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Mixing
Old 6th August 2002
  #1
Mixing

How do you approach a mix? start with the drums/vocals/loudest part of the song/all faders up? When do you switch on the stereo buss compressor? Do you match levels/EQ for all the songs on the album or do you leave that for the mastering engineer?
Old 6th August 2002
  #2
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
either buss comp on to begin with or it doesnt make it on.

i start with the drums and work my way out to the bass>guitars>vox... drums are the foundation.

i just put the song on cycle and let it run until i get it roughed in.

the i put the session on cycle and mix all the songs as a whole. if a song in particular needs more than one run before the next song or if i have a bunch of ideas i want tweaked before cycling again, i stay on that for a bit and then start back up the album.... this way is pretty new for me since i wasnt aware i could do this before. songs become pretty consistant across the board in levels so i try not to leave that for mastering. as the mixing progresses, i start to sequence the album as well and tweak the mixes in their final order until everything settles in nicely [or as nice as i can get it]
Old 6th August 2002
  #3
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
jon's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I start with all faders up and work fast to get the song rocking in the first pass or two...kind of like doing live sound for a band that had no soundcheck. Then, I go quickly through each section, dealing with dynamics and EQ. Then come the effects, then the fader rides.

Compressor-wise, I typically have an SMC2B on the desk outputs from the start, and monitor the returns from the Masterlink outputs via a PSX100SE dithered to 16bits with UV22HR.

Midway or towards the end, I switch on the SSL buss comp and decide if it's bringing something to the party or not.

Levelwise, I print just under 0dBFS to the Masterlink, or as hot as it sounds good to a 1/2" Studer or Ampex.

Jon
Old 6th August 2002
  #4
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
Jon - You used to mix with an L2 in the chain to see how it would sound in mastering do you still do that?
Old 6th August 2002
  #5
Lives for gear
 
sonic dogg's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
....kik....snare...bass....levels and eq's....when theres a pulse then all else is layers .....
Old 6th August 2002
  #6
Gear Addict
 
nOiz's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Jon, that's a Tube Tech SMC2B multi-band compressor, right? How do you like that unit? Does your unit have the pan control?

My mix buss inserts are Prism MLA2 + Avalon AD2077 + Crane Song STC-8. Pretty much same as my analog chain for mastering work.
Old 6th August 2002
  #7
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
One method I've seen that I really liked was lining all the faders up in a straight line, pushing "play" and then adjusting the mix while listening to everything at once. I have more fun building from the bottom up but the straight-line "sculpting" method can often lead you into fabulous unexpected results.
Old 6th August 2002
  #8
Lives for gear
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
I'm probably doing it wrong, but for me, I mix down to two tracks usually without a two buss compressor or with it just to nock of a db or two and send it to both a masterlink and to a two track (usually just use two tracks on my 24 track with good converters. Then when the mix sounds good, I make several more versions to the masterlink from the two track, one with stereo compression (usually an Avalon 2044), one with compression and eq, and one with just eq. Then decide which sounds the best of the 4. I guess it is kinda a premastering thing. The other good thing about it for a project studio, can free up equipment to use on individual tracks etc.
Old 7th August 2002
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
depending on what sort of song .. but as i generally am doing rock/ indie gtr music so its kinda simple..

I approach it like a live mix like Jon said and allow myslef no more than 5 passes.

I then spend more time working out what it is that will be driving th esong like grts, riffs, loops whatever and focus on them with EQ, compression to bring them to the fore. The vocals are turned on at this stage to give me some perspective of where and how they will fit into the song

Then sort out the drums if they have not already been sorted out b4 in the previous step. So between the drums and the curcial elements of the mix, majority of the mix is already sorted.

Next i go through the remainder of the tracks and eq/comp then to taste. Make a few more fader moves to bring them into play.

Push and pull a few faders and rides and sit back for 5 or 10 and listen..

Go out down the street for 15-20 minutes to get drink/coffee/food and [email protected] da babes on tha beach... haaahah

Go back in and have a good listen for 2-5 passes.. sit back for 5 minutes and think about what and where and how the song is going and where it needs to be by this stage.

Once the song is sitting cool i fiddle around with some FX but keep it to a minimum and never have more than 3 or 4 going in total otherwise it might choke the song and turn into some 80's nightmare..... ( i still love my AMS RMX 16 however great gated room programs! 80's in a box!)

If there is some major clashin i will then get out some sonic scalples and do some hard core rolling off and filtering of nasty frequencies.

this is where i punch in the 2bus.... Al Smart C2 is turned on and left for a few passes.. If its a really dynamics rock song i then set Al to stun with stax of output gain and then pipe that into an Avalon 747. The near useless compressor section of that particular avalon for some reason reacts really well to the incoming signal from Al Smart.. so i have set it up so its all punchy and vibey and sets the mood for the song. I then usually pop in some of the gorgeous 747 EQ for some sheen and spit and polish!

I then call bands or artist in to studio to listen..... and it all starts aghain as to where they want to bein the mix and more importantly!!!!! WHO IS THE LOUDEST!!!!! Grrrr

But its all good fun and all ina days work... i love mixing one song a day, 2 is ok if they are kinda the same but more than that i feel like its a production line...

BTW i like to start @ 11am.. what time to mist people start?

PEACE
Wiggy
Old 7th August 2002
  #10
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
about midnight.
Old 7th August 2002
  #11
Lives for gear
 
chap's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Usually I'll start more or less like everyone here does, from the 'foot' of the song on up. Lately I've been experimenting with the opposite approach. Vocal first followed by rhythm guitars, bass and drums and then add the colors. I've found that I spend less time 'chasing' my drum mix if I get to them last. Of course, anytime I do this, I need to remind myself 7- or 8 times that the drums will be here soon.
cheers,
Chap

Anyone notice the tendency to mix too hot lately?
Old 7th August 2002
  #12
Lives for gear
 
C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
2 different ways ......

1. I do tracking and mixing

2. I do only mixing.



1. I'll mix / eq / comp while tracking ...... Most of the time I have a pretty good idea of what the end result should sound like so during tracking sessions from time to time I'll tell the musicians to take 5 and I'll throw some eq's and comp's on the ProTools tracks and do some quick mixing. my most used plugs are waves ren eq and comp .... simply because I can work with them extremely fast on the procontrol dsp section and because they are good. however I will during final mix sometimes change over to other plugs or hardware inserts.

during tracking I'll have a waves C4 (usualy in bypass though) and an L1 on the master. during mix swap those for Lin multiband comp. and L2 .... (unusable during tracking cause of HUGE plugin delay.)

or another option is to use one or two engines of the system 6000 and use those on the master (brickwall limiter and / or eq multiband comp)


2. When I only mix I go Jon's way ..... run through the song a coupe of times and have an overall level mix at first and then take sections seperately under the loop. no rules there ..... whatever strikes me as being a problem I'll deal with first .... might be the drums , vocal, bass ...; whatever.

Add effects as I go along .... start automations once everything sounds like I want it to sound. Given the possibilities in Pro Tools I do spend A LOT of time automating tracks. especially vocals. instead of over compressing I will follow and tweak the vocal track automation a lot. I hate de-essers (probably because I don't have a good one or I can't use them) therefore volume automation is my favourite de-esser. but it can be time consuming. Still I get the best results doing it that way.





once all songs for a project is mixed I will ask the mastering engineer to clean up my mess ...
Old 7th August 2002
  #13
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I find I get most of my sounds during tracking, so when it comes to mixing its more about getting levels, some slight eqing (usually no more then + or - 3db) , adding a little reverb/delay for space, and a bunch of 2 buss compression . Its pretty common for me to only use 5 or 6 plug ins and a reverb and delay from my outboard.

I dont see how guys are maxing out big PT rigs. Plug ins just dont sound as good as decent outboard stuff. I definetly believe in commiting to tape and not overworking something during a mix.
Old 7th August 2002
  #14
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
im kinda digging these multiband comps to do double duty. the C4 is just lovely on independant tracks, although i cant get it to work for the on the mix buss. i dont use a lot of EQ but a lot of compression. but im doing mostly rock man.... but this alt.folk project i have in session right now about to mix i probably wont use ANY compression, DEFINATELY altiverb. some EQ is needed [i didnt track most of it... although MY tracks i did record will need no eq, jus some altiverb]

i cant do the all faders up to start for some reason, it is just too much to take in i guess.

i guess i forgot to mention, i like a LOT of ear candy in mixes, just subtle stuff that you only hear with headphones but it makes your head jerk when you hear it. weird fx kinda stuff. that fireworks i played with was a tasty piece of gear, i NEED one of those.... to go with my vortex.
Old 7th August 2002
  #15
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
I usually cheat, since it's my room and my players (and both are consistent). When I sit down to mix (like I will this afternoon), I'll typically have between 9 and 15 songs to do. Today, it's nine songs. And the project has to be in Fed Ex tomorrow night, with three mixes of each song - a full mix, a mix with lead vocals muted, and a track mix with only instruments. (Occasionally, my clients will also as for a track with only lead vocal, and one with only BGV's).

So I'll do the Lord Alge thing - I use the same compressors and EQ's in the same places as a rule, and I've got the routings for busses and subixes saved on the console.

Anyway, I'll patch up for the mix, based on the first energetic song. 1176 of kick and bass, Summit TLA 100A on snare, Vac Rac EQ on both of the above. Two drum busses - one's a Distressor buss, and the other is the clean buss, which has a 1969 on it.

Millennia NSEQ and TCL-2 on acoustics (there's almost always two acoustic tracks - either one in stereo or two passes). Vac Rac compressor on fiddle, CL-1B on steel, Peavey VC/L2 on mandolin. (or on the tracks whhere they will be on one song or another). By the way. the last few instruments are pretty flexible - if I think of another compressor to use as I'm patching up, I'll do so. Joe Meek SC2 on the second pair of keyboard tracks - if it's not organ (organ patches from a synth really seem to benefit from the Meek sound). And Cranesong Trakkers for the first two tracks of electric guitars, Purple MC76's on the next two (these tracks may or may not be stereo passes - if they are, I run the Trakkers in stereo; if not, not. I'll add other compressors as new instruments show up, or bypass them if a tracks doesn't need any compressor. Vari Mu on the main output buss.

Observant readers may note that I haven't mentioned vocals at all. Once I have the instrumental track to where I'm happy with it (And remember that since I controlled what went to tape and how it got there, I'm not having to mix to fix...) with few if any fader moves (you gotta love limiters for that), I'll take the two mix and all the vocal tracks into Pro Tools. (I record onto DA-78 and 88 machines) So my Pro Tools session usually has the two mix, a lead vocal, somewhere between 1 and 6 tracks of BGV's. An yes, I've got a template for this. Oh, and any loops that are on the track that don't go top to bottom in the song, I'll dump into PT as well, along with the rare track that needs a little editing for any reason.

At that point, I'll automate whatever I need to do with the lead vox, compress and EQ to taste with the Waves Rennaisance stuff, and I have a Renn EQ, L1, and PowR dither on the output buss.

Somewhere around here is the final mix. I'll bounce that to disk. The other mixes the client wants are simply a patter of muting the appropriate tracks and bouncing to disk again.

It's a messy way to work, and doen't yield the best results possible, but if gives the client what he wants in the time frame that he wants it.
Old 7th August 2002
  #16
Wow, Dave, 9 - 15 mixes in an afternoon My head yuktyy if I only have one day for one song, normally I take two days per song, so I can sleep over it and listen to it in the morning with fresh ears, except for the first song, that takes two or three days with all the set up involved. Good thing I got my own studio
Old 7th August 2002
  #17
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by mwagener
Wow, Dave, 9 - 15 mixes in an afternoon My head yuktyy if I only have one day for one song, normally I take two days per song, so I can sleep over it and listen to it in the morning with fresh ears, except for the first song, that takes two or three days with all the set up involved. Good thing I got my own studio
I do too, but my clients pay by the song. The less time I spend, the better my hourly rate. If you wanna come by today or tomorrow, you can see how it sounds...
Old 7th August 2002
  #18
Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Martin


I do too, but my clients pay by the song. The less time I spend, the better my hourly rate. If you wanna come by today or tomorrow, you can see how it sounds...
Today is too tight, but I'm in town tomorrow for mastering, maybe I could sneak out for a while. I call in the morning (well, after 11 heh )
Old 7th August 2002
  #19
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by mwagener


Today is too tight, but I'm in town tomorrow for mastering, maybe I could sneak out for a while. I call in the morning (well, after 11 heh )
After 11:00 works - if you find time to make it out, I'll buy lunch. I'll e-mail some directions a little later today, just so you'll have them.

Oh, and thats actually 9 mixes in a day and a half or two days; I'm about patched up and ready to start listening. And once I get a sound I'm fairly happy with on the first songs, essentially there are only relatively minor adjustments to make for I should get the instrumental tracks done before I collapse tonight. Tomorrow is Pro Tools and CD burning.
Old 7th August 2002
  #20
Jax
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by C.Lambrechts
Given the possibilities in Pro Tools I do spend A LOT of time automating tracks. especially vocals. instead of over compressing I will follow and tweak the vocal track automation a lot.
Chris,

I'm wondering what "mixer" you use for automation. I've seen many people use the Pro Tools mixer for their volume/pan automation, but I find that well-dithered plug-ins like Waves sound better, especially for volume changes. However, I never try this with plug-ins that I have setup to do processing, as that would alter the sound each with every automated move. All controls are set to nominal, just to run the audio through.

The only drawback to using a well-dithered plug for automation is that I run out of dsp sometimes (only using PT Mix), so I have to keep checks and balances on it. The good side is that it keeps me from overusing the plugs.
Old 7th August 2002
  #21
Lives for gear
 
C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I use the Protools Mixer for everything .... we don't have a hardware mixer ( well there is a 16 fader ProControl with edit pack ) .... so everything is done inside ProTools. Currently we are running a HD3 ... so not realy a lack of DSP there. Waves is used for dithering. Most sessions are still done at 44.1. Although I have been doing some 96K sessions when I know upfront that the track count will be low and only accoustic instruments are involved. for example ... last 96k session I did were 3 acoustic guitars and vocals.
Old 9th August 2002
  #22
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I like to start my mixes with all the tracks up. I'm mixing a song by an ensemble (or resemblance of one). I first focus on gain settings and frequency relationship. I am a firm believer in NOT EQing in SOLO. I use solo to identify a problem sometimes. A lot of my getting a mix set comes from the trim knob, not the fader. As Mike Rivers pointed out, most faders sound best a unity. When frequency and general level are starting to make sense I will fine tune with dynamics. Effects don't usually come into play until it "sounds like a record." What I mean by this is that it's sounds like music not tones and sounds. I generally don't like a lot of effects, and I tend to like Reverb and delay to be subtle. Flange and chorus can be a little more obnoxious.

I bring the 2-mix compressor in fairly early; otherwise I can't seem to make any sense out of it. It gets tweaked a lot as levels and sounds are adjusted.
yuktyy
Old 9th August 2002
  #23
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
jon's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Jules
Jon - You used to mix with an L2 in the chain to see how it would sound in mastering do you still do that?
I have an L2 in the monitoring chain after the Masterlink. It's sandwiched via AES between the Masterlink and the PSX100SE D/A. It is on 'bypass' most of the time...but toward the end of the mix, I'll walk over and unbypass it to see how much I lose the drums, or if the bass goes mushy, or if the relationship between the bass and the kick changes, or if the cymbals get too aggressive, etc...all of which things indicate to me that the levels are not as balanced as they could be.
Old 9th August 2002
  #24
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
jon's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by nOiz
Jon, that's a Tube Tech SMC2B multi-band compressor, right? How do you like that unit? Does your unit have the pan control?

My mix buss inserts are Prism MLA2 + Avalon AD2077 + Crane Song STC-8. Pretty much same as my analog chain for mastering work.
Yes, that's the one. The "B" version has both overall pan trim and overall gain pots in addition to the individual gain pots. (For those not familiar, the Tubetech SMC2B is a 3-band stereo valve compressor).

I really, really like it. Put it this way...I'd sell my Massive Passive before allowing the SMC2B to go. I have a gentle setting on it that works for most mixes and rarely touch it other than slight tweaking. But it's not a piece that many engineers know...so they don't touch it. Heh heh...fortunately, too, because it's not an easily-recallable machine.

You've got some great stuff...do you connect them in that order? Boy, I'd like to get an STC8.

I'll be trying the EMI limiter soon.
Old 9th August 2002
  #25
Lives for gear
 
e-cue's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
(second half of the day) Kick. Snare. Bass. Hat. other Percussion. Guitar. Keys/Organ. Strings. Other instrumentation. *gearsluts break* Lead Vocals (soloed) Bac/s Soloed. All Vocals Together. Vocals with track. Sprinkle pixies dust amongst mix. Listen to rough mix (and usually laugh at it, sometimes I notice there is a 'vibe' I strayed from that's on the rough). Have producer / artist check mix out. Tweek. Leave up over night. Tweek the next day with fresh ears. Print. (note: I mostly do Hip Hop / R&B / Pop... I vary my routine as per the style of music)
Old 9th August 2002
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Midlandmorgan's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
This is GREAT stuff! One kweschun, if'n y'all don't mind: are you using a separate mastering desk/CDR to mix to, or bringing everything back into primary DAW/PT/whatever?

K
Old 9th August 2002
  #27
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
jon's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Martin


I do too, but my clients pay by the song. The less time I spend, the better my hourly rate..

9-15 mixes per day? Geeez, Dave! I am in awe of that kind of speed.

I can't really do a proper radio mix in less than a day...and 2 days is great (but rare).
Old 9th August 2002
  #28
Gear Addict
 
nOiz's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Jon, my mix usually goes out to Prism MLA2 first to get some light compression on the stereo buss. Then to the Avalon AD2077 for some EQ, usually not too drastic. The last device will be STC8, always using just the limiter with 1 to 2 db of gain reduction. Just try to get a hot level without overloading the A/D. To me, the limiter on STC8 sounds much more transparent to those "soft limiter" on all the A/D out there.

Even though I usually have two compressors on my stereo buss, I try very hard not to over-compress my mix. I also do mastering myself and I know how tough it is to get some life out of those over-compressed mixes. I sometimes do add a L2 in the monitor path just to get a really rought idea on how the mix will probably turn out with a bit more compression/limiting.

BTW, I love my AD2077. I will probably keep using this EQ for the rest of my career. I came very close to buying a SMC2 about a year ago. But that unit was one of the first generation model that doesn't have the pan pot, so I gave it up. If I find a SMC2B model, I will seriously conside getting it.

nOiz
Old 9th August 2002
  #29
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by jon

9-15 mixes per day? Geeez, Dave! I am in awe of that kind of speed.

I can't really do a proper radio mix in less than a day...and 2 days is great (but rare).
Well, It admittedly is a bit like shooting ducks in a barrel (or more like mixing jingles on a tight schedule). Here are the things that make it possible.

First, I almost never have to mix around mistakes make by the players. Nor do I ever have to create an arrangement with the mix. These tracks really are almost a case of bringing up the faders and there's the song.

Second, a few years ago I got into the habit of putting each guitar sound, keyboard sound, and percussion instrument on a separate track - if, for example, a song has a clean guitar, a couple of distorted guitars, the clean guitar with flanger on it in the second verse, a lead guitar, and a guitar that screws around in the outro, I'll record those across 6 tracks. The guitar tones are essentially on tape - all I'll do with EQ is help them to fit into the overall track a bit better. I don't have to even do mute automation, because there isn't anything on the tracks except what's going to be in the mix - If I only want the distorted guitars on the choruses, I'll only have the guitarists play them on the choruses. The levels for each sound are consistent, too; I'll typically put a compressor on most of the channels, but I seldom am pushing anything past 1 or 2 dB of gain reduction.

Third, this is essentially a private use facility - It works out that most of the time, the gear (preamps, compressors, etc.) that I use to track are not the same ones I use to mix. So when I patch up for a mix day, most things haven't been changed since the last mix day. And the recording chains (for instance, on the drums) are usually the same from project to project. And it's a house kit, house keyboards, and the same cast of players from month to month.

I normally spend 3-4 hours on the first track, but once I'm there, I'll pretty much only have to make minor adjustments to reverbs, panning, and relative levels of new instruments from song to song. So what I'll do is mix without vocals - I'm simply aiming for the best instrumental track I can get. And that's pretty quick. Oh - any instruyment I do need to tweak on (drum loops, for instance), I dump into PT along with the instrumental mix and all the vocals. (The project I finished yesterday had three songs that needed PT treatment on something or other - two percussion loops and a Jaw harp sound that needed to be a different pitch.)

And once the tracks are mixed, I do everything else in Pro Tools - riding faders on vocals, stacking background vocals, etc. I said earlier that it ain't pretty but it works.

It seems to me that a mix is another one of those things where it's fairly easy to get 85% of the way there, if the tracks are recorded well. It takes a lot longer to get to 95%, and the ultimate mix takes an exorbitant amount of time. My clients are satisfied with about 90%. I'm not, but I'm not the one paying me...
Old 10th August 2002
  #30
Lives for gear
 
e-cue's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Martin
I usually cheat, since it's my room and my players (and both are consistent). When I sit down to mix (like I will this afternoon), I'll typically have between 9 and 15 songs to do. Today, it's nine songs. And the project has to be in Fed Ex tomorrow night, with three mixes of each song - a full mix, a mix with lead vocals muted, and a track mix with only instruments. (Occasionally, my clients will also as for a track with only lead vocal, and one with only BGV's).
I couldn't even PRINT 9-15 songs in a day... (My record was tracking & mixing 5 songs from scratch) When I print my passes, I usually give them: 1. Main 2. Safety 3. Lead Vocal Up 4. Bacs Vocals Up 5. All Vocals Up 6. T.V. Mix (no lead vocal) 7. Instrumental 8. Lead Vocal Acapella (I usually play the 1st beat or so of an instrument so it's easy to line up with the instrumental if needed) 9. Bacs Vocals Acapella 10. Drums Snippets Individually (my clients like to sample these and use them later) I print to both Dat (Via PSX100) and GP9 1/2" (and sometimes 1 inch if possible). I make sure both are sent to mastering, and my mastering engineer a/b's the 2, and I trust his judgement. He uses analog 1/2' 7 times out of 10.
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