Mixing And Mastering With IK Multimedia T-RackS
Mixing And Mastering With IK Multimedia T-RackS: The Official Guide reveals:
â¢ An easy to understand overview of the T-RackS modules
â¢ How to mix using T-RackS
â¢ How to master using T-RackS
â¢ Every you need to know about the stand-alone T-RackS mastering app
â¢ Using T-RackS modules as plugins
â¢ Mixing tips used by the pros
â¢ Mastering tips used by the pros
â¢ How different mastering signal paths can change the sound
â¢ and much more!
What It's About
IK Multimediaâs T-RackS is a popular stand-alone audio mastering software application that includes a suite of powerful analog-modeled and digital dynamics and EQ processor modules that also work perfectly as plug-ins during mixing. While T-RackS is an extremely powerful tool for improving the quality of your recordings, all of that power wonât do you much good if itâs misused.
With Mixing and Mastering with IK Multimedia T-RackS: The Official Guide, you can learn how to harness the potential of T-RackS and learn the tips and tricks of using T-Racks processor modules to help bring your mixes to life, then master them so theyâre competitive with any major label release.
If you are an instructor that uses Mixing and Mastering with IK Multimedia T-RackS in one of your courses, a free Instructor’s Resource Kit is available, complete with lesson plans, tests and Powerpoint/Keynote presentations. Please send an email request along with your school and department to be sent the download link.
Kind Words From Readers
Congratulations on creating a book that describes the mixing and mastering process in straight terms. I have tried numerous tutorials/courses etc with no success. Your book was the cure. 10/10!
If I did not have T-Racks I would still give this book a perfect score. There is great, concise, easily readable and well-organized value here.
…and dozens more like it!
Let's Look Inside
Table Of Contents
About T-RackS 3
The Processor Modules
Â Â Vintage Tube Compressor 670
Â Â Tube Program Equalizer Model EQP-1A
Â Â Opto Compressor
Â Â The Brickwall Limiter
Â Â Linear Phase Equalizer
Â Â Classic Compressor
Â Â Classic Multi-band Limiter
Â Â Classic Clipper
Â Â Classic Equalizer
Chapter 1 – Mix Preparation
Â Â Make A Copy Of The Session
Â Â Tweak The Timing
Â Â Eliminate Noises
Â Â Comping
Â Â Tuning
Â Â Make A Copy
Â Â Delete Empty Tracks
Â Â Deactivate And Hide Unused Tracks
Â Â Arrange The Track Order
Â Â Color-Code The Tracks
Â Â Insert Section Markers
Â Â Label The Tracks
Â Â Set Up Groups
Â Â Set Up Effects
Â Â Â Â Assign Channels
Â Â Set Up Compressors And Limiters
Â Â Get Comfortable
Â Â Note Taking
Â Â Turn Off The Internet
Â Â Play Something You Know
Chapter 2 – Your Monitoring Setup
Choosing Your Monitors
Â Â Tips For Choosing A Set Of Monitors
Basic Monitor Setup
How Loud (Or Soft) Should I Listen?
Listening In Mono
Â Â Phase Coherency
Â Â Balances
Â Â Panning
Listening Tips And Tricks
Â Â Listening On Several Systems
The Listening Environment
Â Â Potential Acoustic Problems
Â Â ARC
Chapter 3 – Using T-RackS Dynamics Processors During Mixing
Â Â A Brief Explanation
Â Â Compression To Control Dynamics
Â Â Compression As An Effect
Â Â Amount Of Compression
Â Â Setting The Compressor
Â Â Compressor Modules
Â Â Â Â Vintage Tube 670
Â Â Â Â Opto Compressor
Â Â Â Â Classic Tube Compressor
Â Â Limiter Modules
Â Â Â Â Brickwall Limiter
Â Â Â Â Classic Clipper
Â Â Â Â Multi-Band Limiter
Chapter 4 – Using T-RackS EQ and Metering Processors During Mixing
Â Â What Are You Trying To Do?
Â Â Â Â A Description Of The Audio Spectrum
Â Â Using The Equalizer
Â Â Â Â Subtractive Equalization
Â Â Â Â Juggling Frequencies
Â Â The Magic High-Pass Filter
Â Â EQ Modules
Â Â Â Â The Classic Equalizer
Â Â Â Â Tube Program Equalizer EQP-1A
Â Â Â Â The Linear Phase Equalizer
Â Â Using The Spectrum Analyzer During Mixing
Chapter 5 – Mix Buss Compression
Why Use Buss Compression
When To Use It
Â Â At The End Of The Mix
Â Â At The Beginning Of The Mix
Mix Buss Compressor Alternatives
Setting The Compressor
Â Â Typical Buss Compressor Settings
Typical Buss Compressor Settings
Â Â Classic Compressor Typical Settings
Â Â Vintage 670 Typical Settings
Â Â Brickwall Limiter Typical Settings
Chapter 6 – Preparation For Mastering
How Long Should It Take To Complete A Mix?
Â Â When Is A Mix Finished?
Â Â Mixing In The Box
Â Â The TV Mix
Mixing With Mastering In Mind
How Much Should A Mix Cost?
Chapter 7 – An Introduction To Mastering
Why Master Anyway?
The Different Between You And A Pro
The Mastering Technique
Setting Up T-RackS 3 For Mastering
Â Â Setting Up The Project Parameters
Â Â Â Â The Export Format
Â Â Â Â File Resolution
Â Â Â Â Sample Rate
Â Â Â Â Dithering
Â Â Â Â Link To Audio File
Â Â Loading Files
Chapter 8 – Monitoring For Mastering
Monitoring Techniques For Mastering
Chapter 9 – The T-RackS Metering ModuleÂ
The Peak Meter
The RMS Meter
The Perceived Loudness Meter
The Phase Scope
The Phase Correlation Meter
Â Â Verify The Phase Issue
Â Â What To Do With Out Of Phase Material
The Spectrum Analyzer
Â Â How To Use The Spectrum Analyzer
Chapter 10 – Mastering 101 (The Mastering Process)
Adjusting The Audio Level
Â Â Perceived Audio Level
Â Â Competitive Level
Â Â Hypercompression – Donât Go There!
How To Get Hot Levels
Â Â The Signal Chain
Â Â The Limiter
Â Â The Compressor
Â Â 4 Rules For Hot Levels
Â Â Mastering Compressor Tips And Tricks
Chapter 11 – Using T-RackS For Mastering
The Mastering Signal Chain
Â Â A Simple Signal Chain
Â Â Â Â The Linear Phase EQ
Â Â Â Â The Vintage Compressor Model 670
Â Â Â Â The Brickwall Limiter
Â Â Presets
Â Â An Advanced Signal Chain
Â Â Â Â The EQP-1A Processor
Â Â Â Â The Classic Tube Compressor
Â Â Parallel Processing
Â Â Â Â The Opto Compressor
Â Â Show Chain
Â Â M/S Mastering
The Comparison Settings
The Compare Function
The Waveform Display
Â Â Trim
Â Â Fades
Â Â Â Â Fade Ins
Â Â Â Â Fade Outs
Â Â Loops
Â Â Snapshots
Chapter 12 – Exporting Your Project
Exporting In T-RackS 3
Mastering For CD
Â Â Song Order
Â Â Spreads
Â Â PQ Subcodes
Â Â Â Â ISRC Codes
Â Â Â Â UPC Code
Â Â Â Â CD-Text
Mastering For The Internet
Â Â MP3 Encoding
Â Â Â Â Lossy Data Compression
Â Â Â Â The Source File
Â Â Â Â The Encoder
Â Â Â Â Â Â Bit Rate
Â Â Â Â Â Â Bit Rate Settings
Â Â Â Â Â Â Constant vs. Average vs. Variable Bit Rate
Â Â Â Â Â Â Other Settings
Â Â Â Â MP3 Encoding Tips
Â Â Exporting For iTunes
Â Â FLAC Files
Â Â ALAC Files
Chapter 1 Excerpt - Mix Preparation
This is the âhousecleaningâ stage where you get everything in the session nice and tidy before you actually commit to the actual process of mixing. The idea is to make everything easy to locate during the mix.
Make A Copy
As before, itâs best to make a copy of the session thatâs designated as the âmixâ (âsongtitle mixâ) so itâs easy to see and locate at a later time, and also keeps your previous session safe if you ever have to go back to it.
Delete Empty Tracks
Empty, unused tracks take up space in your edit and mix windows and arenât doing anything useful. Itâs OK to have empty tracks that youâre saving for an instrument when you track or overdub, but if youâve gotten this far without using them, you donât need them now. Eliminate them.
Deactivate And Hide Unused Tracks
If there are tracks that are copies or ones that you know you wonât be using, deactivate them and hide them so they donât get in the way. Just hiding them isnât enough in that theyâll still soak up system resources that might be needed later, especially if you use a lot of plug-ins. Make sure you deactivate them.
Arrange The Track Order
Although the track order isnât critical, it will help you move the mix along faster if like instruments are grouped together. This means all the guitars are next to each other, drums and percussion next to one another, and the vocals are together.
Color-Code The Tracks
If your DAW app allows it, color-coding your tracks also makes things a bit easier to find. This means that all the drums would be one color, guitars another, the vocals another and so on.
Insert Section Markers
Section markers are one of the big time savers in any DAW. Insert a marker just before each new section (usually a bar or two before works well) as well as any other points in the song that you might want to quickly find during mixing, like drum fills, accents or even the half-way point in a section.
Label The Tracks
Many workstations automatically assign a name to new tracks that have just been recorded, but they hardly ever relate to track. So you donât mistake one track for another and adjust the parameters of the wrong track during the mix, clearly label all the tracks. If the trackâs name currently is something like âgt012â, label it something easy to read like âguitarâ or âgtr.â Youâll be happy you did later.
Set Up Groups
Groups are often overlooked but theyâre extremely useful during mixing for a number of reasons (see figure 1.4). First of all, groups allow you to separate elements of the mix in order to make the mix easier to adjust later. Secondly, many times itâs a lot easier and better sounding to compress or put an effect on an entire group rather than each individual instrument (although sometimes both works pretty well).
Typical groups would pertain to any element that has more than one instrument or track, like Drums, Guitars (if thereâs more than one or theyâre in stereo), Lead Vocals (if thereâs a double), Background Vocals, Horns, Strings And Synths.
By setting the groups up ahead of time and assigning the particular channels to them, your mix will be both faster and smoother.
Set Up Effects
Most mixers have a standard effects starting point for mixing. One that Iâve seen that works well even for tracking and overdubs is:
For drumsÂ – a reverb using a dark room set to about 1.5 seconds of decay with a pre-delay of 20 milliseconds
For all other instrumentsÂ – a plate with about 1.8 seconds of decay and a pre-delay of 20 milliseconds
For VocalsÂ – a delay of about 220 milliseconds
It’s amazing how well these settings work without any tweaking, but to make everything fit better, you can time the delay and pre-delays to the song, but keep the parameter close to the settings above. For instance, if the only delay in the 220 ms region is a 232 ms quarter-note-triplet, that’s the one to use. The decay is set so that a snare drum hit just about fades out by the time the next one comes around.
Another common setup is two reverbs and two delays, set like:
Short ReverbÂ – a room program with the decay set from .5 to 1.5 seconds of decay with a short pre-delay timed to the track
Long ReverbÂ – a plate or hall program with a decay set from 1.5 to 4 seconds of decay and a pre-delay of as little as 0 or as much as 150ms timed to the track (depends on your taste and whatâs right for the song)
Short DelayÂ – a delay of about 50 to 200 milliseconds
Long DelayÂ – a delay from about 200 to 400 or milliseconds
Of course, this is only a starting point. You might find your own particular starting point uses a lot more effects, or you may prefer to add effects as the need arises during the mix. Regardless, if you have at least some effects set up before you start the mix, you wonât have to break your concentration to set them up later.
Assign The ChannelsÂ – There are some tracks that you know ahead of time will be assigned to a certain effect (like the drums or snare to a short reverb) so you might as well set that up now as well. Donât forget the panning.
Set Up Compressors And Limiters
Once again, there are some channels that you pretty much know ahead of time that will need a compressor inserted like the kick, snare, bass and vocal. Best to insert it into the signal chain of the channel now, but leave it bypassed until you decide you need it.
if youâre a proponent of mixing from the beginning with a stereo buss limiter, nowâs the time to insert that as well. Weâll cover stereo buss compression by itself in chapter 5.
Chapter 3 Excerpt - Using T-RackS Dynamics During Mixing
Using T-RackS Dynamics During Mixing
Setting the Compressor
Because the timing of the attack and release is so important, here are a few steps to help set the compressor up. Assuming that you have some kind of constant tempo in the song, you can use the snare drum to set up the attack and release parameters. This method also works for other instruments in the same manner.
1. Start with the slowest attack and fastest release settings on the compressor.
2. Turn the attack faster until the instrument (in this case, the snare) begins to dull. Stop at that point.
3. Adjust the release time so that after the snare hit,the volume goes back to 90â100 percent normal by the next snare beat.
4. Add the rest of the mix back in and listen. Make slight adjustments to the attack and release times as needed.
The idea is to make the compressor breathe in time with the song.
T-RackS 3 Deluxe features three compressor modules, each with their own sonic characteristics.
Vintage Tube Model 670
The Vintage Tube Model 670 compressor sound good on just about anything you want to use it on (see figure 3.1). It provides an intangible âglueâ to the track even if the gain reduction meter is hardly registering. That being said, try it on vocals, bass or any kind of guitar using 5 or 6 dB of gain reduction and aÂ Time ConstantÂ set on 1. It wonât sound too compressed yet the result will be consistent and solid. Keep theÂ ThresholdÂ controls low (2 or 3) when you want the compression to sound pretty transparent. Set it high (anything over 5) when you really want it noticeable.
The 670 sounds great on a drum submix. You may only need a few dB (or a lot more), but it will pull the sound together, cover the inconsistencies, and bring the kit right up in your face. Depending upon the pulse of the song, you might want to try different Time Constant selections, with #5 or #6 usually working well. Another interesting feature is theÂ Lat/VertÂ mode, which compresses the outside of the stereo soundfield instead of the center. You can get some interesting sounds this way, and carve out a section of your mix so other instruments can sit better.
Starting Settings For The Vintage 670
Parameter Â Â Setting
AGC Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Link
Time Constant Â Â 1
Left-Right Â Â Â Â Â Â Set to register
Input Gain Â Â Â Â 2dB of gain reduction
Time Threshold Â Â 3
Level Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 0dB
Â Increase the Left and RightÂ Time ConstantÂ controls toÂ adjust the attack and release times.
Â Increase the Left and RightÂ ThresholdÂ controls to make the compression sound more aggressive.