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Mixing philosophies

From: Remixing a Song in Logic Pro

Video: Mixing philosophies

We've come to a very exciting portion of the course, the mix, but before we dive in and actually mix I would like to discuss my mixing philosophies and approaches for a few moments. What we're looking at here is the Arrange window of the final mix. I have all my tracks in the order that I like them to be in and if we take a moment to look at that I prefer to put the vocals up top, I like to group the instruments in sections. So we have vocals, vocal samples, drums from low frequency on up starting with the kick drum, the top loops and the year candy to the crash cymbal, the transitional sounds and then the bass followed by the keyboards and if I were to have guitars in a mix I would put them after the keyboards, but I like to think of my mix like a house, you built the foundation first and then you construct the rest of the house.

Mixing philosophies

We've come to a very exciting portion of the course, the mix, but before we dive in and actually mix I would like to discuss my mixing philosophies and approaches for a few moments. What we're looking at here is the Arrange window of the final mix. I have all my tracks in the order that I like them to be in and if we take a moment to look at that I prefer to put the vocals up top, I like to group the instruments in sections. So we have vocals, vocal samples, drums from low frequency on up starting with the kick drum, the top loops and the year candy to the crash cymbal, the transitional sounds and then the bass followed by the keyboards and if I were to have guitars in a mix I would put them after the keyboards, but I like to think of my mix like a house, you built the foundation first and then you construct the rest of the house.

Another way to think of a mix is if you're in the Goodyear blimp and you were staring down on a baseball field and the vocal is the pitcher's mound and home plate is the kick drum. All of this imagery helps me while I'm sitting down to dial in vocal, dial in the low end and a cymbal of mix; this is a very critical part of the process. If you're able to make your mixes sound finished people will respond in a completely different manner than if your mixes sound unfinished. As you can see I actually have a track that I don't need this was a placeholder a duplicate track of the vocal sample box samples track.

So I'm actually going to delete this and I'll delete the automation data. So one thing that will help you when you're actually sitting down to begin the mix, is to really make sure that this Arrange window was organized. Color coat different sections if that's what helps you, make sure that your tracks are named the way that you would like them to be named and allow yourself to have a streamlined set up, so that you're not getting lost in your own arrangement. Let's take a look at the mixer window. I hit Command+2 and I'll pops the mixer window.

The track order on the arrange window corresponds to the left right track order on the mixer window. If I wanted to rename something on the mixer window it would rename on the Arrange window. So as we take a look at the mixer window from left to right, again, vocals, drums, bass and the rest of the keyboards, I've gone ahead and set up reverbs and delays and some extra effects that I'll get to as we dive deeper into the mixing process. Now you'll notice on the master fader I do have what I call a mastering chain.

Some of my colleagues feel that it's not a great idea to actually assemble your final mix with mastering plug-ins on the master fader, I feel that for remixing, and my history in remixing, that it is a good idea, you just have to be very careful with how you set up your mastering chain. This is a very conservative mastering chain composed of all logic plug-ins and once you begin to understand what each plug-in does, it's very easy to set them in a conservative fashion. Some of the mastering plug-in presets for the channel strip, if I click down here, you see a whole list of different mastering scenarios and a lot of these mastering channels strip presets are little bit heavy-handed and if you just slap them on your mix they may not flatter your mix.

What I've done is setup my own mastering chain that allows me to build my final mix and because these settings are so conservative, it's not really an issue. And I will tell a brief story in my second remix for major-label years ago. I turned in a mixed down of the final mix and I had nothing on the master fader and the volume was very low. The A&R person who is A&R in the remix didn't like the way the mix sounded and almost rejected it, but it was nice enough to give me a chance to resubmit it and I applied what I would call mastering simulation on the track which basically made it louder and punchier and it sounded finished.

This is the sheen that a finished track has, and once I resubmitted the track he was very happy with the way it sounded and the mix was accepted. So you have to take it case by case. If you're able to have a professional mastering engineer master your mix then all you would need to do would be to disengage these plug-ins bypass them by holding down the Option key and clicking and simply pull down this master fader, so that there is several DB of headroom up here and send the mastering engineer a stereo wave file bounce of your mix.

But in this day and age our budgets are tight, most of us don't have the luxury of a mastering engineer taking our mix at the final stages. So I learned early on to simulate my own mastering and there have been many scenarios where I've actually had my mastered mix, this mastering setup here be the final-final that winds up being played on the radio or goes to club DJs. So take the time to play with this it will help your mix sound finished. As we move back to the arrange window again as we scroll up and down and look at the different tracks.

The channel strip settings for each track do appear in the Inspector window and I also use this window during the mixing process. To access automation we just simply hit A and that brings us to the automation window and all of the plug-ins including the volume and pan are accessible here we click and hold and whatever plug- ins are actually on the channel strip, and we'll use the vocal as an example, you see the tape delay send three and all of these parameters for each plug-in are available to you in the automation window.

So you can do some very interesting things with filtering, volume, swells, panning, filter cut off, things of that nature. We just click A and it takes us back to the Arrange window. So I hope that this gives you a nice tour of logic arrange in mixing window with a mix that's in its final stages. Again use caution with the mastering plug-ins. I actually put them on at the very beginning and I build my mix with them on, but it will take a moment for you to get a handle on what the limiter does, what the compressor does, and in this session in the exercise files I have provided you with my channel strips setup which you're welcome to use as a jumping off point for your own mixes.

If you would like to understand on a deeper level just what these plug-ins do, please check out Logic Pro 9 Essential Training with Scott Hirsch, available on the Lynda.com Online Training Library.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Remixing a Song in Logic Pro
Remixing a Song in Logic Pro

35 video lessons · 6538 viewers

Josh Harris
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 16m 14s
    1. Welcome
      1m 8s
    2. Using Logic Pro as a remixing environment
      4m 45s
    3. Optimizing Logic's performance and monitoring system usage
      4m 29s
    4. Working with software synths
      3m 15s
    5. Using the exercise files
      58s
    6. Relinking audio files
      1m 39s
  2. 22m 51s
    1. Setting up your session
      2m 34s
    2. Determining and verifying source BPM
      1m 30s
    3. Lining up vocals over a kick drum
      5m 36s
    4. Choosing destination BPM and time-stretching in Flex mode
      4m 30s
    5. Exporting time-stretched vocals and importing into a session
      4m 23s
    6. Thinking about your direction
      4m 18s
  3. 22m 50s
    1. Using Apple Loops
      6m 8s
    2. Auditioning drum loops
      5m 46s
    3. Layering drum loops
      4m 45s
    4. Drum loops and drum programming
      6m 11s
  4. 19m 56s
    1. Chord changes and harmonic structure
      4m 18s
    2. Getting bass sounds and programming bass lines
      8m 50s
    3. Layering bass sounds and side chaining
      6m 48s
  5. 34m 20s
    1. Choosing foundational synth parts and sounds
      11m 46s
    2. Layering synth parts
      10m 21s
    3. Lead line hooks
      5m 37s
    4. Synth candy
      6m 36s
  6. 12m 19s
    1. The importance of arranging
      2m 26s
    2. Arranging your track
      9m 53s
  7. 23m 3s
    1. Creating vocal samples and transitional sounds
      11m 57s
    2. Advanced vocal editing techniques
      5m 44s
    3. Filling holes in the arrangement
      5m 22s
  8. 47m 30s
    1. Mixing philosophies
      6m 30s
    2. Mixing drums and bass
      5m 40s
    3. Mixing synths and transitional sounds
      12m 14s
    4. Mixing vocals
      10m 36s
    5. Final touches, referencing, and mastering your final mix
      5m 17s
    6. Listening to the final mix
      7m 13s
  9. 47s
    1. Final thoughts
      47s

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