Pro Tools 8 Essential Training
Illustration by Richard Downs

Setting up a session for mixing


Pro Tools 8 Essential Training

with David Franz

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Video: Setting up a session for mixing

A mix is the combination of the recorded tracks in a session reduced to two tracks for stereo playback or to six to eight tracks for surround sound playback. The goal of any mix is to create a total sound that helps support the purpose of the song, putting the listener into an appealing acoustical space by adjusting the volume levels panning, EQ and effects of individual sounds in a creative and appealing way, while giving each element in the mix its own place in the complete soundscape.
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  1. 12m 54s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
    2. Exploring the different versions of Pro Tools
      2m 30s
    3. Optimizing your computer before installing Pro Tools
      3m 51s
    4. Troubleshooting
      3m 1s
    5. Using the exercise files
      2m 16s
  2. 23m 41s
    1. Connecting your Pro Tools system
      5m 8s
    2. Powering up and powering down
    3. Optimizing Pro Tools performance
      6m 55s
    4. Setting essential preferences
      3m 42s
    5. Creating a Pro Tools session
      3m 56s
    6. Identifying elements in a session folder
      3m 2s
  3. 47m 10s
    1. Exploring the Edit window
      4m 51s
    2. Exploring the Mix window
      2m 21s
    3. Exploring the Transport and Big Counter windows
      4m 0s
    4. Using the Color palette and window arrangements
      2m 55s
    5. Investigating Pro Tools menus
      4m 37s
    6. Creating new tracks
      4m 10s
    7. Understanding samples and ticks
      3m 36s
    8. Viewing and manipulating tracks
      5m 54s
    9. Adjusting the I/O setup
      7m 7s
    10. Understanding signal paths and gain stages
      3m 50s
    11. Utilizing keyboard shortcuts and keyboard focus
      3m 49s
  4. 30m 45s
    1. Using DigiBase and the Workspace browser
      5m 6s
    2. Importing audio
      5m 13s
    3. Importing MIDI
      3m 56s
    4. Importing session data
      6m 17s
    5. Importing tracks from a CD
      4m 18s
    6. Importing video
      2m 57s
    7. Unmounting a hard drive
      2m 58s
  5. 1h 2m
    1. Recording audio
      5m 6s
    2. Playing back audio
      10m 31s
    3. Creating a Click track
      4m 53s
    4. Overdubbing and using the record modes
      9m 25s
    5. Recording with playlists and the Loop Record mode
      3m 6s
    6. Punch recording and using the monitoring modes
      5m 28s
    7. Dealing with latency
      4m 17s
    8. Creating a group
      4m 33s
    9. Adding effects while recording
      7m 41s
    10. Creating a headphone (cue) mix
      5m 35s
    11. Assigning disk allocation
      2m 13s
  6. 1h 26m
    1. Understanding nondestructive editing and region types
      3m 31s
    2. Using the Selector and Grabber tools
      3m 29s
    3. Using the Trimmer and Scrubber tools
      6m 57s
    4. Using the Zoomer tool and Zoom presets
      5m 14s
    5. Using the Pencil tool
      3m 27s
    6. Using the Smart tool
      1m 26s
    7. Understanding the edit modes
      7m 54s
    8. Arranging regions
      8m 38s
    9. Undoing an edit
      2m 3s
    10. Utilizing fades and crossfades
      10m 29s
    11. Building a comp track using playlists
      5m 28s
    12. Locking and muting regions
      3m 36s
    13. Special buttons in the Editing window
      8m 16s
    14. Creating an audio loop
      5m 11s
    15. Editing a voiceover
      10m 59s
  7. 18m 43s
    1. Working with region groups
      5m 47s
    2. Setting time, tempo, meter, key, and chord
      5m 46s
    3. Creating memory locations
      7m 10s
  8. 35m 30s
    1. Setting up MIDI on a Mac
      4m 25s
    2. Setting up MIDI on a PC
      2m 50s
    3. Setting up MIDI in Pro Tools
      2m 46s
    4. Recording MIDI data
      5m 24s
    5. Recording multiple MIDI tracks with one virtual instrument
      2m 15s
    6. Recording options for MIDI
      6m 27s
    7. Using step input
      4m 45s
    8. Making a drum loop with MIDI Merge
      2m 51s
    9. Composing with virtual instruments
      3m 47s
  9. 48m 41s
    1. Using the edit tools for editing MIDI data
      8m 23s
    2. Editing MIDI data with the MIDI Editor
      7m 20s
    3. Working with the MIDI event list
      2m 41s
    4. Editing MIDI data with event operations
      8m 25s
    5. Quantizing MIDI tracks
      11m 31s
    6. Creating and using groove templates
      5m 59s
    7. Utilizing real-time properties
      4m 22s
  10. 18m 51s
    1. Exploring the Score Editor
      5m 22s
    2. Using the Score Editor
      6m 33s
    3. Setting up a score
      4m 30s
    4. Printing and exporting a score
      2m 26s
  11. 19m 0s
    1. Utilizing the Time Shift plug-in
      7m 41s
    2. Editing with Elastic Time
      8m 30s
    3. Editing with Elastic Pitch
      2m 49s
  12. 48m 20s
    1. Working with Boom
      11m 23s
    2. Working with Xpand2
      7m 21s
    3. Working with DB-33
      6m 58s
    4. Working with Vacuum
      7m 55s
    5. Working with Structure Free
      7m 12s
    6. Working with Mini Grand
      3m 57s
    7. Using Midi Learn
      3m 34s
  13. 25m 56s
    1. Writing and editing automation
      6m 4s
    2. Drawing automation with the Pencil tool
      4m 56s
    3. Editing automation with the Trimmer and Grabber tools
      2m 9s
    4. Cutting, copying, pasting, and clearing automation
      4m 6s
    5. Turning automation on and off
      4m 25s
    6. Automating plug-ins and virtual instruments
      4m 16s
  14. 1h 40m
    1. Setting up a session for mixing
      8m 0s
    2. Setting up an effects loop
      9m 18s
    3. Working with plug-ins
      3m 53s
    4. Dealing with delay compensation
      6m 52s
    5. Applying EQ
      9m 19s
    6. Adding compression
      11m 17s
    7. Applying limiters
      2m 57s
    8. Using Gates and Expanders
      4m 40s
    9. Working with Side Chains
      3m 35s
    10. Working with De-Essers
      3m 4s
    11. Adding delay
      7m 34s
    12. Utilizing modulation effects
      4m 43s
    13. Adding reverb
      7m 5s
    14. Adding harmonic effects
      5m 7s
    15. Renting and purchasing plug-ins
      2m 2s
    16. Applying AudioSuite plug-ins
      5m 20s
    17. Bouncing down a mix
      5m 51s
  15. 25m 45s
    1. Setting up a session for mastering
      8m 56s
    2. Using plug-ins for mastering
      8m 48s
    3. Applying Dither and Noise shaping
      4m 5s
    4. Bouncing down master recordings
      3m 56s
  16. 19m 53s
    1. Importing and displaying video files
      4m 21s
    2. Adding music, foley, ADR, and FX
      12m 28s
    3. Bouncing down video and audio together
      3m 4s
  17. 4m 50s
    1. Archiving an entire session
      4m 50s
  18. 31s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Pro Tools 8 Essential Training
10h 30m Beginner Jul 10, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Pro Tools 8 Essential Training unveils the inner workings of the industry-standard software for music and post-production. Musician, producer, and educator David Franz demonstrates all the concepts and techniques necessary for recording, editing, mixing, and mastering in Pro Tools 8. He teaches how to create music with virtual instruments and plug-ins, edit with elastic audio for time and pitch manipulation, create a musical score, and mix with effects loops. This course can help any music producer, sound engineer, or hobbyist become proficient in Pro Tools 8. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Exploring all facets of the Pro Tools interface
  • Setting up Pro Tools hardware and software properly
  • Recording and editing audio and MIDI
  • Comping a track using playlists
  • Importing data and working with video
  • Working with automation and controller lanes
  • Applying dither
  • Archiving a session for storage
Audio + Music
Pro Tools
David Franz

Setting up a session for mixing

A mix is the combination of the recorded tracks in a session reduced to two tracks for stereo playback or to six to eight tracks for surround sound playback. The goal of any mix is to create a total sound that helps support the purpose of the song, putting the listener into an appealing acoustical space by adjusting the volume levels panning, EQ and effects of individual sounds in a creative and appealing way, while giving each element in the mix its own place in the complete soundscape.

Before starting a mix, I recommend listening to some reference mixes. Listen to mixes that you know very well. Most professional mixers have several CDs of music that they know intimately and they reference these from time to time when mixing. In fact, I recommend importing the reference mix tracks into a Pro Tools session or into your mix directly. Check out the videos about importing audio to learn how to do this. Second, I recommend choosing some songs that sound similar to your current project or that have a sound that you're aiming for in your mix.

For example, listen to the levels of certain instruments such as where the vocal sits. Is it deep in the mix or is it riding on top of the instruments? Also listen to particular stylistic effects like how much reverb is used on the snare drum. Next, it's time to get your session ready for mixing. Check all of your edits, use fades and crossfades to make sure that there are no straight clicks and pops at any point. You can zoom in and check all of the insert points here, in fact, I see that there is no fade in here, so I'll probably grab the Smart tool and just do a quick little fading like that. Do this for all of the tracks so that you don't have any surprise clicks or pops.

You may even consider consolidating multiple regions on a track into one. Here's how you do that. I'm going to highlight all of these regions in this track and then choose Edit > Consolidate Region, and that creates an entirely new region that combines all of the regions into one, and this can save our processing power and it also looks cleaner in your session. Before consolidating, I usually recommend creating a duplicate playlist and then consolidating the duplicate playlist but we'll carry on here using what we've got.

Second, you should organize your Pro Tools session so that your tracks are in a logical order so you can move quickly in the session. Label all the track names. Fortunately we already have those named here. Make sure to create a Stereo Master Fader track so that you can monitor the Stereo output from the session and control it with just one fader. Third, you should make Groups. Grouping tracks together and putting all like instruments together or next to each other in the session can help you stay organized. Let's create a Group of these three top tracks here, got the piano, the organ, and the electric piano. So I have highlighted these using the Link Track and Edit Selection button here, and now I'm going to choose Track > Group. I'll call this the keys group and click OK.

A really great feature that you can use when mixing is to show just the tracks in your one group at one time and to do that, you can Ctrl-click on the Mac on the name of the group to display only that group in the mix of the Edit window. So if I come over here to the keys group and I press the Ctrl key, click on it, I'll only see the tracks in that group. Now I'm actually going to go down here and Ctrl-click on the ALL Group to bring everything back. Let's switch over to the Mix window, and the next step is to set up any inserts like an external hardware compressor or set up effects loops that you're sure that you want to use in the mixing session. This could include Reverbs like this or Delays or coarse effects or anything that you really want to use in the mix. I'll discuss how to create an effects loop in a later video.

Next, you may also consider adding EQ and compression plug-ins on to the individual tracks where you think they are going to be used in the mix. Having EQ and Compression on tracks is kind of a standard feature of most analog mixing boards, so we can mimic that here in Pro Tools. If we go to Setup > Preferences, over in the Mixing page, we can choose the Default EQ, go straight to the EQ 3 7- Band and Default Dynamics which means a compressor, we'll choose the standard Compressors/Limiter from Pro Tools, click OK.

And now when we go to the Insert, we can actually see that these are the defaults right there, so it's really easy; we don't have to go through the menus to choose. We can simply just insert them right away. If you like to use a compressor, EQ on your overall mix added on the Stereo Master Fader track before you even start mixing, so that you know how the mix sounds with it on from the get go. So we can choose our Compressor right here.

If you end up adding in this compressor after you have been mixing, your entire mix will change and you might have to redo a bunch of work. So I recommend adding this in at the beginning of the mix if you want to use one at all. Now let's talk about some mixing terms. First is Panning. Panning is used to place sound sources on the left side, the right side or anywhere in between in your stereo field. Use these panning knobs here to determine where you want to place each instrument in the stereo field. I recommend trying to spread out your stereo field with the different instruments, and envision what that would look like, maybe on stage with all these instruments playing at once.

The second mixing term I want to discuss is EQ and how to position tracks using EQ. EQ positioning means placing a sound source within one or multiple frequency ranges to separate it from other sound sources. Some call this carving EQ holes. Now I'm going to talk about applying EQ in another video in this course. The third mixing term that I want to talk about is Depth. Depth refers to the feeling that a sound source is closer, distant from the listener, and is created using Reverbs and Delay and I'll also be talking about Reverbs and Delay in other videos in this course.

But you should use these three dimensions to envision the physical layout of all the tracks in your Pro Tools session and balance the sound sources visually. So when you're mixing in Pro Tools, here's the general procedure of how you want to go about it. Use this list as a loose guide for the mixing procedure. Note that the steps here don't need to be performed in this particular order, and that some steps will probably overlap each other. So first you want to create a rough balance using volume levels in panning, then you want to apply EQ, making room for each instrument in the frequency spectrum. Next, you want to add the dynamics processing that is Compression/Limiting, Gates, expansion. Then you can add your depth and special effects processing including Reverb, Delay, Chorus, Flange, etcetera.

Next, you should set your final volume levels and use automation where necessary to get the volume levels correct. Then you can bounce down your mix and check it against reference mixes and on different playback systems. Finally, you should revisit the mix to fix any issues, and keep the original mix and use the Save As command if you're going to create a new mix. I'll cover all the topics listed here in other videos in this course, and if you can keep your mix process loosely aligned with the steps outlined here, you'll be on the path to creating excellent sounding mixes in Pro Tools.

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