One of the cool things about the internet has been the decentralization of education that has occurred, in large part due to sites that allow people to upload and share their own content with viewers directly.
Back in the day, it was much more difficult to find resources for learning, generally being limited to whatever happened to be available at the local library. As a teenager, i checked out every book on guitar that my library had, and quickly ran out of resources for developing further musical understanding, having to resort to a very limited selection of magazines, instructional VHS tapes, tablature books, etc, to advance my knowledge.
Nowadays, there is no shortage of content being continually created and easily available for instant perusal via the web—so much, in fact, that the problem is now one of sifting through the vast amount of material available, to find what is actually worthwhile. If you just choose at random, the quality is likely to be of sketchy credibility. Rather than squandering my time copying people who are mimicking other people who are copying something they read in a forum, i’d rather focus on sources that will provide more a raw investigative slant.
So which Yootoobz does PerforModule officially recommend? And whyz? Read on to find out! (Headings are links to video pages.)
12tone makes music theory analysis videos in a very unique style, drawing cute little cartoons on a sheet of music paper to go along with the ideas. Though i myself don’t usually look so much as listen, surely the imagery helps to solidify the concepts for many watchers. They are also often quite clever, containing easter-egg references to all sorts of things, which can be fun to notice.
The main appeal of the videos to me, however, is 12tone’s insightful and exploratory custom analysis of music theory concepts, relating them in a way that helps to unfurl deeper understanding of the complex and very much not unified worlds of music theory, by unpeeling concepts in a digestible fashion, avoiding getting lost in abstract, heady pedantics like music theory lessons can often fall into. He does use technical terms here and there which might not be familiar to most people, but in a way that due to the context helps to understand them better. 12tone often pries into the divergences of terminology that exist to describe similar concepts in different music theory systems, and explains things from multiple perspectives, since there is never “one perfect way” to analyze what’s going on in music; it all depends on the context and standpoint of the analytic conventions used, which can vary quite a lot based on era, culture, or other factors.
Watching his videos here and there over the years has defintely enriched my ability to grasp what’s going on with musical scales, chords, interactions between intervals, compositional strategies, and sometimes ranging into exotic topics that delve way outside the normal realm of conventional “12 tone” music (ironically?).
The speech in the videos seems heavily edited to trim pauses, so it sounds like someone talking who never takes a moment to breathe, which can be unnerving / exhausting to listen to at first, but once you get used to it, it begins to feel more akin to the inner dialogue of a highly efficient thinking mind: a smooth and condensed transmission of rapid, uninterrupted information.
The undisputed and most trusted source for technical demos related to DAWs and audio plugins, Dan Worrall is a refreshing breath of intoxicating fresh air amongst the sea of rank bullshit that is youtube at large. Known for his Fabfilter and Tokyo Dawn product tutorials and lately releasing more on his own personal videos, this is a person who it is evident has a built-in ethical objection to spreading information based simply on rumor or hearsay; no, he digs deep and finds out the answers firsthand, using available tools to analyze microscopically what is really going on with topics such as linear phase EQ, stereo panning, dithering, sample rate conversion, etc. and presents to us the no-nonsense, real-talk, straight-up results, explained in thoughtful, comprehensive ways and with well-positioned visuals. He explores topics that peel your brain right open, exposing the third ear and bathing it in uncorrupted reality.
By proving his points with clear demonstrations while demystifying existing shortcomings of audio processing technology, Dan manages to present himself in an exceedingly professional, polished manner whilst also (paradoxically?) coming across as super down-to-earth and humble. I have a feeling i’d learn more having a chat with him for an hour once than by going to several years of paid university lectures.
Top this off with a smooth, deep “made for radio” voice and nobody can come close to touching the quality and helpfulness of Dan’s vidz. There is no snake oil, no glam, no fragile ego, no wack-ass wankery going on here. Just pure gold.
I’ve worked with Brian on various projects and appeared on his podcast twice. One huge project was helping put together the ADM packs at Isotonik Studios, which are epic, themed conglomerations of crafted devices spanning the era when Brian was going by the moniker “AfroDJMac”.
What’s really inspiring about Brian is how he’s constantly churning out new Ableton Live packs every month (both for sale and free), and every time it’s something new and different and unique. The volume of output is pretty insane, and i appreciate how it tends more towards the quirky, weird, spontaneous side of things rather than towards bland mainstream trendiness. Lately he’s been releasing podcast episodes with awesome guests at a prodigious rate. That’s all i’ll say here now, as you can find plenty of instances of me gushing about how cool Brian is on other blog posts.
I’m all about optimizing software workflow with customization, and Madeleine’s Ableton Live “Insider” and “Quick” Tips are pretty much the best source for these sorts of cool tricks. I remember learning about the Options.txt options from her site years ago, which was hugely useful and beneficial to me personally.
Sonic Bloom has a vast plethora of Ableton Live freebies available on the site, which i really enjoy the spirit of, containing many rare, weird, and interesting sorts of sounds. We’ve also collaborated a couple times on freebie releases, which is always fun.
Sonic Bloom sells sound packs and Max for Cats MaxforLive devices which tend on the quirky, oddball side while being highly practical and usable. I recently reviewed the Sonic Bloom Array Mbira Pack, definitely a peculiar and cool set of instruments. Their latest release is Grain Relay, a wicked combination of granular delay, pitch shifting, reverb, down-sampling and ring modulation. It’s super fun for sound design when you just want to twist knobs and make wild sounds!
David of MixbusTv is an audio engineer who shares lots of videos covering things such as mix techniques, industry standards, product reviews, and mix philosophy. He’s one of the most engaging youtubers i know, reacting or responding to pretty much every comment, even though he has quite a large following. He’s very receptive to feedback about tricks and tools he hasn’t yet tried, but at the same time very clear about what his established and intentional methods are.
MixbusTv has a very straightforward, no-bullshit attitude when it comes to describing viewpoints and addressing topics from mundane to controversial, which i always appreciate. Lots of useful info can be gleaned. The real value i think is in the underlying core concepts that are demonstrated by the use-case scenario examples, rather than the specific methods explored each time; for example, if he demonstrates a compressor or a clipper unit in use on a track, it’s less about that specific model of device used than it is about the purpose and methods by with which he’s applying it.
Lately David’s got a “Rapid-Fire Q&A” series in which he briefly answers a series of listener queries, which are nifty if you have a short attention span. Which i know most of us do, let’s be honest. What? Squirrel.
While not an audio production channel, mathematics applies to audio production in a plethora of ways, both analog and digital. Numberphile is the coolest mathematics channel i’ve found for taking fun conceptual dives into random quirky concepts about numbers and mathematics, laid out in a way that is accessible to the layperson.
My personal mathematical knowledge is pretty weak compared to any real mathematician, and yet i use calculations of various types pretty much every day. The more i hone and expand my knowledge, the more tricks i can learn for using numbers to figure out things. As a simple example, learning about logarithmic scaling was useful for devising my Go-To Q values.
Numberphile = Brady, who interviews various mathematicians around the world about various interesting key topics, which are explored with sharpie marker on large sheets of brown paper (and/or sometimes other props). Even when you don’t understand all the technical details of the mathematical operations being performed (i usually don’t), things are explained in an overarching manner that provides a strong impression of the underlying mechanics of the given concept and why they are special, due to Brady’s thoughtful guiding queries. Like 12tone above, numberphile helps us to learn and grow by stretching our mental comfort zones—by exposing us to concepts which require stretching the brain to even begin to think about.
It’s fascinating as fudge to hear about all the crazy thinks that can be done by manipulating numbers. A lot of it is simply mind-blowing, and leaves you with a sense of awe at the scope of complexity inherent in the universe.
PS Audio is a high end consumer audio company specializing in products for home audio playback. I personally have no experience with their products (or those of a similar tier), but i got hooked on their youtube channel at some point.
Basically, each video is PS Audio’s CEO Paul answering a question sent in, usually about a technical aspect of audio playback. The videos are from a consumer hi-fi standpoint. Though i myself am coming from a “pro audio” standpoint as an engineer, i was a music listener first, and since i do have a handful of moderately “hi-fi” consumer devices (and i do use some of them for mixing and even sometimes mastering), that side of the market is still relatable to me. It’s definitely interesting to see the difference between what’s of greater priority to the “audiophile” vs the “audio producer” crowds.
What i like best about Paul is that, unlike many (most?) (all???)”audiophile” youtube channels, he dispenses with the subjective, airy “fluff” they tend to be prone to, filled with buzzwords about vague impressions culled from imprecise comparisons or based on unproven presumptions.
Instead, Paul gives very direct, down-to-earth scientific explanations as well as his own personal opinions on various topics plaguing audiophile forum discussions online; everything from DACs (digital-to-analog converters), tube stages, pre- and power amps, power regeneration, building gear, audio comparisons, de-gaussing audio components… you name it. As a CEO of a company selling this type of stuff, you’d think he would come across as some sort of slimy salesman trying to eke a buck out of you, but he doesn’t at all; instead he seems like a down-to-earth fella actually trying to share his experience with people by conveying practical information they can use.
Brian Wampler is the guitar pedal manufacturer behind Wampler Pedals. What’s cool about him is that he will really dig deep into the audio processing, showing you actual circuit design and explaining how they work and why they cause the audible effects they do. He’s someone who would prefer to test something directly himself rather than just repeat the common mythos. You know he’s not full of shit, because if he was, his pedals would not be as highly regarded as they are. You can also kinda just tell by watching him.
If you’re interested in analog gear, circuit design, signal flow, or crafting your own audio effects, it’s definitely recommended to subscribe and browse Wampler’s video history for all kinds of nifty bits.
Glenn Fricker is a crass motherfucker who isn’t afraid to tear shitty gear a new one. He’s a refreshing bolt of profanity in a world of overbearing censorship. Focused on metal, this channel might not seem so applicable to producers of other genres. I myself do work with metal to a degree. However if you don’t, i think that there’s tons of symbiotic overlap in learning techniques for any genre when it comes to mixing and especially to recording, so even then it’s worth perusing.
One of Glenn’s most fun series is the “Stupid Musician Texts” wherein audio engineers share the ridiculous exchanges they have with would-be clients. It’s hilarious!
A trick i picked up from Glenn was to sum dual guitar amp mics into a mixer before bringing them in through the audio interface (checking them for optimal tone & phase first of course). It’s a great fucking technique! I also use it for vocal mic pairs. Something about summing the signals in analog first before they go into digital blends them nicer… maybe the analog summing of common harmonics has to do with it, or some shit.
Now this dude gets deeeep. Rick on guitar is like an expert hacker on a computer network. His fingers dance around the strings, outlining various concepts that he describes as he goes. His understanding of how note patterns form into scales, intervals, chords, and progressions is vast and intricate, and the proof is in the pudding. Rick’s mastery of music theory is evident in his demonstrations of aspects of it. He also has a great sense of aesthetics in regards to timbre, arrangement, etc due to his studio production experience.
In the excellent “What Makes This Song Great” series, Rick goes over studio multi-tracks of major, well-known songs with a fine-tooth comb, soloing tracks and pointing out melodic, harmonic, and production aspects that give the songs their unique identities. It’s super awesome hearing individual parts of songs in isolation that we’ve heard a thousand times before but only as a stereo 2-track mixdown; there are often subtleties contained within tracks that we didn’t know were there but which upon reflection we realize have added essential qualities to the songs. It’s fascinating to behold and it’s really enlightening from a creative production standpoint.
A very much guitar-centric channel, Paul is where to look when it comes to style and taste in the playing of the axe. He is constantly teaching techniques and his tones are always superb.
Paul is very good about selecting interesting topics to explore, which almost always can be investigated to help spruce up one’s playing and to add new options to one’s toolkit. From exploring sixth intervals to recording while facing a corner like Robert Johnson to using diminished chords to pointing out common mistakes people make when playing certain riffs, the material tends to be highly practical and described in a clear, direct manner.
Even if you don’t play guitar, if you do any sort of audio composition, performance, or production, i think it would be beneficial for you to browse Paul’s channel and check some out, as the topics explored and concepts explained can still osmose harmoniously into useful tips for any engineer.
I don’t really know anything about Gamma1734 other than that they are an extremely talented piano player who drops a constant stream of performed pieces—with scores shown—every day. When i check my youtube subscriptions feed, i will add videos i want to watch to my “watch later” playlist. I like to intersperse Gamma1734’s videos wedged between other videos on this playlist, so that when i play through, there are pleasant piano interludes between the more verbally-based videos, providing nice mental breaks leading to a better overall flow pacing.
A cool thing about Gamma1734 is the range of pieces that are tackled, which vary from russian folk music to video game covers to all sorts of stuff. I like that i mostly don’t recognize the pieces, so they are very fresh and new to my ears. Except for the Final Fantasy covers he’s been doing lately; i recognize all of those…
Another cool thing about Gamma1734 is the expressiveness of the playing. There is a real difference between the approach of the playing styles of most amateur musicians, who play note-by-note, versus an accomplished classical player, who plays measures in “surges” of notes by bar, with graceful delicate groove and tempo flux that greatly enhances the emotionality as compared with if they were played stiffly and rigidly on a grid.
The final cool thing about Gamma1734 i’ll mention (and where the learning comes in) is that the sheet music for each piece is always shown and follows along page by page, so you can watch along and listen, which really aids in connecting the logical brain with the inner ear, helping to understand what is going in the music performance.
If you want some percussion lessons, this is a great place to go. Margaret has an impeccable sense of rhythm, and provides simple, easy-to-follow exercises which you can play along with to build up your rhythmic fundamentals.
My 9-yr old son learned to play Darth Vader’s Theme (aka The Imperial March) on glockenspiel the other day via one of Margaret’s lessons and picked it up quite well and in a very short time, which is a testament to the effectiveness of her teaching approach. He’s been playing it over and over again since! We can’t understand what she’s saying since we don’t speak French, but it doesn’t matter because the concepts get across anyways!
You might also know him as EraserMice. Eric has a range of tutorial video playlists available for perusal, ranging from MaxforLive and Ableton tips & tricks, to art, to video game programming. Lately he’s been doing videos on making a platformer in Unity. In my opinion, his tutorials are vastly better than the typical because he really digs into the nitty gritty and describes efficient workflow for effective results piece-by-piece via realtime demonstrations. They are extremely thorough, and you really could go from a complete novice to quite accomplished by following them carefully. He also has a crazy epic Lego world that i am very jealous of! Not for the faint of cortex.
Since Linus Tech Tips is extremely popular with a widespread following and since many of you are probably already familiar with them, i debated whether to bother inclusion on this list, but since 15 is a more eye-catching number than 14, i figured i’d toss it on.
Linus Tech Tips is cool if you want to stay up on the most current, cutting edge tech when it comes to computers. They do lots of benchmark tests on lots of things, custom PC builds—all kinds of crazy stuff. If you can stand the cringey sponsor spots, they seem relatively honest and unbiased when it comes to product reviews, especially when it comes to the most cutting-edge brand-new technology, as evidenced by their testing procedures and documentation. So give it a gander, eh?
I could add a whole bunch of other channels to this list, but i wanted to keep the list somewhat short and sweet. Besides, the more i add, the more i have to type, and i want to go do some yardwork now that it’s finally getting warm enough to, up here in the mountains.
MINOR BONUS RANT!
Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier to make a video about a topic than it is to actually be an expert at that topic, and so there are a plethora of videos of questionable quality out there, particularly when it comes to audio production. I can’t even count how many times i’ve watched a tutorial video and just been shaking my head the whole time, “no, no, no… what a load of crap”. It seems like lots of people read something in a forum online and then think of it as some sort of gospel to parrot, having never actually vetted said technique through applied testing. I can’t condone ever doing things “just because you are supposed to”. That just results in everybody copying each other, and it gets tedious and bland quickly. So whenever i hear about a technique that sounds neat, i’ll try it out myself, comparing before-and-after results. Even if they are right sometimes, never ever “believe the experts”, because that shuts your brain off; always trust your own ears and do your own investigations. Besides, you’ll generally learn WAY more by barging in and doing things wrong and being humble and self-reflective, learning from those mistakes, than you will by obediently following “accepted practices”, quaking in fear at the possibility of committing a minor mistake at some point.