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Working with the Creative Collection

From: Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

Video: Working with the Creative Collection

The AIR or Advanced Instrument Research, suite of plug-ins is broken down into two main categories. Time Domain and Modulation Style Processors like Reverb, Chorus, Flange, etcetera and filter and saturation processors like EQ, Distortion, Bit Crushers, and stuff like that. Most of these plug-ins generally fall under the more creative side of Mix Processors, which is why they called the Creative Collection, and there are no really hard and fast rules for using them in your mixes.

Working with the Creative Collection

The AIR or Advanced Instrument Research, suite of plug-ins is broken down into two main categories. Time Domain and Modulation Style Processors like Reverb, Chorus, Flange, etcetera and filter and saturation processors like EQ, Distortion, Bit Crushers, and stuff like that. Most of these plug-ins generally fall under the more creative side of Mix Processors, which is why they called the Creative Collection, and there are no really hard and fast rules for using them in your mixes.

Let me show you how I'm using some of these processors in the demo session. On my FX Returns, I'm using some of the AIR suite for Chorus and Flange. So I'm using the AIR Chorus on the Chorus FX return. I have that bus into a bus name Chorus, and then I have added that in a few different places, but mainly on the Lead Vocal and the Background Vocal. And then the AIR Flanger again routed on a FX return into the Bus Flanger.

These are two different types of modulation effects. So we've got a chorus that's going to modulate time, sort of like a delay, as well as pitch. And so we kind of get that doubling effect that kind of adds a richness. We can hear what that does, on the Lead Vocal here, solo that up. (Male singing: We hit the town.) (Male singing: And I'll never forget that sound.) And it's kind of nice.

I often use Chorus very subtly. Maybe I'll put it after a delay or after a reverb, just to kind of mix it up a bit. And when I do add it to Lead Vocals, I'll just mix it little bit in so it's more of subconscious thing rather than an overt chorus. So however, sometimes it's really cool to have a ton of chorus on your vocal. You'll just kind of got to look back to your Mix plan and evaluate that. Now the Flanger, if we bring that one up. Flanger or Flanger, some people like to call it.

I'm using primarily on the Background Vocal, so move this over here, and we'll solo this up. And let me pull up the section that has background vocals. (Male singing: Don't take me down. Laaaa.) (Male singing: Don't come around. Laaaa.) And so the Flanger is going to give a bit more of a swirly sound than the Chorus.

Go ahead and play with some of these Presets here. There is a quite a few you can do sort of more of a slower flange that kind of moves back and forth in time with the music or sort of a faster kind of flange sound. The Flanger and the Phaser are fairly close in terms of sound. So bring both of them up and see what works for you. Again, sometimes it's nice just to add in a little bit of these effects, just to kind of fill out the sound of something, or sometimes it's cool to just go wild. You can put a ton of flange or phase on a guitar, or maybe a loop with a really slow LFO on it and it kind of just sweeps through the mix at the BPM.

Now if I move over here to the HiHat track, I'm actually using the Kill EQ and the Kill EQ is a special kind of EQ filter. And what it's designed to do is just cut out the High, Mid, or Low band. So it's kind of like we were using those filters, right, like high-pass and low-pass filters on the EQ3.

However, this is just exclusively for that and the way I'm using it on the HiHat is to filter out all of the mud from the bleed on the HiHat mike. Let's listen without. (Music playing) So you can hear the Kick and the Snare, you know, fairly well. There is a lot of low end. It's almost like there is more Kick and Snare than HiHat going on. So what I'm going to do is kind of cut out all that low end.

So I'm cutting now here pretty aggressively. Let's listen to that. (Music playing) Now the other thing that you can do with Kill EQ that's pretty cool, besides just cutting now a section of the tracks frequency bandwidth is you can sweep through these. So I can use the Sweep parameter to kind of sweep through this frequency and it's kind of a resonate sweep.

So it's kind of like a DJ Style Sweep Effect, if we just turn off the automation here and listen. (Music playing) So that can be a really cool if you automate that parameter, especially on a loop. You kind of get that, like I said, DJ style filter. And this can be cool. You can apply this effect to a sub-mix or even the whole mix to get that cool filter sweep kind of sound.

I'm going to show you how to automate plug-ins in the automation chapter. So be sure to watch that video to learn how to automate parameters like Sweep. Now last thing I want to show you here in the AIR collection is the Stereo Widener. And this is kind of a cool effect and you can use this to make signals more stereo. There is a Width control and there is three different modes. They sort of use three different methods for making something sound wider.

The Adjust mode here is going to be your basic Stereo Width kind of plug-in where you can just use the Width percentage to kind of give anything that's already stereo a little bit extra width. What it's actually doing is using some mid-side encoding/decoding to kind of separate the left and right from what's in the center, and then being able to kind of push those out even more. And I have got his on the mix bus, and the goal is just to give it a little bit extra width. So give everything just a little bit more into the left and right hand speakers.

You got to be really careful with these effects, because what they can end up doing is creating phase problems between your left and right hand sides. So if we listen to this. (Male singing: So take me down, take me down and my feet will follow, wherever my heart goes) (Male singing: I'm come around, I'll come around, like I always do. I'll keep my feet on the ground.) (Male singing: I'll keep my feet on the ground.) And so the way I like to use Stereo Width plug-ins, I'll use them on individual tracks.

I'm actually using it here on the B3Sub, just to give it a little bit extra width. And I can use it a little bit more aggressively on individual tracks than I would on the entire mix. Again, sort of the risk is phase problems between your left and right hand sides, and when that gets sent to mono, it can create a lot of problems for the center channel. The other thing that can happen if you push it too wide is that it creates a hole in the middle of your mix. So while it could sound really cool, especially on headphones, you definitely want to check this on real speakers, and you don't want to push it too far.

The way I like to use it is I'll push it until I can just hear it sort of widening the mix, and then I'll put it back a few percent. So it's just a little bit. So experiment with that. The Comb and Phase are going to give you much more radical effects and those are more of sort of special effects for individual instruments and not so much for your entire mix bus. So I highly recommend you take and listen through the Presets of each one of this AIR plug-ins, just to get a sense of what they do, and store them in your database of sounds to call upon during mixing and producing.

Many of these effects would fall under the production or arrangement process rather than traditional mixing effects. But since many are seeing their entire projects through start to finish, the defined roles between mixing and production are pretty much non-existent at this point. So feel free to be creative and use these at any stage during your production.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

77 video lessons · 9135 viewers

Brian Lee White
Author

 
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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

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