Download Mixing and Mastering in the Box: The Guide to Making Great Mixes and Final Masters on Your Computer PDF

TitleMixing and Mastering in the Box: The Guide to Making Great Mixes and Final Masters on Your Computer
File Size6.7 MB
Total Pages316
Table of Contents
About the Companion Website
Part I: Mixing and Mastering
	1 The Starting Point: Fundamentals of Mixing and Mastering
		1.1 Preparing to Mix and Master
		1.2 Where to Mix and Master
		1.3 The Tools of Mixing and Mastering
		1.4 Introduction to the Quick Guide
	2 Quick Guide to Great Mixes and Masters: Five Best Practices
		2.1 Have a Concept
		2.2 Monitor Level
		2.3 Monitoring Options
		2.4 Revise, Revise, Revise
		2.5 Live with Your Mix or Master
	3 Quick Guide to Great Mixes and Masters: Four Common Mistakes
		3.1 Poor Control of the Low End
		3.2 Overly Bright Mixes and Masters
		3.3 Overly Compressed Mixes and Masters
		3.4 Trusting Inadequate Monitoring
Part II: Mixing
	4 Building a Mix: The Concepts and Tools in Detail
		4.1 Starting Concepts and Setting Level
		4.2 Panning
		4.3 Processing: EQ
		4.4 Processing: Dynamics
		4.5 Processing: Effects
		4.6 Processing: What Else Is in the Box?
		4.7 The Stereo Buss
	5 Automation and Recall: Fine-Tuning
		5.1 Online versus Off-line Automation
		5.2 Details of Online Automation
		5.3 Details of Off-line Automation
		5.4 Time Line of Automation
		5.5 From Simple to Complex Mixes
		5.6 Fades
		5.7 Advanced Automation Techniques
		5.8 Recall
	6 Mixing Piece by Piece: How to Approach Individual Elements
		6.1 Drums and Percussion
		6.2 Bass
		6.3 Guitar
		6.4 Keyboards
		6.5 Vocals
		6.6 Horns
		6.7 Strings
	7 Mix Collaboration: The Mix Team
		7.1 How to Communicate About Mixes
		7.2 Levels of Mixer Intervention
		7.3 Managing Remote Mixing Projects
	8 Delivering Mixes: Formats, Mix Types, and Multiple Mixes
		8.1 Digital Formats for Mix Delivery
		8.2 Full Mixes, TV Mixes, and Clips
		8.3 Multiple Versions of a Single Mix
PART III: Mastering
	9 Setting Up to Master: Tools and Files
		9.1 Tools
		9.2 Creating a Template
		9.3 Building the Time Line
	10 How to Listen for Mastering: From Your Ear to Action
		10.1 Level
		10.2 Frequency/EQ
		10.3 Dynamics and Effects
		10.4 Consistency
	11 Creating a Master: The Concepts and Tools in Detail
		11.1 Creating a Reference Track
		11.2 Processing: EQ
		11.3 Processing: Level
		11.4 Processing: Dynamics and Effects
		11.5 “Mastered for iTunes,” Spotify, Pandora, etc.
		11.6 What Else Is in the Box?
	12 The Final Master: Creating and Delivering
		12.1 Creating a Master
		12.2 Formats and Delivery Options
	13 Mastering Collaboration: The Mastering Team
		13.1 How to Talk About Mastering
		13.2 Levels of Mastering Intervention
		13.3 Managing Remote Mastering Projects
Appendix A: Notes on Surround Mixing and Mastering
Appendix B: Why Mixing and Mastering Can No Longer Be Separated
Audio Sources
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Mixing and Mastering In the Box

Page 158

Mixing Piece by Piece


move the bottom head of their tom-toms—nevertheless, there is still resonance
within the drum shell with just one head). Cymbals have the same two elements—
attack and sustain.

Kick Drum (inside the drum)
If you have two mics for the kick drum (an inside and an outside), this is the
track that you will use to define the attack portion of the sound. I’ve found that
boosting or dipping at two different frequencies (3K and 5K, for example, or
2.5K and 6K) gives the most control over shaping the exact sound and level of
the attack element of the kick drum. Dipping mids may help clear space for
other sounds but beware—a little bit goes a long way (meaning .5 or 1 dB may
be plenty); you don’t want to rob the kick of its heft.

If you’re using a second outside mic to provide most of the low end, you
may want to dip lows on this track—if this is the only kick drum mic, you may
want to add lows. Some mixers like to copy the kick drum onto another chan-
nel, and use one channel for shaping the attack and the other for shaping the
low-frequency resonance.

Shaping the low end of the kick must ultimately be done in conjunction
with shaping the low end of the bass, so that they retain their distinct places in
the frequency spectrum. Typically it works best for the kick to have more low-
frequency presence in the prime low-frequency area (around 80 Hz) than the
bass guitar.

Kick Drum (outside the drum)
If you have this element, it is typically used to supply some or most of the
low-frequency content. You may want to low-pass this channel to clear it of
high-frequency content. Shaping the low frequency will depend on the initial
recording—you may either boost or dip the lows—but in any event you will want
to shape the low end in conjunction with the bass part.

You may only have an outside mic for your kick drum, and in that case
you may use some high-frequency boosting to balance the attack with the low-
frequency sustain. The high-frequency content of an outside mic may not reach
much beyond 2 or 3 kHz, so your ability to create a kick drum sound that cuts
through will be limited.

Snare Drum (top)
Typically, the top snare drum mic provides most or all of the direct sound of the
snare drum. I’ve found EQ’ing snare drums to be an area that is most variable
in approach, depending on the original sound of the drum and the desired re-
sult. Sometimes some pretty radical EQs have given me the best option in the
mix—I’ve used as much as +6 to +9 dB in two different high-frequency bands.
At other times I’ve felt the need to dip the highs to avoid too much “splat” from
the drum. The low-frequency content of a snare drum is generally found centered

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somewhere in the low-midrange (200–400 Hz) and can be boosted to add weight
to the sound or dipped to keep a more “popping” kind of snare sound approach.
If you are not sure where you’re headed with the snare sound, reference some-
one else’s mix that you feel is an appropriate model.

Snare Drum (bottom)
Typically, a bottom snare mic supplies a little extra snare sound (high, rattling
part of the snare), if you feel like it needs it. When I’ve had a bottom snare drum
channel, I’ve most often ended up not using it, but occasionally it provides some
needed sizzle. If used, it will probably need some high-pass filtering to clean out
the low end.


Don’t neglect the phase relationship between the top and
bottom snare mics.
The top and bottom snare mics are facing each other, so they are close
to being completely out of phase; therefore, the bottom mic needs to be
phase-reversed from the top snare mic. Reversing the phase is usually
done in the recording so you don’t need to do it during mixing; however,
you’ll definitely want to test the relationship to make sure the two mics
are in phase.

To test for phase, take the two elements—top and bottom snare channels—
and pan them hard left and right. Then dump the mix to mono; you need a
mono summing control for this, which you may have on your outboard mixer,
control surface, or interface. While in mono, switch the phase of the bottom
mic in and out. Whichever setting provides the loudest output is the most in

The hi-hat mic is usually a supplement to the overhead mics, which typically
include quite a bit of hi-hat. For this reason it needs to be set in conjunction
with the overheads. The individual hi-hat channel can assist in providing a crisp
sound to the hi-hat, since the overhead mics will inevitably have been some
distance from the hi-hat and its sound will be more diffused. You might want to
high-pass the hi-hat track to reduce low-frequency leakage from the kick and
tom-toms, but take care not to rob the cymbals of the meat of their sound.

Sometimes the snare drum leakage in the hi-hat track will be loud enough
so that you will need to pay attention to what the EQ is doing to the snare drum
sound on the hi-hat channel as well. I’ve received tracks where the snare drum is

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stereo buss compression, 50–51, 54, 235–236
and brickwall limiting, 236
multi-band, 99

stereo buss compressors, 51, 52ss, 234–235
stereo delay returns, 113–114
stereo image use, 73–74, 76
stereo in/stereo out reverb/delay configuration,

102, 103
stereo reverb returns, 102, 114
stereo speakers, home, 57
stereo systems: surround mixing, 265–266+ss
stereo tracks: panning, 75
sticking with your environment, 10–11
stop and listen option, 104
storage of files, 184–185
streaming mix file clips, 194
streaming services: mix file delivery formats,

192–193, 237–238, 252–253
string bass (acoustic bass): mixing, 153
strings: mixing, 173
studio monitors, 57
subgroups: compression of, 92
subjective terms for communicating about

mixes/mixing, 177–178
submixes (stems), 188, 192
subtractive EQ and additive EQ, 44–46
subwoofers, 57, 197
supporting roles in mixes, 25–26
surround files, 191, 275

delivering, 274–275
software-generated, 269–270

surround formats, 191, 263, 264ss
surround masters: making, 272–274+ss
surround mixes

augmenting stereo mixes into, 270–271
building from scratch, 271–272
down-mixing into stereo mixes, 270,

mastering, 272–274+ss
unwrapping stereo mixes into, 269–270+ss

surround mixing
commercial acceptance, 272
for DVDs, 272
dynamic panning in, 267, 272
from scratch, 271–272
strategies, 269–272
using DAWs, 263–264, 265ss
using stereo systems, 265–266+ss

surround panning, 266–269
as centered, 267–268
perspectives, 268–269
static vs. dynamic, 267

sustain sound (drums & percussion),

synthesizers: mixing, 161–162

taking breaks while mixing, 33
talking about mastering/masters, 254–257
talking about mixing. See communicating

about mixing/mixes
TAO (Track at Once) format, 243
tape recorders, virtual, 238, 239ss
tap tempo function, 108
telephone speaker effect, 88–89+ss, 165ss
template for mastering, 201, 202ss
tempo function, tap, 108
terms for communicating about mixes/mixing,

three-dimensional mixes, 23–24+dg
timbre (compression effect), 94, 95
timed delays, 151
time fixing (fixing timing/rhythm fixing), 118,

120+ss, 149
timeline for mastering, 202
timeline of automation (of mix parameters),

time parameter (reverbs), 106, 145

EQ, 143
sound elements, 140–141

tools for mixing and mastering, 11–18,

touch mode (Pro Tools), 126
Track at Once (TAO) format, 243
tracks (in mixes)

arranging, 65–66
for automation, 124
balancing levels, 231–232; the loudest part,

compression of, 92
disabling/hiding/deleting, 64–65
for drum EQ, 83–84, 147, 148
grouping, 66, 67ss
mastering models, 204
mono: panning, 73
reference track, 212–213, 214, 222, 227
stereo: panning, 75

tracks on CD masters
hidden tracks, 245
numbering, indexing, and offset system, 245
order, 243–244
overlapping tracks, 247
spacing, 250, 257

traditional keyboards (electronic): mixing,

transformer EQs, 86–87+ss
tremolo effect, 128ss
tricks, delay and reverb, 112–113
trimming frequencies. See dipping frequencies
trim mode (Pro Tools), 126

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trusting inadequate monitoring, 55–60
TT Dynamic Range Meter, 55, 56ss
tube compressors, 91, 235
tube emulation EQs, 85–86+ss
tuning audio before mixing, 5–6, 179
TV mixes, 193
tweaking audio before mixing, 5–6, 179–181
tweaking mixes before mastering, 240–241,

tweaking reverbs, 105–108
tweeter placement, 59
two lead vocalists, 168

undergarments in mixes, 27
upward compression, 218, 219ss

VCA compressors, 91, 144, 235
vertical arranging, 69–70
vibraphone: mixing, 160
video games: mix file delivery formats, 192, 253
videos: mix file delivery formats, 190–191, 253
virtual keyboards: mixing, 161–162
virtual tape recorders, 238, 239ss
vision. See concepts for mixing and mastering
visual model mixes, 23–24+dg
vocabulary for communicating about mixes/

mixing, 176–178

compression of, 93, 163–164, 169

de-essing, 97
effects, 165–168+ss, 169, 170–171+ss
EQ, 45–46+ss, 164–165+ss, 169; dynamic,

98–99, 225, 226ss
mixing, 162–171
panning, 163, 170, 171+ss
in surround mixes, 271, 272
See also lead vocals

volume. See level
volume automation, 17–18, 126–127+ss,

134+ss, 135ss
manual de-essing technique, 134–135+ss

warmth, 147
warm vs. bright reverbs, 108
website for this book, xiii, 37

audio sources, 281–283
wet/dry control, 94–95
wet genres, 145
width in mixing, 23
window dubs, movie, 190+ss
woofer placement, 59
working in the box

mastering, xv–xvi, 195, 240
mixing, xv–xvi, 6, 12, 33, 34, 123, 135–136,

174, 194
Wurlitzer piano: mixing, 160–161

Zappa’s nightmare, 61

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