Mixing in Ableton
So next we're going to talk about about mixing and there's a term that user that that audio folks use and it's it's called alias ing and alias thing is basically digital distortion. And, uh, any time, any kind of phasing or distortion happens, I often hear it in the highs feel like the harmonics of tones like saw our square waves are often the ones that get get really noticeably, uh messed with and kind of fuzzier and not necessarily soft, but kind of like crunchy and then there's also artifacts to so if there's any kind of additional distortion artifact that would be termed alias ing and digital audio. Um now a lot of I tried to mix, um subtracted subtracted lee so instead of trying to make something louder and then make another thing louder and another letter, I tried to work backwards, so the way to do that is by starting with an anchor sound it's what I call it and I usually usually the kick drum is going to be, uh, the loudest, biggest sound into the mix of a dance track. It it's ...
not necessarily the case and all the music that I make these days, but, um, the kick daddy or the kick daddy it's the daddy uh, the kick drum is usually you know, the daddy, the big, the biggest sounds so often I will use the kick drum to balance around balance the other sounds around that, and I feel like it's a good ah place for me to start with my mix down. So the target for that mix down when we're working one way or the other in this way, we're going to be working down. We're going to her balancing around that kick. Um, I feel like if I keep the kick at negative ten decibels, that will help me reached the goal of a peak of around six decibels in my final mix down and s o u you want between three and six decibels of headroom when you give your mix down tio mastering engineer on dh um, that is usually it has it's taken me several years to get to the point where the loudness is, where I want it and it's also taken time for me too. Find spots for all of us, the sounds and my mix, but with practice it eventually gets way easier, I guess like anything but starting with keeping the kick around with six decibels of ten decibels of headroom and balancing around, that is a great way to manage. The loudness of your mix and teo also work with some headroom and that at the end of your mix on, you're not everything's not fighting each other in the same way, and you have since you have an acre sound, then it's things can be balanced around that once again aimed for the peak of three to six decibels, and you're mixed down and, you know, draw contrast with sound choices, use distortion on some sounds and clean sounds on the other river bs that have different spaces and different tales, and just keep that pallet divers and practice so we we want the highest bit depth and resolute and sample rates that we can get. Basically, um, and I think that thirty two, ninety six is probably, uh, for at this time is probably the best standard for us to work towards, and something that our computers or cape in software is capable of. Cd quality is forty four one sixteen dead dvd is forty eight k, twenty four bit blue ray and hd dvd or a little higher, and when you render your next, there are some differing options. You don't want to do any death ring unless you're going straight to ct. Um, differing is has something to do with this shape estimations, it's, an algorithm that's applied to the music and differing happens whenever a file is encoded to mp three or other compressed digital formats already and you only want that process to happen once so do not differ choose it no death there when you bounce your tracks in your high resolution, something I like to do is they use a utility to preview how the sound I'll put it on the master mix and I'll listen to it to see how it might sound uh it's a utility effect and audio effect and I'll put that on my master mix and I will change uh the phase and I'll experiment with the wet on dh I'll also turn on the d c filter to make sure that there's not some huge difference d v d c offset happening which can affect the loudness basically that centers the way of forms so that they a line at zero point so the utility plug in is just used at the at the on the master chained to help uh make sure that the mix is good and all the critical parts are in every part of the system for the creation steak I was using a glue compressor and a multi band dynamics effect on on the master channel, which I will remove in the duration of this mixed down that we're about to do this last speaking point is about aiming for a quiet version of your final products so basically you're mixed down should sound exactly how you wanted tio but just not as loud or just not the correct volume so if you want to have a volume dynamic or you feel like the base needs to be bigger than the kick drum or the snares aren't loud enough it's not going to be fixed in mastering and I mean a master will definitely make it sound better but the real magic happens in the mix down um all of all ln my best experiences with the best sounding tracks that and final products that I've gotten have all been the ones that had the best mix towns and um that's uh I mean the mastery of stage these days is sort of like this final coat of paint where everybody like juices that up with compression to make its super loud but I feel like the music uh gives this also has this perceived loudness and when it's mixed correctly it's just this um it's a comprehensive experience and uh mastering does not fix a bad track basically so make sure it's what you wanted to write and and that the sounds air good choices and that you've have mixed it well because this is your final product is just a little quieter so we'll go ahead and just start mixing this track that we've got here and the first thing I did was I deactivated all the plug ins on may master channel on dh I'm going tio hit stopped twice to take us back to and the returned arrangement but to take us back to the beginning of the song at this point so able to by default has the fighters down I like to pull these up so I can see the peak values and I do have some volume automation on my master fader which I usually do not do it looks like it's a fade out at the end of the song that's fine so there's no ro volume automation happening I usually reserved all automation on failures and anything in the mixer for the very last stages of the mixed down is this is this might be where I create some volume dynamic this track starts off um very quiet and ambient so the emotional arc of something starting soft and building is already there I don't feel like I need to automate the volume if I did want to automate the volume I would go down here to the track volume on the lane and started off a little quieter and I could e could do that three dvds is a healthy amount but I guess I well, I think I'll start off just a little quieter and let it build into this um drop this mellow drop it's easy listening drop we've got here so uh got a little william on automation there that's a fairly minimal tracks it big gonna be pretty easy to mix down um not a lot of competition the sound sources they're all very unique uh there's I don't have a lot of stereo uh staging effects happening now so one thing I might consider is actually adding some or moving some of the instruments to the left and right to give them their own spaces in the mexico a bit more thought this noisy string looks like it's coming in on the left side a little bit maybe I'll push it over there just a little bit more now the other side we have in that mix is the electric and that's it playing at the same time so I'm going to move that just to the right a little bit thinking about our stereo stage from from here and which would be like here for me with these monitors speakers so right now we have uh negative sixty b of head room we've got a lot of head room still and a lot of times the peaks will happen when certain sounds combined and I like tio I like to go back and basically automated and fix those things so we've got all of our master effects ofthe we made a volume automation there in the beginning I just suggested the stereo field on the electric and that noisy string this is just our base I'm going in there I'm gonna narrow that base with the utility pole again real quick space is one of those sounds we want to sit right in the middle of our mix the utility in fact will make it purely money comes that drum break this's kind of the apex of our song so quite a bit ahead road it's like this upright bass that comes in and the section is actually one of the things that's the loudest in the next and that is our ending so right now our peak value is uh is about four point two five so I'm gonna go back to this three point of the song that's sort of our apex I'm looking at this is this is able to roms meter immediately route means square is what that stands for and that's the average value of loudness and it looks like we're somewhere around between eighteen and twelve negative eighteen and negative twelve tv so we're averaging about uh something like fourteen decibels of headroom I feel strongly that there's there's still some headroom into maximize this big resolution that were working at uh we need to get the nexus loud as we can. So if you don't as faras resolution and head during those if you don't use it, you leave it so you you run the risk of being closer to the noise for that exists if you're working at a high resolution and you're not up there you shouldn't you should still have ah healthier signal than if you're working just this healthy signal is you're working a little resolution but you have more head room when you're working at a high resolution like thirty two bit he says more band with so I think I'm gonna take a look at the return bus and I'm like but some compression over here e I really like the glue compressor um it just like the way it sounds I don't have a lot of reimer reason for for liking this compressor just sounds good and that's a good enough reason for almost anything in music and that's something that you want to trust with yourself is in the process of mixing and mastering trust your ears and go with it do what you want I mean obviously there's going to be you know, there's a lot of rules to break um so I feel really great about the overall uh the overall balance of this track it is it's not a super hard banger or anything it's obviously a really mellowed a tune. So it was pretty easy tio to maintain my composure during the creation process of this song. So my mix down for this is not exactly out of control there's also on lee about twenty five tracks and this song and actually twenty one of those is a bus that I just made up on and there's several tracks here that aren't used I had this filthy re sound thing never used I'm gonna have to save that for later um and let's see, I'm so I'm actually going to just delete these unused tracks will see what was on channel twenty absolutely nothing. So I'm gonna take these out. This is and, you know, also I highly recommend organizing your mix down project as much as possible, something we didn't do that as a big mistake is saving as a new version, so shift command save will pop up a dialogue and I'll just say this is our example to mix down and this is a version one point oh, or maybe even zero point one I like to use a version numbering system and, uh, that way um, and every time I work on a project every day, I say the new version because sometimes and often times you will you will lose a product, you lose part of a project and then if you have a version from the day before, you can go back and you can uh you can roll it back into whatever you're looking for, so I'm going to save this, okay? So right now we're playing the tune back we're organizing that we're playing it back, we're looking for road peaks, I didn't see any road peaks or pick bebe right now is about uh we've got at least four to six decibel of headroom nothing is competing in the mix that we can set so far that we can see so we did just add a connolly I'm sorry not accomplishing your butt glue compressor to our mix here and that is on the g return so I'm going to go over here and I'm going to actually click select the first track shift click select the last track and our mix so we have a total a whopping total of eleven tracks in this song which is quite minimal um so uh which that I usually one working which with between thirty and sixty tracks and a finish song um this one just came out a little differently um so if now that those were all selected I can turn the compression up on on all of these if I want to add sort of an overall compression um I'm going to try it because I'm really happy with the overall balance of the sound so now I'm going to go into my return I'm actually clipping now already dr I wonder if it'll bring me down. One thing we know is that if you click this the peak value it will reset it so if you would just something and you want to just keep running the track way are clipping I'm gonna bring the compressor down all right someone take it from the beginning so I got a lot of head room the very beginning of the song so it did this baseline with electric a body like that because I didn't realize it but I had rolled this off and with an audio filter but there's only one point of the song I wanted that oughta filter to be on, which is that sort of peek a pax part of the track so I'm gonna go ahead and excuse me, I thought I was looking at the analog but I'm looking at the electric right now I'm looking at this okay? It only rolls off the highest at that one point that is automated way do have a little compression here I'm gonna check in my head friends real quick it's sounding pretty good I'm not hearing any obvious distortions wait come up on this compression a little bit one thing I want to make sure of here I'm gonna roll off this strum break um because I don't want that his big chicken bass drum to compete so I'm gonna take number three number three that would be number one. I don't know wait, go ahead and do this it's not a super are dumping track um I don't need a extremely visceral kick drum, so I'm pretty it's no it's actually pretty uh it's not super hard hit and um already but I am going to roll it off a little bit before one hundred it looks like I'm crawling it off around one thirty s o and it does look like it's the drum brakes that are the loudest are which are it's like on their individual channel they still got about eight bb of headroom the compressor nothing I could do it I'll just I'm gonna back off of the return are often descend on drum break for that my meter I just want to see what? Since when I put a brick or limiter on here you're a difference that's something for me with a brick wall limiting is if you can't hear the difference and it sounds bad then don't do it I use it as a bandit if I have to fix a peak it looks like it's trimmed off giving us a couple more d b of headroom in this which were almost at three, three d b, which is actually my target because I wanna have ah allowed is mixed on as possible. So I'm gonna back off of the glue compression a little bit and I believe that limiter on our drum group and just see how it sounds so me back off of this about another decibel wait a minute, I think it might be our upright bass that's that's speaking of that return so you just got to keep your eye on this this is why a robot can't master tracks are mix I should say mix maybe they can master okay that made a big difference still people right there all right so I'm gonna try it with the limiter on and with the base we're in our target range no bring in our compression return down a decibel and for our purposes right now I'm really stoked on this um you know, we didn't do a whole lot of automation in this track um you know, this is the mixed down is a something you want to take your time at and do it in a place that is treated um and sounds you know sounds flat and then you wantto and then you're going to test it out and fix the parts that you don't like so for our example sake, I'm pretty happy with this I feel like this is close enough we've got enough head room I'm really stoked on the overall balance of all the sounds everything's really clean and nothing's distorting in a way that I don't want so um oh, you know, one thing I didn't do that I can still do in this track that I thought about doing is they're so longer long reverb tales and I would like to automate the that reverb at some points to make it cleaner we have been adjusting the arm s level and uh we're getting ready to render it after we automate the's river pills so I'm going to go in here now and actually do I'm gonna automated on the bus when he's sorry rewind it and around the track these headphones just so I could get a little bit of a louder now this filter delay has quite a long tail so does this our first utility here I'm just gonna put it in like that create a little bit of a curve just a little automation curve for our filter delay effect so it's right there there's a there's a long fall off I believe it's on this noisy string so we're going to andy there's also a super long you released oration on that noisy string sample e don't necessarily want just that but like come on there take a look at that automation I kind of like the way the tail carries over to e feel like it's a little more subtle now okay so after you get all the final details and uh with your stereo field you're loudness and your all of your your channel or are balanced and it's it's perfect it's exactly the way we want it there's a lot of emotion in the movement and all the sounds have the right color and the distortions good then it's time to render this thing so um basically go in idea is shift command are that's the keyboard shortcut to render it we're going to render at thirty two you bet ninety six kilohertz any six case what we're playing back at export of version on and that is currently landing in mind folder and I'll put it an example to project and I'm going to save it there I like to keep things and they're able to project folder the way there's no guessing ever just have a master's folder ah that is backed up in a few places and uh so when something gets to that stage I do make copies elsewhere a few different places but as hard as I am managing my projects I try to keep all of that within able tens management system so something to know is that you know if you're starting a new project with a new name it will create a new project for that um if you've started a project earth started riff you if you save a song inside of another project folder it'll live in that project folder um but if you save it with a new name outside of that older than it'll create any project fuller for it so we're just rendering mill uh and we're gonna talk about mastering next so after we have this are rendered stereo version we're goingto bring it back into a bolton for the final coat of paint and we're going toe basically just gonna bring the volume up to uh teo average somewhere between six and fourteen decibels of headroom. And we are, uh, do the final volume automation. Any queuing. And, uh, and we will have a master drag.