I thought this topic would make a good, and short read — as I have been asked these questions so many times:
The questions: When I mix as I produce, should I bounce out the dry stems or keep my channelstrip settings and FX? Should I keep my “production reverb”?
Should I bounce my mix stems with or without side-chaining? What about the mix buss inserts? Or should I just do simple raw production and then do a proper mix?
The answers of course to these questions can be very personal and contextual, but I want to share with you what I think works the best for both the production and mixing cycles.
I think the best practice when producing is to do only very basic channel stripping of individual elements, i.e. basic saturation, reductive EQ, and compression with the idea that you can and will do more later during the mix session.
While I think it’s fine to keep what I call “production reverb” (reverb is part of the sound design of a synth patch...
It’s true. The best plugins use up the most CPU! It’s just the way it is, and that won’t change anytime soon.
And we all like to use the best plugins — and sometimes many instances. So what do we do? Buy a new computer each month? Buy monster Octo systems that cost tens of thousands of dollars?
No. Regardless of how big a system you put together, you will still run out of CPU at some point. So what do you do?
In the audio preferences in any DAW, you will find a window to see your buffer size. When recording, keep it a low as possible to minimize latency, but when mixing and mastering, max it out!
This increase will give the CPU “more time to think” and will increase latency from the moment when you hit the spacebar until you hear the sound, but who cares?
Bigger buffer sizes eliminate...
The best part about a channelstrip workflow is the ability to systematically build a sound and then to ergonomically jump back and forth between the parameters within the modules.
Since EQ, saturation, compression, and filtering are all interdependent, the ability to make quick adjustments between these fundamental realms makes mixing fast, free and creative.
In that light, here’s a look at UAD’s beloved channel strips:
SSL is a favorite sound for Dance, Pop, and Urban Music. Sonically it has a tight, bright saturation in the mids and highs and a dynamic low end. Rich in harmonics, the SSL has a tight, short “ring” that is also smooth. Absolutely wicked on drums.
The Manley VOXBOX has a number of personalities depending on how you drive it. It can be very clean or rich in tube saturation. It also comes with a very easy-to-use de-esser and a compressor that is before the pre-amp stage to minimize distortion. And a...
Slate Digital recently introduced Virtual Tube Collection – great addition to their Virtual Mix Rack collection of API-500-like mix rack.
Virtual Tube Collection comes with 3 different flavors: Hollywood, London and New York inspired by classic vintage topologies and designs, and they all sound a little bit different.
They are very easy to use: each module has two different models: Preamp which is more flavorful and Console which is more conservative, but they both give a very nice tube color.
So if you are looking for even more distortion – there’s Normal/Push switch. Push mode gives more harmonic density and non-linear response.
Virtual Tube Collection is part of Slate Everything Bundle.
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While Soundtoys most popular delay plugin is Echoboy, Soundtoys bundle contains two amazing delay plugins: Chrystallizer and Primal Tap that are underestimated by many producers. In this 1-hour long video from our recent webinar Daniel Wyatt explains who you can use those plugins in your projects showing inspiring examples of unusual effects you can’t get from your regular delay plugin.
Delay and modulation effects are part of the curriculum of Ultimate Mixing and Mastering Program and Next Level Mixing Online Course.
1. Listen to a part of a commercial track before you start mixing….wav, mp3 or spotifiy is fine. not the whole song…just a piece to calibrate your ears
2. Take a 5 minute break for every 45 minutes of mixing….literally stand up and walk around or stretch….leave the room if possible
Don’t turn the volume up and down. Set a comfortable fixed level and leave it there for hours at a time.
3. Work on the kick and make a really good kick sound before proceeding. Build the mix to a good kick sound…even if it changes over the course of the mix.
4. Try to have three mix projects in rotation. Jump between them, rather than sentencing yourself to listening to the same track over and over and over again. Don’t work on the same track for over 4 hours in one session.
5. Add the mix buss limiter only after most of the dynamics have been set on the individual channels. Your mix should look good naked, before the steroids.
6. The mute tool is often more...