanding of why it is being done. I feel sure Mike himself would agree. :)
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by FullPoker »

Thanks to all. Indeed, I had built myself the same idea to focus first on compression and EQ first to fix most of the issues and then to apply reverb/delays for a cosmetic enhancement on something that should have by then reached a decent quality thanks to compression and EQ.

By the way, not sure if Mike wrote something about Spotify in his book. I remember that he wrote something about the quality of online music not being generally good enough to be used for building your reference library, but I am not sure if he mentioned Spotify specifically.

Would Spotify (set in the application to the highest available quality) be good enough for referencing?

Thanks.

Cheers,
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by RichardT »

I’d say no - others might not agree. I use Tidal as it plays back at CD quality. I find having access to a streaming service very good for referencing because I can vary my references, and I can listen to the latest releases to see what’s going on.
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by The Elf »

I also use Tidal for casual listening, but for references I want a CD in my hands, ideally, or at least a download that I can add into arrangements for quick A/B checks.
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by James Perrett »

I'd be looking at Qobuz for referencing - their tracks are available in CD quality as minimum and often better.
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by FullPoker »

Many thanks. I will have a look at them. I did not even know that something like that existed...

Cheers,
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by FullPoker »

(I subscribed to Qobuz. I am afraid that I perceive a difference in quality between CD standard and high-resolution. High-res feels a bit more immersive, which is something a value a lot... I think that the difference with CD quality is real, does not look like suggestion...Well, I have now a problem :headbang: I did not have before knowing Qobuz: I need/want high res audio quality!)

Anyway, let me change subject, which is the reason for this other post.

I recall this here: I am a beginner! No doubt about that. Despite that, I am afraid that I get my inspiration by the type and quality of the sounds used in a song.

I will make a couple of examples to try to explain better what I mean with that. Let's check these two very simple but yet famous disco songs:

1) Guru Josh Project - Infinity
I am strongly convinced that the success of the song is very much linked to the main instrument chosen, which is that sort of brass. I dare to say that any other sound would have likely produced a total failure. I would not exclude that by playing with that sound he got the inspiration for the melody and not vice versa. Does it make sense? Who shares that with me?
2) ATB - 9 am. Same story here. That chosen sound is key. Any other sound would have been a failure...Who disagrees here?

Having said that, I have now a strong urgency to start to "understand" sounds. For instance:
- What to expect from a specific type of sound modulation: Wave, Sinusoidal, etc... before the chosen sound is enriched with any sort of effects (e.g., reverb)
- The effects are of course key, but I think that the first step is to understand what to expect from the "pure" sound wave form before an effect is applied
- and there are many different types of synthesizers (e.g., WAVETABLE, SUBTRACTIVE, ADDITIVE, AND FM...). I do not know PROS and CONS of them, what type of sounds they are best at, so on and so fort...

Any suggestions where I can start to dig into this? Any guru's book to buy on this topic to understand the basics, like Mike's book?

Of course, if you think that I am not clear with this post, or that I am clear but somehow off-track, any comment is more than welcome.

Thanks in advance.

Cheers,
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by Drew Stephenson »

If you want to understand how synths create their sounds then you could do a lot worse than reading (and playing) through this sequence of articles:
https://www.soundonsound.com/series/syn ... ound-sound
There's a lot, but it's a big subject.
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by zenguitar »

+1

Nothing comes close to the Synth Secrets series as a resource for understanding synthesis and how it relates to real world instruments.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by FullPoker »

WoW!
I will start diving into all that RIGHT NOW!

THANKS!

Cheers,
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by FullPoker »

OK. I went through a good number of this 63 series and I think I have now an understanding of the basics of sound synthesis.

I spent also quite some time online through several demos to choose which soft synth to start learning. I have already in my bundle Harmor and Sytrus, but I do not like the visual interface to start with and I never came through a demo that fully satisfied me from a sound point of view. Serum and Vital seem nowadays the most popular on forums (at least this is the perception I got online). I was literally one click from purchasing Serum when I accidentally bumped into a demo of Diva. I thought, uhmmm this demo seems interesting...let's watch another one as I seem to like the sound and visual interface of this up-to-that-time unheard to me synth. Second demo, same story. After having watched a dozen of Diva demos, I concluded that I wanted Diva despite it is an OLD synth! So I bought it.

I somehow knew it already, but with Diva I got it confirmed. I love PADS, PLUCKS and in general immersive sounds. I think Diva is the right synth for that. But now that I have it I have realize even more how badly I am penalized by my lack of knowledge of music theory and in particular of chords/harmony. If you read my first post of this thread, you know that I am not able to read music nor play any instrument apart from the keyboard/piano where I can do some very basic staff - period. However, just using my "ears" I am able to find and reproduce on the keyboard the melodies and chords of almost any song. I rarely fail with that. And usually I do it faster than many friends who have studied music/pianos for years and got diplomas...

However, and here I get the point of this post, most of the time I get the basics rights but not the full chords right. For instance, I perceive (but I would also love to understand why) that chords with two notes sound borderline (they seems wicked to me, but still perfect in some situations), that chords with 3 notes are the most straight-forward ones, but there I stop. When a commercial song uses more than 3 notes for the chords I have difficulties to reproduce it. Still I perceive I miss something...by my "ear" does not make it to fill the gap. It hears the gap, but I can't fill it and it is so frustrating. In addition, even with straight-forward chords of 3 notes, there is still some freedom about which combinations of tones (higher or lower octaves) to use foe each one of the notes...and also there, I often have doubts about what is the right combination.

Sorry to have made the story long, but I tried to give you the most accurate context about what I want to learn next so that you might guide me best, as you did so far.

Do you have any lessons online (also paid content is OK if of trusted quality like Mike's book) to suggest?

Thanks again.

Cheers,
FullPoker

ps sorry for misusing this thread. Since several posts I have quite diverged from the title of this thread...
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by RichardT »

It sounds like you have a good ear! That’s a great gift.

What genres are you interested in? If you want to understand jazz theory, I can recommend a couple of good books, but if it’s not jazz you’re going for, they won’t really help. Jazz theory is not really applicable to most contemporary genres.
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by Sam Spoons »

What Richard says is true.

But, whether Jazz is your chosen genre or not, I would go on to expand your keyboard knowledge by learning basic scales and chords and how they are constructed to help you understand a little about keys and harmony*. For example, a pop song in C will probably have a Cmaj chord in it, that chord has the I, III and V steps of the scale, the C, E and G notes, which on a keyboard are alternating white notes. Usually the other chords in the song will also be constructed from alternating white notes, most likely the chords starting on the IV and the V notes (the F and G notes), the aptly named "Three Chord Trick" around which countless pop, rock, folk, blues and may other songs have been built.

* What I wouldn't do in your position is try to learn to read music, it is not necessary to be able to read notation to develop a good understanding of music theory and harmony. I don't read music** but after over 60 years playing music my knowledge music theory is pretty good.

** Well, I have never learned to read properly but you can't avoid picking it up a little once you enter the theory rabbit hole. I'd say I can decipher a melody or bass line but very slowly and laboriously, and not entirely reliably . :blush:
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Re: Minimum HW and SW for top/professional audio quality output

Post by Sam Spoons »

RichardT wrote: Tue Apr 18, 2023 10:07 pm It sounds like you have a good ear! That’s a great gift.

What genres are you interested in? If you want to understand jazz theory, I can recommend a couple of good books, but if it’s not jazz you’re going for, they won’t really help. Jazz theory is not really applicable to most contemporary genres.

Which books would you recommend Richard, my basic theory is pretty good but I have struggled with 'proper' Jazz theory and would love to learn more?
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