ONLINE MIXING IN 5 STEPS

HOW TO PREPARE

 

Preparing your songs for mixing is no difficult task. It simply requires some things to be done carefully.

The following is a checklist to ensure your song preparation is proper and fast.

 

  • What ever DAW you are using, make sure your bounced individual track files have the same starting point, sample rate and bit depth(e.g. 44.1kHz/24Bit) and the same format (.wav or .aiff). 

  • When exporting stereo files, ensure they are bounced as interleaved files.

  • When exporting mono files, bounced as mono files (attention all logic users).

  • Ensure the the files are not clipping, with no volume automation and that the levels are healthy (average level around -14db fullscale) 

  • Ensure that plugins are turned off except where you want that specific sound. In this case, please also send a copy of the unprocessed version.

  • Check crossfades and edit points before bouncing. 

  • Ensure files are named clearly, preferably with no more than 6 characters.

  • Please provide the song tempo (with changes, if applicable) and the song meter (with changes, if applicable).

  • Please provide the reference rough mix of the song and a short description on how you'd like your song to sound. This can also include reference tracks by other artists.

Please note:

  • All individual tracks should be final with performance issues (timing and tuning) taken care of.

  • Melodyning, Auto Tuning, Beat Detection, Time editing is not automatically included in the mixing.

  • If you would like extra tuning or editing this will be charged in addition to the mix. If you're unsure, please discuss this with me before we start.

UPLOAD YOUR FILES

 

I typically use WeTransfer for file exchange. 

Send your files to mail@benjaminschaefer.net

RECEIVING YOUR MIXED TRACK

 

As soon as I finished the steps as described in the "How I Mix" section I will send you a copy of the mix for reference. You can then check it without any time pressure on your own monitoring system, in your car, on your phone etc.

If there are revisions or changes you wish to apply you write me detailed feedback and I will keep on working until you are 100% happy with the result. There will be no restrictions on the number of revisions.

The mix is finished when you are happy. 

When you approved a final version of the mix you will receive the stereo mix of your song in high resolution

Additional stems can be provided on demand.

I will store a copy of the the project on my harddrive. Further work on the tracks after this point will incur an additional charge. 

MIXING

 

This is a brief overview of how I approach mixing. 

Also, check snippets of My Mix Work.

1. Preparation

Being an audio engineer for 15 years I spent lots of time finding efficient ways to get my mixes done quickly without making compromises on quality. As I don’t want to spend much time in the technical preparation part of the mix and focus more on being creative, I decided to work with a Mix Session Template containing both internal and external routing. This gives me a good and fast starting point. I don’t have to mess around with routing issues, bus preparation, aux feeds and so on. A range of standard FX is also set and ready to go. I will adapt these later to the needs of the song.
After that, I start loading the multitracks into the session and organize them into subgroups. 
Then I continue with the gain staging process. It ensures all single tracks have enough headroom while being processed in the sweet spot range of every plugin or analog outboard gear.
During the gain staging, I also get a feeling for the individual tracks. I mentally put them into categories like „powerful“ „lack of power“ and „hardness factor“ and already put plugins on the track that will help me, later on, deal with the issues I found out. 
I am trying to achieve Maximum Illusion with Minimum Voltage.
After having all the technical stuff finished I can now fully concentrate on being creative.


2. Setting up a basic rough mix.

Now I take some time and listen to the rough mix you have provided to get a reference in which direction the song might go. This is also a good time spot to listen to reference mixes of other artists. I will keep those sound impressions in mind but skip it for the next half an hour.
This is where the fun starts. I built a fast basic rough mix and play around with the pannings of the track. So far I won’t touch any EQ or compressor. I am in search of the most inspiring players as these will become my root elements around which I build the rest of the tracks...


3. Applying EQ, Compression, FX

After the basic levels have been set and I am aware of the key elements I am now in the middle of the mixing process which means applying analog or digital EQ, Compression, FX, Distortion and so on. Reamping the tracks through analog stompboxes is quite an important part of how I mix. I tend to use lots of different distortion pedals as well as delay or reverb units. This creates subtle movement and excitement without being too obvious. 


3. Volume Automation

When the overall sound is heading towards the right direction I start applying volume automation to get all transitions right. I carve out room for certain instruments and create a musical flow within the piece. The use of an Avid D Command allows me to perform with physical faders and write automation simultaneously by using more than just on finger on the mouse. This makes the mixing process faster and also more intuitive. I found out that most of the problems that occur in the mixing process can be solved by volume automation. Instead of spending to much time trying to figure out the „right“ eq setting, a move of a fader can easily do the trick. 
Finishing with volume automation is usually the point where I am sending you the first version of the mix for reference.
Please review the „Receiving your mixed track“ section for further information.

STUDIO SETUP

My mixing studio is about 25 square meters and has been acoustically treated by renowned acoustic engineer Sven Pirschel from Hamburg/Germany. The frequency response is superb with a tight bottom end. I love working in that room. Even in long sessions, it is possible to work there without my hearing getting tired.

The rest of my studio is tailored to my working needs with a balanced mix of digital and analog equipment.

Here I also fall back on a comprehensive arsenal of analog stomp box FXs.

This hybrid approach gives me the largest amount of flexibility by maintaining the benefits of every domain and still having full recall possibility.

Equipment I use:

  • Avid Pro Tools 12 HD System

  • Icon D Command with XMon Unit

  • Antelope Audio Converters

  • KS Digital Speakers

  • Genelec Speakers

  • Yamaha Speakers

  • Neumann V475 Summing System by Vintagemaker

  • GSSL 4000 Compressor

  • Universal Audio 1176

  • Retro Sound Sta Level

  • Tegeler Audio EQP

  • Golden Age Project LA4A

  • Drawmer Compressors

  • Tech 21 NYC

  • Red Panda

  • Line 6

  • Darkglass Electronics

  • AnalogMan

  • Pictronix

  • WMD

  • Fractal Audio

  • TC Electronic

PAYMENT

 

Sending money on the internet is something not everybody is comfortable with and I totally understand that. The whole process needs to be trustworthy and clear.

The method I use for payment  is generally working quite well for both sides.

By the time your files have been transmitted, 50 % of the total amount is paid up front.

As soon as I finished working on your mix I will send you a copy for reference. This will contain some dropouts. So you cannot use it for distribution.

Once the mix is completely finished and you are 100 % happy with the result, you make the remaining payment.

When I start working on your your project, I will generate an invoice and email it to you.

You can use bank transfer or PayPal for payment.

Benjamin Schäfer did a wonderful mixing job on Gentle Knife's second album. Not only by connecting the various threads in an album with a huge number of tracks for each song, but by providing a warm and full sonic picture which made our ideas stand out. Creative while loyal to the intentions. In addition he is a breeze to work with.

Eivind Lorentzen, Gentle Knife

 

WHAT PEOPLE SAY

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