An introduction to the mixing tutorial. Also includes preparing files for a mixer, or what to request from your producers or tracking engineers using differing DAWs. Tempos and tempo changes are also addressed along with setting up main outputs and busses for creating a quick rough mix. All tracks in the song are also briefly reviewed followed by the song being played in its entirety.
Organize the Session
In this tutorial we begin to organize the session for the purpose of mixing more efficiently. Using Markers to label the sections of the song makes locating much easier. Adding colors to Markers is also addressed.
Continuing with organizing the session, we go thru track by track and re-name each track for clarity and based on what the track is actually playing.
In addition to renaming tracks, most modern DAWs allow us to Color Code the tracks. In this tutorial, we go through track by track and Color Code tracks based on their instrument and how easily it is to spot them in a complicated session.
Track Clean Up22:47
Cleaning up the tracks is an important part of mixing. Getting rid of extraneous and unwanted noise can really speed up the mixing process by allowing you to focus on just what the mix will be and avoid distractions in the later listening phase. Keeping regions to their correct size, will also speed up the visual part of mixing in a DAW.
Finally we put the tracks in the most logical order to speed up the amount of time it takes to find a specific track and make further adjustments. We also Lock our audio so that it can't be accidentally shifted during the mixing process.
Groups, Busses and FX
VCA Groups / Busses4:35
In this video we set up groups and busses to combine similar tracks to allow us to control things as sub groups and masters. Such as volume rides or muting and soloing specific groups to speed up the mixing process.
In this tutorial we set up FX Returns for things like Reverb and Delay to use DSP more efficiently and to make it easier to use sends for FX when sharing the same presets. Vocal Reverb using Redline Reverb by 112dB, Drum Reverb using Waves IR-1 and creating Ping Pong Delays are all discussed.
Mix Bus Compression9:35
In this video we go thru adding compressors and other effects to the mix buss to give it an overall polished sound and to make the mix sound more cohesive. Also addressed is pre-master buss metering to avoid overloading and unwanted distortion.
At this point we address some other non-mixing related issues that still affect the overall sound of our mix. Using Elastic Audio (in Pro Tools) we adjust the timing of our drum tracks and percussion.
We also address some tuning issues in our song. Using Auto-Tune, we adjust the tuning of our lead vocal using Graphic Mode for pitch correction in real-time.
Basic Vocal / Drum Mix
Basic Vocal Sound12:30
In this video we begin to actually mix the song. We start the mixing process by adjusting the lead vocal, getting a basic vocal sound. It's not the final sound, but it's really close and it allows us to build the rest of the song around the vocal, rather than the other way around. EQ, compression thanks to Softube's FET compressor, reverb and delay are all applied.
Basic Drum Mix12:56
Next we start to get a good drum balance to get a feel for what each track needs to do and what effects should be applied to create that effect.
Overheads & Hi-Hat9:04
In this video we begin getting the overall drum sound from our overhead mics. The goal is to make this the sound or centerpiece of our kit and build around it. EQ, compression (Massey's CT-4) and reverb are applied.
In this tutorial we dig in to the room micas on the kit and see how big and distant we can actually make the drums sound. In addition to EQ and compression, we use the Sonnex Oxford Transient Designer to re-shape the drum mics.
The Kick Drum12:46
As we begin to zero in on the close mics on the kit, we notice how much presence and thump can be applied by adding Samples to the kick drum. Not only do we add Samples to enhance the sound but we also find quick ways to make those triggers sample accurate.
The Snare Drum13:18
In this video we address the Snare drum and see how much crack we can create from it by using EQ, compression and Sonnex's Transient Designer. We also add a few samples to bring out some extra character in the snare.
The Tom Sound5:38
In this tutorial we go through and adjust the tom track using EQ and compression.
One of the tricks to creating a great drum track is to use parallel compression. It's also called 'NY Compression', which is when you buss the drums to 2 different stereo busses and compress one of them quite heavily and mix it in to taste. We make use of the Big Blue Compressor plugin by 112dB to create this powerful effect.
Snare / Tamb Overdub9:32
In this video we work on the snare overdub track along with the tambourine parts.
Bass and Keys
Working with bass guitar tracks can be especially tricky. In this video we divide the bass into 4 tracks to create different sounds to be blended together in the mix. Using the SansAmp plug-in and the Bass Amp Room plug-in by Softube gives us a few extra possibilities to create a well balanced low end to the song.
Wurlitzer & Organ13:59
In this video we adjust the Wurlitzer and the organ to cut through the track.
In this tutorial we adjust the main guitar to find a place in the panning field and cut through what is soon to be a dense mix. We make use of the Tube Tech EQ plug-in by Softube to give this guitar some much needed grit.
In this video we adjust the high guitar to find a place in the panning field and cut through. Adding reverb and delay to make it even more ethereal. We also make use of the Tube Tech EQ plug-in by Softube to give this guitar some much needed grit.
In this video we adjust the chorus guitar to find it's space in the mix.
The heavy guitars are meant to add just a little extra weight in the song, and we show how to achieve this without clouding up our sonic space.
At this point we adjust our verse pretty guitar to have a tremolo effect to create more interest in the verse. Sound Toys Tremolo plug-in is featured.
Riff & Octave Guitars7:26
Next we adjust the riff and octave guitars to find their place around the vocal in the more open verses.
Pick & Chicka Guitars10:57
Finishing up our guitars are the pick and "chick" guitars. Compression and EQ are used to allow these to cut through without getting in the way.
Piano and Mutes
In this video we adjust the piano to give it more top end without making it sound unnatural. The Toneluxe Tilt by Softube does an excellent job of creating a different type of EQ plug-in. Massey's CT4 compressor plug-in is also used to contain the sound.
Part of any good mix is taking out things that are just getting in the way or are just not that important. We go through and mute some of these non-essential parts to free up some sonic space.
Final Vocal Mix
The Lead Vocal17:23
At this point we're ready to really nail the lead vocal sound. We finalize it using some EQ notching, more compression and still more top end EQ. We also dig in using a manual approach to De-essing that involves volume riding gain riding for a more natural effect.
By using EQ, compression and reverb we find a nice place for our vocal harmonies to sit. De-Essing is also applied.
By using EQ, compression and reverb we find a nice place for our octave harmonies to sit. De-Essing is also applied.
In this video we use a trick to bring out the top end or breathiness in the vocals. By using parallel processing we create a super bright compressed version of our background vocals and mix them in with original to create a wall of prettiness that envelops our mix.
Automation and Final Mix
In this video we discuss how automation can create motion, dynamics and interest in an otherwise flat mix. By working section by section, rather than track by track, we can really focus in and make each part of the song special.
The Final Mix6:26
In this last video we discuss when a mix is finally completed, when to use loudness plug-ins on our reference mixes and finally play the finished mix from beginning to end.
Multi-Platinum Engineer and Producer Kenny Gioia is back with an incredible, in-depth series on mixing rock! This collection allows you to peak over Kenny's shoulder as he takes a multi-tracked rock production and mixes it from the ground up. If you want to see how a professional mixer works his magic, this series is a must see.
Kenny starts with the raw tracks and covers topics such as getting ready to mix, track preparation and correction, using VCA Groups or Busses, effects, mix bus compression, vocal and drum mixes, vocal harmonies and backgrounds, guitars, bass, automation, the final mix and so much more.
This is a rare chance to see how a professional, veteran music producer / engineer crafts a rock mix from beginning to end. What would you pay to sit in on a session and watch? Well, this is your ticket to the show.
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