Max McAllister
366 Articles0 Comments

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

Loopcloud 6.0 – Changing the Way You Produce Music

Electronic music production has exploded over the past several years. More than ever before, non-instrumentalists are getting into music-making using just their laptops, DAW, and a selection of royalty-free samples. Loopcloud is a provider of over 4 million loops and…

Ableton Hotkeys: 15 Shortcuts to Improve Workflow

Keyboard shortcuts are non-negotiable if you want to master your DAW. The better you know your software, the faster you can implement creative ideas. Any time wasted trying to figure out how to do something is a hindrance to creativity and staying…

What Is Atmos Music? An Immersive Audio Experience

Dolby Atmos Music hasn’t completely taken over yet, but it’s planting the seeds for the future of audio. It’s is a three-dimensional format, and for film and television, it’s already pretty well established. We’ll take a dive into the fully…

ORTF Mic Technique | Stereo Recording

ORTF is a common stereo mic technique. Stereo recording uses two microphones to capture a single sound source; each mic then gets panned to either side of the stereo field. Over the years, engineers have developed tried and true methods…

Motu M4 Review | ‘Premium’ Entry-Level Interface?

The M4 by Motu is an impressive interface at a super affordable price. In this Motu M4 review and spec breakdown, we’ll take a look at what sets this audio interface apart! Motu M4 Audio Interface The affordable desktop interface…

Songs That Changed Music: Thin Lizzy – “The Boys Are Back in Town”
Thin Lizzy spent years fine-tuning their sound before becoming one of the most recognized rock bands of the mid-70s.  What started as a bluesy folk rock project influenced by Celtic culture and frontman Phil Lynott’s Irish upbringing took a 180…
Digital Music Distribution: Getting Music Out in 2021

Before making albums in people’s bedroom was the norm, record deals were the only way to get your music out there. A label provided the budget for recording, marketing, printing, and distributing copies of an album to consumers. Today, digital…

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…

Types of Audio Compressors and Their Uses

There are 4 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 for…

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…

DistroKid vs. TuneCore vs. CD Baby | Digital Distribution

Digital music aggregators make distributing your music as painless as possible. Companies like DistroKid, TuneCore, and CD Baby provide artists the opportunity to get their music on major platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon, and more. In short,…

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…

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…

What is a Noise Gate? | Studio Essentials

Unwanted noise tends to creep into our recordings. Sometimes it’s in the form of electrical buzzing, and sometimes it’s a consequence of sound sources bleeding into one another (especially on drums!). A noise gate is a helpful audio processor that…

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…

How to Sidechain in Ableton | Compression Tricks

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…

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…

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…

Softube Saturation Knob | Free Plugins

Softube Saturation Knob has been around for a long time, but that doesn’t make it any less great than it was when it first came out. This plugin from Softube is easy to use, sounds great, and best of all,…

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,…

SPL Transient Designer | Level-Independent Dynamic Control

When it debuted at the Frankfurt Prolight + Sound Fair in 1998, the SPL Transient Designer was mysterious new technology. Everyone who visited the SPL booth had the same question: is it a compressor, or is it a noise gate?…

SurferEQ by Sound Radix | Adaptive Pitch-Tracking EQ

SurferEQ 2 by Sound Radix is a genuinely innovative equalizer plugin. It’s been around for a while now, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less impressive today than it was at release. Sound Radix incorporated real-time pitch-tracking technology to completely…

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…

How to Get NEVE 1073 Sound in Your Home Studio

Rupert Neve designed the ubiquitous 1073 preamplifier in 1970. For over five decades its sound has been featured on thousands of recordings. A true studio staple, the Neve 1073 produces one of the most sought after sounds ever made. Neve…

Polyphia: Making Metal ‘Hip-Hop’

Polyphia formed in 2010 as an instrumental progressive metal group. Over the years they’ve honed their sound into something truly unique, arriving at a point where they employ hooky lead guitar lines and modern electronic production. Polyphia: In a World…

Soundtoys Decapitator | Grade-A Saturation

Soundtoys Decapitator is one of the most popular saturation plugins on the market. It gives mixers plenty of variety and control in an easy-to-use package. It can do everything from giving an instrument a bit of analogue character to ‘punishing’…

Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor

The Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor is nothing short of a modern classic. The thing is a monster, equally recognized by its imposing looks and its premium sound. For engineers who need unrivaled dynamic control, the Shadow Hills gets the job…

Albums that Changed Music: XTC – English Settlement
XTC are one of the most influential British pop bands to have emerged  from the punk and new wave eruption of the late ‘70s. They’re known for bucking contemporary trends, due in part to their vast and varied influences, from…
Secrets to Mixing Rap Vocals

It’s easy to underestimate the trickiness of mixing rap vocals. Some engineers will write the genre off thinking that it’s just a 2-track and a vocal, so it must be simple. But the intricacy lies in having leads, stacks of…

Aaron Marshall of Intervals Redefines Instrumental Guitar Music

Intervals is the brainchild of guitarist/composer Aaron Marshall. Since the project’s inception in 2011, Marshall has explored sounds within the instrumental progressive scene. His latest full-length, Circadian, is a complete realization of Marshall’s unique voice on the guitar and his personal take…

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…

Best Resources for Drum Loops in 2021

Drum loops are a quick and easy way to set up the foundation of a song. We’re lucky to have so many ways to chop up loops and samples, so they can actually become an integral part of any production…

Ableton 11: Updates, New Features, & More

Ableton is already one of the industry’s top DAWs for music production. It’s unique features and workflow set it apart as the top pick for EDM/pop/hip-hop production. 2021 marks the debut of Ableton 11, full of impressive updates, brand new…

Best Audio Interface for Mac | Entry-Level & Beyond

Apple computers are standard in creative industries because of their reliable and uncluttered operating systems. People make music on PCs as well, but sometimes have a harder time finding compatible hardware and software. Or, they encounter bugs and have stability…

Neural DSP Quad Cortex: Next Generation Modeling

The Neural DSP Quad Cortex is the most hyped piece of gear for guitarists right now. Neural have already garnered praise for their high-quality plugins, and their first foray into hardware appears to be a game-changer. Neural DSP Quad Cortex…

Kaotica Eyeball Review: Is It Worth It?

The Kaotica Eyeball is a microphone isolation ball with an integrated pop filter. It’s a big foam sphere you slide over the microphone capsule to protect it from reflections. The Eyeball intends to keep untreated room sound out of your…

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…

Gifts for Music Producers | Practical Ideas

We’re out of the holiday season for now, but that doesn’t meant the next one isn’t right around the corner. These gifts for music producers are sure to satisfy the hard-to-buy-for creators in your life. Useful Gifts for Music Producers…

Sonnox Inflator Review: Loudness without Compromise

The Sonnox Inflator plugin has been around for almost two decades. It’s sort of a mysterious desert island tool for many engineers, somewhere in between a compressor and a limiter. The Inflator is able to increase perceived loudness, and it…

Sub Bass: EQ and Mixing Tips

Sub bass is the stuff that’s felt more than heard. It’s an important part of a mix because it contributes to so much of the power listeners feel. In some genres sub bass a leading part of a mix, and…

Spotify Playlist Placement | Have Your Music Heard

Digital streaming is the #1 way people consume music. Streams equated to almost 85% of US album sales in 2019, which means pushing physical copies is a thing of the past for most artists. Beyond just uploading to the platform,…

Monitor Isolation Pads | Home Studio Accessories

Monitor isolation pads are a small but important addition to any home studio arrangement. In this article we’ll look at what they are, whether they’re 100% necessary, and how you might make some of your own! What are monitor isolation…

UA Console Application Explained

The UA Console application is the key to Apollo interfaces’ Realtime UAD Processing capabilities. It lets you insert and control UAD plugins, as well as route and monitor audio. UA Console: Recording Through Plugins Perhaps the main feature of UA’s…

RC-20 Retro Color Review

RC-20 Retro Color by XLN Audio is a popular creative effects plugin. With its multiple parameters, you can quickly add character and vintage vibe to any sound source in your mix. RC-20 Retro Color Overview The idea behind Retro Color…

Pro Tools Shortcuts for Faster Session Navigation

Keyboard shortcuts are the quickest way around your DAW. They let you do in one keystroke what would normally take extra time sifting through menus. If you hope to become a proficient engineer, then key commands are indispensable! Here are…

Flux BitterSweet v3 | Free Transient Designer Plugin

The first transient designer came out in the late ’90s. It was a whole new concept that left lots of people wondering whether it was a compressor, or a noise gate, or something else entirely. The real answer is the…

How Diminished Chords Work

Diminished chords are native to both major and minor keys. You’ll find them as the seventh chord of the major scale, and the second chord of the natural minor scale. They get a bad rap for being dissonant, but they…

A Few of the Best Saturation Plugins Available

Saturation is the secret weapon for adding some grit back to pristine digital recordings. Whether you just want to add a bit of body and richness to an instrument, or make it unrecognizable with blazing distortion, saturation is one of…

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…

PreSonus FaderPort: Does Your DAW Need One?

The PreSonus FaderPort gives users tactile control over features in their DAW. With transport buttons and a single fader, it’s main use is for writing automation in a hands-on way. Control surfaces like these bridge some of the gaps between…