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what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

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what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby hobbyist » Fri Jul 05, 2019 4:31 pm

What is the typical number of tracks you mix?
What is the most you have done?
Do you use stems or mix all the tracks at once?

I prefer stems and try to keep them to only 6- 8 although I would do up to 16 of them in a special case if need be.

I rarely have more than 16 tracks total and more often 8-10 to deal with. My preference is to record stereo using several different mike arrangements with occasional spot miking on the lead vocalist but occasionally do each instrument too for a small group.

But that is my quirk about more being not necessarily better just bigger.
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:04 pm

Obviously it'll depend on the project, but it also depends on what you mean by 'track'.
I'm not try to be facetious here, so to give an example, I have a standard 'vocal' template that I use on most recordings:
Track 1 is the main source, which will probably be run through a high-pass filter, a compressor and a de-esser.
Track 2 is a 'fixing track', it'll be a copy of the source audio from track one but with something done to fix a specific problem - de-essing maybe, or dropping an octave to fatten something up perhaps. If I get the recording stage right there's a good chance this will be empty.
Track 3 is parallel compression/upward compression.
Tracks 4&5 are a couple of VCA tracks that I use for automation* fader rides.
Track 6 is a vocal-specific reverb.
So you can see that 1 'track' of content has become 6 'tracks' of a project.

That being the case, to get back to your question :) in a typical acoustic project, with two or three instruments and a couple of vocals, I might have 16-20 tracks. These then feed my sub-busses, which feed my dummy master track. So maybe 25 in total?
It sounds quite complex but because it's all template based and links in with my hardware it does actually speed things up. :)
For a full-band session (2x guitar, bass, drums, 3x vocals, extra instruments) I could easily have 60-odd tracks, again feeding 6 or 7 sub-busses that feed a master track.



* Thanks again Mike Senior! https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... tting-trim
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby CS70 » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:29 pm

In average about 15-20 tracks (just the drums it’s 8 or 10) and at least a 12-15 buses.
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:44 pm

Writing this while I'm waiting for a project to export as WAV files from Logic so that I can import them into Reaper, I count 25 ... and that's 'average' for me. I've done as many as 70 tracks or so in a single piece but that would include incidental spot effects. I don't like re-purposing a mixer channel for more than one thing.

I tend not to use stems due to the nature of my work (mainly synths) but if recording more stuff acoustically, or if layering multiple monophonic tracks to make a polyphonic submix, eg: orchestral strings (both of which I'll be getting around to in future) I anticipate using them a lot more.
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby hobbyist » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:47 pm

@ blinddrew

By track I mean something separately recorded by the DAW that will get mixed later. Of course other tracks get created during editing/mixing/mastering. But I try to keep the number of active live tracks at a given time low. That simplifies things, at least for me, as I move forward to the next step, rather than trying to smoosh a large number of tracks simultaneously into the final result. And of course the final track is just one with all the tweaks that got made along the way

Of course it depends on what size group you are recording and what you plan to do with the end result as well as other considerations.

I recorded one senior recital, at church by a single violinist, in stereo, direct on an old Zoom H2 and got good results. More than good enough , and way more as opposed to having nothing:) But there was no way to set up anything else more complex then. Slight editing and burned the CD, added an insert with details and gave the result to her family.

Currently our church has 30 inputs on our board , which we record direct to CD and also provide a live feed to the Videographer for use with the video for posting to utoob. But mixing is done live in real time so any bad glitches would need editing out before posting, but without that happening the VT is ready to post with sound as it was captured.

Lots of views but only 3 replies. Are there so few who actually record?
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby hobbyist » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:53 pm

CS70 wrote:In average about 15-20 tracks (just the drums it’s 8 or 10) and at least a 12-15 buses.

@CS70

If I were to record groups with drums I could see using another 8-10 too. My preference is to NOT mike everything unless it is in a controlled studio environment.

My preference when feasible is to record direct to stereo using 3-4 different stereo miking set ups and go from there. Depending on the group I could add a mike to a soloist or vocalist too.
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby hobbyist » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:56 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:................

I tend not to use stems due to the nature of my work (mainly synths) but if recording more stuff acoustically, or if layering multiple monophonic tracks to make a polyphonic submix, eg: orchestral strings (both of which I'll be getting around to in future) I anticipate using them a lot more.

I like stems as they seem to make things easier for me to do that way.

I have seen people running really humongous boards with all the channels getting mixed at once but my ears are not good enough to do it that way well.
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby CS70 » Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:10 pm

hobbyist wrote:
CS70 wrote:In average about 15-20 tracks (just the drums it’s 8 or 10) and at least a 12-15 buses.

@CS70

If I were to record groups with drums I could see using another 8-10 too. My preference is to NOT mike everything unless it is in a controlled studio environment.

My preference when feasible is to record direct to stereo using 3-4 different stereo miking set ups and go from there. Depending on the group I could add a mike to a soloist or vocalist too.

Well, I do record in a controlled studio environment - controlled by me :D And chosen quite painstakingly :D Really, once you find a few good rooms that you can reuse, it's bingo time for drums.

And I really dislike the lack of control that stems give - especially when you're building a track overdubbing - it gets terribly complicated to get the dynamic control that I crave.

But to each their own. And I guess it depends a little one the genre, some don't need as much microdynamics. There's no right or wrong so long the result makes you go "wow".
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:25 pm

CS70 wrote:There's no right or wrong so long the result makes you go "wow".

Totally this. On rare occasions when I 'hit the spot' I've been known to lie in the dark on the floor well into the night listening to something I wrote for myself that I'm really pleased with on repeat for an hour or two :D
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:58 pm

Ah, ok, in terms of straight audio then, a typical acoustic session might have:
1 lead vocal,
2 mics on the main guitar,
2 mics on the bass,
1 or 2 backing vocals,
1 - 3 additional instrument tracks.
So between 5 and 10.

A full band set up would probably be:
8 drum mics,
1 bass,
2 rhythm guitar (acoustic),
2 - 4 tracks of lead guitar / fills,
1 or 2 keyboard / organ tracks,
1 lead vocal,
2 backing vocals,
1 or 2 percussion tracks,
1 or 2 other ear candy tracks.
So 20-25 music tracks i guess.

I'd, like to be able to record with fewer, but i don't have the skills for that yet.
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby hobbyist » Sat Jul 06, 2019 1:23 am

blinddrew wrote:Ah, ok, in terms of straight audio then, a typical acoustic session might have:
1 lead vocal,
2 mics on the main guitar,
2 mics on the bass,
1 or 2 backing vocals,
1 - 3 additional instrument tracks.
So between 5 and 10.

A full band set up would probably be:
8 drum mics,
1 bass,
2 rhythm guitar (acoustic),
2 - 4 tracks of lead guitar / fills,
1 or 2 keyboard / organ tracks,
1 lead vocal,
2 backing vocals,
1 or 2 percussion tracks,
1 or 2 other ear candy tracks.
So 20-25 music tracks i guess.

I'd, like to be able to record with fewer, but i don't have the skills for that yet.



Interesting. I find it harder to do it with more:)
Even if I had the money to buy that many mikes/stands/preamps and a larger mixer.

Now I do not do rock bands but prefer classical ensembles so we would not have a drum kit. Usually just strings, woodwind, maybe brass or vocal, and possibly a keyboard of some sort. Or whatever older instrument came first that is related to those.

Even with a chorus or other backing singers there would only be call for 6, and maybe 8 mikes at max if there was a soloist part. But usually you can capture a small group with stereo easier IMHO.

I would use coincident xy, near coincident spaced and angled for the group in question [not dogmatically do a 'NOS' or 'ORTF' which only work right in one case] and an AB or ABC spaced pair. Plus possibly one close mike for vocal or instrument soloist. Again 8 mikes does the job. Pick the best stereo captured, add in any soloist or vocals and the final is done.
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby awjoe » Sat Jul 06, 2019 6:55 am

hobbyist wrote:What is the typical number of tracks you mix?

On this EP, four tracks.

hobbyist wrote:Do you use stems or mix all the tracks at once?


All the tracks at once, of course. I'm trying to learn more about mixing by working on a simple project for a change. It helps me learn the plugins I'm using too. Bonus. Delay and reverb and distortion have been the biggest lessons so far.
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby Dave B » Sat Jul 06, 2019 10:02 am

As they say these days : It's complicated :)

If I record a gig, I'll often start with up to 16 source tracks. But I might trigger kick and snare to beef them up. So the number goes up. But then each of those will be a Logic 'Stack' which means that I have a single fader. I'll also stack the overheads and the keys. So now I'm down a few channels. If I ... ahem ... help .... ahem a part here or there, I might have a parallel stack or just a second set of channels.

Basically, I use the grouping nature of stacks to reduce the number of mixer channels.

And I might bus the drums. Sometimes the vocals. So I end up with a combination of actual channels and busses to mix.

In the past, I have tried setting up groups for blocks (drums, bass, guitars, keys, BVs, lead vox) and mix at the group level - handy if you just want to balance the mix, but I just don't seem to work that way at the moment. Maybe I should. hmmn. I have done that before so that I could export stems for others and that worked quite well.

If I'm recording from scratch, I'll have a shedload of mixer channels as I like to try and use multi-channel outs for drums. And my preference is for lots of little parts rather than a single big thing, so a lot of bits - but again, I'll stack and sometimes group.

Short version : a bit of everything really ... :)
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby jimjazzdad » Sat Jul 06, 2019 11:21 am

I record mainly live jazz and classical and belong to the 'less is more' school of thought. I have the ability to record 16 tracks with my live rig but seldom use more than 8 (e.g for a jazz combo with drums) and more often than not, I have just 4 tracks (2 stereo pairs on orchestral performances). When I mix, I may create 'pseudo-stems' like "mid-side pair" or "AB omni pair" to make balancing easier. Most processing - reverb or gentle compression, etc . - gets done on the 2-bus (stereo master track). Any EQ required will generally happen on the individual tracks. Dealing with the number of tracks some of you have posted about would overload my small but orderly brain!
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby Luke W » Sat Jul 06, 2019 12:09 pm

It varies quite a lot for me, if I'm recording things for myself it's mostly acoustic material with just a couple of instruments, so somewhere around 4 tracks plus some returns for a reverb or two etc.

The next project I'm about to tackle is a live recording of a musical theatre show from my "day job", the actual source channel count isn't too high but there were a fair few mic changes during the show, so the sessions always end up fairly stacked up by the time I've separated different characters out on to their own channels. Somewhere around 50-60 at a guess.
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby John Egan » Sat Jul 06, 2019 12:38 pm

Usually between 5 and 8 tracks, mixed directly. Bluesy/rocky/country/folky stuff.
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby blinddrew » Sat Jul 06, 2019 12:55 pm

hobbyist wrote:Interesting. I find it harder to do it with more:)
Yeah, I'm not sure I'm helping myself, but there's a couple of mitigating factors.
If I'm recording some solo / acoustic stuff, it's a team of me, myself and I. So trying to manage mic postion(s) whilst also playing and keeping an eye on everything else is complicated. I don't have the skill/confidence/experience/knowledge to be able to just lob a mic up and get a decent result.
I've yet to get a recording of my acoustic guitar that I'm actually happy with.
Part of the problem is that I'm, currently, working in an untreated room, which means close micing, which means losing some of the real texture of the instruments.

When I'm recording the band I'm again wearing a number of hats. And again, I'm not skilled/confident/experienced/good* enough to be able to sing, play guitar, manage my pedals, and concentrate on the recording all at once. So that means overdubs, which then limits the opportunities to the 'whole band in a room at once' thing.

* Delete (or add!) as appropriate. ;)
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby blinddrew » Sat Jul 06, 2019 2:59 pm

Let's put a bit of science behind it!
This track has 8 actual music tracks: https://drewstephenson.bandcamp.com/tra ... storm-keep
This one has 33: https://thesouthernwild.bandcamp.com/track/words
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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:42 am

The most I've ever recorded is 10, but then I've never needed to record a drum kit (not much used in folk and classical, aren't I lucky!). Normally it's 3 or 4, depending - a singer-guitarist will almost always be 3, for instance. Recently I've been experimenting with ambisonics for larger ensembles, which means exactly 4 recorded tracks which can become 7 or 8 derived tracks at mixdown.

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Re: what is the typical number of tracks you mix ?

Postby Music Wolf » Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:41 am

Typically a dozen tracks at mix. These probably include some group tracks plus a stereo out from Superior Drummer mixer.

I will dive into these sub mixes from time to time but I don't like to have all the faders visible to me in one go.
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