184: My 2023 Mixing Template

184: My 2023 Mixing Template

Something different this week as Benedikt walks us through his newly updated mixing template. Showing us the tools he uses to nail a mix, we take a peek behind the wizard's curtain.


Book a free feedback call with Benedikt, the host of the show!

A mixing template is a very individual thing, tailored to suit the workflow of the engineer, no two are the same.  

This deep dive into Benedikt's mixing template will give you all the knowledge you need to create your very own custom mixing template setting you up for maximum creativity when it comes to the mixing stage. 

Mixing templates are an ever evolving thing of course and all of these decisions are made over time and with a lot of trial and error. But If you pay attention and understand the "why" behind Benedikt's decision making here, you only need to do this once. Benefitiing from the thousands of hours that Benedikt has spent at the mixing desk. 


Follow along with the accompanying Youtube video to jumpstart your path to creative godliness. (AKA a good, functional mixing template) 


In this deep dive episode Benedikt not only gives you insights in to the tools he uses, but why he uses them. See an industry professional cover these topics:

  • Drum bus & group bus routing
  • The "why?" behind plugin choices
  • Parallel sends
  • Easy access to everything for speedy workflow
  • Mixing in to the master bus

So grab yourself a pen & notebook and get ready to learn as Benedikt walks us step by step through his mixing template. 

Mentioned On The Episode:

Follow along on YouTube

Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)


I am going to walk you through my newly updated 2023 mixing template. I'm doing my best to explain it in a way that you can follow along without seeing it, but it would be best to go to YouTube and watch the video version of it. Then you can actually see what I'm talking about. This is the Self Recording Band Podcast, the show where we help you make exciting records on your own wherever you are DIY style, let's go. Hello and welcome to the Self Recording Band Podcast. I am your host, benedikt Hein. If you are already a listener, thank you for coming back. If you are new to the show, welcome, so stoked to have you. Just know that this is available on both podcast platforms, but also YouTube and video formats. So both audio and video and especially for today's episode, the video version on YouTube is worth checking out. So wherever you're enjoying this listening to this or watching this just know that there's both formats available. All right Now on this show, we show you what we do to make our recordings and mixes as good as possible. We show you what you can do at home or wherever you are in your jam space or you know your home studio to get exciting sounding recordings and mixes. If you want help actually implementing it not just the what to do, but actually how to do it in your environment, with your software, in your home studio, with your monitoring, with your everything, you have your plugins then go to theselfrecordingbandcom slash call and book a free first coaching call with me, because we have a coaching program called the Self Recording Syndicate where I walk you through everything you need to know when it comes to making your own DIY recordings and mixes. I help you implement everything. I walk you through all the steps. I'm your personal recording buddy. If we work together and if you want to check that out, if that sounds interesting to you, it all starts with a free first call. So go to theselfrecordingbandcom slash call to get started. All right, now today is a solo episode. I'm doing the solo not with my co-host, malcolm, unfortunately this time and the reason is that I am going to walk you through my newly updated 2023 mixing template. So in July 2023, I updated my template that I use as a starting point for my mixes here at Outback Recordings, the studio that I work out of, and so I did a bunch of testing over months, weeks and months. Basically half a year almost went into this and I just wanted to change after working from the same template for quite a while and I obviously always testing new things, swapping out plugins, trying new things, of course but the starting point was kind of always the same and after a while I just wanted to have something new, and I took the time to test a lot, to shoot out a lot of plugins, to rethink my workflow, and so here's my updated version, the result of that. I'm going to walk you through this on this episode. I'm doing my best. If you're listening on a podcast platform like Apple Podcasts or Spotify or something like that, I'm doing my best to explain it in a way that you can follow along without seeing it, but it would be best to go to YouTube and watch the video version of it, because then you can actually see what I'm talking about, as I'm going to share my screen here for you. All right, a few things before we dive into this. First, what I'm about to show you is going to look overwhelming in the beginning, just because this is my template that I use for professional mixes for artists and labels, and I do this for a living, and I've been doing it for quite a while. So, of course, I've reinvested a lot of the money that I make from mixing into my tools, my plugins. So I have a big, big toolbox, I have all the plugins on the planet almost, and a lot of things in a lot of the things I'm going to going to show you are not going to be applicable, like in the exact same way, to you, because you don't have the tools, probably right, or all of them, probably Maybe you have some of them. So I just want to say that it might look overwhelming and you might think, oh my God, I don't have any of these plugins, I cannot use this information. That is wrong. Forget the exact plugins that I'm going to show you. Listen to the why behind the plugin choices and what I use them for, and just know that for everything that I have in my toolbox, there is a replacement that you can get for free or that you already have as a stock plugin. So don't feel like you're limited by the tools you have. This is just because I'm doing this professionally. So I want to have all the tools and I want to reinvest. I want to get the best quality possible for the people who trust me and for the people who pay me to do their mixes. So of course, I want to have the best available tools and I always want to push myself and I always want to move forward and reinvest, and that's why I have this. But the why is more important than the what exactly, and I'll do my best to explain it in a way that it makes sense to you, even if you don't have the exact same plugins. Another thing the workflow that I'm going to show you, like the routing and how I set up my template, might also look overwhelming or might look like very advanced and maybe hard to follow along with. That is because years and years and years of experimentation, development and experience just went into this A lot of trial and error, and it's also my personal way of doing things, the way I like to do things, the way I like to have things routed and everything, and this is not the way you have to do it. This is the way I want to do it. There is a ton of different ways to achieve the same thing and you can pick and choose what makes sense to you and what you like. You can ignore the rest. It's worth trying everything and then seeing what works for you. It's an advice buffet and it doesn't have to be as complex as my template. Again, I'm trying my best to explain it in a way that it makes sense that you can follow along with it. But even if you just use a few of the things that I show you and implement it into your workflow and implement it into the template that you use as a starting point, you'll be better off than without that information. So don't feel like you have to copy that exactly the way I do it, because it won't work for you. Everyone's different, everyone has a different workflow and just pick the things that work for you, do some experimentation, do some A-B testing and then find your own way of doing things. Number three if you are worried that using a template or starting from a template might lead to cookie cutter, boring results that always sound the same and it's not creative, and you feel like you should start from scratch for every single mix, that is wrong. That is a mindset problem, because I am not making the same exact mixing decisions on like ever like for two different songs, like it's always different. But there is a few things that I just know I like and that I know I want to use anyway, or as a starting point, or that I know I want to at least try. And then I'm always open enough for like new things to try or other approaches. So if I'm opening up a plug-in in my template and I feel like it doesn't work for that source or for that song, I just swap it out and I have different alternatives in my template that I'm going to show you. It's just a starting point so that I don't have to do the repetitive things over and over again. And with repetitive things and things you do over and over again, I also don't just mean plugins, I mean routing, color coding, creating groups and buses, all of that. It makes no sense to have to do this on every single song that you work on. It makes sense to do it once, save it as a template and you're much faster for like every project from that moment on Right. And that leads me to another thing, which is I don't accept project files generally. Sometimes I do if there's really no other way, but I want to always get exported printed WAV files from the people I work with, even if they are in the same DAW that I am, because if I start from a project file that someone sends me. There's different routing, different plugins, different tools, different everything, and I have to just swap everything out, change things around, before I can even start being creative and getting into the flow of how I'm used to doing things. So this takes me a lot of time and it's not a really creative thing to do and it doesn't really help the song. And if I get multi-tracks WAV file, multi-tracks I can just drag and drop them into my template and everything is the way I want it to be. I can route it to the groups that I already have, to the effects that I already have, the sends and returns and everything. And I'm good to go right away. Basically, and I have Tom as my partner here at the studio at Outback Recordings, who actually does the mix prep phase for me, which is even better. That means if I come into the studio I can just sit down, open up a session that he's prepped for me, hit play and immediately hear the song and immediately start making intuitive decisions. I don't have to import files, I don't have to color code, I don't have to label things, I don't have to think about where things are. It's right in front of me the same way every single time. It's super effective and it's also super creative, because I don't have to waste any brain power, any mental bandwidth on things that don't really serve the song. I can start mixing right away, which is what I'm paid for, right? So with that out of the way, the final thing now I want to tell you, before we finally get into this, is that I work primarily in rock and heavy genres, so, or let's say, like guitar and band music that's the best way to put it probably it's rock, indie, alt rock, metal, punk rock, hardcore, that type of thing and that means that I usually deal with similar arrangements, similar types of instruments drums, bass, guitars, rhythms and leads, sometimes synth or additional production elements, sometimes keys, piano, something like that, sometimes acoustic guitars but I rarely work on purely electronic stuff, or almost never actually. So if you are a hip hop, r&b, rap or house producer or something like that, this might not be as applicable to you. I mean, the routing and some basic mixing principles always apply, but you probably use different tools and a different routing approach and a different approach in general. My approach is very much what you would do on an analog console, just in the box, and I always have in mind that I'm working with quote unquote real instruments like acoustic instruments, like real drums, guitars, guitar amps, acoustic guitars, vocals recorded with a mic and like all these things. I mean vocals, always recorded with a mic, right, but like you get the idea, things that have been captured with mics and like real instruments. Sometimes it's programmed drums, that's also fine, but in general it's like a band arrangement, all right. So I'm recording my screen right now and I'm going to walk you through this. So let's dive in. This is what you're looking at right now. This is the editing window in Cubase. My Dove choice is Cubase. It's been for a while, for 10 years now. It's what I love. It gives me the best of both worlds At least that's what I feel like, and with both worlds I mean MIDI and audio. The way it handles MIDI and the way it handles audio, it's perfect for me. But there's obviously a ton of other choices and I don't want to get into this. Cubase is what I love. You can also set something like that up in every Doha, that the principles remain the same. I don't do anything like very Cubase specific because I treat it, as I said, like an analog desk, almost Like a very classic workflow, signal flow type of thing that you can recreate in almost every or probably every Doha, with the exception of like very limited ones like GarageBand or something like that, probably. But even then, some of the principles apply, all right. So this is the editing window and this is the mixer, the mixing window in Cubase. I'm going to get into what the differences are. Let's start with the editing window. This is where I would drag and drop my audio files into. Right, there's no audio files in it right now. You're just looking at the bare like empty template, no tracks actually in it. All right, above this divider line here, this one here is a divider. You see a few tracks on the left side, by the way, these are tracks in Cubase. Right, probably most stars. You see the tracks. I can like highlight them. These are folders in this case, but I'm going to walk you through all of this. But here, this is the grid and this is where you would drop. You would drag and drop like wave files and you would see the waveforms in here. All right, let's start at the top, above this divider. Here, as I said, there's a bunch of tracks that always remain visible Even if I scroll up and down my track list here. These always remain visible to me. At first there's a tempo track. This is the tempo of the song. Now, right now it's a static tempo, it's just a default. It's 190 at the moment for whatever reason. But I could create a tempo curfew. I could draw in some more dots and then make tempo changes for the song. Right, I could import MIDI information that automatically creates a tempo track for me. I can lock this so I don't accidentally change it, which is always a wise thing to do. So this is my tempo track. The grid right, the click information this is my time signature track. It's also locked, so I don't accidentally change it. It's like 4-4 basic time signature, but you can make it 6-8 or 3-4 or whatever you want to do. Time signature right Then sections this is where we create markers. So I could be like okay, so when Thomas preps the session, he would be like right, this section here. I just do it without shortcuts so you can follow along. So let's say this section here. Let's create a cycle marker is what it's called. And let's call this intro Right? Oops, I hated when I spell things wrong Intro. So then let's say from here, let's say this is verse one. Right, you get the idea. And now I can highlight those things. I can jump to different parts of the song very easily and I can, like I, immediately see where the choruses are, where the verses are. I can jump from section to section. It's just a thing I'd like to have. Then there is another marker track that's called songs. So when Thomas is done prepping, he marks the beginning of the song 200 milliseconds before the first audible hit, or the first audible thing of the song is a standard practice 200 milliseconds of silence and then the first audible thing comes in and then, after the final fade out here, which is usually done on the master output might look something like this you know the final fade out. Then somewhere here is the end of the song and he's going to create a. This is going to create another marker here and that is the full song. The purpose of this is that whenever I want to export my song, when I want to print my final mix and let's say I just highlighted the, or I created a loop and I've been listening to the verse a couple of times and now I'm done mixing and I want to export the song, I just click this, highlight it sorry, this highlight it and then I always have the exact same starting and end points and I can always export new versions that start at the exact same time and at the exact same time and I don't have to worry about these starting end points anymore. So this is why I have these two different marker tracks here. There is a rough mix track, which is when the band sends me a rough mix along with the multi tracks. I can just drag and drop it in here and I've set it up with Cubase control room so that I can easily switch here between the rough mix and my mix to just quickly A, b things. And I don't want to get into this, because this is the one thing that is very Cubase specific. I have another video on this, actually in my coaching program that's called like a control room tutorial. It's one of the extra plans we have, so for those people who use Cubase. So this is something I teach in there. But it's not relevant for most people watching this or for many people watching this if you don't have Cubase. Just some way find some way to set up a quick A B test or A B reference function, basically. So if you put a rough mix in here and you want to jump back and forth between your mix and the rough mix, you can do that All right. Now, below this divider, there's my actual multi tracks and effects and outputs and buses and all of that. So let's get into this. There's one global folder that's called multi track. The folder in Cubase is not a track where you can add plugins or anything like that. The folder in Cubase is just a way of grouping tracks together, but not grouping in a way that you can process them together, just visually grouping them together so you can hide and show them in the editing window. That's about it. That's all it does, really, or the most important thing it does. So multi track global folder all the multi tracks live in that, and there's subfolders inside the multi track folder and these are color coded Red is drums, blue is bass, green is rhythm guitars, orange is lead guitars, Yellow is vocals and pink is additional production. This is like synth keys, everything that's not part of the typical band or rock band arrangement that I typically deal with. Then there is a purple folder below that doesn't belong to the multi track folder. This is effects. If I open that up, you see a lot of effects, tracks that are already created with plugins loaded for things like a parallel drum crush, which means distortion, and drums for drums that I can blend with my drums. There's a drum ambience in case I want to create fake room mics or something. There's a snare plate, which is a reverb that I can use on snares or toms or both. There's a parallel bass crush. There's a bass chorus, if I want to widen the bass or add some chorus to it. There is a rhythm guitar reverb and notice they are color coded the same way as my multi track folders up here, so the green ones are usually what I use on guitars. So there's a rhythm reverb, there's a rhythm stereo delay. There's a rhythm chorus. These are effects I might use on rhythm guitars. There's a spring reverb for lead guitars, a stereo delay for lead guitars, a lead chorus, a lead flanger. Then there is a bunch of yellow tracks which are my vocal effects Again a vocal crush, distortion and parallel compression. There's a vocal reverb, a vocal slap delay and mono, a vocal stereo slap delay, a vocal mono delay, a vocal stereo delay, a micro pitch, which is a widening, sort of artificial doubling thing. There's a vocal chorus. Then there's black tracks that can be applied to whatever. There's a parallel 1176 compression that I want to sometimes use on multiple sources, regardless of what they are. There is an overall ambience thing that if I want to glue things together or want to make great the impression that the whole band is in the same room, I might use the overall ambience here. And then there's an effects bus where the black ones go to, because the other ones go to the buses that they belong to, and I'm going to get to this. The buses are then below my effects folder. These are my final groups that everything goes to. I'm going to skip this for now because it will make more sense later here. And then I have a final folder that's called prints, which is when I bounce a mix, when I export a final mix. I will re-import it into my session and then put it in the prints folder, mute the output, and that way, if I archive the session, all my exports, all my mixes are archived along with it. I can quickly A B between different versions of the mix or revisions. I just want to have my final mixes, my prints, my different versions of it inside my session here as well. This is prints, all right, and prints in like PR INTS, not like prints the artist or something like that, you know, like print prints, good, and we have one final track. This is the master, this is my final output. After all the other groups and buses, this is where the final thing that sort of goes to, then my converter and my speakers. This is the master output. All right, now let's have a closer look at the multi-tracks again and the groups inside the subfolders. So, as I said, multi-track means I drag and drop all of the stuff that's been sent to me into this multi-track folder and from there it gets dropped into the subfolders. Let's start with the red ones for drums. If you open that up, there is another two subfolders in here. One is called live drums and I actually want to make this a little bigger now for you. You can follow along better here. So drums red. Right Inside there there's one that's called live drums. Live drums has the live drums, the recorded drums or the prints from a program drum kit that they sent me. So this will have the actual WAV files for kick, snare, comms, overheads, rooms, all of that. This will be inside live drums. And there's another folder called samples. This has some samples, some samplers and some plugins that I can use to blend samples with the live drums or to replace the live drums if I feel it's necessary. So there's this difference here between the actual live drums that have been delivered to me and my samples. All right, so if I open up live drums another subfolder here if I open up the live drum subfolder, you see group tracks. These are not folders anymore, these are now group tracks in Cubase. So on these tracks you can actually load up plugins and you can actually process those groups. The first one here is what I call a kick master. Master in my case means these are groups for certain things that I just call master. So if I get a kick in mic and a kick out mic and maybe a kick sub kick and maybe whatever a sample that they sent me or something, if I get like three or four kick tracks, all of those are grouped together on my kick master track, because I don't want to deal with four different kick drum tracks. I don't want to process them individually. If I don't have to, I want to balance them, create my one kick drum sound from those sources that I get, maybe do some correction on those but try to keep them as they are and then process them together here on my kick master. So I pretend that I just have one kick drum track which is my kick master. So I drop like three different files in here for the kick. They all go to this kick master and this is where my kick plugins live. Same for the snare snare master. If I have a snare top and snare bottom mic, they go to the snare master. Tom's. Same thing if I get four different Tom's rack, tom's floor, tom's, all that stuff, they all go to a stereo group. In this case, which is my Tom's master. I group all the Tom's together to one stereo track. The kick master and snare master are mono, by the way. Now then I have a kit master, not kick but kit master. Kit is overhead mics, cymbal, spot mics, hi-hat mic, ride, some mono mic in the middle of the kit, something like that, something that surrounds the kit but is not room mics. Those go to my kit master. These are the mics that capture the kit as a whole and the cymbals, and all of that from a distance as opposed to the close mics on the shelves. All those go to my kit master stereo group. Then I have a room master. All the room mics, mono rooms, stereo rooms, whatever go to my room master. Another stereo thing. And then I have a percussion master, which is additional percussion shakers, tambourines, whatever you have go to the percussion master. So that means even if someone sends me 36 drum tracks and percussion tracks, I end up having to deal with only six tracks, basically Kick snare, tom's kit room and percussion. Of course I can always go into the individual tracks and correct things or process things if I have to, but for the majority of my mixing time that I spent here, I will be working on those six drum tracks here. This makes a large session much more manageable and just enables me to be more creative and less overwhelmed when I look at all of this. And it also makes sense sonically because if you combine things first and then process them together, especially percussive things, you don't smear the transients as much, you don't create as many phase problems. And if you do it individually, so if you EQ two things that go together very heavily for example, you filter the snare top mic but not the snare bottom mic, or the other way around you might create phase issues that you then have to correct. So I like to keep things the way they are, make sure they are in phase and then process them together once they are in phase. All right now, and which plugins I use on those. This is the final thing of this episode that I'm going to walk you through, after I've showed you the routing. So then we have a subfolder called samples. As I said, the samples has two subfolders, folders again. One is called VSTIs. These are samplers like my favorite ones, room Sound. There's a Boberchell Room Sound sampler here, a Kerplu Room Sound sampler, kerplu Volume 2, then there's a Blasting Room. There's a Chamos. These are signature libraries by a company called Room Sound. These are virtual drum kits that I can use, and the way we do it is we create MIDI from the audio drums or we use the MIDI that the people send us, and then we choose the drum kit of our choice that fits the song and the vibe we want to create, and then we trigger those samples, print them, re-import them into the session and blend them with our original drums or replace the original drums, but they are already here, loaded up and ready to go, in case I want to use those to enhance the drums that have been sent to me. Then there's Slate SSD 5, another different sampler, and then there's Drumforge Saviour, a very creative, different kind of sampler with weird drum sizes and shells and stuff you don't find in other samplers as much. I love this for creative decisions, and in between those seven here that I have, I'm mostly set there would also be Superior Drummer and a couple of other things. Thomas loves to use Superior Drummer my partner engineer here, who preps the sessions for me, so sometimes I get samples from Superior Drummer in there as well, but these are my personal go-tos that I want to have available at the moment after a lot of testing. And then there's another subfolder here that is not VSTIs but Trigger, and inside Trigger there is folders called Kick, snare and Toms, and if you open up any of these you'll see that there's a Kick Trigger and a Kick Room Trigger and there is a Snare Trigger and a Snare Room Trigger and there is a Tom Trigger and a Tom Room Trigger for four different Toms. So Tom 1, tom 2, Tom 3 and Tom 4, because most bands that I work with don't have more than four Toms. Usually it's like two Rectoms, two Floor Toms or even just one Rectom, one Floor Tom, but four is about as much as I get most of the time. I can easily create more, if I need to, by just duplicating them. And why do I have those? On each of those tracks? There is a plugin called Slate Trigger that I'm going to open it up real quick that you can use to load samples and replace the original drums or enhance the original drums. And so what I do is if I feel like my kick doesn't have enough low end, for example that the kick that they send me, I can send the Kickmaster or just an individual Kick Track to the Kick Trigger track, load up a sample here with a lot of low end and then blend it in parallel with my Kick Drum or print it and replace my Kick Drum with it, or whatever, and so I can use one shots. I can use samples that I've created myself. I can use sample packs by Slate or other third party plugin programmers and companies and or sample companies in this case, and I can. Instead of using the VSTIs, I can use those. Sometimes I use both, sometimes I use just the Trigger, sometimes I use the VSTIs. I just want to have a color palette and a palette of samples that I can use. So the VSTIs have everything. They're full drum kits and these are specific things for kicks and snares and toms. Now there is a Kick Trigger and a Kick Room Trigger. The reason is the Kick Trigger is routed back to my Kickmaster because it's a Kick Close Mic that I trigger here. The Kick Room Trigger has room samples or overhead samples sometimes, but mostly room samples of that same kick, recorded from a distance so that it blends well with the kit in the room. And those are. They receive the same input, like the same Kick Drum is sent to this to trigger the sample, but it's routed back to the Room Master Track. So, as I said, this can sound really complex to you, but let's say I have a Kick Track and I have Room mics, so my real drums sound like drums in a room. I will then and I want to replace or I want to enhance the kick with a sample that adds something that I feel like is missing. So I will send from the Kick Track to the Kick Trigger Track, or I will send MIDI that I created to the Kick Trigger Track, which is more accurate even, and I will trigger a Kick Close Mic that gives me what I feel like is missing, but then I will only have added the Kick Close Mic. Sometimes I want to have that same sound also in my rooms so that it blends better with the kit that is sounding like it's in a room. So I will send the same Kick Drum Track to my Kick Room Trigger here and we'll route that, the output of it back to my Room Master Track so that it blends with my original Room mics. That's the reason for why I do this and I don't want to have it in one single plug-in. You could do that because Trigger has multiple tracks actually inside the plug-in, but then I would have to route the output of the entire thing either to the room or the kick or the drums as a whole, and I don't want that. I want to treat it like it's an additional mic that's been recorded. So I have a pair of room mics here, I pretend I have another pair of room mics here and I pretend I have another close mic here, and so this new pair of room mics that I just created will be sent to the Room Master and the new close mics that I've created will be sent to the Kick Master, if that makes sense, and I do the same thing for Snares and for Tom's, also with my VSTIs, the outputs of those. I don't send the stereo output of the whole drum kit somewhere, but I actually have all the outputs of each of those VST drums here broken out on individual tracks. So I have the kick in the kick sub, the snare top, the snare sides, snare bottom, tom's overheads and all of that that the sampler gives me on individual tracks and those are routed back to their groups or I will even print them to new wave files and then drag them up into the multitrack folder and then route them to those groups. I just pretend these are real mics and real kits. I choose the samples I want, trigger them, print them and then add them to my existing multitracks and just treat them like real drums and I never mess up that routing. I never work from just the stereo output from those VSTs or anything like that. I always pretend it's like a new pair of mics that I just created and recorded and I blend it with the rest. I really hope that makes sense. And again, watch the video. If you're just listening to the podcast now, because it might be very hard to follow along with it without seeing it, alright, then below the drums now it gets much easier there's bass and inside the bass folder there's just one track which is Bass Master. So if I get a bass DI and a bass amp and a bass mic, all three of those go to my Bass Master. If I only get the DI, I will re-amp the bass, I might do some things to it and I will re-import all the things that I've created into here and all of that will go to the Bass Master. Again, for rhythm guitars I have an acoustic guitar master in stereo, because usually or oftentimes that includes room mics or multiple mics on a guitar. So I have an acoustic guitar stereo master here for any type of acoustic guitar tracks. I have a clean guitar master that is mono, clean guitar master one. So an electric clean guitar miced from a cab, which is usually mono. Then even if it's multiple mics, they're blended together and it's mono. All of those go to clean guitar master one. Then I have a clean guitar master two in case there's another one on the other side, one for left, one for right, for example. Then I have a clean guitar master stereo, in case there is a stereo recording with room mics or a print of several layers or something. It goes to my stereo clean master one and the stereo clean master two in case there's another batch of stereo guitars that I have to put there. Then I have guitar left one and guitar left two these are not clean but distorted or my standard rhythm guitars, then a guitar right one and a guitar right two. So I have in my template tracks ready to go for four tracks of rhythm guitars and within each of those four groups of rhythm guitars can be multiple mics. Then I have a stereo guitar master one and a stereo guitar master two in case people send me prints of stereo guitars or recorded room mics or anything that needs to be stereo effects or anything like that. So I have basically more than enough guitar groups here ready to go and I can drag and drop any guitar tracks, route them to where I want them to go, sum them together and even if a band sends me again like 50 guitar tracks, this is about as much as I have to deal with. I don't want to look at like 50 different mics and then figure out which is what and what goes left and right. There's like four mics on a single rhythm guitar that's supposed to be on the left. I group those four together to one. It's called rhythm guitar left and that's it All right. Then there is lead guitars. We have a lead guitar master, lead guitar master two, stereo lead guitar master, one, stereo lead guitar master two. Same principle applies. Then we have vocals. There's a vocals, a lead vocal master. This is my main lead vocal. Sometimes there is more than one lead vocal track because they're overlapping or whatever. All of that goes to that one lead vocal master where it's processed together. Then there's a doubles master. When there's doubles, they go there. Double, in my case, means the exact same performance as the lead vocal, just as a double to thicken certain parts, for example. They go there. Then there's harmony vocals, in brown here, a harmony master. Harmonies are to me, everything that is basically the same rhythm as the lead vocal but a different melody. It's just a harmony, right, they are synced up with the lead vocal, but they sing a different melody so that it creates a harmony. This is my definition of harmony vocals and they go to the harmony master. Backing vocals is anything that is different from the lead vocals in terms of rhythm, for example, being in between. Lead vocals call and response things or ad libs or anything like that or anything that is not a harmony and not a double, goes to the backing vocals master. Then there's gang master, which is gang, shouts, choirs, big, large group of people that is not really backing vocals anymore for me, and it's not harmonies, it's not doubles, it's gang or choir that goes there Now. Then we have additional production, the groups in there, and you can already tell that I use a lot of busses and groups. These are all group tracks. Remember, there's not a single audio track in this template at this moment. These are all group tracks where the audio tracks go to. Even if it's just one, even if I just get one lead vocal, for example, I will import the lead vocal and route it to the vocal master, even if that is redundant because it's just one, I will always work for my lead vocal master because I don't want to change my workflow and I want to know exactly where things are. Even if it's just one and there's no reason to use a group, it still goes through the group. All right. Now additional production can be brass, keys, synth, then there's a brass master, there's a keys master and then there's four different synth masters because there could be synth, bass tracks, synth rhythm tracks, lead synth tracks or synth pad tracks. I want to process them differently, so that's why there's four different synth groups for different kinds of synth. Then there's an SFX master, special effects master. In case people send me sub drops, snare bombs, explosions, impacts, all the type of samples that they printed, they go to the SFX special effects master. It's also additional production, and that is that Now I already walked you through my effects folder. These are effects returns. I hope you know the difference between group tracks, effects returns and audio tracks. Effects returns just means I can send from any track or group to those effects tracks. The signal gets processed there and then it gets blended back in with the dry track. Up here you have two different faders. One has the dry track, one has the wet track, and then you can balance, for example, a vocal and the reverb that belongs to the vocal. I always do that. I never put a reverb plugin, almost never put a reverb plugin on a vocal or on a guitar or anywhere. I use it in parallel, the classic way. You would do it on an analog console as well. You send from the dry track to a different track where the plugin lives and then you balance the 100% dry track with the 100% wet track. You have the effect and the dry thing on two different faders. I prefer that workflow over having a reverb on the track directly and having to use the mix knob inside the plugin. The main reason is that I might have processing on just the reverb that I don't want on the dry track and vice versa. So I just want to have those separate. That's just the way I like to work. It's the classic workflow from a console. I want to have that in the DAW as well, so I just stick to that. All right, so these are my effects tracks. Then let's get to the buses down here, the final buses. All of what I just showed you are buses in a way. All of those are groups, but with the exception of the effects tracks, what I call buses, are my final buses. That everything goes through before it hits the master here. So I group all of my drum tracks, all of my drum groups. The kickmaster, snaremaster, tommaster, kitmaster, roommaster and percussion master those six, all of those go to the drum bus. So here I can process all the drum groups together on one final stereo track and if I solo that, I hear all the drums and nothing else. If I mute it, I hear everything but the drums. So this is my final drum group All the bass tracks. If there's multiple, there's usually just the bass master, but sometimes there's more. Or sometimes I use the synth bass and real bass and any bass track goes to the bass bus. This is all the bass information, with the exception of a kick drum that's in the song. This goes to the bass bus. I can process it there. And all of my rhythm stuff, of my rhythm guitars, mainly go to the rhythm bus. So the left guitar, the right guitar, the center guitar, the stereo guitar, the acoustic guitar, all of that goes to the rhythm bus, sometimes also rhythm synth or brass or keys or whatever. Whatever I think is considered a rhythm element that belongs here, but usually it's rhythm guitars. Then I have a lead bus. All of the lead elements, especially lead guitars, go here. I have a vocal bus. All of my vocal groups, the lead vocal, the doubles, the harmonies, the backing vocals, the gang all of that goes to my vocal bus. So if I mute this, for example, I hear the instrumental, which is also handy because if you print your final files you can easily create an instrumental by just muting the vocal bus and you have your instrumental. Or you can create an acapella version by soloing the vocal bus and there you have your acapella. These final groups also are very handy when it comes to printing stems for people for backing tracks or licensing or remixes or remasters, stem mastering, whatever. You can easily export all drums, all bass, all rhythms, all leads, all vocals with one click and you have all the final stereo stems for the track. Then there is an additional production bus, which is everything that is like additional samples, impacts you know the SFX bus that I showed you and also sometimes synths or keys. Depends on if I consider them rhythm elements or not, depends on if I want to blend them with the guitars here or not. But this is my additional production bus. And then I have my mix bus, and the mix bus is where all those buses so the drum bus, the bass bus, the rhythm bus, the lead bus, the vocal bus and the additional production bus those final six buses all go to the mix bus. So another step in between before we get to the master. The reason is on my mix bus. This is the first time that the whole mix is summed together. This is the mix bus of my console, basically my virtual console. Here I can compress everything together with a mix bus compressor. I can EQ the mix as a whole. I can do all the things you would typically do on a mix bus and yeah, and I want to do that. But I want an additional, separate master bus that comes after that. So the mix bus goes into the master and it seems redundant again. But the reason is that the mix bus to me is still part of mixing. I process the mix together as a whole. I actually mix into what is on my mix bus, the compressor and everything, so that I can react to what the compressor is doing. But then I want to master the mix on my master bus, because mastering is a different mindset and a different set of tools and if I do the mix and the mastering, I want to separate the two and I want to be able to also print and export and save an unmasked version which is the output of the mix bus, and a mastered version which is the output of my master. And on the master there's my mastering chain, my final limiters and clippers and mastering EQs and all of that Outboard Q-Ruf. I want to use it and I can also change the way my mastering chain reacts by pushing more level into it. From my mix bus fader and you know, there's just a different track that I've controlled over, which I like and then from my final master track it all gets printed and sent to the artist. All right, this is the routing. Now remember that I said it's good for printing stems, my setup here with those final buses. And just keep in mind, because a lot of people get this wrong these days, stems are not tracks, multi tracks, individual wave files, are not stems. A lot of people call them stems, but they are not. They are multi tracks. Stems are group tracks, really stereo group tracks, like the drum bus, the bass bus, the rhythm bus, the lead bus, the vocal bus. Those final groups are stems and you can define them differently. You can say you can split them up even more than that. You can split them up like I do, but stems are not your kick in and out and snare top and bottom and all of those mics. These are multi tracks. So, just so you don't get confused, stems are groups, all right. And, by the way, if you still want to call them stems at this point it's almost like accepted that people call them stems. So I know what. I will probably know what you're talking about if you call them stems, but I would highly recommend calling tracks, tracks and stems Stems, and that way you don't get any confusion or misunderstandings. All right, now let's dive into the final segment here, which is the plugins that I actually use on my template, because that's the part that's new. The routing that I just walked you through is pretty much what I've done, what I've been doing for years now, because it just works for me, but what's new is the type of plugins that I use and why I use them. So let's get to this. All right, so I open up the mix window now. So please again, watch on YouTube if you want to follow along with this, but also if you just listen to it, you'll get a lot of info that way too, I hope at least, but I highly recommend watching the video. All right, so you see the mixing window. This is basically the mixer console At the top. Here you see the input and output routing of each track. So this is what comes into the track. There's nothing on it yet, because this is a group and not an input track, not an audio track that you can record to. So there's no input. But there is an output, which is for the drum tracks here, for the drum groups here, sorry, the output is the drum bus right here, the drum bus. For my bass master here the output is the bass bus, like I just explained, right. And for my final bus is back here the output is the mix bus, and so on. So this is the input and output routing of each track. This lets you decide where the source comes from and where you will send it after that. All right. So then below that there is the inserts. The inserts is the section where that actually has the plugins for each track. These are the slots for the plugins. I can close or I can minimize those or open up those. Then below the inserts, you have an EQ, which is the Cubase stock EQ. That's always loaded. I rarely use it, but you can absolutely do. Then there's the Cubase channel strip. That I also rarely use, but it's good, you can absolutely use it. It's always preloaded, but it's not on in my case, or like it's just deactivated. The plugins are on bypass. Then there is the sends. This is where you can send to the effects tracks to the parallel stuff that I explained to you, where you can choose, for example, to send the snare to a reverb so you can go to send, and then you go to, for example, let's say, snare late if that's what you want to do. So you select the snare plate reverb and you send the snare group to that, and so my snare master now sends to the snare plate and that sends back to the drum bus where it belongs, and now I can blend my snare master with my snare plate reverb. Both of them go to the drum bus and there you go, you have reverb on your snare. It's already there. I don't have to create these because the effects tracks already exist. So these are the sends. Then we have cues down here, which is just for monitoring. It's a Cubase specific thing. You can ignore this for now. So the main thing is you have inserts, you have the stock channel strip here and then you have the sends section. That's the most important thing. All right, when blue down here you see all of my groups. My master tracks that I explained to you, from what has been top to bottom is now left to right. You don't see the folders anymore because they are not visible in the mixer. You just see the group tracks and they're color coded the same way I showed you in the editing window. Then in purple you see the effects tracks, which is what I showed you, like the reverbs and all the stuff I've already preloaded that you can send stuff to, like I just showed you with the example of the snare plate. The outputs of those go to the drum bus, the bass bus, the rhythm bus, the lead bus, the vocal bus, depending on what they belong to. So all the yellow effects here go to the vocal bus, just so that they all end up in the right group. So that means if I solo the vocal bus, for example, I don't just hear my yellow vocal tracks here, my yellow vocal groups and my harmonies and gangs, I also hear all the effects that belong to the vocals because they are also routed to the vocal bus. I always want to make sure that everything that belongs to the vocals, including the effects, will be audible if I solo the vocal bus or will be muted if I mute the vocal bus. Another thing I did in Cubase is and this might be different in other DOS this D here that you see the orange button here that says D means that they are always on. So that means if I, for example, if I solo the lead vocal master here and I wouldn't have this on, I would only hear the lead vocal master but not the reverb. For example, if I sent the lead vocal master here to the vocal reverb, so vocal verb, let's just do that real quick. So now I have vocal reverb on my lead vocal and if I now solo the lead vocal and not the entire vocal group, I would not hear my vocal reverb. But if I do the solo hold thing, that means it's always on. It ignores that and the effect is just always on. So if I solo the lead vocal, I also hear the lead vocal reverb or any effects that I used on this. So all my effects tracks are set that way so that when I solo anything, the effect that belongs to it is also audible. Now, the blue tracks over here that always remain visible if I scroll left and right are my main buses. In Cubase you can set up zones so that when you scroll that they just stay visible here, because I want to always have an eye on those because of gain staging reasons. I always want to see the levels going into my drum bus or out of my drum bus and my bass bus and so on and so forth. So the drum bus, bass bus, rhythm bus, lead bus, vocal bus and additional production bus all go to my mix bus and the mix bus goes into my master bus. So from left to right here. So this makes it easy to understand the routing probably. You see, the outputs of the buses are called mix bus and the outputs of my mix, the output of my mix bus, is called master, and then the master doesn't have an output anymore because it is the final output, the right fader here. That is my routing here in the layout of the mix channel, the mix window, sorry. One final thing I forgot to mention is the panning, of course. So my guitar left groups, for example, are already pan to the left. My guitar right groups are already pan to the right. Everything else is mono because it's either mono tracks or stereo tracks that have the panning inside them. So the panning is already so that it makes sense. And now let's dive into the plugins. Finally, on every single group here, the blue ones, the master tracks for my multi tracks, on every single one of these, the first insert that is preloaded here in my template is Fabfilter Pro Q3. This is just a very basic EQ that is very versatile, that I can do everything I want with it in terms of correction, in terms of surgical moves, in terms of filtering. I can add as many bands as I want and I can just correct things. I can notch out narrow frequencies that are annoying. I can filter out the low end if I want to, or the top end. I can do all of those things very precisely. And this is because, before I get into creating exciting sounds, I want to have a clean up stage. I want to make sure that I get rid of rumble that I don't want. I want to make sure I get rid of harsh stuff and whistling frequencies and stuff that's masking other things and cardboard frequencies, boxiness, muddiness. I want to remove all of that and I do that with a very transparent, flexible EQ like the Pro Q3. So that's why that's the first insert. It's my clean up stage. After that it gets more specific to the actual track. So on my drum, shells here in the beginning kick snare and toms. The first thing after my clean up here is this it's a transient shaper, by Kilohearts in this case, that comes with a slate digital subscription. But you can use, for example, the stock transient tool in Cubase or any other thing. It lets you add or remove the attack or tame the attack. It lets you add more sustain or remove some of the sustain, and why I have this here is because it's another correction move. If I feel like the kicks are not or the snares are not sounding hard enough, the transient impact is not what I want it to be. I want it to be punchier. I can increase attack. If I feel like it's too pokey, it's too transient, heavy and not fat enough or whatever. I can reduce that. If I feel like the snares are too short, I want to hear more of the shell, I can add sustain. I can just manipulate and correct the source tone here before I go into any further processing. After that, there is my channel strip plugin and that's my default on all the channels. You see it here loaded up on all those channels. On some there is plugins in between the clean up and that and on some it's directly after the clean up. But the clean up EQ and this channel strip are the only ones that are always active from the beginning. Everything else is bypass and optional. The channel strip I like to use most at the moment, after a lot of testing, is the Amac 9099 by Plugin Alliance BX Console Amac 1999. This is a very, very good sounding channel strip plugin that gives me filters, a gate, compression, limiting, an EQ. It gives me saturation. It has everything I really want and need and it just sounds phenomenal. I just love the way it sounds. I love the TMT technology, which means that every single plugin instance sounds a little different because it emulates not just one channel but all of the channels of an entire console. Here we have channel 27. If I open up a different instance, we have channel 3, you can randomly if I hit random channel here. So now, yeah, warning, okay, that's fine. So now you have channel 24 here and channel 18 here, and all of them sound a little different. I don't have any favorite channels yet for this plugin, so the differences are very subtle. But I just do it randomly so that they are all slightly different and so that, the way I perceive it is, I get a slight increase in width. And also, if I EQ two tracks and I choose the same frequency and boost it, it's not exactly the same frequency. So because on a real console, every single that there's variances. Every single channel is a little different and that means that I don't get buildups as much, I don't get the same exact thing twice and to me this just creates a more like a sense of depth and width in a very subtle way. I tried it without it, you know, and it's like I don't know. I feel better about the mix when I use this feature on the Brainworks console. Plugins not mandatory, not essential, but I like it. So this is my go-to channel strip and so I treat my mix like a console. Everything goes to the same console, but I can treat it differently and I have the same tools available at my fingertips for every single group here. Now, then, below that, there is different options that are bypassed, that I can use instead of this channel strip or that I can use in addition to that channel strip. So let's see. On the kick master, here I have. This. One is another console, the Helios console by PluginLens again Lindell 69, it's a Helios emulation. This has a very cool bass response that I just like on kicks. Even just activating it without boosting creates a slight low end bump. So I sometimes like that on kicks. So sometimes I deactivate my AMAC console and use that instead and the EQ in here, or sometimes I use both, but it's ready on my kick channel because I know I like it. Then I have an API channel strip here again a different console. Sometimes if I want very punchy drums, apis my go-to, like the compressor, I also like the EQ, and overall it just sounds very punchy. So I might swap out the AMAC for an API. Then I have a pair of distressors here which are this is the X-Dresser by I don't know how to pronounce that company honestly Keeve, keeve, keevee. I don't know Audio. So this is a distressor and a Fatso module or similar to the Fatso. I have the hardware of this. It sounds phenomenal, one of my favorite drum compressors, so I have this here in case I want to use it. Then I have a very classic thing the WAVS CLA-76 plugin that I like on drums sometimes. Then I have a very fast FET style compressor and then I have a clipper, the Boslittle clipper. That I use because I want to control, if I want to control, like the final output transients of the drums. I like clipping on drums a lot. We have a whole episode on that. So to sum up, my cleanup EQ is the Fabfilter, then there's a transient shaper, then there is my default console that I like most on most things. Then I have an optional console for kick. Another optional console for kick then I have, in case I prefer those. Then I have my go-to compressor for kick drums, which is the distressor. Then I have another compressor which is very fast and punchy, which is the 1176, in this case the CLA-76 by WAVS, and then I have a final clipper on the kick drum. So these are my kick drum plugins. There is a send ready here that I can use. That sends to the side chain of the bass bus in case I want to side chain the bass to the kick. Meaning every time the kick hits the bass low-end ducks a little bit. There's a multi-band compressor on my bass bus and when I activate the send, the kick drum hits will duck the low end of the bass to make more space for the kick drums. I don't use it very often in rock and the type of music that I work on, but in electronic music this is a go-to technique and sometimes it helps. So the snare channel is pretty much the same as, or it is the same as, the kick channel or group, with the exception of the helios. The helios is missing. It's just a thing I like on kick drums. Here I just have the API as an alternative to the AMAC and I said you can find replacements for those, what you want on your shells, or if you're the same or if you like similar things that I do, then I would make sure you have some sort of transient shaper on those. Some sort of clean up EQ can be the stock EQ it's perfectly fine instead of the Febvilt Pro-Q. And then I would have a very fast, punchy compressor, like the fast and dirty compressor, like the 1176, you'll find an equivalent in your DAW. It's usually called an FET compressor or in the case of Cubase I think it's called the Vintage Compressor. Find something dirty, something very fast, as an alternative, as an option for your drum shells, and then find something that has that's not as fast, that lets more of the transients through for more punch, like the Distressor in my case you could use a stock VCA compressor it's usually called VCA or just the stock compressor of your DAW can do that just something with a little longer attack time. That would be your replacement for my Distressor and for the channel strips. Find some colorful EQ, because that's the main reason I use it, the color and the EQ. Find some alternative to the stock EQ. There's usually a different. Another EQ type available in your DAW can be called Tube EQ or Vintage EQ or Classic EQ or Studio EQ or whatever. Experiment with the different EQs you have. Can be another stock EQ and you use one for cleanup and one for sweetening. Also works without the color then. But there's always ways to get the color. You can use a stock EQ and then add a saturation plug in after that, which would give you a similar result. Just be creative. Just the reason why I do it that way is I want to have a clean, transparent cleanup stage, a way to control the transients, then a way to add colorful boosts. So my sweetening EQ is done in the console usually, where I want to boost the low end of the cake or add more attack or boost the top end of the snare. This is my color, broad strokes, sweetening EQ. Then there's my compressors. I like to boost into compressors oftentimes. That's why they are after the EQ. That's just the way I like to do things. Some people EQ after compression. I usually EQ into compression for most things. It makes everything a little smoother to me because the compressor then controls what I boost into it and reacts to my final thing that I have shaped carefully. That's just what I like. I have now 100% throughput, so around 60 percent of my total imperfection我 need to reduce. Yeah, and then have a final way of controlling the transients At the end. If you need to. I prefer clippers. On drums you can also use a limiter Can be stock things, can be saturation plugins, whatever you have. So that's the drum shells, same for the toms. Exact same principle. Now for the kit. It's a little different. And for the room, there is soothe in front of my channel strip right after the cleanup. For EQ, it's another cleanup tool that automatically removes resonances narrow notches. It's like an automatic, very fast EQ that reacts dynamically to the input source. So if I have harsh cymbals to deal with, instead of having to use 10 different EQ bands to smooth that out, I can just use soothe and it does it automatically for me and I have control over it. You don't want to do too much, but I like it on cymbals. So I have it on my kit master and on my room master as part of my cleanup process, followed again by my default console, followed again by the API, because of punchy drums sometimes. Then there is a different EQ here, available on the kit master, which is the batter maker EQ by Plug-in Alliance. Again, this is a pull-tech style EQ, but I think a transistor version of it, not a tube pull-tech. So a different approach here, but a similar concept in terms of curves and the way you operate it. And what I like about it is just the shiny, very transparent, very clean, very smooth-sounding top end of it. So I just like that on my overheads and my kits, my kit. So the batter maker is there. Then there is again the distresser in case I want to compress the kit. Then there is the room master. The room master is and I should actually add sorry, to the kit, I should actually add it. I don't know why it's not there. Probably let's just add it right now. I should add an L1 here to my kit master because the L1 is a very crappy sounding limiter, but a classic one. It's been around for almost 30 years now. It's by Waves and you can use any crappy stock limiter honestly for that, but the L1 does it very well. It sounds crappy and the reason why I want it on my overheads or my kit master is because if I limit my overheads with that it kills the snare transients. And this is one of the rare situations where you actually want that sometimes, because it removes the snare from the overheads so I have more space for my close mic snare if I want that. Sometimes I don't want that, but if I want to kill the snare in my overheads that is my weapon of choice. It's just a very basic limiter that just kills the transients. Now on my room master there is again a clean up soothe and then my channel strip here, the API channel strip. Then there is a pair of an 1178, which is a stereo 1176, basically FET stereo compressor. Very grabby, very punchy, very dirty. Love it on room mics. In this case it's the Pulsar 1178, but you could use again the vintage compressor, any FET compressor, for the same effect. Then there's Soundtoys devil lock, which is a very dirty audio distortion thing that I just love to mess up room mics. I just love explosive, distorted sounding rooms to blend with the kit. So any saturation plugin could do the job. I personally love the devil lock. Then there is Waves magma BB tubes by Waves. It's a fairly new plugin, very great sounding saturation and distortion. I love it. This is more subtle, it can be brutal, but it's more subtle in general than the devil lock. So if I want more warm, subtle kind of saturation instead of brutal distortion, this is the way to go for me at the moment. Then there is a clipper at the end to control transients or to mess it up even more. And this is my room group, ready to go. And everything's bypassed, remember, except for the cleanup and the console. As my defaults things Percussion, same thing, cleanup, then the default console, then the punchy API thing, then the Pulsar 1178, because it's great on percussion as well, and then the Distressor as an alternative compressor. These are all the drums and percussion tracks. Now the drum master. Let's just stick with the drum store. For now. The drum bus where all the drum masters go to has as a first insert a limiter, fabfilter Pro L2 in this case, because I want to tame just a DB or two max, like not more than 2 DB or so, sometimes just half a DB of the loudest snare and kick peaks, usually the snare, sometimes the kick, sometimes both. I want to tame those and control those before they hit my drum bus compressor just to get a more even result going into my drum bus compressor. Because then the drum bus compressor doesn't react to individual loud peaks as much but does a more musical pumping and holding of the drums as a whole, versus like doing nothing almost and then all of a sudden 10 DB on something crazy like that. So this just controls it a little bit more before it goes to the drum bus compressor. That is followed that Pro L2 is followed by a bus. This is a summing stage. Basically this is a virtual console bus that just emulates the behavior of a summing track on a console. I could use one of those on all my master tracks but that would be overkill in terms of saturation to me. So I only use those summing plugins on my actual final busses here. So my default for drums that I like most is the Neve style summing amp, the Neve style bus. Here again by Plugin Alliance, it's the Lindell AD bus, it's called. It's a Neve console emulation. It's very subtle all that. You don't have to do anything with it, you just see your gain staging. You can push it a little harder if you want more saturation. You can be a more conservative if you want less. It just adds a little bit of glue and warmth to it. It has a nice low end response to me, so I like to use that Neve bus for my drums. Those are the only two things that are on from the beginning. Then there is everything else bypassed as options. So the first thing I have here is a different bus, if I want to use that instead of the Neve. This is an API bus. It's more punchy, a little tighter. Sometimes I want to use that instead of the Neve, so that's why it's there. Then there is the Helios bus. Sometimes I want to use that instead of the other one, so that's why it's there, but bypassed. So just three different colors here. You can experiment with your stock saturation plugins for things like that. Dial it in a very subtle way and experiment with different types of saturation or different plugins until you find something you like. Maybe you don't need anything at all, but just different colors for different things in your mix until you find something that you enjoy. It's a very fun thing to play around with. So you basically build your own console that has a sound. That's the goal for this. If you imagine mixing on a real, like analog console, that console has a sound, and people using a console always mix through that, of course, and then through that sound, and that sound is always part of their mixes because it's the way the box sounds, the console sounds without doing anything right, and so it's very subtle, but it is a sound, and that's what I'm trying to do here. I'm building my own virtual console that has a sound that only I have. This is my signature, sort of stamp on everything that I work on. It's very, very subtle, but it's my way my console reacts and the way I can play around with that console, because the more signal I push into a group, the more it distorts, and it has a certain way of distorting. And so you want to build your own console that reacts to what you do. It's very fun compared to just having the very clean dog tracks that don't change if you push more signal into them, for example. It's like interacting with your console as your instrument. Basically, this is how I think about it. All right, so then there's one of my drum bus compressors, the Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor. I love that thing on drums, especially the Class A version by Plug-in Alliance, which is the one with the red LEDs, not the green ones. This is one of my favorite drum bus compressors. This is one of the rare occasions where I also start with a preset, actually, because everything else is flat. No presets. I should have mentioned that. Basically, I think All the plugins you've seen are default zeroed out. There's no boosts, no cuts, no presets, it's all just the tone of the plugin and I start from scratch dialing it in, with the exception of this one. This one I have, the Drums Discrete Iron preset is what it's called Drums Discrete Iron. I love this on drums. So this is my starting point here. I sometimes tweak it, of course, but this is really one of the rare occasions where I just love a preset on most things and if I always save settings that I like as presets so I can quickly use them if I want to, but they are not on by default. So if I open up any of these channels here, everything's off, like the EQ is flat, the comp is off, it's just not doing anything, unless I choose a preset or if I start tweaking it. I just have to say that. So when I import tracks, it just sounds the way that people sent me, plus the sound of my console, but no EQs or compression active. So then there is an API compressor very punchy, very grabby as an alternative to the Shadow Hills or on top of the Shadow Hills. Sometimes I do the two in combination. Then there is an SSL style compressor, which is the townhouse, also by Plug-In Alliance Brainworks. It's an SSL style VCA compressor. Then there's the Pulsar FAT compressor, again the 1178. That's a great drum bus compressor as well. Then there is my Distressor, again the Extressor plugin. Then there is oh yeah, those are my drum bus compressors. So that's about it. Different options to choose from, depending on what I want. So I would highly recommend you find a very punchy, grabby one, one that is slower and just adds character, like the Shadow Hills, then maybe one that is like a classic console style compressor, vca, like an SSL, and then just something you like can be all kinds of different things, just so you have some options to choose from. Those are the ones that I landed on after extensive testing. Now the Harris Doyle natalus EQ is very new. I just played around with that when it came out last week or two weeks ago or something, and it's like or actually no, it wasn't July, so at the time of recording this it's actually four weeks or something Anyway, but this is a very pleasing sounding EQ that I just like and it just sounds smooth. It has a thick low end and a silky top end. It has character. It has saturation. You can drive it harder or less. It's very flexible and just musical sounding and I like it as my current drum bus EQ. What I usually do is I'll add an overall like a bit of a smiley face curve to my drums, like a little bit of a more overall low end, a little bit more overall brightness and sheen on top like very subtle broad strokes. But I like to do that on my drum bus often, so that's why it's there. Then I have another clipper here for the drums as a whole, just to clip the drums and control the transients. And, as I said, clipping is essential for me on drums. Go listen to our episode on clipping and limiting drums. We explain everything about it there. Then we have a tape plugin here. My favorite current tape plugin is also by this weird name company called Keeve Kive Keeve I don't know, I should look that up at some point the same one that makes the great Extraster plugin. Their tape plugin is called Tapeface. I love that on drums. It's there just in case. I don't often use it but sometimes I do and I want to have it available. This is my drums bus with all the options. Keep in mind I don't use all of that all the time. I use some of it and sometimes nothing, sometimes almost all of it, whatever the song needs. It's just starting points and tools. I know that I personally like because I've tested everything I have almost and I compared all the different things and that's what I landed on for the moment. All right. Now bass, bass master. I won't go into the cleanup phase at the console anymore because that is again on every single track. The bass specific things I have here on my Bass Master are another optional channel strip here, the Helios, again because of the low end, as I described. Then the a Neve channel strip, in this case a Neve console, because of the grit and also the low end that I like on this one and I like it on bass guitars a lot is an alternative to the Amac. Or, in addition, the purple Audio 1176, again another version of an 1176 fat compressor, and this one particularly like on bass, so I chose that. Then there is, and especially on finger style bass. This is my go to thing, the 1176 purple here. And then I have the Nealt U2A. It's similar to an LA2A opto compressor a tube opto compressor that is slower, that is more transparent, more of a leveling thing. It has a drive that you can use so it distorts a little more. Very cool sounding compressor and in combination with the very fast and grabby 1176, those two give me the best of both. I can tame transients and then quick react to quick impulses, but I can also level out the overall bass track. I can use either or or both. Those are just my go to bass compressors here. The bass bus has a summing stage at the beginning again the same Neve thing as on the drum bus. As an alternative there is an API summer summing thing similar to the drums. Then there is the API is cool if I want a more mid-range, forward, tighter bass sort of response still a big bass response but a little tighter feeling than the Neve to me. Then there's the Helios that I like sometimes on bass. Then there is a multi-band compressor that is set so that I can quickly tame just the low end of the bass or just the area where the pick attack usually lives, like between one and two and a half kilohertz. This is the harsh or gnarly parts of the bass where the pick attack and the finger noises live. So I can quickly tame that if I want to. Then there is, but it's off by default. It's just there in case. Then there is another multi-band compressor that is only that only has one band active. That is just the subs, just the low end. This is where I can send my kick drum to. So every time the kick drum hits it compresses, it turns down. The low end a little bit is to make space for the kick drum. This is the side chain thing that I explained Now. Then there's an L1 again the crappy limiter that I mentioned. This is just to really put a hard ceiling on the bass to make it super consistent, super steady and also to kill some of the pick attack or the gnarly noises that I sometimes get, especially from distorted basses or from uncontrolled finger style basses. So that's my final instance on the bass. Bass, if you do too much of it it distorts in an unpleasant way, so you have to be careful with it. But I like to put that final ceiling on the bass to make it super consistent and sit well as a solid low end foundation of the mix. So that's why it's there. Great Acoustic guitars we have, after the cleanup stage and the channel strip, we have the radiator saturation tool that I like by Soundtoys, subtle saturation. I love subtle saturation on acoustic guitars. I don't like compression much on acoustic guitars but that one's great. So this is my favorite saturation tool. I can brighten up the strings. I can make the strings sound like they're a little fresher or brighter, if I want to, I can darken it. If it's too bright, sometimes too brittle, I can add harmonic content to it. I can make it more harmonically rich. So that's why this is on my acoustic guitar master. Then there is a different channel strip that we haven't looked at yet. This is by Wave and it's the Shep's Omni Channel, again console channel strip with different types of saturation, which is great again for the acoustic guitar. This is why it shows it because you have very flexible saturation input stage. Here you have a gate which is not really useful for guitars most of the time. You have the Essers, you have an EQ and you have different types of compression styles. And because acoustic guitars, as I said, I don't like compression a lot on those. But sometimes I have to compress and then I have to figure out which one actually works without weird pumping or any other artifacts that I don't want, and this channel strip just gives me the flexibility to quickly shoot it out. So this gives me a VCA, a FET, an opto and the soft compression style here. That is really cool. It also gives me the soft knee compression and it also gives me the different saturation styles. So overall, for an acoustic guitar this is a great channel strip and that's why I chose it as an alternative to my Amac. Again, I always start with the Amac if it works, at the moment at least. So for my clean guitars electric guitars, but clean I have that same Shep's channel as another. No, sorry, it's a different Shep's channel, it's the Shep's 1073. Again, a different plug-in. It's an EQ and a preamp stage that I like on clean guitars. It's a Neve emulation, very basic EQ and some saturation. This is what I currently love on clean guitars as an alternative to my BX Amac console or in addition to it. If I feel like that EQ works better, then I have the CLA3A, in this case by Waves, it's an LA3A emulation great on guitars, clean ones, to me especially. Very simple compressor, opto compressor love it on clean guitars, followed by the Amplified Instruments Processor by Dan Korniff. This is Korniff Audio. This is an absolutely fantastic guitar plug-in. It has a great sounding EQ. It has a great sounding compressor. It has a great sounding resonance filter for filtering out harsh stuff in guitars, but especially that one in the middle here, that saturation knob. It's just one knob. It's so awesome. The way it saturates is so pleasing on guitars that it's just my default. On electric guitars it's off, but I almost always turn it on at some point so it's ready to go there. Then there's an instance of Soothe, in case I have any harsh cab resonances that sometimes happen. This is just to clean up any resonances, similarly to what I described with my kit master. So here we go. In this case I like Soothe, not as a part of the early clean up stage, but as the final thing. This is just for whatever reason. On guitars, this is what I want to do, because sometimes, after brightening up the guitars and compressing the guitars, sometimes things get a little harsh and that is how I control this, instead of doing it right at the beginning. This is my, these are my chains for the clean guitars, for the distorted guitars, rhythm guitars, again clean up stage and AMAC. And then there is the Waves TG12345. It's an EMI sort of console style thing from the Ibe Road Studios, a British, very cool sounding Chandler style sort of console and EQ has a very cool mid-range punch and brightness to it, has a great presence enhancer here that sounds cool on guitars, has a great bass response too. Has a great saturation. I just like it on an electric guitar. So this is my channel strip here and EQ in addition to the AMAC or instead of the AMAC sometimes. Then there is again the CLA3A Optu-Compressor. Then there is again the Amplified Instruments Processor for the saturation mainly, and in this case it's already activated because I almost always use it on like. The saturation is activated because I almost always use it on guitars. The plug-in is bypassed. Sorry, but the default preset here is with the saturation on. Then there is excuse me, then there is another instance of Soothe like on the clean guitars in case things get harsh. And then there is a final thing here which is called the Renaissance Axe by Waves, which is, I think, a combination of EQ compression, limiting saturation. I don't exactly know what's going on under the hood. But it makes guitars a little tighter, denser, harmonically rich in your face, I don't know. It just makes guitars bigger often. And just a final touch I sometimes like this on guitars, so that's why it's there. So yeah, this is the same for all my distorted guitars here, rhythm guitars, then on leads. Oh no, let's go to the rhythm bus here first, as I did before. The rhythm bus has the summing stage. First, in this case, the Neve, again because of the mid-range and the grit. I just like it. Then, as an alternative, it has the API, a little more punchy, different type of mid-range and low-end to me. Then I have the Helios again. Then I have a multi-band compressor. Similarly to what I did on the bass. I can compress the low-end a little where, for example, if there's a build-up with low-end chugs on electric rhythm guitars, palm-yutes that can build up, I can control and tame that without having to make EQ cuts that would make the guitar thinner. So it only tames the low-end when there is a build-up dynamically. So I use that to control those low-end build-ups on guitars. And then another band a little higher up then with the bass, where I can control the harsh stuff up there in terms of like. Let's say, the guitar switches from playing low power chords to a higher single note style lick or something, and it all of a sudden gets harsh. Then this compressor kind of counteracts that and tames the harsh upper mid-range a little bit for me kind of an auto-mixing thing on the bass here. Then this is followed by Soothe, in case I want to tame all my rhythm guitars at once instead of doing it individually on the basses, or, in addition to that, a little bit of final polish soothing on the rhythm bass here. And then there's an instance of the Bettermaker, pultec, again, just because I like the way the Pultec curves work on guitars, on rhythm guitars, it's just my final sweetening thing where I can balance out the low-end against the top-end and make broad musical decisions. Alright. Then there is and remember to listen to the why behind those things right, broad strokes, wide cue musical things versus surgical narrow things and the cleanup stage things like that. Just remember why I use things. You'll find stock alternatives to most of them, if not all of the things that I have here. Alright, let's go to lead guitars, clean up and console. Then, as an alternative channel strip here I have an SSL channel strip, the EE channel. This is because I like the aggressive mid-range and it just makes my lead guitars come forward in a nice way. Yeah, I like that. So this is an alternative to the AMAC at the moment. Then there's the C-EQ by Soundtoys, which is a German EQ that is modeled after of Integic EQ A very great top-end. I like it to bring out the presence, or in the mid-range, also in lead guitars. It just really makes them cut through the mix. Nice drive also, if you want to saturate a little more, I just love that EQ to make lead guitars stand out. Then and again, I found this out by just testing a lot of tools myself, and you want to do a similar thing with your tools, so you can find your own favorites. Now there is a compressor we haven't seen yet. This is the Klanghelm MJUC. There's a free version of that, a very basic version. Then there's the paid one, which is very cheap. Again, that gives you three different compressors in one. Actually here, a very, very good sounding compressor, very simple to dial in. It's just one knob, basically. And then the timing. I just like how it makes things come forward. So I love it on vocals, I love it on lead guitars and that's the reason why I have it here on my lead guitar master. That's about it. The lead guitar bus has again the summing stage in the beginning, the alternative summing stages. The same is on all other buses. Then it has another optocompressor, a very musical one, the ACME Atme Optocomp XLA3 by Plugin Alliance, again similar to an LA2A. Very simple, you can choose between fast, normal and slow and then you have input and output and that's it and it just glues the different lead tracks together for me and again levels it in a very musical way. Make sure it sits on top of the track nicely, make sure I don't have to make it too loud. It sits well in the mix while still being up front. It's really great. So this is where my lead guitars go through and that's it for the lead bus. Then we get to vocals, vocals, so lead vocal master. Clean up in the beginning. Then, before my console here, a number of different clean up tools. After the EQ, there is Soothe, again to clean up resonances, room weirdness, sibilance, whatever. Then there is Biff. It's a dynamic transient tool that reduce like a transient designer, like a transient shaper, but very sophisticated and multi-band so I can tame transients in just the top end, for example, which is what I love in vocals. So if there is like a spitting sort of harsh s kind of thing going on or some sort of sibilance that is too percussive, that tames it for me it makes the vocal sound a lot smoother. Mouth noises, click, something like that. It's almost like a de-clicker. Super great plosives from being too close to the mic or not. Using a pop filter I can reduce those dynamically, so this is just a clean up tool for me. Then I can. Then there's a De-esser, the Lindell 902 De-esser. It's a DbX De-esser model, sounds very smooth, very cool. So this is my first De-esser here on the chain. Then, in case I need it, then it goes into my console for sweetening, as always. An alternative here, channel strip, is the Focusrite channel by Plugin Alliance, the Focusrite SC console. It's because the De-esser on it sounds very cool, very smooth, the EQ is very musical. I like all of it actually. It's a very, very good sounding channel strip plugin and just a different color again, and this is what I really like on vocals at the moment. So yeah, cool thing as an alternative to the AMAC. Then there is the CLA-76, in this case the blue stripe version of it. Very aggressive vocal compressor classic thing. Many people use it. Yeah, it's a very, very cool, aggressive sounding vocal compressor that makes the vocal come forward. That is followed by the virtual mix rack by Slate, just because there are different 1176s in here that I can choose from if I don't like the CLA one for whatever reason, and also because there is mic models and there are virtual mics in there that I sometimes use, even if they didn't record with a modeling mic, just because they sometimes add a quality to the mic that I love or a color to the recording that I love. So I experimented with that and sometimes using one of their mic models works for me for whatever reason, or their preamp models. So there's just some modules inside the Slate mix rack that come in handy for me for vocals sometimes. So that's why it's there. Then I have Rvox Mono, which is similar to what I showed you on the guitars, the Renaissance X thing. This is the Renaissance vocals. I don't exactly know what's going on under the hood again, but it's a compression, saturation, limiting type of thing to my ears and even a little bit of EQ maybe. But if whatever it does, it's pleasing on most vocals. To me it brings rock vocals forward in a very nice way and sometimes I use it as a final touch or as my main processor even. It's just a very cool, easy to use thing that sounds great. Then it's followed by the Oven by Plugin Alliance and Mayor Applebaum, a mastering engineer who designed this with a company called HandyEmpz. There is a hardware of this, but this is the plugin and it's a very sophisticated, very cool saturation tool that gives you a lot of control over the saturation. You can saturate the low, mid and top end differently. You can choose different flavors and styles of saturation. It has a bit of a learning curve to it and you got to read the manual because the controls are called weird names. So you have temperature, cook burners, sizzle, flow. It's not really clear what this all means, but if you go to the manual it actually makes sense and once you get it it's very fun to play around with. After the Oven there is a de-esser again my final de-esser that is on the lead vocals here, and this is just not a broadband de-esser like the first ones that I have in my chain. This is just a split band, which means it only tames the top end as a final sort of control thing here. This is my lead vocal chain. Then we have my doubles channel or group. The doubles starts the same, the cleanup is the same, including SPF and the de-esser, then the console, then the alternative console, then the CLA compressor it's all the same. No stop, sorry, until the console alternative. It's the same. Then with the compressor it gets different. Instead of the very aggressive blue stripe 1176 I have the CLA 2A, la 2A style compressor here on the doubles as my default, because I wanted to be less upfront, less punchy and more leveling and a little less character. So that's why this is here instead of the 1176. By the way, with the virtual mix rack on my lead vocal bus, there's also an LA 2A in there that I can use. This is also part of the reason why I have it there, because sometimes I want to use that in addition to my 1176. But on the doubles I have the 1176, the LA 2A as my go-to. Then I have an L1 limiter that just limits the vocals, as I said, and because it's so crappy and very grabby and destroys the transients, it makes my doubles sit in the mix well and they don't come forward too much. So they sit well behind the lead vocals but still get compressed a lot. So it does a similar thing as the 76 on the leads, but without making the vocal come forward more. Instead it pushes into the mix a little more. That's why it sounds a little more boring on purpose. So it sits well behind the lead vocals. That's why it's on my doubles master. And then there's the final diester and that's it. This exact same chain is the same for my harmonies because I want to position them in a similar way as I do with the doubles. Now we have backing vocals. Cleanup is the same, the console and the alternative are the same. Then there is a stereo 1176 for my backing vocals here because it's a stereo track, the 1178 by Pulsar. Then there is a plugin called VoiceCentric by Greg Wells, by Waves Very cool signature plugin, easy to dial in. Just adds color and additional compression to my backing vocals, makes them a little different from the leads. Exactly what I want. Quick to dial in, lets me position them in the mix easily Adding. Combination with the more grabby 1176 gives me the backing vocals character and everything I want. I can choose if I want them up front or behind the lead vocals. Just two tools that go well together. And then the final diester again, and that's my backing vocal chain. Exactly the same chain is what I have on my gang vocals, by the way, because, again, doubles and backing vocals, oh, doubles and harmonies. I want those to be a little more boring, because they blend with the lead vocal. They happen at the same time usually, and I want the lead to be up front and the doubles and the harmonies to be behind that and blend well with it, without grabbing all the attention or stepping on the lead vocal. That's why those have different chains. The backing vocals, however, they need to stand on their own and be exciting, but I want them still to be different from the lead vocals. So I chose different tools, and sometimes I want them to be in the background, sometimes I want them to be up front, and so I needed tools that can do both, depending on how I dial them in. That's the reason. Same thing for the gang vocals Enquires. The only difference for the gang vocals here is that, instead of spiff I don't need spiff as much on gang vocals because usually people are not as close to the mic, so I don't need to deal with nasty transients as much Instead of spiff in the beginning. Here I have reverence. It's what it's called in Cubase. It's a stock impulse response loader, a stock impulse response rever plug-in so you can load real responses of rooms into it and then you get the sound of that room basically, and what I have here is an impulse response. That's called God City Big Room. This is by Kurt Balu. This is the tracking room that Kurt Balu, one of my favorite engineers on the planet, has in his studio. He gave them out once and I got them and this is an impulse response. Yeah, that's his room and so I can use that on gang vocals. And the reason why I like it here is because, first of all, I love that room. That's one of the secret ingredients on his productions that I think make them sound the way they sound and I just always loved that room. And also it's a small recording room but still big enough to sound like a cool room, but not really large, not like a hallway or something. It's like a very controlled, rather small recording room. That just sounds awesome. And if you add that to gang vocals, it makes very dry or poorly recorded gang vocals that oftentimes sound too thin sound much more powerful and explosive and like more people, and this is what I often need on gangs if they sound too small and they're not energetic enough. So blending this and this is one of the rare occasions where I have the reverb on the channel itself and I like to blend it, usually not 100% but like 50% or 40% and blending that with the gangs makes it seem like they've been recorded in a better room, basically, or in a bigger, nicer room. That's why it's there and I don't have it on a parallel track, but on the track itself, because I want it to be part of the source track. Basically, I want to bake it into the source track as if they were recorded in a bigger space. Alright, then the vocals bus has. The vocal bus has again the three different summing plugins. I don't need to show you again. Then it has the BB, the magma by waves, the magma channel strip. Here you need to remember the BB tubes that I used on, I think, the bass channel, this the bassmaster. This here is the oh. No, where did I use it? No, on the rooms. Yeah, on the rooms. Here I use it on the vocal bus. This is the channel strip that goes along with that. It's by waves. Again. It has a very nice drive, a very nice, simple EQ with just three knobs, a nice compressor, smooth compressor, and I just love to glue the vocals together, all of them, and to just give them a final sheen, a final control over the frequency response and just a final bit of drive, if I want to. That's just a great thing on my vocal bus that I love. And then there is another, the SR that's called Sibilance by Waves. That always lives there. That is a very transparent, very cool, the SR that uses a different approach than most other plugins and it's my final Sibilance control that almost never gives me artifacts or makes the vocals sound like they have a lisp or anything. So it's very transparent, very cool, and I can send all of the vocals at once through it without it sounding weird. So that's why it's on my vocal bus, alright. And then we have the additional production things like brass, keys, synth, etc. Very simple, just the cleanup, just the channel strip, and then some additional things, nothing fancy, because it's rare that I have to deal with many of those things. There is an SSL channel strip here for the brass, a different one that like compared to the one you've already seen, but it's still an SSL channel strip because of the mid-range and that's suitable for brass for me. Then there's the L1 just to control it again, then four keys, it's just one plug in here. That's the tube channel strip that you just saw on the vocal bus. Very cool on pianos to me and in electric pianos also. Then there is a synth bass that has the Nealt channel strip here. That is a saturation and compression tool that is great on to add some grit to synth. I just love that sounds very gritty, very cool. Then there is the Rhythm synth bus. Has again another different SSL channel strip that I like. There is that Just different colors. I could use the same SSL on everything but I use different colors just for the fun and for different, to have a color palette. This is on my Rhythm synth bus. Here my Rhythm synth group, the Lead synth group, has the Greg Wells tone centric, again a one knob thing by waves. That just adds character to the Lead synth to make it stand out, easy to dial in. Love it on Lead synth to add some grit. Usually those type of things don't need a lot of processing, just some color. That's why I chose these tools. Then there is a synth pad that usually needs a little more. There is the virtual mix rack. That just gives me tons of options depending on what I need, also because it has a module in there that's called the air EQ. And also the revival, which is a great enhancer for the top end, makes it really shiny, bright, great for pads and ambient things. Then there is another plugin by Slake called Fresh Air. Same reason really opens up the top end, makes it lush and wide and bright, great for pads. Then there is the FGmoo by Slate, which is a very mu compressor. The FGmoo, which, similarly to like a manly mu or fairchild or in between these types of compressors. The reason why I like it on my pads bus is because it has a brightness boost just when you turn it on without compressing, and that's cool for pads. Also, it has a mid-side function. If I switch it to mid-side and only boost and then I turn off the link here and I only boost the sides, it widens in a very nice way. This is also why I like it and why it lives on my pads master here. Then there is a plugin called Raum by Native Instruments. This one lives again. The second instance where you have a reverb plugin directly on the track. It's because I just blend it with the track in like 30% or something, and it's a very lush, very wide sounding reverb that I just like to bake into the pad sound sometimes to make it even wider and longer and more lush and nice, great. Then the SFX Master only has the cleanup and the console and that's it. And the additional production bus has my summing stages and that's it, the effects channels. Now the final thing here, before we get to the mix bus. The effects channels here have the following things my drum crush has a selection of compressors and distortion tools. So we have the extresser. They all bypass because it depends on the song what I want to use. We have the Devil Lock. We have something called Smack Attack, a transient shaper that is really grabby, really cool sounding by waves. We have Pulsar Smasher, a really grabby, all buttons in 1176 emulation. We have the Dbx 160 classic drum compressor that can be cool on parallel drums. And then we have the Vertigo VSC2, very grabby VCA compressor that is very punchy and cool in parallel. So these are my weapons of choice here and I can do very subtle drum compression and dial it in parallel, or I can completely destroy the drums with distortion, whatever I want in anything in between. This is my drum crush. Then I have the drum ambience. So this is if there's no room mics or if the room stones aren't big enough, or if I want to add ambience to the overheads or the percussion or a shaker or whatever to make it blend better with the drums in the room. There is the reverence, again with a short impulse. It says LA Studio, but it's actually the Kerber Luh Room. I don't know why I changed the name here, the one that I showed you for the gang vocals. Then there is another one. That's the default. It's active. It has the VerbSuit classics by Slate and Slate Digital and it has a patch as a default here. That's a medium room, 500 milliseconds long, sounds very organic, very natural, like a drum room. So that's my default. Then I have the Abbey Road Chambers plug-in by Waves very cool too sometimes. Then I have as an alternative the Revelation Stock Early Reflections plug-in in Cubase it's a stock reverb plug-in that emulates the room sound, the early reflections, not so much a long reverb. So that can be cool for drum ambience. Then I have the Stereo Room by Eventide classic stereo reverb unit. That sounds like a cool room. I have that as an alternative here as well and that is my drum ambience track. Snare plate my default is again the VerbSuit classics, this time with a snare plate patch about a thousand milliseconds. Very cool Sounding classic plate patch here. That works really great for snare drums. As an alternative I have Abbey Road Plates. I have the reverence with a snare plate loaded here, I R loaded here. Then I have the Little Plate by Soundtoys amazing, simple plate plug-in. I have the Lustrous Plates by Slate Digital again plate reverb, and I just love plates on snares and toms that's why it's there and drums in general. Then there is the Rev Plate 140 by Arturia great sounding plate reverb, like a classy EMT plate emulation as an alternative. Then I have the Unfiltered Audio Tails by Plug-In Alliance, great reverb plug-in with a bit of a learning curve, but the great thing is that you can get rid of the nasty transient sounds that you sometimes get in drum reverbs and only focus on the tail, and it blends really nicely with the dry drums. So that's why I like it. That's a little bit more sophisticated, but once you get it it's actually really, really cool because it gets rid of the artificial sort of at the beginning, but you get the nice lush tail and you have a lot of control over that, alright. Then there is my Bass Crush Parallel channel, where you have Elysia character on it. Saturation Tool cool for bass followed by the L1 again to just really smash it. And all of these are totally optional. I don't use all of the effects tracks on every single mix. Sometimes I use none of them, sometimes I use one, sometimes I use many, and they are just ready to go and I can quickly send things to them, balance them and see if I like them. It's just ready for me as creative colors to choose from. So then there is the Bass Chorus. That has as a default the Osone imager. Here. It's not really chorus, it's just a widener. But I sometimes like to widen the top end of the bass. So I might only send a filtered version of the bass to this with only the top end, and then widen it with the imager. But I have a stock chorus plug in there as well. Then the ACON Digital Multiply it's a free plug in. That's really cool, like a chorus chorus type thing. Then I have the TAL chorus LX, also free, as an option. Sounds really cool. And then I have another stock plug in called Studio Chorus so I can experiment with these different choruses. All of them are free or stock. And then there's my rhythm verb for rhythm guitars. My default is again the VerbSuits classics, verbsuit classics by Slate, with a small hall patch at 800 milliseconds. Then there is and the hall sounds really natural to me on guitars versus a plate or a spring or anything like that. I just like a hall on guitars because it's very subtle usually for me. Then there is the Abbey Road Chambers. The hall is also one of the very few patches that work great with acoustic guitars for me, because I don't like reverbs a lot on acoustics honestly. Then there is the rhythm reverb alternative. That's called Revelation, again the early reflection thing I showed you for the drums. I like that on guitars sometimes too, because it sounds like a room. And then there is the even tight stereo room again. Then I have a rhythm stereo delay. Echo Boy by Soundtoys is my favorite tool here, love it. Then there is a multi tap delay as an alternative. That's a stock delay thing by a Cubase stock delay, that sounds amazing. Then there's H delay by Waves, the classic, as an alternative, and then there is Mani, merokee and Delay, also by Waves as another alternative. Then I have rhythm chorus same chorus plugins that you already seen on the bass track. Don't have to go into this all the stock and free chorus things as options here. Then I have my lead effects, lead spring reverb just one plugin, because that's what I use in 99% of cases if I want a spring, and this is an impulse response of a great amplifier fender type spring reverb that I just like on lead guitars. So that is there period. Then there is a lead stereo delay, again Echo Boy, and again the other delays that you have seen for the rhythm delays. Then there's lead chorus again the same free chorus plugins I have showed you before. And then there's lead flanger, where I use the ADA flanger by Plugin Alliance that has a vintage and a modern version. You can switch between the two great flanging plugin awesome. Sometimes I put it on the track directly like a pedal, sometimes I use it in parallel. Either way, it's there. Then there is my vocal effects Vox Crush, the virtual mix rack as a first starter here, with three different things loaded that I can use to crush the vocals a blue stripe, a VCA compressor and the stressor module. That's just a default thing in the beginning. Here. Then there is the, but it's off, it's just not the default, it's just one option in the beginning my default is actually something else. Then there is the Elysia Philz Cascade distortion plugin. Saturation plugin sounds very cool, very sophisticated, awesome saturation plugin for vocals again a different color, because I just like to play with different colors. Then there is Pulsar Smasher again very characterful thing here. Then there's my default is the MJUC by Klanghelm again the one that I showed you with the lead guitars, just because, as I said, it brings vocals to the front. There's even a preset lead vocals to the front. That's a really cool starting point. It just sounds very transparent, but also very in your face in a cool way. So that is my parallel vocal compressor of choice as a starting point. Then I have the Neal LA2A as an alternative. I've shown you this on the bass, great on vocals too. Then there's the Rvox again. Sometimes I use it on parallel, that's why it's on my Vox Crush bus. Then there is Vocal Reverb again Verb Suit Classics by Slate with a plate patch again a different one compared to the Slate. Add to the snare plate. It's a different one for the vocals Two seconds long differently acute. My default for Vocal Reverb at the moment it's a CLA style long reverb but with a lot of pre-delay. Also long pre-delay is very important because that separates the reverb from the dry vocal and keeps the vocal up front while still being able to have a long, obvious reverb tail. Then there's the Manny Merrachian reverb as an alternative. Then there is the Arturia Rev plate 140 as a plate alternative and then there is the Abbey Road plates as another alternative. There are also the Abbey Roads plates on vocals as well. Then there's a Vocal Mono Slap delay. My favorite is my default is the Echo Boy. Then again there is the Multi-Tap delay by Cubase that can do a similar job and then there is a tape plug-in, the J37 by Waves, because it's the Abbey Road tape thing, because it has a great tape slap back delay. And slap just means that the Elvis type effect, the very short one reflection shortly after the vocal, that creates the slap echo type of thing in mono. Then I have a Stereo Slap delay, same thing but stereo, so it's not behind the vocal, it's left and right of it slightly different times. Left and right Again, echo Boy. My favorite delay plug-in by Soundtoys alternative is the Multi-Tap delay again. Then there is the Stereo Room by Eventide. Can be used as sort of a slap delay thing. Sounds similarly to a slap delay or a small room, which is a similar thing that I want With the Stereo Slap. I don't want the Elvis thing, I just want the illusion of a slight room around the vocals and so that one does the trick as well. And then again my tape plug-in, but in stereo this time. Then there is a mono delay which is not a slap but a longer delay, usually for the vocals Echo Boy again favorite Multi-Tap alternative and Manny Merrickan delay, second alternative. Same thing for the stereo delay, with the addition of the Wave's Age delay in this case. And then there is a vocal micro-pitch track that only has one plug-in and that is the Micro-Shift by Soundtoys. Classic harmonizer, fake-doubler sort of effect that lets you create like a stereo double behind the actual vocal. Very cool. It detunes left and right slightly and it delays it slightly and it modulates it and so you get the illusion of a widening, doubling sort of thing. Cool for mono doubles sometimes. If they just delivered one mono double and you want the doubles to be stereo, very cool. So it's there, or just picking up a lead vocal in a chorus or something. Then there is a vocal chorus bus again the same stock or free chorus plug-ins on that one, and then I have an 1176 track that can be applied to all kinds of tracks wherever I want to use them, and in this case there's all kinds of different 1176s that I have available and I can just pick and choose one that I like. Now, remember, 1176 is just a fat compressor, so you might be able to find an alternative if you don't have any of those. The overall ambience again is the God City big room impulse response that I showed you, that I love, and that's it for effects. Alright, this has been a very, very, very long episode, so thank you for staying with me here. The final thing I want to walk you through now is the mix bus and the master bus, and then we're done, and I really hope you made notes, or you might want to listen to this again and make notes, and please, please, watch the YouTube version, because it's going to be so much easier to follow along if you actually see it compared to just listening. Then okay. So the mix bus. The first thing here is a VU meter that shows me the input level that goes into my mix bus. It's calibrated to minus 18, which is very important to me, meaning minus 18, RMS equals zero here on the VU meter. That's just how many of the plugins are calibrated, how many analog circuits are calibrated, and it gives me a proper gain staging reference. This is my first thing on the mix bus here. If you want to know how I use this, actually go to the surfrecordingbandcom Slash standout mixes and download my free balancing guide that I have there plus the checklist, because inside there I show you exactly how I use the VU meter for balancing and gain staging and why it's important to me. Okay, so, followed by that meter, there is, and you can use a free stock one. By the way, that one that I used here, the Klanghelm meter, is, cost a little bit of money because it has some fancy extra features, but there's plenty of free ones or stock ones available. Just some VU meter that is followed by a great transparent back style EQ back send all style EQ, the dangerous backs by plug-in alliance. Great sounding shelves for the top and low end if I want to shape the overall mix a little bit, and great sounding filters as well to cut out rumble or unwanted top end. Then there is the Pro L2 limiter, again on my mix bus similar purpose as on my drums bus where I want to limit a tiny little bit before I hit my mix bus compressor, just so it sees a more even sounding signal. So it just does half a dB or a dB or two maybe before I hit the mix bus compressor. This is remember. The mix bus means the whole mix as a whole is now being processed After the limiter. Here there is another summing stage and I have my different ones available here. Sometimes I want the Neve, sometimes I want the API, sometimes I want the Helios, sometimes I don't want any, but I have them available for some saturation on the mix bus. Of course I have to mention this is the in the box version of this. I also have the hardware mix bus compressor here next to me and hardware, neve hardware, neve bus with transformers that I can send stuff through and a hardware Poltec EQ and some other things, and sometimes my mix bus or other things go through the hardware as well. I just show you the in the box version of all of this because it's totally fine to just stay in the box. I just have some alternatives as a hardware and sometimes I use those Alright. Then there is an SSL bus compressor my go to the SSL bus compressor 2 by SSL themselves Great sounding bus compressor. This lives on the mix bus here as my favorite choice and, yeah, it's my go to. Settings here are for rock things are the 3 to 1 ratio. I don't know why, but that's just magical to me on many, many mixes 3 to 1 ratio, the side chain high pass filter set to 65 hertz so the low end of the kick drum doesn't trigger the compressor as much attack, as long as it goes 30 milliseconds to let the transient through release. Set to auto or the quickest possible if I want it more punchy, but usually auto works fine and then I set the threshold to taste. So I get like 2 to 4 dBs of compression usually and that's what I want. This is my go to, to glue the whole mix together and add a little bit of punch and movement. Then there's Greg Wells mix centric, a very great mix bus plugin. I don't know what's going on under the hood, but you just turn the knob until you feel it sounds great and it feels great and it's just an amazing mix bus plugin that just brings everything to life, glues it together at some sparkle. I don't know what it does, I don't care, it just sounds awesome. So I oftentimes use that not always, but often. Now I have golf us another one of those intelligent tools. Has a bit of a learning curve to it, but it's an intelligent EQ. You can easily overdo it with it with it, but it kind of they call it an unmasking EQ or something where it detects parts of the spectrum where things sort of step on each other and it cleans those up. And I don't know exactly, again, what it does. I just read the manual, know how to dial it in and I use a touch of it and almost always it's better with it than without it. But you can also easily overdo it. It just analyzes the mix and makes the key decisions for you based on what it assumes to be better, and sometimes it works, sometimes not, but oftentimes it does great cool, intelligent plugin. Then there is BX control simple plugin that lets me mono the low end if I need to. That lets me have control over the mid and side, the balance between left and right and the overall stereo width. So it's also widening tool. It also the meter and it's just a control plugin for the stereo image. Basically that lives on my mix bus. Then I have the tape face plugin again in case I want the whole mix sound like it's printed to tape. Sometimes I want that, sometimes I don't, but it's there. That is my mix bus. So filtering like metering, filtering in basic shaping of low end and top end, limiting to get control over the highest peaks, saturation in the shape and form of like summing stages, then my mix bus compressor, then another mix bus compressor and color tool, the mix centric by Greg Wells, then the golfos intelligent EQ, then a tool for the stereo image if I need it, and then a tape if I need it. Alright, so then we have the master bus. Sometimes I don't use anything here and I just make it loud so I can send it to the client and they get a loud mix so I can compare it to other already mastered things. Sometimes I do the actual mastering there depends. But my chain here at the moment, without the hardware that I like to use for mastering, my chain here in the box, is the cleanup, that filter pro queue, to just clean up things if I need to, but the whole, the mix as a whole, after the mix bus even. Then there's Saturn 2 by FAP filter, which is a great multiband saturation distortion plug-in so I can saturate parts of the whole mix and so I can manipulate the low end, the mid range or the top end or all of it with a and have a lot of control over that, to add the color, the final color that I want. Then there is pulsar mu, a very great sounding very mu compressor, similar to the manly very mu. That's actually what it models very cool. I love that as a mastering compressor, usually dialed in in parallel like a 30% blender. Something is enough for me, but it adds a nice glue and a nice sparkle and I just density that I just like like a leveling compressor. Then I have standard clip, which is my favorite mastering clipper plug-in or my favorite clipper plug-in in general. On the individual tracks you've seen me use little clipper again, like often, because little clipper is just so simple and quick to use that I just love it. But this one actually sounds better to me or has more options. That's what I should say. It has more options and I don't want to have to deal with this on every single track, but I definitely want it on my master. If I really transparently want to clip the master for some extra loudness or character, but mostly for extra loudness, it just sounds awesome. You can easily get another two or three dBs of loudness without it being audible or without it creating any artifacts that you don't want, and it's a really great loudness tool overall. So, yeah, that's there. Then I have Kniff Soma, which is a very good sounding mastering EQ. It's the model of like there's a hardware version of that and this is the plug-in version of it by plug-in Alliance. Sounds awesome, my favorite sort of color mastering EQ or one of my favorites that I love for sweetening and shaping transparent shaping of the whole thing, not a surgical tool, but a very cool sounding sweetening tool. And then I have the Harris say Harris Doyle, nateless DSC EQ. You've seen this on my drum bus. I also think it's very great for mastering applications. So that's an alternative to the Kniff or in combination with the Kniff. I just like it. And then you have my final limiter, which is the Pro L2 again. So you've noticed it's in the beginning of my mix bus, then there's a clipper in between and then there's my final limiter here at the end. That's I like stacking limiters and clippers instead of having one do the bulk of the work. And though this final clip limiter, here is where I get the another db or two of loudness and I, with all the loudness control or loudness enhancement that I do before and all the transient control and clipping I do in my individual groups and tracks, I feel like most of the time if I do one or two db of limiting here on this limiter, I already am at a very competitive, very loud loudness. I don't have to do five, six, seven, eight, nine db's of limiting like some people, I just do two and I am already at like minus seven loves or something like loud like that. So this is just my final loudness push and then after that there is another limiter, but not for loudness. This one is the true peak, the BX limiter, true peak. And this is just there because I want a true peak limiter at the end and I can't really explain what it is right now. It's just to prevent inter-sample peaks and you can look it up if you want to know what that means. It's just a safety measure so that definitely nothing clips anywhere. And I want a true peak limiter at the end, but the true peak function. In the fabfilter plugin they have one too. So the fabfilter plugin has a true peak function down there and it's cool, it works. But I don't quite like how it sounds. And this one's the true peak function here sounds better to me than the one in the fabfilter. However, the overall limiting and loudness enhancement sounds better on the fabfilter to me. So that's why I use the fabfilter for loudness, but the true peak brainworks limiter for just the true peak function. So stacking the two is what I do. I turned off all the filters and all the other stuff on this one here I set the ceiling to minus 0.5 and it's just there and it does nothing else but provide the true peak safety. And then the final thing and this is the only plugin in my entire template that is after, like post fader. Right, you see these green lines here. Everything that's before these green lines are prefader plugins, meaning if I change the fader value, the volume of the track, it doesn't affect how the plugin sounds, because it's taking the level after the plugin and then turning it up or down. Everything below the green line is post fader, which means if I change the fader value. If I turn the track down I feed less into the plugin and if I turn the track up I feed more level into the plugin. So the plugin actually sits down here after the fader, right, so the signal comes in at the top, goes through this chain into the fader. The post fader plugins should actually be down here visually because they are after the fader and the only post fader plugin that I use is the dither on my master out, because this one, the dithering and again you have to look up what dithering means it's you could make an entire episode on that alone. The only really thing, real thing you need to know about it is just leave it on and set it and forget it and never touch it again. Just make sure you did there all your mixes and masters period. I set the output bit depth to 24 bit because I always print to 24 bits and that's about it. So it just sits there, prevents unwanted distortion in very quiet parts. That's the very easy, quick on incomplete way to explain what a dither does. But it's important to have it after the fader because if you do a fade out at the end of the song, which is where automate the master fader to go down. You want the. You want the dither to be after that, so it actually affects the quiet part of the song, because otherwise the dither won't see that the song gets quieter. Right, so you want it to be to be the. Did you want to do that? To be post fader, so that it also affects the very quiet parts of the song at the end when the fade out happens. Alright, that is it. Let's get back to the main big screen here. Stop the screen share. I hope you've enjoyed this. I hope this wasn't way too much information it probably was, but you can go through it and chunks and go back and take notes and go to the YouTube version. This is my 2023 mixing template. I've completely I've let you look behind the scenes here. I've opened the curtain and let you see everything I currently use. This is my very sophisticated starting point, with all the options and all the reasons for why I like these plugins. I've done so much testing in the past months and this let me to arrive where, where this is at the moment. It might change in a year again, or in a few months, or in two years, I don't know, but at the moment, this is what I enjoy and, yeah, there's alternatives for all of these plugins that I could do probably the same with, like a completely different template, but this is what I currently enjoy and I highly encourage you to find cool plugins that you like. Find your own workflow. Build a routing matrix that makes sense for you. Build plug-in chains that make sense for you. Take some of the things that I've just explained to you and try to apply it to your own workflow in your own template and your own mixes, and then just ignore the stuff that you can't get to work and focus on the stuff that works for you first, and then you can always refine and tweak later. Don't try to copy everything you've just seen. It won't work for you. Take the things like try all of it if you want, but do it one at a time and only keep the things that really work. Find alternatives for the saturation plugins. Find different colors to mix and match because you want to have your unique sound. Find things that you enjoy using. Find things that react in a way that you like when you push level into it. Build your own console that has your own sound, and remember that the tools are not nearly as important as you think the why and the workflow, the way you use it and like all of that is way, way, way more important and just build your own mixing environment that you feel comfortable working in and and have something that you can start with without having to do certain things over and over and over again. That's the main goal of any template is to just make mixing as fun and as possible and make it as quick as possible, as intuitive as possible, as creative as possible. That's the goal and, funnily enough, those people who are against using templates always have the argument that it's less creative, it's less exciting, it all sounds the same, and I think the exact opposite is the case. Alright, I'm out. Thank you again for listening again. If you need help implementing any of this, go to the self-recording band comm slash call and let's do a free first coaching call so I can give you personal recommendations for your template. I can have a look at your template, we can talk about how to build one for you in the future, and everything that you just didn't understand from watching this video or listening to this episode is exactly what I teach people inside the self-recording syndicate. So if you want to be able to understand all of it and apply all of it and be in a position to record and mix your own music so that it sounds really exciting and you're forever proud of it. Go to the surf recording band comm slash, call and apply for our coaching program. Let's do a free first call to see if it is a great fit for you. Alright, talk to you next week. Thank you for listening. Bye, bye

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