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Mixing Master Class

Lesson 16 of 27

Replacement Mixing - Kick and Snare

Joey Sturgis

Mixing Master Class

Joey Sturgis

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Lesson Info

16. Replacement Mixing - Kick and Snare

Lesson Info

Replacement Mixing - Kick and Snare

Next thing I would do is move these into groups to make it easier to deal with mixing the audio. Cause you have your snare sound is being made up of like ten different tracks and your kick is three. So let's do two groups. And I'm gonna just make, I need two mono groups, the kick is mono and the snare is mono, so two mono groups. And then one stereo group for the snare room. And we'll call this kick, snare, snare room. Take all my kick tracks and I select all three of those I'm gonna hold alt and shift and I'm going to go over here where it says master, I'm gonna click that and go to groups and select kick. You need alt and shift held down because it's gonna route, it's gonna copy the routing from the first one to the other ones that you have selected. Select all the snare hits. Hold alt shift, click on master, select snare group, and snare rooms alt shift master groups snare room. So now when I play back I should have these three groups going. (drum beat) Cool. So now that allows us t...

o start mixing the actual drums using these groups. So like with the kick I would start by just doing some basic EQ. Now before I EQ the kick I'm gonna need some music to go with it because I don't wanna EQ it by itself. That would cause me to make stupid decisions. So I'm gonna use the reference stems that the band gave me to help me dial in some drum tones. So I'm just going to use the bass guitar and effects bus. (rock music) So I just kinda get like a basic level of some kind of music going on. (rock music) I'm gonna load an EQ plugin on the kick, gonna start with API 550B. I'm gonna turn analog mode off, I don't like analog mode on the waves plugins. (rock music) And what I'm doing here is I'm just kind of listening to how the sample sounds against the music and I'm making decisions on which frequencies I want to get rid of to create clarity and which frequencies I want to add to create focus so the first thing I noticed was tons of 150 hertz in this kick sample. (rock music) Or at least the one that I chose. You might, at this point you might decide that you need a different kick too. Right now I still like the one I have so I'm just gonna keep going with it. But I'm gonna choose this frequency here 150 hertz, I didn't like that one, I'm gonna remove that. (rock music) It's got some, sounds like there's some 3K so I'm gonna click 3K, I'm gonna turn it up and see if that is the frequency I'm hearing and if it is then I'm going to back it off. (rock music) Yeah so turn that off a little bit. (rock music) I know I want some bass boost, I don't like, I tried the 50 I don't like the 50 so I'm gonna have to use a different EQ plugin to adjust the low end that I wanna hear because this one doesn't go, it goes 40, 50, 100 so there's really no choices in between. I could use the 75 but then I would lose the 150 so it is what it is. I'm just gonna stick with these cuts here, so I have a cut at 150 and a cut at 3K and I might do a little boost with some top end here, so I'm gonna check this out. (rock music) So I'm always, every time you're doing EQ decisions as well make sure that you're going back and forth. So I'm going to bypass this EQ plug in while it's playing, turn it on, turn it off, make sure I like where I'm going with the EQ. (rock music) Cool I like so far. Still need some low end so we're gonna add another EQ plugin. I'm gonna try the 560. (rock music) Cool I like where that's going so far. Next I might try and actually enhance the low end of the kick. You can do this in a bunch of different ways. One cool way is to do R bass. Actually allows you to replace the low end with a synth, it's like a synthetic like low end. By choosing a frequency so you could start with like 63 for example. And if you turn this in button if you click on out it removes everything below 63 and replaces it with a synthetic 63. (rock music) If you do, if you leave it on in, it actually mixes it with the original bass signal. I don't really like the way that sounds so I'm just gonna can that idea. You could also use like max bass for example. Which would add some upper mid range harmonics. (rock music) Yeah I don't think it really needs it, it's got a pretty good amount of low end anyway. (rock music) So I'm gonna just, I'm gonna make it a little bit flatter, I'm gonna use like a clipping plugin just so I can get a little more volume out of it. (rock music) And as I start to raise the volume and clip the drum a little more I notice more EQ things that I want to change, so I'm gonna actually move the clipper down and put one more EQ in here, EQ 10. (rock music) And I'll start my EQ adjustments, I'll start them out pretty drastic and then I'll dial them back in. So you kinda get a vibe from you know exactly what you're doing. It's easier to hear it when you do it really drastically and then just dial it back to a comfortable level. (rock music) Cool. I like where we're going with that. Alright with snare now I'm going to clip that right off the bat without any EQ just to get an idea of where the snare sort of lies within the overtones and the harmonic zones that it has. (rock music) So it gives me a better idea just by blasting it super loud I can kinda hear more what it's doing frequency wise. And I can dial back that clipper later. I need a mono version of the plugin. (rock music) And we're just using the stuff we talked about yesterday with the EQ decisions just trying to make sure that I start by removing the things that I don't like about it to create clarity and then once I get it clear I start to make decisions where I want it to be more tasteful. Or more in the direction of what I want to hear so. (rock music) Don't want to scoop it too much. Definitely trying to clean up that low mid range but don't want to go too far. (rock music) Okay so we dialed back this clipper a little bit. And let's put some compression on here. Let's try actually you know what I like the SSL compressor, it's really cool. (rock music) Sweet and then I'm going to also use transify, it's the newest plugin that we have at JST. Thing that's really cool about this is you can modify the attack and sustain of each frequency band it's really great for snares because you can like create more body than what's actually there. Like this. (rock music) Or you can also alternatively tighten the body as well. So if we actually put it in solo you'll hear the difference. So here's like I just have one band active right here, just the low mid band. Check this out. (drum beat) So you can go from like complete crazy sustain to completely dry no sustain. (drum beat) And then also you can add more top end if you need. (drum beat) This snare already has a ton of top end so I'm literally just going to use it for the sustain as low mid right now. (drum beat) I like that. Alright let's see what we got here. (drum beat) (rock music) Definitely need to tame the low end a little more on the kick. Gonna use a high pass around like 40 there. (rock music) Cool and then the original sound was, (rock music) Pretty big improvement so far. Right on. Any questions. Yeah you ready to take some questions before break. Absolutely. Cool. So could you use, or excuse me, could you send the closed mic samples to a reverb plugin to create a room sound instead of using actual room samples. Only if the reverb is a convolution I think. So basically what that is is you go into a room and you send a special signal out of the speaker into the room and you capture it with a special microphone and it creates like a impulse response and the impulse response is a recreation of the reflections and the ambience of the room and then you can, you could use that to create you're own snare room, but doing a reverb plugin is not gonna get you quite the same result. There's you know a snare room sounds like a snare room, it's kind of hard to recreate. So this is the snare room here. (drum beat) And that's just a snare drum that's been sampled and recorded in a room with microphones set up in specific position. And that I would say as we mix this more you'll see but that's gonna be like 50% of the snare sound is gonna be from that snare room, so it's ultra important to have a really good snare room sound. Great another question we have here is, when would you be using mono room samples verus stereo ones, do you usually use-- Never use mono room samples. What about Albert Craigel wants to know when EQing a kick do you try to make all the frequencies relatively equal or do you try to make some stand out more than others. So yeah I definitely try to mix to the instrument. Because if you made everything flat then it would sound flat. So kicks and snares and for example they need to have accented frequencies in certain areas to make them sound like the instruments they are. For example a lot of, a pretty common frequency for a snare drum just because it's the design of it is a cylinder is 200 hertz. Now you can tune it up and down from there but it kinda creates, that's like your low end punch of the snare it's like the 200 hertz area. Then with the kick you know you have, there's always like a problematic area of like 333 hertz just because of the normal diameter size of the shell depth you create, it creates a buildup of that frequency at 333 hertz so you find yourself correcting that or an octave of that or a lower octave of that. And I always try to stay true to what the instrument is but also accent areas where it needs help so there are a lot of kick drums that need additional attack, like additional treble, that's why you see a lot of people adding high shelfs and additional EQ to the kick. Because it's hard to hear that low end instrument over the other ones. So I don't try to go flat, I definitely try to accent the instrument. Great another question we have here is would you ever use a single parametric EQ instead of using multiple graphical EQs in sequence. Well the reason why I used additional, many different EQ plugins is because each one is a little different if you're using multiple parametric EQs you're not getting any different but the API EQs are designed with specific curves that are built in there. That's why there's no Q width control on any of the bands. The Q width controls are actually controlled by the steps and it's a stepping EQ so I specifically chose that because I love the way it sounds on drums and the way that they set the curves on the different steps it seems like it's tuned for drums or something. So I like to use the parametric EQ though for the really crazy carving adjustments that you need to do you know. When you need to get in there and do very very specific EQ moves the parametric EQ is where I like to start with that. Great another question we have here is do you side chain your drums to make them punch through the mix better. Now if I was working on, it depends on the song, this song so far I don't feel like I need to do it but if I get to a point where the only way to achieve the power of the drums will also keep the wall of the guitars then yeah I would set up a side chain. I can show how to do a side chain if that's what if people wanna see how that works but making the decision to have one is kinda just something that happens you know depending on the song, depending on the music. I can't tell you when you need to do it because I have no idea what song you're working on. Okay I know that you kind of touched on your thoughts about reverb a bit yesterday, Keegan wants to know do you use more than one reverb on your drums for instance using a reverb separately for toms and snare are they sent to separate reverb bus or are they put on the same bus as the instrument. I would definitely have different reverbs for different purposes. And we might get to that point in this song so you'll see I'll set up a reverb for the snare, I'll set up a reverb for the kick, I'll set up a reverb for the toms, it will all be different. However I would have to, I'm careful about what I choose because I want to make sure, like when you're doing reverb on drums you have to be super careful not to effect the balance of your low end, the balance of the, I guess you want to make sure that you don't ruin the punch of the drums by making it too soft with reverb, so that's why you know you can never get the reverb set perfectly for the toms and then have it also sound perfect for the snare. That's why you have the different reverbs. Sometimes you even need to have a different snare sample for your reverb because you might have a great sounding snare sound but it might have like a ring to it, like a frequency ring and then that gets accentuated by the reverb tail and so you would need to have a shorter snare drum sample for your actual reverb sound. There's other ways to do it too. You could send the snare drum to a new group and then use like maybe a transient processor to remove the sustain and make it more snappy and then use that to trigger your reverb so maybe we'll show that when we get into the rest of the drum mix. Right on does anybody have any questions in the room. I was just curious but what typical volumes do you normally monitor at when you're doing you know this type of stuff opposed to like other type of things, do you loud when you're checking different things, quiet editings, and so on and so on. I try to keep, I try to work with very comfortable listening levels so that I can maintain longevity you know and for me it also allows me to make better EQ decisions I feel like there is like a scientific effect where if you reach a certain volume everything starts to change, the EQ changes in your ear cause it reacts to the sound waves differently. Having it be more quiet I just think is more accurate it's easier to make the correct decisions. But you also need to know what does it sound like when it's loud. So I will be flipping back and forth now. So far I've been working at pretty comfortable volume level and I try to keep that level to a point where I can talk over it. So if I'm, if the audio is playing back and I can talk and still hear my voice or someone is sitting next to me and we can talk then it's at a comfortable level. And when I get further into the song like when I'm nearing the end, I'm in the final 10% that's when I'll start to check it loud and I will only check it loud for maybe 10 to 30 seconds at the most. Turn it up check it out, make sure it sounds cool, turn it back down. Cause you will make bad decisions with loud monitors.

Class Description

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.

Ratings and Reviews

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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.

a Creativelive Student

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.