Introduction to Mixing
My name is Casey Bates. I'm a ah, record producer. Engineering mixer here in the Seattle area have been, ah, doing it for about 10 years Now. Today you got about two dozen records under my belt, and I've got a song here that I just finished for, ah, record that just came out about last month. And I want to show you as how I mix it. So it's Ah, it's a band. It's a local band called the Money Pit. If you guys were familiar with the Seattle scene about 10 years ago, it was a band called Gap, whose American Dream and the lead singer and the songwriter. So the lead singers, Nick New Sham in the Songwriter from that band is Bobby Darling, and he's kind of the brainchild. Well, they came together recently and decided to make a record with me called the Money Pit, And it's one of my favorite things that I've ever done. So I'm really happy to share it with all you guys today. So, yeah, the first thing we're gonna talk about is what we're This is just gonna be about mixing, so I'm gonna ask thes...
e guys some basic questions here to start about one of the biggest problems they have with getting a good mix going. So, yeah, what we got? Anybody always have Robbins with, like, over queuing stuff, like putting tons of plug ins and stuff on things that don't need it. And it ends up, you know, at the end of it, just not sounding how I want it and bogging it down. Yeah. No, that's actually going to be one of my big points today is showing how I really try hard to not overeat que stuff like I you'll you'll see how how it how it flows here. But I tend to eat you things mawr. Later on, When you focus on things individually, you tend to lose perspective on the entire mix. So what will happen today is you're going to see things build up, and I want to get like, a context going. I want to get the drums, guitars, bass and vocals in there, and then start going in really tweaking stuff. I tend. I mean, when I first got started, you could spend I would spend hours on a high hat, you know, and just just agonize over Mannis things doesn't sound right. And at the end of the day, you got to get everything going and then try to figure it out so well, I'll show that as we go along. Yeah, for me, just like a drum balance balance among the drums. Drum balance. Um, we're going to show that that would be a wall. Severe. Very big part of it. And it all. It's gonna come back down to the context of the song and I'll get a drum kick or us kick snare Tom overhead mixed going. And then, as the guitars and bass and vocals come in, you're going to see how, because things start to get buried. And that's the things you hear when you when you're going with the drum mix of the beginning. You're like, Well, this is sounding good, and then you get the base in the guitars and everything else happening in all of a sudden, it doesn't sound as good, so we'll go over how to make the kick and snare really pop through the mix of the end Cool mind, sort of along the same lines. I have problem with like frequency, masking some of the frequencies and like my vocals might be masked by my guitar And I'm just trying to figure out a light pole The mount more Okay, yeah, we're gonna I like you'll see how much he queuing I'm doing. I'm not a guy that goes through and not just frequencies And spectrum analyzes everything and just goes in with a fine tooth comb. I'm all about the feel of it, so we'll go through And I want you to stop me when you hear something that sounds weird to you or why I'm doing something along those lines cause I think my approach tends to be a little less surgical than a lot of other guys that I've worked with. So we'll see if the field works for you. Mine has to do with the drums as well. A Sfar ihsaa, uh, controlling the bleed with the toms. And then also this just came to me to, um the bass drum and the kick drum. So, like making it so one doesn't Faizi other out, right? Or, you know, just making it sound nice without making them drum bleed on individual might be something we're gonna go over today, too, and it's a challenge, especially with Tom's and so all Yeah, when we get in here, the one of the one of things I'll say about drums is the you've got to the Don't be afraid for things to sound weird. Wait till wait till everything starts happening. Like the bleed might actually work in certain cases. So focusing on like, I'm guessing you're talking about as you're trying just to get the drum sound going right. And the bleed could actually be a good thing, Depending. But we'll see. We'll see. All right. So I'm gonna play the final mixed version of this song, actually play the unmixed versus. So this is gonna be what happens when someone hands you a session and these with raw files that come in. This is gonna have There is volume automation on this stuff. I've disabled all the plug ins. So you're gonna hear just basically what would happen if someone handed you just the raw files? So there's no compression or e que on any of that stuff and stuffs really poking out and there's no control over the mix here is going to be the final version of the mix You in America and running for changing that station about you. Okay, So, big difference. We're gonna go through, um, a couple of the big things for me when it comes to mixing his referencing. And it's something I don't think a lot of people do and or at least do properly. And I kind of get that feeling cause a lot of the studios I use don't have setups that allow you to easily come in and sit down, start referencing other mixes. So today, what I set up is I have my ITunes running on my laptop, which is going into getting out at a line level into the board. So as we get as we get going today in getting near a finished mix the mastering chain that I'm gonna be putting on my mix, I'm really to compare it with, ah, final mix of an actual another professional recording. So the problem people have is that when you do get into a studio, you have a headphone jack you can plug like an IPhone into which works fine for listening to things and stuff. But you don't have a final, you don't have a line level coming out of that IPhone what you have, You know, everyone's. You can take the volume on your I phone. If you raise it all the way up, it starts to get distorted. Well, that's not going to give you an accurate picture of how that mixes actually in a sound. So I actually have a weird set up here going where I'm running through an Apple Airport Express because out of that comes a line level signal so I can run ITunes through that and then back through the board here so I can bounce between a reference mix and my mix I referencing is one of the biggest things for me. If you're trying to when you're coming up with how you want your song to sound, I'm gonna all load up a playlist of four or five songs. That is the direction that I wanted to go. And I'm constantly listening to those songs and helping me build my mixes. I go. That also helps a lot with the room environment. There's a lot of studios you're going to go into, and it's gonna be your first time ever using that studio. And what I do is I'm gonna sit down at the board, I'm gonna get my laptop going and I'm gonna plug it in, and I'm gonna listen to all my favorite mixes from all my songs, the stuff that I know how it sounds because every room sounds different and I don't care how nice it is or how bad it is. If you know how that room sounds, you're gonna be able to mix your song just fine. Like I have a set up at home. It's nothing crazy, but I know how that room sounds. And so I'm comfortable there. So when you get to some place that you're not that comfortable with, you need to spend some time sitting down, just listening to stuff that you know how it's supposed to sound All right. So before we get into the mix, let's talk a little bit about session prep. Um, I get a lot of mixes from bands that are very poorly laid out and very hard to figure out where to start, and that a lot of that starts with just basic session management. And that's labeling your tracks and labeling them in a way that actually makes sense. Calling them kick snare Tom. What? Not a lot of people don't use pro tools, so they're going to use logic or Q base. And when they send me a session, they send me a bunch of wave files, zeroed out, and I'm gonna throw him into approachable session. And there's no rhyme or reason they come in, they might come in alphabetically. I'm not sure. Um, what I would suggest for people that are that are coming from a different dog and going you're handing it over to someone like me in the pro tools environment. It's a name the actual audio files once they've been passed down. So if you've got a logic session and you need to send it to me and you're gonna zero out all your way files plea, you know, Please, when you when you get when you've got all those files laid out, go through and name each file, you know, just something basic. Just snare, kick, snare bottom. Because when pro tools brings it and it actually brings it, brings them in with their their proper names. And then I can kind of go through quickly organized. Now, if you look at this session here I've got I've got all my drums of the bottom I got him all color coded Easy to understand Like this is my This is my drum mix that I come up next and we've got base Right above that I've got my main guitars above that I've got my lead guitars I've got my vocals all here in blue And then at the top Here I'll have my percussion and I probably have another section If we had any keys and stuff in the song Make it easy on people It's the whole thing