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Mixing Master Class

Lesson 19 of 27

Replacement Mixing - Mastering Chain

Joey Sturgis

Mixing Master Class

Joey Sturgis

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Lesson Info

19. Replacement Mixing - Mastering Chain

Lesson Info

Replacement Mixing - Mastering Chain

So now we're gonna move on to the bass and here's what we have for the bass. (electronic bass music) Wait that's the printed tone. Find the DI, oh here's the DI. (electronic bass music) and then the tone that they had. (electronic music) What I'm actually going to do to show you just an interesting technique, I'm gonna use this part of their bass tone, so bring this down here, this grind track. (electronic music) and I'm gonna take the DI that we got and do some stuff with that so. I'm going to start with an EQ and remove all the high frequencies. So now we only have low notes coming through, or low tones, and then put a limiter on that. (electronic bass music) Cool so we're gonna use that as like our steady low that we'll compare or I mean, put up against the original bass tone. (electronic rock music) And I'm also gonna remove some low end from the other bass tone that we have, and call it bass high and bass low. So basically what we're doing is we're creating a bass high track which...

just has all the mid range and the treble of the bass. (electronic rock music) And then we have this other track where we've taken the same signal that's just the DI and we've isolated all of the low end frequencies to add to it. (electronic bass music) I just try to balance those against each other, like relatively. (electronic rock music) Okay and then I'm gonna put those two tracks into a group as well, so add track group. And then call this bass and send both my bass tracks to that group. And then we're going to put that into a folder. And then now we will solo the drums, the guitars, and then the bass and then bring the bass in to whatever level we want it to be in. (electronic rock music) So this is where I'll take a second to listen to the reference to see kind of where I'm at. (electronic rock music ) And then what we have is. (electronic rock music) Right now I feel like my kick is kind of weak, so I'm trying to figure out what I can do to make that come through more. (electronic rock music) Also I think there's another track playing back somewhere. There it is. (electronic rock music) Cool, and then from here, I would probably start to bring in some mastering because I wanna start making more decisions but I don't wanna do it without having a mastering chain. So let's load a compressor first, so I'll start with this guy, and get rid of this analog stuff. And let's see. I'm gonna use, start my threshold on zero and gradually bring in the threshold. (electronic rock music) Definitely wanna stay within zero and 3dB of gain reduction I don't wanna you know, put too much, 'cause you can start to pump. (electronic rock music) And always compare you know, on and off. (electronic rock music) As I'm making little adjustments, compressing a little more and more, I'm noticing some things getting too loud, too quiet, making tiny little volume adjustments, getting the balance a little bit more in place. (electronic rock music) Cool so then I'm going to do a multi band compressor next, just to start to tame that low end a little bit and tighten that up. (electronic rock music) And make sure that it doesn't really kill too much low end, you just want it to sort of kick in when the low end starts to get crazy. (electronic rock music) You can notice like when the double bass is like (imitates drums), it starts to cut down just a little bit more. So kind of tame that low end. So then from there I feel like I need to warm up the sound a little more, so I'm gonna use something called MaxxBass, which is pretty cool. Start with a light preset. (electronic rock music) What's cool about MaxxBass, you can hear your original bass low end, and you can also hear the max bass, what's adding to the signal. So the original bass is like this. (bass music) And the max bass. (bass music) And then as you raise or lower the ratio, basically it's like an expander, it's like a compressor and a limiter at the same time. (bass music) So if you go too crazy, it starts to clip. (bass music), like that. But basically, you want to set it so that it starts to even out the low end. The response is basically how fast it responds to the low end. So you can have anywhere between 10 and 30. (bass music) Just a little bit goes a long way. (bass music) And then you're gonna go... Once you get it kind of set to where you want it, you can go back into audio mode and then kind of fade it in. (electronic rock music) Yeah, I noticed it kind of clips every once in a while, so I'm gonna take my input, go back zero, and then go backwards one plugin and lower my output from that plugin down. (electronic rock music) Sweet. And I need overall EQ next. So use the linear phase EQ. This allows to make our mastering hue adjustments, so just a nice little couple boots here and there. (electronic rock music) Nothing too crazy. And finally, we need a limiter. So let's go ahead and put our Ozone on. (computer pings) Oh I love that sound. (computer pings) Any questions so far? Yeah, for sure. Okay. Let's see here. So do you want your left and right guitar tones to be slightly different in order to avoid phasing issues? No, the performances are different, so there is no phasing issues. There's a performance on the left side and performance on the right, and they're different performances. Great. Another user wants to know, why do you prefer to do guitars before bass, and after drums? That's just kind of a personal preference thing. For me, I can't really figure out where the low end should be without hearing like a bunch of upper mid range content at the same time. So I'm used to hearing drums and guitar before I'm worrying about bass. If I was just doing bass and drums by themselves, I would be like, "Where am I? "I don't even know what to be doing right now.". So for me, that's just a personal preference thing. Great. So let's just keep cranking on this mastering chain real quick. (electronic rock music) Yeah, I would probably, I think I would go even louder on this. I'm gonna turn the output down a little bit. (electronic rock music) Let's see what we got. (electronic rock music) Keep in mind, these reference tracks are also going through my mastering chain, so we're kind of giving them a little bit of help. (electronic rock music) Cool, so we're getting somewhere with this. I feel like the guitar needs a little bit more presence. Probably do that with some EQ, or maybe go back into the actual amp and add some treble, for example. There's also other elements that we need to bring in, like this clean guitar tone. However, I kind of like this tone that they ended up with, and if I was replacement mixing this, I would have the option, if they gave me the tone, I have the option to use it. So if it sounds like it's kind of an advanced tone, there's a bunch of stuff going on, maybe there's like chorus reverb delay. (guitar chords) You could certainly use it and just EQ their track. (electronic rock music) (guitar chords) Yeah, just do a couple of basic adjustments, get rid of the nasty stuff we don't want to hear, and then bring it into your mix and see what it needs. Maybe it needs more treble, maybe it needs more low end. Let's find out. (electronic rock music) First thing, right off the bat, it needs more volume, so just put a limiter on here. (electronic rock music) It's got too much, there's too much mid range honk to it. (electronic rock music) Master's a little hot. (electronic rock music) I've gotta probably add some reverb to this actually, I think it needs more reverb. (guitar chords) (electronic rock music) Now I'm gonna check, now that I've added a couple of elements and made some changes, I could be affecting my master bus compression more. So I'm gonna go back and check and see what that threshold looks like. (electronic rock music) So you can see, now we're going over three, so I'm gonna dial back the threshold a little more. (electronic rock music) So I'm just going through, checking all my mastering plugin settings, making sure that nothing's clipping and none of the changes that I've been making to the song are affecting the master too much in a negative way. And then going back and checking my mix as well. So we've got that element put in there. I think there's this one other guitar thing here. (guitar chords) And it looks like it could be like a lo-fi thing. (guitar chords) So we're gonna actually use their tone. Bring that in, make a small EQ adjustment to that. (guitar chords) (guitar chords) Cool, and see what we got. (electronic rock music) That's pretty much how you would go about doing a replacement mix. You could also replace the low end of the bass. We used a DI, which they provided, so it's this thing. (bass music) To me, the DI that they gave me sounds pretty much like a programmed bass anyway. However, if you had, for example, let's pretend this was a real bass, and you had a MIDI track here that they gave you as well. You could do an instrument track and create your own low end. So we choose like Sub Destroyer, for example. Grab our MIDI copy, paste it into there. And on the most basic form, you would get. (electronic bass) So it's an octave too high, so we can go in here to MIDI modify or transpose one octave. (electronic bass) Sounds like those runs are, it must be this room actually. Not used to the bass in this room. So then you would take that, and that would replace this track that we had. (electronic rock music) (electronic bass) And a track creating that, so you'd have this. (electronic bass) You can, (electronic bass). There we go, that's the right octave. Combine that with the original bass signal. (bass rock music) Now, there's different modes. So if you need more harmonics or more overtones, there's these different sign waves that you can have, different wave types to be created. However, they create a lot of overtone. For example, square wave. (electronic bass) (laughs) That's not gonna sound good with your bass, so you would filter that out. (electronic bass) However, that overtone allows you to hear the low end frequencies more. (electronic rock music) So with the sign wave, your low end's really soft, like this. (electronic bass music) And then a square wave would be like really brutal. (electronic bass music) I actually like this one right here, so it's the one I'm gonna use. (electronic bass music) And then without this you would just have, (electronic bass music). So it's like really all of your low end is coming from this plugin and your kick. You're basically designing the whole bottom end of your mix with perfect sound waves, and so by controlling it that way, you pretty much end up with a perfect amount of control over. Since all these sign waves are created with a computer, they don't fluctuate in volume and they don't have different amounts of pressure. And so it allows you to essentially create a perfect low end for your mix. If you were using a real bass, you're basically gonna let, you would be letting the entire low end of your mix balance on the finger of the bass player's performance. I don't like to do that, I don't trust him enough to carry my low end for my mix, although a lot of times what I'll do is program it like this. Have a MIDI track of all the low end, and basically create my own low end of the mix from scratch. (electronic bass music) (electronic rock music) And at this point I might start playing around with different snares, for example. Because I noticed that the snare I chose is a lot higher pitched than theirs. So let's say I wanted to change the snare drum, but I didn't want to lose what I had already setup. You could keep all of your snare choices in this lane here, in this lane of inserts, but just turn it off. Is it gonna let me do that? Yes it did, okay. And then add another instance of Drumagog, and choose a different snare sample. (drum beating) (drum beating) What's interesting is that this is still running through my snare chain, so I'm hearing all these samples being mixed the same way that I had the other snare. (drum beating) Just for fun I'm gonna try that snare. Oh yeah, let's make sure we have all these settings right. Let's give this a shot. I'm gonna keep the same snare room sound and see if it works with this new snare as well. And we didn't even use this snare, so I'm not gonna do that. So let's see. (electronic rock music) Something's not triggering, let's see what we got. (drum beating) (electronic rock music) So yeah, that's what another snare drum sounds like. And then you can turn those off, turn the old ones back on, and hear your other snares. (electronic rock music) And of course, the settings that we set for the other snare probably aren't gonna work for this one, so we'd have to go in and readjust that whole snare mix. (drum beating) And then, for example, that ringing tone, we could get rid of that. (drum beating) Yeah, you get the idea. That snare probably has more than one ringing tone, but I actually prefer this other snare that we have originally. But I do like their snare as well, and I could also, if we weren't completely replacing this song, we could take this snare that they provided and blend it in with our snare that we replaced with, because we kept everything completely phase accurate. So I could take like this track, bring this down here. Actually, I'll just leave it where it was. And then send it to, I'd probably send it to the drum group, and not the snare, because my snare group was designed to be just a different container for all the different snare tracks. So I would just mix this separately, but blend it into the drum group, too. So I'm gonna actually put it into the mix, so let's see. (drum music) (drum beating) I actually like, this is adding something cool to the snare. (electronic rock music) Might even use that for a little bit of a reverb key, so that affects track, reverb, let's just say R-verb again. And send, take this snare, send it to that reverb, and then let's call this snare verb. (drum beating) (drum beating) That's with the reverb. Without it. (drum beating) Adds a little of space. Maybe too much, but I can control it with the fader, so. (electronic rock music) Cool, let's take some questions. Alright. So this user says, "I find myself doing drastic EQ changes during the "mastering phase, but it still sounds nice. "Is it wrong to change the EQ in the "mastering stage too much?". I would say if you, I don't think it's wrong, because at the end of the day, whatever sounds good works. And that's important to keep in mind. But if you are finding yourself always doing that, then there's a problem somewhere else, because if you notice, there's not a whole lot of EQ stuff going on in my mastering chain. Just a couple, like this is literally all the EQ adjustments that we made on the master, right here. And that's because I spent a lot of time EQing all the individual elements together. It's not wrong, but definitely be careful of doing that too much, or spending too... Try to improve yourself so that you don't have to do that, I guess is what I should say. Great. This next person wants to know, do you use any analog distortion plugins, like Slate Tape or Slate VCC, et cetera, to shape the overall tone to feel like it's coming from the analog realm? Yeah, let me see if I can actually throw something on here real fast. Because I love to do that, especially in the mastering realm. Let's try actually Kramer tape, maybe. Yeah. (electronic rock music) So you see, as you push, that record level gets real crunchy. (electronic rock music) Just a little bit goes a long way, and then your speed and your bias can change the tone a lot as well. (electronic rock music) It's just nice to kind of dirty it up a little bit, because then you get all those nice harmonics and stuff, and saturates it and makes it a little louder, makes it a little more full. Kind of fills in the gaps of all the frequencies throughout. So I like to use Kramer tape, for example, or sometimes, like there's different exciters out there, like Ozone exciter's pretty cool. Absolutely. YourNickName wants to know, do you need to compress your Sub Destroyer bass track, or do you just leave it the way it is? Yeah, you don't have to change the dynamics of it because it's a perfect wave form, and so it comes out at whatever volume you tell it to come out at. It doesn't fluctuate, because it's a generated wave. So yeah, you don't have to compress it or limit it. Cool. Alright, let' see. So let's say you've got to do a replacement mix and you're not giving a bass MIDI track. Is there an easy way of recreating the bass part from the audio track if that's all that you're given? No, I wish there was. (laughs) You have to manually program it note by note. There's ways, there's plugins that say that that's what they do, but they don't work very well, they never do. I know auto tune has a way you can like track pitch for a song, and it'll track all the notes, and I think you're supposed to be able to click Export MIDI, and it'll create a MIDI track. That'll give you a place to start, but you definitely can't trust it. I mean, it'll be really weird. Like with Melodyne, it often adds a bunch of extra book transients, and it thinks there's more notes than are actually there. Exactly. You can never trust the computer to do it perfectly right. But I find that even with the starting point, it takes more time to just track all the dumb stuff that it didn't do right. I would rather just sit there and start drawing the parts, and then once you get about 20 to 30% through the song, you're gonna start to realize, a lot of this is just copy and paste. I got this part right, this next part is just the same thing as this part but with maybe two extra notes. Take all that stuff, copy and paste it, remove the two notes, draw them in, just do it like that. When you're mixing with your mastering chain, if the client want somebody else to master it, what would you recommend? Taking away your mastering chain, like the lows and stuff like that. Yeah, so I've been doing all this stuff with my mastering chain on, right? Let' say the client's like, "Okay, we got this awesome, "Bob Cassidy's gonna master our song.". Okay cool. So I would just click this button here, which would turn off all my mastering. Make sure I'm not clipping. (electronic rock music) And then just hit Export, and you're good to go. They might have some special requests, they might want a lot of headroom, for example. If you're working in a Q-bass, you create your headroom just by moving this master fader, because internally, I think it's like 32 byte, something. So you're not losing any information by going up and down here. So if they want like 20dB headroom or something, you just turn this thing all the way down like this, and export it like that.

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.