Saturday, April 30, 2011

Home Recording Tip 18: When prepping a song to be mixed by an outsider, remove all plugins and automation, unless it makes the sound

That tip was a hard one to phrase in 140 characters. What I mean by “makes the sound” is that at times there’s a plugin added to a track which is critical to the sound of the track. It could be a reverb or phaser...whatever. If it were me, I’d probably print it with that effect and giving that to the mixer. The only reason you wouldn’t is if you liked it but weren’t totally sure of it. You’d then need to tell your mixer that’s generally what you’re looking for and ask if they can they better it. Also, be sure to ask if they have that plugin. If they don’t have it, explain what you did and then print with and without the effect.

Also remove any automation. That includes any panning you’ve done. I’ve had a friend give me files with automation as he liked certain balance changes. However what he didn’t realize is that within a few minutes of the mix starting, the balances that he had were usually meaningless. If you have something like that, make a rough mix and let the mixer hear it and point that spot out.

One other item. I prefer my mixes to ONLY have the data needed for the mix. I want all extra tracks, be it audio takes, midi, and effects returns and master fader to be removed. It just causes confusion and I’ll have to remove the returns and master anyway as I’ll be using my own.

Lastly, after deleting all unneeded audio tracks, go to the regions bin, hit “Select Unused” then “Remove” those files. If you don’t do this the computer must still keep track of them and it makes the session larger than needed. At times this can make the file significantly larger and backup slower. You’ve done a “Save as” for the mixer so you can always go back and fetch something if needed.

So again, clean all that stuff out. Your mixer will thank you.


  1. Thank you for this tip, I can see where you're getting at with this. That, of course, is easier said than done.
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  2. Thanks for the comment Orlando. One thing I do (although I almost always mix my own work) is to keep the edit window clean as I go along. I use the "Save As" function a lot as I go along. For example, if beginning a guitar session I'll title it "Gtrs start" then "Gtrs done when finished recording. If there's lots of edits to be done, I'll do that, delete extraneous bits or early takes we didn't want, then call it, "Gtrs Edited." That way I can go back if there's ever a need to grab something we thought we didn't want.

    By the way, I do this also when mixing; I'll save multiple times as the mix progresses so I can go back if needed. Typically my songs will have many PT sessions in there by the time it's done. I've learned this the hard way. Better to save often in case something got accidentally deleted. If the long list of PT sessions bothers you, make a folder called, "Older Sessions" and put them in there.