I think it's a lot harder to stay objective if you do one song at a time with no break between recording and mixing.
A friend of mine used to finish up an album except for the mix, take six weeks off and then REALLY finish and mix the album. He felt that process boosted his work up to another major level of quality. Obviously the time for a six week break isn't always available but objectivity could be a lot of why labels often get better results from having somebody other than the original recording engineer and producer mix their projects.
On this album I´m producing now I work with three song at the same time. Get the rough trax there and then record vocals on all the three songs, three days in a row. Edit the vocals and then do gtr overdubs and the rest of the acoustic recordings. On this album I have programmed drums. I do have the mix in mind when I´m tracking but don´t have any "mix outboard" hooked up while tracking. Just so I can jump thru all the songs quickly. I make all the songs like 90% finished, then I go into mix and mix one song at a time.
I work closely with the artist on this one, so he´s behind me most the time. That is both good and bad.......
Since I mix along the way with plugins and automation, it only takes about one per song to finish up and print with all the necessary outbords.
Originally posted by Jules
I am also interested to hear from folks that wrap up a whole song - them move straight on to mix it.
I always have better results when I seperate tracking from mixing... It's 2 different mindsets. When I track, I'm techinical. When I mix, I'm creative. My brain doesn't like jumping back and forth quickly. If I do all the tracking for a project, then mix a short time afterwards, I have a chance to revisit the song with a fresh perspective. Sometimes I even think "What the hell was I thinking when I did this?!".
Everytime I hear my song in a club, or on the radio or something, I slap my forehead and think of all the cool stuff I could've done.
As far as your DAW/Digi set up, a digital camera and MIDI sys ex dumps shouldn't be too difficult if you are certain you are the only place the project will be worked on. Actually, some people may prefer this since you kind of HAVE to do recalls at your studio. You're on the mini Oxfart right? Normally patching would be the main hand written documentation, but if your outboard is set into inputs of a digital console, you shouldn't even need to mess with this.
I think the easy way is to 'bounce' pre masters
and save all presets on any outboard gear.
The pain part is when you introduce external compressors and eqs', etc......since you and I have similar setups maybe this will help.
Assuming a client is smart (I said assuming)
save the introduction of outboard, unstorable
gear. I don't bring in the VariMu, Massive Passive
215 eq's and plates etc. until it's close to final.
The client knows and anticipates this so when they hear all the new stuff - they get a bang. Or you can make templates for each piece that can't be recalled and have an intern/assistant mark the mix.
This way you do what you and client want when you want to do it and not because the gear isn't hooked up.
ps- I'm loving the Dangerous Monitor ! (and 2 buss) I ordered a line mixer (8x2) for aux returns etc. Next up - Meter/Talkbalk
I work a bit like Chap and Jules and I try to avoid the outboard rack until mix time. Once outboard gets involved, me and/or my assistant will write down all the settings very precisely on template sheet. However, even with detailed notes it doesn't take much of an error when notating or setting back a compressor output level knob to radically alter a mix balance. (BTW aren't Distressors great for recallability or what! Other manufacturers, hint, hint... tut ) That's why once I'm in mix mode I try to keep working on the same song until it's completed unless it's absolutely necessary to go to another song or I'm not yet in the fine tuning zone. Anyway, when a track/instrument is really bugging me or in dire need of a little help (short of re-tracking it), I tend to give it "the treatment" in a mix preparation session and record back the repaired version to be used while mixing. (I consider this more production work than mixing work anyway...)
Once a mix is finished, I'll always have the assistant record/bounce stems back into the computer. If me, the label or the band want to do a little tweaking here and there, I'll import the stems in a new session and we'll do the touch ups from there. It really works great and in an afternoon you can touch up a whole record to everyone's liking. Anyway, I usually prefer startinga new mix from scratch than trying to salvage one that's not happening to my liking...grggt (Not that it ever happens to me of course... )
over at Sterling Sound in NYC, Greg Calbi just mentioned that he would eventually like people to bring their DAW final mixes as stems. One for drums, vocals bass, band and fx. That way he gets a more flexible mix to work with. It sounds like some people are already working that way?It's not so he can mess with a mix but can isolate problem areas and work on them seperately. I'm thinking of doing just that on a new record on working on.
I've only recently had the luxury of "seeing a track through" to the final mix. 3 days.
I loved being able to stay with our heads in the vibe of the particular song.
Dirrerent strokes.....but since we're tracking in PT, and using a modest amount (6 or so ) outboard pieces I don't find it to tough to get back to remix. Just reaqlly enjoyed the one song at a time experience I've had lately.
I´ve heard mastered tracks that was brought in as instrumental + acapella wet. I can´t say I prefer it that way. In what way could the mastering engineer make it better? Maybe it´s a good ideá on low budget recordings. However, in my world I deliver the complete mixes, and if the mastring guy tells me that the bass or vocals sucks, I go back and remix it. Have not happend yet......
Originally posted by jeronimo
Ok guys, two questions:
1. What is a stem?
2. Explain that method of having separate stems...
A stem is a submix. Say, a stereo mix each of guitars, keys, percussion, backing vocals, drums and lead vocal. For example you'd take your drums and mix them down to a stereo pair and that is a stem. Does that make sense?
Since his chief engineer is Chris Muth of Dangerous
Music, it makes sense that he would use the 2 Buss to extract stems. From there (as I understand it, I'll ask him this week) it goes to a Muth Custom console where he can seperate the center of the mix and compress etc.. seperate from the sides.
He uses Sonic Solution for finals but will take stems from PT and that will give him more flexibility. I'll bring future mixes in like this:
any more and he may as well mix the ****errollz
I've been delivering all of my commercial (ads, soundtracks, network stuff) in stems for years.
In the old days, we would start each stem with a '2 beat' wich would allow them to synch stuff at mix.
It's only lately that smart guys like Calbi have figured out that it could be a new mastering path.
I'll let you know how it goes.
The important thing to undrstand about stems is that you need to be able to put them all at zero or some other specified level and have the whole thing just play as a perfect sounding mix. Mastering from stems is probably better than mastering from an edit of vocal-up, vocal-down and vocal out in left field mixes which is pretty common.
If we really ever do get into surround as a first release format, I expect to see most mastering done from stems because the translation issues are so tricky. I'm still not holding my breath because almost every artist manager and promo person I've ever met about had a heart attack the first time they realized how different a surround mix is going to sound between different playback systems.
Read Bob's post up there and he perfectly explains it.
I spent last evening with Calbi who might come up here when my SLAM arrives to check out some new gear.
The whole point of the stem thing is this.
By delivering your balanced mix (all stems recorded at the proper level) with NO plug ins, on a DAW (PT or Nuendo etc...) Greg can then have the ablity to freely mix analog (via tape heads and out board gear ) with digital (maybe digital compression on the snare or digital eg on the acoustics) followed by a tube compresser on drums and vox etc.... The whole point is that this adds flexability to freely mix both analog and digital at the sime time with specific regards to the needs of a particular song.
So, it's not about analog or digital. It's about the smart combination of both and saves us the trouble of printing a gazillion final pre masters (vox up, down, solo up or down etc....) while giving a mastering engineer the freedom to do what they need to do and not compromise the snare because of the vocal etc...
It also offers a ne paradigm to mastering engineers who , for years, have had to make sonic compromises for the lack of access to seperate stems. Very exciting. We still produce and mix, they still master but with greater access.
Print some reference mixes so the engineer can preserve your intent and it should be great.
While the specifics have yet to be ironed out, I am definately delivering my next project to Greg in this fashion. I'll keep you posted on the results.
ps -I think the analog - digital war is finally over and will be the subject of an upcoming Ken Burns movie. Lot's of black and white stills followed by early mpegs and a scene where the now grizzled survivors embrace on a battlefield strewn with ADATS, MCI's and DASH recorders. I'd like to do the soundtrack.
I suppose you could bring your stems in on a multitrack analog machine and achieve the same result. And no, he has no issue with either anaolog or digital. Read his interview in the current EG on bass management and it explains the advantages of each. This is not about one vs. the other.
My main dilemma is whether to break from my usual method:
Which is - Get all tunes 'close' to finished then call the band in to approve and work through song by song, printing as we go with the required tweaks. (I find the band input beneficial even though we may argue a little)
The work on just one tune thing, the ONE SHOT DEAL - I dunno, I've been thinking more about this..
I think my ears must be a little sensitive / worn. I appreciate the 'creep up approach'. I tweak / massage / keep perspective while I hop between tunes
"Whatever gets you through the night" - John Lennon