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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.
Pro Tools track grouping allows you to easily control many tracks with a single mouse move. Unlike submixing, mix and edit groups are used to tie tracks together at the software level but not at the signal level. In Pro Tools, when a set of tracks are grouped and that group is enabled, moving one fader causes all the faders of that group to move, but the signals are not physically summed together as in a submix. So tracks will also edit together in the Edit Window when they are grouped. To create a new group in Pro Tools simply select the tracks.
I'm Command-clicking on their nameplate and then choose Track > Group to get the New Groups dialog. I'll call this Overhead and Room and I can choose an ID. You have four groups of 26 and in the first group the letter will actually correspond to a keyboard shortcut that enables that group. So if I choose O, I can hit the O key to enable and disable that group. Now, I'll see that group in the list. I can turn it on or off by clicking or again by hitting the O key on my keyboard.
Now, these two tracks will now be tied together. You can see I have the Drum tracks here, which are overriding this group. So let me turn off the Drums. Now I have the Overhead and Room track. So groups can be nested. These are all part of the drums group, but these are smaller micro group of just Overheads and Rooms now. I can disable all my groups by choosing from the Groups menu > Suspend All Groups or Apple+Shift+G and while a group is active, I can use what's called the group clutch to modify individual parameter.
So if I hold down the Ctrl key, I can modify just a single fader without disabling that group. So to edit an existing group, if I wanted to add let's say the Tom tracks to this group, I can double-click on the Color icon, choose the tracks I want to add and let's say the two Toms and click OK. These are now members of the Overhead and Rooms group. And if I wanted to delete this group, I could just right-click on the group name and choose Delete.
Now some tips and considerations for using groups. Groups can be great when you are trying to automate a group of tracks and you don't have a control surface, so you need to use a mouse to move multiple faders, groups are great for this. You have plenty, so you can create almost as many as you need. Groups are great for quickly soloing or muting a group of tracks. So if I want to solo the Drum track, I can just enable that. Soloing one solos all of them. So I can also use groups to quickly make selections when I'm editing to that. I can Shift-click on the Color icon right next to a group.
And I can also quickly show or hide a set of tracks by holding down Ctrl+Shift on the Mac or Start+Shift on the PC and clicking on the icon next to the group. Now every session has what's called an All Group and when that's enabled, it ties together all tracks. Now this can kind of be dangerous because if you throw up a fader that's down at negative infinity, it's instantly going to put all your faders across the top. So be careful with the All Group and leave that off unless I need to make overall changes, and use it more in editing than in mixing.
So I generally leave that off. So remember groups are not submixes nor do they affect the track signals in any way, but they are just a great way of simplifying the process of working with multiple tracks simultaneously and generally they play an important role in creating a clean and efficient session. So go through the groups in the Take Me Down session, kind of see how they tie in and how I have grouped things together into drums, guitars, vocals and etcetera and create some more groups on your own.
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