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Phase 3: Mixing (Part 1) - Audio Organization and Clean Up

April 28, 2022
2 min read

I should really have called this "Editing in preparation for Mixing". After opening the session for the first time after recording I'll go through and delete unused spare tracks. Then I'll color code the instruments by type (ex. drums=blue, guitars=green, keys=red, lead vox=yellow, background vox=orange, etc.), this makes it easier for me to identify the tracks later during actual mixing.

Using Instrument Buses

Next I will set up instrument buses (drums, elec guitars, keys, BGVs, etc.) for any instrument type with more than 1 track (bass and lead vox are usually 1 track each, so I haven't needed to create separate buses for these). My Instrument buses are always stereo buses so I can pan individual tracks right or left and not have them choked to mono by the bus. The next step for me is to route all drum mics to the drum bus, all electric guitars to the elec guitar bus and so on. Having the buses set up allows me to save on how many instances of certain plugins I might need to use. Having 1 compressor on the drum bus as opposed to 4 or 8 or 10 compressors on each element of the drums saves CPU power.

Mix Bus

Once I have all of my instrument buses in place I will route all of those buses to a Mix Bus along with any single tracks (bass, lead vox, etc.). I keep all processing off of the Master Stereo Fader - I want all my processing done either at the track level or instrument bus level.

Track Cleanup

Now I'll set out 'cleaning up' the tracks. This means deleting any blank sections where that instrument or vocal track has no signal. I cut before and after each recorded part with enough space to create a short 'Fade In' and 'Fade Out' for each part or section. This can be time-consuming work and learning your DAW's shortcut controls for "Cut", "Select", "Range" and perhaps "Crossfade" will be huge time savers! I use Cubase Pro for recording and purchased an "EditorsKeys" computer keyboard specifically designed for editing Cubase, this special computer keyboard has color-coded keys and special symbols on the keys identifying the Cubase shortcuts. I'm sure they make them for other DAWs.

Once my tracks are color-coded, unnecessary tracks removed, the remaining tracks cleaned up and my instrument buses are created and relevant instruments routed to the correct instrument buses, I feel ready to actually listen to the song and start mixing!

Next, we'll dive into mixing

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