If you are a beginner in music engineering, some general concepts are crucial to form your basic understanding. Mixing and mastering are two such processes. They are the building components of any finished and refined musical composition. With the invention of accessible DAWs (digital audio workstations) such as Logic Pro X, it has become easier to operate and understand these musical operations. This blog will take you through the primary steps of sound engineering functions.
Abbreviated as EQ, this step is rightly regarded as the heart of any sound mix. It is one of the first things you learn in the realm of sound engineering. In general terms, equalisation is reducing or boosting a range of frequencies to achieve an optimum tone adjustment. This is key to excelling in your music mastering skills. However, EQ also contributes to the mixing fundamentals. It is a great enhancement feature for all kinds of mixing processes, be it modulation, reverb, or even pitch fix. Logic has four basic forms of principle equalisation. Let us take a precise look at each of these.
- Channel EQ: This is the most frequently used EQ, equipped with eight frequency bands. Each of these bands has a set of independent filters, which can be used to shape sounds as per requirement.
- Linear phase EQ: These specialised plugins imply the signal’s similar frequency experience to preserve the wave shape.
- Match EQ: This form of equalisation helps you analyse and store the sound frequency spectrum as an audio template.
- Single band EQ: Out of the 31 frequency bands in the EQ, the effect on one particular band’s frequency refers to single band EQ.
The process of compression in mastering leads to a reduction in the dynamic range of audio. This implies bridging the gap between the loudest and softest bits of your sound, which gives an output with fewer movements. When talking about mixing, compressions aren’t as necessary. The prime focus of compression is on looking after the quality of the final sound output. It is said to be the second-most versatile and used sound-shaping tool in Logic after EQ.
The compression tools target the final result’s threshold levels, smoothening and overall volume management. The Compressor in this particular DAW allows you to work on individual tracks containing vocals, instrumentals, effects, and overall sound mixes. The functioning of the compressor tool allows direct insertion into the channel strip. However, you can use it on aux channels as well. With a compressor tool in place, you can tighten the range of your sounds, which in return helps you to magnify the sounds, as per convenience.
Side chain compression
As we read above, compression deals with managing the range of sound. But if we already know what compression means, what is so different about sidechain compression? On your journey to becoming a superior producer, you must be well-versed in different mixing processes. Compression is also of different types, and each type has a different utilisation, depending upon the needs.
Side chain compression is the technique of quieting one soundtrack while another sound of a similar frequency is played. This mastering approach has become a staple in music fields (such as EDM) which require an alternate audio source to trigger a response.
To implement a sidechain compression in Logic Pro, you will begin by placing the compressor setting. Select the track you wish to lessen the volume for when the second track plays. Select the “side chain” option from the dropdown menu to trigger the compression. You can learn the procedure in more detail by taking a logic pro online course.
This form of compression is also known as New York compression. The basic functioning of this type of compression uses dry and unprocessed audio with the compressed version of the signal. This form of mastering only accounts for a small portion of your audio. Engineers and producers get a large degree of control over the dynamic and quality of the audio. A parallel compression setup has wet and dry plugins that allow independent equalisation of audio signals.
In today’s time, most modern music relies on the sole principles of parallel compression to get better-quality outcomes. When you operate a parallel compression process on Logic Pro, you will begin by initiating the “mix” knob. This allows the dry audio signals to be compressed with the complete mixes. Using a parallel compressing system allows it to process similar tracks without hampering the integrity of the original audio dynamics.
The importance of headroom is essential for understanding the quality of the audio signals in music production. In the simplest terms, it is the amount of space available in your audio signals. This space is crucial to let a producer or engineer process or alter the audio as per convenience. The most typical measure of leaving a room is 6 dB (decibel, a unit that measures sound intensity). Having sufficient headroom is crucial to prevent sound distortion or clipping.
If you wish to attain sufficient headroom in your Logic Pro DAW, you must learn how to “gain stage”. This process allows your audio plugins the room they require to ensure smooth functioning. The gain staging process allows track-by-track headroom specific to your audio mix’s needs and structure. A need for ample headroom is crucial to determine the quality of your musical outcomes.
Stereo spread and imaging
At the very last, Logic’s stereo spread effect is one of the most popular and widely used tools. The stereo base extends through strategic use of altering effects within the signal phase. One of the most prominent methods of stereo spread extension is the distribution of a selective number of frequency bands. These frequencies are picked from the middle range of the left and right channels. This process takes alternate steps, one from each side, to gauge a natural sounding outcome that increases the stereo width’s perception.
There are multiple parameters of a stereo spread. It can have lower and upper-intensity sliders. These accordingly set the amount of extension in stereo spread suitable to the type of frequencies. You will also get access to the graphic display of the effect intensity and the number of bands a signal is divided into. The order knob is another parameter that decides how many bands a single audio signal is divided into.
To summarise our discussion, we looked in-depth at the building components of the mixing and mastering steps. These functions are essential for getting a qualitative output of your desired musical choices. If you are an aspiring music producer or engineer, you must be thorough and familiar with the functions as mentioned above in Logic Pro.
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