Adam welcomes you to the course and discusses what he will be covering.
A loudness metering/measuring tool should be one of the first plug-ins to get. In this video I explain why. Spoiler: it's because every playback platform and situation "loudness normalizes", and so you need to be aware of how your track will be "loudness normalized" (i.e. turned up or down). Get this wrong and you're wasting time spent mixing.
This may be the most important video in the course. Whenever possible, choose the synth/effect/plug-in with visual feedback, over one that doesn't. This is especially important for newer producers who are learning, and establishing concepts, but I also explain why visual feedback is significantly more efficient for experienced producers too.
Learn about aliasing and how some synths/plug-ins/effects are higher "quality" than others. I share some examples and how to test plug-ins for yourself. I also explore whether or not this difference in audio quality/fidelity actually matters.
Before purchasing a plug-in, make sure to check its latency (the time it takes for the sound to exit the plug-in, after entering). It's important to check as there are some use cases (e.g. live performance) where medium to high latency is unusable.
When testing plug-ins, make sure to gain and/or loudness compensate. In other words, you want to make sure you like the change the plug-in is making, not just the fact it may be louder. Remember, louder sounds better. I also explain the difference between gain and loudness, where gain compensation is more important, and where loudness compensation is more important.
What DAW should you choose? You can make the best tracks in the world with any of them, so how do you choose? I give lots of reasons as to why I think you should choose the most popular DAW, which right now is Ableton Live.
Whether starting out, or an experienced producer, should you consider using multiple DAWs? Let me explain why the answer is no. Spoiler: it's to do with speed, and having keyboard shortcuts locked into muscle memory. And also, if you really need to use a feature in a different DAW, how do you go about it?
It can often be useful to choose a plug-in/tool that gives you a fixed, limited number of options. In this example I compare a parametric EQ with nearly infinitely options for cutoff position, to an analog EQ with only 10 options. This can help you make decisions and move forward with the track, and you very rarely even need 10,000 options for cutoff. 10 or 11 positions is fine. This is a cure for what we call "choice paralysis."
If you find yourself getting into a creative rut, creating the same things over and over again, create a "pattern interrupt" by downloading a new plug-in. This can even be a worse plug-in than your usual one!
You'd think a sawtooth wave in one synth is the same as a sawtooth wave in another, as it's a simple mathematically shape, but that's not the case. "Standard" waveforms are different in different synths. Also, "standard" filters (e.g. low pass filters) are different in different synths.
If you can do something using just one plug-in, instead of five, use that one plug-in. As I explain in this video, one plug-in is more stable, easier to learn, quicker to use, and easier to understand.
When new to production and choosing a synth, here's a technical detail that's easy to overlook. Get this wrong and you won't be able to play chords with your newly acquired instrument. This is especially important if you can only afford to buy one synth.
Learn to categorize instruments into two types, oscillator based instruments (e.g. Serum), and sample based instruments (e.g. Kontakt libraries). Sample based instruments can take up hundreds of gigabytes worth of space, and so you need to consider storage before committing to an instrument like this. Do you need to buy additional hard drives? Will you need a hub therefore to use them? Will this make your live performance setup annoyingly more complex?
When choosing a wavetable synth, if it's your only one, make sure to choose one that allows you to import wavetables. Otherwise, you'll have a fixed number of "starting blocks", which means eventually you'll run out of starting sounds/tones/timbres to build from. Bonus: choose a synth that allows you to create your own wavetables too! (e.g. Serum, Phase Plant, or Icarus).
When do you need a plug-in limiter? I explain why: for simple tasks the built-in limiter's fine, but for complex tasks (e.g. mastering a messy mix) a plug-in limiter is needed and will make your life much easier.
Do you need a plug-in EQ? Short answer is: probably not (but some have features that advanced users sometimes need). I also share an argument in favor of plug-in EQs, if the pretty interface makes you feel good.
Let me share with you why a distortion plug-in should be maybe the 3rd, 4th, or 5th plug-in you should consider getting. Spoiler: it multiplies the number of waveforms you have available to work with.
If considering a drum machine plug-in, note that drum machines work for some genres, and not others, so make sure to check it works for your genres before buying. If the drums aren't right for your genre, the track will sound "wrong" in a way that's hard to put your finger on.
This is one of those things that sounds obvious, but almost no-one thinks about when considering a new plug-in/tool/DAW. It's a very common mistake. Have you mentally budgeted time to learn it? Each plug-in has its own idiosyncrasies, and it takes time to familiarize the interface into muscle memory.
It's better to spend 4 to 6 months becoming a master at one synth/delay/compressor/etc.. than buy a new one every other week and never quite figure any out. It sounds obvious but this is one of the most common mistakes I see when consulting with producers.
Studio guru Adam Pollard brings you a collection of insightful music studio video tutorials! Get helpful insight and information on how and why to choose certain DAWs, plug-ins, and virtual instruments, including studio workflows and solutions. This series is designed for new music studio producers and engineers who want the opinion of an experienced studio producer.
NOTE: No manufacturers sponsored this video series, or were involved in its production. Adam is simply giving you his opinion based on years of studio production work, so it could seem biased and or one-sided at times.
Adam begins with important audio software basic requirements, such as being able to measure loudness, get visual feedback, testing a plug-in for aliasing and its overall quality, the difference between gain and loudness, and how to choose a DAW that's right for you.
Next, you'll get pointers on whether or not you should use multiple DAWs, how to avoid choice paralysis, and why you should use one plug-in instead of five in your mixes. Adam then goes into important workflow and studio solution tutorials that focus on topics like storage options for sample based instruments, how to choose a wavetable synth, should you use EQ and Limiter plug-ins, why drum machines don't always work out best for a track and much more.
To see what these music studio video tutorials show you, and how they can help you make good decisions when purchasing gear and setting up your studio, see the individual music studio tutorial descriptions on this page. If you're ready to start planning which studio software to purchase or add to your production studio, this music studio video series will save you both time and money... Watch “What Audio Software Should I Get?" today!
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