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philadelphia recording studio

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Preparing For Your 1st Session

  1. PREPARE YOUR SESSION FILES
    have all your beat/instrumental ready for the engineer.  having it on a flash drive or hard drive will save you time.  Having a WAV file is ideal but MP3 can work.  If you don't have a flash drive send the files via wetransfer.com or dropbox.com to: repercussionstudios@gmail.com
     
  2. PRACTICE YOUR SONG
    going through the song several times prior to your session will help you get the best results in the studio and it will save you time.  Put yourself in a position to have a confident performance while you're in the studio.  memorizing lyrics and working on your delivery will help you perform your best in front of the microphone.
     
  3. HAVE REFERENCES
    having different reference songs will help your engineer deliver what you envision in your head.  Many of the tricks used in songs today can be easily accomplished by a good engineer.  If you find yourself having difficulty describing the sound you want than having a song to reference that sound will help your engineer bring about your vision for the song.
     
  4. HAVE PLENTY OF REST
    be sure you're rested and ready for your session.  Often times physical fatigue can contribute to a lack of energy and emotion in a session which than can lead to a poor performance. 
     
  5. HAVE AN OPEN MIND
    some of the greatest songs have stories of organic creativity brought about on the spot in the studio.  Come as prepared as possible but allow for some wiggle room in terms of creativity.  Build a relationship with your engineer and consider his/her suggestions for your song.  Doing so will may lead to you developing a sound that is all your own.

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Finding your sound

Tip: finding your sound. Often I'll ask an artist what their "sound" is. More often than not they say things like "I think my sound is completely different" or "we're trying to break the mold". I always find this to be admirable that my clients are so ambitious in the music they want to achieve. This however for an engineer is the hardest client to work with. Here are some reasons why. 1.Your job as a producer becomes the job of a mind reader. 
2. It makes the process of making music more about experimentation than about instincts and craft. Though experimentation is always necessary endless experimentation leads no where and 5 yrs later you'll be sitting on songs that have never seen the light of day. 
3. What if what they hear just plain doesn't sound good. Or they have difficulty explaining what they want. I listen to all sorts of music from hip hop, trap, country, alternative,classical etc. but a George strait drum sound might not be the best accompaniment to a trap record. 

My philosophy has always been that originality stems from a collection of inspiration a person has. The old adage that says "nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration" is a saying I deeply agree with. So as an artist or a producer engineer. Getting these inspirations inline are key to accomplishing something that sounds original. I often mix referencing material that sounds similar to the source material that I'm working on. This helps me to stay on the right track. 

Is this stealing? Yes... But luckily there is not copy right to a drum sound. And likewise you won't be seeing a law suit for using a 2,5,1 progression that is on countless other records. Don't be afraid to say that things inspire you. Once you accomplish that you'll be 1 step closer to finding "your sound".

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MS processing

Tip: ms(mid,side or mono,stereo) processing is an amazing tool. It was originally intended for a way for mastering engineers to control certain instruments of the mix independently from the entire mix. However there's endless possibilities to how it can be use. Try using ms on your synth sounds. A lot of synths can take up a lot of space in the area a vocal sits. Using ms processing can help you create room in mono for the vocal while preserving the mid frequencies in the stereo.

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Layers of mixing II

TIP: time is money. especially in the studio. I often have to track mix and master a song within 2 hrs. There's a bunch of little tricks that lets me move fast. But here's one. I record everything on 1 track for vocals. Instead I drag and drop tracks into my template. I usually will have about 8-10 tracks already pre loaded (vox,dub,lib,hook1-4,etc). 

It also keeps all your takes in 1 location. So you can drag and drop it later. Rememeber to hotkey for to open a new playlist (ctrl + \). 

And keep it moving.

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Tips on Mixing

Tip: You ask 9/10 engineers advice on audio. They will tell you to "use your ears". This drove me crazy because half the engineers hold right onto their secrets while others seem to ramble and it would always end up at some fundamental ideas about mic placement or tell your performer to do better. After all this frustration and not getting straight forward answers, I found that the best way to get better is to use your client's ears. Listen to what your clients want from you. Do exactly as they ask. Have your opinion but be open to possibilities. We as people grow from each other. Music is the same way. Listen to your clients and make sure they know they are apart of the mixing process too. It is their song for goodness sake...

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Gain Stage

Tip: gain stage. If you don't know what this is you need to. This is the most important and fundamental element to a good mix. With the digital age 24 bit depth and 32 float you have a huge room for error but we neglect to realize that our plugins (esp hardware emulations) will distort like the hardware. If you want that gritty sound by all means go for it. But more often than not clarity is the key. Your introducing harmonics and distortion that appear inaudible when you solo a track but across your whole session it will build up. Without the fundamentals down everything else will fall apart. Remember to gain stage before you touch any faders or effects. Happy music making!

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Producing Hip Hop Music

Tip: for you hip hop producers. a common mistake producers make when making a beat is using the same velocity on your midi sample throughout the whole song. The most noticeable is your kick. 

Try this. Use a different velocity for your kicks. Find your accent kick and make that 127. Then try to bring the rest down to 110 or other less important kicks to 90 or more. Try to create a groove. Another way of accomplishing this is to pitch down the kicks. A simple volume ride might also do the trick as well. But there are scenarios that each benefit from. Try all three and find out what you like best. 

Another tip when your using a drum sample, with midi drums on top. For clarity sake, say you use a 70s funk drum intro you sampled from your moms vinyl collection and on top you have some 808 and 909s. Throw a delay on your sample. Something subtle so that it accents the groove. A 8th delay usually will do the trick. But experiment with other times. Or even triplet or dotted delays. Ping pong delays even. When you do this low pass and high pass the delay so that it isn't super audible. It should give a sensation that it moves.

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