Welcome to Mixing for Perfection. I believe we're going to be very please with your purchase. A mixing for perfection, we are going to look at all the different ways of enhancing your tracks to get absolutely the most professional sound quality of your finished mixes -- way better than you might consider humanly possible with the equipment that you have at your disposal!
We're going to look at the best way to set up your project for mixing, including how to import tracks, how to record new tracks effectively, how to mix in groups, how to set up effects sends, and finally, how to export your final mix in a number of formats.
Regardless of whether or you wish to record your own tracks using a microphone and perhaps sequencer tracks, or, like me as a producer, you end up mixing tracks that were created by another artist, you want to make sure that the tracks you start out with, i.e. the source material, are nicely formed wav or aif files with lots of headroom and no clipping, basically the same qualities we look for when we're doing a final master on somebody's mix down.
additionally, if you are mixing sequencer tracks or keyboard tracks, you want to make sure that those tracks have been exported or created as stereo files and not mono tracks. It's okay to have mono tracks for vocals, live guitars, and a live bass player because you can fatten those up with effects in the mix. But if you are going to use separate keyboard tracks or sequencer tracks from a program like reason, then please make sure that you have exported those tracks as stereo tracks to get all the rich flavors that were programmed into the stereo mix of those patches.
It is also highly recommended as with final mix downs to be mastered that the source tracks be stereo 24-bit 44.1 K. hertz wav or AIF files in order to get the loudest and punchiest sound for each and every track. as the old computer saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. And the same goes for music production. So if you want your song to sound its absolute best at the end, make sure you have the highest quality source material at the beginning. That's the only way to guarantee that you will end up with a high quality product. In other words, don't expect to start out with a bunch of crappy sounding parts from the beginning, and put out a hit record at the end. It just ain't gonna happen.
so now that you have your source files, you need to make sure that you have configured your workstation correctly to host those files in the proper setup. If your source files are not currently inside a project, then you will need to import them into the project. you might consider supporting them directly into the workspace without creating the tracks first when you do that if some of the tracks and mama you end up with mono channels, depending upon how your workstation imports files in a project. So the best practice is probably to create the tracks first and then import your source files into the tracks that you have already created. That way, you will be sure that the channels in the project are stereo channels and not just taking the Mono setting as a default based on the kind of file being imported.
If you have been recording your tracks in your workstation all along, then you will have already your tracks in the project. If this is so, please make sure they are not mono channels in your project. Because if you have mono channels in your project, those channels will not sound any where near as good because any effects that you add to the channel will be in mono and not in stereo, and will therefore sound very flat and one-dimensional, and you will not be able to get a professional mix at the end of the process. so in this case, when you will need to do is create new empty stereo tracks and copy or cut and paste the mono source files from the mono tracks to the new stereo tracks. That way you will still have the same source files but you have the option of creating rich stereo sound from those mono files using the stereo channel. whatever the case, it's important to end up all stereo channels in your project and just get rid of the mono channels once you have copied them over to the stereo channels.
okay now and we have got our source files comfortably housed in our workstation project, we need to prepare each channel to be mixed properly. The first thing I always do when setting up my tracks is colorcode them all into groups. For example, I make all the drum parts orange, bass parts purple, synthesizer parts green, etc. there might be only three colors or there might be 10 colors depending on the complexity of the orchestration of the song.
after I have color-coded all the channels, I then move the channels up and down so that all the colors are together in their groups. Then, I'll move all the drums to the top list, then the bass parts, then the synthesizer, then the vocals, etc. so the screen looks like a consolidated series of one color after another in solid bars in the track listing window.
So now when we open the mixer, we see all the tracks nicely organized in their groups. probably all the individual sliders are up at zero mark. Since these are all new tracks, or we will assume that they are, then we really don't know how loud they are, so what I usually do at this point is attenuate the volume on every single track. I do this in two ways: first I go to the input and control for each channel and set it to -12 and I do this for each individual channel. Do exactly the same thing to the slider level as well on each channel, so that all the channels have their input gain set at -12 in their slider volume at -12 which is a little less than halfway up the slider. I just did a ritual on every song and every time I start a new song, because it puts me in a position where instead of starting with everything going full guns, I can ramp up the each part slowly and choose for myself exactly where I want it to be in the mix.
If you're starting with no parts, and basically an empty project, and wondering to start a new song, then you should probably pick up my other course entitled how to make smoking beats
At this point I will create groups to match the color coding that I did earlier on the parts. I will create a group for drums, a group for bass, a group for synthesizers, vocals, guitars, keyboards, horns, strings, special effects, etc. I won't always make all of those groups, just make the groups that I need for the parts in the song. When I name the groups, I always start the group name with a + sign. I worked many years as a software programmer, and so I learned to name things in an informative manner or filename or item name, so that I always know what things are one seeing them with other things that might get me confused. sell I always put a + in front of the group name other conventions that I will share with you in the other sections.