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Topic: Questions about Final Mixes

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  1. #1

    Question Questions about Final Mixes

    let me start by saying that i feel like this has already been touched upon in the forum, so if someone can find the link then you can list that instead of going through it once again (i looked for a while and couldn't find it). so here are my questions:

    when i get done writing my piece, in this case Logic, what do i do now, in terms of bouncing everything to audio so i can mix it. should i pan all the instruments to the center then export them as audio files or leave them the way they are?

    then, after deciding what to do with that first question i'm lead to this one: do i bounce all the groups of instruments? in logic when you bounce the tracks it will record all tracks of a software instrument to one audio track. so if i have strings and a french horn on one konakt player they will all be combined to a single audio file as opposed to each of them getting their own audio track(make sense?).
    or...
    should i take the time to bounce every single track to a separate audio file? this would be a lot more work, because i would have to mute certain tracks on each bounce and so forth. but if it would help for a better end result then i'd love to take the time.

    i am only asking this because i recently completed a piece that i was really proud of and i thought it was mixed pretty well... then i re-listen to the DPDAN rendering of the GPO contest winner from a while back, and i realized how poorly i did. i know that i won't get anything close to what people like dan can do, seeing as mixing isn't really my thing, but i'd sure like to try. i know that for me, and most of us in the forum, most of our music is only going to be what we make of it. we probably aren't going to get real orchestras to play them, and we probably won't even have a professional sound engineer mix them, so to make our songs what we imagine them to be we're going to have to go the extra mile. anyway, if anyone has any advice i'd greatly appreciate it if you could share it. thanks.
    -Keith Fuller

    http://keithfullermusic.com
    ---
    iMac Quad i7 * MacBook Pro * Logic Studio 9 * WD 320GB & 1TB Externals@7,200RPM * Presonus Firebox * M-Audio Axiom 25 & Keystation 61 * Rode NT1-A * Epiphone Hollowbody * Fender Amp * KRK Rokit 8's

  2. #2

    Re: Questions about Final Mixes

    Hey Keith.

    I am assuming you are on your Macbook Pro, so here is a good workflow you can use.

    In Logic, you should assign a bus to all of your tracks for Space designer, Then you can tweak that bus for the entire mix, so your reverb is even. Now you can freeze all of your tracks, which basically makes them temporary audio files. It is then you can adjust the volume and pan for each track (I recommend using Logic's Directional Mixer for panning) To add Song wide effects, go to your output channel strip in the track mixer and use a preset, or add your own compression, reverb tail eq, etc. After you are done, make sure you don't clip and bounce everything to an aiff file. From there you can import into waveburner if you want to do some more in-depth mastering.

    Hope This helps!
    God Bless,

    Jeremy

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Re: Questions about Final Mixes

    I was at the same crossroads about a month ago and decided to bite the bullet and learn more about the technical things that enhance the recorded sound. I bought the lessons from Beat Kaufmann which took me from Samples to Midi and then from Midi to Audio (His titles for the two courses).

    There is a lot of material there and I am still slugging through it for the fourth time to try and understand it once and for all.

    I am not sorry about ordering the course. It is exactly what I need. How well I do will be up to me.

    Best wishes to you and good luck in your search,
    tony h
    tony h
    Master Comp. P5 deluxe intel dual core, Windows XP Pro, 4G ram, HD's=OS Audio, two samples, Cubase 3/4 , GVI Kirk Hunter Concert strings, KH Concert brass, Emerald, Miroslav strings, brass, Quantum Leap brass. DAW and Master comp by pcaudiolabs- Slave Comp for VI only, Gigabyte Intel ,8G ram, ethernet, Windows Vista Ultimatex64, VI Ensemble,VI SE Appasionata strings.

  4. #4

    Re: Questions about Final Mixes

    Sorry, forgot to mention this!!!

    The Stereo spread plugin is great for the wide orchestra sound! Us it on your output channel for mastering

  5. #5

    Re: Questions about Final Mixes

    Hi Keith,
    That is so nice of you to talk so well of me, thank you "blushing"

    I am always impressed when someone here wants to do their best and realize that there are no shortcuts, but the end result is usually something you can be proud of after the time is well spent.

    Here are a few things to consider when attempting to make a great sounding mix with samples...

    Midi is just the paper piano roll.
    Think about looking at a nine foot $90,000.00 Steinway Concert grand piano at the Steinway store. Imagine if you could have your midi file of your composition played by a concert pianist on that very piano right in front of you.

    Bear with me as I am making this up as I go. Imagine again that the salesperson explains that this piano has a new, but very old feature and that it plays the old paper piano rolls. You just happen to have in your car your most recent "paper" midi file piano roll with you and the salesman says "bring it in" let's hear it.

    You are so excited like you were when you played your first note from GPO. The salesperson takes your paper piano roll and threads it into the player and it starts playing. Immediately you hear very unmusical volume, consistant velocities of the notes, no human expression to speak of. The reason is because typically a midi file is basically the notes. I know,,, there is much more to a midi file these days, but hear me out for this cheezy analogy.

    Now, if those notes were printed on paper as in sheet music (score) a real concert pianist would play that piano with incredible life, emotion would pour out from his/her soul, probably much like what you had heard in your mind while you were making the midi file, whether it be in a sequencer or notation program.

    The analogy here is that once the piece is in the form of midi, that quite factually (as I believe) is just not good enough to create the best sounding recording of that music. It needs the touch of the master's hand ,,, sorry I couldn't resist that great old saying.

    Yes, the midi must trigger the most appropriately chosen instrument, and the midi data must have all the necessary data in the track to make that instrument play as good as it can. Every bit of data has to be perfect... modwheel for expression like GPO uses, every single individual note velocity, overlapping of notes for the perfect legato sound, aftertouch for controling vibrato if the instrument has that feature. All these things have to be perfect and if they're not, why would we expect the instrument to sound real?

    I believe programming in the midi domain is half the job, the other half is taking the audio tracks of each and every single instrument, and mixing and blending it with the other instruments to obtain a wonderful, expressive mix that is able to pull at the various strings in our heart and soul as we listen. Just as a conductor does during a live concert, even though each musician already has the music in front of them, the conductor can hush the sound at a moments notice. I love that!!!!!!

    Part of this process no doubt relys on the ears of the individual making this audio recording. In case this is old news, I made a mixing tutorial for the Garritan customers, and it can be found here. It is very basic, but outlines the necessary steps of achieving a reasonably lifelike mix.

    I do this for a living, and I am always just a click away.
    I am blessed, and want to be a blessing to others. I am always happy to help and answer any questions you might have.

    Dan

  6. #6

    Re: Questions about Final Mixes

    What a great post, Keith.

    Everyone has given you some great responses. Let me take a crack at a few things too:

    Quote Originally Posted by keithjfuller
    when i get done writing my piece, in this case Logic, what do i do now, in terms of bouncing everything to audio so i can mix it. should i pan all the instruments to the center then export them as audio files or leave them the way they are?
    Some people do like to pan everything to center so that once in they are in the Audio realm, all panning decisions are made there.

    I don't do that, and a lot of people don't. As Dan has eloquently said, a great deal of your work can be done in the MIDI realm, so I feel it's fine to have your instruments panned to where you want them. If that panning mix is sounding the way you want at that point, before bouncing, why not go with it? It sounds different - better in my opinion, to have them where you want them in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by keithjfuller
    ...do i bounce all the groups of instruments?... as opposed to each of them getting their own audio track...or...
    should i take the time to bounce every single track to a separate audio file?
    Follow Plan B - bounce every instrument to its own separate audio file. It doesn't take That long does it really? Then you have complete flexibility once you're working on the project in the Audio realm.

    A sketch of what I do at this point could be helpful:

    ... I automate the fader movements of each instrument's track. That calls for listening to the song from the perspective of each individual instrument in its relation to the rest, on down the list. Those fader movements are automated with a combination of recording the movements in real time, and hand drawing volume envelopes in the track view of Sonar which I use.

    Then each section of the orchestra is directed to a bus which is dedicated to it. All the Woodwinds are on one bus, for instance - Now, on top of the additional volume control I've added to each instrument, each Section can be kept in constant balance with the other sections throughout the piece.

    Once I've finished with all of that, including the use of busses for reverbs, EQ, etc - the whole thing is mixed down to a 2 track recording. That mix is taken to Sound Forge where I do yet more editing and mastering.

    But whatever you do, keep your work in perspective. Be as much of a maniac perfectionist as you want to be, but if you find yourself zooming in to microscopic views and using digital tools which reveal supposed "imperfections" in your work which you can't hear for yourself on playback - then you've gone too far. Just try to not go There.

    Hope that's helpful!

    Randy B.
    (rbowser)

  7. #7

    Re: Questions about Final Mixes

    thank you so much everyone for your suggestions. i have been applying, or attempting to apply all of them, and i really mean that.

    my question, and maybe this is just because i'm kind of dumb with DAWs, but how do you "group" audio files. i keep reading that i should group all my strings, or brass to a separate bus? i know that i can create a bus with effects, such as reverb, then send that bus to a particular track. is that what everyone means? i don't know... i'm confused...

    but once again, thank you for your suggestions so far, they really have been helpful.
    -Keith Fuller

    http://keithfullermusic.com
    ---
    iMac Quad i7 * MacBook Pro * Logic Studio 9 * WD 320GB & 1TB Externals@7,200RPM * Presonus Firebox * M-Audio Axiom 25 & Keystation 61 * Rode NT1-A * Epiphone Hollowbody * Fender Amp * KRK Rokit 8's

  8. #8

    Re: Questions about Final Mixes

    Hello again, Keith - Great question - I sketched in some of my response earlier, not knowing how much detail was needed:
    Quote Originally Posted by keithjfuller
    ...how do you "group" audio files. i keep reading that i should group all my strings, or brass to a separate bus? i know that i can create a bus with effects, such as reverb, then send that bus to a particular track. is that what everyone means?...
    My point of reference is Sonar, different from you, but the principal has to still apply.

    For now, this description is ignoring the need for reverb. Let's say we simply want to group our instruments like you're asking about.

    In the Console, or Mixer View - you have all the fader modules - the strips with all the controls for each track in your project.

    In Sonar, at the very bottom of each fader module, there's a window where you select where the audio output of that track will be directed. It defaults, in Sonar, to the sound card.

    If you already have busses set up in your project, then those busses will be among the choices of where faders can be sent.

    If you want to group your instruments together, as an example, you just click on the window at the bottom of the fader strip and choose "Strings" - to send that track, a String track, to the bus which is labeled Strings.

    After doing that, even though you have separate automation for each of the instruments comprising the strings,--now altogether their volume can be controlled as a group in relation to the groups which you've also made with all the Brass, Woodwinds and Percussion. Each of those groups has a single fader to control their group volume.

    Note that the busses also need to be directed to where they're going. At the bottom of the fader, you want each of the busses to be directed to another bus called Master.

    NOW--that was all in literal response to your question.

    What I do if I need even more control is that I sometimes group all the instruments of each section as I described above, but then I direct that busses' output to Another bus which is dedicated to a reverb especially set up for that section of the orchestra.

    See?------I hope so.

    Randy B.
    (rbowser)

  9. #9
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    Re: Questions about Final Mixes

    Keith knows how to ask the the right questions. This is a beautiful thread filled with mixing wisdom. After Dan Kurry's great post topping off those others, i was going to save this as a text for reference, but then decided i better wait in case more great info is added. Randy's great post shows i made a good call there. This is turning out to be the perfect manual for my desktop sitting right beside Dan's Audio Mixing Tutorial, maybe i'll wait some more even, and see what happens.

    Thanks everyone!!

    David

  10. #10

    Re: Questions about Final Mixes

    randy - thanks for that follow up. i tried it and it works wonderfully, much easier that i thought it would be. in logic, on each of the tracks there are insert slots, and beneath those are sends, and beneath that there are outputs. i changed the output to a bus number and then logic creates a blank mixer track and i can route or group sections through it. i then create a bus for the reverb that i send to the group. is this the proper way of going about it?

    also, whats the downside to just putting a reverb plug-in (in my case space designer) into the insert slot? does it sound different. or is the main problem that i would have to insert reverb plug-ins on all the tracks which would eat my computer?

    even if this doesn't make my stuff sound better it sure makes me feel more like a professional. after i fool around with this stuff for a while i'll ask some more questions. thanks again everyone.
    -Keith Fuller

    http://keithfullermusic.com
    ---
    iMac Quad i7 * MacBook Pro * Logic Studio 9 * WD 320GB & 1TB Externals@7,200RPM * Presonus Firebox * M-Audio Axiom 25 & Keystation 61 * Rode NT1-A * Epiphone Hollowbody * Fender Amp * KRK Rokit 8's

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