Mix Session Organization
Before we dive into it, I kind of want to speak just a little bit about session organization. Generally, by the time I've finished tracking something, it's quite a messy project. You've got a lot of cuts and edits into all of the instruments. A lot of unconsolidated regions. Probably a whole load of unused tracks or buses that have ended up changing from what you originally had to something completely different. The whole session is just gonna need some kind of trimming down. What I like to do when it comes to mixing is actually create a brand new session and import consolidated versions of all of the tracks. Now there is some additional things going here in terms of cuts on the synths and the vocals and if I remember correctly, that's because we did a radio edit of this song. So at one point, I had to chop some things about. But this is the full album version we're listening to here. As a general matter of principle, I tend to name buses, so that's any track where several other tracks...
are feeding into that one track, in capital letters and just general tracks in more standard capitalized lowercase. That just helps me kind of know quickly, just from looking. Because as you can see there's quite a lot of tracks here down the left-hand side or if I put up the mixer, you've go a whole lot of tracks to scan through. So that kind of catches my eye a little bit better. I like everything to be named pretty sensibly. Here you can see the drum tracks were recorded yesterday. I've actually numbered from one through to 17. This is something which I am very much a stickler for if I'm going to be sending something off for mixing or if I'm gonna be receiving something from mixing. It's a huge bonus if the files you receive are numerically organized so that when you pull them into a session, they all line up the way they should be. I haven't done that in all the other tracks because this was my own session and it kind of just evolved from the tracking process. But typically when I ask for files from a band, when they're sending something to me for mixing, I will have every single track digitized, going through in a specific order, which I send them. Again, just really helps me with consistency from session to session and it saves a whole load of time going through in a folder on my desktop trying to figure out ... Sometimes you don't know how many mics there are in a drum kit and you have to wade through so many completely jumbled up tracks to find out and at the end the band might come back to you and say that you missed some part because you just simply didn't see it when you were going through all the parts. So that's just a tiny bit on session organization in terms of labeling. I color code things, just pretty much at random, in terms of the actual colors I use. I don't use the same colors for every session, but maybe I should think about doing that, that might actually make things more efficient. But generally I like to color code roughly similar instruments together. So you can see all the drums are a kind of shade of green. The bass tracks, which we have three of, are all in yellow. The rhythm guitars are in this hot pink, which is one of my favorite colors. I like to reserve that color for particularly important track. Normal it's like a lead guitar or a vocal or something but, clearly I was favoring the guitars when I color coded this. The lead guitars are in blue, I don't need to tell you what colors they are, you can see that for yourselves. We were working Pro Tools yesterday, today we are working in Logic, I probably should've mentioned that a little bit earlier. Pro Tools is not my door of choice. It's a great door, but I simply started out, when I started doing things professionally with Logic and in my opinion, there is not a huge amount of difference in functionality between most doors in this day and age. Most of them have converged and kind of pinched the best features from each other and pretty much all of them can do anything you could possibly want. You're certainly not gonna be restricted by a door. If you're choosing between any of the really professional ones, Pro Tools, Cubase, Logic, even Reaper is a very strong candidate which people are getting into. Perhaps, you know if I could rewind in time, I might have even started with Reaper because, as I understand, it's very personalizable. Just a few notes about the drum tracks since you saw them yesterday. Because it was a very quick session, there were certain things that we couldn't quite get exactly the way I wanted in terms of levels. We did have an issue with a snare mic where we thought it was just the way Pro Tools was displaying, but somehow, the top half of the peak of the snare track has been cut off. However, it doesn't seem to be impacting on the sound at all. I should hasten to add the drums you just heard were entirely natural, there's no sample reinforcement. And we'll get deep into mixing drums in the next segment. And we can talk about how to get that kind of power, without using samples. So we decided to roll with it. If it had been detrimental to the sound, we would have re-tracked it and that's very much my ethos when it comes to tracking, is things have to be right. And if at all possible, re-track if there's a problem. So although it looks a little bit funny and the ride track is the same, it sounds great. So I'm not worrying about it. I also just went through and stripped all the silence out of the toms, so you can see here there's no bleed in between the tom hits. It kind of looks like what you'd print from Superior Drummer or something. If there's interest, I can show people my method for doing that, it's very menial work and that's why I didn't do it on camera but it's simply just going through and cutting and then fading out the sustain of each hit appropriately. I prefer that to gating because you can control the decay of the toms sustained very carefully. For example, at the end of the song, I think the biggest floor tom rings out a lot longer than on other hits because there's nothing coming after it. So if a gate had cut that off straight away, maybe it wouldn't have sounded the way I wanted. (drum beat) Just to show you, it's got a much longer sustain on it. Anyway, we won't get too stuck into drums just yet. I guess the only other thing which I did to them was I did combine the overhead and stereo room tracks into stereo files. I don't like to track that way, just because sometimes I find that you can misjudge the gain balance and just being a little bit OCD about it, I don't want to have the pan knob doing anything on my overhead tracks. I kind of want that dead center on any stereo tracks in general. So once I've edited the drums, I go through and consolidate those down to stereo regions that are balanced appropriately.