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Unmixable Tracks

Lesson 2 from: GearGods Presents: Mastering Metal Mixing: Prep & Setup

Eyal Levi

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Lesson Info

2. Unmixable Tracks

Lesson Info

Unmixable Tracks

Because problems I encounter typically or when I'm mix in other people's recordings mostly it's probably like d I y type stuff you know band's recording their own tracks and send it my way I'm not going to like get down on somebody who's trying to record their tracks and trying to learn and get better because I mean I got into recording doing my own stuff to you know, so someone's got to start somewhere but it's really crappy when someone sends over, you know especially it's a real drum recording and they say, oh yeah you know, it's it's all perfectly edited ready to go and then you know, pretty quickly realized this is definitely not ready to go and I'm not getting paid at the thing, you know, so it's like ok, what now I gotta listen through every single track and figure out how I can fix what someone else already claimed they fixed sometimes they even, you know, script the phase between their overhead and some other mike's or something and it's just like, ok, so did the drummer play ...

this beat somewhere else in the song? Can I just paste that over this stupid edit that they said they didn't leave there like, you know it just turns into a big mess um and then also so real quick before you go on? Yep, because that's that's actually, something that we all deal with young people, that's something that we deal with, that all levels that's like the dudes at the top deal with this just as much like that's and no matter how far up you go, yeah, that's not going to change, right? So what I have found through my own dealings and also through having buddies that deal with this shit all the time is that you have to get to a point where the client knows upfront that if they give you something that you can't mix and check out what my next slide is, if they give you something you can't mix, you can't mix it, and they need to know that like they're not hiring you that they read it, they're hiring you to mix it and at some point, uh, unless if you just feel like editing it out of the kindness of your heart, which sounds like you do, sometimes you might need to just let them know hey, guys, what you sent me is in what I thought I was going to be getting this this isn't gonna work, so where they're like, we're ready, replaced all the you know, the snare for you and it's all like a one shot for everything, yeah, I had something like that, yes uh, so that that exact situation back in may, but it was for everything actually had to send the project back and said, you revised know that we're going to do project was just you just can't the whole thing. Well, it got it got canned, it was it was a difference of opinion on how ready to mix it, wass but you kind of do need to stand your ground and the rio and I realize that sometimes it's hard to do that because you don't want to lose clients, but you don't want you don't want them no be like, are you going somewhere else? But at the same time, if they're handing you these tracks that you can't work with without doing all this extra stuff, you're not going to your best work anyways is going to reflect badly on you? Yeah, so if you're getting all these messed up tracks, uh, I recommend talking to them about it and maybe setting setting it up ahead of time to where toe where they know that if they send you some messed up stuff, they're going to need to pay you to edit it or whatever. Um, one thing that I do is if I know abandons recording themselves, I'll try to help him out along the way. Because yeah that's like the best that there's if they definitely are not coming in to record or they're not going to go record with someone I know that knows what they're doing then I'll just try toe you know just consult um you know have them send me there dies make sure that they're not garbage like you hear the drums before they commit to recording ah whole album of garbage you know, stuff like that give them some guidelines even if they only follow seventy percent of them are something that's better than nothing yeah so inconsistent uh preempt levels would be another thing that would fall into this category you know, something that's over a bunch of guys and then like they recorded it on different days you know and then in between guitar attracting sessions they're using the interface for something else and they didn't write down the settings and stuff so you get like it's totally wonky guitar die levels across the length of a song you know and maybe they had new strings for the last third of the song but the first two thirds they didn't and it's just like so well yeah I think a lot I think that there's ah big misconception out there that you can fix things you can you can e I mean you can fix some things we can agree you can't you can't ah there's certain things that you can't fix like you cannot fix dead strings like if you get tracks of strange that air dead you can't fix that if the guitars come in out of tune and fix that like if the symbols are swooshing out of phase because they didn't tied in them properly in position that mike's right there's you can fix some of that but sometimes you can't and there's certain things that you just can't get around and uh you know they need to know that because there's nothing you can really do about it and so like I said, your work's going to suffer so yeah, this is why uh getting a good quality recording is part of is part of having a great mix part of having a great mix has as much to do with how it's recorded and ridden and arranged as it does with your actual skills a za mixer the last thing I thought of to just comes along with all these other points I raised is basically, uh if traction not labeled very well at all play nice work with bands where there's more than one guy doing screaming or growling or something you know it's not labeled which track is which vocalist or whatever it's just vocals one too whatever you know and then you start getting really specific notes about oh I want a bruce is track to be a little bit louder on this part you like the food who is that what track is this? You know you can't you can't decipher one voice from another and so yeah that's just comes toe you know, something is simple is labeling who's who and then you can actually I cannot understand what people are asking meeting where you're gonna be talking about labeling in detail later uh maybe you should tell these people will watch this thiss day yeah uh help him out if if that's how you're getting your tracks and I'm guessing since you're new to this I you said you were knew this so I kind of don't know where you're out yeah I've been recording at home for for years like ok writing but just mainly as in in the creative aspect making you know, writing records whatever but just recently I started diving into the world of mixing and I mean the main problems I've encountered is probably I mean they probably really beginner kind of problems like you know, just having things well actually specifically I would say too many plug ins I made maybe not busting things properly but just choking the cpu out on I mean that's kind of the bullet just curiosity what what kind of cpu you running? I've got a mac book pro fairly new one how much around uh I actually don't remember so just standard whatever it never upgraded or anything to or for something about bump it up yeah under sixteen it is kind of tough to deal with yeah and I mean it has caused a lot of frustration of course because I don't understand why why you know I'm new to it so there's well I mean it I hate to say this but you guys got to get a computer that that will be able to do this it's I know that people want to be ableto you know mix on one of these or something you know mac book air but it's just not gonna happen your your computer does need to be able to handle it you got to be realistic yet exactly but ran upgrades their chief and you can definitely do that and I recommend anybody in the crowd not going under sixteen gigs if you want to do a full fledged mixes and that's good to know I had no idea that that's like the minimum or the what you need so I mean it's not the minimum if you're really really good about foul maintenance and everything you could get away with less but you I'm saying you can get away with it like you know and sneak can get away with it because here he runs an older system and you know he's got of mixing and he no like guys like that get away with it but I think it's probably not good toe compare oneself to those gushers I think like thea the sixteen I wouldn't go under that you try to go over eventually so all right so yeah basically we're talking about why uh you can't make something that's unmik symbol but ah one thing that I've noticed and this is through having interns and you know, working with a lot of people paying attention to the internet, seeing what people post and all that I think that a lot of the times people problem isn't there mixing it's not their ability to get tones or all that not they know what the plug ins do because they watch all the tutorials in the world that give them all the info it's the prep that I think that that's one of the biggest problems and so you know, show you something and I want you guys to tell me why you guys think that this song is a kn mexico so why is this on mexico and I didn't this this isn't mine karen any thoughts? Um I didn't hear the overheads I don't know if you just had it needed accidentally or if there's if there actually missing symbols very good so that's important yeah, it was that was that the fingers or more things with sosa nitpick uh well the stars they're kind of like chop gated real tight in some spots which probably the band loves that so you know that's that's, that's progress stylistic yeah, yeah well I'll tell you what I think first of all these air dies they're playing through an absence is not printed down am sims bogged down computers so that right there step one not taken um these drums are not routed out the audio tracks they're just coming straight off of easy drummer not good um just a few basic steps right there just is I start with a very, very basic session year but the person who gave this to me wrote it and started trying to mix it immediately like this and you can see they've got some plug ins going and stuff like that now the reason I'm using this also is because it's not that guitar tone is that bad like he actually did all right like you could tell that if he works at it he could actually probably get pretty good at it but he's not going to get anywhere if he's trying to mix on sessions like the's not the way you do it there is going to hit a ceiling eventually like how much can you do just trying to mix straight out of easy drama like that to route everything to individual tracks, get everything printed, disable all the cpu hogs and get to work so that's why I think that uh that's unmik civil and if you guys notice anything else about this that's a kind of screwy in the internet or in here uh as a says failures airway off zero is a start point yeah that to this that's a good one the levels are wherever they were when he was writing and that's another thing is you know when you're writing stuff and I don't know how many of you guys are music writers that's I actually I'm more of a music writer than a mixture that's like my main thing it's like if you saw my writing sessions you'd be appalled there's totally disorganized and uh you know because you're being creative you're in the moment you just trying to create you want with getting all your gain staging right and all that stuff so you know you have your own little writing mix going and it sounds cool to you but it would never work for a record and then if you then start working with that uh you know, that game staging scheme in those levels and all that stuff that once again you're going to hit that glass ceiling where you hit a point where you just can't go any further because it's just scurry from the beginning the foundation of the house is just not solid so a person from the end it was exactly right this is trying to mix off of a writing session so yeah the levels were art were wherever he arbitrarily had them for this song he was trying to write so now one thing though about that is uh the one thing that was cool about that session is that it was pretty simple. Um, it's. Too simple. That's a problem. The drum should have been bounced out, but you're you do want to reduce everything down to the smallest possible size. It's. Like you're saying, you get too much stuff going on in your cpu bogged down, and then you have to start doing all these other things to compensate. So the idea is to get it down to about a small small of a session, as you can possibly make it. Now, that could mean one hundred fifty tracks. But if it needs to be one hundred fifty tracks, it needs to be a hundred fifty tracks. But they better all serve a purpose. And, uh, we show you guys another example. She does an example of something else. That's, unmik, civil. And this is a screen shot. Take a look. And you guys ever seen mixed sessions that looked kind of like this? Anybody in here internet looked familiar to anybody not saying it's. Yours looks like a bunch of the way forms are clipping. Well, that's, just the, uh, that's just the way forms him, but, you know, some people like to go and ruin the proto this sessions laid out super walkie your drum bus kicks there well here's a bass guitar more kick some guitars there's the symbols guitars bass bass snare hanging out down low there like I mean it makes no sense yeah how how are you gonna wrap your mind around this and plus like what if you are not what if you don't have to mix this all at once? Like what if you only have say that this is a band for you full time guys out there or part time guys just say that this is a band that you're working on during your off hours as a favor or something so you can work on this twice a week monday and thursday is between midnight and two a m and this is what you do between monday I mean monday between midnight and two am then you come back on thursday and this is what you open like are you going toe remember what the hell is going on um and say that this is what you hand off to somebody else to mix it wasn't the last time you ever hand something off to that person because they're not going to hire you again but like yeah, exactly what you said it's like bases all split up their symbols in the middle of the guitars that makes no sense so that's wrong however let's talk about more of what something should look like now you sure you guys a bunch of slides because this is for a mixed template that encompasses lots of tracks. This is what uh are mixed templates end up looking like this is not a mix there are some plug ins because you know you do a bit of a rough mix at the end of creating a template but and I will note that anyone that buys this gets the template but notice that it looks kind of organized and as you keep going it makes sense and look at that all the bases together it's even the same color and it's even being routed to a base bus that's a similar color and look at that the guitars are all the same color too and you keep going it's still organized so I go back and show you guys this again and I wanted to use this just tio illustrate that this is a pretty big mick lots of tracks but if I was to open this up in a month they say I worked on it now and then for some reason the sinkhole you know swallowed me and I got out in a month and reopened everything uh it had it does I live in florida um I would still know exactly what's going on here andi again this is a lot of tracks. Look how many vocals there are this is a good amount of stuff um and I normally don't views for tracks of base just to show you guys that you can have a lot of tracks I still have things look organized no going and just ask him if there's anything that you guys notice about this that's confusing or not confusing just by taking a quick look at this anything people, all of you none of you all right cool you know, aaron a question for you since it seems to me like you do the most stuff similar like what we do do your make sessions end up looking anything like this yeah it's pretty similar actually I mean if I got a session sent to me with the bass tracks all bus together on the one hand I'd be really impressed you know, if a band did that themselves like, wow, they know the buses but uh I don't know I don't think I would be better off just because they don't have them bust together, you know? Because I think every mixer probably is going to approach the base a little bit differently, you know? And you might want to do something separate to it before it hits a buzz like, I don't know I mean, maybe they'll ultimately hit the bus anyway, but I don't have a problem creating a bus just for my own routing, you know, I would rather just have, like really nicely labeled tracks if I am getting approach will session like you mentioned the coloring is really nice because then visually right away you can see ok, this is the thing this is a thing you know well, of course you wouldn't want to be be using the session that the client sends you you bring it into your yeah important tracks and stuff yeah, yeah um but yeah, this does look very similar to what I work with so yeah what's good. I'm nothing I would complain about in it. Yeah, I mean, yeah I'm not suggesting that this would be what you would send to somebody. However, I have worked on some records where we do get stuff like this and it's like wow, you actually on the, uh on the demon hundred record that I helped jason soup on the producer who's actually lives here in town. Erin sprinkle who is great? Yeah he's awesome really awesome. This is kind of how the demon hunter record came and, er you just hit play it was already great. Yeah. Uh and then you know, so we had to do was make a greater but this is kind of how it came and if for dudes that are wanting to deliver tracks tio mixers higher up like if you're a mix engineer for an assistant or an intern you start delivering stuff like this to a mixer that looks like that you know say I got this and yeah, I might not use four bases I actually like to use one a lot maybe too but I know a lot of guys like this put their base I like one a lot of the time so guitars for example like it's like say this is a session ready to be mixed right and it was sent to me and then there's all these plug ins on and all of a sudden chances are I'm not going to use those same plug ins and my mix unless you know say the person's aniki like ok well they filter this a little bit like I don't know like it sort of gives gives the mixture a little bit of a cue for like, hey, this is kind of what we're going for here but but really like I mean I don't know I would prefer to just get like a bunch of files and not I don't really care if there's plug ins oh this is a session that was set up by the guy that works with me for me so all these plug ins that are on there are stuff that he knows that I use ok ok so if it's set up by someone you trust and they kind of know what your work flow through you set up yeah that's cool that's school yeah, but also, however, if you do get a session like this from a now outside source, uh, it might be in your best interest. At least check out what they were doing plugging wise, because maybe the producer intended something specific. No, maybe the guitar e q. Forget that, right? Because that's your job like, say, there's a certain flander on the vocal that they want it for a reason like, er and it is there for artistic reasons it's part of the song, and they left it there so that you would leave it there. It's good to at least check out what they did. Because then once you have you get rid of that you're sending the mix back. They're gonna say what happened to that effect? So, um, it's good to it's. Good to at least check that stuff out. Um, but yet definitely if you get a bunch of plug ins on stuff you and you, a lot of them are throwaways. But when you're working out of your own template, it is there's. Nothing wrong with having like your go to plug ins already set up. So that's, what these plug ins are these are our starting point plug ins. One of the things I'd say to you is if you get a session sent to you like even if you do want toe mix in that session at the very least do like a save as from the thing or save the session copy you always want to live like a a raw version you know I mean I guess you could always read download the file that they sent you and stuff but if you don't want a hassle with that just duplicate your session right when you start and then even if you did throw something away that you like oh wow, I should have thrown that affect the way you can easily just import it right back from the session you got save as is a life saver like I have a save as session I have a tracking session and editing done before that I probably have six or seven different sessions all in my you know, whatever the song title folder is, you know? And then I have sessions that were saved a different points through the process so if I need to step back to something I just open in an importer track and that whatever state I needed from yeah, everyone is here save as always um and uh I'm just going to move on because I want to make sure that we can get teo our skype guests before we run out of time we're ready for, okay, so we'll get to him in just a few minutes, but just real quick just so you guys can see once again the difference between it looking right and it looking wrong, okay? And then on this is just to kind of get all you forum nerds to just shut up already like your d a w is not going to make the difference. I don't care of use reaper or q base or pro tools or or whatever, it makes no difference on ly reason you would want to use pro tools is because a lot of people use bro tools, but that doesn't mean that you can't get great results with cuba's. Plenty of people do that people use logic that's not what matters the, uh, mix prep is what matters and you're mixed decisions. And, uh, just to talk about how time is divided for those of you are having trouble with balancing time like we got that question for the internet about or that calm about how he thinks that he moves quicker, you actually should be spending about seventy five percent your tongue on the prep uh, like say, we get a mixed in and it's got ten songs we get it done in three weeks, I would say that the first two weeks or first ten days or so are going to be just prepping and working on that first song. Um, and then the rest of time once were once that's all straight once, it's. All great. Then you can just mix because there's nothing blocking you. Everything is good to go. Um, do any of you guys have? Your balance is different. Where you spend most of your time mixing and not enough of your time prepping something. Sound familiar? No. Yes, yeah. Get the track straight. I think I remember reading joey stare just saying this once that to get a song ready to mix will take six weeks from beginning to end. And then thirty minutes to actually makes the song. Um, and you know, from ah, you know, I worked with justine suk off for many years. And it's a very similar thing. It's, the prep getting the track ready to go that's what took all the time you go in there and it's like lightning strikes like the song. Sometimes a song would get mixed in twenty minutes. Sound amazing. Uh, you know, sometimes it takes longer it's not every single time, but the actual mixed time should be quick and there's. A few reasons for that time's. Not on your side and there's a few reasons for that, but keep this in mind, it's not on your side at all and not just cause you're going to die one day, but because your ears are going to give out, you have x amount of time before your ears start giving you back faulty information and it could be a ce little is ninety minutes before your peak for the day is done could be three hours, but it's usually not going to be more than that. So if you're working, if you're trying to mix and you had to keep stopping because your cpu to keep stopping because you're at it, suck yet to keep stopping your mix because of this and that by the time you've got all that fix your years of shot, then what? You're not going to make good decisions mixing because you can't hear anything so that's another reason get your prep done, get out of the way you mix separately um and also about flow state that we're talking about that's not something that you can keep forever. Everybody here knows the creativity it strikes and it's a mood just like any other mood and moods are temporary and there's nothing worse than being in, you know, in a creative mood and being, you know, getting stuff done and then the cpu chokes or then you realize the drones are out of time, we've got to edit that or I was just doing this really all these really cool automation is really getting into it, but these vocals are completely out of tune so now and then a tune them and then you ruin your ears and you ruin your flow state tuning vocals and then try to go back to mix but here's a shot and all that. Lastly, if you're mixing professionally there's a such thing called deadlines now, I don't meet a lot of mine and actually a lot of the guys who I know that our pros don't meet their deadlines either because a lot of times they're arbitrary, but you know, you should meet them, you know, same year at least just getting like, you know e oftentimes you'll be late just because you can. You can't say how long the mix is going to take before you mix begins and someone that's not mixing can't tell you how long the mix is going to take it's just not possible. So sometimes these deadlines are not completely realistic and and that is what it is, but at the same time, if something is due on the fifteenth of the month and you deliver it on the fifteenth, six months later, that's not cool either, so I got to get this done in a timely fashion. And you have to make sure that in that amount of time, you have to get it done, your ears don't get shot, and your creativity is an all time house. You don't want things getting in the way that so again, get the prep out of the way so that it's not getting in the way of good decisions and then you mix and, uh, talk real quick about what flows state is, um, it's it's hard to define, but I definitely do think about it a cz focused motivation like you know you're into it tunnel vision can't focus on anything else time doesn't exist anymore, and ah, you're just with it and that's where you make your best decisions always and just like in the shining, I always just think of that example assumes it gets broken, uh, it's really hard to really hard to get back, so turn your cell phones off, turn the internet off, uh, locked the door tell your girlfriend to shut up if your lack of prep is interrupting this, you're gonna deliver a shitting mix or not even get it done that's all there is to it. Um and then I don't want to talk about your fatigue too much because I'm not your dad, but the more you listen to music the less sensitive your years will be to nuance but they said earlier there's an x amount of time that you can make that you can accurately hear things and if you listen to music too loud for too long you're going to lose that sensitivity permanently and this happens anyways no matter how you no matter who you are as you get older that it does not grow back so don't don't don't encourage it but a lot of the great mixers mixed three or four hours a day and that's it um you know that going in the morning uh have a mixed session done this whole twelve to sixteen hour day nonsense that sounded the big boys do what's up one thing I've been doing lately is thirty minute mixes so I'll just set of timing and makes from their good I get to a point and then to stop bounce it do it again great and a mixing faster and I'm making better decisions because I'm doing it on the fly I'm not sitting there pounding my years someone was saying something about what with one hour mix or something it's a good idea it's not always practical but it is a good idea to try that because you have to make good decisions and you're on the spot to do that and your ears you're hearing will remain intact so yeah it's ah I think we should be getting over to our call so one last thing about this. Keep your prep intermixed time separate, just tio, bring this all home, be thorough with your prep, just get it done so that it doesn't creep back into your mixed time. Just get it done. It sucks, or if you can afford to hire somebody to do it for you, do that. Most of the good mixers don't do it themselves because it's not fun to do and because they don't want to ruin their ears. Some of them get a lot of shit for it, too. We know some guys that got a lot of shit for not doing their own prep, but why should they do their own prep? Their job is to mix. Why would you want the guy you're hiring? A mix of record make it's not amazing, ruining their ears, editing drums or laying samples that should be their job? Um, and, of course, keep your volume is reasonable.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Eyal Levi - Mastering Metal Mixing - Mix Prep Slides.pdf
Eyal Levi - ProTools Batch Track Rename.qkmx
1-on-1 Mix Critique with Eyal Levi.pdf
Eyal Levi - Mix Template Routed.ptx
Eyal Levi - Mix Template Routed.ptxt

bonus material with enrollment

Eyal Levi - Syllabus.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Boring subject but Eyal delivers the material in an entertaining way. He really does a great job of showing why the prep and organization are crucial to a solid end product. This is much more important to get than the latest and greatest plugin, and is easy to implement and will ultimately save you time and money down the road. Its a no brainer to listen to what Eyal is saying and to apply it. This has been a great confirmation on some of my workflow and has revealed some new methods I had not thought of. Thanks for the great class! cant wait for the next two days. Always impressed with you and the creative live team.

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