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m4uesviecr

Branching Into A More Professional Audio Sound

7 posts in this topic

I am coming to a crossroads. I want (practically need) to begin investing in higher quality audio production equipment. Right now, my area of renovation are my virtual audio samples/sound fonts. Up until ... well, still now, everything that I have been using in my music is free. I want to begin buying higher quality instruments.

 

Now, the dilemma: I really want to wait until I have enough money to get all of things that I want (after researching etc.), at one time. Save up money, then BAM, I'm set until I can get something better (though what I want is to get something that will highly qualify as purposeful for a good while). 

The problem with that is, I'm not exactly sure when I'll have it, and the longer I wait without it, the more opportunities I am going to miss out on because unfortunately, the sound quality of my music isn't 'up to speed'.

 

The second option I have thought of is to slowly acquire everything over time. So, when I get a few dollars, spend them on, lets says, EWQL  Gold edition. Then I'll skate on that until I have more money, with which I'll put towards another virtual instrument, or possibly upgrade another.

My problem with that is, I'll then end up having to mix and match between good quality, and poor quality. I'll have VSL strings coupled with an oboe that sounds like a coughing duck (which is an oboe, now that I think about it...). In addition to missing out on really good bundles. EWQL has one in particular, the complete composer's edition. Though there are some EQWL items I can pass on, there are still a good handful that I would love to get using that bundle pricing. But if I buy them individually, I'll end up spending more money than I initially would if I had waited.

 

I'm curious to know how many of you audio guys switched over to the professional stuff. All at once? Build up over time? Did you enter the industry starting out with the good stuff? Did you wait? Were you ever at a downpoint like this? Your music wasn't of proper quality for the games you were going after?

Or did you stay in your 'quality lane' by only taking on projects that you felt would accept you for the quality of your music and not composition.

 

Some opinions here would be nice. I feel as though I am getting less offers for good projects (projects that I think are promising and very worthwhile to be a part of) because of the quality, and I really want to get that squared away.

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I've built my studio up over years and years. There's no way I could have afforded it otherwise. The great thing is you can often find good sales on sample libraries which should really help improve your sound. Even if you cannot find a good sale there are many, wide range sample libraries that can help you cover a good bit of ground to get a jump started. I'd recommend something like pairing the EWQLSO up with Komplete 8. Or even the Complete Composer Collection which is $900 (at the default setting) but gives you seven libraries to get going.

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Hey,

I agree with Nate on building up over years - I'm constantly expanding my library and there's still a lot of sounds, libraries and instruments I'd love to get! (I'm a bit jealous of Nate owning Albion I & II :P )

In my experience, the best way to expand your library is to buy sounds when you actually need them for a specific context - e.g. I was hired to produce music with a chiptune aesthetic and I wasn't quite happy with the synths I had, so I did some recon and eventually bought the Plogue Chipsound AU. Quite satisfying to put sounds you paid good money for to good use immediately!
Glad I had some time for the job though, because...

...You shouldn't underestimate the time you need to actually learn how to use new tools.
Every library and instrument has its own quirks and fortes and it takes some effort to get the most out of them. Buying huge bundles like Komplete or the Complete Composer Collection can be very motivating, but expect to spend quite some time with it before you can make an efficient use of the sounds.
It's easy to get lost in all the choices you can make, I often catch myself skipping through half of my library when I'm actually just looking for one particular timbre - a sure sign I don't know some of my tools well enough.

Cheers,
Moritz Edited by Moritz P.G. Katz
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I'm not involved with game audio so can't speak from experience but where pro audio is concerned the best investment is your ears. Train them with critical listening exercises as no equipment can compensate if you cannot make informed mix decisions because you can't hear what's right and wrong with your mix. Next up is your speakerroom (the two cannot be separated hence me sticking them together for dramatic effect). After that comes the shiney things (IMO, of course). ROMplers and sample libraries are obviously important but they should not come at the detriment to the other parts of the equation (again,IMO).
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Agree with Nate on building things up gradually, however, the harsh reality is that there's a minimum bar to be able to create something that will be competitive sounding.  Also agree that East West composer's collection is a great moderately priced ($1000) instrument library that anyone who plans to do anything requiring an orchestral sound should really have.  It's still my "goto" library, though I did end up upgrading to Platinum.

 

And though I agree with GeneralQuery about the importance of ears and speakers/room, it's virtually impossible to make something that has reasonable professional polish with freebie sample libraries.  Yes your composition and orchestration may be great, but it is exceptionally hard for a potential client to get past mediocre-sound samples.  It'll sound cheesy. 

 

Yes, a grand is a 'lot of money'..  but if you are trying to make this a profession and not a hobby, you have to invest in a minimum set of professional tools.  On the plus side, it is massively cheaper than it used to be to become a freelance composer/sound designer (for games, anyway...).  Since you asked about "starting in the industry", at that time ('89), I had to drop about $20,000 in order to have a minimum set of tools to be a freelance composer/sound designer for games.  (4k for Dos PC, 10k for Mac IIci with Sound Designer card, HD and CD writer, mixer, amp, speakers, mic, etc.).  And that wasn't even counting specialized game hardware (Sega dev system: $5k, Genesis/Nintendo chip emulators:$2k, etc...).

 

If you really feel like you're missing out on "promising projects" because of the production values of your music, I'd really try to bite the bullet and get some like the Composer's collection (assuming you're trying to do a lot of orchestral-ish work).  ..

 

Brian

GameSoundCon

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Hey! Really helpful stuff here. I hope I don't come across as afraid in regards to spending the money, as if having seconds thoughts. I want to assure you guys that I wholeheartedly want, and plan on, investing money into this career. I'm really shocked at the amount of money you dished out at the beginning of your career, Brian. But, when I harbor over the idea and realize what it takes for someone to initiate a hobby that will in turn produce revenue, 20k for a business, so to speak, isn't unheard of.

As far as orchestral compositions, I want to do a little bit of everything, but the reality is that majority of game devs are wanting orchestral music. It's practically a must have (not that I have a problem with it).

Thanks a lot for the advice guys! It means a lot.
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I hope I don't come across as afraid in regards to spending the money

 

Hey, that's a good business attitude to have! 

 

But there comes a point where you have to decide-- am I really going to try to be competitive and "go for it"?

 

One should not spend money recklessly. But also one shouldn't be afraid to spend money wisely. And I think the concensus (Moritz/Nathan) is that a solid, professional set of virtual instruments is a wise spend.

Good Luck!

 

Brian

GameSoundCon

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I remember what a professor said once during undergraduate: "It's time to upgrade your horn. That one is fighting you now."

I had been playing on a student model horn all the way through public school and half of college. My skills and demands as a player had exceeded what the student model horn could do. So I sold it and got a pro level horn and what I could do with it as well as my inspiration for that instrument increased greatly. It's akin to this: you have professional aspirations but are working with free/low quality gear. 

Edited by nsmadsen
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