How to Prepare Your Audio Tracks for Mixing

99.9% of my mix work is with ProTools (in-the-box) and .1% on analog consoles. (with ProTools ) But It doesn’t matter what music program you use for writing and recording your music productions. Simply prepare the audio-files to be universal, useful on their own and not dependent on its session file. Next is how.

* All tracks need to be continuous individual files. Meaning: no edits in the audio. Each track needs to be one single file, or stereo file if that is the format your music program uses. Examples being GarageBand and Ableton Live among others work solely in stereo tracks. Before you buss record or disc record the file (also called: – bounce to disk – render – join – make continuous ) you’ll need to prepare the multi-tracks.

* All tracks you prepare need to have your mix plugins removed. Hopefully you can give me your RAW un-processed audio tracks as they were recorded. Unless, you have tracks with specific sound design elements from or unrepeatable manipulations like delay throws. Simply record your sound design FX elements onto discrete audio tracks. If you really really need them on, then leave the super important one’s on. But separation is good for me. Definitely remove EQ, compressors, reverbs and set delays from all your tracks. If your program renders tracks through the stereo buss like GarageBand, then remove all stereo mix buss processing before you make the audio tracks for mixing. And just as a reminder while you’re recording, record with little to no compression. Keep your dynamics for me. If you have some cool vintage or vibey analog compressors, just tap it a half a db at peak unless you want stylized pumping effects and the sort.

* Stylized FX – Remember, if you have sound-design effects that rely on live plugins, render those as a separate sound file. You don’t want me recreating an effects move you’ve created, you want me mixing. Put it to its own track and all is good.

* All tracks need to begin at the same start-time or same time-stamp. Even if you have a sound element on one track at the very end of your song, the bounce or render needs to begin at the same very beginning of your song, before your intro, exactly at the same start-point as all the other tracks. The end of the files can all be different. When the sound ends for the song, the audio file can end there.

* Don’t slam the audio inputs when recording/rendering/bouncing to disk. Slamming digital inputs will have no benefit sound wise and will cause problems for me so keep the levels within 80% of digital zero (the top) I rather have too low a signal than too hot.

* Sample rate, Sample Frequency, File Type- I can handle whatever rates you are using. WAV or AIFF are preferred. Don’t change or up-sample before your render, just give me the same rate and freq you’ve been using in your project.

Ok, happy Mix Track Making!

I'm an experienced mix engineer/musician and have worked with top artist/producers such as Michael Jackson . Disturbed . Quincy Jones . O.A.R. and many hard working independent artist/producers. I've mixed thousands of live concerts including 25 years in recording and mixing records. /songworx - facebook . twitter . google+

No comments yet. Be the first.