Sonic detail and having the right resources to create his trademark atmospheric works, American producer Direct recently spoke to Mixmag Asia about his techniques, tricks and tips for an easier studio process.
Following his 'Guilty Pleasures' EP with CloudNone, Direct has championed a technical and creative path to achieve recent successes. Apart from keeping busy with his releases, including his most recent outing with ambient artist AK for downtempo single ‘Sehnsucht’, Direct recently built his own app, MiniMeters, as an audio measuring tool for professionals. Music production apps are fast becoming necessities for music producers around the world.
And there should be no difficulty in understanding why the world is a very different place for music producers today. Creators have a plethora of digital and analogue options to experiment and evaluate, giving them the opportunity to have as bespoke a studio as possible. And with convenience becoming a more pertinent priority to keep projects cohesive consistent while juggling manic schedules, there’s been a heavy shift to mobile and computer based apps that make tedious side-processes like editing, key-correcting, metering and analysing much more pleasurable and effective.
“Ocenaudio is a free audio editor for Windows/macOS. I use it to organize all of the tunes I'm working on at any given time. I always export WAV files out of Ableton into the same folder so it's easy to just pop them open in Ocenaudio and compare mix downs. I simply overwrite each bounce and when I switch back to Ocenaudio it updates to the newest version. They also added my favorite feature recently. On closing and reopening, it restores all of the files I had open last time. It has replaced constantly uploading works in progress to SoundCloud privately. I also use it to finalize masters which usually includes adding 200ms of silence in the beginning and cutting and fading out the end of a track.”
Check out Ocenaudio for Windows/macOS/Linux here
Antares Auto-Key Mobile
"Auto-Key is a new addition to my must-have music production apps. It essentially just lets you check the key of a song that is playing. Occasionally, when I am preparing a live set, Rekordbox will guess the key wrong. When I suspect that has happened, I can simply pull out the app, play a few seconds of the track, and get a second opinion on what key I'm in. There may be similar programs or plugins that do this, but I find it extremely convenient to have on my phone."
Check out Antares Auto-Key Mobile for iOS here.
“It feels strange to mention my own application but I made the app specifically for me so of course it has become one of my favourites. I don't think I could produce without it at this point. MiniMeters is a simple audio metering app that captures your desktop audio on Windows and an input on Mac. It lets me see the Waveform, Spectrum Analyzer, Stereometer, and more. I combine it with an audio routing tool like SoundSource, eqMac, or Sonarworks Systemwide to capture and display all of my MacBook's audio. Every YouTube video I watch, my DAW, Spotify, etc. gets captured, giving me the ability to visually reference everything I hear. This is such a game changer for me since I tend to produce exclusively on headphones and often in coffee shops. Mixes tend to translate on the first try when you can see what your monitoring may be missing.”
Check out MiniMeters for Windows/macOS here. (A Linux version is in the works)
"RecUp is a hidden gem in my opinion. Pretty much every artist I know uses Voice Memos or even the camera app to capture ideas or record a cool sound they hear out and about. However, I find the whole process far more difficult than RecUp. RecUp makes a folder in your Dropbox account where it stores everything you record. The ability to record a cool sound in the studio and having it right in a folder on your computer pretty much instantly is a workflow blessing. Enjoy adding that foley to your new tune."
Check out RecUp for iOS here.
PluginDoctor is an app that lets you load in any VST/AU on macOS and Windows and see exactly what it's doing. You can see how the plugin may be changing the frequency response, adding saturation, how long it takes to process the audio, if it is adding compression, and a lot more. l'll often get a new plugin and think "hmm, what is this actually doing" and instead of it being a mystery I get to answer the question. Although, I’m warning, downloading PluginDoctor will make you a huge nerd. When your friends download a new analog-style EQ plugin and you tell them it’s probably just an EQ with a saturator you may no longer be cool in their eyes. I’m kidding obviously, but be aware that you are peeking behind the curtain.”Check out PluginDoctor for Windows/Mac here.