To MIDI or Audio, That is the Question

To MIDI or Audio, That is the Question

So should you be working solely with MIDI or should you be bouncing out your MIDI to Audio when you’re finished with your idea? Well, MIDI has a lot of flexibility. You can also easily go back and edit the MIDI data. For example, if you want to change a note in the melody you can quickly jump back to that MIDI part and edit the note data. This isn’t as easily done in audio. But that’s also the other problem with MIDI. By not exporting out your MIDI to audio, it leaves it open to always being edited which can leave parts unfinished due to this nature of MIDI and its (endless) editing capabilities.

So let’s go over some advantages of exporting out your MIDI to audio when you’re happy with the MIDI performance.

1. Compose Faster: Export While You Go
By exporting your MIDI to audio, you can move on and focus on other tracks. What I like to do is mute the MIDI part and disable the MIDI instrument to save on processing. This way I can always jump back if I really need to, but solidifying the performance to audio allows me to move on.

2. Get a Clear View of the Waveform
By exporting out your MIDI to audio you also get a clear view of what the waveform is doing.

For example, check out this Native Instruments Rise and Hit MIDI Note. You can’t really tell where the crescendo and impact of this riser sound is.

Now if I bounce it down to an audio track, I can clearly see where the sound is at its peak. Now I can just take this audio part and nudge it so that the Impact part lies on a bar change, this way making sure it’s in time with the song. Some sample libraries’ patches aren’t always in sync with the DAW. So definitely bouncing out your part gives you more control over the timing of that part.

3. Apply Extra Processing on Audio
Another nice thing to do is to export out the part and then apply some extra processing to the audio. For example, let’s say I have a cymbal hit with some reverb. I can bounce this part out to audio including the tail of the reverb on the cymbal hit. Then I can apply some extra audio processing to this, maybe some bit crushing and chorus. Then export this out again to an audio part. There’s something gratifying about doing destructive processing to audio and then moving on. Plus, by exporting these out as audio parts, you can build up your own unique library of processed sounds that you can use in other projects

So those are my thoughts on MIDI and audio parts. Both have their pros and cons. You’ve got more flexibility with MIDI, but this can also be a hindrance as well. So why not try bouncing down your MIDI parts to audio, and get moving with your music productions. Try this out in your next song and see how it works.

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Create Interest with Filtering

Create Interest with Filtering

Create interest and differentiation in your mixes with filtering. You probably use filtering as an EQ-ing technique, but you can achieve some awesome results as far as unusual sounds – adding depth and texture to your audio. Let’s take a look at what we can do with filters.

Using Filters to Create a Call and Response
My favorite method of using a filter: applying a filter to one instrument so that it gives a response to another instrument. This works great with guitars for example, but you can use the same technique with other instruments too. In our guitar example, let’s say there’s a riff. It will play on track ‘Guitar 1’, then that same part will be repeated on another track with filtering applied.

Now copy this part to another track, and move it after this part. So let’s say the part is a bar long, then copy the part and move it to the next bar.

Now add a filter plugin to this track. I’ll be using the Autofilter in Studio One, but there should be one bundled with your DAW. You can even use an EQ, but with a filter plugin, you get Cutoff and Resonance dials, which can further enhance the sound, especially if automation is applied to them.

So the AutoFilter is a filter with different filter shapes, plus it includes an LFO, so the Filter and Resonance are modified by the LFO shape.

I’ll be using one filter (even though I have a choice of two with this plugin). I’ll choose the Analog State Variable Filter, and I’ll switch it to a High Pass, instead of the default Low Pass.

I’m going to dial the Cutoff to about 1.18kHz, and the Resonance to 35.5%. I’ll increase the Drive. And for the Envelope and LFO, I’ll set these to zero, and I don’t want the LFO to modulate these parameters.

Now if I play back the original guitar part to this filtered guitar part, it sounds a like a call and response with the second part being filtered by the Analog SVF plugin. What’s cool its that it just adds some extra interest to the part.

 

So, for example, you could maybe use this in your second verse section to have some differentiation with the instrumentation from the first part.

And if you want to take it a step further you can add in some modulation: increase the dial and then choose an LFO shape. The Sine wave works quite well. And maybe set this over the same length as the part, so if the part is one bar long set the sync time to one bar. This way it will do one cycle of LFO modulation over it. Experiment. At faster speeds, it can sound quite frantic, unless that’s what you’re going for.

For an even more dynamic and different sound you could apply some saturation to it after the filter plugin. So I’ll add an instance of the Red Light Distortion for some saturation (you can use any saturation/distortion plugin). Take a listen to how it sounds now.

This is what it sounds like with the Filtered Guitars and some other instrumentation:

So you can see by using a filter, especially over an EQ plugin, you can get some interesting results on a tonal quality. And matching this up with the original sound can give you a great call and response effect which adds interest and differentiation to your audio. So try this out in your next production, it might just be the little trick you needed to spice up your track.

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