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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 we talked about Reverb, Delay and Modulation effects as being sort of those additional elements that can add that extra depth and dimension and really lend a certain aesthetic feel to your mix. While the Deverb and the DigiRack Delay and the stuff that comes in the AIR collection is a great starting point, there is a few additional tools I like to add to my mix toolkit when it comes to Reverbs, Delays, and other modulation effects. Now I wanted to share with you a few.
The Deverb is an algorithmic-based digital Reverb. So, what it does is when sounds or signals come into it, it's essentially simulating what it would be like if those frequencies of the waveform bounced around or were absorbed into the room. Some sort of equation that determines this. Now, there is another type of Reverb called a Convolution Reverb, if I bring up Revolver from McDSP. What we have here is the Convolution Reverb takes an entirely different approach to Reverb as opposed to being some sort of equation that resembles the size and space and type of room.
What they do is they actually go into a room and capture what's called an impulse response. So they will actually playback a broadband sound like a sine wave sweep or a start gun or a balloon pop or something like that and they'll record that in the space with microphones at different positions from that sound, and they will take and they will bring that back it in the computer and we are going to compare sort of the dry original sine sweep to the one that was recorded in that room and they are going to sort of extract what is happening to the frequencies over time and how the waveform's amplitude is changing based on the characteristics of the room.
From this, they are able to extract this impulse response and it's kind of like a cartridge that you can put into a Convolution Reverb. It's going to convolve the sound coming in against this impulse response and what you are going to get is your sound with the flavor of that room. The cool thing about these is they give really accurate representations of real spaces. They are really popular in postproduction but they are also popular in music production when we want to emulate older vintage reverbs, vintage plates.
This is emulation of an EMT 250. There are some other cool ones that come with this, an Eventide DSP4500 and even some actual spaces. So this is like an actual charge that they capture the impulse response in. So we can pull this up on our drum room to kind of hear how that sounds. We are using-- let's switch this out for a Hall and I'm going to bypass my Deverb and I'll go solo my drum tracks up.
(Drum solo.) So we are getting a really realistic sounding spaces and I find myself using Convolution Reverbs when that's exactly what I want.
I recorded the drums in a small space and what I want to do is simulate a bigger real room as if the drums were recorded in a larger space. So what I might do here if I was using a system that had a Convolution Reverb like Revolver, TL Space or Altiverb or Waves IR 1? I would use that for things like my drum room and my shorter rooms in my session to kind of get that realistic sound. So sometimes the downside of using a Convolution Reverb is that they might be too realistic or too accurate and give you sort of the same sounding reverb over and over and over again.
So it's an accurate representation of the space, but doesn't really kind of evolve and randomize how something would actually kind of bounce off the room in the real space. Now, with a more algorithmic reverb, they can build in kind of randomization components to it. So that it can kind of sound different, the tail sounds different each time you run the same sound through it and this can kind of be cool. I like that on things like vocals and lead instruments. I kind of like that fantasy sound of a digital reverb sometimes.
So try both out, see what works for you. Aside from reverb, the other thing that we are going to use, remember, to add depth and dimension to our mix is Delay. Remember Delay unlike reverb just takes and holds back something in time, a signal in time and then plays it back. The DigiRack Delays, they are great because they are just pure digital delays. So in terms of what they are doing to the actual signal, they are not doing anything. So you can process the tail however you want.
In this case, I processed it with an aggressive telephone effect EQ and so the Delay is just not adding any coloration. Sometimes we want to add coloration within our delay, if we think about the original way that we approach delay like the Tape Delays, Space Echoes things like that. They didn't just play the same thing back later in time, the recording to the tape or to the Lo-Fi digital medium an old school digital delay will kind of blend a quality to the taps or the echoes.
So one delay that I really, really like to use is Echo Boy. I'm just going to go ahead and throw this right on the Lead Vocal and we'll go ahead and choose Mono to Stereo, so we'll stereoize that. Now, Echo Boy, the cool thing about this is you've got all the things you are used to in a Delay. You can sink it to your tempo. You have got the Groove and the Feel parameters. You can do Single Echoes, Dual Echoes, sort of left and right or you can Ping-Pong or you can even set up patterns, so you can do really complex polyrhythmic echoes.
But the coolest thing about this is the Style parameter and the Saturation here. I have got all these awesome styles that allow me to emulate these different classic delays. So I start with Studio Tape, which is going to be a lot like just your kind of really clean tape delay. So we can go ahead and listen to that here on the Lead Vocal, pull this over and solo that up. (Music playing) (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 down my spine.) (Male singing: So take me down, take me down and my feet will follow, wherever my heart goes.) So, you can hear the different quality that the atyle effect lends to the Delay and I find that with all these different styles and the ability to really get in and tweak them to every last little detail, I pretty much cover every delay flavor that I would ever need within just one single plug-in.
So again it really is the ultimate echo machine how they say. This is definitely something that I put into almost every mix that I do. After Reverb and Delay, there are a lot of modulation style effects you can start adding. We talked about Chorus, Flanger, Phasers and things like that. Now the one thing that the DigiRack plug-ins don't ship with is some sort of doubler or pitch shifting plug-ins that you can use to kind of get a doubled or tripled or more of like a multi -tracked sound out of a vocal.
Not sort of the chorus or the fake sound, but as if two takes were actually recorded in. Now, what I use for that is either Antares DUO from the Avox Bundle or Antares CHOIR. So let's check this out. If I go here to Avox DUO, what I've got is the original and the double and I can actually pan the original left and the double right. That's cool for background vocals and stuff like that. I can pan them both center, then I can control the level and I can also control things like the pitch variation and the timing variation of the double and even give Vibrato or change the Timbre of the double.
So I'll make it sound brighter or softer. So let's check this out. (Music playing) (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, that can be cool sort of as a subtle effect, an Auto Doubler kind of effect there.
Now, if I want to really take it over the edge, I can use something like CHOIR and CHOIR lets me do up to 32 voices and this can be really intense. It's not something I do on a Lead Vocal. This can be kind of cool. (Music playing) (Male singing: We hit the town.) (Male singing: And I'll never forget...) That's really intense but if I blended that in with some of the background vocals, I might not have to track as many background vocals to get that really thick triple track, quad track sound.
So these can be useful if used really tastefully and you kind of blend them in. It only takes a few good purchases to really kind of get everything you need. So, beyond the lookout for plug-ins that can do double duty or do a lot of different sounds. That way when you learn those, you are able to incorporate them into more of your mix scenarios.
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