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  1. Old school setup: A computer used only for MIDI. MIDI into synths. Synths into a mixer, then the master bus / stereo out of the mixer into a DAT recorder. My setup now is similar but the I use a computer for recording rather than DAT. You could also "mix in the box" where you replace the mixer with computer inputs. You could either have enough inputs for all your synths. Eg an interface with 8 or so analogue inputs for example. Or use an interface with a few inputs and record synths a few at a time. (which requires working in a bit of a different way which some people prefer) Getting DAWs to play with external hardware can be a bit tricky sometimes because of latency. The software has to account for the time it takes to send midi to a synths and then get it back into the computer. Your question is a bit vague. You could use the DAW just for MIDI (as i do right now) and mix hardware synths with a hardware mixer. Or the DAW for both MIDI and recording audio.
  2. I don't think there is anything too bizarre going on in the track. Sounds a tad more digital than analogue I would guess. Most subtractive synths would get you close I would imagine.
  3. Be aware of the psychological phenomena knows as "If it sounds louder then it sounds better'! Keep this in mind when you are mixing. In practical terms, when you are comparing 2 sounds, like for example if your compression made the sound better, match the levels with the output gain knob so that when you bypass the compressor, both pre compressor and post sound the same level. this is important because if a shit sound is louder it will sound better.
  4. You dont have to use the same reverb and delay on every track. Try sticking a different verb or delay on some tracks. Also, actually use the predelay knob and learn what it does. I didnt when I started off. Be super careful with compressors and limters m8! Learn what the controls do before you use them, eg attack, decay, knee, threshold, ratio... I reckon there are a stack of old tracks that had no compression whatsoever in production. Chorus effect sounds cool. Try boosting the top end of a kick to make it cut though a bit more in the track. It might be a bad idea to put a high pass or low pass on percussion of basslines. I used to do this when I started off. I would think, oh its a bassline, it doesnt need any top end and I would filter off all the mids and highs. The mids and highs are the character and let you know what the instrument is! Same with the kick. The mids and highs of a kick really give it lots of character, dont discard them completely all the time. Take some time to lean the core tools of the mixer (eg you)! (this is for the young cats. =P ) Take some time to learn what an EQ is. What are the types of eq and how does each affect the sound? Learn about dynamics processors (compressors, limters, gates ... ) What do the controls on the reverb do?
  5. If you hardpan something left or right compliment it with something on the other side otherwise the mix will sound lopsided.
  6. Another trick. Probably wont work on all mixes but is a tool to have in your mixing belt. Try sticking a reverb on the master bus just a little bit to jell the mix together. Something like 1 or 2 % wetness.
  7. Dont forget about automation. Some ideas: - have a synth quieter in certain more mellow parts of the track. - automate the master volume slightly though out the track, eg have the intro slightly quieter. - automate EQ on some percussions during one part of the track. .. some things to think about. use your imagination! Think about the space in your mix. Not all sounds have to be front and centre. You have left and right to work with also. You also have the other dimension of front and back. Sounds can be upclose but also further back in the mix. You can simulate this depth with: - volume (sounds are quiter the further away they are) - simulation of the proximity effect eq (sounds that are close are more boomey) - tweaking of the predelay on the reverb (sounds further away have less predelay). the theory behind this I can explain like this: Imagine there is a back wall of you mixing stage. Imagine you have one sound that is close to you. The sound travels to the back wall and series of reflections return to you and you hear it as reverb. The close sound has a larger predelay. There is a larger time before you heard the verb because there is a distance. A sound further away that is right up close to the wall has less predelay.
  8. Oh I forgot to mention in built plugins. I have been working more and more with hardware lately and havnt given plugins much though. It seems like the stock bread and butter plugins in all the DAW are useable. By that I mean EQs, compressors, gates, reverbs. Another question that can be asked is, what should be done with software and what should be done with hardware but that is a whole other ball of wax and discussion. =P
  9. I have used a few different programs and I will try and get some thoughts down on each of them. You can write tracks in all of them. Each has strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes the weaknesses are not due to functionality not existing, but existing in an unintuitive or weird way. There is great strength in using what you know. I think if you are starting out and trying to choose a DAW you should just try any and a few of them and see which suits your style. I started off working with ModPlug Tracker and moved onto using what was then Fruity Loops (which changed its name to sound more professional I suppose). I compare all DAWs back to FL because it is what I am used to. It may be of use to you to read review of different DAWs. The Sound on Sound articles I recommend. FL Studio I have used FLStudio in the past. I started using it when it was Fruity Loops version 3. I found it lacking when dealing with tracking external sounds and also mixing. I think there may be fuctionality hidden away to do the things I want it is far from intuitive for me. It seems common to put a reverb plugin on each channel rather than have an aux send setup for verb for example. I have found mixing in other software much more like mixing with a hardware analogue mixing console (like for example Pro Tools and Reaper). Working entirely in the box can work well with FL. After integrating more hardware into my setup and learning more about mixing and audio engineering I have sought and tried out other software. Working with automation can be tricky. FL has grown out of being a simple step sequencer with different pieces being stuck on as the program has grown. The blocks I was used to using are apparently being fased out and are now in the new versions only availabe after turning them on as a legasy piece of functionality. I think because it has grown like this it is not as elegant as other DAWs like Live, Renoise and Reaper. Pro Tools suffers the same fate I think. FL has worked well for me in acting only as a MIDI sequencer for external hardware and sampler being mixed OTB with an analogue mixer. Pro Tools The industry standard audio engineering DAW. In my opinion its strengths lie in mixing but functionality for MIDI sequencing is not as straight forward as other software that have sequencing at its core, like for example FL and Live. Great if you want to record a live band and mix it. It feels like a beast of a piece of software to me. The fact that you are required to use an iLok (a usb dongle that needs to be inserted at all times) to run the program really puts me of. There are stories of the iLok failing and people being unable to use the software. It annoys me further to know that pirate versions exist (so I have heard) that circumvent all the copy protection. Perhaps I am getting slightly off topic but copy protection annoys legitimate customers more than it helps IMO. I have had troubles getting Pro Tools to work with my interface (a Presonus FireBox). In the past you were required to own a specific interface to be able to run 'Tools. I know of no one in the psytrance community using ProTools. Its quirky sequencing and high price would put allot of people off. Ableton's Live First off, I don't understand why people call it Ableton. Well I understand why but Ableton is the name of the company and Live is the name of the software. I have limited experience using Live. It seems rather intutive and easy to work with after you spend some time working with it. The interface was a bit intimidating to me at first having used a number of other DAWs but after a day of working with it things began to make more sense. I think it would be easier and have a shorter learning curve to get up and running if you had never used a DAW before compared to other DAWs. It has its own way of doing things. As a friend said, the benefit of Live is in the area of creativity. For example it is very quick to try different layers in combination. You can quickly switch between lots of different bass lines for example. Another benefit I see of Live is the External Instrument plugin that combines both the MIDI and audio track of an external synth / module making a hardware synth seem allot like a VST plugin. It is easy to freeze tracks in Live I have heard. As far as I can tell you can not use 32 bit plugins in the 64bit version without buying a 3rd party bridging plugin thingo. Renoise Somewhat of an underdog in the DAW world but equally powerful with a totally different interface / way of working. It has a tracker interface and plays from top to bottom as apposed to left to right like other DAWs. I found it tricky to learn to write melodies with the tracker interface after using a piano roll in FL for so long. If you were starting off from scratch this is one of the DAWs to have look at I think. It seems lacking in integrating external hardware. I think part of this reason is its heritage as a tracker (something that just plays back samples) rather than something that has its roots in tracking (eg records, ironically enough). Its cheap also. Reaper Reaper it seems is geared especially when it was younger to being something like a Pro Tools killer. It is very good for tracking and mixing and it seems like more MIDI functionality was added as the software matured. Reaper I really like for a number of reasons. Its extrememly unbloated. The install file is small, yet still has the same funtionality as Pro Tools. It loads fast. The interface is logical and simple. Routing is flexible. Another point it has over Pro Tools for example is the flexibility in what a track can be. In Pro Tools for example there are multiple types of tracks, for aux sends, instrument tracks etc. A track in Reaper can be anything you want it to be. It can contain MIDI data or be routed to work as a reverb aux send. I see the mixer as a real strong point for Reaper. I am still learning Reaper and may find more appropriate ways of working, especially with recording hardware synths. I currently use multiple tracks per synth line. At least one for the MIDI data to be sent to the hardware synth, and at least one to record the output of the synth. MIDI sequencing is often cited as being a negative point with Reaper. I am still learning how to use it effectivly after using FL for so long. A personal license is cheap and there is an uncrippled demo version available. Other DAWs worth mentioning These I only ever used for quite a short amount of time or I have heard of other producers using. Logic, Reason, Sonar, Cubase, Presonus Studio One.
  10. Perhaps you could provide a link to a song from Atomic Records? I dont know it.
  11. A midi through box can also supply you with more midi outs. http://www.kentonuk.com/products/items/utilities/m-thru-5.shtml
  12. hardware: PAIA Fatman Mutable Instruments Shruthi-1 x0xb0x Arturia MicroBrute Roland Alpha Juno Currently mixing in the box into Reaper via a PreSonus Firebox.
  13. The expansion boards seem far from cheap. If your feeling bored a sample of the raw waveforms would be nice for us. =)
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