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How much 'cleaning up' do you do before passing the song onto the mix engineer?
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A440
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11th March 2011
Old 11th March 2011
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How much 'cleaning up' do you do before passing the song onto the mix engineer?

I'm coming to the end of tracking an album which I will probably send to a mix engineer to mix.

How much 'cleaning up' do you recommend I do before before sending it on?

By 'cleaning up' I mean cutting out noise at the beginning and end of tracks, muting between vocal phrases. That sort of thing.

Or is it best to leave all that sort of stuff in?

I would ask the mix engineer, but havn't decided which one to use yet,
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11th March 2011
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Hi, I have a mix/master engineer I use in Scotland UK from time to time and he doesnt want to clean noises out and told me in so many words, he does it but I feel the cleaner I can cut room noises/breathing out of the mix the better...noise gates work, but can actualy cut out some of the music if not careful...
Quote:
Originally Posted by A440 View Post
I'm coming to the end of tracking an album which I will probably send to a mix engineer to mix.

How much 'cleaning up' do you recommend I do before before sending it on?

By 'cleaning up' I mean cutting out noise at the beginning and end of tracks, muting between vocal phrases. That sort of thing.

Or is it best to leave all that sort of stuff in?

I would ask the mix engineer, but havn't decided which one to use yet,
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11th March 2011
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Depends, do you want your mix engineer being paid to do something you could be doing at home? Just make sure you leave the original tracks with him as well in case you goof something.
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11th March 2011
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One thought is this....

Once you choose a mix engineer, send them the original session, as is, and let them check it out. Then explain what tracks you feel might need "cleaning" etc. Let the mix engineer guide you here.

Because, depending on the situation, a given mix engineer might say, "please leave it alone, as is, I want all the bleed and baloney in there", and he (or she) may say this for one or both of two reasons:

1. Because they actually WANT the bleed and noise there so they can use it strategically in the mix

2. Because they don't trust you to clean it properly, they may fear you will make sloppy chops, bad edits, etc and generally make a mess

Or the mix engineer may have a completely different attitude and indeed WANT things "cleaned". BUT, if you have the engineer do the cleaning, they may ultimately charge more because it's their time. The mix engineer may even suggest that YOU do the cleaning in the name of keeping your cost down, at least if they trust you to actually do the cleaning properly.

But ultimately, it's best that you have the mix engineer assess the session FIRST and then let them guide you as to what should be done.

Having said that, any extra "unpleasant" noise that might exist on tracks, unpleasant clicks, pops, hum, hiss, noises that are not a part of the music etc, it's probably safe to say that you can clean that stuff out as long as you are CONFIDENT with your cleaning skills. Sometimes chopping noise out right before or after an important signal can be tricky, you need to slice it just right and apply the "perfect" fade, otherwise it may sound unnatural or goofy etc. If you're nervous about this, just leave everything alone and let the engineer handle it.

Another thought... you can send the engineer both a "cleaned" version of the session and ALSO a "pre-cleaned" version as well. Instruct the engineer to start working with the "cleaned" version, and that if he comes upon any tracks that have issues DUE to the cleaning, he should just import the track in question from the "pre-cleaned" session and go from there. As well, the mix engineer can just choose to start working in the "pre-cleaned" session if he so desires.

As a mix engineer, one thing I'll say, I very much desire to receive sessions / tracks that are very clean, neat, tidy and organized. If you want to piss off a mix engineer (and make your mix bill higher), give the engineer a chaotic session full of dirty, noisy tracks, poorly labeled, regions all over the place, etc. Sometimes it can take a whole day of tedious, boring work just to get a session into a state where precision mixing can even commence, let alone doing the actual mixing. Cleaning and fixing time can wind up being greater than actual mix time. BUT... if your session is generally clean, neat and well organized, you should be ok.

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11th March 2011
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When I'm sent stuff to mix I expect things to be edited to an extent... I don't really want to be allaigning up 50 guitar sections for every song. Things like vocal takes having noise, breathing between vocal phrases in them is perfectly acceptable. It's eeasy enough to top and tale stuff like that.
I've recently had a lot of clients just sent me their Pro Tools, Logic and Cubase sessions, as well as omfs, which I much prefer and I encourage them to use the built-in EQ on tracks to give a basic inclination into the produced sound that they're going for with individual instruments.

But yeh... I'd say send one track per song per recorded track. Having anything unwanted inbetween is alright as they'll be willing to edit to an extent also.
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11th March 2011
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If you know the mix engineer has an assistant that takes care of all the donkey work and you're not precious about your 'dirty' bits, then just leave it be. Especially if they've heard roughs and not complained about any (obvious) technical deficiencies.

If you're a control freak and on a budget then you might not want to leave any room for error.
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11th March 2011
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As a mix engineer I assume that anything left if the session is music and should be included in the mix. In an ideal world that would be a safe assumption. Usually I do a bit of cleaning once I get an idea of where the song is going.

I would prefer that people clean up the obvious mistakes and clear out any excess noise that would be considered problematic. Things like chair squeaks, counting in, click bleed and amp buzz should be dealt with unless they belong in the song.

I don't like it when people clean up noise between vocal phrases because it's impossible to tell how that will sound until we find a vocal sound we like. Often times getting rid of the noise sounds worse than just leaving it in and dealing with it.
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11th March 2011
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i flat fee mixes but they have to be sent ..labeled correctly..

all parts flown in where they go and parts comped

pitch and timing issues as wanted and ready to mix

all crossfades correct

all unwanted noises out..this does not mean using strip silence on tom parts or other bleed taken out..

IF NOT..there is an hourly fee for PRE MIX cleanuptutt

MIXING means MIXING not pre mix "busy work" any decent assistant could do
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11th March 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jordanvoth View Post
Depends, do you want your mix engineer being paid to do something you could be doing at home? Just make sure you leave the original tracks with him as well in case you goof something.
^ This
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11th March 2011
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Should be 100% cleaned up and exactly as you want it. All tracks should be clearly labeled. Don't have extra playlists or de-activated tracks unless they are needed. If there is a plug-in on a track, print it to a new track. I've received so many messy sessions to mix and you end up spending the first hour just sorting through everything. That's a different part of the brain required to do that and it takes you out of the headspace for mixing. My ideal session has consolidated tracks, no automation, no plug-ins, no extra playlists or unused tracks. In other words, it arrives just like a reel of 2" tape.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Louderock View Post
Should be 100% cleaned up and exactly as you want it. All tracks should be clearly labeled. Don't have extra playlists or de-activated tracks unless they are needed. If there is a plug-in on a track, print it to a new track. I've received so many messy sessions to mix and you end up spending the first hour just sorting through everything. That's a different part of the brain required to do that and it takes you out of the headspace for mixing. My ideal session has consolidated tracks, no automation, no plug-ins, no extra playlists or unused tracks. In other words, it arrives just like a reel of 2" tape.
which is why many times i even tell PT users [like myself] "give me consolidated wave files in a folder".. that way i don't open their session and
have to redo the i/o's and default settings to my own

i import the consolidated files into MY session just like transferring tape
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In the (somewhat rare) event someone else is mixing stuff I've tracked, I'll send the tracks cleaned exactly how I want to hear them. For rootsy stuff this is often minimal, for contemporary and pop stuff I'll take the hatchet to it.
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11th March 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A440 View Post
I'm coming to the end of tracking an album which I will probably send to a mix engineer to mix.

How much 'cleaning up' do you recommend I do before before sending it on?

By 'cleaning up' I mean cutting out noise at the beginning and end of tracks, muting between vocal phrases. That sort of thing.

Or is it best to leave all that sort of stuff in?

I would ask the mix engineer, but havn't decided which one to use yet,
Most of us prefer to have our tracks already consolidated, edited and cleaned which should honestly all be done before mixing. If you don't have a large budget,
I would highly recommend that you clean up the tracks and make sure everything is as you want it, then send it off. I even specify in my FAQ
that I am not an editor, I only make small edits as that's all I should really be required to do as a mix engineer. That's why editing and pitch correction, etc. are done beforehand.
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#14
11th March 2011
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Personally I spend several hours reviewing every single track and editing based on what I want in and what I want out, and making sure all the crossfades are straight. I usually end up making a separate folder of alternates just in case (ie: if I dig an plug I'll put a bypassed version just in case).

There's nothing worse than loading it into someone else's system and realizing you need to go all the way home again... Plus you can walk out with something close to final after a few hours
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12th March 2011
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just don't cut out when the singer breathes in before singing..
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12th March 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Alvin View Post
I don't like it when people clean up noise between vocal phrases because it's impossible to tell how that will sound until we find a vocal sound we like. Often times getting rid of the noise sounds worse than just leaving it in and dealing with it.
As a fellow audio engineer I would have to concur. Cutting breathes and sounds between vocals at the client level can often times cause more issues than not.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnthonyRochester View Post
just don't cut out when the singer breathes in before singing..
lmao, when I started my venture doing this stuff I used to take out every friggin breath. Now, only like 5% of the time since I understand how breaths
can be used.

Good thing school was a place I was allowed to make those sorts of mistakes
and discoveries.
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12th March 2011
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Many thanks for all the answers.

It seems that the predominant opinion is that cleaning up is a good idea. So, I think I will spend time cleaning up without getting too obsessive about it. Personally I prefer to hear the breaths too, so no worries, I won't be cutting those out.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A440 View Post
I'm coming to the end of tracking an album which I will probably send to a mix engineer to mix.

How much 'cleaning up' do you recommend I do before before sending it on?

By 'cleaning up' I mean cutting out noise at the beginning and end of tracks, muting between vocal phrases. That sort of thing.

Or is it best to leave all that sort of stuff in?

I would ask the mix engineer, but havn't decided which one to use yet,

If I`m sending tracks off to a mixer, I leave everything in there that I want him to use including breaths, track noise (if I know I want to use it). Otherwise, everything else comes off
.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A440 View Post
Many thanks for all the answers.

It seems that the predominant opinion is that cleaning up is a good idea. So, I think I will spend time cleaning up without getting too obsessive about it. Personally I prefer to hear the breaths too, so no worries, I won't be cutting those out.

Listen to the vocals with breathes in and a version with them cut out. With the music going, you`ll hardly be able to hear the breathes but they are there and there is something human/organic/more pleasurable leaving them in.

The only time I`ll take breathes out is when they distract but a normal breath actually makes the music feel good.
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12th March 2011
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just take the obvious stuff out & leave the obvious stuff in...
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12th March 2011
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So how exactly do you guys go at this process of cleaning up? I mean... you use a gate, but do you also use like Waves X noise for example to eliminate the noise?
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I clean everything manually. it's more time consuming but much more accurate. I suppose on certain things you could use trim silence in PT but it doesn't do as good of
a job as taking things out by hand.

Again, gating (at least for me) is done manually. It sounds better, is more effective at
getting rid of noise and you can control the decay a bit more precisely via fades.

I have used Z-noise on a few tracks, mostly acoustic ones on some older stuff I recorded due to mistakes.
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manual clean up here... plus i punch in and out or mute mikes like on tape years ago so the clean up on tracks i do is minimal... engineers who didn't mute mics or punch in and out during sections [like backgrounds or strings etc.] were considered hacks in my day
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gotcha. thanks. I was hoping someone would speak out about automatic gating versus manual gating. I noticed the tedious manual work of fader-work generates far better results than with auto gates.

I hate the noise my recordings have instilled in them.
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if you set gates correctly they work great ..even better sometime than cutting out stuff


6-9 db of downward expansion on toms tracks is a lot better than manual cutting and batch fading

plus if you ever watched andy johns, tony bongiovi or shelly yakus TRACK they ride things like toms up when the musician goes to them and then back down.. like a human downward expander LOLZ!
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12th March 2011
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Honestly I think auto gates suck. I never ever use them. I'm glad this isn't about
automation :P. my least favorite part of mixing. -shudders- lmao

I'll have to try that out Sigma.
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I read somewhere that allowing gentle noise in the tracks makes for some choesion , 'glue' if you like - between the tracks. muting here and there, at least i can imagine, lessens the glue if done too extreme. opinions?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gearowner View Post
I read somewhere that allowing gentle noise in the tracks makes for some choesion , 'glue' if you like - between the tracks. muting here and there, at least i can imagine, lessens the glue if done too extreme. opinions?
It can, when it comes to that though, that's all about room noise/room
verb decay time really. I would say it works best in folk/some acoustic type stuff where just a wee bit of lo-finess can give it that
oldie feeling.

I tend to get rid of 99% of noise though. A clean track is a happy track .
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