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Order in DAW - music production on a new level

I learned very early on that order and good organization in and around a audio production are a good thing. Since I was allowed to work for a long time at Torus in Cologne, in a large team of sound designers, technicians and sound mixers, it was just one of my compulsory tasks to prepare my own work for exchange, to bring it together with others and of course to "back up my own work “To always be on the safe side!

That was a good "school" for me, because especially in such a large team and when you work on projects together, I sometimes had to learn hard times at the beginning for my poor preparation and follow-up for recording, editing or mixing Pay for sessions.

I would like to save you from that and put together a few tips here that will help you to get through a production well organized. I don't want to go into a specific DAW or a production environment with mixer and outboard, but rather discuss everything in general so that it applies to any production environment based on any DAW.


PREPARATION

The most important part is of course the preparation. I know you will think now, I don't want to deal with that, my creativity doesn't need artificial limits. Yes, and that's where the approach is! If you are constantly disturbed in your creative flow because you are looking for that one reverb plug-in or you are wondering why you don't hear a click again at the moment, that's anything but cool and won't let you work creatively in the first place. So take the time to do a little preparation.

When you create a session in your DAW, there are two important specifications that you have to define at the beginning, once the storage location and once the audio format. You should choose a fixed location for all of your sessions that you choose over and over again. Ideally, this is your own, fast hard drive in your computer. When it comes to the audio format, you should basically only ever commit yourself to one and never change it from project to project. In the rurtonstudio, my sessions are always in the format of 24 bit word length and 48 kHz sampling rate, because my house clock is permanently set to 48 kHz and thus all digital devices, including the AD / DA converter of the DAW, are clocked externally.

You should create a template for the various scenarios such as composition, recording, post-processing and mixing. In it, all the important things are already defined and you don't have to worry about them anymore. This includes:

  • Tracks
  • Order of tracks
  • Color coding tracks
  • I/Os with corresponding buses for summing
  • Folder
  • PlugIns instruments
  • Plug-ins mixing effects (reverb, room, delay)
  • Plugins loop effects (EQ, filter, compressor)
  • Click

This is really a lot of work, but with every session or every restart of a project, you and your team will of course benefit immediately from this preparatory work. Make sure you plan enough time for that. And it doesn't have to be perfect at all, you can readjust at any time and continue to optimize the templates with your experience from previous projects.


ADMISSION

As for recordings, I have a few special tips for you! Your recordings are always stored in a specific folder. If you have started with a session copy, it can happen that the audio files are still saved in the "Audio Files" folder of the old session. This is of course fatal, because you no longer have your files together in the project folder and if you passed them on to someone else or during a backup, your recording files would now be missing and in the worst case could even be completely lost.

So always check where your recording path eats, which defines the folder in which your audio files are placed during recordings!

Another classic when taking over DAW sessions here in the studio is that not a single track is labeled so that you know at a glance what to expect. Everything is labeled with "Audio 1", "Audio 2" or something like that. That gives absolutely no overview and you have to "listen" through all the tracks individually at the beginning. But what is even worse is that the audio files on the hard drive are all labeled with these meaningless labels.

Always label tracks clearly so that the audio files are correctly named when they are recorded!

Another tip to keep your DAW session tidy is to make decisions while recording. For and against a recording. Do not keep several alternatives of the recordings on further tracks. That makes the session confusing and, above all, bigger and bigger. Just throw something away that you are sure you no longer need.

Make decisions on admission. Don't leave innumerable alternatives in the tracks or the session!


POST PROCESSING

When post-processing recordings, I also got used to a few things,

which keep a session clear despite increasing size!

Before I edit a track non-destructively, I always create a duplicate of the track and put an "EDIT" on the back of the track labeling. So I always have the opportunity to get to the unedited version within the session.

I proceed in the same way with the destructive change of an audio file, for example when "clicks" or "cracks" are drawn out of a recording. Before doing this, I always duplicate the audio file so that I still have access to the original.


BACKUP

The backup should have a very high priority in the organization of your work. Ideally, you will achieve the status that the backup is completely automatic! So-called "shoe backups", namely completely manual backups that you have to trigger manually or that you have to carry somewhere "on foot" to create them, will not run reliably in the long term ...

I don't want to go into the purely technical aspect here, I will write a separate article on this in the future.

Basically, however, you should make sure that you do not only back up to one medium, but that you constantly change the media. And the best thing to do is to also store the media you are using in two locations that are far apart.


SUMMARY

All of the aspects mentioned make it much easier if you work on projects over a longer period of time or with a team. Finding your way alone in the "creative chaos" is perhaps possible if you only work on one project or all by yourself, but as soon as you have many projects or work on things together with others, organization and "tidiness" help you to create more and better!

A very clear vote for more self-discipline in order and organization in music production!

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