All Posts by Kevin Ward

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What Is K-Metering? And Why Are You Telling Us About Your Mastering Session?

On this episode of the podcast, Kevin talks about critical advice he received during a mastering session, and discusses a type of metering developed by Bob Katz called K-System metering.

K-Metering consists of three different scales: K-12, K-14, and K-20. 

Check out this episode of the podcast to learn what each of these scales are used for, and learn why you should be using K-Metering. 

Show Notes:

  • How to prepare your mix for mastering.
  • What K-System metering is, and why you should be using it.
  • How to use K-Metering.

Links Mentioned:

Five Things Every Great Mixer Knows!

 

 

MixCoach

Click HERE to become a MixCoach Member today!

The Pivotal Podcast Episode, And How To Outsmart Yourself

On this episode of the podcast, Kevin talks about how the MixCoach Podcast is going to be different from now on, as well as how to outsmart yourself into being more productive, by fighting the resistance that keeps you from creating things.

Check out this episode of the podcast to see how The MixCoach Podcast may be different from now on, and to find out what the “resistance” is and what it has to do with creating music. 

 

Links Mentioned:

Five Things Every Great Mixer Knows!

 

 

MixCoach

Click HERE to become a MixCoach Member today!

083 Best Vocal Reverbs and Favorite Reverb Types

On this episode, we take a question from one of our MixCoach Pro Members asking about our favorite reverb types, and advice on vocal reverb.

Check out this episode of the podcast to see what advice Kevin and Jon have for choosing reverbs, and how to dial in reverb settings.

Show Notes:

– Pick a day and go through all of your reverbs and find what you like, then make presets of those settings.

– Go with your first instinct when trying out a reverb sound.

– The best vocal reverb or reverb type is whatever works!

Raw Transcript:

Host: Welcome to the MixCoach podcast, the podcast dedicated to making you a more skilled and confident mixer.

The MixCoach podcast takes both submitted questions from our free members and live questions from our pro members. If you’d like to submit a question, or find out how to become a pro member, head over to MixCoach.com/free.

Jon: All right, we’ve got Alexis asking, “Any advice on Vocal reverb? I’m never really happy with it in my mixes. What is the first option you reach for whenever you reach for a hall or a plate or a room kind of sound?”

Kevin: Are you asking if we reach for a hall, a plate, or room?

Jon: That could be it as well. So what’s your favorite?

Kevin: I tend to go for the plate, the vocal plate. But, there again, it’s all in experimentation. I have halls that I like. I can tell you my go-tos. On the Vocal reverb, lately, what I’ve been using is the EMT 140, and I usually won’t change anything about it. It’s the middle preset on the universal audio. The ones on either side, I don’t like either one of them.

Jon: Gotcha.

Kevin: The one in the middle, I like, and I’ll pull the reverb return on that plate back until it’s not washy, or whatever. On the Altiverb, I used to use the 250, which is a digital reverb copy, I guess. And I would use the 1.8 preset on that one. That one’s always good. On the 480L, I would use, if it’s a big ballad, medium and hall. And then sometimes I’ll use, if it’s a fast song, I’ll use, I think it’s called, Music Club? I think I stole that from J.R. McNeely. But Vocal Club is kind of one of those presets that you go to. That’s pretty much my bag of tricks as far as ‘verb.

Jon: And then Deverb.

Kevin: And then Deverb, Deverb is actually pretty good. Sometimes, if you want a longer reverb, you might want to put a delay just before it at about 50% so that you’re getting just as much pre-delay as you’re getting delay. So you actually doubling your reverb without having to change.

Jon: Without having to change the room sound or the length so you get weird artifacts, that sort of thing, so you’re basically just getting a little bit longer of a tail. Something about the reverbs – I use TL Space, or it’s just called “space” now, and so that’s really nice, as well. So I usually use the haul, there, that’s a medium hall, or the plate on that. That’s really a nice plate. On Deverb, basically, it was funny, we were talking, and I think we mentioned this a couple months ago on one of the tutorials or walkthroughs that we did on the Devin McGlamery record. And basically I pulled up the reverb for his vocal, and I’m like, “This sounds really good, this reverb is really good!” And it’s like the default. You open Deverb, and that’s the setting. And I pulled it up and I was shocked to find this! And it was like, “How does this sound that good?” It just sounded good.

Kevin: Actually, I think a lot of people probably think too much about that sort of thing.

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: I mean, people who obsess over reverb, you either like it or you don’t. I will tell you that I used a Bricasti last year when we were at the NAMM show, I got to sit and listen to the Bricasti ‘verb, which is that $4,000 verb that a lot of people are using. And it really was amazing. I could have used every preset on that. But my advice to you would be, find a verb that works, which any vocal. Just go through it. When you’re not doing a session, when you’re not doing a mix, go through the ‘verbs, and just go, “Like it, like it.” Go with your instinct. If you say, “Oh, that’s cool,” put “cool ‘verb.” I do that a lot. You can even set that as the default when it comes up, because you don’t really want to be hindered too much with reverb trails and early reflections and that sort of thing when you try to mix. Just take a day and go through all of your ‘verbs, and just find the ones you like and forget about every other one.

Jon: Valhalla is the Bricasti substitute for $50, supposedly, this is what Zoley [SP] is saying.

Kevin: Wow.

Jon: It has been compared to it, believe it or not.

Kevin: I will be buying that then.

Jon: 50 bucks.

Kevin: Because, I’ve downloaded some of the Bricasti presets for waves, and the trail just cut off. It’s a nice sample, but it just cut off.

Jon: Well, it’s interesting, and there’s a follow up question here from Balu [SP], but it’s interesting about the quality of the ‘verb, a lot of times like, “Go with your gut,” because the quality of the verb… A lot of times if you have a low quality ‘verb, or if you’re trying to use something that just isn’t working, you’ll want to push the ‘verb hotter and hotter and hotter so there’s a lot of verb on it, versus if you use a really good quality reverb, it’s not nearly as loud, but you perceive it a lot more. Especially on AC, it opens a great kind of very vocal tracks. You’ll hear these big, long reverbs that you think are just massive, but they may not be really loud. It’s just a good, solid, ‘verb, like the Bricasti or those types of things. Balu says, on the subject of reverb, “Is there a big difference between convolutions, IR, etcetera, or just whatever works?”

Kevin: The convolution and the IR are the same thing, I think. I think that’s just two different words for the same technology or the same terminology. And usually the only reason those ‘verbs exist is to sample other ‘verbs, usually, or sample spaces that you may not afford to record in, or whatever. So with those two being eliminated, it’s just whatever works. I don’t think you can go wrong with the EMT 250, or the 140, or Brent Rader sent some tracks in here the other day, and he had the universal audio 224. And his sounded great, too.

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: Deverb is fine. The Valhalla, I’m going to try out.

Jon: TL Space, really good. I’m a big fan.

Kevin: I really don’t think you can go wrong. And I think you nailed it when you said, “It’s whatever works.” I wouldn’t be afraid to experiment. See if it sounds good the next day. And if it does, use it again.

Jon: The MixCoach podcast takes both submitted questions from our free members and live questions from our pro members. And if you would like to submit a question or find out how to become a pro member, head over to MixCoach.com/free

082 Should I Master as I Mix? – Advice From Mastering Engineers

On this episode, we take a question from one of our MixCoach Pro Members asking about Mastering. He asks if we have ever received helpful feedback from mastering engineers, and whether or not is has helped shape the way we mix, or improved our mixes. He also asks about mastering as you mix and self mastering.

Check out this episode of the podcast to see what advice Kevin and Jon have about mastering.

Show Notes:

Raw Transcript:

Jon: Welcome to the MixCoach podcast, the podcast dedicated to making you a more skilled and confident mixer. The MixCoach podcast takes both submitted questions from our free members, and live questions from our pro members. If you’d like to submit a question or find out how to become a pro member, head over to MixCoach.com/free.

Member Question: “I’m guessing you have a good relationship with one or more mastering engineers. How much has the feedback from the mastering house shaped the way you mix? Any? Have you had a mix early in your career, maybe suggested for corrections in the mix by a mastering engineer? I know we can do a lot of home mastering ourselves, but I wonder if working with a label has influenced the way you mix for projects that are striving to be radio-ready with regards to the level of mastering required. I know the level and sophistication of software is becoming such that many can master on the mix bus and raise the volume to the moon. I assume you don’t master all your projects yourself, so is the line usually the client’s budget or the scope of the project, major production versus song for grandma? On what basis do you make the decision to self-master or to send to a mastering house?”

Jon: So let’s unpack this. This is a very large question, so let’s just dive in and unpack. We will deal with him on a one-question-here, one-question-there, that sort of thing.

Jon: How much has the feedback from the mastering house shaped the way you mix?

Kevin: For me, I remember my first in-house mastering thing was with a guy named Glenn Meadows at Masterfonics, several years ago. And Glenn Meadows was regarded as one of the best mastering engineers around at the time. And that’s one of the reasons that I went to listen to him. And the thing about it is I don’t think mastering engineers, they’re a lot like musicians in the fact that they’re not going to say yeah, you need to lower your kick drum by half a db. They’re not going to be anything like that.

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: I think if you’re going to get the full effect of going to see a mastering engineer, you need to go and listen to your mix in the room because you learn a lot more in the first minute of a song.
You listen to it and go, “Oh my gosh. What was I thinking on the low end?”
And then you’ll kind of mentally make this connection between what you’re hearing in there and what you may have thought you heard on your monitors. So if you want the full experience of going to a mastering engineer, at least, your first few times or while you’re building this relationship with a mastering engineer, what you need to do is go …

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: … and listen to it on their monitors, and just sit quietly in the corner.

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: And then you may have to ask what can I do, what are you having to do to my mix that you don’t normally have to do. And what they’ll probably say is, “You know, not a lot, but I did this, and I did this …

Jon: Yep.

Kevin: … and I thought we could do this.” And then you can take notes from that and learn from it. So just sending your mix to a mastering engineer for the sake of learning is not going to get you there.

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: But going to see the mastering engineer is what’s going to get you there.

Jon: All right. I agree completely. Whenever I went to my first mastering session it was the same sort of thing, where I’m kind of like just noting on every song on the project, “Hey, what is he doing on this song?” And he was notching out a little bit here, boosting a little bit here, just kind of note those things in your head, and you go, “Okay, well then that means in my work flow there’s something that I can alter to make it a little bit better.” So just kind of noticing and observing quietly and then asking afterwards, asking some good questions.

Kevin: And I don’t think any mastering engineer, if you email them later and say, “Hey, what did you do?” they’re not going to keep meticulous notes …

Jon: Right.

Kevin: … because they’re not being a clinician at that moment. They’re being an artist and you don’t really, well, I lifted this finger and moved it up to the next string and then slid it up this way?And then I bent it? No guitar player’s going to tell you that’s what they did because it’s such a muscle-memory thing. So going to see a mastering engineer of any kind, even going to a recording engineer who you respect and listening to it on their monitors and then saying, “Hey, what would you differently?”

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: That would be a good experience too.

Jon: So that kind of answers the next phase of this question, was have you been suggested by a mastering engineer what corrections would be? And I would say the answer is no, and like you said, you almost have to ask them and kind of lead them into that zone to give you some good and solid advice, that sort of thing. Because they don’t want to just, ha, send it back to you and go, “Phew, can you make these changes and then send it back to me?”

Kevin: You know the key to it is, mastering engineers who are professional and busy, they’re not going to send you back to the drawing board because they’ve lost a client at that time. A good mastering engineer is going to be a teacher, and they’re going to try to grow you and be somebody. And you’re going to have to be the one that kind of leans in a little bit and says, “What can I do”
Jon: Right.

Kevin: “What can I do better next time?”

Jon: Right.

Kevin: Well, I mean, I don’t know if I was gonna somewhere on that.

Jon: So the next phase of the question, he says, “He knows we can do a lot of home mastering, but basically when we’re striving to be radio-ready in regards to the level of mastering required, is it a budget thing, is it a time thing? How does it determine does it go to a mastering engineer or is it like a master-as-you-go type situation?

Kevin: For me?

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: It’s usually a budget thing.

Jon: Exactly.

Kevin: And I almost prefer it. Going back to the thought I was about to have and I forgot about it, was there are more bad mastering engineers than there are good mastering engineers.

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: That’s the bottom line.

Jon: Yeah, yeah.

Jon: Well, anybody with the C4 plug end or whatever, or L1, could technically be a mastering engineer.

Kevin: Yeah. So I find sometimes that it’s just easier for me just to master as I go. And I even talked to one of my favorite mastering engineers, Allen, and I said, “I’m not sure this is going to be mastered or not, so how do I need to send this to you if it’s not going to be mastered?” And he said, “Send it the way you normally do.” Which is typically maybe minus one dB, minus a half a dB, headroom?

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: And if you’ve heard any of my mixes, I don’t think I squash mixes a lot, so I think if you leave them some room to grow or to get things out of it without having to lower the level too much, I think you’re going to be okay. But my choice is usually budget.Whatever you’re doing on the budget.

Jon: I agree, I agree.

Kevin: And if a smart person would always ask, “Are you getting this mastered?”

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: But I always try to cover my tail, to go ahead and say well, this could be either way.

Kevin: It could be mastered or not.
Jon: Most mastering engineers don’t mind if you do it that way, too. There’s enough room usually that they can do their thing. And sometimes the best mastering engineers that I’ve come back where it’s basically maybe a tiny bit louder, but they haven’t smashed the life out of it or anything. It’s a tonal thing, a lot of times.

Kevin: Right. I think what a lot of mastering engineers try to do, the guys who really don’t know how to master that well. They just try to make everything louder. We can all do that. We can all make it sound louder, but it takes the touch of an artist to go, “Well, you know, I thought this song didn’t need to be this loud,” or “I thought that we didn’t need to do anything on this song.”

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: It’s like tuning a vocal, almost. It’s like if you have someone singing, the last question you want to be asked is who did the tuning on this?

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: Because it’s exposed, you tuned it, it’s edited, they can’t really sing that well, or whatever. And you don’t want to say, “Who mastered it?” Because usually if you ask who mastered it, it’s like because I noticed it.

Jon: Right, right.

Kevin: And that’s not usually what you want. So I try to master my stuff as I go to where you won’t notice it.
Jon: Right, right. I think that covers it, basically.

The MixCoach podcast takes both submitted questions from our free members, and live questions from our pro members. And if you would like to submit a question or find out how to become a pro member, head over to MixCoach.com/free.

081 Demagnetizing Your Mix (Podcast)

On this episode, we take a question from one of our MixCoach Pro Members where he asks how to achieve the level of separation and depth found in commercial mixes. He asks how to “uncouple” a mix from the speakers so that it sounds like it’s wider than the speakers, and that it sits further back behind them.

Check out this episode of the podcast to see what advice Kevin and Jon have for our Pro member.

 

Links Mentioned:

Demagnetizing The Mix (Part 1)

Demagnetizing The Mix (Part 2)

Raw Transcript:

Welcome to the Mix Coach Podcast, the podcast dedicated to making you a more skilled and confident mixer.

♪ [music] ♪

The Mix Coach podcast takes both submitted questions from our members and live questions from our pro members. If you’d like to submit a question or find out how to become a pro member head over to mixcoach.com/free.

Member Question: When I hear commercial mixes they sound back in the speakers. My mixes tend to sound acoustically coupled to the speakers. Does that makes sense? Are they re-amping or doing something that creates the uncoupled non-direct sound like mix like mixbus reverb”?

Jon: I don’t think they do anything like mixbus reverb but I do know what you’re talking about. It’s like a lot of times whenever we don’t craft a space or something super… compressed and forward it will sound very close to you and it’ll almost be anchored to the speakers versus like sounding like it’s coming from other regions. In fact, Stone Walters did a series of posts about avoiding the magnetism of your speakers. So it’s like mix out there where it sounds like space or creating the space. You’ll probably find those on mixcoach.com, those blog posts. I think it was called mixing in the box or mixing inside the box or something like that it was he was calling it.

Kevin: De-magnetizing your mix is what it says.

Jon: That’s what it was, de-magnetizing the mix. So you can probably find some good stuff in there.What do you think Kev, as far as that depth and the space where you listen to a mix you’re just there. You feel like you’re in the space.

Kevin: I don’t know. I haven’t really… I’ve never even thought of it in terms of coupled to the speaker or anything like that. So I’m not sure I can really speak on that with a lot of education. I just know that… I don’t know, I just tend to pan stuff hard left and right. We were listening to one of my mixes on Spotify, over at the NAMM show, and it sounded wider than I remember it sounding at. I mixed it on the NS 10s, and when I listened to it on the… is it PC? What was the speaker…

Jon: PCMs

Kevin: It’s what they have at capital. When I listened to it I thought, “Wow, that mix really sounds wide.” So I guess I do kind of understand what you’re talking about it sounding wider than I remember mixing it on the speaker side. I think probably what you’re talking about Rob has more to do with your speakers than…

Jon: Yeah, it’s not really… it’s not a panning or a placement thing.

Kevin: I can tell you that a lot of the commercial mixers are not doing anything really drastically different than anyone of us. It’s just that they’re doing it at a level that they’re comfortable with, and that they experimented with, and they’ve heard it on the radio, they’re analyzing between this mix and that mix. I’ve walked in on some mixes before where guys were actually referencing somebody else’s mix. So I don’t think it has to do as much with the mixer’s technique as it does the monitor that you’re listening to Rob.

Jon: Hopefully that answers your question Rob or at least gives you something to pull from. I don’t know if there’s anything really that’s drastic that you can change to make that…

Kevin: I do know your mixes sound really good Rob so whatever you’re doing is working.

♪ [music] ♪

The Mix Coach Podcast takes both submitted questions from our free members and live questions from our pro members, and if you’d like to submit a question or find out how to become a pro member, head over to mixcoach.com/free.

 

 

080 Mixing Music Genres Outside of Your “Comfort Zone”

On this episode, we take a question from one of our MixCoach Pro Members about how to approach mixing genres of music that we don’t normally work with, and stepping outside of your comfort zone as a mixer.

Check out this episode of the podcast to see what advice Kevin and Jon have for mixing “outside of your comfort zone”.

Show Notes:

Mixing tips we discuss:

  • How to find a good reference track.
  • Using a reference track that is similar to the song you are mixing.
  • Not being afraid to go outside of your comfort zone, because it’s when you grow the most.

Raw Transcript:

Jon: Welcome to the MixCoach Podcast, the Podcast dedicated to making you a more skilled and confident mixer.The MixCoach Podcast takes both submitted questions from our free members and live questions from our pro members. If you’d like to submit a question or find out how to become a pro member, head over to MixCoach.com/free.Moving to the next question here, we have Jeff Manson who says: Here’s my question, how in the world am I supposed to mix rap on my first MixCoach.com month?

Jon: First of all I would say watch the interview with Pettidee. That was an incredible time when we sat down with him and he had some really crazy awesome insight about mixing music and it was applicable to all sorts of things other than rap even. He’s awesome and so watch that interview. Otherwise, I would just get a good reference. Like you can download a GRITS song or like an Andy Mineo song or something like that in that vein because that type of rap is interesting because it’s more in your face, where it’s got the electric guitars and that sort of thing. So look for rap that’s similar to that because you could do something more hip-hop or you could do something that’s more like on that rap core-style. But yes, so get a good reference is the other tip that I have. Do you have any tips, Kev, for mixing a rap?

Kevin: No, I mean that’s what I would do, I would just get a good reference. And the GRITS is a good reference. Anything Pettidee is doing it seems that like the song I listen to a lot is Big Boy that he did with the guy from GRITS – I can’t remember his name – it’s a pretty good reference. And what I would do is I would just analyze back and forth, put your mix up, listen to the low end, listen where the vocal sits, listen to how wide things are spread out and if you can match that. And then you know I wouldn’t spend, unless you’re just experimenting, I wouldn’t spend a ton of time on it. I wouldn’t spend all day mixing the song. I would mix it in hour segments. That’s what I would do.

Jon: And it’s interesting, I think this brings up a bigger question as well of like mixing outside of a usual genre because here in MixCoach this is one of the reason why we wanted to do a rap song. It’s because it’s almost the only genre we really haven’t touched. We’ve done pop songs, we’ve done rock songs, we’ve done country. And so mixing outside of your usual genre or mixing outside of your comfort zone is something that I think we all run into eventually where somebody calls you up and is like, “Hey can you mix this?” And basically you have to be able to do it and you want to be able to say “Yes I can do this” and kind of know where to go. So mixing outside of your comfort zone is going to be super key especially on your first month.

Kevin: Well, you know if you want to grow as an engineer you pretty much have to make sure that you’re outside of your comfort zone at least some of the time because that’s the time you’re growing. And I’ve noticed too that some of the Michael Bublé mixes that Chris did, they had his flavor on it, that Chris did his thing on it. Not necessarily my favorite mixes on the record, my favorites were the ones that are a little less affected, I guess. But definitely, just get a good reference is what I would say.

Jon: The MixCoach Podcast takes both submitted questions from our free members and live questions from our pro members and if you’d like to submit a question or find out how to become a pro member, head over to MixCoach.com/free.

Do you have any tips for mixing outside of your comfort zone?

How to lock Shuffle Mode in Pro Tools

If you are like me, you’ve been surprised to find your audio files rearranged on your edit window because you accidentally went into Shuffle mode.  Shuffle mode is a handy tool when you are editing but it can really wreak havoc if you are not paying attention.

I stumbled upon a way to “lock” Shuffle mode.  Hope you find it helpful.

076 Tips for Rock Mixing Genre

On this episode, we are going to be taking about the subtle differences in mixing Rock music.  We are going to talk about what makes rock slightly different than even modern rocking country music.

Show Notes:

What does Dancing with the Stars have to do with mixing?

Rock Mixing tips:

  • Keep everything out of the center except Kick, Snare, Bass and Lead Vocal. Try to pan everything else out to the side.. possibly even hard left and right.
  • Rock Mixing is more riff and groove driven while country is more vocal and lyric driven
  • Parallel compression adds energy to drums

One Headlight (one of my favorite mixes ever)

Raw Transcript:

 Coming Soon

Check out Kevin’s video tutorial on Rock Mixing

Do you have any tips on Mixing Rock ?

JoeCo BlackBox – NAMM 2015

Kevin got a chance to talk briefly with Dan from FullScale AV about JoeCo’s line of digital multi-track recorders. Check it out!

Phoenix Audio Nicerizer Junior – NAMM 2015

Kevin got a chance to talk with the guys from Phoenix Audio about their line of summing mixers while at NAMM this January. Check out the video to learn more about the Nicerizer Junior – a 16 input, 4 output affordable summing mixer from Phoenix Audio.

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