The Lifeboats series is going to be a unique chance to see how the pureMix mentors each approach the same song with their own unique vision for the mix. See how Grammy winners Fab Dupont, Andrew Scheps and Mick Guzauski shape Will Knox's song with their own tastes and creativity.
In this first installment of the Lifeboats series, Fab Dupont challenges himself to leave his familiar home of Pro Tools for a mixing adventure in Cubase 8 using only the built in plugins and Cubase channel strip.
In this 2 hour long mixing tutorial, you'll learn:
- How Fab's mixing workflow translates from one DAW to another
- How to set up your session and markers for easy navigation throughout the mixing session
- Mixing live drums recorded with tons of microphone options
- Creating a bass tone using the VST Amp Simulator that sounds better than the real amp.
- Finding the perfect balance of space and support around the vocal using reverb and delay
- Combining and EQing multiple mics on the guitar amp to craft a great tone that cuts through the mix
- Adding creative effects to synths to create a vibe that compliments the song
- Balancing all of the track together and automating problem areas.
Fab walks you through his entire mixing process from the raw tracks all the way to the mix bus processing. Watch how a Grammy winning mix engineer works piece by piece and explains not only what he's doing but why he makes each decision along the way.
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- 00:00 - Start
- 00:26 - Setting Up The Session
- 05:08 - Starting The Mix With The Drums
- 10:56 - Drums : Snare
- 12:58 - Talking About The Auto Make-Up Gain
- 13:38 - Drums : Overheads
- 15:37 - Drums : Rooms
- 17:22 - Drums : Hi-Hats And Toms
- 17:52 - Considering The Drums As A Whole
- 18:45 - Talking About Cubase 8
- 19:36 - Drums : Compression
- 21:56 - Bass
- 24:10 - Using Only The DI As The Bass
- 26:37 - Drums And Bass On The 2nd Verse
- 27:06 - Lead Vocals
- 29:17 - Lead Vocals : Deessing
- 31:35 - Lead Vocals : Tape Saturation
- 32:46 - Lead Vocals : Reverbs Part 1
- 35:28 - Lead Vocals : Delay
- 37:18 - Guitars
- 40:30 - Guitars : Reverbs Part 1
- 42:01 - Guitars : Chorus
- 42:42 - Bass/Guitars Relation
- 43:56 - Drums : Reverb On The Snare
- 45:34 - Synthezisers
- 45:45 - Roland RS-09
- 46:42 - Organ
- 48:48 - ARP Ensemble
- 50:31 - ARP Wave
- 50:59 - Listening Back To The Track
- 51:51 - Piano
- 53:24 - Piano : Reverbs
- 55:02 - Guitars : Reverbs Part 2
- 55:57 - Chorus Melodies
- 1:00:16 - Roland Juno 60
- 00:00 - Start
- 00:0 - Background Vocals
- 05:04 - Summing Bus Processing Part 1
- 25:13 - VCAs In Cubase 8
- 09:29 - Parallel Compression
- 13:44 - Delay On The Snare
- 14:56 - Bridge
- 22:06 - Fixing The Master Tape
- 27:52 - Listening Back To The Track
- 29:34 - Placement Of The Vocals
- 31:19 - Exciting The Guitars
- 32:46 - Summing Bus Processing Part 2
- 34:06 - More
- 35:49 - Bringing The Kick Closer
- 39:37 - Reflecting On The Recent Changes
- 40:20 - Let's
- 42:56 - Final Touches
- 46:00 - Conclusion
- 47:07 - Final A/B - A
- 47:55 - Final A/B - B
|Part 1||Part 2|
Good morning children, today we are going to mix a song in Cubase, using only the plug-ins that the good people at Steinberg have given to you for free.
Well, for the price of the DAW but for free.
You know what I mean.
The song today is "Lifeboats" the great Guinea-pig of old songs by the amazing Will Knox.
Here we go.
No matter what DAW I work in I use the same system, so that I am basically always in my environment.
So, kicks tend to go away, up there.
There you go.
And as far as coloring you have several ways to access to the color pallet.
You can shift-click here and then you have the color pallet. I still like the drums green.
Snare tends to go near the kick in real life and in the DAW.
If you wanna work from the mixer you can do that too as far as colors go and it's done here.
Let's go back to our full window. It's easier for what we are doing right now.
What are we gonna put after the snare? Most of the time, the hat. There you go.
This may seem like a waste of time to you but it's not.
Because most of the time spent mixing is actually spent looking for stuff.
And if you put the stuff in the same place everyday, then you don't look for it, because you know where it is. Because there's where you put it yesterday.
If you noticed my work space it's actually remembered the size of the files so I'm gonna do this and I'm gonna update it.
That way next time I switch between the two Cubase will remember that I wanted it to be this big, which is great.
Who's dying to hear the song? No.
You don't get to hear the song until you've done all your homework.
And now that we've done all this work, it's a good idea to actually save the session so you don't have to do it again in case you crash.
Not that anybody ever crashes but you never know.
So we're gonna call this "LifeBoatsFabmix1.0".
And now we get to hear the song.
But what I'm gonna do first is I'm gonna create a marker track.
This mix is the raw mix There are no plug-ins, there's no EQ, there's no compression, there's not even a balance.
It's just the raw microphones coming from the session.
Like everybody gets when they get a session like this.
So, here we go.
Alright. Great song. This is gonna be an interesting few minutes.
Side note: This may have been a slightly tedious process but, in fact, no.
Why you set up your markers? Which I strongly recommend you do on every project you work on, no matter how simple it is.
You're listening to the song, you're listening to the environment of the vocal, the different instruments, what the vibe is, what the lyric is about, and that gives you an idea of what you're gonna do next.
Personally I use this marker pass to figure out what I was gonna do with the drums.
Trying to imagine what I would like the song to sound like in two hours, six months, when I'm done mixing.
And also figure out if there are any problems.
And there are problems. There's a really out of tune synth.
That's in the back of my mind. Why did I let that go? I don't know.
And then where's the apex of the song, how's the balance evolving over time.
You know, am I getting a noise bleed from the shakers? Things like that.
That's what this pass is about.
And also now if I wanna jump to the first chorus I click on it here and I'm on the first chorus, which is practical.
For some reason today I feel like I have to start with the drums.
I feel that if I start with the vocal and bass, like I usually do, maybe I won't be able to put the bass drum exactly where I want it to be because it's a weird animal.
Let's listen to that.
Bass drum. Let's go to, say, the verse.
OK, so that's the inside bass drum.
Outside bass drum.
Some weird far-away microphone.
How about we do a quick balance of those three? I'm curious to know if that third bass drum is in phase, something tells me it's weird.
So, here in the channel strip I have a phase flip, right here.
It's not great when the polarity is on and it doesn't sound the way I want it when the polarity is inverted.
So basically it sucks both ways.
But we can fix that because we have the technology.
For example, I could decide to hi-pass that last bass drum.
I cannot quite access the hi-pass filter here so I don't need to look at all this. I can hide the direct routing and now I have everything I need.
Great. Let's hi-pass this while listening to it.
Why is that possible that I'm high-passing one of the tracks, allegedly the fattest one, the alt, which is probably a Yamaha sub-kick or something like that, and I'm getting more bottom? The reason for that is, when you use a high-pass filter on a bunch of low-end tracks, don't forget that you're screwing with the phase (screwing being a technical term).
So, you have to be very careful when you high-pass anything you want, you have to listen in context.
So, when we do the bass, whatever we do the bass, the bass drum will be on at all times Check this out.
I am much happier. See the smile on my face? So now, I'm gonna group those three tracks and...
Cubase lingo, is called link, not group.
And call it bass drum.
Interesting set of features here.
You can now decide what the links do. Just the volumes, sends, inserts, mute, solo listens, I'm not gonna link the EQs on this one because I think that I'm gonna have different EQs on this one, on a track per track basis, but now that it's together I'm able to treat them as one, which is awesome.
Great, let's listen to the snare.
Notice that when I click the snare track automatically Cubase shows me the channel settings for that track, which is awesome.
Another thing that's awesome is you can click up there and you have access to the EQ right here.
So say you wanna EQ this bass drum you can do it here, and then you can now EQ the snare drum here.
Faster is impossible. This is a really good design.
I added some high-end to the snare drum. Fancy that.
So one: a bunch of tracks are linked. You have to use the option button (which I used this finger for) to change the ratio between the three linked tracks.
If you don't use option obviously they all move together that's why they are linked but you can clutch that like this.
And I think that less of that middle the out bass drum microphone will help us clear some of that mask, I guess there is.
Maybe a little bit of shine on the inside microphone would help.
It sounds more like a real bass drum. Like this ugly kind of like buoyant, crazy thing that bass drums do when you are in the room with a bass drum.
Our ears are so used to hearing this super manicured like (makes a sound) thing which is not the way a bass drum sounds in the room with a drummer.
Ask your drummer. He'll tell ya'.
So, I like this for now.
It may change.
I opened the hi-hat by inadvertence I like the hi-hat. Let's check it out.
Clearly too fat.
I don't need all this information from the hi-hat.
We could make the snare drum a little more exciting, by adding some compression.
I'm gonna use the channel strip as much as possible.
It sounds great. It's very functional.
Remove the auto makeup gain because you don't need somebody to decide how much gain you need.
I slowed the attack down on the snare drum compressor which allows the transient to go through and bring the snare drum forward.
Without being louder. It just feels more forward because it gets more transients and the transients really make things feel present.
And that's about it.
Maybe I was a little heavy on the gain makeup. Let's see.
Let's compare with the auto makeup gain.
So, this is my personal feeling on what the makeup gain should be. So this is without.
See the auto makeup gain makes it a little louder so you're always gonna like it better if you leave the auto makeup gain because Cubase will make it louder and your brain thinks that louder is better.
Turn that stuff off.
Alright, let's see what else we could have there.
The toms (sighs), maybe later when we grow up. Let's listen to the overheads.
I'm gonna link those two and I'm gonna decide that the EQ are gonna get linked, and maybe dynamics and everything that can be linked will be linked because... Except of course, the pans and always name your groups or links whatever, what you wanna use.
Cool. So I'm bringing up the EQ here.
I feel it's a little dry, a little roomy more than overheady so I'm gonna remove some of the bottom here.
to see if I can lean it out.
Obviously too much.
In the context of the rest of the drums.
Bass drum, snare drum, hat.
I went too far in the high end. I don't need that high end.
It creates a nice environment for the snare and the bass drum.
Let's see on the chorus.
See, it is an overhead. The cymbals are pretty loud, so I'm going to lower it.
Good enough for jazz. What's the room like? It's room like.
How about the far room, left and right.
Let's link them so they're easy to deal with.
Let's see with the bass drum and the snare drum.
And with the overheads.
I don't like them on their own but then I know myself I know that I never liked the sound of a far room on its own.
But it creates really nice distance and it prevents the snare from sounding so demoey.
Check it out, with and without the rooms.
Maybe a little less.
OK. And how about the mid room there? I like the focus that it gives the bass drum so I'm assuming it was some sort of a ribbon microphone in front of the whole kit, pretty low.
That's nice. It's a good balance.
With the hats.
So turning the toms on doesn't ruin the whole sound.
I'm pretty happy with this.
So, I have the bass drum as an entity.
I'm probably gonna make the toms an entity.
There you go. Boom.
So what I'd like to do now is treat the whole drum set as an instrument, as opposed to a bunch of different instruments.
And to do so, I'm just gonna select the whole drum set.
There you go. And...
create a group channel.
And call it, you know what, how about "drums"? And by the way, by creating this group, everything is done automatically, Cubase routes all the drums to this group here and routes the group to the output, automatically. It's neat.
I think I wanna put a little bit compression on this.
You have the channel strip and right now I'm looking at the channel strip of the drum sub.
Maybe I should call it "drum sub".
Which updates the name of all the sends.
While we're here let me show you an easy way to think about this.
In the channel setting window, you have inserts, which are plug-ins.
I have here a folder with all the built-in plug-ins so I can use only the built-in plug-ins.
And then you have the channel strip.
Those are not plug-ins, those are permanent.
And you could choose whether to use, say, the built-in EQ or an EQ plug-in.
That's your choice.
The EQ here is very good, the compressor is very good, everything is very good.
You may as well just start there unless you have a problem and you can't get the sound you want or you need inspiration, then you can start using plug-ins.
What they've done that's smart is you can actually change the order of things.
So you can say, channel strip first and then inserts, or if you click on this button inserts first in channel strip.
Which is very practical if you're trying to build a sound.
For my drum set I'm thinking I'm gonna try and use the channel strip.
So, I was thinking compression.
What I'm looking for really is excitement so let's listen to...
This is fun and it really sounds nice and full.
But what would happen if I use a saturation system.
Again auto gain is your enemy.
I like what it does to the snare drum. Let me exaggerate.
Tape saturation sounded good.
The tube saturation not really. Let's see what Magneto does.
I really dig the not-real quality of it. It's nice.
Let me adjust the equalizer a little bit.
Makes me wanna lower the overheads a little bit.
I'm happy with this right now.
Let's turn the bass on and see what happens.
So, bass amp.
So that's a 251, large-diaphragm condenser microphone.
Same amp with a ribbon 101.
Two of them.
Let's link them and call it "bass".
Let's listen to the DI.
I like the fat in this DI.
Let's listen to it with the drums.
Whereas the amp...
There's something diffuse about it.
Again, check it out, that's the DI.
And the amps.
There's something woofy and diffuse about it.
I don't like it. And even if I use just one.
I like the amp quality of it but I don't like the tone of it.
It just doesn't have the...
...you know. So, let's see if I can get the sound I want with the DI.
And using an effect.
And I know from experience that there's a VST bass amp that's pretty awesome. So let's see what it does.
Already better. Without.
Even fatter. Maybe too fat.
Maybe not but I like the idea of having a special effect on it.
Use 'em if you got 'em.
It's got a weird quality. I like it.
And then the cabinets, let's see.
I'm happy with this.
What else you've got? They've got effects, let's use them.
Sometimes it's fun to have a low-quality compressor on a bass.
Super fat. Let's see in the track with the drums.
It sits there by itself, right? It's nice.
Let's compare with our real amp.
I like this better. What do you know? So, I have a bass and drum system, let's see how it sounds in the second verse.
By the way I'm not gonna use this track so I can hide them.
And I'm gonna hide them here too.
Here's the lead vocal.
There's a cool little feature here, where you can choose the size of the waveform, which is nice.
So let's see where Will hangs. Here! So we're gonna need a compressor obviously.
By the way you can choose where you put your EQ.
That's pretty cool. Let's do it this way.
Turn the auto makeup off.
Slow the attack down to make sure we don't kill the beautiful stuff that he does when he's singing.
You can see from the waveform right here that it's quiet here and it gets louder, here.
OK, we can hi-pass a little bit.
And then probably open the top a smidgen.
A-ha, S's are coming out.
OK, clearly we have a de-esser problem so, I'm turning the de-esser on. Now I can decide to super de-ess and EQ after or to EQ and then de-ess. We'll see what works best.
So, amount of reduction, threshold, although threshold never worked for me.
Anything automatic, like, this machine can't read my mind, can it? Or maybe this machine knows Will Knox intimately.
Don't think that it does but if it did I would let it do its automatic thing.
Until then, I'll do it by myself.
Thank you very much.
Let me show you in solo with just the vocals so you understand how this works.
You can solo the key.
We're looking for the "Ss". Let's hear.
I can hear the "Ss" very well.
Then you can hit the difference button to hear what the de-esser is gonna touch.
So, we are zoning on the Ss Now, we've got to decide how much damage we're gonna do.
OK, maybe a little lower in the key here.
Oh yes. But less.
The reduction is good, I'm just being a little heavy on the threshold.
So I'm gonna soften the threshold.
As a reminder, without.
Let's move the EQ after the de-esser to figure out how it works.
Better right? And remove the de-esser.
OK, we can play with that in the context.
It's nice. And I'm curious to know what the tape saturation will sound like on this particular sound.
Let's just mute the stuff we're not gonna use.
Selected all that, here we go.
I could use the bass though.
I still hear a little bit of a mask in the low-mids here.
We started here, no channel strip.
Let's create some space around this vocal.
So I'm gonna create an FX channel for lead vox and this LA Studio thing is actually awesome.
Check it out.
Isn't that nice? So, we are gonna call this..
"Main space" 'cos I'm gonna use it as such.
I'm also gonna give it a bit of a short room kind of vibe.
Give it another FX channel and maybe use the same one since it sounds good and it's easy to use.
There you go.
Call this one "short space".
Let's check it out.
Obviously this preset is not gonna do.
What you've got? Ballroom? Nah.
Echo Room? Nah.
French Stone Chapel! Nah.
Don't want anything french on this video.
NY studio A. Yeah.
Exactly. Let's shorten it.
That's good, if we use less of it.
Hear the space in-between the words, right? Especially at the end "all around". With.
It gets rid of that you know "I'm-eating-the-mic" kind of sound, which I love. So that's good for me and then the other one back on.
One more thing I'd like to do on the vocal is add a little bit of a delay.
So, I'm gonna move the channel strip pre-insert.
So that my delay can be post-inserts.
And pick some built-in delay.
I think they have a mono delay that's gonna do the job very well..mono delay, there you go.
Less of it maybe.
I don't need all that feedback.
I don't need it to be so bright I just want it to feel like kind of like an after thought of the vocal.
I don't need to be so fat either.
And in the context.
Make it a little darker and with.
Katie will come later.
Alright, this is nice.
Let's see what the harmonic content of this song is.
If you see here, we have a bunch of guitars and it's Will Knox so we know it's gonna be guitars.
So, let's listen to this "guitar intro amp 122".
Same part with the 57 microphone.
Or the DI.
The DI is absolutely unnecessary.
Let's listen to the 57 plus the 122.
So we have a 57 which is SM-57 A Shure, small, dynamic, you know, $80 microphone.
And then we have a 122 which is a a ribbon by Royer.
See, when it gets (makes a sound). That's a little fat.
It's fine on the 57.
But there's a ring on the 122. Let's just get rid of it, quickly.
I bet you it's in the 300 range or 200 range.
I bet you I was right. And let's look at to the 57.
Maybe I was a little brutish on this.
Doesn't have to be 8dBs down.
Why don't I link this as "intro guitar"? And we're gonna...
We don't have to link the EQs. The volumes, yes.
Dynamics, I don't think I'm gonna dynamic anything. Sends, definitely.
So, this is now one entity.
And it sounds like this.
So now we have the guitar verse, which seems to be kind of the same thing.
I'm not sure why they are separated.
Probably something bad happened at the recording stage.
Or some editing or something happened.
And now the intro.
Oh no, I know why.
It's because there's an overlap, so we had to have two sets of track for the same part.
So why don't I copy this EQ setting, since we're pretty sure it's gonna be the same thing.
Copy and paste it onto the 122 here.
There you go.
I didn't feel like having the guitar in the middle, I don't know why.
I like that.
Little bit of space would be nice.
So, why don't we use the leanest one.
And assign it to the main space.
I said the leanest one only.
That's nice and peaceful.
Let's do the same thing on the 57.
I gotta match the pans.
Otherwise it's gonna be weird for the listener.
The guitars are like changing places and stuff.
We're not that kind of girl.
Alright so, that's good.
Let's get rid of the two DIs.
We don't need them, never gonna wanna look at them, again.
Plus I don't like the way they sound so they are banned.
There you go.
I'm probably not gonna need them here either.
And then there's one more guitar on the chorus.
That sounds great. The reverb is integrated.
We recorded it from the amp.
I turned the bass on because I know that the bottom notes of the guitar are gonna fight with the bass. I don't want that.
I wanted to be really lean and really kinematic so I can't have too much mud.
So, I'm EQ'ing the bottom of the guitar amp that has a 122 on it, the one that's fat, while listening to the bass.
so I can leave it as fat as possible without touching the bass.
And I'm leaving the other microphone on, the 57, to make sure that by EQ'ing the bottom, the 122, I'm not screwing up the whole sound phase-wise.
Let's link these two guitar tracks.
Let's call it "Guit skank".
And you know what? I'm gonna link the pads.
And that way I can have them be together.
How does it sound in the context? I think we could use some space on this, right? So let's see what it sounds like in a short space.
How about the big space? Check out the verse.
Without the spaces.
It's nice. Alright, so what else we've got.
We have a bunch of really awesome keyboards.
Because I think I looked at all the guitars. Yes.
So what do we have for keyboards? I love this guy.
Check it out.
RS09, it comes in here.
It's an old Roland machine from the 80s that's clearly way too fat for our purpose.
We're gonna drawn this.
It's supposed to function with these guys.
The organ. So why don't we make the organ into a group so the organ is dealt with as one instrument.
Here's the organ.
That's quite fantastic sounding.
Let's lean it out a smidgen because I know that it's gonna be a bit much.
And then on the chorus.
We definitely need some space on this.
I'm gonna use the main space.
And it's a little jumpy, right? So, let's compress it.
"Solo" so you can hear what's going on.
In the chorus, I see here there's a bunch of pads. Let's listen to them.
It says L. Let's respect that wish.
This one says R. Let's say they are together.
So that's an old ARP ensemble.
No midi was hurt in the making of this track.
Let's call it "ARP ensemble".
And I'm definitely gonna link the EQ on this one.
I'm super into hi-passing this.
I think it's a little bright sounding so I'm gonna make it dark.
I dig that. Let's put some space on it.
Main space should do. Turn it on.
That's awesome. There's another pad called "ARP wave".
Let's see the transition between the verse and the chorus, and see if all those crazy and weird rawly-earthy pads work.
Yeah, I like melody. What's that do? Alright. This is a real piano.
As real as it gets. Let's get rid of that pedal noise.
Here is my balance. I have the guitar here.
I'm gonna put the piano there.
Little bit of space.
Maybe open the top a little bit.
I may have had the vocal a little loud.
I'm not sure if I'm 100% happy with the space.
I like what it does but I was looking for something more, less more, more or less, more less than more. Let's try something else.
Add FX channel.
Let's pick a different reverb.
There's one call RoomWorks, that I usually have good luck with.
Let's see if we can fake some sort of a plate out of this.
OK, let's make sure that it's way only here.
No pre-delay 'cos I don't want to hear that thing.
I just want this kind-of-like (makes a sound) thing.
That's just the mic and a little bit of space.
I like that a lot. Let's see in the context.
What it would sound like if I use that "shhh" reverb on the guitar? Let's see.
Maybe just one.
So, let's do that again on the verse guitar too.
So, on the chorus, I remember creating a bunch of melodies like this guy.
That is an old Yamaha SY1, which was their first ever synth, if I'm not mistaken.
And it's wonderful, it's got amazing sounds like sousaphone and Hawaiian guitar.
It can play one sound and one note at a time and also has its very own, very personal sense of pitch.
So, let's fix that.
Here, in the insert, there has to be some pitch correction. Pitch correct, there you go.
I want this to be very in-tune and zero tolerance.
As opposed to.
Life is good. Let's put it in the context.
Obviously we need a little bit of sauce.
How about this one? So, another melody here.
Obviously this was not meant to be used this way.
Let's use RoomWorks.
And I'm gonna use RoomWorks on the track itself.
I'm not gonna use this as a send because this is really part of the sound of the track, and I don't wanna think of it as an extra entity.
So, let's see what we have here.
I mean, pre-delay set aside, I kinda dig this. Let's see.
This is meant to go with this.
Let's see in the context.
I dig that. Let's copy this effect onto its little brother here "Pluck Low".
What does "Pluck Low" do? I bet you it plucks in the low range.
Yep, it must be a harmony.
Yes it is.
So, we're almost there. We've heard almost everything Let's see what the Juno does.
It is a little fat.
Let's hear with the real bass.
I don't wanna do anything to this. I love it.
I'm just gonna check how it sounds with the bass and the bass drum.
It's just fat as hell.
I think the SY1 is still too loud.
Maybe it's too in the middle. Let's just put it to the side.
It's also too fat and it's just...
Once logged in, you will be able to read all the transcripts jump around in the video.
Fab Dupont is a Grammy winning NYC based record producer, mixing/mastering engineer and co-founder of pureMix.net.
Fab has been playing, writing, producing and mixing music both live and in studios all over the world. He's worked in cities like Paris, Boston, Brussels, Stockholm, London and New York just to name a few.
He has his own studio called FLUX Studios in the East Village of New York City.
Fab has been nominated for Grammys 6 times, including two Latin Grammys and has received many other accolades around the world, including Victoires de la Musique, South African Music awards, Pan African Music Awards and US independent music awards.
Toots And The Maytals
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