Troubleshooting no sound from DAW

The most common problem which I troubleshoot for newcomers and beyond in the home recording field; Why do I not have sound?" I made a little video demonstrating and explaining my troubleshooting tips. Hopefully this video can reach more people than if I were to individually continue to assist.

https://youtu.be/E6YNZblM-Tg

To connect your DAW to the internet or not

DAW computer offline or not?

Most home recordists have multi purpose recording computers. Not only do we have all of our recording software and hardware installed on the computer, but we also pay bills, browse the internet and play video games on the same computer. In the past, many home recordists would scoff at the idea of connecting your DAW on the internet. They would sight two main reasons:

-Limited CPU resources to handle the workload of audio mixing and recording while other tasks were going on.

-The risk of getting a virus

Most newer computers can handle what most home recordists are throwing at it, while also being able to run social media, YouTube and virus protection in the background. The era of 'not enough computing power” is over for 80% of the home recordists. There will obviously be the 20% of users who have very large and complex projects which will require high end computers and possibly dedicated CPU to just audio processing, but that is not the majority of users.

The risk of getting a virus or the dreaded ransomware is still very real, but with virus protection, as well as common sense practices (don't open attachments from email address you don't know) most users are perfectly fine. Online AND offline backups are key to getting back up and going again if you should happen to fall victim of a game changing virus. Just a tip – there are viruses which can seek out and infect files in all of your connected hard drives. To get around this I suggest a cloud backup solution and/or a hard drive which you only connect to backup, the disconnect it when finished.

The benefits of having your computer online, especially if you do not have multiple computers in your home, are huge. First, updating, installing and authorizing software is much much faster when connected to the internet. Second, sharing your project files with others is much faster and more conveint. Third, outside of music, you can play on the internet, respond to emails, post funny Facebook memes, rant on your favorite political thread or watch tutorial videos while your project is mixing down. I have personally always had my DAW computers online and in fact often played video games on them while taking a break from recording. It's my opinion, with the proper precautions and common sense practices listed above, the benefits outweigh the risks of connecting your recording computer to the internet.

Mike Lizotte

Track and project templates in Sonar

If you've never used track or project templates than you are missing out on a huge time saver. Any time spent setting up tracks and routing is time taken away from our creative or mixing process. Life is short, let's find way to do things more efficiently :)

This video will walk you through setting up a basic track and project template, the difference between them, and how to save it as either a track template, or project template.

Using Keybinds

STOP CLICKING!

Ok seriously, it's ok to click sometimes, but there are many windows and mac keybinds that perform actions much faster than if you use your mouse. For instance, to copy an object, many people highlight, right click, scroll down to copy, then left click. Did you know that you can simply highlight and hold control-C? (Command -C on Mac). The video below will demonstrate how to use keybinds in your audio editing workflow. This will greatly speed up your mixing and make you look like a pro!

Mixing Secrets – Using Sends

Using Send effects in place of individual effects for each track can often be more economical and save horsepower on your computer to put elsewhere. There are many effects and creative options you have while using Send effects. The attached video will demonstrate how and why to use Sends with reverb. Get creative and try out all sorts of effects using Sends to different tracks!

 

The importance of audio file organization and versioning

Organizing, locating and naming your audio project files is pretty straight forward. However, without being organized, it will be difficult to find, share or recall your project files quickly. This short video will explain where to store your recorded files, and different scenarios on naming them so you can forever be organized with your project files.

Copyright Myths

Music copyrighting is a tricky and often confusing subject.

As we all know, flat out copying someone's music is a no-no.  It is unethical and unlawful.  However, there ARE many things we can use from other people's music without actually running in to a Copyright infringement issue.  For instance, chord progressions and scales.

Below is a quick tutorial explaining and dispelling some Copyright myths by Richard Stim in his Lynda.com course on the subject.

Creating and using a De’esser

Often during the mixing phase, I will sneak in some extra high-end on the EQ in an effort to bring out clarity in several instruments, (including vocals).  Everything will sound great on my system.  Then I play the song back on ear buds, or my phone, and realize the "esss's" and "teeee's" are waay too harsh.  Like, ear bleeding harsh!  A work around for taming them, without losing your clarity, is using a de'esser.  Follow the link below for a free video instruction on setting up your de'esser and how to use it.

Setting up your De'esser

Mike Lizotte

Microphones – How they work

Here is a cool article, complete with a video on explaining the different types of microphones and how they work.  Some people use a tool and never really care how they work, but there are times when knowing exactly how the tool works, will allow you to chose the right tool for the job!

Click on the link below, which will bring you to a FREE Lynda.Com article and video on the subject.

 Microphones Explained

 

-Mike Lizotte

The importance of taking notes

Taking notes is a key step to improving my final productions.  I don't mean taking notes away from my ultra killer kazoo solo, I am talking about breaking out pen and paper.

 

If you have ever listened back to your songs or mixes, you have surely encountered a “spot” (or maybe several “spots”) in the song that make you cringe as it plays by.  This could be that one bass note which clashes with the organ, or the one 'slightly out of time' snare hit, or maybe just that the vocals are a tad too loud.  I recommend writing down everything that is not 'perfect' as the song plays through.  You can then return to your song or mix, armed with your notes and start making adjustments.  It's very important that you start the note taking process from the FIRST listen back and I will explain why.

 

Humans are very adaptive creatures.  For a simple example, let's picture getting in to a hot tub on a cold winter night.  As you step into the hot tub water, your senses scream that you are going to be boiled alive!  After a short time you force yourself to sit down and your body eventually gets accustomed to the temperature.  Now, what happens when we get out? Brrr!!!  The opposite is true when taking a cold shower, eventually your body will get used to the temperature and it will 'feel' right.  (Barring the extremes of course!)

 

Our ears adapt to stimuli just like our bodies adapt to temperature changes.  When we first start mixing a song, we might boost the high-end on the EQ a bit.  After a short time, our ears will become accustomed to the extra high-end and we may decide to boost a little more.  Now, if we take a break, or listen to other music for a bit, when we return to our mix we realize the high-end is WAY to high.  This is why it is important to have a reference song to compare with, while we mix.  A blog post on using reference mixes can be found HERE.

 

Our ears and minds will also adapt and become accepting of parts that we did not originally like upon first listen.  There could also be psychological reasons for this, especially if it is our own material, but I'm not smart enough to have a psychology debate on the subject.  Because we adapt so well, this is why it is important to take notes of the problems you hear on the FIRST listen!  You don't want to give your ears or mind a chance to adapt or dismiss the problem areas.  Also, by having written notes in your hand, you have specific instructions, written by YOU, on what needs to be addressed.  You then have a clear road map on how to make your mix or song sound great!

 

I wish I could tell you it only takes me one time to get everything right in my song or mix, but I would be lying.  There are mixes I have listened to dozens of times and taken dozens of notes before I felt I had it 'right'.  Like everything else in life, the more you do it, the better you get. Give it a try and let me know if it helped!

 

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Mike Lizotte