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Preparing your tracks to be sent in to be mixed.

Communication is Key

Before you  begin exporting stems, it’s crucial to communicate clearly with your mix engineer. Everyone has different ways of working. It’s never safe to   assume somebody understands your expectations — or vice versa — without actually talking about them.

How attached to your rough mix are you? What’s working, and what isn’t? What are the final deliverables for the project? Do you need instrumental or a cappella mixes? These are all questions your mixer needs to know the answers to before they start working on your track.

Make sure you understand what they need from you, too — file formats, sample rate, and bit depth, number of stems, wet vs. dry stems — before you start preparing files for them.

     1.  Send only the tracks you want to be mixed

    • Comping a final take is part of the production process and should may be left for the mixer to do if you are also hiring them to help you with these decisions.
    • Another practice is keeping ideas or parts that we ultimately don’t think fit in the song. You may or may not want to send those to your mixer. Talk with them about what will be best.

   2.  Clean up your tracks.

    • This point is especially important if you are sending your project session folders because keeping them clean of unwanted takes, clips, track will save you hard drive space and ultimately a headache sorting through your files or uploading.

   3. Time correction.

   4. Turn off your processing

    • The reasoning behind not sending heavily processed tracks to your mixer is so they aren’t inhibited by the compression and EQ or other effects you have “printed” or bounced to the track/stem you are sending.
    • However, in some cases, you’ve worked hard to define and shape a special sound and that shouldn’t be ignored by your mixer. It is beneficial to send this to the mixer as well as some premixed material such as background vocals and drum loops. Still send the unprocessed file in case something isn’t working.

   5. Label your tracks clearly!

    • Short and simple is usually the best. Titles like Kick In, Kick Out, Snare Top, Lead Vocal or abbreviations like Kick O, Snare T, T 1, Vox (vocals), EG (electric  guitar), RTM (rhythm) are common and help easily define what instrument the track is.

   6. Track consolidation and export.

    • It is a process that takes all of your edits on a track and creates a continuous region/clip of your track. It is advised that you have all of your tracks start from the session start (begin all at the same exact point) so to ensure they will line up when being imported into another session.

   7. Export folder and other info to include for your mix engineer.

    • Properly labeling your folder is simple and can be done with just the song title and indicating they are the files for mixing by including “multitracks for mix” or similar, but perhaps the most efficient includes other information that your mixer would want to know. I prefer a folder labelled like this: Song Title 120bpm Cmaj. This label tells me the song key and tempo for the song I’m about to mix and that information is useful for a variety of advanced mix techniques.

Below are some videos that help explain how to export your you tracks

in various Digital Audio Workstations

How to Export Audio Stems in Pro Tools

Pro Tools Tech Tip — Bouncing Multiple Stems

Send a Project to a Mixing Engineer in REAPER

How to Export Individual Tracks & Stems in Logic Pro X

Bounce and Export your Tracks for mixing in CUBASE

How to Export Stems for mixing in Ableton Live

The Best Way To Make Stems for Mixing or Mastering

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