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How To Make Your Music Your Own While Still Using Presets and Samples

I got an email from Graham Cochrane the other day(if you don’t subscribe to his email list you probably should).

He was talking about his experience with NAMM and how he heard Tony Maserati say he uses presets all the time!

But the thing is, he goes through the preset banks, finds something that’s close to what he’s looking for, tweaks to done and moves on.

Simple, fast and effective.

And that’s exactly what producer Carmen Rizzo (Seal, Coldplay, Alanis Morissette, Tiesto) said as well.

It’s very easy to sound like everyone else. You don’t want to release a record that comes on the radio and everyone can tell you used “preset 23” on the synth sound. You want to make it sound your own.

But starting with the generic presets is a great way to go. Using sound design and manipulation on generic loops and presets is how you make the music your own. 

Being different with your sounds is what makes your music stand out.

  • Your Sounds – Make sure you really change those presets. EQ can go a long way towards making an instrument sound different. A side-chained compressor can make a synth pulse in time with the track, making it sound completely changed from where the preset started.
  • Your Depth – If you’re trying to make your mix sound exactly like another mix, don’t go overboard in trying to copy it. Still try to make your mix your own. If you think something sounds cool that’s not on your reference mix, stand by it and make it your thing.
  • Your Space – If you don’t want to screw with the EQ on a synth for example, try changing the reverb sounds. Or even just EQ’ing the reverb itself will change the sound.

To quote one of the flashiest man in music:

Steal from the best and make it your own -Prince

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“I really recommend this to engineers who are having problems mixing. We all know that mixing takes time and everyone will mix different, but there are specific information that mixing strategy give like EQing that’s very important and how to use reverb and delay. I find your book very useful and it did help me on my mixes. ” -Theodore Radcliffe


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About Audio Issues and Björgvin Benediktsson

At Audio Issues you’ll learn simple and practical audio production tips you can use right away to improve your music from your home recording studio.  Björgvin is the best-selling author of Step By Step Mixing and the founder of Audio Issues. He helps musicians and producers turn amateur demos into professionally produced records they can be proud to release.

We help home studio musicians and project studio producers make a greater musical impact in their lives by teaching them the skills needed to grow their hobbies and careers. We do this by offering simple and practical music production and success skills they can use right away to level themselves up – while rejecting negativity and gear-shaming from the industry. A rising tide floats all boats and the ocean is big enough for all of us to surf the sound waves.

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