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Archive for Engineer Notebook.

A collection of mixing and mastering tips I’ve picked up along my long trip through the world of audio production. I find them to be useful so I wanted to share with this wonderful community.

Figure out the direction of the song – Manny Marroquin

Here are four simple yet very effective tips from mix engineer Manny Marroquin

  • Develop the groove and build it like a house.
  • Find the most important element and emphasize it.
  • Use some distortion on vocals and use a send and ride the returns to add character throughout the song.
  • During different sections of the song alternate using different compressors across the mix bus.

Ozone makes for a great vocal channel strip

An Ozone fan on Gearslutz.com nominated Ozone the best vocal channel strip for some type of award or another. Honestly I don't recall, but yes! That's a great idea!

Instead of trying get a great sound with five different plugins I'm going to start using Ozone on vocals in my mixes. It has it all - eq, reverb, compressor, limiter, exciter, imaging, etc. Makes sense to me.

It's so simple (meaning complete) it just might work!

But what do you think? I'd love to hear your tips and tricks on using Ozone in your mixes.

If you have a special way you use Ozone please leave it a comment in the box below.

Mixing tip: Bump the chorus about +1.5db to +2.0db

Rick Rubin

Here's a tip that I believe came from Rick Rubin.

We all know to push the elements in the chorus, right? It's kind of a no-brainer. When mixing we usually bump the lead vocal or whatever instrument is the main melody of the chorus to separate it from the rest of the track and establish the hook. This is mixing 101. Well, Mr. Rubin has gone one better...

The chorus is the money part of a song. Without a good hook in the chorus the listener won't be inclined to stick around so now your "hit" song will be just another song that they skip. Rick has a little trick up his sleeve that helps push the chorus even further.... He bumps the master fader!

Yep, he performs the ultimate no-no while mixing - touching the master fader.  I was taught that the master fader is the last bastian of output from the console to the mix down medium. It needs to be set at zero and not touched - at all! As it happens, Rick Rubin doesn't pay attention to the rules of recording and has this little trick up his sleeve.

"When the chorus starts push the level on the master fader from +1.5 db to about +2.0 db and then bring it back down the for the next part."

Genius! Why is it that the simplest of changes to the norm produce such magnificent results? I ask because I tried this recently on a song I was mixing and it made a HUGE difference. The key is to leave enough headroom so that you feel the energy in the song, but don't hear more distortion in the mix.

If you do this with your mix already being slammed up to 0.0db your mastering engineer will not be happy with you at all. He may even consider you a hack. And no mix engineer wants that now, do they?

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