Today’s featured question is: “Do you gain stage tracks before mixing?”
What a great question!
Yes! Quite often!
Not on stuff that I’ve recorded because I record it at a level that makes sense through my equipment, but definitely when people send me stuff. I get sent stuff that is super super hot, and then barely audible!
If it’s clipping, there’s not a lot I can do.
I’ll bring it down as much as possible- there are a number of plugins out there which can remove clips. There not perfect, but they do help.
More often than not, I see the opposite. Sometimes we’re sent tracks that I don’t know there’s audio on there until we zoom in 500% – 600% and then suddenly a track will start to appear. Usually that’s okay because it’s a digital only signal- so there’s no inherent noise in there.
There are times when, unfortunately, there is a lot of noise. You start amplifying the tracks so it’s actually loud enough to be able to use, you bring up the gain, but you’re also bringing up a huge amount of noise. Hence, the signal to noise ratio is not good!
Those are the times that I gain stage before mixing. As I said before, I don’t do it on my own stuff because we’re printing at nice big fat tones that I can do whatever I want with!
Just be mindful that you print at a decent enough level.
It doesn’t have to be 90% of the screen, but give yourself enough level! Don’t worry about the LUFS as Warren Sokol was explaining in a recent video- that’s the average of the whole length of the track.
Just use common sense! Don’t clip it. Don’t make it inaudible. Somewhere in-between is a good safe place! haha
You’ve got so many plugins you can use that will give it more or less gain, that shouldn’t be something you’re concerned about. You shouldn’t need to normalize all your tracks. Use common sense – print a good, nice and loud (not too loud!) without clipping with a decent signal to noise ratio.
Read more about Audio Gain, Volume, & Gain Staging
If you do that, any mixer in the world will be able to work with your tracks!
We cover the following questions during this episode of FAQ Friday!
• When bouncing, how do you feel about master bus processing? The SSL bus compressor doing about 2 to 3 dB of compression for instance. (1:26)
• Do you gain stage tracks before mixing? (7:27)
• Do you think it makes sense to look for a mixing engineer who uses the same DAW as oneself? This way one could send the DAW files and the engineer could open the project and enable or disable the effects within the project himself without needing to go back and forth with the different tracks? What are your thoughts? (10:25)
• How much processing should be applied to a sampled drum kit in EZ drummer where there are perfect samples? Should compression and EQ still be applied to each sound and to the drum bus or is this just a taste thing? (14:33)
• How much reverb is enough? How much is too much? I often struggle balancing getting ambience in my productions without making them sound too wooly. (16:34)