This is The Guide

The Guide

Jan 1 — By The Tweak Contents ↓

OK, so you are new. You have an idea of making and producing your own music. And you feel inspired. Perhaps you are a seasoned musician, tired of paying someone else to produce your music. Perhaps you are building a studio to record your band. Or you are into producing audio for video, film, podcasts. Maybe you have nothing more than a spark, the urge to create, a desire to fulfill a sense of artistic vision. It's Cool. You are welcome at the lab. You have found the right place and good people. We are here to help you build your own recording studio, your own laboratory for creative projects that works perfectly within your needs and budget. All the rules have changed in the past few years for putting together a recording studio and they keep changing. It used to be that you needed expensive multi-track recorders and mixdown machines, a roomful of outboard gear and processors, and more cables than you would want to count.

Of course, you still can make a large studio with tons of outboard gear (which sounds better than ever), or you can let computers and modern digital multi track machines replace hundreds of functions that used to require separate hardware units.

We are not talking about a cheap, hissy, unprofessional sound, like we used to get with old 4 track cassette studios. Those days are gone. With the dawn of modern recording software (called sequencers), with their full-featured digital mixers built right into software, you can expect your sound to rival the big boys in the studios downtown. Yes. It's true! For a modest investment in microphones, preamps, audio interfaces and software you can be well on your way. I'm going to tell you all about today's gear, tell you what you need and what you don't need, give you strategies for gear acquisition that are tried and true, and show you where you can save money and exactly where you should not compromise.

But don't think just because you have the gear you will sound like a million bucks, automatically. No, my friend, it does not work that way. You need to understand music to write music and you need to know how to use the gear or software that you have as tools. Talent is important, and there are many talents required to make a full production. But that doesn't mean you need to know how to play an instrument, like the keyboard, with proficiency.

Basically, we consider the studio itself to be a musical instrument. Like any instrument, you get good by practicing, trying different things, experimenting, mimicking, tweaking, mixing.... After a while, it dawns on you that making music is a craft, the mixer is its workbench, and the studio is it's laboratory. You supply the creativity, your musicality, your quest for musical beauty. You capture your tracks then tweak it down to a work of art. This process is the focus of TweakHeadz Lab. The goal of the studio tweak is to create art in its highest form of expression.

The great masters of the recording arts learned their techniques by devoting their lives creating, capturing and tweaking sound. These secrets are hard earned, and used to be passed down from the pros to their apprentices at big studios. You would set up microphones, sweep the floor, run for coffee and take out the trash, then, one day they let you help them at the console. Those days are almost gone. TweakHeadz Lab is the modern day equivalent of that apprenticeship. If you read my articles carefully you will find many secrets of audio production. Of course, we don't know everything, no person does. but we do know a lot. Enough to get you on your path.

In your recording studio, you get to have three roles--musician (as creator and performer), audio engineer, and producer. What stands between you and the masters is simply knowledge and experience. Their knowledge translates directly-- the tools in the modern software studio have the same names and functions as the classic hardware machines in a pro facility and are used in the same way. The big studios downtown have compressors, limiters, vocal processors, delays, reverbs, equalization, multi track recorders, computer automation and massive consoles that hook it all together. If you have a modern software package or hardware digital multitrack, you have all these tools too. They know exactly when and how to use EQ to clean up a track, when to use compression, the precise place to put reverb in the mix, how to record vocals, guitars, drums and how to level everything to make a stunning audio image. is going to be your guide to acquiring all these skills.

We will tell you the things that you absolutely must know for music production in a clear, simple, even entertaining way. While much of this knowledge is technical, we'll avoid bogging you down with unnecessary technical details. We are not flying to Mars here (except maybe musically), so we can have a little fun. After all, our music is something we want people to enjoy.

Because you may be running your studio on a computer, we'll cover that too. You need to know how to tweak your computer as well as you know how to tweak your musical score. Then there is the matter of Understanding MIDI and digital audio and how these work together (yes they ARE different). This is a core concept underpinning how the contemporary computer-based home studio works, so we'll get to that first.

How to support

TweakHeadz lab is an expensive operation in both money and time and needs your support to survive. If you like these articles and we've helped you out, may we suggest buying gear at zZounds from our product links? To those who have supported the TweakLab in the past, you have our thanks! With your help, this site has become what it is today.

Plug: Buying at zZounds is better than buying at many other stores. They have an easy return policy in case you run into trouble with your purchase and a lowest price guarantee. What could be better? You get a great store, the right price, EZ returns and you support one of the best user supported sites on the internet.

OK, Let's get started!

Who are we? Our fans tell it best.

What is this Guide? Consider the Guide as a classroom and each article a lesson. The Guide is a series of articles. It starts with the core basics of modern music technology and progresses through advanced concepts of studio production. There are approximately 75 classes which you can see in the guides menu. You will learn how to put together a less expensive Recording Studio that Rivals Professional Studio Sound.

What is MIDI? MIDI is a form of computer data that keyboards and computers can send back and forth that turn on notes. You can write musical notes on a computer screen and the data turns notes on and off on the keyboard or sound module. Likewise you can play notes on your keyboard and the computer will "record" these commands to turn on and off notes.

What is a Digital Audio Workstation? A Digital Audio Workstation or DAW is a computer application that allows you to record both digital audio and MIDI data and blend the sounds together in it's software mixing console. There are editing tools that let you control every aspect of the production down to very fine details. Effects and processors of high quality are increasingly being added to these applications. Modern DAWs now can fulfill many recording studio functions that were possible only in expensive studios a decade a go.

What is a multi-track recorder? A multi-track recorder is a recording device that allow you to record audio directly to separate tracks. Once all the tracks are added, they can be mixed down to a stereo master recording. Today's digital multi-tracks have built in effects so you can add varying amounts to each track. The major difference between a hardware multi-track recorder and a computer sequencer is that the sequencer can record and edit MIDI data and the multi-track cannot.

What is a Recording Studio? A Recording Studio is a collection of devices that allow you to capture different "takes" of performances and assemble them into a finished audio product. A typical studio has microphones, multitrack recorders, mixers, instruments, and audio processors. With the exception of microphones, most every piece of hardware from a traditional recording studio has a software counterpart.

On this page:

How to assemble a less expensive Recording Studio that Rivals Professional Studio Sound

How to make music on a Mac or PC