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The Music Production Guide E-Zine, Issue #005 -- MPG Insider Issue
October 01, 2012

The Music Production Guide

Issue# 005
Date: 9/30/12


The mission of The Music Production Guide E-Zine is a monthly (sometimes more often…) newsletter to discuss music production and engineering tips and techniques as well as career building advice to help you establish or enhance your music production career!

If you like what you see, forward it to a friend. If this e-zine was forwarded to you, sign up by clicking HERE and adding your name to the mailing list located in the top right column…

In This Issue...

1. What's New at
2. Music Production Tip: Using Reference Mixes
3. Engineering Tip: Compressors and ADSR
4. Career Building Tip: Recording Schools: Is It Worth It

1. What's New !!!

1. Master Mixing Workshop Under Way!

We are now 2 weeks into the Master Mixing Workshop and so far the response has been amazing! Even with all the energy and time I have spent designing this course, I am still finding new and better was to present the material.

If you have missed the first 2 classes but are still interesting in finding out more about it, click HERE to get the overview of the course and HERE to watch the replay of the Introductory class from September 10th.

I am organizing the Master Mixing Workshop in such a way that you can join in at any time and have access to the remaining live classes as well as replays of the previous classes.Click HERE to get started. The next scheduled Live Mixing Workshop will be in January.

2. Membership Site Coming VERY, VERY Soon

I am very excited to announce the official launch of the MPG Insider Membership site that will be the new launching point for all online classes. I have two basic membership levels, including a free option to attend the live music production classes. For those looking for more intense workshops, videos and career development courses, there is a paid option. Details will be announced very, very soon…

3. Online Class Schedule

The next Live Online Music Production Class is scheduled for Wednesday, October 3rd @ 7PM US/Eastern time. If you are interested in attending, make sure you have REGISTERED for the classes. If you have already registered and received email announcements for the classes, there is no reason to reregister.

Once the MPG Insider site is officially launched, the links and announcements for classes will be done through there.

2. Music Production Tip

Using Reference Mixes

One of the easiest and most practical ways to make a mix go faster is to use a reference mix as a guide. The basic idea of using a reference mix is to keep you from straying too far away from the sound you are going for. The selection of a good reference mix is the best way to get started.

Selecting a good reference mix usually starts by looking at commercial releases from artists that have had the greatest influence on the artist you are mixing. If there is a particular sound you are going for, there is usually a reference song that captures the essence of it.

Set up the reference mix so that it runs at the same time as the mix you are working on. It's a good idea to import the song into your session so that you have control over the levels. Send it to a pair of outputs other than your mix buss so that you can patch it easily into your monitoring system for a quick A/B.

The idea of the reference mix is to give you a template sound or vibe to follow as you start to mix. It will force you to be more aggressive early on in the mix and work harder to match the energy, vibe and sonic characteristics as the mix progresses. It will also keep you from being fooled by the acoustics or monitoring capabilities of your mix space.

Be careful not to try to copy the "sound", but rather to try and match the "vibe" or "energy" of the reference. This is not about frequency or effect matching, but rather to try and match the intensity of the reference. The closer you get with your mix, the easier it will be to polish off a professional sounding mix in the mastering.

3. Music Engineering Tip

Compressors and ADSR

The compressor is the most misunderstood and misused tool that is available to the audio engineer. It can also be the most powerful. The true technical function of a compressor is the control of ADSR.

ADSR is and acronym for Attack, initial Decay, Sustain, and Release. It is a terminology mostly found in the world of synth programming and sample management. The fundamental purpose is to shape the basic envelope of the sound you are working on. Compressors are no different...

The majority of the function of a compressor is in the attack and release times. They determine, where the compression kicks in and how long it lasts. A fast attack and release will limit the Attack of the audio signal. A medium attack with a fast release will exaggerate the initial Decay of the signal. A med-slow attack and med-slow release will affect the Sustain of the audio signal. A slow attack and slow release will affect the Release of the audio signal.

Mixing up the combinations will allow you to affect the whole audio envelope or any portion you decide. The remaining compressor settings determine when you want the compressor to work, (Threshold), how aggressively the compression is applied (Knee), and how much compression you want to achieve (Ratio). The makeup gain simply allows you match the amount of perceived gain loss after the compression.

How do you know what is the best approach for compressing a sound? Ultimately, that is determined by where you want the signal to appear in the mix. Do you want it to be aggressive and up front in the speakers, or do you want it to sit back behind the lead instrument? That is the subject matter of this week's Master Mixing Workshop. So sign up already! LOL...

4. Career Development Tip

Recording Schools: Is it Worth It?

For those of you who have already attended a recording school, you may have strong opinions either way about whether the money you spent was worth it. The cost of recording schools has increased dramatically since I went to Berklee College of Music to study the Music Production and Engineering program back in the early 80's. There is no easy answer, but here are a few things you may want to consider...

From a monetary standpoint, you have to consider whether you are willing to take on the debt. Attending a recording program at a 4 year college can leave you with a quarter of a million dollars of debt. When I attended Berklee in the early 80's my tuition was $4,000 per year. That same program now would cost you over $60,000. There are less expensive options with trade schools. Do you really need a degree?

Trade Schools: There are many trade schools out there offering recording programs. This can be a less expensive option than the 4 year college and also gets you into the workplace faster. These accelerated programs can often leave their students in the dust if they cannot assimilate information at a rapid rate. If you are not a fast learner, the college program may be a better way to go if you can afford it.

Straight to the studio: If you are lucky enough to have the connections and are self motivated enough to really study and learn on your own, this is the fastest way to a career in music production. You will need to find a mentor that is willing to teach you the ropes and work your way up in the studio. You must be a VERY self-motivated person to make this work.

Whatever path you take,the most important thing to consider is how motivated you are to making a career in music production. No recording school or college with give you a career, only the opportunity tolerant and create one. Ultimately, you will have to be responsible for studying, working hard, and creating your own opportunities. Any of the 3 paths mentioned can be incredibly enriching, or a complete waste of time. That part is up to you…

Thanks for reading The Music Production Guide E-Zine! I look forward to hearing any comments or questions you may have regarding the content of this E-Zine and what you would like to see more of in future publications.

All The Best,

Michael White

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