4 Easy Ways to Improve Your Mix With a Transient Designer
The transient designer is one of the most overlooked mixing processors
It’s an incredibly helpful tool to help you shape the waveform of a signal, and can help you fix subpar sound sources with just a couple tweaks.
Here are four ways I use transient designers during a mix.
1. Adding Attack to Drums
If your drums are lacking attack and no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to add it with EQ, swap out the EQ plug-in with a transient designer instead.
It can add that extra pop to the beater of the kick drum. It can also add a little more snap to the snare.
Instead of cranking up the EQ boosts, maybe the transient designer is the only thing you need to make your drums cut through the mix.
It’s one of the two secret weapons I show you how to use inside the Drum Mix Toolkit to transform your amateur drum sound into a punchy, professional drum mix.
2. Removing Sustain From Bass
In one mix I did recently, I piled on the distortion on the bass. Parallel amp simulation with the distortion cranked up to 11.
But because of all the crazy effects, and the additional compression the distortion gave the bass track, it had this annoying oscillating sound between the notes. It sounded like the distortion was swelling up every time the bass stopped playing.
I tried to work the compressor attack and release times to make it stop but to no avail.
So I slapped on a transient designer to see what would happen. And lo and behold, by eliminating the sustain from the waveform. All the weird swelling sounds stopped, and we got a tighter bass track that fit better with the rhythm of the song.
Think of it like an anti-swelling cream for your sprained ankle, except the cream is an audio plug-in and your ankle is a growling bass guitar.
3. Taking Out the Reverb Tail from Roomy Sounds
If a percussive track has a little bit too much of a reverb tail and you want to make it tighter, then reducing the sustain with a transient designer will all but eliminate the room sound from your recordings.
Take a kick drum that was recorded in a home studio where you can clearly hear the boxy room sound after the kick hits. One way would be to figure out how to make the room sound work for the style of the song. But if you’re producing in a genre that needs a tight, short kick sound, then the room sound will make the kick drum sound out of place.
In that situation, all you need to do is to put a transient designer on it and remove all the sustain from the end of the waveform. Just the kick, none of the room.
4. Removing Attack from Plucky Guitars
If you’re dealing with guitars that sound a bit too jangly, you can add a transient designer to reduce the pluckiness of the sound. This will smooth out the guitars and make them sit back in the mix.
It’s great if things are sounding just a bit too strummy and in your face but adding reverb adds too much space to the mix. It subdues the initial attack, and you’ll feel like they’re sitting farther back in the mix.
The Transient Designer Can Save Your Mix
The transient designer might seem like an advanced mixing tool, but in reality, they’re very simple to use and you shouldn’t be intimated to use them.
They can come to the rescue when none of the standard five plug-ins I talk about in Step By Step Mixing quite hack it.
And they can be very useful when you need a subtle way to manipulate your sounds, but you don’t want to screw with the EQ curve too much.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to use transient designers, I do talk about it in detail inside my Drum Mix Toolkit.
Even if you’re not producing drums at the moment, the information is guaranteed to come in handy for shaping your drum mixes in the future, and if you grab the Quick Mixing package with it as well, you’ll be all set to instantly improve your next mix.