"Pop Rock Instruments" package by Jørn-Arild Grefsrud

Jørn-Arild Grefsrud is a music producer, mixer and studio owner in Norway. Tuft Studio saw the light of day in June 2000, and has been a full-time occupation since 2006. Through the years, the studio has produced music nominated for the norwegian Grammys, and number one radio-singles.

A wide variety of music is recorded and mixed at Tuft, but it is all music with only, or mostly, played instruments, no EDM here.

Jørn-Arild is an educated music producer from the norwegian audio engineering school in Oslo, and he has also done mastering courses in London and participated in Mix with the Masters several times.

Download the package

Click here to download the Pop Rock Instruments package.

Then unzip it and use the import button to load the exercises in TrainYourEars.

There are two exercises folders. One contains "Guess" mode exercises and the other one "Correct" mode exercises.

During the exercises, Jørn-Arild asks you to use specific sound files included in the package. Don't forget to add them all to TrainYourEars' audio player.

Jørn-Arild's introduction:

When observing some of the top mixers of the world doing their job, quite often I get surprised by how little they do. The key thing is that they do the exact RIGHT thing, and only that. If you hear a problem and you can go directly to that problem you won't have to do as much as if you start treating frequencies adjacent to the real problem.

Some engineers like to boost a band, and search for problem-frequencies before removing them. I won't say that this is wrong, because I don't want thousands of enemies, hehe, but to me, this isn't optimal. A lot of frequencies will sound bad when boosted, so you cut them. But maybe they were not a problem before you started boosting and searching? Also, your ear adjusts itself all the time, so when you listen to that sharp boost your ears get used to that sound, and the sound that was okay might sound thin or dull after you've been boosting random frequencies.

So, what is optimal? I'd say that the optimal is hearing a sound, and knowing instantly what the problem is, and removing it. If there is too much honky 1kHz, it's great if you can just remove that instead of giving your ears an overdose of 1kHz first.

This is where TrainYourEars enters the picture, and these exercises are made to help you accomplish exactly this. I've recorded tracks with the most common instruments in pop/rock. Pick a guitar-track, and start learning how the different frequencies bother you and fix them. Then try other instruments. The exercises are designed for each instrument and the frequencies in each exercise are typical areas to focus on.

Each instrument has an easy and a harder exercise. Start with easy and do the hard one when the easy one isn't a challenge. But feel free to adjust the exercises yourself! Add frequencies to make it even harder, or remove some if the gap between the two difficulties is too big. And, try and record your own tracks and use the exercises with these exercises. This will help you to understand your own possibilities and where there is room for improvement.

When you practice, always keep the volume as low as you can, your ears will tire quickly if you listen too loud.

If you struggle with an exercise, try this: focus on the attack of the sound, can you hear a difference when you compare the equalized with the original? No? Try the same with the sustain. Still not? Then focus on the lows, an then the highs... No difference? Try listening at a higher volume, and see if there was something in the bass you might have overlooked? No? Maybe it's the same then, it happens. Remember to turn down the volume again if you turned it up.
When you make a mistake, always compare your answer with the correct answer. Try and learn what each frequency sounds like. After that you can move on and try again. Always do this! The goal is not the highest score, it is to learn something.

Have fun with this! Practice often and not for too long. Get better at this and your mixes will improve as well!

J-A

List of Exercises

1. Acoustic - Easy

Use one of the fingerstyle or strummed acoustic guitar-files for this exercise. The low E on an acoustic guitar is right above 80Hz. Around 200-300Hz it can get very boomy. Higher in the mids the acoustic can get honky. 3-5kHz is the presence-area, and way up high it competes for the air with vocals and cymbals.

2. Acoustic - Harder

Use one of the fingerstyle or strummed acoustic guitar-files for this exercise. The low E on an acoustic guitar is right above 80Hz. Around 200-300Hz it can get very boomy. Higher in the mids the acoustic can get honky. 3-5kHz is the presence-area, and way up high it competes for the air with vocals and cymbals.

3. Electric guitar - Easy

Use one of the Clean, Overdrive, Distorted or Lead Guitar-files for this exercise. The electric guitar, if normally tuned, starts at about 80Hz. The midrange can add colour or honkiness, while you get presence from 2-3kHz. Distorted guitars have information above 7kHz, while some cleaner and jazzier guitars have rounded off the high end.

4. Electric guitar - Harder

Use one of the Clean, Overdrive, Distorted or Lead Guitar-files for this exercise. The electric guitar, if normally tuned, starts at about 80Hz. The midrange can add colour or honkiness, while you get presence from 2-3kHz. Distorted guitars have information above 7kHz, while some cleaner and jazzier guitars have rounded off the high end.

5. Piano - Easy

Use the Piano-file for this exercise. The piano has a massive frequency-register. Covering nearly everything we are capable of hearing. The bass is mainly around 80-150Hz, and attack around 4-6kHz, while there is air from 12kHz and up.

6. Piano - Harder

Use the Piano-file for this exercise. The piano has a massive frequency-register. Covering nearly everything we are capable of hearing. The bass is mainly around 80-150Hz, and attack around 4-6kHz, while there is air from 12kHz and up.

7. Bass - Easy

Use one of the fingered or picked bass-files for this exercise. Some mellow fingerstyle bass-sounds consist of almost only low-end. A pick introduces more highs, and distortion even more. The fundamentals range from about 40Hz to 300Hz. From 1kHz to 5-6kHz you get attack and pick/string noise.

8. Bass - Harder

Use one of the fingered or picked bass-files for this exercise. Some mellow fingerstyle bass-sounds consist of almost only low-end. A pick introduces more highs, and distortion even more. The fundamentals range from about 40Hz to 300Hz. From 1kHz to 5-6kHz you get attack and pick/string noise.

9. Kick - Easy

Use the Drm_Kick-file for this exercise. The kick drum has a fundemental often found around 60Hz, muddiness and boxiness in the low-mids from about 200Hz and up towards 1kHz, attack from 2k and gradually a more clicky sound up to around 8kHz.

10. Kick - Harder

Use the Drm_Kick-file for this exercise. The kick drum has a fundemental often found around 60Hz, muddiness and boxiness in the low-mids from about 200Hz and up towards 1kHz, attack from 2k and gradually a more clicky sound up to around 8kHz.

11. Snare - Easy

Use the Drm_Snare-file for this exercise. The snare drum comes in wide variation of sizes, tunings and sounds. The body can often be found between 100Hz and 250Hz, while there is often some boxiness and woody sounds around 400-500Hz. It gets crispy when you pass 5kHz and there is a lot of air above 10kHz.

12. Snare - Harder

Use the Drm_Snare-file for this exercise. The snare drum comes in wide variation of sizes, tunings and sounds. The body can often be found between 100Hz and 250Hz, while there is often some boxiness and woody sounds around 400-500Hz. It gets crispy when you pass 5kHz and there is a lot of air above 10kHz.

13. Toms - Easy

Use the one of the Tom-files for this exercise. The toms can range from quite high pitched with a fundamental above 300Hz, to lower than the kick drum. In rock, it is quite normal to remove boomy mids, somewhere between 300Hz and 7-800Hz, depending on the tom. As with the kick, you get attack when you pass 2k, and click as you approach 8k.

14. Toms - Harder

Use the one of the Tom-files for this exercise. The toms can range from quite high pitched with a fundamental above 300Hz, to lower than the kick drum. In rock, it is quite normal to remove boomy mids, somewhere between 300Hz and 7-800Hz, depending on the tom. As with the kick, you get attack when you pass 2k, and click as you approach 8k.

15. Cymbals - Easy

Use the Overhead, Ride or High-hat-files for this exercise. The cymbals are often the brightest component of a mix. Below 200Hz, there´s mainly bleed from other drums. Gradually from 200Hz, some cymbals, like the ride, has a low body-sound. From 2k the cymbals are crispy, and around 10kHz and up you get an air and shimmer.

16. Cymbals - Harder

Use the Overhead, Ride or High-hat-files for this exercise. The cymbals are often the brightest component of a mix. Below 200Hz, there´s mainly bleed from other drums. Gradually from 200Hz, some cymbals, like the ride, has a low body-sound. From 2k the cymbals are crispy, and around 10kHz and up you get an air and shimmer.

Questions and Feedback

If you have questions or feedback about this package you can send us an email to info@trainyourears.com and we will help you out.

And if you have developed some interesting exercises and you want to share them with the world, that's awesome! Send us an email and we will publish them here :)

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