How to know when to stop?

Discussion in 'Lounge' started by Elnur Magerramov, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. Elnur Magerramov

    Elnur Magerramov Member

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    Hi everyone, hope you all having a good time. I`m making (trying to) music for few years but now I have some problems.
    More I learn about sounds design, mixing, mastering, processing it becomes harder and harder to find that spot, when your sound, sounds good.
    When I just started I did all things almost randomly, just enjoying the process but right now I`m struggling.

    The problem and a question is how do you guys know when its time to stop processing your sound? For example I have a lead sound, did some EQ, some comp, saturation etc, but I awlays want to add something more and I end up stacking plug-ins on top of each other until I will get stuck with this track and delete it and start another one.
    I`m full of despair when things doesn`t work from 1st attempt. I`m almost not enjoying the process of making music. Doing all like a robot.
     
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  3. Evorax

    Evorax Rock Star

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    If you can't hear properly/clearly what's going on in your mix then you won't be able to tell when to stop because the "polished" feeling won't be obvious enough (cheap studio monitors typical combined with no acoustic treatment in a small room).

    I used to feel the same in my "beginnings" and since i treated my room and upgraded my monitors, i also subscribed to Tidal for their hi-fi lossless audio quality and i've listened to a broad selection of high quality albums, singles on the charts, etc. and my perception adjusted to it but it took me a few months of daily reference listening (and production) to get used to what's good/ready sounding and what doesn't.
    Then everything became a slice of a cake.

    Many people ignore how important the monitoring system/setup is. They'd rather suggest plugins, instruments, outboard gear, etc. as the priority when you invest in your studio, but the thing is that your speakers are the connection between you and your inside-the-computer craft. There's no way you can tweak an EQ or Comp properly if you struggle to tell which setting is best for that particular sound material AND song, as every eqing tweak is different from song to song. It's so easy for me now to set the attack/release/ratio/thresh of a compressor when i shape a sound, there's no more tweaking lottery or dozens of ABing between settings, i can tell what sounds best for that channel straight away and i get to know where to optimally stop with my tweaking.

    The clearer/detailed the "sonic bridge" between you and your computer is, the easier you can tell and separate the crap from the gold, which therefore you happily and confidently get to stop when a setting sound good so you can move on with the rest of your production process.
     
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  4. Curryouz

    Curryouz Member

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    Oh man,
    I can't probably tell you, how much I am with you. I know these situations, indeed.
    And it is one of the many reasons, why my "output" (musically - i mean releases) has lessened abnormally.
    To me it's often not a synth or instrument. Instead, I do seem to be extremely over-meticulous with my vocals.
    Tuning, polishing, layering, all that stuff until - mostly - it doesn't sound like a vocal performance done by a human being anymore. :facepalm:
    Then, those re-plays, re-records, re-processes come into play. And finally you (or I) start doing / raising another project.
    Too familiar to me.

    But I also believe, this is a fascinating process, which occurs to us (non-commercial) producers / artists only.
    When I listen to the radio or watch music TV, I do get the impression, that none of those highly-"professional" and commercially successful guys out there, do care about such things. Most of it sounds like the crap, that I deleted from my harddrive when a project went into that direction.... Poor me, should I have kept them? - I could be rich and famous today...

    However, I can't give you a proper answer to solve your (and my) problem, but I have learnt to take off hands of something which sounds good. And never forget: When being in the composition-phase of a song / project, DO NOT stack sounds, which would play the same sequences. Instead, look for another sound / synth / instrument, which cuts through and does the job.
    Anything else will get back at you when the mastering comes into play. - Never forget, the composition and setting up of the sounds, the "sketches" or "drafts", which later shall be part of your production, are NOT the final song or overall sound!
     
  5. No Avenger

    No Avenger Audiosexual

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    First, I think, this is the wrong (sub) forum.

    Second and...

    How to know when to stop? When I, not someone else, can't make it any better, but just different (and have the patience and endurance to get to that point).

    There are millions of things to consider:
    - good soundcoard (good DACs)
    - like Evorax already said, good monitors (better several options to monitor, means several speakers, headphones, a car)
    - good sound source (try to make the same sound with different sources and compare)
    - appropriate eqs, compressors, limiters, delays, reverbs, sat fx... and to know how to use them (compare them, too)
    - unlike what Curryouz said, of course layering/stacking can help (ever noticed the difference between a huge symphonic orchestra and a quartet? That's because of stacking!)
    - arrangement (do you need additional sound, like pad, melody, arp, rhtythm?)

    Literally nothing works in the first attempt. 99% of composing, arranging and mixing is trash. You, like the rest of us, will need years to be good at anything!

    This will not lead to an emotional result at all. Although I'm much more on the technical side of producing, emotions are the only thing that really matters when it comes to arts.
     
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  6. wasgedn

    wasgedn Ultrasonic

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    pls forgive me what is stacking ?
     
  7. peghead

    peghead Kapellmeister

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    if you know the sound you want you (should) also know how to get it, then you'll know (eventually) when to stop!
     
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  8. Curryouz

    Curryouz Member

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    When you overlay various sounds which play the same... call it "doubling" likewise.
     
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  9. Curryouz

    Curryouz Member

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    Guess you're right at this point. Didn't know we speak about symphonies or orchestration. :bleh:
     
  10. No Avenger

    No Avenger Audiosexual

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    OP didn't say anything about the genre, so, who knows? :dunno: :bleh: :winker:
     
  11. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

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    the "secret" is define your expectations.
    start with a clear vision
    lay out each step and preparation.
    have the tech stages work for the creative and expressive part.

    ask yourself "what is my vision?, why does this HAVE to exist?"
    ex. maybe it is a catharsis peice.
    maybe it is about someone you love
    maybe about someone that has died.
    etc.

    have everything work for the emotion to come out of the song.

    before you find yourself adding plugins or tweaking a single thing
    do all the prep work broken into stages for a very specific purpose and goal. set a time frame each task will take and remember the reason it has to be done.

    finally, ALWAYS keep in mind the priority from start of a song till finish of the song or album.
    list out the most important to the least.
    hint: most important is your expression and emotion coming out through music to the listener.)
     
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  12. vaiman

    vaiman Kapellmeister

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    This is the circle of music education (or anything). The more you learn the more doors open to you.
    It's perfectly normal and most people go through it, so don't feel too bad.

    After 40 years I've gone full circle twice, I now don't give 2 sh1ts what it sounds like when I'm writing. If a song gets past the initial phase I'll worry about those things in the mixing session.
    But... you have to go through it to learn, so keep at it!
     
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  13. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

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    hell yes
     
  14. Vaijj

    Vaijj Producer

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    Ahh, you nailed that one.. problem is how to.. im a positive guy, always think i can improve anything.. Let say i start with the idea named track_13571_never_ending_story.cpr. The skeleton of the track is built in like 1 hour up to a day or so.. Then comes the magic..

    Variations

    track_13571_never_ending_story_ New drums 01.cpr
    track_13571_never_ending_story_ New drums 02.cpr
    track_13571_never_ending_story_ New drums 02a wet.cpr
    track_13571_never_ending_story_ New drums 03.cpr
    track_13571_never_ending_story_ New drums 03a Omni - wet snare.cpr
    track_13571_never_ending_story_ New drums 03b Roomy + EQ.cpr
    track_13571_never_ending_story_ New drums 04 even more new drums.. bla bla bla

    Well you get it.. pretty soon i have like 50 diffrent variations.. and that is in day or two,.. image after a month how my project folder looks like.. funny thing is, that its not funny at all.. and it only makes me wonder what letter combination i have that makes it so hard to just say okej, im done..

    So OP.. im totaly with ya..
     
  15. Legotron

    Legotron Producer

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    It´s time to stop when your ears bleed
     
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  16. Zealious

    Zealious Ultrasonic

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    edit: explained in the next one
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
  17. Evorax

    Evorax Rock Star

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    That's exactly what i do that tells me when to stop. You and @peghead hit the nail right in the head.
    The "robotic" feel that the OP mentioned is often a case of randomizing the whole writing process, starting with particular VST Synths and instuments just cause he knows it has those sonic qualities, that sounds amazing, deep, cool presets, etc. but when you write a song for the sake of its sound fidelity properties then you end up in the OP's shoes. Because who cares if the pieces of a puzzle are either shiny, colourful, etc. (our vst tools) if we don't create the reference in our mind so we can put those pieces together then stop at the moment when the image is complete?

    I've been through that in the beginning as well, even later on when i've literally learnt all the vsts out there and studied a lot on an average of 10h daily with barely any anual holidays going on. Then i've got to the point to feel like the whole computer-based music production process became like a playground and a process as easy as rising a spoon to my mouth which turned me into a lifeless robotized producer as well.

    There was ONE thing i've neglected during this time. It was the "writing" spirit in the whole music production process. The actual composition spirit that makes a producer an actual composer that he's supposed to be by default.
    You see, having the today's computer capabilities in terms of music production it's just like too much freedom and power that we somehow need to tame at some point in order to control it.

    What ultimately changed my life was the vision as a composer and genuinely feeling like i'm actually composing a song, right from the vision in my head, the idea, the birth of the musical piece and its existence inside me waaaay before i'd touch the mouse/keyboard/guitar/etc.

    When i start a song and i know what kind of style/genre i want to go for, i start the production right inside my head and i make my choices way before i lay its bricks inside the computer.
    This way of producing changed my life completely. I never feel like i get stuck at choices crossroads anymore, i actually enjoy the process and i get blown away every single time when i realize that the best songs i ever produced were the ones that started from the inside, visualizing the song, its elements, its vibe, its rhythm, its story, everything in my head.

    The theory it's simple. Imagine the song that you're supposed to compose from scratch as a bowl full of puzzle pieces that you're supposed to put together. If we create a photo in our heads of what the complete puzzle looks like, then it's much easier, less stressful and more enjoying to assemble and complete it.

    Why do we know when to stop when assembling a puzzle? Cause we know from the reference photo how it should look like.
    ^^^with music production it applies in the same way^^^

    And P.S. having everything inside your computer organized (samples,libraries,etc.) helps a lot as well.

    Evorax
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
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  18. Zealious

    Zealious Ultrasonic

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    so in a nutshell if you are using equal temperament and you do not understand how to tune your instruments but you trust someone else knows it better for you although you have no basis to know that since you do not understand it

    then it is time to stop

    and learn to tune the instruments and how all of that works and that will be the only possible key to your longevity of inspiration

    Tech issues will be tech issues, but atleast your material always stays fresh and inspiring

    Properly tuned synthesiz
    It s all about how your instruments are tuned, if your are polishing something that is disharmonious the more polished disharmony you have


    That is what causes the lack of inspiration, and the overprocessing, after some overprocessing you have already done
     
  19. Elnur Magerramov

    Elnur Magerramov Member

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    Yeah, after learning a lot things when you I do something, I always ask myself "Am I doing it right?" Like I scared to make a mistake or something. Thnx for cheering :)

    Exactly. You are absolutely right. This is what happens almost all the time lately: I open my DAW, load Serum (usually) try to make a sound or tweak already made one get a "cool" sound and thats it. I can make a melody which I like for 10 minutes after that this melody sounds garbage to me and I delete it and start over again.
    When I sit in front of my PC I have no idea of what I will make today, just messing around. Only things playing in my head is the melodies from tracks which I love and listened today. It wasn`t like this before. Its only lasts like 4 months after I started my education of electronic music production in music school
    Usually I make trance music and sometimes try to make "move soundtracks". Thats why emotions are very important to me

    You learn things hard way :D

    Thank you very much for the answers, didn`t expect that almost all of you went through this. I was thinking that if you have a talent then you don`t have this problems, and because of that thoughts like "Music is not for me maybe?" sometimes pop in my head, but you guys, helped me.
     
  20. Sylenth.Will.Fall

    Sylenth.Will.Fall Audiosexual

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    I have one question to ask you. a very simple question that might make you realise where you're going wrong. Hopefully!

    Apart from EQ on the lead sound, why are you adding anything else?

    Reason I ask is because I can get a lead sound to fit the track 95% of the time without adding any other processing, and only rarely will need to use compression or saturation depending on what type of sound I want!
     
  21. junh1024

    junh1024 Platinum Record

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    As little plugins as possible to make vaguely the sound I want.
     
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