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Topic: My Home Mixing Tutorial, A Christmas Song and Other Related Items.

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  1. #1

    Wink My Home Mixing Tutorial, A Christmas Song and Other Related Items.

    I thought I would share a little recent experience here with my Garritan libraries and Sonar.

    For some time I had been planning a one-to-one tutorial session specifically on aspects of mixing in a professional studio. I use my Garritan libraries within Sonar and needed more input on the mixing process there. I phoned around to find a studio that used Sonar but it just doesn't seem to exist. The majority of studios here seem to use Pro Tools and a few use Cubase.

    Whilst speaking to one studio nearest to me, the person actually referred to Sonar as, " ..... just a domestic product". I replied curtly that he needs to go and take another look and be educated .. and that it is most certainly used by professionals. Needless to say he didn't get my booking.

    Eventually I found a studio where the engineer had first started out in the early days with Sonar but, presently, they are using Cubase. He suggested, quite wisely, that, in any case it would be much better for me if he came to me and we worked together using my equipment and software.

    Logically, it also occurred to me that it would be particularly useful at this time if I could be sufficiently ready with my Christmas song and to actually use that for the learning session. Well, that was another matter. I have had sooo little time this year it really has been a struggle. However, my own feelings are that nominating a song is akin to a promise. Before anyone jumps out at me from the forums, I emphasise that this is how it is for me personally. So, I dived in working hours I should be doing other things, often working late at night and in the small hours and made sufficient progress to book my home tuition.

    This took place yesterday, (Thursday) and was an excellent experience. It was a real eye opener. We spent a fair portion of the time on EQ and compression, all of which reinforced my own view that 'less is more'. It was also interesting that, on a few occasions, I found myself disagreeing with the 'edited' sound. One was the Garritan acoustic guitar and another was a hi-hat. Obviously we were hearing them differently, or, perhaps, more significantly, this was due to the role they would play in a particular style of music. This only served to increase the value of this learning session and highlighted my developing confidence in using these tools. He was a great tutor.

    An aside from all of this was his interaction with Sonar and his response to the tracks generated from the Garritan libraries. He was very complimentary of the sound. He took to Sonar like a duck to water. I now have the new Sonar Producer X3 and he was very taken with it. As the end of the session drew near there were whisperings of "I'm going to buy this". He then explained that he'd been having problems with the old Cubase iLok and that Steinberg were being less than helpful in dealing with it.

    We ended with an interesting discussion on why so many studios here in the UK use 'Pro tools'. One of the things mentioned was that so many clients here expect it. It's a PR thing, a perception with many pro clients that if a studio doesn't use it then it can't be a truly professional studio. It would be interesting to know if this is how it is in the US. From the Sonar forums it does seem that Sonar is used in far more professional studios there.

    So there it is. Oh .. and .. no .. I didn't manage to finish my mix of my Christmas song so .. it's back to the project and my determination to send it in before the deadline.

    It's now less than three weeks to go and I've never been this late before. The upside is that although, presently I have less time than ever, I feel more confident and more informed. That's not to say it'll be right first time but wouldn't it be the icing on the cake if it's close enough.
    Michael
    Patience is a virtue, sensitivity is a gift

  2. #2

    Re: My Home Mixing Tutorial, A Christmas Song and Other Related Items.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_uk View Post
    ...For some time I had been planning a one-to-one tutorial session specifically on aspects of mixing in a professional studio...

    ...it also occurred to me that it would be particularly useful at this time if I could be sufficiently ready with my Christmas song and to actually use that for the learning session...my own feelings are that nominating a song is akin to a promise...

    ...This took place yesterday, (Thursday) and was an excellent experience. It was a real eye opener. We spent a fair portion of the time on EQ and compression, all of which reinforced my own view that 'less is more'. It was also interesting that, on a few occasions, I found myself disagreeing with the 'edited' sound. One was the Garritan acoustic guitar and another was a hi-hat. Obviously we were hearing them differently...

    ...We ended with an interesting discussion on why so many studios here in the UK use 'Pro tools'...

    ...I feel more confident and more informed...
    Excellent, Michael! I was hoping you'd be filling us in on how your training session turned out. This is very good that you found someone qualified who worked right there with you in your own environment, conducting the session with Sonar and your Garritan Christmas project file. Perfect!

    Responding to quotes I pulled out above:

    I completely agree with you that getting on the list of volunteers doing Christmas CD projects means it should be considered a binding contract. You ask for a song, you're given the go-ahead, you should be able to guarantee that you'll actually follow through by producing the song. We all have a full year to do the job, and even when people are very busy, like you, there are always ways to get the track done. Every year we see a number of projects go unfinished, and I don't mind pointing out that some of the same people have been repeat non-finishers. It's beyond me - I don't get it. So, you have no argument with me. Glad you brought that point up.

    Your tutor focused on EQ and Compression - Logical, and I'm glad he did. Those really are the principal mixing tools, besides feeling out the automated volume levels throughout a mix, but that's something not difficult to understand how to do-it's just tricky getting balances we like and want. That's a matter of experience, doing a million mixes so we become more adept at it.

    I'm glad you said that you didn't always like the sound your instructor came up with. Goes to show--not only is it a matter of music genre, as you mentioned, but our own individual tastes. If the same raw tracks were given to five pro engineers to mix and master - you can bet you would get five rather different sounding final mixes.

    Pro Tools--Well, it really is pretty much the same here in The Colonies. I doubt if there are any pro studios that don't have Pro Tools as their primary program. They'll have Cubase, Digital Performer and Sonar in order to accommodate project files from clients, but they do the final work in PT.

    It was clever for the company to have the word "Pro" in it - I think that simple decision alone made them gain a lot of ground quickly.

    I'm sure it would be an interesting study in marketing and behind-the-scenes business machinations that made PT become the industry standard, but it's firmly entrenched now. There are imaging programs just as good as PhotoShop, but that's The Standard for that industry, and it will never change in the same way things won't change for the music industry.

    It's remarkable how PT has actually been consistently behind in development when compared to Sonar and other programs. I used to look at PT's list of AMAZING NEW FEATURES! whenever they upgraded, and was always amused that they'd be talking about things we'd taken for granted in Sonar for years.

    There's no way that PT is literally a "better" program - it's just the one that managed to find its niche at the top of the heap, and, as I said, that will probably never change.

    It's very good news that your session with the pro has left you feeling more informed and confident. Now--even though it looks like you'll be burning the midnight oil to do it, have fun finishing up your Christmas song!

    Thanks for the great post, Michael.

    Randy

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