How do I make my track sound more professional?

andycii

New member
I've made a few tracks in Logic Pro but each of them still sounds like they were made with Garageband. Even after mastering the tracks they still sound like that.

I haven't learned much about EQ/Bussing/Compression yet so would any of these be related to the problem?

Thanks in advance
 

bandcoach

Zukatoku - Mod Scientist
got some audio for us to listen to

could be any number of things; without hearing it, hard to tell
 

Ferdows

New member
Your drums need more presence with especially your kick. Maybe its the sample that has bad quality.

What you can try to make it pop out more is turn it a little bit up 1 or 2 db. Put your kick in mono. Make room for the kick by lowcutting the synths and piano under 100hz. Try to side chain the ''bassy'' instruments to your kick so they will lower in volume when your kick hits. There are millions of tutorials on youtube on how to setup a sidechain. Then put some distortion/saturation on your kick and maybe other drums, not too much else you can hear the distortion. What also helps for me is too send your drums to the same bus and put some distortion or saturation plugin there on it to bring the harmonics of your drums more to the front.

2nd put reverb on your drums. Not on your kick, but the rest would give them a better place in your mix. Try to use the same reverb on your drums, it will glue them more together.

Dont know if its done on purpose, but the white noise is a bit overwhelming, turn it down in volume, or just remove it.

This should make it lot better. Good luck
 

andycii

New member
Your drums need more presence with especially your kick. Maybe its the sample that has bad quality.

What you can try to make it pop out more is turn it a little bit up 1 or 2 db. Put your kick in mono. Make room for the kick by lowcutting the synths and piano under 100hz. Try to side chain the ''bassy'' instruments to your kick so they will lower in volume when your kick hits. There are millions of tutorials on youtube on how to setup a sidechain. Then put some distortion/saturation on your kick and maybe other drums, not too much else you can hear the distortion. What also helps for me is too send your drums to the same bus and put some distortion or saturation plugin there on it to bring the harmonics of your drums more to the front.

2nd put reverb on your drums. Not on your kick, but the rest would give them a better place in your mix. Try to use the same reverb on your drums, it will glue them more together.

Dont know if its done on purpose, but the white noise is a bit overwhelming, turn it down in volume, or just remove it.

This should make it lot better. Good luck

Thanks for the reply! I followed everything you said and it sounds much fuller. I still kind of have to mess with the compression to sound not so EDM-y but this definitely helped a lot.

Any ideas on making the synth sound more professional? It sounds thin to me right now. I've tried layering it over octaves but then it sounds too full since I only one the pitch of one octave
 

KingT3sa

New member
I didn't hear the track but if the synth sounds too thin I would raise the voices and the detune to give it more of a fuller sound. You could also add some resonance to smooth it out a bit. Another possibility is adding a compressor, but I would definitely work with the sounds source first.
 

Ferdows

New member
Compression and side chain isnt the same, sidechain is in fact a volume automation for your bass when the kick hits. This means that your bass lowers in volume when the kick is there, this way the low frequencies wont fight with each other, 2nd it will bring out your kick more.

For your synths, the piano sits fine, the lead is oke, could maybe use some widening with a plugin or just simple delay, you have to test it for your self. What makes your synths not pop out is the white noise, remove that, it will sound way better.
 

DarkRed

New member
If you could help that'd be awesome. Here's the link to the song:

https://soundcloud.com/andycii/test/s-FOe5y

It's an instrumental for a pop song

Hmm. It kind of is what it is, so in that way it is already beautiful and the answer is dependent on what you mean by professional. If by professional you mean "more alive", then it means you need less quantization, less samples, greater sounding samples, less repitition, better tuning etc. If by professional you mean depth of sound etc. it basically means more efficient use of the frequency spectrum, for instance that you filter the sounds, control various frequency ranges of the sounds etc. and do so against a very efficient monitoring landscape which all in all allows for a very good gain structure.

There is tons of stuff you can do to make it professional sounding, an acoustic and an electric guitar added to the production would totally change your sound. So it's kind of about what you want to create.

But keep in mind one thing. When you simplify this down to the individual volume faders and nothing else, it is what you can do only with those that will roughly tell you what kind of performance you can get from your current setup and skill level. You should not underestimate how different a mix can sound just from how you volume balance it. This is what engineers should be focusing on when they talk about "professional sound" and this is why your monitoring is so rediculously important when you aim for a very pro sound. It is much easier to control the transients with the volume faders than it is to do so using compressors. Both are needed, but very pro sounding mixes are way better transient balanced due to the volume balance they get from their monitoring performance. This is why compressors have become so hot within the home recording circles and why great monitors have become so hot within the pro recording circles. It's a matter of knowing the difference between setting the transients with the volume faders mostly and doing so with compressors mostly. With volume faders you can maintain the frequency relationships more (resulting in a softer, more natural and bigger sound), with compressors you are forced towards compromises.

Early on when you start embarking on the journey of recording/mixing/mastering, you should be focusing on how to achieve a better sounding dry mix using recording, monitoring and volume balancing only. That will give you a good start.

I invite you to join the Indabamusic community and mix stuff out there. That will give you some added perspective on it... If you are inside of a "sample bubble at home", it can really help to narrow down your perspective on this in a negative way. Pro sound is a bit more complicated to achieve than many understand. It's not like you just get yourself a couple of sound sources, record some samples, quantize a little, copy some beats and consider it done. It is different. To give you an example. My pro setups are so advanced that I need the HD version of Pro Tools to carry out what I need to do, the non HD version is too limiting for me. And that's just the DAW software. Eventhough I have that much amount of power applied in the mixing and mastering stages, it is still the basics I'm mostly dependent on to produce a pro sound. To get pro results mostly out of only the basics, is quite advanced and quite expensive. It kind of requires a professional approach. And once you are in that land, you focus on the sound, not on money... The rest comes naturally...
 
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andycii

New member
Hmm. It kind of is what it is, so in that way it is already beautiful and the answer is dependent on what you mean by professional. If by professional you mean "more alive", then it means you need less quantization, less samples, greater sounding samples, less repitition, better tuning etc. If by professional you mean depth of sound etc. it basically means more efficient use of the frequency spectrum, for instance that you filter the sounds, control various frequency ranges of the sounds etc. and do so against a very efficient monitoring landscape which all in all allows for a very good gain structure.

There is tons of stuff you can do to make it professional sounding, an acoustic and an electric guitar added to the production would totally change your sound. So it's kind of about what you want to create.

Thanks for the reply, lots of helpful information. I want to make it more alive but not too alive since I'm having a vocalist record over it. I might try adjusting the Q factors in Logic so that the quantization isn't so precise. I would love to add a guitar but its difficult to find a software instrument that can strum and what not. Any tips for that? In terms of samples I'm using Logic's stock samples for everything. (Ultra beat for drums, Alchemy/ES2 for synths, etc.) Maybe I should go in a different direction?

In regard to the frequencies, I'm still very new to this whole EQ/frequency thing and how they effect your overall sound. Do you know of any thread on here that introduces frequencies? I've been watching youtube videos which have also been helpful.
 
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andycii

New member
Compression and side chain isnt the same, sidechain is in fact a volume automation for your bass when the kick hits. This means that your bass lowers in volume when the kick is there, this way the low frequencies wont fight with each other, 2nd it will bring out your kick more.

For your synths, the piano sits fine, the lead is oke, could maybe use some widening with a plugin or just simple delay, you have to test it for your self. What makes your synths not pop out is the white noise, remove that, it will sound way better.

To me the lead just screams Garageband which I'm trying to change. I tried detuning the oscillators and it made it a little better but it not enough, it still has that stock synth sound. Maybe I'll try adjusting the stereo widening. Any plugins you recommend for that besides the basic stereo spread plugin?
 

DarkRed

New member
Thanks for the reply, lots of helpful information. I want to make it more alive but not too alive since I'm having a vocalist record over it. I might try adjusting the Q factors in Logic so that the quantization isn't so precise. I would love to add a guitar but its difficult to find a software instrument that can strum and what not. Any tips for that? In terms of samples I'm using Logic's stock samples for everything. (Ultra beat for drums, Alchemy/ES2 for synths, etc.) Maybe I should go in a different direction?

In regard to the frequencies, I'm still very new to this whole EQ/frequency thing and how they effect your overall sound. Do you know of any thread on here that introduces frequencies? I've been watching youtube videos which have also been helpful.

I recommend that you do not look into EQ filtering at this point, it becomes too inefficient too quickly.

At this point, practice as if the mixing process did not exist, so focus on producing, recording, volume balancing and monitoring only. Practice this until you cannot improve it anymore. You will thank me for having said this.

Because once you are at the very advanced level with the basic step above, then you are ready for an initial basic step in mixing such as creating an advanced signal routing matrix.

Only this will take you months if not years to carry out properly, and you have not even started "mixing" yet.

You see, it's like nothing is really the way you think and have been taught that it works, when it comes to how to achieve a pro sound. The home recording world out there is on skip fast forward mode.
 
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