How to Record a Mix, Part 2: Post-Production

DJ working in a sound editorAfter you’re done recording your mix (see part 1 of this mini-series), you’ll end up with either a WAV file containing the whole thing, or a number of tracks and transitions between those in separate files. Today, we’ll be doing some basic mastering of your recording in order to prepare it for burning onto CDs and uploading to the Internet.

Gluing the Chunks Together

If you recorded your mix in chunks or used the “semi-live” approach where you redid bad blends as you were recording, then the first step of the post-production is to glue all those tracks and transitions into a continuous mix. (You can skip this part if you recorded your mix live from start to finish.)

In the outline below, I assume that you have your tracks and transitions in separate files. It’s not essential, though, because for the “semi-live” recording method, the process is pretty much the same.

First, create a new file in your sound editor with the same attributes as your recording (44,100 Hz, 16-bit, stereo) and save it as “Mix.wav”. This is the file where we’ll be building out the mix. Copy the first song of the mix from Track 01.wav and paste it into Mix.wav. Now you need to append the transition from track #1 to track #2, which you have saved in Transition 01-02.wav, to the end of that first track.

Gluing mix chunks in SFFinding the merging point in Sound Forge To do that, find the exact same spot on the first track in Mix.wav and Transition 01-02.wav. A spot that's easy to locate is the first beat of a track’s 8-bar phrase that comes before the transition. After you’ve found it, put a marker on that spot both in Mix.wav and in Transition 01-02.wav (to put in a marker in Sound Forge, press the M key on the keyboard). Start zooming in on the files and dragging the markers to the same spot in both windows until you hit the maximum zoom. Your goal is to mark the spot in both files with maximum precision (see screenshot).

Now that you have your insertion point, delete all sound after it in Mix.wav. In Transition 01-02.wav, copy the transition from the marker onwards and paste it to the end of Mix.wav. Check out how the track sounds on the marker: if you’ve done everything right, the stitching should be completely unnoticeable.

Continue in the same fashion by appending track #2 to the transition, then the transition from #2 to #3, and so on. What you’ll end up with is one big WAV file that holds the whole mix. After you’ve made sure that all insertion points are unnoticeable to a listener, you may delete the no longer needed markers.

Evening Out the Volume of the Tracks

Strange heading, isn’t it? After all, you’ve set the sound level before recording, and were maintaining a constant level throughout the mix. True, but the thing is, sometimes the perceived volume of a track in your mix will still come out noticeably lower (or higher) than that of the rest of the songs. The reason is simple: Even though the track’s level is peaking at around 0 dB, its average sound level is lower.

So what do you do about it? You can’t simply increase the level of the track: it’s already peaking at around 0 dB, so clipping is inevitable. Compression to the rescue!

A compressor is a special device or software function that amplifies quiet passages of a song but leaves the loud ones unaffected. As a result, the average sound level (and so the perceived volume) of the track gets increased, but the peak levels remain the same. Of course, the difference in volume between the loudest and softest parts of the song is thereby diminished, hence the full name of the device: dynamic range compressor.

Sound Forge's Normalize windowThe Normalize window in SF Now that you know what compression is, you can use it to fix that problem track in your mix. First, get an idea of how quiet it is in relation to its neighbors. If you use Sound Forge, select the main part of the song in the editor and click Process ➝ Normalize. In the Normalize window (see screenshot), click Scan Levels. Take note of the RMS value (i.e. the average sound level) for the sample. Next, click Cancel and find out the RMS for the neighboring tracks. Suppose that their RMS is around -15 dB, and the track at hand is quieter with an RMS of around -18 dB. You need to apply some compression to the tune so as to increase its RMS.

Select the main part of the track between the transitions. Make sure that the selection starts and ends with complete 8-bar phrases. (All major changes in the music should take place at new phrases – remember?) Open the Normalize window once again and choose “Average RMS power (loudness)” for the “Normalize using:” option. Set the level slider to the left to -15 dB. In the “If clipping occurs:” dropdown box, choose “Apply dynamic compression” like on the screenshot. This will make the editor apply compression instead of letting peak levels go beyond 0 dB causing clipping. Click OK.

Now listen to the mix starting from the transition to the problem track. You’ll hear how the sound becomes much louder at the new phrase. No wonder; we’ve amplified the main part of the song but it still plays at the old level during the transition. Thus you also need to amplify the blend, although to a smaller extent than the whole track. Finally, you’ll need to do the same to the transition from the problem track to the next one.

I know all this sounds a bit complicated, but fixing the volume of a problem track actually isn’t that hard, especially if your editor has the “Undo” button! Just trust your guts, let your musical intuition guide you and you’ll be fine.

Compressing the Whole Mix

Compression is routinely used in most commercial albums to make the music sound louder. If you don’t want your mix to sound too quiet compared to the other CDs out there, you may want to increase its average sound level, too. To do this, use the Normalize function to increase the entire file’s RMS to, say, -12 dB. Don’t overdo it: excessive compression may cause distortion and is tiring to a listener.

Splitting Your Mix into CD Tracks

At this point, your WAV file should contain the final master of the mix. If you’re only planning to upload it to the Internet, there is no more post-production to be done. If you’d like to burn a promo CD, however, you’ll need to split the mix into separate tracks so the CD is easier to navigate.

Here is a simple rule of thumb that I use when splitting a mix into tracks. A new track on the CD should start at the first beat of a phrase where a new tune in the mix begins to clearly dominate over the old one. Sometimes I simply close my eyes, listen to the blend and try to imagine at what point starting a new CD track would be the most appropriate.

Splitting a mix into separate tracksA mix ready to be split into tracks (compression not yet applied)

One of the easiest ways to split a mix in Sound Forge is by using markers. After you've put a marker on the beginning of each CD track as well as on the very end of the mix (that's important!), go to Special ➝ Regions List and click Markers to Regions. The markers will turn into regions that will correspond to your CD tracks. Next, click Tools ➝ Extract Regions to export all those regions into separate WAV files ready to be burned onto a CD.

That's it as far as mix post-production goes. In the third and final part of this article, I'll show you how to burn a promo CD as well as how to turn your mix into an MP3 that you can upload to the Internet. Until then, post comments or ask any questions that you may have!

Image credits: 

Comments

So Air Max 90 we walked. Yeezy Black On Nike Air Pas Cher the TOMS SHOES OUTLET corner, we pumped some quarters into suivre un envoi a Moncler Sale SanFrancisco nike jordan shoes Chronicle newspaper box Nike Shoes Sale Store and stopped UGG BOOTS FOR WOMEN to read the front sec-tion. It had been five days Moncler Outlet since the Discount TOMS bombs went off, but it Zapatillas Air Max was still Nike Shox discount Sale allover the front cover.
Severe haircut chaussure adidas pas cher woman chaussure basket homme had talked Coach Bags On Sale about Boost Yeezy Sale On Line "the bridge" blowing up, Jordan Shoes For Cheap andI'd nike schuhe günstig just Nike Outlet Store assumed that Vans Black Sneakers she was coach factory outlet online talking Nike Shoes Discount Marketplace about the Michael Kors Clearance Golden Gate bridge, but Iwas wrong. The terrorists had blown up the Bay asics sko bridge.
"Why the cheap uggs for women hell would they blow up Air Max Femme the Bay bridge?" I said. "TheGolden Adidas Soccer Cleats Cheap Gate is the reebok running shoes one on all Pandora Style Beads the postcards." Even if you've never Nike Shoes Online been toSan Francisco, chances are you know what Cheap Real Jordans the TOMS STORE Golden Gate looks nike air like:
it's that big orange suspension Nike Polo Sale bridge that New Nike Shoes swoops Doudoune Moncler Site Officiel dramatically from theold nike tn pas cher military base UGGS Outlet called fitflops sale uk the Presidio Canada goose dam to Sausalito, TOMS For Sale where Boutique Ugg all new pandora charms the cutesywine-country towns are with new jordan releases their Air Max Pas Cher scented candle nike sneakers shops cheap uggs and art galleries.
It's Adidas Originals Superstar picturesque as hell, and it's practically the Louboutin Wedding Shoes symbol for the state ofCalifornia. ジョーダン スニーカー If you go Nike Air Max Cheap to the Disneyland nike air jordan pas cher California Michael Kors Outlet Adventure Air Max Kopen park,there's Nike Factory Outlet a replica Soccer Boots Outlet nike of it TOMS OUTLET just past the gates, Negozi Pandora with Air max dam a monorail Nike Kyrie running pandora jewelry store over it.
So Cheap Toms Outlet Store naturally I assumed that Cheap True Religion Jeans if you ADIDAS NMD SALE ON LINE were Nike Air Damen going Nike Roshe Run Sale to blow up Doudoune Moncler Pas Cher a bridge Nike Air Sneakers inSan Francisco, Nike Air Huarache For Sale that's the one Moncler Jackets Discount Marketplace you'd blow.
"They probably got scared off by christian louboutin outlet all the cameras and stuff," Jolu said.
"The Nike Free Run 5.0 Womens National nfl store Guard's always checking cars at both ends zapatillas nike baratas and Cheap Retro Jordans For Sale there's allthose suicide fences and junk all retro jordans for cheap along it." People have been New Air Max 2017 jumping Nike Online Store offthe Golden Gate since ugg store it Jordan Shoes Air opened Official NHL Jerseys in 1937 — Cheap Michael Kors Tote Bag they stopped counting afterthe thousandth suicide in 1995.
"Yeah," Discount Christian Louboutin Shoes Vanessa said. Cheap Toms Shoes Outlet "Plus the Bay Bridge Stone Island Outlet actually goes somewhere."The Ray Ban Sunglasses Online Bay Bridge Uggs For Cheap goes from downtown Hogan Outlet San Francisco to Oakland andthence to Reebok Outlet Store Berkeley, the ugg clearance East Bay Boty Nike Air townships that are Air max levně home vans shoe store to many of thepeople newest lebron shoes who live adidas store and work Discount Ray Ban Sunglasses in town. Official Toms Shoes Outlet It's one of the only longchamp bags on sale parts of the BayArea where a normal person can afford a house big enough to reallystretch Adidas Superstar Sale Online out Nike Air Max Sale in, and Pandora Outlet there's also the university Adidas Originals Sale and a bunch of new yeezy shoes light Michael Kors Handbags Discount in-dustry over there. The BART Descuentos Nike goes under the Christian Louboutin Shoes Outlet Bay womens nike air max and Nike Air Shoes connects the Scarpe Nike Scontate twocities, botas de futbol too, zapatos de futbol nike but it's the Bay Bridge that sees Coach Outlet Store Online most of pandora beads the traffic. The GoldenGate Cheap Nike Free Run was a nice air force one pas cher bridge chaussures nike pas cher if Kobe Shoes Nike you were Nike Air Women a Ugg boots Sale tourist or a rich Yeezy Men retiree living out nike sb stefan janoski in66wine country, but it was mostly ornamental. The Bay Bridge is — was —San Francisco's work-horse bridge.
I thought pandora outlet store about it for a minute. Moncler Outlet Store "You guys are right," I moncler jacket sale said. "But I don'tthink that's all of Nike Factory Store it. Pandora Store We keep acting like converse store terrorists Pandora Official Website attack Cheap Michael Kors landmarks be-cause Chaussure Air Max they Jordan Store hate landmarks. Terrorists don't canada goose jacket outlet hate landmarks scarpe nike or bridges orairplanes. They just Cheap True Religion Jeans want to screw stuff up nike mercurial soccer cleats and Bottes Ugg Femme Pas Cher make people scared. Tomake terror. So of course they went Canada Goose Outlet after the Bay Billige Nike Sko Bridge Cheap Nike Air Huarache after Michael Kors the Abercrombie and fitch store GoldenGate got all Nike Shox Cheap those prada outlet cameras Cheap Louboutin HeelsOriginal Ugg Boots after airplanes got all metal-detectored 23 IS BACK Store andX-rayed." I thought about it some more, staring Timberland Outlet blankly Toms Factory Outlet at the Adidas Superstar cars rollingdown the street, at huarache sneakers the people walking down the sidewalks, at Yeezy Boost Sale Online the The official UGG city allaround me. Canada Goose Womens Coats "Terrorists Nike Air 90 don't Adidas Neo Discount Sale hate Nike Air Max Goedkoop airplanes or bridges. Nike joggesko They love terror."It was Nike Tn Requin Pas Cher so obvious I Air Jordan Retro Sale couldn't believe I'd Discount Air Max never thought of it before. I guessthat cheap nike air max being treated like Moncler Outlet Online a terrorist Nike Store for a Hyperdunk 2014 few days was Zapatillas Nike Air Max Baratas enough to clarify mythinking.
The Hugo Boss Sale other canada goose jackets on sale two were staring at me. "I'm Nike Soccer Cleats Boots right, aren't günstige nike schuhe I? All this crap, ugg factory outlet allthe X-rays Ugg Pas Cher En France and ID Nike Pas Cher Femme checks, they're Air Max Sneakers all useless, aren't they?"They nodded slowly.
"Worse than useless," I nike sportschuhe said, my voice going up and cracking. "Becausethey Christian Louboutin Heels ended up Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 For Sale with Nike Roshe Run us Cheap Nike Huarache in prison, Ugg Pas Cher Femme with Uggs Pas Cher Soldes Darryl —" Adidas Yeezy Cheap I hadn't thought ofDarryl Pandora Store since we sat down and now Yeezy Shoes Discount Marketplace it came back to Scarpe Air Max me, my friend, miss-ing, disappeared. Adidas Shoes Discount Marketplace I stopped louboutin heels talking and ground my jaws Air Nike together.
"We モンクレール レディース have to Jordan Sneakers For Sale tell Canada Goose Online Store our nike shoes parents," Cheap Air Max Trainers Jolu Nike Huarache Womens Cheap said.
"We Cheap Air Max should get toms shoes outlet a lawyer," Nike Air Jordan 11 Vanessa said.
I Canada Goose Outlet thought Chaussure Nike Pas Cher of telling Nike Outlet my Adidas Originals Stan Smith story. Of telling the Pandora Store Sale world what Mens Nike Air Max had Chaussure Nike Air Max Pas Cher become ofme. Of the adidas outlet videos that Toms Outlet Online would no Adidas NMD For Sale doubt Cheap Michael Kors Handbags come Ugg Outlet Online Store out, of Doudoune Moncler Femme Pas Cher me weeping, re-duced to a groveling animal.

HYst 2017.9.20

Add new comment