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Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools
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Master buss processing


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Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

with Brian Lee White

Video: Master buss processing

Not to be confused with mastering, master bus processing is a trick that mix engineers have been using for decades to get a gelled and punchy mix quickly and generally make the mixing process more fun and interesting from the get-go. By placing effects like compressors and saturation on your Master Fader or Master Submix and mixing through them, every decision you make during the mix process is made through the lens of the Master Bus effect. The result can be quite stunning. So if we look at what we are doing here on our master bus, I have got a compressor and I'm mixing into this limiter 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

Master buss processing

Not to be confused with mastering, master bus processing is a trick that mix engineers have been using for decades to get a gelled and punchy mix quickly and generally make the mixing process more fun and interesting from the get-go. By placing effects like compressors and saturation on your Master Fader or Master Submix and mixing through them, every decision you make during the mix process is made through the lens of the Master Bus effect. The result can be quite stunning. So if we look at what we are doing here on our master bus, I have got a compressor and I'm mixing into this limiter here.

Now traditionally the history of mixing into a compressor kind of came about when SSL started putting dedicated bus compressors on to their consoles. So the story was the record producer would come in and the A&R executive would be there and the engineer would turn on this bus compressor and the mix would just sound like a record and that's why they called it the Record button. Now, why would this help the mix sound more like a record? Well compression, remember, is going to tuck in any of those dynamics that might be spilling out over the mix.

It's also going to help everything sort of sit and gel together better and fill-out the overall sound, bringing up a little bit of the lower level elements in the mix while taming some of the peaks down. Now the attack and the release on that compressor can aid in adding a little bit more punch to the overall mix. Now this is different than adding compression at the individual track stage because everything is working in combination to push and pull on that compressor.

Basically how I would set up a master bus compressor. While the BF76 is not specifically designed to be a master bus compressor, it is something that comes with Pro Tools stock and you can use it for this purpose. My goal is I'm going to place this on my submix or my master fader and I'm going to look to get about two or three dBs of gain reduction, maybe 4 at the loudest section of the song. What I'm looking for is an attack from about 10 to 20 milliseconds and a release from about 200 to 300 milliseconds.

Now in the BF76, we don't have milliseconds, so I have got my attack at the slowest setting, which is still really, really fast on the 1176 and the release is faster but not as fast as it can go. So, let's listen to the difference that this makes in the mix here. (Music playing) (Male singing: We hit the town.) (Male singing: And I'll never...) Then the denser section of the song. (Music playing) (Male singing: So take me down, take me down and my feet will follow, wherever my heart goes.) (Male singing: I'm come around, I'll come around, like...) So, it's just adding a little extra punch, a little extra support.

It's kind of inflating the sound a little bit, kind of filling everything out. You don't want to push too hard because again you are working your whole mix and a lot of times I like mixing into this compressor because it's going to give me a little extra support, so I can push my automation rise into it. It's going to push back a little bit. Any dynamics decisions that I make are sort of colored by this overall compressor. So I might have to use less overall compression on individual tracks because I have a little bit on the mix bus. Now, some engineers don't like using mix bus compressors.

They feel it's kind of cheating while others completely swear by them. Some like kicking them in later, while others put them in from the get-go. Really you just need to experiment with using compression on your mixes. Certain genres you know, heavy rock and pop, kind of lend themselves more to the mix bus compression and mixing into them, than sort of more Americana folk and jazz mixes would. One thing that the mix bus compressor is going to give you also as a little bit of character from that compressor.

So, what I like to do is when I choose a compressor for my mix bus, I might choose one that has a little extra character, especially if I'm going for more of that gritty sound, right, more of a retro sound. So something it's going to add little bit of harmonic distortion to all the tracks. Otherwise, like I showed you before, I might use some console emulation like analog channel and I might kind of use that in conjunction with a mix bus compressor to kind of gel everything together. Again, the cool thing about this is it kind of gets things sounding punchy and gelled right from the get-go and like I said, some people think this is cheating.

I just think it makes mixing more fun. In the end again, you really just need to kind of experiment. This shouldn't be confused with mastering. If you are going to put the compression on afterwards, it's more sort of a mastering style compression. And while you might approach it the same way, you may have added more compression at the individual track level. So you might go lighter on your bus compression or you might treat the attack and release differently. So just kind of experiment, start a mix with one on, finish it and maybe if you have the time, do the same mix without using the bus compressor and maybe adding it on at the end and kind of see what works for you and getting your mix to gel better.

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