Get an overview of the signal routing options available in the Mix Window and how to use them. Learn how to add and remove inserts and discover tips on avoiding common mistakes.
- [Instructor] Basic mixing in Pro Tools is pretty straight forward. You can route signals through your tracks, using the IO controls and add signal processing along the way using inserts and sends. Let's jump in and take a look. Here I have a session with some basic tracks in it. This is an excerpt from the song "Driving You Home" by the Pinder Brothers. Let's take a listen. (upbeat music) Now we're going to add some processing to this RadioVox track here, the clip that I have selected.
EQ the sound a little bit. What we're going to be looking for there is kind of a transistor radio type sound. I'm also going to add some processing for the background vocals, we've got two tracks here, background vocal one and two. And I'd really like to add some lush reverb to those tracks. So let's take a look in the mix window and see what we can do. So here in the mix window I'm going to start by working on the RadioVox track, which is over here.
We're going to place an EQ on the top insert position. Now if your inserts view isn't showing, you can use the View menu to display it. Go to View, choose Mix Windows Views, and enable Inserts A through E. We'll click on insert a, and we'll look for an EQ plugin. I'll try using the EQ 7-Band here, and see if there's a preset that's close to what I'm looking for. When you add a plugin to your track, the plugin window opens, you can select a preset in the plugin using the Librarian menu, here where it's labeled Factory Default.
Clicking on the Librarian menu, we can check out our options. Here's a group of special effects, and we have two Telephone-style EQ presets. Let's see how they sound. (upbeat music) Solo that so we can hear it a little better. (background singers singing) That's kind of the sound I'm after, let's try the second option.
(background singers singing) We're using loop playback here to repeat the playback over and over again. I think I like that second option better, so we'll go with that. But we might need to do some additional processing here. I'm thinking something to give a little more character to the track, so I'm going to look for another plugin that we might use, and we'll check in the Harmonic category. The Eleven Lite plugin is a good option in cases like this. This is a guitar amp simulator, and let's take a listen to how that sounds.
(background singers singing) Ooh, that's a little too gritty for my tastes, so let's look for a different option. (background singers singing) Yeah, that one's still pretty gritty, what about the DC Vintage Crunch? Alright that sounds pretty good, that's giving us some flavor without really distorting too bad. Let's hear the original. (background singers singing) And with the amp. (background singers singing) I think I like that, so we'll stick with that. I'll un-solo, and let's listen to that in the mix.
(upbeat music) Right, that's what I'm looking for. (upbeat music) (upbeat music) Alright, let's focus now on the background vocals a bit. Now I've previously set up an AUX input track to use as the reverb. That will function as our return track. So now, we just need to route to it, from the background vocal tracks. We'll do that using a send, so on the background vocal one track, I'm going to click on Send position A, and select a Bus send using Bus 1 and 2.
That'll bring up the Send Output window where I can set the send level. I'm going to simply Option+Click on the fader to bring it up to zero. Now, again, if your sends aren't showing, you can display them under the View menu, the same way we did with the Inserts. We're going to set that same send on background vocal two, so I'll click on send position A, select the same bus, and once again Option+Click on the fader, to bring the send level up to unity. Now we can close that window as well.
At this point, we've taken the split from the two background vocal tracks, but we need to route it to the destination, which is the reverb track. So how do we do that? Well, we're going to use the input path selector in the IO section. So click on the top selector, and select the same bus that you routed from the sends. Let's switch to the edit window for a moment, and make a selection encompassing a bit of the background vocals so we can listen to that. And back to the mix window, let's just play a bit. (upbeat music) And I'll solo for you.
This is without any processing, and right now you can see we're getting level on the reverb track because we've routed that split in here. But the reverb track, at this point, is simply providing more dry signal to the mix. So to add a reverb, I'll use an insert processor on the reverb track. In this case, I'm going to look for an option under the Reverb category and the Air Reverb is a good choice here. Now these plugins I'm using are all things that come with Pro Tools. So if you'd like to follow along at home, you can do so.
Here I'm going to select a plugin preset under the Librarian menu. In this case, I want something really big, so I think the Concert Hall might do the trick. Now, when you select your presets, keep an eye on your mix level. In this case, the mix is set to 50%, which means the processing on the track will only be 50% reverb and 50% dry. Since I'm adding the reverb to my dry signals that are coming from the original tracks, I want to set this up to 100%.
Now let's take a listen. (upbeat music) (background singers singing) I like it. So that's a quick summary. I'm going to close this plugin window and I want to show you one more thing, because this is potentially confusing. If you end up with a plugin or a send on a track that you no longer need, you can easily remove it, but there's a bit of a trick.
Click on the send selector, which is the right pointing arrow at the head of the send, and then choose No Send. For inserts, click on the insert selector, which is the little circle icon at the head of the insert, and again, choose No Insert. So that's a demonstration of some mixing options and techniques that are available to you. Remember to use inserts for processing that you want to apply to 100% of the signal, and sends for processing that you will blend with the dry signal. With these concepts in hand, you're well on your way to better sounding mixes.
- Getting started with Pro Tools menus, windows, and edit tools
- Creating a session
- Creating a click track
- Recording audio
- Importing audio and video
- Recording, viewing, and editing MIDI data
- Selecting and navigating within tracks
- Adding markers
- Editing clips
- Creating fade effects
- Mixing tracks and adding automation
- Backing up a session
- Bouncing a mix to disk
Skill Level Beginner
Q. This course was updated on 03/23/2017. What changed?
A. Challenges and solutions were added to chapters 3–10 and three videos were updated in the first couple chapters.