Unlike audio engineers of the analog age, today’s engineers are armed to the teeth with templates and presets that make their final mix that much faster to get achieve. Most engineers now have the luxury of loading new session files up from a template that they have created if they’re working with a DAW like Pro Tools. These templates are usually more than just a few blank audio tracks and reverb buses; they are loaded with effects, summing, filters and metering.
Brewery’s owner and head engineer Andrew Krivonos lets us peak inside his template session that he uses daily on vocal sessions for singers and rappers.
In this scenario, I’m using a stereo 2-track instrumental file so I have a preset onto which I can drag my wav or aiff beat onto. I load my “Instrumental” track with a few plugins with presets that I’ve made over the years. As you see, I have the plugins inactive until I need to pop them in. The first two are EQ plugins – the REQ6 and FabFilter EQ – which I’ve loaded with so each point has a tight Q. This will allow me to meticulously EQ the instrumental almost to a mastering degree of precision. I also have an SSL compressor and followed by a C5 multiband compressor that I can activate right after that. Finally, I like to have another SSL EQ in the end that is broader in Q so I can make up for any skews in frequency heaviness.
AUDIO TRACKS FOR VOCALS
I usually begin with at least a few black audio files I can pop right into record-ready. They will already be assigned to the correct input and output, but will also have sends to reverbs and delays. If you notice, I use sends A7 and A8 to route signal via interface outputs to 2 different Lexicon hardware reverbs (you can always substitute with internal routing to aux input reverbs). I have 5 other sends on each audio track that route via internal busses to additional aux inputs tracks with reverb and delay plugins. I can route as many different tracks as I want thru these effects since they are on separate aux inputs.
I preset some plugins on my audio tracks for vocals. I will usually have a de-esser first in my vocal chain before compressors and EQs. I have a stock de-esser on these which I will often sub out for an different de-esser when mixing. Next in my chain is a choice of a stock compressor which is a little more versatile and a nice, weighty Waves CLA-2A; I will typically activate one of these from their inactive state, sometimes both. (Easy shortcut for activating and inactivating plugins and send is crtl+opt+cmd+C
AUX INPUTS FOR REVERBS & DELAYS
Along with my audio track, my template has a bunch of different reverb and delay tracks. My first Aux input tracks (labeled PCM70RTN & PCM60RTN) are reverb returns from my two outboard Lexicon reverbs that come back into Pro Tools via my interface inputs (A7-A8, and A5-A6). As previously mentioned, the Lexicons are sent to using sending A7 & A8 from the audio tracks.
Next, I have two other plugin reverb tracks. In this scenario, I’m using waves Rverb for an additional Hall and Vocal plate verbs.
Last, I’ll have a series of different delays set up. They all follow the Pro Tools tempo map and are set up at various delay speeds by note. I have a few drier sounding delays on top which serve as my standard 1/8 note, 1/4 note, and 1/2 note delays. These don’t have a lot of filtering or effects on them, and dont have a lot of feedback. Then I have a few wetter delays with 50% or higher feedbacks, as well as heavy EQ filters, and modulating effects (like phasers, and flangers). They wetter, dirtier delays help create more of a vibe and depth, while the drier ones are great for adding clean size to vocals. I’ll usually set and forget the drier delays and automate the wetter ones for codas and other sprinkles.
ROUTING & BOUNCING
If you take a look at the inputs and outputs of my tracks, you’ll see that most do not output to my main output path A1-2. Instead I sum all my audio and aux tracks into an aux input track that I call my “mix bus” via bus ouputs 29-30 (which I renamed mix bus). This allows me to add processing to the entire mix by adding plugins straight to my “mix bus”.
My “mix bus” aux track then feeds via bus outputs 31-32 (which I renamed bounce bus) to a new audio track to which I print my bounces on – I entitled my new audio track “bounce”. On here, I can record a version of all my processing from the “mix bus” track. This becomes my “mix” file. I tend to monitor right thru my mix bus while tracking (with plugins bypassed, of course) with Input ready enabled on the “bounce” track.
When I want to do a loud version of my mix as well, I change the output of the “bounce” track to another bus, bus 33-34, which feeds into a final “master” audio track. I’ll record into both the “bounce” and “master” tracks my final mixes. Any mastering plugins I want to route, I can add to the “bounce” track inserts and they will print on my “master” audio track. Now when I print my mix, I will have my “bounce” track print with any plugins I tossed on the “mix bus” track, and my “master” track will print with plugins I tossed on the “bounce” track.
The reason for this complicated routing is because Bounce to Disk is a waste of time. Sometimes you only need to turn up one word or note and don’t want to sit thru an entire 4 minute song to bounce. But if you set up for internal bouncing the way I do, all I need to do is arm my bounce and master tracks, and punch them in for the part of the bounce I want to change. Then I quickly crossfade, consolidate clip and export clip. (Thank you Professor John Machado for this life lesson at an early age!)
Andrew Krivonos is founder and engineer at the Brewery Recording Studio with credits including Raekwon, Joey Badass, Jhene Aiko, & Odd Future
Tags: Andrew Krivonos, audiorecording, bouncing, Brewery Recording Studio, Brewery Studio, compression, compressor, delays, plugins, Pro Tools, pro tools template, recording, recording engineer, reverb, sound engineer, template, template session, tracking, tutorial, verb, Vocal« Blackway At The BreweryMixing To The Song – Playing The Producer Role As An Engineer With Nick D’Alessandro »