#30: What Makes A Great Production? The Answers To: “How Do I Know If It Sounds Good?” And “What Should I Actually Listen For?”

Podcast #30: What Makes A Great Production?

"What Makes A Great Production?" 

This is probably the most asked question of all. It's also one of the most important ones and, unfortunately, quite difficult to answer.

What we consider a "good sound" or "great production" is highly subjective and even if you look at more objective criteria, it takes quite some experience to be able to listen for the right things and make informed decisions.

Nevertheless, we sat down and tried to tackle the question in the simplest and most helpful way possible.

We took a look at our own favorite productions and analysed what we liked about them and why. We also wrote down what we're typically aiming for when producing or mixing music ourselves, depending on the genre, of course.

That said, with "production" we mean the whole thing: Recording, editing, mixing, mastering. So we're looking at the final thing, dissect it and find out what makes it awesome. So that you know what to listen for and where you are standing compared to a great sounding, finished record. No matter where you are in the process

Then we made a list of the most important, overall things, explained why these are so important, and threw in some advice on how to achieve those.

And finally, we went into the specifics and details that are easier and quicker to apply.

Let us know what you love about your favorite songs and productions, by commenting below!


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Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB Podcast 030 - What Makes A Great Production

[00:00:00] Benedikt: [00:00:00] Think about why you have like a bass guitar playing this and then an additional synth playing that. And then you have kicked drum. And is that below that? Or is it a bus that, how does it all work together? That part of the spectrum is so important when it comes to how sound field. So it makes you feel this is the self recording band podcast, the show where we help you make exciting records on your own, wherever you are, DIY stuff.

Let's go.

Hello and welcome. To the self recording band podcast. I am your host Benedict tine, and I'm here with my friend and cohost Malcolm own flood. How are you? 

Malcom: [00:00:37] Hello? I'm good. I just got back from Montreal and had a crazy awesome trip there. We were in this amazing studio called studio Piccolo, which is owned by some of Celine Dion's crew, like her drummer in particular Dominick.

And it was insane. It was like, it's gotta be one of the nicest studios in North, North America. It was like, it's just insane. The next level stuff in there. [00:01:00] I think this is not a gear level and just take a room level. Like the, the room was so insane. It was wild. 

Benedikt: [00:01:06] That's like I saw the pictures, I follow your trips, like on social, but, um, it's always kind of different when you're there, I guess.

So let me depressive, but I can only imagine how it is being there. So. Awesome. 

Malcom: [00:01:18] Yeah. Well, the funny thing is that we're in like this massive, I don't know, probably like 2000 square foot live room or something, you know? And, uh, yeah. Then we just build a little room inside of it because I'm doing dialogue and I need it to be dead.

I got like, you know, I'll go Bose lined up and like moving blankets all over the place and stuff. And I'm not using any of the gear. You know, they've got like, they've got this amazing story to go down the gear rabbit hole guys. They've got this amazing SSL duality system, which is a hardware and digital system.

Um, It just sounds, it's pretty cool looking, uh, cause you got all like the command surface of a digital console in front of you, but some analog mojo going on and it's got the talk back limiter and [00:02:00] compressor and stuff built into it and uh, Oh, okay. I'm not, I'm not gonna go any further down that, but I wanted to use it so bad, but like just, it wasn't in the cards.

So it wasn't, there was no excuse for us to set that up. 

Benedikt: [00:02:11] So you were, what do you, what do you use your mix pre. 

Malcom: [00:02:14] Yeah, I've got a sound devices, mixed pre that I run. And, uh, the main reason for that is because it has time code, which we use to sync up with all the cameras for this documentary. Yeah. So it's timecode so it's kind of essential.

So I'm stuck using that. I shouldn't even say stuck. I love this box. The mixed free stuff is so, so crazy good. But when there's like, you know, vintage Ampex pre-amps and all of this cool stuff, sitting there on a rack behind you, you really want to grab it. Yeah, totally. I did get to use some amazing microphones though.

So it was it's all good. I had fun. 

Benedikt: [00:02:47] So they let you use the Mac locker. 

Malcom: [00:02:49] Yup. Yup. Yeah, they have, let me use all of it, but we just didn't have the time to set up the tape machine. Okay. Do 

Benedikt: [00:02:55] you, do you have to pay like the rates for the studio or stuff when you are [00:03:00] there? Yeah, 

Malcom: [00:03:01] I guess, well, I mean, uh, I, I don't, but somebody on the team takes care of 

Benedikt: [00:03:05] that.

Yeah, of course. 

Malcom: [00:03:07] Yeah. Yeah. So we, we rented out, so we blocked it for like eight days straight. Um, and yeah, sometimes we blocked just a room of it because that studio has three studios inside of it. So there's, we, we only had one room and the other rooms were being rented by other people kind of thing.


Benedikt: [00:03:22] Yeah. Is there like staff, um, that's always there helping you with everything. 

Malcom: [00:03:26] Yeah. We had this amazing assistant engineer, um, GF, GF. That's how you pronounce his name? I think, uh, he's just had to call him Jeff after awhile. It was, yeah, it was a French thing was tricky for me, but, uh, this kid was so, so awesome.

Uh, like. He was just so on it, I would show up and like the drum kit would already be set up and mikes and, and like, you'd have a snake run to where I'd set up my audio bag and he was just so on. It made coffee every morning for all of us. Yeah. I don't know. I wanted to bring him home with me. 

[00:04:00] Yeah. 

Benedikt: [00:04:01] That's the sort of assistant engineer you want, right?

Like, uh, like if everyone listening is ever, uh, thinking about getting an internship at a studio or, uh, being an assistant anywhere, like. That's what you gotta do. Thank you. That's, that's way more important than your audio skills in the beginning. So I'm like, what back I'm just described about that person that is like probably the reason that got him this job.


Malcom: [00:04:25] yeah. Yeah, he was helping everyone. He liked the, he would sense that the guest needed water and just show up with water for them, you know? And then, uh, that would be like getting his light out of his case and he would throw up a stand for him, you know, like he was helping everybody in the room before they even knew they needed help.

And yeah, I really want to get this guy on my team. Yeah. It's on the wrong side of the country though. 

Benedikt: [00:04:52] Yeah. Those people make sessions run so much smoother and just make everyone's life so much better that moment. So, yeah, totally. [00:05:00] Um, great. That's cool. So other than that, uh, I don't have much to talk about in my life.

Like nothing really special happened since we last talk. And also what'd you guys still know when you're listening. Um, Mike and I always have a little. Chat already before we start the episode. So we kind of, we sometimes need you to repeat what we've been already talking about, which is always weird. So I don't have really anything to tell you.


Malcom: [00:05:24] sometimes I withhold information like, like this studio conversation, I was like, I'm not going to bring it up until we start recording. Cause I want to talk about 

Benedikt: [00:05:30] it. Yeah. That's a wise thing to do, actually. That's a wise thing to do. Yeah. Um, let's dive right into it. Then. Today's episode is a pretty important one, I guess, because it's like.

Basically what it is all about. It's like, how do you even know what is great? What sounds good? What makes a great production? And that's the title of this episode? Like what makes a great production? How do I know? What sounds great? How do I know if I'm on the right. A path. How do we know if, if it's CA if it [00:06:00] can be transformed or, or, um, mixed in a way that it is that it ends up being a competitive result or like something that really excites people.

And that's a tricky question and it's one that comes up. It comes up pretty often because I. Sometimes, if you're in this, um, in this industry for quite a while, you tend to forget that a listener or someone just starting out or a musician listens to music in a completely different way than we, we do to us.

Yeah. And things immediately jump out. When we hear songs, we listen to the production, certain things jump out. We notice certain good things and bad things and some things that are just a matter of taste, but the average music. Listener and musicians starting out recording themselves. They just hear a song basically.

And when they record a song, it's hard to tell if that is good. If, if like, if it's of a certain quality and that's a process that you got to learn, and we're trying to give you some things, some core characteristics and things that we listen [00:07:00] for, that, uh, yeah. That you can like train yourself to listen for, and that you can focus on when you analyze your own results and over time.

Eventually you'll get to a point where you can judge pretty well. If what you recorded is good enough or not. 

Malcom: [00:07:17] I mean, I don't know if I have anything to add to it. That's awesome. Correct. Yeah. Whether that's a hard thing to gauge, um, but a very important thing to gauge at the same time. So I think it's great that we're, we're diving into that.

Benedikt: [00:07:31] Yeah, totally. I mean, I'm curious, like overall, um, what is, when you are listening to a song what's the like most important thing to you that makes you say, like, this is a great production. Like sometimes when we hear new stuff or when people recommend references to us as something, um, some stuff is just great, you know, it right away when you listen to it.

So, um, what are those things that make you think, Oh, I'm going to put that in my reference list because it's right. 

Malcom: [00:07:57] I mean, I think the [00:08:00] top of the pile for me is like the emotion that a song brings with it. And that that's like the hardest thing to pull off as well. Um, and, and the hardest thing to kind of give it advice on, like, you can't really, it's like magic in a bottle, you know, you can't really just hand it out at will.

Um, or it's really hard to make happen for sure. But there are a few songs that like the moment they come on, I'm like, Ugh, Oh, God, I love the song every single time. You know, there's a, the sound guy, uh, by a guy named Matt Corby at Australia called miracle love and, and another one by him called resolution.

And both those songs, the moment I hear, like the first note, I'm like, dang, like every single time can't believe it. And whatever that is, whatever that little magic is, the rest of it. It doesn't matter if you get that right. Pretty well. Um, and in the case of both of those songs, they are not, I mean, they do sound good.

But they're not like overly full Uber polished things. And because it's so [00:09:00] like impactful emotionally, they it's totally fine. It makes it all work. 

Benedikt: [00:09:05] You know, funny thing is like you just said whatever that is, and that's an important set a sentence because sometimes you just can't really define it. You just feel it, you know it, and that's the thing that we're trying to unpack in this episode, because.

You are, I think that you, as a listener, you have, you've had that feeling as well. When you listen to Sonya thought, it just sounds great. And it's a great song. Don't know why that is. And sometimes we don't know. Either, but we kind of know, or we can try to analyze and unpack why it works. So there are certain things that lead to the sensation that you have when you listen to such a song.

So, um, there are certain things that those songs have in common maybe. And that's what we're trying to do here, but it's, it's funny that you're saying like, whatever that is, because that's sometimes what, what I think as well. I just hear it. And I think like, I don't, I don't really know. What's so great about it.

It just, it just touches me. And then, and then like, I have to go and [00:10:00] analyze what it actually is. 

Malcom: [00:10:01] Yes. Yeah. The thing I was just thinking about, as you said, that is that both of those songs don't start with vocals. So, uh, for example, miracle love starts with piano and drums, I think, uh, piano and then drums.

And it's impressive that that has, they captured emotion in those instruments as well. You know, it's not just the vocalists that had to sell it. Um, which is something that we've got a lot in rock music where it was like play hard. I think that's all that matters. And, uh, but they're like they managed to capture something in the instruments, as well as the vocal.

It's all on the same page pointed in the same 

Benedikt: [00:10:38] direction. Is that, is that a thing that only you perceive that way? Or like, I mean, not only you, but do you think that people like average music, the average, 

Malcom: [00:10:49] you mean it's impossible to tell isn't it, 

Benedikt: [00:10:52] do they perceive it the same way? Because the thing is with the vocal, like I have this conversation with my wife all the time.

Every time I'm showing a [00:11:00] great song to her that has no vocals or when the vocals come in late or something in the song, she just. It just doesn't grab her. Like she just waits for the vocals and then she can tell if, if she likes the song and unless there isn't vocals, she just can't say anything to it.

It just doesn't touch her for some reason. Right. Um, and there are people like that. The funny thing is she is actually musical. She can sing and she. Like, it's not that she's a completely unmusical person, not at all, but she needs the vocals for, for it to be a song. I don't know why that is. It's like I can listen to instrumental music all day, but some people seem to really need the vocal to transport the emotion or whatever 

Malcom: [00:11:37] showed it to Hans Zimmer.

Uh, but, uh, yeah, I'm with you. I can do instrumental music, no problem. But I do agree that emotion translates most, most efficiently over vocals without a doubt. Um, Well that said, I, I would argue that it is there. It's just maybe not perceived as strongly by, by people that are more vocal focused. Yeah. Um, but I [00:12:00] think, I think in the case of like these two songs, they made sure it was there.


Benedikt: [00:12:04] I think, yeah, it's totally there. I mean, the, the hunt swimmer, uh, example was, was spot on. I mean, I'm sure if my wife watched a movie and there was a totally different soundtrack with a completely different vibe and that it would be weird or it had a completely different, um, yeah, it would be a completely, completely different experience for her as well.

So it is definitely there. Yeah. Yeah, 

Malcom: [00:12:28] totally. Totally. 

Benedikt: [00:12:29] Okay. Yeah. Cool. But these examples, I'm going to put those in the show notes for people to listen, so they know what they're talking about. 

Malcom: [00:12:35] Matt Corby is the best in the world, I think, and find him. It's like, it just blows my mind. He's obviously he's doing that.

He's successful, but he is not. Like world-renowned and it blows my mind. He, in my opinion, he's the best book on the planet, so, Oh, wow. Wow. Yeah. High praise. 

Benedikt: [00:12:51] I'm curious, like, I don't know. Uh, I I've never, ever heard of him, so 

Malcom: [00:12:55] yeah. That's the problem. Yeah. People like you, Betty. No. [00:13:00] Yeah. It's like, 

Benedikt: [00:13:02] I'm part of the problem here, but yeah, I would definitely check it out.

Like that's. That's amazing. Cool. So yeah, go ahead. 

Malcom: [00:13:11] Okay. So yeah, the emotion, um, but when we just talked about that quite a bit more than I think we thought we were going to talk about it. Yeah. But it's like the hardest thing to really put your finger on. Like we said, so I think people need to maybe feel in trying to find the songs that make them feel something and try and dissect it a little bit.

Um, Butlin after that for me anyways, it's kind of this sense of vibe slash room. Which is kind of like the emotion kind of bleeds into that a little bit. But I really like when the kind of like visual image that comes together for the song matches the goal of the song. Um, so be that listening to an old, the band record, and it sounds like they're in like this crickety saloon pub or something.

You know, just jam it out with bottles of whiskey all over the [00:14:00] place, or, uh, like a really modern, heavy metal song. Like the new spirit box is stuff that I'm obsessed with. And it just sounds like, like they've transcended a stage and are just in your head screaming. Yeah. Right? Like, so, uh, there's like a space or lack of space depending on what you're going for.

That is really coherent. And, and that to me is the sign of, uh, like very well done production. 

Benedikt: [00:14:26] Totally. Um, yeah, that's, that's what I was thinking too. So for me it is like this, yeah. The soundstage space thing that you just described, um, what you like, basically what you see when you close your eyes, listen to the music.

Do you see a band in front of you? Do you see a big festival stage or a stadium or is it a club or are they in your head as you just said, or is it like. Yeah. That's, that's definitely, if that's well chosen, if that's, um, if good decisions have been made there, that's a big part of it. It's like, it just makes sense.

And in like, yeah, it transports the whole [00:15:00] content of the song, the whole emotion, everything like exactly. Right. If that's done well, so. Totally. And, um, I think the, the one thing that we both agreed on before we started this episode is like that when you listen to a song and you don't immediately think about the production, that is actually the best thing that can happen, the best sign.

So if the, if the production just serves, the a hundred percent serves the song. And lets you like focus on the song and you don't get distracted and you're just staying in the song and you can't stop listening. And don't think about the production. That's the best thing. Once I start thinking about the production, something's probably wrong.

Right? So what if something sticks out to me sometimes it's like due to our profession, sometimes I think certain things stick out to me because they are really great. But usually I, first of all, I enjoy the song and then I think about the production if it's well done. So yes. That's that's probably the thing.

Malcom: [00:15:54] And that's is something that's really useful to kind of think about for your own productions. Um, because [00:16:00] that happens every once in a while, like my favorite mixes, I'm able to hear them as a song. I like it. We get to a point where I'm like, Ooh, it's all jelled together. And then I like click play and I go sit on the back couch at the back of the studio and this, and from there.

And I'm like, I'm just listening to the song. It's no longer. I'm no longer being drawn to what the hell is going on with the floor, Tom, or, or why is the lead vocal sound in you kind of thing? Like that's all vanished and now it is a song. And that is that, that is like, yeah. If you can get that, you you've done it.

Benedikt: [00:16:29] Yeah, totally. That's a great point. I had that yesterday with this mix that I was telling you about before we started the episode, at some point I was. Um, well, during mixing, at some point I just stopped doing things and I was listening. I caught myself listening through the whole thing, which I rarely do because I jumped around and I fixed things and I like listened to this section and this section.

And yet, you know, when, what you do when you're mixing. And at some point I wanted to do something in the first verse, I think. And I ended up listening to the whole thing till the end and didn't do anything. And that's when I realized, Oh, wow. Like, I guess I'm done because I just, [00:17:00] as you said, I listened to the song and I totally forgot that I'm working on it.

It was just like sitting there and listening to it. And if that happens, yeah, you got it. I think so. Yeah, that's wicked. Yeah. So then, um, a couple of things that are very important to me also are like, one thing that helps you stay in the song is if there's a focal point, if the song like. If the band or the producer who is responsible for it, guides you through the songs, sort of.

So sometimes people tend to do too many things. Like when they arrange, they do too many things at once and like there's a competing vocal with a guitar solo or melody on this. Then there's some synth and there's a like spectacular drum fill and everything's aren't happening at the same time. Um, so I like, I think it's a good thing for a good production when there is a focal point when there is in every part, when there's one sort of voice, it doesn't have to be the actual voice.

It can be like a baseline. It can be a drum fill. It can be a guitar Lake, whatever it is. It's [00:18:00] just in all the great songs that I, that we know in love or most of them. We can tell one thing in each part that like sticks out to us. It can be a legendary guitar. Riff can be, as I said, a baseline or whatever, but usually it's one thing that makes this part work and that you focus on.

So if you can kind of guide the listener through the song and have a clear focal point. That's part, at least to me, part of a, of a great production. And along with that comes to the macro dynamics, which is like not the diamond dynamics in the drums, or like the fast, small things that happen all the time, but like the dynamics from part to part.

So if like the verse is small enough to make the chorus after it really big and wide and spectacular and like those things. So. That you always have these highlights in the songs that get you excited, because if it's full on all the time, every part might be great, but the song is a whole, it's not great anymore.

It just gets boring. Once you are in the third part is always the same volume, the same arrangement, the [00:19:00] same power. It's not exciting anymore. So. That kind of goes along with it. Like, I want to be guided through the song and I want to have ups and downs and quiet moments and loud moments and like these exciting parts where like, you're just freaking out whenever that part comes in.

Malcom: [00:19:14] Totally. Yeah. I, uh, I've got a guilty pleasure. I listened to some pop country.

Yeah. Hate like most of the subject matter, like the lyrics are so bad, but the production is so, so good. And it's a lot of this dynamics manipulation that they just nail it. So good. Um, you know, like it goes from like this small mano verse to this huge wide course and then like socks back down, like they just manipulate volume and width and dynamics.

So well that, like I try and steal that all the time. Yeah. Like I want it to sound like a country record. I agree. 

Benedikt: [00:19:53] I agree. My dad listens to a whole lot of country records and uh, that's why I got him, by the way. I got him a Decker board last [00:20:00] year for his birthday, because he's like Billy Decker mixes all has mixed basically all my dad's favorite records.

So I hit up Billy and I, I managed to get a Decker board for my dad. If you don't know what that is. It's like a cutting board. And Billy Decker is a legendary country mixer mixing engineer. And he makes this wooden cutting boards. So, uh, I got one of them. I met, met Billy at a conference a couple of years ago, and then I hit him up and got my dad one.

And like, what I was trying to say is those records and Billy does that very well as well. Um, they do exactly what you just described. And I always, it's not something that I listened to a lot, but I always admire the production on the countryside things that my dad was. 

Malcom: [00:20:40] Right. Yeah. I'm kind of digressing a little bit, but, uh, There's two genres that I look to for like, what's coming next in the world of production.

And I feel like heavy metal has done a really good job at being at the forefront because they're always struggling to make this like untamable beast sound good. Um, so there, the tips and tricks that coming out of there are fantastic [00:21:00] to steal for other projects. Like I, like I said, I'm normally working in rock.

Um, and then country is the other one that I'm always looking to, uh, like they're on the opposite side. They're making like, not much material sound like a lot, rather than a lot of material sound like less kind of thing. So, you know, you can look to other genres and, and learn a lot about what makes a good production.

Benedikt: [00:21:20] Oh, totally. Absolutely. Yeah. Try to do it as much as I can. And I always find. Exciting things in Chandra's was that I usually not don't listen to, so yeah. 

Malcom: [00:21:27] Agreed. Yeah, totally. If they can make a song about a guy driving down a highway in a truck, like the biggest thing of the year, there's something they did.

Right. If we've got to figure out what that is. Yeah, absolutely. 

Benedikt: [00:21:41] Absolutely. Okay. So a one, like the last point here with the overall big picture, most important things is the frequency balance, which is kind of obvious, but if that's. Um, if you can somewhat nail that, that's obviously a big part of it's like, it doesn't have to be perfect and sometimes it's great to have it [00:22:00] like a little, yeah.

Some songs sound great because they are a little dull and other sound great because they are a little bright, but the balance is obviously a part. You don't a part of it. You don't want to have. Too much low end or too much top end or no mid range or only mid range. Like you want to have a balance, then you want to find a balance that matches your style, your Shandra.

So that's obviously part of a great production. I think it all, yeah, it's just a very basic thing. And that's also, by the way, what makes a production sound loud and, um, and big in a way. So many people think like that limiters and compressing and. And stuff and mastering is what makes a song loud, but actually it's frequency balance.

A lot of mastering guys that I work with and that I've talked to, they've explained to me a couple of times, and I do that as well. And I master that most of the loudness comes from acute. So from frequency balance, like filling up gaps in the spectrum and making it loud that way, or like making a, creating a frequency balance that is perceived as loud.

So the frequency balance is very important [00:23:00] and it's not only a mixing thing. That's why we're telling you this. This starts with the arrangement and the production and finding tones and stuff. So you've got to think about how all the tones, the elements go right together to create that balance later on, you have something that fills up the, the sub low end.

Do you have, what do you have in there? The mid range? Is that too much? Is there space for everything? Do you have something in the top end? Is there too much going on at the top end? So. These are things that start with the production and the mixer just has to balance it out. But yeah, that's a very basic aspect of a great production, I think.

Malcom: [00:23:33] Yeah, definitely. And when we say production, we're really speaking holistically, we really mean it from the ground floor up, down to the song, writing all the way through to the master and, uh, The frequency balance in particular really goes back to that, the whole forgetting about the production and just listening as a song, because if you have a bad frequency balance, it's going to distract you.

Essentially. It's going to take away from that ability to just hear it [00:24:00] as a whole. 

Benedikt: [00:24:00] Oh, yeah. We've all like, you've probably experienced that you have probably like, there are some records that I really like, but this one, like really annoying symbol poking out all the time. That's just an, I just can't listen to, to the sound because that symbol is so harsh.

That's an example of where the balance is kind of ruining it for ruining it for me. Or like write songs with Lee really like too much low end. And it just, um, I wish it was, it would sound clearer or something. So if that's, if you have that sensation yeah. It's frequency balance issue and yeah. You immediately think about the production.

Okay. So some practical or not, not so practical, but just some, some things here on how to achieve this. I mean, I just said it it's partly through songwriting and arrangement, not only through mixing, but, um, It all starts with the songwriting, like the macro dynamics thing, the focal point thing, the, um, like guiding the listener through the song, the emotion, all the, the very most important stuff that we were talking about in the [00:25:00] beginning.

That's songwriting, it's part it tones, but it's mostly songwriting. It starts there. And then its arrangement. It's like finding the right instruments and how they work together and to create that emotion and a good song is a good song. Even before you start like recording and producing it. It's just a good song.

Malcom: [00:25:16] Yes. Yeah, well, we're not a songwriting podcast. No, but we are a recording podcast, which includes production. And by dissecting productions, like we've been kind of doing like at each point, I kind of picture a song like that. I'm like, Oh yeah, like that relates to this song that I absolutely love. And by doing this, you're actually improving your songwriting, um, a lot.

And there's, there's a reason producers end up helping artists with, with their songs because they get really good at figuring this stuff out. By doing this. And so yeah, producing makes you a better song writer and vice versa. So once you learn these kind of things, you can then apply it to your songwriting, um, or the, the songwriting of whatever project you're working on.

Benedikt: [00:25:59] Yeah. [00:26:00] As we've sat in a past episode, good songs. Sound better. Um, I was quoting a fellow producer producer, uh, Brian McTiernan, and he still right with that. So that's, that's why we're talking about that. So, um, yeah. And then of course carefully choosing the tones, that's part of the frequency balance thing.

And like, and when you choosing tones, that's important thing I think here, uh, do not only think about the individual tone, but the big picture of the whole thing. Like you can have the most amazing guitar sound, but if it just doesn't work with everything else that's going on. Uh, you gotta have a problem.

So always like, think of it in context. And that brings us back to the whole, you need a producer thing that we've been talking about so often, like you need to have someone who has the big picture in mind, who kind of knows the direction you're going in, who can make decisions on with how the elements work together.

Because if everyone's just focused on their own instrument and trying to get the best tone ever, then it's not going to work out in the end. 

Malcom: [00:26:58] Yeah. Yeah. I, [00:27:00] uh, I'm going to tell a story. I think I've told again, I've told in an earlier episode, but when I did my last record, um, we worked with this producer named Eric rats and he got me to play every song on the record with like 10 different guitars.

And we recorded it. We doubled it. Like we'd just do from the intro to the end of the first course, essentially. And I did that with like every guitar we had in the room. And then we went through and we listened to them. The engineer, we had Ryan Jones just played them back to us in a random order. And he kept track of what order we were hearing.

It didn't tell us. And then we all said what number we thought sounded the best. And amazingly, there was like, you know, up to six people in the room, we all would always say the same number. Like every single time we were like, okay, like it was, it was definitely three on this song and Ryan would be like, okay, three was this guitar and awesome again, amazingly, it would not be the guitar.

I thought it was, you know? Uh, so what we were doing there is giving ourselves some options. And hearing it in context, you know, like I had my [00:28:00] favorite as I played it, I'm like, Oh, this one feels nice. This guitar is actions easy to play I'm down, you know? And, or like play it before we start recording. I'm like, Oh, sounds dirty.

I'm into it. But that is not necessarily going to be what we want when we hear it back with the song. So we kind of like removed the possibility for my like bias to affect the decision. And we just had to use our ears, which was awesome. 

Benedikt: [00:28:22] Yeah. Great example of exactly that. Um, and you would have ended up with a completely different thing if you hadn't done that.

Like yeah, totally. Yep. And you wouldn't even know, like you would think it was the right decision and you can only know if you have someone. Yeah, that kind of either like, has this vision or, or like if you do a blind test like that, so, 

Malcom: [00:28:43] yeah. So I would say to, to apply this to your own situation, cause you're probably not in a studio with an assistant engineer who can run through blind taste test for you.

Uh, and you probably don't have like this wall of guitars test out either. Uh, But what's going to happen. And [00:29:00] this all comes down to practice essentially is you're going to learn what tool does, what? Um, so I've got four guitars beside me right now, and I know pretty well, which one I'm going to grab for each situation.

I don't have to shoot them out every time. Now that I've kind of learned my tools, you know, um, I might grab two and shoot them out and sometimes they get it wrong and I'm like, okay, that was the wrong choice. Let's try something else. But generally I've honed in and that process is really quick for me now.

Benedikt: [00:29:24] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Nothing else to add here and totally true. And a great example of exactly that then, um, let's move on to some. More specific, but still broad, um, like characteristics that are important to us. So, um, more specific in the way that it's more technical, but still like broad characteristics when we listen to a song.

So to me, I have this, this list here that I prepared is to me, are it mostly when I look at it, it's apparently mostly frequency stuff. That seems to be important for me. I balanced stuff. So it's like the top [00:30:00] end. Is it like, is there over overly sibling vocals, for example? That's something that I, um, that immediately immediately jumps out at me.

And when I listen to two songs, so they can a good production of the siblings is controlled. So it's there, it's like, not that nobody's lisping or ever, or like has a list post something that happens when you overdo it with the DSN and stuff. So obviously the asses and the siblings is there. Obviously the symbols are bright and everything, but not too much.

It's just a nice top and balance. That's a sign of a good production to me. This is the it's like this harsh versus expensive sounding top end thing. That's just one of the first things that I listen for. Then there's the low end on the other end of the spectrum. I don't know. What's like a good low end for you, Malcolm.

Malcom: [00:30:45] That's a really tricky man. Uh, sometimes it's this pillowy soft thing that, that like just wouldn't work on 90% of what I do, but generally it's like a tight. Controllable thing. It [00:31:00] really like all of the stuff we're going to be listing here is, is very, uh, situational. You know, it's specific to the song you're working on.

Um, you'll, you might have preferences, but be open to them changing and not working for very different song. You know, you have to assess it song by song. 

Benedikt: [00:31:19] Absolutely. I think that the low end and the low, lower mid range. Are particularly important when it comes to this emotion thing that we're talking about.

I feel that so much of the emotion, so much of how the song makes you move or like how close it feels and stuff it's like determined by the lower mid range and the low end, like the very low end is more like what makes you move and what you feel rather than here, but the lower mid range and this, all the fundamentals and everything it's like.

That's what I don't know, but there's a lot of emotion in there, at least to me. And also the more of that you have, the more, the closer, the more intimate, it kind of sounds if it's really like scooped and it's like no low mid range there, or just the very [00:32:00] sub lows, it kind of sounds distant. So this is a very, very delicate balance there and not hard, not easy to get.

Right. But it's very worth it to think about that even like in production and, um, recording before you even mix. Just in that you, um, I mean, I just mean that you should choose the low end elements wisely. So you should think about why you have like a bass guitar playing this and then an additional synth playing that.

And then you have a kick drum. And is that below that, or is it above that? How does it all work together? How, like low is the guitar tuning? Does that like playing to bass territory or is there a space for everything, stuff like that? It's just. We're thinking about it because that part of the spectrum is so important when it comes to how a song feels or makes you feel.

At least to me, I don't know whether it is, 

Malcom: [00:32:53] it, it just feels like it takes up so much space. I think, you know, uh, I, I kind of see it as space and if that space is [00:33:00] like too full and it just takes away from the other elements, I guess, Yeah. 

Benedikt: [00:33:06] And I think the average music listener, when you ask someone what they like about music, it often is like the base or the low end when they say something sounds fat or a big or massive or whatever, it's usually productions with that with the most low end, but with a great low end, it's like has this punch and this, it sounds big and massive.

So the low end, I think, is something that is perceived by like the average music listener. Yeah. It's, it's like important to many people and like it makes or breaks a song. Sometimes 

Malcom: [00:33:39] curiously, I've got a client. I, I master for him to Fetty and Australian rapper and he's fantastic. Um, he sends me referenced jacks for each song.

He sends me and they almost all have less bass. Then the stuff we're working on and I like, it's kind of bizarre. You think [00:34:00] that rap would have just tons, tons and tons, but they like, I mean, they slam things so hard and that industry that they just wanted very upfront, so they kind of sacrifice low end.

Um, So I've, I've kind of noticed that he hears like people that are into different genres, maybe even hear low end in a different way. Oh, you don't know? It's kind of curious. Um, that's something I should look into more of, 

Benedikt: [00:34:22] I think. Yeah. Oh yeah. Same thing in metal or like heavy music. On the one hand you have the classic, um, metal recordings and heavy music from like, 30 years ago or something where they are pretty thin and almost have no low end.

And you can, I can't even hear like the bass guitar. Really, the bass drum is all cliquey, but has no low end or is like, Sometimes not even clicky, it's just, yeah, just basically metal from the eighties or early nineties or something. They don't have a ton of low end at all. And you have some people that still like the style that's still, um, like that, that aesthetic.

And then there's some like the modern stuff that has the [00:35:00] super stuff, low, full, wide fat thing going on, but still they, you still have to manage to, to make it. Tight enough to make like double kick drums work and like fast and stuff. So it's this weird, huh? Balance. So that's why metal music is so hard to mix sometimes because people nowadays want this modern fat balance and the modern low end, but they still want the fast, uh, drums.

And they still want the super fast like guitar stuff going on, but with like low tune guitars and that's what makes it so, so difficult to mix. But again, as you said, different people perceive this low end thing completely differently. Like someone who listens to, I dunno, Slayer or Metallica, Metallica sound, stuff like that.

They perceive it really differently than someone who's too like spirit box or 

Malcom: [00:35:46] yeah. Yeah. Yeah. They couldn't be more different. You're right. 

Benedikt: [00:35:49] Yeah. So, yeah. That's it interesting? Yeah. We like episodes, like this are always great because it makes us think as well. And it makes us question some things that we do and like listen to more [00:36:00] stuff, I guess, and analyze more stuff.


Malcom: [00:36:02] I think the takeaway for the listeners based on what we just talked about there is that you should have a very clear goal in mind. Um, as again, going back to, before you start the production, Yeah, because I mean, if you're expecting to land on something without considering it in the beginning, it's pretty unlikely that you're going to land in the right spot.

So the, the earlier in the process that you have a target, I think that's going to help a lot. 

Benedikt: [00:36:27] Oh yeah. Totally. Always preach that. It's so important. Nothing, nothing to add to that. Totally. Um, the mid range when it comes to that is like, there is the vocals, the most of the music that's actually happening is in the mid range.

So a good mid range to me is like clear enough, but still has the vibe and the character. So that's also not as easy to balance and to get right, because you want clarity, as I said, you want the separation between guitars, pianos, vocals, whatever you [00:37:00] have in the mid range, but you also want vibe. And that sometimes means distortion or means certain effects or, um, certain things that kind of.

Yeah, that, that those things are the opposite of clarity. Basically. They kind of, um, if you distort things a lot, if you get a lot of character and vibe in there, and if there's lots of elements going on, um, it will sound more cohesive, but less clear. And there's a, there's a balance there you want both.

And depending on the Shawna, you want one more than the other, but. Those are the two things that I listen for in the mid range. Like if it's clear enough, if I can hear everything and if it's, if it has this kind of vibrant character, that's just interesting. A vocal also like the vocal mid-range is so important when it comes to the emotion, like some vocalists and the sound of the voice is just so in your face and so intimate and so attention grabbing, whereas other sound like very distant and you don't really care about the vocals.

In this, in this case. And it's [00:38:00] like a total totally different thing. So yeah, the mid range important to me as well. 

Malcom: [00:38:04] Yeah. And we're kind of doing this in an interesting order cause I feel like low end and then mid range are the hardest things to get. Right. 

Benedikt: [00:38:10] Totally. Yeah, totally, totally. You're totally right.

The civil isn't the top end was more of like, I don't know that that didn't make sense to put it that way, but you're totally right. The sibilance at the top end is just if it's right. I barely notice it. It's just there and it sounds great. I just notice it when it's wrong. But the low end of the mid range is where it's really at.


Malcom: [00:38:29] Yeah. There's always going to be work to be done in those spots. Totally. 

Benedikt: [00:38:33] Totally. Yeah. And then the presence, uh, it's just the upper mid range to me. That's just how Dell or present something sounds. That's the upper mid range that the really high top end, but just, yeah. How present something is, and that's also starts with the dialing in tones, guitar tones, for example, or, um, choosing a microphone for the singer.

Malcom: [00:38:52] Yeah. That, that is easier to figure out generally. Yeah. 

Benedikt: [00:38:56] I think no right or wrong here. It's a matter of taste and Chandra. 

Malcom: [00:38:59] Yeah. So you think [00:39:00] the one warning I might. Shove out there is that a cheap condenser mics tends to do a bad job in the presence range. And a lot of our listeners might be stuck with cheap condenser mics.

So you might have to do a little extra care in, in smoothing that out and making sure it's not. Too pokey. Um, but, uh, generally it's not, it's not too tricky. 

Benedikt: [00:39:19] Yeah. You now, because you sat in like episode two or three or four, I don't know. One of the first episodes you said, I think it was there, there is such thing as a great dark mix or something.

Yeah. So, so, because as many people think that bright is always better or a, you need a lot of presence always. So that's not always the case. Sometimes something darker can absolutely work. So yeah. One of those cheap, as you said, those cheap condenser microphone stay, might sound impressive right away, because they are clear and upfront and you think it's a great microphone, but it can be the totally wrong decision and end up really exhausting and annoying to listen to.

So, yeah. [00:40:00] Yeah. There is such thing as a great dark mix. And 

Malcom: [00:40:03] that's intentional by the way, listeners, they, they make these mikes sparkly because when you shoot them out in a store, it's like, Oh, listen, how clear that is. But it's like, is that musical they're trying to trick you with that. 

Benedikt: [00:40:17] Absolutely. That's why we are always recommending, um, to get dynamic mix also like an SM seven or.

The road pro caster or an  20 or something like that. Those Macs are typically darker. They are somewhat present, but in a different way. Um, and they can take a pretty, like, you can boost a lot of top end with those, but they are just, if you want it to be darker, you can have it darker. And if you want it to be brighter, you can cue it easily and they don't get so annoying.

Malcom: [00:40:43] Yeah. We're both using a, both using  right now. And listen to how good we sound, 

Benedikt: [00:40:49] especially, especially outcome. I've always been I'm finalizing and I'm finalizing these episodes. I always think like, man, I have such a nasal annoying voice compared to the deep, full Bakken [00:41:00] voice. Yeah.

Malcom: [00:41:03] I don't know. I, you know how people like it. Oh, he's hate their own voice. Yeah. That's, that's definitely a thing with me. So I was surprised when I started getting feedback that I've got a radio voice telling me, are you sure? 

Benedikt: [00:41:15] Yeah. Like there's no matter how much low-end I boost with my voice, I can, I can't get it.

Even close to how your voice sounds naturally. So, 

Malcom: [00:41:26] yeah, I, a fun fact, I used to host a radio show really back when I was like 19 or something. I had a little radio spot on a local station here. Yeah. 

Benedikt: [00:41:37] Not 

Malcom: [00:41:37] surprised it comes from all the radio experience. No, I did it for like four months. It was tiny, 

Benedikt: [00:41:44] not surprised at all.

So, uh, yeah, that's the thing. And then on the other end is the, the lower mid range, the boxy desk. Um, I'm curious, Malcolm, this is something that I still struggle with when I mix a lot. I just sometimes don't know how much of the [00:42:00] lower bid range that is kind of muddy or boxes sometimes. How much of that is actually good and how much of that I want to get rid of.

Sometimes I end up mixing a song and I feel like it's perfect. And then I, I listened to another song, a reference to something, or I look at even verse size. Sometimes I look at the analyzer and it just seems that there should be less lower mid range because many songs and I've kind of trained may use, but also my eyes looking at analyzing like other songs.

And sometimes I feel like there should be a little less mud. So I ended up taking out a bunch of 300, 400, 200 whatever to make it some were clearer, less boxy, a little more expensive or something. And then I'm afraid that it was maybe too much. So obviously it's, it's, um, I'm better at that now than I was, but it's still a challenge and it's still something that I keep thinking about a lot.

And it's, it's really hard to tell how much of that is good. And when, when it is too much also when, when arranging or when, when dialing in tones like guitar tones, guitar sounds really fat. If there's a [00:43:00] lot of low, mid range, it sounds really full and like, People like that. It's not annoying. It's not harsh.

It sounds full, but it can be totally too muddy for the arrangement and the mix. And how, how do you know. 

Malcom: [00:43:11] That that really is it like, it comes down to the arrangement choices again, like, do you want, is the goal to have big fat guitars? Because obviously if we just think, well, how do we want our guitarist like as big as possible, right?

But not everything can be as big as possible. You know, the, like you can only put so much water in the bucket. So if, if the guitar is not the priority, I think we need to start trying to make that decision to not. Fill it up as much? No, not give the guitar as much space, for example. Um, I mean, I kind of sometimes run into the other, the opposite thing with like the higher mid range on bass guitars.

I love my bases to be, well, we both do. I know that we both love our guitars to be our bass guitars, to be really growly and just like attacky and, 

Benedikt: [00:43:55] and guitar like, 

Malcom: [00:43:57] um, but every once in a while I like [00:44:00] get there and then I'm like, okay, I gotta dial that back because like, it's a guitar song, not a bass song.

And you know, I went too far with it kind of thing. So, uh, the arrangement. It makes all the difference for sure. Uh, and prioritizing the different elements of it. I think that low mid range boxy area is also something that kind of like goes and fads through music, like, like nineties pop recordings, like the like pop rock stuff that was coming out of there really didn't have a lot of stuff in that area.

It was very scooped out and clear, um, where. More presently, it's kind of filling up again. People are liking more full records, so it's kind of interesting how, like there's kind of trends in the curves. 

Benedikt: [00:44:43] It's totally what might not come, just sad. It's just comes down and what you, what you're going for. Um, but it's good to know that that it's a very important decision to make.

Malcom: [00:44:53] It has to be right. 

Benedikt: [00:44:54] Yeah. 

Malcom: [00:44:55] It's a hard answer, but it's just like, it makes sure it's right. 

Benedikt: [00:44:59] But, but that's [00:45:00] just, that's why I have it on this list. It's just also something to me that makes it Oh, great production for me. If that is right. Some songs are just too muddy, too muffled. Others are too scooped for my tastes.

And that immediately jumps out at me. So, yeah. And then there's the last thing in this broad characteristics, um, category here that is, uh, details and ear candy. I call it, I like the, these things a lot, and those are kind of also a sign of a good production for me. If the people producing a record or mixing a record or whatever, if they took the time to really get all the details, right.

If the transitions work really well, and it's very well thought out if like there are some clever, like, delays that like. Flow into another thing or whatever, or if there's like swells and subtle things that you can just tell that there was a lot of detailed work and a lot of automation, maybe things coming in and out, and really like there's movement in the song.

Also, like sometimes you don't have like left right center, but there's maybe movement between left and right. Or movement between front and back. [00:46:00] Also the depth part, which is even harder. Sometimes you feel things are coming at you and then going away again. So those types of. Thanks, which is more mixing than producing, but you can think about that this, when you are producing and arranging, because some, some of it is maybe post production.

You might, my, you may want to add these ear candy things that I like to call them that are mostly audible on the phones. When you listen to a great sound good headphones, sometimes you. Have listened to that song a hundred times, but you still hearing new things. Yes. And there's just these, these little subtle elements there that they added after the actual recording, whether it just added a cent or some samples or some post-production effects or something, and yeah, this is something I really enjoy it.

Um, lately I haven't cared about that as much. Before that I was always like the band and like, I've always still do band music, but I was always like classic band arrangement with two guitars, bass drums, vocals, that's it. And everything else was popped to me. But, um, that's not the thing anymore. I [00:47:00] started enjoying those postproduction elements a lot.

If, if done well and tasteful. 

Malcom: [00:47:04] Right. Yeah. I I'm also into that a lot right now. It's like my favorite part of mixing is the, the secret sauce. Uh, and it, it's weird because it's kind of a mixing this becoming a different job or mixing is now mixing. Plus post-production people are coming to expect these little added creative moments, but, you know, I appreciate the opportunity to get creative and if it doesn't need it, I'm not gonna, I'm not going to throw in stuff that doesn't need to be there.

Obviously. Um, but I do agree the more of that that's intentional and thought out in advance, you know, the better the results are gonna be, um, for sure. Don't, don't leave that stuff out because you think your mixers going to do it. Definitely consider it. Um, and yeah, it can really make all the difference.

I'm I'm the same way I used to not really be into it. I kinda thought it was cheesy. Um, but I think it's just, if it's cheesy, it's just, you did a bad job of getting it in there. Um, but there's definitely times where it [00:48:00] doesn't need to be in there. You know, if you're doing a straight to tape classic rock live off the floor thing.

There's not going to be any ear candy. No problem. 

Benedikt: [00:48:06] No, absolutely. And yeah, I mean the ear candy, there can be a very like detailed, I don't know, high hat thing or some like guitar lick where you hear the pick attack, really clear your stuff like that. You know, that's just very well, um, captured and like brought out in the mix that can be the Ukraine.

The, there doesn't need to be. Additional elements, but just these details that where you like pay really pay attention to. So, right. Okay. So now the more specific, detailed things, um, what is something that that's important to you there? Because I have my list here, but, um, I'm curious, like very specific things that you like or don't like in productions.

Malcom: [00:48:43] Yeah. Like I think we should, we should burn through these pretty quick because they are so down to like personal tastes and stuff like that. But they are little things to mention. Um, so I think right at the top of the list, and it would have been first on my list too, is like the, the room sound of the drum [00:49:00] kit.

Um, because nine out of 10 times we're doing drums. That sound like they're in like a big ass room. Right. So it's super important to both of us. Um, but even if your drums are meant to sound like they're in like a little bedroom or something like really dead, you know, you have to get that right. Um, and there that's something that beginning mixers are often very guilty of instead of like start mixing drums and solo and they make them sound like they're in a stadium.

And then they forget that they're doing like a, an Indy bedroom pop song. Oh, yeah, we have a problem 

Benedikt: [00:49:30] or the opposite in my case, it was really not now. I'm so sorry. Two drum rooms. And I have been for quite a while, but I remember starting out that I didn't record room mikes ever. I just had overheads and close mikes and I didn't even add reverb or anything.

My first couple of like demos or records that are there for friends. That didn't have a single, like reverb or delay or any sort of effect or room that was completely dry because I just didn't know that this was what's the thing or how to use it. I thought I'd like, you record a band, you mix [00:50:00] like the base and highs and mid range.

And then you like, you know, that's it basically. So that's the opposite when people starting out totally forget about how important the room is or some people who sent me the program drums. They like, I get this question. So often they say like, um, should we, we include the rooms or are they not important anyways?

Right. And I'm like, of course sent me the rooms. I want the whole thing. This is the most important part. I mean, I can always trigger some other rooms, but yes, please send me the rooms. No matter if it's programmed or real drums, 

Malcom: [00:50:30] it that's a really hard thing to get right though. Actually, you know, that's almost like a broad characteristic for me, how important that is, because it's so easy to go too far with that, or, or too little, um, like.

I definitely ended up going to far earlier in my career where everything was just like too soupy. And now I like the records, I'm liking our dryer, but they still sound massive, you know? So it's like, I gotta figure that out and, and, and keep honing that and honing that for sure. So, yeah, making sure you're [00:51:00] really, what we're talking about is drums.

Like if we look at our list, it's like the first five things are our drums. So essentially you're, your record is only as good as your drum sound. 

Benedikt: [00:51:10] Totally. 

Malcom: [00:51:12] It's gotta be awesome. Um, cause it takes up so much space and it's so transient and, and people hear it. Um, so it affects everything. 

Benedikt: [00:51:20] It's what makes you move also?

It's like the, yeah. It's I don't know. And it's technically so hard to do. I think, like, as I said before, before we started this episode, when you have a weird guitar tone, you can always say it's like vibe character it's on purpose something. Um, it's just a guitar. That sounds a little weird, but if the drums are done, In a bad way.

Like it's just bad. It's like, so, so much that can go wrong in a bedroom recording. It's just a bathroom recording. You can't get away with that. So drums in general 

Malcom: [00:51:48] super important. Yes. Yeah. So like, well, let's just list them off. We had like the room sound, uh, the snare sound that's like pretty well, like a meme at this point in the metal community is like, ah, your snare [00:52:00] shit.

But, uh, it really is important. Um, It's just like attention grabbing, you know? Uh, so that's gotta be right. The kick also has to be, you know, the Billy Decker going back to him, he says, uh, what does he say? Kicks kick drum, cell records or something. Yeah. Uh, yeah, exactly. So, um, and you know, I've got a buddy Lucas McKinnon over at a studio called silverside sound, which is just down the road from me.

And I do a lot of my work there. Um, but we have this thing going where we always say, is it going to affect record sales? That's how we make our decisions when we're working. They're like, huh, that's a little strange. That's not going to affect record sales. It was going 

Benedikt: [00:52:38] so right. That's so right. Yeah. 

Malcom: [00:52:40] Um, and that's how we also talk herself out of buying new gear.

That's like, that's not going to sell more records. It's not the start by you that, uh, but, uh, then like the punchiness or soft, this of the drums, which is like, kind of, um, ties into like the transients, [00:53:00] like, is it too sharp sounding and pokey or is it round and. And like, give us a tack on your compressor way too fast.

So everything's just like, you've lost all your attack. Um, and then the last thing would be like symbols, which is huge. Symbols can be so, so bad. There was a time where I didn't really notice the whistles that come up in symbols or guitars for that matter. Yeah. You know what I'm talking about? 

Benedikt: [00:53:25] Yeah, totally.

Like, did you watch the nail, the mix episode with Carbone? Mixing bullet for my Valentine. 

Malcom: [00:53:31] Oh, I did. Yes, I did. That was 

Benedikt: [00:53:33] such an insane session. Like they went for, I don't know how many hours like insane the longest, like so far, I think. And he put, he put so much attention to like, he had so much attention to detail on the overheads and symbols and stuff.

And he had this analogy or he found he did what we all do. Like finding these whistles as you described it, these resonances and pulling them out. But he had such great analogies for each of them. One was like a guy with a spray can [00:54:00] running around the drum kit. And another one was like, yeah, the whistle.

And then they're like, he has. All these analogies for each of the resonances that he found and they were all spot on. So, um, yeah, totally. I didn't hear that in the beginning as well. And now I'm like notching out all these things and I do the before and after I bypass the queue and I'm like, Holy shit, they're on my symbols.

They were all covered in. Yeah, 

Malcom: [00:54:21] totally. Yeah. That, uh, that's another thing that's really easy to go too far on is killing the whistles because you can kind of make your, your guitars or your symbols to kind of sound lifeless if you go too far. But, uh, That's like a really modern mixing technique is like these hyper narrow Q cuts where you're just taking out whistles.

Like, like we're saying, um, if you don't know what we're talking about, we should find something to like share in our Facebook community where we can be like, this is what we're talking about. These kinds of whistles. There's probably, yeah. A cool video. We can find on YouTube or something. 

Benedikt: [00:54:51] I'm writing this down right now.

I'm going to do that. That's awesome. Yeah. Um, but yeah, symbols in general, like distortion, um, and the top end is like, like [00:55:00] people tend to monitor way too loud and you cannot hear top and distortion when you aren't turning too loud. So that's the thing also, when you're recording in your jam space and you have the drum kit in the same room with you, like you immediately lose the top and basically, and you're hearing it, doesn't take much to be like tone, not tone deaf, but in general, that at least for a couple of hours, you don't really hear the top end anymore.

If you're in a loud jam space recording drums. So sometimes you might not notice that you are too close to the symbols with your microphones and they just tore it. Or you have like cheap microphones and there's kind of a. Not pleasing top end that you capturing. So be careful with that and listen to it quietly, take breaks and listen, just listen to how the simple sound and.

It matters because it makes the final production pretty annoying if it's done wrong. 

Malcom: [00:55:47] Okay. Uh, so we ran through like a lot of drum stuff there. Um, and we touched on guitar residences as well. That's that's gonna fall. These are all of the things we're were mentioning are distracting, [00:56:00] right? Like that.

That's why we're getting down to the detailed things are anything that could be distracting, 

Benedikt: [00:56:05] um, to do an example of the guitar residences as well in the community. I think. Because it's, it's just a very common thing in a very practical thing to tell people, because that's just like eight out of 10 guitars that I get from people who record themselves.

Have like more of those rests and ANSYS they're necessary. Like if they try to make a real cap, at least they don't use sums. So like things like angling the mic a bit or combining two mikes to kind of cancel out those resonances, even knowing what those resonances are. It's just a big and important thing.

For people. So I kind of, I find an example and I posted in the community so that people know what we were talking about. But if I hear that in a final production, that immediately screams amateur production to me, if I hear all these weird guitar resonances, 

Malcom: [00:56:51] right. If you're not in the self recording band, Facebook community, go and join that it is open to any listeners.

Benedikt: [00:56:58] Yes. 

Malcom: [00:56:59] It's actually open to [00:57:00] anyone. So anyone you can go in there and invite the rest of your band, even if they're not listen to the podcast. 

Benedikt: [00:57:04] Totally. And just should do that. 

Malcom: [00:57:06] Yes, yes. Yes. Your job becomes a lot easier if your band is on the same page as Oh yeah. That's a, that's a good tip. Oh yeah, 

Benedikt: [00:57:14] yeah. Um, you were about to say, uh, we have drums, we have guitars.

Malcom: [00:57:18] I mean, really? We could, we could say anything if it's done wrong. 

Benedikt: [00:57:23] Yeah, yeah. 

Malcom: [00:57:24] Right. 

Benedikt: [00:57:24] Uh, to me, the next thing would be. Um, how the vocal sits in the mix. That is something that I listen for when I listen to music a lot. When I have like, uh, when the vocal is way above the band or the opposite when the vocal is just.

Another instrument and not really prominent and both things can be right, but it can be totally wrong as well, depending on what you're going for. Some bands want the vocalist like quiet and embedded and others want it to be super upfront. And like the, the, all the rest is kind of behind it or below it.

But if that's done wrong, that immediately jumps out to me as well. And if it's done [00:58:00] right, that's also. Super cool. Like some productions with this really upfront vocal artists. So yeah. So great. And so emotionally 

Malcom: [00:58:08] you're, you're absolutely right. That can be, I always find it interesting when I hear a mix.

I like, and the vocal is really quiet because I, I tend to go a little forward. I think I don't want like super forward, but, uh, generally the vocals on top for sure. And then sometimes I hear a song and it's pushed for the back and I'm like, this still sounds awesome. I want to experiment with this more.

Um, That's like my biggest pet peeve for live sound is when the vocal is too loud. I mean, I know that often it's more often that the vocals do quiet and people are like, I can't hear the vocals and that's obviously worse, but I feel like sound, people are terrified of that. So they're always mixing their vocal way too loud and it's like, Yeah.

Yeah, yeah, totally. I'm like, no, we want that vocalists to be like fighting for energy, you know, like, 

Benedikt: [00:58:56] Oh, many times I've listened to punk or hardcore bands and like bigger venues [00:59:00] and all you hear is the vocals. And it's so weird, especially if you have someone screaming and the, all you hear is like a person screaming with some music in the background.

That's just, you know, so it's 

Malcom: [00:59:09] not right. Yeah. Yeah, totally. Yeah. Context 

Benedikt: [00:59:12] is everything. And the, with vocal layers, I mean, um, Well thought out vocal arrangements. It's an arrangement thing again, but that's also part of a good production for me. And I say that because a lot of times I get stuff to mix where they completely just didn't do any doubles or harmonies or whatever, but they didn't do it on purpose because they wanted to.

They just didn't think of it. And they just thought, well, we have a singer and that's what we have. And so I just want you to, to think about that and to maybe try out harmonies or doubles or additional vocals, adlibs, whatever, and see if you like it. If it helps the song, if it helps a certain part, if you don't like it, you can always delete it.

But think about this because a great vocal arrangement with like, well thought out layers and harmonies and backing vocals, it makes it so much more interesting and also helps, um, separating parts like a. [01:00:00] It's very simple verse compared to the chorus with all of them can vocals. So, yeah, that's just, I guess the thing that I'm listening for most like where the vocal sits and what the vocal arrangement is like, 

Malcom: [01:00:10] we do an episode on vocal production tricks.

Oh yeah. I know we did one on recording vocals, but we could get a lot more into some cool stuff. I think that'd be great. Um, I feel like that's, that's a great overview of a lot of important stuff. 

Benedikt: [01:00:24] I think so. Yeah. I think we've kind of went through it. That's that's it? Um, that was kind of one of my favorite episodes so far.

Um, yeah, I didn't expect that, but that was cool. So I hope it was helpful as well. I hope you kind of, uh, listen to two songs or to your own songs in a different way now and are better able to, to analyze what you're doing. If you're still struggling with one of these things, just let us know, just shoot us an email posted in the community.

Maybe you have an example of something you're recording right now. And you're not sure if, if it's good enough, just post that. And it's always, if you do something like that, or if you [01:01:00] send me an email with something like that, it's always good to have context. So if you, for example, you are recording a guitar and you're, you don't know if you're happy with the guitar tone.

Uh, it's much easier for me or for us to help. If you tell us why you are going forward, what you goal is, what you compare it to, uh, what the final thing should sound like, because then we can actually help. If someone just likes like post the tone and says, is this good? It always depends, you know? So just do that, give some context, but then I think we're, we're able to help and, um, the community.

Yeah, well, we have a lot of cool, like really good people also in the community that are happy you to help. So yeah. Do that try and the community, let us know. And I hope this was help. 

Malcom: [01:01:40] Yeah. This is episode 30, by the way. I was wanting to just shout out that that's awesome. 

Benedikt: [01:01:45] That is super awesome. I think, um, Yeah, I didn't expect that.

Wow. Like, it's been almost over half a year now at this point. Crazy wild. 

Malcom: [01:01:54] Yeah. Cool. 

Benedikt: [01:01:55] Uh, yeah, but thank you all for listening. Thank you for subscribing. Leave us a review on Apple [01:02:00] podcasts or iTunes. And finally, if you haven't yet, please download the ultimate guide to DIY recording. The 10 step guide that I have on my website.

So if you go through the self recording band.com/ten step guide. You can write the letter or the number 10 or can write it out. Doesn't matter. You will find this guide. It's a PDF, almost like a mini ebook with 10 steps, uh, walks you through the entire production, uh, gives you like a starting point. Um, lets you know what to, um, you know how to plan the whole thing?

What, what the steps are, what to watch out for. Um, and it's kind of an extension of what we did in this episode here, because it also tells you what, like what a good production is and how to achieve it. And, um, yeah, if you haven't yet download that guide, it's the self recording band.com/ten step guide.

All right, awesome. See you next week. Next week. Bye.

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