A good mix prep makes sure that Jonas can spend less time organising your material and more time working his magic.
Follow these guidelines to prep your files for a successful mix.
What to deliver?
Exported audio files
Jonas prefers to receive exported audio files from your project.
The exported files could be individual tracks or groups of tracks mixed together, also known as stems.
The recommended track count is 20-60. If your project has more than 60 tracks you should consider combining some of them into stems.
All files should be rendered to the full length of the song — one continuous audio file per track, or per stem. All files should start and end at the same point in time.
Collect your exported audio files in one main folder per song. If you like, you can use subfolders within the main folder for grouping files together.
It is recommended that you do a quality control of the exported files before sending them off. Create a blank project in your DAW and import the files. Check that all files line up correctly and that they sound like the rough mix when played back.
How to prep my files?
Let’s get into the details
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It is common to record more audio than we actually need. In the end we might struggle to decide which parts to keep.
In such cases it can be tempting to leave the decisions to the mixing engineer.
Try to avoid that, or at least reduce it to a minimum.
If needed, take a few days off and revisit the song later. It may help to hear the arrangement with fresh ears.
Sometimes you can leave a handful of decisions to the mixer, as long as you trust their judgement as an arranger. But make sure you do the heavy lifting yourself. Complete composition, arrangement and production before sending the song off for mixing. That way, the mixer can focus on mixing and the result will be better.
Comping is the process of editing together the best parts of a performance.
If you have recorded several takes of a vocal or guitar part, make sure you select and stitch together the parts that you want to use, and exclude the rest from your delivery.
Unless specifically asked to do so, you should never leave the comping up to the mixing engineer.
If your drums need a pinch of quantizing or your vocals need some Melodyne, make it part of your production work. Especially if there are many vocal tracks. Don’t leave all the time- and pitch-correction work to the mixer. Jonas is a great Melodyner, but going through 30 vocal tracks is time-consuming and there will be less time left for actual mixing. If you are unsure, send one version of the lead vocal with Melodyne and one without. Same goes for Autotune.
Need a bit of editing to tighten up the timing of the instruments? Do it before sending your files off.
Melodyning a vocal.
Remove all unwanted background noise in-between your audio events. A good tip is to zoom in / enlarge the waveforms in your DAW to make sure you catch everything.
If necessary, apply fades to avoid clicks at your edit points.
Regarding breath noises: It is almost always a good idea to keep those in the lead vocal, but you can consider removing them in vocal overdubs and backing vocals.
Trimmed and faded audio clips.
This is important as it makes sure Jonas can start mixing where you left off, instead of spending time chasing your rough mix.
Also, try to keep an eye on the peak levels of your exported files, and make sure that no audio signals are extremely loud (as that may result in clipping and distortion) or extremely quiet (as that may result in poor signal-to-noise ratio).
Let Jonas know the tempo and key of the song.
Some producers prefer to stick a little ‘Readme’ text document in the delivery folder, with information like tempo, key and a few words about the intended sound and feel of the song.
Others will just include the tempo and key in the name of the delivery folder, like this:
By categorising your tracks using clever file names, you make sure that everything lines up perfectly on import.
Consider these file names:
Artist Name – Song Title – 02 DRM Snare.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 03 DRM Hihat.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 04 DRM Overheads.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 05 SFX Uplifter.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 06 SFX Impact.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 07 BAS El Bass.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 08 BAS Moog Bass.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 09 GTR Ac Guitar.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 10 GTR El Guitar.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 11 KEY Piano.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 12 KEY Rhodes.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 13 KEY Organ.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 14 SYN Arpeggio.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 15 SYN Juno Pad.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 16 STR Celli.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 17 STR Violins.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 18 VOX Leadvox.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 19 VOX Leadvox Dubs.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 20 VOX BVs 1.wav
Artist Name – Song Title – 21 VOX BVs 2.wav
This works great.
Because the first unique part of the filename is the number, Pro Tools will sort these tracks automatically on import.
The 3-letter abbrevations (DRM for drums, BAS for bass, GTR for guitars) make it easy for Jonas to see which instrument group a track belongs to. Feel free to invent your own abbrevations, like BRS for brass, VFX for vocal effects or PRC for percussion.
Lastly, make sure that the final part of the file name is descriptive. ‘Audio 1’ is not a good file name. ‘Electric Bass DI’ is.
Some DAWs will automatically export all tracks as stereo audio files, regardless of their actual content.
If possible, make sure you configure your DAW to export the tracks in your project that you know for sure are mono, as mono audio files. This will save Jonas for some valuable time.
However, if you are unsure whether a track contains a mono or a stereo signal, export it as a stereo audio file.
And if you have no idea what this means, you can happily move on. Everything will be fine.
As a general rule you should keep all processing when exporting tracks. This means that you should print every track through the complete signal chain, from channel thru groups/submixes and the main mix bus. Yes — if you have a ‘mastering’ chain on your mix bus you should print your tracks through it. The goal is to export files that resemble the rough mix as closely as possible, and the mix bus processing will play an important part.
The exception is lead vocals. Jonas almost always prefers a dry track. In short: Include any pitch-correction but remove all other processing. Include a copy of the fully processed vocal track too, for reference.
If you have tracks with big reverbs or delays you can consider printing them dry and adding 100% wet effects as separate tracks. This will give Jonas more control of the wet/dry balance, which comes in handy especially if the track needs compression.
Other resources to include?
There will almost always be a rough mix. Sometimes it is a quick and dirty bounce, sometimes it is a great mix that has been carefully crafted. Most of the time it is something inbetween. Nevertheless, it is important that you include the rough mix in your delivery.
Even better: Let Jonas know how you feel about the rough mix. What do you like about it? What don’t you like? Did you spend a lot of time working on it? Is everybody on your team attached to it and used to hearing it? Then Jonas needs to know. Having a quick chat about the rough mix is one of the smartest things you can do to ensure a successful mix.
Some songs are written and produced with one or more specific reference tracks in mind. If this is the case it is important that you include these tracks when delivering your files for mixing. Spotify links are fine. Try to describe what it is about the reference tracks that you like.
If you don’t have any specific reference tracks, don’t sweat it. Sometimes simply describing the feel or the sound you are after is just as good.
How to deliver?
Please upload your files here.
Jonas will be notified and you will receive a confirmation.