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building a mix: what's your flow?
Old 25th July 2005
  #1
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

building a mix: what's your flow?

once upon a time i used to start with drums and bass, then add in the primary elements and get the music rocking, then work the vocal in.

recently i've been piling everything up bone dry in mono, getting balances on one ns-10, then switching to the bigs to start pulling out the competing freqs. when that starts to feel good, i'll add compression on individual tracks to keep them tame; then i'll dial up the mix comp, and really work the balances. maybe i'll even reset the faders once or twice in that process.

i'm curious what other cats are doing these days. how has that changed over time?


gregoire
del ubik
Old 25th July 2005
  #2
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
I put all the faders at about -10 and start to work them in mono. I usually have the mix-bus come on from the get-go or pretty close to it. I might do the first song for a bit before I plug it in, but it will just be there for the rest of the mixes. I also have a drum parallel set up, though its faders will be down at the beginning. I try to have a nice balance, which I think comes from faders and EQ working in tandem. I start to add compressors as needed. I often set up a gtr and a bass parallel as well. FX tend to come later with me, unless a certain FX is really going to be a major hook of the mix. I usually do a good bit of compression on the lead vox, and some fader rides. I set up a drum group so I can do any mutes are drastic changes evenly. On my drum parallel comp I might not send the whole set to it. Usually the first thing I might pull out would be the BD, so that the SD triggers the comp more. Sometimes no OH or room in the comp. That is total a song per song thing. Often the acoustic guitar won't go the gtr parallel. I'm constantly varying the DI to miced bass to find what drives the song best. Sometimes only one of the two goes to a parallel comp.

I like to use modulation FX like flange and chorus to make the mix wider at some points and narrower at others (something I got from Michael Wagner). I love dry lead vox and often times don't use any reverb or delay on it. I like a subtly chorus on the BV sometimes, especially if the lead singer sang them.

I tend to cut a lot on the low end of many things in the mix. It leaves headroom and room for the bass and BD.

I mix pretty softly and spend a lot of time on an old set of cheap Rat Shack Minimus.3 speakers.

I don't consider a mix done until I've cranked it and listened outside of the CR.
Old 25th July 2005
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

I usually just puch all the faders up equally, then listen to the song a bunch of times through, trying to hear the song as I want it to sound. I then get a good balance using the faders, then apply eq and compression. Reverbs, delays, and modulation effects come later, after I get the real meat of my mix down. Before I start moving faders, I'll already have samples ready, as well as a drum and a vocal parallel. Some people focus first on the kick drum or bass or something like that, but I almost always begin mixing with the vocal, as I've always felt that that's where the song is, and if I can get what the song needs out of the vocal, my job is made a thousand times easier.
Old 25th July 2005
  #4
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

i start and stay in stereo [check mono like twice the whole mix... once after roughs are up and once at the end... never has been an issue]

i start with drums because i think they are the most important to the groove [they ARE the groove], then bass. then guitars, then vox.... traditional. ad verb/fx/delays etc as i go....
Old 25th July 2005
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

exactly

drums then bass, guitars vocals then my effects as needed as i go along

check mono about 4-5 times a mix...

classic but effective, it just has always seemed the "simple" straight forward thing to do...

Peace
Old 25th July 2005
  #6
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audioez's Avatar
 

Listen to the tracks(song) once with levels and pans....then mix it as it was a live performance, and move on to the next song.
Old 25th July 2005
  #7
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I have been finding returning to mono quite a bit and listening to this on one speaker helps me alot for hearing balance amd competing instrument frequencies.

Thanks for the rest of tips.
Old 25th July 2005
  #8
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doorknocker's Avatar
I 'll try to 'picture' the mix first, 'obvious' stuff like what's in the foreground and what's in the back and especially the panning.
I then check the panning in mono, just finding the spot where a sound cuts thru the most while still retaining the position in the mix picture.
Then it's mostly about general balance and finding the right EQ/effects settings to find the elusive sweet spot between glue and seperation.

Hooking up a small Tivoli Audio mono radio has helped me tremendously with mix balance and especially with finding the right level/place for the lead vocals.

Andi

www.doorknocker.ch
Old 25th July 2005
  #9
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enharmonic's Avatar
 

I start from the rhythm and build. i do this because if the rhythm ain't happening, nothing else matters.

Just my .02
Old 25th July 2005
  #10
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nukmusic's Avatar
 

all tracks up for a listen and real rough mix, just to hear what's going on. If I recorded it I usually skip this

I Listen to see if vocals are in sync, (especially with rap overdubs), if not I'll edit them a bit. Also have done this with drums.

1st the kick
then bass make should they have there own place
add snare
hats and/or other drums/percus.
vocals just for a secord, then out again
then other tracks
then again vocals, I might set the loop mode on each section,
I love loop playback.......... heh

adding compression, eq, effects at each step where needed.
Then when It close, I add automation or fader rides
take a short break and walk out of the CR.
then return to
recheck the mix by muting everything and unmuting one by one as if i was starting the mix over: Kick, Bass, Snare, etc, etc.
Listen to the mix at a very low volume.
Might listen to the mix at different spots in the control room or down the hall....listening for things that stick out.
Old 25th July 2005
  #11
For gain structure reasons I start with kick and snare, then basic overheads, then guitars, then bass, then vocals (but I actually turn the guitars off, place the vocals, and then adjust the guitars if necessary...it's kind of a checks and balances for me), then toms and ride are last to see if they are even needed (toms usually are, rock guys like them loud and punchy!). I noticed that when I start with anything else other than kick and snare, things tend to get hot on the master output very quickly. Also, I noticed that bass guitar is much easier to place when the guitars are in. So it's not a linear process for me. From there I do appropriate automation moves, usually working on one section at a time, and then making sure that each section blends naturally with the one before and after it.
Old 26th July 2005
  #12
I listen to the song once with faders at -10db in Protools.
Then I start with the lead vocal. Comping and eq'ing. The lead vocal stays ON thru
out the whole day I mix. I hardly never mute the lead vox...... I build the mix and
instruments around the vox.

.....and I check mono compability after every stereo source I add in the mix.
Old 26th July 2005
  #13
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dokushoka's Avatar
 

I build the mix as I track. I try to get a good headphone mix, and as I work through overdubs I am always refining the mix. That way, by the time I get to mixing, I just have to clean stuff up a bit and move faders a touch. I also like to print a lot of effects, which I why I always try to have a decent mix while tracking, so that I can make decisions about the effects in context.
Old 26th July 2005
  #14
84K
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84K's Avatar
For reference: Say it is drums, bass, 2 rhythm guitars, lead guitars and vocal rock song....

Learn the song first... Get some references of mixes the song should end up like (energy-wise, and sonically) do any cuts/edits if I feel the song needs it ( usually too many guitars ). Put the 2-mix comp in (based on what the song needs: SSL, ASB, Pendulum Vari-mu, DBX 162, Fearn, or no comp) First, I work on the drums... Trigger if needed, but try to avoid... When the drums sound huge and fat, I mute them and work on the bass. When that sounds right, play them with the drums. Check the 2-mix compressor's gain structure. Bypass... check it... put it back in, move on... mute the drums and bass and solo the rhythm guitars. When they are rockin, unsolo. Adjust each track if needed (usually not needed). I like doing it that way, so I can focus on making everything as fat as possible instead of hearing things together from the beginning. After adjustments, put the lead vocal in the track dry (-w- all rhythm instruments in). Then, create the vocal effect (compression, reverb, and/or delays). check the gain structure of the 2-mix again. Then everything else gets factored in (lead guitars, BGVs, etc)... Listen in mono. Turn off the left speaker and listen to just the right... vice-versa... After 4-8 hours from start to finish, Do a test print. Listen to the mix in my car. Listen to the ref CDs in the car too... Adjust. Do the prints.
Old 26th July 2005
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

...Then I start with the lead vocal. Comping and eq'ing. The lead vocal stays ON thru
out the whole day I mix. I hardly never mute the lead vox...... I build the mix and
instruments around the vox. ....

.[/QUOTE]

most of the time I do this way too...
start with lead vocal and you put it in the right place.

M.
Old 26th July 2005
  #16
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DirkB's Avatar
Lately I've changed a little since I'm on a quest to get my center channel focus and depth into major player leaugue .

For a typical rock mix:
I start with kick, snare, mono room mic (if there is one; if I do the tracking, there is) bass up and use compression, eq, reverb to get a strong solid center image where there's room for all to breath, but I want a firm cetner image depth-wise. After that I add overheads, rest of the drums (as far as needed) and add the guitars (mostly lead guitars left and right).
For FX, most of the time I have set up:
-a room programm and a hall programm
-a mono vocal delay (mostly 1/4note)
-stereo delay (1/4 and 1/2 note with different amount of feedback)
-harmonizer or other type of widening FX
Once I find the balance I put up the vocal and try to fit it in with the help of compression and eq if necessary. Once this all mixes the way I like it, I usually use some mono delay and some reverb for depth and sometimes a little harmonizer to add some width to the vocal if I feel there is too much space between the center image and the panned lead guitars.

After that it's mostly a matter of taste and preference from the client how much of the additional "excitement-adding" parts is used (could be pads, back. vox, guitar solo's, melody parts, percussion).
Most of the time I do a first mix and then we discuss what I did and see what we keep and what gets changed. On the first 1-2 mixes most of the times I'm getting to know the band/artist a little and by the 3rd or 4th song or so I generally have a feel how they want to hear the mixes and am rather close on my first attempt.

Greetings,
Dirk
Old 26th July 2005
  #17
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Midlandmorgan's Avatar
 

I try to get the vocal levels set right first....then the drums....these are the two hardest for me to get THE right sound, within low enough levels to have mix bus headroom....focusing on pans, EQ, comps, whatever...I've believed for a long time that unless the vocals are right, what's the point of the song?

the rest of it seems to fall into place fairlt quickly once these two are secure...
Old 26th July 2005
  #18
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

mine sounded simple... i guess thats how i get my rough up.... addition, once everything is in and accounted for i start riding things... especially the vox, leads, little tweak fills etc.

through out the whole thing i will tweak everything to suit the needs.
Old 26th July 2005
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindell
I listen to the song once with faders at -10db in Protools.
Then I start with the lead vocal. Comping and eq'ing. The lead vocal stays ON thru
out the whole day I mix. I hardly never mute the lead vox...... I build the mix and
instruments around the vox.

.....and I check mono compability after every stereo source I add in the mix.
Very close to my process. Ever since I started mixing from the vocal, my mixes have gotten exponentially better.
Old 26th July 2005
  #20
Gear Nut
 
gamrecords's Avatar
 

first i like to listen to the song alone on loop over and over again. while the song is playing, i will light my candles and incense, sit on a mat in the corner of the room with my legs folded in front of me and my hands out- palms up. i meditate on the sounds, and wait for the song to tell me how to mix it.
this may take 2-3 hours. as soon as i have heard all the song is saying to me, i will rise, blow out the candles, roll up the mat, put away the incense and stop the song. i will then call in the assistant and tell him to go ahead and mix it and i will listen to his mix tomorrow.

works everytime. make sure you have a good assistant.

michael
Old 27th July 2005
  #21
Here for the gear
 

I have changed my approach a lot in recent years...

Now i build a mix in mono first...without eq, fx, or even compression (unless the compression IS the sound). I tend to do this at a low listening volume.

Then, and only then, do I pan, adjusting the levels slightly if needed.

After that I can feel if something needs to be fixed eq-wise, compression-wise or otherwise. At this stage I have what I call my 90% mix. (90% of all music listerners would hear it and thinks it´s done... )

Then I add the icing on the cake: Reverbs, Delays, Panning tricks, Sound FX, etc

Since I started to do this I find myself using less EQ, less compression, less fx, and enjoying the final results MORE thumbsup

chewie
Old 27th July 2005
  #22
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Ribbonmicguy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by gamrecords
first i like to listen to the song alone on loop over and over again. while the song is playing, i will light my candles and incense, sit on a mat in the corner of the room with my legs folded in front of me and my hands out- palms up. i meditate on the sounds, and wait for the song to tell me how to mix it.
this may take 2-3 hours. as soon as i have heard all the song is saying to me, i will rise, blow out the candles, roll up the mat, put away the incense and stop the song. i will then call in the assistant and tell him to go ahead and mix it and i will listen to his mix tomorrow.

works everytime. make sure you have a good assistant.

michael
LOL!

Btw, who's your assistant?

CLA, TLA, AW, MG, DP?

LOL
Old 1st October 2005
  #23
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
recently i've been piling everything up bone dry in mono, getting balances on one ns-10, then switching to the bigs to start pulling out the competing freqs. when that starts to feel good, i'll add compression on individual tracks to keep them tame; then i'll dial up the mix comp, and really work the balances. maybe i'll even reset the faders once or twice in that process.

I gave this idea a go and come up with very good results. thumbsup

In another post UBIK said "strap a mono plug across the output of protools, turn off one of your speakers, turn the volume down."

I got around it another way but i couldn't make my master fader in Protools mono by putting a mono plug on it. It just made it multimono, so panning affected which speaker i listened to.

Is there an easy way to monitor between Mono/Stereo ITB protools?


I held down Alt[cmd] and just changed all my outputs to 1(mono).


Nordy
Old 1st October 2005
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound
I put all the faders at about -10 and start to work them in mono. I usually have the mix-bus come on from the get-go or pretty close to it.
How do you know how to set it that early on in the mix? Obvioulsy you can change it, but what do you base your initial settings on? Solely expereince?
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