You decide if this stuff is going to work for you and for that you need to know why it works for me not just that it works I’ll skip a lot of detail because this article could easily last a week, and we don’t want that.
Please keep in mind that I have preference, so my weapon of choice might not be the best for you, but in case this sounds fun. My current toolchain might be a great starting point for you all right. Let’s begin, and I will begin with the operating system. You already know that I’m using Linux for all my work, but the number of Linux distributions is approaching infinity so that info alone isn’t that helpful.
In the past, I’ve been happily using caves to do live DVD as my main system, the one is now badly outdated. So I had to switch for a few years now I’ve been running Linux, Mint 18.3, with KDE 5. Why did I choose this one three main reasons. First, with Linux Mint, I can use both cakes to do repositories and PPAs kicks the repositories. I already made two articles about these, so let me just say it’s a fantastic source of cutting-edge, open source software for audio production, ppas, our personal repositories usually created by developers to distribute newest versions of their software.
I use it for a couple of article tools like OBS and simple screen: recorder, second reason: KDE 5 or plasma desktop as it’s also called it’s a great-looking desktop environment. That has a lot of features that I find missing from its alternatives and ferd Linux Mint has a great tool for managing article card drivers, so I was able to install Nvidia drivers and get CUDA working relatively easy there.
Now it doesn’t have really much to do with music production, but I also do graphic design for the animation and rendering, and I need this stuff. However, it can also be helpful for playing games, so that’s my main reasons for choosing a Linux Mint. 18.3. However, the problem I’m facing right now is that Linux Mint is no longer shipping with plasma desktop, so I’m actually looking for a replacement.
I just don’t think cinnamon can replace plasma in my life. Before I move on to the next section, I would like to discuss a topic known as the modular workflow. Now the Linux audio ecosystem has a lot of standalone programs that can be used together with the jack server to create a virtual modular environment. It’s a bit like having a desk and putting a mixer some FX synthesizers sequencer and connecting all of that with cables to produce music.
Now this can be a lot of fun, but I think there’s one big problem with all modular setups. You can’t easily save and load your work and for me that really kills productivity. I know there are so-called session managers, but I really I did I couldn’t ever make get this stuff to work for me, so I have ultimately decided that whatever I’m going to be using to make music, it has to live inside of a digital audio workstation.
Fine. Now we can move on and talk about the digital audio workstations. For many years I’ve been making music with lmms in tandem with our door. I’ve produced multiple full-length albums this way, including the most recent one titled suppressed. However, in 2017 I finally decided to drop LMS and focus my workflow entirely on order alone, why? I made a detailed article comparing the two in the past, so let me just rephrase that real quick for many years Alma Mass was the only integrated music production environment with MIDI, editing and sound design capabilities that would suit my needs.
Illuma mess, however, lacked advanced signal. Routing lv2 plug-in support, audio recording and editing and other functions that our tour boasted for years already. In order to be able to do everything, I wanted I to use both programs together. I used to do it like this. Make instrumentals in lmms export a mix imported into order, add vocals, guitars or extra editing and effects then export another mix and finally master all the mixes in a separate order session to produce the final album.
However, error was developing its MIDI workflow for quite a few years now, and once I found it has majored enough to be production already, I’ve decided to drop all MMS and simplify my workflow. So that’s that the last part of the tool said I want to talk about. Are the plugins? That’s a big one, we’re going to need a few subcategories here. Let’s talk about synthesizers. First then we’ll move on to FX processors.
You see I’m a bit weird in this regard. Other people use drum samples they found on the internet and I used to do that’s too back in 2005, but now I synthesize all my drums. That’s why I don’t use any sampler moving on the synthesizer clubbing and the synthesizer plug-in that I use 95 % of the time is was in fusion. Why? Well again, it’s the most powerful, versatile and modern open-source sound synthesizer out there.
I dare you to prove me wrong on this. There is something on the horizon that might challenge this, but for now, as infusion has almost everything I need in case you don’t know, this infusion is a new graphical user interface to zenith’s of FX 3.0. It runs in a single window. It’s scalable. It’s awesome. It made me work with lots of effects even faster in case you want to learn the all user interface.
A few years ago, I made a long as article covering everything in great detail, and also lots of the knowledge will translate this infusion as well as it’s the same synth under the hood. However, if you feel intimidated but still affects complexity, I can recommend a few other liver synthesizers that are not as layered, namely tall, noisemaker, OB, XD, helmed, oxy, FM sense and dext, however, know this that z knots of effects can do almost everything that these synthesizers can And much much more so if you’re really serious about sound design and you want to use open source stuff, learn some effects.
Alright, alright, why actually use them and I do more guitar focus stuff? Ok, so let’s talk about the sampler plugins, you can use hydrogen drum kits installed on your system using a plugin called DRM, our sampler. It’s simple: it only allows serial output. We could work around this, but I never had it crap out on me. So it’s safe to use! If you need quick, great sounding acoustic drum sounds, I recommend a VL drum kits.
These are lv2 plugins and caps, elating acoustic, drum kits created by the AV linux project. These come both in stereo and multi-blog variations and are integrated extremely well with order. They are black boxes, however, so you can swap out the samples, but that’s the point here. Another plugin I used is Fablab it’s a simple but nice-looking sampler from open 80 productions, single layered. I have experienced some problems with it, so I wouldn’t call it exactly a rock-solid, but I like it, there’s also Fabri, which has awesome functionality, but it’s still far from being production ready at this point, I’ve briefly tried sample v1 and drum kv-1 from the man behind Cue tractor, I think these are solid options among two samplers, but again I haven’t worked them too hard.
So don’t blame me if they disappoint there’s also some decent looking drum samplers in the LSP bundle, they support velocity layers, stereo or multi-blog output. Again, my experience is very limited, so proceed at your own risk. I mention one last drum sampler because it’s freakin kick-ass drum gizmo. If you know how to mix acoustic drums from scratch, read this talk by bent and you can tap into the amazing drum kits and technology of drum gizmo.
I am the main developer of drum gizmo 10 years ago, when I made it. I had a very specific workflow in mind my tip pick a drum kit and read its readme file before you start there’s a listing of all the output blogs and what they are supposed to be without that he’ll be lost once you sort that out, you can Just stop like this all right enough drum samples for one article. Now, let’s talk about something I’m really excited about, and that is the effect processor applause.
Let’s start with delay, call vintage delay. Syncs 2 ppm sounds great. I use this all the time. A delay, an ardor slew, a plugin that can be used for some awesome flaming effects. If you automate the delay time in millisecond range delay, arama a great plugin for creative effects that can deliver up to 128 delay tabs each with procedurally generated delay. Time and amplitude. Reavers um verb is my favorite right now.
It’s sound is full and smooth without that strange tinny character that many synthetic reverbs have it’s also very flexible, and it looks nice GX Zeta Rev one stereo. This is a guitar X interface to the famous zither river by phones and reason it sounds awesome quite flexible, so it won’t replace in verb for me because you can’t make it small enough. Gx reverb stereo, this one sounds a lot like a spring reverb, which is very rare among synthetic reverbs.
It sounds nice on drums and guitars. So there’s not much things to set up here, eq’s and filters. I use EQ. Thank you for everything I used to use cough equalizer, eight-b –, and this one is also very nice. So one day I just decided to try EQ, thank you and it’s stuck with me. Cult filter. I use this one. All the time to reveal sounds with the Lopez modes or to add motion to my bass patches using no cheese and band best modes pitch shifter.
I love em a pitch shift for messing things up, especially when you automate the ratio and window parameters. It creates cool glitchy effects. I would recommend rubberband pitch shifters for more traditional pitch shifting, as they allow precise musical control of the pitch, and they also sounds pretty good for some quick, sound butchery. I also like using AM pitch shifter. It can sound very glitchy in bed, and I like that distortion wall shaper I’ve made three articles about this one already it’s extremely flexible and can be used just as well for gentle saturation as for head splitting distortion, tap tube warmth is a great sounding.
Yet simple saturation plugin, I love it on bass and drums don’t be discouraged by the lack of a custom, graphical user interface. Also called saturator is based on the algorithms of this plane. Caps and VTS cube amp plus tone stack. This is a great all-in-one plugin for guitar distortion. Again, don’t be misled by a lack of the custom GUI. It sounds great and not just on guitars GX amplifier X. This is a fancy.
Looking great sounding all-in-one. It’s are a torsion suit with tube cabinet and stonest accumulation dynamics. Processing curve, compressor, is what I use all the time. It’s great, looking versatile, easy to use. The compression graft function is very helpful. Call sidechain compressor same story only now the kick drum compresses the baseline cough limiter. I put this on every master bus. I see multiband compressor stereo x8 from LSP.
This is an eighth band compressor by default it runs with four bends. It sounds way cleaner than the cult multiband compressor, so the interface is a bit cluttered cough de-esser. I put this on every vocal track and sometimes on bass and lead tracks as well. If the highs are getting painful at certain notes, there’s a neat trick for you. Super smelly, shampoo, spies, super smelly, shampoo, spies, psyching gates, stereo from LSP.
I use this to gate, pads or vocals with a trigger zone like this super smelly, shampoo, spies, super spy other are but one or two it’s a versatile granular processor. You can do dozens of strange effects with this one noise repellent. This is a real-time denoising plugin. It has some latency, but our door can cope with that bad quality voice, recording testing one two: three bad quality voice, recording testing one two: three tal vocoder: this is a simple, yet powerful vocoder that won’t kill your CPU only Cal vocoder, a fantastic vocoder that I’d Actually kill your CPU auto-tuned.
This one is great for either monitoring your vocal performance quality or fixing it super smelly, shampoo, spies, super smelly, shampoo spies or creating these weird synth lying vocal, lead lines by using the auxillary midi input bit, rot, repeat great for glitchy repeating effects very versatile. Don’t be scared over by a lack of a custom, graphical user interface bit. Red tape stop likewise very useful for this one iconic effect tapes – all right, let’s cut it here.
There are dozens more that I’d love to talk about, but this article is getting a bit too long in the future. Articles I’ll take a closer look at the plugins I mentioned here and some other ones as well to help you get the most out of what the free and open source audio ecosystem offers thanks for reading. I hope this article was worth your time. I also want to thank all the patreon supporters who are enabling me to make articles like this one, if you’d like to join them and help keep this show going.
Please go to patreon.Com/scishow now go and make some music you
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