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

9 Best Stereo Imaging Plugins Available [FREE & PAID]

Stereo imaging is a pivotal part of any mix. It mostly has to do with with the spatial locations of each sound source, both side-to-side and front-to-back. A well-mixed stereo image means listeners can easily identify where sounds are coming…

11 Weird Musical Instruments You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Human ingenuity seems never in short supply, as witnessed here in 11 weird instruments. Some clever and others downright bizarre, these unique inventions stray a long way from tradition. 1. Marble Machine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvUU8joBb1QVideo can’t be loaded because JavaScript is disabled:…

What Is a Preamp & Why Is It So Important?

People who are brand new to recording should ask the fundamental question, “What is a preamp?” They’re an indispensable, utilitarian part of the recording chain, though preamps can be colorful creative tools as well. If you’ve ever wondered what a…

How To Get Your Music On Spotify in 2021

Understanding how to get your music on Spotify is essential knowledge in 2021, when streaming dominates music sales. As of 2020, streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and others accounted for over 80% of the total revenue generated by…

The 14 Best Drum VSTs for Any Budget [2021 Guide]

The best drum VSTs we’ve gathered run the gamut between $89 all the way up to $700! Thankfully, this means there’s a variety of choices to suit any budget. Of course, there are free options as well so you can…

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…

The 8 Best Wavetable Synthesizers 2021

Wavetable synthesis is a technique used in certain digital music synthesizers to produce natural, note-like sounds. An existing instrument’s note can be sampled and parsed into a sequence of wavetables. Wavetable synthesizers differ from subtractive, additive, and FM/AM synths. In wavetable…

The 13 Best DAWs for Windows [2021 Complete Guide]

Most of today’s DAWs are cross-platform, making it easy to choose if you’re running PC. Some titles are Mac-only, like Apple’s own Logic Pro, but for the most part options won’t be limited if you’ve chosen Windows as your primary…

The Best Mobile Music Production Apps in 2021

Musicians’ creativity doesn’t come to a halt when they’re on the road. In a perfect world, we’d all have access to the comfort of our home studios 24/7, efficiently churning out music as often as we’d like. But whether you’re…

The 8 Best Synthesizer Apps For iOS Mobile 2021 [FREE & PAID]

Making music on the go has never been easier! We’ve already covered some of the best DAWs for iOS and Android, and now it’s time to take a look at best synthesizer apps to go along with them. Mobile synthesis…

21 Best FREE VST in 2021 [with Links!]

Steinberg developed Virtual Studio Technology in 1996 to bring synthesizers and effects into digital audio workstations. It’s a plugin format that numerous major DAWs host, like Ableton, Logic, FL Studio, Digital Performer, and Reaper, amongst others. VST instruments are a…

What Is “Noise Floor” & How Does It Affect Your Music?

Every recording system or piece of equipment has a noise floor. It correlates to how much dynamic range you’ll have in your recordings, as well as how clean or noisy the sound is. What Is Noise Floor? Electrical components generate…

Best Open And Closed Back Studio Headphones in 2021

Studio headphones are an essential piece of equipment to have on hand, generally falling into two broad categories: closed- and open-back. Closed-back headphones provide the greatest isolation with some sacrifice to sound quality. Because they isolate the listener from the…

The Best USB Audio Interfaces For $100 or Less in 2021

Some time ago, we took a look at the best USB audio interfaces for home studios on a budget. The idea behind the list was to compile some of most tried-and-true interfaces for the home recorder likely needing no more…

11 Best DAWs for Mac in 2021

Most major DAWs are cross-platform, meaning your options aren’t limited by the type of computer you’re running. This is great because it evens the playing field whether you’re comfortable on Windows or Mac operating systems. Apple users do have a…

Here Are the Best Ways to Make Money in Music in 2021

The music industry’s landscape has changed pretty dramatically over the last 15 years. Whether you’re in a band or a solo artist, or working behind the scenes in music production or the music business, the industry has evolved and continues…

The Best Pitch Shifter VSTs in 2021 [Free & Paid]

A pitch shifter is a versatile tool for both fine pitch correction as well as heavy-handed effects. Auto-Tune is one of the most well known pitch shifters in history; it’s also a perfect example of how correction can be subtle…

How to Use Arpeggiators: 5 Tips to Instantly Enhance Melody & Rhythm

An arpeggiator is a common synthesizer feature. It’s an easy way to quickly add interest and movement to a chord progression. We’ll explore what an arpeggiator is, as well as offer some tips on using them in your own music!…

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…

Neve Summing Review | Inside UA’s LUNA

Neve summing is an optional extension that integrates seamlessly into Universal Audio’s proprietary recording system/DAW, LUNA. The emulation intends to provide the width and dimension of analog summing for individual channels or whole mixes; currently, it’s the only authentic emulation…

12 Best Analog Summing Mixers in 2021

A summing mixer is a very interesting, if not often overlooked or misunderstood, piece of gear. Like most pieces of hardware, summing mixers vary in mileage; some have no more than a few knobs, while others have a slew of…

Best UAD Plugins for Vocals

Over 20 years ago, Universal Audio ushered in a new standard for plugins and interfaces. UAD’s plugin catalog is a huge collection of some of the best analog emulations out there. Most importantly, the software runs on dedicated DSP supplied by…

The 12 Best UAD Plugins in 2021

Universal Audio has a decades-long reputation as one of the premier manufacturers of pro audio equipment. Bill Putnam started the company in 1958 and was a pioneer his entire life. Putnam designed many products under different companies throughout the course…

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…

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.…

9 Best Mellotron Plugins / 2021 [Free & Paid]

When the original Mellotron debuted in 1963, it was a groundbreaking new instrument. The range of sounds you could get from a keyboard were limited in the days before digital synthesizers, but the Mellotron introduced impressive new technology. Today, we’re…

How to Sidechain in Ableton (Beginner’s Guide)

Sidechain compression in Ableton is a useful mixing technique that allows you to do things like separate the bass from the kick. For Ableton users working in EDM/hip-hop/pop, where there’s lots of competing low-end information, sidechain compression is indispensable! What…

Which Free Autotune Plugin Really Works?

Antares Audio Technologies introduced their proprietary Auto-Tune software in 1997. The purpose was to correct off-key pitches in real-time for perfectly tuned vocals or instruments. Autotune is a colloquial term now, frequently understood by artists as a catch-all for heavily…

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…

Best Way to Get PULTEC EQ in Your Home Studio

The Pultec EQ is one of the most revered pieces of analogue equipment ever made. Any mention of it is usually followed by some form of the words ‘magic’ and ‘musical,’ and it’s been a standard piece of studio equipment…

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 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…

The Proximity Effect: 3 Tips To Reduce It

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 than what is natural. It can be useful in some situations; but in others,…

Best Mic for Rap Vocals $1000 & Under

Access to the best microphone in your price range is paramount for recording rap vocals. They’re the #1 thing that has to sound great; we can forgive a beat ripped from YouTube if the vocals sound crisp and professional. Even…

Types of Audio Compressors and Their Uses

There are 5 primary types of audio compressors from the analogue world that software emulates. Different hardware makes use of certain internal components and designs for various styles of compression. If you’ve only ever used plugins, you’d be totally forgiven…

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…

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…

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…

Dexed VST | Free Yamaha DX7 Plugin

Dexed VST by Digital Suburban is a free software emulation of the coveted Yamaha DX7. The first successful digital synthesizer ever, the DX7 changed the course of modern synthesis. Free VST Plugins: Dexed Dexed VST is a multi-platform, multi-format plugin…

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…

The Best Chord Generator VST [Free and Paid]

A great chord progression is one of many factors that contributes to a quality piece of music. It forms a template, or the backbone, from which the rest of the song can be built. But finding chords that go together…

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…

Top 10 Transient Shaper Plugins

A transient shaper lets you control the attack and sustain of a signal. Unlike a compressor, they do not affect the level or the entire envelope of a sound. Transient shapers (also called ‘designers’) can increase or decrease the attack,…

ASCAP vs. BMI vs. SESAC: All About PROs

If you’re a performing artist you know the value of royalties. Regardless of the size of the check, they show up every quarter like clockwork. But they don’t just appear out of nowhere; those royalty payments are the work of…

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…

Ableton vs Pro Tools | Choosing a DAW

In the current age of music production, we have virtually endless tools at our disposal. It’s overwhelming when you’re just starting out because you want to set foot on the so-called ‘correct’ path. In regards to DAWs, everybody has an…

Sausage Fattener | All-In-One Saturation/Dynamics Plugin

Production duo Dada Life teamed up with Tailored Noise to release Sausage Fattener 10 years ago. Over time it’s become a cult classic in the plugin world, known both for its performance as well as its humorous name and interface. Don’t…

The 11 Best Virtual Amp Sims in 2021 [Free & Paid]

A great virtual amp can take your guitar recordings to the next level since not many of us can record a 100-watt tube head at home. There are attenuators, sure, and lots of modern amps are being built with direct…

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…

Best Headphones for Music Production 2021

Finding the right pair of headphones for music production can be tough. There are so many choices that if you ask engineers what their favorite headphones are, you’ll probably get different answers from each one. We’ve done our diligence to…