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Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

EQ workflow example 1: Kick drum


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Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

with Brian Lee White

Video: EQ workflow example 1: Kick drum

So for a specific example of using EQ in the context of a mix when we discuss making something more cohesive or correcting the recording process, we want to take a look at the kick drum, and the kick drum and Take Me Down is actually two kick drums that were recorded, a mike inside the kick and then a sub-kick mike using another special mike to record the low frequencies of the kick. And those are bussed into a single mono aux track over the kick bus where I'm doing some group processing on them here.
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  1. 14m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 12s
    2. The past, present, and future of mixing
      6m 20s
    3. Strategies for mixing and mastering
      5m 38s
    4. Using the exercise files
      1m 40s
  2. 40m 24s
    1. Mixing "in the box"
      5m 9s
    2. Setting up the studio: Speakers and acoustics
      13m 12s
    3. Staying organized: Effectively prepping the mix
      10m 50s
    4. Managing system resources during mixdown
      11m 13s
  3. 41m 39s
    1. Introducing the Pro Tools Mixer
      2m 24s
    2. Understanding mixer signal flow
      3m 42s
    3. Using inserts and plug-ins
      7m 4s
    4. Working with plug-in settings
      5m 1s
    5. Using sends and creating FX returns
      6m 55s
    6. Submixing with aux tracks
      4m 30s
    7. Using groups while mixing
      3m 46s
    8. Using master faders effectively
      8m 17s
  4. 21m 11s
    1. Conceptualizing the mix and making a plan
      7m 45s
    2. Using volume and pan to balance the mix
      11m 18s
    3. Knowing when to process: Mix problems vs. mix solutions
      2m 8s
  5. 1h 3m
    1. Understanding the mechanics of sound
      3m 53s
    2. Learning the basics of EQ: Frequency-specific level control
      4m 29s
    3. Using DigiRack EQ III
      16m 3s
    4. EQ strategies in mixing: Corrective vs. creative
      7m 18s
    5. EQ workflow example 1: Kick drum
      5m 39s
    6. EQ workflow example 2: Filtering loops
      5m 10s
    7. EQ workflow example 3: The "telephone" effect
      3m 7s
    8. Mixing tips and tricks for EQ
      17m 36s
  6. 1h 15m
    1. Understanding dynamics and dynamic range
      2m 1s
    2. Working with dynamics processors
      2m 57s
    3. Using the DigiRack Dyn III compressor/limiter
      10m 6s
    4. Balancing and shaping track dynamics
      3m 19s
    5. Using gates and expanders
      9m 22s
    6. Using de-essers to eliminate sibilance
      5m 47s
    7. Dynamics workflow example 1: Vocals
      10m 0s
    8. Dynamics workflow example 2: Drums
      9m 29s
    9. Mixing tips and tricks: Dynamics
      11m 37s
    10. Building parallel or "upward" compression
      7m 53s
    11. Reviewing dynamics concerns: How much is too much?
      3m 28s
  7. 47m 48s
    1. Using time-based effects to add depth and width
      3m 22s
    2. Using DigiRack D-Verb
      14m 27s
    3. Using the DigiRack delays
      9m 18s
    4. Mixing with reverb
      7m 59s
    5. Mixing with delays
      6m 19s
    6. Mixing tips and tricks: Creating mix depth
      6m 23s
  8. 18m 8s
    1. Working with the Creative Collection
      9m 8s
    2. Building distortion and saturation
      9m 0s
  9. 37m 33s
    1. Understanding automation
      4m 10s
    2. Recording real-time automation moves
      7m 6s
    3. Viewing and editing automation
      10m 17s
    4. Automating plug-ins
      7m 36s
    5. Automation strategies for mixing
      8m 24s
  10. 29m 31s
    1. Understanding the characteristics of a great mix
      7m 2s
    2. Working to reference tracks
      4m 35s
    3. Avoiding some common pitfalls
      7m 50s
    4. Building healthy mixing habits
      3m 36s
    5. Crafting your mix from start to finish
      6m 28s
  11. 1h 5m
    1. Understanding mastering
      4m 15s
    2. Bouncing the mix
      7m 9s
    3. Working with general mastering strategies
      8m 50s
    4. Using limiting and compression to maximize track level
      10m 57s
    5. Working with multi-band compression
      7m 9s
    6. Understanding sample rate, bit depth, file formats, and dither
      7m 30s
    7. Using Pro Tools for CD track sequencing
      10m 11s
    8. Compressing audio for the web
      9m 41s
  12. 44m 51s
    1. Tips for evaluating plug-in processors
      6m 51s
    2. Using EQ plug-ins
      5m 35s
    3. Using dynamic compression plug-ins
      11m 3s
    4. Using reverb and delay plug-ins
      10m 46s
    5. Reviewing additional plug-ins
      10m 36s
  13. 57m 18s
    1. Effectively using saturation/analog style effects
      13m 40s
    2. Setting up side chains
      7m 5s
    3. Master buss processing
      5m 34s
    4. Creating and using mix templates
      6m 54s
    5. Surround mixing
      6m 22s
    6. Dealing with plug-in delay and latency
      6m 26s
    7. Drum sample replacing
      11m 17s
  14. 32s
    1. Goodbye
      32s

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Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools
9h 18m Intermediate Aug 20, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Once recording and editing are finished, audio engineers can take advantage of the training in Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools to punch up the final output. Digidesign Certified Expert Brian Lee White covers all the basic mixing tools that every producer and engineer should know, from using EQ to add clarity and focus to using compression and limiting to maximize track levels within a mix. Brian stresses the importance of setting up a solid mixing plan prior to any work in Pro Tools, and gives advice on the best plug-ins for each stage of the process. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Using the Pro Tools Creative Collection to add clarity, punch, width, and depth to a mix
  • Recording real-time automation moves for future replication
  • Building healthy and profitable mixing habits when putting a final mix together
  • Knowing when to process the audio of a track
  • Using saturation effects to capture that "analog" sound
  • Working with limiting and multiband compression during the mastering process
  • Dealing with plug-in delay and latency in a mix
Subjects:
Audio + Music Mixing Mastering
Software:
Pro Tools
Author:
Brian Lee White

EQ workflow example 1: Kick drum

So for a specific example of using EQ in the context of a mix when we discuss making something more cohesive or correcting the recording process, we want to take a look at the kick drum, and the kick drum and Take Me Down is actually two kick drums that were recorded, a mike inside the kick and then a sub-kick mike using another special mike to record the low frequencies of the kick. And those are bussed into a single mono aux track over the kick bus where I'm doing some group processing on them here.

So if we think about a kick drum in a pop rock tune that has a lot of guitars, bass and vocals and things like that, generally we want something that's going to hit us deep in our chest while still carrying the beat and staying audible even on smaller speakers. So let's just listen to the kick with and without EQ and sort of get a sense of what we are starting with. Here is without. (Music playing) And here is with.

(Music playing) So what's happening here is I'm pulling out a significant amount of the mid range and the lower mids and what that's doing, it's sort of removing some of the boxiness from the kick drum. If I pull these bands out and we listen you can hear a lot of the boxiness of that kick drum come through. And this is really common. It's really hard to record a kick drum without getting this boxiness in there, and it's generally something in more of a rock tune that we are going to pretty much always do is pull out some of those low mids from a kick drum.

(Music playing) And then I'm taking in, I'm boosting in a bit right around 60 Hz, try to give it a little extra power. And then like I said, I want to make sure it carries the rhythm on smaller speakers, because smaller speakers aren't going to be able to reproduce below 100 hertz. So I have boosted a bit of beater end of the kick a little bit. So it's going to give it that nice little snap and go ahead and listen to that.

(Music playing) Now it's important for us to listen to this in the context of the mix, and so to really understand how these changes are going to help kind of define the kicks place in the mix next to the other instruments. So if we listen in the mix with for a bit. (Music playing) (Male singing: We hit the town...) And then without.

(Music playing) (Male singing: We hit the town...) (Male singing: And I'll never forget that sound.) (Music playing) So what's happening is if we don't remove those mid frequencies sort of that boxiness or that muddiness it's kind of masking those important elements that sit in that range of the mix. So those guitars that are kind of driving the rhythm section and the vocal and they kind of sits on top of everything and not in a really cool way.

And so by removing those frequencies we can really rein in the kick drum, and really focus it where we want it right on that low end and the top end. Now sometimes what I like to do when I'm specifically choosing a frequency, sort of this lower mid frequency here on the 100 hertz, I think about the bass guitar and its fundamental, and things like the key of the song and how the bass is sitting next to the kick drum, and I'll make that decision to sort of notch out a little frequency there, so that the bass can kind of just sit right on top of the kick drum.

Now sometimes what we'll see is that the bass and kick kind of trade places depending on the type or style of music we were working on. Some styles of music tend to have lower bass than kick drum while others tend to have lower kick drum than bass. But I like to kind of try to match up their EQ curves, get them gelling together. So I just want to consider both low end elements when I'm EQing either the bass or the kick. Now because again of the complexity and the room considerations of acoustic mike instruments, so this is a perfect example of an acoustic instrument that's been miked, a kick drum.

These can be very difficult to EQ if they are not recorded correctly. And like I said a kick drum tends to usually benefit from pulling out a little of the low mids. There are situations which you would want to keep those, maybe more of a folky Americana thing or that poofy, pillowy kick kind of sounds awesome. But it's generally better to try to capture the sound you are looking for at the source. So when we get into more harmonically complex acoustic instruments like acoustic guitar and vocal, they can't take nearly as much EQing.

So when you EQ them too much they kind of start to sound strained. So I can't emphasize enough how important it is to try to capture a good sound at the source. Try switching out for a different mike, try some different mike placements. Don't just say to yourself, "we'll fix it in the mix with EQ," because generally that can get you in trouble later. Fix it while you can during the recording process.

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