What is the Basic Difference Between Music Production and Sound Engineering?

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Music production involves creating the music from scratch and sound engineering involves mixing the different instruments together so it sounds nice.

I will reveal both aspects as they relate to D.J.’ing but more so on the production side.

For most established D.J.’s, meaning those who have been D.J.’ing for a while whether it is in their bedroom or in the club, music production is the next logical step. Because D.J.’s play so many different types of music they come across a lot of beats and sounds. This inspires some D.J.’s to sample those beats and sounds and make up their own songs.

This is the beginning of the music production stage. There are 3 stages to music production: pre-production, music production and postproduction.

Stage 1 Pre-production

The music production stage is the crafting of the new song. I call this the pre- production stage because you are just experimenting with music. This is where music from the record or mp3 is sampled using a sampler or drum machine like an Akai MPC. But before you can sample and produce music you have to make sure your gear is properly connected:

So that I can sample sounds into my Akai drum machine I have my Technics turntable going into the phono input of my stereo unit. Then I take the phono out of my stereo unit to the input of my MPC 3000. My MPC gets connected to my Akai DPS 24.Then the DSP 24 is connected to the CD input of the stereo unit so I can hear what I produce.

In order to sample I have to make sure I select the phono option on my stereo unit. After I sample the sounds I have to switch to the CD option on my stereo unit so I can hear the playback from the drum machine. Once you’ve completed your musical arrangement and saved all of your work and you are satisfied with it you can move into the part two of the pre-production phase.

During this phase is when you bring in artists to perform on you track. This is where you begin to rearrange the track or music you created with the artists. This collaboration period enables you and the artists to make minor adjustments to the music and the lyrics. You may also add to or take away parts of the track such as adding additional drums or strings. The artists will practice their song using your track. Once this is very tight you move to the studio to lay the music and the vocals on separate recording tracks. The reason why you want to practice before you get to the studio is because studio time is very expensive and you don’t want to waste time practicing in. That is where you need to focus all of your time making sure the music and vocals are recorded cleanly without pops and clicks.

Stage 2 Music Production

When you get to the studio this is where the sound engineer comes into play. This person is responsible for making sure all of you music sounds excellent. These people have years of experience. Some D.J./Producers also like to engineer their own music because they know how they want their music to sound. If this is the case then the sound engineer simply assists the D.J. with mixing the music and using the studio equipment.

The mixing part of the music production phase is done in the studio where all of the music tracks and vocal tracks are blended together to give you what you hear on your CD.

Each musical instrument and vocal track is mixed and adjusted using what is called a mixing board like my Akai DPS24 only larger or software based mixing console like Pro Tools.

Stage 3 Postproduction

After the mixing is done the postproduction process begins. The final mix is taken to what is called a Mastering Studio where specialized equipment is used to bring out the best possible sound. When this process is completed the final results of the song are then pressed on CD or vinyl and sold to the customer.

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