Category Archives for "How To"

Fab Filter Pro-Q 2

Fab Filter Pro-Q 2 – Interview with Grammy winning Mixer Chad Brown & Lij Shaw

One of the tools that you simply must have for mixing has been around since the earliest days of recording. The equalizer. It sounds like a super hero name because it is!

You might need to fix something that just didn’t quite work well enough during the recording stage, or reshape the timbre of a sound, or want to fit all the elements of a mix together to make it great.

The first tools you should always reach for are the mute button, and the fader. But when those don’t do what you need grab yourself an eq.

I got a call from my friend Chad Brown recently who was mixing a record for the Zuni Mountain Boys. He was really fired up about a plugin he was trying out, Fab Filter Pro-Q 2.

“Dude, This thing is totally awesome!” he cried over the phone.

So I did what anyone would do… I went over to his studio to shoot a video interview while he walked us through the coolest features of Fab Filter Pro-Q 2.

Cool stuff you will learn from Chad in this video:

  • How to eq a kick drum
  • How to eq a snare
  • Low and high cut filtering
  • Mixing vocals and helping with bleed
  • One simple EQ trick to blend a vocal into a mix
  • Why Fab Filter can sound like an old record player
  • Many more cool features of Fab Filter Pro Q that you can use right away
  • Try it free with the 30 day demo.

I hope you enjoy this video as much as we did making it!



Watch it here or click the video below…

Fab Filter Pro-Q 2


Stereo Master Bus Proccessing using Stock and FREE plugins in Pro Tools

Stereo Master Bus Proccessing using Stock and FREE plugins in Pro Tools

by Lij Shaw -​

How would you like to make your mixes sound louder and more exciting?

Using only FREE plugins!!!

In a previous video I showed you how to make your mix sound waaayy better using only a handful of awesome plugins on the master mix bus. And this is a super simple way to make your mix sound punchier, louder, and just plain more exciting.


The plugins I showed you don’t come with your Pro Tools and cost you hard earned money to buy them. They might not be in your budget yet.

What if you could make your mixes sound waaayy better using only free and stock plugins that already come with your Pro Tools? Wouldn’t that be cool?

No need to get your wallet out or fret over which new plugin is going to give you that “finished record professional sound.”

In this video I show you how to use some of the stock plugins that come with your Pro Tools, and a couple of FREE plugins that you can go download right now at no charge (and no gimmicks to buy later. these are NOT demos).

If you have Pro Tools installed then you have most of the plugins you need for this great mixing trick.​ And the others you can get free at these links...

I hope you Rockstars enjoy this. It will help your mixes sound killer!

To learn more about recording sign up for the email list. So I can send you articles, videos, and podcasts to help you become a "Rockstar of the recording studio"

And Ill send you the Free Master Mix Bundle (when I finish and release it soon)

It will include:

  • Video walkthrough for mixing American Winter (instrumental track)
  • Pro Tools template for stock plugins
  • All the multitrack files for you to mix on your own!
  • You can you use it as your own mix example! (You just cant sell it please)

Cheers! Lij

Stereo Master Bus Processing in Protools with Lij Shaw

Stereo Master Bus Processing in Protools

by Lij Shaw -​

Are you looking for an easy way to make your mixes sound louder and more exciting?

Putting a lot of energy into carefully building a mix, with attention to getting all the instrument and track balances just right, is always going to be the best and longest path to a great mix. And having a killer song arrangement and performance will always be the first step.

However sometimes you need to get something to sound better in a hurry. Or maybe you have already worked hard on getting your mix to sounds good but it still not great yet or where you want it to be.

Fortunately there is a faster way to get your mixes to pop!

Using EQ, saturation, and dynamics processing on the master stereo bus is the secret sauce to getting an exciting mix with only a few plugins. It’s the quickest way to make your mixes sound “like a finished record” or “like they are on the radio”.

By using a series of master bus plugins and making small adjustments to each one you can make your mix go a long way.

In this video I show you how to quickly make a mix punchier and more exciting (and wider) with only four plugins. I use some of my favorite third party plugins, but you could also use stock plugins to get most of these same benefits.

​Ill follow this with another video using only stock Pro Tools plugins next time, and show you how to take your mix to the next level. So you can be a rockstar of the recording studio even with what you've already got in your DAW.

To learn more about recording sign up for the email list. So I can send you articles, videos, and podcasts to help you become a "Rockstar of the recording studio"

Cheers! Lij

Protools 11 New Track Hack!

Protools 11 New Custom Track Hack!

by Lij Shaw -​

In this video Lij covers a cool hack for creating your own custom tracks in Pro Tools 11.

Benjamin Benekos and Tyler Schaefer, two of the awesome interns at The Toy Box Studio, walk you through how to create your own custom track setup whether for an instrument or audio track.

You can easily call it up just the way you want anytime you make a new track in Pro Tools.

You can even use this hack to create a whole group of new tracks like drum groups for example!

To learn more about recording sign up for the email list. So I can send you articles, videos, and podcasts to help you become a "Rockstar of the recording studio"

Cheers! Lij

What is parallel loop compression?

What is parallel loop compression?

by Lij Shaw -​

In this video Lij walks you through using parallel compression to beef up your loops, and add more crunch.

Using a simple loop and the built in BF 1176 that comes stock with Pro Tools you can make your drum loops sound huge! This trick is so easy and will give your mixes that "In Your Face" sound!

To learn more about recording sign up for the email list. So I can send you articles, videos, and podcasts to help you become a "Rockstar of the recording studio"

Cheers! Lij

Pro Tools EQ 3 7-Band

How To EQ – Pro Tools EQ3 7-Band

Pro Tools EQ 3 7-Band

​By Lij Shaw -

This is a continuation of How to EQ part 1 where I explained some of the basics of EQ and Frequency. But now its time to get to the real stuff. What do we do with this EQ?

Ok Ok thats all nice and wonderful, but what do we do with these crazy colorful buttons and lines on our computer screen??
Eq 7-Band Knobs

Eq 7-Band Knobs

Most EQ plugins have a combination of knobs and graphs for managing the EQ curve. This means that you can often adjust the settings in a couple of different places. However they are controlling the same thing in the end. The EQ graph is usually low freq to the left and high freq to the right.

EQs often have frequency “bands” or points that you can move up or down or side to side to boost, cut, or move the center point of a frequency.

In Protools the stock EQ plugin is called the 7 band EQ. It has seven different frequency areas that represent the most common and useful areas to add or subtract EQ.

There a few different types of EQ curves to use:

  • Hi Pass and Low Pass filters - These are useful to remove frequencies above or below a certain point. You may find yourself using hi pass filters often to remove the unwanted bass, rumble, or boominess from some instruments.
  • Bell curves - These are the most typical EQ curve and boost or cut at the center frequency while tapering off to either side. This creates a bell shape. If the Q or quality of the bell curve is set high then the bell shape is very narrow and sharp. If the Q is low then the curve is wide and softer sounding.
  • Shelf EQ - This curve boosts or cuts the audio at the selected frequency point and then stays that way for the rest of the spectrum. A low shelf boosts everything below the target frequency, and a high shelf boost everything above. So If you boost with a low shelf at 100Hz then the frequencies below 100 will stay boosted all the way down to 0Hz. Or if you boost with a high shelf at 10kHz then the frequencies above 10kHz will stay boosted all the way up to infinity.

Here’s a breakdown of the Protools 7band EQ:

  • Low Cut

    • Cuts everything below the selected freq

    • The Q selects different dB/octave settings. 6dB is a gentle slope. And 24 dB is a sharp cut

  • LF - Low Frequency

    • This defaults to a low shelf but can be changed to a bell curve

    • The default freq is 100Hz

    • You can boost or cut by 12dB

    • 100 Hz and below is where the bass instruments live. Kick drums, bass guitar, and sub are living down below 100Hz

    • You won’t hear any of this on your iPhone speaker output! 

  • LMF - Low Mid Frequency

    • This is a bell curve

    • The default freq is 200 Hz (an octave up from the LF selection).

    • You can boost or cut by 18dB. More than the shelf EQ. A lot really!

    • 200 Hz and below is where the body of your tone lives. It’s also the area referred to as muddiness. Hearing the note of your bass guitar, the body of an acoustic guitar, the body of a snare drum, and the lower tone of a human voice all live in this area

    • 100-200 Hz This may sound a little more like the bass area on your iPhone speaker. I can hear 80 Hz if I hold the speaker up to my ear!

    • Despite the fact that too much info at 200-300 Hz will make your mix sound muddy humans actually find these frequencies comforting. 200-500 Hz is what we heard for 9 months growing inside our mothers wombs! So we feel safe and secure hearing this stuff. If you remove too much LMF to clear up your mix then it can lose its appeal.

  • MF - Mid Frequency

    • This is a bell curve

    • The default freq is 1000 Hz

    • You can boost or cut by 18dB. Thats a lot, by the way!

    • 1kHz is the tone used to test audio levels and studio equipment. Because it is right in the middle range of human hearing. The reason it is so easy to hear is because that matches the size of our ear canal. The hole in the side of your head resonates at 1 kHz! You ear is an instrument similar to a wind instrument.

    • This is the frequency area of voice. It is where we get most of our useful information in the audio world because our ears and hearing have developed through evolution to accommodate the human voice.

    • a 1000 Hz (or 1KHz) sounds pretty loud on your iPhone speaker. It is that midrange frequency that can start to get painful if it’s too loud.

    • You my want to add a little 1-2 KHz to your mix or to the guitars if you want them to sound a little louder. Music turned up loud needs some solid midrange to be crankable.

  • HMF - High Mid Frequency

    • This is a bell curve.

    • The default freq is 2000 Hz (or 2kHz).

    • You can boost or cut by 18dB. Be careful!

    • 2kHz and above is the upper range of the midrange and gets into what is called presence. This is the area where we get a sense of clarity in sound. Without proper presense a voice or instrument can sound cloudy or muffled.

    • Watch out that you don’t boost too much here or you will start to hurt your ears. Too much 2KHz can make my jaw tighten and ears cringe!

  • HF - High Frequency

    • This defaults to a shelf but can be changed to a bell curve.

    • The default freq is 6000 Hz (or 6 kHz).

    • You can boost or cut by 12dB.

    • This is where the treble and air in your music lives. This will affect the sound of a pick on an acoustic guitar, cymbals on the drums, tape hiss and general hiss noise from equipment. These are your brightness frequencies.

    • If you boost with a shelf above 6-10 kHz you can get a sense of hi fidelity and clarity. This can sound like you are adding more air to the mix.

    • However watch that dont add too much as it will make your mix sound brittle and very “un-crankable!”

And of course, boosting is not the only direction to go with EQ. There are many who swear that cutting EQ sounds better than boosting. So if you find a problem area in your music you can use the cut feature to remove it rather than trying to add more of the frequency that you like.

Another consideration is that the more that you boost or cut EQ the more it creates phase shift in the audio. When you add up the phase shift of different tracks together it can make the final result sound unfocused and you may not like the results.

A smart practice is to only EQ when you really want it, and avoid EQ if you don’t really need it.

A great way to get more familiar with EQ and what the different frequency areas are like is to use a signal generator plugin to sweep through and hear the different frequencies. Protools has a stock plugin called Signal Generator. You can sweep the signal frequency up and down to hear the change in pitch and what parts of the low bass you can hear, or where the top-most frequency is for your speakers and your ears, for example. Play with this until you become familiar with all the frequencies. another great resource is the app listed below!

But be very careful that your speakers are not turned up loud while you sweep the Signal Generator or you could damage them!

I hope this helps explain some of what an EQ is all about and gives you a little more insight into how to use the stock EQ in your audio app. Most all audio apps come with some sort of free eq plugin and they are generally similar to the one I described here.

If you want to get more practice understanding EQ then I highly recommend you get a cool little app called Quiztones. This app lets you practice identifying various tones and EQ selections.

Quiztones puts the fun into learning EQ!

Good luck!

how To EQ In Logic Pro X

How To EQ In Logic Pro X

by Lij Shaw -​

In this video I cover how to use EQ in Logic. This is a basic walkthrough to show you what the different frequencies are and how you can use them to EQ a drum loop.

Ill be making more videos that go much deeper into EQ and drum loops soon for sure!

To learn more about recording visit and sign up for the email list. So I can send you articles, videos, and podcasts to help you become a "Rockstar of the recording studio"

Cheers! Lij

How To EQ

How to EQ – What Are Frequencies?

What Are Frequencies?

​By Lij Shaw -

Ok so you just got started in Garageband or Protools even and you have all these killer new plugins at your disposal that you have never seen before. They look so awesome and seem so powerful!

So why does your head hurt when you start trying to figure out how to use all these amazing plugins? 

Lets start with the simplest tool and probably the most useful next to the level fader,

EQ = The Equalizer.

Despite the fact that it sounds like you will be endowed with super hero powers, here is what Wikipedia says about EQ:

The Oracle Wikipedia

Equalizers are used in recording studios, broadcast studios, and live sound reinforcement to correct the response of microphones, instrument pick-ups, loudspeakers, and hall acoustics.[2] ... ...Equalizers are also used in music production to adjust the timbre of individual instruments by adjusting their frequency content and to fit individual instruments within the overall frequency spectrum of the mix.[3]:73–74

Oops! That may not have helped that much. Now you’re even more confused!

So let’s dig in deeper. Most likely all you care about is how is this thing going to make my song sound killer when I mix it? Right? And thats a good question…

So Lets start at the bottom and work our way to the top.

First of all what is EQ?

  • In the simplest form EQ or equalization is a way to filter your audio to boost or cut certain frequencies with the intent usually of making your recordings sound better.
  • It may be that the microphone didn’t capture what you wanted when recording and you need to correct it.
  • Or it may be that you just want to change the overall sound of a track. Perhaps you want to give it an old timey filter for example…
  • EQ is a tool that you can use to change the sound and create something new.

Frequencies are the waveforms that make up sound. Sound is a wave of particles moving through the air just like a wave moving across the surface of the water. However a water wave is on a flat plane (sort of) while a sound wave is expanding out in three dimensions like a sphere.

If the waves are big with a long space between peaks then they are low frequencies, meaning that the frequency of waves is not that many per second.


Frequency Differences

If the waves are happening quickly then they create high frequencies. Low frequencies create sound like bass and subs in music while high frequencies create sounds like treble and "air".

Frequency is measured as the number of peak to peak wave forms happening every second.

So one Hertz is one wave per second. The Frequencies that we care about in sound are from the lowest 20 Hertz (or 20 Hz) to the highest audible frequency 20 KiloHertz or (20 KHz). This is the extent of what the human ear can hear (not including anyone with exceptional hearing).

Most of us can’t even hear the full range from 20-20k. You can test yourself to find out what you hear.

Frequencies in music can be described as octaves. An octave is a doubling of the frequency. So the first musical frequency that we can hear (or feel) is the C note, “C0″, that’s at 16.35Hz which is just below the lowest frequency we can hear at 20 Hz. Then the octaves double as they go up and you find middle "C" at 261.63 Hz four octaves up from the bottom. the highest octave on a piano is "C8" at 4186.01 Hz or almost 4.2 kHz. And finally the top of human hearing is about "C10" which is at 16744.04Hz or about 16.7kHz. This is ten octaves above the lowest note "C0".

( I referenced some of this from Easy Ear Training if you want to read more. )  

The bottom octave of hearing is 20 Hz to 40 Hz. While the top Octave of audio is a much larger range of frequencies from 10KHz to 20 KHz. Notice that the first octave is only a difference in frequency of 20 wave forms per second while the top octave is a difference of 10 thousand wave forms per second!

(There is a lot LESS room in music for a variety of low notes to be present than the vast amount of space available for higher frequencies. But that’s another discussion)

If you want to get more practice understanding EQ then I highly recommend a cool little app called Quiztones. This app lets you practice identifying various tones and EQ selections.

Good luck!

And please add your comments below: What did you find helpful about this post? What do you think I missed that is important to you?


Hello Rockstars!

Hello Rockstars...

You have found the right place!

My name is Lij Shaw. I have been making records for the past 25 years in studios all over. Today I own my own recording studio, The Toy Box StudioIt is a privilege to be able to say that every day when I wake up I get to go to work with a smile on my face because I am doing what I love!

I have learned a ton about recording from all my experiences in the studio, and can now walk confidentially into almost any recording session knowing that by the end of the day I will have helped the producer, artist, or band achieve their creative vision and create their best music.

At The Toy Box Studio our motto is... You love to make music. We love to help you make your music great!

Lij Shaw
The Toy Box Studio

However I didn't always have the confidence to handle a recording session with real people spending real money on real projects!

I remember feeling like there was so much to learn in the studio (In fact I still feel that way. Hopefully that drive to learn never goes away).

I would get soooo nervous before the start of a recording session. I could hardly relax the night before a big tracking session, or I would have a hard time feeling confident about my mixes.

I wanted to know more about recording and become a better engineer and producer.

I just wanted to learn what the pros knew!

My heart was in it, and I trusted my passion for music, and my taste in music.​ But I felt like I needed a chance to work with the pros who really understood how to make great records.

All I wanted to do was have the chance to be in a real recording studio with the real pros!

Well I got that chance! After going to school for recording at MTSU I was able to intern at the world class, Woodland Studios in Nashville TN.

After my internship finished I had to move on. The studio didn't have an opening for an assistant engineer, and I wanted to be in the control room somewhere making records.

 At first I didn't find any work in recording and got discouraged. But I kept looking (and delivered a lot of pizzas!) until I finally found a studio that I loved, and people that I could connect with, Alex The Great

That was years ago. But one recording session led to another until I was able to open my own studio, The Toy Box Studio, in East Nashville TN, which has recently become a Grammy winning studio (Yeehaw!).

Here is a walkthrough of The Toy Box Studio. (BTW This was meant to be my Bonnaroo to Bonnaroo beard for 2015. Its been a year. I'm not sure if i'm keeping it. So you may see Facebook photos of me with and without the beard.)

​It can be easy to forget how much there is to learn as we become more experienced.

And understandably as we get better at recording we don't always think of the details of what we are doing. We just simply do it!

However those of you learning to record from the start or anywhere along the way for that matter are probably still itching to know more. You want to know how things are done and have them broken down for you into simple steps and easy to understand logic.

Thats where Recording Studio Rockstars comes in. 

I want to bring you into the recording studio to learn from the pros! Ill be creating articles, videos, tutorials, and then more involved courses to help you learn how to become a rockstar of the recording studio yourself. So you can make the records you want to make.


I'm also launching a new podcast very soon. I will have inspiring guests on the show to interview them for tips, tricks, and guidance to give you the momentum you need to stay on your path to making great records!

So thanks again for joining me here, and stay tuned as I bring you more content here on the blog, on the podcast, and straight to your email.

I cant wait to meet you and hear the music you are recording. I want to help you become a Recording Studio Rockstar!​

In order to help me help you the best way possible please leave a comment below and tell me your top question or struggle with recording today.

What stands between you and becoming a rockstar in the studio?

please comment below...


Lij Shaw