How do you cats achieve clarity?
A response by PRIME to another post got me to thinking about clarity - getting tracks crystal clear and high-quality. What are some mixing tips that you guys can share concerning acheiving a clear sound, particularly for those that do a lot of sampling and beatmaking. Holla back...
(Note: To clarify, it is understood that some noise adds to the basic sonic aesthetics of hip hop music, but I'm talking about undesireable noise...)
I like that Windex idea, man. I'mma try it and let you know if it worked for me.
Good suggestions. I was thinking about taking a mixing course with Alexander Publishing. They offer a $100 online course to teach you professional mixing techniques and sound theory, particularly for people who mix on their PC. I probably could learn it on my own (I already know how to sample and program drums) but I think for me, it would help to put some method to the madness as far as mixing. Anybody interested in checking the course out, the URL is
Just to add my tip, I have found that increasing the midrange frequencies usually improves any sound; for the kick I also add a slight increase of low-end frequencies. Also for samples, it helps a lot to remove DC Offset from your samples before adding effects.
I don't know if this is the right way to do it (but it works for me) but when I chop up beats, I usually EQ the drum parts all in the same track. It seems to make it sound more cohesive.
I wish you would have told me a few years ago. I have this original joint I've been wanting to sample from (I forget the name) but Diamond ended up using it on his last ablum "Passion, Fidelity...some shit like that. Anyway, there's a joint on there with him and Busta Rhymes and I about cried when I heard it. I just could fuck with it because it was scratchy ass hell and the music is real low in volume anyway.
I found that record at a Thrift Store without the cover...I got it because it was a Blue Note joint.
But I'm gonna go home and try that tonight. Hell, I got about a thousand needles and cartriges from my DJin' days.
If you want clear samples, you have to sample a clear source. If your records are scratchy, the sample is gonna sound scratchy. Some people like this, some don't. For me it depends on the song and the sample. I got a trick though to minimize that noise on a scratched up record.
Spray Windex on the part of the record you are sampling. All the way around the record, so it's wet. Don't wipe it with a towel, leave it on there. Put the needle on there and run it over the part you're gonna sample a couple times. Run it right through the Windex. It's hella quieter. Then sample the part, with the record all wet with the Windex. I'm telling you, it'll make the samples a lot cleaner. Try it, you'll be really amazed ! Somehow the Windex fills in the little crevices and makes the needle sorta connect with the vinyl and glide smoother through the groove.
Some people say this is bad for the needle. And the record. What do I know ? It probably is. But I'd rather get some cleaner samples. I can afford to buy a $30 needle once a year or so. And the records, they're fucked up already.
Also, yeah, try to sample at least at 30k. I guess that all depends on your sample time available and your memory. EQ proper. Mix proper. Sample clean sounds if you want clarity. It's basically common sense. Try to stay in the digital realm once you go there. Avoid clipping (distortion/signal overload).
But try what I said with the Windex man I'm telling you !
PSYPHER...thanks for the thought. But my #1 rule of thumb:
WHATEVER YOU 'PUT-IN' IS WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO 'GET-OUT'.
It don't get any better than that. If you sample a record at a distorted level...guess what, you are always gonna have a distorted sample...(sure, you could filter it, whatever, but it's then gonna be a 'filtered distorted sample'.
Here are a few of my tips:
1). Determine what sound or mix 'you' want. One thing to keep in mind is the "consumer". No, I'm not talking about selling out to go commercial. But think of the consumer when you mix. Just think to yourself "would I like this mix if I bought this tape in a store?"
2). Listen. That's the key thing to mixing. Most cats want to nod their head, turn the monitors up all loud and focus on "their favorite parts of the song". You gotta remove yourself from all of that. Note: YOU SHOULD NEVER MIX WITH A THOUSAND NIGGAZ IN THE LAB WITH YOU. Tell them cats to take that shit outside. (ie. Read the liner notes to any of the Roots albums...especially ILLADELPH HALFLIFE).
3). Listen to other shit. Not just hip hop. Listen to jazz, R&B. Listen to your favorite artists. Once again, I stress LISTEN. For me, I listen to Quincy Jones albums and Outkast "Southernplayalistic"...that shit is just phenom. And I really listen to hard rock stations...the kinds that play Limp Bizkit, Nine Inch Nails, etc. "You'll will be amazed at the way these rock joints are mixed with effects, whalin' guitars, drums and bass...and it's all there.
4). I'm not against all the latest technology (computers, etc), but the old gear is just as lovely..."warm". My thing is my old ass EQ I bought from a pawn shop many many years ago. ($20)
5). Spacing. What I mean by this is separate your shit. When I listen to music in headphones...I want my mind to "work". I want my ears/brain to be stimulated by that slight pan of the hi-hats to the left and that vocal stab to the right. How that horn sample runs from the right to left (ie. Shut Em Down Remix by Pete Rock).
6). And this can go back to #1...you want your mix to be "universal". What I mean is; not only make sure it sounds good in your studio, but make sure that it sounds good on your stereo, your walkman, your boys car system, your sisters boom box, or even someone else's studio.
I'm not a "mix master", but I do take pride in my mixes. It will take some time to get it to where you want it, but you'll know when you 'get it'.
Word! Phonograph surface noise IS Hip Hop!!
and so is Steve Allen
Start learning what those frequencys on your mix board really mean. Kick and bass should be eq'ed to different frequencies, etc... And yes a finalizer would be great to have, but if you can't swing that cop a BBE sonic maximizer, or a Aphex aural exciter, both can be had for around 199. I thought they were gimic boxes but YO! run your final mix through a compressor, then thru the maximizer to dat!
What Blueprint said is pretty on point, although I don't eq my source before sampling, in my opinion, that would sort of defeat the purpose of my final mix, but if it works, hey, do it. Here's what I have for a tip:
Sample everything "Flat" meaning the bass and treble of your source should be at 12 O'clock. Instead of increasing the recording input level in your sampler, keep it at say 0db and increase the volume from your source (for example, the receiver). You will notice that your sample will pretty much be lifeless, then you need to eq, process, compress and then record (I do it in that order, as compressing at the end of the signal seems to work best).
When it comes to "Fried Chicken", there's really not much you can do to eliminate it completely. Your filters, a noise gate and a parametric eq will work wonders and leave you with that nice fried chicken we all love. Peace.
I agree with Sirkstylus.
Nice record static is knarly. Anything else would be uncivilized. Use Right Guard.
If you cant afford a finalizer...any multi-band compressor will do...you can get a good plug in multi-band compressor for an eighth of the price of a finalizer
A T.C. Electronic Finalizer is worth every buck you will drop for it.
Sample everything at the highest rate.
EQ things before sampling them in.
For me this usually means adding some low end to my samples, especially strings.
You should probably run your sample into a dj mixer or your recorder before you sample anything.
If you wanna get rid of noise in the record you should use the filters.
Buy records that are in good condition.
Blueprint - greenhouse effect