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Top Down Mixing and Mastering

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Re: Top Down Mixing and Mastering

Postby blinddrew » Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:59 am

Oh dear, this thread hasn't gone how i expected at all. :(

Hopefully an article on the concept is still possible in an alternative guise.
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Re: Top Down Mixing and Mastering

Postby Wonks » Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:10 am

As been previously mentioned, you are probably best off getting Eddie Bazil's mixbus strategies book.
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Re: Top Down Mixing and Mastering

Postby blinddrew » Fri Feb 01, 2019 10:02 am

Already about half-way through. :)
As an e-book I do find it less easy to read than a paper one though.

[EDIT - for clarity, it really works as an e-book, the attendant videos and audio examples are really useful, it's just harder to read in bed. :) ]
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Re: Top Down Mixing and Mastering

Postby Mixedup » Fri Feb 01, 2019 11:59 am

I used to be suspicious of mixing into an EQ but, like Sam, I grew to like it. The key reason for me is speed — it gets the mix into the right tonal ball park rapidly, before my ears acclimatise to a 'wrong-sounding mix'. If I'm using mix-bus compression, as I often do, it means broadly the right sound is going into the compressor from the off too.

But another reason is how I then approach EQing individual tracks — because I think it all feeds into the 'boost-versus-cut' debate. There's obviously nothing wrong with boosting or cutting anything if you need to, as long as you're able to make good judgements.

But as Jack suggested, I find making those judgements more challenging when EQing individual sources than when EQing the whole mix. Why? Because my EQ moves lack context. And for me, that means EQing tracks individually requires more time, since I'll find myself going back and forth between tracks more, revising the EQ settings of tracks I've already EQd in light of the EQ I've applied to others.

I also like that mixing into a bus EQ means I'll then work more at chiselling away problem frequencies than trying to reshape the individual sounds. Maybe that's because boosts make sounds louder and therefore risk making them appear misleadingly impressive? Or maybe it's because cuts can not only remove ugly resonances in a sound, but also solve masking issues, creating room for other sources to breathe. Or maybe it's because when using a single filter you're not changing the phase relationship of any source relative to others. Or some combination of these things... I don't know.

It's not the only way of working, for sure. But it works for me and I'd encourage anyone to try it for themselves and draw their own conclusions.

What I've not tried that might be an interesting halfway house is to simply link EQs inserted on all the source tracks and start shaping the mix like that. Then, instead of having to send certain sources to different busses, you can simply bypass or tweak the channel EQ. I've not gone down that road, largely because I prefer nice analogue-style EQs for this job. My current favourites (like Jack's) are Acustica ones, are far too processor-intensive to be able to work that way, and prior to that I like the UAD ones that would soon eat up the UAD DSP if used that way! But trying it with, say, the Cubase inbuilt channel EQs — and maybe an analogue-modelled saturation plug-in or compressor on the mix bus — might be an interesting experiment for a rainy day...

Finally... yes, an article exploring this would be good. But I fail to see how it could be a compare-and-contrast type. Even using the same techniques I'd never reach the same-sounding mix twice in a row, or the same-sounding mix as someone else. There are far too many variables...
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