#1
It has been recently brought to my attention that my mixing method may be pretty bad. Below is the question that sparked me to outline it, and my outline.
Quote by chatterbox272
Quote by axemanchris
@chatterbox - 80 tracks and 100 plugins?! What the hell are you recording? The next Def Leppard album? But really.... holy crap. That's not 80 separate tracks of audio is it? I can see how a 24-track project can quickly get upwards to 40 tracks once you factor in aux buses for drums, an aux bus for your main reverb, a couple more aux buses for parallel compression, and then your rhythm tracks assigned to a group track, etc. But 80 actual tracks... what are you doing?

And how do you find room in a mix for 80 tracks without them all stepping on each other and choking each other out? (yeah, I'm assuming you'll have some double-tracking, and some other things like layers and stuff... but 80 tracks... I can't imagine.)

CT


A Mayday Parade cover I got of Ultimate Metal actually. I'm in REAPER so all my folders, busses, etc. I just call tracks but I'll break it down.
01 Reverb Master
--02 Ambience (a fairly small room reverb)
--03 Room (a larger reverb)
04 Vocal Master
--05 Verse Vocals Master
----06 Verse Vocals 1
----07 Verse Vocals 2
--08 Chorus Vocals Master
----09 Chorus Vocals 1
----10 Chorus Vocals 2
--11 Verse Harmonies Master
----12 Verse Harmonies 1
----13 Verse Harmonies 2
--14 Chorus Harmonies Master
----15 Chorus Harmonies 1
----16 Chorus Harmonies 2
--17 Chorus HIGH Harmonies Master
----18 Chorus HIGH Harmonies 1
----19 Chorus HIGH Harmonies 2
--20 Chorus Woah
----21 Chorus Woah Right
----22 Chorus Woah Left
--23 Call and Answer Vocals
24 Guitar Master
--25 Acoustics Master
----26 Acoustic 1
----27 Acoustic 2
--28 Lead Master
----29 Lead 1
----30 Lead 2
--31 Clean Master
----32 Clean Guitar 1
----33 Clean Guitar 2
----34 Clean Guitar 2nd Verse Harmony
--35 Chorus Octaves Master
----36 Chorus Octaves Left
----37 Chorus Octaves Right
--38 Rhythm Guitars Master
----39 Rhythm Guitars Left Master
------40 Rhythm Guitar Left Main
------41 Rhythm Guitar Left Double
----42 Rhythm Guitars Right Master
------43 Rhythm Guitars Right Main
------44 Rhythm Guitars Right Double
45 Bass Guitar Master
--46 Bass Clean Low End
--47 Bass Dirty Midrange
48 Drum Kit Master (This is mostly bounced SD2.0)
--49 Hats/Overheads
----50 Hi Hats
----51 Overhead bleed
----52 Overhead Crash 1
----53 Overhead Crash 2
----54 Overhead Ride
--55 Toms
----56 Mounted Tom 1
----57 Mounted Tom 2
----58 Mounted Tom 3
----59 Floor Tom 1
----60 Floor Tom 2
--61 Snare Drum
----62 Snare Reverb
----63 Snare Bottom
----64 Distorted Snare
----65 1176 Snare (or at least that's what I believe SD's SnareFX track is)
----66 Snare Top
----67 Sampled Snare 1
----68 Sampled Snare 2
--69 Kick Drum
----70 Internal Mic Clicky
----71 Internal Mic Lows
----72 Subkick
----73 Sampled Kick
--74 Ambience
----75 Brauner Ambience
----76 Bullet Ambience
----77 Far Ambience
----78 Middle Ambience
----79 Near Ambience
--80 Drum Sample Host

Usually I wouldn't split the overheads but I thought I'd try it this time so I did (and ended up foldering it all and treating it like 1 stereo track anyway). It doesn't seem quite as ridiculous when you look at it and see things like 32 being drum tracks, and every vocal part being split into two tracks and foldered under a third.
I rendered out all the amp sims except the 2nd verse clean guitar, so most of the effects are just instances of ReaEQ, and Audiocation AC1.

It's probably just that I like to have everything nice, neat, and organised in my DAW so I folder everything. That way when I say the drums need to be louder I go to the drum master and turn it up, or when someone tells me the verse vocals are very nasal sounding (this actually happened) I can EQ out some 1kHz on those.

Here's a link to the final (as of now) mix/master of it if you want to hear how 80 tracks fits in a mix (or if you feel kind enough to give me feedback): https://soundcloud.com/brad-ezard/when-you-see-my-friends-v2-5
A bunch of my previous mixes of the same tracks are there too, it was pretty hard to work with when I started it but after a week and a half of back and forthing between people for crit, and adjusting and tweaking it started to be a bit more manageable.



from the response I got from that I think the following explanation should be added:
The vocal track folders are all there because each part has two takes that alternate which lines they sing. I foldered them and treated them as a single track. E.g. I applied effects to "Verse Vocals Master" rather than "Verse Vocals 1" and Verse Vocals 2" individually, because they are the same part.

The only processing on the guitars is actually on the respective "Master" track for each part, and on the overall master for the guitars (that's "Rhythm Guitars Master" for the rhythms, not the individual left and right masters). I pre-rendered the amp sims on the guitar tracks.

I foldered the clean and dirty bass tracks to run through a single compressor, surely that's not bad?

The overheads are foldered because I didn't want to treat them separately, so I volume balanced them and processed them like I would a stereo overhead track like SD2 would usually give me. The Hi-Hats are there because I like to treat them the same as I do overheads, so I put them under the folder for efficiency (only 1 instance of the plugins rather than 2).

All the Tom processing is done on the "Toms" master track, the only thing I did to the individual tracks was pan them.

The snare tracks only have EQ on them, except for a gate and distortion on the distorted snare (hence distorted snare. And I use the same gate to trigger my samples) and reverb + compressor on the reverb track. the rest is done on the "Snare Drum" track. it's probably a bit overprocessed but not horribly so.

Kick drum is split into clicky and lows because I don't have a multiband compressor I like, so I split the bands up manually so I can compress the lows while leaving the click untouched until they go through a common compressor on the Kick master track. The only effect on the Subkick is a gate with the wet at -inf and the dry at 0.0 I use to trigger the sample.

Ambience has no processing except a single compressor on the ambience master track.

Sample host doesn't have a master send, it just sends the appropriate samples to the appropriate track elsewhere in the mix.


And so comes the question, is there anything inherently wrong with mixing with lots of folder tracks? why? how do you guys group your tracks? (I'd love to see how you guys would handle this set of multitracks, they're here if you want to try ).
Last edited by chatterbox272 at Mar 31, 2013,
#3
If you actually use all the tracks (5 tracks of ambience for a pop punk bank? Really? ), I see nothing inherently wrong with the way you're mixing, as long as you're watching the levels and setting them accordingly, or you're probably going to end up with a way too hot signal.

PS: The drums are the weakest point of your mix, imo. They stink of Superior, especially the snare.
Last edited by xFilth at Mar 31, 2013,
#5
Will take a proper look later when not on my phone, but I think Chris was getting at it being easy to get lost or confused if you have stuff hidden in folders everywhere and might slow down your workflow. I only skimread though.


Roaraudio, please don't post if you're not going to contribute to a thread, it's just frustrating for the person asking and this isn't The Pit; most of us are mature and want to have a decent discussion about things.
Hey, look. Sigs are back.
#6
Chris wasn't the one who pointed it out really, I only quoted him to give some context to what I was saying. It was actually Xiaoxi who said it was a bad way to do it, something about how it would be processed like that.
I know the drums are a weak point, I have very little idea on how to go about things with them but I really want to learn how to mix Superior instead of getting something more pre-processed like SSD.
#7
There's nothing wrong in the way that things are processed in this approach, as long as you keep an eye on the levels going in and out of each track/bus. Like, aiming for -18db or -12db is not as crucial as in the days of analog, but it's still good practice.
#8
It seems your are lumping things together... A distorted bass track with a cleaner bass track are sonically different. Hi hat and overheads are also sonically different.
That said if your Listening and it sounds good what question your workflow?
#9
Gotta quickly step out, but here are my first impressions - just on technique, not the track, as I am on a computer with no sound right now.

When you justify your methodology for why you have more than one thing going to a group, it all makes sense to me. Though, personally, my OCD isn't so bad as to allow me to do things like manually splitting up kick drums so I can treat/process highs and lows individually. Mind you, as I think about it, your way might be easier than what I tend to do when I can't dial in a drum sound I can live with - sample replacement.

However... it seems that you have practically *everything* doubled. To me, that doesn't leave much room for much in a mix. Spaciousness in a mix is often achieved by leaving space around each part to let it breathe on its own, rather than suffocating the whole project. I'm thinking of the Nevermind album, for instance. It sounds huge because each part lives in its own space and has room to breathe.

So, you downloaded this zip file from ultimatemetal.... How many tracks were there in that? From a recording standpoint, I'm looking at things like four overhead tracks... OH1, OH2, crash, ride and hats. Okay, fine, since the drums were programmed. I can't imagine miking this way, though. But then, you've got 6-7 tracks of just snare drum. Holy hell. Was there not a sample that sounded good anywhere? I mean "snare top" and "snare bottom" is nice when you have the resources to record that way.... but weren't these programmed drums? There was a lot of talk on the ultimatemetal thread about the drum midi.

My workflow is really not unlike yours at all. I like to be organized too. I'll create a folder for drums, and maybe a folder for guitars if there are a bunch, and maybe even for vocals if there are a bunch - or maybe just backing vocals, but keep the lead vocal in its own space. But in Cubase, a folder does not take up a track. It just organizes your workspace so you don't have to scroll through a dozen or so drum tracks when you're not working on drums. That kind of thing.

I'll also create a folder later for any "not using this track, I don't think" tracks. Just to keep them out of my hair.

I'll also organize my workspace with drums at the top, then bass, then guitars, keys, lead vocal, backing vocals, and then any other incidentals - shakers, samples, etc.

Subgroups really start to depend on the project, but I'll practically always have a subgroup for drums where they'll be sent to a reverb aux and some "finishing" compression will be added, but the overheads often don't get grouped there. They usually go to the master, because I generally don't compress overheads. If I'm adding reverb there, I won't run the kick to the drum group because I don't like reverb on the kick. So, in essence, my drum group winds up being snare and toms. haha.

I'll almost always create a subgroup for backing vocals because trying to control them all one at a time is a real bugger, and I often like to compress the crap out of them, so I can do that all at once in a group rather than running, say, 8 different compressors.

Gotta go for now. This should be an interesting discussion, though.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#10
Quote by axemanchris
However... it seems that you have practically *everything* doubled. To me, that doesn't leave much room for much in a mix. Spaciousness in a mix is often achieved by leaving space around each part to let it breathe on its own, rather than suffocating the whole project. I'm thinking of the Nevermind album, for instance. It sounds huge because each part lives in its own space and has room to breathe.

I probably didn't need to use the rhythm guitar double tracks. I tend to try to use everything I'm given, because I figure it wouldn't have been recorded if it wasn't wanted in the mix. There's a couple of snare samples and a kick sample mixed in, but otherwise there's just the doubles to give the rhythm and clean guitars (which alternate chorus and verse respectively) stereo width.

Quote by axemanchris
So, you downloaded this zip file from ultimatemetal.... How many tracks were there in that? From a recording standpoint, I'm looking at things like four overhead tracks... OH1, OH2, crash, ride and hats. Okay, fine, since the drums were programmed. I can't imagine miking this way, though. But then, you've got 6-7 tracks of just snare drum. Holy hell. Was there not a sample that sounded good anywhere? I mean "snare top" and "snare bottom" is nice when you have the resources to record that way.... but weren't these programmed drums? There was a lot of talk on the ultimatemetal thread about the drum midi.

Everything I used except the drums which were superior. I bounced superior and as I said I usually wouldn't split the overhead out, I wanted to see what the option did. I didn't see any point in re-bouncing the tracks so I just balanced the volumes and panned them correctly, then used the overhead master track like I would normally. I suck at snares, I really do and I probably (scratch that, definitely) over processed that. Superior puts out snare top, snare bottom, and a compressed snare.

I'll point out that the zip contains 27 tracks, plus the MIDI for drums (which blew out to 20 tracks). So I have just under 1 other track for every audio track.
#11
Kinda thinking as I type here... (moved some tracks out of the numbering order to reflect how I would arrange them in my DAW for ease of mixing later)

03 Harmony 1
04 Harmony 2
05 High Harmony 1
06 High Harmony 2
07 Whoa1
08 Whoa 2
09 Call and answer vocals
12 Acoustic guitar
13 Lead guitar
14 Clean guitar
15 Clean guitar harmony
16 Chorus guitar
17 Rhythm gtr 1 L
18 Rhythm gtr 1 R
19 Rhythm gtr 2 L
20 Rhythm gtr 2 R
26 hats
27 crash
28 ride
29 tom 1
30 tom 2
31 tom 3
32 floor 1
33 floor 2
34 snare top
35 snare bottom
36 kick
37 kick sub
--38/39 stereo drum group
24 OHL
25 OHR
23 Bass gtr
--21/22 Guitar stereo group
01 Lead Vocal 1
02 Lead Vocal 2
--10/11 Backing Vocal Stereo Group
--40/41 stereo reverb bus

And obviously, I might add a couple more buses for whatever once I got into the mix, but this is where I'd start. I wouldn't see it bloating up to any more than 48 tracks, though.

I'm not sure what all the so-called "ambience" tracks are.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
Last edited by axemanchris at Mar 31, 2013,
#12
Quote by chatterbox272
I probably didn't need to use the rhythm guitar double tracks. I tend to try to use everything I'm given, because I figure it wouldn't have been recorded if it wasn't wanted in the mix. There's a couple of snare samples and a kick sample mixed in, but otherwise there's just the doubles to give the rhythm and clean guitars (which alternate chorus and verse respectively) stereo width.


Mostly fair enough. However, I've recorded tracks that I thought I wanted and found later, actually found themselves fighting for space in a mix, so needed to be killed off later. File that under "it seemed like a good idea at the time." Right along with those quad-tracked lead guitars.

That said, sometimes it is advantageous to put something like, say, a three note guitar fill on it's own track. It's not really a unique part... it's just a "decoration" of sorts and doesn't warrant or require the same treatment you'd give to the lead guitar that might be on another track.

Or I'll create a new track and cut/paste between two tracks rather than fiddle around with excessive automation. Sometimes that's just easier.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#13
Again, the issue here is that your organization, while you think is more organized because it separates more parameters, is actually counterproductive to your control. And as you've explained that you don't know how to mix the sample drums, it's another detail that shows you have gaps in your fundamental techniques.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71Wzh4a-Ohs

...modes and scales are still useless.


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Last edited by Xiaoxi at Mar 31, 2013,
#14
^ I pretty much do the same as what he's doing there, except instead of bouncing tracks out I just folder them so I can save disk space.
And my lack of knowledge on mixing drums hardly affects the rest of my mixing. I could go get SSD or EZD which are heavily pre-processed and I'd be able to mix them just fine, I just want to learn how to get the right sound out of something a bid more raw like SD.
#15
Wow, I thought I was getting bad when I nearly hit 50 in a session. Though obviously a lot of this could be reduced. Still, if it works & you can mix it well, I see no problem. I think I remember Chris Lord-Alge saying something about him starting to hate modern music because sessions are into the 100+ track range and he's gotta route everything so he can mix it on his 48-Channel SSL Console.
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