Kim Lajoie's blog

Category Archives: Technique

When (and how) to use a gate or expander

by Kim Lajoie on November 17, 2014

Gating and expansion work similarly to compression. While compressors automatically turn the volume down when the input audio rises above the threshold, gates and expanders automatically turn the volume down when the input audio falls below the threshold. The simplest example of this is a basic noise gate – it mutes the audio when the […]

Using compression and saturation to increase loudness

by Kim Lajoie on November 3, 2014

The second-most powerful sound-shaping tool (after EQ) available to mix engineers is compression. This is most commonly used to reduce the dynamic range of a sound. More extreme compression can be used to reduce the crest factor of a sound. Unlike EQ, excessive amounts of compression might not sound unpleasant. Here, it depends on the […]

Tonality in composition

by Kim Lajoie on October 20, 2014

Tonality refers to the harmonic language used in the music. This is about the way notes are chosen and how they’re combined. Tonality is a complex topic, but a good way to approach it is to look at two ways to express tonality – major/minor and consonant/ dissonant. (The following explanations are deliberately simplistic – […]

A basic primer on compression

by Kim Lajoie on October 6, 2014

Compression is a very important tool to a mix engineer. Unlike volume and EQ, however, compression can sometimes be difficult to hear. Where EQ adjusts the tone of the sound, compression adjusts the dynamics. The simplest way to understand compression is as a process that automatically turns the volume down when the input sound gets […]

Considerations when choosing sounds for loudness

by Kim Lajoie on September 22, 2014

At its simplest, composition is the process of choosing sounds and arranging them in time. This process might vary depending on what kind of music you’re making, what instruments you’re using, how many people are involved, etc… but the fundamentals of composition are the same for everyone. When choosing sounds for loudness, you have to […]

Rate of change

by Kim Lajoie on September 8, 2014

Rate of change can be understood along the continuum between sudden change and gradual change. Rate of change in music refers to the way the music moves from one section to another. More broadly, it refers to the breadth and depth of the changes in a piece of music. Sudden change is what happens when […]

Click tracks

by Kim Lajoie on September 1, 2014

The debate about click tracks has always raised passionate responses. Are they killing music? Do only really overproduced artists use them? Or are they just like vegetables – really useful, healthy and important but totally bland? If you’re new to this, a click track is an electronic metronome helping artists to keep time while recording […]

Put your sounds into an upside-down triangle.

by Kim Lajoie on August 25, 2014

Think of all the sounds in a mix being contained in a triangle with one point facing the listener. I usually draw it as an upside-down triangle, with the listener at the bottom. The louder (closer to the listener) a sound can be, the fewer sounds can fit alongside it. The quieter (further away from […]

Why I don’t worry about bleed

by Kim Lajoie on August 18, 2014

It’s a fact of recording studio life – bleed happens. ‘Bleed’ is the residual sound picked up by microphones placed around the studio to capture multiple instruments. For example, it happens when a microphone placed next to an acoustic guitar also records sounds from vocalists and other instruments being played close by. Many producers and […]

How loudness is measured

by Kim Lajoie on August 11, 2014

The meters on your DAW channels or your mic preamps aren’t telling you the whole story. When sounds are recorded, the microphone captures the continuous vibrations in the air and creates a continuously varying electrical signal that mimics the vibrations. Louder sounds have wider/stronger vibrations. When you have level meters on your gear, it usually […]