Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Mixing "in the box"

From: Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

Video: Mixing "in the box"

Traditionally, records were made using entirely analog equipment, from the tape machines that recorded the tracks to the mixers that combined them together. While there were many advantages to a completely analog workflow, such as the warm saturation and non-linear qualities of tape and tube gear, engineers often found it hard to edit tape-based material, recall complex mixes or collaborate and share ideas outside of the studio. Not to mention the fact that this analog recording gear was generally extremely expensive, making high quality recording only available to a select few.

Mixing "in the box"

Traditionally, records were made using entirely analog equipment, from the tape machines that recorded the tracks to the mixers that combined them together. While there were many advantages to a completely analog workflow, such as the warm saturation and non-linear qualities of tape and tube gear, engineers often found it hard to edit tape-based material, recall complex mixes or collaborate and share ideas outside of the studio. Not to mention the fact that this analog recording gear was generally extremely expensive, making high quality recording only available to a select few.

Fast forward to today. Because of the speed and power of today's computers, it is not uncommon for the recording process to take place entirely inside the computer from start to finish, what is commonly refereed to as recording in the box by most recording engineers. While we are still analog beings, and still need a few analog tools like microphones and speakers that we will need to interface with the computer, it is safe to say that we are fully transitioned into the era of DAW or Digital Audio Workstation.

So, what is a DAW? In the DAW world, most of the components of the analog studio are replaced by DAW software running on a computer. So, a DAW replaces the recording medium so versus tape or another digital recording medium, it also gives us an editing environment versus sort of the razor blades of the tape era, and we also get mixing in a fax or plug-ins versus the console and outboard gear of the analog era. So, what are some of the advantages of mixing in a DAW? Well, first of all, you have complete recall ability and so this gives you consistency.

Your mix can move anywhere in the world and sound exactly the same, versus the analog days, it might have taken you hours to recall one song on a console with outboard gear. So, the DAW really lets you develop your mix over time. Another thing that we get in a DAW is an amazing automation package, so you can automate almost anything. And that's not something you are generally able to do in the analog world. Try automating a piece of outboard output gear like an 1176 or Pultec-EQ consistently. Pro Tools probably has one of the best automation packages available in any mixing environment both analog or digital.

The price performance of a DAW is unmatched, so those with the right skills can sound like a million bucks with just a $1,000 laptop studio. Now, some disadvantages or considerations that you will often hear about mixing in a DAW is the lack of tactile control from the analog world. So, in analog, we generally have a knob or a button or a fader for everything that we need to do, and in a DAW, we generally using our mouse and our keyboard. However, many manufacturers have stepped up to this challenge and developed control surfaces to supplement this, in either sort of like large mouse keyboard setups that give you buttons and faders to control the functions of the software.

Many people in this generation of recording are okay using a mouse and a keyboard to mix. One of the other common things you will hear about mixing in a DAW is that there was a lack of sort of de-facto warmth or saturation if you will that is often gain with using analog gear. Now, to me, this isn't necessarily a bad thing but it's just a fact about working in the box and something you have to get used to. The mixer will not add any coloration like an analog mixer will.

Coloration is generally added to taste using saturation plug-ins or outboard gear and it's really important to understand that while the mixer doesn't add any coloration, it's not taking anything away. So, you can get really great accurate sound in recordings and then yourself control the amount of saturation or coloration that you want in your mix. Bottom line is that you can get a great mix completely inside of Pro Tools. So don't let the highbrow articles and fancy advertisement get you down about mixing in the box or not using analog gear.

What works for one person might not work for someone else. So at the end of the day, a strong mixer is going to be able to create a great mix inside or outside of the box, and no one is going to be able to tell either way. I used to supplement my plug-ins with expensive outboard gear but I have more recently move my mixes entirely inside of Pro Tools, as I find a value recall ability and flexibility more than the slight advantages I gained, time my work flow to physical pieces of equipment. For example, rebalancing a client's mix at a different studio in the same night as their performance, with Pro Tools, I can recall the whole mix as long as I have the plug-ins, it's no problem.

You know, it's not to say that using analog gear or summing mixers or analog console is a waste of time. It isn't. Everyone has to find what works best for their style and voice as a mixer. So, for me personally, I find that mixing in the box inside of Pro Tools provides the greatest amount of flexibility in my work while providing an excellent sounding environment to creatively shape the mix exactly how I heard in my head.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools
Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

77 video lessons · 9151 viewers

Brian Lee White
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  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

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now "Already a member? Log in

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Your file was successfully uploaded.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.