Some Mixing and Sound Design Tips


I originally posted this in response to a question about how I got some sounds in my latest track ‘Rendevouz in Paris’.

Some people said that I should post my longwinded response in tips and tricks so perhaps someone else can find something useful in it, so here it is!

[u]The Post[/u]

I hate it when you ask producers how they do their stuff and they just shoot you back something general like 'use your ears', or 'be creative'. Needless to say, get some popcorn cause this might be a long read...


Pretty much everything has the Ableton saturator on it(surprisingly good actually!), used in smallish amounts 10 - 30 % wet, soft clip analog mode 6 - 14 db drive w/e feels right. Pianos and bells are both from nexus (bit of saturation on them too), flutey sound I sampled from some FX then made it into a riff, everything else is Sylenth1.

Bass Bus and loop bus (minus the kick) both have a psp vintage warmer on them (you could substitute this for saturator / limiter and probably get somewhat close). I've found the trick here is gradual, staggered compression, for instance on the bass.

Bassline 1: EQ to Cut Lows -> Normal compressor w/ medium fast attack, and fast release ( 3 - 5 db gain reduction to shape the sound) -> mild saturator use -> EQ to boost lows and highs (AFTER compression, and remember saturation is doing compression too)

Bassline2 (Sub Bass): Sine wav with Probably just a compressor, maybe some eq after, this can be pretty dry. I only do this if I run out of oscillators in sylenth, otherwise its just a sine wav and octave down with retrig.

Bassline3 (High Bass): Same as Bassline1 probably, probably less EQing in the lows obviously

--> All 3 basslines to the bass bus, slap a PSP vintage warmer on it and do some limiting to bring up all the levels (I use 100% wet here, but you could do this in parallel I guess)


These are 'Plucks1' in my instrument rack, and they are so usable I haven't had to make a Plucks2 yet. This is that big chord sound you here at the start of the break at 1:30 and other places through the track. Heres how I did them:

Load up sylenth1, load up factory bank 3 and the patch SA KEY Crushed Plucks, this will give us a good starting point.

Take off the reverb and delays and compressor (gonna do those ourselves), and turn the bit crush distortion down to like 10 - 15%. Turn down the resonance and / or keytracking to taste. Find the oscillator that only has 1 voice and change it from a saw to noise, with retrig off and a volume of about .8 - 1.5 depending on how you want them. Put the filter envelope release to full. Set the Polyphony higher than '3' if you plan to play more notes.

Group Sylenth so you get it in an instrument rack and add a low cut to taste (usually 150hz for me), a compressor with a 15ms attack and 50 - 100 ms release set to about 2db reduction when the chords filter is low -> A saturator ( the more extreme end of the settings listed at the top ), and then an eq boost to brighten things up a bit ( 2 - 3 db around 8k 1Q in my case ).

Now the important part, Map the main cutoff, both vol envelope decays and the filter Decay to nob1, and call this 'Fat' (for lack of a better name). Mess around with the map range until you find a range that works (I did 30% - 100% ish decays, 23% - 53% cutoff).

Map nob2 to the filter attack, I named this 'Soft', and I used a range of about 0 - 36%.

Throw the whole thing to some nice reverb on a send and we're done (Phew!).

Now you can load these plucks up and use the Soft nob to find the character you want for your track, 0% give you true, bitey plucks, As you turn up the soft you get this nice lush brassy sound (sort of reminiscent of 80's synths). For this track I think I used a soft of about 24 ( on the nob ).

Then throughout the track automate the fat nob, when you crank it up it will slam the giant sound into the compressor and the saturator which will give it a really nice fat 'buzz' while compressing it a bit so it isn't too loud (my compressor usually hits 5 - 8 db reduction when I crank it depending on the 'soft').

Sorry for the long post but hopefully you found something useful!


Hi Kevin thanks for the tips! Loving the tracks!

A really generous and detailed post. Thanks!