Art of Mixing

I took this class thinking that it would be a nice refresher to the Mixing and Mastering for the Electronic Musician course that I took during my second term with Berklee Online. It ended up being more of a headache than anything else, largely due to the instructor. I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say this class didn’t appear to be a high priority for him.

As for the course itself, it could use a good refresh on the content as a lot of it is pretty dated. That being said, the information covered was really useful and well done. I particularly enjoyed the explanations about working with a large format console like an SSL.

Here’s what we went over during the twelve weeks.

Week 1 – “Overview of Mixing Music”, Sep 27 – Oct 1
Introduction, Meet and Greet, Quiz 1.1: DAW and Basic Recording and Mixing Knowledge, Overview and History of Mixing, Mixing is Balance, Level and Loudness, Level Adjustment, Panning, Panning Strategies, Discussion 1.1: Panning Perspective, Reply, Exercise: Build Your Reference Library, Muting Techniques, Building a Mix, Dynamic Mix, Assignment 1: Mix “I Hate” by Jessica Oh, Recap

Week 2 – “Mix Setup: Organization, Ergonomics, and Phase Relationships”, Oct 2nd – Oct 8th Introduction,Recommendations from the Music Industry,Create One Master Project/Session,Label Audio Tracks and Use Comments,Label Appropriately and Set the Date and Time(Page 4), File Format, Sample Rate, and Bit Depth,Use Tempo Map and Timeline Markers,The Clean-Up Process,Keep Tracks Organized,Essential Plug-Ins,Exercise 2.1: Mix Organization,Automation,Data Management, Storage, and Transfer,Quiz 2.1: Mix Setup: Organization, Ergonomics, and Phase Relationships ,Compatibility Between DAWs,Exercise 2.2: Build Your Reference Library, The Importance of Metering,Exercise: Metering,The Importance of Gain Staging,Simple Mix,Mixing Levels and Delivery Standards, Dynamic Range,Standard Operating Level (SOL),Standard Operating Level (SOL),TV and Instrumental Mix, Phase, Phase Relationships Between Tracks, Exercise: Phase Relationships, Exporting the Mix,Discussion 2.1: Exporting a Mix,Assignment 2: “Till the Morning Comes” by Idun Forfang, Recap

Week 3 – “Equalization Techniques”, Oct 9th – Oct 15th
Introduction, Equalizers: Theory, Equalizers: History and Application, EQ Parameters, Q Factor, Slope, EQ Types: Graphic Equalizers, EQ Types: Shelving Equalizers, EQ Types: Parametric Equalizers, Filters, Discussion 3.1: EQ Options, DUE OCT 12, Plug-ins vs. Analog Hardware EQ, What Are Those Advantages?, Why Do We Still Use Analog EQ?, Listening Exercise, Exercise 3.1: Build Your Reference Library, DUE OCT 13, Exercise 3.2: Corrective vs. Creative EQ, DUE OCT 14, Creative Equalization Techniques, Subharmonic Enhancers & Aural Exciters, Classic Analog EQ: SSL, Listening Exercise: SSL, Neve 1084, Neve 1073, Listening Exercise: Neve, API 550, Listening Exercise: API 550, API 560, Listening Exercise: API 560, Pultec, What Makes Pultec EQ Different?, Listening Exercise: Pultec, GML, Listening Exercise: GML, Manley, Listening Exercise: Manley, EQ with Plugins, Exercise 3.3: Masking Correction, Assignment 3: Mix “I Know What You’re Doin’ Tonight” by Daphne Khoo, Recap

Week 4 – “Reverb and Delays”, Oct 16th – Oct 22nd
Introduction, Reverb as an Acoustical Phenomenon, Delay as an Acoustical Phenomenon, Reverb and Delay: History and Application, Reverbs, Reverb Parameters, Chamber Reverb, Spring Reverb, Plate Reverb, Halls and Room Reverb, Exercise 4.1: Build Your Reference Library, Reply, Delays, Delay Parameters, Tape Delay, Ping Pong Delay, ADT Delays, Exercise 4.2: Setting Up an ADT and Slapback Delay Effect, Reply, Setting Up a Short Delay in a Mix, Analog vs. Digital, Plug-in vs. Hardware, Historical Perspective, Plug-ins, Quiz 4.1: Reverb Critical Listening, Recap, Assignment 4: Mix “What Will Tomorrow Dream” by Federico Aubelo

Week 5 – “Automation Techniques”, Oct 23rd – Oct 29th
Introduction, Automated Mixing Overview and Historical Perspective, Winds of Change in the ’70s, Full Automation and Digital Consoles in ’80 – ’90, Predicting the Future?, Discussion 5.1: Where is Automation Headed?, Main Physical Automation Systems, VCA (Voltage-Controlled Amplifier), Flying or Moving Faders, Total Recall, Automation in Analog Consoles, Automation in Digital Consoles and DAWs, Digital Consoles vs. DAWs, Exercise 5.1: Build Your Reference Library, Modes of Operation for Automated Mixes, Write, Read, Update, Setting for Automation Systems, Hands-on Options: Real Time, Off-Line or Snapshot Automation, Real Time Automation Techniques, Off-Line or Playlist Automation, Snapshot Automation, Quiz 5.1: Automation Techniques, Assignment 5: Mix “Sinking Sands” by Violette, Recap

Week 6 – “Dynamics Processing Part 1”, Oct 30th – Nov 5th
Introduction, What is the Purpose of Compression?, Compression Controls and Functionality: Threshold, Compression Controls and Functionality: Ratio, Compression Controls and Functionality: Attack, Compression Controls and Functionality: Release Time, Output or Make-Up, Discussion 6.1: Differences in Sound, Quiz 6.1: Dynamic Processing, Practical Applications for Compression in Mixing, A Step-by-Step Approach, Exercise 6.1: Compression, The Difference Between Compression and Limiting, Ratio-Based Definition of Limiting, Brickwall-Based Definition of Limiting, Exercise 6.2: LUFS Streaming Targets and Peak Limiting, Exercise 6.3: Build Your Reference Library, The Anatomy of a Mix, Assignment 6: Mix “Silent Waters”, Recap

Week 7 – “Dynamics Processing Part 2”, Nov 6th – Nov 12th
Introduction, Bus Compression, Drum Bus Compression, Multiple Bus Compression, Stereo Bus Compression, Side-Chain Triggered Compression Effects, Side-Chain Triggered Drum Bus Compression, Side-Chain Triggered Stereo Bus Compression, Pumped Compression of the Bass Triggered by the Kick, Miscellaneous Compression FX, Multi-Band Compression, Hardware Compressor Demonstration, Plugin Compressor Demonstration, Discussion 7.1: Use of Side-Chain Triggered Compression Effects, Quiz 7.1: More Advanced Dynamic Processing, Noise Gates/Expanders, Noise Gate Controls and Functionality, Noise gating: a Step-by-Step Approach, Keyed Noise Gating, Exercise 7.1: Build Your Reference Library, Practice Exercise 7.2: Using Multiple Audio Subgroups, Assignment 7: Mix “I Don’t Care” by Corneal, Produced by JM Ferreiras, Recap

Week 8 – “Miscellaneous Unusual FX and Secret Techniques”, Nov 13th – Nov 19th
Introduction, Time-Based Special Effects: Chorusing, Flanging, and Phasing, Effects Processors Parameters, Chorusing, Flanging, Phasing, Amplitude-Based Effects: Tremolo, Wah, Leslie Cabinet, Tremolo, Wah, Leslie Cabinet, Exercise 8.1: Build Your Reference Library, Image Widening or Stereo Enhancing, Exercise 8.2: Image Widening, Distortion, Reamping and Amp Simulation, Exercise 8.3: Saturation and Distortion, Exciters and Sub-Harmonic Enhancers, Reverse Processing, Tape Emulation, Exercise 8.4: Tape Emulation, Vocoder and Talk-Box, Noise Reduction, Exercise 8.5: Showcase Your Favorite Special Fx Plug-In, Assignment 8: Mix “Honey Up” by Vanessa Collier, recorded by Mark Wessel, Recap

Week 9 – “Vocal Mixing Techniques”, Nov 20th – Nov 26th,
Introduction, Preparing Vocals for the Mix: Vocal Editing, Tuning, and Time Correcting, Vocal Comping, Timing Editing, Pitch Correction, Additional Vocal Editing, Exercise 9.1: Build Your Reference Library, Vocal EQ, Dynamic, Gain Setting, Leveling, Vocal EQ, Dynamic Control and Leveling of the Vocal Tracks, Vocal De-essing, Gain Setting, Exercise 9.2: Build Your Own De-Esser, FX Processing, Discussion 9.1: Vocal Treatment, Assignment 9: “You Don’t Remind Me” by Sam Mordecai, Recap

Week 10 – “Drum Mixing Techniques”, Nov 27th – Dec 3rd
Introduction, Preparing Drums for the Mix, Phase Relationship between Drum Tracks, Drums Editing: Time Corrections, Grouping Drum Tracks, Stereo Processing, Parallel Processing, Exercise 10.1: Post an Example of Parallel Compression, Drum Sound Replacement, Mixing MIDI Sequenced Drums and/or Loops vs. Acoustic Drums, Mixing Acoustic Drums, Mixing Sequenced Drums and Loops, Exercise 10.2: Build Your Reference Library, Assignment 10: Mix “The King and All His Horses”, Recap

Week 11 – Instrumental Mixing Techniques, Dec 4th – Dec 10th
Introduction, Mixing Bass: Acoustic, Electric, and/or Synthesized, Electric Bass, Acoustic Bass, Synthesized Bass, Mixing Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Mixing Electric Guitars, Mixing Acoustic Guitars, Mixing Horns and Strings, Both Real and Synthesized, Strings, Horns, Exercise 11.1: Build Your Reference Library, Mixing Less Common Instruments, Deconstructing a Mix In-a-Box, Assignment 11: Mix “All We Had”, Recap

Week 12 – “Specialized Mix Directions and Techniques”, Dec 11th – Dec 17th
Introduction, An Overview to Mixing Pop, Common Pop Trends, Mix Analysis of Pop, Exercise 12.1: Analyze a Pop Mix, Exercise 12.2: Ozone 9 Match EQ, An Overview to Mixing Rock, Common Rock Trends, Mix Analysis of Rock, Exercise 12.3: Analyze a Rock Mix, An Overview to Mixing Hip-Hop and R&B, Mix Analysis of Hip-Hop and R&B, Exercise 12.4: Analyze a Hip-Hop, Rap or R&B Mix, An Overview to Mixing Jazz, Mix Analysis of Jazz, Exercise 12.5: The Izotope Tonal Balance Control 2, Assignment 12: Mix “I Keep Falling” by Mike Soto, Produced by Peter Wang, Recap