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Panning re-amped guitars

Traditionally, the lead vocal sits in the middle of the stereo image, along with the kick, bass and snare.  Other instruments may be panned into the centre, but even then, some might be stereo sources that spread themselves across all of part of the stereo field.  One mono instrument that tends to take centre stage is the lead guitar, but what do you do with it when the lead vocal comes back in?  One has to give way, but unless you double-track the guitar, it tends to end up with the lead guitar either being panned outwards or ducked.  In this example, I show how a reamped guitar solo avoids being obviously panned to one side, whilst at the same time being panned outwards to leave some space for the vocal.

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Alternatives to Automation

Automation is an invaluable tool for adding colour to a mix, as well as its more mundane use for controlling volume, be it levelling peaks in tracks or adding swells and fades. However, its big drawback is that once you’ve written the automation, you can’t then go back and tweak the levels without editing the automation. In this video, I look at using clip gain and muting to balance parts of a recorded track against the rest of that track, without using automation that would impact on the levels of the recorded sound against the rest of my mix.

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Video Tutorial – Editing Automation

Once you’ve got your automation data recorded in your project, whether you wrote it in on the lane or recorded it in real time, there’s likely to be extraneous automation points that you want to delete or, as your mix progresses, there will be changes that you want to make. This video looks at the options for editing automation in Cubase.

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Video Tutorial – Writing Automation

Sometimes, it’s not possible to record the automation data you need by moving a mouse as the song plays back – for example, a MIDI controller or a parameter that you can’t get a satisfactory degree of control over in real time. However, it can be just as easy, (and sometimes easier), to write the automation data straight into your DAW rather than try to record it. In this video, I look at how that’s done in Cubase.

 

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Video Tutorial – Recording Automation

There are a couple of different ways of setting up automation on your DAW.  The simplest, but perhaps not always the most accurate, is to record the automation by making the relevant changes whilst the track is playing, and have the DAW record what you do.  This is a separate record function from the normal “record” that you would use on a MIDI or audio track, but you can still see what you have done in your project view and it can be edited, (but I’ll look at that in a future video).  In this video, I look at how to actually record the automation information.

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Video Tutorial – Introduction to Automation

Once a song has been mixed, there are the inevitable moments when you listen back to the end result and think, “ah, the vocal needs to be a touch louder for that line”, “the bass is too prominent in the third verse”, “we should mute the guitar in the bridge”, or, on a more creative note, “wouldn’t it be good if […insert ear candy idea here…]”.

In the good old days of tape, (ah, I remember them well…), a mix was as much a performance as it was a done deal. Once those reels started rolling, you’d stand there and all available hands would be ready to ride faders, tweak pan pots, adjust EQ settings, crank up effects – anything that added life to the mix. Sometimes, a mix required as much rehearsal as the song! Nowadays, we render the songs to a file at a speed that has nothing to do with real time and everything to do with the processing power of our computer. So how do you get those in-flight adjustments to the mix done? The answer is automation. Every DAW offers you the ability to pre-arrange those changes so that anything you could tweak in real time, (assuming you could work a mouse or control surface that fast), is adjusted for you by the exact amount required at just the right moment. This video looks at the basics of automation in Cubase, but the principles apply to any DAW.

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Video Tutorial – Copy Automation in Cubase

After I posted the video on sidechaining the Waves Vocal Rider in Cubase, there were a couple of comments on YouTube asking if it was possible to write the automation data direct to the channel volume fader, rather than to its own automation lane.  If you did this, you would be able to remove the Vocal Rider after it had done its work and save some CPU power.  My initial thought was that you can’t, but it is possible to end up with the same result, just by copying the automation data from the Vocal Rider’s lane to the main channel fader lane.  The video below walks through how it’s done.