In this tutorial, JT shows you how to use color-coding, filtering techniques, saturation, stereo effects, equalization and mastering to make the best out of your trap bangers.
Flying colors: don't be THAT guy. Organize your sh*t visually with track colours and placement. Saving time is always awesome.
That Bass Tho: high pass them slightly over the kick. Saturation and distortion might help them cut through.
Stereo Percussions: there's nothing like machine gun hi hats filling the stereo spectrum. Autopan (tremolo in Logic Pro X) and sample delay are your best friends.
EQ: are you tired of me talking about frequency separation yet!? It's 80% of the mixing process. Maybe more.
Mastering: SSL type glue compressor, EQ, multiband (especially for the lows) and limiter.
Overlooked in both parts one and two, color-coding can save your life later on, when you need to make quick adjustments on a BIG session. Here's how I do it:
Basically, there's a synesthetic quality to my color-coding. That way, just by the colour of the track, I know at a glance what type of instrument it is. Better yet, because of the way I build my sessions visually, I never have to hear a soloed track to know what's on it. Backbone elements are at the top, and minor percussions get to the bottom of the arrange window.
There is no trap without an overpowering, yet controlled 808 / bass line. As stated earlier, two simple tricks here: low cut your 808s and saturate them a bit. I have tried both combinations, but I truly prefer a deeper and rounder kick below a high cut 808. The true harmonics of the 808 are not in 40 Hz land anyways. If you want the 808 to truly shine, slap on a saturator or even a distortion plugin and voilà!
Because there will be a LOT of energy (shouts to Drake) in the middle taken up by the kick, snare and 808 (or synth bass), you want to throw your hi hats out of the way. It'll make your beat sound bigger AND you'll be able the limit your master much harder (high frequencies often become a problem when you want to slam a track). So using stereo effects of your hi hats and percussions is a great trick.
From low frequencies to higher ones, it goes a little something like this:
Kick | 808 | Snare | Chords | Vocal Chops | Arps & Leads | Hi hats & Percussion
Similar to my EDM approach, I try to take care of everything during the mixing stage, so that I can just slap a hard limiter on the master. If I still struggle with my low end, I like to use a multiband compressor, to emphasize the bottom frequencies (35-40 Hz) while taking out the low mid mud. Makes for a very round yet clean master. Adjust the highs to taste and boom.
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You don’t need anything. You can achieve incredible mixes on your white iPhone earbuds for all I care, given that you understand their frequency response (what they sound like at each crucial frequency bands). So my short answer to the question in the title is: headphones. Plain and simple. Oh… and here are 5 reasons why.