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4. Get­ting to grips with Mas­ter­ing The Mix’s Ref­er­ence

Computer Music - - Make Music Now / A/b Referencing Plugins -

1 Ref­er­ence is an­other use­ful A/B com­par­i­son plugin. We load it on our mas­ter out­put, last in the plugin chain, then drag and drop a cou­ple of ref­er­ence tracks onto the main win­dow. Click a tab to select a ref­er­ence song. Switch be­tween the cur­rently se­lected ref­er­ence track and your DAW au­dio by click­ing the big Orig­i­nal and Ref­er­ence but­tons.

2 Au­to­mat­i­cally match the level of your cur­rent ref­er­ence track to your pro­ject’s level by tog­gling Level Match (the but­ton with two ver­ti­cal lines), or all ref­er­ences (the but­ton with three ver­ti­cal lines). How­ever, for more con­trol, we’re go­ing to leave this off and in­stead use each ref­er­ence track’s Gain slider to bal­ance lev­els man­u­ally.

3 Set to Free mode, Ref­er­ence plays back in­de­pen­dently of your DAW’s trans­port, and you can click on the wave­form to start play­back from there. Switch mode to Mir­ror, how­ever, and play­back stays locked to your DAW’s play­head po­si­tion – use­ful if, say, you’re com­par­ing your pro­ject to a bounced ver­sion of the same mix. Let’s do that…

4 We load an older ver­sion of our cur­rent mix into Ref­er­ence. Af­ter ac­ti­vat­ing Mir­ror mode, we play back from the start and wait for the two hor­i­zon­tal bars in the Track Align but­ton to line up. Once they stop mov­ing, we press the but­ton, and the two mixes are per­fectly aligned. We can now seam­lessly A/B be­tween the old and lat­est ver­sions.

5 Back in Free mode, we can set up an un­lim­ited num­ber of loops by click­ing and drag­ging a se­lec­tion on the wave­form. Ctrl-click­ing in­side a se­lec­tion causes play­back to loop in that area. Altclick in­side a loop to delete it, or Alt-click out­side a looped area to delete all loops.

6 Ref­er­ence’s bot­tom Trin­ity Dis­play helps you as­sess the fre­quency con­tent, dy­nam­ics and stereo image of be­tween one and five fre­quency bands. Ctrl-click to cre­ate a new band. Drag ver­ti­cal cross­over lines to set ranges, and Ctrl-click a line to re­move a band. We set up four bands: sub, low-mid, high-mid and tre­ble. Click­ing in­side a band will solo it.

7 The ver­ti­cal po­si­tion of a band’s white hor­i­zon­tal line above or be­low the 0dB cen­tre point equates to per­ceived vol­ume in re­la­tion to the cur­rently se­lected ref­er­ence. To il­lus­trate, check out the screen­shot: here, our mix has less sub bass and more midrange com­pared to the ref­er­ence track. We can now head in and ad­just the mix in the ses­sion.

8 A band’s mov­ing pur­ple dots rep­re­sent short-term dy­nam­ics, or ‘punch’. If a band’s dots ex­pand out­wards from the white ver­ti­cal line, that means your mix is less com­pressed than the ref­er­ence track in that area. If the dots con­tract to­wards the line, it means your track is more com­pressed than the ref­er­ence in that re­gion.

9 A pair of hor­i­zon­tal ‘blobs’ sit above each band. These rep­re­sent stereo width. White is your DAW out­put’s width in that band, and grey is the cur­rent ref­er­ence. Com­par­ing our mix to this ref­er­ence song, we can see that our sub bass and low-mid is es­pe­cially wide, so we’ll need to ad­dress that in the pro­ject.

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