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RobFarley's picture
Joined: 11/02/2013 - 16:43
How we have improved...

I'm putting this in Tips mainly because I think this is interesting... It's kind of a show and tell, but more a compare and contrast... 

So 4 years ago I uploaded a track to soundcloud, I thought it was pretty good, it was arguably the best I could have done at the time, created on Caustic 3 so the technology is largely similar to what we have now, OK, we have the sawsynth now, but largely, the same stuff. It's one of my tracks I've always liked but recently I decided to give it a remix, which, really was just smoothing off the edges, balancing the sound etc.

Old Version: https://soundcloud.com/angledsocks/distant-memory

New Version: https://soundcloud.com/angledsocks/distant-memory-2018

You may disagree but I think the new version is signifcantly better. The 4 years experience of production, improving my mastering techniques, getting a better ear for balance and knowing your tools really makes a difference.

The old version is muddy, distorted, overbearing in places. The new version is largely the same song, swapped out a couple of instruments with new sounds, a bit of automation added, removed a hell of a lot of delay and I think balaned the mix better.

Anyway... Discuss, I'd be really interested to hear opinions and indeed any thoughts on your own growth as a producer.

JHSound's picture
Joined: 06/04/2015 - 11:21
I definitely have had a

I definitely have had a similar experience. When I look back at my music from 4 years ago, I don't think it is bad musically, but how I approach building a song has improved in the arrangement and production. I can't do what you did, Rob, having lost all my old Caustic files in a computer disaster but I wish I could pull one up and rework it. I'm certain it would be better.

The best thing about having Caustic was that it became a playground to try things without penalty. A very good playground that I wouldn't have tried if Rej hadn't created such an affordable way to get started with real-world creation and production tools. I sincerely believe I never would have explored this side of music if I had to invest in a more expensive DAW and equipment. The best part of the playground is that is not pretend, or simplified. I have learned so much that could be applied to other DAWS, live performance, recording.

So, bottom line, my production skills went from nearly zero (having only played live) to whatever they are now (better) and my knowledge of synths, mixing, filters, FX, mastering has grown dramatically.  Thanks, Rej.

James's picture
Joined: 01/21/2013 - 07:09
The new one is better in

The new one is better in pretty much every way  - the drums sounded boxy, the synths sounded muddy, in fact everything sounded muddy. 

It's a really good demonstration of the evolution of artist.

Although to be fair, if you spend 4 years doing something a lot and you haven't improved by then...you probably need a new hobby laugh

Amel's picture
Joined: 02/21/2015 - 10:00
Caustic has almost all

Caustic has almost all elements you need to craft a good mix, to experiment, to do something new every day. It's basically the most intuitive app that encountered. I remembered first time I installed the app. It was morning, and it was raining like hell. I started by simply playing with beatbox and the PCM, trying to make something of it. I liked it. But I was thinking
" man, this will be hard to Master, but this is amazing just the way it is." Later on I learned a lot from tutorials and I started production. It's a rare occurrence that I post a track these days, because, I don't need that. I like to think that Caustic itself is enough for me, and I do post caustic files sometimes just to discuss about musical process within the app. I don't think that caustic will be better trough time only person that use the app will improve, drastically, because, the app is extremely precise in everything you do and everything you are not able to do is very noticeable. It reminds me on Reason 8, it sometime sounds like abelton, it can even simulate sounds from vst's. Only you need to focus on the task you want to achieve.
So in my opinion. It's perfect. A proper device with good frequency response is all you will need, and caustic will show an amazing results.

UncleAfx's picture
Joined: 03/06/2016 - 20:08
Funny, I was just reflecting

Funny, I was just reflecting back myself just this last week. I found a post where I was asking how to gate a loop :-) http://www.singlecellsoftware.com/node/12943
And there are more than a few other ones I was a little embarassed to read...

But I came into caustic with no other daw experience whatsoever and very basic music knowledge. I think I definitely have learned a lot over the last 3 years though... little bits and pieces here and there without even realizing I was learning a lot of the time. I don't know that I'm any more apt to make good music, but I'd say I'm definitely more able.

But I think a lot of my problem too is laziness. I'm sure compared to most producers here I'm putting in nowhere near the effort. I think of caustic more as my daily crossword puzzle and I absorb whatever I do from one day to the next. And occasionally I'll get inspired enough to make something worth throwing in the save folder thinking one day I'll come back and know exactly where to go with it.

RobFarley's picture
Joined: 11/02/2013 - 16:43
JH, when I'm going through a

JH, when I'm going through a dry patch of creativity I like to revisit some of my older tracks, it's quite theraputic to try and improve them, or indeed just completely trash it and rebuild it from scratch.

James, yes, it's definately the case one should improve, but it's nice to actually have an AB comparison between two points. The difference is massive, I used to pile on loads of delay which I thought sounded cool, but you realise it's just muddying it to hell with no particular sound popping out.

Amel, that's my point, the app has been largely unchanged for quite some time, so the difference between the two versions is more personal improvement rather than technical improvement of the app.

UncleAfx, it is interesting how much one learns purely by usage, I've certainly not actively sat down and tried to get better, it's just been as you do it more, and listen to what others can acheive that it makes you try and get better yourself. I've got a couple of friends who use Ableton (and make relatively simple DnB) and the quality of the output is just phenominal, and it's forced me to actually try and get that cleaner mix. I don't know how much of that is them just being better than me at producing a clean mix vs the tools in Ableton making it easier, but I've definately used them as a benchmark to get better myself.

I think this is a really interesting topic! I'm not sure I could give any tips, but often what I've experienced recently is "less is more", when you start off a track you want to make it sound big, once you've got a few machines running it's well worth cutting out sound of the delays, reverb, distortions etc to actually see how much of a difference that makes to the mix, I've found that cutting a lot of this stuff out of the mix really makes it "pop" and makes mastering signicanty easier because you've not got that "wall of sound" going on.