How well do you know your tools, and how do you learn them?

Discussion in 'Workflow Tips & DIYs' started by Alex Fraser, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. InLight-Tone

    InLight-Tone Senior Member

    Dec 31, 2013
    Reading that dissertation, I need a cigarette and I don't smoke. Holy cow...
  2. dgburns

    dgburns blah

    Nov 4, 2012
    But to be truthful, I am a bit of an organizational freak too, I just felt it was uncool to admit it. Again lol.

    Sure wish we could save out multi track presets like those guys can in Cubase.
  3. KMA

    KMA Member

    Sep 25, 2017
    I don't think I've read a better ode to being prepared.

    That's goin on my wall.
    MartinH., anp27 and storyteller like this.
  4. storyteller

    storyteller Senior Member

    Dec 26, 2015
    I think a great way to learn them is when you hear something in a new library you don't have, see how you can recreate it. Maybe it is an articulation that your library didn't have. Is it possible to achieve the same thing through programming, better CC knowledge, or maybe layering? If not, buy the new library. Or if it is a new sound that makes you say, "I've gotta have it!" first see if you can try to replicate it with what you have. You'll probably be surprised to learn there isn't a lot of stuff that is truly new or innovative. Most of it is repackaged versions of what you can already do if you take the time to know your tools.

    Now new instruments and such are a different story. And, sometimes it is nice just to buy something so it does what you want at the push of a button. I'm just saying a good way to learn your tools is to recreate what you hear when you think it is something new.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
  5. KMA

    KMA Member

    Sep 25, 2017
    I can't count the number of times I've bought a new toy, and then found out that I already had something that would have done the job, whether it's been a plugin or some functionality in the DAW that I was too lazy to have looked for.
    Wally Garten likes this.
  6. charlieclouser

    charlieclouser Senior Member

    Dec 20, 2009
    That line of thought about "no strangers, no enemies... only friends" comes from my record-making years, where we were absolutely NOT trying to be "prepared for any eventuality", as film/tv composers might need to be. We had the luxury of ignoring/ejecting any gear or sounds that didn't fit the context of the band, the song, whatever. So we'd be sat in the studio with only the tools that were appropriate and would help us move in the right direction. Some synths, guitar amps, pedals, etc. were basically left on a single setting, ignoring the myriad of things they were capable of in favor of the one thing they did best. So instead of thinking, "I wonder if any of the 100 things a MiniMoog can do would help this track?" we'd be thinking, "I need that 3-osc bass which is my favorite thing a MiniMoog can do." As the years dragged on you'd wind up with so much gear, each piece aimed squarely at one target - but each was doing only what it did best. An all-star team. "Bring out the place-kicker to do one thing - kick a field goal. Good kick! Now sit back down." kind of thinking. My Prophet-VS's have about four sounds in them that have ever been used - but they are killer; uniquely appropriate for those four situations.

    Move into scoring, and all of a sudden you feel like you need to keep every banjo sample and new-age-ambient synth patch "just in case" the next week's episode has a yoga hoedown scene. (Hey, it could happen!) I'm definitely guilty of hoarding any good examples of sounds that I've never used (and may never use) but that I recognize are good examples of their type. And that's where the clutter starts to get crazy - but that's also where extreme organization can have more noticable and useful benefits. For that one time a year when you do need to do a yoga hoedown, it really sucks to dip into the banjo folder and just see a hailstorm of un-labelled, un-sorted stuff - as opposed to three items called "king banjo, queen banjo, prince banjo" or whatever, with all the pawns and rooks hidden in the "zUnused" folder just in case.

    On another tangent, of course there's lots of things that can't easily be shoved into the categories I outlined earlier - SonoKinetic phrase-based libraries, and the new crop of things like SampleLogic XoSphere that have a single .nki patch and an internal browser for selecting the content. What do ya do with stuff like that? Well, that stuff tends to get a "special" name or folder so that they're not just mixed in with the more conventional "one file = one sound" files. In the case of something like XoSphere you can often organize the SnapShots folders, even when you can't directly access, rename, and organize the items in their internal browser from the desktop.

    So there are a lot of situations where my "system" can't be rigorously applied - but when the system is implemented for everything else, and the number of wild-cards and exceptions-to-the-rules are kept to a minimum, it's much easier to deal with. Then, dipping into the wild-cards becomes almost a fun break from the routine of dealing with "the system" and all its darn rules, and it feels like a mini-side-trip through the trees - and you can have fun bush-whacking through the XoSphere content browser, but not lose your mind - and get back on the well-marked trails of "the system" once you find what you want.

    Some folks like skiing entirely off-piste - but it can take a long time to get back to the lodge.

    I prefer to have a leisurely cruise down the groomed trails until I spot an interesting chunk of powder in the trees, and then head in - but if I bush-whack all the way from the summit to the lodge my knees start to hurt by lunchtime, and I might only get a few good runs in before I have to call it a day.
    Geoff Grace likes this.
  7. Wally Garten

    Wally Garten Active Member

    Apr 23, 2018
    I know what you mean. I haven't bought many libraries that I haven't used at all, but I've bought a ton that I only used for "that one sound," and never bothered to really go in depth with the rest. So there's an incredible amount of capacity sitting out there on that hard drive, most of which I haven't exploited at all.

    To combat this problem, I am actually instituting a buying freeze for the foreseeable future, and trying to really abide by the maxim "use what you have." Which really goes to this:

    But also just the idea of mastery. Instead of just grabbing the low-hanging fruit from 1,000 plugins or libraries, I'd like to pull out the hidden stuff from a dozen or so.
  8. Paul Grymaud

    Paul Grymaud Active Member

    Can't answer to this question. I'm so busy with all these VST (and the manuals...)
    I'm filling up a form to FXpansion because I have problems with re-downloading the data
    (That's true !!!)

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