Max McAllister
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Max is a Los Angeles-based writer, musician, and engineer at the Brewery Recording Studio.

How to Add Drum Kits to FL Studio: Tutorial

Image-Line started off as a video game company in 1992. Eventually, one of the lead developers was drawn into music production applications. In 1998, FruityLoops debuted as a MIDI-only step sequencer inspired by early Propellerhead software. Four years later, FruityLoops became…

5 Best Mixing Plugins in 2021

Mixing is one of the most satisfying parts of music production. It’s so much fun polishing raw recordings, adding creative effects, and putting the finishing touches on a song for listeners. There are literally thousands of plugins out there that…

How to Record Acoustic Guitar at Home | 7 Tips

Recording acoustic guitar for the first time can be a challenge. Usually what kind of mic to use and where to put it are the two biggest hurdles for beginners when it comes to getting the best sound, but there…

Best EQ Plugins in 2021 [Free & Paid]

Equalization is one of the most powerful tools we have as mixers. It can make instruments sound better, make instruments sound different, carve out space in a mix, add clarity, remove muddiness, and so much more. In that sense, the flexibility of…

Apogee Duet 3 Review: Ultimate Portable Interface?

Fourteen years ago, Apogee revolutionized audio interfaces. The original Duet combined professional quality with portability in a never-before-seen way which changed the digital recording landscape. Over the years, they’ve consistently improved the original design, and in 2021, the Apogee Duet…

Cardioid vs Condenser – What’s the Difference?

When you’re first learning about microphones, all of the various terms can be confusing. After reading this article, you’ll have a better grasp of the different kinds of microphones, and most importantly, why cardioid vs condenser is an invalid comparison!…

5 Best FREE VU Meter Plugins in 2021

Before people started working in-the-box, VU meters measured the average level of a signal. You’d see them on consoles and outboard gear for measuring input or output level as well as gain reduction on compressors. The default digital meter is…

Jamulus Review: The ‘Zoom’ for Musicians

Jamulus isn’t the first of its kind, but it’s definitely gotten more traction the past several months. As the need for remote collaboration skyrocketed this last year, we’ve seen dormant technology like Jamulus emerge stronger than ever. We’ll strive to…

14 Best Reverb Plugins in 2021 [Free & Paid]

Reverb is one of the most commonly used effects in mixing. It’s part of a broader category of processors we sometimes call “time-based effects,” which also includes delay. Before digital, reverb was recorded using actual rooms called echo chambers. A…

Best Vocoder Plugins 2021: Fun Vocal Effects

A vocoder is an effect we’ve heard in music from the ’70s to the present day. It’s frequently described as the ‘robot voice’ heard in songs like “Intergalactic” by Beastie Boys. Like everything else, vocoders have gone software in the…

9 Best Vocal Plugins For Home Studios in 2021

When it’s time to mix a singer, you should be armed with some of the best vocal plugins you can get your hands on! We’ll be looking at a variety of compressors, EQs, and other plugins that really shine on…

How to Record Bass Guitar at Home

Believe it or not, bass is one of the easier instruments to record at home. There are at least several different approaches, most of which are light on fancy equipment and low on volume levels. Win-win! If you want to…

Chord Progressions: Finding Chords That Go Together

Even though we only have 12 notes, there are hundreds of possible chord progressions. This can be overwhelming, especially when we’re not yet comfortable finding chords that go together right away. Luckily, the majority of progressions tend to follow established…

Best Kontakt Libraries for Every Collection

Native Instruments‘ free sample player, Kontakt, is every music producer’s entry point to the industry’s largest collection of sampled instruments. Kontakt is a universal host to hundreds of realistic sampled libraries from dozens of manufacturers. The best Kontakt libraries should…

Best Cheap Microphones for Any Instrument in 2021

Mics are some of the most diverse pieces of gear we can own as recording engineers and producers. Some are super versatile and sound great on lots of different sources, and others are a bit more purpose-built. As you look…

The Best Mics for Acoustic Guitar [Under $1000]

Recording acoustic instruments can be a ton of fun. There’s intimacy in having an artist simply sit down with their acoustic guitar and play. Because there aren’t many moving parts from a technical perspective, you have more energy to focus…

The Best DAW for Beginners is Whichever You Choose!

When you’re new to home recording and mixing, one of the biggest questions you probably have is which DAW is the right choice. There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to that question. What matters most is choosing the DAW that…

How to Record Electric Guitar [Beginner’s Guide]

There are a ton of variables at play when it comes to at-home guitar recording. The whole process is a combination of many elements, so if you’re struggling with how to record electric guitar with the best results, you’re definitely…

Bass Trap Placement: Acoustic Treatment 101

Acoustic treatment is essential if you plan to make the most out of your home or project studio. The goal for treatment is to create a listening environment that you can trust; ideally, the room should have an even frequency…

Audio Signal Flow: The Ins and Outs

Understanding signal flow is one of the most fundamental skills an engineer can have. Knowing your stuff can help you save a ton of headache troubleshooting when you could be recording and mixing! What is signal flow? Very simply, signal…

DIY Bass Traps: You NEED These in Your Studio

So much of our success in recording and mixing is dependent on where we’re physically doing it. Ideally, this means purpose-built, acoustically unambiguous rooms designed for professional recording and mixing — big commercial studios with a legacy of fantastic sound!…

5 Best Overhead Drum Mics for Detail & Clarity

Overheads can be the difference between a great drum recording, or one that’s so-so. The best overhead drum mics will glue the whole kit together in a brilliant way and do more than just capture the sound of the cymbals.…

How to EQ Bass Guitar: Simple Steps for a Better Low End

Nailing the low end content in a mix is an important step for better-sounding material. Too much bottom can make a mix muddy and inarticulate; too little can make a track appear thin and lifeless. Learning how to EQ bass…

Are Online Mastering Services Worth It?

Automated online mastering tools like BandLab, LANDR, and eMastered all offer “instant results at a fraction of the cost of studio mastering.” There’s definitely a bit of skepticism surrounding online mastering, and understandably so. Anyone who’s familiar with the process at…

How to Make DIY Acoustic Panels for Your Studio

Unless your home studio was specifically designed for recording and mixing music, it’s probably not an ideal tracking and monitoring environment. Professional studios are carefully planned out to eliminate acoustic issues in many ways that residences are not. But if…

What Is a True Peak Limiter?

True peak levels differ from the volume we read in our DAW. In digital audio, we understand the absolute ceiling to be 0dBFS (decibels relative to full scale), and any signal above that can cause clipping. We can push a…

Logic Pro X Tutorial: Get Mixing in a Powerful DAW

Apple’s Logic Pro X is an industry-standard DAW known for its massive built-in virtual instrument and loop library, as well as its intuitive piano roll and MIDI editing capabilities. Logic’s interface overall is attractive and intuitive, and it’s priced at…

What is Spring Reverb?

Spring reverb is an early form of synthetic reverb. Similar in principle to plate, spring reverb uses a coiled up piece of metal instead of a flat sheet. What is Spring Reverb? A spring system has a transducer at one…

Audio-Technica AT2020 Review: Big Sound, Small Price Tag

Audio-Technica is very popular in the project studio. Its superb line of affordable 20 series microphones includes large and small diaphragm condensers, handheld dynamics, and even an X/Y stereo microphone. Amongst them, the priciest offering weighs in at just $250.…

Apple Music Boasts Massive Leap in Audio Quality, Supports Dolby Atmos

This month, Apple Music strengthened its footing as one of the industry’s top streaming platforms. In a major step forward, the service brings lossless audio to its catalog of over 75 million on-demand songs, as well as support for Dolby…

The Best Vocal Plugins to Add to Your Collection

When it’s time to mix a singer, you should be armed with some of the best vocal plugins you can get your hands on! We’ll be looking at some staples—dynamics processing and EQ—that really shine on vocal tracks. Of course,…

Proximity Effect: The Pros and Cons

Proximity effect happens as you move a microphone closer to the sound source. The result is an increase in low-frequency response for a bigger bass boost that what is natural. It can be useful in some situations; but in others,…

10 Music Blogs to Submit To | Marketing Tips

The hardest thing an artist can do these days is have their music played. That’s partly because the democratization of the music industry has made the market overwhelmingly saturated. However, there are still ways to get yourself out there in…

Best Studio Monitors for the Home Setup 2021

If you’re shopping for a pair of studio monitors to fit your home studio, you’ve come to the right place. Flat, neutral monitoring is one of the keys to getting the best mix you can — and it all starts…

Neumann TLM 102 vs Neumann TLM 103: Comparison

Neumann is synonymous with exceptional recording quality. Founded by Georg Neumann in Berlin, Germany in 1928, the company has been making the world’s preeminent microphones for decades. It all started with the CMV 3, or the ‘Neumann Bottle,’ which was…

How to Record Drums at Home in 5 Easy Steps

Usually the biggest challenge recording at home is the drum kit. There are so many straightforward ways to capture other instruments that sound great—but there isn’t much flexibility with acoustic drums. First you need the space, which is a challenge…

Audio-Technica AT2020 vs AT2035: Which Mic Is Better?

Audio-Technica has a long standing history as one of the most trusted sources for consumer and professional audio equipment. From turntables and cartridges to headphones and microphones, A-T’s product range is as diverse as it is high-quality. For those looking…

TikTok Marketing Guide for Musicians & Independent Artists

TikTok launched back in 2017 and steadily simmered for a few years. The platform has since exploded, captivating millions of consumers and turning unknown social media users into bonafide stars. What is TikTok all about, and how can musicians leverage…

Limiter vs Compressor: What’s the Difference?

Dynamics processors are some of the most formidable tools an engineer can employ. Mixing is all about balance, and leveling amplifiers, limiters, and compressors help even out the volume across instruments. We’ve heard all of these terms before, and even…

VU Meter: Just How Useful Are They?

Most of us have a rough idea of what a VU meter does. But unless we spend a lot of time around analogue outboard gear, we probably aren’t super familiar with them. And let’s face it, many of us are…

Apollo Twin X vs MkII: What’s the Difference?

Universal Audio is one of the most famous names in all of recording. Founded by Bill Putnam in 1958, the company has been at the forefront of technological advances for more than 60 years. If you’re thinking about adding a…

Overdrive vs Distortion: Everyday Guitar Effects!

Two of the most common effects guitarists use are overdrive and distortion. No matter how long you’ve been playing, though, it can’t hurt to have a better understanding of overdrive vs distortion, how they’re similar, and how they’re different. And…

RE20 vs SM7B: Battle of the Broadcast Mics

Today we’re looking at two competitors, the RE20 vs SM7B. Both are celebrated mics, often used similarly for radio, podcast, and voiceover. That’s not all they can handle, though, with the RE20 becoming a a favorite on low-end instruments like…

The Best Vocal Mics for Under $500

For most of us putting together a home or project studio, cost dictates the gear we choose. In a perfect world we’d all have a locker full of $3000+ vocal mics, but that’s wildly impractical for the average bedroom engineer’s…

Is Aria Mastering the Best Automated Service?

Online mastering services have taken the industry by storm over the past several years. These automated systems promise professional mastering, delivered instantly—all for a very reasonable price. This is attractive and convenient to artists looking for fast, affordable turnaround. Aria…

Open Back Headphones: What You Need to Know

Studio headphones come in different styles, with the two most common designs being closed back and open back. Many engineers prefer open back headphones for critical listening applications like mixing and mastering. Let’s find out why! What are open back…

Strymon Iridium Review | Portable Tone On the Go

Strymon has been making top-quality pedals in California since 2009. Many guitarists know them by their acclaimed reverb and delay units—the Big Sky and Time Line, respectively—which effectively raised the bar for time-based effect pedals. Last year, Strymon entered the…

Digital Audio Tools: Linear Phase EQ

Anytime you change the frequency content of a sound source with an equalizer, a tiny amount of phase ‘smear’ occurs. This is a normal result of latency being added to the signal whenever you alter the amplitude of specific frequency…

How to Mix Background Vocals

We tend to mix background vocals differently than leads. Depending on the arrangement, they’re usually underneath the lead for support so they don’t steal the show. In some cases, background vocals will actually overtake the leads, such as in a…

Mid/Side Processing Explained

Mid/side processing is a means of further separating stereo information for detailed control while mixing or mastering. The mid channel contains information we perceive as the center, which is actually the sum of the left and right channels. The sides…