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Mixing Master Class

Lesson 1 of 13

Importing and Organizing Tracks


Mixing Master Class

Lesson 1 of 13

Importing and Organizing Tracks


Lesson Info

Importing and Organizing Tracks

we're gonna mix this song in Reaper from beginning to end. We're not gonna use it on the D A. W, but I just want to keep in mind that it's not strictly how you mix in Reaper. So if you're using a different thw, it's okay. A lot of things we're gonna do in this video are just basic mixing techniques. I'll be using some plug ins that maybe our exclusive to Reaper, because I want to use all the stock stuff. But again, a lot of it's going apply to your DEA deputy as well. So hopefully you learn a lot about mixing in general in this video. So let's move on. And I got a song. So this song was actually tracked? Um, I actually tracked him, produced it myself. The band is called sir Video. If you want to check them out, definitely support them as well that there's a lot of great music in their great bunch of guys as well. Um, so, um, this this song is called. I'm forgetting the name of it, but I will open it up in our folder right here. It's called light years, and you can check out their song ...

on I Believe band camp, but also search out, sir video for that main page as well. So I actually tracked the song completely in pro tools. So because of that, everything is exported from bar one to the end of the song. So is going to be dealing with very large files. So we're just gonna drink it all into Reaper and will then convert away working that way. Okay, so let's get started. So here again, the song is called Light Years. These are all the files that I've been sent by myself as the producer. So I'm just select them all. Go down. He and I have opened a empty project in Reaper. This what Reaper looks like when you first open it? I didn't create any new tracks which you could do by double clicking. We don't have to do that. We could just start off by Dragon. He's all in and will create a new track automatically. So I saw it the first way file down to the last one, hold on shifts and dragged them in right here on the Reaper. APS asks us, we want a single track with them lined up or separate tracks obviously want separate tracks, and now it's building some peaks, which is our way forms that we're gonna see. Let's make these trucks smaller so I could see them all. That's a little too small. I want you take a look at all the tracks. We have a kick sample in one of the nice things about Reapers. When you first bring the tracks in it automatically names the tracks based on the file, so I don't have to go through that now. As time goes on, I usually rename attracts something. It makes sense for me like sometimes people put like kick and they'll name a kick D 1 12 That really doesn't matter to me so much. So a lot of times I'll just go in there and delete it this way. The name of the track is much something more familiar with, so I'm not looking at all these crazy Take one take to some people. Actually. Don't name their tracks at all to say Audio one Dato one. So in those situations I will go through and rename everything for some of that makes sense to me. But I think for the most part, we're not gonna have to do that. So it's soon out so I could see the length of the file. Now What I want to have to do is quickly, uh, make a rough mix of the song, just like kind of here. How the song sounds. Obviously I know this song a little bit, but if it's a strange song I haven't heard before, I want to just get a rough mixing, an idea what's going on with the most important elements of the song. And this way I know how I want approach the mix in general. Um, so you could see there's quite a lot of tracks here now. Another thing like to do before I make my rough mix is change the order of the tracks this way. The drums were all near each other, the bass tracks in your each other, and stuff like that also had to put them in the order in which they happen in the song. This way, as I'm going through and adjusting each track, I can adjust them based on when they come in the song so some doesn't come into the bridge. I'm not working on it in the early part of the mix. I gave way to get to the bridge to get there, so I kind of like the order things based on their instrument and also in the order in which they appear in the song. So let's start off. We have a kick sample. We just go through each track. We have a kick sample here, and it's actually sold it as we do each thing saying an idea before even do a rough mix. So hit solo on the track. That's a kick sample. And over here we have a kick. They could tell by the leakage that is a live performance kick. Because otherwise you would sound one of the sample up here. You have no leakage. So this is part of a life kit. Then we have a snare sample down here. Then we have a snare which also has weakened unit. So it looks like it's part of the life kit. Then we have a floor time. You see if I have a riddle, have a Rigel times right now. Change the order of these. You know what the regular time to go before the four time Let me of the floor. Let me have snare bottom, which I could put next to the stand track. Moved us up. Just be the snare than a snare bottom, Then are Tom's pair overheads. Now you can tell it's a pretty big sounding room, so we don't have any room Mike's. But I could see because the overheads were pretty live, so we should get more. Most. Most of what we need out of that, then have a snare sample over here or another snare sample. It's more like a drum machine snare. Another one, which seems to play the same part, is this one, So they're probably blend, then one more and again. This will blend with these three appears. We just check the first snare sample, so plays the same part, but then it stops when the live drums coming over here. Let's go down a little bit and here's a high hat. See if it's programmed a riel that's programmed. Then we have ah son, air sound nice 70 sound, seventies disco snare sound or sonar sound? Who? An electric Tom, which kind of like those Simmons Tom's also that seventies era have a shaker, a triangle another shaker and still another shaker over here. And that's doing 16th. No port. I may have a tangerine that also comes in a little bit later. So the eighth, No tampering here and 1/16 note one. Then we have another triangle right here. And then we have looks like a few based tracks. Let's see, bass pedal and a base and a base aunt that So I'm gonna put the this looks like it's probably D I first I put the pedal last. That seems a bit distorted. E kind of like you. The distortion sound on the base. It makes it a little clearer here. So it probably makes that and the other one is just to give a little clarity on the bass part. The sound in the part should say. Then, down here we have some more bass sounds called base pops. Oops. So it looks like he's doing some base pops finger slapping and from the amp as well. So these two are gonna blend, and then we have a pair of acoustic guitars right here. Now these are named acoustic guitar left an acoustic guitar, right? So right away, I'm just gonna stop painting them. Start off with a pan left and right. One less thing to do. Uh, okay, right away. I'll think about how they sound, What I might want to do to them later. Just getting my head around the mix in general of faras the elements and stuff. But I said, I really want to get to doing a rough mix pretty quickly. So can you really hear what the song is? Asking for a mix, But I still want to go through each sound, so I'm not surprised by them. He's an effects drop and some synth chords Does the synth chords and Faizi synth thats a stereo track. So it's already obviously paying left and right. And if you notice the phasing nous of it makes it very left and right, which will probably blend very well with the model sounding synth chord. You could see the plane the same part as well. And down here is a piano. Then we have a world, sir. Says effects, will it, sir? Whoa, whoa. Like a while. Effect on it. And also seem to be panning back and forth Left to right. Credit my stereo effect. Now we deal with something like stereo tracks. It's important to notice, especially didn't record them that sometimes it'll come in stereo, but it's really mono. You want to keep that in mind, You might want to turn it into a model track and treated stereo or do something different with it. But you don't always get just because stereo doesn't mean it is actually a stereo sound. This case, it actually is, and I will probably decide if I want to use it a stereo or not. And he's another world, sir. No, but this one is also panting back and forth. I mean, the glockenspiel, which is kind of like a vibe sounding thing, and I don't He plays at the end. Then we have a squeak track suit that is, uh, some kind of squeaky keyboard. If chimes uh uh, see, there's a lot of tracks to go through here, but that's good. I tend to specialize in mixing some with a lot of tracks, so these are synth hits, but they seem to have printed away on them. So it's a good thing that might want to consider later on, maybe panting. No way you can probably create a little pain for that kind of effect if it's an important part anyway, and we're here with a gangster lead. In fact, there's two gangster leads here, this one in this one, and they blend. I mean, they probably blend and that almost stereo hear it again. Now that's printed in Syria, but doesn't really sound very stereo. Well, I want to do something to that, to make it more stereo. Oh, together, actually. Pretty wide effects still, and they play together each time. Let me have another gangster lead. Now, if you're a gangster, please don't be offended by this. It's more like a California type of sound in those two packed California days. So the artist called the gangster, not me. Don't get me oh, don't offend the Gangsters, All right to me, The Harmony Synth, which also place towards the end here it's called Harmony sent me to see if it blends with these two here. That's the melody in two different octaves that's your active. That's a higher active in this one's of harmony. Because of that, I'm gonna put this track up here so it's next to its friends to get out of solo. So there are gangster leads. Here's our clean guitar, and there's another one here and try panties out. Not completely hard left and right just a little bit about 50% on this side and about 50% on this side. They see they put in the same part. So excuse me, I'd like to keep them a little way from each other. But if they both in the center like this dependence on a little Faizi giving a little spread to them not too wide. And again this depends on how important that part is. What is going on? For example, if the vocal is going on at the same time, the vocal being in the middle will separate it from the two guitars towards the left and right. But these are the only parts. Sometimes I'll keep one in the middle and went to the side this way. You still always have a center for you, melody, but we'll double check that. As we're arranging, this song beeps that is, this one's for the printed delay on it. So it also might be a good sound to try to auto pan, to create some with using effect, so we'll dig into that a bit later. Obviously, we have a food part. I think that's the only time that plays yes, and I'm going back to the conversation you might have about having so many tracks found. A lot of conversations with people where they say you shouldn't really need this many tracks to record. This is more of a production thing than a mixing thing, but my personal feeling is you could use as many tractors you want as long as it's arranged correctly. And if you notice in this particular song, there are a lot of tracks, but they don't all play for the whole time. So if we had the flu, the gangster lube, the beeps, clean guitars, all playing at the same time, yeah, that gets to be a very heavy mix, and it's hard to find space for everything. But as you'll see in this, a lot of these things playing at different times. So although it is a lot of tracks to go through, they're not all playing at the same time. So if you carefully arranged it, you really could do 100 tracks. No problem without it being too muddled of a mix so about song, arrangement or arrangement. Parts is always everything has its own spot. It really doesn't matter. I just don't wanna keep piling things on top because the parts themselves aren't that good. And you go well, if we just had another part to be better, that's when you kind of make a mess. But that you see in this production, it's really not as complicated as it sounds. What? We're going to the tracks. So we have a bridge guitar here. War, actually, two of them. And start to now they seem to play the same part. So it's here. They sound in stereo one to the right and went to the left and sold them. That works like that needs for now. Zoom out the entire session and you could see the only place in the bridge. So we'll worry about that when we get to the bridge. We have double vocals here and a lead vocal here. Pretty sure North the lead vocal first, So let's check that out. I don't know if I can do anything more with don't you? I don't think that I can be, you know, you're so far away from me space between goes and this Li not only one woman in all my own I'm here The sweet vocal It sounds a little muffled to me so I know right away I'm gonna have to clean that off, make it sound a little clearer, a little brighter and also a little more compressed as it's pretty dynamic sounding right now I would conquer space and time to have you they by my side See how the lab notes kind of jump out in a dense mix. You're not gonna want that. You want to keep it a little more Even so, I know ahead of time probably want to impress us a little bit, but I'm not gonna do that yet. But we'll do that sooner than later. Believe it or not. Ah, the double vocals, which will probably support the leads to weigh a thing to be with you and these were on one stereo track. A lot of times I'll deal with among to model tracks and paying the left and right, but in this situation they're recording the same way as I could tell. So you probably just treating the same as a stereo track and because of my left and right. They'll support the lead. Being in the middle. I do away the thing to be with you. Bring the double down a bit, a little lower. I do away in a thing to be with you. I should mention, Did you consume over here on this camera? Amusing This whole thing called a fate Airport by for Sonus, it's a fairly cheap but controller. It's actually great working with Reaper or any D a W is that you can just click on any track, and I could just the volume on that instead and missing a little button here. So quick noises each time I hit this, I'll fix that in a little bit, but it's very easy. Just use this. So if you see me grabbing this every once in a while, yeah, that's why I'm moving it. You could obviously movie he with a mouse or you have a mouse wheel. Or even if you're using a track pad like this, you could use double two fingers to get like a fine tuned adjustment like this, and that works as well. But I'm from the old school using a real console, so I'm very used to just going over here and grabbing a real fader so you might see me. Or you should see me. Everyone smile, grabbing. That was gonna rebounds the double vocal against the lead. I do away the thing to be with you. I do away in a thing to be with you. Okay, that should be good for now, then over here, we have a talk back. Horace, it looks like, uh, bye bye. So he's a talkback box for that. If you have a scene, it's pretty cool thing. It's a box about this big and has a little tube in it. And you're actually singing to that tube and creates this kind of cool effect way. We have a few tracks of that. We have this one here too. Years, if you remember. I think that matched with the gangster lead years. Let's see if I could find the gangster lead right now. Instituted who? Gangsta lead. Not there. Maybe I'm wrong. I thought it matched the gangster lean. No, it doesn't. Gangsters play different parts of the song. I am wrong, but I guess it's meant to match that type of type of sound. But it's not doesn't actually blend with it. Yeah, that's talk back Montel Phonic. He may have through in order to non there, and there's a harmony of that over here is the main one. Uh, I'm gonna just adjust the volume of that. A little bit of work, I believe, is the only time in a song that that shows up. And it is at least the harmony. Let me have a spacey vocal like visible like Izabal and could hear already has Weaver printed on it like Izabal, which is not really a bad thing, especially when you know the effect you want. And this is called a spacey vocal. So that's we're going for? I guess so. It's pretty right on the sound. Could we have some news down here? Oh, Theo. And they play towards the beginning and the end. They could tell us more than two or three vocals. I think it's probably six or seven vocals, probably six or eight knowing me stereo. But they're all blended together in one track, which usually wouldn't do. But when you deal with them all singing the same part, it you're not gonna hurt to do that. If you doing harmonies. I would put each harmony on their own track. But these are all blended as one part who is not even any octaves in there. So it's good that way, and it also makes it easier for mixing. I haven't said in with six or eight tracks, only dealing with one step track, one stereo track. All right, so we're getting towards the end, almost double the tracks back on vocal. One. That's a very stereo sounding vocal. Sounds like one, but it's probably too one pan left and one right. Who and again, I like that effect of things coming in the side. See, there's a lead happening the same moment. The talk back is as anything else. That's it for the vocals, but we also have it doubled here who so that's actually active of this one. That's why it's on a separate track Blend It do makes it easy to blend when obviously it on separate tracks. That's why those are in separate ones now, as far as order the tracks. I like to put them in the order again, like based on their same instrument and based on when they come in so all the vocals seem to be towards the bottom, which I kind of like If they weren't, I would move them all there. But let's just double check that coming in in order in which they actually sung. So have a weed vocal Here we have a double talk back these coming a little earlier. So I'm gonna bring those up again. You don't have to do this step just makes it easier for me. I'm always working towards the beginning. Actually, I could put this before the vocal comes in first. Just makes it easier as you're working on it. Now. The talkback comes in later than this, but I put it next to this one because they're doing a harmony of each other. Normally would put this later in order in this part and in these parts, it just makes it easier as I mentioned earlier that as you're working on vocals and getting the sound right, you can work through the song from beginning to end. So to make this easier as far as seeing what's what, we're gonna add some colors to the tracks. So it's sweat all our vocals. In fact, let's just do the other vocals besides the lead. Well, the background vocals and let's give them their own color is where they stand out. Use a few different ways of doing it. I'm right clicking right now and go to track color such wrecks to custom color And it doesn't matter what call you Choose whatever makes sense for you. I'm gonna go with something like that from a backup vocals. As long as it makes sense for you and you know that this color is back on moguls it, it'll make it easier to work. I'm gonna make this lead little bigger, so I know it's the lead vocalist doesn't want. Let me do it. Here we go. I'll give this a core as well track color. I'm gonna do more of an orangey color they go and getting for me. That's the color I always know. Is that the vocal? So as long as I always use that color, always know that's my lead vocal. So as I'm going to this big, big track, I could just jump on and go. There's my lead vocal, and there's my backup vocals. So before we go any further, I should say the track So it's It's save as go to where that file waas, which is light years. I'll call this. I'm not gonna copy. Knew this stuff, though. Just put right in this directory like years. Actually, I like to do 1.1 and then save it with different numbers each time. This way, can we go back to an older version if I want to? Also, if case I crash, I could go back to this version. All right, so those are our vocal. Let's go back to the beginning and let's add some colors to our drums. Now this is a sample, so I'm gonna keep treated separately treats separately from the live drums. Snare samples will also treat separately. Not sleeve. Where is my actual sneer track? Here we go. So here's my actual sneer. Here's my snare sample. Here's my kick sample. I'm gonna put away them there for now, but let's grab this track with this snare snare bottom. But Tom's the overheads, and that's all the rial drums, right? So now let's give them a car as well, so tracks to custom color. I picked this greenish color school a darker what kind of work and then for the sample's gonna suck them all those. And these four, I believe. What? Just do these. Yeah, These four here, the hot is actually considered. Part of the question for me is going to give that a different color. So just these. I'm gonna give their own sample color, which could be some kind of agenda ish color. So I always know those my samples and because Shin, which I keep all next to each other again, I'm not moving these around too much just because they already are pretty much in the right spot, which is nice. It worked out that way. Usually does not, um, let's put the shaker up a little higher based on when it comes in. Actually, it comes in before the high at, and my Tom comes in there triangle and the shaker coming a little earlier as well. They will come to begin this song, working the singing a song and working with these tracks instead of any hidden one or one that's further down. And those air in order there tempering triangle on the base. So from here up to here, all my percussion tracks. So I will give them a car as well. And for this I usually choose a nice white blue That looks good. So again, as I'm scrolling through the song makes it a lot easier to see what's going on in which tracks I'm looking for. And these are percussion tracks. Good. And we got a base is gonna see this as 1.2. Now, these base trucks all go together. These are a little difference. I'm gonna color the base pops a little differently. It is a different part from these base. So these like to go with a darker blue. Let's go something like this that's good. And then a lighter blue for this. So I know it's related to this, but not the same. That's a little purple. That's okay. Now we have these two acoustic guitars, and I know this seems like it takes a lot of time to set up, but one of the things I really stress when it comes to mixing, at least for me. But I think it's probably for anybody is when you mix, you really wanna mix as quickly as possible. And I don't mean, like, makes it quickly and just be done with it. I mean, you want to be in the right headspace to mix, so a lot of times, I'll spend all this time doing what I'm doing right now, and it'll probably doing for the next half hour. 45 minutes is getting everything prepared. So I know the track. Everything's organized in a way that's very quick to find things. They're in the right order task. Use me in the order in which things are happening. Eso at any moment when I'm actually doing the mix. I'm not going. Where is this? Where is that? I'm not being slowed down by it so that the last period of time or actually mixing could do we take an hour or two to mix the actual song, and it sounds crazy. But put in that extra timing toe. Preparing to mix to me is almost more important in the actual mix, because that's when you really get all this stuff out of the way. All you're doing is mixing using your example of like, your rate car race and you have the race car. You don't want to be thinking about the building, the engine. All that stuff is taken care of. When you sit down at the car, everything's ready to go all you do. Everybody's the race. That's the same thing with mixing. When it comes time to mix, all you're doing is mixing. You're not rearranging things, you know, adding samples to things you're not affecting the timing, and those are the kind of preparation we called mixed prep. All that stuff is being done, and you do all the actual mixing at the end and usually take a break. Which rocks are gonna wonder, taking a break at some point as well. But even in real situations, I always take a break. I'll do something where I'll go out and clean the house. Or just do something that please take me out of a different head space and they'll come back complete fresh with the song ready, mixed in a way that I know how to mix it, because I've prepped it so anyway, a little off track with that, But that's one. Explain that to you. Why I'm spending the time to do in this, because I really think this part, this part of it's pretty important. So now I went back to the part of it. Christie Guitars, Track color. I'm going to use some kind of reddish color that's more of a rose color, but that's good enough. And I like to zoom out to sea to remember exactly where the songs comes in, and we'll get into actually the song arrangement in a little bit, which is also important. You want to know where the parts of songs are. I don't want to view. It is one big song. So maybe the effects drop and effects drop me, see if I want to consider the keyboard. I guess I consider that a keyboard. So I put it with the but the keyboards, the piano. Sometimes I'll take something that the effects dropping. Consider it part of percussion, but because we have all this synth parts are considered a keyboard. Now, again, this is really walking the way it worked out. But these all lined up in terms of when they come in normally. Like, say, if this track was sitting up here, I would go, you know, I'm gonna work on the piano first, so it's put it here, and I'm not gonna worry about the world. So until I finish the piano, so I like to put them in order for that. Like the squeak right here. You could see it should come in here before the war. Once is. Well, glockenspiel and the same with the chimes. The chimes come in at the same time as the squeak. I'm just gonna double check to see if it plays the same part to see how they relate to each other. Uh uh. And chimes, uh, and they do. So it's just I'm gonna grab my fatal right here. I want to keep making this click sound my grab it. Uh, good. Nothing nice about this. Fader has a little, uh, everyone here so I can go to the tracks left to right. Makes mixing a lot quicker. So under start off by going to my chimes taking at of soil and check it out over the squeak, uh, and then go to the right and check out the chimes. Uh, now, the level between the two is probably gonna change when the mix comes up. But at least I'm starting at the same spot and understand that the to blend. So it's gonna remember that. So those are the key. You know because since hits here. So its good synth it's bring these up earlier as well. Right after the effects world, sir. Again, based on when they come in in time lives And the gangster leads also coming earlier. So it's great. These two bring them up and it here. Yes. So you see these come in and these coming that he's come in. And these that means this would come in Harmony Synth the world, sir. Gangsta lead comes before this. Let me just see how the Harmony Centre works with the world. Sir, I actually think that goes more with one of the gangster leads. Yes, I'm gonna move that to its friend right over here. So even though this comes in later, I want to put it next to the thing that it's actually working with. So I kind of break my rule there and squeak the chimes. The world, sir. Now the gangster lead comes in earlier. So we will put this right over here. This comes in with CIF hits, but it plays a different part. Pretty sure. So I don't really need to blend at this point. Anything and that zoom out to the entire projects, and that's it for the keyboards. As far as I could tell, there is a flute that's hiding. Actually, my beeps and my flute are hiding over here, so we put them before the guitarists and the beeps come in somewhere around here, keeping harmony with its friend. Never go. So peeps come in. When the piano comes in, there's a piano, so that'll work there. And there was a few Bridge guitarist conceived the other guitar whose is actually part of the vocals. I forgot to give this color. That's cause enough. So I think all my keyboards, the flu comes in a little earlier. So let's bring this up to illustrate their looks, right? Yeah, So if who comes in there, that's the right order for that stuff. So those are our keyboards, so let's give them Keep your color. Don't go with some sort of green right click track color that'll work now. Besides doing colors on the tracks rebirths. You do that. You do icons, given example. What say we choose our snare sample? We really wanted to weaken Goto truck icon go. And here in these all the icons that come with Reaper type of s So you find our snares. Let me scroll. Here we go. Snare Top could choose that This little icon appears letting us know to snatch him. Now that helps you make it. Organize your sessional quicker. You could use that for me. It takes up a little bit of screen real estate. So I don't always use that in the mixing stage. So I'm gonna remove it. I just want to show you that you could use it. It takes a little bit of room. I don't want to do that. In fact, I should also mention you can adjust in Reaper the size of this. So if you working on just editing could move it oil with their and your entire screen is just used for for actual editing instead of this stuff over here on the tracks. And of course, you can adjust it along the way. If you want the small, we want super big attend to keep it around here. It was good. Zoom out again to the entire project and we have our colors for our keyboards right down here with greenish color. And now we have our guitars. That's only four guitar tracks so we could do different colors for that. Yeah, we want to do that. Let's do a different code for the clean guitar. Worse, the bridge guitarists. Let's make this swoon. I mean, so it's one of colors. After a while, I just started keeping so that they're not next to the color that's similar to them. So I go blue for that. Then I'll do like a reddish color for this one. I want to leave any colors out, and that should be it for coloring the tracks. All the trucks have a nice car. Great, like a rainbow.

Class Description

Kenny Gioia is a multi-platinum engineer and producer behind pop and rock records from the likes of Bayside, American Authors, Ingrid Michaelson, and Mandy Moore. He is also a trusted educator and founder of

In this mixing masterclass, Kenny will walk you through his specific mixing techniques getting top-40 friendly mixes entirely inside the box in Reaper. He will cover:

  • EQ, compression and dynamics
  • Reverb, delay and time-based effects
  • Vocal automation and vocal tone
  • Drum, guitar and bass mixing techniques
  • Mix-buss and pre-mastering tricks
If you’ve been looking for a way to get that big studio sound from your bedroom DAW setup, Kenny will show you how to get your mixes sounding like they’re radio-ready.



this is really great mixing course, kenny has a great workflow and i learned quite a lot and it was easy to undestand, and i dont even use reaper, what you learn in this course applys to all daw and tools, which is great

Evan Phillips | Alaska

Kenny's Mixing Master Class blew my mind. His workflow and level of organization during mixing is a real eye opener. I'm also a longtime Reaper user so this is an excellent all around resource for me. I feel like I just stepped up my game. Thanks Kenny!

J Dawsun

Great course for quick dive into the typical mixing tasks! Recommend!

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