How to prep files for mixing

When sending tracks for mixing, please try to follow these guidelines.  It will help avoid confusion.

1) Name your tracks simply.  I don’t need to know that it’s “Barry’s Rickenbacher Lapsteel Guitar Left”, or “Drum Room Mid Side Ribbon 2”.  Simple is better because when there’s 72 tracks on the screen, I need to quickly see what I’m looking for.  If you write, “Barry’s Rickenbacher Lapsteel Guitar Left”, it will look something like this in pro tools: “BRhLGL”.  WTF is that? BLARGH!

for example: for drums kik 1, kik 2, sn 1, sn 2, hat, rk 1, rk 2, flr, ohL, oh R, room 1, room 2 etc

bass: di, mic or mic 1, mic 2

guitar:  gtr 1, gtr 2, agtr 1 (acoustic guitar, get it?), steel 1, etc.  I don’t need to know if it’s the guitar that comes in  on the chorus….I will see it in the edit window.

keyboards:  keys 1, B3, keys 2, strings etc

vocals: vox 1, vox 2, bvox1, bvox2

percussion: perc 1, perc 2 etc.  I will know if it’s a tambourine, cowbell, glockenspiel or whatever when I hear it.

2) Check your edits closely and use crossfades.  Even if you think you don’t need the crossfade, do a really small one.  It will help avoid annoying clicks and pops.  Just do it.

3) If there’s an effect on a track that is integral to the song, print it on it’s own track.  I may not have that plug in, and you’ve spent time getting a sound you really like….there’s no reason for me to try to recreate it.  In some cases, I might be able to take an idea and run with it to make it “better”, but more often than not, if there’s an effect included in a session, I’m going to use it.

4) Get rid of all of the tracks you don’t want me to use.  It’ll save on transfer time and help avoid confusion.  I won’t have to ask, “what’s with the muted sitar track?”

5) Include some notes for me.  For example, “make sure that the lead vocal is really dry and up front” or “make the drums sound like they’re in a cave”.  Feel free to be detailed, like saying, “at 1:32-1:48, bring up the tambourine track really loud and pan the bass hard left”.  But even a simple, “just do your thing man” is a good starting point.  Try to keep your notes in one email or word document.  I will get confused if there are 16 different emails asking me to do XYZ.  Well, I might get confused.  Less likely if the notes are all in one place.

6) Include the last working rough mix you have.  It’s a great reference point for me for panning and general levels (How loud IS that sitar supposed to be?)

7) Delete any unnecessary automation/plug ins and bussing. 

8) Make sure that the session I need to open is obvious, especially if there’s multiple saves of the session.  Call it, “Song X mix 1” for example, and highlight it .

9) Do not consolidate tracks if you can help it.  The reason I ask for this is because you may have missed some of the edits and I will not be able to fix them if the tracks are consolidated.  Obviously, this will only work if you have Pro Tools.  If you’re using one of the other DAWs, please consolidate, but see #2.

10) As tempting as it might be, do not try and time align the drum tracks.  It really makes sense to try and do this as you want all of those waves files to look all pretty and lined up, but more often than not, you are going to be messing up the drum sound more than fixing it.  Phase is a very confusing and complicated thing that I’m still trying to wrap my head around, and I’ve been dealing with it for a quarter of a century.  Do it if you want, but I have actually had to put the drum tracks back to where they were originally in some instances.  In most cases, I can do it better than you can if it even needs to happen at all.  That said, if you do time align the drum sounds and LOVE that sound, do it and let me know that’s how you want it to be and I will say, “OK”.


Hopefully this is a helpful guideline.  If you have any questions, feel free to email me.




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