Segment 22 - Master Bus Settings
Okay, so we have the whole mix set up, everything is kind of ready to go I think the next segment we're going to do just to kind of like finalized let's pretend that I've mixed the whole session and the thing I want to talk about just really quickly is the master bus settings when I go over and I'm looking at the master bus, this is sort of the master of the whole song I'm going to sign that to output that I'm using and I want to take a little bit about the very beginning before I start mixing anything I want to think about the master bus first, and the reason that I do that is you started the end and you sort of working way back to the beginning and if you start at the beginning sometimes without thinking about where you're going, you can often back yourself into a corner. Um, so the first thing that I do before I had any plug ins on any track as I'm thinking about gain staging and gave staging, I'm sure you've a lot of engineers have heard this it's super important gain staging is al...
l about how you build the mix piece by piece and build up gain to the point of which you reach your maximum capacity now it used to be back in the day without getting too much into the theory of mastering there really wasn't any space specific limit on how loud you could make a track it was all about sort of the signal to noise ratio of your tape deck, and you could push levels as hard as you wanted a cz biggest you could make it if it was printed on vinyl as bigas, you could make the grooves to a certain extent, you could make the record as loud as you wanted. Of course, as you got to a certain point, the needle on the group of a record would start to skip out and fall out of the group is too big, so there were definitely limitations, but there wasn't an overall standard, and people tried to really push for ah universal mixing standard. When you get to the digital world, it is very different and there is an absolute top that's defined by your your bit depth. You actually have a very specific limit on how loud you could get something and you can't go over that without distortion on digital distortion, that sounds really horrible, so you have to be thinking about from the very beginning. You're basically almost thinking about it, like you're filling up a cup with water and as you're filling up the cup. You know, with each track you're getting close to the top and you don't want to get to a point where you get to the top of the of the glass and the water is almost full and you still have more to pour in, then you have to go back through and try to figure out howto empty everything out and that's no fun when it comes to mixing. I've gotten into situations before where I've been mixing everything I get to the master and I look and I realize I'm really pushing the master way too hard and I haven't even finished adding and all the tracks yet, so I have to go back and grabbed the you can do this in pro tools I'll go and select all is the group and start to drag down some of the failures but that's really deceptive because not technically you're bring everything down, but you're also if you're using buses, you're not only bringing down all of the individual tracks, but you're bringing down the sense to some of the buses, which is going to affect your compression. Also bringing down all the haters isn't necessarily, um it's, not necessarily just lowering the overall level it's actually bringing down like I said some of the sense of the compressors and it's changing the tone sometimes of what you're actually trying to accomplish from a mixing standpoint so you want to be thinking about looking at the master bust the entire time I'm gonna go ahead and what I usually do is I bring up a a mixed bus compressor that I use in pro chul's one of my favorite ones is the waves ap twenty five hundred compressor and this is something that I'm not necessarily using to get level I'm using actually to get tone and it allows me to push things into the compressor and see how hard I'm pushing it throughout the whole session is I'm mixing and then as I get to the end I can sort of go back in and adjust and always add level usually right after that I also have just while I'm mixing and l two just a sort of mimic what's going to happen in the mastering phase for my ears on dh it's you know somewhat of a transparent brick wall limiter I usually bring this down and I start off by putting like negative three d b on that output um on and then I try to use that level to be able to push everything that way if I ever need to add more level at the end I can always just remove that negative three d b and I have more room to go um the other advantage is I'm thinking about this in terms of how hard I'm pushing so as I'm mixing I'm constantly looking over at this compressor and a lot of times in my studio I have two monitors so often even just have this mixed bus compressor always open on the other side of the window and just really quick the way to do that in pro tools in the mixed window with any plug in is you hold downshift as I bring a peach plug in and now it allows me to open multiple plug in windows then if I accept this I could keep this open and if I bring up another plug in, it'll still keep this open so I can keep pulling a plug ins and mixing and this will always be open so usually have another another window set up with this just always in there so I can keep an eye on it sort of out of the corner of my eye, how hard I'm hitting the mix bus throughout and you know there's a lot of different ways to set up a mix bus on the compressor usually have sort of a medium thrust on dh a soft nie s o I'm not hitting it super hard on guy usually do a pretty fast release and then when I'm done mixing once everything is done, the last thing that I do is pull off the l two before sending it to mastering I don't want to send them a sort of fake master recording amusing the fbi for tone as a mixed bus and I want to keep a really dynamic performance that I'm sending to them the mastering engineer um yeah that's pretty much it I think that's kind of that's kind of the rule there's I've seen this question a lot people ask what level should you be tracking and mixing at? And they said a lot of people reference the negative eighteen d b f s thing where that comes from is that if you take in the digital world, the meeting that we use is is called d b f s or decibel full scale, which refers to the basically the decibels below zero of zero being the absolute high end of your of your limit how how loud you could make something and if you were to pull up zero g b f s and compare it to an analog mixer um if they're not the same so typically with a standard d a w people think of negative eighteen d b f s is equal to zero v you on a v a meter so a lot of people use that as a rule of thumb to sort of keep everything on their meters around negative eighteen b b f s because that's actually what zero is not zero that you see in pro tools? I don't think that's necessarily a hard and fast rule so much anymore, especially with pro tools their newest version in eleven allows you to do use thirty two bit floating point bit depth on dh has sixty four bit architecture which gives you a lot more headroom the thing to keep in mind is really just use your ears is an engineer if you're pushing a channel too hard and you see reds on every channel you're probably you're probably going to end up with some some distortion some digital distortion you want to try to keep the levels as low as possible you can always add more level I'm it's hard to back off level once you've when she started mixing so that's a good rule of thumb I'm not saying that the negative eighteen d b f s thing is like a hard and fast rule I actually don't really use that necessarily much myself but I do try to keep the levels um as low as possible while mixing I don't want to try to push each channel another thing to think about is really understanding and without getting way too deep into this it's really understanding how plug ins work as faras thie algorithms that they use if you think about a computer mixing something it's not like an analog mixing desk which is running everything through transformers or you know transistors that are actually affecting the sound what it's doing is it's actually calculating the way form so it's taking a bunch of zeros and ones and running them doing giant equation and then pumping out a new set of zeros and ones in real time, and what ends up happening is that because of that, those zeros and ones start to build up, they get way huge bit debts way beyond twenty four bits, and they have to use dither to be able to get them back down to twenty four bits, or whatever your recording out to be able to hear so the more processing you're doing, the higher you push those favors. In theory, the mohr change that you're applying to each of the failures, the bigger the numbers are getting in the less transparent of a sound, you're gonna end up with that sort of like the general theory. I know that's kind of like a big, deep concept, but the idea is to thinking that you're applying calculations and this kind of comes true because we'll talk about plug ins in the next section. But a lot of people, a lot of engineers that I know prefer instead of pushing plug ins really hard. As far as like making drastic changes with brilliance, they usually like to use multiple plug ins, making small changes in a roar in siri's. Instead of trying to do a bunch of work with one plug in, you end up with a lot more natural result and I think the reason is is you're not creating these massive zeros and ones and creating these huge files and all this processing you're trying to keep the the processing of minimal is possible so that's sort of my theory and using the master bus thinking about level, doing it from the very beginning as you're mixing and really focusing on keeping that level consistent and not backing yourself into a corner awesome that's section finished I think that's finished you have any questions about any of that way? Have one, questions just came in? Why do some people use multiple master failures with one to monitor levels in one for plug ins? Why did they do that? You know, that's interesting, I actually haven't heard that that makes that I mean, that would make sense to tear a certain extent as faras using one tio bus and then want to send your level. I mean, I think typically most studios are you're using a speaker controller like, you know, like the quartet to control your level instead of just using your internal sound card so you want to keep your level the same, but if you didn't have that and you're just using like the output of your laptop, then instead of using the volume control, you could use a fader toa. Do that. You have a separate failure to control that. You could then remove when you're bouncing. So I guess that makes sense, if that's what you're using it for.
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