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# Making it Sound Professional

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I''ve been composing for about 2 years - nothing beyond amateur stuff with cheap software synthesizers. I was wondering what kind of a set up pros use. For example, do they use those $600 soft synths, or do they use hardware syths (etc.). Also, do they make it sound "full" through using many instruments or harmonizing what they have? Any input would be appreciated. Thanks. (If you''re curious where I''m at, I posted two of my better songs to "www.zggames.com/examples.zip".) #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Advertisement Well, I wouldn''t consider myself pro, but I use a software synth, mainly because it is cheep and can usualy do more than a hardware one. It also has the added advantage of being digital throughout the entire production process. As far as making it sound full: both. It depends on the style of music. It is posible to have too many instruments so be careful, but if they work, do it. There are other things you can do to make it sound more full as well, such as making the instruments more "dynamic". This works if your sample set is small and your synthasiser is poor. Do not meddle in the affairs of moderators, for they are subtle and quick to anger. ANDREW RUSSELL STUDIOS Cool Links :: [ GD | TG | MS | NeHe | PA | SA | M&S | TA | LiT | H*R ] Got Clue? :: [ Start Here! | Google | MSDN | GameDev.net Reference | OGL v D3D | File Formats | Go FAQ yourself ] #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Hey there, Part of the problem you're having, from listening to the songs.. is orchestration, mixing & EQ, and post processing! 1) Orchestration If you have a crap midi synth, then only pick the "best" sounding patches to use. Don't use fake sounding patches such as the (I am going to be blunt here) really awful trumpet thing that you used.. it's sharp and painful to the ears and sticks out like a sore thumb. 2) Mixing & EQ If you have the ability to EQ your synths during playback then that's cool , to fix that trumpet, play it lower an octave and see if you can muffle it by dropping the high frequencies with an Graphic Equalizer - reduce say gradually everything after 2khz around 0khz by anywhere up to 10dB at the 20khz range. I don't know if that would work, but just guestimating. For the Mixing, learn how a real orchestra is setup.. do a search on google or something and find diagrams of real orchestral lay outs. Then try to Pan your individual instruments accordingly. At least if the patches don't sound much like a real orchestra, your mix will sound like it's setup like a real orchestra. Also try to use a bit more dynamics in your composition. Vary volumes of instruments, everything is not always played at full blast in an orchestra you know. It adds a little feeling to the mix. 3) Post Processing Have a listen to this: Song2 400k I've included a tiny bit of your original, and a section of post processed stuff. I included a little part of the trumpet to show how it sticks out. The rest of the mix will work quite well as the samples you are using are close to lifelike. Since I have only got access to your whole mono recording, all I could do to it was post-process.. adding stereo seperation, EQing, Compression and Reverb. If you record each of your instruments out to different wav files and post process each one (even better if you have hard disk recording so you can play back all parts of your mix in real time with real time effects) to add more reverb to some instruments and EQ each individually, and compress the mix as a whole you will find that you can change the whole sound of a cheap setup into something a little more promising Anyway, I hope that helps a little.. I really don't know much about what I am doing just yet as I am also learning about EQ and mixing... but it's all research and practice dude. Audio Artist www.groovyaudio.com - For Demos & Portfolio [edited by - yjbrown on October 19, 2002 8:24:24 AM] #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites To make it sound like a professional orchestral synth, you''d have to purchase Gigastudio and some orchestral samples at a hefty price. There are free samples available that people have made out of good will that can save you some, but for the best strings, brass, and woodwinds you''d end up spending thousands of dollars(US). I am often told film composer Hans Zimmer and others at Media Ventures use Gigastudio. Though its a tad away from being completely realistic, they''re certainly getting closer. #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites yjbrown - I understand about emulating a real orchestra layout and making more use of dynamics. However, for post proccessing, do you mean that I take the individual samples and add effects in a program like GoldWave or Sonic Foundry (then combine all those samples)? And if I understood you right, I have two more questions: What''s the most efficient way to do this without hard disk recording or a piece of hardware; and, What''s hard disk recording? #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites I''m in the same position as you - I''m an amateur with a desire to get as close to having it sound ''real'' as possible. The style that I work with 90% of the time is orchestral. And let me tell you, it''s just about impossible to fake an orchestra. But there''s a difference between faking it to the point where a pro composer could point out the faults, and faking it to make the casual listener believe in it. The golden rules are: 1) Use only the best of the best of the best samples. One wrong trombone and the whole illusion can be ruined. 2) Try getting a clear picture of which role you want each instrument to play in your composition. Don''t go full force with them all - maybe have the strings play harmony to a leading horn. 3) Panning, as mentioned, is a good way to separate the instruments from each other. 4) Fading is not only important, it is key. Understand how each instrument fades in/out in real life. With strings, for example, you have quite a lot of freedom since they can fade slowly as well as abruptly, but don''t make an 8-second fade out with a horn since it''s unlikely that the horn player would be able to pour less and less breath into the horn over an interval of 8 seconds. 5) Even though you use samples, it''s often a good idea to make small variation in each occurrence of a sample, especially if the same sample is used repeatedly, like with percussion. Slightly change the volume or make small changes in the pitch - no one would be able to beat the drum to produce *exactly* the same sound each time. I''ve been told that some of my work resembles an orchestra. Try listening to some of it at http://hjem.get2net.dk/z/music . You''ll probably be able to make out some inconsistecies that give away that they are sampled, but then take into account that they were all made in Fasttracker II, and you''ll see what I mean when I say that it''s the quality of the samples coupled with the choice of instruments that usually is most important when trying to achieve a realistic sound. *** Looking for a music composer for your game? Go to my page to listen to samples of my orchestral pieces and find info on how to contact me. #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites getting a "professional sound" is a function of budget, technique, and attention to detail. if you want to do an orchestral mock-up, you need to purchase a hardware sampler or a dedicated computer sampler. with libraries, this could easily run you$5000. For electronic sounds, softsynths are good, but an even better option would be something like a Korg Triton.

you also need to know your gear in and out. you need to know what patches work well and which ones don''t. what combinations are effective, which ones just don''t cut it.\

i''m in the process of putting together a professional rig and here''s my solution:

macintosh titanium ibook running digital performer for sequencing and hard disk recording

dedicated gigasampler computer also running sound forge

korg triton

I could go into all the logistics here, but just to give you an idea, the budget i''m working with is about $20,000. This will give me basic functionality to try and produce some professional quality results. That is not to say that you can''t do it with less. As long as you can record multiple tracks at a time and you have the energy to record each one separately, you can get a good result. I don''t know if you can do a decent mock orchestra for under 5000. I don''t think it would sound convincing. My advice would be to embrace the short comings of your gear and try and get something to sound "good" rather than "real". Treat a synth as a synth and use processing to create new and interesting sounds rather than real ones.... that''s my 2cents devinmaxwell #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites I think a big problem most amateur musicians have with their production is that they don''t have very good playback systems to monitor the quality of their sound. A starter remedy to this problem would be to pick up a set of Sony 7506 headphones. These are the pro standard headphones they reproduce everything (such as the recording engineer farting in the background of the lead guitar track)! Right now I can''t afford a decent pair of good monitor speakers so I just switch back and forth between the Sony headphones and a pair of 3 way rca speakers to get hi-fi and lo-fi playback sound. I think the headphones are between$100-\$150 depending on where ya go. I''ve heard to many quality songs that are mared because there is some nasty background noise that the composer didn''t hear in the mix. Also use high quality balanced cabling with a power source that isn''t attached to any lighting so you don''t get noise. Your sound is only as good as the weakest link, which is usually the cables.

DRINK GIN! IT MAKES A MAN MEAN-milk and cheese

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If you guys are interrested in orchestral stuff.. check out kurzweils workstations. You can get a really great one second hand for a really good price nowadays. If second hand is not for you.. then they have released a very affordable synthesizer available in both module and keyboard format.

I do not suggest that you only use software if you are serious.. sure it will be digital through the whole progress.. but that''s one of the biggest problems with it! The extramly rare occations when i''ve used a software synthesizer i''ve routed it out from the computer and through an external effect (even if i don''t add any effect) and then back again to get a nicer sound out of it.

I use hardware, hardware, hardware, and so on, a software sequencer and then final clipping n'' stuff in the same sequencer. And i do not call myself a real pro

"Look mom, a demoscener! Can i keep it?"

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I agree about the Kurzweils, I have a K2000 with Orchestral Rom, and it''s sweet.. though it''s stuck in storage 20,000km away ... so not much good to me right now.

I also agree about headphones, if you can''t afford monitors, go get yourself some studio monitor earphones. They are expensive but worth every cent.

I have some Sennheiser HD565 Ovations.. very comfortable, good sound reproduction.

Audio Artist
www.GroovyAudio.com

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