Where to Start When Tracking Your First Demos

It’s safe to say that breaking into the independent music production game comes with its fair share of hurdles, especially when a great majority of DAWs (digital audio workstations) don’t come with very thorough instruction manuals. But when you finally do get your head around your chosen DAW, you’ll be greeted with a whole new challenge: tracking your first demo. Here’s all you’ll need to know to get the ball rolling.

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Recording tracks

There’s a fair amount of hardware required when it comes to actually recording your tracks, and it pays to invest in the best quality equipment from the get-go. This means investing in instruments that boast seamless digital integration like Fusion’s rosewood guitar, MIDI controllers for harvesting some funky, experimental sounds, and finally a suitable vocal recording microphone, the sourcing of which is generally easier said than done. You may find that you’ll need to use different microphones for different genres, just as you may find yourself using a broad array of instruments or instrumental effects in the same contexts. Know that this is just as normal as playing around with solid-state or tube amps at any point in your journey, and that not everything needs to be state-of-the-art to produce the sounds you might be looking for.

Colour-code your tracks

Just as an organised room reflects an organised mind, an organised DAW will greatly simplify the process of independent production. Colour-coding your tracks will ensure that all your separate elements will be easy to find and use, and even easier to critically assess. And although this article is largely about tracking your first demo, it’s a good rule of thumb to think about establishing this good habit right now as it also pays to be consistent from track to track and from instrument to instrument. For instance, get into the habit of selecting a specific set of hues for a specific set of instruments. Purples could be used to indicate drums, reds for guitars, blues for brass, and so on and so forth. Developing these visual associations alongside your sounds will definitely make independent music production feel like second nature in next to no time at all.

Experiment consistently

Finally, the word ‘experiment’ has been used sparingly throughout this article, and for good reason: you should always be doing it. The whole process of music production is reliant on experimentation. Playing around with MIDI controllers and instruments and getting to grips with all your chosen tools, all of this should be viewed in the same lens as you would a jam session with friends. The fantastic thing about music production is that when you have a passion for expression through music, it should rarely feel like work and constantly feel like learning. The only time it should feel like work is when you’re editing, and even then, you should still be experimenting. The structure is only a framework for creation. Expression is creation itself.

And remember that there’s no set timeline when it comes to music production, unless you’re challenging yourself and have decided to set yourself deadlines and other personal goals. Even so, it’s not wise to set yourself deadlines when you’re just starting out because you don’t want to limit your exploration too much. You should allow yourself to take as long as you’ll need on your first track until you feel proud of your end result, and then be sure to spread it out there because it’s no good for you gathering dust in an external hard drive. Share it with your friends, post it online, get your feedback, and move on to your next project!

Universal Audio Marshall Plexi Super Lead Plug-In

UA Marshall Plexi

PRESS RELEASE: Universal Audio and Softube are proud to announce the Marshall “Plexi” Super Lead plug-in — the only Marshall-branded amplifier plug-in on the market — coming exclusively to Apollo audio interfaces and the UAD Powered Plug-Ins platform in May 2015. The 100-watt Marshall Super Lead Model 1959, commonly referred to as the “Plexi,” is one of the world’s most celebrated guitar amps. Softube worked with Marshall and recording engineer Tony Platt (AC/DC’s Highway to Hell and Back in Black) to craft a stunningly faithful emulation of Marshall’s own reference Super Lead Model 1959 amp, built in 1967 and captured using an era-correct 1960BHW speaker cabinet in Kore Studios, London. Read More …

Mesa Cab Clone Makes Life Worth Living

Mesa Cab Clone

Aaah, that’s the stuff. Mesa Engineering has just announced the Cab Clone, a guitar speaker cabinet emulator and load box which lets you record your screaming, wailing cranked tube amp silently or to send a nice clean signal to a mixing desk via the balanced XLR output, plus a 1/4″ uncompensated output for sending your signal to a slave amp rig, cabinet emulated etc. Plus there’s a Thru output for sending the signal on to your speaker cabinet for ‘real speaker’ monitoring. It also has a compensated headphone output so you can get your groove on in your head without getting evicted/divorced. You can select between open-back, closed-back and vintage voicings, and there’s a DI level control for optimising the signal for mic, instrument or line applications. There’s also a Phase Flip switch and Ground Lift.

MUSIKMESSE: BOSS GT-001 Guitar Effects Processor

boss-gt-001PRESS RELEASE: BOSS is proud to announce the GT-001 Guitar Effects Processor, a sleek desktop unit with premium sound and an integrated USB audio interface. Equipped with a huge selection of top-quality COSM amps and effects, 1/4-inch and XLR inputs, and much more, the compact GT-001 brings flagship BOSS guitar tones and advanced recording features to any home studio or mobile setup. Read More …

COOL GEAR ALERT: Roger Mayer 456

456Ever felt that your digital mixes were just missing something? Something warm and musical and just flat-out real? Well, what you’re probably missing is the beauty of analog tape. There’s something very pleasing to the ear lurking in the particular way analog tape captures sound, and it’s something that’s impossible for digital technology to replicate. And yet, as Roger Mayer observes, these qualities can be captured on a CD, which leads us to the realisation that they can be incorporated within your own recordings too. But how? Roger’s 456, that’s how! It allows you to duplicate the dynamic and harmonic qualities of analog tape even within the digital realm. Here’s Roger’s extensive documentation about what the 456 is, what it does and how it does it. Read More …

COOL GEAR ALERT: Two Notes Torpoedo C.A.B.

CAB thumbnailAah! This is perfect! A lot of us are huge fans of cabinet impulses in the studio but there hasn’t really been a practical way of using them live. You could take your laptop to a gig, but then what if someone runs off with it and finds your porn stash? Well the Torpedo C.A.B. will help you to retain your tone and your dignity by providing cabinet impulses in stompbox form. It’s not a loadbox (so don’t expect to be able to silently record your amp head), but it does include all the other features of the Torpedo Live (which is a loadbox), together with an input stage specifically tailored to accept pedal-level signals.  Read More …

REVIEW: Digitech BP355

Bass players often seem to be given the short end of the stick when it comes to multieffects and recording-friendly products. There have been a few cool units over the years, but more often than not bass players are criminally short-changed when it comes to under-foot processing power. No more! DigiTech’s BP355 is going to change all that. Part preamp, part multi-effects unit, part looper, part recording interface, it’s an innovative piece of kit that covers a lot of basses… uh, bases.

Amp models? It has 21, based on – you ready for this? – Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, Fender Tweed Deluxe, ’63 Vox AC30 Top Boost, ’65 Fender Blackface Twin Reverb, ’77 Marshall Master Volume, Ampeg B15, Ampeg SVT, Ashdown Bass Magnifer, Demeter VTBP-201S, DigiTech Clean Tube, DigiTech High Gain, DigiTech Solo, Fender Bassman, Fender Dual Showman, Hiwatt Custom 50, Mesa Boogie 400+, SWR Basic Black, SWR Interstellar Overdrive, Sunn 200S and Trace-Elliot Commando (as well as a Direct voicing with no amp model to speak of).

Read More …