Dealing With Ear Fatigue While Working on Your Music

Ear Fatique and Mixing

There is little doubt that we all love music and are always eager to listen to something new. Our excitement about that new single, or that long awaited show from that group we dearly love always remains high.

However, have we thought about some of the effects of listening to loud music or listening to loud music over prolonged periods? Well, we probably don’t even want to hear about such. So is listening to loud music something that we should worry about?

As a matter of fact, as music creators it is definitely something that we should be worried about.  The volume at which we listen while creating, often takes a back seat because we want to hear the music blasting. It helps in the creative process.

However, health is always at stake. Individuals used to constant music playing in the ears beyond the OSHA recommended decibel level are at a high risk of ear fatigue. Ear fatigue is a serious problem that many music producers overlook at their peril. Here are some tips that you can follow as you mix your music to prevent the undesirable effects of ear fatigue.

Keep your volume under check

If there is a main culprit to ear fatigue, then volume tops the list. Your ears are tuned to operate perfectly well at talking volumes and therefore any volume that exceeds this threshold by a wider margin is a threat to your ears. Fortunately, OSHA is aware and recommends 90dB exposure for not more than eight hours. Your mixing system may easily go beyond 100dB and therefore keeping an ear out for the volume is a good tip. If this proves elusive, then equip yourself with a decibel gauge to inform you when the volume exceeds the 90dB limit.

Make breaks a priority in all your sessions

If you’ve been producing for any length of time, then you know what it’s like to get into an intense production session – you become one with the beat.  During these intense moments it’s super easy to get ear fatigue – A because your not giving you ears a chance to rest; and B – you’re more than likely turning the volume up more and more as you are producing.

You can curb this by taking breaks every 30-45 mins.  I also suggest that every break you should hydrate yourself with some water and every 3-4 breaks you should have something to eat to keep your energy level up so you can keep working.  Since I choose to live a cruelty-free lifestyle, I like to grab a Clif Bar, which is one of my favorite vegan protein bars. I’ll usually do that during the 3rd or 4th break as it’s a great source of protein and keeps my energy levels up for the next 3-4 breaks.  The next time around I usually go for a more hearty meal before finishing my session.  You don’t have to follow exactly what I do but anything is better than nothing.

Cap Your Working Time for the Day

Time is of the essence in the long run and therefore productivity per unit time has to be at its best.

To achieve this, restrict the number of hours that you are available for mixing before you can get off studio and plan for the next day. It is crucial to understand that beyond eight hours of engaging your ear in mixing different sounds, ear fatigue sets in very fast and you may end up lowering your productivity. Eight hours is a good span of time to stick to your work and then retire for the day. Remember OSHA’s recommendations is within an eight time frame.  Sticking to these recommendations will surely benefit you and your clients.

3 Drum Machines With Timeless Drum Samples

NI_Maschine-Drum-Samples

As a producer or engineer, it’s important to not only use good sounds but sounds that you can rely on time and time again.  You could be producing trap music or pop music, it doesn’t really matter, you just need something that is reliable and repeatable.

With these 3 drum machines, you can’t go wrong.  You will be making music consistently for a long time to come, no doubt about that.  Let’s get into it.

1. Akai MPC 2000

The Akai MPC 2000 is a favorite sampler that has been used in music for many years and is now often referred to as an important piece of electronic equipment for the development of genres such as Hip-hop and Dance music. The Akai MPC 2000 was originally designed by Roger Linn and was developed by Akai, which is a Japanese company who took on the device in 1988. The machine was originally conceived as a drum machine, and the square pads were created by Roger Linn.

The most important aspect of theAkai MPC 2000 was that it could be used as a sampler, and this means that you could sample sounds from other devices and store them within the machine and then play them back. You could also affect the sounds and tweak them in certain ways by adjusting the pitch so that sounds fit together when you played them. This meant that you could take a section from a record and chop it up into individual pieces and then replay it using the drum pads in the new sequence. Since the Akai MPC 2000 was released, Akai has now developed a whole range of MPC products that were based on the original device, and these have all also been incredibly popular.

2.Roland TR-909

The Roland TR 909 is, simply put, the king of all Roland drum machines. You’ll never hear anyone call it a bargain though you’ll never hear anyone complain of limitations while using the machine. It’s a premium Roland product; that’s for sure. If you love everything other Roland products have to offer and have some serious cash to put down on your next drum machine, the Roland TR 909 might very well be the drum machine for you. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

What’s So Great About the 909?

  1. Users can Customize Their Drum Tones – The programming capabilities of the Roland TR 909 are amazing when it comes to drum tones. I think this is a pretty important aspect for both intermediate and advanced users. The snap, the attack, the accent, you name it; everything about every drum tone can be easily tweaked to user preference. When only looking at drum tone customization, the Roland TR 909 reigns over all other drum machines every time.
  2. It has Great Sound Quality – Even before undertaking any major programming steps, the sound quality you’re getting here is just perfect. The drum tones sound very realistic (although, if this does not do you want, you’ll be able to change it) and every tom and cymbal sounds exactly like you’d expect it to.
  3. Sounds Used on a lot of Modern Songs – The samples from this drum machine have transcended their time and are still being used across a lot of popular songs you hear today.  These are the definition of classic samples that will be around for a long time to come.  These sounds are also a staple in all trap drum kit libraries for their snappy and bass heavy quality.

Is the Roland TR 909 Right for Me?

If you have the money, certainly. While the crashes mentioned above may be a bit of a burden, as can the unit’s cost, the quality of the Roland TR 909 should more than makeup for it. Producers, performers, and songwriters of all types will see value in this product. While the initial learning curve may be a bit steep, once mastered, you’ll find you can tweak sounds to your liking more than you ever thought you could with a drum machine, making the TR 909 one of the best products of its type.

 

3. Native Instrument Maschine

This hybrid software/hardware beat machine claims to deliver the best of both worlds. The Native Instruments Machine is an innovative, cutting edge beat-production workstation with built‑in sampling, drum sequencing, and loop slicing. A single DVD makes installation of the library and software a snap. The controller operates via USB. Once installed the stand-alone app can be launched, or the plug-in can be inserted into the DAW of your choice. From this point, virtually every operation can be performed on the hardware. The main pads are a double-display, and a line of eight buttons and knobs make up the main user interface. These have the ability to light up for an even more visible display.

Far from being “just a drum machine”, the NI features a full library of sampled instrument loops, patches, etc., and far more impressive a selection than hardware beatbox equivalents, since each sound features its own effects such as filters, velocity assignments, envelopes, etc. These alternate instrument sounds can be accessed from the pads via a laptop, or from any MIDI keyboard in the studio.

The Native Instrument Maschine most definitely lives up to the hype and features many pleasant surprises not expected in a piece of equipment this humble. Beyond impressive.

Why i like to put the EQ before the Compressor – I think You’ll love it

Unlike some people out there, I nearly always end up placing EQ before compression in my insert slots whenever I’m mixing. Personally, I just believe it sounds a lot better when I do it this way, but of course, some of my friends have high end equipment, and there are a few who do it the exact opposite way, and admittedly, they often get fantastic results. Nonetheless, I still recommend putting EQ first because it will make your life so much easier, and it will still deliver great results.

The main reason why I recommend putting EQ first is essential because you need to get rid of all junk that is doing nothing other than clogging up your mix. It doesn’t matter how cautious you are, or how dedicated you are when you make a recording, you’ll almost certainly end up with at least one frequency (probably more) that needs to be cut out. EQ will instantly enhance your mix, regardless of whether you are working with a high pass filter to remove unnecessary low end, or whether your focus is on a strategic low-mid notch to remove unwanted mud from your tracks.

For me, this sort of subtractive EQ was life changing, and as a result, I always place a great deal of emphasis on it when I’m teaching others to mix. Like so many others, I also ignored this advice at first, and I was quite happy to boost crazy with my equalizers. Thankfully I eventually came to my senses, and I began cutting first, and I couldn’t believe how much easier mixing became. The bottom line is filter out anything and everything your mix doesn’t require before you even think of doing anything else.