cornbb Registered User

This thread contains guides, tips and info from fellow forum users. Please feel free to contribute your own thoughts (we want this to grow!!) or leave feedback for those who have gone to the effort to do this for others. Firstly is a guide to electronic music production from Cornbb, scroll down for various topics.

A Guide to Electronic music production - what you need to get started.

This article will deal with the very general topic of obtaining hardware and software for making electronic music on a PC or Mac. Its not genre-specific but it will deal with electronic instrumentation and gear rather than instrumental music, recorded music or recording equipment. Someone else will deal with that in a different article.

As this article is geared towards people looking to get started, I will be recommending free and/or inexpensive hardware or software - you DON'T need an expensive setup to get started. The more you get into it, the more you will want to spend. I won't make many recommendations for specific gear unless I'm confident the consensus on the forum will agree with me

Be smart - use Google to check out reviews of anything you are interested in buying. Although I'm not endorsing anyone in particular, I will link to several Thomann pages so people can get an idea of the prices available to Irish customers. Remember to shop around!

As for the free stuff, just try plenty of it out. But remember - gear doesn't make music, people make music. So find software you think will suit your style and get comfortable with it. I'm purposefully not writing about production techniques in this article because its a whole different kettle of fish - I believe its a skill you can best obtain by firstly learning how to use the tools of the trade (as listed here) and then applying your creativity. There is absolutely no limit to the range of sounds you can produce using a computer. So stick with it and have fun!

Firstly, you will need a computer. The PC vs. Mac debate has probably caused murders and split up families, but both platforms are more than sufficient for getting started. A good spec is recommended, although not vital. Obviously, plenty of RAM and a good processor are important for when the going gets hot and heavy. Get a big hard disk for storing all your work and your samples. A big monitor with a high resolution is desirable for fitting everything on the screen.

Your computer's onboard soundcard should suffice for getting started, especially if you have a Mac, but the soundcard/audio interface is one of the first things you should be looking at upgrading. The digital/analog converters in most PC laptops, for example, are generally crap and will result in lots of hiss from your monitors/headphones.

Good quality soundcards/audio interfaces vary widely with regard to the number of inputs and outputs, the quality of the converters, their means of hooking up to your computer (PCI, USB, FireWire, PCMCIA etc.) and other features, such as MIDI I/O, which is to be recommended if you are planning on using lots of MIDI hardware. See for an idea of what is available and at what prices. If you are using a PC and can't afford a soundcard, try downloading ASIO4ALL drivers, which may improve things a little:

A good set of monitors have a flat frequency response and are "transparent". This means your mixes will not be "coloured" by the speakers and will therefore allow you to hear everything as it should be, if you know what I mean. Monitors are either active, which means they have their own built in amplifiers, or passive, which means the signal going into them requires a seperate amplifier. Good monitors are generally quite expensive although, as with everything, the more you can spend the better. €300-400 should get you a decent set of entry level 5" biamplified active nearfield monitors. See for a selection.

Although it is not recommended by the experts, mixing on headphones is often more practical than using monitors in terms of price, portability, and not keeping the neighbours awake. If you can't afford monitors, or if they are impractical, try to spend at least €100 on a decent set of headphones. I personally like the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros:

MIDI controller
As its not much fun drawing notes on a grid on your screen with a mouse, its a good idea to pick up a hardware MIDI controller. These typically come in various sizes from 25-88 keys and with other bells and whistles such as knobs for controlling parameters, trigger pads, joystick controllers, faders, and even inbuilt hardware syntheisers or audio interfaces. Most of them also come with a piece of sequencing software (see below) which might save you a few bucks. These controllers will generally plug into a USB port and therefore do not require a dedicated MIDI interface or even a seperate power supply. 25 keys is only 2 octaves but can be sufficient if you are just looking to play simple/short melodies. If you are into playing piano or want to play synths in a serious way, get something bigger. The M-Audio Oxygen 8 is a popular, portable and affordable place to start: Check out to see a large and varied selection.

Back in the day, electronic musicians needed masses of hardware in order to make music. The type of gear needed would include synthesisers, samplers, rackmounted effects units, drum machines, MIDI controllers, sequencers, mixers, tape machines for recording and more. Thankfully for the likes of us, all of this stuff is now available as inexpensive or free software. You will need a number of things to get set up. Put simply, you will need:

- A host/sequencer
- Plugins

Your host software will allow you to arrange, edit, mix and otherwise produce your music, and will act as a platform on which you can chain together various plugins. Plugins come in two basic flavours: sound producers (such as synths, samplers, drum machines) or sound modifiers (i.e. effects, such as reverb, distortion, EQ or an infinite range of cool, wacky and very useful stuff). More on plugins later!

Host/Sequencing software
The host software (also known as DAW or Digital Audio Workstation software) you choose will depend on your budget and on the type of music you want to create. For loop-based electronica or most types of dance music, Ableton Live ( - free demo), FL Studio ( - free demo) or Propellerheads Reason ( - free demo) are good choices.

Steinberg Cubase ( - no demo available) is a more all-round solution - it is also very useful for recording and is very powerful and probably more flexible than the choices listed above. For Mac users, Apple's Logic Express ( - free demo available for PowerPc Mac) is also worth a mention - its feature set is similar to that of Cubase and its a very nice piece of software indeed.

For PC users on a tight budget, I must mention a cool little product called energyXT ( - free demo). This product is free to try, costs only €39 to buy, and has (nearly) all the features of products costing ten or twenty times as much. Although its a bit tricky learning the ropes of this one, its definitely worth checking out!

There are tons of other such programs out there, each with their own particular features and followings - e.g. you have probably heard of Pro Tools, but thats geared towards recording rather than electronic stuff. Check out for a good article and a list of free DAW software.

Although there are plenty of high quality expensive plugins out there, the range of excellent freeware/donationware plugins available is so vast that you can probably get by without spending a cent. As I mentioned earlier, you will need plugins for the actual creation and manipulation of sounds (as opposed to composing/arranging, which is accomplished using the hosts/sequencers mentioned earlier). Plugins come in different formats. These include VST (cross platform, very popular and widely compatible), Audio Units (Mac only) and DirectX (Windows only). VST is probably the best to get started with; it is far more popular than the other standards mentioned above.

I won't even begin to make recommendations here - just spend plenty of time trying stuff out. As far as I know, there will be a seperate sticky soon to list people's favourite free plugins. In the meantime, have a look at these websites to get you started: - probably the biggest and best repository of music software there is. The site's search engine will allow you to look for free plugs in whatever format you like. - a more limited selection, but they're all free. You can find loops here too, if thats your thing. - these guys make *very* clever and innovative software, particularly if you're into electronica/IDM

Other Stuff you might need
You might also find the following things handy

- Audio Editing software. This is used to edit and manipulate single track audio files and is handy for post production, conversion to MP3, etc. Sony Sound Forge or Steinberg Wavelab are popular professional options but Audacity ( is an excellent free alternative.
- Samples/loops. By Samples I mean audio files which can be arranged together to produce music. This is a quick way of getting started and it doesn't require much musical knowledge to get started. The best place to find these is in the DVDs that come with magazines (eg Future Music or Music Technology) as they are generally too big to download.

If you're feeling adventurous...
There's a realm of exciting free music software out there for anyone who doesn't mind spending a lot of time learning the ropes. Might be of particular interest to programmers or anyone interested in algorithmic/experimental composition.

- Max/MSP - a very cool high level (i.e. not too tricky) graphical programming environment which is particularly suited towards making music. Also useful for combining music with video or other multimedia stuff. Autechre and other influential artists are big into this stuff. Comes with excellent tutorials which greatly help the learning process. Free demo at

- Pure Data - a free, open source relative of Max/MSP. Not as pretty or as well documented though -

- Csound - free, open source language for sound synthesis. A bit academic, but worth delving into if you want to learn the theory behind synthesis - try downloading Cecilia, a free graphical front-end Csound editor, to make it a bit more fun:

- SPEAR - Sinusoidal Partial Editing Analysis and Resynthesis. This is a free audio editor which gives you a spectral representation of an audio file and allows you to screw around with the individual partials/harmonics that comprise a sound. Easy to use and great for experimental sound design -

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Carrigsound Registered User

OK folks, here's my contribution to the sticky... let me know what ye think!



Probably the biggest obstacle to getting a good vocal recording at home is the room that you record it in. Your sitting room or bedroom, unlike a good commercial recording studio, are not designed with high quality recording in mind! All is not lost however, as these few simple guide-lines should help improve matters somewhat.

The room
Try to record in a separate room from your computer if possible. Use the biggest room you can, so you can keep as far away from walls and corners as possible (more on this later). If the room isn't carpeted, at least put a rug underneath the singer.

Pick the least noisy room (is that too obvious?!) and set up your microphone as near to the centre of the room as possible, so that you're as far away as you can be from walls and corners. Setting up too close to walls & corners causes a phenomenon known as 'comb filtering'. Rather than give you the techy explanation, try this experiment: Get a battery operated radio, or some small speaker that you can move easily whilst playing audio through it. With the audio playing, face a wall/corner and start to walk towards it. Take note of how the sound changes as you get closer, until you're very close, where the audio just totally disintigrates. This is what happens to your vocal recordings if you record too close to a boundary.

Microphone placement
Most microphones are uni-directional (they are optimised to pick up most sound from the front, and very little from the back). Face it to pick up the least amount of external noise as possible (monitor the output of your microphone on headphones whilst setting up to hear this). If your computer has to be in the same room, face it away from that. Next up are doors & windows - even double glazed windows are no guarantee of silence. Probably one of the worst things are open hearths - it's literally like having a hole in your wall. If you can, shove lots of rockwool up there, as this does a great job of decreasing external noise.

When you sing in a room, the sound bounces off the walls, ceiling and floor. These reflections are picked up by the microphone and become a part of the recording, which can be undesirable. It's necessary to eliminate (or at least reduce) these reflections by modifying the acoustics of the room and make it more suitable for recording vocals.

Acoustic treatment, such as bass traps, diffusers, absorbers etc can be very expensive and impractical to set up at home. Instead, use duvets and cushions. First we need something soft/absorbent behind (not the singing side!) the microphone. Drape a duvet between 2 mic stands (or whatever you have to hand). This should hang both above and below the microphone height, and as close to the microphone as possible without touching it. This'll help prevent a proportion of the sound from hitting the wall behind, and also stops a proportion bouncing back to the microphone. Alternatively, a large cushion hung as close to the microphone as possible (without touching it) does a similar job.

Next, put something behind the singer. A duvet hung between 2 mic stands, just like the one behind the microphone. This can be set up 3 - 4 ft or more behind the singer (experiment with the distance to see what works best for you and your room).

Finally, the ceiling. The average house ceiling height is approximately 8ft 6in, which isn't high enough for recording purposes, so some treatment here is desirable. If you use a single duvet here it'll be easier to put up. You'll need to pierce a length of fishing line through each corner of the duvet and use thumb tacks (drawing pins) to secure it to the ceiling by the fishing line. This should be directly above the vocalist.

By applying some or all of the above suggestions, you will find a big improvement to your vocal recordings. It will give the vocals more focus and clarity, and so make them much easier to process and mix. Registered User

Music Theory

Buy a book or a cd on the subject, take piano lessons, I did (Took piano lessons in waltons music school at night and complemented it with study at home)

While of course it is possible to develop a career as a producer without being able to read a note of music - you need to know: your knowledge of music theory will open doors to a world that was previously closed to you. Used correctly, music theory will help you not only understand your music, but will allow you to communicate your musical ideas, and to explore music in ways you have never experienced before.

Used correctly, music theory allows you to be literate, and to expand your musical horizon, and to give you a vocabulary and method for doing so.

Music theory will increase your musicianship and your ability to communicate those ideas that are in your head. I used to be head wrecked with not being able to translate this groovy little riff up in my noggin into the sequencer, Theory really makes you more musically articulate I suppose.

I can honestly say without music theory I wouldn't have gotten the opportunities I am having at the mo (I've 4 remixes out on Queep Music starting next month and one more with a UK label so happy days)

Just a thought - different strokes for different folks either way.

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red_ice Registered User

A friend of mine showed me a little trick using Cool Edit Pro (2.1) to clean up a track. I have big problems getting nice quality into my tracks especially because i dont record with a preamp, or have access to any proper recording fascilities.

My setup consists of a very crap PC mic 6 inches infront of my guitar amp (fender champion 110). There is a constant buzz on my amp, and on my bass guitar (which also has a terrible buzz on it) the sound is just terrible when i play anything through it. Using this technique of cleaning up a track i've managed to get a somewhat reasonable sound quality within my recordings, and a very clean sound (considering what you Actually hear on the real recording).

Im writing my first ever tutorial on this little trick, because it simply made recording sound so much better for me, and i can see this coming in VERY handy for other people who, like me, want to record music, but dont have the cash to spend on proper equipment.

First off, get yourself a copy of Cool Edit Pro (i use 2.1), or Adobe audition. For this tutorial i will be using CEP. The way this works is like doing maths... If you add 2 and -2 together you get 0. We take the noise that we dont want to hear, sample it, reverse its sound waves, play them together and it gets canceled out - sounds odd, but it works... cool huh?

Now arm a layer and record your track. When its done, right click on it -> edit wavform(i think). For an extreme example, i will put the bass tone to the bit that makes the fuzz, then add my amps distortion (not to much), so you can see what we are working with. I think ill take this opportunity to pimp one of my bands riffs Now, if you actually try to record a real track with the ammount of crap i have on this track, you need your head checked. This trick will clean up tracks very well, but you cant seriously expect it to work wonders with a rig like mine!

Make sure you take 10 seconds before or after your track to record the sound of nothing, this is what we are going to sample with. What ever white noise it is you are looking to get rid of, you need to record it on the track, or on another track, but make sure you have the same levels for each recording you want to use this effect with. The noise i want to get rid of is the buzz that my crappy bass and amp produce, but you can get rid of any consistant white noise with this trick.

record your track and select your area of noise that you want to delete(heres mine, so you can see what im working with) Take note that i zoomed in to select that area of white noise!

Go to:
effects -> noise reduction -> noise reduction -> Click "Get profile from selection" -> Click "Save Profile" -> save as some random/relivant name

Deselect the area you highlighted before (the bit you highlighted to sample the white noise) and zoom out to show the full track, otherwise only the section you see will have the noise reduction applied to it! Now go

effects -> noise reduction -> noise reduction -> Click "Load Profile" -> load random/relivant name.

Play back your track, and enjoy.

heres my

before :
after :

Neurojazz Registered User

I just want to go over a few points and issues related with music and give you an idea of why I have written this brief on electronic music.
Over the years I personally have held one idea closer to my heart than most -'That music is a reflection of your soul', basically that YOU shape the music and your life experiences shape what your music sounds like. That's why bands that stick together survive and famous musicians that tend to 'make it' and really strong within, there are exceptions but i have to assume that the person reading this tutorial will want to suceed and reflect their soul into the world and bring a little bit of their strength/softness out into the world for us to all enjoy. This may seem a bit deep for some, but that's because music strikes us in the deepest reaches when we close our eyes and listen or close our eyes on the dance floor and lose ourselves and let the music do the talking.
All this experience comes from years of working in music shops and writing music pretty much every single day (or practicing) for 15 years, playing guitar, bass, keyboards, drums and singing - guitar is my forte. I have been in major and minor studios, heard many types of monitoring, many types of desks, shedloads of keyboards, thousands of amplifiers (guitar and bass), thousands of guitars through many different amps and effects over the years, worked with hundreds of musicians, taught god knows how many without thanks and earned a total of 30 quid in 15 years of teaching - Loved every second of it. I owned stupid amounts of equipment (most of it completely wrong for the job) - so your'e reading someone who has made every mistake imaginable so that you might make a few less .
For 99% of the reading this - Your money is precious, and the best way forward at the moment is the 'PC route' - not the 98745975987594573957957398798 keyboards and rack units in a studio - this is not personal opinion, this is pretty much the cheapest way - start with the computer! and you'll be able to do much, much more - I will however be discussing workstations and synths in this tutorial as they are used for different things in music.
Good luck with your journey into music -
Do what you can,
Don't do what you don't want to.

This is the main area that you will spend most of your time - So picking a program or instrument that lets you work as efficiently as possible is an absolute must.
There are numerous packages that offer masses of functionality and built in mixers, effects, synths and just about any conceivable add-on you can imagine.
Great. You can spend £400 and find yourself adding to the original software you purchased almost indefinitely - some software versions are on their 10th build (so you would have to upgrade 10 times at a small fee - but this adds up)
Who to blame?
I am pushed to express my personal opinion here - but it's worrying when i get home and unpack 'Cakewalk' and find that it is far from easy to use, or even functional - a common problem with computer setups - It wasn't really even Cakewalks problem, it was Cakewalks problem with my Graphics card, Sound cards, Operating system, user... After a year of frustration it turned out that Cakewalk 9 had a problem with the video accelleration setting in windows (Deafault is max) and nowhere in the manual does it hint at this - Absolutely stupid - Can you imagine trying to find an elusive problem like that in an audio application??? - It was because there was a dynamic graphic that showed processor load at the bottom right of the screen that caused dropouts and latency problems... How i found that out? - I went to a Cakewalk tour that was in the UK and pinned one of the guys down
Well, since that CUBASE used to run like a dream on the Atari ST - I cannot even comprehend the lack of testing in these companies - or is it PC manufacturers? - we will never know, because we can't see what is happening in our PC's.
So software sequencing is a bit of a minefield - best to personally eyeball some stable software that is making the music you want to.
There are some that work really well, but you lose functionality.
As with Propellerhead's REASON software, you get everything THEY think you need in one box, but fail to give MIDI OUT options so that you can control external equipment - Well, nobody's perfect.
Hardware sequencing is a little different. You get a pretty 'crash free' environment (depending on your own testing of the limits of the hardware)
Hardware sequencers can be a little strange to use, and if you are a PC user, then you will find them a lot less 'visual' than applications you use on your home computer.
If you are a heavy PC user, then you will pretty much end up doing the mainstay of your work on your computer, so you should be considering your software carefully.
If you just plan on making dance music then your choices will be easier - but add vocals and guitar into the situation and it all gets very, very messy. You can look at spending a few hundred pounds just on a sound card.
I have been sacked from music shops for telling customers this - "don't buy that, it's overpriced rubbish" - but hey - you've gotta take a stand - It is a pity that some of the people i helped turned out to be assholes, but they get to burn in the fires of hell anyway ;P
I spent a lot of time working with most of the equipment that get used in music today - and i still find that much can be done with very, very little. (I want to save you cash)
Computer Sequencers do save time - and i suppose, that with the prohibitive cost of external equipment, and it's claustrophobic (but not impossible to work in) environment, that Computers really help in music programming. Once you have a setup that works, then things get easier.
Computers work out cheaper than 'outboard' - but they don't travel well, and look rubbish at gigs. Also i have had problems with laptops live including dropouts and crashes - be prepared (with an ipod with a backup set - press play at the start of gig when you start)
Workstations are more rugged, but give satisfying results quickly.
Sequencers can control everything - they can record 'remote' movements from your keyboard, and notes that your play. They also record record how hard you played the note, and when you let go.
But the best bit about sequencers is when you play the WRONG notes or make some other fatal mistake. They can edit everything, and you can correct any errors you make with ease.
This has been the main function of sequencers.
They enable you to be able to play in a way that may be beyond your technical ability - This has pro's and con's of course.
Clever use of programming skills will create stunning effects, and this area is your main focus - as soon as you master the use of your sequencer, then you can relax and have simple fun programming.
Quantisization will help 'tidy' your inputted notes or controller information. You can even add some groove to passages or take it out completely. It is an essential tool, but can be troublesome if used WHILE recording - this will be down to your testing to find bugs like this out.
There are mind boggling amounts of editing that take place inside your sequencer. Any instrument that is attached through midi can be controlled, and depending on the instruments midi capabilities you may be able to control every single parameter (if you want to)
This gives you control to make things behave in very erratic and illogical ways.
If you were dealing with a sequenced sample sound for example, you could make it sound completely different, and behave in unique ways.
There are many ways that you can access your equipments sound editing through midi.
Some sequencers give you the option of reorganizing the notes that play in, and some can reverse selected notes or even randomize them.
If you were to quantize a smooth passage of controller information, then you would get abrupt changes in the level of information. This can be of use for many effects that would be impossible with physically turning a knob.
I don't know if i could class this information as use or misuse, but with midi information and computers you can COPY & PASTE information between tracks and even songs. This is essentially recycling your own music, and can help produce what you want even quicker.

A good place to start.
Get some basic drum loops (as the recording click will drive you mad)

Programming good rhythms is essential. I would recommend learning to input live mono 1 note patterns into your sequencer (at a slow tempo) with a simple drum loop to give you the sense of rhythm - you can use a snare sound or a bass noise - keep it clean and simple. I usually run a 16 bar loop and use cubases stacked recording mode so that i can capture all the separate takes to find the best one i want. Lots of people forget to slow the tempo down! - this makes life easy for programming cool effects and pitch bends to create subtle nuances.

Another way is to create a smaller 4 bar loop and throw in some notes in (all in middle C for ease) and start moving the notes to where you think they sound best, or use one of the previous parts that you like the most and duplicate it 4 times in a row and vary slightly.

The purpose of this? - well you now have a pattern that you can use as a bassline, leadline or chord positions...

Lets say i have our funky little 'C' pattern - i'll start to make 2 note harmonies in those rhythmic positions and try to create a basic progression... all this messing around should get you closer to creating enough parts and ideas to create a basis of an electronic track.

The sounds you use for each part should be developed as you go along - tweaked so that they fit in the mix - (sometimes best to drop it to 0db low volume and fade back up slowly until it sounds right in the mix)

You mentioned that you want funky... The drum programming and the bass would be worth sitting down and really spending time over to give it bucket loads of feel. A good use of velocity programming on snares and hats is a must and i beleive that 'groove2' quantize (if cubase still has it) - is great on hats - it gives it a little bit of swing.

Now that you have some basic patterns the sounds would be experiemented with until your'e happy, but there are some fundamentals to note.

Bass sounds:
Whack a Lowpass filter onto a simple saw wave for bass - leave resonance off as this will remove the all important 'bassiness'.
Square waves also make great basses, but you need to change the phase to find the right one to fit the music your making, sometimes if the sound is right and it lacks warmth i would add a low sine wave underneath to make it work better as a bass. If the bassline is progressive you'll find some tones louder than others - compress it!

As an engineer you'll know about shelving the bass and bassdrums so that the frequencies don't overlap causing mudiness!

In regards to the other sounds used in electronic music, the world is at your feet - but simplicity helps, just apply taste - if it gets you moving, your'e onto a winner.

ADSR - Sound shaping.
ADSR stands for Attack Decay Sustain & Release. This can be described as the 'volume envelope' or 'shape'.
ADSR's are commonly used for sounds, but can also be applied to filters and some effect parameters.
Some instruments give you more than one type of adsr, but the main bulk of them give just the one standard type.
The Attack is the 'slope' in from zero volume to the Decay point then to the Sustain point, and then back to the Release point. (but this can be different in some small cases)
Adsr's can be used on filters, and can sometimes have less parameters to adjust - sometimes just the AD part of ADSR.
Some synths offer very complex ADSR sections - (Korg & Roland) - this can make sound editing a bit mind numbing, with the shear amount of parameters that can be adjusted.
Software synths that are dedicated to just making sounds can offer an even more mind boggling amount of control, and they are a bit easier to use being visual.
Some instruments need complex shaping - but this will depend on if you need to make sounds that complex. (why take a week to make a flute sound, when there are hundreds in most synths)
There are a few synths that push this 'shaping' of sound to the limits - the Korg Prophecy for example, has some 'stunningly' detailed sounds because of masses & masses of stages that the sound passes through.
Here's the catch.
Some keyboards can sound very fancy, and impress you with very complex sweeps and sound transformations - what's underneath all that?
Just before the ADSR in the signal path, is the pure sound of the keyboard itself. Some will be oscillator, some may be wave table and some may be a pure sample.
I would recommend always to check the quality of the lowest level of the synth to see what you are buying into - this may mean turn everything else off - LFO,ADSR,FILTERS & EFFECTS, just to get to hear the original wave/sample.
ADSR's give you control over the length and expression of a noise. Poor knowledge of the ADSR will lead to:-
Sounds overlapping (which can cause 'phasing')
Sounds with 'clicks' in.
Sounds that appear 'out of time'
Sounds that you can't turn off.
Shaping the sound to the tempo of a piece of music is very important. If you spend time tidying sounds, then the overall mix will sound tighter, and enable you to hear more of what's going on.
If you apply the principal of adsr to effects, then you will have to make sure that reverbs fade out before it gets triggered again to stop muddiness from taking over the mix.
If you program a sequence of 8th notes, and then decide you want to shorten the length of the sound, you could use the adsr to do it for you.
Some software synths give you the option of creating very complex ADSR - If you want to create really unusual sounds on a budget, then go the software route. Analogues will behave in a totally different way. (as you will find out)
If you can own a synth that lets you apply ADSR to the filter section, then sounds will become very in-depth - Waldorf make some crazy sounding synths, but they stick out in the mix unless treated with great care! - Waldorf give you a lot of 'bang for your buck', and when you compare the price and quality of the Waldorf standard synth to a Nord lead, you will wonder how Nord get away with charging a ridiculous amount of money for something that neither sounds very nice, or operates in any unique way - But the Waldorf for the same money will knock your socks off.
This is because of the complexity of the 'stages' that the sound goes through - and mainly ADSR's controlling different points to trigger different events.

Filter Ideas...
Filters give you the power to drastically adjust the sound.

Depending of what filter you use, and the sound beneath it, you can discover many strange acoustic qualities.

A lot of older instruments have either NO filters or just LP (Low Pass) - The earliest instruments used in dance music had just the one lowpass filter.

There are a number of filters now available on modern synths and analogues - in fact, due to their popularity, there are shed loads.

This helps your sound creation immensely, and give you a very, very powerful tool.

Low pass filters essentially keep the low frequency, and 'shelve' to the top off as you turn it 'down' - eventually, at zero, it will be almost muted and a very dark muffled effect. (a bit like putting your hands over your ears.

High pass filters do the opposite to low pass - they keep the top end of sound, and shelve the bottom off until the sound is the just left with a few high frequencies.

Band pass depends on what frequency YOU pick, then the frequencies above & below that are BOTH shelved - leaving a small band of frequencies.

Those are the 3 basic filters, and there are numerous others.

On nearly every sound i ever made, i had tried ALL the filters available that can be used. This means that you hear what effect each filter has on a certain timbre - and what filters work in the musical piece you are making.

* a saw sound may not sound great through a High pass filter, but you may find that it does when used in a certain way

Look at these examples:-

* Yamaha synths supply 50 variations of flat & shaped filters using 3 or 4 filter types.
* Roland TB-303 has just a Lowpass filter.
* The software synth Reaktor has more than 10 filter types.

Which is the best? - they all are - because each one needs the filters to work in that way. The roland needs just that one lowpass to sound great, yamaha has supplied what it thinks are a decent range of filters to enable you to make loads of unique noises. and reaktor needs loads of filters to give maximum adjustment to the sound creator.

Now look at the same items in a different way:-

* the Yamaha is a workstation.
* the Roland is a lead synth
* Reaktor is sound creation software.

So, depending on what you buy, will give you a different quality & amount of filters.

Because of all the differences between equipment, it can be tempting to buy a broad range of equipment to get a big selection of noises and functions.

Your purchase will depend on your greatest need.

Some sounds don't need filters, some get filtered at some point and others need filtering all the time.

If you find an example of a saw and square and apply a standard lowpass filter, you will hear that both benefit from it.

Take an 808 snare drum sound and apply a high pass filter, and you get a different but subtle change.

If you were to take a Sine wave, and apply a low pass filter, you will find very little changes.

Once you know your equipments filtering options, you must methodically try as many filters over as many sounds. Eventually you will routinely know when to apply certain filters.

Filters can be controlled through MIDI, and recorded.

NEVER quantize filter movements unless you want to find out what happens, I say this becuase usually you want to record the filter movements smoothly from a remote control of some sort through midi - if quantize is applied on the record 'in' then the quantize effects each level on the steps the quantize follows and creates 'steps', which can be used creatively - but also can destroy the fluid movement.

RESONANCE can be applied to the sound in the filter stage - this has to be used with care, and only works well with certain sounds. If you could view resonance as you turn it up on an oscilliscope you would see that the wave becomes divided by more oscilations creating that 'high' squealing sound. Analogues (as in the synths) do this really well and digital has only just caught up to be able to replicate that effect. In modern dance music resonance is used to create 'the high' or rises in lead synths (see josh winks higher states of conciousness for a tb-303 that gets resonated fully) - It must be used with great care as it can make bad ass uncontrollable sounds.

If a sound is 'full' like a pad, then resonance tends to weaken the sound and then turn into a whistling. Lots of equipment does this - it is not a bug, but will sound different inbetween digital and analogue synths.

The clever use of filters can result in many unique sensations for the listener - i have heard some 'excellent' & 'awe inspiring' effects from good filter work. One friend had made a sound that appeared to come out of the speakers and disappear back into them. He had used a bandpass filter with a little resonance to make certain parts of the sound appear 'harder' than others.

With correct use of filters and LFO you can create stunning sounds and actually mess with peoples brains. The single most important factor is to listen to what you are making and see how it makes you feel (Again, if you are making dance music make sure you stand up - If you make chillout then dump your matress and kit on the floor.

Most dance music lead lines use filters to create the tension and builds. Many trance tracks have lowpass filters on the lead lines Drum & bass use lowpass on the bass. In jungle, some of the drums may have filters on the drums themselves. You may decide to use filters on everything! - Some house music filters the whole track in and out.

If you used a low pass filter on natural sound, you will soon hear that filters may not be needed for certain sounds and that you want to retain the clarity.

Vocals are rarely filtered, but can be - or you may 'vocode' the vocals first, then put a band pass filter on afterwards, and then mix the original signal back in! - it will depend on your knowledge of what works and what doesn't to determine the success of the combination.

There are even external filters available, if you wanted to filter mikes or guitars.

Most music software will let you filter something after is has been recorded.

If you apply filters as you record something, you will NOT be able to recover the original sound.

EQing is similar to filtering, and deserves constant experimentation to discern the pros and cons.

You can use EQ and filters together to bring out a specific part of the sound you are filtering.

Some sounds can tend to get weaker as the filter opens up, and EQ can help compensate - but it comes with a lot of problems. Always trust your ears and concentrate!

Effects, EFX or FX

This is a huge subject - I have spent 15 years messing around with effects, and made more mistakes with them than i can imagine to find out what they can do to different sounds.

The list of effects that are available to use keeps growing. A simple question needs to be answered - Do you want 'outboard' or do you want 'plug-in', with the cheapness of computers the plug-in route is nice, but outboard effects are also great for certain situations.

Outboard is mainly for mixers and effecting sounds outside of a computer, live applications where computers can't be used and recording techniques that need valve processing or effects that computers cannot emulate yet.

Plug-ins are mainly for computer use only (due to latency issues).

Nearly every studio you can get into will have different 'outboard' effects - they can send whatever signal they want, to any of the effects - making the 'outboard' very useful for adding effects that can be 'bypassed' later.

You can do the same with plugins, but that use processor power.

Some common effects include these:-

* reverb
* delay or echo
* phaser
* chorus
* flanger
* time stretch
* distortion
* symmetry
* QSound or RSS
* speaker emulation
* pitch shifter

In reverbs, there can anything around 20 or more variations, including these:-

* plate
* room
* hall
* stage
* marbles
* spring
* arena
* car
* closet
* canyon

Reverb is one of the more commonly available effects - and even comes free with some sequencer software. (cakewalk/cubase will give you delays, eq's, reverbs and other efx bundled with their software)

Outboard can be very expensive, and you have to consider inputs/outputs that you will need.

For the cost of one piece of industry standard outboard will set you back... are you ready for this? - are you really sure you want to know? - ok - SONY charge over £5000 for a nice reverb box.


I can remember selling cheapo FX made by a company called ZOOM, and they sounded OK - but had a faint background noise, and they cost £99 - mmm.

PC based plugins rarely have any noise, but can cost lots of money for a cd rom with a minuscule amount of information on.

You could get charged £700 for a 'virtual' valve compressor - but does it make you feel like you have spent £700 when you receive it on a .75p CDROM ???

There are lots of 'tarty' latest effects, that you can end up buying and feeling 'gutted' - so always check demo versions and music forums on the net for compatibility and quality of results.

You may only really need a few fundamental effects to get you going.

delays, reverbs, chorus, flanger and phaser will create enough to keep your busy for the first year or two.

each one has it's strengths and weaknesses.

reverbs can get lost as soon as anything else plays over the top - I've heard dance music i've made played out through a 60k turbo sound rig and was shocked that the 'light reverb' i had applied to certain sounds was lost, so i went back to the drawing board - all the delicate work was great at home but crappy in a club environment or outdoors.

delays can cause confusion if not timed to the tempo of the track (or a musical division like an 8th note) and an unwanted 'phasing' caused by duplicate notes overlapping (the phasing is caused by the same sound overlapping the original signal).

flangers & chorus sound great on basses and pads, but if you use it on too many sounds, they cease to stand out.

phasers again have to be used cautiously, because to many just negate the 'originality' of one being in the mix.

Imagine if you put reverb on every sound in a mix - it will sound flat, and like all the instruments are in one 'area' - but if you put just one sound through on type of reverb, then the perception is very different, and can catch the listeners attention.

Some effects bring out qualities that were not significant. Distortion (essentially a square wave) can make sounds incredibly dynamic, and sometimes that sequence may have to be adjust to compensate for the massive difference.

Subtle distortion, or overdrive can be used to bring dynamics. Heavy use can make sounds become unstable and erratic. If used on a bassdrum (909/808 style) a tiny amount of overdrive can make it really stand out and proud (the same on the bassline)

Heavy use of distortion will 'compress' a sound - this takes nearly all the dynamics away.

If you are going to make music that is going to played at large venues, then try to visualize what your effects need to do.

I would even say that they may need to 'wetter', but don't swamp the music with reverb on everything.

If you spend time listening to other tracks that have been made, you will be able to distinguish between what works and what doesn't, and by experimenting, you will find out how.

Chorus is a little different as this is 'on' the sound, and not 'after' it. This can be used a few different ways, and the basic controls are these:-

mod or width

If you use a slow moving chorus on a bass sound, it can appear to sound louder and richer. If you use a fast moving lightly mixed chorus on a pad sound, it will give it more depth.

If you use two chorused sounds at the same time, you lose impact.

Flangers behave in the same way, and offer additional controls.

**I personally love making the flanger move as slow as possible, moving the mod width to 2.8-6ms and sticking that on a nice layered snare - very depeche mode like.

Compression makes no sounds, but is very crucial to music. It 'squeezes' the peaks of a sound down, it is useful for reducing listening fatigue in studios, but is mainly for dynamic control of sounds that are simply 'too loud','too harsh' or unpredictably loud/quiet.

Compression on vocals stops the 'popping' and brings whispers right up in the mix.

Compression on basses & bass drums can give you more dynamic space for the rest of your music, because these sounds can dominate a mix if they are not compressed.

Very expensive studios have mixing desks with compressors on every channel, and they make music sound VERY expensive - the difference is stunning, but you do not need to own a desk like that to get the effect - you just have to plan your current setup around the fact that you may end up recording your music into a desk like that.

That's a brief on EFX, it's really down to mucking about for years with different effects over different sounds - Good Luck!

Modern keyboards can contain much more than meets the eye. Some 'workstations' can offer masses of features and the possibility of creating a piece of music in one machine.
This has great appeal for the first time buyer, and most modern keyboards have enough features to make a pretty good peice of music. These 'hardware' keyboards are capable of generating sounds or have a library of sampled sounds that come with the keyboard - making it quick and easy to get what you need.
All this potential comes at a price - and some of the problems involved in keyboard 'workstations' will only become apparent as you apply them in different situations.
The more that time passes, the more that the key developers aim their products at the general needs of musicians - so there will be equipment to suit your needs out there - somewhere.
The sound creation process in a synthesizer is a little different from the analogue instruments. Synths tend to have a sample or digital source at the beginning of the chain of sound generation (analogues have a pure timbre such as saw & sine waves).
But after this point, everything is usually the same.
'Analogue emulation' just means that the source is a close to the real wave as possible. Analogues can create sounds that surpass digital sounds but have numerous problems such as tuning (analogues need to warm up before they should be tuned!) - you really need to sit down with a real analogue to see what all the fuss is about.
This doesn't mean that Synths can't replace an analogue, it just means that some companies get 'closer' than others. The Access Virus creates amazing digital sounds that sound as good as an analogue.
Here is an example of a few pitfalls with Digital synths.
Some have excellent 'analogue emulation' - like the Roland JP-8000. I compared this 'Source wave' with a few other current models of synthesizers and they all sounded 'dead' and 'cold'
BUT - the roland lacked all the gadgetry and features, and lacked a brightly colored paint job etc.. - (so how do you choose your musical instruments?)
Roland have been making keyboards for years & years, and they used to make analogues - these guys know their stuff when it comes to the sound generation.
BUT - YAMAHA make some of the most EASY to use equipment, and the broadest range of sounds. They make some really rugged keyboards/efx/mixers/etc..
There are lots & lots of people making music equipment, and past performance is no promise of future success - some of the manufacturers have produced something great, and then brought out a LEMON.
Modern synths can do it all if you want. But these come with limitations and you are then limited to one peice of equipment (The route of computers is a cost saving route)
Some 'workstations' allow you to record whole tracks, and make sounds that you can store. These sequencers and editors can be fiddly, a test first hand is a must! - A personal note here, If you do get a workstation - READ THE MANUAL, if you dont read it then you are an ONION.
For gigging, they are easy to carry around, and can take quite a beating - keyboards excel at being dropped and having beer/tea split over them.
In studios, some can be O. K. - but this is a different issue altogether - depending on the type of output that the synth emits - getting all this separate kit in a studio means that you end up having to buy mixing desks etc... it does become addicative and expensive.
When your ears get used to the differences in the equipment, then you may understand why HIRING EQUIPMENT is so popular in studios - it is common in big studios to just hire in what is really needed in a track - an engineer in a session might say ' Man, get a les paul in to record this solo etc...' - or your tea soaked keyboard might explode and they have to replace it for the session.
Remember your MIDI? - this means you can replace any sound coming from your keyboard in the studio - (so you don't have to worry about OWNING a TB-303 (around £600 and rising) - you can just hire one (or find another way of making the noises)
Keep in mind that your instrument is just the 'sequencer' - the noises may be the latest in synthesis, but the engineer in the studio may have a better opinion - (they spend their lives there) - I would advise letting the engineer go to town and letting your ears and heart decide what to do towards the last couple of hours and steer them towards what you want - (the engineers spend more time than you can imagine doing their job, but it is your music and your vision that you have to be happy with at the end of the day)

Digital equipment can be made to produce some strange sounds.
One piece of kit i owned could produce random high pitched strangeness when i put in numbers that were 'too large' - this principal is what most sound generation in digital synthesis relies on, so any abuse of parameters is definitely recommended. Even the powerful Access virus can be tuned higher than it can process and you get 'artifacts' in the sound - this sort of stuff sounds great (and unique)
Some modern synths have 'knobs' on - so you can slow a piece of music down and record your controls at whatever speed you want (i used to record controllers at high speed to make the controller effects appear slower on playback)
An example of this would be 'Chill out' music - if you want sounds to slowly 'morph'.
The more controller changes that you use, the better the effects can be - but some older synths have limits to the number of pieces of information they can process simultaneously - so watch out for glitches in audio and the tempo of your piece of music.
Synths offer a good supply of sounds, both normal & abnormal.

I definately recommend trying/playing with a analogue synth - it's where all these sounds came from, it is the root of pretty much all electronic music (analogues have been around since the 1930s)

Analogue synths have been the backbone of modern sound generation for many years.
Modern digital sounds started to move away from the unique analogue timbres, and people brought digital equipment because they thought it was the next best thing.
If you were to plug in an old Roland D-10/D-5 and compare that to ANY analogue, you will be left scratching your head.
This was perfectly normal evolution for digital equipment, but when you compare digital to analogue - something doesn't quite fit.
Digital lacks the natural warmth of sound and the ability to cause component stress to make some very, very unusual noises.
I have seen music shops use valve pre amps to try to make the digital keyboards sound 'nicer' - and the valves certainly do warm up the sound! - but the digital equipment will always be trying to EMULATE real analogues - (or buy an analogue with digital controls = 'lots of money')
Analogues can create clarity in sounds, and digital couldn't - BUT - One thing mattered more at that time in history, and it was MIDI - This gave the synth user massive control over the parameters and controls that used to be changed by hand.
Some analogues had early midi, but they couldn't get close to the 'complete' control of the digital instruments.
Luckily, analogues stayed in demand by enough people to keep in existence - but only just.
Just sitting down and fiddling with a real analogue synth is enough to get bitten by the bug, and see where digital lacks.
There are also a number of machines & pieces of music software that claim to have an 'analogue' sound - this never stands up when you have the items side-by-side to test.
The practical purpose of the analogue synth is really in the studio - here you can sample it at your leisure, and get it to behave a bit more predictably.
Modern sampling allows you to capture the sound at a very level of quality.
Analogues are fun. I have never encountered an instrument that gives such a unique range of sounds. For sampling, it is essential as the cost of sample CD's is both prohibitive and limited in content.
As for taking the analogue out in a 'live' band situation, you have to take a simple guitar tuner to keep the oscillators in tune. The analogue takes about 20 mins to warm up to a stable pitch.
When you sample it - you have to check that the samples are at the pitch you want them to be. If you don't, you have just sampled lots of noise that won't quite fit.
There are analogue keyboards, and here are 'modular' analogues. The keyboard is nice and tidy, but limited in range of noises you can make, and the 'modular' can be expanded to give you more range of noises.
'modular' has to be connected with lots & lots of patch cables. It is a very complex way of making sounds, but the most rewarding.
Keyboard analogues are better to take live, and can have lots of preset sounds that do what you want straight away. (Sequential Prophet Pro 5 has lots of nice presets)
It is possible to route sound through a modular analogue 'backwards' - and it can sound great, but usually fries the modular component.
modular uses a fairly high voltage to create sound - (around 10 volts) - this may not sound high, but when you route it through something that can't take 10 volts you end up getting 'a bill for damages', and smoke pouring out of the unit - (and probably a cool sound)
You can speed up LFO's until they begin to be audible and use that as a signal.
You can use the modular as an outboard effect unit - (nothing exists like that) - there are no effect units that manipulate the signal in that way.
You can interfere with the signal at any point of the path. So you can use a microphone or any signal to see what happens.

Music theory.

You need to get some knowledge about scales & chords for keyboards. This knowledge needs to be applied constantely as you find it. When you know your major scale you need to find out about 'modes' and play around with that. That is the basics you need for theory.
If you don't play guitar and this is your first time with music theory I would recommend taking a great deal of time sitting down and understanding this knowledge very seriously - without it you will never realise why music is not for slackers - It is well worth learning your subject well, as you need to be able to shape the music to your will or it will pretty much sound pretty lifeless and lacking in character.
Working/Jamming with others is a great place to start applying this knowledge, pairs of people work really well with electronic music and you could give yourself challenges of working within different styles and amoung different types of musicians.
Basically live/breath music go with your heart, enjoy the journey, work hard at it and reap the rewards later.
We could start to discuss theory, but basically you have to go and experiement - there are no 'dance music scales' - you have to discover what they all do (and i'd recommend picking up guitar at the same time to be able to store this knowledge)
You must try to do 1 thing each day towards your music - keep at it. Practice meaning things, not just random jamming all the time - get the theory established then jam later with that established theory.

This is a brief on electronic music - I also teach professional Dance Music.

8 people have thanked this post
Anima Registered User

I decided to make this short breakbeat tutorial for the fun of it. Its only recently I've started to make half way decent breaks so I thought I'd share what I've learnt.

Here is my effort: Click

A breakbeat, or just "break", is most popular in drum and bass music. Traditionally a break is made using the "amen brother" sample or "funky drummer" sample but you can use any samples you like as long as they work well together. Thats probably the hardest part, finding the right samples to use. Failing that, just stick with the old reliables.

First thing to do is get your drum loop sample and start cutting out the bits you like. You need kicks, snares (strong and weak/ghost snares) and hi hats to begin with. When cutting, always start at a zero crossing if possible (i.e no sound) and get as much of the "tail" of the sound as possible. The "air" at the end of each sample is important as well to the overall sound of the break as it keeps the flow. You can normalise the samples as well.

Now that you have your samples all nice and ready, you need to decide how you want to trigger them. I used FLStudio and the new directwave plugin but of course you can use anything.

Now that everything is setup, lets program an amen break in. The image below is an amen pattern, bar a second kick at the start.

Make sure the samples flow into each other by playing each sample until at least the next sample starts. Otherwise you get bits of just silence and it kills the flow. Also you need to decide the tempo. Most DnB is between 160-180 bpm. The faster it is, the less groove there is. So theres a trade off.

A good idea is to put some compression on the break or use busing to treat each sample individually. You should highpass everything bar the kick as well, in or around 100 Hz. It adds clarity and leaves room for the sub. Also some reverb can be applied to gel everything together, although some people prefer not to.

It sounds alright but we can add further complexity through effects and automation. In my clip you can guess what I have done so theres no real need to explain as such. All I did was put automation curves on different parameters, such as chorus (always good ), pitch, delay and distortion plugins.

Hope this helped anyway, if anyone knows any other tips give me a shout. Any errors as well, just pm me.

Neurojazz Registered User

Years ago we used to use Amen > < -you can cut up a loop from the individual hits and it randomly rearranges them... great for breaks in breakbeat

It's free

frobisher Registered User

God bless the Amen break!

And fair play to you too Nuerojazz for great contributions to the tips and tutorials thread. Amen to that.

artvandulet Registered User

Create a new hardware profile:

Right-click on My Computer and select 'Properties.' Click on the Hardware tab and select Hardware Profiles - you should see a list with your computer's default profile. This profile will become the Pro Tools optimized profile, so you can rename it accordingly. Click Copy to create a duplicate profile before the changes we'll make - this will be your computer's access to the internet and other applications, so name it accordingly as well (i.e. Pro Tools (Current) and Default). Then make sure that 'Wait until I select a hardware profile' is checked. Close the Hardware Profiles dialog.

Disabling non-essential devices:

You should be back in the Hardware tab of System Properties - click on Device Manager. Click on the '+' symbol next to Network Adapters. Double-click on the first device listed and select the 'Do not use this device in the current hardware profile (disable)' option under Device Usage. Close that device's properties dialog and repeat the last step for the next device listed. All items under Network Adapters, Ports, and any default or built-in soundcard listed under Sound, Video, and Game Controllers should follow suit (disabling your network adapters will prevent you from using the internet).

Open the Universal Serial Bus controllers, and for any USB Root Hub, do the following: Right-click and select 'Properties.' Click on the Power Management tab and uncheck the 'Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power' option. Click 'Okay' to go back to the Device Manager.

If you have any external firewire drives, open the Disk Drives list and right-click on the icon of that drive to select 'Properties.' Go to the Policies tab and make sure the device is set to 'Optimize for Quick Removal.' Click 'Okay' to go back to the Device Manager.

You can now close the Device Manager and go back to the System Properties dialog.

Note: Combined with the previous step, you will now have two Hardware Profiles to choose from during boot. The 'Pro Tools' profile will now have these devices already disabled, whereas the 'Default' profile will not (i.e. your internet will still work on your ‘Default’ profile).

Disabling non-essential startup tasks and services:
lick on the Start menu and select 'Run.' Type "msconfig" in the prompt and click 'OK.' This will bring up the System Configuration Utility. In the General tab, click the 'Selective Startup' radio button. Uncheck everything but 'Load System Services.' Click on the Services tab, and you'll see a 'Hide all Microsoft services' checkbox at the bottom - ensure this box is CHECKED, then select 'Disable All.' Now uncheck the 'Hide all Microsoft services' box, and you should see the list of services refresh with some default services and a green check in their box. Click 'OK' on the System Configuration Utility window to close. It will ask you to restart - do so.
Note: If you want to go back to your normal startup, simply run 'msconfig' again and select 'Normal Startup.' Also, this step will disable most anti-virus software (this is a good thing when running Pro Tools).

Now that you've optimized your computer for running Pro Tools, it's important to check for anything that might be causing a conflict. The next steps can be advanced, so if you are unsure, please e-mail or call Tech Support before continuing.

Enter the BIOS:

Disabling Speed-stepping:

This option is referred to as AMD Cool n' Quiet in AMD processor motherboards, and can show up as various things in Intel-based boards. Sometimes it simply shows up as 'speed-stepping.' If your motherboard has this option, disable it, as it can cause major conflicts with the processor scheduling of Pro Tools and the USB bus. It's usually found under the 'Advanced' tab.

This option is usually disabled by following the steps in the ‘Getting Started Guide’ that’s supplied with your product by setting your Power Options to the ‘Always On’ scheme (found in the Control Panel - for some Dell laptops, this can also be called Dell Quick-Set Performance Mode). Some manufacturers supply their own power management system - please confer with those manufacturers to find the correct option, or follow the step above to bypass their management and turn this off directly from the BIOS. Also, sometimes the manufacturers limit your access to the BIOS and you cannot disable speed-stepping - if you cannot set Power Scheme to ‘Always On’ or disable speed-stepping on a laptop.
Disabling C-State Transition and Optimizing Integrated USB Hub:

This option is specific to Core Duo laptops. If you see C-State Transition anywhere in the BIOS, be sure to disable it. Also, find the Integrated USB Hub and set it to High Speed. Note that not all computers or BIOS will have these options.

Disabling on-board audio:

Other optimizations:

Aside from the steps above, here are some optional settings to get maximum performance.

Display Performance:

Another way to free up resources is to minimize the amount of processing Windows needs for display. This can be done in a few ways. First, right-click on My Computer and select 'Properties.' Go to the Advanced tab and select 'Settings' under the Performance section. In the Visual Effects tab, select 'Adjust for best performance' - this will change the way that Windows looks somewhat (to that nice 'classic' feel). Then click on the Advanced tab and set both Processor Scheduling and Memory Usage to 'Programs.' Close the Performance Options and System Properties windows by clicking 'OK.'

Now, right click on a blank space on the desktop and select 'Properties.' In the Display Properties dialog box, select the Appearance tab. Click Effects to bring up the Effects dialog box and disable the check-boxes next to the font-smoothing and shadows options. Click 'OK' and go to the Settings tab of Display Properties. Set the 'Color-Quality' to 16-bit, then open the 'Advanced' dialog. Under the Troubleshoot tab, set the 'Hardware Acceleration' to None.

While it won't be the prettiest OS, it should be running like a cheetah. More importantly, you have just maximized the performance of Pro Tools - now it's time to create!

DEP Fix:

This option disables execution prevention, a feature of Windows Service Packs that can sometimes cause errors. This won’t harm anything, but also isn’t always necessary. To do this, right-click on My Computer and select Properties. Click on the Advanced tab and select ‘Settings’ under Startup and Recovery. In the Startup and Recovery window, click on the ‘Edit’ button. This will display a text document with system execution parameters - we want to find the part of the text that reads: “ /NoExecute=OptIn “ and change the “OptIn” to reflect “ /NoExecute=AlwaysOff “ - note that the ‘A’ and ‘O’ are capitalized and there are no spaces. Then go to the file menu and Save the document. Close the document and click ‘Okay’ in Startup and Recovery.

Hope this helps!

condra Registered User

I wrote this elsewhere for a friend but thought some beginners around here may benefit from it.


Its a headf**k until you get your head around it, then once it clicks and makes sense, it suddenly seems obvious and simple.

Grasping the concept is important to get the most out of modern softsynths such as Operator, Alpha, Albino, and the ultimate modular, ZEBRA!

Once you get your head around modulation, and mod matrixes, synth programming becomes more fun, but not just that, you will be able to make much more EXPRESSIVE sounds.

Hopefully I can help you get that click to happen.

Before I start, I'd like to quickly explain a term.
Real world instruments like guitars and pianos have (usually subtle) naunces. If you hit middle C on a rhodes softly, it will play low. If you hit the same note really hard, not only will it play louder, but there will be a more clanging sound ("timbre"). Likewise, the guitar has subtle naunces depending on many things, like how hard you twang it, how fast you play, etc. These instruments are very expressive.

With most synths, there is already modulation going on by default. Velocity is modulating Volume, ie the harder you press the key, the louder the sound will be.
A synth sound thats not expressive, is usually boring.

One more thing, movement. A pad sound for example, doesnt usually just swell in volume, other parameters change over time, such as the filter opening, or the pitch might slightly detune.

Typically, LFOs are used to modulate things, but nowadays with powerfull synths, almost anything can modulate almost anything!


Lets start with a single oscillator, sine wave, and lets look at something you might choose in the mod matrix. The amount setting can vary, from percentages, to midi numbers 1-128, to values such as 0-1.00.

For arguments sake, Ill use percentages.
The format I will use in the examples is the way it is presented in Linplugs fantastic Alpha synth.

Say you want the modulation wheel on your midi keyboard to act the same as the pitchbend wheel, you would set up the matrix like this:

"mod source......"amount"...."mod destination"
MOD WHEEL >>> 100 >>> OSC 1 PITCH

This means that the mod wheel effects, or modulates the pitch of oscillator 1, our trusty sine wave.
The amount of modulation is governed by the number in the middle of the matrix (in this example)
At maximum value the amount of pitchbending is severe, but if you had it set to a low number, the mod wheel would only repitch the oscilator slightly.
Interestingly, if you set a MINUS value, the effect is reversed, i.e when you push the mod wheel up, the pitch goes down.

So, modulation, and mod matrixes, allow you to MODULATE one PARAMETER with another. Not only this but you can assign the STRENGTH or amount of said modulation.

One example of when this would be useful, is setting velocity as a mod source.

Try it yourself, if you set velocity as the mod source, how hard you hit your keys will determine how another parameter (the destination) behaves. If you set pitch as the destination, a note will play at a higher pitch the harder you hit the key.
If velocity was the source and filter cutoff was the destination, you could set it so that the harder you hit a key, the more a filter would open.

In a completely modular environment like Zebra, almost ANYTHING can modulate anything else, leading to some really trippy stuff.

So, two of the main uses for modulation are for EXPRESSIVENESS, but also what you might call "INTERNAL AUTOMATION, FOR MOVEMENT IN THE SOUND".

Hope this helps.

Aridstarling Registered User

I'd just like to say a little about microphone choices as this can be a bit of a minefield when starting out. Its not a huge deal with most electronic music but for songwiters and bands it is of utmost importance.

First of all I would say set aside some budget for a good Large Diaphram Condenser (LDC). These are the large mics you see used in studios on vocals and acoustic instruments. This will be probably be your go to mic for vocals if you want that more expressive, clean sound. I would recommend the SE 2200A as a starting point (I use it myself) also the likes of Audio-Technica and Rode do some very good entry-level condensers in the same price range.

Next I would recommend a good Dynamic mic, industry standard being the Shure SM57 and SM58. Both are great, versitile mics that will rarely if ever let you down. The SM57 is an instrument mic, used all the time on guitar amps and snare dums in studios all over the world and on stage. The SM58 is usually used as a vocal mic, mainly for Rock/Metal vocals as it seems to have an edginess to it. I know the vocals on the newest AC/DC album were done almost entirely with a 58. Also very useful on the toms toms of a drumkit Again there are plenty of alternatives and it helps a lot if you can try them out, some more popular brands being AKG (The D112 is an industry-standard for kick drums and bass cabs) and Behringer (despite a somewhat lowly reputation, not all Behringer products are cack). A few good dynamic mics really go a long way when recording.

After that you're choices become less obvious and more dependant on your specific situation (and budget). Some considerations would be small diaphram condensers for acoustic instuments or drum overheads, valve mics for vocals, ribbon mics again used a lot on drum overheads. The choice is endless or should I say, limited only by your budget! I would say that a good set of versatile mics and knowing what each is suitable for is one of the most critical aspects of recording (either at home or in a studio) and would have you ready for almost any situation you find yourself in when recording.

condra Registered User

Invest in a good chair!

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PMI Registered User

womoma said:
Invest in a good chair!

Amen to that

Drum Sequencing Tip:

When using real kit sounds ie: superior, Bfd etc..Try to remember that the drummer cant always hit at the same velocity every time and the human ear locks onto a sound that remains the same so if you were to make every snare hit the same people will know that you used a program

So a good practice is to analyse what hits within a drum pattern are hit lighter than others especially the kick drum.

Spending time on this will make you track alot more life like and believable.

Hope this helps someone out there


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condra Registered User

And don't forget, drummers only have 2 arms.

sub-x Registered User

womoma said:
And don't forget, drummers only have 2 arms.

Listening to Neil Peart I sometimes thinks this is debatable.

Great thread,BTW fair play to all involved.

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