Wrap Up Q&A & Final Thoughts
We have some wrap-up questions, do you find yourself doing a lot of automation? Example volume automation to make the mix move or do you rely mostly on composition and performance to do that?
I think my preference is to let the composition dictate that but I'm certain not adverse to it. Some of the sessions I've been doing recently have had a huge amount of automation going into them. It can be really fun but I find that sometimes by the time I'm done automating I kind of don't, like it can be such an involved process sometimes that you can really lose focus on what actually the good level for things to be at is and it can just mean that the mix it take so much longer to come together and there's so much more uncertainty on my end. When I'm doing automation it's more in creative effects, vocals of course get a lot of automation treatment, that's kind of par for the course but, when it comes to other things I really try to let the composition do that work for me. If it's something ver...
y straight up like rock with just you know guitars, bass, drums, and vocals there might be some cool stuff you can do there. I really like the Andy Wallace approach of automating into the master bus compressor so that you get like, you can really adjust the intensity of the overall sound, by pushing that compressor hard or bring it back and make it lighter, I'll do some of that often by kind of pulling back some instruments but not the whole mix. I also really like automating things like reverb sines, delay sines. I don't generally have to do very much work to drums which is which is fine, this approach to mixing tends to be very kind of self-regulating and it still kind of relies on the dynamics of the drummer. What I do like doing for effect stuff perhaps is automating extreme compression effects onto the drums or automating width enhancement is something which we did actually a little bit on on juggernaut, there's a few points I can think of where the drums go extremely narrow sounding for one session then kind of really widen out into another. Another fun thing involving drums would be automating the level of the room effects, you know sometimes with an exposed fill can really benefit from more room sound just to make it sound really explosive. You can also automate the level of the parallel compression bus, that can be a really fun way to make some fills really kind of pump out and maybe you actually want to create some extreme pumping effects by doing that sometimes. I'd say my mixes, I've certainly know of many people that do a hell of a lot more automation than I do but you know it's all about, yeah it's all about what the track needs really, what the what the music needs.
Tyler wants to know what are the main things you, main things you can think of to remember before sending a mix to be mastered.
To remember, I mean, it's a tough one I mean, I would, something I would really recommend actually is starting up some kind of friendship with somebody that maybe is not a full-time mastering engineer but somebody that has a working experience of mastering that you trust to give you good feedback on what you do. For many years now I've had a circle of friends, fellow producers, and people that taught me a lot of stuff as I was learning that I was send mixes to and get their feedback on, you know, a lot of professional mastering engineers will not give you much feedback, they'll kind of just work on whatever you send them and sometimes it just takes doing a few times to really figure out what the, what you're gonna get back from a mastering engineer. I'm trying to think of like specifically what you would, yeah, what could you possibly forget, I mean I guess to make sure that the mix is exactly what you want it to be, definitely that would be one point I guess, is make sure that you're not sending a mix to a mastering engineer with the intention of them making it sound good because really the mix needs to sound good as is. If I was to take the limiter off this mix and send that to a mastering engineer I would not expect to hear very much changing when it came back and that would be appointed, that would mean that things are working well. A mastering engineer is kind of a second opinion on your mix and if there having to change a lot of stuff that generally means that you've done something that maybe isn't that great or it could mean that, I have had it happen a couple of times, sending it to maybe not completely professional mastering engineers, people that want to get into mastering the field, like they really have to impart a sound on what you send them and I think actually the highest echelon of mastering engineers that I've sent stuff to have almost always sent things back that are extremely close to what the original mix was and in many ways that's just a pat on the back really to the person that mixed it. At no point should you really be sending something to a mastering engineer and expecting them to fix issues with the mix.
Yeah that would be the only advice I could give.
Okay, Brandon wants to know how loud do you like to mix, is there a certain decibel range or even just a general loud versus quiet?
It changes, I think, I start out quiet when I'm working on a session just through natural restraint and then the volume will tend to creep up as things start to sound good. It's really tempting to crank the volume but these days I always remind myself to pull the volume back after a little while because it can be so easy to, especially like the power of the drums becomes so much greater than perhaps it really is when you're listening at high volume and you can trick yourself into thinking that that things are way more energetic and powerful than they really are. Some people talk about mixing extremely quietly and I don't think that's necessarily the way to go either, personally, I find that I tend to mix extremely bright if it's very quiet because yeah extremely bright when it's quiet. You just don't perceive the top-end information in the same way, likewise, if you mix really loud you tend to mix really dark because those high frequencies can be piercing. So I try to spend most of my time mixing at a moderate level especially when it comes to something like leveling vocals in a mix I will sometimes dip the volume down a little bit but unless you are working in a room that has really bad internal reflections like a completely untreated room, at that point I'd say going really quiet is probably a good idea to minimize that reflections but unless that's the case for you, I wouldn't shy away of listening you know anywhere between a medium to medium loud volume, basically whatever you're comfortable listening to, whatever you've been listening to most of the things that you listen to. That just if it's extreme volume, you know if you walk out and come back in and kind of jump when you hit playback you've probably been mixing too loud.
Awesome. How do you go about getting nearly the same mix for every song on an album or album, you did create a template with all your plugins loaded in individual tracks and just import the audio or do you have another approach?
It really depends on the session, you know, not every project benefits from having exactly the same mix on every song but yeah if the idea is for for all the songs to have exactly the same mix or if the arrangement is extremely similar from one to the other, yeah, I'll create a template. I'll try, it's difficult to break the mindset when you're doing that but I try to let myself do things differently from one song to the other. I already like it when there's variation from one song to another and I think when you're working on something you can be kind of unduly scared about creating variation from one song to another. If I listen back to some of my favorite albums, you know, things like Deftones albums or Incubus or so many great albums, especially from like the 90s and early 2000s, those songs are all completely different sounding. Completely different drum sounds, completely different guitar sounds, everything about them is completely different yet they hang together as an album and as a listener until I really got into production I didn't even notice that. So a lot of the projects I'm working on, currently, I'm really trying to let every song have its own identity and not worry too much about creating a sense of cohesion but yes if you want to be extremely rigid about keeping things the same, try importing everything into one project. Just have the whole EP or album in one project if your hard drive and computer can handle that. That if you do that then absolutely everything is gonna be completely consistent assuming that it was tracked consistently.
Any concluding thoughts? We got some love from the audience in the internet, thank you so much Nollie and Mat for all of the help these past few days. It answered a ton of questions for me.
Cool, that's really good to know.
Some people really, dug it.
Yeah it's been really good. I'm getting pretty dazed. It's a lot of stuff to think about and hopefully, well everyone's gonna have the opportunity to listen back and kind of digest it but for me it's been an outpouring of knowledge that I've been kind of, I've shown some people some of these techniques before but it's been really nice to have a chance to go through methodically and break down what I do. I really hope that it's useful to some people. I really found that when I, especially got into like this mixing technique with the drums began to really enjoy mixing in a way that I haven't done before. I always enjoyed the end results when you got something to sound good but the process of getting there was always such a pain that it became something that I would dread and upon kind of doing things in this way I found that the there's a whole new world open to me and it became so much more fun to work in audio. So if that can pass on to anybody that watched this that would be the best thing in the world really.