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Chapter 3 Contents

The Mixing Process

The proper use of DSPs is an integral part of creating a great mix.  One with variance in dynamic range, textures, and color.  As stated earlier, the type of monitor system can greatly affect the outcome of the mix.  Three-way speakers are preferred however it is not unusual to be able to create a great mix on a quality headset.  The following suggestions for the mixing process are paraphrased from an Introduction to Professional Recording Techniques by Bruce Bartlett.


1. Test the monitors with a mix of reasonable representation.

2. Mix low, mid, then high.  Always monitor your VU meters as you add tracks or EQ 

    sounds; both will affect the overall volume units being sent through the system.

3. Occasionally play the monitors very quietly to see if you can hear all the 

    instruments clearly.

4. If the VU meters are pinned, then lower the master fader and increase the amplifier 


5. Take your hands off the computer:  it helps you to relax, listen critically, and hear 

    the mix more effectively.

6. Listen first, then isolate the problem and determine what you need to do to correct 


7. Do not make finesse adjustments.  Move faders and knobs until you can hear a 


8. Do a mix, take a break to give your ears a rest, and then check your mix.

9. Avoid drastic changes.

10. Make A-B comparisons such as, stereo verses mono, three-way speakers versus 

    one-way, and solo verses ensemble mix.


Illustration 3.31  Some vocabulary used when describing a mix include:



Exercise 3.7

Select one of your favourite recordings that you think is well produced.  Engage in active listening and then describe the production in terms of the descriptors above by indicating where in the piece they occur.  Now conversely, purposefully select what you deem to be a poor production and do the same using the descriptors listed.  In both cases do not discuss the music or the performance and focus your thoughts on the production.

Additional Terms

There are numerous terms in the previous discussion, however there are additional understanding of the language used in professional audio settings that should be understood.  They are presented here for study and use.


Potentiometer is any pan-pot, slider or other controlling device that changes the level of a sound by either attenuate of the increase of the level.  For example, a pan-pot when sending the sound to the left side of the stereo spectrum will attenuate the right side of the stereo signal.  In other words, a potentiometer is anything that changes the level of a sound.


Archive is to store your data via a hard-drive, memory stick or drive, CD, DAT or other digital data storage device.


Dynamic configuration is the virtual console found on audio software.  It allows the user to choose mixing configurations including bus allocations, sends, DSP’s, etc… to the final master out.  The Digital Audio Engine (DAE) is the real-time operating system that allows for the recording, processing and mixing process.  


Time division multiplexing (TDM), allows audio signals to be combined at source and at exit point and allows for the addition of DSP plug-ins.  TDM typically allows for:


• 5 inserts per channel

• 5 auxiliary sends

• Dynamic automation of mix, volume, pan, mute, sends and graphic editing, faders

  and master faders and integration of external analog or digital sources.


With reference to standard audio software language, a region is a piece of audio or a MIDI sequence that can be moved around much like word processing-cut, copy, paste and move.  The play list is a group of regions.  The regions are also held on a region list palette in most programs.  This allows for the revisiting or copying and processing the original sound after it has been already used. 


Also, a track is where the regions are strung together allowing for several different takes and additional modifications such as editing.  When identified on the virtual console, it is also possible to determine such variants as pre or post fader, listen-original or processed (PFL);  the trim or gain of a signal, mute or bypass, and automation which are just a few of the variables one can assign to each track.


Exercise 3.8

In Logic Pro, create four tracks and use 4 of the 5 super collider audio files included with this eText. Navigate to Chapter 3 / Exercises / 3.8 in the media folder to locate the files for this exercise. 


The sounds need to be rearranged and should not be heard all at once although they may be doubled.  Aim for creating an abstract sound collage and employ the use of automated features such as volume control-fade in fade out, panning, effect automation.  The purpose of this exercise is to focus on textural variance and the creation of a short piece-about 1:30 -2:00 minutes long.  Experiment with doubling a region and treating it differently with DSP i.e. pitch shifting.  Consider layering one sound on several different tracks which are out of phase with the original.  Importantly, experiment with DSP and automation to ensure that you are prepared for future assignments and projects.

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