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Follow me on social media

Facebook is my main news hub where I share upcoming releases, gigs, photos, videos, and blogs. Typically, I post 3–5 times a week.

Telegram and Twitter duplicate what I post on Facebook, with occasional extra content.

On Vkontakte, I write in the Russian language for my fans out of from Russia and CIS.

I also upload vlogs and gigs videos on YouTube and share travel photos, selfies, and studio routine on Instagram.

21 post tagged

Studio

No stress

It’s been almost two months since I’ve put Rave Podcast on hold and said that I won’t be as active in social media as I usually am. And you know what, it actually feels great.

It’s great to not be worried about the deadlines and all those public activities that music producers are kind of have to have nowadays.

In return, it allows me to win some time to do what I love to do as a DJ and music producer — to actually make music and work on my music library. Things will get even better, bear with me.

Working on my music library
 No comments    11   8 mon   Behind the scenes   I am   Photo   Studio

Interlude

Studio packed, stuff sold. Looking forward to the move to start working hard again. I miss the proper sound.

My “studio” in the last weeks before the move
 No comments    6   1 y   I am   Photo   Studio

A new single is coming on Iono Music

I keep my promise to make more music for you, and today I’m delighted to announce that my new single is signed on Iono Music, a label that needs no introduction among Psytrance fans.

This track is quite unusual, in terms of both ideas and production-wise. Here’s a short studio teaser with no spoiler, a longer preview will follow in the coming weeks. Watch this space!

 No comments    1   2017   Studio   Teaser   The Last Of Our Kind   Video

New single — done

Last month I’ve locked myself in the studio to win some time and finally finished a new track after a long break, as promised. Just get it signed on Digital Om Productions.

I still feel quite nervous when sending a new track for approval despite the fact I have dozens of releases behind, so I’m glad this one was accepted nicely. I’ll keep you posted on the updates.

For now, here’s a tiny work-in-progress clip I recorded earlier:

 No comments    5   2017   Ableton   Existence   Studio   Teaser   Video

What speakers do you use

What headphones/speakers do you use and why?

rob662 

Rob, I have a counter question for you: what would you do with this knowledge? Let’s say, I’ll tell you that I’m using Super-duper monitors by SomeAmazingBrand. Now what, you’ll want to get one of these?

You see, there is a catch: audio equipment sound very differently in different circumstances and environment. Room shape, acoustic treatment, sound card, cables, and even monitors vertical position relative to the ears, among other factors, affects our perception of sound.

If you would like to buy speakers, I suggest doing research. Start off with the price range, then see what manufacturers are reliable and trustworthy, then read more about specific models, their type, power, and size. Hint: for a typical home studio, you’d need near-field monitors with the size of the speaker no more than 8 inches.

Home studio basics

But in case you’re just curious what speakers I have, the answer will be pretty boring. For the last seven years, I’m using low-cost active near-field monitors Tapco S5 by Mackie. It’s not what I would want to use, but rather something that I can use at the moment. I intend to upgrade the monitors in the foreseen future in a favour for some higher grade.

Tapco S5 Review on Sound on Sound Magazine by Paul White

Tapco S5 by Mackie is a fine choice for beginners due to low price

Fellow producers! What speakers do you use and why?

 No comments    4   2016   Advice   Studio

The new album is complete!

Half year ago I announced my second album production. And today, I’m totally delighted to say that the album is complete!

It’s a full-length album with eight previously unreleased brand new tracks and one remix. The album will be released on my home label, Digital Om Productions, in early 2017 — in a few months from now. And just in few weeks, I’ll start sharing the album’s title, cover artworks, and course audio previews.

Being an introvert person I hate doing public appearances, but for this occasion, I’ve recorded a video announcement with a short teaser:

 No comments    3   2016   2000 Years Ahead   Studio   Teaser   Video
 No comments    1   2016   2000 Years Ahead   Studio   Teaser   Video

Organizing music project

3 tips how to organize projects, files, and folders

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Hi, Daniel. Looking at your Ableton screenshots I’ve noticed that you colorize all channels exactly the same way, with kick being red, bassline being orange, and so on. Does it have a meaning? How do you organize projects?

Ewan Wood 

Well spotted, Ewan! Yes, I use colour labels for all channels in my projects indeed, it saves time and helps a lot. But not only that.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to share my 3 tips for organizing projects, files, and folders.

1. Use colour and text labels

My very first Ableton project had absolutely random colours, channels positions, and no text labels at all. It was such a mess! Although there were just about 20-30 channels in total, so it was kinda okay. 


Laidback Luke is trying to find a bass in his project;
“So funny because I keep everything gray as it just looks nicer, but I will always be searching for my channels”

On a contrast, my current projects usually have around 90-120 channels, so I would spend nearly half of my studio time scrolling and looking for a right channel if I’d keep being such irresponsible to this chaos.

So I’ve set myself a rule: whether I create a new Audio or MIDI channel, I always add colour and text labels first before putting any plugins or devices, and same applies to Audio and MIDI clips.

I divide all channels into larger categories and group them together, even if they don’t have any common processing. In other words, those groups are mostly used just to keep things clear. Usually, my groups and color labels will be like this:

Group Channels in there
Beat Kick and bass
Groove Percussions, cymbals, hats
Transitions Drum fills, noise sweeps
Textures FM, glitch sounds, stabs
SFX One-shot special effects
Leads Synths, aprs, chords
Atmo Ambient pads, strings
Voice Vocal samples

These colours don’t have any hidden meaning in it, although someone may find a similarity with chakras where red is also the base colour and violet is on top :-) The point is I always know where is my bass, lead, and even “that peeeeow sound”. No more wasting time of scroll through the project window!

Going further on the previous point, I also suggest naming your channels properly. Imagine if you would open this project one year later, having a hundred of channels named like “New Audio Copy 2” is certainly not the best way.

Make yourself’s life a bit easier by naming it like this:

No Yes
Audio 89 Bassline main MIDI
Sub Sub-bass with sidechain MIDI
Sylenth1 Copy Chords progression MIDI
VEE Clap 13 Clap reverse reverb WAV

2. Name project files and folders properly

Quite often I see funny pictures in social media and blogs about music producers who name their project files like “New1”, “FinalFinal” etc. 


“Every producer in the world have this problem”

I always thought it’s just a geek’s humour, but after speaking to fellow producers, it turned out that this problem is real: some people really struggle to find their own project files because of this! I never had this issue because, intuitively, I’ve made myself a system keeps things clear.

So, basically, I have two folders on my disk called “Drafts” and “Finished”.

When I create a new project, I save it in the “Drafts” folder and name it by the current date, e. g. “2016.08.24 Project”. This helps me to see when I started this project to make sure I don’t work on this for too long. If during production I do some significant change, I save it as another version with the incremental numbers, like v2, v3, v4 etc. So usually each project folder has several files (versions) in it.

Once the project is done, I rename it to the final track name and move to the “Finished” folder, which groups tracks by release title — albums and EPs.

These manipulations are so simple, yet makes all projects easily accessible. At any time, I know exactly where to find a project folder of “Enuma Elish” or “that track which I started a month ago”.

Enuma Elish, 2015

The drafts folder. Note the files names the path bar

3. Put your project folder in the cloud

We used to think that everything lasts forever, including our computers and disk drives. In reality, I often see how music producers get lost the results of their hard work for very various reasons: the DAW had crashed and not saved the last session, or the neighbour accidentally shut down power in your apartment, making your HDD died.

To keep your projects and nerves safe, I highly recommend get yourself cloud storage and put your entire project folder in there. Google Drive, Amazon, Dropbox, Apple, whatever.

Personally, I use Dropbox. Every time I save the project, it gets instant and continuous backups, automatically. And if something goes wrong, I can download it back to another computer or even restore from a different version (Dropbox has “Version history”, not sure about other services).

Another little tip is to use “File → Collect All and Save” function to make sure all of the samples used in this project are gathered in the project folder, and hence, get a backup in the cloud. This way you won’t open your project with a “missing audio” warning.

Recap:

  1. Mark all channels and clips with colour and text labels. Wrap channels into larger groups to easily navigate through the project
  2. Make yourself a system to name project folders properly. Current date can work.
  3. Put your entire projects folder into Dropbox or Google Drive to get continuous backups. Still, do manual backups to external disk from time to time.
 No comments    45   2016   Advice   Management   Studio

2016 Mix

Here are some fresh moments straight from the studio. This one is a ‘2016 Mix’ of one of the tracks from myself that will be released soon along with some fantastic remixes (more about that later).

 No comments    3   2016   Another Earth   Studio   Teaser   Video

Home studio basics

Initial gear discussions and costs calculation for beginners

cover transparent white

Hey Daniel! I am thinking about music production and I was wondering what you’d advise to start off with? What kind of basic equipment and pieces of gear should I get for a home studio? And how much it costs?

Kurt

I got asked about basic music production studio many times, and the questions are usually like:

“How to set up a home studio?”
“What cost-effective equipment should I get?”
“Should I go analogue or digital?”

These questions are very basic, thus very important. And I’ll try to answer them.

You need a studio to produce music. Imagine a huge console with hundreds of faders, knobs, and buttons. Imagined? Well, that is what you don’t need.

The core

It might sound surprising, but first thing off, I advise you to buy a desk. Seriously. A wide, long and reliable table where you can work comfortably. At the beginning of my career, I had a desk 60 cm wide (approximately, it is the width between the elbows while typing), so take my word. The size depends on available space in your room, of course, but something about 160 cm wide and 80 cm long would be quite enough. Also, it’s a matter from the psychological point of view — this will be your workplace. Set a proper mindset to aim for productivity.

Galant / Bekant Desk in IKEA

The heart of the production ecosystem is obviously a computer. Don’t ask me “Mac or PC”, as in this case it wouldn’t be fair — I’m on a Mac side. Although I know many successful music producers from both camps, so buy a Mac it’s fully up to you. Speaking of configurations, I’ll say an aphorism: “We are not so rich to buy cheap things”. I advise you to buy a computer with maximum parameters in order not to change it in a year when it starts freezing. When choosing a computer, I recommend you to focus on the following three parameters: SSD, CPU, and RAM. These things directly affect music production performance.

“A laptop or a desktop” is one more controversial topic. Laptops seem to be attractive: they are mobile and almost of the same performance. Earlier I used to think that I would have to buy a laptop for my gigs anyway, that’s why it would be better to buy it at once, not a desktop computer. It seems to be quite logical. But actually, it is not really like this.

In searching for inspiration on Instagram. Don’t take it as serious work, it’s just for fun

Here’s why. By the moment you get gigs, your laptop will be out-of-date already. You will be able to afford a more powerful model later, and probably even cheaper.

Another topic is the size of the screen. For the first two years of my career I had worked on a 13-inch laptop and even produced tracks successfully. Later, I’ve bought a 27-inch desktop and realized: whatever people say, the size does matter. With a large screen, the work is done faster and more efficiently, especially when you have hundreds of channels. If you are going to buy a computer and hesitate which to choose, then buy a desktop.

My studio in 2012 back in the days when I lived in Moscow: 60cm wide table and 13-inch MacBook Pro. I’ve managed to write about ten of my first released tracks with this setup

Output

“Headphones or monitors” is yet another controversial topic. I recommend using headphones for the late stage of production when you need attention to small details and balance polishing. If you can’t afford both headphones and monitors, buy only monitors then. But don’t rush to get one of the top models, like Focal Twin6 for instance. To make such monitors really shine, they have to be used in perfect conditions: a proper geometry of the room, acoustic treatment, and high-quality sound card. If you miss any of these, you probably won’t hear the difference.

A neighbor’s conflict. Headphones or monitors

Start with some budget model with a price range of $400~600 for a pair. In fact, I’m still using budget monitors, too! I won’t recommend specific models after all do some research — there are plenty of good reviews out there. But here are some brands to keep an eye on: Adam, KRK, Yamaha, Mackie, Focal.

Sound card is a must-have intermediate layer between your computer and monitors. But the potential of top quality sound cards can be achieved only through the top monitors, which in turn, depend on the surrounding conditions very much as said above. So basically sound card and monitors should work in tandem: it’s not worth buying a $1000 sound card while using $200 monitors, same as a $50 sound card if you have $1000 monitors. You can get a pretty decent sound card in a price range of $200~300, you’ll be fine with it for at least a few years for sure. You can laugh aloud, but I’m still using a $99 card. Actually, that’s a number one in change list for my studio setup.

My studio in 2015 in Israel. Now with a wide desk, 27-inch display, monitor stands, and bass traps

Input

To be clear: analogue and digital synthesizers/plugins have no difference in terms of sound quality. Period. They sound different for sure, but the quality is not a question for today’s digital synthesizers. I am the software guy and I believe it has advantages over physical equipment for the following reasons: its distribution method (digital downloads), free space in your room, and usually price.

My biggest advice on equipment, whether you’d chose – analogue or digital, – would be the following: don’t rush on quantity, less is more. You don’t need hundreds of plugins to make a good track. In fact, most of my tracks are made literally with just two-three 3rd party plugins, sometimes even with just a single one — the rest are built-in DAW devices. Perhaps, your DAW has everything built-in, too, so don’t you have to buy any 3rd party plugin at all? Think about it in this way: “what am I trying to achieve with this particular track or sound?”. Let’s say, you want to make a Psytrance bassline. Maybe you already have all the necessary tools to make that? I believe that in-depth knowledge about a single plugin and its usage nearly 100% of its potential is much better than having 10 synths and use them only at 10%. It’s more effective and cheaper after all.

Less is more

Choosing a DAW

Here are a few software companies I’d like to highlight: U-He, Reveal Sound, FabFilter, Xfer, iZotope, Spectrasonics, Rob Papen, Cableguys, Native Instruments. The list could be continued much more, but I recommend only the ones which I tried myself and was satisfied with. They all do great products for music productions, whatever it’s synths or effects. Make sure to try before buying: most plugins are available in a trial version, thus you can be sure if it fits your needs. Actually, this is one more benefit of digital software over analogue.

Options

Few more things that are not really necessary, but which can improve your production experience dramatically: midi-controller and monitor stands.

Midi-keyboard/controller is the device which can control almost any parameter of your DAW, synths or other plugins through midi-mapping. It is much easier and pleasant to record automation curves by touching the knobs on a physical device rather than moving a mouse cursor. You can focus more on the process itself rather than think how to do this process. It makes a huge difference for melodies composing and sound tweaking.


Automation curves

Read also about modulation

Today’s market offers a big variety of different controllers, but don’t fall into this trap: not every controller is good for productions; some of them are made to focus on a live performance, which is not our case. Also, controllers have a various amount of different knobs, faders, keys and other stuff. I’d recommend getting a device with at least 25 keys (49 better), rotary encoders and pitch control. Stuff you probably won’t need: 61 keys (unless you have a classic musical background), drum pads and faders, although the last one could be pretty useful. Keep that in mind.

As for monitor stands, the point is to make speaker’s tweeters on the same level as your ears. Usually, they are about 20-30 cm lower if your monitors just stand on the surface of the table, unless your own height is 1,5 meters. Monitor stands are the best way to elevate them, although you can even use books for this purpose. Once you do this, your entire perception of sound will be different.

Tweaking the sound with Novation midi-controller

Cost

And now we’re able to answer the question of initial studio cost:

Device Minimum setup Decent setup
Desk $200—500
Computer $1000—3000
Monitors $200—300 $400—600
Sound card $100—200 $300—400
DAW $200—500 $200—500
3rd party plugins $300—500
Midi-controller $200—400
Monitor stands $100—200
Total: $500—1000 $2700—6100

Notes: for «desk» and «computer» I’ve written none only assuming that you already have good ones. The cost mentioned in «3rd party plugins» is based on average prices of 2-4 synths or effects that you’d probably want to get. All numbers are a pretty rough estimate and may vary depending on the region, but it’s pretty fine enough to understand the picture.

So, you need around $500—1000 just to try out what music production is. And from $2700 to $6100 if have a serious intention to go deeper in music as a profession. And of course, all of these are just basics as the headline says: we’ve not even talked about high-end equipment, acoustic treatment, and much more.

I’m not sure if these numbers will motivate or demotivate you, and I did not want either one or the other. I’ve just answered the questions and showed things as they are.

On cover image: a picture of Crescent Recording Studio in Tokyo, Japan. When I was a teen I thought that the music producer’s studio should look like this. All those hundreds of faders and knobs, exactly that’s how I imagined it when was thinking about “the studio”. Luckily, later I got to know that such equipment isn’t necessary for music production at all.

 2 comments    47   2016   Advice   Music production   Studio
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