Andreas Henneberg has made a fine name for himself as a DJ, label manager and producer of great repute, with a sonic fingerprint that is easily recognisable yet hard to define. Since starting out in the 90s, he has put his name to over 140 releases that operate somewhere between techno, house, and minimal and always explore unfamiliar sounds in unique new ways.
As well as being the founder of his own label Voltage Musique (with friends Daniel Nitsch, Marquez Ill, and Stefan Schuldt) which turns ten years old this year, Henneberg has also made himself at home on influential imprints like Ideal Audio, Confused Recordings, Herzblut and AREAL and is a key part of the Plantage13 family.
Given the amount of music Andreas has produced over the years, it’s no surprise he is also an in-demand ghost-writer for many established artists, helping them to realize their ideas and putting to good use his years of priceless studio know-how.
On this occasion, Andreas Hennenberg celebrates his new EP ‘Surfliner’, done in collaboration with Mikey Lion via Desert Hearts Records, by sharing 5 key studio tips.
1. Less is more. Always!
There are producers out there, creating best-sellers and super-hits with a laptop and headphones only. That’s it. Buy new equipment only when you feel the need. Create a comfortable surrounding and your very own creative space. You also don’t have to be a professional mixing or mastering engineer. Give it to professionals and let them mix and master your stuff. Painting artists are able to create amazing pictures but most of them suck at framing them.
2. Make sure you can hear what you are doing
Especially electronic club music lives from a clean, dynamic, and fat low-end. The biggest investment in your studio should be a balanced monitoring and acoustics to make sure you really hear everything.
I’m working as a mix & mastering engineer for 20 years now (www.henmountain.com) and this is the Nr. 1 advice when you are not able to get your mix done properly. The final track needs to sound good on mom’s kitchen radio, on your friend’s Bluetooth speaker, and on a massive club sound system at the same time.
3. Tune your Drums
Every sound has its own tone. Kick drums, snares, hi-hats need to be in tune with the rest of the track. Another great trick to bring your bass & kick together without using f.e. side-chain compression is to tune your kick-drum just a few cents up or down. The waveform of your kick will change a little bit which can help you kill phase problems between kick & bass-line if they are playing at the same frequency range.
4. Clean your stems
Most of the samples out there are made for music production but they need to be edited and mixed properly. The same with Synth-Plugins, external gear recordings, and even some effects. With editing, I mean cleaning the frequencies. A hi-hat for example needs to be present in a frequency range between 4-16khz. Everything below is just useless dirt that can destroy your mix. Especially snare drums are sometimes coming with some heavy low frequency which are very disturbing for a clean sounding low-end. Make sure that you cut off the low or the high-frequency ranges for sounds or samples that are not meant to play at these frequencies.
5. Be careful with anti-phases
Turning the phase of the left or the right channel are a nice and easy way to make a nearly mono-sounding instrument or sample wide and open. It’s a pretty extreme way but very effective. A little bit more interesting and flexible is the use of M/S (mid/side) mixing with the use of EQs, room, or drive. I mostly use the Vertigo Sound – Mix Satellite, or the SSL Fusion Stereo to get a little bit more stereo feeling into my stems.
Anyway, all this stuff is nothing else than pushing and pulling on the phase of your left and right signals. Nothing more than psychoacoustics at the end. From time to time you should press the Mono button on your DAW to check if it was a bit too much because everything that is in the anti-phase will be gone completely. Keep in mind that mom’s kitchen radio or your Bluetooth speaker could still be mono. Also, all analog mediums like vinyl or tapes are not able to reproduce sounds that are coming with an anti-phase.
Andreas Hennenberg and Mikey Lion’s ‘Surfliner’ EP is now available on Desert Heart Records. Stream and buy here.