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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.
So, Dynamics plug-ins are what's really going to get your mix to sit right, add punch and character to different tracks in your session. Now, the Stock DigiRack Compressor as well as the BF76 are great compressors to kind of learn how Dynamics Control works. But if you're looking for a little bit more character, saturation or non-linear quality out of your compressor, there is a bunch of third party options out there that sound really great.
And let me show you a few of my favorite that I have been using lately. The first one here just came out from Waves, and it is called the H Compressor for Hybrid Compressor. And if you followed Waves at all over the last couple of years, what they have been doing is a lot of analog emulations of old school gear, SSL, Consoles, API, Neave Gear, things like that, and they have developed a lot of intellectual property about how they actually model the specific characteristic, the Saturation, the Harmonic Distortion and just the reaction time of these different processors.
And what they have done is a kind of wrapped a lot of that intellectual property into this new plug-in line, the Hybrid line, and what it is, is it's got those analog qualities. Here we have got off and then four different analog characteristics that we can use. But also has thing that you're not going to find in your typical Analog Compressor. So, it's a kind of hybrid, so you get this Mix parameter. Remember, when I was taking about this cool Parallel Compression tricks. Well, you can do this on the same track, just by using the Mix Parameter.
And there is also something that's really-really cool I think. You can sink it to the Host BPM and so you can set a Release in time with the Tempo of your music and so you can get some really cool pumping effects and just some really cool Tempo based release effects using this. This is one of the first plug-ins, I have seen to do this and it's really, really cool. So, I just want to listen to this on my Vocal for a bit, kind of compare and contrast this to the 1176. So, I'm going to Bypass that, Solo this up and I'll take my Threshold.
I'll put it down to zero, so we're not getting any compression and I start with the Analog one, setting. (Male singing: Trouble bound.) (Male singing: We hit the town.) (Male singing: And I'll never forget that sound.) (Male singing: Tonight I fell asleep at the wheel.) (Male singing: I woke up just in time, with chills darting...) So, it actually sounds a little bit more open than the BF76 to me.
It kind of preserves a little bit more that high-end. If I want to preserve even more, I can take the Mix Parameter and blend back a little bit of the original. I'm really pretty the stroked on this new H-Comp. I have been using it for the last couple of weeks and I really like the way it sounds. They ship in there, gold bundle and above. So, it's something that actually if you have already have a Waves bundle, you might be eligible to get for free. So, you want to check that out. Another compressor plug-in that I have been using lately is again part of the McDSP Retro bundle and I'll just go ahead over it to my Drum tracks and the Retro Compressor and the Retro Limiter again.
Just like the EQ, its not emulating any one specific thing, but it's going to have some of that saturation that Harmonic Distortion that gets created by some of these analog compressors. So, Tube Compressors and even Solid- state Compressors, the way their amplifiers and their circuitry is designed and the way that they grab on to and release a signal, kind of varies depending on how much signal getting fed into them, or voltage in the case of the analog world. So, this is trying to emulate that without sounding like one specific plug-in and again this has the Mix parameter.
Remember I said we are starting to see this in a lot of different plug-ins. So, what I can do is if I wanted to, this could be really cool instead of using my Drums parallel track here. Let me mute that and then I'm going to use this one to kind of blend in a really compressed sound with the uncompressed versions, so if I solo up the drums. (Drum solo.) [00:05:02:00] (Guitars join in. Music playing.) (Male singing: I woke up just in time, with chills darting down my spine.) (Male singing: So take me down, take me down and my feet will follow, wherever my heart goes.) So, it was a little extreme there towards the end, but the idea is that you can get that really compressed sound at 100%.
(Music playing) And then blend into taste. (Music playing) And this can to work really great for vocals, guitars, drums, pretty much any thing that you want to add a little extra boost to, a little extra sustain to, but not necessarily just completely squash. You want to retain some of that top-end and some of the dynamic qualities of the original.
Now, a cool thing about all the Retro series stuff is it actually has a protection sort of limiter on the output that keeps it from hard clipping inside the plug-in. So, that kind of soft limits or soft clips this signal and this is sort of a unique design to the McDSP plug-in here in the Retro pack. So, another part of the McDSP Retro pack is the Limiter and a lot like the compressor just without the ratio control. And this is going to sound great on the Mix Bus here, if I go in and pull up the 4040 Retro Limiter, and it's really simple.
You really only have two controls, Ceiling and Gain. By pushing the Gain into the Ceiling control, that's what's going to give us the Gain reduction. So, I'll set this to a little bit below 0 and I'm going to push the Gain into it to get my Gain reduction. So, let's check this out. (Music playing) (Male singing: Trouble bound.) (Male singing: We hit the town.) (Male singing: And I'll never forget that sound.) (Male singing: Tonight...) So, it has a little bit more character, a little bit more grid than the Maxim.
Let me Bypass the Maxim here. (Music playing) (Male singing: Trouble bound.) (Male singing: We hit the town.) (Male singing: And I'll never forget that sound.) And so, it's going to be a little bit more for a kind of that Retro vibe master, right. Not so super- clean, just getting volume out of your mix but getting, volume will add in a little bit of character to everything.
So, probably one of my favorite compressor, and Limiter packages of all time is from a small company called Massey plug-in. And these are actually really, really affordable but some of the best sounding plug-ins out there. Its kind of surprising the CT4, I can try this out on the Vocals. Now, the CT4 is a really simple compressor. Basically, you just have compression and makeup and how you're going to use it is you're just going to take and push up the compression and then as soon as you see gain reduction, you're going to make it up a little bit to bring that volume back.
Let's listen! (Music playing) (Male singing: Trouble bound.) (Male singing: We hit the town.) (Male singing: And I'll never forget that sound.) (Male singing: Tonight I fell asleep at the wheel.) (Male singing: I woke up just in time, with chills...) So, the cool thing about CT4 is it retains a lot of the clarity of the original signal and again, you're not going to have a lot of controls in this plug-in.
You basically have fast and slow on the attack and fast, medium and slow on the release. And that's going to adapt to the actual signal. So, a lot of compressors will actually have variable or what are called Program-dependent Attack and Release and so they actually adapt to the actual signal. Now, the 2007 would be another replacement for our Maxim plug-in. It's a brick wall limiter or a Mastering Limiter and it's very simple to use but it sounds amazing. It's one of the best sounds in single band brickwall Limiters I have ever heard and I generally just leave it at the Default setup Loud and Normal.
I'll set my Max output down a bit and I want to clip the output and I'll just take the threshold and I'll bring that down and it automatically makes up the gain. So, I'm just looking for the few DBs of gain reduction. (Music playing) (Male singing: Trouble bound.) (Male singing: We hit the town.) (Male singing: And I'll never forget that sound.) (Male singing: Tonight I fell asleep at the wheel.) So, what I got was a good almost 7 DBs of volume out of that signal and it really doesn't destroy my whole mix, not destroying the punch of my Drums or the clarity at all.
It's a really great sounding limiting plug-in. So, all in all remember Dynamics Processors are going to be those tools that give you that punch and really make your tracks kind of come out of the mix. There is a lot of options out there, so you definitely want to try out the demos, see what works for you. And like I said, even in these examples like the Massey plug-ins, these are the some of the best plug-ins I have heard and they are very affordable as oppose to other ones I have heard. It can be $500, $1000 and they don't sound as good. So, don't let the price always sway you, towards what's better or not.
Try out the demo and see what works for you.
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