Old 08-19-2019, 11:44 AM   #1
SongsbySteve
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Default Simple Mixing/Mastering

If I only use a track produced for me by a demo studio and my adding vocs at home, is the mixing mastering process the same?
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Old 08-19-2019, 12:35 PM   #2
jpanderson80
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Hi Steve,
Can you be more specific with what you mean?

The overarching answer is: sort of... you're blending elements during mixing and during mastering you're double checking for translation, raising overall level, and readying for distribution.

Your vocal track would be layered on top of the music stem and they could be blended together for some cohesiveness.

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Old 08-19-2019, 12:48 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by jpanderson80 View Post
Hi Steve,
Can you be more specific with what you mean?

The overarching answer is: sort of... you're blending elements during mixing and during mastering you're double checking for translation, raising overall level, and readying for distribution.

Your vocal track would be layered on top of the music stem and they could be blended together for some cohesiveness.

JPA
JP, most of the tutorials on mixing have involved several tracks, i.e. guitar, drums, vocals, back ground vocals, etc. I'm simply importing a track (which is made up of different instruments) which is already mixed itself ... then I simply add vocals. So to me, it seems I'm simply mixing two tracks.
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Old 08-19-2019, 12:52 PM   #4
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That's exactly how I understood what you proposed. It would be simple.
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Old 08-19-2019, 01:56 PM   #5
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Mixing is done by summation. (Analog mixers are built-around summing amplifiers.)


That means the "volume" goes up during mixing and it's hard to predict how much it will go up. Many (most) effects will also change the volume by unpredictable amounts. If you mix two identical signals/files it goes up by 6dB... That's predictable...


You do have level controls on each track, a master level control, and meters, but it can hard to be "exact".


If you go over 0dB, that's not a problem for REAPER but regular (integer WAV files, CDs, and digital-to-analog converters are all hard-limited to 0dB and you can get clipping (distortion).


The "safest" thing is usually to render to floating-point WAV (which won't clip) and then re-import the mixed WAV file for "mastering". During the mastering stage you can adjust the volume up or down as desired.


Some people mix at or near 0dB, and then use a limiter to hold the peaks to 0dB (or less). That's OK as long as you understand and accept what limiting is doing to the sound. Most professionally mastered recordings are limited as part of the mastering process anyway, but if you limit during mixing it can't be un-done without re-mixing.
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Old 08-20-2019, 10:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SongsbySteve View Post
If I only use a track produced for me by a demo studio and my adding vocs at home, is the mixing mastering process the same?
The tools and workflow is the same. Doesn't matter if you have 2 tracks or 200 tracks. A mixing board (in this case, a digital one in a DAW app called Reaper) lets you mix multiple sources into a stereo or surround sound mix. And further, lets you create ambient components (eg reverb) as needed.

Mastering is the act of taking a finished mix and putting it into consumer formats. Everything from the low quality end with compressed formats like mp3 for phone listeners to the high end with HD stereo or surround for home theater. The 24 bit FLAC file for download is the popular full quality format. mp3 (which is also what most streaming uses) and the old CD are probably more popular FWIW.

Sometimes unfinished mixes will get further tweaking in the mastering stage. Not because this is preferred but because the mix was unfinished and this is the last chance to at least do something. (Mastering literally uses the same tools - a mixing board and whatever fx you wish to use. It's all audio work.) If you still have the original multitrack (again, be it 2 tracks or 200), you get best results finishing the mix from that.


Is it simpler to mix a raw vocal track with an already mixed/produced band track? Yes, in that some of the work is already done. No, if some of that work isn't quite right. The vocal will need whatever production to make it fit. You might end up doing something like compromising on some ambience component for the vocal in order to make it match with the already produced band. The vocal can be rather important in some genres and to some listeners. So simpler yes, but not just simple.
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Old 08-20-2019, 10:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
The vocal can be rather important in some genres and to some listeners. So simpler yes, but not just simple.
I'd say that's a bit of an understatement. There are lots of "links in the chain", but the vocal is usually the MOST important part.


There are probably more than 1000 famous singers for every famous guitar player. Usually the singer get all of the glory, and there are very few instrumental hits.


I just scrolled through The Billboard Hot 100 and I only found 8 artists with "band names" and I assume they all have featured singers. The others were singers, rappers, duets, or vocal groups (i.e. Jonas Brothers).
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Old 08-21-2019, 05:23 AM   #8
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This whole recording, mixing, etc thing can get pretty complicated. I really appreciate all of the advice. I've used much of it.

I created this project with a backing track made by someone else,

I added vocals using an interface and a respected mic,

I adjusted the vocals using the plugin's seen on these screenshots,

I primarily left the backing track alone with the exception of volume,

I rendered the file to wav as suggested and created another project with that track,

I "mixed" as best as I knew how,

Then I went off on a whim and uploaded the file to Aria's online service just as a test (a single file is $20) using the B setting.

It definitely sounded better to my unexperienced ear, not sure if it was worth the money, it was just a trial.

I'm having trouble saving screenshots at 64 kb's of my settings. Again, I appreciate all of your advices and I'm learning bunches.

Last edited by SongsbySteve; 08-21-2019 at 08:48 AM.
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Old 08-26-2019, 03:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DVDdoug View Post
Mixing is done by summation. (Analog mixers are built-around summing amplifiers.)


That means the "volume" goes up during mixing and it's hard to predict how much it will go up. Many (most) effects will also change the volume by unpredictable amounts. If you mix two identical signals/files it goes up by 6dB... That's predictable...


You do have level controls on each track, a master level control, and meters, but it can hard to be "exact".


If you go over 0dB, that's not a problem for REAPER but regular (integer WAV files, CDs, and digital-to-analog converters are all hard-limited to 0dB and you can get clipping (distortion).


The "safest" thing is usually to render to floating-point WAV (which won't clip) and then re-import the mixed WAV file for "mastering". During the mastering stage you can adjust the volume up or down as desired.


Some people mix at or near 0dB, and then use a limiter to hold the peaks to 0dB (or less). That's OK as long as you understand and accept what limiting is doing to the sound. Most professionally mastered recordings are limited as part of the mastering process anyway, but if you limit during mixing it can't be un-done without re-mixing.
Doug, I can't seem to find a "floating point wave" in my render list??
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Old 08-27-2019, 01:03 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by SongsbySteve View Post
Doug, I can't seem to find a "floating point wave" in my render list??
It's listed as 32 bit
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Old 08-27-2019, 10:42 AM   #11
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It's listed as 32 bit
Thanks Philbo ...
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