Been producing for 6 years but don't feel very confident in my skills.
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Old 09-16-2016, 07:29 AM   #1
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Been producing for 6 years but don't feel very confident in my skills.

Hi everyone. I have been producing on and off since 2010. I have experimented with various genres over the years, but now I mainly make house/trap/ambient. The problem that I have is that I don't understand many of the technical aspects of producing. I find myself generally just tweaking knobs until they produce a pleasant sound or effect. I don't understand how EQs, Compressors, Plugins, Effect Chains, Parameters (ADSR), etc really work. I find myself using presets for virtually everything and I just don't know how to utilize these powerful tools to improve my music. I feel like this lack of knowledge is really hindering me from reaching my full potential so I want to go back to basics and really learn things the right way..

So in what order should I try to learn these things? I realize there probably isn't a "specific" order but I guess ranging from the basic to intermediate and beyond. I want to be able to understand all the broad technical terminology, as well as understand how to properly EQ and use Compression, and utilize effect chains properly, etc. Just an overall grasp on the fundamentals that I never bothered to learn to begin with cause I was too lazy and complacent making music mindlessly.. I really enjoy making music but I feel very overwhelmed because of how broad the technical aspect of it is, and there is so much to learn but I'm just not sure where to really begin. I believe I have a lot of catching up to do, but better late than never I guess. Thanks~

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Old 09-16-2016, 08:31 AM   #2
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Re: Been producing for 6 years, but don't feel very confident in my skills?

Since one can find hundreds of youtube tutorials teaching all of that stuff step by step nowadays and of course there are also commercial ones, learning how to make electronic music never has been so easy.
I'd recommend to start with the sound creating process - find a playlist (or download them ) of a series of videos explaining your go to synth. Also read about how subtractive synthesis works in general. I reckon you know your DAW? What are you using for drums? Samples or drum synths? After that go for eq and compression. Effects like reverb later.

There are also tutorials, that walk you through all of a DAWs native instruments and effects.

Here's a basic overview of substractive synthesis.

[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]

Last edited by Schnork; 09-16-2016 at 08:41 AM..
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Old 09-16-2016, 08:44 AM   #3
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Re: Been producing for 6 years, but don't feel very confident in my skills?

Well, there's this great Youtube channel where I pretty much found all the knowledge that I have currently. It's called "The Recording Revolution". Kind of a cheesy name but the information he shares is pretty great. He made a short series on his channel called "5 minutes to a better mix" where he shared various information regarding mixing, in 5 mins. Really helpful stuff. I suggest checking that out and also his channel as well.

5 Minutes To A Better Mix: [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


Here's another series of videos that shows how he mixes, split into six videos: [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


There's also a great book that I read by Mike Senior called "Mixing Secrets For The Home Studio". In the book, he shares all the important information regarding various aspects of mixing. He shares stuff regarding compression, EQing, and basic mixing. He also shares stuff that we don't even think about like what how to properly monitor a mix and preparations before a mix. It's a great book, definitely recommend.

Good luck!

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Old 09-16-2016, 08:46 AM   #4
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Re: Been producing for 6 years, but don't feel very confident in my skills?

Delete all the plugins and samples you don't own and / or use. Limit yourself to the tools left. Master these tools.

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Old 09-16-2016, 11:47 AM   #5
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Re: Been producing for 6 years, but don't feel very confident in my skills?

If you can tweak things to make them sound good, you've got an important aspect covered. I'd start with the basics of synthesis. Welch's Synthesizer Cookbook is great (and short).

Then Google filling the box. The idea that the only fundamental components you can modulate are frequency, volume, and phase. Think of the frequency spectrum as a distribution of volume over frequencies and that this will change over time. So you have a box frequency, volume, and time. Once the box is full, there is no room left. As you do any work producing think about each element that you have in these dimensions. Two things that occupy the same space in that box can cause problems.

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Old 09-16-2016, 07:11 PM   #6
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Re: Been producing for 6 years, but don't feel very confident in my skills?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lw_pss View Post
Delete all the plugins and samples you don't own and / or use. Limit yourself to the tools left. Master these tools.
THIS!

I'm making music since 2011 (lol almost same as OP) but I mainly stuck at ambient/downtempo/trip-hop/dubstep mixtures. But yes, deleting unneccessary shit from your PC is very helpful (it helped me about a half year ago, however I downloaded new shit since then, but most of these went to Ctrl+del again lol).
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Old 09-16-2016, 11:45 PM   #7
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Re: Been producing for 6 years, but don't feel very confident in my skills?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schnork View Post
Since one can find hundreds of youtube tutorials teaching all of that stuff step by step nowadays and of course there are also commercial ones, learning how to make electronic music never has been so easy.
I'd recommend to start with the sound creating process - find a playlist (or download them ) of a series of videos explaining your go to synth. Also read about how subtractive synthesis works in general. I reckon you know your DAW? What are you using for drums? Samples or drum synths? After that go for eq and compression. Effects like reverb later.

There are also tutorials, that walk you through all of a DAWs native instruments and effects.

Here's a basic overview of substractive synthesis.

[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]

Thank you. Yeah, there is a lot of valuable information available online, I guess I've just been lazy about it the last few years. I think the turning point for me was that I recently quit my job, and I decided that I really need to take the time to focus on what I want to do career wise, and the only thing I've ever really been passionate about is making music, and I truly enjoy how to do it. The problem for me is overcoming my procrastination and actually researching all of this. But I think the sooner I start the better. I mean I've already been bookmarking a lot of stuff on Youtube so I just gotta sit down and start reading all of it and consume as much information as possible.. I'll bookmark your guide as well, thanks. I'm using samples for my drums by the way. I use samples and presets for virtually everything. Realistically though, while I have a lot of free time, if I devote a few hours everyday to studying this stuff, how long will it take to get a decent grasp on synthesis, EQing properly (understanding the various bands and how frequency works), and proper mixing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Narukami Music View Post
Well, there's this great Youtube channel where I pretty much found all the knowledge that I have currently. It's called "The Recording Revolution". Kind of a cheesy name but the information he shares is pretty great. He made a short series on his channel called "5 minutes to a better mix" where he shared various information regarding mixing, in 5 mins. Really helpful stuff. I suggest checking that out and also his channel as well.

5 Minutes To A Better Mix: [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


Here's another series of videos that shows how he mixes, split into six videos: [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


There's also a great book that I read by Mike Senior called "Mixing Secrets For The Home Studio". In the book, he shares all the important information regarding various aspects of mixing. He shares stuff regarding compression, EQing, and basic mixing. He also shares stuff that we don't even think about like what how to properly monitor a mix and preparations before a mix. It's a great book, definitely recommend.

Good luck!
Thank you! I'm watching the first video already and it's definitely informative. Will the information is his mixing guide still apply even if I'm using a different DAW? (FL Studio)

Quote:
Originally Posted by lw_pss View Post
Delete all the plugins and samples you don't own and / or use. Limit yourself to the tools left. Master these tools.
Well I honestly don't have a lot of plugins beyond the native plugins that came with FL Studio. I have a few different VSTS like Massive & Serum but that's about it.

Last edited by MatrixGravity; 09-16-2016 at 11:58 PM..
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Old 09-17-2016, 01:25 AM   #8
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Re: Been producing for 6 years, but don't feel very confident in my skills?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MatrixGravity View Post
Thank you! I'm watching the first video already and it's definitely informative. Will the information is his mixing guide still apply even if I'm using a different DAW? (FL Studio)
Of course. Mixing is always the same process, whether you're doing it on FL or Ableton or Pro Tools. Whether you're using a computer or you're doing it with a console. Whatever tools, daw or plugins that you use, the concept will always be the same

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Old 09-17-2016, 03:19 AM   #9
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Re: Been producing for 6 years, but don't feel very confident in my skills?

Just immerse yourself in a new synth / plugin. For me, learning something new is how I'll gain a fresh perspective on production.

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Old 09-17-2016, 05:39 AM   #10
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Re: Been producing for 6 years, but don't feel very confident in my skills?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MatrixGravity View Post
Hi everyone. I have been producing on and off since 2010. I have experimented with various genres over the years, but now I mainly make house/trap/ambient. The problem that I have is that I don't understand many of the technical aspects of producing. I find myself generally just tweaking knobs until they produce a pleasant sound or effect. I don't understand how EQs, Compressors, Plugins, Effect Chains, Parameters (ADSR), etc really work. I find myself using presets for virtually everything and I just don't know how to utilize these powerful tools to improve my music. I feel like this lack of knowledge is really hindering me from reaching my full potential so I want to go back to basics and really learn things the right way..

So in what order should I try to learn these things? I realize there probably isn't a "specific" order but I guess ranging from the basic to intermediate and beyond. I want to be able to understand all the broad technical terminology, as well as understand how to properly EQ and use Compression, and utilize effect chains properly, etc. Just an overall grasp on the fundamentals that I never bothered to learn to begin with cause I was too lazy and complacent making music mindlessly.. I really enjoy making music but I feel very overwhelmed because of how broad the technical aspect of it is, and there is so much to learn but I'm just not sure where to really begin. I believe I have a lot of catching up to do, but better late than never I guess. Thanks~
Note how a whole handful of us FL users are the ones with issues .

Ok, so is it affecting your musical motivation? Could you share a track you've worked on? When you say you don't knew how ADSR works, do you mean you've been composing with one shots?

Attack is the length of the time it takes for a sound to reach it's peak volume per note. Decay is the length of time it goes on for before fading. Sustain typically starts after the sound has reached it's decay point and "holds" the sound at a certain level. Release is like the time it takes for the sound to stop. High is long, low is short. Woodwinds have no release. When air stops moving, the sound stops. Keys like piano have a short to long release.

With effects/compression in particular, I would say first focus on not having a clipping project. If you have a limiter on the master (by default in FL) I'd say get rid of it. It's a nasty tool when you're getting your groove started and drum beats sound lopsided because they're competing for the limit of volume. I try to find good sounds for drums and the only thing I really focus on compressing is bass (bass guitar synths like boobass in particular really need it, to bring them up to level). Guitars/lead synths really can hold their own most times. Like I said, I typically avoid compressing drums because I think the sounds themselves need to be punchy; compression can kill the impact.

So, EQ. Well, there's a lot of different approaches, but a good rule to follow is only cut. Cutting problem frequencies in sounds not only alleviates the issues but keeps whatever sound you're working with at level. I'm going to take a guess but you don't sound like a guitarist. I say this because effects chains are typically best understood thinking in terms of guitar. A typical guitar player runs his instrument through an amp, where it receives EQ (1), then compression (if it's a clean tone 2) or distortion (a popular sound created by compressing a sound to the point of becoming a square wave 2), and then FX go out to pedals, usually pitch manipulation 3, chorus 3, phaser 3, delay/reverb 4. And sometimes after all that they compress again! Generally, whatever instrument you are thinking about, the dynamic range (the compression you aren't really thinking about) is important because people like strong, consistent (but natural! Sounding) sounds. Like guitar with no release almost sounds more like an effect than a guitar. Try with slayer with the "hold" button on and off. One sounds more natural (and that's part of the reason sometimes I resample).

You'll be fine
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Old 09-17-2016, 10:11 AM   #11
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Re: Been producing for 6 years but don't feel very confident in my skills.

Just bookmark it all and put it in a some way useful order - Then just go for it! The information is all there, I mean tons of it. When you feel uncomfortable with an article or series of videos just skip it and look somewhere else.
Maybe get one of those browser plugins, that allow for downloading youtube videos.
Also I'd try to look for videos / articles that work with FL Studio, will make it easier for you.
Also try to recreate what you just learned in your DAW.
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Old 09-17-2016, 12:55 PM   #12
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Re: Been producing for 6 years but don't feel very confident in my skills.

I'm confused (not unusual tbf)

if you've managed to successfully make music for 6 years then you simply cannot be bewildered to the point that you cant guide your own learning from that foundation suuuuurely?

but this is just me being unhelpful again so yeah. just take it a bit at a time

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Old 09-17-2016, 04:56 PM   #13
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Re: Been producing for 6 years but don't feel very confident in my skills.

I almost stopped at " I have been producing on and off since..."

On and off..

I've learned 90% of what I know by myself. Producing anything I could think of and experimenting all the tools I had, many hours each day, composing around a 100 tracks in a couple months..

If it can help..

I mean, every single professional in every aspects of life have spent countless hours with the motivation and desire to learn and be the best they can in what they want to do.
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Old 09-17-2016, 05:51 PM   #14
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Re: Been producing for 6 years but don't feel very confident in my skills.

Looks like the OP have all the answers of its own questions but just don't have the motivation of getting things done.

This is what happened when the desire to be good is stronger than the love of doing things. I guess we all pass through this at some times.

6 years means nothing ...6 years making music 1h per 4 days isn't the same thing as 6 years doing it 4h a day ...obviously...

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Old 09-17-2016, 06:04 PM   #15
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Re: Been producing for 6 years, but don't feel very confident in my skills?

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Originally Posted by MatrixGravity View Post
Thank you. Yeah, there is a lot of valuable information available online, I guess I've just been lazy about it the last few years. I think the turning point for me was that I recently quit my job, and I decided that I really need to take the time to focus on what I want to do career wise, and the only thing I've ever really been passionate about is making music, and I truly enjoy how to do it. The problem for me is overcoming my procrastination and actually researching all of this. But I think the sooner I start the better. I mean I've already been bookmarking a lot of stuff on Youtube so I just gotta sit down and start reading all of it and consume as much information as possible.. I'll bookmark your guide as well, thanks. I'm using samples for my drums by the way. I use samples and presets for virtually everything. Realistically though, while I have a lot of free time, if I devote a few hours everyday to studying this stuff, how long will it take to get a decent grasp on synthesis, EQing properly (understanding the various bands and how frequency works), and proper mixing?

Dude, I forgot to mention, but you saved these projects, no?

You can always draft multiple times. As in render the raw parts, focus on the FX or whatever till they sound better, render again, put them together, etc.

I think a lot of people think because they CAN finish a project in one draft means everyone should as well. .....don't be afraid to do some "tracing".
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Old 10-05-2016, 08:56 PM   #16
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Re: Been producing for 6 years but don't feel very confident in my skills.

Hi MatrixGravity,

There is a lot to learn, for sure, and picking the hobby up for a bit and then putting is aside for something else is not going to help with the learning process.

I am kind of similar, in a way, in that I have had lots of hobbies over the years and I sometimes have many months, even years away from my music hobby.

If I was to start again, I think I would start to learn specifically about mixing all the different elements of sound together. Basically, EQ.

All the other stuff can come later to be honest.

I have gone back over older stuff of mine and wondered how I had even thought it sounded any good.

Get the balance of those frequencies wrong and you can end up with an unholy mess.

Once you have a grasp of that then you can go back to learning about some of the other tools in your arsenal.

cheers

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Old 10-07-2016, 03:55 AM   #17
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Re: Been producing for 6 years but don't feel very confident in my skills.

Many people here have posted great advice and although watching videos and reading techniques and or reviewing other people's question posts and answers to those questions here can help, there is no replacement for understanding your tools.

This isn't about researching what compression/eq/ring modulator/filters do scientifically... But basically what you said you been doing. Twisting knobs and coming to grips with what it does to the sound.

Listen to what happens when you increase threshold on a compressor, listen to what happens when you cut or boost frequencies in EQ.

no mathematic equation or chart will give you that insight.

On a side note, and not to be rude.... But if you've been doing music since 2010 but don't know what eq does, perhaps it's best you keep this as a fun little hobby and or focus on something else
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Old 10-07-2016, 04:27 AM   #18
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Re: Been producing for 6 years but don't feel very confident in my skills.

BUY GEAR OF GET FUCK OFF
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Old 10-07-2016, 04:43 AM   #19
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Re: Been producing for 6 years but don't feel very confident in my skills.

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BUY GEAR OF GET FUCK OFF
you won't get more solid advice than that
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Old 11-08-2016, 10:22 PM   #20
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Re: Been producing for 6 years but don't feel very confident in my skills.

Just learn one very specific thing at a time.

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