20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions

I recently started a new series called “Quick tips” on the Audio Hertz Instagram account and decided it would be a good idea to compile them all together and put them up as a single post.

Here are my first 20 quick and easy tips that are guaranteed to improve your productions.

Quick tip 1

Studio monitors should be the last thing turned on and the first thing turned off.

Quick tip.

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Quick tip 2

Read the damn manual!

Quick tip 3

The zero point is where the positive and negative side of a wave meet. By cutting there you can avoid clicks and pops in your audio, although it never hurts to add a short crossfade.

Quick tip 3.

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Quick tip 4

To get a larger sounding floor tom, place foam pads under the feet so you don’t lose any of the low resonances through the floor.

Quick tip 4.

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Quick tip 5

Trying to get the vocals to pop? Duplicate the lead vocal track, add distortion, a sh*t ton of compression, boost EQ in the 1-5kHz range and automate the new track back in during the parts you need the vocal to cut through more.

Quick tip 5.

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Quick tip 6

Don’t be afraid to add processing to your effects returns.

Quick tip 7

Your goal when mixing shouldn’t be to make it sound the best, your goal should be to make it feel the best.

Quick tip 8

Automate the tempo of your track to go up a few BPM in the chorus. It adds excitement and life, just like when real musicians play together.

Quick tip 8.

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Quick tip 9

Don’t be afraid of using an extremely wide Q setting on an equalizer. Wider boosts at smaller increments tend to sound less intrusive and more musical.

Quick tip 9.

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Quick tip 10

The best engineers know when to tweak a sound and when to leave it alone. Listen before you decide to add EQ or compression.

Quick tip 10.

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Quick tip 11

Remember to mix at lower volumes! Everything sounds better when it’s louder so make sure your track still retains the balance and punch at lower volumes. I also love adjusting compressors at low volumes, it makes it easier to hear what it’s really doing to the transient.

Quick tip 12

After mixing for a long time try flipping the left and right to listen from a new perspective.

 

Quick tip 13

Having trouble balancing the low end? Try cutting 60-80 Hz in the bass and boosting 60-80 Hz in the kick.

Quick tip 13.

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Quick tip 14

Try using a transient designer on your drum reverb return. Turning up the attack should yield a tighter and punchier sound.

Quick tip 14.

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Quick tip 15

Your groove is driven by the interplay between your kick, snare, hi-hat, and bass. If your rhythm section doesn’t groove, ain’t nobody gonna move.

Quick tip 15.

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Quick tip 16

Commit to a sound, save CPU power and bounce your virtual instruments to audio. Don’t get stuck in the habit of leaving yourself a ton of decisions to make while mixing.

Quick tip 16.

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Quick tip 17

Try turning off tempo-sync on your time based effects. Subtle timing discrepancies are a cool way to loosen up the groove and give a more human feel to your programmed tracks.

Quick tip 17.

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Quick tip 18

You don’t always have to mix sounds loud enough to hear them. Sometimes an instrument or effects return only needs to be felt and not heard.

Quick tip 18.

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Quick tip 19

Use a room mic on an electric guitar and blend it in with the amp’s microphone to add space, depth, and attack to your guitar tracks.

*I need to make a correction on this one. If you’re looking for more attack you can try adding a close mic on the guitarist picking hand, this also works well for bass guitar.

Quick tip 19.

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Quick tip 20

Organize your plugins! Just about every DAW these days will allow you to rearrange the way your plugins are laid out.

Quick tip 20.

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Related articles:
20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions (part 2)
5 mixing mistakes that I used to make… and how to avoid them
[Even more] Things I wish I learned sooner about audio engineering
Things I wish I learned sooner about audio engineering

David Silverstein

David Silverstein began engineering at the age of 14 when he purchased a Fostex four track cassette recorder. After high school he enrolled at Five Towns College where he graduated with a Bachelors of Professional Studies in Business with a concentration in Audio Recording Technology. He has worked under renowned engineers and producers Jim Sabella (Marcy Playground, Nine Days, and Public Enemy) and Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Spacehog, The Ramones and The Lemonheads). David currently works out of Sabella Studios in Roslyn, NY.