Mixing - Master Bus
first we need to understand, you know what exactly is mixing? And I think there is a lot of people who are confused on what mixing is, and I get questions all the time. That really bothered me. So I want to take an opportunity. Teoh, Explain what I think mixing is so the first thing mixing is not editing. That's really important. Understand? Um, all the things that we've been discussing here, you know, the rift building, the guitar editing techniques, vocal correction, quant ization, all that stuff should be done before you ever try to mix the song. Mixing the song is a creative process, and it should not really involve. It should be basically void of all technicalities. So you don't wanna have to, you know, if you want toe mix a song, you shouldn't have to go in and start editing vocals before you do it, because then you're just not gonna be in the right headspace. So make sure all your tracks air completely edited before you ever send them to anyone to mix. Because that's the worst t...
hing ever. When a band says, Hey, can you mix a song? And also, while you're at it can you to in the vocals. That's not my job. My job is to make sure song. So if you've actually done the job of producing are getting the production done properly and having everything edited properly, then the mixing should actually be a really fast process. One of my favorite mixers, his name's Chris Lord Alge E. He actually mixes a bunch of songs that are on the radio. He usually does radio singles for most bands, and he actually mixes three songs a day. And that's because he doesn't start working on the song until it's totally prepared and ready to go. Eso When he does walk in, it's already on the board. Everything's plugged in and everything is ready to go, and he just mixes the song. He's not messing around with cables and trying to do all these complicated, you know, editing vocals and any of that stuff. So um, 70 75% off a mix is actually preparing it, and then the other 25% is the actual mix itself. Onda. Like I said, you know, my first day is if you have a really good song, it's gonna practically mix itself And that just goes to say that if if the people you're working with can perform really good and there's less editing involved, you probably have a lot easier time as well. Um, now I like to start with the mastering chain, as I mentioned, and I know that seems a little bit backwards, but I'm gonna show you how it can affect your mix. And no, you can't see my settings, because that doesn't matter. Um, it's all about making something that works for you, but I'm gonna show you kind of how how it works, the basic concept of what you're trying to do. So the common question is, um all right, Should I have my snare louder before I send it to mastering? Or should I have my snare quieter, or should I turn my vocals up? If you mix into a mastering chain, you won't have those questions. You'll be able to ah, just figured out on your own, and you don't have to necessarily keep your mastering chain. You could just use it to mix, and then when you're done, you can turn the mastering chain off and send it out to mastering to someone who knows? You know how to do mastering better than you. But basically, mastering chain kind of consists of about two or three different things, starting with a compressor. So I'm gonna have, like, a mixed bus compressor, and I'm just gonna use I don't know. Let's just use SSL comp. This is the G master bus compressor. Right? So the first thing you want to make sure that you do is make sure your mix is not overloading your two bus channel two bus channels, the last ah channel in your in your chain. It's your master bus. So in Q base, there's a little ah number appear at the top. That's your input gain so you can actually change it. You can either go up or down input gain. What I like to do is I'll just play the mix and I'll I'll turn it down until I'm not clipping. So the reason why you want to do this is because this input gain happens before the first insert and the first insert needs to receive the signal, not clipping e have it up this high. It's it's clipping now. So by the time it gets into the first plug in. It's already clipping, so I prefer to have it not clipping. Then you're going to set the threshold of whatever compressor you're using. Ah, and I only like to remove any anywhere from 0 to 4 db. I don't want to do a whole bunch because you're going to get pumping and stuff like that. So in this specific example, I think the drums are a little bit hot. Even before I've started doing any mixing or changing any of my mastering settings. If you hear something and you feel like it's jumping out, just address it immediately so that to me, the drum sound loud. I'm gonna turn him down, right? So now that I've got a little bit more balanced, I'm gonna go back to setting the threshold of the compressor. Okay, that that sounds good. I like to keep the attack pretty open and the release pretty tight because I'm typically working on stuff where I just needed to get a little bit more balance overall and also more volume. So if you had a little bit of a weaker release, you're gonna have less volumes. If I go like, uh, you know, auto mode price so hopefully could see and hear that when I goto 0.1, which is 100 milliseconds, I get quite a bit more volume. That's just because of compressors returning a lot quicker. I like to keep the attack pretty open. Like I said, because ah, you know, any tighter and you're gonna start chopping off drum heads, I'll show you. Plus, with this compressor in particular, it just pumps very easy. So I like to just do very light amount of compression. The great thing about this is now when you go about mixing your song, you're gonna hear anything that you do on the individual tracks or on the groups or whatever you're actually gonna hear what the result of that going through the compressor. And the good thing about that is, if you're mixing without a mastering chain, then you don't know what it sounds like when it goes through a compressor and mastering engineers very likely to put your entire mix through a compressor. So knowing what it's gonna sound like before is key. Okay, so next thing that you can put in here is any que and I like to do this just so weaken. Get some flavor type adjustments in here. So if we think like, Oh, the mix sounds kind of dark. So we're gonna add some trouble, something like that. It's good to do after the compression. You can use different types of EQ. You don't really like that e que for, especially for a mastering chain. Um, but sometimes you might want to use that That kind of a que for surgical type things, because it can really get narrow and make, like, really narrow adjustments. I prefer to go in with, like, more of a linear e que. So I don't really change the phase. And also, um, it just tends to sound a lot prettier, and you got more modes to work with. So this is actually the pre production version of the song. Just so you know, um, I'm in this version of the song because I'm gonna show you here in a minute. I'm gonna show you how toe start mixing with drums. But just for now, I'm just trying Teoh, get the mastering chain set up so that we know anything that we do afterwards is going to be safe to send to a mastering engineer or safer mastering later. So I'm just trying to get kind of a generic e que adjustment that I like to hear Price Theo. So yeah, I mean, I don't feel like I need to do much Someone just leave it off for now. But if you were making a mastering changes start out with, it would be nice probably to just have the e que They're ready in case you need it. Then finally, what you want to do is have ah limiter on there and the limiter is going to help you, you know, get the volume that you want. And the great thing about it is ah, it'll also really, um, exaggerate some of the dynamic choices that you make, which is a good thing because you want to hear how it's going to affect a limiter when it gets placed there one, because ultimately it will end up going through a limiter when it gets mastered. Because that's like, you know, one of the most important tools of mastering is limiters. So you want to know how How is my mix gonna interact with the limiter? So I like to just mixed with one on. Um, the ozone maximize er is a great start, Theo. Don't worry about, like the volume level that you're trying to get. It doesn't really matter. You're just trying to get kind of ah ah, starting point. So I just set the limiter toe where it's starting to limit the That's the mix a bit, and now I know when I start to make different choices, I'll be able to hear what's happening as it goes through the limiter.