I think it’s very helpful to have a streamlined and systematic workflow for the music production process. Todays quick tip was inspired by a question about when during the process the mixing stage actually begins. Although many people have different approaches and there is never just one right answer, I’d like to share my approach and explain the reasons behind it.
Hey guys! Dezz Asante here from the TechMuzeAcademy with one more MixLessons.com video quick tip for you. This one comes again from a fellow member of the Gear Slutz web forums who goes by the name of John DeCutt. He had a question concerning… workflow I suppose you could say. Let me read it for you.
“I was wondering how most people go from the arrangement part of a project to the mix stage. If you’re arranging, recording and programing sounds in your DAW of choice, how then do you start a mix? Do you bounce all sounds out of zero DB or leave them at their arranged volume levels? Do you bounce with or without effects and or bounce the effects separately? Do you just continue from arranging and start mixing right there or do you at least reset the mixer? How do you finalize the sounds? Are there multiple layers like a pop snare etc.? Do most of you have separate mixing platform or do you mix in the same DAW? Any pointers would care to share would be greatly appreciated.”
So, its a good question and its one that…like most things that we talked about here there’s no one definitive answer. People have different workflows but I can certainly explain to you the way I like to approach it and the reasons why perhaps you might find them inciteful. I do personally like to create definite segmentation between the phases of the music production process. So, when I’m composing and arranging say in Logic or Cubase and I’m coming up with my parts and I’m recording in my midi-tracks, I’m playing with my VST intruments software synths etc., I consider that one phase and when about to start my mix, I like to completely wrap that up. So, I mean by that is I will take all of my VST instrument channels and convert them into 24 bit audio, high bit depth audio.
So, if I’m using say Omnissphere for some pads and I’ve got a midi part thats controlling that, I will export that…the audio from the Omnissphere instrument or whatever other instruments I might using, bring them back into the project as the highest bit depth audio possible and then I would disengaged the plugins and I would put those midi-tracks in a backup folder in Cubase which is my DAW of choice. You’re able to create folder tracks which are just purely for organizational purposes on the screen.
So, I always create a folder called “backup” and I’ll drag all of the midi parts, the software instrument parts into that. Disengage the instruments, so that you’re freeing up your system resources and then just pull that back up folder out of the way. So, its there if you do need to revisit and maybe edit the midi, reexport the audio if you come into some new ideas further along in the process. But the instruments themselves are no longer sapping your system resources and you’ve got a nice clean audio file to work with.
I’ll also do the same for any say amp modeling if I’m using guitar rig or amplitude to get a guitar tones for example. Then I will experment, get my guitar tone the way I want them to sound. And then same thing I’ll bounce the audio out, disengage the modeling plugins, put the direct clean guitar channel which I was using to run through the amp modeller in the backup folder, mute them all at the track level and so that they’re not being heard, they’re not being processed anymore but they are still there in case I want to revisit them.
So, when I’m about to mix, when I’m getting ready to mix I should have nothing but pure audio files on the screen, 24 bit wave files on the screen. From there, what I’d like to do is organize my screen a little bit if I haven’t already done so during the arrangement phase and so I will group like tracks if I’ve got multiple drum channels. I’ll put them all in a folder called “drums”. I’ll route them all to a group channel called “all drums”.
I also might do subgrouping. So, I might take my 3 thumb mics, route it to a group…a bus called “thumbs”, which then routes to the bus called “all drums” which ofcourse then routes to my main stereo output.
So, I’d like to setup my screen and set up my routing. I also like to create a couple of sort of goto standard effects sense. I’ll create a
short reverb, a long reverb, maybe a room and maybe a plate. And then, I’ll create a delay, ox as well so that those are availble to me if I want to quickly froze a vocal to a plate reverb just to sort of wet it up a little bit and here how’s its going to sound in the remix. You might even revisit those plugins later. You might even switch to an entirely different plugin later. But I’d like to have something setup in the beginning so that I can quickly throw things around and sort of flow with my own creativity.
So, in the end I have a screen of nothing but 24 bit wave files routed intelligently so that I have a hierarchy of control. If I want to do something to do with the drum kit there’s a fader. If I want to do something with the toms there’s a fader. If I want to do something to just the floor tom there’s a fader there as well. So, I’d like to do the routing and I’d like to setup my standard goto effects auxilliary sense, effects buses that I can you know… send whatever channels I want to as well. At that point I “save as” a new version and I’ll call it something like “mix start” or something of that nature and then I can proceed with my mix from there.
So, I hope you find that helpful and we’ll see you on the next quick tip.