How to Write, Record and Mix Music (The Ultimate Production Workflow)

Rob Mayzes, founder of Home Studio Center   by Rob Mayzes

 

800px-Roland_Casiquin_playing_guitar“My single biggest challenge is feeling overwhelmed when I sit down to start a new project. Where do I start?”

This question from a reader is one that I see often.

You might be great at writing, recording and mixing…

But if you don’t have a proven workflow that works for you, it’s hard to start and finish a track.

In this article, I’m going to share my best advice for finding your perfect production workflow. I’m also going to share mine.

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sE 2200a Review: The Best Affordable Condenser Microphone

Rob Mayzes, founder of Home Studio Center   by Rob Mayzes

 

2200a_II_C-frontpopIt’s not easy deciding what equipment to purchase.

You can spend hours trawling forums and reviews online – but find yourself going round in circles.

One of your first purchases should be a good condenser microphone. In fact, for most people, it will be the first.

(On a side note, I recommend having at least one large diaphragm condenser and one dynamic microphone as a starting point).

I guess this explains why so many people ask me what my favorite affordable condenser microphone is.

I have been using the sE Electronics 2200a for years. It’s by far my favorite affordable large diaphragm condenser.

I use this almost every day for recording my own voice, and find myself using it in the majority of vocal sessions.

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Ear Training Exercises: How to Train Your Ears and Become a Better Mixer

Rob Mayzes, founder of Home Studio Center   by Rob Mayzes

 

ear training with headphonesGolden ears are a myth.

As long as you have never damaged your hearing, your ears are just as good as the best mixers in the world.

In fact, they probably have worse hearing than you after years of listening to music at high volume.

So what’s holding you back? Why can’t you mix like them?

The difference is that they are better at listening.

Listening and hearing are two different things…

You have the physical ability to hear the full extent of your mixes. What you’re really lacking are the listening skills that the professionals have developed.

Over time, your listening abilities will naturally improve. EQ becomes easier, you gain the ability to instantly identify frequencies, and the finer details of compression reveal themselves.

However, you can speed up that process with 3 easy steps.

This is part 8 of the One Month EQ Challenge, and I’m going to reveal what those 3 simple ear training exercises are – so you can train your ears and become a better mixer.

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Home Studio Setup: How to Design & Build Your Dream Studio

Rob Mayzes, founder of Home Studio Center   by Rob Mayzes

 

home studioSetting up a home studio isn’t easy.

It takes a bit of time and money to get going.

But when you get it right… wow, is it worth it.

When you have a properly setup home studio, you can produce music at home that sounds professional. You can produce music that’s worthy for the radio.

In fact, numerous musicians have produced hit singles and albums in home studios. People now choose to record at home rather than in an expensive studio.

One of my favourite low-budget albums, ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ by Bon Iver was recorded in a cabin – with only a cheap Shure SM57 microphone.

The Black Keys produced their first two albums in Patrick Carney’s basement.

The White Stripes record ‘De Stijl’ on an eight-track in Jack White’s living room.

Foo Fighters recorded ‘Wasting Light’ in Dave Grohl’s garage.

The list goes on…

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Backwards Mixing: How Mixing in Reverse Leads to Better, Faster Mixes

Rob Mayzes, founder of Home Studio Center   by Rob Mayzes

 

Backwards MixingHave you ever considered mixing backwards?

Rather than starting with individual channels – or the fundamentals (like the kick and bass)…

You could mix in reverse, starting with the mix buss (master fader) and working backwards to the individual channels.

In fact, mixing this way has a number of benefits:

  • It allows you to mix faster (speed is important when mixing)
  • Faster mixing allows you to remain excited throughout the mix
  • Big wins early on increase your confidence
  • You can finish a mix with fewer plugins
  • You can focus on the bigger picture (and the music) rather than finer, less important details
  • Ultimately it leads to better, faster mixes

In part 7 of the One Month EQ Challenge, I’m going to break down the Backwards Mixing technique.

Simply follow the step-by-step system I reveal in the video. This new way of working could significantly improve your mixes.

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The Perfect Place for EQ in Your Plugin Chain

Rob Mayzes, founder of Home Studio Center   by Rob Mayzes

 

eq&compressionAh, the age old question….

Should EQ come before or after compression?

Let me tell you… it DOES NOT matter.

This is a very small detail that is completely subjective. It’s up to the mixer.

But of course, I still have my own opinion and system.

In fact, I don’t put EQ before OR after compression. I do something entirely different.

In part 6 of the One Month EQ Challenge, I’m going to show you my favorite place for EQ in the plugin chain.

Follow this system, and not only will your EQ compliment your compression…

Your use of EQ will also improve.

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Range Allocation: How to Give Your Mixes Room to Breathe

Rob Mayzes, founder of Home Studio Center   by Rob Mayzes

 

range allocationThere’s often a lot going on in a mix.

If you don’t keep a handle on things, it can quickly get out of control.

When you have several instruments and voices battling for the same space…

It can get pretty messy.

But it doesn’t have to be that way – I have a straightforward system that will help you to create tons of space in your mix.

And it’s seriously easy to implement.

In part 5 of the One Month EQ Challenge, I’m going to show you how a technique called Range Allocation can improve your mixes and confidence…

So you can produce better music in your home studio.

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Why Your Mixes Sound Thin (and What to Do About It)

Rob Mayzes, founder of Home Studio Center   by Rob Mayzes

 

thin mixesThis isn’t technically an EQ problem…

In fact, thin mixes usually come from a poor arrangement.

But sometimes they can come from a poor use of EQ, too.

When you prevent and address thinness in your track, you can produce a mix that’s more powerful and impactful.

You never want an important chorus to sound thin – the music will loose it’s impact.

In part 4 of the One Month EQ Challenge, I’m going to explain why your mixes sound thin.

I’m going to reveal the common EQ mistake that people make that can lead to thin mixes. You see, a lot of people have been lying to you…

Then I’m going to tell you, step-by-step, how to fix a thin mix in any genre.

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Muddy Mix? Here Are 3 Simple Ways to Fix It

Rob Mayzes, founder of Home Studio Center   by Rob Mayzes

 

Screen Shot 2016-10-27 at 15.49.56The battle against muddy mixes wages on…

This is a never-ending problem that you will most likely need to address in every mix.

It’s the bane of the typical rock-band setup.

If you aren’t aware of this problem, then perhaps your mixes don’t come out the way you like – and you’re not sure why.

Let me tell you… it’s probably a mud problem.

By treating the mud in your mix, you make room for everything else to shine through.

In this part of the One Month EQ Challenge, I want to show you how to prevent and fix a muddy mix.

I have 3 simple, easy-to-follow techniques for removing mud. Let’s get started…

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How to Achieve Separation and Clarity In Your Mixes

Rob Mayzes, founder of Home Studio Center   by Rob Mayzes

 

An image lacking clarity and separationThere are many factors to a “good” mix.

To me, a good mix is one that best conveys the message and emotion of the song.

There are numerous ways to do this, and this important end goal must be considered with every move.

You can spend as long as you want on automation, balancing, compression and other tools…

But if your mix doesn’t have SEPARATION, and your mix isn’t CLEAR – none of that matters.

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