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Yes it is true. The Pro Audio Files are on fire. The awesome mixing tutorials just keep on coming. They are all wonderful to watch, and each one filled a void that somehow existed. There just wasn’t a lot available when it came to mixing rap vocals and hip hop. Please check out my reviews for ” Mixing Hip Hop“, and “ Mixing Rap Vocals“, and ” Mixing Rap Vocals 2“, all from Matt Weiss, and The Pro Audio Files.
Let me start this review off with my summary. This is backwards to the normal review process, I know, but stating the bottom line, right up front, might be helpful for many of you. Matt thinks about compression (dynamics) like an artist, and like no one that I have yet learned from. That has been the reason as to why I could not wrap my head around compression. Matt has been able to “break through” and reach me. For some reason I really caught on to what Matt was teaching, and now my mixes will be much more controlled, dynamically. Matt thinks as an artist, a mixer, and he has the ability to reach other artists and mixers. If that sounds like you, be prepared to learn something for the first time. Seriously, “ Mixing with Compression” is “that amazing”.
If you use compression and compressors, as guess work, then maybe it is time to spend a little bit of money and learn how to use it like a pro. If it is time, then this is your video. Matt breaks compression and compressors down, and builds us up step by step. Matt is one of us, an artist first, so he explains things so that you can understand and follow along.
Matt explains how he can use compression to “mold” a sound. Matt shows us, in “Mixing with compression”, how to take any sound and think about the four parts, or the four components, (the attack, decay, sustain, and the release) that make up that sound. Then we can decide how to alter the four components of that sound, using compression, to obtain the sound that we want. This is like gold if you wish to become a mixing engineer, professional or not.
This new video from The Pro Audio Files, “Mixing with compression”, is a two part download. Download took a minute or two, but that is what overnight downloads are for. I woke up the next morning with a big, fat smile on my face. I have a new video from Matt Weiss and The Pro Audio Files to watch!
If you are interested in learning about mixing and learning how to become a better mixing engineer, I would suggest that you also check out “Mixing Rap Vocals“, from The Pro Audio Files, and Matt Weiss. It is just as informative, and the information found in both of these videos will get you right on track, and your mixes will improve.
“ Mixing with Compression” download number one, contains six videos and one zip file. The zip file is titled “pink noise”. The six videos are as follows:
“Introduction”, “Pink noise shape”, “Program material”, “Program material 2”, “Tonality”, and lastly, “Characteristics”.
“ Mixing with Compression“, download number two, contains six videos and one Zip file. The zip file is titled “Drum stems”. The six videos are as follows: “Lead vocals”, “Percussion”, “Drums”, “Bass”, “Mix buss”, and “Conclusion”.
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OK, back to the review at hand, the must watch “Mixing with Compression”……
Let me break down each video, and tease you into purchasing this amazing video series. I will start with the first download, video one, titled “Introduction”.
The first video, in “ Mixing with Compression“, starts off with good ole Matthew Weiss, working in his home studio. He greets us and then gives us his explanation of compression. The theme here is that compression changes the shape of whatever has been recorded. He continues his discussion with explaining the envelope of a sound, or the attack, decay, sustain, and the release. Each sound has these four parts and compression alters the relationship between the four.
Matt then opens a compressor plug in and walks us through the parts, or the knobs, and just what each part/knob does. Right off the bat, I realize that Matt explains things as an artist would, or as an artist should. I like that about Matt, and it helps a lot. Because he explains things as an artist, we can follow along and understand each step of the process. Matt is a professional mixing engineer, and he is easy to listen to. He knows what he is talking about and it really shows. He continues explaining all of the knobs and the settings found on a common compressor, and what each setting can do to a sound.
He even explains side chain compression here, although he does not yet go into deep detail. He explains the differences between “Ducking compression” and a “Side chain” circuit of a compressor. These are things that we need to know, but they are for the more proficient compressors of us out there. Matt explains the concept, with examples, and then moves on. He does not want to confuse us, but we should know what he is trying to tell us.
He next explains that it all comes down to that initial shape of a sound. The four components that make up the initial shape of a sound are or attack, release, decay, and sustain. It is all about shaping the sounds that we have into the sounds that we want. Compression is a very useful tool, and it is just one of many that we can use to get to that final sound that is in our heads. He assures us that he is going to teach us how to use compression to change the shape. Boy, let me tell you that after watching the entire series, Matt delivers on that promise.
Matt uses his hands a lot. At first you might be put off by the fact that you are seeing Matt, the entire time, in a small window. However, he uses his hands as he explains things, and it really makes a big difference!
Download one, Video two, titled “Pink noise shapes”.
Matt begins video two with some examples of the four parts that make up a sound. The four parts are, in case you forgot, attack, decay, sustain, and the release. Matt uses pink noise as a sound, and molds the pink noise into different examples of the four parts. For example, one might have a longer release than the next one. The next example might have a longer decay than another. So on and so forth until you get it. It just makes sense, and in a profound way. Matt is explaining how he can use compression to help “mold” a sound.
With Matts training, we can take any sound and think about the four parts that make up that sound. Then we can decide how to alter the four parts of that sound, using compression, to obtain the sound that we want. This is the backbone of this video series. Once you understand this concept, the world is yours for the taking.
Matt solos each example he gives us, one by one, and shows what parts (ADSR) are different. We get to listen, and more importantly hear what each of the four parts that make up a sound (ADSR) are doing. Lengthening one part or another really makes a big difference. The actual noise remains the same but Matt has altered one or more of the four components. Thank goodness Matt is right there to explain this stuff to us, because he explains things so well.
Matt explains why each of the pink noise samples (samples included with “ Mixing with Compression” videos) sounds different. One by one he shows the minute changes, and how those changes make such a difference to our ears. This will take some time to digest, but I get what he is talking about. My ears need some time to catch up with my brain though, and the samples play rather quickly. This is very cool stuff. I have not ever seen this, or heard this any where else.
Download one, Video three, titled “Program material”.
Matt starts the teaching off, here in video three, with a snare track. He explains how to listen to a snare as a “sound form”, and what to listen for. This is very interesting stuff, and it is exactly what mixers do. Because there is no rule of thumb for compressing a snare drum (or a routine compression technique that we do with all snares), Matt shows us some examples.
Matt explains how to achieve some common snare sounds, using compressors. He goes into great detail while explaining the actual settings on the compressors (attack, release, etc.), and why they are set where they are set. He really makes us understand what he is doing. Matt has a gift for teaching, no doubt about it.
Look, I have been using compression on snare drums for years. I am blown away by what I am learning. I thought I knew this stuff. I was so wrong. You can do so much with only a compressor, and so much of this was stuff that I just never knew was even possible. Matt says many mind blowing things as he teaches. One thing that he says, that best wraps up his thoughts, is “You do not add compression, you change dynamics”. I think that statement best describes this entire video series, and the points that Matt is trying to get across to all of us mixers.
“Mixing with Compression” has paid for itself, and it is only the third video of six. I need to go and practice now. I will be listening and practicing these techniques for a long time to come. When is the last time You got so much worth from a video series? Before you answer that, Matt will also blow your mind again, and before video three ends. I am just telling you the truth here. Matt uses automation to bring a snare track to life, as if a real drummer was playing the samples, and all with creative compression! I will now need to go and re-mix all of my back catalogue.
Download one, Video four, titled “Program material 2”.
Fresh off of the high that I caught from watching video three, I am eager for more. I hope Matt can get me high once more, and let the learning happen some more.
Matt begins with an explanation of “parallel compression”. A process that I know well. However, I know that there is much for me to learn. After a quick explanation of parallel compression, and why we use it, Matt shows us some examples on a kick drum. Then, with the explanation out of the way, and the example, we move on. This was all done on purpose, but for now we must move on to the lesson at hand.
The release is what Matt wants to talk about. Matt brings expanders into the learning. Quickly we learn why we might want to use a expander, and what an expander can do for our tracks and mixes. Now that I know what an expander is capable of, I really need to go back and remix all of my songs. I have often wanted to remove the release out of so many tracks, but do it with fades. The time that I have wasted doing this makes my belly flip. If I had only known about “ Mixing with Compression“.
Next Matt brings both of the techniques that he just discussed together into a cool lesson. He uses an expander and parallel compression techniques in order to add the natural room reverb of a kick into the mix. This is some very cool mixing in action. I will be coming back to watch this video again, too, and my mixes will improve because of it.
Download one, Video five, titled “Tonality”.
Matt takes us through a very cool journey in video five. He opens a guitar track and then opens up some of his favorite compressors. One by one he details the subtle differences between each and every compressor. I found this very helpful. I need to hear someone tell me what they hear, as they set thing up. For whatever reason, I find it very helpful. I learn a lot from other people pointing out things to listen for, and things that change. If you are like me, there is no one helping you on your mixing journey. I do not have a local studio to hang out in, and an engineer pushing me along. I really enjoyed this video, and I really took a lot from it.
Download one, Video six, titled “Characteristics”.
Matt quickly explains how popular models of compressors do what they do so well. Matt basically teaches us that limitations and characteristics of certain compressors can be used to our advantage. Each compressor brings something unique to the table, and we should learn what those things are. “ Mixing with Compression” is about learning compression, and compressors too. Learning one or two compressors, well, is better than not using a million compressors correctly.
Download 2, Video one, titled “Vocals”.
Matt walks us through a typical vocal compression session. Matt allows the screen to go dark as he runs his “before and afters”. This is awesome, and I am so glad that he decided to do this. After all, we tend to “mix with our eyes” all too much these days. This forces us to listen with our ears without distraction. Each step of the vocal compression lesson comes with a “before and after” comparison, while going black. Awesome!
This is a singer songwriter style session, but that makes no never mind. Matt explains, out loud, what he does with compression to make it sound the way he wants it to sound. There is a lot of comparing here, so that the listener can follow along. I had to rewind the material a few times, just to better hear what he was explaining to us, and I recommend that you do this too. Hearing the subtle differences takes a few passes. This was a great video, and I learned yet another technique.
Matt walks us through some attack and release settings of his compressors. Playing each one for us, in an A/B type comparison, he details what differences we should be hearing. I am hearing exactly what he is telling me that I should hear. There is no way I could have heard this level of “gentle compression stuff” on my own. Thanks to Matt, I will now listen for these things, and my mixes will be much better.
Plus, Matt throws in a bonus. He shows us a very cool delay trick. I cant wait to try that vocal delay trick out, its’ that good!
Download 2, Video two, titled “Percussion”.
“ Mixing with Compression” is really getting better with each video that I watch. Matt plays the song that we are working on, and brings in some percussion. He then details what he does not like about it, and then he repairs it using compression. We actually work together, at least that is what it feels like. I love training videos like this one, for this very reason. I can’t work with a real engineer, at my time and leisure. Having Matt explaining each step, in such detail, with before and after comparisons, is awesome. This is how I love to learn.
Plus, thanks to Matt, I understand what we are doing on a fundamental level. I understand how compression is doing the things that we want it to. I am again talking about using compression to alter a signals attack, decay, sustain, and release. I can do this now. I am learning how to add “more room” to a signal, more “attack” to a signal, and so much more using only compression.
Download 2, Video three, titled “Drums”.
Matt starts off with another mind blowing technique. He shows the viewer how to add attack to a kick drum using an expander. This is a compressor set to act as an expander. The before and after is crazy!
Next Matt uses a gate to clean the hi hat out of a snare track. He shows us some very cool sidechain stuff here, stuff I had not ever taken advantage of. But, again, this is why I love training videos from Matt Weiss, and The Pro Audio Files. Matt is so damn smart, and such a good mixer. Matt continues to detail his procedures with us, until he has a killer snare track.
Next, a snare “bottom” track gets the work over. Matt knows some awesome tricks. He also shares them freely, lucky for us. Matt uses a combination of gate and a transient plugin to get a loud, sharp attack only on the snare bottom. Next, he blends it n with the snare top. This ads some excitement and some magic! Awesome!
The room track is next. Matt explains that we can use compression to make a room microphone seem like it captured a much larger room sound. Altering the attack, decay, sustain, and release, or “ADSR” is the whole idea here. Once we learn what altering the attack makes a room sound bigger, we move on. Matt wants to show us another mind blowing idea. He likes to create movement in a room microphone track, and he shows us this trick. He uses compression to create a pumping sound. It works very well, and it really does create movement when brought back in.
Next Matt demonstrated this same idea on overheads, but not so intense. When Matt brings all of these tracks in, the sound is all encompassing to say the least. But he is not done helping us. nope. Matt has more to pile on here in “ Mixing with Compression“. Matt shows us a cool bus compression trick, or group of settings, that he likes to use. This puts the professional touches on a great sounding drum kit. Matt continually shows me things that I know that I could not have known on my own. Matt winds the drum section up with a sidechain compressor ideal that blew my head open. Man, how is it that I was getting decent sounding mixes at all?
You must watch this video, you just have to. Look, if you trust me at all, than take my word for it and use the link to purchase “ Mixing with Compression“. You will not be sorry.
I am learning things that I had never thought of before, and I am, happy for that. But, I can’t help but feel angry at the same time. With each new idea and trick we are shown, I am thinking about all of the mixes that I will now have to go back and re-mix. I know that I can do them all so much better now. I thought that I was mixing them the way I should, but man, I was just so wrong. I was fixing the wrong stuff, and my mixes could sound so much better. I am happy to be shown the error in my ways, trust me, I am happy to learn, but I am sad that I have been so wrong.
Download 2, Video four, titled “Bass”.
The bass line that we select and start with is rather flat. It lacks attack and seems to be all sustain. This is not very exciting. It needs some attack. Matt shows us how to use parallel compression to bring in this missing attack in the bass.
Matt shows us some magic here. He uses a compressor with a unique side chain EQ setting to get the percussive attack going. Then he brings in a gate to remove the sustain out of our parallel bass track. That is the part that I would not have ever known about doing myself. It is amazing how much that little trick cleans up the track.
When Matt brings the two together, it is out of this world. Believe me, my bass tracks have been called too heavy. From now on I will not have this problem. I will listen better, hear better, and know exactly what needs fixing. This video series has paid for itself several times over and there are more videos to watch!
Matt next uses compression to bring out just a little bit more attack and grit. Seeing the settings and hearing Matt explain why he sets it up in the way that he does really re-enforces the whole concept that he is teaching here, Boom!
It is all about setting up your compressor to get the needed amounts of attack, decay, sustain, and the release. Matt shows us how to achieve this goal in some very clever and rather creative ways.
Download 2, Video five, titled “Mix bus”.
I thought that I have at least been using bus compression correctly, but, alas, Matt just showed me how wrong I can be. Wow, now that I understand the concepts that Matt took the time to explain to me, I can see just how badly I was using a compressor across the whole mix. “ Mixing with Compression” will be a video that makes my “all time favorite training video ever” list. Look, I have watched a lot of training videos, as it is my job. This very one has helped me understand how to correctly use compression is as many unique a cool ways as I need to, plus Matt has tossed in a lot of very cool tips and tricks. The very way that Matt relays the concepts, and explains his simple fixes has opened up my mind, and my ears!
I have just learned, after mixing with a bus compressor for years and years, how to make a song “swing”, or “come alive” with bus compression. On one hand I feel stupid, or silly at least, and on the other hand I am happy and proud to be learning this stuff. That’s how I want to feel, all of the time, and especially when it comes to watching training videos.
Matt wraps up all of the concepts that he just explained to us. There is a lot to digest, here, so a wrap up is like that after dinner drink. “ Mixing with Compression” contains a lot of amazing information. Matt gives us many ways to alter a notes “ADSR”, or attack, decay, sustain, and release, by applying compression. Personally, I am taking away more than I thought I might. In fact, I learned more about compression, limiting, gating, expanding, and compression tactics than I thought I already knew. I love that. I love “ Mixing with Compression“, and I absolutely recommend that you not only watch it right now , but you watch it often.
Please check out my reviews for ” Mixing Rap Vocals“, ” Mixing Hip Hop“, and “ Mixing Rap Vocals 2“, all from Matt Weiss, and The Pro Audio Files. If you decide to pull the trigger and purchase any or all, I will give you “The Pro Mixers Playbook” absolutely free, as a big “Thank you”!