Mixing template in Reaper

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randrohe
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Mixing template in Reaper

Post by randrohe » Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:06 pm

Hello everyone,
I have recently recorded a project, and I made the plunge into Reaper for the tracking and mixing.
Goodbye Ableton Live 5.
No track grouping, inaccurate pdc, etc.
I wish I hadn’t waited so long.
Reaper-good.

So, to the point.
I am starting the mix, and have busses set up for drums, room, bass, guitar, and vocals.
Should I be shooting for the bus faders to be up around unity with actual track faders down, or should the track levels hover around unity, with bus faders barely up?
The tracks themselves are all hitting around -15.
Read all about gain staging, so, I think I’m good in that department.
I’m keeping an eye on the master track, and trying to keep the level down to at least -6.

As always, thanks for any help and direction,

Rand

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darjama
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Re: Mixing template in Reaper

Post by darjama » Tue Mar 19, 2019 10:42 am

if your individual tracks are at unity, where does your bus end up hitting? You said the individual tracks are around -15, so they might be good around unity (adjusting as needed obviously, you are mixing not just adding tracks) as long as the bus isn't in the red.Then adjust the busses gain to hit the desired master level.

I'm a Reaper fan, so much versatility. Sometimes I worry that I'm neglecting features that would be helpful if I took the time to learn them. But I don't get enough time to play with it to change up my workflow. i should invest some time.

randrohe
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Re: Mixing template in Reaper

Post by randrohe » Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:55 pm

Thanks for the reply.
I’ll be getting back to mixing in a couple of days, and will try putting my tracks at unity to see where the bus levels end up.
My main question i guess is, does it matter where and what the routing amounts to, as long as the master track levels are good?

And yes, I’m actually excited to learn the ins and outs of reaper.
I bought into Pro Tools twice, and 2 fresh installs, on 2 different current Macs, and I always seemed to run into issues after a short time.
Trash preferences..
I’m gonna trash Pro tools instead.

Thanks again for your input.

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darjama
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Re: Mixing template in Reaper

Post by darjama » Tue Mar 19, 2019 3:23 pm

I'm not an expert, but in general my understanding is you don't want to turn down your audio if you don't need to. Reaper's mix bus is pretty robust, so you shouldn't be losing too much information (useful bits of your audio) if you are turning it down at the track level. But I can't vouch for whatever 3rd party plugins you are using on your tracks. Also, many plugins aren't going to work optimally if you are feeding them low level audio.

ashcat_lt
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Re: Mixing template in Reaper

Post by ashcat_lt » Wed Mar 20, 2019 7:19 pm

It only matters if you have some non-linear processing on the bus/folder tracks, and then generally only because you'll need different settings on those plugins.

randrohe
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Re: Mixing template in Reaper

Post by randrohe » Wed Mar 20, 2019 9:30 pm

Hey Ashcat, could you give me an example of a non linear plug in?

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Nick Sevilla
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Re: Mixing template in Reaper

Post by Nick Sevilla » Wed Mar 20, 2019 11:43 pm

Hi,

I usually do not have a set template for mixing an album, until I have seen for myself that indeed the tracks were all recorded identically,
whether all at once, or as overdubs.

I also discuss with the artist what they want to do with the album: Do they want all songs to have a similar basic tonality and general similarity of levels? As in, this was done "live" or all done to make the music stand out, but not the production?

OR... do they want each song to stand on its own, like prog rockers, synth people, et al?

As to initial levels, I always go through and check each track against the overall multi track of the song. Especially these days, where different equipment is used, different studios, different reference levels etc. I try to find out if there is a general overall uniformity, or if it is a mish mosh. If a mish mosh of levels, I standardize them all to have -14 dB avg / peaks under -6 dB if possible, or at least deal with any offenders with offline processing first. Like super quietly recorded synth beds (-36 dB), vs SUPER FUCKING LOUD SOLO GUITAR (hitting the red often).

When mixing, in Pro Toos HD 10 (TDM), which is a FIXED 48 bit mixing engine, I learned that there is a sweet spot where everything can work, and not overload the mix busses. Usually, I begin with all track faders at or around -10 dB (after dealing with bad recording levels). The only tracks I bring up at this point are the FEATURED instrument, be it the lead vocal, lead melody instrument, what have you. then I start moving the rest of the tracks around that main focus.

My mixes are always printed at -6dB PEAK ( I do not care as much about the RMS at this stage).

The goal here is to make the mix SOUND GREAT, and not so much what levels are happening, other than to AVOID DISTORTION at all costs.

Cheers
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A.David.MacKinnon
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Re: Mixing template in Reaper

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Thu Mar 21, 2019 12:27 pm

Another thing that helps keep levels under control without having to sweat it too much is to start with the vocal up and then build around that.
If you start with the rhythm section and add in the features it's easy to start a mix a little too hot and have that keep escalating as you add parts. If you start with the vocal in place it's easier to hear the rhythm section in context right off the bat.

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vvv
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Re: Mixing template in Reaper

Post by vvv » Thu Mar 21, 2019 2:34 pm

I use Cool Edit Pro for mixing, because I know it well, etc.

I do almost exactly like Nick says, except I like my files to peak at -3 when the master is 0. But this is because I like to edit as I go along, and the higher levels make it easier to see when working on individual tracks ...

I then start mixing using some starting typical figures where a P-bass fader in the mix is -18 to -22, electric guitars about the same, snare -10, kick -12, vocal -12, etc.

Then I mix by ear, with my two-mixes coming in usually around -9 or so.

I only use the master buss level for tracking, to adjust what is already recorded vs. what I am playing.

So it's not a template, but it is a pattern approach ...
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ashcat_lt
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Re: Mixing template in Reaper

Post by ashcat_lt » Thu Mar 21, 2019 5:58 pm

randrohe wrote:
Wed Mar 20, 2019 9:30 pm
Hey Ashcat, could you give me an example of a non linear plug in?
Compressor, limiter, gate, expander, clipper, saturation, most "analog emulation" type things. Anything where the effect depends on the level.

Magnetic Services
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Re: Mixing template in Reaper

Post by Magnetic Services » Thu Mar 21, 2019 6:49 pm

Step 1: pay for the license if you haven't already, those folks deserve it

Step 2: whatever works for you! I usually leave the group/bus faders at unity until I need to adjust or compress a whole group.

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