My "CIA" - method for composing directly into Cubase

I thought a lot about this - when I’m working on my own songs (as opposed to the songs of my band, Visions of Atlantis), I always do it directly into Cubase and I use things like EQ, high pass filters, fx and reverb right from the beginning.

So, one might say: “but those things are for mixing!!1 Oh noes!!1”

But I reply with a grumpy NO - because I have my own method for this, which I call the “CIA” - method.

Of course, of course… when done composing, I start the proper tracking and then the mixing of the audio files (I don’t master because this is rocket science I don’t understand, lol, and I also don’t have the golden ears necessary…).

But during composition (and often, tracking - but to a bit lesser an extent) I also want to “feel” the song better, and get right into the ambience of it. Thats why I use my “CIA” method for the first step.

  1. C stands for “Clarity”

I want to hear everything. So I use high pass filters and (sometimes) EQ to get rid of frequencies which interfere, right from the start. I record a pad? First thing I do is: high pass filter that damn thing @ 120 Hz, so I can hear that bass later. No need for fine adjustments. Just a primitive, caveman style high pass filtering, to get clarity.

Also I adjust the volume of tracks.

  1. I stands for “Intention”

I put in all the fx and other stuff right at composition which are key to my song. Guitar modelling, of course (who doesn’t do that), but also effectful reverberation, delays, saturation, compression (when I want, for example, that “delicate sound of thunder” vocal sound). No, I won’t keep it like this in mixing, but I want to hear it and I think that sound is part of composition. This is not the 60s or 70s anymore, we have great tools, lets use them. :slight_smile:

  1. A stands for “Ambience”

While I won’t use the highest quality reverberation settings or the best reverbs at hand in composition (here track count and latency matter most), I want to have a sense of “space” and “life”, so, of course, drums get a drum room or chamber, everything else gets some plate or concert hall preset. Two sends usually do the trick.

I tweak as I go, from the beginning …whatever I feel it needs. Though I don’t over-do FX & processing generally. By the time I’m done, most tracks are ready to go, aside from minor last minute tweaking. I call my method…ummm…I actually don’t call it anything :wink:

Nice, I actually work in quite the same way. I try to get the general sound right while recording already, that really helps me (or another musician I’m recording) to play to the dynamics and ambiance of the final song.

Yep that’s pretty much exactly I work too, i think with digital audio it’s too easy to get lost with the practically unlimited options we have these days that the decision making process can really suffer… Particularly for the naturally indecisive lol… Back in the day limitations of track count, available mixer channels etc meant there was no other option so you needed to have at least some kind of ‘vision’ from the off.
Just mho

“Mix as you go” is a well known technique used in home recording. It used to be more of a necessity back in the analog,(out of the box) and tape days, but many of us have, and still do use the technique.
A great book (still a great book) is Gorilla Home Recording :wink:

I’ll add that this is also how I do things. Sometimes I do find myself getting a bit too bogged down with neurotic tweaking “as I go” as opposed to saving that tweaking until the end.
I find it helps for creativity, especially when you have a particular sound in mind…hearing it completely dry can affect how I play new bits.

I also often use the “Mix as you go” method. I must say however that this is been done to give an general idea how to fit all the parts in.

At the end I often keep the result, but take an additional step by resetting everyting in the mixer and exporting all sound tracks in “raw” state, and mix everyting again in an fresh project. Afther that I decide what comes out best. It’s undoubtetly an more lengthy process, but I often get good results that way…