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Can someone clarify Daniel Lanois' advice about bouncing?

Member for

21 years
I read this article featuring Daniel Lanois. He mentions the benefits of premixing rhythm guitars, drums, and bass into stereo and then layering the lead sounds to give them more space in the mix.

I'm confused as to why the drums, rhythm guitars and bass should be bounced to stereo before adding lead guitars, vocals, etc.

Also, how is the best way to achieve this? And when should I employ such techniques?

Here is the part in the article:

G.P. What about bouncing?

D.L. It's not a bad thing. People used to mix bass, guitar, and tamborine on one track so they could add a little top to bring out the tambourine or add lows to boost the bass. I encourage premixes, because they make you commit to an overall EQ, and that's when you get great overall equalizations. When you have to EQ every single track by itself, you get lost. But if you have drums, bass, and fundamental guitars mixed to two tracks in stereo, you can come up with a great overall EQ and still have control over the lead instruments and vocals on seperate tracks. It's the same mentality that's used on mastering sessions - you bring in your tape and put it all through an overall program EQ. It's a great technique. Equalizers become more musical when they have lots of information going through them.


Member for

15 years 11 months

RemyRAD Sun, 01/28/2007 - 00:57
Waaaaaaaaahhhhhhh Rickydog! I had a lot of fun doing fully orchestrated "24 track" jingles with just an 8 track MCI and a 2 track MCI back in 1978, with a Yamaha PM 1000, a BX 20 and a couple of 1176's! I want to go back to 1978! Waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!

Oh to be young again
Ms. I. Love Loosely

Member for

19 years 5 months

kooz Sun, 01/28/2007 - 08:24

Yeah, what Davedog said! And Dan L, too...Bouncing, Busing, stem mixing...Pultecs, LA-4s, dbx160s...people should pay more attention to what the gear does rather than what it can't do.

Listen, think, get involved, commit, be creative with what you've got.
Old skool guys like Lanois and Phil Ramone still do it, still make great records that sound great because of these time-honoured principles.

Member for

16 years 7 months

moonbaby Mon, 01/29/2007 - 06:50
Pre-production may not be a lost art YET, but it's what seperated the "men from the boys", so to speak (no offense to Remy). You really had to have a vision of what you wanted the end result to be and then go for it. One advantage of the commitment to the stereo submix was definitely feel. What you laid down and mixed on a Friday afternoon when everyone was up for the gig and the excitement is there and the mix reflected that...that was still there Monday morning when you walked in the door. Too many options at each step of the process can take away from the creativity and focus, IMHO.

Member for

19 years 9 months

Davedog Mon, 01/29/2007 - 08:49
This is a VERY very important thread. And only 371 views!

You kids sitting there with your DAW and a multitude of tracks to use as well as virtual tracks and digital horsepower that allows you so many options on EACH track and yet you still cant get THAT strict attention here.

Kooz hit it right on mentioning stem mixing. For those who dont understand this concept, It goes kinda like this.

Suppose you have a series of tracks you've recorded and you think you're ready to mix down to your stereo, 5.1, 7.1 whatever..........

You've got all kinds of EQ's, compression, effects, in short, a veritable plethora of crap you can add to an already busy busy bunch of tracks.

(Here's an important tip.......NOTHING IS SACRED EXCEPT THE FEEL)

So, you create a couple of subbuses for the backing vocals, backing guitars, drumset, keys,etc.. and you start your mix. Somehow the thing is still scattered and nothing wants to fit together like you were hearing when you were listening to the playbacks off of the headphone mixes.....Did a light just come on? Think about how it sounded when it was raw and only the tones and beats of the actual instruments interacted. Wasnt that exciting? Then you start to work and it all falls apart or becomes bogged down and is losing something....

That Daniel Lanois article is very eye opening. The point of having a single quality EQ to deal with several different instruments at a time will free your mind and ears to the glue that brings a great mix together.

So, instead of subbusing just the individual instruments and there-by basically isolating them from the other instruments they are supposed to be interacting with sonically and rhythmically, put backing guitars with other pieces in the percussive and backing FEEL catagory. EQ that as a subbus and try to build up from there.

This will involve preplanning when you track. It will also involve a serious idea as to where the arrangement is going to go. You dont want things banging around against each other in this scenario. Unless you like chaos.

Build several stems like this. Keep all the separate tracks also. Unmute each as your stems progress. If it sits, great! If it dont, mute button.

Because there are so many options available now due to the equipment, it makes it easier to select from these things. It also makes it harder to choose and choose correctly. By learning about the work methods from the past, time tested and obviously high quality...(those old records still sound GREAT!)...You will be able to increase your ability to create that sound you hear in your head.

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16 years 4 months

CoyoteTrax Mon, 01/29/2007 - 19:42
Davedog wrote: Somehow the thing is still scattered and nothing wants to fit together like you were hearing when you were listening to the playbacks off of the headphone mixes.....Did a light just come on?

Nice one Dave. That's exactly the phrase that should make it all very clear. Brilliant!

Member for

17 years 6 months

Cucco Tue, 01/30/2007 - 07:12
You're absolutely right Dave - this IS an important subject. One that I think EVERYONE should be required to read and try!

FWIW, when I'm doing rock or jazz mixes, I try to limit the maximum track count to 12 tracks. One of the guys that does work in my studio from time to time is proud about the fact that most of his projects approach the 100 track count every time. This is absurd!

My approach - bounce all drums and percussion. Bounce all guitars, bounce all BG vocals, bounce all auxillary instruments by type (if strings and horns, each to their own stereo track, etc.)

It really does force you to think about what effects you're using and why. The "why" I doing this for an effect or am I doing it to "fix" something. If "fixing" could I fix it without an effect? (Mic placement, different mic or pre, or a pre converter effect (analog)

Perhaps all inexpensive/free DAWs should have a maximum number of tracks - I can't ever see the need for more than 24 tracks (unless you're doing some SERIOUS on-location classical like the Berlioz Requiem or something.)

Call me old school or even a jerk...

Member for

21 years

Member Tue, 01/30/2007 - 11:50
Thanks for all of the great replies.

I have a few more questions:

1. I don't have an outbourd EQ. Will applying EQ to the bounced mix from my digital recorder do the trick?

2. Should I add any compression or effects to the submix?

3. How much EQ, compression and effects should I add to the individual tracks prior to bouncing?

Member for

19 years 9 months

Davedog Tue, 01/30/2007 - 12:20
Mockit...In answer to your questions....

1. Yes. Probably. Maybe.

2.You can. Or you dont need to.

3.It depends.

Are you sensing a pattern here? Its a subjective call for you and ONLY you to determine. Its the main reason that the number ONE piece of gear that engineers have is their ears.

Here's a small tip which may or may not help you in your quest. There are no rules. Break every one of them.

Member for

15 years 5 months

BobRogers Sat, 01/27/2007 - 11:14
bouncing was a common technique in the old days when you had a limited number of tracks. If you had a four track, you recorded say the rhythm section on one, two and three and then mixed them together and recorded the mix on track four. You then recorded new tracks on one two and three (destroying the individual rhythm tracks). Now we usually aren't forced do that, but he is saying that it still can have its advantages. He talks about eqing as a group as opposed to individual tracks. The obvious advantages of this are less work and less dsp power needed.

To do it, I'd create a new stereo audio track for the mix, record enable it, send the individual rhythm tracks to a stereo bus (with appropriate pans and levels) and use the bus as the input of the new audio track. Record the stereo track and then mute and hide the individual tracks.

Member for

19 years 5 months

kooz Sat, 02/03/2007 - 09:51
rules: make 'em up as you go along.
your ears and what's between 'em decide whether they work or not.

pretty liberating, huh? once you wrap yourself into this mindset, life gets to be pretty damn fun.

(more people should learn to mix live sound...mono first, then stereo)


Member for

19 years 9 months

Davedog Sat, 01/27/2007 - 16:24
Aaahhhh....back in the day.............

A lot of you have read on these pages the thoughts of some of us 'older' recordists about the decision making processes that were involved when tracks were few and equipment was limited.

You had to be clever.

You had to have some sense of musical arrangement .

You had to have made a decision as to where the music was going and have related with the artist and their vision.

It was a good idea, back then, to be involved in the entire process of tracking, multing, mixing and mastering.

Many, many, many......enough of the manys'....GREAT recordings that have stood the test of time both sonically and musically are still being distributed, admired, copied, questioned, emulated, reality sought out of, etc etc.

Must have been a good idea to work that way......

Donn' u thin Lucy??