Discover your sound.

Producing on a Budget (DAW & Freeware)

This course is all about making the transition into the standalone DAW from either web based applications (Soundation/Audiotool) or the physical studio. Every Digital Audio Workstation's purpose is the same (to make music) but the way each application approaches the music making process is different. The built in tools, graphic user interface, configuring options, terminology, etc will all vary with each program and each program will boast about it's superiority in one way or the other.

One thing all these DAWs do have in common is more choices and flexibility than what we've looked at before (exponentially so). Not only that but within these DAWs you can actually run additional software (plugins) of which there are hundreds. This poses an interesting dilemma from a teaching standpoint. We could arbitrarily pick one DAW and use what comes bundled with that. But in my opinion that sends the wrong message (that one DAW is superior). Therefore we will be taking a slightly unique approach with this course.

The choice of DAW is 100% yours (have your manual handy to learn the nomenclature) but the instruments,  processors, and samples will be chosen by us. But don't worry you won't need to break the bank on a bunch of expensive plugins or sample packs. All the samples and plugins are one hundred percent free and ready to use in your creations. Hopefully by taking this approach we can all learn together and keep our options manageable.

There is a lot of content to cover. This is not the sort of course you can view once and forget about. Generally speaking this course covers what we (Sormena) consider to be the fundamentals. That being said, in any discipline "the fundamentals" take years to learn (theoretically), practice, and apply. Whenever you feel inspired to create... CREATE. Even if you're mid way through a video, stop the video and fulfill that desire. There will be plenty of times when you're not feeling particularly creative, that would be a good time to pick up where you left off. These lessons (especially sections 4 and 5) are designed for you to come back and view again and again. Eventually you'll want these core ideas (fundamentals) to be second nature to you. However, you don't need to master these fundamentals in order to make great music. Making anything requires you to show up and do it. 

If you come across any mistakes (either with video content, video edits, descriptions, broken links, etc) please contact us so we can correct them.

Producing on a Budget (DAW & Freeware)

Once you've decided making music is something you want to pursue you'll need to invest in a standalone DAW. Suddenly there are thousands of options and menu's so where do you start? Using Freeware we'll limit those options and make music.


Instructor: Brian Bollman

Total Duration: 27:01:43


  1. Welcome to the Course 00:10:01
    Welcome to the Course

    With just a DAW and freeware the music making options are endless. No need to break the bank prematurely. In this course you'll learn that restraint and limitations actually will make you a more efficient music maker.

    Duration: 00:10:01

Section 1

  1. A Brief History of Audio Recording and Production 00:30:05
    A Brief History of Audio Recording and Production

    Examining the evolution of studio technology offers an interesting insight into how we make music today. Just because we have more options doesn’t mean we’ll necessarily be able to make the most of them.

    Duration: 00:30:05

  2. What DAW Should I Use? 00:29:14
    What DAW Should I Use?

    The Great DAW Debate! Spend less time comparing features and more time asking in what program will I actually feel comfortable making music in?

    Duration: 00:29:14

  3. Features of Commercial Digital Audio Workstations 00:05:06
    Features of Commercial Digital Audio Workstations

    While commercial (full version paid) DAWs are all unique generally the core feature set is the same. However, when you star to talk about Freeware DAWs the story changes. We’ll compare and contrast the general functionality you’ll find in both.

    Duration: 00:05:06

  4. Free DAW Example - Garageband 00:11:20
    Free DAW Example - Garageband

    Garageband is a freeware program (with macs) that can be used to make some really incredible music. This software would absolutely work for this course. That being said we’ll look at some of the limitations and how to work around them.

    Duration: 00:11:20

  5. Commercial DAW Example - Bitwig Studio 00:07:46
    Commercial DAW Example - Bitwig Studio

    Commercial DAWs give the flexibility and control that Freeware tends to lack. We look at and discuss some of those differences by using Bitwig Studio as a comparison. Remember that any commercial software should give you the same sort of freedom.

    Duration: 00:07:46

  6. The "Physical Virtual" Studio Approach 00:15:13
    The "Physical Virtual" Studio Approach

    We’re taking a unique approach in this course. The DAW choice is up to you. But instead of using the built in DAW tools we will all use the same free samples and plugins that are available to download on the Internet. This is going to be fun!

    Duration: 00:15:13

Section 2

  1. Introduction to Section 2 (Sampling) 00:03:33
    Introduction to Section 2 (Sampling)

    Sampling is more than just lifting a break beat from an obscure record. “Sampling” really is the fundamental building block upon which all computer music is created.

    Duration: 00:03:33

  2. Beginning a New Project (The First Steps) 00:03:19
    Beginning a New Project (The First Steps)

    Before going too far we’re going to discuss the importance of opening your DAW with a purpose. Opening the DAW with no intention typically leads to no results.

    Duration: 00:03:19

  3. Project Sample Rate and Buffer Size 00:10:34
    Project Sample Rate and Buffer Size

    Picking a sample rate confuses most people. Don’t worry whatever sample rate you choose you aren’t suddenly going to turn a hit into a stinker or vice versa.

    Duration: 00:10:34

  4. Digital Sampling Part 1 (The Theory) 00:04:05
    Digital Sampling Part 1 (The Theory)

    A short little discussion on how digital sampling compares to analog recording. They’re really not so different after all. One uses a physical medium the other a digital file, but the end goal is ultimately the same… record and playback sound.

    Duration: 00:04:05

  5. Digital Sampling Part 2 (Quality) 00:08:56
    Digital Sampling Part 2 (Quality)

    The more samples (snapshots) taken of an audio signal the more accurate the recording. The question is how accurate do you need. Is 44,100 samples a second enough (theoretically it is) or do you want more.

    Duration: 00:08:56

  6. Importance of D to A and A to D Converters 00:03:35
    Importance of D to A and A to D Converters

    We get so caught up on the big pieces of gear (our speakers, synthesizers etc) that we often overlook the little things…specifically our A to D and D to A converters.

    Duration: 00:03:35

  7. Non Destructive Audio Editing 00:11:20
    Non Destructive Audio Editing

    Non-destructive audio editing is at the core of every digital audio workstation today. I know we take it granted but this function allows us to make thousands of varieties of a single sound (sample) without altering the original file on the hard drive.

    Duration: 00:11:20

  8. Evolution of Multi Sampled Instruments 00:04:08
    Evolution of Multi Sampled Instruments

    If we have enough samples of say a piano could we realistically emulate said piano to a point where a listener wouldn’t know the difference (Real or Sampled)? The answer is yes and we'll examine just how far this idea has come.

    Duration: 00:04:08

  9. Sampler (Virtual Instrument) 00:05:48
    Sampler (Virtual Instrument)

    Time to load in a freeware sampler of our own. We’ll talk a little about plugins, the sampler we’ll be using, and then actually load in a sound font to see how the samples are organized within the instrument.

    Duration: 00:05:48

  10. Making a Single Sample Instrument 00:07:16
    Making a Single Sample Instrument

    Samplers can be used for much than just playing back sounds of familiar instruments. Here we’ll take a sample of a cymbal being bowed and transform it into a pluck lead sound.

    Duration: 00:07:16

  11. Making Your Own Drum Machine (Multiple Samples) 00:06:23
    Making Your Own Drum Machine (Multiple Samples)

    You don’t just have to stop at one sample. It’s very simple to load in many samples to create one sampler instrument. To illustrate this point we’ll make a simple drum machine then route the sounds out to process and mix them separately.

    Duration: 00:06:23

  12. Section 2 Wrap Up 00:01:05
    Section 2 Wrap Up

    Without sampling we wouldn’t be able to make computer music or even record to our hard drive. Experimenting with, exploring, and manipulating samples is easy, fun, and a simple way to make unique music. Give it a shot!

    Duration: 00:01:05

  13. Bonus Sampler Walkthrough 00:35:02
    Bonus Sampler Walkthrough

    A detailed follow up to the “Making Your Own Drum Machine” lesson. This video is a step by step guide detailing the techniques that were more or less only theoretically discussed before.

    Duration: 00:35:02

Section 3

  1. Classifying Instruments and Samples 00:26:11
    Classifying Instruments and Samples

    Most of you probably know that the market is flooded with samples and virtual instruments (more than any person could use). However, it’s not as if all sample packs and instruments are entirely unique. Thus, a little classification can go a long way.

    Duration: 00:26:11

  2. OBXD Hardware Emulation Synthesizer 00:12:21
    OBXD Hardware Emulation Synthesizer

    The OBXD is a hardware emulation of the Oberheim OB-X synthesizer. It’s form of synthesis (how it makes and shapes sound) is subtractive. We'll explore just what makes this virtual synth a hardware emulation.

    Duration: 00:12:21

  3. Dexed Hardware Emulation Synthesizer 00:16:01
    Dexed Hardware Emulation Synthesizer

    Dexed is a hardware emulation of the Yamaha DX-7. This instrument uses a synthesis process called phase modulation (PM) also known as frequency modulation (FM) to generate sounds.

    Duration: 00:16:01

  4. Tyrell N6 Virtual Analog Synthesizer 00:18:11
    Tyrell N6 Virtual Analog Synthesizer

    The Tyrell N6 is what we'll classify as a “virtual analog” synthesizer. Instead of modeling a specific analog synth from the past U-He has created a unique sounding instrument that follows the same basic principles and components (osc, filters, etc.).

    Duration: 00:18:11

  5. Helm Digital Synthesizer 00:12:29
    Helm Digital Synthesizer

    Helm offers a few features that I would consider uniquely digital. You have the option to morph and modulate between oscillators and the primary modulation system is a user friendly drag and drop scheme found commonly in "digital" synths.

    Duration: 00:12:29

  6. Standalone Multisampled Instruments 00:06:10
    Standalone Multisampled Instruments

    Typically you load multi-sampled instruments into a dedicated sampler (like in section 2). But there are also some plugin instruments that come with all the samples built in hidden from view. That is the case with these very simple instruments.

    Duration: 00:06:10

  7. Section 3 Wrap Up 00:06:28
    Section 3 Wrap Up

    Having a lot of sample and virtual instrument options is one thing. But understanding what option will work best for your style of music is another. To wrap this section up we talk about sound selection and experimentation.

    Duration: 00:06:28

  8. BONUS Synth 1 Virtual Analog Synthesizer 00:10:23
    BONUS Synth 1 Virtual Analog Synthesizer

    Synth1 is a legendary software synthesizer. It’s VA like the Tyrell N6 but has additional features, effects, and filters. Of course it also has it’s own unique character and sound. Optional for this course but an instrument I’m sure many will love.

    Duration: 00:10:23

Section 4

  1. Different Effects Processors (History) 00:29:12
    Different Effects Processors (History)

    Effects processing is more than just randomly throwing plugins on a part until it sounds cool. It actually requires quite a bit of thinking and problem solving. Hopefully by the end of this lengthy section you’ll start to see how all pieces fit together.

    Duration: 00:29:12

  2. Categorization of Effects 00:15:03
    Categorization of Effects

    We’ll be categorizing our effects differently than our instruments. Too many effects would fall into a grey area if we were to do what we did before. So instead we’ll use characteristics and attributes of sound as our guide.

    Duration: 00:15:03

  3. Digital Recording (Stage One) 00:06:02
    Digital Recording (Stage One)

    Recording isn’t technically a part of effects processing but signal flow and gain staging are. With a recording these are the sorts of things you need to think about. We’ll discuss digital recordings and how to set input levels to stay “safe.”

    Duration: 00:06:02

  4. Clip Gain (Stage Two) 00:10:05
    Clip Gain (Stage Two)

    Clip gain is often overlooked but is essential to processing audio effectively and efficiently. It all starts here so before you start dropping plugins on left and right make sure you have the head room to accommodate them.

    Duration: 00:10:05

  5. Clip Gain (Production Context) 00:02:52
    Clip Gain (Production Context)

    An example video showing how I personally approach clip gain. This is not a RULE by any stretch of the imagination so feel free to take my advice or not.

    Duration: 00:02:52

  6. 32 Bit Floating Point Audio (Modern Miracle?) 00:12:57
    32 Bit Floating Point Audio (Modern Miracle?)

    There are good habits and then there’s the reality. As you’ll see in this video it is possible to shoot over the digital zero ceiling and still bring the file back to its original state. Is it magic? Find out in this lesson.

    Duration: 00:12:57

  7. Signal Flow - Your Eyes "Can" Deceive You 00:05:18
    Signal Flow - Your Eyes "Can" Deceive You

    With gain staging it’s easy for your eyes to deceive you. If you see green on the final output meter you assume everything is fine. That isn’t always the case. Be sure to use you’re ears first and eyes second.

    Duration: 00:05:18

  8. Mono Stereo Balance (Stereo Width) 00:10:41
    Mono Stereo Balance (Stereo Width)

    Stereo width is a much more important part of the music making process than you might be aware of. It’s very to common to alter the relative balances on all your parts in order to free up and make space for everything in a busy mix.

    Duration: 00:10:41

  9. The "RIGHT WAY" to Effects Processing? 00:05:42
    The "RIGHT WAY" to Effects Processing?

    Don’t get caught up on any arbitrary rules you’ve read on the Internet. If you’re after a particular sound or effect do what you must to get it. Remember that your listeners aren’t looking at your settings they’re just listening to your sounds.

    Duration: 00:05:42

  10. Protecting Against Volume Spikes 00:07:07
    Protecting Against Volume Spikes

    Glitches, user error, feedback, tripping over a cable… all things that will inevitably happen in the studio that could cause a dangerous volume spike. A peak limiter is designed to prevent you from damaging your ears or breaking your speakers.

    Duration: 00:07:07

  11. Reducing Peaks and Saving Headroom 00:05:20
    Reducing Peaks and Saving Headroom

    A peak limiter can be used to trim the peaks on signals with sharp transients. This can have the effect of making things louder, but hopefully in a transparent way. Or by trimming peaks you can increase overall headroom.

    Duration: 00:05:20

  12. LoudMax Saturation 00:04:13
    LoudMax Saturation

    In this video we “break” the LoudMax. What happens when you bring the threshold way down? Well, you get extreme gain reduction. But by doing so you’ll start to hear some pleasing or perhaps displeasing side effects (harmonic saturation).

    Duration: 00:04:13

  13. Envelopes Review (ADSR) 00:09:40
    Envelopes Review (ADSR)

    A review of the basic ADSR envelope will come in handy for the next set of dynamics processors. Compressors and other dynamic effects give you time controls for more flexibility and control over the amplitude envelope of a sound signal.

    Duration: 00:09:40

  14. Transient Shaping 00:11:26
    Transient Shaping

    Transient shaping is very easy to both see and hear. This effect focuses in on the start of the sound and allows you to either enhance or pull back on the initial transient.

    Duration: 00:11:26

  15. Compressing the Peaks (Transients) 00:12:49
    Compressing the Peaks (Transients)

    Compression can be a complex subject but it really doesn’t have to be. In our first video focused on compression we’ll use the TDR Nova to emulate the characteristics of a peak limiter.

    Duration: 00:12:49

  16. Compressor as Transient Shaper 00:10:24
    Compressor as Transient Shaper

    Why use a compressor as a transient shaper when we already have a dedicated tool? Well because the actual process (specifically for emphasizing the transient) is different… as is the processed sound.

    Duration: 00:10:24

  17. Compressor as Performance Leveler 00:14:01
    Compressor as Performance Leveler

    Performance leveling is the function most people associate with compression. We’ll try and compress an uneven piano part as transparently as possible.

    Duration: 00:14:01

  18. "Fixed" Settings Character Compressor 00:07:36
    "Fixed" Settings Character Compressor

    Probably more than any other effect compressors come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and styles (sounds). We’ll examine a two knob “character” compressor and do our best to define what exactly “character” means.

    Duration: 00:07:36

  19. Introduction To Frequency Effects 00:24:10
    Introduction To Frequency Effects

    Frequency based effects are usually the easiest effects to hear and control. In this presentation we’ll introduce equalization (EQ) and distortion. Along the way we’ll also discuss the way we as human beings perceive (hear) the frequency spectrum.

    Duration: 00:24:10

  20. Filters 00:20:15

    You should be familiar with low pass (LP) and high pass (HP) filters from all your practice with synthesizers. But in case there was any hint of confusion this presentation should clear it all up.

    Duration: 00:20:15

  21. Equalization (EQ) 00:08:36
    Equalization (EQ)

    Equalization (EQ) is simple to conceptualize but difficult to effectively put into practice. Listen, Listen, and Listen some more. Eventually you’ll hear the frequency nuisance in your sounds and know what to do with your EQ.

    Duration: 00:08:36

  22. Dynamic EQ (Optional) 00:06:42
    Dynamic EQ (Optional)

    An optional video where we combine a compressor and an EQ to create a Dynamic EQ. Again not hard to understand but you need to make sure you have a good reason before going to this technique.

    Duration: 00:06:42

  23. Heavy Distortion (Cabinet & Amp Sim) 00:07:00
    Heavy Distortion (Cabinet & Amp Sim)

    Time to discuss “Harmonic” distortion. When you listen to this effect you’ll hear just how aggressive and noisy it is but as we’ll discuss why it’s still technically harmonic in design.

    Duration: 00:07:00

  24. Distortion (Light Saturation to Heavy Overdrive) 00:05:45
    Distortion (Light Saturation to Heavy Overdrive)

    The Boogex is like a pack of 256 colored pencils. You can get a tremendous amount of tones and shades by running a signal through it. One downside is it’s a mono effect. Meaning if you bring something in stereo this effect will output in mono.

    Duration: 00:05:45

  25. Audible Delays aka "Echoes" (On to Spatial Effects) 00:10:33
    Audible Delays aka "Echoes" (On to Spatial Effects)

    We all know that echoes exist in the real world but in nature an echo never comes back sounding identical to the source. But in the computer we can do exactly that. We’ll talk about the acoustic principles behind delay and then we'll get creative with it.

    Duration: 00:10:33

  26. Short Delays (Slapbacks and the Haas Effect) 00:06:29
    Short Delays (Slapbacks and the Haas Effect)

    By taking advantage of the way we hear we can actually induce phantom stereo width by using very short delay times (known as the Precedence or Haas effect).

    Duration: 00:06:29

  27. Processing Just the Delay (Faux Send Return Configuration) 00:04:01
    Processing Just the Delay (Faux Send Return Configuration)

    Isolating just the delay will allow you to process the delayed version separate from the original. This may not seem like much until you realize just how diverse and different you can process the dry from the wet.

    Duration: 00:04:01

  28. Modulation and Phantom Stereo (Chorus Effect) 00:14:24
    Modulation and Phantom Stereo (Chorus Effect)

    A chorus is just a short delay with said delay time modulated. If the delay time is too short you’ll start to hear more of a flanger effect. But with this plugin the delay time and LFO parameters are hardwired and cannot be changed.

    Duration: 00:14:24

  29. How Do You Classify Modulation FX? 00:01:46
    How Do You Classify Modulation FX?

    In a beginner class categorization is really important. It’s not so much that these FX are black and white in terms of categorization rather it’s a matter of what personally makes the most sense to you and what will help you learn the quickest.

    Duration: 00:01:46

  30. The Dimension Expander 00:03:59
    The Dimension Expander

    The Dimension Expander is a multi effect that does what it says on the tin. In this video we try and break down what’s happening under the hood but at the end of the day this an effect that you can only truly recognize and understand with your ear.

    Duration: 00:03:59

  31. Reverb Effect vs In the Mix (TAL) 00:08:13
    Reverb Effect vs In the Mix (TAL)

    At this point in the course (production/making music) think of reverb as a special effect that’s a part of the sound not a realistic space simulation. We’ll also discuss how algorithmic reverbs are generated.

    Duration: 00:08:13

  32. Reverb Alternative (Boogex) 00:03:36
    Reverb Alternative (Boogex)

    The Boogex (previously discussed) also features a reverb module with a very different character to the TAL. Just keep in mind that this effect will take a stereo signal and convert it to mono first.

    Duration: 00:03:36

  33. Processing Just the Reverb 00:04:29
    Processing Just the Reverb

    Processing the reverb separate from the direct signal is very common. We’ll set this up and experiment with some additional processors the newly created reverb only track.

    Duration: 00:04:29

  34. Spatial Processing Considerations 00:03:34
    Spatial Processing Considerations

    The one thing I think every beginner does at least once (myself included many times) is go overboard with spatial effects (specifically reverb). We’ll discuss how this may actually have the inverse effect of what you might be going for.

    Duration: 00:03:34

  35. Signal Flow and Gain Staging Review 00:12:55
    Signal Flow and Gain Staging Review

    Just a final look and example of what gain staging and signal flow really entail. Once you understand the concept and know what to look for and what to listen for you should never run into any problems moving forward.

    Duration: 00:12:55

  36. Automation and the End of Section 4 00:03:01
    Automation and the End of Section 4

    The final concept we need to discuss is automation. Now you’re ready to get your feet wet and make a song of your own using the tools and techniques we’ve discussed thus far in the course.

    Duration: 00:03:01

  37. Bonus Boogex: The Signal Flow 00:11:20
    Bonus Boogex: The Signal Flow

    An in depth look at the internal signal flow of the Boogex. Learn how you can go from stereo to mono and back to stereo with a little ingenuity and experimentation.

    Duration: 00:11:20

Section 5

  1. What is Mixing? 00:21:40
    What is Mixing?

    There are so many resources, tutorials and courses out there on mixing so what can we possibly say that hasn’t already been said. Hmm maybe what will work best is to forget all we’ve learned and start from scratch (tabula rasa).

    Duration: 00:21:40

  2. Mixing: An Art or A Science 00:12:15
    Mixing: An Art or A Science

    Most people tell you that mixing is equal parts art and science. It’s probably true but we’ll talk about how leaning to one side or the other can drastically change your mixing style.

    Duration: 00:12:15

  3. Mixing: The Past and The Present 00:19:43
    Mixing: The Past and The Present

    Making music in the computer challenges the established way of doing things. By the time you get to the mix stage it’s very easy to over do it because you feel like you’re not doing enough. Learning when to say “enough is enough” is not easy.

    Duration: 00:19:43

  4. Making Stems for Other People 00:24:45
    Making Stems for Other People

    Making stems is a pain and not any fun. However, stem creation is an essential task to complete if you want someone else to mix your song. Remember every DAW can play audio files but not every person has your plugins and/or software.

    Duration: 00:24:45

  5. Mixing Your Own Work 00:13:59
    Mixing Your Own Work

    When you mix your own work you don’t have to start from scratch if you don’t want to. We’ll talk about what you need to do to prepare if you don’t want to take the full blown stems approach.

    Duration: 00:13:59

  6. The Mixing Mindset 00:31:13
    The Mixing Mindset

    You rarely see mindset discussed on mixing blogs or YouTube channels. However, the mixing mindset (state of being) is more important than any processing you decide on down the road. A good mix starts with a good mindset.

    Duration: 00:31:13

  7. Mix Preparation 00:20:32
    Mix Preparation

    Organizing and color coding your stems is essential if you want the mixing process to go smoothly. This isn’t particularly exhilarating but you’ll find that spending this 15 minutes to organize saves you hours of headaches later on.

    Duration: 00:20:32

  8. Rough Mix (Volume & Pan) 00:46:08
    Rough Mix (Volume & Pan)

    We all know how the volume fader and pan pot work. Assuming you’re in the right state of mind you should have no problem getting the ball rolling. This rough mix (more than anything else) ultimately sets the tone for the final mix.

    Duration: 00:46:08

  9. Stereo in the DAW (Optional) 00:16:17
    Stereo in the DAW (Optional)

    The modern DAW has made processing in stereo something we can easily take for granted. However, the actual applications and logic are not so straightforward. We’ll explore how one DAW and metering plugin handle stereo samples and tracks.

    Duration: 00:16:17

  10. Mix Routing Schemes 00:08:27
    Mix Routing Schemes

    Routing audio in the analog domain was/is a serious pain in the neck. Luckily in the DAW the actual routing process couldn’t be easier and is not limited by a physical number of inputs and outputs.

    Duration: 00:08:27

  11. Group (Bus/Aux) Tracks 00:10:05
    Group (Bus/Aux) Tracks

    Group processing can go beyond drum bus compression. Certainly that’s a popular application but group/bus processing is appropriate any time you want a group of similar instruments to go through the same effect.

    Duration: 00:10:05

  12. Parallel Processing 00:06:00
    Parallel Processing

    Parallel processing allows for the mix engineer to keep an original version of a signal unprocessed. This allows you to set a flattering blend. The result is often very different from applying a similiar processor right on the track.

    Duration: 00:06:00

  13. Sends and Returns 00:09:05
    Sends and Returns

    Anyone who’s worked with a DAW for more than a day knows about the send/return configuration. However, just because you've seen it and maybe used it, doesn’t mean it’s always the best option.

    Duration: 00:09:05

  14. Combo Routings 00:08:15
    Combo Routings

    In practice your needs will more than likely go beyond one single routing scheme. As you’ll see in this example it’s not uncommon to combine all of these routings together to realize your final mix vision.

    Duration: 00:08:15

  15. The Mix Pyramid 00:26:48
    The Mix Pyramid

    The Mix pyramid is a way of visualizing and organizing every mix you work on. By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to seamlessly and confidently move from one level of the pyramid to the next without any confusion.

    Duration: 00:26:48

  16. EQ Mixing Theory 00:26:40
    EQ Mixing Theory

    Once you understand the fundamentals, EQ is a very intuitive and straightforward process in the mix. The hardest part, which I cannot teach you, is critically listening and hearing the nuisance of EQ. This requires practice and patience.

    Duration: 00:26:40

  17. EQ: Fix It 00:16:29
    EQ: Fix It

    “Fix it EQ” involves hearing (or in some cases seeing) an obvious problem with a recording and then using EQ to fix it. With professional samples and software instruments it’s rare that you'll need to apply a lot of fix it EQ.

    Duration: 00:16:29

  18. EQ: Enhance It 00:10:39
    EQ: Enhance It

    Enhance it EQ doesn’t mean just adding a lot of gain. The goal is to enhance the mix as a whole. If that means taking a bright and exciting sound and dulling it out drastically then that’s exactly what we’ll do.

    Duration: 00:10:39

  19. EQ: Blend It 00:14:43
    EQ: Blend It

    Blend it EQ is designed to subtly tie all your elements in the mix together. The settings don’t have to be extreme but a little bit on a lot of elements goes a long way.

    Duration: 00:14:43

  20. EQ: Speciality (Optional) 00:35:17
    EQ: Speciality (Optional)

    Specialty EQ is all about context. Any EQ or processor can be deemed “special” if you use it in such a way. We’ll talk about the role specialty EQ plays and it’s subtle function in a mix.

    Duration: 00:35:17

  21. EQ: Dynamic (Optional) 00:22:39
    EQ: Dynamic (Optional)

    We’ve already talked about dynamic EQ in the production stage. Now we look at it in the mix and start to think about what happens when frequencies from an instrument get in the way of another. Dynamic EQ can help with this masking.

    Duration: 00:22:39

  22. Saturation and Excitation 00:36:13
    Saturation and Excitation

    We normally associate distortion with something that’s clearly audible and timbre altering. With saturation and excitation the technical process tends to be the same but the result is much more subtle and enhancing as opposed to transforming.

    Duration: 00:36:13

  23. Misc. FX in the Mix 00:11:59
    Misc. FX in the Mix

    The rawer or dryer the stems you receive the more additional processing you can experiment with. In this course there may not be a lot of room for this, but if you know you’re tools well enough you should never run out of ideas.

    Duration: 00:11:59

  24. Compression: Reduce Dynamic Range 00:17:35
    Compression: Reduce Dynamic Range

    This video is a review on how to use compression to reduce dynamic range. Since we all know the basics we’ll listen to and discuss how different processors (compressors and limiters) sound when used in this fashion.

    Duration: 00:17:35

  25. Compression: Make It Bounce (Pop) 00:10:13
    Compression: Make It Bounce (Pop)

    Adding more “bounce,” “snap,” or “pop” is another common use of the compressor in the mix. Basically all three adjectives equate to roughly the same settings; a slow attack to let part or all the transient through.

    Duration: 00:10:13

  26. Compression: Make It Special 00:12:50
    Compression: Make It Special

    Specialty compression follows the same logic as specialty EQ. Reserve a couple of compressors for “specialty” use and they will be able to take on a unique character and quality in the mix.

    Duration: 00:12:50

  27. Compression: Side Chain 00:14:05
    Compression: Side Chain

    Side chain compression isn’t only reserved for heavy hitting EDM, this technique has a variety of useful applications for most styles of music. When used subtly this effect can be extremely transparent or can be take it to the extreme.

    Duration: 00:14:05

  28. Compression: On the Group (Bus) 00:30:33
    Compression: On the Group (Bus)

    When you get down to it bus compression really isn’t that complex of a topic. You simply are applying compression to more than one part. We'll talk about some of the reasons and listen to an example.

    Duration: 00:30:33

  29. Compression: Parallel 00:09:49
    Compression: Parallel

    Parallel compression follows the same principles and guidelines that all other compression does. However, since we’re working in parallel we’re going to take the settings to the extreme and then only mix in a little bit of it.

    Duration: 00:09:49

  30. Additional FX on the Group (Bus) 00:20:36
    Additional FX on the Group (Bus)

    Group processing isn’t only reserved for compression. You can use any effect on the group as long as you have a good reason. In this video we’ll look at a couple of examples.

    Duration: 00:20:36

  31. Send and Return Delay (Plus Layers) 00:29:58
    Send and Return Delay (Plus Layers)

    Delay is a common effect you might use the send/return structure for in the mix. We’ll examine the traditional routing setup and look at how the modern DAW allows for even more flexibility and experimentation.

    Duration: 00:29:58

  32. Reverb Mixing Theory 00:31:12
    Reverb Mixing Theory

    We all love reverb because we are constantly surrounded by it in everyday life. Even the musical experience is heavily influenced by the space in which music is performed and heard. We’ll talk about reverbs role in the mix.

    Duration: 00:31:12

  33. Reverb: Speciality 00:26:46
    Reverb: Speciality

    You may receive totally dry stems (no reverb). If that’s the case, going with specialty reverb on a few different parts can help make them stand out in the mix.

    Duration: 00:26:46

  34. Reverb: The Mix Verb (Cohesion) 00:09:48
    Reverb: The Mix Verb (Cohesion)

    Mix verb emulates the “setting” where all your sounds and instruments exist. Typically this is some kind of room, acoustically treated studio, or a concert hall. With the hybrid elements we might find in a song not all tracks will benefit from mix verb.

    Duration: 00:09:48

  35. The Finer Details (Automation) 00:11:28
    The Finer Details (Automation)

    It’s time to critically listen and make all of those small little changes that will bring the mix together. This process may take minutes or it may take hours. Here you'll be taking advantage of everyone's favorite manual labor process; Automation.

    Duration: 00:11:28

  36. Master Bus Processing 00:38:31
    Master Bus Processing

    Master bus processing is a popular discussion topic online. However, the theory is actually quite simple. Listen back to the whole mix and ask yourself is there any processing I want to apply across the mix as a whole?

    Duration: 00:38:31

  37. Master Bus Recap and Referencing Theory 00:13:23
    Master Bus Recap and Referencing Theory

    When used appropriately referencing can be a great learning opportunity for any artist or mix engineer. We’ll talk about the referencing mindset and remaining confident in your mix regardless of what you discover.

    Duration: 00:13:23

  38. Final Export (The Dither ?) 00:09:41
    Final Export (The Dither ?)

    Congratulations on making it to the very end. Now all that's left is to export the full track, compress to mp3, and then share your music with the rest of the world. Couldn’t be any simpler right? RIGHT?

    Duration: 00:09:41

  39. Fin: Parting Words 00:11:28
    Fin: Parting Words

    This course is all about the fundamentals, and like any skill, the fundamentals take a long time to master. We put the course into perspective and discuss how the content should be digested over a period months/years not days.

    Duration: 00:11:28

Bonus Nebula

  1. Nebula Theory 00:18:17
    Nebula Theory

    Acustica Audio’s Nebula is one of the most polarizing plugins on the market. The goal of Nebula is to get you that elusive “analog” sound that simply cannot be achieved by traditional digital algorithms. We'll talk about the how and the why.

    Duration: 00:18:17

  2. Getting Started 00:06:14
    Getting Started

    For most plugins you don’t need a "getting started" tutorial. In the case of Nebula you probably do. There are a lot of settings you can tweak and not all of them are entirely intuitive. Here we’ll adjust a few settings to maximize productivity.

    Duration: 00:06:14

  3. "Analog" Gain Staging 00:10:43
    "Analog" Gain Staging

    If Nebula is literally sampling hardware we’ll need to treat each instance as if it were hardware. This requires a unique gain staging approach where we need to find a reference (or conversion) between dBFS and VU.

    Duration: 00:10:43

  4. Nebula Compressors 00:11:38
    Nebula Compressors

    Nebula does a lot of things well. The actual process of compression (automatic gain control) is not one of them. That being said these programs will still impart a certain vibe and character that you can’t get with anything else.

    Duration: 00:11:38

  5. Nebula Tape 00:08:18
    Nebula Tape

    The sound of tape is more complex than one might think. When over driven tape has a particular compression characteristic. That is NOT what these Nebula programs do. What they do is accurately capture the color of different tape formulas and machines.

    Duration: 00:08:18

  6. Nebula Preamps and EQ 00:10:05
    Nebula Preamps and EQ

    EQs and Preamps are Nebula’s bread and butter. Assuming you get the gain staging right these are easy programs to use in an actual production setting. Just like with the gear itself some of these programs will color the sound more than others.

    Duration: 00:10:05

  7. Example 1 Make it Special 00:14:05
    Example 1 Make it Special

    We talk about adding that all elusive color and vibe to a vocal sample. The final result is a pretty subtle difference but for many it’s the subtlety that’s lacking in many emulation plugins.

    Duration: 00:14:05

  8. Example 2 Overall Vibe 00:18:06
    Example 2 Overall Vibe

    We’ll be emulating a type of mixing console workflow (sound) in this second example. Here we take a preamp we like the sound of and apply it to all of our tracks. The result is something very audible. Whether or not the like of the sound of this effect is

    Duration: 00:18:06

  9. The Acqua Plugins 00:12:59
    The Acqua Plugins

    If you’re not a fan of the Nebula interface there is still a way to get the analog vibe of the technology…Acqua plugins. These plugins look and respond like any other plugin with the added benefit of getting that elusive color and vibe.

    Duration: 00:12:59

  10. Tan Compressor 00:24:58
    Tan Compressor

    The acqua plugins have cracked the compression code. In this amendment to the bonus section we examine the freeware Tan compressor. It's time to start gluing it all together.

    Duration: 00:24:58

Bonus Maximizing Loudness

  1. Introduction to Maximizing 00:20:48
    Introduction to Maximizing

    When Maximizing your own tracks the advice you’re normally given is DON’T DO IT. Well personally I think this is ridiculous. In this bonus section we will talk about the theories and concepts that underlie the final loudness maximization process and explo

    Duration: 00:20:48

  2. Working With a Reference 00:09:37
    Working With a Reference

    Understanding how to technically work with a reference and where to apply your final maximization plugin is a must. We walk through a few different hypothetical scenarios that should make this process simple for you.

    Duration: 00:09:37

  3. LoudMax 00:09:47

    We’ve worked with the LoudMax a lot in the course already. But now we’re going to try and use it in the way the name suggests… Get things as loud as possible while still sounding “good.”

    Duration: 00:09:47

  4. Limiter No6 00:22:30
    Limiter No6

    The Limiter No6 is one of those “secret” weapons for many amateur and professional mix/mastering engineers. The plugin offers an incredible amount of control/variety when you are looking for subtle or extreme loudness shifts.

    Duration: 00:22:30

  5. ClipShifter and Limited-Z 00:12:32
    ClipShifter and Limited-Z

    Last but not least we explore a couple of loudness tools from LVC Audio. Interestingly it’s the clipper that gets us the most gain and the limiter that gets us the most character. Well why not combine a couple of processors and get the best of both worlds

    Duration: 00:12:32