Structure of the Mixing Session
In this article I propose to explain how I organize my DAW, in this case Reaper, for a mixing session. Even if you use another DAW, don’t worry, it works just as well since we are going to talk about how to distribute the routing of the signal on the mix buses.
We are starting from the premise that we are going to mix a Pop/Rock style theme, although it would be applicable to other styles such as Metal, Folk, etc …
We have our song, you have recorded all the instruments with the best means at your fingertips and you have done it in the best possible way. And I especially emphasize this. You probably don’t have the best team in the world, you know, the best mic, that 3,000$ micpre that does wonders with what you put into it and all those things that musicians and technicians are obsessed with.
But remember, all that is worth nothing if your song is shit, of course. And another very important thing in my opinion, all that expensive material is useless if you don’t know how to use it WELL. So a tip if you allow me.
Use the best material at your fingertips and squeeze it, get the most out of your equipment.
You will be amazed at the results you are going to get and you are going to save a lot of money on things that you probably do not need, but that the manufacturers of software and equipment are eager to sell you.
But hey, I guess that’s stuff for another article.
After recording all the instruments for your song comes the editing process. You know, you clean the noise tracks, you limit them to the necessary parts where they must sound to avoid unnecessary noise. You put noise doors here and there, all with the intention of having the cleanest noise production possible. Of course, without falling into obsession!
And now the time comes,
How do I divide all these elements into the mix? I’ll explain.
I divide the drums into several groups and divide it into those groups. A group is a stereo track that receives the sound of several tracks.
I create four stereo groups and name them like this:
1-Drum parts (Here I send bass drum, snare drum and toms)
2-Overheads (Here I send the stereo overheads)
3-Room (Here I send the room and omni mics)
4-Drums (Here I send the 3 previous groups, helmets, overheads and room. It is the final drum bus, which goes directly to the master)
I use a single bus and if the Daw allows it mono. This is where I run all the bass tracks I use and that’s where I apply a lot of processing like EQ, Saturation and Limiting, yes I prefer to limit the bass rather than compress it so I get a more consistent and punchier bass sound.
If there are acoustic and electric guitars I create three stereo buses, one for the acoustic ones, another one for the electric ones and I direct them to a final one through which the sum of the guitars go to the master.
Synths and Keys
A stereo bus to which I route all the keyboards of the song. This bus goes directly to the master.
A stereo bus to which I direct all the main voice and the effects that I apply to the main voice. This stereo bus directly goes out to the master.
Stereo bus to which I route all the choruses and the effects that I apply, reverb, etc …
And this is basically all the routing that I use in a mix session. I advance that although of course I equalize each track separately, then I like to apply a lot of processing on the buses, especially compression. In my opinion, applying compression on the instruments’ mixing buses makes them become cohesive among themselves and that the mixture has that glue effect.
I hope you liked it and found the article interesting.
I encourage you to comment on any questions that may arise and to share the article if you find it interesting.
Greetings to all !!
Musician, composer, producer, recording, mixing and mastering technician