Episode 56, “Back to basics”.

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Thanks for your listening!

Here is a link to the “Cell Dweller video” detailing the cool DI guitar trick I speak about in todays episode.

My five must have pedals for guitar and bass.

As I say in the video, we all have unique needs, and our lists of must have gear will vary, so here is a look at what I feel is important.

Lightning Boy Audio “tube overdrive”.

gearporn (6 of 14)

GearManDude “Luther Drive”.

gearporn (7 of 14)

DOD Flanger

gearporn (12 of 14)

MXR Phase90

gearporn (5 of 14)

TC Electronic Ditto Looper

gearporn (14 of 14)

Ross Compressor

gearporn (8 of 14)

MXR “Carbon Copy” delay

gearporn (9 of 14)

Why all recording enthusiasts need the Bad Monkey “Tube overdrive” from Digitech.

I chose to review/demo this pedal, but not for the typical reasons. This pedal comes with much controversy, widespread misunderstandings, and quietly spoken un-truths. However, I will not tackle such issues. I want to show you all some hidden talents of this 25 dollar secret weapon, Swiss Army knife of guitar effect pedals.

This post is not about obtaining one specific “holy grail” guitar tone, the merits of buffered versus true bypass, and this is not about putting the Bad Monkey up against the worlds favorite “modded” Tube Screamer-like pedal. This is about one heck of a handy tool, a steal of a deal, and a unique feature that will help you get better recordings. This is about making the process of recording bands, easier. This is a unique demo review video that differs from most of my demo style videos.

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The Bad Monkey pedal, from Digitech, has been taken off of most folks pedal boards due to the fact that it is a “buffered pedal”. This means (as I understand it) that the Bad Monkey alters the signal level impedance which helps fend off frequency (or) signal loss associated with long cable runs or through the use of many effect pedals at once. If your stage has acres and acres of real estate laying between your pedals and your amp, buffered pedals could be handy.

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The good news for guitar players that either record their own music, or home recording nuts that need to record a band, is that this confusion, or general misunderstanding has lowered the price of these great but used pedals. You can score a used Bad Monkey for a mere 25 bucks!

But please let me explain why it is that you would want to buy one of these amazing pedals.

The Bad Monkey overdrive pedals actually sound pretty good. But who cares, right? We are not going to record the tone, or any of the actual guitar going through this pedal at all. The “Mixer” out put is where the gold lies. This is a unique feature for pedals in this price range.

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The Bad Monkey has two types of outputs. One output, (labeled “AMP”) is for running things as usual, or from your pedal to your guitar amp. I may not ever use this output, but it is used and enjoyed by some pretty famous guitar players. Enough about that output.

The other output, (labeled “MIXER”) is for routing to a mixing console. That output is the real star here. Not only is this output a cool feature, it is very useful feature. Why? Because it is an actual speaker/cabinet emulation output. In other words, if you plugged this “Mixer” output into a mixer, into a power amp, out of the P.A. mains, it would sound like a mic’d speaker cabinet. This is no joke, and a very clever option that you can’t beat for the used price of 25 bucks!

When recording a group, or a whole band, we often need microphone isolation on account of loud amps bleeding into microphones. Let me explain where this whole thing is headed.

When I record a band, I like start the process with the drums. I set up all of my drum microphones and then get to setting them where they sound the best. I like to have the guitars, bass, heck maybe even a vocalist play along just so that the drummer does not “get lost” within a song. A band has ways of giving a nod when certain parts come up. But we must be very careful as to not allow any guitar, bass, or vocal bleed into our drum microphones. This is where the Bad Monkey shines.

I like to take the “Mixer” output and run that into a mixer that is used for headphone mixes. Each band member can then use as much guitars as they need, as a monitor send, to help them know where they are in the song. I do not have to worry about how to quiet down a loud guitar amp, so that it does not spill into my drum microphones.

Plus, in a pinch, the Bad Monkey pedal could actually save the show. I keep one in my “bag of tricks” when I run sound for other bands. You just never know when an amp is going to fizzle out and die. Now, I would never say that the Bad Monkey is just as good as running an amp and a microphone, hey c’mon now. But, if your amp dies and you need to finish the set, I would plug into my Bad Monkey and run that into the mixing board. It will not sound as good as your coveted vintage tube amps, but it will sound like a guitar. That much I guarantee.

The bottom line is that for about 25 bucks on the used pedal market you can score a good sounding, well made overdrive box that will help you out in many ways. If you are tasked with recording bands (either “full on” recording sessions or multi-tracking bands with up to 8 inputs at a time) this box will supply you with much cleaner tracks. No longer must we try to isolate guitar cabs or hide amps in the basement while laying down the drums. Keeping eye contact while recording can often times make or break a recording session. Keep eye contact and play as hard as you like, you can’t get mic bleed with this cool dirt box. If your guitar amp craps out right before the big gig you can plug this box right into a PA. The show will go on.

 I hope you are wise enough to stay out of the “Great true bypass debate”. What is there to debate anyway? Buffers are a tool that can help us. Learning how to use the tools we have is the key. The Bad Monkey is a great tool indeed. I really don’t know how this pedal stacks up against the endless array of dirt boxes out there since tone is a personal thing. My take away point, here, is that the Bad Monkey overdrive by Digitech should be in every recording/live players bag of tricks. You never know, it might just save your but someday, and turn out to be the best 25 bucks that you have ever spent on an effect box.

I hope this helps you in a few ways. I hope you can see the potential for recording using this cheap, but well made pedal.

PreSonus Ceres 4.5 BT monitors, reviewed.

“Wow”!

Believe me, if I left my review at just that one word, “wow”, it would be true, and so on point. The brand new  PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors are very amazing in quality, detail, design, and in sound. The monitors I revived for review have just enough weight to them, and they feel very high in quality as you hold them. I was completely shocked at the clarity in all of the three frequency bands, with the lows being tight and present, the highs being silky and extremely clear, and the mids being present, yet not “too midrange” sounding, and definitely not scooped in the mids either.

Let me tell you a few things about this review. I actually asked PreSonus if they would allow me to review the PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors. PreSonus agreed to the idea but only after I agreed to send them back after the review is done. Please know, I reached out to PreSonus out of my uncontrollable curiosity. I am not making a single penny on this review. As a fan of PreSonus, I simply had to know how the  PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors sound for myself. I currently own about four or five pieces of PreSonus studio equipment, and software, and I love each piece. I use them on a professional level, too, so you know they are made of quality. I had to learn just how their home audio products stack up against the professional studio gear of which PreSonus is famous for.

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The “BT” stands for Bluetooth, and I will get to that feature in just a moment. First, a little about what the speakers are, and what they are not.

Here is what a friend I have at PreSonus said about what he thinks is the strong point about the PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors. The secret of the  PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors is in the physical shape and size of the speaker enclosure, itself, and in the design of the “Rear firing tuned port”. That is the secret behind the amazingly full sound I got when I hooked up the PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors. The Ceres line of monitors are not for using as a “critical listening monitor”, as you might for mixing and mastering tracks, songs, or albums. They were designed, from the very conception, to excel at playing back todays MP3′s. However, they are also stellar at playing back CD’s, listening to the radio, brining your favorite movies to life, making “YouTube-style videos” more life like, and bringing a games’ audio information to exciting levels. Weather you are hooking up a laptop computer, home stereo, or just your ios device, the  PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors are incredible sounding, and you will be blown away. I know I was!

You see, the  PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors know what they can do, and what they can not. They are not trying to be a “one monitor speaker does it all”. Nope, not at all. Too many other companies have tried that and failed. PreSonus knew what they wanted to design and they knew what they did not want to design. PreSonus actually makes professional, “critical listening” monitors, studio monitors for todays home recording studios, and now they make a home monitor system with Bluetooth capabilities. That is impressive.

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 PreSonus (the coolest name in new and exciting audio products and software) set out to make the best speaker for the playback of todays MP3′s that will deliver an amazing sound via many input devices, and input styles. You can stream wireless, via Bluetooth capability. I don’t care who you are, that is just cool. We live in a very fun and exciting time in technology.

Next, there are also two RCA (unbalanced) inputs, which are great for computers and so many “like devices”. There is an included 1/8th inch stereo to RCA attachment cable supplied for just this very set up. Then, there is the 1/4 inch balanced TRS inputs for todays musical devices, from beat making devices to DAWs. If you want to hook that sort of thing up, even though the  PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors were not made for this sort of studio (critical listening) use, they will work just fine!

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There is also an output provided for the addition of the PreSonus “Temblor” T8 sub woofer. I did not ask PreSonus for the “Temblor” T8 sub woofer, as part of my review, so I will not be able to say too much about the unit. However, just know the connection is there. Please know that you could have the added sub frequencies that only a subwoofer speaker can deliver are a possibility if you feel the need.

What comes in the  PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors box? My pair arrived, brand new, and “still in the box”. As well as the two monitor speakers I found a power cable (120 VAC), a red and black “speaker to speaker” wire connection cable, 1/8th inch stereo to RCA attachment cable, a 1/8th inch male stereo to a 1/8th inch male stereo adapter, an adaptor for the (not included) sub woofer speaker, and of course the instructions. PreSonus also included little rubber feet that stick to each monitor. I liked that, since decoupling speakers is important. Everything you need to hook up your great sounding, brand new  PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors is included.

The bottom line. I do a lot of recording, mixing, and mastering of music. I am a self admitted music addict. I am a critical listener, too. I can really appreciate a good set of speakers, and I can tell great sounding speakers from “less than great sounding” speakers. The  PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors are perhaps some of the best sounding speakers when using them for the sort of listening they were made for. Hooking up a laptop, iPod, iPhone, either with included cabling or via Bluetooth, the sound is very, very, very good. I was quite taken with the impressive ability that the  PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors have. They can fill a room with very good sounding audio. The lows are tight and audible. The highs are clear, silky, and not harsh.

If you are reading this because you are looking for a great, (I repeat) great sounding pair of speakers for everyday listening of CD’s, MP3′s, or whatever format your music is in, the  PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors will make you extremely happy. If you are shopping for speakers that might accompany the insane graphics of todays games by filling your environment with rich, detailed audio, the  PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors are it.

The  PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors handled every audio source I gave them with ease. I used them with an iPhone, via a cable, and they were awesome. I filled a room with nice bass and treble, with mid range that is not over the top loud nor “scooped or missing”, via Bluetooth, easily. All I had to do was to push the “Bluetooth” button for a few seconds and then select the monitor speakers on my wife’s phone. Boom, done!

I connected my home computer to the  PreSonus Ceres C4.5BT monitors and played back Hulu videos, YouTube videos, and even some of my original music. It all sounded rich and full, and better than I could have hoped for. Even though I know how PreSonus did it, at the same time,  I don’t know how they did it. A lot of high quality audio comes out of these little monitors!  I am sad at the fact that I must box them up soon and mail them back to PreSonus.

The single best thing you must do in order to become a better mixer.

You will not believe how fast you can grow as a mixer! I have personally been blown away at the speed in which I have improved as a mixing engineer.

Here is the deal. We all want to obtain better mixes. We all love the music that we create, and the entire process of making our own music, too. It is always fun and just awesome to hear one of our own musical creations come together, track by track. I know that I, for one, am hooked on music making, and I am hooked for life.

But as a song comes together we always seem to run into the same exact problems. We can close our eyes and hear what is possible for our songs. However, in reality, our mixes sound amateur, at best, when compared to music we hear playing on the radio. We know that our dreams of a great sounding mix is within reach. But how can we get our music to sound as good as we know it can? Where can we learn the trade, the art of mixing, from beginner level tips all the way up to professional level ideals?

The answer is easy, but not simple. Confusing? I apologize if this seems misleading, but my aim is to help you find the help you so desperately crave. Once I tell you “The Golden Secret” that tells you how to get better, fast, the title of this post may seem to be “click bait-like”. I will not argue with you about that. But, like anything you wish to do much better in life, you must be willing to do a few things. Lets use “Becoming a better mixer” as an example.

So, in order to become a better (mixer) we must:

1) Mix multi track sessions. Dig in and mix, mix all that you can, but mix with a sonic goal in mind. Mix with some training in place. Training that you obtained from professional mixing engineers. Lets be brutally honest, mixing your tracks, your bands music, and other peoples music, the exact same way that you have been mixing thus far, has not yielded the results you want so desperately. You must do some learning, and then apply what you have learned.

2) Put yourself in the company of those that know more than you do about mixing. Surround yourself with those that know more than you do. This is how we learn after all.

3) Listen to feed back and then go back again to the first step. Listen to the personal mix critiques and mix feedback that others give to you. This is where the explosive growth can happen, but only if you allow two things to happen. First, you must allow others to hear your mixes. Putting your mixes out there for others to hear can be scary at first. Next, you must open yourself up to criticism from others, too, and if you have thin skin it can hurt. You must realize that most people want to help you. Joining online communities of “like minded individuals” and listening to what they have to say is tough sometimes, but very important.

So, where do we start?

What if you subscribed to a monthly “mixing training service” that supplied you with everything you needed to get better, and get better fast! You see I not only know a few of these services, I belong to a select few of these amazing services. My mixing has improved by incredibly large amounts. I have shocked myself at which the speed of my learning has taken place. Still, to this very day, each month I grow better and better. What say you? Want in?

Here is how I do it. Like I said, I belong to three mixing membership sites, and I stand behind each one as being a ton of value. Each one costs less than 30 dollars a month. That is not a lot of money if you assign a value on learning directly from the professional mixing engineers themselves, right? Each membership service is slightly unique in its’ “extra offerings”, and I can help you find just the right one. Each of these three mixing membership sites offer the same “core products” (a multi track session and hours of “How to” mixing videos), however from there they vary slightly.

Each month I download new multi track session files (songs of all types and genres), monthly mixing training videos that demonstrate how the professional mixing engineer mixed the exact song that I have loaded up in my DAW, and then there is just so much more! These membership sites are all designed to improve your mixing skills. You will be astonished at how quickly you improve!

The three mixing services that I belong to are: (in no specific order)

To learn more about exactly what each of these services offer, how they are unique from one another, please feel free to click on the links provided.

Mix Coach Pro

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Dueling Mixes

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The Mix Academy

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You see each month I am provided with multi track session files (a complete song) to mix. I am also supplied with hours of training videos that teach how the song was mixed, from start to finish, with a “one on one” like feel. I can also do some cool things like listen to the pros mixes and compare those to mine, send my actual mix in for a critique, Join in on monthly live webinars, join in on mixing conversations, or ask questions in the community portion of these websites, and just so much more! Each month each of these training services seem to toss in some sort of bonus. Some host “giveaways” with real recording gear like microphones for example, some provide interviews with industry professionals, and some supply extra content. You never know what can happen month to month! Please use the links provided above that will take you over to my lengthy reviews. That way you can learn the most about each of these three amazing services.

The things most folks seem to miss are all of the extras that you can pull out of these membership services. For example, you can quickly put together a list of songs that you mixed yourself, to give to prospective clients. There is nothing as powerful as being able to hand over samples of your work to a band or fellow song writer.

Another powerful offering is belonging to a vast and knowledgeable community of mixers. Each of these services offer a fun online community that you can become a member of. There is nothing as pleasing as finding answers to your problems, from folks that know exactly where you are coming from.

How about having a hard drive full of amazing, professionally recorded tracks to pull samples from? My drum sample library is full of great sounding kicks and snares, thanks to being a member of these services. These songs are often times professionally recorded in some of the best studios in the business.

Look, I am constantly improving my chops. My tool box of tricks and tips is filling up. Each month I learn new and exciting ways to use effects like saturations, reverbs, delays, choruses, EQ’s, automation, and the list just goes on and on. Each month I am blown away by the way these guys use tools like panning, stereo width, busses, sends and returns, or effects like transient designers, compression, and limiting to get great sounding tracks. Each month I learn new ideas that I can, in turn, apply to my music!

So, what is becoming a mixer worth to you? Wouldn’t you love to learn how to get great sounding mixes like the pros do? It is not about having fancy, expensive plugins. It is all about learning simple ideas, and then learning how to properly execute these ideas that can transform your mixes completely. If rapid growth in the field of mixing music of all genres excites you, perhaps gets you high (like it does to me), then joining a mixing membership is your “drug of choice”! Join, grow, and become a mixing engineer.

Isn’t this all worth under 30 dollars a month? Do the right thing and pull the trigger now!

Mix Coach Pro

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Dueling Mixes

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The Mix Academy

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“Mixing EDM” from Matt Weiss, and The Pro Audio Files.

Please allow me to share with you first, that Matt Weiss is no stranger to Home Recording Weekly. His tutorials have completely changed the way that I approach mixes, altered how I think about tools such as compression, and Matt has made me a much better mixer to say the very least. Matt has been in the mixing business for a long time, as a professional, and he has had his hands in some very important mixes. Please, if you are not aware, please know that Matt has some other titles that will help you to achieve mixing nirvana.

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Those highly recommended titles that are all “must watch” training videos, or links to my reviews, are:

Mixing with Compression

Mixing Hip Hop

Mixing Rap Vocals

I have also had the good fortune to have a lengthy interview with Matt and we covered a lot of great recording and mixing topics. Here is a link to that interview.

Now, back to the review for “Mixing EDM“. In a world where things seem to only get worse over time (the cars we drive, the instruments we buy, the amps we try out, and even McDonalds cheeseburgers) it is nice to know that the training videos that mixing engineer Matt Weiss puts out continue to get better and better. “Mixing EDM” is packed with valuable content. That is an understatement, as you shall soon learn.

Mixing EDM” begins with an introduction and a heads-up of what is to come. Matt is about to deliver another stellar series, and his excitement is contagious. Right up front, he promises some very rather fun things like a “complete and total mix walkthrough”. This is a start to finish tutorial of how Matt thinks about a mix, and then how he mixes it to “dance worthy perfection”. That alone is worth the price of the whole series. But Matt has more for the lucky viewer.

Next, he adds value to the whole affair with a detailed look at how Matt figures out what the producer of the track has for intentions, and what he (Matt) deems important in the song itself, as far as mixing ideals. Matt has gone above and beyond, here, a couple of times.

Matt has included a couple of extra “workshops” to the series, and I am very excited about that. The first workshop deals with the four components that Matt hold sacred for EDM, as to say, if you get these four right you should be able to nail any EDM mix on your own. The four ideals are “Contrast”, “Stereo Width”, “Transitions”, and “an in depth look at kick drums”. This will be the icing on the cake. Leave it to Matt to not only blow our minds with his mixing techniques, but to go further and deliver (extra) solid content when he does not have too. But that is not all…….

Matt has gone and included a mastering workshop at the very end of this series, as yet another cool bonus. We will get to learn what the mastering engineer, the professional that mastered the exact same track Matt is about to mix with us (multi-track session files are included), thought was important to do in mastering the track, and how he mastered the whole song. Wow, that is going to be awesome, as we never get to hear that end of the process. I consider this to be a close look behind the curtain!

Let me please stop the review again and offer my advice. If you are new to training videos that deal with professional mixing engineers mixing a song from first listen to completed mix, then Matt Weiss is a great place to start. Matt Weiss does a lot of teaching throughout the year, and he has a way of explaining things like no other person can. Matt has helped me like no other mixing engineer has, and I mean that completely. Even if you don’t understand all of the content, you will learn more than you ever thought you could, or would. Matt teaches techniques first, and then applies what he has just taught you to the mix at hand. In other words, he teaches you the things that matter, the things that will help you as a mixer, and that is the gold. Matt likes to teach a person “why he does something”, and not “how he likes to do something”, if that makes sense to you. I am trying to explain the whole “give a person a fish, versus, teach a person to fish” story, but make it sound like I made it up. Please forgive me. You get the idea.

If you decide to purchase “Mixing EDM“, please use one of the links in this review. If you do that I will give you a killer video bonus bundle. If you are reading this review because you are still not sure if this video series is what you are looking for, then let me toss in a special gift for you. Let me tell you about “The Pro Mixers Playbook“.

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If you use any of the links supplied in this review, I will receive a small piece of the sale. I want to give you back something, for using these links to purchase. As my way of saying thank you, if you use any of these links to purchase or join … then I will give you a free, special gift. Let me tell you about  “The Pro Mixers Playbook“.

Learning how to mix like the pros can be the most rewarding thing we ever do. It can also be the most frustrating thing we ever do. Why does learning how to mix have to be so difficult?

The truth is there is a lot of information out there, broken up into ten minute video chunks, over here, and over there, and, well, in a lot of different places. Learning just one brand new mixing technique can take you to many different places that all seem to have somewhat competing information.

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For this very reason, I have been hard at work, putting something rather special together that I call “The Pro Mixers Playbook“. I have made over 4.5 hours of training videos together, in one easy to download PDF file. I have listed, and then made corresponding videos for the most powerful, the most “mix-shaping” 15 Pro mixing plays that have had the most impact (hands down) with my own mixes. This is a mixing foundation just waiting to happen. There is something new and rewarding, for new mixers and pros alike, inside in the Pro Mixers Playbook.

This is just my way of saying thank you for using any one of my links to purchase any one of the training videos that I have reviewed for you, here on Home Recording Weekly. Please click on the product images to learn more about  “The Pro Mixers Playbook“.

So, if you are interested in learning the best of the best mixing techniques, over 4.5 hours worth, in video training form that will totally transform your mixes, then let me help you get your own copy of the Pro Mixers Playbook. When you use any of the links that I have provided for you to purchase “Mixing EDM“, I will allow you a free download code for  “The Pro Mixers Playbook“”, absolutely free.

All you need to do is send me an email (kern@homerecordingweekly.com ) with “free pro mixers playbook” in the subject line. Tell me the product that you have purchased, using my link, and I will send you a free copy.

I hope you all enjoy the Pro Mixers Playbook. I put it together in hopes of showing mixers (new and old) something true, something real, and something helpful. These are the best 15 mixing plays that have taken my mixing over the top, and rocketed my mixing skills to the best it has ever been.

If you are thinking about purchasing any of the training video products that I have reviewed, and have links to, than now is the time to make that purchase!

OK, back to the review at hand……

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Like I mentioned before, “Mixing EDM” consists of a few elements which will need downloading.  The actual EDM mix training videos portion of “Mixing EDM” consists of four downloads of videos with the following titles:

“Intro”, “Pitch Correction”,  “Faders Up”, “Initial Notes”, “Kick”, “Bass”, “The Build”, “Verse and Vocals 1″, “Verse and Vocals 2″, “Peripheral Elements”, “Drop 1″, “Drop 2″, “Conclusion”,

Then there is a folder full of bonus videos titled “Workshops” inside of “Mixing EDM. “Workshops” contains the following videos: “Contrast”, “Stereo Width”, “Transitions”, “Kicks”, and “DNB”!

Yet another folder contains the actual multi track files for the same exact song that Matt Weiss is mixing, a folder with three MP3 songs inside, and an interview with mastering engineer Chris Athens.  “Mixing EDM” is perhaps one of the most in depth tutorials that I have ever had the good fortune of watching. The “content to price ratio” is really through the roof.

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Mixing EDM“, Video 2, “Pitch Correction”, begins with the most important track of perhaps any EDM mix, the vocals. Matt details quickly how he time aligns “doubled vocal parts”. He does not spend any time at all here, as we have all seen this before. Next, Matt begins the conversation that is vocal pitch shifting, or tuning the vocals. Keep in mind that every song is unique and the amount of tuning needed, or wanted, will be different. Matt applies his tuning with Melodyne.

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Matt tunes the vocals, edits some dynamics in the delivery, and some minor time functions, all within Melodyne. If you need some help with editing inside of Melodyne, Matt can help. He is very comfortable working inside Melodyne, and he give a few nice helpful tips as he works along also. I picked up a few gems of wisdom, here in the first real video, and I am so thankful already. I love learning new things, which is why I watch training videos in the first place. Matt Weiss is a wealth of knowledge, and he loves to share what he knows with the viewer. “Mixing EDM” is paying off already!

Not only does the viewer learn about editing “main” vocals, and then “doubled” vocals, but toss in editing “stacked vocals” too! However, like I started to explain, instead of going into extreme detail about how he used Melodyne to edit each vocal in the stacks of vocals, Matt explains the theory of editing vocal stacks, and the impact that it can have on a song. Again, Matt is teaching the viewer the technique rather than teaching the instance of the plugin itself. This is the pay off in “Mixing EDM“.

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Matt next does some cool volume automation. He explains why, and then does it on the fly, right as we get to watch. If you were to ask me, this was a very unusual idea, well, at least at this point in the mix. Matt explains that he does this in order to not use as much compression. I would have reached for a compressor first, so you can imagine how much I am learning!

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“Faders up” is the video, in the “Mixing EDM” series, where Matt begins what I might call the process in which I use to obtain “a rough mix”. Matt begins with the main vocal and then, track after track, brings in the rest of the mix. Matt quickly explains some very important things like leaving headroom in your mix for processing, and how to accomplish that.

Track after track, Matt brings in element after element. Matt stops from time to time to go into detail about what he assigns importance too, and why he decides to do so. He talks about such topics as transitions, dynamics within a track, coming to understand the song, and the importance of keeping the listener entertained from start to finish.

The next video in the “Mixing EDM” series, titled “Initial Notes”, is where the viewer gets into the process. Matt plays the song, roughly mixed, from start to finish. Matt blanks out the screen because he wants the listener/viewer to take notes. That is what Matt is also doing, and the idea is to teach the listener what to listen for, and how to hear things at this stage of the process. There is no other way to teach this stuff, and kudos to Matt for having the courage to do this. There is no other way to bring the viewer into the process than to actually blank out the screen and tell them to get a pencil and some paper and take notes. This is learning!

I need to stop, and go forward in time. I have watched “Mixing EDM“, all the way through, and I feel the need to come back to this part in the series. Matt takes notes about the mix, and what he wants to do with the mix. Then he begins performing mixing maneuvers that will bring the mix to his idea of perfection. After sleeping on this approach for a couple of nights I have decided it is the single most important tip I have learned. “Mixing EDM” is chock full of great ideas and amazing tips that will bring your mixes up in quality. But I should have been doing this very thing all along. I mix as I think of things. Think about how much I probably forget to perform, and the things that I never get back to. This idea of writing your thoughts down, right at the start, is so huge to me. Simple but so massive!

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I am not going to share Matts’ notes with you, but let me tell you that there are some certain sayings mentioned within. You can expect to hear terms like “Huh, Huh, “oomph”, “Whoosh”, “pumpier”, “808″, “ambience”, “idiosyncratic”, and my personal favorite due to its’ positive implications, “rockin”.

Download 2, video one of “Mixing EDM” is titled, “Kick” (insert applause). I have heard it said before that if you do not get the low end right, you cant get anything else to sit on top of it, correctly. Matt knows this and he dives right in. Matt knows EDM, and how important, perhaps paramount, the kick is. This song has three kicks layered up, to make for one kicking and thumping kick. Lets learn how to perfect these kicks, shall we?

Matt says it best when he says, “When you are layering kick drums there are definitely some tricky things that come into play”. He promises to discuss exactly what those are, and I am again anxious and excited!

I am sort of still new to layering things like snares and kicks, and I have a thirst to learn all that I can about the techniques. Matt has what I am wanting, and he is about to give it to me, and whomever views “Mixing EDM“. Layering samples and sounds can make for much more dynamic soundscapes, and a much more precise way to mix for attack and for “ooomph”, separately.

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Matt begins playing back the three layers of kick drums in the song, and he details what they consist of and why they are there. He explains the relationship that exists between the three samples, and why they were chosen in the first place. Then the mixing begins.

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Matt discusses the importance of “phase” when layering samples such as kick drums. Then he dives into the process he uses to get amazing sounding kicks. Matt plays back some “before and after” examples of kicks in, and out of phase. Believe me, after you hear the difference you will check for phase every time you layer up samples. Matt, next, demonstrates the importance of slight time aligning the samples that he just put into phase. This makes even more of an audible difference. Top all of this off with an incredible phase inversion of certain frequencies and matt gets some killer sounding kicks! The low end jumps out at the listener now. Who knew this was even possible? That is yet another great tip that I had never given any thought. I love learning!

Matt really does a great job of explaining phase, and he gives some great audio examples too. I am learning a ton here, and my mixes will be so much better now! Like I said, you don’t have to be into EDM to learn a lot from  “Mixing EDM“. Without any EQ or compression at all, Matt got amazing, full, rich sounding kicks pumping away, from which to build on top of. If you are like me, and have not ever witnessed this trick as it unfolds, or this process as it is done, it will blow you away!

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 EQ and compression on the kicks was going to happen. You knew that, right? Well, here is the frosting on the cake. This is where Matt begins adding EQ and compression to the bus tracks and to the layers themselves. He explains the ideas behind the choices that he makes as he works along. The learning found within “Mixing EDM” is constant and never ending. Matt has a very unique way of approaching things, and I love to listen to his thoughts, or his reasons for the amazing things that he does.

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Matt then breaks away to demonstrate how to get some deep bass out of your kicks. He demonstrates his approach for creating triggered bass with tone generation. I love to experiment with triggering tone generators, and sometimes I can pull it off. However, Matt is king! Matt creates frequency specific tones, and that is yet another thing I never thought about. Why not make the kick in tune with your tracks?

Video 6, “Bass”. Matt Weiss next tackles the bass. The bass at hand is thick and “grundgy”. Matt starts with some EQ. Matt employs a Steven Slate plugin here, which was cool to see. The next part was a great surprise.

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A pumping bass is almost a “must have item” when it comes to EDM. That is perhaps one of the most signature trademarks. Matt details a few ways to create a pumping bass track, and then we get into creating some. AWESOME! Matt starts with a “kick drum to a compressor on the bass track side chain” if that makes sense.

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Please be warned, Matt does some cool tricks here! Matt puts the “ducking” compressor on an “ARP”, or arpeggio-a-tor synced key track first. That threw me as I was listening for the bass. Once I caught on to what was happening I was rewarded with a new way of creating a pumping sound on both the “Arp key track” and a bass track. There are some very cool ideas spoken here, dealing with ways to get a cool pumping track, and getting things out of the way of the kick.

Matt continues on editing the Arp key track with adding some severe EQ, and another Steven Slate plugin. Once Matt brings in the pumping effects, along with the EQ plugins, he gets a ton of movement. The low end is solid, and things are sounding extremely EDM like. I am always amazed when a professional can make something sound like gold with what seems to be little effort. Pros just make things look easy. If he had not shown his techniques to the viewer I would have thought it took months to accomplish what he has done thus far. It is very helpful to actually learn the techniques and then watch Matt apply what he just taught. This is how I learn the best. It is like sitting down with Matt and watching him mix away, only better! Do yourself the favor and use this link to purchase “Mixing EDM” right now! You will be happy that you did.

Video 7, “The build”.

The next video opens with Matt editing a hand clap. Matt employs some crazy EQ moves, as you can see in the image #7A just below this paragraph. It looks strange enough, but Matt supplies the viewer with a quick chat about mixing with your ears, and not your eyes. Great chat, great EQ moves, great mixing training video. The EQ moves really make a big difference in the hand claps and in the song as a whole. Matt next explains why this EQ move has made everything sound better.

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Then Matt gets the hand clap to sound exciting! This is not an easy thing to tackle. I was so curious as to how Matt was going to make the clap sound exciting, or have movement of some kind. Well turns out it was a simple trick that anyone can do. Matt will also take the effect that he used with the hand clap into much more detail later, in the workshop part of the series.

Matt continues mixing the hi hats next. He uses a very interesting plugin here that I never would have thought of. However, it really makes all the difference. How about a simple transient designer? YEP! He uses it simply and elegantly, and you will have to watch this series yourself to learn how he uses it to make the hats sound absolutely incredible. Oh yea, and Matt also applies some simple panning action to the hats too. Thanks to “Mixing EDM“, I am adding a whole bunch of cool new ideas and new tricks to my mixing tool box. I have also obtained some new uses for the same ole’ plugins that I use every time I mix. This is why I watch training videos, especially if they are from Matt Weiss. But there is more…

Matt kicks off a great talk dealing with “Masking”. He supplies a quick “before and after” audio example and then he dives into the discussion at hand. Matt can’t help himself from teaching. This is great news as it will only make us better at our craft. Masking can happen in many forms, and this quick chat really opened my mind up. Matt talks about a few types of masking that can happen in audio. This is very interesting stuff.

Next Matt continues mixing in elements, track by track, and explaining cool techniques as he does so. He mixes in some vocal samples and it is amazing how Matt brings them to life. Matt speaks about the mix as not only left and right, but with depth and life too. Matt shows some of his ideas, ways to give space to samples and tracks. This is worth the price of admission all by itself! These are the tricks that matter, the things that separate the novice from the pros. Look, if you wish to improve your mixing chops, of EDM or any style of music, stop reading this review and purchase “Mixing EDM” right now. Got it?

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I am amazed at just how many tracks get the “pumping treatment”. It is just so nice to learn how a professional mixes things to get that sound. Matt is truly a mixing ninja, and his tricks amaze me. They are easy yet elegant in sound. The “before and after” listening’s are really crazy different. Matt will not only dazzle the viewer, but instill a confidence. After learning what is going on behind the scenes, I know that I, too, can replicate what Matt has taught me in “Mixing EDM“.

Video 8, “Verse and vocals”.

Matt begins with a time tested truth. Sometimes less is just way more. Matt brings contrast to the verse part by simply using some clever mutes. He brings even more contrast in by using some automation on a low pass filter. I love these tricks because they are easy to use in my own mixes and make such a big difference.

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Next, Matt digs into the main elements that are the vocals, pianos, and synths. Matt explains his plan of attack. He needs to make things all work, yet he needs the vocal to cut through the dense mix. The piano gets some EQ. Matt makes the piano sound better with one EQ. Then he makes room for the vocal track with another set of EQ moves with EQ number two. This is some of the things that I need help with, and it is awesome to watch Matt, and hear his thoughts as he works along. When this is done correctly it can be very incredible to behold. It actually is tough for me to know where to even start, but Matt explains things so well that I feel much more confident about the whole affair.

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How do you get the vocal to sit more in the middle? Easy, make the other things sit on the sides. Matt demonstrates some brilliant ideas that yield crazy cool results. After you learn what he has to teach you you wonder why you have not been doing these things all along. Matt is a great teacher with a lot of great ideas to give away to the viewer. Please excuse me for being vague and not telling you everything he is doing in the mix. That would be a spoiler and it would take me forever to type it all out. Just know “Mixing EDM” has already paid for itself.

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Now is the time for vocals. Vocals are intimidating to me, when it comes to mixing, to say the very least. I have a need to get them right because they are the most important element in the mix. As Matt explains, vocals are often times the only real analogue track in the whole EDM mix. Matt decides to break the video down into two parts. The first is where we will fix what is wrong. The second part is where we have fun with adding effects.

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Matt begins by brining in the de-esser. He is constantly explaining his steps as he moves along. Next, Matt opens up the multiband compressor of choice and gets to work on the pesky low mids that are in the vocal. Matt pointed out the “low mids issue at hand” before he opened up the multiband compressor, so I am actually able to follow along well. Matt gives a brief (but good) explanation of multiband compression too.

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Matt blows minds periodically as  “Mixing EDM”  moves along. The next trick that Matt explains and then demonstrates is one of those mind blowing tricks. He says it has made all the difference in his vocal mixing, and now it can be yours too. I had heard about this idea before, but Matt truly explains the whole concept out, and then demonstrates it nicely. My vocals will now be so much better!

Matt follows the awesome tricks with general EQ and compression on the vocal. No surprises here, except he continues to teach the entire time. Matt explains each step of the process very well. He explains why he does things, and how he does things. For one example, Matt explains why he uses two different compressors on the vocal track. He could have just showed us the settings and moved on. Instead, he details his reasons with “before and after listening’s”. Well done!

Now comes the vocal effects! We have worked out all of the issues, and now we get to make it sit well. Matt explains parallel processing. We are about to employ some parallel processing to add excitement, movement, and some space (or depth) to the vocal. I just need to say that this is some very incredible learning, and we have not even touched on the fact that Matt has included two “workshop” video series to the whole “Mixing EDM” package.

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Video 9, “Verse and Vocals part 2″

So, how do you make a vocal sound way more exciting than it is without really altering the tone or the sound of the track at all? Matt knows. Heck, not only does Matt know, Matt is showing us. Matt uses saturation, EQ, and limiting. I am being rather vague once again, as to not give the whole affair away for free. Please know that what Matt does is something that we all can  easily do, once you learn how. Matt gets amazing tone and sounds, with what can seem like little effort. He has been doing this for a long time. He teaches the viewer everything, so please know if you purchase “Mixing EDM“, you can have all of his secrets!

After excitement, Matt brings in movement and width, using another parallel track. He begins by telling the viewer that he did some reference listening first, and then heard some things that he liked from some other albums. He did some reverse engineering, here, to get a cool sound on the vocal, and I think that is very cool. Matt is a humble cat and he really helps more by being so honest. He explains how he got to where he got, and that is cool.

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Next, Matt adds space to the vocal. We are talking about reverb and delay here. Matt brings the viewer along with him as he adds depth. He explains the three dimensions and how reverb can add space to a track. He details how and why he EQ’s reverb tracks, and the vocals get better and better. It is quite amazing to learn just how well Matt can hear things. He points out what to listen for, so my ears are getting better at listening too.

Matt discuses a problem that can arise with hall reverbs. I have been having this very issue. I have tried to “EQ the problem away” with little results. I was shocked that Matt brought this problem up and happy as all get out when he taught the viewer how to get rid of the problem. He actually EQ’s the reverb, too, so at least I can feel good that I was on the right path. Matt is a mixing ninja with amazing ears, and I am learning a lot from “Mixing EDM“.

I have sat through a lot of these types of mixing training videos. I learn a lot from all of them. I knew that Matt was amazing, but I was a little bit leery of the title. I don’t write a ton of EDM, nor do I mix a lot of it. I have some new music that is leaning that way, in the bass and kicks though. I am so happy to tell you that I am learning more than I ever thought I would from “Mixing EDM“, and these things that I am learning will translate into any genre that I apply it too. Shame on me for ever assuming anything less than that. Matt Weiss has delivered time after time, in each of the videos that I have had the pleasure and the good fortune of watching. Matt taught me a lot about compression, in the amazing “Mixing with Compression“. I have said that fact repeatedly on the podcast, so you can trust that it is true. Each of Matts releases tackle more and more of what todays mixing engineers need to know in order to keep on top.

Matt details how you can replicate the sounds he gets (like detailed, stereo, saturated delays) with stock plugins. He knows all of us do not have all of the toys that he has. However, it is good to learn what plugins the pros use, and how it is they set them up to achieve the sounds that they get. I like that Matt includes these little “work arounds” for the rest of us that may not have a ton of plugins.

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Next, Matt explains the EQ settings for the delay that he has set up. Then he details a cool trick that he likes to do with the delay. He gets a lot of movement and depth with a simple trick here.

Please let me say all of this vocal stuff in another way. Matt takes the vocal and improves it to the point of absolute perfection. I usually don’t know where to even start when I begin mixing a vocal. Matt has given me some great things to think about when approaching a vocal. Matt has also supplied me with a bag of very impressive tricks that will certainly help me to get much better vocal mixes. Even though this is an EDM song and I am not the biggest EDM fan, it does not matter. What Matt does to the vocal will only make you a stronger, better mixing engineer. Matt really knocks the vocal out of the park, and the best part (for all of us) is that we know can do it too. “Mixing EDM” is one bad ass series.

Video 10, “Peripheral Elements”.

Matt begins as he points out the job and the role of back ground, or doubled vocal parts. He begins with a cool trick that he uses to learn what steps he must take to get the BG vocals to sit well in the mix. He then gets to work.

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He begins with some EQ. No surprise here, as Matt has set the learning into gear. I can almost tell what he is about to do. That is great news!

Matt goes on to show us how he thinks about the types of vocals. You see, each type of vocal will get processed differently. Some will get the usual EQ and then off the the same buses as the leas vocals. Some, however, do not get the same treatment. This was very eye opening for me as I feel I have been doing things incorrectly. Matt makes a ton of sense as he explains this process. I am learning so much from “Mixing EDM” and I do not work with EDM at all. My mixes are going to be a lot better!

 Matt continue mixing the vocals and he does some very interesting stuff. I don’t want to “give the farm away”, but just by looking at the image below, you can bet it is very interesting. Then, he makes them wide in the stereo field. Matt explains that we must not only get a nice sounding (other than lead vocal) vocal, but we must make room for this vocal in frequency and in the stereo field. I never thought about this idea.

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Boom! Awesome vocals that go along with the lead vocals, but do not get in the way, so to speak! My mixes will forever have to thank Matt Weiss!

Now it is that time in the mixing process to bring in some synths that will be competing for the same frequencies that the vocal has in it. Matt explains his choice and use of a notch filter on an EQ. No surprise, right? Matt leaves the surprises for how he treats the width of the synth. He has some very trick ways of getting things to sound great but not get into the way. Matt shows how he breaks down the frequencies and then how he separates them to the center and the sides of a mix. Simple, elegant, impactful!

But Matt is not finished just yet. Matt goes even further to automate a killer high pass filter on the EQ that actually makes the synth work in the mix, as to build some excitement and suspense! Matt has mixed for so long, as a pro, he just knows these great ideas that not only makes things sound amazing, makes them fit in the mix, but gives them movement and excitement too. Please let me add that Matt has some dope ideas when it comes to drawing in his automation!

Matt continues on, compounding the ideas that bring life to synth after synth. He makes things sound fantastic and full of life. These pads pump, move, and sound right. Well done!

These ideas, and learning how to accomplish these ideas are uber important, yet they were just out of my reach. Until now! Now I know how to think about these items that compete for attention and how to put them into their proper place. How much can I say about “Mixing EDM“? It is most fantastic, and I have yet to even get into either of the two included workshops! The value, here, is over the top.

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Video 11, “The drop”.

Matt explains what “The drop” actually is. After the brief explanation is out of our way, Matt gets to work making the tracks that make up the drop sound killer! Matt explains that where there is a lot going on at our drop, each track must help make up the whole. Matt explains the way he achieves this well, and devotes a great deal of time explaining this entire process. Matt explains things very well, and supplies audio examples as he moves along. The viewer will be able to keep up and digest it all. I am giddy that Matt is still giving this much detail, 11 videos in to “Mixing EDM“. He is not into cutting quality or content out, no matter how much time has passed thus far.

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Matt has three stereo synth tracks to work with. He must make them work, yet be exciting, and not be in the way. Big task. Matt digs in…..

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Matt pulls the lead synth more towards the center. This is just mind blowing to me. Matt works with frequencies and stereo width. This is all new to me, so the learning continues. Matt shows the viewer how to easily get separation and depth in a dense multi-synth section of a mix. Matt even uses a tad bit of reverb to add some depth, and it all comes together. I would never have gotten even close to the greatness that Matt gets. Please note that Matt has yet to touch the pan knobs. I used to get mush, I can only get better results now that I know how.

Next, there is an 808 kick that comes into the drop. Matt explains how much frequency there is in an 808, and then we get to work. Matt gives the viewer a lot of dialogue to help them mix 808′s on there on. There is a lot of philosophy  going on here, and it all helps seal the deal. I really needed the chat and now I will think about 808′s much differently.

Matt creates a serious drop transition next, where there was nothing at all. Matt then adds some automation to a very cool high pass filter and creates a killer transition. Point is, as Matt explains, we need to go from wide and deep back to narrow and shallow. Matt does this easily and well, where there was nothing at all. Matt really knows how to make a simple 808 kick drum come to life. His years of mixing really come through here. “Mixing EDM” is simply AMAZING!!!!

video 12, “Drop part 2″

The second drop is next in line for some of Matts’ magic. This is the big drop in the song. The problem that we have is that the same elements that make up the back bone of the song are the exact same that make up this drop. Matt needs to find some ways to make these parts sound suddenly exciting.

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Matt begins with some cool automation. He explains things in great detail, giving “before and after listens” as he goes. Matt has a way of getting big things to happen with easy to understand, easy to replicate ideas. The key to this is his great explanations. Matt then explains the idea of getting elements that are currently in our song to change, in order to make room for the drop elements. Instead of altering our drop tracks, Matt makes room for the drop by employing some brilliant ideas! Matt see things and hears things so wildly different than I do. I am really learning a lot from his ideas and his unique approaches to some of these tasks.

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Matt decides to treat the bass differently, here at the second drop. This is where my blown mind tosses in the towel. My head is completely full of ideas and cool moves that I must take a break. I have been trying to take notes as I watch, but I have three full pages to try and decipher. I will have to watch this powerful video series many times over to pull out all of these amazing tips. Matt gets the absolute most out of each track. A song can really come to life, and in so many different ways. I have been mixing for many years now, yet much of this stuff is brand new to me. Matt can make a track move, come to life, pop through a dense mix, and more!  “Mixing EDM” is one of these moments in my mixing career that I will always remember and point to as “that video”.

Matt also included the multi track files. This is very exciting because we all can apply what we have just learned. If you think about it, Matt has just explained each step of the mix process in great detail. Then he executes these steps right in front of us, on the same multi track session files that we have. Each step of the process can now be replicated by the viewer as Matt mixes. This drives home each step of the mix, and helps the viewer to grasp, to remember these great ideas.

Matt also includes five workshop video titled, “Contrast” (18 minutes), “Stereo width” (21 minutes), “Transitions” (14 minutes), “Kicks” (16 minutes), and “Drums and bass” (33 minutes). I can’t think of five more important ideals that one must master in order to mix a full, moving, wide, exciting EDM mix. Please note that I have already placed the value of  “Mixing EDM” at (at least) three times the asking price, without even watching a single workshop training video. Add to this running total an interview with Mastering engineer Chris Athens and a folder with three MP3 songs inside. The value here is unlike any training video that I have ever watched. Matt has made a mixing masterpiece here, and the entire online mixing community should be required to not only watch this gem, but mix along with Matt since he has included the multi track session files. “Mixing EDM” is a Home Run.

Episode 55, Monitoring for success!

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Here are some links from todays podcast.

Mixing EDM” from mixing ninja and nice guy, Matt Weiss. Purchase now and receive free video bundle, “Pro Mixers Playbook“!

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“Studio rescue videos”, from Rode Microphones, here, here, and here.

My interviews with David Glen, here and here.

Toontrack EZkeys Classic Electrics, Mellotoon, Vintage Upright, Grand Piano, Retro Electrics, and even more!

I have been on somewhat of a music writing and music recording streak lately. The music is just pouring out of me. Ideas are popping into my head late at night as I try to sleep. I am forcing myself to get up out of bed in order to write down cool lyric ideas, chord changes, or song parts as they pop into my mind. Not only am I writing new material, but I am using new tools in order to capture these ideas too.

I recently picked up most of the EZ Keys packages from the “musical wonder minds” over at Toontrack. I picked up a bunch of instrument packs (please see the list below) and they all sound amazing. I really can’t believe how incredible they each sound! Toontrack is synonymous with great sounding musical Virtual Instruments after all. Please follow this link to see and hear the Toontrack EZ Drums, Superior Drums, and then so much more!

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You can also purchase all sorts of midi packs too, if your piano chops are not “up to snuff”. I am not the best piano player, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I can write midi like a pro. That is how I love to use the EZ Keys Virtual Instruments. I write the parts out one note at a time and then copy and paste the sections. However, I do own a few of these truly amazing sounding midi performance pacts too.

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Not only are EZ Keys virtual instruments perfect for recording and song writing, but they are awesome for live performances too. Heck, with a single midi keyboard and a laptop you can have so many cool sounding pianos and keyboards right at your finger tips too!

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Here are the links over to the products at Toontrack.

EZkeys Vintage Upright

EZkeys Retro Electrics

EZkeys Mellotoon

EZkeys Grand Piano

EZkeys Classic Electrics

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