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Archive for August, 2008

Pro Mixing Series: Episode two: The Haas Effect

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Ableton Live’s Simple Delay Haas presets

For some of us this may be a very mysterious image: “panning” presets in a delay device of a sequencer DAW…

Well it IS a mysterious image until you check this article about the Haas effect.

Have you ever been so frustrated with a mix that doesn’t have life, wide stereo image and airy, “natural” space? Are you not getting enough depth in your mix? Have you added so much stereo reverb to add “space” to your mix that you end hating what you have done? Well… I have…

It is truly horrible getting every track in a mix sounding so “mono” after panning left and right different lines or instruments. It feels truly like there is something in the way from the original tracking to your final mix. The panning of some tracks helps very much to make a clear mix but sometimes that is just not enough to make things clear and certainly deeper, spacious, open and rich-sounding.

There is a solution to this lack of depth: The Haas Effect . It can take a simple mono instrumental or vocal line and give it presence or take it to the back of the mix, depending on how you use it and what other effects you add to the chain.

Basically, what you are doing with the Haas effect is making the listener’s brain to interpret the sound coming from a certain direction and angle in a way that is more natural to the ear than a simple panning adjustment. The Haas effect takes full advantage on the fact that we have TWO ears.

In real life, when a sound comes from the left it is received by the left ear BEFORE the right ear, so the brain interprets this difference as “a sound coming from the left”. The interpretation depends on how long is the delay between the two ears the less the delay, the more centered is the sound. This very short delay can be interpreted as a phase shift because the sound reaches first one ear and then the other. So, when there is no phase shift, no delay between the two perceived signals together are interpreted as dead center, with no panning at all.

We CAN use this psychoacoustic effect (the Haas effect) to print more depth and directionality into our mixes without even moving the panning control of the console! That’s why I put the snapshots from Ableton’s Simple Delay. You can make your own Haas effect presets in any delay that permits very, really shot delay times and also inserting a time shift between the two channels. The Haas effect is performed delaying one of the two channels (left or right) just a little bit, from a couple of samples to no more than 30 milliseconds (more in depth scientific info in the article from Wikipedia referenced above); the channel that reaches our ear first is the one that dictates where is the sound “coming from”, the later channel is interpreted as the natural tail of the sound.

Haas panning presets in Live 6.0.10


Pro Mixing Series: Episode one: Monitor Gain

Sunday, August 24th, 2008


We love Mixing (at least I do). Mixing is always challenging and fun, it’s a stage where you can take some creative licenses (that you didn’t or couldn’t when composing) in the type of sound and expressive response you want to print in the final representation of the work. You become the director of the project, while you still have to take care of not ruining the composition and it’s first, original intention. It is truly a universe of its own in audio creation.

In my experience I have to say that when anyone begins the process of mixing for themselves or for someone else, they do it (and I did it too) thinking about mixing as a simple volume and panning tweak. Wrong!

Both volume and panning are the very main pillars of mixing since stereo audio was possible and since traditional analogue mix consoles were invented, but, as we all know, there are dozens of other factors that get into the picture and change it when you are trying to take your program into the next level.

One of these factors is Monitor Gain and its relationship with the way you may mix your records in the analogue console or DAW faders.

A very frequent mistake for every beginner in mixing (a mistake I committed a long time ago) is to try to “balance” the volume of the summing buss so it stays close to 0dB. I think this happens because we try to get the “finished-CD” sound quality out of the box without thinking about mastering.


Want to be a guest writer?

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Have you got a knack for writing and knob twiddling as well? I’m looking for talented writers and electronic music producers to write for this blog. Please reply to this thread or to [email protected] if you’re interested in writing articles/tips for!

Top 10 signs your electronic music is amateur

Monday, August 11th, 2008

I’ve gotten a few requests to make the top 10 signs your track is amateur for electronic music instead of acoustic music. Well, here’s my list of things you should learn to avoid if you want professional sounding tracks.

  1. As I’ve written about before, the most common thing that prevents amateurs from getting a full sound is not filling the “box” that is volume, panning, and frequency. The typical dilemma is this: as more sounds are layered together, the audio may start to clip. And so, you turn the gain down on the each channel of the mixer so it doesn’t clip. But then, it sounds quiet. In order to fix this, you need to learn about compression and mixing. If used properly, compression reduces the variations between one audio channel’s highest and lowest gain levels throughout the track, which allows you to turn the volume up without clipping.
  2. Muddy sound:

    When too many frequencies are overlapping in a mix, the result is “muddy”. To prevent mud, you must consciously keep in mind what range of frequencies you are adding with each new part. Inevitably, frequencies will overlap, no matter what instruments you choose. For example, two bassy sounds on top of each other will interfere, resulting in weird phasing issues. If you want to use two instruments that use up the same frequency spectrum, you’ll want to carve out the highs on one and carve out the lows on the other (through the use of EQ, you will eliminate too many overlapping frequencies and clear up your mix) The end result should be consist of many different parts that all cover different ranges of frequencies, which all add up to a full, clear sound.


10 ways to get your music into film and TV

Monday, August 11th, 2008

10 ways to get your music into film and TV
download “10 ways to get your music into film and TV” (60kb PDF)


There is one basic fact about the film and television music industry that drives much of what you will read in this guide: it is a very, very competitive business and there are many more songs and instrumental music pieces than there are openings and places to use them in film and television. In Los Angeles on any given day, hundreds, maybe thousands of people are marketing their music for film and television productions. This guide is designed to show you how you can successfully compete in this industry, whether you live in Los Angeles, New York, or in a small country town far removed from the major music cities.

Location, Location, Location! The tried but true real estate mantra is definitely applicable to the film and television music business. A simple fact: being in LA or NY can make it easier to compete for work. While film and television shooting locations can be found worldwide, the infrastructure for post production, which includes music, is still centered in Los Angeles. Although this is changing rapidly as cheap digital editing equipment becomes available in other cities, in film work, the city that the director resides in can also be a major factor in underscore work.

It’s useful to note that song placement is much less location-oriented than score composing. Score composing requires a weeks-long cycle where it can be very helpful if the director and composer are in close physical proximity so demos can be heard. Song placement is much more easily done from locations outside of LA since once the director or music supervisor decide they want to use a song, the physical location of the songwriter is not that important.

That much being said, if you’re in LA or New York, make the most of it and seek out personal relationships with people in the business. Film directors, television producers, and music supervisors are among the most important people you can meet in terms of getting your music into film and television projects. By putting a face with a name,” you can increase the chances of your music being heard.