You are here

Using reference tracks

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Using reference tracks

Postby bpwmurphy » Thu Apr 02, 2020 2:42 pm

Hello to all during these end days, may we make one more good track before the sky falls.

Am looking for a little advice on A/B-ing using reference tracks.

Specifically, when I do this I'm trying to make sure my bass levels are decent enough.

But I struggle a little with setting up the A/B process.

Can someone explain a REALLY SIMPLE way to do it that doesn't require much brains?! :crazy:

I'd like to be able to pull a reference into a session while I'm still writing/mixing, but the level matching always seems way off. Also, I guess I should be bypassing all master bus plug ins?

Is a graphic EQ useful here?

Thanks in advance for your help.
bpwmurphy
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2019 1:13 am

Re: Using reference tracks

Postby desmond » Thu Apr 02, 2020 2:50 pm

There's a really nice plugin for this, with a 14-day free trial, which should be enough to get you ABed for this mix ;)

https://www.plugin-alliance.com/en/prod ... ricab.html

You put it on your master, then load up reference tracks in the slots, and you press play, and can switch between your track, and any of the reference tracks.

Normally $200 + VAT (pricey!), currently on sale at $40 + VAT (steal!).

You can of course set something up manually in your DAW of choice, and just use solos/mutes to play the audio you want, but the plugin is a really handy way of doing it. Plus it has spectrum analysers, EQ etc, all useful visualisations and tools in one place.
User avatar
desmond
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9609
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:00 am
mu:zines | music magazine archive | difficultAudio

Re: Using reference tracks

Postby MOF » Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:05 pm

I guess I should be bypassing all master bus plug ins?

You’ll have to route your session tracks onto an auxiliary track, where you put your master plugins, that then goes to the output bus. Your reference track routes straight to the output bus.
MOF
Frequent Poster
Posts: 902
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2003 1:00 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Using reference tracks

Postby Mixedup » Thu Apr 02, 2020 4:33 pm

I have a library of reference clips (not full tracks, generally) that I just put on a dedicated track in the project. Route that track to my speakers but not via the master bus. Keep it muted. Hit solo to hear it and mute the mix in progress. Works a treat. Costs nothing.

But if just checking your bass levels are in the right ballpark, the old pink noise referencing trick can also work well...
User avatar
Mixedup
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4410
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Cambridgeshire, UK

Re: Using reference tracks

Postby The Elf » Thu Apr 02, 2020 4:48 pm

I route references directly to a dedicated virtual TotalMix output, which is routed to my speakers.
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 14302
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: Using reference tracks

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:26 pm

desmond wrote:There's a really nice plugin for this, with a 14-day free trial, which should be enough to get you ABed for this mix ;)

https://www.plugin-alliance.com/en/prod ... ricab.html

You put it on your master, then load up reference tracks in the slots, and you press play, and can switch between your track, and any of the reference tracks.

Normally $200 + VAT (pricey!), currently on sale at $40 + VAT (steal!).

Yep, I use MetricAB as well, and it's revolutionised my mix tweaking/reference comparison process. As is often said, if you make something really easy to do, you're far more likely to do it ;)


Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 15658
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:44 am
Location: Cornwall, UK

Re: Using reference tracks

Postby blinddrew » Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:33 pm

I always have a dummy master track and just have sonarworks on the actual master. This means I can add reference tracks into the project, set the volumes to be comparable, then mute them ready for a quick solo when I'm checking.
It also gives me something to listen to whilst I'm letting my ears get adjusted. :)
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10210
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: Using reference tracks

Postby Agharta » Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:49 pm

desmond wrote:There's a really nice plugin for this, with a 14-day free trial, which should be enough to get you ABed for this mix ;)

https://www.plugin-alliance.com/en/prod ... ricab.html

You put it on your master, then load up reference tracks in the slots, and you press play, and can switch between your track, and any of the reference tracks.

Normally $200 + VAT (pricey!), currently on sale at $40 + VAT (steal!).

You can of course set something up manually in your DAW of choice, and just use solos/mutes to play the audio you want, but the plugin is a really handy way of doing it. Plus it has spectrum analysers, EQ etc, all useful visualisations and tools in one place.

There's a code that gives 25 off a 49 spend so fill your boots; PA-25OFF-MIN49
Not that I'm encouraging even more purchases of course. ;)
Think it expires on Sunday.
Agharta
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4024
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2004 12:00 am

Re: Using reference tracks

Postby Zukan » Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:44 am

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative then have a look at Reference by Mastering The Mix. I have it and it is very good. It allows for matching both levels and syncing start points anywhere in the song: so. It has bands that can be moved around to define specific ranges of the reference against the mix (and the original) and each band can be soloed: this is a great way, for example, to define the low-end range, solo it, and compare only that to the low end of the song.
User avatar
Zukan
Moderator
Posts: 8689
Joined: Fri Sep 12, 2003 12:00 am

Re: Using reference tracks

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:13 am

And I'm pleased to report that MetricAB also has all those facilities - in particular, being able to isolate just what's going on under 100Hz (for instance) and compare it with what's going on under 100Hz in your reference tracks is just SO helpful.


Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 15658
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:44 am
Location: Cornwall, UK

Re: Using reference tracks

Postby DC-Choppah » Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:42 pm

bpwmurphy wrote: Also, I guess I should be bypassing all master bus plug ins?

The reference tracks have been mastered right?. So It doesn't seem right to compare an unmastered track to something that has been mastered.

I think you have to do something nominal to your mix (like the Finalizer) to get it closer to a mastered track before comparing. Otherwise what you mostly hear is the mastering sound difference.

I have a ProTools template and I have a place for 3 tracks that are my references. I have a mastering chain I made to try and match what I hear in commercial records that I like. So I try to match the mastering of the reference track first, then apply that to my current mix using a separate master bus than the one used for the reference tracks.

The way I build the mastering chain is I try to play what is on the reference record (bass, piano, drums, etc). Then I change the mastering of my track to try and get the same sound as the reference. Then I apply this to my mix that I am working on. I am often surprised by how bright you have to make the master to get it sound like the record, even for stuff that is supposed to be sounding 'natural'.
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1403
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Using reference tracks

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:01 pm

Surely you want to get as close to a finished track during them mix process then the mastering is as minimal as possible?
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 12276
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Using reference tracks

Postby Martin Walker » Sat Apr 04, 2020 12:08 am

Sam Spoons wrote:Surely you want to get as close to a finished track during them mix process then the mastering is as minimal as possible?

Yes, I'd go along with this approach.


Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 15658
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:44 am
Location: Cornwall, UK

Re: Using reference tracks

Postby Arpangel » Sat Apr 04, 2020 9:40 am

Sam Spoons wrote:Surely you want to get as close to a finished track during them mix process then the mastering is as minimal as possible?

That’s what I do, always have done, I’ve never "mastered" a track, and don’t know what all the fuss is about, I’m not being funny, I really don’t.
I build a mix as I go, and when the mix is finished, the track is put to bed, and that’s that.
I never keep my multitrack Reaper files either, when a track is mixed to stereo I wipe the project, as I never want to have the option of remixing.
User avatar
Arpangel
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3845
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:00 am
https://anthonyflynn.bandcamp.com/album/toy-town

Re: Using reference tracks

Postby MOF » Sun Apr 05, 2020 1:26 am

I never keep my multitrack Reaper files either, when a track is mixed to stereo I wipe the project, as I never want to have the option of remixing.

That rules you out of any future Classic Albums documentaries. :o
Seriously, don't you ever think that you might literally do a re-mix in the old style i.e. throwing away a lot of the original but re-imagining a track from some of the elements or doing a surround sound version.
MOF
Frequent Poster
Posts: 902
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2003 1:00 am
Location: United Kingdom

Next