Hey guys, this is the 3rd video in my series of mixing “Weather The Storm”. If you missed the last two videos, here are the links for you.
Setting Up The Session:
In this video I’m going to be taking you through the mix bus processing. This means I’ll be adding processing to my Master Bus to control what is happening over my whole mix. This style of mixing is called a “top down” approach.
What Is a Top Down Approach and Why Use It?
This is a style of mixing that I first encountered while reading a blog on The Recording Revolution. If you haven’t heard of it, check out www.therecordingrevolution.com for heaps of great articles and videos on home recording and mixing techniques.
For their description of the Top Down Approach, here’s a link:
Basically, this is the technique of adding processing to the mix busses in your chain first in order to save time. This kind of mixing means that you get bigger results to the sound of the mix in less moves of the mouse.
For example: you find that your mix is muddy at around the 300Hz mark. You could:
a) Go through each track in your mix, taking out frequencies of each track to try to get rid of that muddiness, or
b) Put an EQ on the mix bus and pull out 300 Hz.
I find that this is a great way to get your mix sounding the way you want it quicker and with less stress. Sounds tend to come together easier, and you feel better about the sound of your mix earlier on in the process.
There’s a lot of people out there that feel that there should be no processing on the mix bus and that side of things should be saved entirely for the mastering engineer. But in this modern world of limitless, high quality processing, I think we should not be sending anything to a mastering engineer that isn’t exactly how we want it.
One thing to note here is that all of these changes can be undone, altered and removed in the future, should there be some processing in your mix that calls for a change in the mix bus. Although, for the most part, these Mix Bus moves will shape the overall sound of your track.
So, what did you do?
You can watch the video and see exactly how I went about adding the processing to the mix bus, but I’ll go over it a little bit here as well.
I started by adding an EQ. I think this is the most important part of the mix bus processing and it’s where you’ll hear the biggest changes. I used the 7 band EQ that comes free with Pro Tools and I used that one because I wanted to show that you don’t need fancy plugins to get a great sound.
I started by running a low cut filter up to about 30Hz. This gets rid of any of the ultra low sub information that just muddies up the mix and takes up valuable energy. At this level, these frequencies are practically inaudible.
I then pulled up the low mid EQ and swept it until I found the wooly frequencies. This mix has a lot of those low mids that are filling up the mix so I wanted to find where they were the worst. I pulled them out by about 1.5dB. This is only a small move, but over the mix bus, it’s quite noticeable.
I then went up to the high mids to find where I could add a little more punch and presence to the mix. I ended up settling at around 2kHz, and boosting that by about 2dB. On top of that I also added a high shelf to the upper frequencies of about 0.5dB to give the mix a little more shimmer.
I then added a compressor to the mix. I ended up using waves C1 compressor, which I stated in the video was free, but actually it’s not. Don’t stress though, you can use a standard compressor with similar functionality in the exact same way.
With this compressor, I didn’t use it in the standard way of bringing down the loud parts and bringing up the quiet parts. In fact, I used to to accentuate the loud parts and made it pump to the beat of the song.
The way I did this, is have the threshold trigger only on the kick and snare, and then set a medium ratio (about 4:1). I then dialled up the attack until it let quite a bit of the transient of the kick and snare through. I pushed the release back until it was finished releasing just before the next kick or snare hit.
This style of compression really gives the sound a bit more life as the song pumps in and out to the beat. You will hear this effect on lots of dance tracks, although they usually make it a lot more obvious. What to listen for here is the feel of the track, rather than an obvious compression. When I A/B’d the compressor, you can hear the track get a bit more life and movement to it when enabled.
Finally, I put in a Slate Tape Emulation plugin. This adds the sound of tape saturation to the track, which is a hard thing to explain. It’s not a distortion, EQ, or compressor. It’s more like a combination of all three that has been carefully made to give a pleasant, musical sound.
These types of plugins usually aren’t cheap, but I absolutely love this one and use it on almost every project I do. It’s not necessary for mix bus processing, however I really like how it sounds.
Make sure you subscribe up the top so you know when I release my next blog. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to chuck it in the comments section below. Until next time, have a good one!