In my last post I wrote about the top ten effects recording artist need to know. And one of those effects mentioned where exciter. This effect is used to add presence to vocals or an entire mix. There are a variety of saturation types (presets)that will allow you to affect specific frequency areas of your vocals or overall mix. Some of the most common saturation settings will usually refer to frequencies by their characteristics. For example you're looking to excite the mid range frequencies you'd see settings like “warmth” or tube. Depending on the plug-ins or you're using of course but the reference and terminology behind the idea remains the same.
The plug-in used for this how to article is the Waves Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter Plugin. This plug-in emulates the original mid 1970's Aphex model 402 Aural Exciter.
Control features: As you'll notice on the lower left side of this plug-in, you'll see two knobs marked as Mode and meter. The first option will be in bold letters “BP” stands for bypass mode. This feature is modeled after the original hardware unit allowing you to get subtle coloring on the signal path. “Mix1” allows you to place the exciter on an insert in case you want to affect a signal sound source (ex. Instrument, drum snare ect.). “Mix2 is slightly different as it allows you to add a not so subtle effect to your sound you'll also notice this for the aux mode as well. The ax mix knob will be movable only when mix1 and mix2 are selected. Ax mode will be best used on a send return track to an auxiliary track that your sending audio to.
How to apply the exciter to your vocals
Step 1- Select and apply the Aural Exciter plug-in to your vocal insert shown in the illustration below:
Step 2- Adjust the settings of the plug-in by selecting mix 1 with the knob located on the lower left (Mode). Choosing “AX” for the meter located just above the meter option. As seen in the illustration below:
Step 3-You'll also need to adjust the input knob as well as the Ax mix. Move the input knob to a level you're comfortable with. Usually going a little past 6 is the sweet spot but that may vary for upon users. keeping the Ax mix knob anywhere between 5 and 8. But this may differ from the vocals you're using it on. As seen in the illustration below:
You'll now notice the vocals will have a certain brightness to them that compliments your mix.However if you're hearing any harshness at all in the signal you can tame it with eg.
When you're just starting out as an artist and your putting together a project for the first time, choosing the right licensing option is vital. Knowing which option is best for your project can have an impact on it's overall success. You'll want to avoid choosing the wrong licensing option so that your not throwing away your hard earned cash. Few tips to keep in mind that will help you make the best decisions when buying beats online.
1-Project Goal- The type of project your putting out will determine your licensing choice. For example an artist putting out a mixtape will choose to lease beats instead of then buying exclusive rights. As exclusive rights can be pricey opting out for a lease would be the appropriate solution for an artist putting out a mixtape. Albums and EP's would require exclusive rights do to the nature of the project being put together. The expectation that comes with an artist buying beats for their album or Ep would be to have zero limitations, as far as sales and commercial use. As for mixtapes the expectation is some what lower and temporary in terms of how long an artist will be allowed to use the beats for their project.
2-Mp3 or wav- This is determined by an artist's experience level. Early on quality isn't usually a concern with artist who are putting out a first time project. In fact if you're just starting out a mixtape is usually a starting point for beginners. Choosing an mp3 lease is fine if your just starting out. And if you're looking to save money as well, since Wav leases usually cost more. Other producers may even offer stem files as well, leaving you with more control over your recording sessions. But again this is due to preference that comes from the artist's experience with recording their work. By the third or fourth project most artist will begin to come into their own and will pursue better quality hence Wav or tracked out licensing options.
3- Pricing- You'll notice a huge difference in pricing between the licensing options available to you when it comes to mixtapes and albums. As mentioned before your experience level and project will determine how much you'll need to spend on licensing. You won't have to search to hard to find a mixtape deal on line do to the nature of these types of projects.
4-Expectations – Knowing what you expect from your project will help you determine the direction you'll need to go when it comes to choosing the right license. If you're expecting to just do shows to help create a buzz while handing out your mixtape or demo then leasing is best they way to go. But if you're looking to have your songs placed on Tv & Film than obtaining exclusive rights is the best option for you. Establishing a clear plan earlier on with the points discussed in this post will help you choose the right licensing option for your project.
Preparing your songs for a mix engineer can vary. As it pertains to the preference of the mix engineer working on your song(s). Some engineers may prefer you to send them your songs in the program session they were created in. While some may want you to send them individual stem files. But before doing anything there is much preparation on your end that needs to be done.
1. Labeling- Whether you're sending your project sessions or audio stem files you need to be organized. I have yet to see an artist record vocals without having any multiple takes and edits. With that being said make sure your labeling everything from intro chorus, verse one, bridge etc. Just because you might know where and what everything is doesn't mean the person who will be working on your tracks will. This saves you time and money as the mix engineer may feel like it's not part of their job to organize your work.
2. Clean up your tracks-The dead space that often appears after your vocal recordings should be trimmed down. This includes unwanted noises that may have been caused by improper edits such as clicks and pops and any other unwanted artifacts. The use of cross-fading at edit points will help fix most of these issues. Another good technique that can be used as a counter measure. Would be to solo your tracks to hear if you can identify edits while looking away from your computer monitor. These are preventive measures against unwanted artifacts that could affect the quality of your mixes later on during the mastering phase. Where the use of heavy compression will be applied to your song, amplifying any and everything that you may not have been able to hear before the mixing stage.
3. Bypass All effects Before you go and hit the export button make sure you have bypassed any EQ, reverb, delay and compression plug-ins that you have processing on any of the tracks. As this will cause issues for the person working on your tracks. Once you've exported your tracks. There will be no way for the mix engineer to bypass your effects, once you've exported your tracks. Resulting in a delay of your song being mixed. Because he or she needed to contact you about having your songs resent with unprocessed audio.
4. Folder And Content info-Besides labeling your files you also need to label the export folder you've created. You'll want to label your folder with the song title and tempo. Also including a notepad file within the content folder stating any useful information such as sample rate and bit depth of the exported track. Once you've got everything done. You'll need to send your files to your engineer using a file sharing system. To consolidate your file size a free to use program called “winrar” or “zip file” can be used for this. Now you can opt out and send just your folder as most file sharing sites will allow you to upload just your folder. Whether its dropbox or mediafire you'll be able to upload with ease.
These are good practices for any project you're sending to your mix engineer or even collaborating with a producer/artist. Most professionals will be happy and willing to guide you throughout the entire process. But having some knowledge of how to send your sessions helps increase the turnaround time for your project. There are a ton of tutorials that can help familiarize yourself with the process, using the DAW of your choice.