Mixing Master Class

 

Lesson Info

Production Mixing - Vocals

Let's go ahead and bring our vocals in, so let's just a look at what we have. We have vox A, vox B, vox C, looks like there's some backup vocals and I'm just looking for groups. So anywhere I see like a pair of vocals I think I'm gonna go ahead and just pan those. Just right off the bat I'm just gonna pan all the pairs, left and right, 50%. And then it looks like we have kind of like three layers that support each other and trade off. For these I'm gonna see, it looks like they're not really compressed a ton, ♪ Learn from mistakes, don't throw your life away! ♪ But there's probably a little bit of compression going on. ♪ Every decision we make becomes another mistake. ♪ ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of-- ♪ ♪ Control! ♪ Let's put a little bit of compression on each vocal track just to kind of even it out a little bit more. So starting with this, it looks like maybe it's a verse or something. ♪ But to yourself you aren't worth the fall! ♪ Yeah these definitely aren't raw, I can tell but...

, let's see what we can do. I'm gonna use this, it's called Rvox. Just do a little bit, light amount of compression. ♪ But to yourself you aren't worth the fall! ♪ ♪ Keep living a lie, what's in your lifestyle? ♪ ♪ Every day a little better than the last, ♪ ♪ But to yourself you aren't worth the fall! ♪ ♪ But to yourself you aren't worth the fall! ♪ Cool, I can hear there's some sub-frequencies in there, I'm gonna go ahead and filter those out as well. Use Q1. And just set it on like 80 hertz. And copy and paste this to each vocal track. And I'm gonna copy and paste my compression to all the vocals as well. Let's see. Next we need to put all these into groups. I'm gonna break it up into a couple of different groups and they're all gonna be stereo groups. So I'm gonna do one group for the vocals that I panned, and then I do another group for ... I'm gonna do another group for vocal tracks A, B and C. So two groups. These four tracks, the backups, those are gonna go into the second group. And then the other ones go into the first group. So these are vocals main, and this is vocals backup, background. ♪ Control! ♪ ♪ Where there were pieces of black ♪ ♪ We are back to decide for ourselves! ♪ So when that second vocal came in. Needs some automation there. ♪ Control! ♪ ♪ Where there were pieces of black ♪ ♪ We are back to decide for ourselves! ♪ ♪ We are all products of this living hell! ♪ ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of our real fate-- ♪ All right, so with this style of music, and this kind of band, definitely need to mix this part differently so let's see what it sounds like right now. ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of our real fate, ♪ ♪ Every decision we make becomes another mistake. ♪ So these are labeled as backups, I know that these need to be like, least important. However there's this vocal part here. That's not in the main vocal track, so I'm gonna keep that part loud and then when it gets here I'm gonna have a little bit of automation to turn that down and make that more background. ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of our real fate, ♪ ♪ Every decision we make becomes another mistake. ♪ ♪ Inside your head self control's the choice you make. ♪ The other thing I want to do is they're not perfectly on time which is fine, because that's a creative decision that the band and the producer made, so in order to make that work better in the mix, on these backup vocals I'm actually going to do a little bit of EQ automation where I remove some of the high end so that it's not distracting when it gets off time. So when I take out some of those higher end frequencies it will mask the fact that the S and stuff don't perfectly line up. So taking a high shelf maybe set around 5K. We can just go up and down with this to control the treble. So right when this kicks in I'm gonna automate this down. ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of our real fate, ♪ ♪ Every decision we make becomes another mistake. ♪ ♪ Inside your head self control's the choice you make, ♪ ♪ Get to the bottom of this cycle of hate. ♪ And then I'm gonna automate the main vocal a little bit louder on this part because he's not screaming anymore and he's kind of talking. And I want to make it more understandable, so I'm gonna automate that up. ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of our real fate, ♪ ♪ Every decision we make becomes another mistake. ♪ ♪ Inside your self control's the choice you make, ♪ ♪ Get to the bottom of this cycle of hate. ♪ ♪ But to yourself you're not worth the-- ♪ And I'm gonna check the reference to make sure that I am keeping in mind any creative decisions they might have made, they could have had some kind of vocal effect or something, just keeping track of the original vision. ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of our real fate, ♪ ♪ Every decision we make becomes another mistake. ♪ ♪ Inside your head self control's the choice you make. ♪ So it sounds like he actually had maybe the backup vocals louder than the main. I'm gonna listen again. ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of our real fate, ♪ ♪ Overwhelmed by fear-- ♪ So, um. ♪ Overwhelmed by fear of our real fate. ♪ So let's reverse what we did. Let's take that main track, turn it down, and the background vocals, turn them a little bit up. ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of our real fate, ♪ ♪ Every decision we make becomes another mistake. ♪ ♪ Inside your head self control's the choice you make. ♪ ♪ Get to the bottom of this cycle of hate. ♪ ♪ But to yourself you aren't worth the fall! ♪ Cool. So we, you know, when we first mixed it we made a pretty big mistake, we didn't capture it the way it was supposed to be so that's why it's good to have your reference track and to always check it all the time. ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of our real fate ♪ ♪ Every decision we make becomes another mistake. ♪ So now the vocals are kind of dry, I want to kind of like a slap back type thing on here. I'm gonna do it to the, actually to both tracks, so for the main track I'm gonna start with a stereo delay. I'm gonna set my feedback all the way down so there's only one echo, and my left side's gonna be a quarter note and my right side's gonna be a quarter dotted. ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of our real fate. ♪ Okay, I'm might actually try it quicker. So eight note and eight note dotted. ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of our real fate. ♪ So, filter this out quite a bit so about 2,500 hertz, and 500 hertz. And then we'll set the mix down to like maybe 10. ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of our real fate, ♪ ♪ Every decision we make becomes another mistake. ♪ And I've got that stereo delay in insert seven. I'm gonna put a reverb after it and it's just gonna be a tiny, , tiny tiny bit of reverb. ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of our real fate, ♪ ♪ Every decision we make becomes another mistake. ♪ And then a tiny bit of EQ down here in the low mids just to clean up and make it a little more clear. ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of our real fate, ♪ ♪ Every decision we make becomes another mistake. ♪ Okay let's see what this sounds like altogether. ♪ Control! ♪ ♪ Where there were pieces of black ♪ ♪ We are back to decide for ourselves! ♪ ♪ We're all puppets in this living hell. ♪ ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of our real fate, ♪ ♪ Every decision we make becomes another mistake. ♪ ♪ Inside your head self control's the choice you make. ♪ ♪ Get to the bottom of this cycle of hate. ♪ ♪ But to yourself you aren't worth the fall! ♪ ♪ Keep living a lie, what's in your lifestyle? ♪ ♪ Every day a little better than the last, ♪ ♪ Pick yourself up, take control! ♪ So I'm gonna automate this vocal that comes in right here, turn that one down a little bit. Comes in a little hot. And during this vocal line I'm gonna check the reference just to make sure, I kinda wanted to add a little bit of a lo-fi effect, I'm gonna see what the reference is. ♪ Keep living a lie, what's in your lifestyle? ♪ ♪ Every day a little better than the last, ♪ ♪ Pick yourself up-- ♪ So yeah, there's nothing unique going on there. So I might actually have, I might put this lofi I'm hearing in my head right here. I'm gonna use this tube screamer peddle actually. ♪ Every day a little better than the last, ♪ ♪ Pick yourself up, take control! ♪ Just for that line I'm gonna turn this on so it right automation. ♪ Keep living a lie, what's in your lifestyle? ♪ ♪ Every day a little better than the last, ♪ ♪ Pick yourself up, take control! ♪ Cool, so here's what it sounds like. ♪ Every day a little better than the last, ♪ ♪ Pick yourself up, take control! ♪ By the way, is that mastered, the reference? Yes. Okay so, whenever I switch to his reference you're hearing his master going through my mastering chain, just to clear that up. Because it does, like, explodes a little bit. So yeah, that's kind of how I would treat the vocals on this song. We don't really need a ton. We did a tiny little bit of compression and we did a little bit of EQ on there, and I didn't really opt to put all of my music into one group and then have all my vocals into one group. But I could have done that if I wanted to engage a side chain. However I don't feel need it, you know, the vocals cut pretty good. They're in a range where they're kind of above the guitars anyway. And plus I'm also automating my guitars to get out of the way of the vocals when it matter. Let's just listen to one more time through this first part. ♪ Control! ♪ ♪ Where there were pieces of black ♪ ♪ We are back to decide for ourselves! ♪ ♪ We're all puppets of this living hell! ♪ ♪ So overwhelmed by fear of our real fate, ♪ ♪ Every decision we make becomes another mistake. ♪ ♪ Inside your head self control's a choice you make. ♪ ♪ Get to the bottom of this cycle of hate. ♪ ♪ But to yourself you're not worth the fall. ♪ ♪ Keep living a lie, what's in your lifestyle? ♪ ♪ Every day a little better than the last, ♪ ♪ Pick yourself up, take control! ♪ Cool, sounds pretty sweet. Any question? Yes sir, indeed. Let's see here, so we've had a million different iterations of this same topic here in regards to gainstaging and head room. I think people online are seeing you seemingly just push levels up and never quite run into any clipping meters anywhere and I think people are just wondering both on a micro and macro level what your approach to gainstaging and how much head room you leave at various points in the gainstage. Right so I'm used to Cubase, and I'm not sure if all recording programs are the same, but in Cubase at least you have a 32 bit internal engine going from every channel to every other channel. So what that means is, I always like to demonstrate this, if I take this for example, if I take this reference track right, and let's say I send it to a group track. So I take this reference track, send it to a group track like this. And I'm gonna go into this input gain and put +48, so that's plus 48 decibels. And I'm gonna go to the group track and I'm gonna change the input gain to -48 decibels. When I do that you'll see that no clipping occurs, so when I hit play there's not gonna be any clipping. ♪ Control! ♪ ♪ Where there were pieces of black ♪ ♪ We are back to decide-- ♪ So you see we're going 48 decibels over zero, and then we're coming back down 48 decibels and everything's fine. So in a sense in Cubase at least from channel to channel and plugin to plugin, you still maintain everything over zero even if you know, let's say you're working with an EQ plugin and you do some kind of EQ adjustment and it causes the output going out of the EQ plugin to be going like six decibels over zero or something. You would be able to take a fader and turn it down six decibels and you'd be right back to normal. So my workflow is to not worry about head room pretty much unless by the time you get to the master bus, which is right here, and you can see I have it set to -7 right there. That's so that I'm not clipping into this compressor, because once you get to this channel you can clip. So everything before this final channel does not matter, you can do crazy stuff. Not all plugins are the same. Some plugins do cap things at zero and you kind of have to know which ones they are. For example if you're working with Rbase, that plugin will cap it at zero. Excuse me. It is possible it distort your audio if you're going too hot into Rbase. There's a bunch of other plugins that can do the same thing. So yeah, I guess the answer is that I don't worry about it. However I do keep in mind, I try to be mindful of the fast that I don't want things to get out of control and I want my drums coming out +24 decibels on the drum group channel because that would be so far relatively out of reach from the other tracks, because every track only has the ability to go from zero to +6. So I don't know, hopefully that answers the question, kind of. Yeah, that's good. Quick shout out real quick, Potato Quality and a few other unnamed individuals said, "Sick track mate," they're really digging the stuff so good work. You wanna do one last question before we move into our last topic of the day? Okay. Okay so this one was a pretty popular question. How often should you take breaks from mixing to rest your ears, and do you think that it's good to wait a couple of days after you're done to then get a fresh perspective on the mix? Yeah, I take breaks pretty much every I would say, in between 30 minutes to an hour, take a break, about five minute break, five to 10 minute break. And also another part of my workflow that I haven't been able to show here is that I would have way more tracks to listen to. So what I've been doing is I've been mixing the song, checking the reference, mixing the song, but in reality at home I would be mixing the song, checking the reference, listening to something else that's completely different and then coming back. And that keeps my ears fresh and keeps my palette fresh, and especially if you listen to like, a bunch of different styles of music and you hear lots of different types of mixes and different combinations of frequencies and stuff, it will keep you kind of, it keeps resetting you so that whenever you come back to your song you can hear where things are starting to get built up. You can hear those build up of frequencies and you can hear a lot of like, you know, you might listen to a couple of different songs and then come back to your song and all of a sudden you're like, "Whoa, the bass on my song is just so much louder" "than everything else I was just listening to." And that'll keep your perspective really fresh as you work. What was the second part of the question? Let's see here. The second part of the question was just after you're done with a mix do you wait a couple of days and then listen to it again before sending it out as being done? Yeah, I will typically mix the song for awhile before I show anyone else because it takes me, I feel like it takes me awhile to kind of know what the song needs to sound like. So I'll get a good mix like this right, let's say it's a Friday afternoon and I'm pretty stoked about it. I'll bounce it out into my email and send it to myself. And then if I'm out maybe going to the grocery store or something, I might turn the song on, just check it out in my car, and form some kind of mental note like, maybe the bass is a little hot. But I'm not gonna go home and immediately change that. I'll wait a couple days, I'll come back to it maybe Sunday night, see if I still feel that the bass is too hot or something, whatever the mental note was, and then make some adjustments and then go to sleep that night, wake up Monday morning and then listen to my adjustment and see if I still feel good about it and if I do then I go with it. So I try to take a long time but it really ends up being hard because the artist and the label they always want the mixes now, now, now, now. But you have to wait until it's ready, so. Absolutely. Right on. So now I think you've got some deciphering artist notes for us. Yeah so next section, by the way that was an awesome track and glad I got to play around with it, so thanks a lot for that. Real quick can you shout out Where can people find you online? Www.AhrenLanfor.com, A, H, R, E, N, L, A, N, F, O, R, .com. Thank you. Very cool.


Joey Sturgis is the producer behind some of the biggest names in metalcore, including Asking Alexandria, Of Mice & Men, and I See Stars. His sound is one of the most sought after sounds of the last decade and in this class he’ll show you the unique mixing techniques that are key to getting it.

This class picks up where Joey’s Studio Pass class left off: you’ve got your session tracked and edited, now how do you turn it into a polished, world-class mix? 

He’ll show you how to get his signature sound, including: 
  • EQ and compression strategies for drums, guitar, bass, vocals, and synths/effects 
  • How to use automation to fix problem areas and bring out the song’s dynamics 
  • Tons of little tips and tricks to take your mix from good to great 
If you want to elevate the quality of your mix, don’t miss Mixing Master Class with Joey Sturgis.

 
 
 
 

Reviews

  • I don't work exclusively in the same genre as Joey but I always make sure to clear my schedule when he's on CreativeLive. This class definitely didn't disappoint and it was awesome getting to see Joey work on a track from start to finish and what his approaches and thought processes are. And not only that, but I appreciate that he briefly touches on client communication in regards to production, mixing, etc, and the business side to the mixing process as this is an area I'm just now dipping my toes in. Even though I often find myself on the rock, indie or post-rock side of things, a lot of these ideas can apply to anything you're working on and I definitely picked up some ideas to try and work on myself. Joey gives you enough to inspire you and make that light bulb click and does it with an admirable humility that I respect. He gives you more than enough on how and why he does what he does, but I never feel like he reveals all his secrets or magic; I honestly prefer it that way as it leaves a fun challenge of taking the ideas you've learned and figuring out how, when and where you're going to use them in your own mixes. Especially if you're not doing predominantly metal, like I am. The ideas are inspiring. This class isn't about those perfect settings to that phenomenal mix or tone; it's about why you do this and how you do that. It's cool to be able to watch his process and pick his brain, start to finish and all in the box. Joey definitely doesn't need to do these classes for us, but the more I see him getting active on social media the more I get this vibe that he genuinely wants to help make the creative and mixing processes easier and help us expand our knowledge and skills. I get that it's smart business, but I respect and appreciate the hell out of him for taking time to do these classes and answer our questions... Even if there are shameless plugs here and there. I love when these great engineers take time to show us you don't need school, you don't need thousands of dollars of outboard gear, etc. It's your ear, not your gear. We live in an amazing day and age with the Internet and awesome resources like CreativeLive. I love it and these are great classes to watch and get in their heads. It set gets the hamster wheel in my head spinning and I always keep CreativeLive classes on my calendar. They're motivating and inspiring. Looking forward to the next one!
  • I’ll start off by saying this a amazing class not just for those looking for or interested in “The Sturg” production, but for anyone interested in mixing or mastering. You get everything from the must have fundamentals and basics of mixing and production, to the more advance technical aspects, and of course Joey’s personal approach and method to mixing. Everything from EQ, to compressors, multiband compressors, automation and chain signals. If you ever wondered whether you should place delay in front of your reverb, or reverb in front of delay, or other common chain effects, chances are they get answered in this class. The class is organized in several lessons following a logical order, each covering different topics. All the techniques are shown with examples and Joey does a great job of making it easy to understand and follow as well as explain the reasoning behind the techniques. And it’s not just mixing or production that is covered, but the importance of good songwriting, good communication with artists and good workflow. I highly recommend this for anyone looking to take their mixing or production to the next level. Regardless of skillset, if you’re a noob, intermediate or advanced mixer or producer, you’ll find very helpful and informative lessons, regardless of what style or genre you do.
  • I own both of Joey`s courses. While both are full of useful information to get you started in the audio production world with lots of good technical explanation and awesome concepts for a fast and individual workflow, Joey actually comes up with average or "mediocre" mixes and tones. If you want some really detailed information about how Joey works, this class is for you. If you want to know what plugins Joey likes to use and wanna see him promote his own plugins, this class is for you! If you expect to learn how to create or come up with outstanding guitar and bass tones (which Joey is famous for) you won`t learn much and won`t hear anything in this particular regard, unfortunately. However, I`d still recomment them, especially the first course he did but again, if you expect to hear a typical Joey Sturgis mix quality, you won`t find what you`re looking for.