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Author Topic: A Method For Referencing Inside the DAW - Simple Setup  (Read 2268 times)

  • *****
May 11, 2011, 11:01:20 PM
Ok, this should work in any modern DAW, but I can't be sure, so if you have trouble please post, too!

• First, don't put any processing plugs on the master buss. You can put analysis plugs, like spectrum analyzers, meters, headphone-monitor-emulation plugs, etc. But nothing that will affect your final mix like a compressor.

• Next, create a group buss called 'MixBuss.' All of your mix tracks, groups, sends, auxes, should all be set with this group/buss as the output (except those going to a group first, but that group then goes to this buss.) You can put your master buss processing plugs on this buss, such as compression, saturation, etc. The output of this buss is your mix, with all the processing, etc.

•Now, create a few new stereo tracks to import your reference songs. I'd name them based on what you're referencing in that track, like 'Drum Ref,' 'Voc Ref' etc. These all have the master buss as their output, so they don't go through any of your MixBuss processing.   Mute these tracks.

• With this setup, when you play back your mix, you can hit 'solo' on any of the reference tracks and instantly hear them for comparison. Since your 'MixBuss' channel is your finished mix, you can tweak the output, add a limiter, etc, and hear apples-to-apples your mix against the others, as well as see how they look on the spectrum analyzer, etc. This also allows you to use the headphone mixing plugs or room correction plugs/eq, and hear the references the same way you're hearing your mix. And you can go back and immediately tweak your mix, while the sound of the reference is fresh in your mind.

• When you're happy with your mix, bypass the effects and eq on the master buss, and export away. You can take the limiter off the 'MixBuss' as well, for the mastering engineer.

I hope this isn't confusing, and I imagine some are doing something like this already. Try it out, and let me know what you think! Be careful not to copy the reference mixes too apishly, though, as can be easy to do!

(I got the inspiration for this method from Mike Senior's book, but wanted to reference without having to export, etc.)

  • ****
May 12, 2011, 12:48:51 AM
Nice. 8)

  • No avatar
  • *
August 08, 2012, 11:15:40 PM
Yes. Great idea.
I have 8 outputs on my RME and usually just send the reference mixes out to an un-used output to my desk. All channels matched for level, of course, but, I like your idea even better. Easier.

  • *****
August 09, 2012, 12:47:08 AM
It works well, my only issue is that some DAWS (reaper, for instance) take a second to mute the tracks, but start the solo'd track immediately, and vice versa, so I get a second or so of both signals playing, which defeats some of the 'instantaneousness' of this technique. That and it clips the output buss, too!

Works fine in Cubase, though, Maybe there's a setting in Reaper to fix that (there's only about a million settings!)

  • No avatar
  • *
August 13, 2012, 09:46:48 PM
John...it ended up not working in Cubase 5.
Don't ask me why, but, a compressor/limiter chain on a group (rather than on the master bus) can send the master bus into overload therefore defeating the purpose of the exercise.
I guess I'll just continue with using the separate outs....seems to work fine.

  • *****
August 13, 2012, 11:29:32 PM
Interesting! I've had no problem using this in Cubase 4, I wonder if it's just a quirk of C5?


  • ****
August 14, 2012, 08:39:43 AM
Works fine in Cubase, though, Maybe there's a setting in Reaper to fix that (there's only about a million settings!)

In my case (in Reaper) unmuting is the only thing that takes a moment... but never a whole second, more like 40ms or something like this.
However, maybe you could try to enable that muted tracks are still being processed. I think the default setting is that they don't use cpu by deactivateing the fx and stuff. This *could* be a reason why it takes a moment.

EDIT: I was just thinking, did you mean "mute the tracks" with the mute button or the automatic "muting" that ist done to all other tracks when you press "solo"? If the latter is the case there shouldn't actually be any dropouts nor should the tracks play simultaneously.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2012, 08:45:56 AM by 140dBSPL »

  • *****
August 15, 2012, 04:28:40 AM
Yeah, I'm referring to when I hit the solo button. It switches to my reference track cleanly enough, but switching back results in a moment (a second was an exaggeration, for sure) where they are all playing together, which lights the peak indicator on the master buss. I'd try your idea with the muting processing, but I find I need to 'render and mute' tracks on occasion, as it is! You'd think a 2.4ghz i5 with 16gigs of ram would be adequate! I've read that the mac version isn't terribly efficient, though, and it doesn't seem as efficient as Cubase, though I like some of the features enough to work with it anyway.




  • ****
August 15, 2012, 08:52:32 AM
I can't reproduce the same problem on my machine (Win7). Maybe it has something to do with the different architecture on mac... or it's just a bug. I ran Reaper on my macbook and never had problems, but I didn't have very large projects. Now on Windows I'm having 120+ tracks full of FX with convoultion reverbs and all the good stuff barely touching 25% CPU - it's ridiculous! Most efficient DAW on PC for me to say the least.

One reason I could think of that the plugin delay compensation might have something to do with it although I don't know what to do about it  ::)

  • *****
August 15, 2012, 06:35:42 PM
Yeah, I read so many good things about Reaper on PC that I'm tempted to install bootcamp just to try it out! Of course, I don't know how well plugs take to being shifted platform, I suppose if the same exact plug is available on both platforms it should work ok...