Red Bird – Jeremiah de Rozario

The second single I got to work on by Jeremiah. It’s not often you meet an artist who isn’t afraid of doing what’s right for them. I really enjoyed the process of unraveling this song. I can’t believe I’ve worked on two singles with him and, we still haven’t met. It’s been a strange couple of years indeed but, I’m grateful I had the chance to work with some good people. Enjoy the song and happy holidays. Cheers!

Star Citizen Anvil – F7C Super Hornet – Sound Redesign

This is a sound redesign for the Super Hornet from Star Citizen. I end up using FM8 in a lot of my work. There’s a layer of it here when the main thruster fires. The crackle is coming from a sparkler that’s been pitched down and distorted. Apart from that, I’m also using NI Massive and audio recordings from various sources.

8 bit Sound Redesign

As part of a sound design challenge, I had to design sounds for a Pokemon whose attacks are preceded by singing. Probably should have skipped the background music but, I couldn’t resist. I’m using a synth called Magical 8 bit Plug 2.

You can download it for free here.
https://ymck.net/app/magical-8bit-plug-en

I’m also using free air windows plugins to bit crush some of the sounds and add um…… 8bit reverb???? Well, it works, and they’re free plugins to boot. Available for both mac and windows here.

https://www.airwindows.com/

Discord: https://discord.gg/bqsnkvds
Website: https://monohive.com/

Affordable Brushed Drum Sample Pack

I was working on a project recently where I needed some decent brushed drums. I needed it to be simple and affordable since the project was on a pretty tight budget. Firstly, there just aren’t that many sample packs for brushed drums out there and the ones that do exist are pretty expensive. After looking for a while I came across the perfect compromise. This one was affordable and had a decent amount of articulation. Check out the Brushed Drum Sample Pack by Ben Burnes : https://ben-burnes.gumroad.com/l/bb_b…

Unity Engine walk-through project

As part of my game audio module at Point Blank Music School I had to create a walk-through using Unity Engine.

The goal was to create an environment that you could navigate as a first person character.

The environment once created had to be populated with character and environmental sounds.

In this video I take a look at how the environment sounds react to the character and talk a bit about how I made them.

The software used were:

Unity Engine
FMOD
Reaper

To boldly go where no delay has gone before. Supermassive, the new free plugin from Valhalla.

Plugin manufacturer Valhalla is well known for their reverb plugins. They all come with simple interfaces, affordable price tags and wonderful algorithms.

Their new offering Supermassive is no different. Its a delay plugin with bags of character and eight different feedback networks to choose from. According to their site “these algorithms run digital delay lines in series and/or parallel, in such a way that the echo density would build with time (as found in a real acoustic space).” (Costello, 2020)

If you’re looking for a nice warm analog delay reminiscent of a tape echo this plugin is NOT for you. As Sean Costello of Valhalla DSP puts it when talking about the algorithms. “They are unrepentantly digital, and unrepentantly un-natural. The Supermassive algorithms just want to be themselves.” (Costello, 2020)

I messed with it earlier today and was delighted with some of the things it could do. As a Star Trek fan and someone who’s fascinated by astronomical objects and stellar phenomenon. The chosen names for the plugins and its algorithms are a welcome treat.

References

Costello, S., 2020. The Philosophy Of Valhallasupermassive – Valhalla DSP. [online] Valhalla DSP. Available at: <https://valhalladsp.com/2020/05/06/the-philosophy-of-valhallasupermassive/&gt; [Accessed 20 May 2020].

Things to do before you mix

Mix prep is probably the most underrated topic in mixing. Probably because it’s also the least glamorous.

When you’re watching a 10min video of you’re favorite engineer cutting 3 db from kick drum and suddenly it sits perfectly in the mix, but every time you do it you’re left wondering if it makes any difference at all. Its because there are hours of  mix prep that goes on behind the scenes. Often by assistants and interns.

Being meticulous about your project and spending time organising things will not only make it a joy to mix, but also open doors to  more advanced techniques without the need to backtrack and keep checking your routing.

Here are a few examples of things that I do while setting up a project for mixing. This is not a guide or a tutorial. Just an insight into my workflow.

Importing & Naming

It’s fairly obvious that you need to import your tracks first, but before I do anything else I name all my tracks and arrange them in an order that’s familiar to me. For example going from left to right in the mixer the drums first, followed by the bass, guitars, vocals etc…MajorStudio_Prep_LastAttempt_OrDeath [modified] - REAPER v6.09_x64 - Registered to Rahul Ranganath (Licensed for personal_small business use) 14-05-2020 12_51_24

Naming them with labels that make sense is important to me. I may get a guitar track that’s called gtr_sm57 that isn’t a very useful label in the context of a song, especially when you have 40 or more tracks to work with. I tend to rename things based on the part so if it’s an electric guitar that’s playing in the chorus I’d probable rename it eGtr_Chorus.

Regions

I always create regions for different sections of the song. Even if its an unconventional style of music like an experimental sound design piece I’d still find a section and call it the “chorus”. This just lets me know what part of the song to prioritise and It lets me make sense of the arrangement, using words that I understand and are common across all my projects is key.

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Groups, Busses, VCAs, Colours

At this point I start grouping tracks into folders and then busses. It may seem odd to use folders as well as busses. But this allows me to mix at various levels of detail at any point in the mix. I usually have all the drums grouped into one folder and all the parallel processing for the drum tracks grouped into another, both these folders go to a master drum bus. This gives me the option to solo or mute just the parallel processing or the clean drums and work on things separately or as a single unit.

MajorStudio_Prep_LastAttempt_OrDeath [modified] - REAPER v6.09_x64 - Registered to Rahul Ranganath (Licensed for personal_small business use) 14-05-2020 13_02_11

The next thing I do is setup VCAs for all the individual tracks. I use VCAs to do more broad stroke automation later on in the mix and since I’m using a VCA it also changes how hard I’m hitting the dynamics processing on that bus.

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After I have the routing setup I colour code everything based on the instrument. The colours are always the same that way I can open a session from a year ago and it still makes sense. Drums are always red, bass is always some shade of grey, guitars are always teal, vocals are always purple and so on.

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I’ve also started using track icons lately. They tend to make the project look a bit cartoony but I find that it does increase my navigation speed and when you’re working to a deadline the seconds add up.

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TCP (Track Control Panel)

When working in Reaper I can add plugin parameters to my track control panels and I’ve taken advantage of this feature by adding a digital trim to all my tracks. This way I get to keep my faders at unity all till the very end of the session giving me finer resolution on my automation parameters.MajorStudio_Prep_LastAttempt_OrDeath [modified] - REAPER v6.09_x64 - Registered to Rahul Ranganath (Licensed for personal_small business use) 14-05-2020 13_18_23

Editing & Phase

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The time I spend here varies with the condition of the project that I receive. Usually I spend this time cleaning up vocals, making choices about where I use the DTs, checking the phase on the drum kit and other multi mic instruments.

Pre FX Automation

More often than not I may want to smooth out the volume levels on a vocal before hitting a compressor. I tend to do this with pre fx automation. Its time consuming but offers  total control and I can also de-ess using this method.

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It comes in handy for other things as well like uneven tom hits etc….

Sample Replacement

I usually leave things like this till the end. I prefer to avoid techniques like sample replacement, but after listening to a cleaned up project, it’s pretty easy to judge the potential of the track and if its going to fall short of my vision I tend to set up samples for drums or add some keyboard bass in there to supplement the low end.

Finally, I setup a rough balance with some panning and bounce the track so that I have a reference of how it sounds and feels at this stage. This lets me look back at any point to check and see if I haven’t butchered the song with some terrible mixing decisions.

Pretty much every track I mix roughly follows the above mentioned pattern for preparation.

All the screenshots are from a song that I worked on recently and you can listen to it below.

 

 

Designing sounds with Massive X

Native Instruments released Massive X sometime in 2019 with the latest version 1.2 coming out in December of the same year. It’s meant to be the upgrade to the ever popular Massive, beloved by countless producers and sound designers.

I bought Massive X when it came out, but with the plethora of soft synths I have at my disposal its been little wonder that I haven’t spent much time with it. Today, I decided to change that.

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As is customary I threw the manual out the window, burnt the quick start guide and started twiddling knobs until weird things started happening.

The quality of sound coming out of this thing is a definite improvement over its precursor. It feels very much like a Reaktor Blocks ensemble, especially when you’re on the routing page. The amount of parameters that you can modulate are quite staggering. The global controls which are at the top of the plugin at all times is easy to to setup. The GUI seems a bit cluttered at first, but if you know your way around a synth it doesn’t take long to figure out where everything is. Added to that its seems to be quite CPU friendly. I’m running it on an 9th gen i7 with 8GB RAM and it only eats about 1.5% CPU with almost all modules active.

Long time Massive users have had some issues with it, but for someone who doesn’t carry the baggage of the previous synth its quite a joy to use. Definitely worth checking out.

Here’s some noise from a patch I made within about 30 minutes from opening it up and twiddling knobs.

It also has a great library of patches that have varying levels of complexity. Advanced synth users should be able to squeeze very creative sounds out of it.