Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Less is More (and Layering is Dangerous) in the Club

Yesterday, I went to the club to test out my newly mastered tracks....and learned some big lessons I wanted to share.

When making a track, be careful with layers. When you are at home, and you are making a track, things definitely sound different than when they are in the club. Specifically, bass levels are really important...but I dont want to talk about that. What I want to talk about is when you are layering sounds to make them more powerful. Sometimes, you may feel like a sound is not loud enough, or not strong enough, so you put another layer on top of it just to make it louder. This is REALLY dangerous in the club.

One of the most common times that you may layer sounds is during an explosion or crash at the beginning of bar. You may throw in your crash or white noise sound, and then decide it is just not powerful enough, so you add another crash or another explosion sound. This is BAD BAD BAD. You are destroying the dynamics and timbre of the sound when you do this. Now, im not saying that you should never do it, but it can be really dangerous in the club. Sometimes, the club can really destroy high frequencies, especially when they are being played really loud. Here is a mistake I made in one of my tracks that I had to go back and fix.

If you look at bar can see 2 explosions, followed by a crash. This was WAY too much sound for this part. It sounded nice and powerful at home, but in the club, it just sounded noisy and really bad. I ended up removing one of the explosion, and then side chaining it with the crash so it cuts out a little bit while the crash hits so it doesnt sound as loud. Remember when using samples...that the sample itself sounds GREAT, but when added with other are really making the timbre of the whole sound messy and def lacking harmonics. Be careful when doing this....even with white noise sound which lack any harmonics. If you were to analyze the 2 waves together, even 2 white noise sounds together, it is just a mess of frequencies. Do your best to EQ and your explosions, and maybe even EQ the other sounds in your cut their frequencies to let the explosion cut you dont have to add other sounds to it.

Another thing to do, especially when dealing with low frequencies that may be battling it out for space, is to use track on/off automation to cut one sound, then let the other one stand through. Leaving 2 or 3 low frequency sounding elements playing together, can really make a mess in the club. In the next example, I had a 2nd bass sound that I wanted to cut through the track....but originally, I had the OTHER bass sound playing at the same time. This was REALLY BAD!!!!! They just sounded terrible in the club, but not so bad at home. Look here -

If you look at 91....I cut all the other sounds to let the track called HARD SYNTH stand through. Now, you dont really have to cut EVERYTHING (I did it artistically here)....but, especially the bass track....needed cut to let the hard synth bass sound stand through. This really cleared up some sounds on club speakers.

Also, another thing to keep in mind is where your high hats are sitting, and make sure that 2 HH sounds are not conflicting or sharing the same space. There is no real reason to do this, because you can destroy the sound of your high hats by doing this.

It is really important to think about each spot in your track, and listen to what is going on that exact second. In general, its good to space out your sounds (and stabs especially) in separate parts, instead of on top of each other. Unless you are REALLY good at EQ cutting, and can get those sounds to have nice equal space, it can be really dangerous in the club. As a rule of thumb, at any given moment, you should not have too many sounds battling for space. This brings me to my next point.

LESS IS MORE in the club. Im starting to notice that, even though I feel like busy sounding parts sound more artistically creative, that doesnt mean that it will sound good in the club. I am finding, that my more simple parts of the track, when stabs have their own space, the bass sits nicely and not interfering with anything else....sound the BEST in the club. I am noticing this with my own tracks, but also other peoples tracks as well. If you watch the crowd, the crowd seems to go nuts when a nice simple beat is layed down. One that they can identify each part of the track, and groove to it. This may not be for ALL genres, but is def true for house...when it sounds good at home, doesnt necessarily mean it will sound good in the club.

Oh yea, and always test your tracks in the club before releasing them. You will hear so many things you didnt hear on your home speakers!



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