Panning and Stereo Imaging tips

Ok so I recently received a request for doing a blog on panning and stereo imaging so here are a few quick, but hopefully helpful tips;

Panning is super important and gets overlooked by many. They stack a couple of stereo synths and that´s it. I like to look at panning as a tool to place each instrument so it feels like I´m watching a band playing on stage. So maybe we got the guitar player standing on the left side of the stage, the keyboard player on the right side of the stage, the lead singer right in the center etc etc.

But with that being said I like to keep all my low end information, like kick and bass, in the center of the mix most of the time (which kind of goes against what I just said). Snares as well. Or maybe I duplicate my snare, pan 1 left and 1 right, then slightly pitch and time shift one of them to get rid of phase problems. This way I get a real wide big snare that your still hear knockin on both sides if your listen with earbuds. This is also a trick that works well on hihats. Lead vocals should be in the center as well. Everything else should get it´s own place somewhere left or right in the stereo image. Panning goes hand in hand with reverb as I like to use reverb to move instruments back and forth in the mix like you use panning to move stuff left and right, if that makes any sense lol. There are no rules tho so if you want to go for a super unrealistic stereo image and it sounds great then go for it! Be creative!

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Stereo imagers
On stereo instruments I like to use S1 Stereo Imager to pan them to give them their own place in the mix. Especially if you layer a lot of synths you can really give each layer it´s own place and make the total sound real wide and huge.


by Shroom

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4 things no producer should ever do

1. Put effects like reverbs on main signal
Unless you’re doing this as a special effect you should never put effects like reverbs, chorus’, flangers etc directly on the main signal. Put your effect on a bus/aux and feed that with a send from the signal you want the effect on. Even if the effect got a dry/wet knob you should still put it on a bus/aux and turn the knob to 100% wet. The reason for this is that you want to keep as much as control as possible so you need to be able to control the exact amount of effects and their levels. And the only way to do this accurately is to keep them on separate busses/auxes.

2. Spam industry professionals with your links
Never spam people you want attention from with your links. Especially not without a proper introduction. The key is to build a relationship with people and you don’t do that with spamming your music. That will only annoy people. Once you already have a relationship with a person then it’s fine to share your new music with them once in a while (don’t overdo it tho!). But make sure you always address them personally if you do so.

3. Clipping in your DAW
Analog distortion can add harmonics to your sound and make your mixes richer, add more punch to your drums etc. I love to slam the meters into red on an SSL console! But in the digital world it’s the total opposite; digital clipping sounds horrible and will ruin your mix. So make sure the meters never go red in you DAW. Always keep enough headroom.

4. Eat the sample
If an artist or label can’t clear the sample you used on the track they’re releasing, or just don’t want to, never take full responsibility for the sample. Split the risk, change the beat or don’t sign the release form at all. Whatever you feel more comfortable with but don’t take the risk all by yourself. Cause if the people who own the sample will come after you then only you are screwed, while the artist might be still making money performing with the track. It can be kinda stressful especially if it’s a big placement you don’t want to lose. I´ve been in this situation myself. I didn’t know what to do so I asked my friend Bink! for advise cause he been producing a lot of my favorite sample-based records (from Jay-Z’s 1-900-Hustler to Kanye’s Devil In A New Dress) and I knew he got a lot of experience dealing with the business side of things. He called me back right away and said “Shroom NEVER eat the sample! Let them share the risk with you if they don’t want to clear.” So I took his advise and luckily they agreed so I didn’t loose the placement. At the end of the day if they really want to use the record they will try to make it work with you.


by Shroom

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My 5 favorite Virtual Instruments

1. Trilian
When it comes to bass I would 9 out the 10 times prefer a (sample of a) real bass guitar over a synth or virtual instrument. The main reason is that I think that it’s hard to find good sounding virtual bass instruments. The only one that I really like is Trilian. There is a wide variety of bass sounds to choose from in there and some of them come pretty close to the real thing. My favorite bass sounds in there are the old school electric bass guitar sounds. There are also a bunch of synth bass sounds in there that are pretty cool.

2. Kontakt
I love Kontakt! Native Instruments really did a great job creating this beast. I love it how they made so many different instruments for it and also got other manufacturers building libraries for it. There are new libraries for it coming out all the time. I really like the Vintage Organs from NI but also the orchestral stuff Project Sam made for it I use a lot.

3. Omnisphere
Omnisphere I really like for it’s choirs and pad sounds.

4. Nexus
When I’m using soft synths I always use Nexus. Especially for EDM type of sounds Nexus is great. Sometimes I like to layer different Nexus sounds to create one huge synth sound. Especially with chords and lead synths I like to use this technique. I compress, filter and EQ each layer separately and use S1 Imager to give each layer it’s own place. By doing this I can make the synth sound really wide and big.

5. Olga
A lesser known virtual instrument I like is Olga by Stillwell Audio. It’s actually one synth bass kinda sound that you can tweak with knobs within the plugin. You can set the LFO, saturation etc and create your own presets.


by Shroom

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Effects on Samples

Last time I gave you 4 tips for chopping samples, but now I wanna give you some insight of what you can do to samples to make them sound more original and get more creative with them.

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1. Filter your samples
This is a pretty basic tip but I still want to cover it. What I do on most samples is filter out everything below around 100hz to make room for the kick, bass and/or 808. I also like to filter out some of the top end of the samples to smooth it out and make room for the snare, hihats and cymbals. You can also get creative and automate your filters to get that EDM type filter effect. You do that by slowly cutting more low end or top end if you know what I mean.

Hihats Pic002

2. Reverb
To give Samples more of an Arena Feel I sometime like to put big reverbs on them so that it gives you the feeling you’re standing in an arena. And sometimes I just like to add a little bit of reverb to add some ambiance to the sample. You can also automate or filter reverbs if you want to get a little more creative. Or maybe you wanna run your reverb thru a phaser or so. There are no rules and the possibilities are endless so be creative!

Hihats Pic001

3. Phasers, Chorus’ and Flangers
If I want to create a more space type effects on my samples I like to get creative with Phasers, Chorus’ and/or Flangers. Flangers an Phasers can really work if you want your sample to kinda move around in your headphones. Depends on what I’m going for but most of the time I put Flangers, Chorus’ and Phasers on a bus which I feed from the send of the sample. Then I balance the dry and wet signal. But in a few cases I put them directly on the main signal if that’s the effect I want.

4. Reverse
Another cool effect, which also makes the sample harder to recognize, is to reverse the sample or parts of the sample.

5. Guitar Rig
Guitar Amp effects like Guitar Rig can also really help to get more creative with samples and change the sound and vibe of the sample.


by Shroom

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4 quick Sample Chopping tips

Sample pic001

1. Look at the waveform
When you sample from a song that already got drums on it (maybe an old soul record or so) then it’s pretty easy to see where to make your chops. Just look at the waveform. You can actually see the kicks and snares by looking at the waveform. You see them peak. Kicks got more of a round waveform and snares got more of a steep/sharp waveform if that makes any sense.

2. Use shortcuts
If you’re sampling on software know the shortcuts of your software. It saves a lot of time and you will be able to chop samples a lot faster. I use Pro Tools myself and the cut shortcut on there is CTRL+E

3. Stay close to the samples BPM
No matter how good of a time stretcher you use, you always hear it when stretching too much. So stay close to the samples BPM. And if you want to speed it up or slow it down a lot you should pitch shift the sample till it comes close to the BPM you want to use.

Sample pic002

4. Fade in-out
To avoid pops and clicks make small fades at the start and end of your chops.


by Shroom

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My 5 favorite mix plugins

Mastering pic002

1. FabFilter
Since my man Felix from Wisseloord Studios introduced me to the FabFilter Pro-DS I have been using it on all of my mixes. The control is just amazing. Also their Pro-Q has become one of my go-to EQ’s. I really like the metering where you can see the frequency spectrum in real time pre and post EQ. Also on this one the control you’ve got is really good. Then they also got the Saturn distortion plugin. Again with incredible control. You can split the signal in multiple frequency bands and apply different types of distortion to each frequency band. Then you can still choose the balance between the dry and the wet signal within the plugin. Just amazing!

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2. CLA-3A
The CLA-3A compressor from Waves is my go-to compressor. Wether it’s kicks, snares or vocals I’m mixing, the first plugin in my chain is 9 out of 10 times the CLA-3A. It’s very easy to setup (just got 2 knobs) and as soon as you set it up right it brings the signal more in-your-face right away.


3. C4
The C4 multiband compressor is also a plugin I use a lot. I like to put this at the last plugin on my chain when I’m mixing vocals or instruments to smooth it out a bit and make sure none of the frequencies get out of control at certain parts. Sometimes I use it when I’m mastering as well.


4. OliGarc
When it comes to phasers and chorus’ I usually like to use the OliGarc series from Stilwell Audio. Without tweaking they already sound really good. Very easy to use and sound amazing. I also like their Overdrive plugin a lot.

Hihats Pic002

5. TrueVerb
My go-to reverb is the TrueVerb from Waves. Also cause it’s very easy to setup and it does exactly what I want. As you have noticed by now I really like plugins that are easy to setup and where you can really hear the results.

Other plugins I really like are SSL Channel Strip, RVox, Melodyne, RBass, Dynamic Delay, Focusrite Red, Fairchild, LoFi etc. Let me know if you know any amazing plugins that I might not know about.


by Shroom

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