Yellowgold

The official website showcasing the music of Yellowgold, produced by Jason Howell.

Eliminate noise in your project

Now that's just treating the space in which I work. What about the project itself?

I spend much of my production time cleaning up tracks to make sure that all extra unnecessary noise is thrown out. In fact, this is a great task to leave for those times when you aren't feeling very musical, or it's late at night and you can't make much noise.

Take a look at this waveform. Looks nice, doesn't it?

Scan Lines vocal comp, normal view

Now let's increase the amplitude view of that waveform and see what we didn't see before.

Scan Lines vocal comp, increased amplitude view

Looking at the gaps in between each vocal take, you start to see the actual noise that fills the gaps. It may be very hard to hear, but it's there. And that noise can muck up your mix. It can mess with post-processing like compression in ways that you don't want. I mean, it's called "noise." So, I suppose, unless you are producing glitchy techno, Industrial, or Lo-Fi music, you probably don't want anything labeled "noise" to co-exist with all the other stuff you actually intended to be in your song, right?

Now you might be thinking "but it's so low level, who cares? Nobody can hear it when 30 tracks of instrumentation are playing over the top of it, and at a much louder volume relative to that noise." But there's another takeaway. Every recorded track has the potential of adding a new layer of noise into your project. Those noise layers compounded add up to something louder than one alone, and that can be very significant.

Vocal parts in particular get hours of treatment from me. For a number of reasons which I'm sure I'll go into at some point, but one big reason is the elimination of extra noise. I regularly have multiple vocal tracks in a project layered on top of each other, and the noise in between my actual singing parts includes bleed from the headphones, my breathing in between phrases, little clicks and pops between regions, my chair creaking, the sound of a bird outside my window, the list goes on and on. For example:

You hear all that in between phrases? Little breathes, clicks, lip smacking... Get it out! You don't need it in there. I spend a ton of time trimming the noise, adding fades to each side of the regions that I keep, and I'm convinced that it makes the end result even better. Here's the same clip with the edits:

Sometimes the difference is subtle, but it's almost always better! It's worth the time. It's the fit and finish that professional sounding music undergoes without fail.

Scan Lines vocal comp, noise removed and fades added