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Mix Smart

Book Description

After you've recorded the perfect song, you're only halfway there! Mixing is where the magic really happens and getting the perfect mix is a challenge. One of the most elusive arts of the recording practice, mixing can take a lifetime to master - this handbook jump-starts your skills and fast-forwards your progress!

Breaking the mix down by different effects - EQ, distortion, compression, expansion, pitch shift, delay, reverb, and more - and applying them to some of the most important instruments in pop music, Mix Smart will arm you with the skills and techniques you need to tap into your musicality and express it through multitrack mixing, putting true professional quality mixing within your reach.

*Future proof, ear-opening strategies will empower your inner-musician, giving you the knowledge you need to develop your mixing skills - from basic to advanced
*Breaking the mix down by different effects, with detailed strategies for the most important pop instruments showing you how to create the perfect combination
*Bonus Website, www.recordingology.com, packed with samples and example tracks, so you can practice as you learn
*Mix Smart Quick Start summaries at the end of each chapter get you to work faster
*Demystifies the technical, making the tools of the mix rig accessible - analog and digital, outboard and in the box, stereo and surround
*For everyone who mixes - studio, live, music, film, games, and broadcast

The recording studio is your musical instrument, and it's time you really learned how to play. Alex Case shows you not just how to mix well, but how to Mix Smart!

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Mix Smart
  3. Full Title
  4. Copyright
  5. Dedication
  6. Contents
  7. Acknowledgements
  8. Preface
  9. Chapter 1 The Mix Mindset
    1. 1.1 Musical Balance
    2. 1.1.1 The Mix Arrangement
    3. 1.1.2 Level
    4. 1.1.3 Panning
      1. Stability
      2. Audibility
      3. Sound stage
      4. Equal opportunity panning
    5. 1.1.4 Mute
    6. 1.2 Mental Balance
    7. 1.3 Mix Smart
      1. 1.3.1 Creative Vision with Technical Expertise
      2. 1.3.2 Production Motivations
  10. Chapter 2 Approaching Your First Mix
    1. 2.1 Mix Room Setup
    2. 2.2 Mixer Setup
    3. 2.2.1 Global Effects
    4. 2.2.2 Special Effects
      1. 2.2.3 Specific Effects
      2. 2.2.4 Hearing Effects
        1. Solo
        2. Looping
    5. 2.3 A Basic Mix Approach
      1. 2.3.1 Balance
      2. 2.3.2 Drums
      3. 2.3.3 Bass
      4. 2.3.4 Rhythm Guitars
      5. 2.3.5 Samples and Loops
      6. 2.3.6 Lead Vocal
      7. 2.3.7 Background Vocals
      8. 2.3.8 Lead Guitar
      9. 2.3.9 The Whole Mix
    6. 2.4 Summary
  11. Chapter 3 Equalization
    1. 3.1 Tools for Spectral Modification
      1. 3.1.1 Parametric EQ
        1. Frequency select
        2. Cut/Boost
        3. Q
      2. 3.1.2 Multiband EQ
      3. 3.1.3 Semiparametric EQ
      4. 3.1.4 Program EQ
      5. 3.1.5 Graphic EQ
      6. 3.1.6 Which Is Best?
      7. 3.1.7 Shelving EQ
      8. 3.1.8 Filters
    2. 3.2 Technique
      1. 3.2.1 Non-EQ Equalization
      2. 3.2.2 Patching and Plugging In
      3. 3.2.3 Boost, Search, and Set
      4. 3.2.4 Anticipate
      5. 3.2.5 Improve
    3. 3.3 Mix Strategies: EQ
      1. 3.3.1 Fix
        1. Rumble
        2. Hum and Buzz
        3. Pops and Wind
        4. Proximity
        5. Hiss
        6. General Fixes
      2. 3.3.2 Fit
        1. Complementary Cuts and Boosts
        2. Seizing the Spectral Opportunity
      3. 3.3.3 Feature
        1. Voice
        2. Snare Drum
        3. Kick/Bass Drum
        4. Electric Guitar
        5. Acoustic Guitar
        6. Electric Bass Guitar
        7. Piano
      4. 3.4 Summary
  12. Chapter 4 D istortion
    1. 4.1 Distortion of Amplitude
      1. 4.1.1 Harmonic Distortion
        1. Hard clipping
        2. Soft clipping
      2. 4.1.2 Intermodulation Distortion
    2. 4.2 Distortion Devices
    3. 4.3 Mix Strategies: Distortion
      1. 4.3.1 The Fix
        1. Prevention
        2. Camouflage
      2. 4.3.2 The Fit
        1. Allocating Spectrum
        2. Contrast
      3. 4.3.3 The Feature
        1. Instinctive Appeal
        2. Getting Noticed
        3. Exceeding expectations
    4. 4.4 Summary
  13. Chapter 5 Compression and Limiting
    1. 5.1 Narrowing Dynamic Range
    2. 5.2 Patching and Parameters
    3. 5.2.1 Patching and Plugging In
      1. Insert
      2. Parallel compression
    4. 5.2.2 Threshold
    5. 5.2.3 Ratio
    6. 5.2.4 Attack
    7. 5.2.5 Release
    8. 5.2.6 Makeup Gain
    9. 5.2.7 Options and Features
      1. Auto
      2. Knee
      3. Look ahead
    10. 5.2.8 Caution
      1. Numerical nonsense
      2. Parameter interdependence
      3. Program dependence
      4. Pumping and breathing
    11. 5.2.9 User Interface
      1. Parameter shortcomings
      2. Multiband compressors
      3. Envelope manipulators
    12. 5.3 Technologies
      1. 5.3.1 Tube Compressors
      2. 5.3.2 Optical Compressors
      3. 5.3.3 FET and VCA Compressors
      4. 5.3.4 PWM Compressors
      5. 5.3.5 Digital Compressors
    13. 5.4 Mix Strategies: Compression and Limiting
      1. 5.4.1 The Fix
        1. Safety compression
        2. Peak limiting
        3. Overcome noise
        4. De-essing
      2. 5.4.2 The Fit
        1. Loudness
        2. Improve intelligibility and articulation
        3. Smooth performance
        4. Reshaping amplitude envelope
      3. 5.4.3 The Feature
        1. Ambience and artifacts
        2. Timbre
        3. Distortion
    14. 5.5 Learning to Hear Compression
      1. 5.5.1 A Learned Skill
      2. 5.5.2 Imitation
      3. 5.5.3 Multiple Personalities
    15. 5.6 Summary
  14. Chapter 6 Expansion and Gating
    1. 6.1 Increasing Dynamic Range
    2. 6.2 Patching and Parameters
      1. 6.2.1 Patching and Plugging In
        1. Insert
        2. Parallel expansion
      2. 6.2.2 Threshold
      3. 6.2.3 Slope
      4. 6.2.4 Attack
      5. 6.2.5 Release, Fade, or Decay
      6. 6.2.6 Hold
      7. 6.2.7 Range
    3. 6.3 Mix Strategies: Expansion and Gating
      1. 6.3.1 The Fix
        1. Expansion
        2. Noise gating
      2. 6.3.2 The Fit
        1. Gating through editing
        2. Gating
        3. Keyed gating
        4. Reshaping amplitude envelope
        5. Ducking
      3. 6.3.3 The Feature
        1. Ambience and artifacts
        2. Timbre
        3. Envelope following
        4. Tremolo
    4. 6.4 Summary
  15. Chapter 7 Delay
    1. 7.1 Parameters
      1. 7.1.1 Basic Controls
        1. Delay time
        2. Regeneration
        3. Low-pass filter
        4. Polarity reverse
      2. 7.1.2 Modulation
      3. 7.1.3 Delay Time
        1. Long delay
        2. Short delay
          1. Constructive and destructive interference
          2. Comb filter
        3. Medium delay
    2. 7.2 Mix Strategies: Delay
      1. 7.2.1 The Fix
        1. To comb filter, or not to comb filter, that is the mix move
      2. 7.2.2 The Fit
        1. Groove
        2. Support
      3. 7.2.3 The Feature
        1. Echo
          1. Tuning by ear
          2. Tuning through math
          3. Musical delay time
        2. Slap
        3. Emphasis
        4. Flanger
        5. Double-tracking
        6. Chorus
    3. 7.3 Summary
  16. Chapter 8 Pitch Shift
    1. 8.1 Parameters
    2. 8.2 Mix Strategies: Pitch Shifting
      1. 8.2.1 The Fix
        1. Pitch Correction
      2. 8.2.2 The Fit
        1. Spreader
        2. Thickener
        3. Layers
      3. 8.2.3 The Feature
        1. Leslie
        2. Big shift
        3. Harmony, counterpoint, and dissonance
        4. Stop tape
        5. Start tape
        6. The perfection aesthetic
        7. Quantized pitch
    3. 8.3 Summary
  17. Chapter 9 Reverb
    1. 9.1 Patching and Parameters
      1. 9.1.1 Patching and Plugging In
      2. 9.1.2 Reverb Time (RT60)
      3. 9.1.3 Bass Ratio (BR)
      4. 9.1.4 Predelay
      5. 9.1.5 Reference Values
    2. 9.2 Devices
      1. 9.2.1 Room Tracks
      2. 9.2.2 Chambers
      3. 9.2.3 Springs
      4. 9.2.4 Plates
      5. 9.2.5 Digital Reverb
    3. 9.3 Mix Strategies: Reverb
      1. 9.3.1 The Fix
        1. Close microphone compensation
        2. The clean ending
      2. 9.3.2 The Fit
        1. Spatial contrasts
        2. Distance
        3. Width
        4. Duration
        5. Ensemble
      3. 9.3.3 The Feature
        1. Liveness
        2. Simulating a space
        3. Fabricating a space
        4. Timbre through reverb
        5. Texture through reverb
        6. Scene change
        7. Extreme reverb
        8. Feature the reverb
        9. Gated reverb
        10. Reverse reverb
        11. Regenerative reverb
        12. Dynamic reverberant systems
    4. 9.4 Summary
  18. Chapter 10 Future-Proof Mix Skills
    1. 10.1 Strategies, Not Recipes
    2. 10.2 Lifelong Learning
      1. 10.2.1 Capability versus Ability
      2. 10.2.2 Artistic Maturity
      3. 10.2.3 Technical Mastery
    3. 10.3 The Case Credo
      1. 10.3.1 Honor the Art
      2. 10.3.2 Stay Balanced
      3. 10.3.3 Attention: Front and Center
      4. 10.3.4 Look Both Ways Before You Mix the Track
      5. 10.3.5 Get Louder, Without the Fader
      6. 10.3.6 Contrasts Communicate Clearly
      7. 10.3.7 Change Is Emphasis
      8. 10.3.8 Perfection Is a Cruel Distraction
      9. 10.3.9 Limits Are Opportunities
      10. 10.3.10 None of the Above
  19. Appendix A: Plugging In
    1. A.1 Parallel Processing
    2. A.2 Serial Processing
    3. A.3 Effects Sends
      1. A.3.1 Prefader Sends
      2. A.3.2 Postfader Sends
    4. A.4 Inserts
    5. A.5 Hybrid Parallel Effects
      1. A.5.1 Insert Send Only
      2. A.5.2 Prefader Effects Send
    6. A.6 Latency
    7. A.7 Computer Resources
    8. A.8 Offline Processing
  20. Appendix B: Audio Signals
    1. B.1 Medium
    2. B.2 Amplitude versus Time
      1. B.2.1 Amplitude Confusions
      2. B.2.2 Time Implications
    3. B.3 Amplitude versus Distance
    4. B.4 Amplitude versus Frequency
    5. B.5 Complex Waves
      1. B.5.1 Square Waves
      2. B.5.2 Sawtooth Waves
      3. B.5.3 Triangle Waves
    6. B.6 Decibel
      1. B.6.1 Logarithm
      2. B.6.2 Ratios
      3. B.6.3 References
      4. B.6.4 Zero Decibels
      5. B.6.5 Negative Decibels
    7. B.7 Dynamic Range
  21. Appendix C: Mix Automation
    1. C.1 Unautomated Mixing
    2. C.2 Automated Mixing
      1. C.2.1 Faders and Cuts Automation
        1. Alternative signal path
        2. Automated send
        3. MIDI equivalents
        4. Automated comps
        5. Printed mix moves
      2. C.2.2 Everything Automation
      3. C.2.3 Snapshot Automation
    3. C.3 Mix Modes
      1. C.3.1 Write or Read
      2. C.3.2 Write: Absolute or Relative
    4. C.4 Automation Strategies
      1. C.4.1 Balance
      2. C.4.2 Effects
      3. C.4.3 Cuts
      4. C.4.4 Rides
      5. C.4.5 Tweaks and Special Effects
    5. C.5 Playing the Mixer
      1. C.5.1 Practice
      2. C.5.2 User Interface
        1. Moving faders
        2. VCA faders
        3. Software faders
    6. C.6 Advice and Warnings
      1. C.6.1 Master the Gear
      2. C.6.2 Not Too Soon
      3. C.6.3 Save Often
    7. C.7 Summary
  22. Appendix D: Listening List
    1. D.1 Reference Recordings
    2. D.2 Mix Icons
    3. D.3 Selected Discography
  23. Index