Source: Christian Hirt Instagram Story Q&A @ChristianHirt
1. Any tips for making powerful and bouncy progressive basses like in your Passenger 10 productions?
- “Short decays. Very controlled reverbs and ultra tight and controlled delays. All insert FX or even extra tracks only for the effects.”
2. What’s the secret for the clarity of elements in your mix? Everything’s crystal clear.
- “Good question! I try to work without sub-groups or buses. I try to work out a track by the rules of Max Martin: There can only be one single element in a track in front. That’s what we humans naturally understand. Have one element that leads and see all other elements as part of a bed that supports and carries the main element.”
3. What VST do you use for cool pad sounds?
- “A secret tip is Spitfire Audio’s Originals cinematic pads. Works great for drones.”
4. What is the go to piano plugin in the Nora en Pure productions?
- “Daniela and me love the Emotional Piano by Soundiron Audio. Also the felt piano from Spitfire Audio’s Labs, but nothing sounds better than our live recorded Nashville piano. We are currently trying to record and program it for Kontakt too.
5. What’s your favourite kick plugin?
- “Kick 2 is the one to go for me, just for the reason I can fool around with layers and envelopes.”
6. How much do you use analog synthesizers?
- “Depends on the track I am working on. A lot when it comes to melodic or progressive house, less when it comes to future or nu-disco. But I can assure you the ones in my studios are regularly in use. Sometimes I multi-sample cool sounds and use the sampled sound via Kontakt.”
Mixing and Mastering Advice
7. How do you achieve that beautiful hi hat compression effect on Calippos masters?
- “I don’t treat them specially. I’m sure I just handle them with some EQ and maybe a bit of multiband compression.”
8. Please tell me about how you master your tracks. Thank you :)
- “I’ve got like 10 different chains I worked out over the past years. They all serve a purpose and work for a specific sound. Of course, I adjust the chains for every track to make sure I get the best result possible. I use many UAD plugins in these chains. If I want to color a bit I use the C4 from Waves. If I want a more dry signal I go for the Zen compressor (UAD Chandler Limited Zener Limiter)”
9. Do you have any tips for piano processing? Always a challenge to get it sounding right 😅
- “I scoop out a lot at 250 to 900 Hz. I also mix out rings with very small cuts. It’s hard to get a piano to sound good and organic for our kind of music. I recommend creating a chain setting with your best sounding piano and then try to make it even better over time but use the already good sounding setting.”
10. What are your usual attack and release settings on the compressor when sidechaining bass to the kick?
- “Short attack, release depending on the track and kick. It always varies. I use kickstart with the really tight setting for a second sidechain after I already have a sidechain going.”
11. Can you recommend low-priced monitors for temporary use?
- “Behringer B2031A. I use them in my studios since 20 years.”
12. Do you have a favourite reverb to go with your piano sounds?
- “Blackhole by Eventide Audio.”
13. Is there any specific reverb to get that small room sound on pluck and bass from Calippo?
- “Yes, absolutely! I think the space designer from Logic is for very small rooms still the best. I wouldn’t recommend it for longer reverbs, but short digital rooms are modeled very well. It lets me control a lot of details even as an insert.
14. How do you make your top kicks? They are cutting the mix so well but not disturbing ears :)
- “A lot of EQing and transient shaping. Don’t hold back to sometimes scoop out high frequencies to get a clearer and better sound. I hate 250 Hz. I often cut a lot there, whatever makes sense.”
15. What is the most versatile hardware compressor in your opinion?
- “I fell in love with the DBX 160XT. I got 4 in Nashville and 4 in Zurich. The acoustic piano recordings all go through a pair of those. But in general I’m not the biggest fan of compressors anymore, because they are only an algorithm of ducking or leveling signals. I sometimes prefer to automate a track. Takes a shitload of time, but the result you don't get from the best vintage Shadow Hills compressor."
16. What peak do you usually mix your kick at?
“I always peak too loud. Against all rules my mixes go through the mastering chain with way too much gain already, I even have to level the input of the master chain down first by 7 - 12 dB. And sometimes in breaks I go down even more to create a wider dynamic range.”
17. How do you get this punchy kick drum?
- “Layering. I ‘ve got like 20-30 low kick layers I always use. I cut everything above 100-200 Hz and layer a top kickdrum on top. This way I have full control over the subs and the transients.
18. Which transient processors do you use?
- “I always use the transient shaping plugins such as the one from Native Instruments or the one from SPL.”
19. What do you think about Future Rave? Is it the big new thing?
- “That makes sense. The time is right for this sound right now. How long it will last, I don’t know. But I would be surprised if we would rave to that sound in 10 years still.”
20. How hard is it to make music a job and to quit a regular job?
- “Hard to say. I quit my last day job in 2002. Definitely don’t quit before you can make a decent living with music over a longer period of time. The music business is a bitch. There’s a lot of ups and downs, and the downs can be very exhausting and long lasting. In the music business you will need to reinvent yourself every now and then. That broke many big artists already. You’ve got to live this and be a little weirdo too to push through it.”
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