Academy Dashboard Forum Production Production Techniques Where do you start?

  • This topic has 17 replies, 15 voices, and was last updated 5 years ago by Just Lisa.
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      I find that the most daunting part of producing/mixing a session is finding just where to start. I was wondering if there was anyone that would be keen on sharing their work flow.

      Personally, I find it easiest to try my best to manage the audio tracks in to a manageable sequence, usually with drums at the top, and then try to break them down category by category. After this I listen to them as they stand in the mix and then do some fine tuning.

      What I'm interested to hear is if anyone likes to mix/produce any one element before the other, or if there is anything that they tackle straight away before even starting to look at mixing the sessions.

      Chris Sweet

        I usually get a quick sense of what I have. I'll sub mix instrument groups into auxes I want to group process (stereo guitars, drums, bgvs and such). I get my lead vocal sounding roughly where i want it (eq and compression) and then move on to drums and bass. Assign VCA's for drums and vocals so I can control certain instrument groups on one fader. From there it's really just whatever grabs my attention as needing work. Ideas usually come to me section by section.

        Chris Sweet

          My track flow usually goes vocals up top, bass and drums next, guitars, and then the rest. They're in the priority of most important to least.

          Cris Sabater Sabater

            Hi John,
            I tend to go in this order, Drums, Bass, Guitars, Keys, strings or any other elements and then if there is nothing else I bring in Vocals last. I will always mix Kick drum channels and Bass first so as to get that foundation for the bottom end first and build around that. Cheers. 🙂

            Lee Hawkins

              I am similar to Cris. Drums, Bass, Vocals, Guitars, Keys, Strings. I find that concentrating on the vocal before the guitar and keys helps because you need to place these around the around the vocal avoiding masking. This is better than trying to make a vocal 'fit in' at the end over the mix. Guitars and especially keys/synths can eat up a lots of frequency range so having the vocal present in the mix before this allows you to ensure its not getting masked unnecessarily.

              However, like anything, workflow is so personal that there will never be a one-size fits all.

              Robert McClellan

                For me, every mix calls for something different but I try not to deviate to far from my workflow.

                My workflow on a normal session is as follows:
                1-Naming tracks if need be, 2-Color coding, 3-Arranging within my session (Starting with track one- Vocals, Back Up Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Drums, all other instruments fit within the middle somewhere) 4-Clean up anything unwanted 5-Rough Mix/Gut Mix, 6-Switch to mono to address any phase issues and do EQ, 7-Switch back out to Stereo and start sweetening things with Reverb, Compression, Delays, oh and lots of Saturation all over the place, make sure that all effects have been level matched along the way 8-Critical listening, I do several stages of just simply listening through the song while taking notes (not touching anything), then after I address the issues I've wrote down I keep doing this until there is nothing left to write down, 9-BOOM! Mix is done!

                I made a printout to keep me on track, if you'd like you can download it here:

                Tim Morris

                  I use Studio One.

                  I have a few templates which I use, 1 for a mainly acoustic session, 1 for more electric guitars and Bass etc, and another based around synth stuff, these all have basic FX on all tracks, together with mix busses / vca etc.

                  I find this makes a good starting point for me.

                  My track list is colour coded and tends to be

                  Main Vocals
                  Backing Vocals
                  Acc Guitars
                  Elec Guitars
                  Special FX

                  Len Baird

                    I use Studio one as well, and I start by sorting the tracks into groups which I place in "Folders". Drums, bass, electric guitars, piano, other instruments, bgv, lead vocal bottom to top. Then I turn the folders into busses. I create sub busses for any stereo pairs that are there.
                    Then I start with the drum overheads, fix the drum phase, add kick snare, rest of drums. Once they sound how I like as a unit, I add bass, rhythm section and the rest. I work on each of the busses alone at first, then add them into the rest. I usually just do leveling at first with some basic plugins maybe like high passing. Then once I get the song playing with all the parts, I go back and do the detailed stuff to the tracks.

                    Scott Box

                      Hey Robert, i just wanted to thank you for posting that pdf to Dropbox for us all. I know you did this many months ago... but thanks, man. I really appreciate the simplicity and cleanliness of it. -Box

                      Jonathan Marshall

                        I'm with Chris in that the first thing I do is to create aux sub groups and assign tracks to them. Then I balance the tracks in each group a bit and then adjust the subs to get a rough balance. I tend to also pick the most important sub - lead vocals often and balance around that. Bit like a painting - broad brush strokes at the start then finer detail later.

                        MARK ARVIZU

                          Warren has some templates you can download and follow the flow (in a technical sense) to see how he and other pros route things. As for sound i think drums are the best place to start, They are your foundation for popular music.


                            I guess that I am the only one that does not use templates for mixing sessions. I think they always force me in the same direction and doing the same processing. It is somewhat boring if you ask me because you do not give yourself the room to discover new and exciting things. Do I lose time by always starting from scratch? Probably I do, but not more than one or two hours.

                            Anyway, I always start with the drumkit, soloing every microphone and add some corrective EQ when it is needed, the same with gates & compressors. I try to do this within two runs through the whole track and then moving on to the next track. If I am done with that, I start to work on intensively on the lead vocal and the backing vocals. After that, I search for instruments that "work together" and send them to a subgroup. Then it is time for a break.

                            I put all the faders up and the lead vocal +/- 3dB above everything else. Most engineers start with all the faders down. I used to do that as well, but I forced myself to do it the opposite way. Because that was something very new, it took a while to feel comfortable with this way of mixing but my results are better than before so it's worthwhile trying.

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