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

Best Guitar Impulse Responses [Free and Paid]

Collecting impulse responses isn’t necessarily new tech. But it is becoming increasingly popular for capturing the sound of a unique speaker cabinet, microphone, and room for guitar. Beyond your amp settings, there’s a whole lot more that affects your recorded…

Digital Music Distribution – Getting Music Out in 2020

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…

EQ/Compression Plugins Modeled After Analog Gear

Not all, but many of the plugins we reach for while mixing in-the-box are modeled after analog gear. Engineers made some of the best sounding records of all time well before any of us started recording in our bedrooms; and…

How to Change Keys in a Song

One of the simplest ways to add interest to your songwriting is through key changes. Also called ‘modulation,’ knowing when and  how to change keys in a song is a great skill to have. Modulation should not be confused with…

Cytomic The Glue: Best SSL Bus Compressors?

Cytomic The Glue is an affordable SSL-style bus compressor plugin. The plugins gets its name from the SSL hardware’s famous ability to ‘glue’ mixes together. Even though there are tons of SSL bus compression plugins on the market, Cytomic makes…

Who is Plini? “The Future of Exceptional Guitar Playing”

Plini Roessler-Holgate is an Australian, Sydney-based guitar player, who’s been releasing instrumental progressive rock/metal under his own name since 2013. He’s a key figure of the current instrumental prog scene, alongside other pivotal artists like Intervals, Polyphia, Jakub Zytecki, David…

Best Vocoder Plugins 2020: 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…

FabFilter vs. iZotope Plugins for Music Production

When it comes to mixing and mastering, we have access to hundreds of amazing plugins from many companies. We collect our favorites from a variety of developers since there’s no be-all-end-all plugin maker. However, an interesting debate we’ve occasionally seen…

Getting Credit on a Major Label Release

For producers, engineers, and musicians, getting proper credit forms the foundation of a career. Credit, or lack thereof, can quite literally be the difference between being busy or waiting around for a gig. Particularly as engineers, getting credit on a…

Flanger vs. Phaser: What’s the Difference?

Two of the most common modulation effects are flanger vs. phaser. We’ve heard both all over various recordings, and they do have a similar sound. This lends itself to some confusion, but if you know the subtle differences between each,…

What Is a Pentatonic Scale? Basic Music Theory

The pentatonic scale has been around for centuries. It features 5 notes per octave compared to 7 notes per octave found in most other scales, such as the natural major and minor. Numerous ancient civilizations independently created their own pentatonic…

What Does a Pop Filter Do? Recording Vocals

(Alisa Apps Featured in Photo) A pop filter is a simple mesh shield we place in front of a microphone. Typically made of nylon or metal, they clamp to a mic stand with an adjustable gooseneck. For most close-miked vocal…

Bass Compression: The Foundation of Any Mix

Bass compression is easily one of the most important parts of a mix. Bass gives music that energy which is often felt more than heard. Low-end energy is critical because it has the power to produce a defined groove and an intelligible…

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…

Circle of Fifths: Easily Navigate Every Key

The circle of fifths is a roadmap for musicians. It shows the relationship between all 12 notes of the chromatic scale, and helps us navigate key signatures with ease. A fundamental part of any beginner to intermediate theory lesson, the…

Preparing Your Band Record an EP Efficiently

Getting ready to record an EP is a bit easier than a full-length album from a logistics standpoint. Obviously, EPs are less material than full-lengths. They usually range anywhere from about 3 to 7 songs. Instead of trying to bulk out…

History of the Shure SM57, the Most Popular Dynamic Mic Ever Made

The Shure SM57 is the definitive workhorse microphone. It’s ubiquitous across the world, from home project studios to world-renowned places like Sunset Sound. The microphone is rock solid, pragmatic in cost and usage, and highly effective. It’s impossible to miss…

Recording Drums with One Microphone: Techniques

Believe it or not, you can totally get away with recording drums with one microphone! Even though we’re accustomed to close miking each piece of the kit in order to get the biggest, punchiest sound we can, that isn’t always…

Should You Record an EP or Full-Length Album?

This is an interesting question, because it seems an increasing trend for independent artists — especially those recording at home or on tight budgets — is to make an EP rather than an LP. There are some obvious and some…

Recording Huge Drums with 4 Mics: The Glyn Johns Method

The famed Glyn Johns Method get its name from the man himself — an exceptional producer/engineer who’s worked with legendary artists like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, the Beatles (Get Back sessions), The Who, Eagles, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, the Band, Eric…

What Happens When Music Isn’t Fun Anymore?

Chances are you’ve experienced moments in your life when music wasn’t much fun, or maybe you’re experiencing it now. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an engineer, producer, songwriter, or all of those. It’s totally natural, from time to time, to…

Making Music on Your Phone: The Best Apps for Mobile

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

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…

What is a Synthesizer? A Comprehensive Guide

Synthesizers have never been more popular than they are now. They currently play a dominant role in the production of the world’s most in-demand music. Synthesizers are the sound of pop, hip-hop, EDM, and more. But you certainly wouldn’t be…

Best Studio Monitors for the Home Setup 2020

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…

Song Structure & Production: Secrets to Better Songs

Song structure is a broad term. There are a few chord sequences we hear in just about every song on the radio, and in tons of great songs that have been written over the years. We constantly go back to…

The Best Cheap Microphones for Any Instrument

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…

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…

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!…

ADSR: Build Better Synth Sounds Today

ADSR stands for attack, decay, sustain, and release. It’s also known as a sound’s “envelope,” which includes all 4 of these tone-shaping elements. ADSR is an important concept in music production and sound design, especially if you plan on building…

The Loudness Penalty by Streaming Services

Streaming services like Spotify and others normalize the volume of all the material on their platform. This is so you’re not constantly turning the level up or down from song to song. However, tracks you’ve mixed may not play back…

How to Make 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…

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…

Fundamental Stereo Miking Techniques

Stereo miking techniques use two microphones at the same time to record one sound source. Each microphone is then panned to the left and to the right to mimic the way our ears perceive sound in the “real world.” This…

Top Audio Technology Trends of the Past Year

Audio technology trends are slowly but surely changing the way we produce and consume music, film, and other media. From the studio and beyond, these are some of the top trends we’ve observed in the last year. Monitor Calibration Computer-aided…

Matt Weiss: GRAMMY-Nominated Pop, Hip-Hop, & EDM Engineer
Matt Weiss is a GRAMMY-nominated, platinum recording and mixing engineer who's worked with artists like Akon, Swae Lee, Jeremih, Chris Brown, Sonny Digital, Nicky Minaj, Becky G, Anitta, Rick Ross, Farruko, and Ozuna. Matt grew up in Philadelphia with creative parents:…
Simple Tips for Mixing Hip-Hop

If you’re an engineer in 2020, chances are you’re mixing hip-hop. It’s the most popular genre in the world, and there are countless up-and-coming artists getting in the studio and creating. Recording and mixing hip-hop seems pretty straight forward, especially…

Creative Reverb and Delay Tricks for Vocals

Vocals are the centerpiece to any song and generally require a bit more attention than basic rhythm tracks. Since the human voice is the most expressive instrument, you can have a lot of fun mixing them. There’s lots of pretty…

The Complete Starter Guide to FL Studio 20

FL Studio is a standout software choice for electronic and hip hop producers. Its workflow is one of the most unique out there, really lending itself to making beats quickly with its excellent step sequencer, piano roll, and sample manipulating…

The Best Audio Sample Subscription Services

Audio sample subscription services are now more popular than ever. Gone are the days of sorting through samples on expensive disks you had to purchase, only to come up short. The demand for royalty-free libraries grew sharply after the advent…

Jason LaRocca: Punk Frontman Turned Film Score Producer
Jason LaRocca has enjoyed success on both sides of the glass. He formerly contributed vocals and guitar to acclaimed LA punk band, The Briggs, and by the age of eighteen, Jason had also become a producer and recording engineer! Jason…
Digital Audio Basics: Aliasing Explained

If you record audio using too low a sample rate, a kind of sampling error called aliasing can occur. With regards to audio, aliasing is defined as the misidentification of a signal frequency, which can introduce distortion or other artifacts…

Free Drum Samples for Your Collection

Drum samples are incredibly useful in a number of ways. Firstly, they can be one of the quickest and easiest means to lock down your song’s backbone by programming grooves using a drum VST or your DAW’s built-in sampler. Even…

A Short History of the Vocoder

The vocoder has been around for a very long time… In 1938, Homer Dudley at Bell Labs invented it to reduce the bandwidth of speech transmission for telecommunications. In other words, it was originally intended as a voice codec for audio…

Leland Sklar: Legendary Bassist w/ 2000+ Credits to His Name

Interview transcription:  Warren Huart: (music). You do have your own thing now, don’t you? Your own Clubhouse. Leland Sklar: Yeah, I have a Clubhouse. But I’m not doing any of that there. I mean, the YouTube channel is for the songs,…

How to Use Audio Pass Filters in Your Mixes

The most frequently used audio pass filters you’ll come across are high- and low-pass filters. High-pass filters (also called “low-cut”) attenuate low-end below the chosen frequency. Literally at the other end of the spectrum are low-pass filters (also called “high-cut”),…

Hanging Out with Guitarists Pete Thorn & Quist!
Pete Thorn and Quist join us for an incredible Skype conversation this week! Both are very talented guitarists and educators who've been in the studio and on the road with an impressive list of artists — they each have their…
How to Make Money in Music as an Artist

Whether you’re a band/artist or working behind the scenes as a producer, engineer, mixer or songwriter, the music industry has changed dramatically over the last 15-20 years. And perhaps the most important thing you’re wondering about is how to make…

Matt Lange: Multi-Platinum Electronic Music Producer and Composer
Matt Lange is a Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum selling electronic music producer, DJ, composer, and musician. His music challenges categorization, and a hallmark of Matt's work is his devotion to pushing musical boundaries. He's perhaps best known for co-producing These Hopeful Machines with…