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Pre or Post fader.

disclaimer: this is for the benefit of my H.S. audio recording class when they get back from Christmas break. Your feedback is greatly appreciated! 8-)

Just a quick survey to see what you guys use for mixing and tracking and why.

Also when you are mixing the drum tracks which has say 5-7 independent tracks (for snare, toms, kick, OH etc. etc.) do you...

A. Solo each track and make each one sound "good" then mix them all together with some tweaking?


B. Have all the tracks play together and mix?



moonbaby Mon, 01/08/2007 - 09:52
Hi, Remy:
Sorry about the delay, I was out this past weekend and just checked this site. Anyway, you go to the "I/O" page, shift 2. Then you can assign the effects to fader strips. I use 29 &30 and 31&32 for the (2) stereo returns. Just like your Neves, but on a TV screen instead of a sea of knobs. See?Sea? Si !!!

jonyoung Thu, 01/04/2007 - 13:07
Regarding mix technique for drums.......I throw all tracks up from the start (as in everything in the mix) and get as good a mix without any processing at all and go from there. I used to do the a la carte approach with drums, but they call it mixing for a reason, and my results and time element for a mix are much better with my current approach. I also tend to print tracks clean, no EQ or compression unless it's unavoidable, so I have more options on the mix end.

moonbaby Thu, 01/04/2007 - 14:16
I solo the individual drum mics to check for the usual anomalies like buzzes, squeaks, rattles, passed-out-drummer's-head-on-snare-drum, stuff like that. Then I listen to the whole conflagration as a "drum mix", for starters. Then how the kit "sits" in the mix with the other instruments.

As far as tracking is concerned, I personally prefer to route each channels source through the fader (post) WHEN POSSIBLE. This is possible, of course, when sub-grouping to the recorder. IF I am routing the channels individually to seperate tracks via the channel direct out (or insert point) this may not be available post-fader, depends on the board.
The reason that I like to run the channel through the fader is that I can "ride" the gain on the source, watching the performer(s) and meter(s).
Why? Because old geezers like me think they're better at that than many "automatic" dynamics processors out there. Not many dbx units can see a vocalist tossing back their head preparing to cut loose as fast as I can pull the fader down a bit. I will point to Mr. Elliot Scheiner in a MIX interview in 2002/3 regarding that one. Ran across it the other day, in fact.
Now, when you are using an inline console, and running the mic pre directly out to the recorder, you will pretty much be "flipping" the track to the monitor mix and THAT will be what's going through the faders. Many engineers (and especially producers who like to mess with the board) will use the faders to set up the Control Room/Headphones' Mix, rendering the tracking to "pre-fader". To each his own.

RemyRAD Thu, 01/04/2007 - 15:35
Having such a smorgasbord of choices in the hybrid analog/digital world, my personal preferences are to track pre-fader mike preamp through equalizer's, through compressor/limiter, post fader out of the limiter to the input of the multitrack machine du jour. While monitoring the output of the multitrack machine. And following through with overdubs, etc..

Then I'll either mix it down through the analog desk.


Mix it in the computer box.


Do my slipping and sliding, pitch correction and other DSP in the box. Feed it out of the box with its multitrack output to the analog console input and mix through the analog console to a digital mix down recorder of your choice.

There is no single correct way. It is all highly individualized requiring years of practice, knowledge and talent for the craft. You can do the same thing twice the same way. Or you can do it differently each and every time never exhausting your desire to experiment with sound. (cue spooky music with sting sustain)

Old geezer girl
Ms. Remy Ann David

hueseph Thu, 01/04/2007 - 15:43
Okay. I'm th oddball out. I'm also the least experienced. It just makes sense to me to track pre fader and mix post. If you track post, aren't you pretty well stuck with the adjustments you make post fader if you track that way? Isn't tracking post fader adding an un-necessary gain stage?

Maybe it's my analog mentality but I always thought, "get the hottest possible signal to tape and you can always turn down the faders when you mix". Am I missing something here. I'm not being smug. I just want to know why track post fader?

RemyRAD Thu, 01/04/2007 - 15:58
Well let's see hueseph? Why do some people like myself track post fader, with equalization, compression and all that stuff? Partially because I have done so much work for live radio and television broadcast. I get one shot at getting it right the first time. You don't get a chance to "fix it in the mix" except for CD release.

I know what I like to hear and I will tweak all the knobs until I get it. Why should I want to undo something that I want it to be? Life is a series of risks. I love to print the multitrack as I hear it post fader. It's fun to live dangerously. That's why I drive a motorcycle for over 30 years and still live. If somebody wants to modify what I have tracked, it will already sound good and be easier to modify. You would only want to undo something if it wasn't done correctly to begin with, which is not my style. If it sounds great, you would say "this sounds great!" Not, "what kind of equalization and compression/limiting did you use on this to make it sound great so that I can undo this and make it sound like crap again?" Right?

Besides, I've paid a lot of money for all of these knobs and dials and I want to play with all of them.

Refreshingly relaxed now
Ms. Remy Ann David

natural Thu, 01/04/2007 - 20:28
I'm not sure I even understand the options.
How does one mix prefader?

-I can understand tracking prefader. The only reason to do this would be if you're in an uncomfortable environment and not sure of what you're hearing.
Other than that , you're just wasting the clients money. Because you're just sitting there watching the audio go in, it will now take you twice as long to do the project. ( I guess this is good if you get paid by the hour) RemyRad is correct on this. You can make general adjustments at this stage, that will make your life (or the mix engineer life) easier later on.
- Mixing is like sculpting or making a cake. You solo tracks to make highly detailed adjustments. You make sure all your elements (ingredients) are of the highest quality.
You then step back and blend it all together. (like Moonbaby said) For this you might use different tools. Then you might go back and solo again to fine tune and tweek some more with your finest sculpting tool.
It's never one way or the other. It's all of it.
If you're using a DAW you never just mix with the waveform only zoomed out or only zoomed in. You're always going back and forth. This is how an artist works.

hueseph Thu, 01/04/2007 - 23:14
I had to ask... Somebody's gotta ask. I guess I'm just not that comfortable with my ability. I like to be able to back up as far as possible if I mess it up. Then again...I suppose getting it right the first time is a rule to live by.

(I just noticed 2 for tracking pre! Woo Hoo! I'm not alone. I don't know if that's good or bad)

Davedog Wed, 01/10/2007 - 13:10

Here's whut I do. Sometimes. Often. Occasionally....

Tracking levels are determined by my input gains. I have a Ghost. You can add the EQ at this point and a couple of the Aux's will let you add some verb/delay/whatever at this point. For the benefit of you must be aware that the in and out gains on these outboard items will gain your inputs to the recorder. I use the 'B' mix as my headphone sends, so I can add things to the phones (I ALWAYS tell em that the reverb is BROKEN so the mix in the phones will only be dry...sorry)....Theres a reason for that which we dont need to get into here.

I always track flat and dry because I want some discrimination in my choices at mix. When I had the 8 track this was a little harder and required some serious thinking about choices. Funny how those recordings have held up to this day....Anyhooo...
This would be tracking pre-fader.

Mixing is post fader as you want all the options of the channel routing available at this time. This is more of an analog thing since in digital programs I've used , you can build all kinds of sub-mixes, stereo sub-masters, rout everything to one frikin knob if you want....side-chain compressors, pre-delay the hell outta stuff, send the drum parts out to be washed and waxed at another facility and stream them back to your mix with little delay......

Its way too easy for you snotty kids these days......sheeesh.

next question. :wink:

The drums, for me, start with the fundamental...the kick and snare. I will solo these at first to get a relative idea of the 'lack' each may; tone,impact,overs,unders,size...etc. These things all matter later.

So with the kick solo'd, I search out its faults and correct them to a point.I do NOT spend a lot of time agonizing at this time......thats for later. I will then add bass guitar and try to effect its EQ and compression at this time. I'm seaching for the compatibility between the two and I'm looking for the 'LOCK' of the two. When I have a basic here, I add the snare. Usually dry though I have a Aphex Compellor patched into this track that'll get used. I doubt I can unpatch this unit, its been there for so long, without damage to the patchbay. When these all get in a groove thats not colliding with each other in any way, then I'm ready to find some tom work and simply solo these up and set the tones I want to hear. This can change at the mix but I'm usually close. Then I play all of it together and put this through a compressor across the bus its assigned to. I play with the overheads on another bus and this time looking for 'air' and realism in the cymbals. If my placement at tracking was correct, then this is a simple task. If not then we're screwed and surgery is scheduled.

Hope this helps.

moonbaby Fri, 01/05/2007 - 08:42
What a smorgasbord, eh!!!
I use the fader when I can as kind of a "human peak limiter", that's all.
"The eye-and-hand that's quicker than the rms-detecting VCA", so to speak!!
Mixing "pre-fader" is possible, certainly not preferred. God knows there's some dude out there who trims all the faders at the same setting and then uses the input trims to set the relative balances, but...

RemyRAD Fri, 01/05/2007 - 12:09
Well moonbaby, recently I had to track a live 24 track session through a TASCAM M2600 analog console. Probably my least favorite!

Because of the peculiar operation of this Japanese imitation in-line console with " Flip" buttons that aren't the Flip buttons you find on American and British in-line consoles, you must track " Post linear fader" you do however have the choice of tracking with or bypassing the simply horrible equalizer's.

Because the microphone preamps have lousy headroom, I crammed all of the linear fader's all the way to the top of their excursion. I.e. balls to the wall. Well everybody was quite confused when they saw it and heard playback? They couldn't understand how it could sound so good with all of the faders turned all of the way up, without any variations?? I told them only I know how to do this! And then I told them it was to gain an extra 10 to 12 DB headroom from the microphone preamps while tracking to the Alesis HD 24. Tracking levels were then trimmed by the microphone gain trim controls, along with the monitoring. We ended up with proper levels on the multitrack machine and a nice monitor mix in the process with headroom you don't hear out of a TASCAM piece of stuff. Even though this makes the signal-to-noise ratios suffer, it doesn't suffer much with loud signal sources such as guitars, drums and screaming vocals.

People just don't understand that the biggest sound difference between a high $ quality console and a bargain beginner console is the headroom difference. So by running microphone gain trims low and your output drivers a little harder, you buy headroom. And so the confusion with " DU track pre-Fader or post Fader" is indicative of experience with crappy Japanese consoles.

It's not your mother's console anymore it's from Taiwan
Ms. Remy Ann David

JoeH Fri, 01/05/2007 - 13:25
I view "Tracking" and mixing as two separate disciplines, so 99% of the time, I track pre EQ, Pre Fader, unless there's no other option, or I'm doing some kind of on-the-fly mix.

I will also make sure I do as much organic pre-processing as possible without harming the raw sound, which might include a little LF rolloff, mic placement, etc., or a tiny bit of limiting, but never very much. Mainly, I want all options available (including ALL of the sound) for when it's time to mix it.

I hate the idea of remixing something again someday, esp once it's "Finished" but I'd never erase the original raw tracks, either. Having them still sitting around in their pure form somewhere for who-knows-what kind of remix someday is always in the back of my mind.

moonbaby Fri, 01/05/2007 - 13:26
I hear ya, baby! I have never liked the sound of Tascams, and headroom is a major reason why. I had their first model...the Model Ten, with these faders that were operating fishing line pulleys (like old tuners' tuning knobs) under the hood. I couldn't believe the sonic difference when we went to a RAMSA. No wonder Greg Mackie creamed them at their own game...I am currently cursed with a pair of DM24's that, while the operation and features are OK, the mic pre's SUCK because there is no taper to the trim pot. You have to crank them 'way up, to get a decent level on, say, a 57, and then they "jump" right near the end of the travel...real pro gear,eh?

RemyRAD Fri, 01/05/2007 - 14:50
So you have a pair of those digital DM 24's?? That small studio that I have been doing some work for with the 2600 series board and the HD 24, recently, with the Antere's and TC works effects package, just got a DM 24. I haven't used the microphone preamps but operationally, it's a pretty cool desk. I'm just having problems trying to figure out the routing so that I can use the internal reverb and other DSP effects and can't figure out how? I'm sending out from individual channels auxiliary sends one through six but can't for the life of me figure out the return path to the stereo effects return bus to the stereo mix? The manual is almost incomprehensible. It's been quite intuitive with the compression, limiting and gating. Some grouping almost makes sense. I just can't get a reverb out of the f*&Kin' box! Of course this sounds like something for a new thread or a personal e-mail, maybe a nice hot cup of tea, a tranquilizer, the Glenlimit??

Finally admitting... I feel stupid
Ms. Remy Ann David