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Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

Mixing tips and tricks: Creating mix depth


From:

Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

with Brian Lee White

Video: Mixing tips and tricks: Creating mix depth

Remember, through the use of Reverb, Delay and other time domain processors, you can really start to rein in on the emotion and the message of this song. But before trenching everything with the verb and slap-back echoes, go back to your mix plan and think about how these spacial processors can work to achieve your idealized goal for this song. Is it wet and dreamy, close and intimate? Is it off the distance or in your face and big at the same time? Here some of my tips for using Reverb and Delay. Again, remember a little goes a long way.
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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

Mixing tips and tricks: Creating mix depth

Remember, through the use of Reverb, Delay and other time domain processors, you can really start to rein in on the emotion and the message of this song. But before trenching everything with the verb and slap-back echoes, go back to your mix plan and think about how these spacial processors can work to achieve your idealized goal for this song. Is it wet and dreamy, close and intimate? Is it off the distance or in your face and big at the same time? Here some of my tips for using Reverb and Delay. Again, remember a little goes a long way.

Every element doesn't need to be wet. So, it's normal to have a few completely dry elements. For example, in this mix the electric guitars are for the most part dry. They have the little bit room verb on them just to give them a little bit of space, to put them in a room, but I'm not washing them with a ton of plate. Again, dry elements are going to borrow tails off of the wet ones, all becoming sort of one as they gel together in the mix.

You also want to avoid adding a lot of Reverb to very low frequency instruments. The problem with this is that the mud can tend to build up in the Reverb. We're not really hearing a lot of those low frequencies in the Reverb tail, especially if your EQing them out. You can experiment with this, but it's generally not a good idea to feed a ton of your kick drum into your longest Reverb. But a little bit can be kind of tasty sometimes. So another thing to considered is setting Reverb times.

When your setting Reverb times, consider the tempo of the song and consider what the elements are doing. Percussive instruments and faster rhythms need shorter tails, so that your not obscuring the next hit or next beat with the Reverb tail. This is why gated the Reverbs are very common on snare drums and percussive sounds. So, think of the tempo and the rhythm that the instrument is playing when sort of evaluating the time of the Reverb.

When you want to sort of create that big sound, add a lot of Reverb to the more legato and slower instruments in the sound they can get away with having a lot this Reverb in creating that back wall. So, your strings, your pads and stuff like that, give those a lot of Reverb. Now, your vocals can generally sit in the middle. If it's too long they can start obscuring the lyrics or creating a muddy vocal. So I'd like to use Pre-Delay to separate the dry from the wet signal when I'm looking at a vocal Reverb.

So, add a little Pre-Delay in, just sort of separate the two, or maybe just use the Delayed Reverb. Feed the vocal into the Delay, and then the Delay into the Reverb. When setting Delay times, again, you're also going to want to consider the tempo and the rhythm. If you have really dense rhythmic drums, don't put really big long Delays on them unless you're trying to create some sort of cool polyrhythmic effect. In that situation it becomes more of a production and arrangement decision where the Delay actually becomes part of the performance and the song.

Again, use rhythmic Delays to help reinforce the tempo of the tune, and maybe work with some off tempo Delays to help things stick out better. So, try a dotted eighth note, so that it's not tapping directly on the eighth note and trying to rob the space created by your hi-hat and your snare and other percussion instruments. Use shorter the decay times like under 40 milliseconds to create more of a doubled or thickened sound. You can pan these left and right to thicken or sort of create a full stereo image on a mono sound.

Play around with treating in returns with other effects. Feed your Delays in to choruses, flangers, other Delays, other Reverbs. You can do chains and you can create send and return chains from one into another as much as you want. And you do some really cool sound design by doing this, feeding Delays into Reverbs back into Delays again and things like that. Treat your Delays and verbs with different effects straight up. So I might put a chorus right after my Delay.

Or a chorus right after my Reverb to create a cool chorused Reverb effect, like in some of the old school hardware Reverbs. Play with the pan on Delay and Reverb returns. So, if your looking to sort of make something really big you might use a hard left to hard right stereo Delay or stereo Reverb. But if you're trying to maintain some thing's place in the mix, you might opt to use a mono return and pan that to match that instrument's place in the mix.

Or maybe try taking a Delay panning the dry signal right and the wet signal to the left. These can be some cool tricks you can play with pan. Now, you can also create manual Delays via editing. So something I see people do a lot is they'll actually take specific elements let's say like the lead vocal. They'll drop those on to other tracks. Drop a duplicate on to another track, and then use the grid to nudge it by let's say an eighth note or a quarter note.

So, what does that sound like? (Male singing: And I'll never forget...) So, when you just want to affect one word or just sort of add a delay to a single word, this can be an effective method. You can also automate the send to come in and out, again, if you want to just have delays on certain words or phrases. So, you can either approach this from an edit standpoint or an automation standpoint. We'll cover automation in another chapter. So, the example session is a very straight ahead live rock song, so its use of Reverb and Delay is pretty standard for that genre.

But don't let that stop you from heavy experimentation. You can get some really cool sonic textures by layering Delays and Reverbs and just be mindful of the additional frequency considerations that come along with extending an element's decay in time.

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