More Tracks Doesn’t Equal Bigger Sound

More tracks doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get a bigger sound. In fact, it can sometimes mean the opposite.

A lot of producers and engineers seem to think “more is more” and start piling on the tracks. But unless those tracks are carefully arranged, you’ll end up with a muddy, unclear production.

And it all stems from the confusion between high track counts and big sound. They aren’t the same thing, and one doesn’t lead to the other in all cases. Let’s learn what the differences are and how each is achieved and used effectively.

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Let’s start here. High track counts (80+, sometimes up to 200 or more) are very popular in pop, metal, and even rock music today. But it’s not used to get massive sound. You can get an equally large sounding mix from 30 tracks. So what are all those tracks for?

Layers. Each track adds a new element and layer to a mix. Often times, these layers are only heard once or twice, and maybe only for a few seconds each. But it adds a lot of interest to a track and keeps the listener entertained the whole way through.

When you have this many tracks, everything can’t play the entire length of the song, otherwise you’ll bog the listener down with too much musical information. There should only be a small number of tracks playing continuously (30 or less) in order to create the foundation for the track.

Adding a one-off background vocal riff, or a pad during the second verse, or even a single snare hit that launches into the chorus from the bridge, can really pay off when creating an exciting production. More tracks equal more interest.

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Big sound comes from two places – the actual sounds achieved by the producer and the way they are mixed. Songs like “Run This Town” by Jay-Z only have 26 total tracks – including vocals. It still sounds big because of the sounds used and the way they were mixed.

A balanced mix will always sound better and bigger than an unbalanced mix. For example, if the vocal is too far forward, it will suffocate the music and make it sound small.

The sounds you start with make a big difference as well. Making sure that your sounds have enough body (250 Hz to about 500 Hz) is important when trying to get a big sound. Don’t cut too much in these frequencies – be sure to keep them alive in order to get a bigger sound.

The pros know how to get a big sound in their productions and mixes – join them and learn their secrets by becoming a member and working alongside them!

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