014: Pegboard Nerds Masterclass Breakdown (15 Tips with Timestamps)

014: Pegboard Nerds Masterclass Breakdown (15 Tips with Timestamps)

This week on Bass Camp, I break down the Pegboard Nerds Masterclass presented by JBL. Seems like you guys like these breakdowns, so I'll be sprinkling them in here and there. If you have any master class breakdown requests, reach out (@drkstdwn everywhere) and give me a shout!



PS: If the WATCH links don't take you to the correct position in the video, try right clicking and open them in a new tab or new window.

Here are the 15 tips and takeaways from the Pegboard Nerds Masterclass:


1. Facetime call to Rob Swire to explain Gain Staging (@ 26:10) [WATCH]

He explains the point of Gain Staging is to arrive at a point where you're:

  • Not clipping the master
  • Ensuring optimal levels going into each plugin that allow them to process the audio properly (not clipping, not too quiet) 
  • Ensure you have optimal levels for your "groups" or "busses" where multiple signals are being combined (not clipping, not too quiet)

2. How they approach track arrangement (@ 54:54) [WATCH]

  • Bounce all of your track ideas into one single file
  • Open a new project, import this file, and play around with arrangement
  • This avoids having to mess around with arrangement ideas inside a HUGE multi-layered project 

3. Using Melodyne to completely transform atonal vocals into something more melodic (@ 58:56) [WATCH]

4. How to find inspiration and dealing with frustration (@ 1:17:46) [WATCH]

  • Hit the studio consistantly no matter how you're feeling
  • Savor the peaks of the process (nailing a drop, or a mix, etc)
  • Stuff starts happening after 7-8 hours, you usually hit a flow, then you have to continue 

5. How to flush out the ideas in your head (@ 1:26:41) [WATCH]

  • If you can play out melodies on the piano and that's fast for you do that
  • If its faster to hum into your phone, do that
  • Whatever you do, get the idea down, or you'll regret it when it disappears

6. Don't trip about using Samples and Loops from Packs (@ 1:29:58) [WATCH]

  • If it sounds good it sounds good...use it
  • No one at the club even know what samples or loops are
  • Don't be afraid to be called out, it doesn't matter 



7. Limit your toolbox, and know your tools (@ 29:28) [WATCH]

8. Making the perfect Serum Sub by tweaking Wavetable Harmonics (@ 37:17) [WATCH]

  • They usually use 3 harmonics for their subbass in Serum
  • Makes it easier to shift phase this way if you are looking to get real nitty gritty with lining up your sub's phase with your kick's phase 

9. When you layer, make things sounds simple and interesting no matter how many layers you have (@ 1:02:08) [WATCH]

10. Turning reverb off on each note on a lead hit prevents it from bleeding into the next note (they mentioned they got it from KSHMR, here's the vidoe they are referring to) [WATCH KSHMR's TIP]

11. Their Resampling Technique (@ 1:15:22) [WATCH]

  • They usually start sound designing in Serum, but point out it could be anything as the synth is just a Source
  • After they generate some sound with Serum, they split the signal into 3 chains, one with a Highpass, one with a Bandpass, and one with a Lowpass
  • They automate all of these filters differently to get some weird interactions between the frequency bands
  • They add distortion to some of the bands, before or after the filters, and do other experimental stuff to get weird results
  • The idea is to "dig for gold" and arrive at happy accidents



 12. Mixdown Tips (@ 21:30) [WATCH]

  • They target a 14 dBfs avg loudness
  • Alex mentions they are following K-System Metering, read more about that here
  • A 14 dBfs allows plenty of room to push transients through
  • They have their drum hits (kicks, snares, etc) usually peaking at 0
  • This may seem over the top, but Alex mentions that once you start running things into a compressor/limiter in the "mastering" phase, your drums will PUNCH
  • You can mix in the green or in the red, that doesn't matter. What matters is the internal relationships between your sounds.
  • They use the Utility (in Ableton) a lot for Gain Staging 

13. Their SubScope Technique for monitoring Low End (@ 32:02) [WATCH]

  • This is a way to visualize the relationship between your sub and kick
  • Plugin they demonstrate this with is schOPE by StillWell Audio
  • They look to make sure the kick is poking through and the sub bass is smooth with no dips or peaks
  • They run reference tracks through their "SubScope" to see what things should look like (they used Rob Swire stuff for this)

14. Your Mid and Side signals are their own mixdowns (@ 40:00) [WATCH]

  • What is the Mid Signal? This is the part of your mix that comes out of both speakers identically
  • What is the Side Signal? The difference between the two speakers, the part of your mix that is "stereo" or has different information going to each speaker at any given moment
  • Thinking about these two parts of your mix is super important if you want a clean and wide mix
  • Be careful with your sides, don't make them too loud and make sure they are not washed out with reverb
  • Be careful not to make things TOO wide, our brains can't process things that have unrealistic dimensions
  • They use the Brainworx bx_meter to easily solo the mid and side signals

15. A look at a typical PBN Mastering Chain (@ 48:35) [WATCH]

  • Compression at the beginning via The Glue, they look for the kick and snare being the prominent triggers
  • SIE-Q EQ to boost the highs
  • Pro Q2 for Mid/Side EQing -- they use Pro-Q2 but Pro-Q3 is the newest version
  • Vengence Multiband Compressor (like an OTT on steroids) -- they use the All Mastering -> UNISQUASHER Preset but have the mix set at only 4%
  • Fab Filter MB Multiband Compressor
  • Ozone Exciter to bring out the highs and mids
  • StandardCLIP at the End (instead of a limiter)
  • Why they clip instead of limit (@ 50:30) [WATCH]