6 tips to make your DAW sound Analog

First let me help you out of your dream; you are never able to make your Digital Workstation sound Analog. There is a reason why all these analog consoles, tape machines and outboard gear are so expensive so you can’t expect to get that out of some software that costs only a few hundred bucks.
But I got a few tips to make it sound as analog as possible.

Analog One Shots by Shroom

1. Use Analog Recordings, Sounds and Samples
Use sounds and samples that already sound warm and analog. Use drum sounds that are already processed thru analog gear. There are a lot sample creators and sound designers (including myself) that create these analog sample packs for producers who work strictly digital. I also like to sample old records and make something new out of it but then you have to deal with sample clearances if you want to release it. So if you don’t want to go thru all that it’s better to use royalty free samples. Or if you got the opportunity create your own samples like I did for my royalty free sample pack “Shroomalicious Instruments“. I recorded a couple of great musicians in big studios and made a sample library out of that.

Analog Pic001

2. Tape Emulators
Nowadays there are a lot of plugin versions of classic outboard gear including tape machines. Somehow tape machine emulators like J37 and Kramer get a sense of analog when you put them on a track. I use tape emulators all the time. It doesn’t sound exactly like the real thing but it definitely helps with (re-)creating an analog feel. I rather put them on individual instruments than on the master bus. My favorite tape emulator is the J37.

Analog Pic002

3. Lo-Fi
One of the plugins that also really helps to get an analog feel is Lo-Fi. You can use it to add some saturation, add noise, distortion, crush bits and to decrease the sample rate. I use this plugin all the time.

4. Vinyl Crackle
Record the part of an old vinyl where you just hear the crackle (no music) and loop that thru out your song. This adds a little bit of warmth and give the sense that you sampled from an old record.

Analog Pic003

5. Overdrive and Distortion
Amp emulators, overdrive and distortion plugins can also help to add some harmonics to your track and make it sound warmer and more analog. Maybe not even throw these plugins on the main sounds but create busses for them so you can add them very subtle.

6. Analog Outboard
You can also buy one piece of analog gear like an SSL Channel Strip and run all your channels thru it one by one. It might take some time and you have to record every channel back into your DAW after processing, which makes it hard to make changes. But it’s definitely not a bad idea if you are on a budget and still want some analog in your life.

It’s not easy to get an analog sound out of your DAW. Only a combination of these tips will help and it will never sound exactly like the real deal. Just keep tweaking till you get it to sound right. And be creative! Maybe you got an old cassette recorder or so and you want to record certain channels on there and then record them back into your DAW and parallel that with the original signal. Whatever works. The possibilities are endless. Like I said be creative!


by Shroom


Subscribe to my mailinglist and receive Free Samples


Mixing Lead Vocals in 8 steps

I’ve been asked a lot how I mix lead vocals. The thing is that every vocal sounds different, every recording is different, every song is different etc. So my process is never the same. Every track needs a different treatment but I will give you an example of a vocal chain I use a lot and which is a great starting point.

Presentation Pic006

Step 1 Compression
I use different stages of compression on my lead vocal. What I mean is that I got a couple of compressors in my chain that all compress a little bit instead of one compressor that compresses heavily. The first compressor in my chain is usually the CLA-3A from Waves. It’s really easy to setup and immediately brings your vocal more in-your-face.


Step 2 De-Esser
The second plugin in my chain is usually the Pro-DS de-esser from FabFilter. What I like about it is that you got a lot of control over the frequencies it de-esses. You can set the exact frequencies and how broad or narrow the range your de-essing is.


Step 3 EQ
After de-essing you probably lost a bit of the top end. To make up for this I like to boost a bit of top end with a shelf EQ. I like to use the FabFilter Pro-Q for this. If there are any annoying frequencies I cut them with them Pro-Q as well. Also I low cut everything below 100hz and sometimes I boost some of the mids to give the vocal some more body.


Step 4 SSL Channel Strip
I like to use the ChannelStrip from my SSL Duende but the Waves one is also good. First I set the compressor (2:1 ratio) and let it compress slightly. Then I set the EQ to boost the “sweet spots” to give the vocal some character. To find the sweet spots I first boost the first frequency band to the max and move the Freq knob slowly back and forth till I hear the frequency I like, then I turn down the gain knob of that frequency band till I think it sounds right. Then I repeat this with the other three frequency bands.


Step 5 Muti band compression
To polish it up a bit and to make sure none of the frequencies get out of control at certain parts I like to multi band compress the vocal after the SSL EQ. For this I use the C4 from Waves.


Step 6 RVox
The last plugin on my lead vocal chain most of the time the RVox from Waves. Like the CLA-3A it’s very easy to setup and brings the vocal more in-your-face.

Hihats Pic002

Step 7 Reverb
After I did all the processing on the vocal I create 2 busses of reverb. Both very soft, just to add a little bit of ambience to it. Reverbs I like are TrueVerb, D-Verb, RVerb, Focusrite Scarlett and Spring Reverb. Which ones I use depend on the song and the sound I’m going for.


Step 8 Delay
Sometimes I like to put a 1/4 or 1/8 Dynamic Delay on the lead vocal to fill the empty spaces. The AIR Dynamic Delay mutes while the lead is playing and only plays during the silences.

Use this chain as an inspiration to create your own sound that fits your track. The possibilities are endless, be creative!


by Shroom


Subscribe to my mailinglist and receive Free Samples

Get a huge Kick in 4 steps

Like I did for “Making you Snare knock” here is a quick go to guide you can use as a starting point for getting a huge Kick

Shroomadelic Drums Vol. 1
Step 1
Use the right sample
First you’ll have to know how you want your kick to sound. Then go thru your sample library to find one or more kicks (if your layering) that comes the closest to the sound you’ve got in mind. Make sure the quality is great and it fits your record.

Presentation Pic006

Step 2 
Compress your kick
One of the first steps in my chain, doesn’t matter if I’m mixing drums, instruments or vocals, is nine out of the ten times compression. Also when it comes to Kicks. My go to compressor for this stage is the CLA-3A from Waves cause it just brings your Kick more in-your-face immediately and it’s very easy to setup, it only got two knobs.


Step 3
EQ your Kick
On Kicks I like to use two stages of EQ’s. The first stage usually is the FabFilter Pro-Q EQ which I occasionally use to roll off everything below around 50hz in order to make room for the bass and boost a bit around 100hz for some more body. The second stage of EQ-ing will mostly be the SSL Channel Strip EQ (Duende or Waves) which I use to boost the ‘sweet spots’ and create some character. This way you can make your kick sound a lot bigger.


Step 4
Multi band compress your Kick
I only do this if I feel it’s really needed to smoothen out the Kick a bit.

I don’t really use reverb on Kicks (unless that’s really the sound I’m going for to create some kind of effect or so) cause I feel it pushes the Kick more to the back of the mix and I like my Kicks to be in-your-face and knocking.

Like I always say this is just a starting point to give you some insight and inspire you to come up with your own sound and techniques. Every song is different so every song needs a different approach.


by Shroom


Subscribe to my mailinglist and receive Free Samples

4 quick tips for creating drum fills

Here are a few basic but helpful tips for creating live sounding drum fills for your tracks.

Fills Pic001

1. EZ Drummer
There are a bunch of Virtual Instruments for drums but the one I really like is EZ Drummer. There are a bunch of great expansions for it and each expansion is like a total different drum kit. You can choose to use pre programmed drum fills or program your own in MIDI. And if you own an electronic drum kit then you can hook it up with MIDI and actually play your own fills.

Fills Pic002

2. Sample drum fills
You can of course chop up dope fills from records you love. If there is a part in a song that got a dope drum fill, without any other instruments playing at the same time, then just sample it and tweak it till it fits your track.

Shroomadelic Drums Vol. 1

3. Use great samples
I’m not talking about sampling fills off records now but I mean like when you’re programming or playing your fills with a drum machine or sampler always make sure you use the right sounds. Always use high quality sounds. Or instead of sampling entire fills off records just sample a few one shots (maybe from different records), tweak them and program or play your own fills. But always make sure the sounds you choose or sample are really great and fit the record you’re creating.

Fills Pic003

4. Record a great drummer
One of the best ways might be to bring in a drummer and record him doing a few different fills to your track. Then edit that, sample that, tweak that and just make it work.


by Shroom


Subscribe to my mailinglist and receive Free Samples

5 quick tips to make your Hihats alive

1. Flanger
Adding a flanger to your hihats will give it some movement. Instead of just staying in one place all the time it will give you the feel they’re moving around you a bit. Don’t overdo it unless you do it on purpose to create a certain effect.

Hihats Pic001

2. Reverb
This is a super standard tip but I always use it on my hihats to create some ambience. If I don’t add a little reverb to my hihats I feel they sound kinda dead. I never try to overdo it tho. I just add it slightly so you rather feel it than really hear it.

Hihats Pic002

3. Different samples
Use two or three slightly different hihat samples (not layered but back to back) to give it more of a “Live” feel. When a drummer plays the hihat everytimes he hits it it sound slightly different. So to re-create that drummer feel I like to use a few different hihat samples.

4. Cut lows. Boost highs
Depending on the sound of the hihats I like to roll off a lot of the lower frequencies (below 200-500hz) and boost the top end a bit. The reason I like to do this is cause I like my hihats pretty clean and cut thru the mix. But like with everything it also depends what sound I’m goin for and what fits the record.

Hihats Pic003

5. Program Hihats off-grid
A drummer never hits the notes exactly ON the click track. That’s why I always program my hihats slightly off-grid to create some bounce. Also make sure you play around with the velocity/volume of your hihats for the same reason.

Hihats Pic004

by Shroom


Subscribe to my mailinglist and receive Free Samples

5 networking tips to help you get placements

1. Broaden your aim
Nowadays everybody got social media, from your colleague at work to your favorite movie star. So it’s very easy to reach out to people from allover the world. Most artists, execs, A&R’s and managers got social media too. A lot of the big artists got somebody else to run their accounts but some of them even run it their self. Only the problem is that they receive messages from everybody and their mother so it’s very unlikely that they will answer or even read your message that says “yo check out my beats” cause they are getting thousands of them.

A lot of artists got a team of less famous people around them; proteges, designers, engineers, A&R’s, hypemen etc. Those are the people you should reach out to and build relationships with. Do research about the artist you would like to work with and their team. Check album credits, see who they are close to on social media, find out who their entourage is when they are on tour etc. Affiliated artists and proteges are very good to reach out to. They aren’t too famous yet and are probably always looking for great production. First of all your production have to be on point before even starting to reach out to people. So try to start producing for affiliated artists and proteges and work your way to the top. There are multiple chances there; the protege blows up and/or the artist you was trying to work with gets to your beats thru his or her affiliate or protege and likes your work so now he or she wants to work with you as well.

Networking Pic002

Let me tell you a quick story about how I got to work with Ghostface and Busta Rhymes. I went to a Ghostface concert in my hometown Amsterdam and luckily for me Ghostface and his protege Shawn Wigs went in the crowd after the show to take pictures with fans and sign cd’s. So I gave them both a beat cd. Ghostface probably threw it away but Shawn Wigs held on to it and took the time to actually listen to it. And fortunately for me he liked what he heard so he emailed me a couple of months later. He liked a few of my tracks and asked if he could use them for his mixtape. Of course that was cool by me, I was more than happy to work with him. So we started working on a couple of songs together and one of them happened to be Superstar. He recorded one verse to it and asked me if I knew any good singers to do the hook and he also wanted a feature on it from somebody who was great at rhyming fast. So I put my singer Jalise on the hook and asked my friend 5FT from Black Moon if he wanted to do a verse on it, which he did. Wigs was really happy how that came out so he played the track for Ghost who was working on his Apollo Kids album at the time. Ghost loved the joint and asked Wigs if he could use it for his album. Wigs being a real cool guy said “sure” and reached out to me with the good news. When we were finalizing the paperwork for the song I found out that Busta Rhymes jumped on the track as well! That’s how I landed my first major placement.

2. Build relationships
People don’t know you. You are a complete stranger for them. So before they will do anything for you, you will have to build relationships with them. Show them you’re a good hardworking reliable person with no hidden agenda. Earn their trust. Don’t force this tho. You don’t want to use them or give them the feeling that you are trying to use them. There has to be some kind of click there. Network with people who could have been your friend outside the music anyway. Be sincere, be yourself and be respectful.

3. Introduce yourself
If you choose to send out messages to people who you want to build relationships with don’t spam them with tracks out of nowhere and just say “yo check out my beats“. They don’t know you and this makes you look very unprofessional. Just send them a short message (not too long cause people don’t have time) introducing yourself and ASK if you may send them some of your music.

4. What can you do for them?
Don’t ask for no favors or handouts. Show what you can do for them. What can you bring to the table? How can you help them?

Networking Pic001
I built my relationship with my friend Dave Aron (producer/engineer 2Pac, Snoop, U2) because I hooked him up with a couple of workshops through out Europe for SAE Institute. And I didn’t do this because I wanted something out of it. I just did it cause I am a fan of his work and I felt that the students at SAE Institute could learn a lot from him. So I set it up and then we became friends.

5. Get out there
Don’t limit yourself to online networking. Face to face networking is even more important. Go to networking events, shows etc. And put your pride aside. Don’t be too proud to wait for people to give them your beat cd. You know how many times I waited for hours out in the cold at the artist entrance of a venue to give artists my beat cd?

Networking Pic003

by Shroom


Subscribe to my mailinglist and receive Free Samples

Make your Snare knock in 3 steps

Here is a real quick go to guide that you can use as a good starting point to make your snares knock.

Step 1: 
Choose the right snare sound. 
Either you’re going for one snare sample or you’re layering your snares, always choose your snare samples very carefully. Visualize in your head what snare sound you want for your track and go thru your samples to find that snare(s) that comes as close as possible to what you got in mind. Also make sure the quality of your snare samples are as high as possible.

Presentation Pic006
Step 2:
Compress your snare. 
I like to use the Waves CLA-3A for this cause it brings your snare more in your face. If you layered a bunch of snares run them together thru a bus and compress that bus.

Step 3:
EQ your snare. 
I like to use the Waves SSL channelstrip EQ and/or FabFilter EQ for this. Depending on the sound of the snare a good starting point usually is boosting somewhere in the mid high/high frequency range to add some more “snap” to the snare and I also like to boost a bit in the lower frequency range to give the snare some more “body“.

If your snare still don’t knock enough then duplicate it and heavily compress the duplicated signal (parallel compression), then find the right balance between both signals.

Like I said this is just a quick go to guide which gives you a good starting point for snares. Every snare and every song is different so use this to come up with your own techniques to create unique snare sounds. Be creative!


by Shroom


Subscribe to my mailinglist and receive Free Samples

3 quick tips to help your kick and bass work together

Every now and then somebody asks me how to get the kick and the bass work together in a track, so I wanted to give you a few quick tips on this.

KickBass pic001
1. Low cut the kick
In many cases kick samples take up a lot of unnecessary space in the bottom range and are just sitting in the way of the bass. That’s why I like to low-cut the kick around 50hz in many cases. I don’t always do this but in many cases this helps. The reason I do this is to let the bass have that bottom space in the mix and use the kick for attack.

KickBass pic002
2. Who wins the battle?
It’s also just a decision making process, you have to decide who you want to let the battle win and what the function of your kick/bass is in the track. Do you want your kick or your bass stand out more? What’s the function of your kick? Low end or attack? Does your tracks needs a bass line at all?

KickBass pic003
3. Ducking
Especially in EDM this really works. Ducking is side chaining the kick thru a compressor on the bass, so every time the kick plays the bass will be compressed for the kick to cut thru better.


by Shroom


Subscribe to my mailinglist and receive Free Samples

Mastering your own beats

I recently got a request to do a blog post about Mastering your own beats. Well first of all, and probably even more important is that your mix needs to be on point first. Cause if your mix is crappy then even the best mastering engineer in the world can’t make your shit sound dope.

Mastering pic001

Mastering suite at Wisseloord Studios (www.wisseloord.nl)

Professionally mastering is an entire job on his own and requires years of experience, specialism, trained ears and very expensive gear. Also the acoustics of a mastering studio need to be (close to) perfect. So if your want your tracks properly mastered then the best thing you can do is hire a professional mastering engineer.

Then of course there is always the case of wanting to showcase our beats to artists, A&R’s and other potential clients. Some of us make beats every day and don’t have the resources or money to hire professional engineers to mix and master each beat we make. And even if we do have the money it might not be the wisest thing to do since we don’t know how many of our beats will get picked up. So in this case we just want our beats to sound as good as possible without hiring professional engineers. So we’ll have to do it ourself. I already did an article on presenting your beats the right way but in this article I will focus a little more on the mastering part of this.

Like a lot of us I work straight in the box in my home studio so I will cover 3 things you can do digitally to your master bus or bounced 2track. I rather work on the master bus before bouncing a 2track so I can always make changes in the mix during this mastering process.

Note: always keep enough headroom on the master bus

Mastering pic002
1. Parametric EQ
Parametric EQ’s give the most control over the frequency spectrum. You can cut or boost any particular frequency and make the “Q” (bandwidth) as narrow as you want. I like to use the FabFilter EQ cause there is an option you can turn on where you can meter the entire frequency spectrum of your track. So you can see exactly how much high, mid and low frequencies are in your track in real time if that makes any sense. So for example if you see/hear that there’s a lot more “bass” (low frequencies) than “treble” (high frequencies) in you track then either you can go back to the mix and boost the higher frequency instruments, like the hihats etc, or you can boost the high frequencies with the parametric EQ on the master bus. I think it’s always better to get it right in the mix rather than to “fix” it at mastering.

Parametric EQ’s are also very good to cut certain frequencies that are annoying in the track. To find these specific frequencies I always make the Q as narrow as possible then boost that as much as possible so I can really hear what I’m doing. Then I slowly move the selected frequency range around till you hear the frequency that really annoys your ear, then turn that frequency down till it doesn’t annoy you anymore. I hope this makes any sense for you cause I didn’t know any better way to describe it.

Mastering pic003
2. Multiband compression
I like to put a multiband compressor on the master bus cause you can adjust the compression on each frequency band separately. Most of the time I use the C4 from Waves for this. The C4 got 4 frequency bands you can move around and adjust how you want. So let’s say you want to compress the lowest frequency band a little more than the other frequency bands then you move down the threshold till you got it compressing as heavy as you want. You can also adjust the range, attack and release.

Mastering pic004
3. Limiter/maximizer
Until now we kept enough headroom on our master bus to make sure the master bus doesn’t come anywhere close to distorting. Now we need to boost our overall level cause we want our track to be as loud as possible without distorting. We DON’T do this by turning the master bus up but we will us a limiter/maximizer for this. I personally like the L2 by Waves for this. It’s really easy to use and it sounds good. Set it up so it knocks off around 3db cause we don’t want our balance to really change that much, we just want to bring up the overall level and “glue” the mix together a bit.


by Shroom


Subscribe to my mailinglist and receive Free Samples

4 ways to make money with your beats

Ok so you are making beats for a while now and your beats are reaching that level that you thin they are good enough to make money with them. But how do you make money with them? I will show you a couple of ways that will hopefully help you to make money as an (online) producers.

1. Sell leases
Instead of selling your beats to just one person and signing off the exclusive rights you can sell the same beat over and over again for a small fee and keep your rights. Maybe $14.99 seems real low for a beat and you want at least $99,- for your beat but if you sell a “lease” to that beat 10 times you’ll make $149,90 with that one beat and you still own the rights and can continue selling leases to that beat as long as you want. Selling a lease means selling the user the non-exclusive right to use your beat and sell an X amount of copies of if. If they sell over that X amount they’ll have to buy a new lease from you to be abel to sell more copies.

There are several websites that you can use to sell leases on. You’ve got beatstars.com , rocbattle.com and more. What I like about rocbattle.com is that you can attend online beatbattles to promote your beats. Also when you upload new beats to your page they will show up on the “New Uploads” section on their frontpage. When you upload beats there is also an option to let people know if you used samples on your beats so they know they will have to clear them if they want to release it.
Now how much should you charge for a lease? I think for a lease of a mp3 or .WAV 2-track, where you allow them to sell up to 2000 copies, it’s fair to ask for something between $9.99 and $29.99. You have to be comfortable with your price but the lower you price them the bigger the chance is that you’ll sell more of them than if you price them really high. Also look at you competition. What do they charge? If most of the producers on Rocbattle.com charge somewhere around $14.99 for a lease you are unlikely to sell a lot of leases for $29.99 on there. You can also offer deals like “buy 3 beats and get 2 for free” to sell more beats.

Offering different packages can also be a way to go. Let’s say you charge $19.99 for the lease of 2track in MP3 format where you allow them to sell up to 2000 copies. Then you can also give them an option to choose for a deal where they’ll get the 2track of the beat in .WAV format and where they can sell up to 5000 copies for $39.99. And a third option where they’ll get the multi-track stems op the beat and can sell unlimited amount of copies for maybe $79.99. And maybe even a fourth option to buy the exclusive rights to the beat for $199,- or something like that. These are just examples, you’ll have to decide your own packages and prices.

2. YouTube and Soundcloud Monetization 
You can also put your tracks on YouTube and put adds on them. Then you will get paid for the adds on your track. So if you get millions of views you can get paid. Also if other people use your music in their YouTube videos you can get paid too. TuneCore.com can help you with that. Sign up to them and pay them a one time fee of $10,- per song and they will search YouTube to see if anybody is using your song in their YouTube videos and monetize this.

In my experience the average rate you’ll get on YouTube adds is around $1,- per 1000 views. So if your track/video gets a million views you will probably get somewhere around $1000,-. You can also try to get deals for adds with companies directly then you’ll get paid more per click. Websites like HipHopOne.tv can help you with this.
Nowadays there are also ways to monetize your SoundCloud. To be honest I haven’t really looked into that too much so I can’t tell you too much about that but definitely do a Google search on that.

3. Sell your own Instrumental albums
Instead of waiting on artists or movie and game companies to buy your beats you can also put out your own projects. Make an instrumental album and sell it in iTunes, Amazon, BandCamp etc. Websites like TuneCore.com can get your music in all digital music stores worldwide for 50 bucks for an album. Then you still have to promote it yourself so I suggest do your own music videos, make great artwork, try to get it on blogs and website etc.

4. Make deals with artists
Next to getting an upfront fee from an artist for your track, which I think you should always get, and royalties and publishing, you can also make other deals with artists for you to get paid for your beats. Let’s say an artist got a small upfront budget to pay you but got a lot of shows lined up, you can make a deal with him where you get paid a percentage of each show if he is performing with your beats. Or maybe you can even join his tour as his DJ.
Another example is that maybe you work with an artist that sells a lot of merchandise and gives all his music away online for free to promote this merchandise. In this case make a deal with him where you get a percentage of the merchandise. Just think outside of the box and create your own revenue streams, be creative! But whatever you and the artist agree on always make sure to put this in a written agreement signed by the both of you.
I know there are many more ways to make money with your music but these where 4 ways that I wanted to share with you.


by Shroom


Subscribe to my mailinglist and receive Free Samples