Initial Planning I review the materials and notes submitted by the artist. I listen to the rough mix only once or twice at this stage to remain unbiased and approach the mix with a fresh perspective.
Organization I then organize the session according to my ideal workflow and familiarize myself the tracks and various parts of the production.
Defining Sounds I’ll get a basic mix of panning and levels, and then begin to hone in on the driving force behind the track. This is often the drums, but varies by production. I then define sounds using EQ, Compression, Limiting, Transient Modulation etc… Sounds are tweaked to sound their best according to function in the mix.
Vocal Attention The vocals receive special attention. A lead vocal, in addition to being tonally and dynamically shaped, will generally have each word judiciously tuned, each sibilant automated, and breath levels controlled.
Special Effects I then decide on complimentary special effects for tracks. I create automated aux sends to help define depth of the track and give each section a unique and appropriate feel and space.
Detailed Automation Track levels are automated to be brought out when they need to be featured, or to lay back and support the track. Vocals are ridden to be right on top of the track and to ensure that no words become buried. Levels of the track as a whole are also dealt with to create a dynamic feeling over the course of the song.
Mastering I’ll then reference the rough mix once again and note any differences which could be incorporated. References are checked against the mix to ensure a relative similarity in tone and level. The track is pre-mastered in order to bring the level up to an appropriate commercial loudness level for the genre and enhance the track further. When possible, I like to come back to the mix the next day, and make further tweaks with a fresh perspective.
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