Saturday, December 26, 2015

How to prepare your tracks for someone else to mix (a guide for dummies)

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are talking about a topic that is often overlooked but that often makes the difference between a perfect record and a flawed one: to set up perfectly your tracks before sending them to the mix engineer that will mix your album.
When giving tracks to a professional mixing engineer there are some rules to follow, otherwise your album will sound sub-par, no matter how good the music is:

1) Decide, together with the mix engineer, wether to make a project for every single track, or a project with the whole record inside, and set up bit depth and sample rate as the mix engineer suggests (e.g. 24bit / 44khz). You can then decide with him wether to send him the projects with the tracks inside (if he uses the same DAW you use) or to send him just the exported wave files.

2) Label your tracks the same way (e.g. 01 kick, 02 snare...) for every song  and make sure to export them all starting from the same point (therefore every track in the same song all must start from the same mark, e.g: point 0).

3) Do editing and autotuning before exporting the tracks, or hand them over to an editing/autotuning engineer first, since not always the mix engineer does the editing (which is a long and tedious process) too, and anyway talk about it to him before exporting.

4) Send along with the tracks a text file in which you list for every song the particularities (like "on song n.1 there are 2 tracks more than the others: "16 - whistle" and "17 - fart", and they should be treated with reverb etc..")

5) Set the gain staging properly and, especially, keep the gain levels as consistent as possible throughout the whole project: the more the volumes are consistent, the more the album will sound coherent and the less automations will have to be done.

6) Send the tracks as dry as possible: if possible, send the guitar and bass tracks dry (for reamping),  and same is for every other instrument (including vocals): if you effect a track, like exporting a track with already a reverb on it, it's impossible to revert it or modify it, and it will surely create problems.

7) Export all tracks in mono. The only tracks that can be exported in stereo are certain keyboard tracks like pads with particular stereo effects, otherwise leave them all mono and centered, and let the mix engineer to place them in the stereo field.

8) Export the tempo track (for example as a midi file), or set it up properly inside the project and send the whole project with the tempo track done. It is a good habit to set up perfectly the tempo track, with all the tempo changes in the right moment, in order to not drive the mix engineer totally crazy trying to figure out what changes when.

Guitar Nerding Blog wishes you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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