Setting Up DAW Templates (workflow enhancement)

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Making templates (in any form) is always a good time saver. So what makes a good template? One important aspect (and much overlooked) is to keep it open – meaning you should not add any colourisation that might not be needed. Sometimes it’s an important part of the work-flow, and you might have some distortion you end up putting on there anyway. Then of course it saves time.

A good example of a bad template is the standard FL studio template. On start up a template is loaded with some drum samples in the sequencer, each with their own fx channel. Nothing too fancy. But, there’s a limiter on the master channel. What a way to start. Fl sure chipped in their fair share of loudness war tactics.

So, be moderate with coloring fx, and stay away from dynamic crushing. A template is very useful for  engineers and sound designer. But for musicians it can be a great time saver too. These days techniques are as much part of the sound of an artist as a hook or time signature. From extreme NY compression (sidechain) to dubstep wobbles (LFO). All these interesting techniques require the same settings, for every project. Since they only modulate a parameter. You can also work with channel setting presets – but as you will find out in this tutorial – working with templates might force you to work in cycles. Don’t worry,  that’s a good thing!

Each DAW has their own aproach to setting up templates. Check the documentation for specifics.

Instead of spending time tweaking ghost parameters to set up a blank template from scratch, select some tracks that have good mixer routing settings. Make sure your tracks are exemplary of the stuff you work on.  I.e a dubstep template with reverb on 2 sends, a splitted kicks channel, a autofilter channel, or a media template with 5.1 surround settings. A recording template with a couple of alternative metronomes and your channel routed etc etc. The key is to make sure your selecting projects for a reason; if you like a bassline use as a bass template and so forth. I’ll keep this 100% DAW independent, but this stuff should translate pretty much 1:1.

Delete all audio and midi instruments etc. Clean any unwanted channels (delete or replace by>none). After the clean up, all your audio and midi vsts should be gone and you are left with the routing that once made that project sound the way it sounds. The temptation is to leave those great fx chains in place. However, try to keep it to a minimum. Coloration, like mentioned before, is not wanted in abundance. Just the fundamentals. Otherwise you’ll miss out on sonic and creative ideas. Since you wont need to browse trough different fx, try different settings, you won’t get inspired and you’ll end up chasing that magic setting.

Rather make sure the chains are correctly EQ’ed, panned and that the dynamics are relative to the overall mix. This sounds as abstract as it is. That’s the inevitable with templates 😉 Just see this as a way to get rid of those standard DAW templates and have some proper time saving starting points. Using existing projects as basis.

Stages

Incorporating different stages in you work-flow is a much seen technique with electronic music production these says. Getting that ‘big’ sound involves re sampling and extensive tweaking. Using multiple stages in your templates allows you to speed up that process. To keep an eye on the  feel of the song, you can load a mix of the sounds as a guide – muting the the part you’ll be working on.  Basically you work from a main template. Then you render loops and midi and load those in side projects with their own specialized template. This can be very useful when you want to do frequency splitting on 3 different drum loops and give each band their own extensive fx chain. So, if you feel like making lots of crazy bass edits with a lot of modulation on the synth and fx. Make a template that will exploit your cpu. Load in the midi from the main project and go from there.

Exemplary worklow

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  • Main template – sketch (beats and meoldy mockup) [stage start]
  • Bass template – midi or audio from main (bass edits) [stage side]
  • Main template – incl new bass lines (resampling) [stage beta]
  • Drum template – fx chains on drum and perc groups (freq splitting etc) [stage side]
  • Main template – incl new drums and perc (mixing with bass etc) [stage beta]
  • Mastering – DIY Pre mastering engineering (setting your mix ) [stage done! ]
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I hope this was useful guys, let me know how you do it, or if you have any suggestions/questions.

7 thoughts on “Setting Up DAW Templates (workflow enhancement)

  • wow man this was fucking awesome you just made feel like i dont know shit about shit!!!!!nice job !!!your inspiring man!

  • really love the final bit outlining the sectioning of project templates. such a workflow allows for growing (dynamic) knowledge compartmentalization. many thanks for the inspiration, Mr. Durk.

  • Once again you start a rant and diss fl studio, You sound more like a n00bish skiddie producer everytime I read your tutorials or blogs, Do you even bother to explore fl studio at all?

    First off, The starter template is just a starter template, There is a limiter on the master so your song doesn’t clip by default.

    You can also swap between templates on fl studio and if your a registered member you can download user templates.

    I also like the fact that you can preload multiple mastering presets for any project.

    I did not bother reading your rant as you sound like a straight fl studio hater, what did fl studio ever do to you? other than give the world simplicity and good music?

    get your head out of your ass

    • Vic, just watch my videos on FL studio and ask your self if I explored FL studio at all… I love FL studio and use it everyday. There are better places to start a DAW war dude. Go to gearslutz, there’s always a view takers.

    • Vic dude, calm down! Advice from durk is the only reason i have any use for fruity loops whatsoever after purchasing ableton, he gives sound advice and is far from a “noob” cheers Durk!

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