Total newbie: Mixing/mixdown during writing

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
mwlad17
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Total newbie: Mixing/mixdown during writing

Post by mwlad17 » Tue Nov 24, 2015 5:39 pm

So I literally got Ableton Live 9 (Intro) about 2 months ago, I've always loved music, played for 10 years through high school was decently good, state/region bands, etc...and I've always loved creating music, always been into the EDM stuff since I was young but never knew how to go about "creating"...friend introduced me to Ableton, and I've just written some very basic stuff, remixed a pop song that I thought sounded decent, etc and I absolutely love creating stuff (pharmacist by day, this creative process uses a whole different part of my brain lol)...my big question today, is when I am writing/remixing, should I be really focused on track volumes/mixing in general while I'm doing that? I don't wanna clip anything on the master (yes, I'm just learning all these new terms lol), and I've seen articles about putting a limiter/compressor on the master, about NOT doing that, what peaks I should be looking for on the master, etc...just would like some general tips (and if anyone has any other tips in general by all means)

also, had a few friends listen to some tracks/mixes and they all really liked them, didn't notice much in the way of audio issues, again, not pro's but a couple do play in bands and use some DAW's...thank you guys!

Tarekith
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Re: Total newbie: Mixing/mixdown during writing

Post by Tarekith » Tue Nov 24, 2015 6:29 pm

I think there's nothing wrong with sort of mixing as you go during the writing process. You're going to get better results and ultimately be happier during the whole process if things sound decently balanced as you work. I don't think it's neccesary to spend more than just a few minutes here and there on it while you're writing though. No sense in spending oodles of time fine-tuning it, if parts might be added or deleted, altered, etc still. Just get a nice rough mix as you add new parts and take some away, at least try and make enjoyable to listen to while you work.

Here's some more tips too:

http://innerportalstudio.com/guides/

login
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Re: Total newbie: Mixing/mixdown during writing

Post by login » Tue Nov 24, 2015 7:55 pm

Nothing wrong, but it can distract over the most important part that is composing.

Also, you may change sounds at some point so you may have to re do eqing and so on.

I also consider it better workflow to finish the arrengement and then mix.

But having reverbs and delays at the sends for playing with some sounds is sstill important for me, but no EQ, compression, distortion, etc during composing.

mwlad17
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Re: Total newbie: Mixing/mixdown during writing

Post by mwlad17 » Tue Nov 24, 2015 8:05 pm

would you recommend composing at lower fader settings in general so that the final mix will (inevitably) be able to be louder if you'd like it to be? I saw this recommended somewhere...I'm not saying every part of my track has to be loud as hell, but I'd like to be able to make it louder later

Tarekith
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Re: Total newbie: Mixing/mixdown during writing

Post by Tarekith » Tue Nov 24, 2015 8:26 pm

I usually tell people to aim for the master meter peaking around -6dB more or less. But there's nothing wrong with -10 or even -18dB if that's what you end up. Definitely better to leave some safety net while you're writing so you don't run into any issue, that's just basic audio engineering. Another hat we have to wear :)

mwlad17
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Re: Total newbie: Mixing/mixdown during writing

Post by mwlad17 » Tue Nov 24, 2015 8:59 pm

suppose I should've clarified...let's say I'm starting new, should I turn down the default faders of each track at the start? having never really done this, I didn't really pay attention to the fact that they're all defaulted to 0 db, which, of course, if you start mixing goes wayyyy too high way too quickly...also keeping the limiter on the master from the start? seems reasonable (instead of throwing it on at the end)

Evengy
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Re: Total newbie: Mixing/mixdown during writing

Post by Evengy » Tue Nov 24, 2015 9:04 pm

mwlad17 wrote:would you recommend composing at lower fader settings in general so that the final mix will (inevitably) be able to be louder if you'd like it to be? I saw this recommended somewhere...I'm not saying every part of my track has to be loud as hell, but I'd like to be able to make it louder later
I recommend you the guides from Tarekith: http://innerportalstudio.com/guides/

-> Digital Levels & Metering and Mixdowns

I have a limiter on the master channel all the time with -0,3db but only to catch the peaks. I will not use the gain.

Leave enough headroom and turn up your audio interface to compensate the lower volume.
Last edited by Evengy on Tue Nov 24, 2015 9:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Tarekith
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Re: Total newbie: Mixing/mixdown during writing

Post by Tarekith » Tue Nov 24, 2015 9:07 pm

I say leave the master alone (no limiter) and turn the channel faders down, aim to peak around -6dBFS or less. Try the mixdown article I linked to earlier, it answers all this and more to get you up and running asap so you can focus on writing, and not digital audio restrictions.

mwlad17
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Re: Total newbie: Mixing/mixdown during writing

Post by mwlad17 » Tue Nov 24, 2015 9:26 pm

thank you! that's what I figured (and from reading a little of your article and others) and seems to be what everyone does in the first place when starting to write/mix...thanks guys! sorry for bein a newb, but I must admit even the limited time i've had, i've had a blast with it

EDIT: The guides link you posted is FANTASTIC...it's not condescending and explains things without going into huge digital/mechanical detail and gives great starting pointers...as I said, I come from the "music" side and am learning about the electronics of it all now... I feel like I know the music I want to write, it's just how to do it, and how to do it appropriately

chrissobo13
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Re: Total newbie: Mixing/mixdown during writing

Post by chrissobo13 » Wed Nov 25, 2015 4:45 am

Yeah, Tarekith's guides are awesome, helped me out a bunch!

I typically do some mixing when in the writing process. I just like to get a better idea of what the song will shape up to be. I'm not saying that as a recommendation, its just something I do, good or bad. I've read interviews with some pretty great producers who say they do it, so I don't think its a bad thing.

mwlad17
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Re: Total newbie: Mixing/mixdown during writing

Post by mwlad17 » Wed Nov 25, 2015 5:55 am

agreed...having just started out, I find myself getting bogged down a lot by all of the technical aspects of everything, just read some more articles, I think I kinda just need to create more rather than look up all these techniques (that I'll likely forget anyway)...this music is mainly for me anyway, I don't plan on going commercial or anything, it was/is just daunting to read so many articles about "high pass everything, no don't do that, use a limiter on everything, no that's awful!" etc etc...just need to make some music dammit lol

chrissobo13
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Re: Total newbie: Mixing/mixdown during writing

Post by chrissobo13 » Wed Nov 25, 2015 6:28 am

I can understand that, the past year or so I've felt like I cared more about making the best sounding production I can, more than making the best piece of music I can. Its good to create music that also has a good production quality, but it should be good music first. At this stage of the game for you, I would suggest to take all the advice and suggestions you get with a grain of salt. Make a note of it, explore it if you desire, but don't worry if it doesn't quite make sense yet. Focus on making the music you want to make. It won't be that loud, it won't be that polished, but you can get to that point later. Come back to a track you already completed, and try to implement some technical stuff you learned. There may be a lot of trial and error, but it won't take too long before it starts to click.

Idonotlikebroccoli
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Re: Total newbie: Mixing/mixdown during writing

Post by Idonotlikebroccoli » Wed Nov 25, 2015 7:22 am

Some excellent advice in this thread!

Do whatever you find interesting, and keep trying out different things. One day you might try some epic cinematic thing, and the next day you'll be bored out of your mind and warp farts. Then 6 months later, you'll realise the freaky farts fit fabulously in the samba track you're making.

My first three years of making music were done with Dance eJay (pre-made loops), and I think my first year in FL Studio, I barely ever touched an EQ. It was like 5 years into using Live that I decided I wanted to learn subtractive synthesis to make my own sounds.

I used to view this as a lot of time "wasted", but I had fun! I've never done anything because I should, but rather because I wanted to. Loops and presets aren't evil - they're great motivators to actually learn the real thing, and they're very useful for jamming and composing (fun!).

I'll second "good music first". It's so weird to hear tunes with perfect mixing, great sound design, but with chords and melodies that a toddler could come up with. Then again, I do love a solid brostep track as much as anyone else.
Please vote! Live 10's "multi" clip editing should allow selection+editing of multiple clips in one action:

(L10-SUG-0228) Multiple MIDI transpose

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=228094

Tarekith
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Re: Total newbie: Mixing/mixdown during writing

Post by Tarekith » Wed Nov 25, 2015 7:26 am

Agreed, it's WAY too easy to get bogged down with the technical stuff these days. And sadly, so many people think the engineering side of things is what makes great tracks and they focus too much on that, instead of learning to write really unique sounding music that moves people. My advice, just make sure you're not clipping anywhere by whatever means feels best to you, and then have fun writing. :)

Good luck!

mwlad17
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Re: Total newbie: Mixing/mixdown during writing

Post by mwlad17 » Wed Nov 25, 2015 12:26 pm

thanks guys for all the feedback...I agree, I think avoiding clipping in general is an absolute necessity to start out, so with that in mind (being volume control more than anything else) I think I just need to write, look for a sound, and if I don't how to get that sound, THEN look to a tutorial etc...I've watched so many videos/read so much stuff on all the sound design and technical aspects I was starting to just get frustrated

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