How old are your ears? Take this hearing test

I wrote it already few time here, the most important and often overlooked skill of every professional music producer is the ability of listening.  Human hearing can detect frequencies between 20Hz and 20kHz. As we grow older and also due to prolonged exposure to high sound pressure levels, we often lose the extreme ends overhearing spectrum. SO how your hearing compare to other average person your age? Take this video test and verify how old are your ears. And if you cannot hear the highest frequencies, don’t panic: You can always train your ears to hear special nuances and details in the music. It is not all about frequency hearing. Good music producers are able to listen music in more detailed and open way. I remember my college days, where I had a teacher who was deaf in one ear: however, he was able to produce a gorgeous music. And the good news is that everyone can learn to hear this kind of depth of perception in his own music production.  Someone calls it the color hearing, because it is like seeing the picture in black/white and then seeing the same picture with oversaturated colors post-processed in photoshop: the difference is huge. All you have to do is to have patience to culture your ear (train your ear regularly every day) to gain the ability to zoom into music and add depth to your listening. 

IMPORTANT: Watch this video in 1080p, because resolution settings can affect audio. Don’t forget to pick up the headphones.

Music production tutorials that will help you with mixing

music production tips and tricks

Let’s face it out,  Grammy Award winning mixing engineer Dave Pensado is not only great music producer, sound engineer and mixer responsible for countless hit songs played on the radio charts (Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Pink, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, etc…), but also with his weekly show PensadoPlace which is dedicated to mixing & engineering techniques he is a great tutor and teacher.  For those who haven’t seen his show so far, it is a MUST! You will love this guy.

His weekly show consists of two parts; from episodes – interviews with many famous and prominent people behind the music industry (mixer, sound engineers, artists, etc…) speaking about various angles of music production and Into the Liar section, that is something like How to guide – he shares and explains there various mixing techniques, tips, tricks, hints and other aspects of his work in details. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to learning music production, this is definitely the place, that will keep you busy for a few weeks/months. Dave is a very humble guy and shares basically everything what he does in his work. I learnt a lot just by watching them and always when I’m frustrated with my dull mixes, just by watching these videos it always gets me inspired. Here is the selection of my favorites Daves Into the Liar music production videos. You can start with these videos, and then check out more when you have time! 

 

Working with low frequencies

This is alfa and omega when you want to have a nice and clean mix with readable and powerful low-end. You have to learn how to work with low frequencies.

I don’t carve frequencies, I just mess with it until it sounds good

Dave explains his tips in these great videos: working with low frequencies, using filters when mixing bass and how to get great bass track. More bass tips >>

 

Using Compression

Sometimes it is a good idea to use instead of compressor tape emulation or saturation. However, if you don’t know where to start, you have to watch this video about compression techniques and  advanced parallel compression technique.  Dave also recommends you to experiment with presets as a starting point – advantages of presets are, that usually they are designed by professionals, so there is a big chance you will get them work in your music production. This is another great music production tutorial about compressions and audio compression ratios.

Always focus on emotion and energy in your track, rather than the technical aspect. Be careful with compression, because when used in a bad way, it can take your track down.

Using EQ in front of the compressor you will get a good clean signal to work with. To tune the color of the material, use EQ after compressor. Read more on compression here >>

 

Train you hearing, use reference mixes!

When you are new to music production it is a common thing that you will struggle with understanding or hearing compression, EQ, applying reverberations. Usually it takes a long time to learn how to hear the difference. Dave once told a story that he started to mix as a older guy – in his 30s, but first 3 years of his job he was dedicating 2-3 hours daily only to listening others mixes. Sooner you start with training you ear, sooner you will be able to use it in a proper way. Don’t get discouraged – every skill is trainable.   Inspire yourself by watching these 2 Dave’s videos about ear training. Also remember, it is important to listen reference mixes while making your own music production. It is always good idea to place reference song within your project, so you can quickly access it and use A/B comparison. Use your own invention! Don’t try to simply copy/paste your reference track. Reference track is a good for use of checking the levels of various elements, looking for the dull spots in the song, etc…

Referencing is a short cut way to taking a break. It refreshes your brain because we tend to get used to what we hear, and lose objectivity in the process.

Learn how to use reference mixes from Dave.

 

On PensadoPlace there are many other short episodes, that can help you with your mixing skills. Which is your favorites one? Share your thoughts in comments.