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Author Topic: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?  (Read 5056 times)

xAm

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Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« on: April 27, 2004, 05:28:54 am »

I'm quite sure that this is has been beat to death, but since we're in "newnessville", I thought it might be OK to revisit this one.

Aside from just plain doing my best at getting the mix the way the client "wants" it, what are the most helpful things that I, as an AE, can do to help YOU, the ME, achieve the best results?

My short list looks something like this...

1. Use as long attack times and as short release times as possible when compressing an individual track.

2. Don't over compress the final 2 buss mix. Use as little compression/limiting as possible.

3. Mix at no more than 90db peak. (A weighted w/Medium integration times)

4. The 2 buss levels should stay BELOW -3db peak.

5. Call ahead and ask for your preferred medium(s) for a project to be received in.

6. Package the project to include a copy of any "important" mix notes or ideas that were discussed with the client at mix. Mix notes should include the the level that the mix was done at.

7. Luck #7... and probably the most important point... Don't rely upon everything to be "fixed" in mastering... fix the mix first.

What other things should I do to make your task easier, better, etc.?

I've got the first project in a while that a client wants to take to mastering, and I thought a review would be helpful to everyone... but mostly its selfish reasons.

Max
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Ed Littman

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Re: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2004, 11:45:57 am »

I would be glad if all the AE's that sent me mixes  were this considerate.

But... #1. I think you should use the compression setting to your taste. it should vary every time depending on the tracks needs, just don't use compression as a default or to just "get it loud"

#3. 90bd peak ? what scale is this? Please 'splane.

Ed
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bblackwood

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Re: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2004, 12:35:21 pm »

All those are good. I think that pretty much sums up how all records probably should be mixed...
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Brad Blackwood
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Re: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2004, 12:53:27 pm »

I'm kinda liking that list...  Razz
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John Scrip
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lucey

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Re: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2004, 02:59:30 pm »

xaMdaM wrote on Tue, 27 April 2004 04:28


1. Use as long attack times and as short release times as possible when compressing an individual track.

2. Don't over compress the final 2 buss mix. Use as little compression/limiting as possible.

3. Mix at no more than 90db peak. (A weighted w/Medium integration times)



Max,

I'd adjust these two just a bit, otherwise ... thanks for setting a standard   Smile


1. Compression - Make it sound good.  The compressiona at mixing is totally a creative choice and depends on your techniques, tracks, style and gear on hand.  With parallel track or sub buss compression you can go ballistic on compression and mix it in with the dry track just fine.

2. Compress for tone, not levels.   No limiting, normalization or multi-band compression on the 2 mix.


(With #3 he's talking about his volume at the mix position of 85-90.)
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Brian Lucey
Magic Garden Mastering

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Labs

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Re: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2004, 04:35:37 pm »

And dont forget to include mints.

Gustav
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xAm

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Re: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2004, 06:03:06 pm »

lucey wrote on Tue, 27 April 2004 14:59

Max,

I'd adjust these two just a bit, otherwise ... thanks for setting a standard   Smile


1. Compression - Make it sound good.  The compressiona at mixing is totally a creative choice and depends on your techniques, tracks, style and gear on hand.  With parallel track or sub buss compression you can go ballistic on compression and mix it in with the dry track just fine.

2. Compress for tone, not levels.   No limiting, normalization or multi-band compression on the 2 mix.


(With #3 he's talking about his volume at the mix position of 85-90.)


Gosh, I'm setting a standard? Wow! (Been accused of lowering standards... but NEVER setting one!?!?) How'd I do that?

As far as my wording on compression... that's what I was trying to indicate... compression to taste... but not over done. As mixing is an art, so an artist must learn not to add too many brush strokes or the work will be overdone.

I know that what I hear at mix is going to be smaller than what is actually pressed out after mastering. So a little compression goes a long way. At least with my rig it seems that way. When it sounds good at my mix position, I open up the comps just a touch.

I can't imagine doing a mix without any hard limiting. (I think that's the right term. If not I apologize) Any limiting should be the type that is there only as a safety net, to stop some single harsh event. Like a dead limit at 0db. If you go over 0db, the mix isn't generally worth sending to mastering is it? (Assuming delivery of a project in the digital domain... DAT, CD, ADAT)

Which brings up a question... do you guys generally prefer 1/4" analog to DAT? (Tascam 32 vs. DA20) It's all I got!





... and one last point... I would send Starmints or Reisens in the mail, but they melt so easily... would Mentos be an insult?

Max
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bblackwood

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Re: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2004, 10:39:01 pm »

xaMdaM wrote on Tue, 27 April 2004 17:03

If you go over 0db, the mix isn't generally worth sending to mastering is it? (Assuming delivery of a project in the digital domain... DAT, CD, ADAT)

Depends. Probably better using  a safety limiter, but sometimes clipping is more transparent. If you stay far enough from 0dBfs, this isn't an issue, though.

Quote:

Which brings up a question... do you guys generally prefer 1/4" analog to DAT?

Whichever one you think sounds better or more closely sounds like what the client wants. I like analog tape for many things, but some projects sound better dig. With most every DAT machine I've ever seen you'd probably want better AD converters for the DAT machine.
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Brad Blackwood
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mcsnare

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Re: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2004, 11:22:54 pm »

Wow Max, that's a pretty awesome list. I agree with the other guys, it's not about what settings or how much compression you are using, just make it sound good.
My pet peeve, is getting stuff sitting at o dbfs because nobody paid attention to the level to the DAT/Masterlink/ect. It annoys the heck otta me. But, it's almost as bad to get something with too much L2 on the mix buss, which is a common trap to fall into, these days. Pull the overall level down if you are concerned with overs, don't use any L2 unless you LOVE what it does for the sound of the mix. Personally, I think the stereo buss in Pro Tools sounds best when you're lightin' some red.....
Dave McNair

j.hall

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Re: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2004, 11:20:13 am »

mcsnare wrote on Tue, 27 April 2004 22:22

Personally, I think the stereo buss in Pro Tools sounds best when you're lightin' some red.....
Dave McNair


off topic, but i've found the exact opposite.  interesting!

i quit using PT, or mixing in the box since i found the harder i hit the 2mix (and the more tracks i had) the smaller it sounded.

ever since then, i've tried to be rather conservative when printing to digital sources.
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Cram

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Re: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2004, 11:41:31 am »

I may be exposing myself since Brad just recently mastered some of my stuff, but hey what the hell...

I don't mix with an ear towards mastering, I mix with an ear towards mixing.  I compress and EQ however I feel best represents the track or instrument.  I then trust that the mastering engineer understands what I was doing, and masters accordingly.

That said, your guidelines are good ones IMHO.Smile
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Tom Cram
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bblackwood

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Re: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2004, 01:50:14 pm »

I think that's wise, Tom. You guys mix the records, let the mastering guy master it. Don't try to guess what the mastering engineer is going to do, as he should be doing only what he hears needs to be addressed, not just sticking to a 'mastering formula'...
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Brad Blackwood
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lucey

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Re: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2004, 04:15:16 pm »

xaMdaM wrote on Tue, 27 April 2004 17:03


I can't imagine doing a mix without any hard limiting. (I think that's the right term. If not I apologize) Any limiting should be the type that is there only as a safety net, to stop some single harsh event. Like a dead limit at 0db. If you go over 0db, the mix isn't generally worth sending to mastering is it? (Assuming delivery of a project in the digital domain... DAT, CD, ADAT)


Like Brad said, skip the limiter and lower the level if it's digital.  -5 to -3dbfs is fine. The L2 has a sound, even lightly hit, which is best to avoid.  

If you like analog, it's a taste thing as to level.  Something's are best printed light, some hot, etc ...



Tom, that's a great point.  As ME for hire I saw how my mixing was not what it could be.  Learn from others mistakes, I guess.  My Mixer Hat was colored by a mastering view.  It was a mistake to think too far ahead.  Each step has it's integrity, and each step is necessary.

I just got up a new website with a phrase similar to yours "Mix a mix.  do not master a mix.
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Brian Lucey
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dcollins

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Re: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2004, 01:26:50 am »

xaMdaM wrote on Tue, 27 April 2004 02:28
Quote:


My short list looks something like this...

1. Use as long attack times and as short release times as possible when compressing an individual track.


I don't agree.  If it's a effect that you're going for, there are no rules for the sound of an individual track!  A super-fast attack might be just what you need...
Quote:


2. Don't over compress the final 2 buss mix. Use as little compression/limiting as possible.


Except compression is a part of rock.  Just make it sound good and don't murder it with limiting.
Quote:


3. Mix at no more than 90db peak. (A weighted w/Medium integration times)


Could be.  Going much quieter is also good advice.  Like "whisper" level.
Quote:


4. The 2 buss levels should stay BELOW -3db peak.


At or below -3 dBFS, you mean?  I'd go with that.
Quote:


5. Call ahead and ask for your preferred medium(s) for a project to be received in.


Sure, I guess not everybody can accept analog tape nowadays, but unless your sending 2 bit mu law, any reputable studio can take any format.

DC

echorec

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Re: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2004, 06:22:11 pm »

xaMdaM wrote on Tue, 27 April 2004 10:28


1. Use as long attack times and as short release times as possible when compressing an individual track.



How about the setting on the 2-bus?
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echorec

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Re: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2004, 06:34:49 pm »

lucey wrote on Tue, 27 April 2004 14:59


Which brings up a question... do you guys generally prefer 1/4" analog to DAT? (Tascam 32 vs. DA20) It's all I got!



My mastering guy (at Polar studios over here) just mastered two versions of one song. The same mix but one 24bit digital and one 1/4". The A/D conversion was a Swissonic AD96, the D/A was Prism and my tape machine is a MCI JH110.

He did a great job on the 2 masters and I took it home to listen. The 1/4" version was superior. Nicer low end, nicer stereo image, nicer everything...
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xAm

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Re: Old Topic-What do I need to do for YOU?!?
« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2004, 05:57:59 am »

Wow! Lots of great info and thanx for the feedback!

Brad, your point about the DAT A/D... When I go to DAT, I use the converters in my CDRW-5000 first. Obviously not the best converters, but definitely better than the DA-20's.

The compression notes (#1 in particular) were tough to word. Again...

If I'm doing a classic rock genre song, you better believe I'm squashin' the bejezus out of the kik, snare and bass. If I'm mixing a bluegrass combo, I'm gonna need to be really judicious with compression on anything other than the upright bass and banjo. The thought though is to be careful and not to just set the attack/release at either limit INDISCRIMINATELY, or without some reason to do so... there ain't no concrete rules, but there are some common sense reasons to do some things.

As an AE, I need to be aware that  leaving no attack on an instrument CAN kill exactly what you ME's need... some signal to work with. That, and a 2 second release time CAN do the same thing... depending upon the instrument of course.

I guess the word/phrase I should have used (and debated on using) was... as short of attack times as PRACTICAL and as long of release times as PRACTICAL. Keeping these times all relative to the instrumentation of the individual track.

The wording of possible v. practical was really bugging me, as neither one accurately describes the "concept" that I've discussed with a couple of local ME's in the past. Not only that, but if someone ever does a search, I think that they could easily get confused... as the "possible" wording works the way an AE is going to tweak a compressor, versus the "practical" wording. .. which indicates the action of compression settings... eg. just the opposite wording with the same meaning. (did that make sense?)

I've always been warned about using too much compression on the 2-buss. The numbers I've seen generally tossed around are on the order of 1.5:1 - 2:1 at a relative threashold of 0db. (or higher) depending on the compressor. And the -3db reference was indeed -3dbFS.

Now, I don't have the worlds best comp/limiter collection at all, so I'm a bit nervous about my 2-buss inadvertantly getting the life squashed out of it... as most AE's should be, IMHO. I generally use either my RNC's or the Langevin DVC (Limiter section ONLY) on the final 2-buss... when I am mixing stuff that I need to worry about compressing the 2-buss.

(So anyone wanna suggest a dedicated 2-buss comp?) I've been thinking about an LA2A, Pendulum ES-8, or the SSL X-Logic. I'm wanting a tool that can be transparent or at most minimally aggressive. Price is a concern... under $4k would be ideal.

Sorry for being kinda' long winded here folks... but the day gig has been suking all of my time and there are lots of great points that were posted...

I generally try to actually do a mix with my sound level meter/spectrum analyzer reading no more than 86db. Should I consider going lower? How low?

When I mix, I mix the mix... or more accurately, the mix "tells" me what I need to do. If I need to clip something to get the distortion of the channel strip, by God, that's what I'm gonna do. (Actually did that once w/ an electric guitar... sounded pretty righteous too.) The knobs on the gear go from one extreme to another for a reason. It's all about knowing what to turn, how much and when.

I don't send too much stuff to mastering. Most of the time, my clients take home "finished" one-off CD's from me. They take em' home and burn their own dupe's. But, If I don't take into consideration the fact that a project is going to go to mastering, I can easily do some really stupid things that will degrade your ability to give the client less than your best efforts, right?

Thanx again for the pointers,

Max
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