Top 10 Most Common Mistakes When Using A DAW
How many of these mistakes have you made?
If you’re new to Digital Audio Workstations, it can be easy to make a mistake that could cost you lost time or even worse… lost data! We recently posted a video on our Facebook page talking about the top 10 most common mistakes when using a DAW.
I would like to share them with you now. Here are the Top 10 Most Common Mistakes when using a DAW:
1. Not backing up your files regularly. This is probably the worst mistake you can make. You need to find a backup system that works for you and stick to it. You should always have multiple backups of all your work in case one fails. (external hard drives, cloud storage)
2. Not backing up your session file before editing/recording audio. It’s always important to save your project before making any changes in case something goes wrong with your computer or DAW, then you have a ‘safety net’ do roll back too if needed.
3. Not taking the time to learn how your DAW works, you will save yourself hours of frustration if you spend some time learning all the tools and options
I have been making music for many years, and I have been using a DAW as my main music tool for many years. I have made more mistakes than I can remember, and I still make them to this day! The top 10 most common mistakes when using a DAW are:
1. Not saving your project often enough
2. Not backing up your project often enough
3. Not keeping backup copies of your plugins
4. Not remembering the locations where you saved files and projects
5. Using too much CPU power; running out of CPU power too often
6. Using too much RAM; running out of RAM too often
7. Using the wrong audio interface driver; not realizing how important it is to use the right driver for your audio interface
8. Having latency issues; not realizing how important it is to minimize latency in your system
9. Having mixer issues; not knowing that some mixers will cause problems in your system
10. Spending too much time on one song; the songs should be fun, and they should not become a burden if something isn’t working properly in a song
The top 10 most common mistakes we hear when using a DAW
We’d like to share with you some of the most common mistakes we hear when using a DAW. We’ll show you how to avoid them and help make your sessions run smoothly. You can find more down-to-earth tips on our Blog, so check it out!
1) Optical cable – This is the way to go when you’re trying to get the best performance from your system. Make sure that you’re using one that’s the same length as your interface or mixer. You don’t want a cable that’s going to be loose or get in the way of other cables.
2) Mastering – It’s important to have a good mastering setup, but don’t overdo it. A good mastering setup should have at least three components: an EQ, a compressor and an output limiter.
3) CPU usage – If you’re running low on CPU power, consider reducing the number of channels in use. Also, if you’re working with samples, try to reduce the number of tracks in use at any given time.
4) MIDI ports – If you’re using a MIDI port for an input device (e.g., keyboard or guitar), make sure that it
This is the first in a series of blogs that will cover not only common mistakes, but also some of the best practices I have developed over the years. In this blog I will cover my top 10 most common mistakes that I see when using a DAW.
I will list them in no particular order and they are all equally important.
1. Recording at too low of a level from the start. This is probably number one cause for concern and lack of quality in your recordings. This may be due to bad cables, or just not understanding how to get a healthy signal into your computer through microphone preamps and audio interfaces. You do not want to record at a level where your levels are peaking at -6dB or lower, you want to be at a healthy recording level between -12dB and -6dB. If you have peaks that go above 0dB then you are clipping and causing distortion, which is not good! The key is to record at a healthy level from the beginning so that you don’t have to boost it later on in the mixing process, which ultimately leads to more noise being introduced into your mix. A good rule of thumb is if you cannot hear yourself as clearly as if you were playing through an amp or through headphones then there is
1. Not using the best tools available.
2. Not learning how to use your tools properly.
3. Not learning how to record yourself properly.
4. Not learning how to mix properly.
5. Using plugins just because they are cool, without actually knowing what they do or when and where you should use them.
6. Thinking that being a great musician automatically makes you a great producer, engineer or mixer. It doesn’t!
7. Mixing too loud for too long, your hearing will suffer in the long run!
8. Constantly checking your mix on crappy laptop speakers and thinking it sounds great, then wondering why it sounds so bad when played on other systems…
9. Always trying to copy someone else’s sound instead of finding your own sound and style!
10. Believing everything you hear on forums and social media!
1. The Mixing Level
You finally have that amazing synth sound you were looking for, or that great drum loop you found online… You hit play and bring up the volume to see how it sounds. It’s ok, but it lacks a bit of “oomph”, so you turn it up some more. Then some more. And again! Now, that’s better. More bass, more loudness and all the mids are there! But now your mix sounds a bit distorted when you listen at moderate levels. You don’t understand why… You think: “This is strange because I didn’t push my speakers/headphones to their maximum level!”
What you probably did was push your track to its maximum level (or close to it!). And since the main track is already so loud, when you add other tracks on top of it, they will distort too as they will easily go over this maximum level. That is one of the main reasons why mixing with a lot of headroom is so important: if you keep all your tracks below their maximum level, then when you combine them all together, they will not exceed this limit (unless they deliberately do!).
So if your track doesn