Using Reference Tracks
Using Reference Tracks is a great way to maintain objectivity when mixing - but it can also be a huge pain unless your routing is set up to accommodate. Furthermore, unless you’re using a Control Surface of some sort such as the Faderport 8 or 16 - attempting to solo one track whilst un-soloing another with a mouse at the same time is a dead end street..
So if we take a look at the 2 above issues, it’s safe to say that even though this concept is a rather simple one. ie: “I want to reference SONG A while I’m mixing SONG B” - It requires a bit of thought to put together a workflow that would allow references to be used. But first, a few more points.
Taking Loudness Into Account
It’s safe to say that a good benchmark to aim for is that of a commercially released track. That being said, if you’re planning on using a track that’s sitting on the current charts - it will most likely have been mastered and have that processing “printed” into the track. This leads to another issue.
Avoiding Double Processing
This is something I’ve spoken about before, but essentially - If you DO have a reference track in your mixing template, and it’s routed directly to your Main Outs, then there is the possibility of double processing your “already mastered” reference track.
What do I mean by this? Well, let’s say that you’ve got a great mix going, and perhaps you’ve got some Mix Bus Processing happening on the Main Outs. (something like iZotope Ozone). In order to get an accurate A/B comparison between your reference track, and your mix, you’d have to first bypass the plug-ins on your Main Outs, and solo your reference track (hopefully after adjusting the fader to compensate for the difference in level if there is any). Furthermore, you’d also want to be able to go back to listening to YOUR mix with the processing on the main outs. Back & Forth, as needed.
In addition, the ears can adjust to a Tonal Balance rather quickly, so in my personal opinion, being able to quickly toggle between your mix and your reference track is imperative to utilizing reference tracks properly. If it takes you 5-10 seconds to go through the A/B process - this isn’t really an efficient approach. Also, there is nothing more evident then the instantaneous epiphany of realizing you’re off the mark.
Now that we’ve spoken about the problem, let’s talk about a possible solution that I personally use. Well, it involves some simple routing within your Studio One Song & enabling a preference within Studio One that can help make this process go a little smoother.
In this video, I demonstrate a workflow that can be used to smoothly incorporate using reference tracks when mixing in Studio One.
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