Interested in Audio Training? Here’s the History of Auto-Tune

Posted on December 16th, 2016 - Written by: Trebas Toronto

Are you thinking about exploring sound and music at audio production college

Auto-tune is in almost every song. It can make slight, nearly imperceptible corrections to tiny mistakes a singer makes, or turn a normal voice into a robotic growl. Its many applications, and the ease with which it can be hidden, mean it’s less of a matter of “if” auto-tune will be used when recording songs, but “how.”

This omnipresence is relatively recent—auto-tune has only existed for about 20 years—and the technology didn’t always enjoy the level of support that it does now.

Curious about auto-tune’s journey to the present? Here’s a look at some of the milestones from its history.

Auto-Tune Technology Originated in the Oil Industry

The very beginnings of auto-tune have little to do with music. Rather, the technology owes its origin to work done by the oil industry.

Oil companies sometimes use explosions to create a sort of sonar that works through the ground. By using software to analyze the signal of the reflected sound waves caused by the detonations, it is possible to detect where oil pockets exist below the surface. Oil industry professional Andy Hildebrand took this technology and adapted it. He used a similar signal detection capability to find imperfections in musical recordings and make slight adjustments to help remove them.

Students in Music Production School Might Know Auto-Tune Was First Used on Cher in 1998

Though the original intention of auto-tune was to make voices sound perfect, it took very little time before musicians and graduates of music production school caught on to its potential for making voices sound robotic.

With her 1998 single “Believe,” Cher was simultaneously the first person to use auto-tune for a widely released recording and the first person to commercially use the distorting effect of auto-tune to alter her voice into something profoundly different. Both became extremely common afterwards.

You can experiment with audio processing techniques like auto-tune when working on the production mixing and mastering components of your audio training program. You might not achieve quite the same “wow” factor as Cher did in the 90s, but you’ll at least be able to arrive at a similar effect in the work you produce.

Today, Auto-Tuning Is Very Common Among Amateurs and Pros with Audio Training

Though professionals will still rely on genuine auto-tuning software to get quality results for their work, basic auto-tuning has become far more accessible in the last few years.

A number of mobile apps, like “Voloco,” can auto-tune voices on the fly. It’s also possible to use free programs like Garageband and Audacity to achieve a similar result to the classic auto-tune sound. This accessibility helped start a trend of online videos, and even the news, being edited and auto-tuned into silly, yet sometimes catchy, songs.

Though professional software and tools are available to you in Trebas’ recording studio, you might like to use mobile and free software in some of your work. This can add a less polished sound to your audio, which might be an interesting effect to experiment with.

Auto-tune’s introduction to the music scene has allowed musicians and audio specialists to create many interesting sounds in their work. It’s a tool you might consider trying at some point during your training, or in your career.

Are you thinking about exploring sound and music at audio production college?

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Attending Music Production School? Get Inspired By These 3 Superstar Producers

Posted on November 18th, 2016 - Written by: Trebas Toronto

Students at music production school can learn some valuable lessons by looking to the giants of the music world

There are many hugely successful producers in the world of music. They have this special something that seems to let them to hit that right note and makes people play their songs again and again. Looking to some of these professionals for inspiration is a good way for students to improve their own ability.

Whatever your ambitions, there’s someone out there who has experience you can take to heart and use to improve your work. With the right bit of inspiration and a lot of hard work, you can put yourself on the path toward a fulfilling music industry career of your own.

Here are three producers you might find inspiring.

1. Students in Music Production School Might Want to Blend Genres Like Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin has produced for artists as diverse as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Justin Timberlake, and Slayer, and has shared responsibility for many hit albums from the 1980s onwards. He’s not universally loved—some critics think his productions have poor sound quality—but he is appreciated by many artists, and the commercial success of his work speaks for itself.

One aspect of Rubin’s work that students at music production schools might use as inspiration is his tendency to blend genres. From RUN DMC’s cover of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” to Johnny Cash’s rendition of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” Rubin has been behind multiple covers that arguably eclipse the original songs for quality and prominence.

Consider adding this technique to the long list of skills you develop during your time in audio production school. Borrow beats, chords, and whatever else from one genre and see how they can be tweaked to a new purpose. You might find a unique new combination.

2. Audio Production College Students: Use Simplicity to Be as Memorable as RedOne

The trick to pop music, it seems, is to play simple beats at high volume, and throw in an easily remembered hook to keep listeners singing along. Few have this formula down quite as well as producer RedOne does.

Embracing simplicity can help your pop songs stay memorable

Embracing simplicity can help your pop songs stay memorable

RedOne has produced tracks for Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, One Direction, and many other artists over the course of his career, employing this same devotion to simplicity and memorability to help artists make it to the upper reaches of the music charts.

Regardless of your feelings about pop music, there’s value to be found in this approach. In music production school and beyond, consider striving for minimalism, or at least simplicity, if the goal is to stay fresh in people’s minds.

3. David Guetta Thinks It’s Better To Embrace Progress Than to Fight It

In 2015, multimillionaire superstar producer David Guetta told the BBC he didn’t see the point of fighting piracy. Piracy was a big reason he was able to sell out arenas with regularity, and while it would be nice to expect a check from every play or download of his music, he said that was “impossible” in the modern landscape. In the interview below, he claims it is better to adapt than to fight against the way things are:

While you may have different feelings about piracy, the general lesson of adapting to the changing landscape is a good one. From delivery systems to audience tastes, the music industry experiences regular change. To find success in your professional life after audio production college, you should combine the expert training you received at school with a willingness to experiment with new developments in the industry. It’s a winning formula that can lead to career success.

Different production superstars have taken different avenues to success, but general lessons can be taken away from all their stories. By experimenting with genres, using simplicity to create a memorable song, and adjusting to accommodate new developments in the music industry, students can look forward to success in their future careers.

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The 4 Best MIDI Controllers for Students in Music Production School

Posted on October 21st, 2016 - Written by: Trebas Toronto

music production school

Producing music on a computer with a mouse and keyboard is possible, but it usually takes longer to get things done than it would with an instrument. There’s also something of the musical experience that is lost when a mouse and QWERTY keyboard are your only tools.

For many musicians, a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) controller is a great upgrade. They typically look like the keyboard of a piano, and act like “real” instruments when used with music production software. Hit a key, and watch the corresponding note appear in your composition.

Want to add a MIDI controller to your setup? Here are the four best models you’ll find.

1. The Novation Launchkey 61 MK2 Is a Decent Bet for Students at Music Production School

If you want a full-sized MIDI keyboard, the Novation Launchkey 61 MK2 is a solid choice. With 61 keys and multiple sliders, switches, and pads to help you create your vision, it’s a great option for students who want a good amount of capability in an inexpensive package.

This product is designed for use with Ableton Live production software, and while it does map onto other programs, it could take some time to make everything work. Still, Novation promises that it “works with any HUI-compatible DAW,” so if you put the time in to tweak the settings, it should be a fairly versatile pick.

2. The M-Audio Keystation 49e Is a Good Light, Basic Option

Students attending music production school who want something compact, but that still has a decent number of keys, will appreciate the M-Audio Keystation 49e.

Lightweight, and able to connect to iPads for on-the-go production, this controller also packs in a few dials and buttons for tweaking your tunes, but not as many as some other controllers. Like most MIDI controllers, its keys are velocity-sensitive, meaning the strength of a press will determine the loudness of the corresponding note in the software.

It’s not the most feature-packed option, but if you need a 49-key MIDI controller that is basic and compact, this is a good choice.

music production programs

iPad integration lets you take the Keystation 49e on the go

3. Students in Music Production Programs Will Love the Akai MPK Mini’s Features

For students who want something small, but also really good, there’s no beating the Akai MPK Mini MKII 25-Key. It’s the #1 seller on Amazon, and with good reason.
With the Akai MPK Mini, you get several backlit percussion pads, eight knobs, octave adjusters, and a built-in arpeggiator—all of which help musicians get the very most out of this small musical package.

It’s a great option for students in music production programs to take on the go, and as Equipboard—the world’s largest database of musical gear—puts it, “Some users like this MIDI keyboard so much, that despite originally buying it for travel use, they end up using it as their primary studio keyboard.”

4. Want to Go Pro? The Akai MPK249 Is the Beast You Need

This model is quite a bit more expensive than the others on this list. If you’re just dipping your toes into the water, or don’t have the budget for something expensive, this won’t be for you. However, if you don’t mind a bit of expense and want something that packs in a ton of features, the Akai MPK249 is a great buy.

This model comes with 49 keys, eight knobs, and 16 percussion pads, each of which has four banks (essentially upgrading it to a 64-pad system). Overall, it’s definitely the best option on this list for the budding professional who wants lots of tools at their disposal.

Whether you want something small and portable or something big and full-featured, there’s a MIDI controller for you. Add one to your setup to take your digital music production to the next level.

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Thinking of DJ Training? Check Out 3 Top DJ Controllers on the Market!

Posted on September 23rd, 2016 - Written by: Trebas Toronto

Maximize your mixing potential after DJ training by trying your hand at one (or more!) of these three industry-standard DJ controllers
Jog wheels, touch strips, faders, and more make up a modern DJ’s controller. Each piece has its own part to play in the live DJ sound-mixing process that turns songs we like into mixes we love.

If these terms sound like a foreign language, don’t worry—the right DJ training program will sharpen your skills and bring this expertise within reach. At a training institute like Trebas, you can get hands-on experience and an overview of the different equipment today’s DJs have at their disposal, including: mixers, controllers, vinyl and CD turntables, MP3s, encoded records, mixing software, and related components.

Put simply, a controller is used to send mixing signals to a computer or in-house sound system software, which then plays out the desired mix to the masses. Controllers are more spacious ways for DJs to modify music than laptop keyboards or iOS touchpads, involving the various elements mentioned above (from jog wheels to faders) along with output channels that allow DJs to preview their sounds as they mix them.

Interested in getting your hands on a controller of your own? Check out three controller options ideal for passionate, up-and-coming DJs like you.

1. Pioneer DDJ-SX2: Dream Mixing Machinery for Any DJ College Student

When it comes to DJ equipment brands, Pioneer is known for offering excellent control and functionality on the affordable side of premium offerings. It’s similar to the top-of-the-line, approximately $2,500 Pioneer DDJ-SZ, offering similarly high-quality results at a significant price cut (SX2 is about $1,400 in total).

The SX2 is the closest you’ll come to a stationary club setup, with top-notch Serato control and high quality pads for spinning. Serato is music-mixing software that many of today’s top controllers are built to use. Students with DJ training understand how to adjust machinery to suit their preferred mixing software (known in the industry as ‘MIDI application’).

“Most controllers are MIDI assignable, which means they can be manually set up to work with most DJ software,” explains David Michael from the Passionate DJ podcast. He recommends the SX2 for anyone wanting “fantastic in-the-box control” at what he considers to be a “reachable price.”

2. Gemini G2V: A Solid Standby for Grads of DJ Training

If that price is not reachable to you, the Gemini G2V is a good mid-level choice at just over $350, with lots of connectivity options and good build quality. While it’s on the clunky side, this solid and durable mixing machine will serve you well in DJ training and beyond.

It comes bundled with Virtual DJ Lite Edition software, limiting to you to the number of decks you can mix—so it’s possible that you’ll outgrow this software as your skills expand in DJ school. But if you’re willing to dish out a few extra dollars for software upgrades every so often, this is a system and mixer that can grow with you.

3. Numark MixTrack Pro III: Allowing the Best Beats for the Tightest Budget

For students at DJ school who don’t need a full-fledged machine but want versatility and quality without breaking the bank, the MixTrack Pro III is a great solution. Compared to mid-level options, the pads feel a little lackluster, but it also includes high-level features like touch strips, individual channel metering, and full-size jog wheels.

A DJ uses his controller’s touch pad at DJ School

A DJ uses his controller’s touch pad

Consider its spacious layout and approximate price tag of $299 and this might seem like the ideal starter controller for you. Like the Gemni G2V, the MixTrack Pro III comes with the ‘Lite’ version of its DJ software, only this time it’s Serato DJ Intro. For upgraded software you’ll have to open your wallet again, but the basic package is a great and completely practical choice for DJs at the start of their careers.

Want to get your hands on industry-standard equipment at Toronto’s best DJ college?

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3 Tips for Working with Vocalists After Music Production School

Posted on September 2nd, 2016 - Written by: Trebas Toronto

Music Production School

When a sound engineer graduates from a music production program, it is likely that he or she will be working with vocalists in the near future. Making vocalists sound as good as they can is an art in itself. Collaborating with vocal artists as a music producer or sound engineer can be incredibly rewarding, but you need the proper skills and training to do so.

Here are a few tips that will help you maximize your collaborator’s vocal beauty.

1. Students in Music Production School Should Remember That Communication Is Key

Proper communication between a singer and a sound engineer is incredibly important to make sure that good music gets produced. When you work with vocalists after music production school, make sure that you keep communication open and honest. Prior to recording the vocals, always try to have a conversation with the artist you are working with so you can both come to a consensus about what you want to achieve musically. Having one clearly defined direction is important for both parties to work effectively.

If there are ideas that come to you while recording, make sure to bring them to light. There is no use in wasting great ideas! Good communication can also come in handy for the purpose of business related negotiations like how payments will be made or how contracts are to be drawn up.

2. Learn to Give Constructive Feedback at Music Production School

When team members evaluate each other’s performance in a constructive manor by giving feedback, it can lead to better music and better insights into your own strengths and weaknesses. Graduates from music production programs who go on to work in the music industry should try to foster a relationship with artists that allows for you both to freely exchange criticism with no fear of negative responses or hurt feelings.

Constructive criticism is very important to produce the best results possible

Constructive criticism is very important to produce the best results possible

3. Grads of Music Production School Can Use Editing to Make Vocals a Hit

After, or even during, the recording of vocals, the artist and yourself may want to make some changes to the raw sound. This is the case today in the majority of vocal recordings. Various effects, editing methods, and modifications of the vocals can make them appear warmer and softer, for example. With studios these days, the sky is the limit as far as tweaking sound goes.

A simple way to change the sound of vocals is to change the equalization (EQ) levels of the vocal tracks. The equalization levels are the range of frequencies that the sound uses, from very high pitches through to the very low pitches. An artist like Drake, for instance, who is produced by Noah ’40’ Shebib, uses a very particular frequency configuration, where the music’s high frequencies are cut completely, leaving Drake’s vocals to occupy their spot. To cut out high frequencies, use a low-pass filter to cut them out from the mix.

Shifting the frequencies of vocals can make a song sound totally different

Shifting the frequencies of vocals can make a song sound totally different

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