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Tools that speed up your workflow
Old 5th January 2018
  #1
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Tools that speed up your workflow

Basically the title, what tools do you use to speed up your workflow? Especially editing, but also mixing, recording, writing etc.

Why?

For me personally my workflow is still a bit slow. mainly because the huge time I put in prepping the session.

I mix completely in the box, so I want all my clips (pro tools) peaking at around -18db for the plug-in sweetspot, but also so I don't have to worry about not having enough headroom. I found a plug-in called Defaulter from Quiet Art, that can automate all pro tools clips in one go to a chosen peak or RMS level, together with a application like keyboard Maestro.

Another application I found is called Stereo-monoizer. Which scans all the received tracks for stereo content. and converts stereo files that don't contain stereo content into mono files. I'm receiving a lot of multitracks where every track is in stereo, so this saves up a lot of time.

I'm also using mixing templates, however I'm still in the process of creating a good universal one.



So what tools do you use that speed up the workflow?

Drop 'em here!


Cheers,
Afro
Old 5th January 2018
  #2
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
API lunchbox. Always within reach, even in the live room.
Old 7th January 2018 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➡️
API lunchbox. Always within reach, even in the live room.
Cool! I'd love to have one in the future. atm I don't have any outboard mixing gear. How do you feel it speeds up your workflow in comparison to a normal rack?

Cheers
Old 7th January 2018 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Khaleesi ➡️
Cool! I'd love to have one in the future. atm I don't have any outboard mixing gear. How do you feel it speeds up your workflow in comparison to a normal rack?
Not mixing, but if I'm tracking DIY vocals or anything else in my live room, I can have the 500 rack in there with me and tweak the pre and compressor and feed line level into the control room. A lot less running back and forth.
Old 7th January 2018 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➡️
Not mixing, but if I'm tracking DIY vocals or anything else in my live room, I can have the 500 rack in there with me and tweak the pre and compressor and feed line level into the control room. A lot less running back and forth.
That's smart! Thanks
Old 7th January 2018
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
If you don't have one already, a DAW specific keyboard. They are a huge improvement to workflow for those who aren't seasoned professionals with shortcuts and custom actions.
Old 7th January 2018
  #7
Lives for gear
 
razorboy's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I use Presonus Studio One and I use some built-in keyboard shortcuts and have customized some of them, an easy process as Studio One provides for such customization. Stuff which takes a few mouse clicks now take one push on the keyboard. It's an obvious thing, but has helped a fair bit.
Old 7th January 2018
  #8
Gear Guru
 
18 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Presonus Faderport... seems to save quite a bit of time. Worth it.

Cubase updates... program gets faster, better, easier.

Solid State Drive in the computer. M.2 as well. Speeds everything up hugely, vs. an old spinner. As the system drive.

Speaking of spinners. Glyph 4TB hard drive. One of the most responsive disk drives I have personally used. Not sure what they did, but it's fast.
Old 8th January 2018
  #9
Gear Guru
 
🎧 20 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Khaleesi ➡️
Basically the title, what tools do you use to speed up your workflow? Especially editing, but also mixing, recording, writing etc.
I agree with what John_Cunningham said, knowing the software inside and out, the keyboard and the shortcuts.
Quote:
... Defaulter from Quiet Art... Stereo-monoizer...

those are cool ideas, I never heard of them before. The stereo-monoizer sure would have come in handy on a number of occasions. My proposed solution was using a taser or a cattle prod on clients who submit "everything" as stereo tracks!

Quote:
I'm also using mixing templates, however I'm still in the process of creating a good universal one.
I have specific 'template sessions' for groups, and one for reverbs and so on. I use Import Session Data to pull the items I need for a particular mix from various template sessions (or even previous mixes!) rather than try to create the one perfect template.

big time savers for me are the cascading shortcuts:
Quote:
Select the group of tracks you want to cascade inputs or outputs
Hold down SHIFT + OPTION + COMMAND
While holding, click on the first track and assign the input or output to the first of the series of IO busses - the remaining selected channels will be assigned in sequential order.

and plain old SHIFT + OPTION to send them all to the same place
the memory locations in Pro Tools are extremely powerful, they can recall zoom settings, track heights and even selections, not just 'spots on the timeline'. IMO, Pro Tools is amazing for the amount of things you can do fast without ever touching a mouse. Any time you find yourself thinking: "there has to be a faster way to do this", there probably IS!

some of my Pro Tools favorites:
Using the trim tool to drag selected automation up and down
Using the command key to get the fine control on the mouse without zooming in. Using the control key to temporarily suspend grouped functions.
The Q and W keys for seeing the beginning and end of a selection when zoomed way in.
6,7,8,9 for previewing going into and out of selections.
The move selection up down keys: P and ;
Command +K for turning the pre-roll on and off.

PT is great for that kind of stuff but of course before you can memorize them, you have to know they exist! Sometimes I KICK myself for not learning some of them earlier.

When I was first learning Pro Tools, I once won a contest to attend a workshop. Most people tried to grab the seats with the best view of the screen. I grabbed a chair over on the side and sat right behind the Operator and watched his hands on the keyboard!

But the biggest timesavers IMO, are in the human brain end of things. In any DAW. Being systematic takes a while to get going, but saves so much in the long run. For example the first sound in my mix is always Locate 1 and the point of the end fade-out is always Locate 2. Then anytime, I can go period-1-period, SHIFT + period-2-period and the bounce is selected. A friend of mine uses a single locate number to simply remember the bounce selection, so that one locate selects the entire bounce. You can set up your own personal system where the first vocal entrance is always locate 5 or the guitar solo is always locate 9. Then when you are mixing, you don't have to leave the mix window to "find" a section with vocals. Whatever numbers make sense to you. Same with busses. I always use the same busses for specific reverbs or groups. Bus "7-8" is for "plate".

I feel the same way about color-coding. Everyone has their own crazy ideas about what should be what. But even though drums are obviously always supposed to be yellow, , in the long run, what really matters is that you have a system that you try to stick to as much as is practical; it makes finding things so much faster. I always set the waveforms to match the track colors as well.


Quote:
the huge time I put in prepping the session.
this is why the good lord gave us interns!
Old 8th January 2018
  #10
Deleted User
Guest
faderport ... using like a remote and
offers some control .. for tracking it speeds up the process and frees me from the mouse and keyboard...

also put my main rack close and a BIG heavy duty 4x8 roll pad to roll the chair around on .. its the little things
Old 8th January 2018
  #11
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
I probably should've mentioned "control surface" right off. Huge time-saver.
Old 8th January 2018
  #12
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by John_Cunningham ➡️
If you don't have one already, a DAW specific keyboard. They are a huge improvement to workflow for those who aren't seasoned professionals with shortcuts and custom actions.
I think I rather go for the "learning the shortcuts route". this is going quite good already! and with a daw specific keyboard I would get confused in other studios i think, as well as the fact that I use my DAW computer for everything.


Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq ➡️
I agree with what John_Cunningham said, knowing the software inside and out, the keyboard and the shortcuts.


those are cool ideas, I never heard of them before. The stereo-monoizer sure would have come in handy on a number of occasions. My proposed solution was using a taser or a cattle prod on clients who submit "everything" as stereo tracks!


I have specific 'template sessions' for groups, and one for reverbs and so on. I use Import Session Data to pull the items I need for a particular mix from various template sessions (or even previous mixes!) rather than try to create the one perfect template.

big time savers for me are the cascading shortcuts:


the memory locations in Pro Tools are extremely powerful, they can recall zoom settings, track heights and even selections, not just 'spots on the timeline'. IMO, Pro Tools is amazing for the amount of things you can do fast without ever touching a mouse. Any time you find yourself thinking: "there has to be a faster way to do this", there probably IS!

some of my Pro Tools favorites:
Using the trim tool to drag selected automation up and down
Using the command key to get the fine control on the mouse without zooming in. Using the control key to temporarily suspend grouped functions.
The Q and W keys for seeing the beginning and end of a selection when zoomed way in.
6,7,8,9 for previewing going into and out of selections.
The move selection up down keys: P and ;
Command +K for turning the pre-roll on and off.

PT is great for that kind of stuff but of course before you can memorize them, you have to know they exist! Sometimes I KICK myself for not learning some of them earlier.

When I was first learning Pro Tools, I once won a contest to attend a workshop. Most people tried to grab the seats with the best view of the screen. I grabbed a chair over on the side and sat right behind the Operator and watched his hands on the keyboard!

But the biggest timesavers IMO, are in the human brain end of things. In any DAW. Being systematic takes a while to get going, but saves so much in the long run. For example the first sound in my mix is always Locate 1 and the point of the end fade-out is always Locate 2. Then anytime, I can go period-1-period, SHIFT + period-2-period and the bounce is selected. A friend of mine uses a single locate number to simply remember the bounce selection, so that one locate selects the entire bounce. You can set up your own personal system where the first vocal entrance is always locate 5 or the guitar solo is always locate 9. Then when you are mixing, you don't have to leave the mix window to "find" a section with vocals. Whatever numbers make sense to you. Same with busses. I always use the same busses for specific reverbs or groups. Bus "7-8" is for "plate".

I feel the same way about color-coding. Everyone has their own crazy ideas about what should be what. But even though drums are obviously always supposed to be yellow, , in the long run, what really matters is that you have a system that you try to stick to as much as is practical; it makes finding things so much faster. I always set the waveforms to match the track colors as well.




this is why the good lord gave us interns!
Some amazing tips in here! Thanks!
And yes stereo monoizer is simple but really effective, just 50 bucks too. I didn't knew memory locations was so extensive, I'll look into that more! I also think that that using session import is better than creating one "perfect template" So yeah I will take a look there too.

Lastly, I think the change of me becoming an intern in the coming 5 years is way bigger than actually having one haha. sounds like a dream though.




Something else that takes a lot of time in editing for me is phase aligning everything. Not just drums but also horn sections, backing VOX etc. I know there's a plugin called auto align, anyone here uses it? Is it really faster then doing it yourself or is it just more precise, and does it work on drums only or also at stuff like backing vox?


Cheers,
Afro
Old 8th January 2018
  #13
Lives for gear
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
An analog mixer for tracking!

I’m fully committing any multi-mic’d sources(including drums!) to a single track. There are obvious workflow benefits in terms of time...”commit and go” but I feel like it’s improves my overall quality. Along with applying any fx necessary on the way in going for finished sound straight away. Which in turn makes mixing faster too.

I mix as I go and aim to make mixing just adjusting levels and printing. I do a lot of mixing for artists, but I rarely send out stuff I’ve tracked to other mixers. Not because I’m opposed, just because of budget. If I know the artist wants another engineer to mix, I won’t do that as much. Definitely not with drums.
Old 8th January 2018 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Guru
 
🎧 20 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Khaleesi ➡️
I think I rather go for the "learning the shortcuts route". this is going quite good already! and with a daw specific keyboard I would get confused in other studios i think, as well as the fact that I use my DAW computer for everything.
why would you having a Pro Tools keyboard at your studio confuse you at another studio? If they don't use Pro Tools at that other studio, the keyboard will be the least of your "confusion" problems!

And if they do use Pro Tools, all the shortcuts work on ANY keyboard. Anyway, these kinds of keyboards also have the "qwerty" stuff printed on them. The point of the DAW-specific keyboard is just to remind you what the shortcuts are. After a while, you will remember most of them anyway. There are inexpensive plastic overlays for different DAWs and video editing programs that you can use as well. In the lab where I teach, they use the computers for many programs, so my students have a laminated card with the PT keyboard sitting next to them.
Old 8th January 2018
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Auto-Align by Sound Radix.
Get's everything time aligned and makes everything better!
Old 9th January 2018
  #16
Gear Addict
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I use a Logitech G600 MMO gaming mouse. It's designed and marketed to be used in MMOs for gameplay shortcuts but works perfect for DAWs and other programs.

12 illuminated buttons on the side and a third mouse click button makes even shorter work of most of the shortcuts I use.
Old 9th January 2018
  #17
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq ➡️
why would you having a Pro Tools keyboard at your studio confuse you at another studio? If they don't use Pro Tools at that other studio, the keyboard will be the least of your "confusion" problems!

And if they do use Pro Tools, all the shortcuts work on ANY keyboard. Anyway, these kinds of keyboards also have the "qwerty" stuff printed on them. The point of the DAW-specific keyboard is just to remind you what the shortcuts are. After a while, you will remember most of them anyway. There are inexpensive plastic overlays for different DAWs and video editing programs that you can use as well. In the lab where I teach, they use the computers for many programs, so my students have a laminated card with the PT keyboard sitting next to them.
I was under the impression they had a different layout then normal keyboards. I'll look into it! Thanks for the clarification

Quote:
Originally Posted by Riku ➡️
Auto-Align by Sound Radix.
Get's everything time aligned and makes everything better!
Does this also work for stuff like backing vocals and other doubled sections? Or just for drums. Thanks!


Quote:
Originally Posted by ripripstabstab ➡️
I use a Logitech G600 MMO gaming mouse. It's designed and marketed to be used in MMOs for gameplay shortcuts but works perfect for DAWs and other programs.

12 illuminated buttons on the side and a third mouse click button makes even shorter work of most of the shortcuts I use.
I have the Kensington expert wireless trackball. Love it but it's broken and kensington support is TERRIBLE
Old 9th January 2018
  #18
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
something I also do, especially when writing music:

Listen to what you have once or twice, make a list of everything you want to have improved in the song/mix or whatever you're doing, and then give yourself a time-frame in which you should complete it, then set a timer for every part and try to finish before the timer ends. make it a challenge! This helps to not drown in endlessly over processing or overthinking something. An example of a list i made for a song I'm writing at the moment:

Fitting Bass line.........................15 min..........Check
Drum variation ........................ 20 min..........Check
change lead melody...................10 min
bridge - drums FX / Buildup........15 min
Lead heavier in next section........10 min
work on transitions....................20 min
Improve chords progression........20 min


When I finish the list I do the same thing, listen once or twice, write down everything you can think of and off you go!


Cheers
Old 9th January 2018 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Riku ➡️
Auto-Align by Sound Radix.
Get's everything time aligned and makes everything better!
Desert island plugin for me right there.

It’s made me really lazy when setting up multi-mic recordings - all those hours in the past spent sweating the phase issues...
Old 9th January 2018
  #20
Lives for gear
 
zvukofor's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Reaper. A huge customisation possibilities, a lot of nice features, like screensets, snapshots, notes for clips/tracks/projects, custom actions... and low cpu plus great stability.

Remote control surface for Reaper. Like a digital console with iPad, but works with a lot of plugins. The unified UI without eye candies make a lot of sense when using plugins, even EQs.
Old 9th January 2018
  #21
Moderator
 
psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Khaleesi ➡️
Basically the title, what tools do you use to speed up your workflow? Especially editing, but also mixing, recording, writing etc.

Why?

For me personally my workflow is still a bit slow. mainly because the huge time I put in prepping the session.

I mix completely in the box, so I want all my clips (pro tools) peaking at around -18db for the plug-in sweetspot, but also so I don't have to worry about not having enough headroom. I found a plug-in called Defaulter from Quiet Art, that can automate all pro tools clips in one go to a chosen peak or RMS level, together with a application like keyboard Maestro.
Personally, I find the more time I spend prepping a session (which I can do at home, in the evenings, quietly on headphones when everyone else is asleep) the less time I spend in the studio mixing!

But let me pull you up on something - you shouldn't have your PEAKS aiming for -18dBFS. This magical "-18" figure that everyone loves to shout about online is meant as a 0VU equivalent. With a VU meter on a piece of gear, you have masses of headroom ABOVE 0VU, but the meter doesn't reflect the peaks - essentially it's an average.

So - you should be aiming for somewhere around -20 to -15 dBFS for steady signals like driven guitars, synths etc but PEAKS can go much higher - you've got 18dB of headroom there!

Have your snare peaks at -18dBFS means you're hitting plugins around 10dB quieter than intended.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Boom ➡️
Desert island plugin for me right there.

It’s made me really lazy when setting up multi-mic recordings - all those hours in the past spent sweating the phase issues...
Oh dear. Something like auto-align can't "fix" phase issues - it just swaps them for a different set of possibly more pleasing ones. It only "time aligns" not "frequency aligns".

things like this can be great for getting you out of a hole - and whilst I don't particularly like the idea of it as a working process, some swear it makes everything "more punchy" (we'll ignore for the moment that all the classic recordings everyone loves weren't made using this sort of plugin/processing - you certainly don't "need" it to make great drum recordings).

What it can't do is fix poor mic technique. Don't be lazy - you'll get a better result!
Old 9th January 2018
  #22
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Honestly, the tool that most speeds up my workflow, is the switch that turns off my wifi.
Old 9th January 2018
  #23
Gear Guru
 
kennybro's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
My phone gets much use for convenience and time-savings...

For writing, the voice recorder is indispensable.
I always have a guitar tuner handy.
Memo pad for jotting down lyrics and song ideas.
Group text threads for organization and efficient group communication.
Metronome for checking tempo options while writing, and a click track to headphones if I just want a quick reference while tracking drums.
Calendar for general schedule organization.
Calculator for figuring up the bill.
You tube connection for a quick (OK, crappy sounding) reference listen. Great for band learning cover songs.
Camera for documentation of control settings on analog gear.
Old 9th January 2018 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey ➡️
What [Auto-align] can't do is fix poor mic technique. Don't be lazy - you'll get a better result!
If I did more mixing of other people's recordings than I do, I'd probably want Auto-align handy, or at least to demo it and see what it does. Seems like most of the time when someone sends me 12 tracks of drums I wind up using 3. It'd be 4 if one of them was "Less Hi Hat."
Old 9th January 2018
  #25
Gear Addict
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Speaking of phones, the free transport control app for Digital Performer has made self-recording a snap all around the studio.
Old 9th January 2018 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Addict
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Khaleesi ➡️
I have the Kensington expert wireless trackball. Love it but it's broken and kensington support is TERRIBLE
I also have one of those Kensington mice and it absolutely killed my wrist. The side to side scrolling and zoom with the big ball was sweet for navigation but really not worth the pain.
Old 9th January 2018
  #27
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey ➡️
Personally, I find the more time I spend prepping a session (which I can do at home, in the evenings, quietly on headphones when everyone else is asleep) the less time I spend in the studio mixing!

But let me pull you up on something - you shouldn't have your PEAKS aiming for -18dBFS. This magical "-18" figure that everyone loves to shout about online is meant as a 0VU equivalent. With a VU meter on a piece of gear, you have masses of headroom ABOVE 0VU, but the meter doesn't reflect the peaks - essentially it's an average.

So - you should be aiming for somewhere around -20 to -15 dBFS for steady signals like driven guitars, synths etc but PEAKS can go much higher - you've got 18dB of headroom there!

Have your snare peaks at -18dBFS means you're hitting plugins around 10dB quieter than intended.

Thanks for this! I was already confused by the matter. since I always end up with like 15db of headroom on the mix bus when my mix is finished haha. What is the best way to approach this? Should I go for RMS instead of peak around -20 then? Since I'm planning to buy the defaulter plugin I talked about (only used the demo but it's expired now). and there you can set the clip gain level to a desired RMS or Peak level.

And in regards to prepping, I agree! Mix prep is so important and often overlooked. I love the famous Abraham Lincoln quote "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe". having said that, if you give me some nice sharpening tools that fasten the process without sacrificing the quality of the work. I'd rather be done in four hours instead of six..

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPower ➡️
Honestly, the tool that most speeds up my workflow, is the switch that turns off my wifi.
Haha yes and turn off GS especially. On google chrome I have an extension called "newsfeed eradicator" which disables facebook's endless newsfeed and replaces it with a motivational quote, while I can still use all the stuff facebook is actually useful for..

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennybro ➡️
My phone gets much use for convenience and time-savings...

For writing, the voice recorder is indispensable.
I always have a guitar tuner handy.
Memo pad for jotting down lyrics and song ideas.
Group text threads for organization and efficient group communication.
Metronome for checking tempo options while writing, and a click track to headphones if I just want a quick reference while tracking drums.
Calendar for general schedule organization.
Calculator for figuring up the bill.
You tube connection for a quick (OK, crappy sounding) reference listen. Great for band learning cover songs.
Camera for documentation of control settings on analog gear.
Nice!
Old 9th January 2018
  #28
Lives for gear
 
Arseny's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
1. Black screen: Mac Settings > Mission Control > Active corners: I set it up so the screen turns off (gets black), as soon as I move the cursor to the right upper corner. This changes the perspective immediately. The eyes are then no more sucking up my precious brain energy. The ears are getting a better connection to the brain & heart. Helps making (the right) decisions.

2. Playing online chess in the toilet. A bit counter intuitive coz you might think I'm wasting my time. But at the end I come back with fresh ears and hear instantly what I should do next
Old 9th January 2018 | Show parent
  #29
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey ➡️

Oh dear. Something like auto-align can't "fix" phase issues - it just swaps them for a different set of possibly more pleasing ones. It only "time aligns" not "frequency aligns".

things like this can be great for getting you out of a hole - and whilst I don't particularly like the idea of it as a working process, some swear it makes everything "more punchy" (we'll ignore for the moment that all the classic recordings everyone loves weren't made using this sort of plugin/processing - you certainly don't "need" it to make great drum recordings).

What it can't do is fix poor mic technique. Don't be lazy - you'll get a better result!
Sorry, I should have been more clear: I no longer *obsess* over mic placement. It’s not a question of laziness, it’s a matter of session flow. If my client is in the zone and wants to try some zany idea their creative energy is not going to evaporate while I fuss with placement for twenty minutes.

And no, I don’t “need” it but the original poster was asking for methods to speed up work flow, and anything that mitigates comb filtering effects as painlessly as Auto-Align is a valuable tool in the kit.
Old 9th January 2018
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Robert Randolph's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Reading the manual.

Always read the manual.
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