Kevin: This is the Mix Coach Podcast, episode 66.
John: On this episode we’re going to talk about what types of mixes
we are delivering to record labels, to producers, to clients of any sort.
Whether it’s vocal up mix, vocal down mix, a split track or any sort of
situation like that. We’re going to talk about what Kevin likes to deliver.
And what’s kind of required and what’s not required. Hey Kev.
Kevin: Hey John.
John: So this week we’re going to be talking about types of mixes you
kind of deliver as your end product. Like, what do you give the producer or
the person that hired you to mix the thing, in the end? So do you do an
instrumental mix? A split track? That sort of thing. SO what kind of mixes
do you typically deliver? What’s in your template?
Kevin: Typically, and this is kind of a standard at least in the genre
that I work in quite a bit, it’s usually a mix, a finished stereo mix. And
then there’s usually an instrumental track which is no vocals whatsoever.
And then, unless it’s vocals for effects that are, could be a keyboard-y
kind of sound. And then the third mix would be what we call a TV tracks or,
you know, a minus. So you basically just subtract the vocal and you leave
the background vocals.
The theory of it being, you know, if they performed on TV and they
didn’t have a band,what would be the best case scenario? And that would be,
just take the lead vocal out. Or take, if it’s a trio, or a quartet or
something or a quintet, you know, take the lead vocals out. And I try in my
workflow, you know, it’s set up to where I basically mute one thing and
then I’m ready to . . .
John: To print. Yeah.
Kevin: But I’ll tell you what. One of the things I would love to start
implementing in my workflow is an acapella version.
Kevin: Because then, you know, you’ve got every version. You can put
the stems together. Yeah. And then you’d have it.
Kevin: But that’s typically what I’ll do. And then if I have to go
back and do split tracks like we talked on a previous episode, If I have to
do split tracks, that takes a little bit more brain power to do.
Kevin: And you typically, you know, like, sometimes you’ll run a click
split. And that’s basically a click on one side and everything but vocals
on the other side. And then sometimes you’ll run a vocal split. Which is
the band on one side and the vocals minus lead vocals on the other side.
John: Right on.
Kevin: So you can see how it can get pretty complicated.
Kevin: And then there’s even variations from that. Like, we want a
split track with the vocals on the right and everything but piano and bass
and drums on the left. I mean, I’ve done that before.
Kevin: So then you have to figure out, okay, how are they going to
know, how is the drummer going to know when the beginning of the song is?
How do I make that definite? So usually in my mixes workflow, I’ll deliver
the mix, the instrumental track, and then the TV track. And then I’ll say,
you know . . .
John: Anything extra.
Kevin: . . . will have to be done on a different session.
John: Right. Right. So basically you’ll import like stems or
something like that into and then mute things as needed. Or kind of how
does that work?
Kevin: Typically I would just do, I would just open the session and do
a Save-As, and then call it split tracks and whatever, and then I would
just, you know, basically from the busses and subgroups that I have already
in place I’ll either take the region and mute it. Or I’ll mute the track or
something like that.
But it’s typically another session in itself because you, you know,
like what I’ll end up doing is sometimes I’ll take the drummer’s count off.
They need to hear that if it’s a band instrumental split. So like if
they’re no drums, no bass, no piano, but they want the orchestra and some
of the electric guitars in there, then the drummer’s got to be really sure
when to come in. Especially if he’s not playing with the clicks.
So a lot of times I’ll take the drum overheads or the snare drum or
something out. Or the click track. And I’ll put it in that side of the
click. Or, you know . . .
John: Or even some voice going “one, two, three”.
Kevin: And sometimes that voice is me actually. So, and I’ve done that
before where, you know, I just exported a bunch of stems. And to be honest
with you, I think it would be a great workflow if instead of all those
mixes, I just exported stems to where all the stems would equal the mix.
And then you could take the stems and, oh, I don’t want the piano in this
section of the song. Then you could just take that stem and mute it. Print
the mix. You’re done. But I haven’t really . . .
John: Implemented that.
Kevin: I haven’t done that. I haven’t put the brainpower in.
John: So the other question I have is kind of, a lot of times there
are record labels that will want like a vocal up mix, like a vocal up mix
and a vocal down mix. Different variations like that. Have you found any
kind of use for those types of things? I know there was only one or two
scenarios that I’ve ever had like a vocal up and a vocal down mix become in
mastering where, say, whatever the mastering engineer puts on it boosts the
vocal too hot in one moment where it wasn’t before.
But now it is. And that sort of situation where it’s like, okay, for
like this one section can you switch to the vocal down version? You know,
so were there any scenarios like that, similar to that? That you’ve ever
had a vocal up or vocal down kind of be beneficial?
Kevin: Well, you know, I think the vocal up, vocal down thing came
from 10, 15 years ago when people actually mixed in studios that were
booked the next day. And these days, as you know, you can do almost endless
revisions now. And there’s really no excuse for not being loud enough
because you sent 10 revisions to the producer and they say, “yeah,
everybody likes this”.
And then, so typically I never do a vocal up or vocal down mix
because, you know, it should be right at that point. And I’ve even offered
my mastering engineer, you know, I would rather send him a stem of the band
and the vocals and put everything at zero and that’s the mix. Or you need
vocals for more. But even my mastering engineer doesn’t like the
responsibility of . . .
John: Switching between versions. That sort of thing?
Kevin: Yeah. Because at some point you have to make a decision.
Kevin: And I think sometimes, I don’t know. It just seems like these
days you have gone through so many revisions. And revisions of a mix can go
for months now. Whereas, you know, 10 or 15 years ago, you were in a
studio. You had to reset the console. You had to remember what all the
beats . . .
John: Dial and all the… Yeah.
Kevin: You had to do all that stuff. And I can totally see why a lot
of people would be just covering their tails a little bit. Because, you
know, I’m going to be off to another mix tomorrow. And we talked about the
80 – 20 rule. It seems to keep coming up. 80 percent of the time, what the
revision they want is vocals up.
Kevin: Or it’s vocals down. So I’m going to go ahead and do that. And
then, worst case scenario, they can cut between these two mixes.
Kevin: But I do think that’s a little old school. But I can see how
people who are really busy would naturally just go ahead and do a plus
seven or plus one or a plus point seven or a plus one and a half. Seems
like that’s the . . .
John: Magic numbers.
Kevin: Magic frequencies and magic dB levels and stuff like that. But
anyway. I haven’t done a vocal up mix. I mean I have, but usually it was
for my own peace of mind. So I wouldn’t have to recall the session and
bring it up if I thought that it might be a little low.
John: Yeah. Definitely.
Kevin: And when, typically, people pick the vocal up mix usually
John: Right. Right. That’s very true. When presented with the option,
most people will go, “Oh, the one with the vocals louder”.
Kevin: Yeah. Louder is better.
John: Yeah. Louder is better. I want the vocalist in my face. Sitting
on my lap. Well, that basically covers all the different types of mixes
that you would deliver to a client or to a producer or even a record label.
That sort of situation. So that’s pretty much everything.
Kevin: Thanks for listening. This has been the mix coach podcast. The
podcast dedicated to making your next recording your best recording. For
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