Imagine each moment of your stereo track as a box with three dimensions: Panning (left and right), Amplitude (volume) & Frequency. This box represents any given moment in time. Keep in mind that each instrument has a unique sonic footprint, or is composed of certain sets of frequencies. These varying frequencies can range in how far they span across the spectrum. In order to achieve a full, loud sound like the pros, you must fill this box in each dimension. The most common thing that prevents amateurs from getting a full sound is not filling this box properly. They combine sounds that overlap each other too far, which forces them to lower the volume of the song to prevent clipping (remember, the height of this box, or the volume/amplitude, cannot exceed a certain limit. Once it does, you will get distorted sounds, this is known as clipping). In order to maximize volume, it’s necessary to designate space inside this box to each element so that they all fit nicely together.
For a more detailed tutorial on this subject, check out this tutorial by tweakheadz
5 Responses to “Sonic Space”
February 22nd, 2007 at 5:56 am
I’m confused to why any creative producer would follow a chart like this. What if I wanted a fat lead? What if I wanted a high soaking pad resonating above the snare? What if, say, I wanted to have a sharp top area in my bass synth? A kick that doesn’t step outside of 2 digit hz?!
The result of thinking in these terms will result in a fucking boring track!
February 22nd, 2007 at 10:02 am
Good point. This diagram is not an accurate picture of a track. Did you miss the part that said “So a real song would not look like my diagram; rather, it would look like a collection of splotches all mixed together.”?
My idea was to show that you have to contain your sounds within the limits of the box (panning, amplitude, and frequency). So any well-produced track will fill up this box as much as possible.
Thinking in terms of containing your sounds has nothing to do with making the song interesting or boring, in my opinion. It will, however, make your song sound fuller. The mistaken way to do this would be to section off each sound into its own narrow slot as shown in the diagram. Now that I think about it, maybe it’s time to ditch the diagram for something more accurate.
By the way, I listened to your music at theflashbulb.net, this stuff is great! Heed the words of Benn, everybody, cuz he’s got some kickass tunes.
April 12th, 2007 at 4:55 pm
The Flashbulb! Very inspiring.
Jose Irizarry says:
July 15th, 2007 at 8:15 am
Well, apparently I am doing the right thing… I sort of taught myself how to do most of what you have written about. However, I wasn’t aware that panning could help increase the clarity of the mix. Thanks for the article!
November 24th, 2007 at 12:28 am
Uhhh. What is on the green section there? Plus that, I realize this is electronica, but no vocal range?