Getting Your Music Ready For Mixing

getting_music_ready_for_mixing

So you’ve been working your butt off on perfecting your music and are finally ready to have it professionally mixed and mastered by an audio engineer. But perhaps you’re unsure of how to correctly deliver it to your engineer.  Here’s a quick step by step guide to ensure that you’re giving the mixing engineer exactly what they need so they can load up your song and get to work with no problems.

Make Note Of Your Settingssmple_rate

Before you start exporting any audio go to your audio settings within your D.A.W “Digital Audio Workstation” and see what bit depth and sample rate you have been recording at. For example if you’ve been recording at a 24 bit depth with a 48/kHz sample rate then make sure that all the audio you export are WAV files that match your bit depth and sample rate settings in order to preserve your audios sound quality.


 

Organization

Create you a folder and name it according to the song title, artist name and contributing artists. For example SONG TITLE_ARTIST NAME_FT_CONTRIBUTING_ARTIST

Put all of your audio files that you export into this folder. Also create a word document with information such as the songs tempo, any ideas you have for the mix etc. To ensure that your document can be read on most computers convert it with a free PDF converter and drop the PDF in your songs folder.

Also if you’re sending off more than one song such as a Demo, EP, Mixtape or Album Create 1 folder and name it your projects title followed by your artist name for example ORGANIZING_PROJECTMIXTAPE_TITLE_ARTIST_NAME. And then put all the separate folders for all of your individual songs within it. Also put the track number in the very front of each folders title so the engineer will know the song order for the album.

For example the folder would go as follows.

MIXTAPE_TITLE_ARTIST NAME “this is the main folder”

01 TITLE_FT_CONTRIBUTING_ARTIST “these are the sub folders within the main folder”

02 TITLE_FT_CONTRIBUTING_ARTIST

03 TITLE_FT_CONTRIBUTING_ARTIST

04 TITLE_FT_CONTRIBUTING_ARTIST


Quick Bounce

Perhaps you have already done somewhat of a rough mix and have certain effects in place that you like and would like the mixing engineer to incorporate into their mix. Go ahead and export the track as is into your songs respective folder and name it TITLE_ ROUGH MIX REFERENCE. Because in the next step we’re going to be removing all the effects to the track so the engineer has raw unprocessed audio tracks to work with so that they have full control over the sound.


Preparing To Bounce Down Split Tracks

Before we go any further, go ahead and save a duplicate copy of your session using the SAVE AS option to ensure that nothing is being changed or altered from the original session. All the following steps should be applied to the duplicate session and not the original.

If you are unfamiliar with what bouncing down split tracks is they are basically all of the individual tracks that make up your entire song exported into their own individual audio files. In order to effectively do this your audio tracks need to already be separated on their on dedicated channels within your recording software. For example if you recorded your song using a 2 track instrumental meaning the instrumental is 1 file in stereo meaning audio information is present on the left channel and right channel which is where the term “2 track” comes from. Then the instrumental should have it’s own dedicated channel in your recording software and the channel should be named “INSTRUMENTAL” IF you use any sound fx during your song make sure they have a dedicated channel named “SOUND FX”.SONAR_TRACKS

You will also need to ensure that all of your vocal tracks have their own dedicated channels as well and are named accordingly. So one channel in your recording software should be dedicated for just the main vocal takes. This means that there are no other vocal takes on these channels such as stacks, spot stacks, or ad-libs. If you did any vocal punch ins for the main vocal make sure they are clean and are not overlapping on top of the previous main vocal recording. If they are overlapping or you are unsure if the punch ins are clean enough then create you a separate channel in your recording software just for your punch ins and name the channel “PUNCH INS”. Then drag all of your punch ins from to that channel and be careful to not move them out of time on your DAW’s grid while doing so.

So just to reiterate, you should have individual channels dedicated to the instrumental, sound fx, main vocals, stacks, spot stacks, ad-libs, and punch ins if necessary and all of the channels should be named accordingly.

Now if you are recording to music that already has split tracks for example kick, snare, hit hats, bass, strings, guitar and synths are already on their own dedicated tracks then make sure that their channels are named accordingly as well.

Removing FX

Now the next step in preparing your split tracks to be bounced down is to remove all of their effects. Many artists like to do their own rough draft mix while working on a song and tend to add effects such as reverb and delays on some of the tracks. In order to give the mixing engineer full control over your song all of these effects will need to be removed. Most recording software will allow you to simply disable your FX on your channels without having to delete them from the session. The method of doing so will vary depending on the DAW that you’re working with. If you are unsure how to do this just do a quick google search for how to disable effects in “your programs name”.

SONAR_NO_FX

Now carefully go through each channel and disable all the effects. Also while you’re doing this adjust all volume, gain and pan knobs back to their default state. The volume on all of your channels should be set to 0db and your pan knobs should be directly in the center. Make sure any channels that contain audio that you want to be stereo are not set to mono such as the instrumental channel.

Also check all of your Auxiliary/Bus tracks including your Master Fader and make sure that all volume, gain and pan knobs are set to their default setting and that all fx are disabled.

If you have done any type of automation disable them at this time as well.

Bouncing Down Split Tracks

Now that all the prep work is done once you bounce down your split tracks each channel will create it’s own audio file and the file will be named whatever the channel is named. This makes it easy for the mixing engineer to easily know what everything is and allows them to quickly organize your song once they load all of the files into their DAW.

Now the method of bouncing down split tracks varies based on which DAW that you use.  If you are unsure how to do this using your software just google how to bounce down split tracks in “your programs name”. And remember to export them to the appropriate folder and choose the correct bit depth and sample rate under your audio export settings as we discussed earlier.

Delivering The Files

Now all you have to do is deliver them to the engineer so they can get to work. If you are wandering how in the world are you suppose to deliver all of these large files over the internet make sure you check out my very informative article on Dropbox and it will explain everything to you.

How Did I Do?

Did you find this article helpful? Have a question or comment? I’d love to hear from you so make sure you drop your 2 cents in the comments section below!

Comments

    • says

      The top one is pro tools. If you ask me? FL studio or ableton is better than that :P Just saying… I have experienced the sound output and I wouldn’t recommend pro tools

      • says

        I’m curious to what you mean by the sound output of Pro Tools in relation to other DAW’s. Why do you consider Pro Tools the least among the rest? I’m just curious, I’m a FL Studio and Sonar user but I’ve used Pro Tools a good bit as well and have never had any sound issues with it before. :)

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