I had the joy of mixing a debut single for the local artist Hines here in Orlando. With so many people wanting to get their music out efficiently, us mix engineers tend to run into the 'two track instrumental.' With careful EQ and parallel compression, you can bring a two track to it's full potential (or, at least with what you're given). So after spicing up the two track and then adding the vocals, his debut song "Don't Play" came alive! I'll be breaking down this mix in a future post, but in the meantime, vibe to his track below:
While the Utility audio effect might not look like much, it should be the compound that holds your mix together as you progress through a large session. Giving you the option for additional gain staging that is flexible and lightweight, there's no reason to not use it!
The Importance of Gain Matching
Output gain is such a key essential part to mixing due to gain matching after processing. If you have ever had a chance to speak with experienced mix engineers, they will always tell you that the rough mix is very important. The reason being that it sets the layout of how your mix will turn out in the end. With proper gain matching, this ensures that there will be less major changes, and more focus on fine tuning during the final stages. This introduces the reason why the Utility is so essential.
In my template, I have a Utility plugin on almost all of my groups and subgroups. I'll often find myself gain matching the processing of a plugin with the Utility more than the built in output gain of the plugin. Some plugins don't allow the fine tuning of their output or makeup gain to the hundredth, and that's where Utility shines. Another great use for gain matching is to group (CMD+G or CTRL+G) a plugin with a Utility into an Audio Effect Rack. Doing so allows full control over bypassing the enclosed effects at the same time or even adjusting the overall level of the effects!
The Secret to Mono in Ableton
If you have used any other DAW and compared it to Ableton, you will find that Live does a lot of things out of norm. The exclusion of mono audio tracks would be one of them. But the good folks at Ableton didn't leave that key element out completely, they just tucked it away in an easy to find Utility preset titled "Mono.adv" under the Utility dropdown menu. Here is a direct quote on this subject from the Ableton manual:
"The Width control acts as a continuous mono to stereo controller when set from 0 to 100 percent."
Disclaimer: Now there has been speculation on just using the dropdown menu to select the Left or Right channel of the source to create the mono signal, but I myself feel safer using Ableton's preset since I feel they would be correct. Although the theory makes sense, but if you have any more information on this or would like to discuss, please leave me a comment.
When using the preset, you will notice that the Width parameter is set to '0.0%' with no additional changes, thus converting your signal into mono. This helps greatly with maintaining the integrity of your mix. In a recording environment, the majority of live instruments are recorded through mono signals into the console and summed. Whether you're mixing live instruments or mixing electronic instruments inside the box, those general elements should always be considered.
Opinion: I will say that after using the Mono Utility plugin for a while, I decided to do a comparison to see if there was any integrity or gain loss when converting the signal into mono. In my personal experience, I noticed about a 0.5dB loss in the signal whenever the plugin was applied. So I have created another mono Utility preset that gives me that 0.5dB back. Again, if you have any other studies on this subject, please let me know in the comments.
Additional Features and Conclusion
There are also other functions to the Utility, like an independent Mute, a DC Filter (filters out DC offsets and extremely low frequencies that are far below the audible range), and also two Phase controls. While this Utility might not look like much, it is packing some key ingredients to mixing in Ableton Live. So don't go pushing this essential tool off to the side, because it's only there to help your mixes progress to the next level in Live!
I'm currently adding new pages and additions to my website that should've been here a long time ago. I will be adding my mixing rates through my personal home studio and Digital Domain studios. I'm also currently working on a little gift I'm going to be giving out on here so stay tuned!
A couple of months ago, myself and a few others undertook a headphone shootout with Bob Katz comparing two juggernauts that are available to audiophiles today. Those two headphones were the Audeze LCD-4 and the Focal Utopias. The cost of each of these bad boys is $3,999! Both packing dynamics, depth, and a wide range of spatiality, this was a tough choice. Read my full review here.
Native Instruments is always very cheerful about giving when it comes to the holidays, and luckily for us Kontakt users, we get to benefit from it. With this library comes a various amount of atmospheric and mangled sounds that vary from pads to plucks. This is definitely a library you don't want to miss. You have until January 4th to download this. Happy holidays!
Download "Kinetic Treats" Here.
So I did state that I was going to be streaming on Ustream, but after a few test runs, I've noticed a lot of my resources being used for the application. So for now, I'm looking for a very lightweight way to stream my productions for all of you, and give some lessons on how I go about processing my sounds in Ableton.
After a couple of hours of trial and error, I finally got sound routed to my Ustream Producer program! The workaround is a little difficult, but nonetheless, I will be streaming very soon for all you happy people! Feel free to give me a follow so you can stay up to date on when I'm streaming. Here is the link:
TruID Stream Page
Here is another atmospheric and fragile piece of composition the collaboration that continues to amaze me. Since hearing their [Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross] collective work on the soundtrack for the movie Gone Girl, I knew that they had found something that was new and inspiring. I, for one, watched the movie Gone Girl in theaters and was more gripped by the sound and music than the actual plot of the story. Afterwards, I had to research who was in charge, and these two gladly took the title.
Check out the song and video below:
So I have had a chance of demoing out this beast of a plugin on my own personal projects and I was completely wow'd by the capabilities of it. The amount of detail in the UI makes this plugin straight forward to use, but also has enough packed in to keep the seasoned professionals thinking outside the box when processing with it.
When I had first heard about a plugin that was going to "fix a mix" on it's own, I wanted nothing to do with it. The amount of detail and work that goes into a mix is separated by important aspects of the content to include genre and instrument specific mixing. So knowing that, I wanted to dig into what the plugin had to offer apart from the "Neutrino" side of things, which I'll explain further on into this. The plugin has a sort of Ozone type appearance, because all of the modules in the chain are laid out right in front of you, showing what Neutron has to offer. A 12 Band EQ, Transient Shaper, Exciter, and two Compressors that can be re-arranged to fit your mix chain. So far, the two that I have dug into the most is the EQ and the Compressor, so I'll harp on those in this segment.
The 12 Band EQ was quite astounding with it's features, as the bands are already set in stone. For instance, you can't turn the High Pass Filter into a bell curve, and vice versa. Each band has it's own dynamics processing attached, which allows for either Compression or Expansion of that specific frequency band you choose. There isn't much flexibility when it comes to the band dynamic processing though, as there is only a threshold and sidechain options for it. While the different Low Shelf and High Shelf shapes are nice, this really comes down to just being a standard EQ in my book. Nothing too fancy, but just enough to do the trick. I couldn't see myself ditching the Pro-Q for this, yet. There is also a Masking meter included in the analyzer, but I found that the analyzer turned on caused the EQ to run a bit sluggish. I'm not sure what was the cause of this, or if it's just demanding on my system, but I found it to be displeasing and ended up turning off all analyzers.
The compressor is a whole new ballgame. This bad boy is loaded with features that amazed me after testing it, and Neutron is packed with TWO of them. Both compressors are equipped as a standard or multiband compressor with two adjustable crossover points, bypass and solo for each band, sidechain and a wet/dry mix slider for each band! This is versatility at it's finest, and I definitely put it to the test. I tested it out on my drum bus, which anyone that knows me knows I love my drums. This compressor handled them with flying colors, and was very transparent and punchy as well. Another feature that I enjoyed adjusting was the "Vintage Mode," which Izotope describes it as this: "Where Digital is a more transparent, surgical compressor, Vintage is more colorful, emulating a number of sonic behaviors from a variety of beloved older analog compressors." So yes, I did hear the analog sound, and there was a different characteristic that I just loved initially after doing an A/B between the two.
Anyways, looking forward to testing out the rest of this beast of a plugin. If you want to check this plugin out, you can visit their website below. Thanks!
Izotope Neutron Link
Pricing: $199 Neutron $299 Neutron Advanced
Welcome to my blog! I will be writing and sharing all aspects of my audio work and also giving out reviews on hardware and software that I test out. Feel free to add comments or questions to these posts, as I love hearing and responding to feedback from everyone. Thanks!
TruID is the author and maintains all of these blog posts.