Mixing protocol suggestions?

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by pingonedown, Feb 24, 2006.

  1. pingonedown

    pingonedown Guest

    I am mixing some of my recordings using pro tools. I was wondering if anyone had any standard rule of thumb. Is it best to pan everything first. then adjust volume. When adding effects such eq, compression, delay is there an order that works best? I am very new to mixing. I spend an hour mixing then bounce to my hard drive, burn it to a cd. It sounds terrible. I know there's an art to it.

    Just asking what you do when you start with an unmixed recording. from start to finish.
  2. amishsixstringer

    amishsixstringer Member

    Feb 22, 2006
    Holy cow. There are books written on this type of thing. Everyone has their own style and methods. It's sort of up to you to develop your own thing. Practice a lot! Mix stuff others have recorded even, if you have tracks availible.

    I usually start with the kick drum and make it what i want in the song and form the mix around it. I usually only pan things that were recorded in true stereo first (overheads/rooms etc) and try to mix a lot in mono.

    After the kick is in there, I tailor the bass guitar to that. Only one of them can be big and fat or you won't hear either of them really. I throw the snare or guitars up next, depending. Get the guitars to be descrete from the bass guitar. Then the snare has to mix well with the guitar, so they both sound snappy and punchy. (To get to this point could take longer than the hour that you previously spend mixing)

    If you have more than one guitar, solo the two with the bass and mix them in mono, trying to use opposing eq (if you boost 3K on one guitar, cut it on the other etc) and make all of the tracks distinguished in mono, then pan the guitars a bit...maybe 75% left/right?

    I often set up 2 reverb sends for the drums next. I make one a short plate (attack) reverb about .5 seconds long with no predelay, and another with about 1.5 seconds of tail with a 15-30ms predelay (to make room for the attack plate) using a hall reverb of choice. Now solo the snare drum. I usually bring up the reverb send on each until you can JUST start to hear the reverb. Later when you have the whole mix going, bring the sends up until you can hear the verb on the snare in the mix. Somewhere between your previous setting and your new setting in the mix is where you want to be.

    After that, I start soloing the entire drum kit together and bring up the overheads until you hear the snare drum get louder. That's a good spot to start. Put a similar amount of reverb on the toms and overheads to simulate that the drum kit is in the same room and not all over the place. Sometimes even put a tiny bit of attack verb on the kick drum, so it doesn't feel like it is in your lap.

    I'm not even going to get into vocal mixing, because it's a book of its own, but just keep practicing and trying things that are outside the box. Nobody wants to hear the same record over and over again...wait yes they do. I mean outside of the top 40, nobody wants to.

    Good luck and keep at it! Protools is a wonderful tool.
  3. Spookym15

    Spookym15 Guest

    always check your mixes in mono to make sure it sounds good.
  4. BigTrey

    BigTrey Active Member

    Mar 22, 2005
    Grandville, Michigan
    Home Page:

    I do all of my mixing using protools and it's true you have to find your own way of how you like to mix because everybody does it differently. What I usually do is turn my master fader up to 0.0dB and mix every turn every other fader down until my ears "hear" something change, if it sounds good then I go with it if it doesn't then I keep going until I get it right. I usually have the music on one track straight up the center, with each of the vocals on seperate tracks. This is my mixing board layout for Protools:

    1 - stereo track for my instrumental/music
    16 - mono tracks for vocals, sound effects, etc.
    3 - aux inputs; one for my EQ, one for compressor, and one for any other plug-in I might want to use.
    1 - master fader

    I usually start with the master fader set to unity (0.0dB), and mix the other faders down, I NEVER put the master fader down until I have a mix that I am satisfied with, then I usually set the master fader to -2.5dB for the Mastering Engineer. I have the vocals going to the two aux inputs that have the compressor and EQ. Try starting your mix with no effects and get everything mixed down until it satisfies your ears and what you want to hear. Then start mixing your buses (or sends) until $*^t pops out a little more. That's just what I do, you might find your own techniques and a way you like to work. I haven't been doing music that long, so there are a lot more people in RO that have way more experience than I do, but that's what I learned to do for myself over the past year. If you want to check out one of my latest mixes follow this link http://www.audiostreet.net/battlegroundrecordz. Check out the song I'm Wit That, since it is my latest mix, maybe that will give you an idea of how you want to start your own mixes or how you want your own mixes to sound. But the best advice I can give is to practice, practice, practice that's the only sure way that you are going to figure out the way you like to work best. It took me a year to finally realize that I had my own style of mixing and that just dawned on me last week, but all of the hours that I put in with Protools is starting to pay off. Hope this helps.

    Big Trey ~ CEO/Battleground Recordz
  5. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    There's an excellent story somewhat related to this topic in this months' EM Magazine; FEb. 2006. It's a fairly in depth look at analog summing vs. DAW (in the box) and what the differences are like to some folks. (Hint: It's not going to answer your questions about which is "Better", but it's good food for thought, and will help you decide on your workflow, if not clear up a few issues and misconceptions.)

    Definitely required reading for anyone who does either or both.

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