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greg54

How to get reference tracks

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I see a lot of articles about the need for reference tracks, but I don't see anything that tells me how to get them.   How do I get them?

Thanks

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"Reference tracks" just mean professionally produced songs in the genre that you're shooting for. Find a song from a Big Name Artist that's in the same vein as whatever you're producing, and use it as a reference to compare your mix to. Relative volume levels of the various instruments vs. the vocals, tone of the individual parts as well as overall tone of the complete mix. Overall loudness (hint: stick a limiter on the master bus to sound like any popular music done in the last 20-30 years).

That sort of thing.

 

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Yep, @John Bradley is correct - reference tracks are just commercial tracks that sound like what you want your own mix to sound like... so just scour through your CD collection (if you still have those) and pick one or two that most closely match what you're trying to achieve.


 

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Thanks!   But how do you get them from a CD?  (Sorry for the stupid question.)

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16 minutes ago, greg54 said:

Thanks!   But how do you get them from a CD?  (Sorry for the stupid question.)

From the File menu in Cakewalk... File->Import Audio CD

Then pick your track.

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Let me see if I understand.   I place a CD in my drive, then go to Cakewalk >File>Import Audio CD.   That's it?  Then I import whatever song from the CD I want into Cakewalk?

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Izotope had a bunch for  download and the reasons they were being suggested as references not long ago. I don’t have a link but google or izotope site should find them

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Or just go buy some single tracks from iTunes, Amazon Music, or whatever; it don't matter.

As someone who digitized his 1000+ CD collection back in the late '90s, and hasn't touched physical media since (except one time each in order to rip new acquisitions into the library), I have to wonder how you don't have a large pile of music on your computer. But that's probably just an "old man yelling at clouds" thing, what with you kids today and your Spotifys and hula-hoops and loud guitars...  🤪

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Yes, I saw the article by Izotope.   Thanks.    But I guess my question isn't coming across clearly.  If I have a song that I want to use as a reference track, how do I make it into a reference track?   For example, if I have a song on a CD that I want to use, how do I get it off the CD so I can use it ?

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Posted (edited)

John, this "kid" is in his 60's.  lol

I just never downloaded music onto my computer, so I don't know about iTunes, etc.   I really don't listen to a lot of music, so I only have about a half dozen CD's.   But I need reference tracks for mastering my songs.

So I need to know how to rip songs from CD's or Amazon music - or whatever.  I've never done it.

Thanks

Edited by greg54

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Should've guessed! I don't think there's anyone under the age of 40 on this forum. 😄

But yeah, stick a CD in your drive, and then File | Import | Audio CD and select the tracks you want to bring in.

And if you want tracks you don't have on CD, you can buy single tracks (as MP3s) from Amazon.

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As was said before: Put the CD in the PC's CD player. In Cakewalk go File -> Import Audio CD. Select the specific track you want.

It gets imported into Cakewalk as an audio track.

You now have a reference track.

You listen to bits of the reference, listen to the bits of your mus, adjust EQ, compression, levels. Compare the two again. And you fiddle with your music until it sounds similar to the reference track.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks, John and Nigel.

Edited by greg54

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For an explanation of how one uses a reference track, watch this tutorial. It is about using Cakewalk's stock plugins to master, but it shows you the point of having a reference track and how make use of it.

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31 minutes ago, Nigel Mackay said:

You listen to bits of the reference, listen to the bits of your mus, adjust EQ, compression, levels. Compare the two again. And you fiddle with your music until it sounds similar to the reference track.

This is after I export my song, correct?

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You record, mix. Until you are as happy with it as will ever be. You export it as a wave file. Create a new project, import your reference, import your song. Use the reference as a crosscheck/guide to get the sound you want while mastering your song.

The idea is that you want your song to have that sound, and your reference is a professional release, so it will help you get a professional sound to your song.

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