pro method for home studio
Stem mixing with N Track ? -
Not for everyone as it requires a multi-channel soundcard
installed in your PC (firewire OK) and a mixer (pref with some
effects built in) and with a minimum amount of inputs as your
soundcard has outputs) and an outboard CD recorder - for
clarity i will describe how it works with my Delta 4/10 which has 2 inputs and 8 outputs (i do not use, so i do not count in the SPDIF in/outs) -
My mixer is a Behringer 32/16, it runs 4 Shark effect processors which gives me more effects than i could ever plugin to N (or any other sequencer) without adversly slowing down the PC, so no plugins, no aux,s no sends no returns and showing a healthy 28% cpu use - only track volume envelopes are used in song -
The song i am working on at this moment has 40+ tracks and is 29 minutes long, it is made up of a series of short audio clips, (1 clip per track, but the track may contain the same clip many times) clips used are mono, stereo and two track stereo -
There are a lot of faders to balance these tracks, and showing 40+ faders completely fills my screen, so to simplify this i use 1 fader for all tracks, to do this, display the track mixer options (row of icons that appear at the left side of timeline) click on the top ‘Green’ icon, a fader will appear to the left of timeline, now drag this fader to another part of screen -
When you select a track, this fader becomes thats tracks fader. it works in conjunction with the full view of track faders, so when you adjust the single fader, say on track 1, the movements are also reproduced on the fader for track 1 in the full fader set -
OK so i have 40+ tracks and as i put them there, i know, and can easily see what each clip is about (to assist easy viewing (using view all song) i have increased the font size for the track names to 10 points bold) -
i now group the tracks by assigning like tracks to one of the 8
outputs (4 stereo pairs) i have available, ie, drums = output 1/2. bass = output 1/2. vocal clips = output 7/8. instruments (no autopan) = output 3/4 , instruments (with autopan) output = 5/6. (autopan is provided by the mixer) -
Although i still have 40+ tracks, i have now divided these down to 8 STEMS -
I run cables from the soundcard outputs to the inputs of the
mixer and (apart from minor mouse adjustments) all mixing is done from there - The final stereo mix is at CD quality, it goes off to a mastering rack then to a CD recorder, monitor speakers are fed from CD recorders monitor output giving a true representation of the finished product -
OK, so it sounds far more complicated than it really is, and it
greatly simplifies production when large tracks counts are
used, well worth a try, as STEM MIXING is now becoming a top takling point and is used in many studios, by mastering this method it could put you on par with the pro’s -
sorry about the line spacing of this post, it was first done in notepad (as are most replies i do) but this time i cannot alter this post, it looks OK in preview but not so good in the final artical -
I thought stem cell mixing had been banned here in the land of the free and home of the brave?
Or is it just dimly seen thro’ the mist of the deep?
for land of the free !! come to England -
Dr J. how are you setting up the Sharks? I have 3 that I use the feedback destroyer portion on wireless mics for live gigs.
Dr. Jr, it would have been nice to tell us what stem mixing is before diving into the details, which don’t make any sense to me since I have no idea what the goal is.
BTW, if you can’t run more than 4 FX in n-Track, something’s woefully wrong with your computer. I’ve been doing that since 2003, using a 750 MHz P3.
If you’re doing outboard FX, that really hampers a DAW’s most excellent ability to change one’s mind very easily later and make a small adjustment. Tweak until you’re satisfied, rather than “get it right the first time”.
But I’ll admit that N would be difficult to work with when you have that many tracks.
Hey gizmo, it’s not banned, it’s just that the federal government won’t fund it. As long as your studio is privately funded, you’re OK!
Can you just mixdown your stems and create a new project? What am I missing? Or are you creating your stems with all outboard stuff?
Stem mixing is basically just rendering individual tracks to subgroups, then mixing those to the final stereo master…unless I don’t understand the concept. Part of the concept is that it’s easier to mix 8 or so stems than it is to mix 40 tracks. During the process some folks render the stems to analog then import those back to digital for final mastering. I suppose this may be an over simplification…maybe not.
I think the point here is to describe a method to mix out of the box when you’ve only got 8 soundcard outputs. I used virtually the same technique to try mixing through my Mackie 1642VLZ and I couldnt’ hear any advantage. In fact, I didn’t like the sound as well as staying in the box. I’m really happy with the sound I’m getting by mixing in n-Track and using plugins.
Some people also rave about the benefits of analog summing, that’s what this kind of stem mixing basically does.
However, I’m not sure if using a “cost effective” mixing board is going to give any benefits in this sense. What you get is distortion, hum and hiss from the board plus one more DA and AD conversion with typically average converters.
If you got something extremely nice outboard stuff, want use reel-to-reel or something of sort then why not.
Often the pros will do stem mixes with vocals “up” or “down”, various mixes for various media like compressed for radio play etc.
Sounds like Limey’s "Pyramid"
I’m still hoping that Flavio will include the concept of incorporating the ability of mixing down “Groups” in the “rendering” process of n-Track…
In some future build/version of n-track…
That would be on my Cristmas Wish List…
|I’m still hoping that Flavio will include the concept of incorporating the ability of mixing down “Groups” in the “rendering” process of n-Track…|
Folks with multi-output cards can do it already by selecting different output pairs for each group and or track. n-Tracks will render separate waves for each pair. Also, that’s pretty much what freezing groups does, except you need to manually do each group one at a time and copy out the frozen wave files.
I had a reply going early this morning, but I had a memory dump/blue screen on this P-111 and I just shut her down and went to Tim’s for a coffee… When I came back my server was down and I just quit for the rest of the day… I had lots of other things to do and occupy my time… But I still wanted to reply to this topic…
You’re right… This “Rendering Groups” was discussed on a few earlier topics…
I have 26 D/A and A/D converters on this Lexicon Core-32 hardware and another 8 A/D and D/A converters on the STA 2000 audio set-up I have…
I have it all LAN’d together along with this P-111 Do-It-All machine I use for editing and posting and all… But, IT still ain’t the same… When I’m in the Creative Mode, I don’t want to think about the Technical aspect of opening another folder/file and mental confines of having to re-open another timeline to abuse my creativity anymore than it already is… I’d sooner add to the timeline, another group so as I can solo or mute that group at will… It’ll be written in the .sng file, as-it-happens… After-the-Fact, IT (the Group) can be removed or replaced or whatever… But I would rather not think about that when the creativity level is at a maximum…
What I envision is, The tracks that are involved in the Group-in Questin will be automatically in colour along with the group’s colour… Configuerable, at least… then the “next group” will be handeled by n-Track in the same fashion… untill all groups are complete… Then, the Stems can be re-imported into another timeline and processed to the next level of finished product…
I don’t know how difficult it would be to code that in n-Track… but it would sure take the mental/technical abuse from my creativity if that could be done with n-Track’s timelines…
Yesterday I made some mixing with a project that has gone a bit obese, 30 tracks and a few groups. A real fatass lemme say…
During the process I really longed the times I worked with eight tracks, conventional analog mixer and three favourite outboard effects. Just a few mutes on a fly, some clever routing with cables, more rewerb in a passage with turning up aux send… the stem mixing idea seems a bit tempting actually.
One very starnge problem appeared that I’m a bit puzzled about. With version 4.2.?? I have difficulties in drawing envelopes in groups. Both volume drawing and send drawing is sticky, mouse doesn’t seem to draw but around 1 db corrections. It also seems that in certain zoom levels things seem to “lock up” like that in simple one track drawings too. The problem goes away if I change the zoom level. I don’t like this at all. Is this a known issue? Maybe it’s my mouse?
You present a fascinating post … I had lots of issues when editing tracks back in v4 builds… I thought that maybe the graphics card may have been the problem… Now I still have some of those issues but I have changed screen resolutions… I am at 1024 x 768 … It (the mouse control) is better, however, not perfect, mind you… but better… Now, I need a larger monitor… I have a 19" flat panel LCD screen… I need well, at my age… something like the size of the wall, in front of me… lol…
A higher screen res. for me might help the matter…
Thanks for the idea!
I have a 15,4’’ widescreen laptop…
|Quote (varakeef @ Oct. 30 2006,13:03)|
|One very starnge problem appeared that I’m a bit puzzled about. With version 4.2.?? I have difficulties in drawing envelopes in groups. Both volume drawing and send drawing is sticky, mouse doesn’t seem to draw but around 1 db corrections. It also seems that in certain zoom levels things seem to “lock up” like that in simple one track drawings too. The problem goes away if I change the zoom level. I don’t like this at all. Is this a known issue? Maybe it’s my mouse?|
I have experienced sillyness in this area myself.
I found that sometimes when attempting to edit volume evolutions for Groups that I couldn’t grab the nodes and drag them. Clicking near the node however would cause the node to jump to the mouse position as if dragged there. Not sure what made this happen or what made it go away - could be zoom level as I was zoomed right in at the time. V4.something.