Blog Series on Audio Engineering Production Techniques: Part 1 Feedback for Engineering Students

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Constructive Feedback for Audio Engineering Students’ Production Techniques 

I’m constantly receiving emails from young artists and producers asking for my opinion on their songs. Since I wear two hats as an audio engineer and a professor at The Omega Studios’ School of Applied Recording Arts and Sciences, I’m more than willing to take a listen to assess and give my constructive criticism into production techniques. I’d like to share with you some of the things that I generally advise.

 

I’m going to break down the topics into a short series of blogs. Today’s topic will focus on sound selections. Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside producers like Dr. Dre, Jermaine Dupri, and Andre 3000. The common link that these three producers share is that they have created a sound that is unique and their own. Just like, if you hear a song that Timbaland has produced, you immediately recognize it as his.

 

Once you have come up with the theme and arrangement for your song, what sounds are going to work? These are techniques and questions I pose to my audio engineering students in the music production courses I teach at Omega. I feel that musically, the rhythm section is where the most time should be spent when creating your sound. However, this doesn’t mean more time shouldn’t be spent in writing a great song.

 

Kick and Snare Samples

Taking the time to find and experiment with different kick and snare samples cannot be emphasized enough. These sounds will be the drive behind your melody and vocals. They need to compliment each other. Don’t just live with the first sound you come across. Create the pattern with one sound and then trigger new samples from that pattern. If one sample isn’t working then try dropping another sample on top. You never know what you’ll get until you hear it played back. Try resampling your sounds into to different recording devices or at different bit depths. This can always open the door for different sound ideas.

 

As most mix engineers do, I’ve collected a variety of kick and snare samples for my personal library. I’ve relied on these samples to fix or enhance the sounds on songs I’ve had to mix. Nothing makes my job more relaxing than already having the correct samples when I start working on the song. The point i’m trying to make is, don’t rush the production and have the attitude that it will get fixed in the mix.

In future blogs, I will spend time going over the idea of sound layering and vocals techniques. If you have any suggestions for future ideas, feel free to let me know and I will try my best to get to them.

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