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 Post subject: How do I finally make my music sound "professional"??
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:22 am 

Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:51 am
Posts: 6
Hey guys,

I've been using Ableton for a while now (first DAW) and have gotten the hang of it. I've got a few good tracks (at least they sound good to me :lol: ) but there's still only one problem...

My music sounds like it was made by a kid in his bedroom (it is, actually).

I have Ableton 8 suite and I use NI MASSIVE and have plenty of quality sounds that I've used... don't get me wrong, the music sounds good... but when I compare it alongside the pros tracks (i.e.. Axwell, Guetta, Alesso, Avicii, etc) it just sounds like it's missing something... although I can't really put my finger on it!!

I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions for me or can relate? Maybe I would benefit from the use of effects to take away that "bedroom generic" feel?

I know, the question is vague, but I'm hoping that maybe a few of you will know where I'm going with this and understand my problem... hopefully I'm not the only one.

I mean, should I just layer the hell out of my tracks with effects like the pros? Ahhh I just don't know.

Any and all help is so much appreciated!!

THANK YOU in advance!! :D


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 Post subject: Re: How do I finally make my music sound "professional"??
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:43 am 

Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 9:47 pm
Posts: 1661
Location: Plymouth the great
No to layering as a solution. there will be two or three big differences between your productions and big league commercial productions.
1) monitoring. better monitoring allows you to hear flaws in your mix more clearly and fix them. this translates into clearer mixes with more audio energy where you want it.
2) experience in mixing. getting levels right and gain staging is something people learn over time - with a powerful computer its possible to make tracks that have a lot of elements going on at once. this makes it difficult to mix in such a way that the whole sounds good.
3) mastering. if you're making money you can pay someone to get your stereo recording to sound as good as possible for a given medium. like mixing, this is a mix of experience and talent.

so, if you have some resources the biggest jump start you can give yourself is better monitoring. I'm still pretty rough sounding, but my mixdowns have definitely improved over time, just by thinking through what people have said with regards to compression, cutting frequencies and relative levels.

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 Post subject: Re: How do I finally make my music sound "professional"??
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:54 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2008 6:04 pm
Posts: 2497
analytical listening

If you think your mix does not sound "professional" listen again and try to pinpoint what exactly it is you mean by this. Once you've identified what the problem is you can set about figuring out how to fix it.

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Last edited by crumhorn on Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: How do I finally make my music sound "professional"??
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:57 am 

Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 9:47 pm
Posts: 1661
Location: Plymouth the great
+1
A B comparisons with a track you rate are a good start.

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 Post subject: Re: How do I finally make my music sound "professional"??
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:23 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 11:46 pm
Posts: 14203
Location: Luxembourg
Sounds like you just need to keep practicing by doing, there's no simple solution to sounding like someone with 20 years of experience. :)

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InnerPortalStudio.com Over 15 years of mastering electronic music worldwide.


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 Post subject: Re: How do I finally make my music sound "professional"??
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:13 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:13 am
Posts: 267
Location: Denver, CO
There's no substitute for years of experience. Be aware that professional tracks have been passed from the producer to a mastering engineer, so they have an additional set of ears to bring out the shine. Also, we're always most critical of our own work. As you move forward you'll realize that a lot of "professional" stuff isn't as clear and well produced as you originally might have thought.

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 Post subject: Re: How do I finally make my music sound "professional"??
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:21 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:47 pm
Posts: 1634
Location: Belgium
Tarekith wrote:
Sounds like you just need to keep practicing by doing


Exactly, practicing again and again


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 Post subject: Re: How do I finally make my music sound "professional"??
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:14 pm 

Joined: Sat May 02, 2009 7:26 pm
Posts: 153
If you feel like the mix is good - meaning good separation of the instruments, everything seems to have it's own "fit" within the frequency ranges (done by panning and EQing {cut frequencies, CUT CUT CUT}) And it's near perfect, but it still needs that one magic thing?!?

Mastering. That's it. If you want it to sound professional, don't try it by yourself. Let someone with a good track record on mastering handle it. Don't believe a friend who says, oh yeah I know how to master, I'll do it for half the price of the other guy... Usually, that means your track will come out worse than you had it to begin with. Go with experience, bring in recordings of what you like for the mastering engineer. It's pretty affordable, really. Top of the line local guys in my city (Minneapolis) charge $20 per running minute, so if you have a 4 minute track that's 80 bones. An album of material will run you about 800 bucks give or take. Half that for an EP.

Mastering is a dark and arcane art. It needs to be done by people who know what they're doing. It will make the difference of just being satisfied with the results to being blown away.


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 Post subject: Re: How do I finally make my music sound "professional"??
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:56 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 4:23 pm
Posts: 6479
Location: Seattle, WA.
Tarekith wrote:
Sounds like you just need to keep practicing by doing, there's no simple solution to sounding like someone with 20 years of experience. :)


I think Avicii is 20 years old 8O

If you're on a mac, check out Olav Basoski's mixing in Logic and Ableton Live tutorials. The mixing in Logic tutorials are pretty generalizable. By this I mean you can apply the techniques he uses in Logic to Ableton Live.

Even though it's a $25 monthly subscription fee, the resource is worth it for the situation when you're like, "how do I get this sound?". Olav's really funny too.

http://www.macprovideo.com/about/trainers/OlavBasoski

Good luck

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 Post subject: Re: How do I finally make my music sound "professional"??
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:01 pm 

Joined: Thu Dec 30, 2004 4:10 pm
Posts: 1592
Location: stoke newington in london
Vios wrote:
There's no substitute for years of experience. Be aware that professional tracks have been passed from the producer to a mastering engineer, so they have an additional set of ears to bring out the shine. Also, we're always most critical of our own work. As you move forward you'll realize that a lot of "professional" stuff isn't as clear and well produced as you originally might have thought.


good words

listen to your stuff on different systems
play it to different people. i've realised that i hear things in my sounds that really aren't apparent to other people

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 Post subject: Re: How do I finally make my music sound "professional"??
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:45 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 5:19 pm
Posts: 23576
Location: SF, CA
a tourist in New York City asks a local "excuse me sir, do you know how to get to Carnegie Hall?"


the local replies, "practice."

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oddstep wrote:
I agree with all of this. I'm just bored of writing "its music, just listen and trust your judgement"


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 Post subject: Re: How do I finally make my music sound "professional"??
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:51 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:38 am
Posts: 1336
Congratulations OP... You are the forums 100th inquirer of this question :)

Approach mixing/mastering the same as playing an instrument. Anyone can pick it up and do a few things, but the ones that spend a LOT of time practising and perfecting their art will yield the best results. That is why if you really want to get a "Professional" result from your production.... Hand it to a professional or train yourself to be one.

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 Post subject: Re: How do I finally make my music sound "professional"??
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:01 am 

Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:07 am
Posts: 1442
Throw a loudness maximizer on your tracks and call it a day

More than anything I bet loudness is why you're thinking your music doesn't sound 'professional'


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 Post subject: Re: How do I finally make my music sound "professional"??
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:52 am 

Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2007 9:29 pm
Posts: 604
By reading your post got me to realize that I learned this by doing soundtracks of popular music. By reproducing an existing song it makes you realize the arrangement, where each sound stands in a mix. It was a good school for me.

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 Post subject: Re: How do I finally make my music sound "professional"??
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:08 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 12, 2004 2:17 am
Posts: 3425
Location: Europe
Tone Deft wrote:
a tourist in New York City asks a local "excuse me sir, do you know how to get to Carnegie Hall?"


the local replies, "practice."
:lol:

Yeah, I agree. No need for 100 years of practice. A good mix starts with the arangement. Dont put 4 tracks in the same frequency range on top of each other. They will cancel out each other. Control of volume and audio spikes. Use the limiter plug on ea h track, but only let it work on ocationally inaudible spikes. Cut out frequencies with high pass and low pass eq on every track. Keep all track fades at 0db and use the utility plug for volume instead. I use 2 on each track: one to set the level, and one for volume automation. Try to keep the rms balance between the tracks. I use -8db as a starting point for all the tracks, but many uses -12 or more. If you start out with all tracks hitting 0 db, you will very soon end up peaking the master, and from here you must adjust all the tracks.. Its just a lot easier to work with a few db of headroom. (bellow zero)

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