Become a master audio mixer. Get a master class in audio mixing from one of the music industry's most admired teachers, Bobby Owsinski. Tune in for a new tip every Thursday.
- [Instructor] First of all, we're going to play this song. It's something you've heard before, because I've used it before on many demonstrations. I like this song because it was recorded really well and also there's not a lot of tracks, but there's enough it makes it very interesting. Here we go, here's this RnB song. ("Never Like This Before" by The Nashville All Stars) Now, as you can see, all the faders are pretty much where you'd expect them to be.
None of them are too particularly high or very, very low, they're kind of in the range that you'd expect them. So, what we're going to do, though, is we're going to add a trim control, and we're going to put it in the very last insert in the signal path, so I'm going to go down here and I'm going to pick trim. This may be called something else on another digital audio workstation, but you can use this or you can use, really, any plugin that has a level control, and I like to use this one because it doesn't take up a lot of system resources, where some other plugins might take up a lot, and since we're going to use a lot of these, that's really something that we have to think about.
So, for instance, I could go to another plugin. This is one that I would use frequently, it's 1-Band EQ, and what we do is, we'd use the gain, here. We wouldn't use the EQ at all, we'd just use the gain, and that would give us, basically, the same thing, but, I'm going to go back to our trim, because that's really what we want. So, the first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to copy this onto all the channels, and again, we have insert points, and I'm going to make sure this is going to be in the very last one of each, so I'm going to copy it. On Pro Tools, what that is is, hold down the Option key, and you click, and you drag.
Click and drag, click and drag, and that copies it over. So, we're going to put this on every single channel including the effects channels, as well. Okay, so, now this was stereo going to mono. It doesn't like that, so now we have to do another plugin, or actually, we can just copy this one over. That's easy. Here we go, putting them in everywhere.
Okay, won't do that one, again, so, do that. On the vocal, you won't need one on the master. You could put it there, but it's not going to go above zero anyway, and if we did this right, it should be at zero, the fader should be at zero, so, usually don't have to worry about that one, but we do want to put it in our effects. Okay, again, this is mono, so we have to go and find another trim.
Now, you could just mix from your trim controls. You can set everything at zero, and redo the mix from this trim, and that's one way to do it, but it's probably going to take you a lot of time. You've already done the mix, so let's just duplicate it, only in a different way. So, here's the secret. We look down at each channel, in this case, the kick in, and we see that the fader's up by plus six. So, we go to our trim control, and we're going to turn it up to plus six, and then we look at the second fader, and we see that it's up 2.1 dB, so now we come up here and we insert 2.1, and now what I can do is I can set these to zero.
The way I do it is I hit the Option key, and I just click on the fader, and both of them go back to grouped, so, both of them go back to zero. Doesn't matter, because, don't forget, we've done the actual level with our trim controls, here. Now, we have a group fader here. The group fader's up 3.1, so come over here, and we're going to insert 3.1, and now we could zero this out. Let's just listen.
("Never Like This Before" by The Nashville All Stars) So far, so good. Now, come over here to the snare. The snare top is down 6.2 dB, so now we're going to go in here and say minus 6.2, and the snare bottom is down 11 dB, so we'll come over here and we'll say minus 11. Alright, and now we can zero these out and our snare group is down minus 1.1, so I'll come over here, minus 1.1, we can zero that out, let's have a quick listen.
("Never Like This Before" by The Nashville All Stars) And now, we come over to the hat. The hat is down minus 13.4, over here and say minus 13.4. Zero this out, now you can always go up to the EQ or to another insert, and you could change it up here. The reason why it's probably not a good idea is any time you change something on a plugin, you risk the chance of changing the tone, and especially something that's modeled.
You don't want to change the tone, so the less you change the level after you've gotten the sound that you want, the better off you are, and that's why the trim control works better at the end, in other words, the very last insert, than the first one. If you put it up here, and you do your mixing, you're actually changing how your plugins are being driven. So, in other words, if you decrease the level all of a sudden, then the level to the compressor, for instance, is going to be changed, which means that maybe there's no compression, now, where before you had 3 dB, and now, when you changed it, there's no compression happening, so you just changed your whole sound, so that's why you don't want it there.
You want it after all of your plugins. So, now we're up to the floor tom. Floor tom is down minus 6.5, okay. Put in minus 6.5, zero it out, and I'm going to go through all of these and we'll fast forward to when I finish it so you can see what it looks like. Now, here we have all of our faders flat on a straight line and the only thing that we haven't done so far is the effects, and we'll do those, as well, because, don't forget, if we're sending this to another mixer, the whole idea is everything be at zero so the initial mix is very easy to get.
This is increased 3.6, 3.6, this is down .1, minus .1, this is minus 2.5, so we put in minus 2.5, and there we go. We have a totally flat fader mix. Let's listen to it. ("Never Like This Before" by The Nashville All Stars) So, there we go, it sounds just the way it did before.
The only difference is, the faders are flat. Now, of course, we could have used something else, and just as an example, this is plus 2.1, so let's say we could have used an EQ, and we put in 2.1, and we basically get the same thing here. So, in order to get flat fader mixing, first, insert a trim plugin, or you can use another plugin that has an input and output control if a trim is not available. Then, make sure it's the last thing in the signal path of the channel.
So, in other words, if you have a number of plugins, this should be the very last one in the signal chain. Next, set the balances via the trim control according to the amount of fader travel. So, in other words, if the fader is set at minus four, you set your trim control to minus four, as well, and finally, set all of your faders, which includes the channel, groups, and effects, set them all to zero.
See how the pros handle the critical balance between the bass and drums. Learn where, when, why, and how EQ should be used on virtually any instrument. Become proficient in tailoring just the right effect for each particular mixing situation. And master the key to fat and punchy sounding mixes: compression. Tune in every Thursday for a new tip!
- The Abbey Road Studios reverb trick
- Secrets to a powerful and punchy mix
- Using compression like NYC pros
- Listening tips and tricks used by the world's best mixers
- How Van Halen gets their guitar sound
- Making vocals shine
- Adding excitement to boring pad tracks
- Setting up your mix to get the best results in the least amount of time
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.