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Spectrm
Member
Alright. I and a few others are trying to find our way with mixing/ making music. We need any advice you've got. How do we start, what do we avoid, what are the do's and the  donts, and if VDJ is apparently a nono, what do us poor kids to?

Hell even how you started out or any wisdom you've got would be a huge help. So old heads... what can you teach us unworthy young nerds?
 
incydeout
Member
You don't want to be a venereal disease jockey. haha
 
Spectrm
Member
XD i will admit it at least gave me a start for experience with some kind of mixing, but for now I'm on to trying to make original tracks with FL Studio and any hardware I can get my hands on... on a college budget T_T. Working with an Access Virus atm, but still learning how to use it.



Now that's for creating my own tracks. For mixing... what's the best route for someone with no money to get tables...?
 
Shase
Member
Are you the guy Shawn sold his virus to?  

I think having a piece of gear gives you a perspective that's easy to miss with just a computer.  I think having keyboards and drum machines taught me how to use a computer better than using a computer because I learned all the things I had to do then just had to make the computer do them.  (I still only use a computer to record and overdub, but if I woke up one day and all my synths were gone, I would just use software.)

The only way to be good at writing songs/making tracks is to actually do it.  Just keep doing it over and over again.  Don't be surprised if your first one (or first 50) aren't good.  You have to put in time and effort at anything to be able to do it well.

I also think, if you don't have one, you need to get a keyboard or controller. with keys  Learn to play things in and over time you'll get better a playing and be able to write or imagine more complex parts.
 
incydeout
Member
I have a virus c that I know pretty well... ask awaaaaaayyyyyyy
 
Spectrm
Member
Yep, Shawn's Virus has passed to me. Love it and use it every day. Shase you have a studio up there with shawn too don't you? He was telling me about that bidding war on the Lambda XD

I completely agree though, I've got tons of unfinished tracks and am still starting new ones all the time. I've just recently gone back and started to finish them, and I do feel like the more I make, the better my understanding of the process and what sound I want to make. I'm saving up more to get a drum machine next, possibly the Alesis HR-16 so long as I can find a good one at a reasonable price. Otherwise I've got a keyboard controller... even if it's a Yamaha PSS-480 lol. At least it has MIDI capability.



I really do need to invest in a regular Midi controller. The keys on this one are tiny as hell and it makes playing without hitting two keys at once hard. Still, it gets the job done on a tight budget.

Are there any cheap pieces of equipment that may not sound the best, but are just good for learning?
 
Shase
Member
Yeah, Preslav got the lambda and then sold me his old one.  It was one of the things I've wanted a really long time.

For hardware the trick is usually just to wait long enough until a deal comes up.  The best things I've gotten for cheap have been because it just kind of passes your way.  It seems like whenever I'm looking for something I always pay too much.  It also helps to be able to do minor repairs.

I feel like if you wait long enough you could get an ESQ-1 for around $100 or so.  They're pretty cool.  The keyboard on them kind of blows, but probably not as much as that Yamaha you have.  

Samplers are kind of out of style now so you can grab an e-mu  e4 series for under 150 and those will keep you busy for a long time.

Drum machine, maybe the first electribe, green es-1.  Simple, you can load your own sounds, step editor, etc.  The only things that sucks about them is only 2 outputs.  

Man, I'm sure if you talked to Shawn, he would be glad to let you come up and talk about synths and stuff.  I know he's busy a lot with his projects, but I was in the same place you're in now when I met him and just learned everything I could from him.  I would say it helped a lot.

Maybe build the Meeblip thing he's all hyped up on.  It actually sounds good and you can do it for about $80 or so.
 
Spectrm
Member
For the most part Shawn has taken me under his wing. I'm helping him out with making a music video at the moment, and in return he's teaching me about the artists who mad a major impact on him. Rhythm and Sound, Maurizio, hell even A-ha. He's taught me the basics of the Virus A and talked to me about the Alesis HR-16 and 16-B. As for pricing on synths and good things to start on, He thought the Virus would work out great. I agree. Now as for Drum Machines or Sequencers is where I'm looking next. He recommended the Akai MPC 2000 but sadly most of them end up being out of my price range.

Couldn't help but laugh because I saw that Lambda when It when up and didn't realize how rare they were. I put in an e-mail but i was late by a few hrs lol.

I'm working on figuring out how to make full tracks with the Virus, but my setup consists mainly of a direct line to my laptop's Mic input and garage band. It works, but timing is a bitch. Any suggestions on how to pull it together or is it something that comes with practice?
 
Spectrm
Member
Post from incydeoutI have a virus c that I know pretty well... ask awaaaaaayyyyyyy
I just may. Don't know how similar it is to the Virus A thought. Trying to figure out a feature Shawn told me about with running the sound through the filters multiple times through internal routing. Any ideas?
 
incydeout
Member
Post from SpectrmI just may. Don't know how similar it is to the Virus A thought. Trying to figure out a feature Shawn told me about with running the sound through the filters multiple times through internal routing. Any ideas?
Multiple filters are key to making most sounds that don't sound like they're from the 70s. You shouldn't need more than 3 though, I'd say. The two filters of your A plus (if your unit has) a eq in the effects section should suffice. But I guess you could reroute patches into others if you really wanted more filters... I wouldn't suggest even trying that 'til you know the ins and outs of a single layer patch... i.e. learn what absolutely everything is on the face of your synth and then if you run out of options, learn how to link layers.
 
Shase
Member
Yeah, I have actually never run a patch into a patch.  I can't remember how to do it, but I would know if I saw it.  

I would concentrate on understanding the mod matrix and how you can use it to make interesting sounds.  I don't think I've ever used the patch into patch because if I want to filter the virus sound I'll just load it in the e4 and then I can have as many detuned layers of it as I want with different filters and envelopes.  

The virus a doesn't have an eq section.  I really want a c, but I go back and forth between really liking and disliking the virus.  It's more like a workhorse for when I want some chord sequence because it has 12 voices.  Otherwise I would just use another synth.  

It's probably the best thing to learn on though because you can be as simple or as deep as you want.  

Mpc 2000xls are really good.  If you're lucky you can get one cheap now.   I had one before I got my 3000 and they're really good for both songs and live.  The internal effects add on sucks, I wouldn't pay for that.  What you really need are the outputs.

I'm sure I'll see you at machine age sometime then.
 
Spectrm
Member
I probably should wait till I know the system a bit better before I try jumping that far forward. Found the original Virus A manual online so that should be a big help. Great advice, both of you. Thanks!

Now where do you normally look for equipment? Just craigslist and patience?

 
Spectrm
Member
And on top of that, I've looked around for the different MPC's and haven't really found anything under $400, which is sadly outside my price range. Is there a cheaper alternative?

And yes Shase I'll probably be seeing you up at Machine age. You have any personal favorite pieces of hardware you like to use?
 
Shase
Member
For an mpc it's just a matter of waiting or being in the right place at the right time.  A 2000xl just sold in Bloomfield for 250.  It didn't have the outputs, but you could buy the expansion down the road for around 100-150.  I got my mpc 3000 at a pawn shop in Homewood for 450, but that was kind of a fluke.  Mpc 1000s are good too and I've seen them between 300 and 500.  

I use my mpc a lot, but I would say my favorite things are the monosynths.  I have a pro-one that I like a lot and I just got a yamaha cs-15 that makes a lot of cool sounds.  A definite advantage to hanging out with Shawn is that he has so many things that you can sort of check it out before you look for it.  

There's a lot of cheap stuff you can check into.  The akai polysynths (ax-80, ax-60) are like a juno 106 but usually sell for half the price.  You can go the diy route and build stuff like Shawn is doing with the Meeblip ($80) and the shruthi (~$200).  You could really get by with just the virus.  I try to think about what I would keep if I could only keep three things and it would probably be a sampler, a mono, and the virus.  It's really the best thing to have if you don't have a lot.
 
Spectrm
Member
I'm seriously considering that meeblip. Still I think i'm good with the Virus in that case. I'm just having trouble combining everything into a comprehensible track. Timing and getting everything to line up is the hard part. Like I said all I've got are the virus, the midi controller and garage band. Any suggestions for equipment or is it something I just need more practice with?
 
Spectrm
Member
Wait the MPC has both a Drum machine and a midi sequencer correct?
 
Shase
Member
Yeah, an mpc is both a sequencer and a drum sampler/machine.

It is a little bit more difficult to use than a computer for arranging because you have to play everything in or use the step edit and you can't really see the bigger picture on a screen like with computer software.  

It would be good if you could try one or see how it's used before you got it.  It has it's advantages and disadvantages.  They don't really sound better than a computer.  Some people argue that the timing of the sequencer is more solid than a computer, but I don't know how true that is of the newer ones.  Really that doesn't matter too much because I doubt there's a person who can hear a clock slip by 10 samples over a minute.

Honestly, if you're absolutely trying to spend money towards this, then it would probably be better to buy music theory books/courses or take piano lessons.  I know buying things is fun, but with your computer, softsynths, and the virus, you have what you need.

Well, maybe a bcf-2000 would be something to consider.  My friend that I write stuff with just got one for us to use and it is awesome.  Can't really beat the price for what you can make it do.  Having a fader for volumes and pans, then being able to press a button to change the eq settings is awesome.  But if you're used to using a mouse it might not be that big of a deal for you.
 
Spectrm
Member
That's some huge advice. With the timing I think the problem is that I don't have a midi to usb cable for my laptop. If that's the cheeper yet effective route I'm down. Not too much lookin to spend money, just trying to figure out what the essentials are, and It sounds like I've got em so far. The reason timing with the Virus is horrible is because I'm recording just straight audio feed to the computer while trying to match the tempo of the garageband metronome on the keyboard.

Now what's your opinion on Hardware -vs softsynth?
 
Shase
Member
Yeah, man, you really need a midi to usb thing it sounds like or some kind of interface that has audio ins and outs and midi on it.  That's what you should spend your money on.  

There are some really cheap ways to go if you have a desktop computer.  Shawn and I both use the same cards (delta 1010lt), because they're cheap and they offer 8 ins and outs and midi in and out.  I have 2 and I think he has 3.  They're pci though so they're getting harder to find.  

If I was buying an interface now I would definitely get a firewire or usb interface.  

For hardware and software synths, I pretty much only use hardware because I have everything I need, but if I didn't, then I wouldn't feel bad about using softsynths.  Sometimes I'll make sounds with software and use them in my samplers to give me something different from what I have.  

I don't dislike software synths because of the sound, I just get frustrated at turning "knobs" with my mouse.  This can be solved with a BCR-2000 or something similar.  

I think getting a bcr or a midi interface will do the most for you.
 
Spectrm
Member
Agreed. The problem is that I have a Macbook Pro, but then again I do have 3 old Dell's running XP sitting in the basement of my parents house. I'll have to look into one of those cards.

Completely agree with the whole knob turning situation on the music software. Still I'd say for variety of sound it's the best I'll get for the money I have. Doesn't mean the Virus isn't getting her daily workout though. I think the biggest difference between hardware and software is live performances. You really can't do a live performance on a computer program like FL Studio the way you would with a hardware setup.
 
Spectrm
Member
Just Finished a track I've been working on for a while now. Mind some input?

http://soundcloud.com/spectrm/the-dark-inside
 
Shase
Member
It sounds like you sidechained the whole mix to the kick so when it comes in it drops the volume of everything else and sounds kind of weird.  Maybe you were going for that.

Some of the eq-ing could be better; it sounds kind of muddy at points.  It might be the delay.  If you're using the delay on the virus, then you can change the color of the delay which is really more like an eq.  If I put a delay on something that has a lot of low frequencies then I'll cut the lows on the delay.

 
Spectrm
Member
Wow... that solves a lot of the problems I was running into. Not sure why the volume dip is happening, but I'm trying to work that out. FL Studio's been giving me trouble with that and a few other glitches lately. As well I completely forgot that I could eq the delay. Thanks that was huge!

 
incydeout
Member
Sometimes when you normalize or compresstracks, it'll duck the volume when there's a loud noise. Electro feeds off stuff like that, or sidechaining if there's other things going on.

As far as your track, it sounds cool; very warm and almost lo-fi. If you wanted, you could probably get away with adding a whole bunch of glitchy high frequency noises and they'd fit right in.
 
Spectrm
Member
Was playin around with that idea a bit ago, just haven't gotten it to work yet. Though what you said just gave me an idea... hmm.
 


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