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Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools
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Understanding mixer signal flow


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Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

with Brian Lee White
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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

Video: Understanding mixer signal flow

So the term signal flow in the audio engineering world refers to the path an audio signal takes as it plays back from the recording medium, in this case the hard drive through all of the routing and signal processing of the mixing environment. If you've ever worked with an analog mixing console, you'll be very comfortable with the signal flow of the Pro Tools Mixer. If not, don't worry. Because it mimics the design of most analog consoles, the signal flow is actually very easy to understand. So if we trace a signal from the hard disk to output, we can see that every audio track in Pro Tools, like most mixer channels, has an input and an output.

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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

Understanding mixer signal flow

So the term signal flow in the audio engineering world refers to the path an audio signal takes as it plays back from the recording medium, in this case the hard drive through all of the routing and signal processing of the mixing environment. If you've ever worked with an analog mixing console, you'll be very comfortable with the signal flow of the Pro Tools Mixer. If not, don't worry. Because it mimics the design of most analog consoles, the signal flow is actually very easy to understand. So if we trace a signal from the hard disk to output, we can see that every audio track in Pro Tools, like most mixer channels, has an input and an output.

The input while recording defines the interface input that Pro Tools is going to capture or record from. Now, when playing back pre-recorded material, the input on an audio track doesn't really matter as the audio is going to feed off the playlist of your Edit window. So if we trace that signal as it comes from the playlist in the Edit window, the first thing we're going to hit are the Channels Inserts. We have 10 inserts. Now, Inserts are sort of like filters that are inserted into the track signal flow, and they run in series, and you can think of them as sort of like a funnel.

As the audio filters through this funnel, the inserts are like filter screens lined up. Another example you can think of is guitar pedals patched into an amplifier. So you have the guitar patched into one pedal and to the next pedal, and then eventually into the amplifier. So they run in series. So order tends to matter. If no inserts are enabled, the signal simply flows through the track out through its outputs. All inserts are pre-fader, so they act in response the level of the signals before it hits the level or pan control.

Now the next thing we hit are our Sends. Now, Sends allow us to break off part of a signal running through a track and send it out to another destination, and this could be a custom headphone mix for the person in the booth. But it could also be to a send and return relationship into an effect like a reverb or a delay, which we're going to cover the set up of. Now, Sends can be either pre or post fader. That is to say that pre-fader means they don't take into account the level as set by the fader on that channel.

Whereas, post-fader would take into account this level. Now, coming down here, we have our tracks Level and Pan when set to a stereo output, and that's going to define the level of attenuation or amount of gain that the Mixer is adding to the signal. When the level is at 0 db or what's called the unity gain, no level is being added nor subtracted to that signal. So it's going to playback as it was recorded from the hard-drive.

Now, there is another type of track that we'll see in the Pro Tools Mixer and this is called an Aux track or an Auxiliary Input Track. These are special types of tracks that are a lot like audio tracks, but they can't record audio. So it's basically just an input and an output with your Inserts and Sends, and Level control, but it's not going to be able to record audio. It's simply there for routing audio. So we're going to use them for sub- mixing, and send and return relationships which we'll go through.

So ultimately, understanding how signals flow through the Mixer in Pro Tools will become very important when trying to understand more complex mixing workflows outlined in the course. Take some time to play with the Mixer's signal routing capabilities and trace some of the signal flows in the exercise mix.

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