• dress up the breaks
• make sure to check things flowing out
• cut the toms
• MOST IMPORTANT = power editing of harmonies. laying back vocals. line em up!
• when organizing tracks in the mix window, i want my tracks that share lines together (harmonies and whatnot) to be close so that I can edit them stacked up
• balance the kick and bass
• phase align the drumset
• vocal everything
• do the work to get all the faders set to equal loudness... this really takes a lot of the work out of the tracks (pavroue)
• make sure to ride faders
• make sure high low freq balance is good
• singer should shine like a star in the middle (literally)
• Tom fades end at the next crash/ downbeat (do the fade there)
• Mixing is editing... fixing issues... aligning faders so the song can function as intended, AND THEN you reach for eq and other things to make it pop. The first step is to pocket the song and make it flow without much help from any tool.
• Every instrument has two bits of info — tone + feeling (the thing that helps you feel the instrument when band is a chordplaying)
• theres pocket between drum and bass
• pocket between nonbass and bass
• pocket within nonbass
• pocket within anything sharing a line (harmony)
• pocket is everywhere (tuning) (finesse)
• I found a recording error: there was clipping at 1000hz in the vocals... it is audible when mastered... lame. im glad i found this
• everything aligned
• set pro tools to rectified power
• pay attention to the bussing... make sure everything is going where you want it. I made a mistake bussing toms (with low information) to the mono bass track i made... toms were in mono until i went straight to the 2bus
• accoutn for EVERY LICK
• account for every BLEND
• account for every HARMONY
• every part recorded has a purpose
• is it lead? is it foundation? is it middle? is it washy (to be felt)
• Mixing is a puzzle that isn't solved solely at the computer. you have to walk away and gain perspective and workout the song in your head.
• look for all the sections where all the notes blend together. the harmony is key. mixing is just looping the harmonic sections and making them vfit really nice. then you mix vocals and pocket that. pocket everything.
• instruments that share lines together must blend together as a "unit" in the mix
• everything must have a place
• used subtractive eq everywhere
• used eq to highlight stuff
• things have to pop
• things have to shine
• Ford trick of nudging the vocal back to lay
• a great song has an arrangment that 'passes the ball well' where the lines blend between the guitar snad the organ for example... where there is the chord being played at the moment and each musician is on a certain part, highlighting a certain part of the chord
• no dull sounds
• nothing wooly
• nothing hollow
• nothing phasey
• not too much of anything
• the natural sounds are everything
• the control going to tape
• the detail in the mic placement
• the band itself
• pair the vocal harmony (the one that follows the lead) EXACTLY to the lead (do the edit work)
• THe problem with moonlight was a really boomy vocal
• Always look for the problems before committing to the mix
• the snappiness is in the hands in the music
• the arrangement and the things that 'light up' are controlled by the writers
• its all about attention grabbing sounds
• a blend
• a focus
• all the instruments doing their thing togehter
• finding that 'tune' between the kick and bass, then bass+kick to everything else
• finding that 'tune' between all the rhythm non-bass instruments
• carve out the toms...
• is it swung? is it straight? this matters
• all things release and attack on a a grid
• everything grid
• find and loop that one spot where everything is supposed to be clicking at once... in the case of this 4400practicemix its the last bar before the guitar solo where the kick is playing 8th notes and the bass is walking and everything is moving at once. My belief in a mix is that if you can make this moment sound good, then the rest of the song will work out. In other parts of the song I will be looking for other elements to balance. But in this case, I am looking for a section where all elements are present at once, especially a busy bass section
• that deep note within the chord
• hi freq excitement
• telling a story over time
• each instrument is a character; each sound, their lines
• cant 'take a blurry photo' and try to make it clear
• this session has problems in the kick drum (sounds weak)
• make sure it hits -8 at the peak
• remember the limits of digital and what is possible (what I hear in my head, in my system, is possible... but I am limited to my room and system and, therefore must accept that the 'small sounds' are huge when played on a bigger system). the approach I have and then making -8 the goal always 'boxes' the mix in the right way that I need it to in order to convey all the information
• I would love to have a room with true bass alignment... my mixes will be perfect
• every instrument has a function
• GOING TO THE ACTUAL NOTE WITH THE EQ (ROOT NOTE), DOWNBEAT, whatever...
• I won't mix pro tracks for less than $750 a song -- at the min do sound replace, vocalign, note adjust -- minor fixes. the songs have to bang on their own and be produced well. I just want to lift faders and cut stuff (freqs)
Mix 2 4400 advance practice
• all tracks labeled
• All memory points properly labeled
• All tracks sorted
• All gains staged (pavroue) with the WLM meter hitting a target (-20db) (all tracks)
• cut toms
• Listening for weak tracks — bass, electric gt, vocal, arp, steel
• Do bus routing (low, non lo, vocals, effects, etc.)
• the flow I enjoy is everything above, then working drum kit, then locking kick and bass, then adding element by element to an already solid foundation in the mix
• Always keep focus on who carries the melody(leads, etc)
• Find the loops that lock in the track (it’s certain hits in unison)
• Harmonically I am trying to lock in certain sounds by the frequencies… The ideas that with the kick drum I am trying to lock it into that the Bass continues to what it’s doing at the cake level… This is what I would do with highs in with other things as well until I have a whole mix blend it in as a solid harmonic unit
• Really important to find that one section in the song that can loop infinitely and that everything comes together
• Right now I am looping a section where all the instruments are literally playing at the same time and what I am doing is meeting some tracks to see if they even are present when all the sounds are playing at the same time then I’m adjusting to get it above the fog is finally I’m going to EQ to make sure that I don’t need as much voltage to make that sound pop out
• Remember all hits and accents need to be accounted for… This is the same emphasis has every lick needs to be heard… The same emphasis is every vocal line needs to be present
• dress up the breaks
After having spent much time obsessed with music, taking a step back has granted me the ability to see what is important.
I'll be as straight to the point
This is what I believe to be important in *ANY* popular song
Rhythm -- groove, bass, foundation... this is the literal fabric by which all of music is built from. Arhythmic is still rhythmic... (but remember, we're talking about popular music)
Melody + Rhythm (or the rhythm of the melody -- whatever you want to call it)
Ostinato -- this is where the 'hypnotic' vibe is created
Repetition... can never have enough
Blend of consonance and dissonance - - this is where beauty is created. this is the contrast. this is the color pop in the room (metaphorically speaking)
Voices -- we connect so strongly to voices. YES, there are instrumental 'chart hits'... but that represents a minority and is also a cultural artifact (if you were to argue for EDM). Majority of popular music has voices; they are the focus; they are stacked and harmonized.
Tone / Pitch -- this is non-negotiable. It has to be on. This akin to fashion, interior design, architecture, art.. there is a first-impression that you establish with your listener where tone and pitch are essential for the feeling of the track on a sub-conscious level.
First impression -- the audience knows what's going on in the first 5 seconds... use this to your advantage and give them another 5 seconds of magic... then another... and another... until you've said your story.
Audience -- knowing your audience is key if you're taking on "that" kind of approach. The main idea being that all audiences simply want a good beat and the ability to dance to your music (not always literally, but moreso on the rhythm being solid). Audience does not care about technical bullshit. they don't care what studio, mic, approach, etc. That's all technical bullshit. What you should give them is the most emotionally compelling piece of music that is well recorded, well performed, and has all the rhythm/pitch/tone in place. Keep in mind that your 'mix' engineer can't save you from a bad performance, bad pitch, tone, and rhythm (don't get me started....)
Mixing is beginning to make a lot of sense to me... I find it has nothing to do with genre, so much as it has to do with presence and tone. Modern recording allows us to carefully craft the spectrum like never before. What's interesting is listening to the cross over from the 70s-80s-90s and hearing a significant change in the volume and detail of the mixes.
Mixing remains to be one of my favorite hobbies because of the sheer number of decisions and strategies that go into the process. One trick I've been using is where I "live" with a template that I dump projects into. While constantly saving this template and plugging in work, I get to add and take away things and get to create my own "sound"
It is only recently that I feel I am beginning to understand my "sound," and the only reason for that is because I've learned -- like a scientist -- how to control variables and how to apply consistency to the entire process. Balancing a mix is something I no longer need to sit with a list of reminders for things to check -- my ears are already going there and making quick decisions.
So recently I did a mix where I wanted to take it a step further... It had become the first time in a long time that I go to a website for tricks or reminders of things I could do. Needless to say -- like always -- I found some really good advice about using multiple limiters and not just a single one... Anyway, I tried it and it worked... there was a fullness both in the waveform (visible in Foobar2000) and in the sound; all I did was chain 4 Waves L2 Limiters together and hit them not harder than -3db. It wasn't until the third and four limiter than I began to hear it fill up!
What I'm finding in "my sound" is that by applying these same settings and using my meters (an absolute must), I am one step closer to creating said "sound."
I really hope one day to have access to outboard gear and continue experimenting with my blending techniques; I'm after this 'feeling' of the mix -- when listening in stereo. I don't feel I am truly "synesthetic," but I do "see" things when I 'perceive' my mix moves (panning, volume, etc.)
It's that now I'm using lots of blending techniques and building soundstages
Now i'm compressing in rhythm to the music and it's really clean -- everything hitting sweet spot
Vocals are dialed in and usually nudged back to "sit better" -- Ableton is great for this with their "delay" button
Bass is king -- this is the modern sound. Getting the bass right (even without a sub) is something that get's clearer and clear to me through the years. Now I understand it as it's "own space" and something that the rest of the music 'locks' into. Bass is the foundation (kick and bass)
With that said, I use my meters to get the 'loudness' I am after.. For most applications, I'm hitting -8db (crest factor).
Using chorus, saturator, spreader, panning, reverbs, etc.. to make a 'voice' standout has been extremely rewarding -- it truly is magical how it works.
Small doses of compression (everywhere)
Cutting in the 315-500hz range... this is where most records have a cut in mastering
67hz is still one of my favorite feeling frequencies (daft punk - crescendolls)
I'm guilty of it... Hell, it's what I pride myself on being able to do for any project that I engage. I'd firstly say it is a healthy obsession with the sole purpose of fully realizing the vision of the artist...
But while working on a project the other day, I also learned that this is my ego stepping in front of the project and, while intentions are pure, it can sometimes hinder and leave me frozen...
I really want it to be perfect... You hire me because I'm a perfectionist and really want to handle every single detail... But the effect that leaves on me is one of being overwhelmed and unable to see the ending, or upset that I didn't get it to sound the way 'it could be.'
Anyway, upon taking on a recent mix project for NOAH X 23, I basically "broke" myself in the process and really found myself unable to "perfect everything" because there was simply too much to do (16 tracks) and not all of them were multitracks...
So the job went from making them 'perfect' to making them 'right' for the task at hand.
Once I was able to re-frame my perspective on this, I instantly was able to push through the project and not second guess myself or really allow my inner critic to get in the way. I'm still learning a whole lot, but this would be one of the key lessons I take away with me in recent times.
I got the project done in a week, everyone involved was happy, I was happy, we met the deadlines, etc.... This was all because I helped myself get out of the way and obsess and simply just went along for the ride and did what I know to do...
GET OVER YOURSELF. THIS ISN'T ABOUT YOU. IT'S ABOUT THE SONG. IT'S ABOUT COMMUNICATION. NO ONE CARES WHO MIXED IT... EVER
edit: ^Pet Sounds was recorded on this hardware (not kidding)
This weekend we laid down Master Vox for their upcoming (still untitled) record; Everyone showed up and did their parts really well; any setbacks that we encountered were met with immediate response and so, everything went smoothly; $10k vocal chain will really make a difference.
This is the the future... You have to be able to both go to the studio, and have the studio come to you. This is a case of the studio coming to us by way of some rented gear. We did our homework and found the gear used on our favorite records and then went out and grabbed it.
It's pretty evident that when you work out of the same gear used on hit records in the past 40 years that you'll manage to cut out a lot of what is separating "amateurs" from the "pros" - save for the actual performance and song; this is what we did.
The quality you get from Neve-ANYTHING is pretty obvious and the one thing I could instantly note when working with these (not for the first time ever, but for the first time at home.... peacefully) is that the 8078 will color the program material in such a harmonically rich (i hate these buzzwords, but bear with me) way that you can then push said material back into your mix and not have to worry about it not being present enough. This ability alone is worth the money. The raw vocals we have are outstanding and, when placed in the mix they stood up really well without any kind of processing
Still, I'd only go the distance like this when working on masters and feel that any equipment is just fine for demo cutting. I encourage anyone who wants to take on a project with me to invest moreso in the equipment than in anything else, because it really will make a difference when its' all said and done.
One of my first lessons in audio was the good rule, taught by Stephen Quinze at Miami Dade College.
good musican, good instrument, good room, good mic, good pre, good comp, good eq, good A/D+D/A, good monitors = great sound
and, supplemented by my mentor Robert Solomon (Woodland) who said "Your sound is only as good as the weakest link in the chain," you get a pretty good recipe for record making.
This equipment, like all other fun and expensive things, would be useless if there wasn't something musical to pass through it. We prepared for this session by having another "mock session" with lesser gear in order to prepare for the big day. If you don't have "bars" to spit down and don't have them ready, then no amount of gear will help you sound better.
Here's a local band from Nashville that I had the pleasure of mixing this EP for
Click through to hear more!
Specs: Mixed ITB with Pro Tools 10, Waves Suite; mono compatible was the goal in order for clear playback on portable devices.
A really fun and simple project to put together. I'd love to make more!
I can't do what I do without a template. Templates have always been talked about (when in school) as a thing you do and have and it makes your job easier....
Templates are a way of defining and cementing a workflow. There's no need to reinvent or remember a process when you have it nailed into a template. It's all about the constants.
I use templates so that I don't have to recreate an entire bus architecture full of parallel compression, fx sends and returns, sub groups, parallel master bus, instrument tracks,. click tracks, keyed gates, keyed compressors, etc... this is all time saved for when I'm ready to mix.
Imagine you want to edit a track in pro tools... if you start from scratch, you literally have to build an entire chain in order to get the consistent results (that I'd hope you'd want). Time is money. Time is time wasted. If you can shave off a minute from a task you do hundreds of times, well, those are hundreds of minutes saved where you can go outside and exercise.
Point is that templates are key to having a cohesive workflow and key to having constants in place so that creativity can flow
Personally, I'd share my template, but I've invested enough time and effort to make it something truly unique and don't think it would be of help to share. Just know that I have my all the above mentioned and, at the very least, an eq, limiter, meter, widener, and mono-maker on my 2-bus.
So, with a template in place, you can then edit that track you were given with and rest assured that a lot of the left brain work has been done for you in advance so that you can worry about proper conveyance of the message (what your mix is supposed to achieve)
I believe that if you don't know what something is, then you couldn't possibly know what it does. What has always fascinated me about music is the vast number of parts that make up the whole. Understanding the definitions takes me back to learning as a child when I was made to write out definitions about a specific topic. Things like names, dates, places, etc were all in need of defining and, in applying that idea to learning the craft of production and mixing, one has many, many, names and things to define.
Think about all the parts in a DAW, each icon you click has a name and a function. Do you know them all? Do you know the ones you need? Do you even know which ones you need? Do you know when you'd need it?
Think about all the parts in music, each sound event (and silence) has a function and a name. There are labels for genres, styles, instruments, etc... basically everything has a label and needs to be labeled.
Where I am going with all of this is that I've found it to be of great help to understand, and be able to define for anyone (like if they were 5 years old), about any aspect of music and the technology behind it. There should be nothing that requires a complex explanation, or charts, etc.
I believe it has to be simple; always. I believe that it all can be defined, and defining leads to understanding. Understanding leads to freedom. Freedom leads to creativity. If you're just starting out, getting familiar with the words and terms you will see day in and day out is something that is paramount to becoming an expert (this applies for anything you do in life).
if you're not new to the game, then going through all the definitions for the sake of wholeness and total understanding of the topic is what's up. A true master can explain it to a five year old. Can you?
Simply being able to put a label on something and say "this is this, and it does xyz" will take out a lot of the mysteries in the task being performed.
Let's say you were mixing down a track and the drummer says the snare sounds boxy, would you know what to do? where to go?
Let's say the artist you're working with wanted to include a fermata coming out of the bridge before the last chorus. Would you know what this is? do you know where the bridge is? know what a chorus is?
Catch my drift?
With that said, after all of this time spent studying and reading (in parallel to actually experiencing music and production), there is something I like to think of called "assumed knowledge." This happens after working and experiencing something over a long period of time. It is assumed you know how to hold a fork, wash your hands, put on pants, etc. Imagine having to look those things up on google every time you wanted to perform such a task... In my case, it meant exploring new topics and experiences in music, but constantly trying to put together what just happened and define things. What would then happen is I wasn't fully in the moment and wasn't fully immersed, but instead grappling with trying to figure it all out. Be patient, though, it takes a long time to get it all, and I'm only a quarter of the way there...
Well, once you've engrained it enough, it becomes something of second nature and, when you have that mastered, you can move onto more advanced things...
My point is that when learning this stuff, you learn the definition first, then get an understanding, and finally work your way out of the fundamentals. The understanding of the fundamentals leads to assumptions in your knowledge when you are working with other able musicians and producers. It is here that - in my opinion - true learning takes place and you actually begin to experience the creative side of things. It'll only happen however, when you have the fundamentals rock solid and understand all the parts that are involved to make the whole.
This is something that's been on my mind for awhile because in my walk with music, theory, technology, mixing, production, songwriting, mastering, etc., I've learned a process to learn anything... I can easily take this process of understanding and learn something new like building a house, or repairing an automobile. To me, they are one in the same. I want to help you learn to learn, as I call it. This is the first steps towards that.
Remember, you want to have as much assumed knowledge under your belt so that you can truly experience things and not be worried about holes in your knowledge or a lack of understanding.
Here are some links to get you started in defining music and production...