FLS10 – Getting Started 5 – Default Panel Template and Basic Mixer Intro
Well, it seems I’m not going to get away from the Getting Started series just yet!
There is so much in FLS I’m not even going to guess when I will finish covering “Basics”.
After watching NFXBeats tutorial on setting a personalised default work Template, here:
I set one for myself, and it makes life so much easier right from the start, as you can get on with an idea straight away without messing with sounds first, particularly if you mainly write a set genre of music – Dance for example – you have good basic sounds you like, ready to go, and pre-routed to their mixer channels.
You can get a melody, rhythm or a riff down quickly then, when so inspired.
As there are 99 mixer tracks available to route the sequencer to, I thought I would dedicate at least 8 sequencer Channels to drums alone, one for Bass and one for keys at least. This is only 10 mixer tracks to be assigned, so plenty left over for all else you may want in future. You will also have a set default mixer layout for all future projects you write, and keep yourself orderly. I now know my kick drum will always be mixer track 1.
It is a good idea to always keep the Limiter to ensure volume peaks don’t go over 0dB and not mix volumes up, but mix relative volumes down from each other. Then you won’t have a distorted/noisy mix or damage any ears, speakers or amps so easily.
First, let’s get a decent sequencer Template with better drums that YOU like instead of the pretty lame kick and snare sounds that are in the FLS Basic with Limiter template.
Ok, choose your drum sounds and how many Channels you want to use for this. Do you always want handclaps for example? I will always want closed and an occasional open Hi Hat, so 2 hat channels at least for me.
This is easy enough – just trawl the Browser/Pack Drum kit lists and replace the duff kick, snare and whatever else, with ones you like by dragging them on top of the Channels you don’t like.
What I didn’t know until the tutorial video, was that the sequencer Channel settings has a small LCD box in the top left (FX), that can route a Channel to any mixer channel you like – mixer channel 1 below set:
If you haven’t seen the mixer yet, press F9:
Yours won’t look like this yet – I did all the work for this Post last night.
To see more channels, close the Browser, and drag the window wider.
The Channel LCD number assigns the Channel to the mixer slider channel of your choice, so in this case kick drum on sequencer Channel 1 FX box is set to send this sample to mixer channel 1 logically, to keep it simple.
You can then rename and colourise mixer channels, by Rclicking under the mixer channel number and typing in the box, renaming it to say, Kick 1 etc:
I colour coded all my drums the same shades for example.
I have more stuff in my sequencer window right now than a basic Template would need as I have a bass riff I’m working on, but you get the idea:
Also there are things in here as ideas I can cover, for example, after the MIDI Posts I have done, I want a MIDI out plugin Channel in my Template so I can step edit/record from the keyboard then play the DJX sounds maybe.
After doing the Post on the DX10, I have a Channel for that also, and I found a Fruity Keys plugin while looking for drums sounds. It has nice Piano and Rhodes presets within it already, for writing a melody maybe. That’s something else to mess with, also. Actually it works well as a harmony to the bass riff so I’ll keep it in.
The Rhodes sounds like this with my chosen drum sounds and BooBass plugin (nice realistic bass sound to use):
At this point I think it may be a good idea to do an actual bit of mixing to get the relative drums sounds where you want them, as the kick and snare will probably be the most defining sounds in any type of track you do, as they are the engine that drives it. They may well be the loudest sounds level wise also, so become the reference level maximum peak volume at 0 dB that you mix all other volumes down from at this point.
You may need to do this anyway, as individual Browser samples are vastly different in their recorded volumes levels in the first place, played in the sequencer only.
Once you are happy with the drums relative volumes, you can mix the bass, then whatever else you want relative to what you already have.
To show how different these levels can be for what I just mixed, here are the slider positions:
I have also dropped the unassigned channel volumes to zero so it is easier to see what I have set.
I have colour coded drum sounds purple shades, bass brown, and synth sounds blue for easier ID of what type of sounds I have. The Master volume, left is yellow. Don’t allow the Master Volume to put the Control Panel Peak meter above 0dB into the red – it can. It must be after the Limiter in the routing chain.
The individual mixer channel sliders don’t seem to be able to do this though, as they are constrained by the Limiter to the Ceiling level, even slid to max channel volume.
This was mixed using headphones – I invested in a half decent, new 20 pounds pair of Sennheiser HD201 phones from Ebay, as I do a lot of work at night in bed on the laptop, but it’s a good idea to check how it sounds through speakers also, to see how loud your bass really is on an “average system “.
I sent this file over the network to my Desktop PC and listened there, and there is a BIG difference through the Audiophile, PC speakers and subwoofer! The Hi Hats are quieter, and the overall mix is very bassy, but with a good mid snare sound, but less high end.
That’s why you don’t mix in headphones only I guess!
(Some big scene Producers do, I know, after watching the vid on Rise of the Bedroom Producer on my AV page). They will already know from experience how their headphone mix will translate to big club PA systems, no doubt (and have top quality headphones for sure!).
Bear in mind at his point that just Mixing is a Profession in itself, with freelancers working in the AV industry doing just that. It is an art and a subjective process. You get better with practise like anything else in life.
I opened the Playlist, and pasted 2 Pattern Clips in so it will play for 4 Bars total in Song mode now, so you get a chance to hear it well.
It sounds like this:
I could go further with just mixing at this point to experiment with stereo panning, and adding effects.
Those things will have to wait for another Post
This should get you a long way toward creating a reasonably mixed whole song as a good Demo – but then, that’s what I thought at the end of the last Getting Started Post…I haven’t even looked at getting Playlist tracks into the mixer yet…