Mixing At Home With Stock Plugins | Graham Cochrane | Skillshare

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Mixing At Home With Stock Plugins

teacher avatar Graham Cochrane, The Recording Revolution

Watch this class and thousands more

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

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Welcome To The Class


    • 2.

      Top Down Mixing


    • 3.

      Mixing Drums


    • 4.

      Fattening Up The Bass


    • 5.

      The Rest Of The Band


    • 6.

      Mixing Vocals To Sit On Top


    • 7.

      Using Effects


    • 8.

      Quick Mastering


    • 9.

      Closing (And Bonus Gift)


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About This Class

Mixing isn’t about inserting a bunch of fancy and expensive plugins hoping to get a radio ready sound. Rather it’s all about strategic use of a few key effects that you already own.

In this class you’ll learn how to craft a professional sounding mix with the stock plugins that came with your DAW. No upgrades necessary!

Through strategic use of things like EQ, compression, reverb, delay and distortion we’ll take tracks recorded in a home studio and polish them up to commercial standards.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Process your master fader
  • Harness parallel compression in multiple ways to fatten up your mix
  • Get clarity through a few simple EQ moves.

This class is ideal for the bedroom or project studio musician who has a basic working knowledge of their DAW but wants to learn how to take their mixes to the next level.

Meet Your Teacher

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Graham Cochrane

The Recording Revolution


My name is Graham Cochrane and I'm the founder of The Recording Revolution, one of the world's most loved audio recording and mixing blogs with over 200,000 readers each month.

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1. Welcome To The Class: Hey friend, Graham here from the recordingrevolution.com, and this is mixing at home with stock plugins. Now, I'm a freelance mix engineer, been one for about 15 years, and I mix bands all over the world. I'm based at Tampa, Florida and I work here in my little home studio in my garage. By about six, seven years ago, I started a website called the 'Recording Revolution', where I started to teach my friends, people like you, how to record and mix their own music at home. The one thing I learned, was that many of my friends think they need to buy third-party plugins to get a great sounding mix. They were spending money on equipment, spending money on more gear, more software, more plugins, and still not getting the mixes they want. When all along, I realize, they don't need to be spending this money on other plugins. You already own everything you need to get a great sounding mix. If you have an EQ, if you have a compressor, you have a reverb and a delay, and maybe some distortion in your plugins, bundle, and your DAW, you can get a great sounding mix. I know you have it because I own almost all the DAWs and they all include these basic plugins. Now today, what I want to show you is how to take those basic plugins that you already own, and make a killer sounding mix. We're going to do that with a track that I recorded in my home studio, it's one of my own songs, it's called 'Sticks and Stones'. I picked it for two reasons; one, it has acoustic drums, it's got base, it's got lots of guitars, it's got a keyboard part, it's got lots of vocals, it has lot to work with, a little bit complex of the mix but not too hard, so we get a whole variety. And two, it was recorded in a home studio, it was recorded in a small one bedroom studio with carpet, that's very typical of what you are working with. The gear we used to record it was very basic budget home studio stuff. So this is not a fancy, amazing sounding track recorded in a really high-end studio. I wanted to give you something more real world so that you would be able to apply this to real world stuff that you're working on. What I'm going to walk you through, is a simple step by step method, starting on the Master Fader using something I call top-down mixing to get killer sounding mixes in less time with fewer plugins. We're going to cover drums in depth with a cool trick that really makes your jams pop. I'm going to show you how to fatten up your base. I'm going to show you how to get clarity, and width, and excitement, all of the instruments in the guitars, the keys, all at mid-range stuff, I'm going to show you how to use effects, reverbs and delays, I'm going to show you how to get your vocals to sit right on top of the mix so they're upfront, so you can hear every single word the way you want to hear. And finally, I'm going to show you how to quickly master your music, so it sounds good everywhere and it's not too quiet, it's nice and loud, nice and punchy, and it can hang any other track that you're comparing it to. Now, after the course is over, you're going to get these tracks that we're working on today, so you can practice the same material, the same techniques I'm showing you, practice on the same tracks and see exactly what I'm doing, you can do it on the same track. You can go back and forth. I feel like that's the easiest way to work on it, and to get better at this craft is to work on that same material that I'm teaching. Start there, and then you can be able to apply this to your own material or clients' that you're mixing for. The point of this course is that you can do it all with the stock plugins you already have, you don't need anything else, and that's what I want to drive home today. Stock plugins are perfectly capable of doing great sounding mixes. You already have a DAW that works beautifully. I'm going to be working in Pro Tools today, because it's the platform and then I work on. I've been working on it for 15 years. It's okay if you don't use Pro Tools. Any DAW will work. The point, is the concepts I'll be teaching you. How to use EQ, how to use compression, understand the way that DAW works. I won't be teaching you anything Pro Tools specific. So this can apply to any piece of software that you work on. So don't worry there, don't get hung up on the Pro Tools thing. Also, I'm throwing a lot at you in a little bit amount of time so if you ever need to just pause and rewind and hear what I said again and here my explanation again, feel free. You have control to this material, that's the beauty of it. Start and stop it however you need to, in case I'm moving a little too fast for you. Now, that's all I got for in this intro. I want to get to the mix, I want to show you how we can take decent sounding tracks from okay to amazing with the stock plugins that you already have in your DAWs. So let's jump in to the first segment. I'm going to teach you something called top-down mixing. 2. Top Down Mixing: The first thing I want to teach you is something I love and it's called top-down mixing. The concept here is, I like to start mixing or what I call the top-level, which is your Master Fader. This is the track where all your audio goes through and I envision putting some plug-ins on that top level on your Master Fader at the beginning for two reasons, one the beauty of it is it affects everything below it. Meaning your individual tracks, your vocal, your kick drum, you base, your accent, your piano, all that gets affected by what it has to go through on the top-level. Now, why would I want to do this? Because a little bit of movement, a little bit of processing, a little bit of tweaking on that Master Fader on that top level, trickles down to the whole mix and makes them mix sound better, quicker with fewer plugins which is great, because that saves CPU power, meaning your computer isn't task much later because you won't need as many plugins after you do this top-down mixing method. Then three, what's great is it gives you a little bit of a psychological boost. You get confident real quick, because you're hearing instant results on the whole mix. It's making them mixed instantly better, quicker at the beginning, and that just makes you feel good. Then if you mix more confidently, your mix will sound better. I love doing this, and we're going to start on that top-level, the top-down mixing approach. I'm going to use two plugins today an EQ and a compressor. If you have an EQ and compressor in your DAW, which I know you do, you can do this and you're going hear how this makes them mix sound better right at the very beginning. Let's jump in and show you what we're talking about. Real quick, here's just a little taste of how the mix is sounding. I've got no plugins in it. Just a volume balance, nothing crazy is just set up ready to go. I've got everything panned where I want it, and the Faders set so I can hear everything, but now I really want to use my plugins to make them mix sound good. What I'm going to do is jump to a chorus here because it'll be using vocals, and the first effect I've got on my track here, I call the Mix Bus. It's the same as your Master Fader, same things different terminology. I like to start with an EQ, to do this top-down method, the first thing I want to do up top is some EQ. There's usually 3-4 moves I'm doing on this EQ. The first thing I'm doing is rolling off some low end. This is using a high pass filter, also known as a low cut, and you can see I'm rolling off everything below 28 Hertz. This is super low stuff that you and I can't really hear as humans, but it could be the air conditioning that was captured in a microphone that day. It could be a low noise rumble from outside, it could just be some low end in a guitar that just is overpowering your mix that you don't even hear. I like to clean that up just a little bit even though this is a very noticeable, it does free up some room. The second thing I love to do is clean up some of the low mids. In this case, I've taken out about 1.5 dB of 450 Hertz, and why 450? This is just like a range of 3-4-500 Hertz range. I usually find sounds wofy, and weird, and nasally, there's like a weird sound that happens in mixes there. I like to clean up just a little bit of this, it makes the rest of the mix sound more beautiful. You're actually taking away something to make the rest of the mix sound better. Then the other place I typically go to is up top with high shelf boost, so this is a shelf EQ it's not just a little bell curve or not, it's on boosting at 6.5K here, and it boosts everything above 6.5K. Again, I'm just doing 1.5 dB boost here, which is very subtle. I'll explain that in a minute, and then I have one more boost on this mix at 4K. I boost it by 1 dB and I think this was to make the vocals come out a little bit more in the mix, I just found that that made the vocal sound good whereas the high shelf made like the guitars and the symbols, and everything sound a little brighter, a little more exciting. Now, two questions, one is, why such small subtle moves? That is because a little bit of a processing on the top on your Master Fader, has a big impact because you going to think this is going to affect everything. Your kick drum, your snare, your vocal, so a little cut or little boost is affecting 20, 30, 40, 50 tracks. It has massive implications and you want to be subtle here, and then two how did I pick these frequencies? Well, I went looking for them. By that I mean, I'll boost and sweep around and find stuff that sounds nasty and I'll cut it out, or I'll boost high sweep around and find something that sounds good and I'll keep it, but I'll just make it more subtle. First let me show you what this is like before and after, and then I'll show you how some these frequencies came to be. Here's the mix without the EQ, nothing on and turned the EQ on. Hear how that cleans up, it's subtle but you can hear it like open up, little more exciting, little clearer. You notice that sometimes when you take the EQ away, I don't want the big ones here is this low mid area, around 450 that I cut. Take a listen to what this sounds like when I boosted it. Real like you're in a closet, really weird nasty frequencies, and I would boost really high and then sweep around till I found what it sounded the worst down here. Basically it's how I arrived in this case at 415 some change, and once I found that really nasty frequency, I cut it by usually 1-1.5 dB is the most I'll do. That really cleans up things and the same with the boosts up here, they just opened it up in a real sweet spot. You just boost and sweep around till you find what sounds good, then you can boost that, what sounds bad, you can cut that. Do 3-5 little moves here at 0.5-1.5 dB increments. It sounds subtle, but you know you're making a big impact with the EQ alone. I start there, and then the second thing I always do is some compression. Now, compression gets overused, especially on the Master Fader this is dangerous territory, so you can really ruin your mix here. It's somehow dangerous to show it to you, but I find this a really helpful technique. What I like to do is use this compressor to gently squeeze the loudest peaks in the mix, which are usually your kick, usually your snare. Why do we want to do that? Well, because if I squeeze those down a little bit when they hit, it allows me to bring up the rest of the mix gently a little bit more and it creates a sense of excitement and urgency and energy to the mix. In this case, I'm using a 4:1 ratio, that's the most I'll do usual due to 2:1-4:1. I'm using a slowered to medium attack, 3.5 milliseconds. I wouldn't go any faster than this, I might even do slower like 10 milliseconds and then I do a super fast release. Attack is how quickly the compressor jumps on the audio, and you don't want that to be quick. You want all the energy to come through and you want to just get to it a little slower, so you're not squeezing your mix, and the release is how quickly it's letting go of your mix. Which you want it to let go as fast as possible to let the next bit of audio come through, so you're not clamping down your mix. What I'm doing is squeezing a little bit out of the mix, it turns down just the peaks. Then I'll use the game here to turn up the rest of the mix just a little because I'm losing some volume with a compressor, so I'm turning it up just a little bit more and the result gives you some energy. Take a listen to what this does. Again, this is subtle but if you're listening closely, you're hearing a little bit more energy in the guitars because everything's come up a bit more because now there's more room for it because we're turning down the loud snare a little bit. But ironically the kick and the snare sound like they hit a little bit harder too. When done right, Mix Bus compression and Master Fader compression can be such a great way to glue your tracks together, create a sense of urgency and space and energy, and it really give you're mix a little bit more of a kick. Again, just remember slow attack, fast release, you don't want to see much compression happening in only on the loud peaks, only on the kick and the snare, it shouldn't be always compressing. Let me real quickly take both of these processes off the EQ and the compression. I'll turn them off, turn them back on. What you can do is hear how our mix is going from nothing to a little bit cleaner, a little bit more energetic. Close your eyes and take a listen to what's going on here. You can hear already when you're turning both of those on and off, that's where I really noticed the impact is. The mix and I'd take them away, with them on it sounds okay, when you take them away the mix sounds flatter. The vocal ducks underneath, everything gets a little flatter and you're like, ''It's missing something.'' Because we've gotten used to how that EQ and the compressor is actually helping them mix already. I know it's subtle, but already helping it sound good. The top-down mixing method, if you don't think of anything else or forget anything else from this whole class. This will change the way you mix because you're already going to get your mix closer into the few minutes at the beginning by starting on that top level on the Master Fader. As you see when we go to the drums and go to the base and all the other instruments, there's going to be less work we have to do. Less work means it's funner since less processing we have to do, it'll sound more natural and it'll happen quicker. These are all benefits you get from top-down mixing, it's changed the way I mix, it's a more fun way to mix. I think it's going to work beautifully for you at home with your stock plugins. In the next video, we're going to jump into mixing drums because those are the hardest. If we get those to sound good, I think everything else can come together nicely. 3. Mixing Drums: So now we get to mix some drums. Once I'm done with the master fader, top-down mixing stuff, I love to jump into the drums, because if I can get the drums to sound great, and that's usually the hardest, I feel like the rest of the mix comes together faster. In this segment I'm going to show you how I'm using EQ to clean up the drums and get the best sound out of each element. Also using some compression two give a little bit more energy and a little bit more urgency, and then my favorite trick, but a little bit of parallel processing, which I'll show you how to do in your DAW, to really make the kicking snare hit hard. This is the secret source to getting drums to sound really really good, especially if you have a lot of tracks in your mix and it's really dense, and the drums sound good by themselves, but when you bring everything else in, they get smaller and you lose them, this trick is going to help you out a lot, so let's jump in. Let me mute everything but the drums, and one thing you might notice is I've got some buses hear that I route everything through, sorted of like a bonus for you. You don't have to do this but instead of sending all my drum tracks, which are these red ones, instead of sending them all to my master fader, I'm sending them to an auxiliary track or a bus, which is just a placeholder called "Drums", I'd called it drums, so that I can control them all with one fader, but also, so I can do some more top-down mixing even on the drums. Take the concept of what we did in the last video on the master fader down a notch. Now I've got a little mini master fader just for the drums, and the first thing I'm going to do is process the drums as a hole. Here are the drums. And what I've got on the mix drumming bus here is another EQ. And I'm just doing a little bit more clean up. I'm cleaning up some more-. In this case, I cleaned up around 250 hertz. I notched out on the drums, I thought it sound a little woofy on the drums. When I'm on the individual tracks or down at this level, I don't mind doing things in 3dB increments, so I'm a little bit more heavy-handed with my EQ now that I'm on individual tracks and group tracks. I've taken out 3dB at a low mid area that sounds a little woofy and a lot of times that helps the drum sound cleaner. I did a little bit of a boost again, a shelf boost, this one around 4000, just to give me some more energy on the symbols a little bit. So it kind of open up the drums a bit. Here's what the drums sound like when I put this EQ. Now remember this is applying to all the drum tracks. Subtle stuff, but I think it cleans up the drums, opens them up a bit. And then I'm putting a little bit of compression on the drums as well. Again, this is slow attack, fast release, just getting a little bit of energy on the drums. Already making my drums sound a little bit better. Again, taking a top-down mixing approach, even down to the drums. If I can do a little bit more on the drums bus, I'll need less work on the individual tracks. So here's before and after. Cleaner, little more bright, love it. Now what I want to do is show you what's happening on the kick track. I'm going to mute everything else just for a second. I don't normally do this, but I want you to able to hear what's happening on the kick drum. Now you're hearing the kick drum through the drum bus processing and through my master fader processing, my mixed bus processing. So it's already being processed, but I'm doing a little bit of clean up with EQ on the kick drum. So here's what happens when I turn the EQ on and then I'll show you what moves I made. What you're noticing is the kick drum just cleaning up is a language I like to use, so I try to find the area that I want to cut out where the kick drum sounds it's worst in that low mid range. Again, I told you about 300 to 500. In this case, I pulled out around 469, and it didn't sound that great to me. I knocked sum of that out, about 3dB, it's a good chunk like when you want to boost or cut something, I like to work in 3dB chunks as a good starting point. If you need to do more, great, go for it. I cut that out, and that already cleans up the kick drum a little bit, but then what I like to do is enhance the low end and found the sweet spot on the kick drum. So in this case, I just kind of get boosted around in the low end, and swept back and fourth like I showed you earlier, and I found that around 55 sounded really nice and full and round and really sounds like the sweet spot of that kick drum. So I did a little boost there at 3dB to increase the low end. The other part of the kick drum that sometimes people forget is the actual beater that's hitting the drum. That clicky sound is really important in modern music to actually hear the kick drum, because if you're listening to it on your iPhone speaker or a laptop speaker, you're not going to hear any low-end, you're going to lose it. So you need the kick drum to have that click sound to it, so you notice the kick drum even in a thin mix. So we got a little bit of a boost here of 4500. So again, before. Subtle, but it cleans up the kick drum. Moving on to the snare. Just a little bit of cleaning up here. I rolled off a lot of low end. It's called a high pass filter. Again, I rolled off everything below 75 hertz. Why? Because the snare drum doesn't need low end, that's what a kick drum is for. I just cleaned up some of that stuff to make room for my kick drum, and then I notched out a little bit around 488. Again, it didn't sound good on the snare, so here's what that sounds like. I just cleaned it up a little bit, removed the stuff that doesn't need to be there, and then a little bit of compression on the snare drum. This type of compression is the opposite of what I've been doing so far. This is, if you notice a faster attack and a slower release, because now I'm using a compressor in a totally different weigh. Before I wanted to be gentle on it and make sure all the peaks come through, so I'm just squeezing it lightly. Now I want to be hard on it and squeeze it quickly to actually reduce the dynamic range of the snare drum and release the drum a little slower, so that what I'm doing, I'm turning it all back up after with a gain, what I'm doing is making the tale of the snare drum sound louder, which makes the snare drum sound fatter. So take a listen to this, this is really cool. Hear how with the compressor on, it makes the snare drum sound a bit longer, the tone of the snare is fatter and is there longer when you turn the compressor off, you just hear the initial hit. It sounds fine, but it goes away quickly. This fast attack, slow-release compression, which is the opposite of before will give you a fatter, ringier sounding snare drum, which might be the sound you're going for. For me it was, so the kit and snare were already coming together much better. Just hitting harder, which is nice. What I want to show you is the overheads real quick. The overheads, again, I cleaned up a little bit. I rolled off sum low end, because again, these are the mics over the drum kit. They're going to capture the symbols, they are going to capture a lot of the crisp top end of all the drums. They're going to capture the hole kit, but you don't really need low end in these mics because they're so far away from the kit drum and they're not going to capture enough low end. I rolled off a lot of the low end, cleaned up around 430-440. Must be something in my room when I recorded that there, it just didn't sound that great. Then I did a shelf to open up the symbols a little bit more. You can seen these little teeny moves are just gently opening up the symbols a little. A little bit on the master fader, little bit on the drum bus, and a little bit here. That way, I don't have to do a big boost on the overhead mics here, because I've already boosted a little bit everywhere else. I can be real subtle and gentle with this EQs, so take a listen now to what I'm going to do is just play here the overheads and hear what this EQ is doing. A little less boxy, a little crisper, really, really gentle stuff. Now the toms, very, very similar stuff. I'm going to bring these on. Again, I'm usually cleaning up low-end and finding then this low spot that sounds good on the toms. Then the upper part that sounds good on the toms where, again, it cuts through the mix. I treat them a lot like a kick drum, just they're different frequencies. Very, very similar. That's the high tom, low tom, little bit of similar compression to the drum bus. Fast attack, slow-release because I want these to not be squashed and fat. I want them to be really punchy, so I'm using a slow attack, fast release on the toms as well. Then I have a cool mic here called the fat mic, which I didn't do anything to. I just notched out a frequency that sounded really weird. Again, sometimes you just cleaning up stuff that doesn't need to be there, so the best stuff is left. Now what I don't want to show you is these little teeny moves. These seem really boring, really, really subtle, really, really boring. But take a listen to what these drum sound like when I bypass all the EQs and the compressors on the drums and the drum bus. It all adds up. Clearer, more exciting, more open, little more energy, and those subtle moves are adding up. But hear is what makes your drums really, really hit hard. It's called parallel processing or New York style compression. What I've done is, and this is how you set it up, is you want to create another drum bus. This can be a stereo bus. This can be a mono bus. It doesn't matter, again, another track that we want to really compress a copy of the kick and the snare. How do you do this? Now you can use your door to do this. I've set up a send. A send is simply a weigh to send audio from one track and the next to somewhere else. You can send it anywhere you like. It's basically creating a copy with its own little fader. What I've said is, you known what, let's make a copy of the kick drum track and a copy of the snare drum track and send them along a bus to this track that I call p-drum, for parallel drums. These little sends are going to send a copy before this fader, so again, it's separate. I can have the kick and the snare doing there own thing, and then I can have this track doing its own thing. Take a listen. If I solo this p-drums track, you should just hear the kick in the snare. So far, all we've done is send a copy of the kick and the snare to this bonus track here. Now what I want two do is really, really squeeze and compress the crud out of this copy. We can go to town on this because this isn't the mane drum track, this is going to be blended in. The first thing I've done is cleaned it up a little bit with EQ. It was real low-end heavy, real woofy. I want this to be real crisp sounding, so this what I've done here. I just thought the low end was going to take over the compressor to much, so I cleaned up that sound a little bit so it's real crisp. This is where you get heavy handed. Now I've got a compressor doing crazy compression. I usually even pull the preset in my compressor called Crush and I tweet from there. This is a 23 to won ratio, which is really aggressive, but a super slow attack, super-fast release to get really high energy sound. Take a listen to what happens to these drums. Really loud, really crunched, really aggressive, not musical, but a lot of energy is there. Now what I'm going to do is simply blend this p-drums fader in with the clean, perfect drums we've been working on. I'm just going to slowly bring up this fader so you're going to hear the normal drums we just worked on. Then I'm going to slowly bring this signal into the mix and blend it together and you're going to hear the energy come through. It's hitting really hard now. Listen, I'm going to take it away. I'm going to mute the p-drums track. You'll just hear the regular drums, so take a listen to what disappears when you mute this track. All the weight goes away, all the excitement goes away, all the hard-hitting stuff goes away, and you notice this even more in the mix when you've got all the other instruments in. I know I just through a lot at you write now. There's a lot that's going on, but at its core, it's really three things that we just did. We used EQ to clean up things in the kick, the snare, the drum bus, just the stuff that doesn't need to be there. Just clean it up a little bit more, get rid of it, and then open up the stuff that sounds the best. found the best low-end of the kick drum, the best top end of the overheads maybe. Just enhance a little bit in 3DB increments the things that sound good. Then a little bit of compression on the snare, we used a faster attack, slower release to really make that snare sound fatter. Then just adding all those elements together, the drums came together, opened up, got more exciting. Then the final thing we did was really use that parallel drums trick, which this is fun because you can use any compressor, you can get as heavy as you want, experiment with sounds, crush it all you want, and then blend it to taste where it sounds so good together. You can dial it up or down. You can even bring it up later in a chorus down and in a verse. But that's your secret weapon to getting your drums to hit hard and really cut through a really dense mix later. Drums is where I spent my most time, usually after the mixed bus and master fader stuff, the top-down mixing. Feel free to spend a lot of time on the drums experimenting with them because really, there are a bunch of different tracks that you're trying to work together to sound good. Everything else is going to be a lot easier for you. If you can get the master fader stuff right and the drums right, everything else we talk about today is going to be a lot easier. In the next segment, we're going to jump into the bass guitar. I'm going to show you how to fatten it up and make it really fill out your sound. 4. Fattening Up The Bass: All right. Let's talk about your bass guitar or your bass instrument, pretty straight forward here, but I want to show you a couple tricks to fatten up the base. Getting the low-end, filling out better because there's nothing worse than having a small sounding base when you really want to fill out the bottom in. Couple of quick tricks, you can use the EQ, compression and some distortions take a look at the base. Right now we've got our drums going and here's the drums and bass together. There's the base by itself and I've got three plugins on the base, starting with my trust to EQ. I always like to start with EQ to clean up the tone. I'm doing two things here. One will look familiar to you, if you look over the yellow guy. I've carved out some low mids, in this case 322. Again, I told you before 300 to 500 range is usually a problematic area. I found a frequency that sounded nasty on the base and I took out 3dB of that. Then what I did is, I went ahead and found where the sweet spot was on the base, much like we did with the kick drum, where I boosted the low end and swept around until I found where does the bass guitar sound its fullest? It'll depend on what note, the bass is playing or the bass instrument. But to me on this base, right around a 100 hertz, looks like 99.8 is where I left it. Right around a 100 is where the base sounded nice and full. So I boosted their a 3dB. Now, this little teeny cut in the red, I cut 3dB and a small little narrow area at 55 Hertz. Now if that 55 hertz sounds familiar, it's because if I flip over to my kick drum EQ, that's what I boosted on my kick drum, was 55. The kicks drum sounded great on 55. On the bass guitar EQ, to leave room for the kick drum actually notched out a little bit at 55 on the bass guitar, so that I'm not covering up the best part of the kick drum. See how that works. So this is going to be real subtle, but what you're going to hear is the base clean up a little bit. With that 322 hertz sound a bit fuller because of the little boost around a 100. The kick drum will sound a little bit better than it did before, because now I'm making sure I'm clearing out some space for that low in the kick drum. Spring into drums. Here it is by itself. Way fuller. Fuller rounder is the tone I like to use for the terminology IDs for the base. Rounder tone and when you take away this EQ, it just sounds flat and less interesting. I start there, followed up with our trusty compressor. In this case I'm doing a real generic medium attack and medium release, three to one ratio. What I want to do is the base, when someone plucks actual bass guitar, it's really loud at the moment he plucks or she plugs because that's when they're really hitting string hard. Then the tone dies out a little bit. I want my base to sound fatter all the time, much more like a synth or a keyboard. When you hit that bass note on the keyboard, is going to sound fat the whole time because there's no plucking, and then the string dying down. So if you have a real base, this is going to help you get that fatter sound. You can press a little bit at the pluck and then it turns that down a bit. Then we can turn up the rest of the bass with the gain knob here so that the tail and the base fills out a bit. Much like we did with the snare drums, take a look at what's going on here. I'll turn off the compressor and I'll turn it back on. This one subtle, but what you're going to notice is that it's the same volume, the whole time the bass note's being held. That's the key here, you don't want to be loud. When you pluck the bass and then die off in the mix, you want to be fat and full the whole time. Again, real gentle compression. I'm looking for maybe 3dB of gain reduction on the meter, may be six, nothing crazy. I just want to smooth out the peaks on that base a little bit. One last thing I like to do on the bass sometimes is some distortion. Believe it or not, distortion or harmonic distortion can make your base cut through better on small speakers. If you're, again, listening to your mix on an iPhone or a laptop speaker, you're not going to feel the bass on the speakers, but you need to hear and notice the bass notes because it's part of the structure of the song. I'll use this trick to add some distortion to the base, just a little bit, which creates stuff in the upper mids so that a little crappy speaker, a little laptop speaker, a little iHome speaker, little phone speaker will be able to notice and resonate the base a little bit. I just grabbed the distortion plug in here and Pro Tools. What I did is it has a mixed knob, and this is great because then you can just mix in a little bit of the distortion. If you don't have a distortion plugin that has a mix knob or you can blend it together, then what I'd recommend is you do something like we did on the parallel drums. Send a copy of the bass to a separate bass track, that you can put all the distortion on and then blend the two tracks together so there's a little bit of distortion in the base. Take a listen to what this is doing. It's super subtle, you have to be listening on good speakers or headphones to hear it. Here's what all the distortion sounds like when I crank it up. Obviously, when you take it away, it's a lot quieter. I don't need that much grit. I just need a little bit of that in the mix. I want about 30, 40 percent, just so that it adds a little bit of that grit. This is, again mostly for smaller speaker, so it cuts through a bit. Here's the base with all three in, and I'll take them away. Rounder, fatter, fuller and again with the drums, this is really critical. It's just enhancing what's already there. Hopefully you're seeing so far we're not really drastically changing the bass, we're not drastically changing the drums. Is these little teeny moves, little EQ moves, little compression moves, little bit of distortion here. That's just enhancing what's already there, taking it to the next level. As we continue to move through the mix, you're going to see these cumulative things add up. 5. The Rest Of The Band: Now that we've got the mix bus sounding good, your master fader, drums and bass. It's time to work up to the rest of the band. I'm going to lump in guitars, keyboards, sense, what I would consider mid-range sounding instruments together. Now, every song is going to be different, your mix, your genre's going to have different instruments here, but think of the concept, these are not the low end, it's not the base, these are not the drums. This is the mid-range stuff, the rest of the musical instruments. What I want to show you is something called complimentary EQ carving. This is really practical and helpful, I'm going to show you how to do that, and the power of a simple high-pass filter. Those two things can clean up the rest of the band to sit beautifully together, not cover up the hard work you've done on the bass and the drums, and then we'll be ready for the vocals after that so let's take a look. In my song here, I've got guitar one and two, a couple of lead guitars, acoustic guitar, and there's guitars in the bridge, there's also an organ track so really these purple tracks and then this orange organ track are my rest of the band thing, the mid-range instruments. Here we're with everything in. Okay, so what I'm trying to do here is, I don't want to do any work I don't have to do on these mid-range instruments. They should sound good if you recorded them well and you just want to blend them to taste. But here's what, mostly I'm doing, I'm using some EQ, and the biggest thing I want to show you is on the two main guitars, which are these guys right here. There's one on the left, one on the right, they're playing similar parts. They were different amps, but what I'm doing here is something called EQ carvings so I've got EQ on one. I'm going to pull up the EQ on the guitar on the right, and if you take a look at what I'm doing here, there's two main moves I'm doing. One is a high-pass filter. I've showed you this before, but I'm rolling off the low end and on almost everything but the base and the kick drum all roll up to a 100 hertz or more. Roll it off, cut it off because all that thick, nice fat stuff in your instrument, especially electric guitars, it sounds cool by itself, but in a mix, it's just covering up your bass guitar, it's covering up your drums. It's taking up all the volume in your mix, and no one hears it, no one really notices it so while it might sound cool by itself, here's a little tip, is thin it out more than you would think you need to, because in the mix it'll still sound full because of your base element so I'm rolling off a lot, and in a minute you're going to hear how thin it gets, and I'm also doing some EQ carving that's complimentary. Take a listen to what it sounds like when I turn these on and then I'll explain the moves. Obviously thinner, I think it's the biggest thing I noticed, is it thins them up. But it's still going to sound full because of the bass so don't worry about that. Roll off everything up to a 100, but then take a look at this on the guitar on the left, I went looking for what is the sweet spot in the mid-range for this guitar, much like we did with the bass or the kick drum whereas this, the sweet spot of this guitar, I thought this guitar on the left sounded really cool at 1K. I did a little 3dB boost at 1K. Well, what I did though, is I went on the other guitar on the right then, and I took out some 1K of that guitar because I want to have actually some holes, some space so that the guitars sound a little more distant from each other, a little more separated. This is going to give you more width in your mix. I boosted 1K on the left guitar, and then I went and immediately took out 2.5 to 3dB of 1k on the right guitar. Then on the right guitar, I went and found, what's the sweet spot for that guitar? I found something a little bit higher, 2.6 case on a nice and crisp and cut through nicely on the guitar on the right. I have boosted at that frequency on the right guitar, and you guessed it on the left, I went and cut that same frequency by 3dB on the left guitar, so you'll see the green is boosted here, and it's cut here on the right. The blue is boosted on the right one, and it's cut on the left one at the exact same frequency, so they're flip-flopped. What this is going to do is help you get even more separation. This is a little trick for you. Mixing is an optical illusion, it's an auditory illusion really. If the instrument on the far right sounds different frequency wise from the instrument on the far left. Your ear, as a listener is going to pick up on those two edges a little bit more and notice the edges more, and when you notice the edges more, the mix sounds wider, sounds like it's wider than the speakers. If the guitars or the instruments on the left and the right sound the same, your mix starts to sound little narrower and smaller. So it's just a trick, I want them to sound a little more distant and separate and different so that the mix sounds wider. That's what's happening on these two guitars. Take a listen with the drums and bass, and these two guitars. I'm going to mute the organ acoustic for now. Take a listen to the two guitars, the bass and the drums, and what I'm going to do is just bypass or mute the EQ's that we just did and hear how the guitars, they start to sound woofer and you lose some of the edge on the side, okay? They sound good now, but I'm going to take away the EQ on the guitars and see what happens. It's subtle stuff, but I'm starting to notice the edges more, the guitars bite a little bit better, and they're going to cut through better in the mix because they have their own sense of space. Now I've done with the rest of the guitars is done a very similar thing, I've gone through and made sure that I've done high-pass filters to roll off low and it doesn't need to be there, finding it's sweet spot. If you have some lead guitars, one thing I like to do on lead guitars is do a little bit of compression on them, much like we did with the bass to make sure that I can hear all the sustain of the lead guitar. It's a very similar concept to the bass, and then what I've got going on here on, say the organ, the organ by itself sounds pretty cool, but in the mix, it was getting lost. I mean, it's there, you hear it. But I really needed the texture of that gritty B3 organ to cut through so I'm using a little bit of strategic EQ here, I'm thinning it out. This high-pass filter I rolled out to 220 Hertz, I was like this organ does not need to be thick and soupy down there. It needs to be bright up in the mid-range, and then I have a 6dB boost at 2.5K. I found that 2.5K's what made that grit on the organ cut through, and I gave it a healthy dose of 6dB, was a good chunk. Watch what happens when you bring in this EQ, how the organ pops out of the mix a lit bit more. Again, it's a subtle move that's giving the organ just a little bit more texture. Let it cut through a little bit more, it's level was fine, it sounded good, but if you clean up the low-end and find the right sweet spot in the mid-range, you can boost it, and really that's all we're trying to do here in these mid-range instruments. One thing you'll notice too is my acoustic guitar. This is something I find all the time when people mix, is their acoustic guitar sound nice and full by themselves. But in a full band mix on any genre: rock, country pop, the acoustic guitar is just one of many instruments, you don't want it to sound full. You want it to sound thin, and cut through the mix. Now by itself you may not like that, but in the mix, it's job is to be a texture piece so this acoustic guitar's relatively thin by itself. It's not super full is what I'm saying, but it's still too full for the mix. I can hear some low rumbling so here's what I've done to the EQ, I've rolled off everything below 172, and I notched out 300 that was sounding really woofy, and then found a sweet spot at 1.3K. Listen to what happens when I turn on this EQ, and that's very obvious. This is a good point for you to understand, is what is the role of the track in the mix, and in this song and in a lot of songs, unless the acoustic guitar is the main instrument by itself. If the acoustic guitar is just to supplement all the other tracks, it really just needs to be the strumming that you hear. Thin it out, find that sweet spot in the mid-range and let it do it's thing because in the mix, you had a little bit of compression, this is very similar to what I've done on the mix bus, slow attack, fast release, this lets the acoustic stay strummy but upfront, just listen to what happens. You can hear plenty of the acoustic guitar in the mix. I'll take it away and I'll turn on the EQ and the compression, you'll hear the acoustic. Now sit real nice in the mix. Did you notice when I took away the EQ and the compression, you're like lose the acoustic. As cool as it sounded by itself, you don't notice it in the mix so you need to thin it out, push the mid-range at a sweet spot so it cuts through and then compress it a little bit. It just sounds really good in the mix. Just remember with the rest of the band, two key things. High pass filter, high pass filter, roll off the low and it doesn't need to be, this is the one of the easiest things you could do to clean up all those mid-range instruments: guitars, sense, keyboards, etc. Then two, try to find some complimentary EQ that you can do on the main instruments that are on the left and the right, this could be your sense, this could be your guitars, whatever it is, find those complimentary EQ parts so they have a little bit more distinction on the edges. The mix will sound a little bit wider, the guitars and the things on the edges will cut through a little bit better, and you'll have left room for your bass and your drums to fill out and we're still leaving a little bit of room for the vocals to sit right on top. 6. Mixing Vocals To Sit On Top: Vocals are the most important piece in a modern music, I don't care what genre it is unless it's instrumental, of course. I don't overthink vocals. One thing I do, is I mix vocals last. This is one thing that I've learned over the years that helps me get the vocals to sit on top of the mix. Because you don't want the vocal to sound great and then you build in the rest of the band, and then now you're losing the vocal because the rest of band is covering it up. One trick I learned years ago was to mix everything first and then bring in your vocal, because when you're mixing there's something, I don't know if you've noticed that whatever you tend to mix last ends up being the loudest cause you're fighting for space and you tend to push it a little bit more, so I let that trick work for me and I mix vocals last, so that it's always going to be the loudest thing and all I have to do is make it sit right on top of everything else. So I bring it in last, and what I want to show you is again, the EQ is not going to be different than anything we've done. You see how simple the EQ is here, but there's one trick I'm doing with compression, it's called stacking compression that thing is going to help you out a lot so check this out. I've got a lot of vocals on this song, but mostly it's like later in the mix there some gang vocals and some double harmonies. What I want to show you right now, it's just the lead vocal, because this is the most important piece, the rest are the background vocals, there's a million ways to do them right and you can't really do them wrong. Let's just look at the lead vocal here, got no effects on it right now. Here's the chorus where it comes in. Clean vocal recording. First thing I'm going to do is EQ and this will look really familiar. High pass filter, great opportunity here on the vocal but you don't need anything below a 100 Hertz on a lead vocal. Again, it's just not going to be the musicality of the vocal, the musicality isn't everything above that. I've also done a little bit of a notch at around 320. Take a listen to what this sounds like. That sounded really really gross. That's the microphone picking up some of the chest voice in the room or if you're in a vocal booth, there is usually something again and that 300 to 500 Hertz range, that doesn't sound nice. I took out about 3dB of that to clean up the vocal. You'd be surprised how those two moves high pass filter and notching out that low mid spot, already cleaned up the vocal and the last thing I did, and this is great, is a little bit of a shelf boost upwards like this is 7.5K sometimes 8K. Just a little bit of a shelf boost there really makes the vocal sound more present. Here's the vocal without EQ and then here's with the EQ on. A little more present, little cleaner, little more upfront, sounds better. But that only helps the tone of the vocal, what we need is the vocal to sit on top of the mix and really pop. So compression is your friend and not just compression, but something I call stacked compression. The idea is really simple, start with one compressor, do a real gentle setting. This is a slow attack, faster release, three to one ratio, this is real generic. You can even look for a vocal preset on your compressor and start there, you're going to have to mess with the threshold again. The threshold in compression is at what volume level do you want the compressor to really kick in. That can make or break your compression, so keep that in mind. You could have the perfect settings in terms of attack release and ratio but if your threshold is way way low, it's going to be compressing all of the vocal. We don't want to do that, we just want to compress when the vocal gets louder, or maybe if the singer is singing A's or O's bigger vowels, right. The sound gets louder. We want to just compress those a bit, turn them down a bit so that performance is more even and then we use the make up again to turn everything back up. Take a listen to what this first compressor does. You could see sticks and stones on the word stones, that's when the compressor is really working. Without the compressor it would have just gotten louder. This makes it a little more even and then I can push the volume a little bit. That helps in the mix, so take a listen to it in the mix. It's a little bit better but here's what I'd like to do, instead of over compressing a vocal, do a little gentle compression and then literally copy that compressor right underneath it, so you have another copy of the same compressor right below it. I literally would drag a copy of its same settings, so now you're doing some gentle compression on the already gently compressed vocal. What you're going to get is more consistent upfront volume. The vocal seems to be always upfront every word, every syllable up front, without having to do really any heavy lifting or heavy compression on the vocals. Take a listen. I can hear every word they're right, but take away both compressors. You lose volume, you can't hear all the words and so obviously you could say, well [inaudible] why don't you just turn up the volume and you could. You could turn it up, it'll be louder but then you won't have that consistency. Hear that on tearing me, then all of a sudden the vocal is too loud. It's perfect for a couple of words then it's too loud for a couple of words, you need an even upfront performance. Every major vocal and every major record and any genre is compressed, why? Because a vocal is way too dynamic. Meaning it's loud, one minute quiet the next minute. Singing a whisper quiet word, super loud vowel. It's unnatural to compress vocals, but it's what we're used to and we want to hear every word and it has to fight the whole band. So you keep the volume where it was, instead use stack to gentle compression. Now, we have this compressed vocal that sounds great and what I am to do is bypass the EQ in both compressors, you're going to hear the vocal just disappear. It's beautiful. Now my vocal has clarity, now my vocal sits on top of all the guitars and drums and bass and org and all that noise. Whatever your band is, whatever your genre is, it can sit on top of it and I can hear every word and every syllable clearly. You've got to let that happen in a modern mix so that people can hear the lyrics. The lyrics are what people connect to in the song. We might be thinking about the sonics as a mixer but your audience wants to hear the words. They want to know, what are they singing, hear the emotion in the vocalist voice. The stack compressor can really help. Now, everything else I'm doing here and all the rest of the vocals, literally what I do is sometimes copy and paste the same EQ settings across the doubles, across the harmonies or maybe copy and paste the compression setting for it's with one compressor. Real simple stuff as a starting point and you might want to tone down the EQ's a little bit on, the harmonies you might want to be less bright on the harmonies, less bright on the doubles, so you can experiment with that people like different style harmonies and doubles in terms of how bright or dark they are. That is not really as big of a deal is getting a lead vocal right. I focus on getting a lead vocal right and then tuck everything else underneath. Just keep in mind, high pass filter is going to be critical on all the background vocals, all the doubles, roll off that low end, clean up any mess, that way the vocals are thinner but they sit better and they're not going to cover up all the work you've done on the bass and the drums. The vocals as important as they are, again I don't spend a ton of time on them because if you get the rest of the band right, the mix will be sounding exciting. If you do the vocals last, it's a lot easier to get them to sit in the mix for some reason it's a lot easier so bring them in last, clean them up with EQ, try the stack compression, see how it works for you. Again gentle settings, don't be heavy handed with a compressor on the lead vocal. If you find yourself having to do a lot of compression, just dial it back a bit and then copy that compressor so there's two of them. You'll get a better more upfront sound and you're not going to over compress the vocals. Now, in the next video, I want to show you some effects that we can use, delays, reverbs, to take your dry tracks, give them a sense of space and take them mix up a notch. 7. Using Effects: So far we've just used EQ compression and a little bit of distortion to just get our mix the sound clear, to have energy, to have punched everything sounds great. But we haven't used any effects yet. It's still dry. If you record in a home studio, you've probably the small little bedroom or basement where everything doesn't have a real nice ambient sound so we can do, is use things like reverb, and delay to run some of our tracks through and create a little sense of space so that the mix doesn't sound small it sounds like it was maybe recorded in a nice room. Give it a little bit more polish. I don't love to use a lot of reverb and delay. It's more of a preference things to you might subjectively like wetter, more ambient sounding mixes. This is where you got to make your own judgment call. But what I want to show you is how a subtle little bit of room reverb, and a show you a couple of options on delay can really help the mix just go from good to alright now we're sounding great. Take a look. What I'd like to do, and this is one thing I would really recommend is when you think about effects, is don't put a reverb or delay right on a track. If you want your lead vocal have some reverb or delay. Don't grab your plugins and go finding your reverb and delay and put it here. The reason is you want to put it on its own bus or auxiliary track. There's two reasons why one, I can use one reverb on one track, and send everything to it. Instead of having to put a reverb on every single track, reverb on the Oregon, reverb on the vocal, reverb on acoustic guitar, I can use one reverb plugin and save my computer's power, and send a little bit of whatever I want to it. Two, it's a lot more convenient to be able to address only one track, one setting, and then you can still blend to taste everything you want. Let me show you what I mean. I've created it as green track here that called verb. It's just an auxiliary track, it's a bus, it's got no audio on it. But I've put a plugin on it. This is the Stock Reverb that comes with Pro Tools, so grab whatever reverb we have. I've chosen a room sound. I like rooms or plates are great starting points because they're not really obvious reverbs, they're a little more natural sounding. It's meant to emulate sound of a room. I picked a medium room as a starting point. Now what I've done is this effect isn't on anything yet, it's just sitting there doing nothing. We want to go back to our sense. Remember how we use sense on the drums to send a little bit of a kick, and the snare a copy of them to that parallel compression track. Well now we're going to use sends to send a copy of vocals, and drums, and whatever we want to go a little bit into that reverb. I actually have got a reverb send on my drum bus. You don't even have to do it on individual drum tracks, you can put on your drum group track. To send a little bit I just pulled the fader up here, a little bit of all my drums into this reverb. For example, let me mute everything else and just take a listen to the drums by themselves. Now, I'm going to turn on the send or I'm sending a little bit of these drums, a copy of the drums to the reverb plugin, and take a listen to the drums to there's some reverb. If you listen carefully, especially in headphones, you're going to notice that decay now the drums are a little bit of a room. It sounds like the drums which were recorded in a little teeny bedroom with carpet. Sounds like now they were recorded in a live room in a big studio because, the sound mix because we've already done the hard work, but they decay a little bit and you get a sense of these drums or in a big studio. This is really subtle, but taking it from real close and small to being just a little bit spread out. It also takes like a snare hit, that just sounds like it's coming up the middle. Now when they snare hits, you hear it a little bit in the left and the right as well. It's made the snare a little bit wider, which is nice takeaway the reverb, just dry and up the middle. I'm sending a little bit of my drums to the reverb. Again, it's just a copy. The regular drums are still going to your Master Fader, still don't go into your speakers, but I'm just adding a little bit of the drums to blend into that reverb, and sending a little bit of the bass guitar track, believe it or not. The bass sounds like it's coming out of a base amp in a room a little bit, its cool, so here's that. Again, a little bit of a room sound on the bass. Some people don't put any reverb on base and I understand why. But sometimes like a rock mix, or a country mix it can sound really nice. Definition a little bit of room sound on the base so it doesn't sound so tiny and an unlike flight. Take away the verb. There's just not as realistic. Again, use your judgment, what you like, what sounds bass and a little bit of the base in there. A little bit up the whole Instrument Bus, which is a group track I have for all my guitars and Oregons, to send the guitars themselves through that so you can take a listen to, let's say, the main guitars in the course and the Oregon. Can you hear it mostly when I stop it, the little decay. You can hear just the guitars replayed in a little bit of a room and you see what I'm doing you're seeing a little bit of everything into this real subtle room reverb. Same thing with the vocals here alive, just solo lead vocal. Again, the vocals recorded in a carpeted small room. It sounds really dry by itself without the weaver buzz sound small. Which is okay. Again, this is the part of mixing it's so subjective. You might want to totally dry sound. You might even want to totally dry sound the vocal for one small section of the song where all of a sudden it sounds small, and you go, oh, it's really intimate and close. Then for the rest of the song had the reverb on and that's totally cool. But again, this reverb is not on my vocal track, it's on its own little track called verb, and I'm sending a little bit to the reverb. It's real subtle but together I'll play everything now, and I'm going to take away, I'll just mute the reverb track and you hear how it changes its real settled. Again, not make or break, but I think this gives you a little bit of width, a little bit of realism, a little bit of space. Now, the other thing I'd like to do is delays in fact, I like delays better than reverbs because they're a little more clean, lot more control, less washy. What you can do is, is grab any delay you want. There's lots of different ways you can use delay sometimes at a very obvious echoes that you hear in a song, it's repeating on and on. Sometimes it's very short delay that sounds more like a reverb, like a slap back, like you're in a small club playing or a bar, and you can hear the band slap an off the wall and it sounds really cool. There's a lot of ways to use a delay. I like to use delays on lead vocals. I've created a send on just the lead vocal, sent a little bit of it to this delay. What I'll do a solo vocal here. This is a very repeating, I've a lot of feedback on this mono delay, it's set to 250 milliseconds. You can sync it to your tempo, which is great. If your DAW has a certain tempo of the song, you can seek and say, I want a quarter note delay, and it can sound like this. The repeat will repeat in time as a quarter note would be for that song, or it could be faster like an eighth note. Even faster like a 16th note. Now starting to sound like a little bit of a slap back. If you pull the feedback way down, take off the reverb for a second. It'll sound like a little slap acts. That's one of my favorite settings too, because it's clean, but it sounds like I'm in a little small club, and this is great for lead vocals, it's great for lead guitar parts or synth parts where you want it to sound like, wow, that's an a room, and obvious like little room. Sometimes that really helps the song come to live. What I recommend is start with a mono delay. Why mono> well because it won't get too wishy-washy all over the place, especially if you have a stereo reverb. You can pan the mono delay wherever you like. I like to use this just to give the vocal a little bit of other worldliness. I like what we had going on here, where thing we had quarter notes, eighth notes, I have a little triplet which makes it sounds a little bit different and makes the vocal elongate a little bit. It sounds a little spiced up. You'll notice it like in versus. Just take versus 1. You need to bring up the scend if you want more of that effect. That's the beautiful thing about it being on Ascend, as you might want more of that effect in the verse, so you can hear it, and then pull it back down later in the course and you have that control. One last thing I want to show you about effects is, feel free to put an EQ after them. To change in sculpt, even the tone of the reverb of the delay you're given. I have a simple EQ on my reverb to roll off the low end of the reverb, and even roll out some of the top end of the reverb. It's not as bright and crispy sounding it sounds a little more round, and natural sounding so you can even clean up and further shape the tone of your reverbs and delays for the simple EQ. Again, the goal with effects is just to take an already clean mix, and just enhances slightly. The song might call for something supernatural, it might call for something super unrealistic but beautiful with lots of swimming echoes and delays. Every song is different. You can use reverbs and delays to do very different things. When I would recommend is pick your one reverb, your one delay that you have, and experiment with all the different settings and get a feel for just how much you can do. Because again, what I'm doing in this song, is just one way of using a reverb and a delay. Every song is going to be totally different. Find out what your ranges of what's possible, find out what you like, and you're going to get some defaults that you'd like to start with. Then it's just going to depend on the song. Does the artist or does the band, or is the client want it to be real dry, and real minimal? Then don't use a lot of reverb if any, use delays, maybe just to give the vocal a little bit of an edge but everything stays dry. Or does it need to sound the more realistic and life-like. Does your bedroom sound really small and choked and closed off. Use a little bit of a room reverb to give your mix a little bit more space, or breathes a little bit more. It might sound like it was recorded in a real studio is a very helpful effects. But just a little bit again, a little bit goes a long way here. I'd like to bring these end at the very end once I've got the EQ and compression sounding good. That's how I approach affects. The one last thing I want to show you in the final video, is how to take this mix that's already coming together, and get it a little bit louder for the mastering phase. 8. Quick Mastering: One of the most frustrating things, when I started mixing was getting a mix a sound of great, here in my room, rendering it down, bouncing it down, and then playing it in my car on my phone in iTunes playlist next to other legit songs that I like and noticing one major problem that my mix was really quiet. It sounded good here, I could turn up the speakers and get to sound great, but it sounded so quiet compared to everything else, and that's one of the quickest ways, to just not get noticed and to feel your mixes amateur if it's too quiet. What is it that professional mixes have that make them louder? Well, they've usually gone through a mastering process. Mastering can be a complex process, but at its core, it's very, very simple. It's a final step to get your mix to translate well on other sounds, speakers and environments, but also to get the whole song all the mixes up to, I like to use commercial volume, that's maybe a debatable term, but a volume that's better to be played on iTunes, on the radio, on YouTube, and that changed over the years, and the 80s and 90s that commercial level that everyone was accepting, was a lot quieter than it is today. There's something called the loudness worse, we don't have time to get into the political side of what's right and what's too loud, it's too quiet and that a lot of great resources out there. All I want to show you today is how can you use a simple tool that you already have in your DAW, to make your mix louder and sit comparable against any other professional track. May not be as loud as some, because some are really, really loud, but it's going to be hanging in the ballpark with any commercial song, that you have, or your friends, or the audience be playing, your mix against. All you need is a limiter. A limiter, and you already have one in your DAW, is a really simple plugin, it's basically like a compressor, and I want to show you how you can grab a limiter, get some more volume out of your mix, I want to show you a couple of simple settings you can use to take it to the next level. This point, you've got your mix, we've covered everything. We've used all the tricks of the trade to get our mixed to sound a lot, lot better, and we've come a long way and I want to see how far we come before we use the limiters, so this is really important. Sometimes I encouraged myself by bypassing all the plugins and saying, I have made a difference because you forget, have I made a difference in my mix? Because our ears adjust, they get used to every little tweak we make, and we start to think man, is my mix even any better? So let me just get to the chorus here, so just so we can hear, we've done, I'm going to press play and then I'm going to bypass all the plug-ins, and you'll here, what we've done so far.[MUSIC] Mass of difference. You take away those effects and all the things we've done, and it sounds boxy, muffled, flat, you go, man, we've actually made a huge difference with just our stock plugins. It's open, it's exciting, it's punchy, it's clear, it sounding great. So I encourage you, encourage yourself by bypassing everything and seeing what you've done so far. Now, the only problem is this mix is probably in real life, quieter than the average mixed on the radio. So what do we do? You do one final step on your mix bar or your master fader after your other effects you already have there, we want to grab a limiter. Usually you can have at least one, one here in Pro Tools that comes with it's called Maxim. Now, maxim is a traditional brick wall limiter and all it does is literally set up a ceiling to say make sure my mix doesn't get any louder than the ceiling, but then what it does is, it compresses just like a compressor. It's set to compress the loudest peaks or whatever you want it to do to turn those down a bit so that you can turn everything else up. If your snare drum, your kick drum, which are probably the loudest things really in your mix, if you look at them on a graph. If they're really peaking loud, the limiter allows us to turn those peaks down a little bit so that we can bring the volume of the vocals, and the guitars and all the mid-range stuff up to match it. So everything seems more in your face, at the same level, the average volume is going to come up. What I don't want you to do is kill your mix because you can get in a lot of trouble here, really making your mix sound harsh, taking out all the life out of the mix, and so it's a very easy way to damage your mix. So let me show you my simple foolproof method to get commercial loudness with a limiter. You can do this today, it's very, very simple and follow these guidelines and it'll help. Usually you're going to have something called the ceiling, or an output in this case called the ceiling, you don't want this to be actually a zero, you actually want to pull this down a little bit to minus 0.5 or minus 1. Why do you want to do this? Well, because when you render out your mix or convert it to an MP3 or something, it rounds off some of the peaks and actually potentially add some volume and you don't want to clip your converter. So I like to bring the ceiling down from zero, just to give me some safety in it. Then all you're going to do, is press play, at the loudest part of your song. Find the biggest section of the song, where all the instruments are in, where it's the loudest section. Find the section, press play, and slowly pull the threshold down. What this is going to do, is tell the limiter to start finding the level you want to compress at. You want to pull it down, so it's only starting to compress on the loud peaks, the kicks and the snares. With limiters, as you pull the threshold down, it's going to automatically turn the makeup gain up, it's going to turn the volume up at the same time. You're going to hear some level happen. What I'm going to do, is start to slowly pull the threshold down, and then I'm going to watch this meter over here called attenuation. This is the same as a gain reduction on my other compressor. This is how much does it squashing and when is it squashing? I want to look for one to two, maybe three DB of attenuation or 3DB of gain reduction at the loudest peaks, max as my guideline. Let me get to the final chorus because this is when everything is in, it's super loud. What I'm going to do, is pull the threshold down, and you're going to hear the mix getting louder. Just watch your ears heads up, the whole mix get louder on this video and then I'll show you what my settings ended up. [MUSIC] I hopefully didn't blow out your ears. What we see as I slowly pulled this down and you can see, this diagram or this graph shows me where all the sound is in my mix, and most of it is below the threshold. I'm actually not compressing most of the sound. I'm only compressing this little bits that creeped over the threshold, and that's probably the kick drum, it's probably the snare drum, and you can see the most attenuation it did on that one snare roll, snare drum fill was 2.5 DB, everything else was about 1 DB or less. To me, that's a sweet spot. I would probably leave the limiter there because know the loudest part of my song, I'm not going to squash my mix, I got plenty of volume because now if I bypass the limiter, my mix gets quieter, you can see what the real level of my mix was.[MUSIC] That's how you get volume, a simple brick wall limiter, those are my settings. You see right here actually did 5 and, set 0.7 DB attenuation for one reason or another, there was some hits, so I'll probably actually dial this back a little bit. There's some part of that song, we're just really crushed it a little too much. So you just find that sweet spot where it's not doing too much, it's only really compressing the loud peaks. It will automatically bring up the gain and everything else, and now you're ready to go. At this point you've got the mix sounding great, and you're just using the limiter to get more volume. That's the final step, you don't need mastering to really get a mix that's commercially viable that you can put on the Internet right now, share with your fans even sell. This is going to you the volume you need. Now, is mastering still useful? For sure, for various reasons, it's great to have someone else's ears on your mix who hasn't been working hard like you have to listen to it, and notice maybe something's a little bit on the low end, the top end, and they can do some final touches because they're unbiased. They also can do some cool things with EQ, multi-band compression, stereo widening, little tricks of the trade to maybe enhanced your mix a little bit, but here's something to always think about. I always tried to mix my songs to sound so good that mastering is not needed. I know always succeed that way, but that's my goal, is get the mix to sound so good that the mastering engineer with listened to and said there's nothing I need to do to this. That's my goal, and with the limiter, if you have a great sounding mix, you can get the volume that really when we think about mastering, that's what we're looking for is volume. That's going to give you the volume need, is not going to crush your mix, you're still going to have plenty of dynamics, songs overdo it, and you're going to have a mix that you're happy with, that can play along anything else on the radio or on your iTunes playlist. 9. Closing (And Bonus Gift): That was a lot. I hope you had fun. Because if it wasn't fun, there's no point. You've got to have fun doing this. What we just did was relatively simple though if you think about it. You don't need fancy plug-ins, to get a good sunny mix. It's not that you can't use them, it's not that they're not good, it's just that, what you need is an EQ, a compressor, reverb and delay as you saw the variant elimiter. Those are things you already have. What I'd rather you do, is learn how to use those tools well. Remember the top-down mixing things. Start there. Start with your Master Fader. A little bit of EQ, a little bit of compression, and start to get your mix to sizzle really quickly with only two plugins. You get the psychological boost, you mean less work down the line on the individual tracks, and the mix will come together faster. Then pick the instrument you really want to start with. I start with drums because for me it's the hardest thing to mix. Using EQ to clean up the tracks, and enhance the best parts of individual drums. Using compression and give a little bit of punch on things. Remembering the parallel compression that we did on the drums, can get the kick and the snare to really hit hard. That's the secret sauce for getting modern drums to hit hard in any genre I'm telling you. Then work your way up the line on this. I like to do bass next, we fatten ed up a little EQ and compression, a little bit of distortion. All the rest of the instruments were just High-Pass Filters, some complimentary EQ carving. Just cleaning up what doesn't need to be there, and then enhancing or poking out just a little bit of a sweet spots of those instruments. Remember, mix vocals last. It'll help you get the vocals to sit right on top. That way the vocals won't get buried. A little bit of EQ will clean it up, and then remember the stacked compression. Gentle compression once is great. Doubling up on that gentle compression, is really the key to getting every word and every syllable of that vocal to cut through and sit right on top of everything you're doing. Then a little bit of reverb, a little bit of delay depending on what the song calls for can really put some polish on the mix and give it a sense of space. Especially for us if we record in a small room, or a room has a lot of carpet. It's not exciting, there's no good room sound. Harness the power of a little reverb to give you a sense of space. Let your mix breathe, it'll sound like it was recorded in a bigger space which is nice. Then volume, use that limiter. It's not hard. It's easy to overdo. But it's not hard to do it right if you just follow those settings I recommended, to get the volume, still retain all the dynamics, and punch that you worked hard to make in the mix. Then when you export your mix through all that processing, the final mix whether it's for a CD, it's MP3 or whatever, is going to be loud enough that you're not going to warn up and I had this great sounding mix in my room, but now it's super quiet. So the limiter is key, getting that quick mastering and get it to sound great. I'm going to give you a heads up. The first time you go and try to mix this song, and I've included the tracks, the songs, so you can mix it yourself. I want you to be able to practice on these exact same tracks. Go back through, watch my exact settings on these exact tracks. I think it's an easier way to learn. You're not going to apply these to your own tracks just yet. But start with the tracks I supplied you with, get some practice. Will your first mix sound really, really amazing? Probably not. Was my first mix amazing? It was not. A lot of my students, their first mixes are way better than my first mixes. They're just either more talented, or the information is there and they can jump ahead faster than I ever could. You will too, especially with this class. But here's the secret, good mixers only got good because they did a lot of mixing. That's it. They did a lot of mixing over, and over again. They built their intuition, they built their skill set, they made mistakes. You get better at this the more you do. Don't try to buy your way to good mixes, try to practice your way to good mixes. I promise you I'll stick with you longer, you can do this in any platform, and it's more fun than just spending money on something and hoping it'll work. You are the only thing standing in the way of a good mix. It's you, it's not your gear. So get rid of that mentality, be encouraged. You have everything you need to get a killer sounding mix. You just need some time putting your reps and you're going to get there. I want to give you a little bonus. If you go to therecordingrevolution.com, there's a link right there. You can join my email list. I want to send you a free video called The Smart Start to Mixing. This is going to complement what you just learned beautifully. I'm going to show you how to harness the power of your plug-ins, at the beginning of your mix before you even jump into this stuff to get your plugins to sound even better. There's a way we like to set up our mixes in the digital domain to get them to sound better. That's different than we used to mix on analog console. I couldn't explain a lot of that here because it wasn't really as relevant and it would take way too much time, but I already have that put together when I'll give it to you as my free gift. It's called The Smart Start to Mixing. Just go to therecordingrevolution.com, jump on the list and I'll send it to you. I think that paired with this class, get your practice on, work all your mixes through this mentality, through this process, you're going to go really, really far and have a lot of fun. I also would love to hear from you. E-mail me Graham at therecordingrevolution.com and let me know how this class has helped you and let me know what you're working on. I'll love to keep up my students. Thanks for watching. Make great music and most importantly, have fun.