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My common template/starting point for a mix
In the studio
File the raw materials received in the tape vault. Everything winds up on an "external" disk on a separate computer. That gets backed up just like other things.
Working folder gets created on the mixing system, everything unzipped and ready to go into the DAW. External disk. Backed up regularly including off-site.
In the DAW - template
Main Output (Stereo Out) - Logic Adaptive Limiter - true peak detection, -1.0 dB ceiling, 20ms lookahead - the last defense
meters -> output - separate aux, Logic's MultiMeter, iZotope Insight 2
dry bus -> meters - nothing - target for music that that is already processed (like reference tracks)
mix bus -> meters - everything off, Logic Vintage VCA compressor tweaked like an SSL G bus compressor
10 "color coded" aux "tracks" DRUMS, BASS, etc.
I create a project from the template and import all of the tracks that are part of the mix. Project gets saved. Audio files are saved in the project. Now I have the third copy of the material. I delete the "source folder" of raw audio. Take a break 😉
When I bring in tracks I assign them to the appropriate AUX track and turn them into a "summing folder". This nicely groups the tracks with the corresponding AUX track which I can move around. I also get to put bus processing for the DRUMS in that one spot. Handy.
Once that happens I pull down the master output level (no sound coming out) and I play the song. The meters remember peak levels so I can get a quick idea of where the energy will need control.
For a 20-30 track mix this all takes me maybe 15 minutes. It's the Studio Assistant time, and I try and treat it like I am the assistant.
Oh, yeah, there's a hidden MIDI track that is there so I can export marker sets, tempo, key and all that other stuff when I file things in the tape vault.
Save the project. Take a break. Make sure I "sweep up" around the audio bins.
Now I can tell the mixing engineer there's something for him to work with.
Reality says it takes about 30 minutes. I listen to a lot of music while doing this. If I know what to reference I will listen to reference songs. If I find a really nice reference I will make it a point to put an MP3 into the project...