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Referencing your mix using Magic AB

Referencing your mixes against tracks that you like the sound of and that you’re familiar with is good practice, but the mechanics of routing the tracks through your DAW or monitoring system can be off-putting.  What you need is a simple, straightforward way of comparing your mix with your chosen reference tracks without all the hassle of plugging and unplugging leads or of setting up a reference tracks buss so you can mute and unmute them at the appropriate moment.  That’s what Magic AB from SampleMagic is designed to do and in this video, I look at how it can replace that ugly patching with a single, well-placed plugin.

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Batch Export Options in Cubase

Having looked in the last video at the general principle of how to batch export stems from a DAW, in this video I look at the specific options available in Cubase.  Whilst you can export mono sources as mono stems, or split stereo files into their left and right channel elements, I would argue that whether it’s worth doing or not is really determined by the use that is going to be made of those stems.

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Exporting a project from your DAW

No man is an island, and neither are musicians, although the revolution in music technology we are enjoying has made the project home studio affordable in a way it’s never been before.  However, there are times when you want to collaborate or you need to share what’s on your computer with someone else, be it for them to mix, edit or whatever.  Sometimes, just sending them an MP3 to use as a guide will work – it’s certainly the best way of working with any virtual session musicians you might use – but when it comes to mixing or more in-depth collaboration, it isn’t enough.  Unless you’re both using the same DAW with the same virtual instruments and plugins, something won’t translate, so the best thing to do is to export your project as audio files, (“stems”).  Even so, there are steps you can take to make the export as successful as possible and, in this video, I talk about what they are and show you how to export a project from Cubase 7.0

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Getting a balanced stereo image when mixing on headphones

There are times when you have to listen to your music on headphones. It’s not a problem when recording, (it’s often highly desirable), but when mixing it can give you a false sense of perspective, it can make your mix seem wider than it really is, (unless you’re listening on earbuds).  When listening on speakers, the sound you hear is a blend of both channels, with any separation diminishing the further away you are from the source.  What we need is a way of allowing some controlled blurring of the left and right channels to let us hear the mix as if on speakers when the rest of the household doesn’t want to hear it at all!

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Tuning Your Monitors To Your Room

After all we’ve done to ensure that our mix doesn’t overload our stereo buss and to ensure that we’re listening at the right levels, no matter what we listen on, you might think we’ve done all we can to give ourselves the best chance of turning out a creditable mix.  Sadly, that’s not the case.  There’s one huge issue we have to overcome – the acoustic imperfections of our listening environment.  We want to be sure that we’re listening to a true, uncoloured representation of our mix from out flat-response monitor speakers, yet the room we are working in has its own character that will flatter the bass and suck out the treble, meaning the killer mix we are hearing sounds thin and tinny on earbuds or car speakers, or sounds thuddy and dull.  In this video, I look at how I’ve tackled that in my small home studio, using the first of two separate plug-ins from different manufacturers, this time focused on correcting my monitors for the room I’m listening in.

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Gain Staging: Plugin Creep

Plug-ins have become a de-facto part of modern mixing, regardless of whether they’re VST, RTAS, AAX or one of the less common flavours.  Watch any mixing video and I guarantee you’ll see someone using plug-ins, either the stock plug-ins that come with their DAW of choice or a selection from the bewildering array of third party items. (As an aside, is Cubase the only DAW you can mix in without plug-ins, due to its inbuilt Channel Strip – or is that just a mega plug-in?). However, plug-ins can have an unwanted impact on your mixes, as they can introduce extra level into the signal path and, if you’re not careful, you find that the plug-ins didn’t make your mix sound better, they just made it sound louder.

 

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Gain Staging: Setting Monitoring Levels, Part 2

In the last few videos, I’ve looked at the steps I’ve taken to try to ensure that the gain structure of my mixes is such that I have plenty of headroom when I’m mixing, without running the risk of clipping the master output buss all the time. That’s all well and good, but it’s easy to undermine all that good work when your single emerges into the real world and has to ride the Fletcher Munson curves.  Setting a predictable level in your studio so that you know what is too quiet and too loud is as important as not overdriving your output bus.  Equally important is knowing that what you’re hearing is the same volume whether it’s on different speakers or headphones, so that you don’t kid yourself into thinking your mix has improved when it’s just got louder.  With that in mind, (and a handy little app for your phone), here’s how I set up my studio.