Top Down Mixing - Fact or Fiction - How many of you do this?

Protohumans

New member
well i usually do that ...you kinda " master " it before you start arranging so it sounds pretty damn good while your creating sounds and what not ...of coarse in the end you do the FINAL MASTER on a separate session.
 

bandcoach

Zukatoku - Mod Scientist
agree with dvyce

it is not top down mixing, it is top down processing
 
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Mixing to the bus? Is that what we're talking about because new terminology for an old technique doesn't help anyone.
 

sleepy

Moderator
^^Welcome back.^^

Back on topic. I don't know if I could even mix with this "top down" stuff. I'd be going back to the master bus every time I tweaked something because it's having a bad effect on the master.

The entire point of good recordings is to get things to be as good as they can be for mixing. The entire point of mixing is to get things to be as good as they can be for mastering. The entire point of mastering is to get things to be as good as they can be, period.

This "top down mixing" idea is very ass-backwards. If I put in a ton of work on the master fader to make things sound as good as I possibly can, won't I be ruining all the work when I go down to the bus/channel level? It's like building the entire house exterior and doing the foundation last. What happens if there's a very fundamental issue with one of the sounds in the channel level? As soon as you discover that issue, it will invalidate all of the work on the master bus.

My advice to anyone, don't do it.
 
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bandcoach

Zukatoku - Mod Scientist
^^^^this

I tried to articulate this last night but couldn't (head cold (middle of winter here in aus))
 

dvyce

New member
Gary Noble who is a freakin' pro's pro says he does something similar.

He says he adjusts his pans, faders, does a qick EQ mix and then masters the track.

After he masters it he does a refined EQing to finishing off the mix, because mastering a track usually changes the texture of your mix, hence the need to refine it in ways your mastering tools normally can't.

source: Psychology of a Mix Engineer: An Interview With Gary Noble | Modern Mixing


that is not what he said in that interview. You completely changed the essence of what he was saying in your paraphrasing.

he said a lot of times he puts nothing on the master bus (and goes on to say hardly ever)... But when he does, it is a tape emulator and occasionally some eq... And this is only when mixing ITB.

this is 100% different from thus "top down mixing" crap..


Here is the relevant section of the interview you linked to:

In regards to in the box processing, what’s on your mix buss?


A lot of times, I don’t use anything but when I do I like to use things like the ATR 102 from UAD, which is an emulation of the Ampex Tape Machine. Every now and then, I might put on a multiband EQ like a Pultec but usually it’s just the ATR 102. I don’t really go crazy with the master bus. Even when I was mixing strictly analog, I hardly ever put anything on the output of the console.








And when you do put these plugins on, do you mix through them?


Yeah, and I find it works better that way when I put it on at the beginning of the mix than if I finish the mix and feed it through it. So what I do with the master bus is I’ll get a rough balance going and get it to the point where all the levels are relatively balanced and then I’ll put it on. Then I do all the tweaking and fine tuning from then on. If I did the mix where it sounded good to me and then I put it on, it would change the spectral balance. I know this term has been over used but it gives it a “glue” or sonic sheen to the sound.
 

crimsonhawk47

New member
The only way I could imagine something close to this is maybe if you used mix bus compression and then decided the drums didn't need individual tweaking.

I agree, typically with mix bus compression I'm fine tweaking audio (unless I set it up to radically) but with individual submixes, it makes a huge difference to shelf a low sub in a kick.
 

crimsonhawk47

New member
that is not what he said in that interview. You completely changed the essence of what he was saying in your paraphrasing.

he said a lot of times he puts nothing on the master bus (and goes on to say hardly ever)... But when he does, it is a tape emulator and occasionally some eq... And this is only when mixing ITB.

this is 100% different from thus "top down mixing" crap..


Here is the relevant section of the interview you linked to:

In regards to in the box processing, what’s on your mix buss?


A lot of times, I don’t use anything but when I do I like to use things like the ATR 102 from UAD, which is an emulation of the Ampex Tape Machine. Every now and then, I might put on a multiband EQ like a Pultec but usually it’s just the ATR 102. I don’t really go crazy with the master bus. Even when I was mixing strictly analog, I hardly ever put anything on the output of the console.








And when you do put these plugins on, do you mix through them?


Yeah, and I find it works better that way when I put it on at the beginning of the mix than if I finish the mix and feed it through it. So what I do with the master bus is I’ll get a rough balance going and get it to the point where all the levels are relatively balanced and then I’ll put it on. Then I do all the tweaking and fine tuning from then on. If I did the mix where it sounded good to me and then I put it on, it would change the spectral balance. I know this term has been over used but it gives it a “glue” or sonic sheen to the sound.
And that makes more sense considering the Ampex tape emulator was designed for mastering. It probably doesn't react that hard to sound changes.
 
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dvyce

New member
And that makes more sense considering the Ampex tape emulator was designed for mastering. It probably doesn't react that hard to sound changes.

The only thing you should get out of that reference to that interview is this:

1. it has absolutely no relation to whatever this "top down mixing" is supposed to be.

2. the guy's point in the interview was that he usually puts nothing on the master bus while mixing, but on the small occasion that he does, is is just some tape emulation... which is like brushing it with a feather.


FYI, to be clear... the ATR 102 was not designed for "mastering"... is is an emulation of a "mastering tape recorder".

Those are two very different things.

It is not a compressor at all (though some very light "tape compression" type of results may be a consequence of using this)...

It is designed to impart the characteristics of the ATR 102 tape machine... a tape machine that was commonly used for printing the "master tape" at mixdown.

A "mastering tape machine" (as opposed to a "multitrack tape machine") is a 2 track / stereo tape machine which is used to print a final mixdown onto giving you the final "master recording"

"Mastering", on the other hand, would take place after recording the final mix to the tape machine.
 

crimsonhawk47

New member
The only thing you should get out of that reference to that interview is this:

1. it has absolutely no relation to whatever this "top down mixing" is supposed to be.

2. the guy's point in the interview was that he usually puts nothing on the master bus while mixing, but on the small occasion that he does, is is just some tape emulation... which is like brushing it with a feather.


FYI, to be clear... the ATR 102 was not designed for "mastering"... is is an emulation of a "mastering tape recorder".

Those are two very different things.

It is not a compressor at all (though some very light "tape compression" type of results may be a consequence of using this)...

It is designed to impart the characteristics of the ATR 102 tape machine... a tape machine that was commonly used for printing the "master tape" at mixdown.

A "mastering tape machine" (as opposed to a "multitrack tape machine") is a 2 track / stereo tape machine which is used to print a final mixdown onto giving you the final "master recording"

"Mastering", on the other hand, would take place after recording the final mix to the tape machine.
My mistake on the mastering...but...

1) Never said it was related to top down mixing
2) Never said his point wasn't that it's a light touch
3) Never said it was a compressor (not even close, unless you're suggesting mastering is only about compression).
 

dvyce

New member
My mistake on the mastering...but...

1) Never said it was related to top down mixing
2) Never said his point wasn't that it's a light touch
3) Never said it was a compressor (not even close, unless you're suggesting mastering is only about compression).

wasnt talking to you specifically.
 

CM03

New member
take a pill I said it was somewhat similar, not that is was top down mixing

"he said a lot of times he puts nothing on the master bus (and goes on to say hardly ever)... But when he does, it is a tape emulator and occasionally some eq... And this is only when mixing ITB."

you keep downplaying what he puts on the master
but then he clearly says

If I did the mix where it sounded good to me and then I put it on, it would change the spectral balance.
cleary, it has a significant sonic effect
he gets a rough mix, puts it on, and then proceeds to finish with a more precise mix
please don't put words in my mouth, i never said what he was doing is top down mixing.

"It is designed to impart the characteristics of the ATR 102 tape machine... a tape machine that was commonly used for printing the "master tape" at mixdown.

and he puts it on the master bus to get a cohesive effect. you are saying that is not mastering based on the fact that normally mastering occurs after this process, but the whole premise of top down mixing assumes the mastering happens first anyways - so we take for granted in this context that mastering doesn't necessarily have to happen at the end. have a nice day.
 
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sleepy

Moderator
Sleepy, how the hell are you dude?

I'm doing well. Haven't done any audio engineering in over 2 years, but still lurk here and there. I noticed most old timers are gone, but there's still a few also, so it's nice to see others are still active. Good to see you around. You have a lot of knowledge like some of the other guys in this thread, so it's good to see this forums still gets a ton of great tips.

@CM03 I don't think what Gary Noble mentions is similar at all. The saturator is having some effect on the sound, but likely not to the point that it is dramatic. Putting a single plugin on the master for some specific reason is different than "mastering" the track before mixing. He's essentially starting his mix, doing slight saturation, and then finishing the mix. It's all mixing.
 
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