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Glenn Stanton

Mixing & Recording Template

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a general purpose mixing and recording template - includes the use of the Pro Channel EQ and in some tracks & busses, compressors. Ambience busses include the Sonitus reverb, and/or Sonitus delay. I deliberately left out the soft synths because there are many many choices, and in my own templates, i use licensed products which may not be generally available. besides, would you ever learn something if it was simply handed to you? 🙂

in essence: tracks flow into sub-mix busses grouped by type of instrument tracks, sub-mixes feed into "stem" busses for overall gross-level setting, and those feed into the master buss. sub-mixes may have send to the "ambience" busses for drums, vocals, instruments, solos. stems may have send into a "room" buss for overall gluing. 

q&a

  • yes - there are many opportunities to change, improve, or even wreck this template 🙂 hopefully it's a just start for folks.
  • no - there is no support for this other than kind sharing between people and positive commentary.

attached are some diagrams which provide insight into how the flow and console is set up.

351492830_DAWtemplate(flow).thumb.jpg.fd485f4ae391bf4a297b66dd60f02397.jpg

2066911915_DAWtemplate(console).thumb.jpg.779012fb6f33a18c9a5b8e81ace0e189.jpg

000_mix_record_template.cwt

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First I read "cracks" where it's meant to be "tracks" (interesting font!) and thought, Oh, there we go...😉

Nice idea. I've constructed my (very extensive) template according to an old tutorial from Groove3, Building a DAW  Mix Template (highly recommendable). I'm going to study how yours differs and hope to learn something new.

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yeah, the UNICA font can be tricky that way 😉 i do remember the groove 3 stuff from long ago...

in this case, i focused mainly on the flow from recording -> mix -> export and less on specific effects or track processing since that is really material dependent. the addition of the dedicate "noise output" and a virtual room (monitoring) (or turning it off for speaker monitoring) are a couple of interesting ideas i've picked up - using noise to partially mask the overall mix to see what jumps out or isn't audible, and having a dedicated monitoring output so i can export from the master buss without changing it (like forgetting i have a virtual room enabled or the noise going...)

in my use case, for example, i use a bunch of Slate and Waves plugins, as well are various instrument synths like the Kontakt-based Session Guitarist where i want to augment (or even replace) my own performance since it changes up the feel which can make things sound different than perhaps i was expecting.  

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23 hours ago, Glenn Stanton said:

in this case, i focused mainly on the flow from recording -> mix -> export and less on specific effects or track processing since that is really material dependent. the addition of the dedicate "noise output" and a virtual room (monitoring) (or turning it off for speaker monitoring) are a couple of interesting ideas i've picked up - using noise to partially mask the overall mix to see what jumps out or isn't audible, and having a dedicated monitoring output so i can export from the master buss without changing it (like forgetting i have a virtual room enabled or the noise going...)

Interesting approach. I do have some questions:

I don't manage to scroll up to the gain knobs completely on top of the busses.

The flow you use does not allow for separate tracks to be placed in the 3D-field individually with the help of FX, since they all go to one mix buss with the same FX. Do you use dedicated track inserts to do that, which are not routed to an FX buss?

Why do you use audio and midi tracks? I always use instrument inserts, which combine the two. Is there an advantage to do it different?

I don't get how you use the noise buss. I assume you use some kind of noise signal of which you increase the volume until you start missing to hear certain instruments/voices in order to level them up or use FX to improve them and stand out more? What goes in the noise buss?

What is different to the monitoring busses from the hardware outputs (the main faders for monitors/headphones completely on the right - usually hidden-) ?

My routing is  as follows:
tracks -> dedicated instruments busses -> mix buss -> master -> hardware outputs  
FX on tracks -> FX busses -> mix buss -> master -> hardware outputs  
FX on instrument busses -> mix buss -> master -> hardware outputs  
(and some side-chaining)

Any suggestion is welcome if it could/should be improved!

A maybe dumb question: when you start mixing, do you first print stems or do you mix before printing and why?

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each track has a default PC (High Pass EQ only) and each sub-mix buss (one or more instrument tracks per each) as same PC (High Pass EQ only). then depending on what i want to do, of course i'm not limited to what effects i can put on the tracks or busses, and if i need more busses or tracks i can add them. add more effects like delays, reverb etc for 3D, and so on. it's just a starting point to the journey 🙂 

i don't use dedicated instrument busses (unless we mean them to be the same as the "sub-mix" busses) since having a buss per individual instrument seems redundant. of course if you're sub-mixes (similar to perhaps the "mains busses" in a HW console) need more, simply add more - if you do a lot of orchestral work, you might break it out as separate string, horn, and percussion section busses. the sub-mix controls the general levels per instrument group.

The monitoring buss has the option to enable Waves Nx (in my templates) which is the virtual room for headphones. it goes directly to the HW IO. the master buss is where i tap off for the export since it has little or not effects, EQ, etc on it and i can choose to listen to the mix down via the virtual room while exporting. if you're not using a virtual room, or do not want to simulate the mastering levels, then you can remove it and simply route the master to the HW IO.

the ambience busses are just (again) gross levels for a stem group - more reverb on the vocals or drums, more room across everything, less vibe during quiet parts, etc. also possible to automate. obviously these don't address instrument specific effects and those generally go on the instrument tracks and sometimes the sub-mix busses (i like to add Vocal Doubler on the BVOX sub-mix).

for soft-synths - i print those to audio before mixing once i'm happy with the general sounds. i use midi tracks so i can disconnect them from the audio tracks later in the process, or re-use them for other instruments if i change my mind later. once i have printed things and disconnected and muted the soft-synths, i'll hide the muted stuff to get it out of the way.

the noise uses a simple noise generating plugin (or you could import a clip) to check levels. i usually set it so it's about the level of the snare or a bit less so i can check that there is instrumentation and vocals above that (unless it's a snare exercise video 😉 )

i seldom print the "stem" busses for my own work. and again you could add more or use less "stems" as desired. in my case, i use them to simply make broad adjustments like bring up the vocals 1db, or bring down the solo by 2db, add 1db more bass and kick (low) etc. and they can be automated if needed 🙂 if i'm doing work for someone who specs they want stems, then i'll use those busses as the export source to the stem files.

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Thanks for the explanation. Regarding synths and midi/audio: can't you just replace the synth on an instrument track  while keeping the midi? That would save a track and keeps the overview  simpler? 

In my template (a combination of different tutorials I followed to set up a full template, ready to go for any kind of project except for orchestral works),  I start with an audio repair track, followed by a voice and drum track with looped sound on it so I can quickly check the result of different FX plugins. Then 3 reference tracks where I can put music on the kind of style I would like to reproduce, followed by 3 mockup tracks to sketch a song with rhythm, chords and melody.  These all go to a clearly visible NoMix buss, so I can silence them quickly when recording and mixing the real project. After that I've the usual instrument and voice tracks.

On some tracks I've prepared EQ and routing to reverbs. I was still in the process of deciding which kind of EQ I want to be active from the start. I guess your settings are a good idea!

With the dedicated busses I meant one drum buss for all drums, keys buss for all keys tracks etc.😉

In the buss section I've got ready to go busses for any kind of FX, one for each kind of reverb, one for 1/16 delay, one for 1/4 delay, one for 1/2 delay and so on, all with many plugins already inserted and non-activated so I can try them one by one.

The busses go to the MixBuss and that one goes to the Master which then goes to the hardware output. On each track and buss I've also placed pictures in order to quickly recognise them.

Main disadvantage from my approach is the long template loading time, even on my fast PC. I've archived all tracks hoping that it would make some difference, but no🤨

I think your noise buss is a nice addition to my template. It took a long time to build, now I need to start learning how to use it🥴.
For the rest, any commend on how to improve it is welcome... 


Btw, I tried to attach two picture of my setup, it showed that they were ready for uploading, but they don't appear in the submitted message...

Edited by Teegarden
try to insert pictures

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i could just put the MIDI on the instrument track. but i found that i can reuse the same midi track on other instruments to see how it works without having to move it around. and once i go into mixing mode, i just hide all muted tracks so it gets simpler pretty quickly. and i'm in the "buss" side of the equation so it's about 12 channels of instruments (if using all) and 4-5 ambience busses, and 3-4 stem busses. the latter i don't really change until i think the mix is overall balanced, then the stems are the final check and adjust - vocals up/down (in my case mostly down 🙂 ) lows up/down, etc. lastly a noise injection test maybe some slight tweaks on the sub-mix busses, a quick "mastering simulation check" by engaging a -6db limiter threshold and a tilt EQ - see if things are still ok at the increased volume - levels, harshness, etc.

the template with all 15 soft-synths, and another ~50 effects (mainly the PC EQ, a few reverbs and compressors) across 48 tracks, and 20 or busses, i think a new project from the template takes maybe 25-30 seconds to load up. most of the soft-synth and effects are turned off and/or muted so loading is fairly low esp during recording (i'll set the ASIO down to 5ms - about 240 samples) and then during mix up to 2048 samples to reduce load when engaging/adding the effects. 

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This was an interesting discussion.
Thanks for sharing.

I am working on track templates at the moment.
Usually I have just started from scratch every time on each new project.
Somehow  I got to think more of how to produce the song and what I could do with it.
I know it takes a lot of extra time.

I bought the Groove template video quite a while ago...  but never really got around to implementing the recommendations.
I have just downloaded your template Glenn  (thanks for sharing) and I am now customising it a little with just track colours as mine are different.
Also need to get my head around you midi workflow.
My workflow seems to be the same as @Teegarden but the "noise" is a new one for me...  do you mean this for the pink noise mixing method?

Gary 

P.s.  I have just recently purchased the Slate Digital VSX system and can recommend it...  very good.
Hence looking at the monitor section of your template Glen.

Edited by garybrun
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i tried to follow the "standard" color scheme for tracks and busses, but, there are too many of them! 🙂 so i compiled them and did it based on % of templates and color schemes... some from pro tools, recording standards, and many contributions from folks regarding how they color their tracks and busses. so let me know what you do with it as i'm always looking out for more normalization of my templates.

yeah, the noise is used to listen to a low level (reduced 12db + pink noise) to see what pops out and what's missing. i've only just started using that technique in the last month or so and i've found it handy as a reference.

for my monitoring - i use the Wave NX when under the cans.

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I use these:-
Drums = Red
Sound FX = Yellow
Bass = Dark green
Guitars = Light green
Keyboards = Blue
Orchestra = Orange
Backing Vox = Purple
Lead Vocals = Pink 

After consulting  an expert in color psychology to assign those colors.  🙂

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3 hours ago, garybrun said:

I use these:-
Drums = Red
Sound FX = Yellow
Bass = Dark green
Guitars = Light green
Keyboards = Blue
Orchestra = Orange
Backing Vox = Purple
Lead Vocals = Pink 

After consulting  an expert in color psychology to assign those colors.  🙂

ok, after reviewing these, you're fired man! 😝

Edited by Glenn Stanton
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10 hours ago, Glenn Stanton said:

ok, after reviewing these, you're fired man! 😝

@Glenn StantonI got those colours from the book "My Mix Sucks"  🙂

I have recently been trying some light colour schemes as I have always used dark.
Your template looks amazing in "FLAT WHITE matcha" and I have kept your colour scheme too!  Happy now!!!  🙂

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Thanks for this Glenn! Is there some kind of general depository where users can share their templates?

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i don't know of a shared template repository but i suppose if someone asked the moderators if it were possible to set up a persistent thread which people only posted their templates and related info only (a separate thread of people to make comments etc on to keep it down). and i suppose it would probably be nice to have some naming convention agreed to searching for a template could be made easier 🙂 

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@garybrun, please find my template in the link as promised!

The template is a combination of several template tutorials I’ve followed:

Notes:

  • Notes field: contains guidelines about calculating time settings for delay and compressor
  • Many tracks and busses have info (Track Properties -> Description) that explains what and why
  • All tracks (repair, test drum, test vox, reference tracks, Mock-up) that are not meant to be in the mix are routed to the NoMix bus (clearly visible, in order to avoid mistakenly messing up the mix), which is muted when mixing
  • Orchestral tracks are limited for scenarios. I’m planning to make a separate full orchestral template.
  • Metronome bus is placed to be the separation between instruments and FX busses
  • Master bus inserts => FreeG (very clear, big faders for gain staging - found thanks to CbB Gain Staging, one of the great tutorials of @Creative Sauce)+ AB plugins

I haven’t figured out yet which EQ settings are the best start per track/bus. So far, I’ve mainly shelved off some low frequencies in a part of the tracks in order to start with a little cleaner signal.

Also, still figuring out what FX settings would be most efficient as a start point for each of the busses in the template.

Feedback on this (and other parts of the template) is very welcome!

Remarks:

Having many plugins preloaded (even when all are frozen/inactive) as was shown in the tutorial I’ve followed made loading the template annoyingly slow (despite a using a Threadripper PC with fast SSDs). However, having all preferred plugins readily available already inserted where you need them has been proven to save me lots of time.

While making the template I noticed that is very easy to lose custom colours (for some reason the ones I save are lost after a while from the colour options menu)) and that it is not so easy to copy a colour from let’s say a bus to a track folder. I noticed after uploading the template there are still some colours different from what I intended

In the link are the template + pictures with my mainly custom icons used in the template (the custom pictures are not saved with the template, I think it should be optional to choose to do so or leave them in the standard icons folder). I’ve tried to insert pictures in my posts, but dragging them into the post field has not worked and uploading them to another server and inserting a hyperlink has also not worked. No clue what goes wrong?

Template in the link below:

CbB template

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Thank you so much for taking the time to do this.
I will study and get back to you.
Cheers and all the best as always,

Gary

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