How to Win a Mix Contest: Automation

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How to Win a Mix Contest: Automation


How to Win a Mix Contest: Automation

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A video with tons of useful tips for using automation in a mix.

Transcript excerpt:

Recently, we hosted a mix contest with The Mix Academy, and there was some key things that I noticed across the board that people could have improved on, and I’m going to create this series. I’m calling it the “How to Win a Mix Contest” series. I think you’re going to love it.Kicking it off, we’re going to talk about automation. I’m going to walk through a bunch of the automation that I did on a recent mix. Hopefully inspire you to get going, stop being lazy. Push up your static mix, that’s great, EQ, balances, whatever, but take your mix to the finish line with some awesome automation.

Let’s jump into this. So what I want to do is just kind of walk you through some of the thoughts I had and automation moves I did in this recent mix. This is from Unbreakables, it’s a song by my man Harry Gettings. We featured this November 2015 if you’re watching this back, and so here we go!

Actually, before I show you the automation moves, let me say, I’m still working on this mix. A disclaimer, right? But I was going for – Or, I’m going for a mix of a modern Dan Bremnes, Modern CCM, love his mixes. The punch, the clarity, I think it’s Ed Cash and those guys doing an incredible job.

I was going for something that meets Rascal Flatts. Modern Pop Rock, Country type vibe. So let me hit play on a couple of these for you so you can feel it out.


So that’s Dan Bremnes. Good stuff, go check him out.

Then we’ve got Rascal Flatts.

[reference track]

That’s Justin Niebank mixes for Rascal Flatts. He kills it. I love his mixes. But you can feel it’s very different, right? The two styles.

When I come over to mine, I still have some work to do. I was listening before I went live. Gotta give the disclaimer. I’ve got some clarity issues, I want to brighten up the vocal a little bit and work through it, but this is my mix one we’ll call it. So we’ve got some work to do.


I was going to hit stop anyways, Pro Tools. Giving me a glitch.

So that’s the mix. I’m still working through it, but I wanted to share some thoughts. Even if you hate my mix, these concepts are going to be awesome for you. I think you’re going to dig it.

Let’s take a look at the bass. Here’s the move that I did. Talk about mixing the bass in The Mix Academy, but for the video here, how to improve your mixes for the mix contest, what I did was I – in the verses and the pre-chorus sections, I automated a high-pass filter on the bass at around 57Hz. That wasn’t just a frequency I typed in and ran with, it’s something that I felt out. Kind of look for “where am I going to get a nice, clean sounding bass that’s not too full, but doesn’t remove the bottom octave completely?”For me it ended up being around 57Hz for the notes that were played in the intro, the verse, and the pre-chorus. Then I’m going to hit play. I’m not going to do a complete detailed instruction of all of this, but I just want to give you the basic idea.

So you’ll see the high pass right here is being automated on my bass level track, which is a blend of a sub track and a bass amp, and here’s what that’s doing.


The first time in this song that you feel the full weight of the subs in the bass is at the chorus, so it gets bigger, deeper, fuller. I love what that’s doing on the bass, so that comes back up. I’ll show you out here going into the next verse.


S we’ve got a little bit cleaner, smaller sound on the bass whenever it’s in that transitional section, and then into the verse. So that’s cool. Check that out for your mixes.

I’ve got some panning arrangement with the acoustic guitars. A great arrangement will force you to do less in the mix when it comes to panning arrangement and things like that. However, in this particular song, I had a left acoustic and a right acoustic. They complemented each other, they played offsetting patterns, it’s a good thing.

I felt like it just kind of was left and right the whole time, so what I did is I, at the verses, collapsed the acoustics in to about 70% or so, and that sounds like this.


It’s kind of hard left and right, but not really.

Then at the pre-chorus, I shot it out hard left and right.


Then here at the chorus, let me pull open my imager, I’ve got the iZotope Imager. This could be Waves S1, whatever imager you prefer to use, and I’ve just pushed it out in a single band at the chorus to get even wider. So, there you can see the bypass is off for the entire mix, and then I’m un-bypassing it at the chorus, so things get even wider. About what, 34.2% wider.


About Pro Audio Files

Tutorials on mixing, mastering and producing music in Pro Tools with plugins from Waves, FabFilter, SoundToys, Softube, Sonnox, PSP, Slate Digital and more. Learn how to mix using EQ, compression and effects like reverb, delay, saturation and distortion on vocals, drums, guitar, bass and more.

How to Win a Mix Contest: Automation

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