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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.
Like sends and returns, creating submixes is a fairly common signal flow concept in the mixing world and one you should be familiar with. Submixes allow us to route a group of tracks into a single channel strip making group processing possible and simplifying track management and level balancing over larger mixes. So a quick example for you here in the Take Me Down Mix are the Drums. The Drums are mixed into a common Drum Bus. So the output of each drum track is set to Drum Bus, which is picked up over here on the aux track DrumSbMix here.
And it's also picked up here on an additional track called DrumSquash, in which I'm going to do some parallel processing and we'll talk about that in the dynamics chapter. Now there is quite a bit of submixing going on in the exercise session, so it's a really good way of feeling your way through submixes especially multi-tiered submixes. Again, the drums, specifically the Kick and Sub Kick tracks, are submixed into a single track called KickBus, which is then fed into the additional drum submix, right.
So you can layer these. And then everything is actually eventually fed into the Mix Bus submix which makes its way all the way over to the right-hand side on the stereo aux track called Mix Sub. So why do we do things like this? Again, group processing tracks with plug-ins can give you a sound that's completely different than processing the individual tracks with the same plug-ins, and it also saves on DSP allowing you to use fewer plug-ins.
This also simplifies mixing tasks like automation and level control. So in a big mix, when you have a lot of tracks you can submix them together and have a single fader to control their volume or automate. This also helps when we bounce down groups of larger tracks. So sort of traditionally in multi-track recording, on four track tape recorders, they would often bounce down multiple tracks to a single track to free up more tracks for recordings. You can also do this in Pro Tools using the submixing concept.
So how do we make the submix from scratch? Well, if I go over here, and again I look in my Tambourine and Shaker track, right now they are being routed to the Mix Bus, which is my common submix for all the tracks. But what I can do is if I create a new Stereo Aux track, I'm going to set its input to a free bus, we'll use Bus 31- 32 and I'm going to right-click that and choose Rename and I'll rename that to percussion. Now I'll take these two tracks, the Tambourine and Shaker, I'll set their outputs to bus > percussion, bus > percussion.
And I'm going to solo safe this aux return, so I'll Apple-click the S or Ctrl-click on the PC. And what that's going to do is it's going to allow me to solo these individual tracks without having to solo the return. Now you definitely want to label your returns. And now I can use this as an overall level control for those two tracks. So let's take a listen. (Music playing) Now if I wanted to apply a plug-in to both of these tracks as opposed to applying a plug-in on both tracks, I could apply the plug-in to the submix aux track, so I could add a little EQ here to them and this is processing the signal as it was summed together from those two tracks over that bus.
So like I said, we can submix in layers and in fact in this session, the whole session is submixed which would mean that I generally want to take any other submix and put that into my Mix Bus, my final submix, to make sure I keep my layers coherent and I can trace the signal flow. Now you want to take some time to kind of go through this session and look at how it's routed and how the layers work. But submixing can generally open up a whole new world of processing to your mix palette. It simplifies larger sessions, it makes complex mixes easier to manage and control and it's really going to be a great trick when it comes to parallel processing or bus processing, things like drum tracks, guitar tracks, background vocals, when we get into EQ and dynamics.
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