Andrew Scheps is one of the top mixing engineers in the world today. He earned his stripes - and Grammys - by mixing hit records for everyone from Adele to The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Jay-Z to Michael Jackson. For this video, Andrew was kind enough to let pureMix.net observe his in-the-box process while he recreated his mix of the song 'Fly Rasta' by the amazing Ziggy Marley from the eponymous album 'Fly Rasta' on Tuff Gong records.
In this 2+ hour master class, Andrew Scheps mixes the very same Pro Tools session he mixed for the actual released record. Watch as he leads you through to a final mix, all with readily available plugins, explaining every move and every decision, and leaving no stones unturned. If you ever wondered what tricks and techniques are required to make records that sound that great, this tutorial is what you have been waiting for.
This is a major mixing engineer mixing a major song for a major artist on a major label, right in front of your eyes, with full transparency. You will get to download the truncated stems of all the tracks and mix along with Andrew in your own DAW, with your own system and with your own plug-ins.
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Once logged in, you will be able to click on those chapter titles and jump around in the video.
- 00:00 - Start
- 03:18 - Preparing the Session
- 24:35 - Monitoring and Levels
- 26:38 - Drums
- 00:00 - Start
- 36:20 - Bass
- 00:00 - Start
- 11:37 - Rear Buss Compression
- 16:23 - 2-Bus Compression
- 22:42 - Guitars and Keyboards
- 31:55 - Background Vocals
- 37:02 - Horns
- 00:00 - Start
- 00:15 - Lead Vocals (Ziggy)
- 15:04 - Lead Vocals (U-Roy)
- 24:28 - Automation
- 32:13 - Printing the Final Mix
|Part 1||Part 2||Part 3||Part 4|
Good morning children! Welcome to Punkerpad West West in Van Nuys, California. I'm Andrew Scheps.
Today we're going to be mixing a song by Ziggy Marley called Fly Rasta.
I mixed this for his latest album also conveniently called Fly Rasta.
So that should make it easy to find it for you.
And today we are going to be mixing this song completely in the box, as the kids say these days.
We are gonna be mixing in Pro Tools and we will not be using any analog gear at all.
The first time it will be turned into analog audio from this process is when you listen to it.
So it should be a fun and exciting day and the other thing is what we've decided to do is not to deconstruct the mix I already done but actually attempt to reconstruct the mix that I did for the record so I'm starting with the completely bare-boned session that I was sent.
Very clean session, few plug-ins in it.
Then I'll be going through my entire mix process both from a mixing perspective and also just from a listening and philosophical perspective.
Because that's a huge part of my mixing is how things feel and decisions not based on the sonics necessarily but based on the emotion that happens while your are listening.
And then there will also gonna be a few things we're gonna deal with which are very specific to the genre.
Ziggy Marley obviously works in a wide variety of styles and there's always a reggae element due to its heritage.
But he can be more in the straight up pop style or fall back into reggae.
This song is definitely rooted in the reggae tradition which is why when I first heard it I was absolutely terrified.
I feel like I can work in the pop world and I know what's going on.
The reggae world as much, as I love listening to it is not a place I've done a lot work and...
It's interesting, it's a big weight to put on your own shoulders, to go into this amazing musical tradition and really try to do something new in it but also be faithful to what is going on.
It kind of gives you some extra parameters to work in, which is exciting and constricting in a good way, but also completely terrifying.
So I'm gonna play you a little bit of the song as they sent it and...
you will hear perhaps why I was so frightened.
So not only is it reggae and not only is it Ziggy Marley, the son of Bob Marley.
There are background vocals by the daughters of Bob Marley and you may notice the very first thing you hear it's not even a Marley, it's U Roy who, if you don't know he is you need to...
go to Wikipedia right about now.
He is basically one of the inventors of something called toasting which is a Jamaican form of MC and rapping all tied up in one and he is and absolute legend.
So, that's why I was frightened.
But now I've gotten over my fear and we're gonna go ahead and mix this song.
The very first thing we're gonna do is to transform the session from looking like a bunch of gray and black audio tracks into something that is more workable for me.
One of the main things I like to do while I'm working is to have things look familiar.
So one of the main ways I do that is with color coding.
It's really simple, it's something I've been doing since colored sharpies were invented.
So, most of my career.
Certain instruments get certain colors and that way, at a glance, when I'm looking at the session I know what I'm looking at instead of having to read track names and do anything that could distract me from what it is I'm trying to do.
So the first thing we're gonna do is arrange the tracks, put the colors that I like, and I guess we will just start right in.
So the very first thing I see is there's a click track, well, I'm not gonna mix the click.
I'm gonna hide that guy.
I like my vocals down at the bottom of the screen because...
then they're down near the mix later on.
So we're gonna move those down. You can see lots of tracks flying by and we'll talk about all of them as we go.
I'll jump back up to the top here...
Background Vocals, I should have dragged those down with lead vocals.
Let's see. Do we want them above or below the lead vocal? Below.
Why not? OK, Drums. That's what's supposed to be on the top.
Looking really quickly I can see that we've got one drum kit here and then we've got a drum overdub.
I don't know what that is yet but at the moment I'm not gonna color it anything different because I really don't care.
We're gonna pretend that's all one thing.
So, for me, in sharpie, drums are black.
In Pro Tools they are this dark purple, because it's in the bottom left hand corner.
It's really easy to find.
And black is for things that don't get a color.
So, that's the way I see it.
Moving down, we've got something called 'Lightning'.
So, normally while I'm doing this, by the way I'm cycling the song, because...
We'll talk about this more in depth in a minute but I actually love hearing the rough mix, and in this case the session was sent with everything routed to one stereo bus and that's what they were using for the rough mix.
I absolutely wanna hear why they thought the record was ready to be mixed.
And the only key to that is to listen to the rough mix.
Sometimes you listen and you realize they wanted to mix because they were just sick of working on the song, but with most people who make records more than once, they're done because they think the song feels great the arrangement is perfect, all the overdubs are done, and the performance is amazing.
So, I need to get a sense of that out of the rough mix.
I would have this playing.
If I did that you wouldn't hear me speak.
So let's pretend the mix is playing in the background.
I would actually just move over here, solo the 'Lightning'...
Say: "Hey, it's lighting".
Alright, that's a sound effect, there is no color for 'Lightning'.
For now let's make the lightning this purple.
I don't know why. But that's something to do.
So again, the song would be cycling. Here we've got a lot of percussion.
With a lot of edits. One of the reasons I didn't wanna start completely from scratch is while we were working on the song this percussion arrangement took shape.
When I first received the song, all of these percussion instruments went all the way through the song, with the idea that once we sort of built the track we'd decide what we needed to use. I'm starting with the final arrangement of the percussion.
But sonically, I've striped it all back. So, let's see.
There's quite a bit of percussion, actually.
All the way down to here, and I keep hitting the wrong key here.
Here's a percussion, percussion is brown.
That should be obvious to everybody.
If you don't know why, I can't explain it. It's too complicated.
There's really absolutely no reason for it.
Other that it was a color sharpie that I had laying around.
And I was coloring the console.
Then we've got a bunch of brass and there's actually some very interesting stuff that we will deal with it later to do with the brass.
All live horns recorded in a great sounding room which we will listen to separately later.
Live instruments, because most of what I work on has a live rhythm section those are very set color for drums, bass, guitars, piano, that kind of thing.
Then sometimes there's string overdubs or horn overdubs, whatever.
So there's this sort of range of red to purple. That's too bright.
I don't like that.
Those look like horns to me now. Really simple.
Easy to deal with.
Bass is blue. I don't need to even talk about that anymore.
Guitars are green. Obviously.
And on this particular song I probably just leave everything green.
Because there aren't that many guitars.
If I'm working on a song that has a lot of guitars then I'll start to use variations in the green, because again...
It's not just because I'm crazy, though I am.
It's because I want to be able to glance at the screen and know what's going on.
Not say: "Oh, that's one of the fifty green tracks. Which one is it?" Generally I will shade my guitars from heavy being the darkest green to the cleanest guitar all the way up to acoustic being the lightest green.
In this case, we only have two guitars, and as you can see one of them ended up not being used at all.
We'll just go with one green there.
Then we've got some keyboards. And again we don't have a huge number of keyboards so I'm just gonna give them all this dark purple. Which is kind of the same as the 'Lighting' but that's fine.
I'm not gonna get confused between the lightning and the keyboards.
So I'm OK with that.
Now we are down to our lead vocals, and due to some people who I have worked with it, who have an aversion to red sharpie. It's bad luck to use red sharpie on a console.
I strangely got into the point where I can't use this bright red color anymore It's bad luck.
Therefore, lead vocals are orange, and background vocals are some, one of this orange or yellows.
This really depends on how many sets of background vocals they are.
I want things that go together to have the same color but then I want differing groups of the same thing to have slightly different shades of the same color.
So just like with the guitars. If we had let's say, two sets of background parts. Each of them being made up by 4 to 7 tracks, then each sort of group of tracks that made up one vocal part would have it's own shade of the same color.
That's looking a little brown to me, so there we go.
They're background colors. At the bottom of the session is just a print track. So right now, it's just getting Bus 47 or 48 which is what every single track in the session is routed to.
This is pretty much OK, normally I would put the bass guitars and keyboards up above the horns.
Because that sort of keeps my traditional rhythm section together.
Now that I've got everything color coded in a familiar way that's gonna work for me later on, we're gonna move on to the next part of the session prep and this next part is very particular to mixing in the box.
I have something here called Ziggy's template. Open this up.
You noticed as we scroll through, it's all VCAs and Auxes.
What I'm gonna do is import everything.
And import everything about it. Here we go.
All this tracks are at the bottom of my session, some of them are actually gonna stay there but we are gonna sprinkle this within the session next to the tracks that are either more strongly associated with it, or that are only used with it.
And as you'll see, there are very few things that I do only to one individual instrument.
That will become much more apparent later as we start to talk more about the parallel compression chains and FX chains that I use.
Starting from the top of what I brought in there's something called Toms, then Tom verb, Kick Snare crush, Snare verb Drums, because this is a VCA. Drum Crush.
And that's all drum stuff. I'm gonna drag this up to the bottom of the drum kit because for me also in my head audio falls down. So all of my audio goes to the bottom of the session which is why I print my mix at the bottom. I know its crazy because audio doesn't flow down hill. In my head it does.
We're spending the next several minutes inside my head.
The tracks that I'm importing are either Aux faders which are going to process audio, collect audio from sends from all over the session or they're also VCAs which are a special kind of fader in Pro Tools which does not pass any audio of itself what it does is it allows you to collectively adjust the audio for all of the faders in a group, but slightly different then doing it by just grabbing some of the faders within the group themselves.
It's almost like having a global trim for anything within the group that you assign the VCA to.
The other thing that it does and the reason I use it is it also has some very special behavior when you are soloing and you're gonna see why that's really important.
The other thing is, I've just found that I don't like cascading all of this tracks through lots and lots of extra Buses and Auxes, I want the simplest signal path through the mixer as possible.
Being it a digital mixer it's not like you're adding lots of extra analog amplifiers and transformers and things that color the sound necessarily, but you are adding to the complexity of the delay compensation within the mixer, because your are creating more paths to the monitor path.
And also, and this have been fixed since I started doing this but also there used to be some very odd bugs that would only crop up every once in a while due to audio taking many paths to the monitor output and I just got out of the habit of doing it and it works for me now.
It actually keeps the mixer very simple which later on once the mix has most of its processing in and the delay builds up within the mix, it actually keeps the delay down so that you're not trying to do a fader ride a second before the audio actually happens.
I think we're kind of running out of things I can do without actually playing audio. Just to quickly recap, I've color coded everything, because I'm crazy that way.
I have imported lots of things from my template, most of which are either Auxes with things we're gonna use for parallel compression later on, there are a couple of effects, there are few times when I'm running instruments through Auxes on their way to the mix bus, but most of the tracks are gonna be going straight to the mix bus even though I haven't assigned that yet.
Then finally my mix bus goes through something I call a router because it routes audio from one place to another which has a master fader on it so I can affect level going to the plug-ins that are on my stereo 2-bus.
One thing that you might be wondering is why am I bothering with the master fader which I can put inserts on and then also running to an Aux fader and then going through the Aux and printing out of it.
The main reason is because... There are actually quite a few reasons.
Two main reasons for doing it this way is that my stereo Aux with the plug-ins on it, evolved while I was mixing in more of a hybrid fashion so I had audio coming in from the outside world to hit this plug-ins.
And then when I start moving into the box I love the way how master faders allow you to almost redo your gain structure after the fact and in a really simple way.
One main difference between Master Faders and Aux Faders is on every type of fader except the Master in Pro Tools all of the plug-ins are pre-fader.
Changing the level of the fader doesn't change the level going into the plug-ins.
I, personally, from being someone who grow up on analog recording, the idea of post fader inserts is crazy to me.
It doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
So what I really wanted to do is completely separate the gain structure idea from the processing idea.
The other thing that it allows me to do, and I didn't do it on this particular track, but there are quite a few songs where one of the easiest things you can do is called the slippery fader.
We'll actually turn the mix up half a dB in the chorus, and then you turn it back down whether you come back down slowly or right at the down, but in the verse you come back down.
If I was doing that sort of automation I can do that on my Aux fader where zero is my loudest part of the mix and everything else comes down from there in big chunks.
I can still go back and just grab my Master fader anytime I want and bring the mix up and down to affect how it hits my stereo bus and fix any problems that I may have created as I'm working on the song over the course of time.
It really separates those two functions to use the Master and the Aux even though I can probably figure out a way to combine them I just don't want to.
What we are going to do is go back through the session and make sure that the groups are assigned properly so that my VCAs are going to work.
I'm gonna quickly enable groups, I've selected all of my drum tracks and I noticed there is a group here that is already assigned but sometimes I have to make new groups because they've added overdubs or done some editing.
Sometimes they already have a group that will work so I'm always willing to reuse a group.
It turns out that this group which is called Steve Steve Drums, that's my Drum group.
This VCA, because it was imported from the mix template, is already assigned to Steve Drums, which is great, so I can mute it and you can see, the drums are soft muting I can solo it, none of the drums mute, everything else in the session soft mutes so I know that VCA is working.
The Lightning does not have a VCA and probably because it's just a sound effect and it only happens once in the song, I'm not gonna bother with the VCA for this.
It's very seldom that I don't have a VCA for every track in the session.
Since I said that we're gonna go ahead and make one.
Let me make a group for Lightning.
Let me make a new VCA.
And samples, why not? I will assign that to my new group... Lightning.
And most importantly, I'm going to name it. Did I spell that right? I don't even know.
Even more importantly I'm gonna color code it.
VCAs are bright yellow otherwise you can't find them. They hide.
Make sure this is working. Great.
Percussion, I have my two Auxes and I haven't actually started assigning any of the outputs yet. But I do not have a percussion VCA.
Again, let me check out the percussion and see if there is a group for all of it.
There isn't, otherwise I would see a solid black circle over here.
Actually we've got more down here. Hold on.
Maybe we're gonna get a solid black circle.
I'm gonna make a group. Call it Perc.
Then we're gonna make a VCA. Call it Perc.
Assign it to the proper group.
Make it yellow, because otherwise it won't work properly.
Bass. That already came up well. There's already a group made for that.
Guitars I believe I should have imported.
They did not.
Right now they are controlling a group called Rhythm Guitar which happens to be just one of the two guitars and as it turns out, the guitar that we didn't use.
So I'm gonna make a new group and call it Guitars.
Reassign this guy to Guitars.
We have keys, that's already assigned properly.
Horns. We do have several sets of horns, but...
that I'm only gonna split them up for the audio routing I'm not going to split them up for any other purpose.
And I have one VCA for all the horns which...
does not look like is assigned properly.
Let me select all my horn tracks.
You may have noticed that I'm selecting tracks by just dragging around on the edit window.
That is this fantastic function which ties the edit selection to the track selection.
I love it, I use it all the time.
If you don't know about it, it is this little button up here which I'm turning on and off.
It just makes it really quick for me because it's a lot quicker to just drag a rectangle in the edit window than it is to click on one track, scroll up, find the shift key without looking and click on another track.
Anyway, that's why I'm doing it.
I selected all the horns. Look at that. I see a group.
Called Horns Aud.
Apparently that's Horns Audition.
I'm going to assign...
my Horn VCA...
And it's actually kind of important...
Well, it doesn't matter. You could probably just make new groups, that would be exactly the same as some old groups, but I don't like having extraneous irrelevant things in a session.
I'll only make groups that I need.
And also I'll know that they're ones that I made because they are at the bottom of the list and are only being used for the VCAs.
They don't have anything to do with the groups that whoever was tracking were making along the way, which are much more to do with either something directly to do with mixing or editing...
or it can sometimes be a great forensic way to find out when things were recorded.
Generally there will be something called edit group, and that's all your basic tracks. And you actually know who is playing live, who is an overdub...
And that kind of explains weird anomalies and let you figure out if the bleeding you're hearing is actually the same performance as the thing that's in the session.
Really quickly, we've got lead vocal.
You might think you don't need a VCA for the lead vocal.
And I would say that might turn out to be true but I'm gonna go ahead and make one anyway.
Because I wanna a quick way to turn things on and off...
and it turns out, there already is one.
Good, I don't need to make a VCA.
It's called LV...
And then background vocals exactly the same thing.
There should already be a group.
BGVS, and again we will name this.
BGVs. I'll just use the same terminology.
Background vocals are one of the enigmas of working on songs.
They can be called 'BGVs', 'BVs'. There are a couple of other terms I've heard.
The weird thing is there are people who will not have any idea of what you're talking about if you say BGs.
They think you're just talking about the group from the 70s and 80s.
When in fact you just mean backgrounds.
But that doesn't make sense to people who call them BVs.
I have no idea why.
I'm just gonna group U Roy and...
Ziggy's together as a Lead Vocal because this VCA is not really gonna be about riding the vocal or a real mix aspect, it's really just for the muting capabilities.
Alright, I think we finally have a session where we can listen to something.
Now we finished stage one of organizing a session, which is the color coding so I can find things quickly and also importing from my template.
The next thing we're gonna do is make sure that every single track in the session is part of some VCA group.
Generally this groups will be large but I will have every single track under a VCA, because that will allow me very quickly later on to move with groups of instruments and try out different arrangement ideas.
And work on small subsets of the tracks.
Now it's time to start listening to things so the first thing I'm gonna do is just bypass all the plug-ins on my Stereo Mix bus so that I'm starting from pretty much the same place their rough balance was.
The reason I do that is, one just to get a handle on how the tracks are sounding with my routing but also to make sure that I've actually routed everything properly and I don't have some weird delay now because that can happen as you reroute everything in the session.
Things can disappear, and I don't want it to sound very different for right now.
I'm going to hit play and go through and start muting VCAs making sure the VCAs are controlling the right things by soloing them up and then get down to the point where all we are listening to is Drums, and then we are gonna start mixing.
We will get to that conga.
I'd like to point out... there's a lot of talk about monitoring and what level you should work at.
First of all, monitoring is the most important part of mixing, if you can't hear, you can't mix.
Make sure that whatever it is that you’re mixing on is something that will tell you what's going on in terms of having some sort of frequency response and you are in a room where you are not listening to the room you're listening to your speakers.
The other thing is pay attention to how loud and for how long you listen.
Personally, I either listen really loud or really quietly.
At the beginning of working on a mix I listen really loud because...
first of all...
It helps me be able to hear things specially when I'm listening to individual tracks.
I'm not guessing at the impact of the kick or the snare.
It's does it thump me in the chest or hit me in the head.
The other thing is I really get a sense for how it feels when it's loud.
Once I have the sound of the instruments together then I tend to work very quietly because you can really only judge balance quietly because your ears will start to shut down trying to protect themselves from yourself.
You can't really make any subtle decisions while things are loud so then I work very quietly.
Medium volume to me is almost useless.
Which is sad because if I could always work at sort of prescribed eighty something dB I could work all day, never touch my monitor pot.
But that's not the way it works.
The only part of the Neve we're using today is...
the monitor pot.
The Neve has a stepped monitor pot.
A nice click.
This is because they use discrete resistors instead of a potentiometer.
But it also means that I've got positions that are familiar to me.
If you don't have a stepped pot, which 99% of you won't, I would actually recommend marking a couple of levels on your monitor pot.
That way, you actually set yourself up a reference that you can use while mixing.
My two reference levels are one click up from being off completely and really loud.
I'm gonna start off really loud and we're just gonna go through.
I'm gonna solo up the drum tracks and normally I'll sort of cycle through, and solo, and listen, and unsolo.
I'm gonna do things but I've been told I really shouldn't talk while the music is playing.
I'm gonna go through and solo so you can have a listen then I'm gonna start doing things and talk about them.
The very first thing I'm gonna do is, there are a few plug-ins left in this session.
This session is actually very light on plug-ins compared to a lot of sessions I get.
90% of the plug-ins in this session are the ones that I've imported.
But there are some plug-ins in here and I wanna hear what they are.
I'm gonna solo up each of the tracks individually or in groups like with the kick drum, I've got three different microphones, I'm gonna solo them in groups, and by themselves, to get and idea of how they interact and start making decisions about what I'm gonna use and what I'm not gonna use.
Looking at this snare top mic, there is a gate on it.
Normally I would bypass a gate that's on drums.
I like drums to be natural and open.
But I've also read the comments in this session and Kick track says "note i liked gating".
I don't know who I is in this context.
But Ziggy's does a lot of the overdubs himself and I could well have been Ziggy's himself and if not it's certainly someone involved in the project.
So now I'm much more opened to listening to it.
Here is the snare track with the gate on.
And here is with it off.
While to me that snare sounds unnatural being gated so tightly what I'm noticing almost immediately is that...
this is probably less about the sound and much more about the pattern.
There are a lot of ghost notes in the way Steve is playing the drum part, I'm assuming this is Steve Ferrone on this track.
They are trying to tighten up the kick snare interaction within the beat.
So now I'm gonna listen in context and see if...
having the snared gated is bugging me.
If it is then I'll back off on the range of the expander so that it will still be gating but not quite as much.
And if it isn't bugging then I'm just gonna leave it because that's what they are going for and...
I'm a fan of having stuff done for me.
Let's see how it sounds with and without the gate in the track.
This is with the gate.
It's kind of a subtle difference but I'm gonna go ahead and leave it in.
Because why not? They also had and EQ on the snare top.
Looks like they are just adding some body.
Whenever there are plug-ins in the session I listen to try and figure out why they're there and then I just decide whether I like it or not.
And I really try and treat it as if...
the track were recorded that way already.
I don't treat it as: "Oh, I see what they are going for...
now I'll do it slightly differently".
I either keep it or I get rid of it.
And that's kind of it with stuff that comes in on a session.
Here is the snare drum with their EQ that they gave me.
It's kind of a subtle change...
it's really more about the body of the snare sort of the bottom that comes along with the attack.
You get the crack on top and then the body is that lower mid-range area where they are boosting.
Pretty subtle but I think really what it helps to do is to move the snare forward in the balance of the drums.
It just sounds a little bit dryer.
It's a way to accomplish something that you could also accomplish just by turning the snare drum up or something like that but I'm gonna go ahead and leave it in for now and we will see what happens.
The snare bottom mic has a gate on it, in this case I would never even bother listening to that I just leave it.
Because, why not? And I probably not gonna use a whole lot of the snare bottom.
The next thing I'm gonna listen to is the tom track since that is actually a very important part of prepping the mix for me.
Let's have a listen to this.
There are two things I'm listening for.
One is how much of the rest of the kit is coming in to the tom mics.
And how good does that leakage sound to decide whether I wanna use them.
The other thing is how much of the toms are ringing.
In this case the toms are actually ringing enough that I probably don't wanna leave those tracks opened.
They can be a very important part of the drum sound...
But they can also be a very messy part of the drum sound.
And I don't know the drum pattern well enough yet to know whether or not he goes to a crash or a ride in a certain section, but if you think physically about where the toms are compared to the cymbals they are always right below them, and ride cymbals specially can go absolutely nuts in the rack tom mic and the low tom mic.
I just don't wanna deal with it. I will do...
the Pro Tools version of gating.
Which in this case have actually left the cuts that I made.
I noticed he never plays the first tom track so I'm gonna mute the audio I could even hide this and make it inactive.
Then, very few tom hits on this track.
In fact there's only one little tom fill in the middle.
But here I'll play you, this is Tom two in the bridge.
All I'm gonna do is cut the audio right to the beginning of this tom hit.
If we zoom in you'll see I'm pretty much right on it and there's a very short fade...
to bring that in.
I tend to fade out these toms very slowly because toms are usually something you end up EQing a lot to make them really big or you might send them to FX to add extra top end, or they might have a reverb.
When they come in all of a sudden they can really change the character of the kit, which is fine when you hit the tom, but...
because an event actually happens so you have a new sound to change the sound of the kit.
But if you take them away just as abruptly all of a sudden the rest of the kit will change in sound for no apparent reason.
I do a very short fade in right at the attack of the tom and a very long fade out.
That's what I've done here.
If we look through the rest of the track, and you can usually do this visually, if you are not really...
familiar with what waveforms look like, and this is something you learn just from mixing a lot, depending on the recording, the Tom may not be as obvious.
It's great way to go through and mute tom tracks like this.
You can actually do it in real time while listening.
If you go ahead and hit play...
hear a little bit of drum...
I'm gonna zoom in on this track.
In real time I can see...
I have little blobs for every snare drum hit and none of this are toms.
I can let this play, go through...
eventually I'll run into a larger waveform...
confirm that it is a tom, and using keyboard shortcuts or whatever you do for quick edits or event just sort of select the tom hit and separate the region and go back later and clean them up.
That's a great way to go through the track in real time.
You can usually do two or three tom tracks at a time.
In this case, I've already done it and he barely ever hits the toms.
I'm just go ahead and mute the rest of that track.
Then we've got a second floor tom here.
Again exactly the same thing.
And then there's a track called Timbale.
As it turns out, in this kit, is being used very much like a tom.
And it was probably setup right up next to the snare as a second tom.
If I listen to the bleed here...
It's just hi-hat and snare, it's gonna make things messy.
I'm gonna treat this exactly like a tom track.
Go ahead and mute where the Timbale isn't.
Now I've got this four tracks down to...
some very tiny little chunks of audio which I don't really have to think a lot about.
Which is great.
Later on what I'm gonna do once I have the drum kit more shaped is decide if I need to treat the toms in a special way because specially when they're only hit a couple of times in the song sometimes you really wanna make that an event and there are a couple of tracks in my template that can help that happen.
For now I'm just keep going through the drum tracks.
The next thing we get to in terms of normal multi mic setup is the overhead track.
That's something I usually listen to very carefully because...
there are two philosophies for recording overheads.
One is you try and get a stereo picture of the drum kit through two microphones that are above the kit the other philosophy is to have cymbal microphones.
Personally, when I record multi miced drums I will use the overheads as cymbal mics.
They'll be spread out wide.
They'll be pointing straight down.
They'll be pretty high.
Right over whatever cymbals there are on the kit.
There are quite a few people though that use a XY technique or they you'll be right over the drummer head or they'll be outside but pointing in towards the snare drum.
They are trying to get a picture of the whole kit.
The very first thing I need to do is understand what sort of overheads these are.
Let's have a listen.
Pretty good picture of the kit but what I'm gonna do is go down later in the song because I remember, from listening to the toms, that there are some cymbals later.
In this case the snare drum is almost as loud as the cymbals.
Plus, the cymbals don't really sound that great to me in this mics so I'm gonna treat this more as an extra drum kit pair of microphones then I set the cymbals.
We'll figure out later where I'm gonna actually get the cymbals from.
The good thing is, the cymbals are barely used in this track.
So, if the hi-hat is a very important part of the kit, crash is not so much.
As long as you hear them happen, they can almost be white noise, and it doesn't really matter.
Then we have some extra tracks.
There is a mono room track.
This actually has a plug-in on it.
Everybody’s favorite crushed up room.
They've used a Bomb Factory 1176.
This is actually something that is really common.
You'll get sessions with really simple old plug-ins like the Bomb Factory plug-ins that are free with Pro Tools EQ3s...
And some people might wonder...
Why don't they used the better sounding plug-ins? The reason is, while you're making a record a lot of times you don't know who's gonna work on it next.
You're gonna work on it in three different studios, you're gonna have to work on that on your laptop.
It's very likely that every single person in the world has this plug-in.
And if you use it to help shape your sound, they'll have your sound.
And when we listen with and without this compressor you'll understand it's actually a big part of the sound.
That's with the compressor. Here's without.
I'll turn that up.
And here's with.
This compressor is the sound of these microphones.
It's really important for me to at least for now just to leave exactly as it is.
I'm gonna turn that back down so it's more in the balance that they sent me.
Let's checkout the last few mics.
We've got two sets of room mics, room and room far.
I'm gonna make the assumption that room is close.
This is a nice sounding set of room mics, obviously they are in a very good room, but there's a very interesting thing going on, I'm gonna turn this up and play it again.
What I want you to listen for is the stereo picture of the kit.
What's very interesting is that it all seems very well balanced but the kick drum is over on the right.
That's just something to make a note of.
It may not matter, I might not care.
But if later on I'm having trouble with the low end because the kick doesn't feel like it's in the middle and starts to fight with something else, that's on my little mental checklist for stuff to check out later on.
Let's check out the far room.
This is room is obviously much further away, it's also...
interestingly, incredibly left heavy.
The first thing I'm gonna do here is use one of my favorite plug-ins.
The Trim plug-in.
But I'm using it in multi mono mode. Instead of being a stereo trim plug-in I have a left trim plug-in and a right trim plug-in.
I'm gonna go up to this little link symbol.
Turn off the link.
And I'm going to flip to the right side controls.
And turn up the right side until it feels centered and then I'll start to listen to what's going on in the drum kit.
I realize it's more than 6 dB off. Switch this to 12 dB mode.
OK, now on the meters, if you have a look...
It looks right heavy and it stills sounds a tiny bit left heavy to me.
I'm not gonna worry about what it looks like because I really don't care.
Because people don't look at mixes, they listen to them.
And I don't know for sure that I'm even gonna use any of this.
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- Waves: Scheps 73 EQ, RBass, RVox, CLA-76
- Universal Audio: 1176LN, Fairchild 670, dbx 160 VU, Pultec EQP-1, Brainworx bx_digital V2,
- FabFilter: Pro-L
- SoundToys: Microshift
- McDSP: 6030 Compressor, FilterBank
- Avid: DigiRack EQ, Lo-Fi, ReVibe
- Audio Ease: Altiverb
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"Fly Rasta Featuring U-Roy"
Written and Performed by Ziggy Marley
Licensed courtesy of Tuff Gong Worldwide
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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