Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Need any advice?

What's going on folks? As you know I am here to give tips and advice and stuff. If there are any topics you want me to touch on, drop me a comment or a email at cheebsbeats@gmail.com and let me know. You can also get a hold of me on AIM, my s/n is phreakwiz. Just say hi and let me know you found me from my blog and I'll be happy to help you out.

I know a lot about music production, engineering, hip hop and rap, beats, tracking and a bunch of other random stuff. Fire me a message and I'll get back to you when I get a chance!


Free Samples - Hip Hop Drum Kit


Here's a little kit of some Hip Hop drums. A few good samples in here.

Here's the link - http://www.mediafire.com/?ngzgzl2dmon



Monday, March 30, 2009

4 Tips For Sampling Records

Hey folks! Here is a list of a few things you should take into consideration when you go to sample something off of a record. Feel free to comment and leave more tips that you found, this is just a quick list of some of the more important ones. Enjoy!

1 - Watch the meters, don't clip

When you go to sample a record, play it through one time and make sure it doesn't clip or distort at any parts. The dynamic range on records used to vary so much because they didn't compress the crap out of everything like they do today. This means that it isn't consistent and may cause distortion on a few places if you have it turned up too high. Clicks and pop's are OK, but the music or sound you are trying to capture should not clip at all.

2 - Clean the needle and record

It sounds like a no brainer, but keep your needle and record clean to get the best quality sample. I use rubbing alcohol, undiluted for the maximum strength. Some people dilute with water, if you do that use distilled water to minimize residue after it evaporates. I have also used Windex and that seems to work well. Use a towel that will leave the least amount of lint behind, I use a nice soft paper towel and that works well. Pour some on the towel or record, I pour it on the record if it is really trashed, and then slowly turn the album and hold pressure on the record. Do a few spins and then let it dry.

For the needle I just fill the cap of the rubbing alcohol bottle up with a little bit of the alcohol and dip the tip of the needle in it. Then I softly press the end of the needle on a paper towel or old t-shirt. You will see a little black spot if it was dirty.

3 - Use belt drive table

Direct drive tables are good for scratching because the motor can get back up to speed quicker than most belt drive tables. The downside is since the motor is connected to the plate, there is a slight amount of motor noise. Belt drives have a rubber belt that connects the two together and makes it spin. There isn't the fast pick up speed, but it kills the motor noise and gives you a cleaner sample.

4 - Minimize line noise

Line noise is the hiss or buzz you might hear in noisy equipment. This is due to, in most part, low quality parts. Behringer is a very noisy brand that is popular because it is cheap, but remember that you get what you pay for. Noise can also be caused by improper grounding, unbalanced cables, florescent lights and other things. It is impossible to get rid of all the noise, but you can cut it down a lot.

Have a good day and feel free to add your own comments or tips.


Friday, March 27, 2009

5 Essentials For A Home Studio

Hey there people! Cheebs here again, but you already knew that. Today I am going to make a list of 5 things you HAVE to have if you have or are thinking of making a home or project studio. I know you don't really need all these things to make music in general, but you need these things to create professional sounding music that people will actually take seriously. Here we go!

1 - Reliable and FAST computer

When I started out, I had a shitty old PC that barely would run let alone record. It would take almost 5 minutes to start my computer up let alone all the babysitting and tip toeing I had to do to get the computer to effectively record anything. A good computer should have at least 2 gigs or RAM, a lot of storage (external HD's are great for this) and a fast processor. Now you can go to Dell and buy a computer that has all this and it will only cost you about $600. Computers have come a long way. A little side note, when you get a new computer be sure to get the OS install disk and reinstall Windows as soon as you get the computer to wipe off all the demo programs they load on there, also try not to put it online for downloading anything except updates, there's so many things other than virus' that can cause trouble and suck your processing power. Back up all the time also, you'll be happy you did.

2 - A good microphone

You need a good microphone, no ifs, ands or buts. The better the mic, the less time you will have to spend cleaning your vocals up later or whatever else you happen to record (guitar, piano, drums). Do some research online, read reviews and go to your local music store and ask the guys there to check out the mics they have in stock. They will answer any questions you have and the love talking about music gear (it's their dream job). You will want to get a condenser mic and you might want a good dynamic also. A good dynamic can be used for shows, or to record rough cut tracks to listen to and practice to. I have a Rode NT1a and a Sennheiser E385 dynamic. I like the Sennheiser better than the Shure SM58, it sounds less muddy than the 58 to me.

3 - A good interface for recording

Again, when I first started I used the stock sound card and had to convert the 1/4" down to 1/8" and plug it into the mic input that you would use for a little plastic mic. It will sound cheap and leave you pissed off. The best thing to do is to go buy a M-Audio interface or hop on the bandwagon like I did and buy Pro Tools with the M Box. You need the cleanest interface with the least amount of noise. You can get a good M-Audio USB interface for around $100 bucks or the M Box with Pro Tools for around $500 depending where you go. It's a small price to pay when you consider how much time it will take to clean up anything you record on a cheap sound card. Trust me, once you get something that sounds clean you will never go back to the noisy, hissy sound card again.

4 - Reliable studio monitors

So whats the point of recording something if you can't mix it? Unless you have someone who mixes your tracks for you, you will need some good studio monitors. Don't buy the cheapest ones either, you get what you pay for. I have the Rokit KRK 8's with the 10" sub. All together I spent around $900 for the bundle and I have never regretted it one bit. I used to mix on a Sony 3 CD stereo, then I moved to a home stereo system with 12" subs. They sound OK, but what a lot of people don't know is almost every home stereo system is tuned to sound good with a built in EQ. The whole idea behind studio monitors is to hear PRECISELY what you are mixing, not a EQ'd version of it. If you mix it on your home stereo or your computer speakers, it might sound good at first but then when you go to play it somewhere else it will either sound flat, too much bass or who knows what else. Go get good studio quality monitors, you will love them once you start using them. Plus you can turn them up WAY louder than your home stereo or computer speakers. It's fantastic!

5 - A vocal booth

When you record in a studio, the whole idea is to isolate each vocal and instrument. You want it as dry and "bland" as possible, then you can go and mix it down however you need to later. There's nothing worse than recording a vocal track and then listen to it later when mixing and realize there's some room reverb or someone mowing their lawn in the background. Some of the stuff you wont be able to notice, but others you will. They don't just record in the middle of the control room in a studio, why should you record your vocals in your living room? Making everything as clean as possible (I keep saying that) is one of the biggest differences between recording music and professional sounding music. You don't have to spend a grand on a booth, but it's not a bad idea to drop $100 on some sound proofing foam and sticking it up in the corner of your closet. You will notice the difference after the first session and you will be so happy you went thought the effort to make a booth. When I made my booth, I used carpet pad and old carpet from when my grandpa remodeled his house. It smelled a little funny at first, but I could go in there and clap as loud as I possibly could and there would be NO reverb at all. It's pretty cool, it makes you feel like your going deaf a little bit. If you shop around you can find places online that sell the foam for almost half the price as any music store would sell it for, just shop around.

If you invest a little time and money you will be surprised at how good your home studio will sound. You don't have to go buy it all at once, but listen to your music and think about what you would need first. If you rap and sing, you would want to get a good mic and the vocal booth first maybe. If you just produce and mix, get the monitors. Plan it out, make a list and start saving up, it will be well worth it.


Free Samples - Full Metal Kit


Hey guys! This is the first time I have posted a complete drum pack. This pack has kicks, snares, claps, snaps, hats and a few other goodies.

Here's the link - http://www.mediafire.com/?wy3wzm0zmkd



Reason VS Fruity Loops

Hey guys! Today I'm going to talk about my views on the differences between Reason and Fruity Loops. There are tons of people who will side with either piece of software and swear by it no matter what. Maybe your Friend has one or the other and that convinced you to go one direction or the other, or maybe you read reviews in magazines and online and that's what formed your opinion. I have had the pleasure of using both for a number of years and here is my take on each program. Enjoy!


Reason is great in the fact that it is like having a whole studio of rack-mount gear at your fingertips. You can add as many compressors, EQ, synth modules and various other types of gear and never have to worry about running out. The only limitation is the amount of processing power your computer has. It's a cool concept to start with and it's very appealing to someone who wants to own a full studio but doesn't have the money or space to hold the bulky, energy and space consuming units. I first picked up a copy of this because another guy in my crew had been using it for quite awhile, so I decided to dedicate some time to it.

First off the interface is unique. When I first got it even I was amazed at the idea of having endless gear at my fingertips. I made quite a few unsuccessful beats on Reason before I made something that was even close to good enough to show someone. As far as the sound goes, it's a little harsh and digital. I know what you're saying, "It's a program, of coarse it's digital.", but bare with me while I explain. It's both a good and a bad thing that the sound engine is so unforgiving. The bad is you have to spend hours getting things to sound the way you like, kicks and snares as well as samples and synth need a lot of work and fine tuning to get them to sound the way you like. After awhile of messing with it (I mean years), I finally got down a routine on how to set things up the way I like them and was able to get the sound that I wanted. It is a pain in the ass when you first start out, being nothing really sounds great and it can be discouraging. The good, like I mentioned, is you really learn the "gear" and what each piece is good for.

Another thing I don't like about Reason is the fact it doesn't support VST's in any way unless you rewire it to another program such as Fruity Loops or Pro Tools. This can be a pain when you know there are so many good soft synth's out on the market and you don't really have a way to use them. To make up for this fact, you can get a number of refills for the different samplers and patches for the synth units. People spend a lot of time programming them and there are some really good ones. I found that I ended up with a lot more refills than I really actually found a use for. I also realized that the whole "virtual gear" thing was sort of redundant. I feel you move to computers for ease of use, so I don't see the point of having a program with a bunch of fake rack mount gear in it. It's kinda silly if you really think about it.

All in all, it's a good program and it gets the job done. It takes time to get used to the gear and how to properly configure each unit, but once you do, you can take that knowledge to almost any piece of real hardware and feel at ease setting it up and using it. There is still a place in my heart for Reason and I ended up making a lot of really good (and bad) beats on it.

Moving on...............

Fruity Loops

I have used this longer, and that might be part of the reason I tend to like it more. I started out with Fruity Loops in high school, so I have about 8 years total worth of exposure to this program. I know a lot of people give it a bad time because of the name, and I also admit the name is a little, well, fruity. But I feel it is a more complete piece of software, so let me explain.

First of all, the sound is already warm and smooth. It does take time to get everything dialed in to where you want it, but not as long as Reason. That alone makes it easier to work on, because you hear results much faster than you would in Reason.

Another thing I like is it supports VST's, and I love VST's. I have almost 100 different types from synth to effects and so on. You can find a whole slough of free ones online, and some of them are actually really good! I have ran across a few crappy ones, but those are easy enough to get rid of, and you never know what you will find if you don't look and try. There are only a few that didn't work for me, I didn't investigate why, I just moved on.

A down side I've noticed with Fruity Loops is this, when you are rewired into Pro Tools it won't export the beat along with the track. Reason on the other hand would bounce the beat along with the rest of the mix. I don't know if I set it up wrong, but I don't like that very much. I guess it couldn't all be good.

Fruity Loops is also pretty easy to navigate and this makes the work flow go much faster. The samples are on the left, you have your sequencer and everything else is right there for you. You can also find a ton of tutorials that cover a vast variety of topics for all kinds of music, just like they have for Reason.

It is also only available as of now for PC's and I believe it is also compatible with the new Mac's that use Intel chips. I don't use Mac, and I never have, so I don't really bother learning that much about that aspect of plug-ins and programs.

All in all, I just like Fruity Loops better because I am more comfortable with it. The rest of my crew all use Reason, and they also swear by it. They also all use Mac, so the shoe might be on the other foot if they used PC, but who knows.

I choose Fruity Loops any day, hands down. I still have Reason, but I haven't used it or even opened it for about 6 months or more. I just don't use it enough and I don't like it enough to give it another shot, at least not yet.

Like I mentioned, I prefer Fruity Loops 8 over Reason 4. I might change again soon, but I don't really see a need to. To each his own I suppose.

Hope this helps you out a little bit. Leave comments and ask me questions, I know quite a bit and I'm here to help.

Take Care!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

5 Tips To Get A Better Mix

Whats up everyone? It's been awhile since I did a tip. This post will be 5 tips on how to get a better, more professional final mix. These are things I've noticed over the last 7 years help when you want to get the best results. If this is helpful, click the ads on the right side by Google, thanks!

1 - Don't record and mix in the same session

You have all your tracks recorded into Pro Tools or whatever you use to mix. You look at the clock, it's only 1:30 AM. You know you can mix this baby down before the sun raises. Don't do it. Your ears are already tired from listening to the recording process for the last who knows how many hours. If you need to, do a rough mix. But don't even think about making a final mix, it wont sound good later and you'll have to remix it anyways. It's a waste of time and energy.

2 - Use other sources to reference while you mix

I know I spent over 900 bucks on my monitors because I wanted something that would sound accurate and help me get the best mix possible. It's easy to forget that a lot of people don't spend 900 bucks to listen to music. Some of the frequencies might not come through on other peoples systems. The best way to combat this is to reference your final mix on different sources such as headphones, house stereo, iPod docking station, laptop speakers and most importantly car stereo. The more things you listen to the better idea you will get of how to tweak the final mix to make it sound clean everywhere it might be listened to.

3 - Take breaks at least every 2 hours

Your ears get tired after listening to the same song over and over and over and over and over..... You get the idea. When you do this you become less sensitive to the high and low frequencies in the mix, so you will overcompensate in both areas resulting in distorted bass and ear piercing highs. Every 2 hours or less just get up and walk away for a minute, ideally to a place that is quiet and secluded. Then come back 10 to 15 min later and get back to work, you will notice a difference in what you are hearing.

4 - Reference to songs you like

A good way to get a track to sound more professional is to compair it to another song that sounds the way you want yours to sound like. Listen to the drums, bass, vocals and every other aspect of the track. What is the reverb put on? Is there compression on the vocals? Are there some frequencies that need to be tweaked in your mix that sound better in the other track? This helps guide the final mix a little bit more towards the sound you want.

5 - Always wait a day before you are finished

I know you think the mix is finally done, but just give it another day or so. Listen to it a few more times in a lot of places until you are satisfied it will sound good. You want to be completely happy with the final product and there is no worse feeling than sending a song in to get pressed and then wish you had changed something. Just slow down little guy, and sit on the mix for a little longer before you know you are finished.

Take care and drop me a line!


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Free Song Hosting With Soundclick.com

A lot of people these days use Myspace to promote their music. I do the same thing and I love how easy it is to reach out to people and promote your music and show via Myspace. What I don't like on the other hand is how few songs you are allowed to load and showcase on Myspace.

I found a great site years ago that I just rediscovered in the last few months. Soundclick.com! Soundclick is a website that is driven towards musicians and uploading your music to show people. I know what you're thinking, "How does that help me with Myspace?". Well, when you upload music onto Soundclick, you can create HTML code that allows you to put your music player anywhere, including Myspace! Post it on your main page, in messages, on comments and in bulletins. You can customize the way it looks and the song order as well. On top of all this, IT'S FREE!! You can pay extra for a VIP account, but you don't need to in order to take advantage of this feature.

Check them out at http://www.soundclick.com

Check out my page on Soundclick at http://www.myspace.com/cheebsbeats

Here's a example of one of the players you can get the code for


Free Samples - Low Blow Kicks


It's been awhile since I put up a drum sample pack. Here is a nice little pack of kicks that I have labeled "Low Blow Kicks". If you download this, click a Google ad on the right side of the page to help me out. Thanks!

Here's the link - Low Blow Kicks



Thursday, March 19, 2009

4 Free Sound FX Sites

Hey guys! I was working on a track the other day and I needed the sound of a car door slamming. Since I didn't want to record them myself, I decided to search for free sounds I could download and use. There are a lot of sites that claim they are free then you come to find out they want you to pay. Some have low quality sounds that you wouldn't want to use, even if they were free. I sifted through a few to find 4 pretty good ones that cover a lot of different kinds. As always, if you like this article, please click the ad's on the side and comment!

Partners In Rhyme - http://www.partnersinrhyme.com/pir/PIRsfx.shtml

Find Sounds - http://www.findsounds.com/

The Free Sound Project - http://www.freesound.org/

The Recordist - http://www.therecordist.com/pages/downloads.html

Feel free to drop me a line!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Make A Moog Voyager By Yourself

Moog Voyager

I was looking into building some of my own synth units. One of the most acclaimed synthesizers ever made have been the Moogs. Anyone who knows anything about synthesis knows what a Moog is. I happened to find a how-to that shows you how to make your own Moog Voyager. Check it out!! If you have time and it works, let me know!

Here's The Link - http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/hb_musical_instruments/article/0,2033,DIY_13881_5226680,00.html