Izotope Workshops Review [5/16]

izotope logo

The lucky attendees of the Izotope workshops yesterday walked away with a ton of useful tips on music production. We were happy to have Matt Hines and Evan Allen from Izotope presenting on drum design and mixing and mastering, and a very informative Q+A.

matt hines evan allens izotope q+a

We understand you can’t always make it out, so we compiled a review to cover some highlights! Read on to get some great ideas and advice from professionals. Warning: some of the words you see might confuse you, if you want to know what we’re talking about, check out our courses! There are also links provided to define terms as you go.

Drum Production:

izotope workshops

Matt Hines used Alloy 2, BreakTweaker, and Trash 2 to show us how to build a snare, kick drum, and high hat.

Sine waves are key. Try using distortion to accentuate the fundamental and add harmonics for a richer sound.

-Almost every drum sound you hear (in EDM that is) is comprised of different sounds and samples layered over each other. This creates a much thicker sounding drum hit.

  • One layer of a kick, for example, can be a sample from an 808 or 909, or other drum samples. Layer this with a distorted sine wave and effect it however else you see fit. Depending on the genre you can use a lowpass filter to get rid of some of the click in the upper frequencies, or get rid of almost all of it for a more subtle kick.
  • Kick drums need a sine wave (often distorted as with a snare) to add that low boom.

-Shape the envelope of the sound, usually drums have fast attacks and decays and no sustain to create that punch.

sound envelope


-Your ears are your best friends when deciphering what layers comprise a drum sound. With that being said, spectral analysis is like your overlooked younger brother. You may think you’re too cool for him, but he always keeps you honest.

  • Spectral analysis is a terrific way to start understanding what frequencies make up a sound, and the amplitude of those frequencies.
  • Many EDM snares have strong levels all the way from sub frequencies (80-100 Hz) up to around 12kHz. With a massive boost around 200Hz.

-Kick drums function like snares except their frequency response tapers off around 8kHz (with those higher frequencies being barely audible)

-Using a sample of a real kick drum adds great high end smack into the sound, giving your kick more presence in the mix.

-Hi-hats can be made simply with white noise.

  • Use filters to keep the frequencies you want and take out the ones you don’t.
  • Combining different colors of noise can make a hi hat with more depth.
  • As always, never be afraid to use distortion.

-Setting a bandpass filter on the higher frequencies of a high hat and having it move downward with the envelope is a great way to make the hi hat sound more realistic.

  • This is based on the fact that when we strike a piano key and let it ring, the higher frequencies are the ones that die down sooner leaving the low frequencies resonating.

-Drum design takes a lot of trial and error. You can’t always recreate a sound perfectly!

Mixing and Mastering:

izotope workshops

Evan Allen had great tips on mixing vocals and general mixing and mastering. These topics are without a doubt among the more mysterious and confusing aspects of the recording process, even to seasoned musicians. Evan broke things down in a comprehensible way so you can really tighten up your tracks.

Multiband compression is your best friend, both on the master bus and on individual elements of a track.

Trash 2 is a great plugin. It can sidechain EQ movements to various elements in a track, allowing certain frequency bands to duck each other.

– When applicable, add straight compression on the master bus before using the multiband compression to get rid of some peaks and to tighten the sound.

-If you use multiband compression on the master track, it is VERY important to try to capture all of the vocals in one frequency band (usually the low mids).

  • If you have a band crossover right in the middle of the voice it creates nasty phasing issues.
  • Since humans are acutely aware of changes in an otherwise natural sound like a voice, this effect is highly noticeable.

-The reality of EDM is that the tracks are heavily compressed and therefore often lose dynamic range. Dynamics are important for expression and variation. You have to find a balance between fighting in the “loudness war” and maintaining the dynamic integrity of the song.

loudness wars

Mid/Side EQing on the master bus really helps “widen” the atmospheric higher frequency elements of a track (reverb, pads, etc.) while tightening up the lower frequency sounds.

  • E.g.: a subtle lowpass filter on the Mid EQ with a less subtle reduction in the highs.
  • For the side EQ it is essentially the inverse. A subtle highpass with less subtle reduction of the low frequency elements of a track.

-A limiter is ALWAYS LAST in the signal chain. Generally don’t want your
limiter attenuating more than -4 or -6 db.

-Listen to your mix in mono. Summing things to mono can reveal phase issues that otherwise would be hard to hear in a stereo environment.

Thank you again to Matt and Evan from Izotope for all of their help! And don’t forget to come check out our Beat Academy Open House this Sunday!

Mmmmaven Recharge Lounge Recap Day 1 & 2

Together 5 has begun and the Mmmmaven Recharge Lounge had a great start! Fully stocked on Red Bull and Pretzel Crisps, we’re a great place to stop and rest before the night begins, but we’re offering more than just relaxation. All week we’ll have fun and informative music workshops, teaching about collaboration, technology, and music production.

If you missed it, don’t fret! We have some workshops left to spare, and you can catch up with what’s happened so far!

Day 1

mmmmaven recharge workshop 1

Danny Satori (right) came representing ToUch Performance Arts for the collaboration master class. ToUch Performance performs with DJs and live instruments, which takes a lot of work and practice off stage to pull off. Danny had great tips about the creative process and even taught some keytar! Next, Damian came to teach about Ableton Live.

mmmmaven recharge workshop 4

Damian (left) used MIDI controllers and synthesizers to give a hands-on approach to hardware and software integration in Ableton Live. The Mmmmaven classrooms were filled with crazy gadgets and sounds!

Day Two

We were excited, as always, to have Moduloktopus in our studios last night to present Keith McMillen Instruments. You could hear the audience’s reactions down the hall as they laughed and cheered for him throughout the open house. Through a mixture of hands-on student experiences and impressive performances, Moduloktopus showed off the amazing MIDI instruments that KMI have been cooking up over the years.

mmmmaven recharge workshop 2

And check out Moduloktopus’ recording from last night’s performance…

One lucky winner went home with his own QuNexus! (can you guess which one he is?)

QuNexus winner mmmmaven recharge

Do you see what you’re missing?! Well, you haven’t even seen it all. By the time you finish this post, you might be rushing over here for our workshop tonight!

We also have insanely cool art installations all over our walls from Andrew Hlynsky:

mmmmaven recharge lounge

And in the other room, there’s couches, snacks, more art, and DJ Mickey Grouse played some great tracks yesterday:

mmmmaven recharge workshop 3

The rest of the week just keeps getting better. Tonight, learn about recording live instruments into Ableton Live, and then modulating and shaping the sounds to something new and interesting. And don’t forget about our iZotope workshops, Record Fair, Ableton Spaces workshops, and an Open House for our Summer Camp! There’s something for everyone this year at Together!

Together 5 Mmmmaven Events

mmmmaven together festival

Together’s lineup this year is pretty incredible, but if that’s all you know then you’re missing half the fun! During the day, Together will have events here at Mmmmaven studios and at District Hall ranging from talks, to presentations, to workshops, and more!

See below for a highlight of each day, or check out the schedule for the full list of events.


Mmmmaven Recharge Lounge (5-8PM): Every day you can come to Mmmmaven (614 Massachusetts Avenue #2) to relax, listen to music, charge your phone, and drink plenty of water! On Monday at 6, come see ToUch Performance (pictured below) present a master class on collaboration between DJs and musicians.

Then stick around for a workshop on integrating software and hardware w/ Ableton Live @7PM.

acoustica electronica touch performance


Mmmmaven Recharge Lounge (5-8PM): Come relax and while you’re at it, you can watch Moduloktopus present Keith McMillen Instruments, a leading brand in MIDI instruments (Starts @ 6PM). Listen to Moduloktopus’ latest release:


Mmmmaven Recharge Lounge (5-8PM): You can chill out and  join Mmmmaven instructor Mike McCarthy, on an instrumental processing adventure. Explore ways to sonically shape, modulate, and process live guitar, strings, horns, and vocals. Feel free to bring your musical weapon of choice!


Isotope Workshops @ Together Center (12:30-5:30PM): First, come for Drum Design and Music Production. Drums are a vital element to your song, no matter what genre you’re producing. Join experts from Izotope at District Hall to learn about drum design for all different types of EDM. Then come back at 2:30 for a Q+A and again at 4:30 for a workshop on recording vocals!


Ableton Spaces @ Together Center (1:30-7): First, Natasha Kmeto shows her techniques for editing and adding effects to her vocals while playing live. She will cover the different technologies she uses as well as give a live demonstration at the end.

Then come back at 6PM for a demo with Tensnake!

Mmmmaven Recharge Lounge: Soul Clap Record Fair (5-PM): Boston’s most renowned vinyl collectors, DevNull, Soul Clap, and and Nick Minieri, have collected tons and tons of records for you to dig through! Come  find that classic record you’ve been searching for, or beef up your collection with $1 bins!



Ableton Spaces @ Together Center [cont.] (1:30PM): Generating Music with Plants – Learn how Datagarden uses Ableton Live in tandem with Max for Live to create music from plants’ biological data.

Then at 4, LOL Ableton Push with Jerome LOL and Ableton Certified Trainer Loudon Stearns. Taking an in-depth look at the Ableton Push and the amazing features that completely change music production and performance. Come learn how this instrument can change your workflow both on and off stage.



Beat Academy Live! (12-6PM): Mmmmaven will host an open house with a music tech petting zoo and live demonstrations. Come to our studios and learn about our summer camp Beat Academy, a week long youth DJ program


There are so many more events this week, so check the schedule for a full list!

The Canadian Jackmaster: Seb Diamond


Seb Diamond will open for Pearson Sound and Jacques Green this year at Together’s secret location show on 5/16. Sub|division, a crew of DJs, producers, dancers & enthusiasts based in Victoria, BC, had nothing but good things to say about Diamond.

Seb has been instrumental in nurturing the amazing environment that has allowed such a diverse and developed scene to spring forth from Quebec’s cultural nerve centre.

Seb Diamond has grown a lot in the last couple years. He started working with Montreal based management company Sofa King Raw earlier this year and became the Canadian rep for Boiler Room. On top of that he has grown as a DJ.

If anything I’ve just gotten a bit more mature in my taste and can contain diverse genres inside focused sets as opposed to the “anything and everything” approach I used to have.

Diamond takes a lot of inspiration from DJs like Jackmaster (also playing at Together), Jacques Greene, and Floating Points. He likes the variety in their sets, mixing the classics and current hits with their own touches.

I really admire DJs that are expressing their personal style and not the (2013 Megamix) of new fabricated genres and fetishized past.

His mix for Sub|division covers his more recent inspirations, which he said have come a lot from American house like Joey Beltram, Spencer Parker and DJ Sneak. He says it’s “a good indicator of what I’d want to be playing in a grimy NY loft.”

You can download his mix here! Or listen to it below:

Read the full interview over at Sub|division’s website.

Want to learn more about DJing?