Home > Music, The Word > Not Fearing the Reaper…

Not Fearing the Reaper…


Another post about keeping things simple. I guess it’s an on-going quest of mine.

Got a call last week about a mixing project (one album, with 2 more in the pipeline) and after a meeting with the artist management, I was given a Pro Tools session to do an “audition mix”. I began the process in Tools – cleaning up tracks, adding crossfades, etc – but after a few days, I realized I could work much faster in Reaper, so I consolidated and bounced everything out.

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Once I got all 43 tracks in Reaper, I color coded stuff, consolidated a few more parts and began mixing. It’s been awhile since I’ve had this much fun working. The music was already in stems, so I had to live with instrument elements that were printed during recording, but I was able to tame a few items with EQ, and live with what I couldn’t fix. Overall the music was mixed down well, so I didn’t have to fight too much with it.

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In keeping with my “keep it simple” theme, I only used a few effects: DMG’s Equilibrium is on just about everything, as is Rob Papen’s RP-Delay, Reaper’s ReaComp and Cytomic’s The Glue for compression, Valhalla’s Vintage Verb, NI’s Driver (for distortion vox effects) and Auto Tune.

Didn’t really want to use Auto Tune, but there were some tuning issues that threw things off in the pre-chorus – and – if used sparingly, it helps to blend (or glue) background vocals together.

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Finally, I used T-Racks for a quick and dirty mastering. That’s it. No need to agonize over it. In fact, recently, I cleaned out a ton of un-used plugins on both of my machines and dug into the ones that I really like. The result – in just a few hours, I had something that was ‘radio ready’, and hopefully, the client will like.

I was really impressed with Reaper’s performance. The final mix contained 92 effects and utilized 62% of my MBP’s processor – that’s right, I did the entire 36 track mix on my laptop. No need for my monstrosity of a Hackintosh. That’s how efficient Reaper is. I did most of the mix at a buffer rate of 64 (which I normally set for tracking virtual instruments), and only kicked it up to 1024 when I needed to add Auto Tune on 24 tracks.

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I’m not gonna bash Pro Tools, because it’s great at what it does. That said, I work faster and more efficiently in Reaper, and as we all know, time is money.

If I go on to mix the full album, I’ll use Tools to convert sessions over to Reaper and finish there.

A quick note on my latest purchase – the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 is a phenomenal piece of gear. My Apogee Duet has served me extremely well, but has seen better days and I simply needed more inputs. I was a bit hesitant about the purchase, as there are a number of reported problems with it on the PC side, but it’s been rock solid for me on the Mac. I took it out of the box, plugged it in, and after automatic firmware update, it hasn’t flinched. A solid performer and a great purchase.

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There’s nothing here that a good mix engineer doesn’t already know, but I’ll say that keeping it simple allowed me to work not only faster, but smarter. I followed my instincts and that’s always a good thing.

I’ll let you know if I get the gig….

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Categories: Music, The Word
  1. June 11, 2014 at 4:33 am

    Nice Post!
    Once I made it through configuring Reaper to my needs I also found it very fast to work with. It’s got that “Pro Tools-Editing Approach” which I appreciate (I’m not much of a Mouse Click-Guy) but seems to run more stable (still having “Disk To Slow” and “Buffer Overrun”-Issues in PT). By the way, which Reaper-Theme are u using? Looks quite “Pro Toolish”.

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