Download Andrew's Mixing Template
Multi-platinum mix engineer Andrew Scheps, walks you through his entire mixing template, track by track, revealing the in the box mixing setup that he uses on every mix!
In this hour and half long tutorial, Andrew shows you how he imports his template to quickly setup his sessions and start mixing with familiar routing, plugins and effects all ready to rock.
The best part is after you watch Andrew walk through his template, you can download the same template session, that’s been carefully translated to 5 different DAWs using stock plugins.
Learn how legendary mix engineer Andrew Scheps sets up his mixes and then download and start developing your own mix system based on his template. Swap in your own favorites plugins and build a reliable mixing system for yourself to use on every mix.
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- 00:00 - Start
- 04:53 - Updating The Template
- 06:48 - Session Layout
- 11:58 - Bus Menu
- 13:04 - Color Theory
- 18:42 - Session Routing
- 22:26 - Drum Compressors
- 45:35 - Percussion
- 00:00 - Start
- 00:0 - Global Effects
- 13:06 - Lead Vocal Tracks
- 22:10 - Mix Buss
- 29:54 - Applying The Template
|Part 1||Part 2|
Hey kids, we're back and now we're gonna talk about something which is not directly mixing because we're never gonna hit play and listen to audio but it's everything else that has anything to do with mixing.
That would be my mix template session, how I prep a session I'm sent that is to be mixed and how I import my template into that session so that when I start mixing I'm ready to start mixing as opposed to setting up.
I've managed to encapsulate all of my session set up process into one little ball that can be done very quickly on any song that I get sent and it makes the song look familiar to me and sound familiar to me in a certain way, and you'll see what I mean when we actually apply my template to a session we're gonna open up later on.
The session I've got open right now is my actual mix template.
So, this is a session that is saved on my start up drive so it's always available no matter what drive I've got hooked up for the actual audio sessions.
So, I get a session from an artist.
It's got a bunch of audio it might have a million aux tracks, 65.000 plug-ins, whatever it happens to be I will then import session data from this session into that session.
So, let's focus on what I've got in my template.
There are basically only Aux tracks, master tracks, and then I've got some placeholder tracks, which are actually Auxes at the bottom which we'll get to last, because they're much more about this session prep than they are anything else.
Before I go down the actual track list I wanna show you something which is a big part of my session set up actually.
If we go to my I/O Setup and look at my buses I've got 16 outputs, it doesn't matter how many physical outputs I've got..
generally this will be remapped to whatever hardware is mapped when I first open up the session I'm gonna mix because this is being imported in.
But what's important is I've got Bus 1 to 128 in the session. So, what that does is it fills up the Bus A menu, then starting from Bus 129 are all of the Buses that I use in my session and they are actually in a very specific order.
So, I'm gonna take you through the Buses within my I/O Setup and then you'll see those Buses all show up inside the template itself.
The first thing is every single bus that I use in my template is named.
This is huge. As soon as a Bus is not named it means that you've got a little number in a little chicklet on the screen while you're mixing and you're not quite sure where that goes.
So, what I've done instead is using named Buses. In this way once I import session data into the other session this will populate the Bus B menu (and I'll show you what it means once I close this dialog) so that, my Buses are always in the Bus B menu and the Buses that were already used in the session if any, are in the Bus A menu.
So, there will always be 128 Buses in the A menu none of which are from my template.
Bus B is nothing but my Buses.
The very top Bus is called Mix Buss.
This is where my mix goes to.
Every track whether it goes through three Auxes on the way here, or not, going directly there out of the audio track It doesn't matter how it gets there but eventually gets to the stereo Bus called Mix Buss.
That feeds the track in my session that has all my 2-Bus processing, which then goes to an Audio track to be recorded.
Right below that is Rear Buss.
This is the shared parallel compressor that is for all the instruments in the mix. Usually except drums, although there's an example on the PureMix site where I actually did put the drums into the Rear Buss..
but this are the more commonly used Buses in my template and this is why they're on top.
They would be at the top of the B menu for Buses.
Then from there we actually start working down through the instruments in the order that they will appear in any session that I've set up. I always work top to bottom: Drums, starting with kick ending with room mics or miscellaneous mics.
Then percussion, then bass, then guitars and keys and those can actually kind of switch places I don't care whether keys come first or guitars come first.
That's more about how the session is already set up.
Then after that would be any other instruments.
So, if there are strings or horns or things like that that would come after the guitars and keys.
If there's a bunch of programming that would actually come somewhere up near the drums. Either above or below live percussion. That depends on the session.
Just depends how it's set up. Then we get to lead vocals. Then we get to background vocals.
So, you'll see here that I've got Kick, Snare and Crush down to Fatso.
These are associated with drum effects.
and you'll see all of these in the template in a second.
Then we get percussion.
They we actually get a Bus that is no longer in my template. I used to have a 'mono bass track' crush Aux and this Bus is just laid around.
So, I could delete it from my template.
and I just did. So, we've just updated the template.
Which is another important point, a little bit out of order here, my template gets updated to the point where it gets saved under a new name, at least every couple of months.
Basically I'll get sick of something or I'll build a new thing inside of a mix that I like and I get sick of doing it over and over and as soon as I've done it two or three times I'll decide "you know what? I've got to take a second...
...close the song open my template and make the change permanent" So, after percussion you'll see that there's nothing specific except for the vocal Buses now and that's because there's no specific processing that happens parallel for things like guitars, keyboards strings, horns. That stuff is all built on a case by case basis.
But the vocals I have some very specifics stuff built, which I'll show you in a second.
And then once you get down below the Background's Bus now we're into sort of generic stereo processing.
There's the stereo vocal crush which is only used on vocals but then you've got Aphex, Slap, Spread which are effects that are used for many different types of instruments.
It could be used just for vocals but it could also be used on guitars or on drums. It could be used on anything.
Then there's a bus call Print this is just a Bus that feeds the audio track that I'm printing the mix to so I would never assign something to print myself.
That's why it's down at the bottom and the you've got a couple other Buses which are sort of internal to the routing of the template but I would almost never be assigning something directly to them.
That way I don't need to go down to the bottom of my menu to find them. So, my most used Buses are the top of my D menu and then I go in order by instrument so it's easy for me to find things.
Now really quickly I'm just gonna say Ok and come out here, and you'll see that I've got a bunch of Auxes, things like that, I've got Auxes assigned to Mix Buss so this things will all go directly to my Mix Buss.
I've got some sends here which we'll go through in a second.
I've got a few plug-ins that are sprinkled around the session and you'll see that there's some inactive plug-ins as well.
These are things that are either alternate for the active plug-ins or it's something that I don't always use but I've used more often than a couple of times, so I decided let me pop it into the template so it's there an available but it's used, I would say less than half of the time.
More than half of the time it would be active and I would go to the process of deciding whether or not I want it and then make it inactive if I didn't.
I'll go through the color coding in a second.
There're also a bunch of VCA masters.
Which are labeled with colors and with groups of instruments those would get assigned to groups as it's part of the session prep but they live in the session.
But the tracks in the session flow down the exact same way those buses did. So from here to here (to the VCA for drums) that's all drum's stuff.
Then I've got an extra VCA for programming just in case I have some, but there's no specific processing.
Then I've got an Aux for percussion an a percussion VCA, so there's very little for percussion but it does exist as an Aux just in case and I show you why when we look at what that send is.
Then I've got VCAs for bass, keys and guitars. Again there's no processing involved but the VCA is made.
Then here we get back into some actual processing and this chunk right here is all of my vocals and what I do is drop this entire chunk of tracks in-between my lead vocals, which should be right above this and my background vocals, which would go just below.
And the reason for this is one: visually being able to find all my vocals, being able to work in the balance of the lead and the background vocals So even if I've got 60 tracks of background vocals rather than following the convention that I usually follow, which you'll see later, of having the audio tracks above the processing and the VCA that controls them, I've actually put the background processing above the background vocals.
So, if I'm doing a track with 60 tracks of backgrounds I don't have to scroll down through them to get to the actual stuff that's affecting the sound.
Then below that we get into the effects that are those sends that were in my Bus menu basically in the exact same order. So, Aphex Rear Buss, 'cos I'm not generally needing to get to this Aux. The return from that Rear Buss can live anywhere. We'll go through specifically what is doing processing-wise in a bit.
Then I've got my vocal effects. So, reverb and slap.
The slap gets used, kind of, as it is quite a bit.
The vocal reverb is really just a placeholder just so I have a send to a reverb, but what this reverb is would change up.
But I'll show you what's on it now and maybe we'll even change what's on the template today.
Then I've got stereo vocal crush, which is a parallel compressor.
Then spread, which is an effect I'll show you in a bit.
Gets used on vocals quite a bit. Also gets used on guitar solos, anything that wants to be spread out and be pseudo-stereo.
Now we've got the two tracks that are the main processors for the Mix Buss there's a Master Fader that controls the Mix Buss' Bus, so the Bus named Mix Buss.
And then this is the Aux that actually has all my 2-mix processing, which we'll go through in a little bit.
That is the only track in the session that goes to the Bus called Print and then from the Bus called Print we feed an audio track. This is the only audio track in the session.
The only reason this track is here is: If I get a session, generally there's a rough mix, or twelve, in the session.
So, there's a track that's had the mix printed to it already.
If that's the case, I'm not gonna even bother importing this audio track but if there isn't, I've got so sick of creating stereo audio tracks, solo safing them, assigning the input and output. I though, well let me just put it in the template so if I need it I can import it and there it is.
But because it doesn't have any audio on it, it doesn't matter what sample rate the session is.
I'm never importing audio.
So that's the placeholder in case there aren't any rough mixes already in the session and it's where I'm gonna print my mix.
And then below that, are placeholders for my color code.
This is on the very rare occasion where I have somebody else prep a session for me.
I can just send them my template, which is tiny, fits in an email.
And they can see exactly what color I use.
So, if they're gonna color code drums, they can open up the color template select this track and see that's the little chicklet for the drum color.
Here's what I use for percussion, here's what I use for bass.
I generally use darker colors for electric guitar, lighter greens for acoustic guitar. But all my guitars will be green.
Keys, they could be purple for synths or sort of darker red for more organic keys, like acoustic piano, that kind of thing.
Then strings is a brighter red, but these colors, because they don't really get used all the time, I'm a little looser with what those are.
But drums, bass, percussion, guitars those have to be those colors because that's how I find things in the session.
Then lead vocal and background vocal.
So, that's my color code but again I never import these tracks into the session.
Before I go individually though, let me just show you how the Bus menu looks.
When I open up my Bus menu I've got A and B, so Bus 1 through 128 are just numbered Buses.
And again I've left these opened for the client's Buses. Because no matter what Buses they've used, if they've named them, whatever they've done, they will overlay starting with Bus 1, because that's the way Pro Tools works. When you import Buses into a session They will leave named Buses alone but it will fill up the menu from 1 to 128.
That way the second pop up menu here is my Buses, it's always my Buses and it's always only my Buses. It's a very important part of session prep that my Buses show up here so I can always find them.
So, here they are in exactly the same order that we saw them before.
Very exciting. And you can see that in the session they're all used.
I don't bother making Buses to name them and then not use them. They're all set up as the input or output of either a send or an Aux in my template.
So, let's start looking at what we've got for drums.
I've already talked about my color code for audio tracks.
Drums is a very good place to talk about my color code for my template tracks before we talk about the actual processing.
So, one of the things about my color code is...
You'll notice that most of the tracks in my template are actually very bright colors and most of the tracks in my color template, if you will, the little guide tracks, are much darker colors.
There's a really good reason for this in my mind.
Because I always like my sessions to have the clip color be the same as the track color.
And that means, as I'm quickly scrolling through a session I see a bunch of green blobs, those are the guitars.
I wanna look at the audio that's actually playing as opposed to have to look at the track title to see: "oh those are guitars" or even to look at the color of the track only over in the state plates for inserts and sends.
I wanna see the colors in the tracks.
And I want that color to be rather vibrant.
I mean the saturation and brightness isn't that high in my template but I would say, you might saturate as much as this, to really get the colors to pop and make them easier to see depending on how your monitor's set up.
So what does mean is I want dark colors for audio.
Because they don't hurt my eyes.
Whereas for here this is used for parallel processing and I use this very bright blue in the top row is all the brightest versions of the colors in the color palette.
If I had a bunch of audio that was this color it would actually hurt my eyes. It's a lot to look at.
And I don't like having really bright audio.
So, I've got dark colors for audio tracks, which leaves me all of these very bright colors that are very easy to see as I'm scrolling looking for a VCA I know it's the really bright yellow thing.
What I've done is bright pink is for Auxes that pass signal.
So, I would actually route audio tracks directly into these Auxes and then these Auxes send that audio elsewhere.
So, gives me a place to have sends or processing on groups of instruments.
Then I've got my bright blue which for parallel processing. So I will only ever have a send going to anything that's bright blue.
So, this could be parallel compressors, but it's also if you look down at my vocal effects, it's also for reverbs and delays things like that. Anything you send to is bright blue. Just makes it easier to find for me.
Then I've got some left over Auxes from longer ago. And the reason I've made new colors for my, let's say, kick, snare and drum Aux and my percussion Aux as opposed to the tom Aux, is just to separate in my mind newer audio Auxes from older audio Auxes.
So, this is purely something for me.
It has nothing to do with workflow other than, I look for that bright green I know that's where my toms go. 'Cos this has been in my template forever.
and I've only recently decided that I wanted to have some overall Auxes for the kick, the snare and the rest of the drum kit.
And then we've got some darker tracks for some Master Faders and I'll talk about what those are doing later on.
The reason is because I almost never need to get to these tracks.
So, I don't need them to pop out as I'm scrolling around.
And if I do need them they're right next to the thing they are the master for.
And the thing they are the master for is one of the bright colors.
If I'm looking for the Rear Buss, I know it's bright blue.
and then right next to it is the Master Fader for the Rear Buss.
I can always find it there. I didn't need to have a different color that pop out for the actual Master Faders.
It's more of a color that I don't need and I wanna make it sink into the background.
And then the last one is bright yellow is for VCAs.
And you'll see when I actually start doing my session prep, I need every single audio track in the session to be part of a group that is controlled by a VCA.
That is so that I can solo my drums VCA and I hear every single track in the session that is drums. It isn't necessarily just the drum kit.
It's the drum kit plus any drum samples.
If there's only a little bit of programming, I'll lump it in with the drums.
And that way I can very quickly solo and mute to hear things as I'm building out my balance. I can also try like: "Hey, what happens if I just pull the drums back a little bit?" And these will always be assigned to new groups that I make when I'm prepping the session.
"But, Andrew..." you might say "in your Ziggy Marley videos you re-used groups..." "...and you made a point to saying well, why do new work.." "...if there's already a Bus there to cover the drums..." "...then just go ahead and use it." I've actually stopped doing that. Not too long after mixing that song, I got into trouble where I was reusing a group because I assumed that they had assigned the group properly and it turned out that the drum group also had some background vocals in it.
And I was printing instrumentals and I still had background vocals in my instrumental I had to print them offline because it was an emergency thing for licensing and I've just decided from now on my groups controlled by my VCAs are made by me.
So, I will make new groups inside of the session, even if they are all completely redundant, and then assign them to the drums.
And you'll see that process when I actually import my template into a session later on.
Alright, so that covers all of the track types except for these Auxes which are just for vocals.
These colors are random. They're just meant to be there.
I never really use red, so I use it for lead vocals and this background color is pretty close to what I use for background vocals.
But it's a little bit arbitrary.
These are always in the session in the same place and I find the vocal tracks and I always know that these are these So I don't need a visual queue as I'm scrolling around.
Ok, so now what I wanna do is talk a little bit about the routing within the session, 'cos it's actually quite simple.
Every single track that passes audio passes it to the Mix Buss. So, these three Auxes, which will get the drum kit will pass it to the Mix Buss.
All of the returns from my parallel processing go straight into the Mix Buss.
If you see here the toms and the toms' verb go into the drum kit Aux, which then goes to the Mix Buss. So...
these get split out a little bit because they're taking a piece of the drum kit a long the way.
All this let's me do is EQ the toms as a whole and get a hold of them to send them to some tom reverb.
Without having to set it up individually on the individual tom tracks.
All I've gotta do, is take my tom tracks from the actual session assign them to the Bus called "Toms".
and now they have all of the drum routing they need.
So, this is two levels deep but that's about as deep as we'll ever get.
Hear the rest of the drum compressors. They go straight to the Mix Buss.
Another drum distortion goes straight to the Mix Buss.
Percussion, straight to the Mix Buss Lead vocal is slightly different. I'll take all my lead vocal tracks.
and assign them to a Bus called "Lead Vocal Bus".
Then that splits into two Auxes which we'll talk about in a little bit.
Those two Auxes get combined to a Bus called "Lead Vocal Combiner".
I will never assign anything to lead vocal combiner myself.
That's been done in the template.
I will only assign stuff to get into these two Auxes.
But all that happens is the output of these two gets combined down into this one, which has almost no plug-ins, but this is where all the sends to the vocal effects come from.
Then this goes to the Mix Buss.
Background vocals exactly the same thing.
Background Vocal Bus is the input to these two Auxes.
They both come out to the background vocal combiner, which goes down to this Aux, which goes to the Mix Buss.
So, these are completely identical sets of Auxes. Just one for the lead, one for the background, so I've got some control.
Down here are a lot of the effects, as well as some other parallel compressors.
These are all going directly into the Mix Buss.
And then down here I've got an Aux whose input is Mix Buss.
So this is where the Mix Buss goes to, through my 2-Bus processing, to a Bus call Print.
Which goes to my placeholder mix track whose input is Print and it's output is 1 and 2.
'Cos I just listen to outputs 1 and 2 mixing in-the-box.
That track is solo safed.
Now, before I forget there's actually one hidden track in the session called RX.
I use Izotope RX for spectral repair or the noise reduction quite a bit.
If I get bass which has ground hum on it or I'm trying to get rid of click bleed, in an acoustic piano track, from the headphones.
I'll use RX quite a bit and the way RX monitors itself is now only a stand alone app.
So, you send audio to the app and then you'll hit play and they give you a plug-in called monitor.
So, this let's me listen to the output of the app and I actually have that going to the Mix Buss.
Because otherwise what will happen is, if I just listen to the app going straight to the speakers, it's gonna be much quieter and it may be even hard to hear the thing that I'm trying to fix that's gotten so loud because of all of my 2-Bus processing.
So, this allows me to monitor things that I'm fixing in an external application through the Pro Tools mixer.
So, this is there. It's solo safed.
It's always active. It goes to the Mix Buss.
But I don't ever need to see it.
And the thing is all taken care of, so as soon as I open up my Audiosuite plug-in, which looks like this, select some audio and say send, it's gonna switch me over into the app.
I get play in the app, I hear it.
So, that's the one hidden track inside the template.
Alright, let's talk about audio.
I'm gonna start by going through the parallel processors for the drums and then we'll come back to these Auxes.
'Cos the Auxes don't do much, except allow you to get to the parallel processors while grouping things.
I've got a couple of things that I use on almost every single mix.
So, I'm gonna start with those, even though that's not the order everything is in.
The kick snare crush.
This is a parallel compressor that's used on the kick and the snare and it's used on basically every single mix I do.
When I assign anything to go to one of my parallel compressors all I need to do, and I'll just go ahead and do it on this Aux track to show you how I do it, I just select that I'm taking a send to a Bus that's called "Kick Snare Crush".
I have my preferences set so that all my sends default to zero follow main pan and they're post fader, so what that means is no matter how much EQ or insert compression or distortion or sample triggering or whatever, that I do to, let's say, the kick drum, I'm taking a copy of that post all of the processing at whatever the balance is that's heading off to the Mix Buss.
Picking up a copy of it and sending it off to that parallel compressor.
That way if I re-balance my kick in and my kick out mic that new balance is what's being sent to the Kick Snare Crush.
I don't have pre fader sends that I have to remember to mute later on when I'm printing an acapella mix, and I don't have pre fader sends that I have to go change the balance the same way I just did on the main faders and I don't have to remember that in the bridge I decided to pan the kick all the way to the left but it's still going to the center.
of my drum crush.
This way the send follows everything I do that has anything to do with the mix.
Ok? Whatever I assign to Kick Snare Crush comes down to the Kick Snare Crush Bus.
and it goes into one of the simplest chains you can possibly have, which is the DBX160 VU.
This is what used in hardware so this is what I use in software.
And I've got two versions of the plug-in on this track. I've got the UAD one here and I've got the Waves one sitting in the wings.
And actually what we'll do is we'll save the template with the Waves one enabled now.
So, I've got two versions of it.
The one thing that the Waves version has that the UAD doesn't is a high pass filter on the side chain.
So, if I've got a very subby kick drum and I like that sub that can end up getting very messy and noisy in the kick snare crush, and the kick will dominate.
So, I can switch to the Waves one, if it's not already on. Hit the hi-pass side chain and now all of the sudden the compressor isn't looking at all of that low end.
It still passes through and it's still in the compressor but the detector circuit doesn't look at it anymore.
Two versions of the same plug-in just over four to one the threshold is set where, with how I normally have kicks and snares, which is pretty loud, that it will just tickle the threshold so you'll go above on every transient but you're never living above the threshold.
And then I don't use any of the noise or the mix controls on the Waves version and on the UAD version you don't really have that option anyway.
That is the Kick Snare Crush. Gets used on almost every single mix.
Down here I've got two stereo compressors, which are used on pretty much every mix right now I actually use both of these.
So, this is the drum crush, which is the first stereo drum parallel compressor that I've built when I started mixing in-the-box.
And then there's the Fatso which I built when I got bored of the drum crush.
That's something that happens quite often where you start to hear the sound of the parallel compressor you use in the same way you would start to hear the sound of a tuning plug-in or anything that has any kind of artifact or very specific sound to it.
And I just get bored of it or I start to hear that more than the benefit and I'll decide to change it up.
Sometimes I'll just go in and go to a new plug-in but sometimes, like with the drum crush, I'll just think: "Well, you know what?" "Let me keep that around but I'll build a new one." So, I built a Fatso, which I'll show you in a second.
Then I started to get sick of the Fatso about three months ago and thought: "Well, I need to build a new one" And instead of building a new one, because I'm so unbelievably lazy, I said: "Well, what about that one that's already in my template...
...that I'm not using?" And I started using that one again and then I started using both.
So, now I'm using both parallel drum compressors.
There's no difference between them in my mind, in terms of one is doing this job and one is doing that job, but they sound very very different. You need to listen for yourself what parallel compressors you like on drums and they just have different characters.
And there's no way to even really characterize them 'cos it depends on how much cymbal activity there is, how clean the drums are, that sort of thing.
Like differently, I supposed possibly the drum crush is a little brighter and the Fatso is a little dirtier but that's not always the case. Ok, so that said let's look at one of the very simple chains, which is the drum crush.
This is the Fairchild 670 this happens to be the Waves model.
I have it in Left/Right mode which means it's dual mono.
There is a little bit of threshold control which on a Fairchild compressor is the send to the detector circuit so technically it's a fixed threshold and it's how much level do you wanna hit the detector circuit with.
Unity gain is basically around, 12 on the input knob in terms of the audio you're gonna hear.
If you just have your output gain at zero and your input gain at 12 and you're not hitting it that hard you should get about the same level out as you put in.
And I've got the setup to be a little bit of compression.
Now, how many dBs of compression am I usually getting out of this? I almost never look at it. I would guess 4 or 5 dBs of compression, if it's a really loud drum kit.
It may be almost nothing. But that said, even if I'm not really compressing there's still quite a bit of color that comes from any Fairchild emulation or any these sort of older crustier over-built compressors which would include something like the Fairchild 670 or 660.
the RCA BA6A, the Federals, anything that was built for broadcast and was built in the 50s is gonna have way too much electronics in it.
So that, rather than having just the right number of components to do the job they need to do electrically anytime that you may have one tube, well let's use two tubes because then each tube is working quite as hard or use both sides of the tube to do the same job instead of splitting it up.
And what this means is that you'd be going through many more components in the signal path.
So, the magic of the Fairchild is not that it's vintage and it's good-wired and it's clean.
The magic is that it's far from clean. There is...
tons of harmonic distortion that happens as you go through.
And even dynamics that happen going through the input and output transformers.
They all have a transfer function in terms of how they can react the transients.
They have hi-pass and lo-pass filters built into them.
A transformer is a hi-pass and a lo-pass filter now, the hi-pass is at about 5Hz maybe and the lo-pass is at maybe 20k but that does affect the sound.
If you ever try to get kind of a vintage sound out of an EQ.
add hi-pass and lo-pass to it, at very high and low frequencies and you will find that all of the sudden it has a little bit more character to it.
It's very weird how a lo-pass filter at 20k can affect the bottom of your kick drum but it absolutely can and it's about the character. So...
this compressor has plenty of character and it also pumps.
even with the time constant set to 1 which is the fastest release time you can have.
It's still relatively slow by modern compressor standards So it's mushy and in parallel it brings up cymbals and it just helps glue the kit together.
So, that's the first of my stereo compressors.
One thing I wanna point out is because I have all of my sends defaulting to being at zero so they are the levels the drums are at and usually drums end up being balanced pretty loud, I've got the return of this one at -6 just because it was always too much and I like the amount of compression I had so I didn't want to turn the input control down and just turning the output control down sort of felt like it should be more like unity gain for noise and gain structure, things like that.
So, I've just turned down the return around 6dB I probably thought this should be exactly 6dB and in small track mode, even with the fine control is tough to get exact numbers.
and I just left it at 6.2 and down here there's some 6.2.
It's an arbitrary number but it's there because the drum crush was always too loud with all of the sends at zero and there's no preference to set you sends to -6.
Next would be the Fatso. Does exactly the same job as the drum crush in a totally different way sonically.
So, it's a Fatso turned out it's the Fatso Junior, so this is much more like the hardware.
The reason I use this is when I got sick of my drum crush that I'd set up I thought: "Well Ok, I've got to set up a drum crush right now." And it was very daunting, because if you look at my plug-in list for dynamics (I'm gonna look at Native because there are more of them) I've got a lot of compression plug-ins.
I don't wanna go through those and try and find out which one is gonna be good.
That's what I should do. I should go through all of them and see which one is the best on a drum kit.
But the thing is it'll be best on that drum kit then I get a slightly different drum kit on the next song and I'm gonna have to tweak it.
And it takes probably ten mixes before I stop tweaking something that's new on the template and it settles in to a spot that usually works.
And I just didn't wanna go through it.
So, what am I gonna use for stereo drum crush? In hardware, when I was mixing on a console I used the EMI TG1 in limit mode.
I didn't like the plug-in for that as a drum crush, it was much too aggressive.
so that's how I ended up with the Fairchild. That's what worked.
I thought: "Well Ok, what else have I used when mixing?" Because I didn't always mix just in my own studio.
And I thought back to "99 problems" and the only compressor I had other the 1176 on the vocal was the Fatso, that someone had told me about said: "Man, you gotta check out the Fatso" "Ok, I'll check out the Fatso". And I rented it.
And I ended up bouncing all of the rhythmic elements of "99 problems" through it back into Pro Tools and then just un-muting that in the choruses. So that was one of my first kind of shared parallel compression being used just to build the track by only using it in certain sections.
And, I had to say Ok I'm gonna make it work on the Fatso. So I opened up a couple of old sessions, got rid of the drum crush, put on the Fatso, tweak settings, I've actually started off you can see here with one of the presets.
I went through presets first just to try to get something close.
Then I tweaked it. This is what I ended up...
It's interesting.. is that...
when I had it in the template for years it was actually linked as a stereo compressor whereas I'm documented saying "I don't like the sound of stereo compressors".
I have a feeling that the preset was linked and I didn't notice and I didn't unlink it and it worked fine for years.
Now I've unlinked it. I don't even know if it's better.
So, this settings are not magic, there's just stuff that worked.
And like I said when something gets added to the template you always tweak it for the session you happen to be listening to, but your template is for every session So, the first 5, 10, possibly 20 times you use something you need to check it. Make sure it's cool Maybe try tweaking it a little bit and just see, and eventually you'll find out that "yep, that's a good starting point for everything".
So, that's what the settings are on the Fatso.
You'll notice the return from the Fatso was also at -6-ish.
It's at minus 6.6 but then because of where the input control was which isn't that high, it was still getting hit too hard and I didn't wanna change the input control 'cos you don't have to think as hard about gain structure going through a plug-in as you do a piece of outboard gear when you're using analogue gear, because you don't have quite the same noise floor.
But when you're using, specially emulations of hardware that'd been modelled, you do start to get some of those same gain structure issues.
Plus you kind of wanna be in the sweet spot of controls.
The pots that are used when people are modelling hardware they are actually modelling actual pots, are not necessarily as well calibrated on the extremes of their range. If you can have a knob somewhere in the middle 60% of its range other than attack and release times on compressors where you usually wanna be at adding extreme, you're probably in a spot where you get the expected result as you turn the knob it isn't in this crazy place where when you've just bump it everything changes radically. So...
I like to be in kind of the normal range.
So, I decided to put a Master Fader on because this gives me control of how much is getting into the Fatso without me having to open a plug-in window and see what's going on without me having to remember I've gotta link the controls if they aren't linked and turn down the input level.
While I'm mixing I can very quickly just grab this Master Fader move it around and go: "Yep".
"Ok, that's nice".
And it's base just on what I hear.
So, since I had to tweak it a couple of times while mixing a song, I decided 'let me just put a Master Fader so I can see it.' The other thing is I never ever look at the mix window.
So this is somewhat important in that the reason my template has all ten slots of inserts open and all ten sends open, and the I/O pane and the comments 'cos I never ever, ever look at the mix window so I need all of the information about my mix showing on the screen in the edit window.
What that also means is I don't have a fader sitting there for every track that's really easy to see or opening up plug-in windows and I've got real estate where I can cover up some sense for a bit.
I'm always covering up audio or other mix information I need to see.
So I don't like to leave a lot of floating windows open so what this gives me is a way to instantly with one click affect the amount of level going into the Fatso, which is something that I used to tweak more often that I do now but if I have to tweak it more than once a month I want it sitting there on a fader that is gonna pop up and be seen.
So, that's why there's a Master Fader here but there isn't a Master Fader on the drum crush.
For whatever reason I don't really ever have to tweak the drum crush. It just seems to work.
So, those are my three main drum compressors.
Then I've got four things for the drums, which are much more specialized and used on more of a case-by-case basis.
So, the last stuff on the drum side of things, and we're gonna start cranking after that 'cos I've got lots of processing for drums and lots for vocals and that's kind of it.
But bear with me, I've got a specialty thing. A Devil-Loc.
This is in fact the Devil-Loc plug-in.
This is every once in a while I want kick and snare to sound lo-fi drum machine-y.
Snare reverb. It's setup in the session, it's here in case I want it.
It's got a gate to let you gate out bleed so that only the attack of the snare drum gets into the reverb, and then it is a very generic ambient reverb.
It's not natural sounding at all.
It's relatively short.
It's just for length on the snare drum and you won't hear this. This is not like a gated reverb thing.
It's not even meant to be a natural room sound.
All this is, is sometimes, once the cymbals are going and the guitars are cranked up the snare just sounds dry and short.
This will let the snare sound more like the drum kit when you solo the drums after you drop everything else in.
I'll also use this quite often to build the track. It will only be in the choruses of a song.
Let's say. Straight up reverb, it goes straight to the Mix Buss.
Next we've got toms.
So, I will route however many tom tracks there are into this Aux.
What it gives me is plug-in for EQ, that's normally by-passed but if I feel that I wanna EQ the toms this is a really good starting point.
It's some broad 5k for the attack of the toms and then some lo-end for the floor tom.
I would say I use the EQ around half of the time.
There's an L2 bringing them up 'cos toms always need to be louder.
They just do. By the time I've gotten the drum kit slamming the toms have got to be ridiculously loud to come through, so there's 4dB of gain.
It's really what that's used for so I'm not looking for the sound of a limiter I'm just looking for gain.
But I wanna do it in a way where I'm not distorting everything on the way pass.
And there is also a send to a tom reverb.
So, this tom reverb is very much like the snare reverb. It's just meant to make the toms feel bigger.
You're not gonna hear this reverb.
I built it kind of like as a joke on a session where I've taken a filter to get rid of all the unwanted cymbal bleed in the toms because there will always be cymbal bleed in the toms.
Because that's what gets hit right after the tom 80% of the time and you don't want that triggering your reverb.
Then I go into basically a tweaked version of the snare reverb. It's a little bit longer.
Then, there is a pitch-shift on it.
So, this is a chorused reverb and this was sort of a "90s Stadium" tom effect and you would really hear this.
So, I built it on something I was mixing almost as an "homage" and then realized that if turned it down it actually was just helping the toms be big.
And then I thought: "Well Ok, I just use the reverb", get rid of the chorus and they weren't as big anymore.
Because toms have so much pitch to them that little bit of chorus on the reverb just spreads them out and makes them massive.
And on really heavy songs this is kind of the difference between the toms sounding gargantuan and then sounding big.
And I'm always going for gargantuan.
So, the output of both of these tracks then goes into the drum kit Aux, which we're gonna have a look at in just a second.
The only other track left is 'drums dirt'.
something which we're actually gonna tweak the template on today.
So, I decided I wanted a parallel drum's distortion.
Normally I like Sansamp for distortion but Sansamp is not phase coherent.
For whatever reason there's some sort of crossover network in there for the different types of distortion.
and if you put it parallel and bring it up everything starts to sound phasey.
So, I though: "Well Ok, I start with some lo-fi" That will be good and it's really subtle.
And then I'm going into a trashed tube.
This is the least subtle thing in the entire template.
This is smashing the hell out of everything.
So, before we look at the settings of this particular plug-in I'm gonna go ahead and get rid of the lo-fi.
I don't need it, it's not adding anything to this picture.
This Trash 2, it probably started from a preset of something, but there is a filter, there's trash and there are dynamics.
I was just looking for something that was really blown up.
So what this sounds like, when you listen to it is a very distorted room mic.
What it feels like when you blend it in with the drum kit is "Wow, my drums are bad ass".
It gives them power that you don't get without this distortion.
I don't know why it works as well as it does.
When you listen to it on it's own it sounds terrible.
When you blend it in with the rest of the drum kit it really makes the drum sound great.
It's down at minus 14.5 because of how much level will come out. It also has an unbelievably broad dip in the mid range because it gets rid of all of the cymbals that have just been made unlistenable by all the distortion.
So, this is all about mid-range and lo-end.
And by mid-range I mean below 1k.
It's kind of low to lo-mids.
And the higher mids of the cymbals are gone and then I'm letting whatever air through might have been there just for a little bit of extra crispiness on the drum kit.
It's turned way down. It is also set to show me mute automation.
This will almost never be in all the way through a song. It'll usually just be on in the choruses.
And rather than mute the send to it it's just as easy to mute the return.
Because it doesn't have any sustain to it, so it doesn't matter where I actually do the mute. It's gonna sound the same.
And this way by, let's say, its drums cut to a grid, I can just go to grid mode and with my grid set to one bar just start slamming mute automation points in there and now this will turn on the chorus and turn off.
I can also drag this track up right next to the kick drum and be very meticulous about where those break points are.
I don't need to see the volume automation on this but I usually will automate the mute automation, so I leave the track showing mute automation.
Just means one less click later on and I can see it at glance if this is on or off.
Then, next to it is the drums VCA.
That is all of the sort of drum processing stuff but I've also got three Auxes I built for the drum kit.
I used to have nothing.
Drum tracks will all go straight to the Mix Buss.
Then for a while I started having a stereo drum kit Aux because it just made life easier, if I'm gonna send every single drum track to the drum crush and the Fatso, why not just have one send that's post everything on the drum kit? And it also means that if I wanna just add a little bit of EQ to the drum kit or compress it a little bit, just because it's almost there but not quite, I've got one place to do it instead of having to figure out what I'm gonna do later on.
Or worse, change the routing.
I don't want to change the routing once I've set it up.
So, I had a drum kit Aux. But then I realize I don't always want the kick and snare going to the stereo drum compressors because what that can do is make the cymbals start sucking backwards because they'll get pulled down in the drum compressor everytime there's a kick or a snare.
And I need the cymbals to stay up and be constant because otherwise it can give the impression of the mix being crushed too much even when the mix is wide open, just because the cymbals get that extra pump.
So, I got lazy and in my non-lazy part of being lazy I decided: "Let me finally just make myself a kick Aux and a snare Aux." And the first time I made them they were mono and then I mixed a song that had stereo snare sound.
Ah! Open up the template and make them stereo. So now, I've got a stereo kick Aux and a stereo snare Aux.
and they have sends that go to the kick snare crush.
My drum kit Aux has sends that goes to drum crush and Fatso, and that's it, that's all set. So, whatever my drum balance is it automatically gets to all of the parallel stuff that needs to be there all of the time.
Then on the kick and snare Aux I have inactive sends to the drum crush and Fatso, so that they're ready to be put in if I want them.
I've also got inactive sends to the drums dirt if I want them.
And I've got an inactive send to the snare reverb if I want it.
Now, all of the sudden with my drums I never even go to the bus menu.
Every single bit of drum routing I might ever need to do is taken care of by the template and all I need to do is select my kick track put it to the kick Aux. Snare to the snare Aux.
Rest of the kit to the drum Aux.
Make a group of all the audio tracks, assign it to the drums VCA.
I am done.
I will never do anything else, housekeeping or mix routing-wise to my drums. I'm just listening and doing balances and make stuff sound good.
That's the drums.
I mixed a record not too long ago that had programming on every song. I got sick of making a new VCA for the programmings so I added one to the template.
That's all there is for programing. Who knows where it needs to go through? Percussion. This Aux is actually kind of a leftover.
I used to put a little bit of Aphex, which you'll see what that effect is, percussion all the time. I just did it.
Shakers, congas, they all seem to benefit from it.
Now I don't like it as much.
So, it doesn't happen as often.
I leave this in the template because if I ever have any percussion that does need a little bit of Aphex I don't have to set up a send down an individual tracks that need to go there.
I can just quickly pop it into the "Perc 1 Bus", listen to it, if it's cool leave it.
If it isn't I can go ahead and take it off.
Also, if I've got let's say congas on three tracks and I want to do some overall EQ to the congas.
I can just quickly put the congas into the percussion Aux and if I don't like the Aphex, mute the send and then now I've got a place where I can EQ the congas.
It's kind of a placeholder for doing processing.
And then I've got my percussion VCA.
Then for the rest of the instruments that usually show up (bass, keys, guitars) just have a VCA. There is no processing that I always do to those tracks other than sending to the Rear Buss which we'll look at.
But that gets done from the individual tracks.
Then we get down into vocal-land.
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- Avid BBD Delay
- Avid Dyn3 Expander Gate
- Avid Dyn 3-Revibe II
- Avid EQ3 7-band
- Avid Lo-Fi
- Brain Worx bx Digital V3
- Eiosis E2 Deesser
- Fab-Filter Pro-DS
- iZotope RX 5 Connect
- iZotope RX 5 Monitor
- iZotope Trash 2
- McDSP Filter Bank F202 EQ
- Phoenix III
- SansAmp PSA-1
- Slate Virtual Mix Rack
- Sonnox Oxford Limiter
- Sound Toys Devil-Loc
- Sound Toys Little Micro Shift
- UAD EMT 140
- UAD EMT 250
- UAD Fairchild 670
- UAD Fatso
- UAD H910 Dual Harmonizer
- UAD Neve 33609
- UAD Pultec EPQ 1A
- UAD Roland RE-201
- UAD UA 1176 AE
- Waves Aphex Vintage Exciter
- Waves CLA 76
- Waves CLA_2A
- WavesDBX 160
- Waves L2
- Waves Puig Child 670
- Waves PuigTec EQP 1A
- Waves Rvox
Andrew Scheps is a music producer, mixing engineer and record label owner based in the United Kingdom. He has received Grammy Awards for Best Rock Album for his work on Red Hot Chili Peppers' Stadium Arcadium, Album Of The Year for Adele's 21, and also Best Reggae Album for Ziggy Marley's Fly Rasta
Andrew started as a musician, but found that what he enjoyed most was working behind the scenes. This led him to study recording at the University of Miami. After graduating, he spent some time working for Synclavier, and then on the road with Stevie Wonder (as a keyboard tech) and Michael Jackson (mixing live sound). But he found his home in the studio, and he honed his craft working for producers such as Rob Cavallo, Don Was and Rick Rubin.
Scheps is known for his balanced and modern sounding mixes. He is also the owner and president of Tonequake Records
Lana Del Rey
Red Hot Chili Peppers
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