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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

OliGarc

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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

KickPic001

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.

KickPic002

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

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4 quick tips for creating drum fills

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

ProducedByShroom.com

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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.

drums-and-sticks-posterized-rebecca-brittain
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.

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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.

SnareKnockPic
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

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