Audio Mixing for Non-Pros Using iZotope Neutron | Will Edwards | Skillshare

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Audio Mixing for Non-Pros Using iZotope Neutron

teacher avatar Will Edwards, Artist. Creative Problem Solver. Musician

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Course Goals

    • 3. Import & Clean

    • 4. Inter-Plugin Communication & Relay

    • 5. What is Relay?

    • 6. Relay Best Practices

    • 7. Visual Mixer Best Practices

    • 8. Making Mix Customizations

    • 9. A Deeper Look & Project

    • 10. Conclusion

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About This Class

This course is ideal for anyone who needs to produce high-quality audio, but doesn't have high-end audio engineering experience.  We'll show how iZotope's Neutron 3 software enables you to automatically mix a complex audio track in a snap!  Neutron uses machine learning to identify recordings and figure out how they should be mixed together.

In short, Neutron functions as your own personal software mixing engineer. This course will explain and demonstrate how Neutron can help you mix better music - and even learn from it and become a better engineer in the process!

Meet Your Teacher

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Will Edwards

Artist. Creative Problem Solver. Musician


I am a full-time professional musician who has broad teaching experience with guitar & bass students in rock, blues, jazz and many other genres. I perform live on bass, guitar and keyboards.  In addition, I perform live electronic music improvisation.  I've devoted over 26 years to my own well-rounded musical education, focusing on a mastery of all aspects of modern music - from music theory to ear training; from live performance to composition and practice routines.

I specialize in bridging the gap between music and technology, focusing on using modern tools to demonstrate all aspects of music.  I compose and perform with Ableton and Push 2 and I have experience with Cubase, ProTools and Logic.  I'm extremely comfortable using web-based to... See full profile

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1. Introduction: I My name is Will I have a lot of experience doing audio engineering I found in my own recording studio for my own music products about 10 or 12 years ago and then ultimately that became a commercial studio that I used to record singles and full length albums, even game music and film music in that studio. So I've got a lot of experience from different genres using different tools. And today, in this section, I'm focusing my discussion on neutron, which is a relatively new product. Certainly the newest version takes the older versions into a whole new territory. Um, so isotopes neutron basically allows students to do automated mixing, and I'm going to talk about all the features related to that. How to use, really how to use the mix of system. This section is gonna be ideal for anybody who needs to produce high quality audio and maybe doesn't know a lot about audio engineering. So stick around. I'm glad you joined me, and I look forward to seeing you in the upcoming lessons 2. Course Goals: I want to start by talking about the goals for this section. Okay, so the first thing we're going to start with, I'm gonna show you how to import and kind of clean up your set. Because the way that audio files are loaded in can have an impact on how accurately neutron can sort through this stuff. And how effective makes assistant ultimately is. Once we've got our audio imported, we're going to look at how to set a focus. I'm gonna talk a little bit about what Inter plug in communication, which is also called I PC is all about. And then we're gonna see how I PC is used with relay and mix assistance. We're gonna take a few lessons. Talk about what really, really is what it does, why you want to use it. It's an essential part of the whole neutron sort of framework. But it's important. Understand what it does and how to name the instances, that sort of thing. Once the mix assistant is done towards the end of this section, I'm going to show you how you can actually reclassify the different elements. That mix assistant is assigning to your audio to make sure you're getting the best and most predictable results, and then we will wrap up the section with a project. So explain some principles for taking ownership of the knowledge that you're gonna learn in this section. So the next lesson we are going to look at importing and cleaning up your initial stems. 3. Import & Clean: Now let's look at how you can import these stems. So what I've got here is basically a collection of files which are also made available to you through through the downloads and supplements available with this section. If you download those, you'll get exactly the same items I've got here. I've got some bass drums, the number of female and male male vocals, a piano track and, uh, sort of mark track here, which is electric keyboard. Okay, so we basically want to get these imported, make sure the levels are acceptable, and then we want to get our project cleaned up. Now in the, uh, in Q base, I just want to point out one important specifications for key base users. If you're not a que based user, this doesn't pertain to you, but it's just a quick mention. You've got to make sure that everything all your or imported audio comes in and is on stereo tracks. So when you go to add audio track, you want to make sure the configuration is stereo. Sometimes if you import a track using the import command here, if it's a mono track, it won't import it to a stereo track, but you'll have to change that. You'll have to actually manually put it on a stereo track if you have questions about that getting touched me. But it don't want Teoh focus on that too much in this lesson. So what I'm gonna do here is I'm gonna go ahead and import my audio files. And I've got this folder on my desktop called Stems, which, uh, have all of the files have made available along with its section gonna go ahead and open those into different tracks. There you go. Now, if you're Q base use, you'll notice that I've got this'll. It'll sort of two circles mean stereo. A single circle means monitor, but I'm gonna need everything to be stereo. So I'm gonna take just a second to change those by creating new audio tracks. And then I will resume the lesson. All right, so now I have my attracts all set up, and I've got the stereo inputs. Now, if you're using logic or you're using pro tools using ah ableto any other kind of DEA w Besides Q base, you're gonna have different indicators here. And if you may have different behaviors as far as the import process. The main thing is that you'll see later on when we get into using mix assistant and especially the visual mixer, that if the panning isn't working, it's because your audio is loaded on a mono track. Okay, and I actually had this problem. I spoke to isotopes Support, and they confirmed that this was indeed an issue. So you've got to make sure that your audio tracks are imported on the stereo tracks. Hopefully, or DW does that automatically. Or, in the case of some of these tracks, if they are actually stereo tracks, the DEA W should certainly interpret that it should live it onto a stereo track. But that's that's kind of a caveat you've gotta have in place in order for neutron toe work properly. Now the next thing you want to do is you want to make sure that your individual tracks here have acceptable volumes. OK, so I can see that there's nice volume on more or less all these tracks. It's acceptable. There is an actual expectation from neutron when when the mix assistant is running that you know the dynamic range in your actually not really the dynamic range, but that the loudness, the overall loudness level of your signal has gotta be pretty decent. Basically, what I've found is, if you can see clearly the audio signal, then you're fine. Um, if it's just really quiet, let's say, you know, let's take this drum example and, you know, imagine that we have this kind of thing where it's, you know, we have something like that and you can't really even see what's happening. That's an example of something that you really you need to fix. You need to make sure that the track has a good enough fundamental volume level before mix assistant can really properly interpret the signal. The other thing you want to do is, you know, look through our any of these tracks unnecessary. Now, in this mix example, we're gonna be using all of these tracks. But if you've got your own mix, maybe a session you've recorded in the studio you want to look at, you know, Are there any tracks that were running? You know, maybe you set up a microphone for the tambourine for the whole session, but in this particular track, you know, the tambourine wasn't being played so that signals empty. You don't want to be loading mix assistant with tracks that don't really matter to your mix or they're just dead signals. Or, worse still, some kind of electrical buzz or ground problem or something that that a mic on Anthony isn't even being used. That sort things to make sure that, in addition to setting levels, that you actually also make sure that you remove any tracks that don't really matter toe what you're doing. Okay, now, in the next lesson, I want to talk about what is inter plug in communication. 4. Inter-Plugin Communication & Relay: Now let's talk about I PC or Inter. Plug in communication on these different tracks here, we're gonna be loading an instance of a plug in called Relay. Now, what relay does is it sets up a sort of It's almost like a, um, a mixture channel. Right, So you have your fader risking Zoom in here, you get your fader, you've got your panning and then you've also got with and there is a meter here that is showing you, you know, the level as it's being played. What relay does is through inter plug in communication. It's gonna talk to mix assistant and visual mixer, which you're gonna put on your master Channel, and it's going to be able to do things like set the panning. It's going to be able to set the fader level and the with right, so that, in other words, it doesn't have to. Neutron doesn't have to go and change the fader on your cue base or logic Vader's. It doesn't have to actually know how to access the favors on your individual tracks in your d aaw, whether using Reaper or digital performer or pro tools or whatever instead of just bypasses all of that. So one of the important things to understand when you're using I p c is that the actual fader is here for your individual channels, you're never gonna want to change. You don't want to set those at all. You don't ever want to mess with fader or sorry, the panning control on your individual favors. You don't wanna mess with those It'll any features here in really the main fader, the panning and, uh, the with You don't want to mess with those in your Daw channels at all. Okay, relays could be doing all that. And if it's not doing that, then you're not really getting the benefits of makes assistant. So what Inter plug in communication is doing is it's sort of you set up, You agree to set up a relay plug in on each one of your tracks and then from the master track, the instance of visual mixer can control all of those kind of like by remote control. Now, one other thing I want to point out is that if you're using ST Nectar, which this course is not really about nectar, this ah course really about neutron, but nectar works well with neutron. It's just got a lot more CPU, heavy modules and programming in it, right? So does ozone, so you can use those programs. Let's say you want to use nectar on your lead vocal, which is what Nectars really desire for lead lead vocal processing. And you can still have the I. P. C. Affect that. So, in other words, the I p C control. You don't need to have a relay and nectar on the channel. In fact, you probably wouldn't want that. You just want to have one or the other. Relay is very lightweight, and we'll talk about that a little bit more. In the next lesson, Neutron is looking to control each track, and as long as there's some kind of IBC plug in on each track, then it can perform that control. You might use nectar on your lead vocal and relay on everything else. Now let's move forward. And in the next lesson, I want to talk about what is real. A 5. What is Relay?: So what is really right said this little plug in here is kind of the secret to the whole shebang for neutron. Okay, what relay is really doing is it is taking over control of your most fundamental channel controls in any DW, the fader, the panning and then it's also adding. And with now I worked a lot with Q base and her tools and ableto with is not always part of the channel strip, but in ah, in visual mixer and and relay it is there's another aspect here which we'll talk about later, which is that you can name these channels in that or these instances rather of relay, which is going to really help you navigate your session. So using relay really helps to navigate. Your session helps to remote control. Everything enables the power of ah, mix assistant and visual mixture to do the work that it does. So you have to create instances of it everywhere. And in the next lesson, I'm gonna actually show you how I create those instances on every track and also talk a little bit about when the use really 6. Relay Best Practices: So when do you use relay? And then let's also look at how you set it up. I'm gonna go ahead and I'm going to switch to my mixer view here. And what I'm gonna do is I Of course, this will look a little different, depending on what Diego you you're using. I'm gonna go ahead and just get rid of a lot of my tracks here. Said I'm not looking at such a bloated list. I'm gonna go ahead and I'm in a copy, relate. Just a raw this. Take notice that my instance of relay here, the fader set to zero panning with everything set to zero. That's just a default set up. Okay? And I'm just gonna use on my computer, I can do option drag to just copy it out onto all of my tracks. You could do this probably very easily in pro tools. Um, as well. The same sort of interface. Now, this is my stereo tract is my master. I'm not actually gonna put it on their you don't You don't wanna have, um, une instance of relay on your master track. You just wanna have it on the individual instruments that you're gonna be recorded now, the next thing you want to do is consider where might you use a product other than relay? So there are other, uh, titles by isotope. The most notable that I would bring up is nectar, which is really for a vocal processing. I might take my lead vocal, and I might actually take relay off and put nectar on. That's because nectar is still able to set the fader level. It's still able to set the panning and all that stuff, but it's also able to do a lot more. So nectar is going to take up a lot more CPU, which is why you don't want it on every single channel. But it's also going to enable more processing that is suitable for a lead vocal where you really it's deserving of that specialized attention everywhere else. You just want to put relay because it gives mix assistant the remote control over those channels. But it's a super super lightweight. Plug in right. It's not going Teoh be consuming all your CPU, and if you look at your CPU meters, you'll see that loading of a venture relays really shouldn't be that significant on any kind of modern computer. In the next lesson, I want to show you a little bit more about setting up the visual mixer and then also how to get your your project a bit more organized. You can visually navigate it more easily. 7. Visual Mixer Best Practices: So in the last lesson, we talked about how we don't really want to have a relay on the master track. But we do wanna have our visual mixer. So I'm gonna go ahead and load up the neutron visual mixer. So right now on the left hand side or sorry. On the right hand side here, we've got this long list of the same audio to Really? That doesn't tell me anything. That's not very useful. So I want to rename the Is, This is This is a really important step. So I'm gonna go ahead and I am going. Teoh, go back to my mix view because I want to remember what my tracks were called. So in the name these, you know, female box one female box, two feet mile box three. So on so forth. And so those are gonna come up on the right. I'm gonna go ahead and do that. I'm not gonna make you sit through that while I do it. And then I will resume the lesson once I've made those changes. All right, so now here I am. I've got my visual mixer set up, and each instance has been renamed so I can go into any instance at relay. And I could just change the name here. I've gone ahead and named these be GV for background vocals and then male, female and so on so forth. You can see my naming convention right here. Okay, so that's a great, great productivity step to take just so that I can navigate what's going on more easily now , in the, uh, I also show you how to set up visual mixer here on your master channel. You want to make sure that that is set up on your master track here, and then we are ready to move on and use mix assistant in the next lesson. 8. Making Mix Customizations: Now we come to the exciting part which is using mix assistant. So what we're gonna do is I'm gonna set my, uh, gonna set my marker all the way The beginning of my project. You see why in a minute tip, click the mix of system button. Now, here I'm I get to choose which tracks I want to include in the mix Assistance. If there's anything you want to exclude for some reason, maybe a voiceover or something like that, you can exclude it here. Generally, that's not necessary. The next thing I want to do is I want to choose a lead vocal. I'm just gonna go ahead and choose this background vocal female one as my focus. And if you are really wanting mix assistant to do its best work, choosing your focus channel is actually a pretty important thing. It's not just, ah, it's not just something you got to do. You do have to choose or at least one focus. But, um, it's a really important thing to do because it's gonna set the tone and the levels, um, for the whole mix that makes the system puts together for you. This whole rough mix that we're talking about in this section. So give some careful thought. So, for example, if it's an instrumental album you probably gonna want have the lead player, the guitarist or the horn player, the piano player, whatever, whoever the main instrumentalist is gonna want them to be the focus. If it's a typical band or singer songwriter, you're gonna want the vocal to be the main focus, right? So it should be pretty clear what the focus your mixes. But you want to choose carefully because it's gonna affect the whole way that that makes assistant interprets here makes now we're gonna go ahead forward to begin listening, and what I want to do here is I'm gonna play the entire track and this is important. Play it from top to bottom. I'm gonna do that. It won't make you wait through it. Um, even if you got a five minute song, just let it play all the way through. That's really important. I'm gonna go ahead and play mind through, and then I will resume the lesson quick. Do a quick cut toe when that's done. All right. So I went ahead and played that all the way through. I'm gonna click. Go to Results Now What's happened here is it's taken all of my background vocals by different instruments, and it's sorted them into five categories. First of all, my focal category. What What is the focus track that I chose? My lead vocal, right? Uh, anything else? That's voice, Anything it construes is bass percussion, and then musical is basically everything that's not voice base or percussion. And it's shown me, uh, kind of more or less how those levels are being determined by mix. Assistant makes Assistant is suggesting that this should be pretty well balanced. So at this point, my favors have actually been set. But if you check out my mixer view, you see that none of my favors down here have been set. However, the instances of relay have been, so let's just look at a few examples here, So my lead vocal has been brought down half a decibel. My background vocal female to has been bought down minus 4.6 db, right? So what we can see here is that the relay has set the fate or values for all of my individual tracks. That's what makes Assistant has done so far, but it's also grouped all of these tracks into one of these five categories that we see here. Okay, so let's go ahead and click on edit classifications down here in the lower right and let's take a look at my classifications. So I've got the background vocal F one. That's my focus. That's right. Everything else is a voice, and then it's It's correctly matched base with bass, the drums with percussion and then the mark in the piano as a zoo musical. But if we're some reason you know it didn't do these classifications correctly, you can go ahead and you can change it in here, and then you can reclassify them yourself. As far as I know, um, you are not able to create your own track types. Thes air just kind of built into neutron based percussion, musical voice and focus. So if you wanted to sort of remix this, you can actually do that. I'm gonna go ahead and just play a so you can hear how make them change with these favors, brought the voices in or out the programs and so on so you can kind of sculpt your own rough mix from here. But I'm gonna go ahead and accept what it set already, and I know that my classifications air correct. I'm happy with that. I'm gonna go ahead and click, Accept. And then in the next lesson, I'm going to talk a little bit about a little bit more about what relay and visual mixture is actually done and also outline a project for you to complete this section. 9. A Deeper Look & Project: We've learned a lot in this section about what really is how I PC works. Some of the important constraints for importing and cleaning up your project before you run Makes assistant in order to get good results. How to use the naming in each relay instance in order to keep your project organized so all of those are things you wanted. You want to try and do in your own mix. Let's look a little more deeply at some of the things that have happened here, so every instance of relay has had the level set. It hasn't really done anything with panning. That's all for us to do, same with with in the visual mixer. And, um, you can mess around with panning or ah with on your own. The main thing right now to understand is that whatever you do in visual mixer will be executed on your mix via these instances of freelance. For important, that relay is the first plug in in your plug in list. It's important that if you go and you add other effects that said you had a guitar track and you're gonna add a phase or Flanders or something, it's very important that you add those effects after relay. Okay, If you add them before relay, it may really mess up your mix. And it kind of unfairly undermine what visual mixer and mix assistant were able to do, right? So if the variables change, obviously that makes its gonna change. So you want to start with making sure that all of your really instances are the first plug in in the chain for everyone in your tracks and realize that it really hasn't been any panning or with done so far in order to complete a project for this section? What I'm gonna suggest is that you load up a project. It could be in any DW again. I'm using Q base in my example here. But you could be using logic are able to in pro tools any other any other day. It'll be fine. Um, and since Neutron uses these instances of relay, you know, it's not like there's a whole lot of functionality difference between between different DEA W's. It's more or less exactly the same experience. But the thing you want to do is load up a project and actually get to this point on your own. To set up the relay instances, set up the instance of visual mixer on your master track. Run the mix assistant. Make sure that you've loaded all you know, imported all your tracks correctly, and then see what see what visual mixer and mix assistant generating in the way of a mix. This is a great way to see. For example, you know what's the appropriate level for this track? A. Sfar as mixes system goes. If you're somebody who knows a lot about mixing, then this is kind of doing the rough mix grunt work for you. If you're somebody who doesn't know a lot about mixing, then you can use this as a study and you can see what would be the appropriate way to set your mixers your fader levels, so that the mix is more or less balanced. So in that way, makes assistant can actually be a teacher for folks who are learning this stuff. So get to the point where you've done all this work on your own on your own project. If you don't have stems to start with, then use these ones which I've made available. This sort of quick verse of Amazing Grace is a great place to start. Just said that you have some files to work with. If you have any questions, of course, please reach out to me. I would love to hear your work as well, so feel free to post what you wind that mixing from this section if you'd like to share if you have questions. If you have comments, you have concerns. If you think there's anything that I didn't address, something that was unclear or just a question that you have in your workflow, please message me. Let me know. I may make updates to the course. I may just respond to your personal question, but either way, if it's constructive feedback, I look forward to hearing from all of my online students that please reach out to me, and I hope to see you in some of my other courses. Thanks so much 10. Conclusion: Okay, so we have covered a lot of valuable material. We've looked at how the mix of system works. We've looked at how relay works, and you also understand more about how to choose a focus for your mix. So using neutron is kind of automatic, but you really need to be able to understand how to choose that. Focus for you mix and understand how relay in new China, working behind the scenes to kind of magically mix things for you. I want to make sure you understand some steps to take in order. Teoh, turn what we've discussed in this section into real knowledge that you could use. So I've got some stems that you can download, but by all means, if you have your own stems or you want to get some online, please do that. It really doesn't matter what audio stems you use for the project for this section, but the project basically is to go through the steps we've discussed. So set up a new import of a set of stems, then set up relay on all your channels and then use mix assistant. Think about what channel is your focus and go through the process of actually creating your own rough mix. Those are the necessary steps. So everything that you've seen in the course, you can go back and check it out if you forgot anything or you have questions a long way. If questions come up with the course doesn't address, please feel free to reach out to me. I'm always available and interested to hear from my online students. I'm happy to make changes to the course updates or just answer your specific questions. So please reach out to me. I really appreciate you joining me in this course, and I look forward to seeing you in some my other courses. Thank you very much, Good luck.