Inside The Mix | Music Production and Mixing Tips for Music Producers and Artists

#81: Compression Basics Explained (PRODUCER KICKSTART: DOOOM)

May 09, 2023 Enji 'DOOOM' James Season 3 Episode 22
#81: Compression Basics Explained (PRODUCER KICKSTART: DOOOM)
Inside The Mix | Music Production and Mixing Tips for Music Producers and Artists
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Inside The Mix | Music Production and Mixing Tips for Music Producers and Artists
#81: Compression Basics Explained (PRODUCER KICKSTART: DOOOM)
May 09, 2023 Season 3 Episode 22
Enji 'DOOOM' James

In this episode, I've got the talented artist Enji 'DOOOM' James joining me for a Producer Kickstart audit session. We'll be diving into some mixing and production techniques that every producer needs to know!

Enji and I will be discussing some common pain points when it comes to mixing, including EQ frequencies and how to use them effectively. We'll also cover some important basics when it comes to compression, including how to set a basic compressor for maximum impact.

And of course, no producer's toolkit is complete without knowing how to properly high-pass and low-pass filter their drums. Enji and I will break down the essentials for you in this episode.

So if you're looking to take your mixing and production skills to the next level, make sure to tune in and catch this episode with Enji 'DOOOM' James!

CLICK HERE, to book a Producer Kickstart Strategy Session: https://tidycal.com/inside-the-mix-podcast/producer-kickstart

CLICK HERE, to follow DOOOM: https://www.instagram.com/dooommusic/

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, I've got the talented artist Enji 'DOOOM' James joining me for a Producer Kickstart audit session. We'll be diving into some mixing and production techniques that every producer needs to know!

Enji and I will be discussing some common pain points when it comes to mixing, including EQ frequencies and how to use them effectively. We'll also cover some important basics when it comes to compression, including how to set a basic compressor for maximum impact.

And of course, no producer's toolkit is complete without knowing how to properly high-pass and low-pass filter their drums. Enji and I will break down the essentials for you in this episode.

So if you're looking to take your mixing and production skills to the next level, make sure to tune in and catch this episode with Enji 'DOOOM' James!

CLICK HERE, to book a Producer Kickstart Strategy Session: https://tidycal.com/inside-the-mix-podcast/producer-kickstart

CLICK HERE, to follow DOOOM: https://www.instagram.com/dooommusic/

Send me a Message

Support the Show.


► ► ► WAYS TO CONNECT ► ► ►

Grab your FREE Producer Growth Scorecard TODAY!
✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸
Are you READY to take on the 28-day challenge and release more music?
Bag your FREE Producer Growth Scorecard at Synth Music Mastering: https://www.synthmusicmastering.com/scorecard

Buy me a COFFEE
✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸
If you like what I do, buy me a coffee so I can create more amazing content for you: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/marcjmatthews

Send a DM through IG @insidethemicpodcast
Email me at marc@synthmusicmastering.com

Thanks for listening & happy producing!

Marc Matthews:

Hey, inside the Mix podcast fans, I am Neon Shade. Please follow and subscribe to my YouTube channel at Official Neon Shade. I just released two new singles, stereo Love and Locked Out. Both come with videos that I made as well. You are listening to Inside the Mix podcast, and here's your host, Mark Matthews. Hello and welcome to the Inside the Mix podcast. I'm Mark Matthews, your host, musician, producer, and mix and mastering engineer. You've come to the right place if you want to know more about your favorite synth music artists, music, engineering and production, songwriting and the music industry. I've been writing, producing, mixing, and mastering music for over 15 years, and I wanna share what I've learnt with you. Hey folks, and welcome back to The Inside the Mix podcast. If you are, uh, a new inside the podcast listener, welcome and don't forget to hit that subscribe button. And if you're a returning listener, welcome back. Now in this episode. I'm very excited to welcome my guest today, uh, my friend Engie James, aka a Doom, a music producer from Los Angeles, California. And, uh, he's joining me today for a producer kickstart strategy session. Hi, ENGIE, how are you today? Hey, happy Easter as well.

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

Hey, happy Easter. I'm doing

Marc Matthews:

well, man. How about you? Yeah. Yeah, I'm very well. It's nice and sunny over here in the uk. Um, I'm sure it's probably the same where you are in Los Angeles if I'm, uh, not mistaken. Awesome. Actually,

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

yeah, it's, it's nighttime, but we've had some pretty good, uh, pretty decent days the past couple days. Not too hot, not too cold. Nice

Marc Matthews:

breeze. Nice man. I keep forgetting. I, when I chat to people, not everybody is, uh, is at the same time as me. Yeah. Um, yeah man. So yeah, we're here today for a producer kickstart session. So you've sent me a track across, uh, Alto nine. I've had a listen and, um, it sounds great. So what I'd like to do is I'd just like to kick off these sessions with, um, where you are at in your sort of music producer journey and what. You intend to do in the next six months. So in six months time, where do you envisage yourself being with regards to mixing and music production? Uh, well,

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

not entirely sure. I'm kind of just riding the wave. You know, I started this off as like, just like kind of a mess around, uh, project. But lately I've noticed that it's like kind of picking up, you know, I'm getting a bit more of a following. People are starting to appreciate my music a little more, so I'm starting to take it a little bit more serious. Um, But this past year I've just been kind of focusing on, uh, doing collaborations with, uh, a few people. Uh, mainly in like the little community day community that we've, uh, been a part of and that I was lucky enough to join. Um, but pretty much just, yeah, doing collaborations maybe towards the end of the year, uh, start focusing on doing like my first debut album.

Marc Matthews:

Nice. Excellent stuff. A slight tangent here. What do you think it is that, um, has grown that following in particular? Obviously you've got quality music, but is there anything in particular, would you, would you attribute it to the, uh, the community online? Yeah. I, I

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

would like to see grow the community and I'm a. Very persistent in like, stuff that I do and things that I'm passionate about, and music is definitely one of 'em. So I love making music, you know, it, the craft is probably my favorite part of all of it. Mm-hmm.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah. The actual music production suit. Yeah, the songwriting and coming up with a composition. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Um, I'm with you there. It's, um, it is, uh, probably the most fun part. Uh, but then again, I do, I love the mixing of mastering as well. So in your, um, sort of notes leading up to this episode, you cited mixing as your biggest pain point. Yeah. How long have you been mixing your own music and are you self-taught?

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

Uh, I am self-taught and I've been mixing, uh, I wanna say properly since November cuz that's when I upgraded my, um, my dot, uh, FL studio. Mm-hmm. Uh, before that I was using, um, This web, uh, dog called Band Lab. Oh yeah, I know the one. And I was very, very, very, uh, very green to it. And I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea how to do the equalizing and filtering and effects and stuff. I was just kind of pressing buttons and turning knobs and stuff. And whatever was happening was happening. But yeah, after I picked up a FL studio, I started looking up videos on like image lines, YouTube series, and. Uh, other various, uh, YouTubers that kind of give you tutorials on like how to mix properly and stuff like that. Yeah, so I've been just learning, grabbing inspiration

Marc Matthews:

wherever I can. Fantastic. Out of interest, I, I'm, I'm always intrigued to know why people pick particular das. What made you go with, not that it's a bad one by any stretch, what made you go with Fruity Loops? Uh, FL Studio? Uh,

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

I've heard a lot of good things, uh, from other people. As I, I hear that a lot of electronic users, uh mm-hmm. Use that and then, When I got my first computer back in like 2001, uh, I got a trial version of Fruity Loops, I think when it was like it's second or third year into it, um, being out. And I was just messing around in that, in the trial version. And I really liked, uh, the workflow at the time. I didn't know it was called the workflow, but you know, just messing around with it. I said pressing buttons. I came over. Little, little cool little drum beats and. But after that I fell off and, uh, did live bands and stuff like that for a little bit. And then after that, uh, I want to say in March of last year is when I actually started messing around with, uh, electronic music.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah. When you say live bands, were you recording live bands? Were you like mixing live shows?

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

No, I was just playing live shows at venues, venues, backyards and stuff like that. Ah,

Marc Matthews:

yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No fruit Leaps is a good choice. I think I'm a Logic Pro user and um, if think if I was to experiment with another daw, I'd probably go with FL Studio cuz I know a number of producers now having done the podcast for a couple years and chatted to them and it seems to be FL Studio and then probably Ableton, um, slightly behind in terms of popularity. So I think you made a good choice though, with regards to mixing. Then what is your biggest paint? Cuz Mixings quite a. Sort of like a, a broad overarching term, what is your biggest pain point with mixing in particular? What aspect of mixing pains you most, I would

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

probably have to say, uh, the equalizing frequencies and stuff like that.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah. So with regards to EQ then, um, how do you approach it? So imagine you've got your, your project, you've got your mix session. And, um, you are working your way through each instrument, each instrument group. How do you approach eq? Do you sort of, are you identifying sounds that stick out or are you sort of just going in and then just moving filter? Uh, filters. Yeah, filters. Are you moving sort of band pass filters or bell filters around until something sounds right. How, how do you approach it at the moment?

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

Uh, at the moment I kind of gather like all my melodies and, uh, stuff like that, that I'm, um, more familiar with. And then, I would say like probably halfway into what I'm composing, I'll start messing around with stuff that I think sticks out for me. Um, and it's, it's, it's tough, you know, it's, it's really tough cuz I don't really know the proper terminologies of like, everything and, um, It's, it's just, it's, it's something, uh, that I really, really wanna learn properly.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, what I can do is off the back of this episode, I can put you in the direction of some resources for, for eq. Cause I know off the top of my head there's a few really, really good ones cuz it is, as you say, you've gone online and you've looked at U YouTube and whatnot, and there's a lot out there in terms of content and it's finding the. The good stuff, basically. Yeah. You don't wanna go down a rabbit hole of watching e EQ videos and then finding that actually, um, is either not right or it's just rehashing what somebody else has written. So with regards to EQ, then, I mean, my first tip would be when you are starting a session, um, cuz I've noticed you've got sound bites in your, in your work, haven't you? Yeah. So Auto nine for example's got a, um, some, some sound clips in it. What I tend to do is I would start with the foundations of the, of the track. So that would be like your drums. Mm-hmm. Um, your drums. Your drums. Yeah. Your percussion. And I would start with that and then move on to vocal after that. So when it comes to equalizing drums, for example, I think it is very important to make sure that you're leaving space for each instrument. So for example, if you're starting with a kick drum, you would make sure you've got space in your frequency spectrum from that to show through, for example, when you have that compared to your bass Qatar, if that makes any sense. So when you, for example, if your EQ in bass and kick drum, you wanna make sure that where your kick drum is, Coming through in that frequency spectrum, it's not competing with the base, if that makes sense. Yeah, yeah, definitely. So that's a re, that's a really good place to start. And also another, another really good one is I've gone off, I've jumped ahead a bit there with bass, for example, if you've got your high hats mm-hmm. I dunno if you do this already. Or sticking with drums at the moment. So let's say your base, your kick drum, you've got it, you've got that, that region sort of 20 hertz all the way up to six kilohertz where you've got the sort of the kick drum poking through with the attack. When you've got your high hat, are you rolling off low end of your high hat? So using a high pass filter. Is that something that you do? Uh,

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

no. That's actually, uh, something that I still haven't really been able to explore yet. Mm. Um, like high pass, low pass, uh, filters and stuff like that. Usually I kind of just tweak the, the, the frequencies. Um, like, kind of like you say, you know, just keep messing around with it until I think it sounds good in my ears.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah. Well, a good place to start then would be exploring those high pass and low pass filters. For example, you, once again, going back to the kick drum, you've got your low pass filter, low pass it until it starts to sound. Muddy or you're losing that attack, you're probably looking at around 6, 7, 8 k depending on the kick drum sample that you're using, cuz that way you're getting rid of a lot of high energy that you don't necessarily need in your track, and that's gonna leave space later on. And you're gonna have a much more balanced track. And it's the same with the high hat. So if you bring your high hat into the mix, And then you have a high pass filter and then gradually bring it up, up, up, up, up, all the way up until it starts to sound too thin and you lose the high hat and then dial it back a bit because you're getting rid of all that low end energy that the high hat doesn't need. Yeah. And that's taking up space in your mix. And you can imagine if you've got 40 tracks and you haven't done that, that is a lot of low energy. Oh yeah. That is gonna be present. And what that will then do is if you're getting rid of that when it comes to the mastering stage. You've got a lot more headroom, you've got a lot more space to maneuver, and you can actually push that track a bit bit harder. And it's the same with the snare drum as well. So with the snare, you probably want to get that high pass filter and then just drag it up. I don't know. Once again, it depends on the snare and drag it up to around a hundred. See how it sounds, cuz you're gonna have a lot of body around 2 50, 200, and then you're gonna have your attack anywhere from like two K upwards again. And then also you wanna have that low pass filter again, and it's almost like a big band pass. Effectively what you're doing is you're shaving off the top, top end, and high end. You're shaving off that frequency content that isn't needed for that instrument. Yeah. If that makes sense. Yeah. And what that will do is it just gives you a lot more space to maneuver within the, and it'll just sound a lot cleaner and it'll sound a lot more balanced as well. But do it in context. Do it in context as well. Don't isolate the instrument And eq yeah, do it in the context of the mix.

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

Yeah, that's, that's one thing that I've learned too, is to, when you're doing that, don't, um, like mute everything and then just go based off of like that. Actual, uh, instrument, do it as, it's, as the whole playlist is, like live and active and get a better idea of, um, what sounds better and what needs to be cut out.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah, 100%. Because if you do it in isolation, it may sound great, but when then you bring it back in, it might, you, you either totally lose it. Yeah. It might lose its impact altogether. Yeah. Or it might do the opposite. And what you'll find sometimes is there's certain frequencies of an instrument that might compliment another instrument, but you wouldn't know unless you're doing it in context. So yeah, a hundred percent. I, um, make sure you're doing it that way. Yeah,

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

I've, I've learned the hard way with that, where I've muted it, muted each track and been like, oh, this sounds great, and then I'll play everything. I was like, oh, this sounds horrible. What was I thinking with this? You know?

Marc Matthews:

Yeah. And I think another thing with Eqi G is, is this goes back off a conversation that I had with, uh, Adrian Hall. So this is a few episodes ago, and he said, uh, to be bold with EQ as well, make, um, make wide, not wide cuts, but be bold with it as well. I mean, it is creative at the end of the day and you can always undo. That's, that's another key thing with equalization as well. Are there any other aspects of EQ that you are, you are, you're stuck with?

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

Uh, as far as EQ going goes n no, not at the moment. Um, a lot of other things, uh, is compression is something that I have trouble with. Uh, not entirely sure how to go about with that. Like usually I kind of just bring the gain up a little bit and mess with the attack and stuff like that. But not entirely sure how to properly like compress, uh, whatever it is that needs to be compressed.

Marc Matthews:

I. Yeah, I've got a, a really good tip for compression to get started, to set a basic compressor. Um, and this is something I learned. I think I got this from Bobby Osinski years ago from one of his books. I think it was. I think it was that, um, Was to, when you have your compression, you have your, your instrument, obviously you want to compress cuz you wanna reduce peaks and you wanna have a more even dynamic for a vocals. A very, very good example of this cuz you can have a vocalist who's very high and very low and you wanna sort of even out those peaks and have an even performance. So an e a really good way of just starting with a compressor is if you turn the threshold all the way up. So it's triggering and it's gonna trigger all the time. Then set the attack all the way slow and the release all the way fast and then turn the gain up as well as hard, as far as it will go within reason. Obviously you don't wanna blow your speakers to blow your ears. Yeah. Um, and then if you do that, it'll sound horrible. Straight off the bat. It will sound horrible. But what you can then do is starting with the attack or, and turn the ratio all the way up as well. So like 10 to one or infinity to one, wherever, whatever it may be, and that's the start. Then what you do is you slowly bring the attack back and you slowly increase or decrease, rather the attack time until it starts to have an effect on the sound. As so, as soon as it starts to sound like it's muddy or it will time muddy anyway, or if it starts to sound dull, that's where you want to put your attack to begin with, and then just dial it back a bit and then you do the same. The release. With the release, but you do it the other way. So with the release, you would then slowly increase the release time until it starts to sound dull again. And that's roundabout where you wanna set your release. And then what you do is that's, that's your starting place for your attack and your release. And then obviously bring back the threshold, get however much, uh, game reduction you want, whether it's two or three db, and then bring back the ratio to where you want it to be. Like good place to start with might be sort of one to four, um, in terms of ratio four to one rather. And then obviously you've got your makeup gain off the back of that, but that's a really good way to set your attack and release times. Does that make sense? Yeah, it makes

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

perfect sense. Yeah. I never thought of trying it like that. Maybe we'll have to do that next time.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah, it's a really good way to start. Ultimately though, I mean, if you are going down other compression routes, I dunno, if you wanna do something like parallel compression or something along those lines, then that attack might not work. But in the first instance, it's a really good place to start in terms of setting your attack and your release times and, um, And then off the back of that, you can then go forward and then be creative however you want with regards to the ratio and whatnot. Um, do you understand how like the ratio and the attack and the release what, what they're actually doing? Yeah, I think so. Ah, cool, cool, cool. Yeah, there's a really good analogy that I know, which is, um, which is like, um, somebody in their room playing music. Uh, and it's, uh, yeah, it's, it's quite a good one. You can imagine you've got a, a teenager in their room and they're blasting out tunes, and then their mom comes upstairs and how quickly the mom or, or the dad comes upstairs to tell them to turn it down is the attack. Oh, okay. And then how quickly, yeah. Yeah. And how quickly they then turn it back up is the release and then the ratio is. How much the parent tells them to turn it down by. It's a, it is a really good analogy for understanding how compressors work. Yeah. They make and the thresholds. Yeah. Yeah, it does, doesn't it? And then the threshold is the level of to tolerance the parent has for the level of music they're willing to put up with before they'll tell them to turn it down. Yeah. It's uh, for anybody who's wanting to understand how compression works in a really basic way, that's a really cool way to do it. And then you have things like knee, which means basically when you get that threshold, it's just a nice. It's not a sudden like bang, it's a, it's a gradual threshold. So it starts just before and finishes just after. Oh, okay. Yeah. But I mean, I think those are two really good tips that you could take away and start using straight away with regards to sort of like setting a compressor. Yeah, absolutely. And then also just using. The high and Lopez filters and also high and low shell filters just to get rid of unnecessary, unnecessary energy. Um, sort of at the beginning of the frequency spectrum and at the end of the frequency spectrum, I say at the end, that weekend here. Yeah. Um, so, um, yeah, mate, I realized we're almost, that's, that's almost 20 minutes in now. I hope that's been of use in some way, giving you something that you can take forward. Yeah, definitely. So, I mean, Fantastic. What I like to do off the back of these is like, have you got one sort of actionable step you'll then implement in the next sort of 28, 20, 24 to 48 hours? I'm sorry. What do you think you'll do first? Oh, what do you think you'll do first? Uh,

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

I don't even know. Probably mess around with the eq. Try out those, uh, those high pass and low pass, uh, tips that you gave

Marc Matthews:

me. Fantastic, excellent stuff. And what I'll do as well is, like I said, I'll put, um, some like show notes together that with some links to articles and stuff that will help you with that. And I'll send that over to you. Awesome. Um, yeah. So, uh, ENGIE, where can our audience find you online? Where should they go if they want to hear some of your music?

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

Uh, well my Instagram, uh, you could find me by typing in, uh, doom Music. It's three o's. And, uh, it's all one word. I'm also on Twitter with, and my at is at Doom, 1987. Also, uh, three O's. I'm also on TikTok, which uh, I believe I'm pretty sure is Doom. Music, just like Instagram. And, uh, I got my music on Spotify, Pandora, Amazon. Uh, I got some stuff on SoundCloud, a little bit more of my earlier stuff that's not on Spotify. More on my, uh, my, um, Beginner stuff, but that's not important. My Spotify stuff is, what's the good stuff?

Marc Matthews:

Yeah, I do the same. My SoundCloud's sort of full of work in progress and demos. Yeah,

Enji 'DOOOM' James:

that's, that's pretty much what I use my SoundCloud for now is, uh, private links just to like, show people, get feedback on that and um, just little demos of stuff that I keep logged in case I wanna mess around with it a bit later.

Marc Matthews:

Brilliant. I think that's a good way, a way to use SoundCloud. And I like the fact that you can leave comments on there as well. And I always judge it by the, if the track gets a lot, gets a fair number of plays I give, it gives me an indication of whether or not it's worth pursuing. So yeah, I use it totally the same way. Yeah. Fantastic. Okay folks. Um, if you would like to, uh, join me on a producer kickstart session, like my friend Angie here and become a, um, Producer Kickstart strategy participant, go to the website, www.insidethemixpodcast.podium.com. Get signed up and come and join me on the show. Engie, big thank you for joining me today and um, I will speak to you soon. Thank you. Thank you for having me. My pleasure, buddy. And enjoy the rest of your Easter. Hey, you too.

Mixing pain point: The basics of how to EQ properly
How to EQ drums
Compression basics: How to use a compressor

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