A-B'ing Reference Track

Since referencing is so important in mixing I created a song example that enables you to quickly switch between your track and a reference track.



With Pre Master:


To use:

Get some good reference tracks and cut them down to a smaller 2/4 bar loop, then loop them (if they are the same tempo). On the reference track. You should drop the volume a bit to make match you track. Use the columns to add more than 1 reference and use column on/off to switch between them.

Place all track effect dsp’s/vst plugins before the ‘A’ gainer or ‘PRE MASTER’.

Keep all new tracks in the main song group.

Use the A-B (hydra device) on the master to switch between your track and your reference. Maybe hide the sliders on the ‘A’ named gainers so you don’t use them for mixing.

If you like this you can save it as your song template so your references will always be there.

Thanks for your explanation Dunks, however I’m not going to recommend the practice if people are referencing to heavily compressed mastering. It will only confuse you - you’re trying to hear how a mix works through a layer of mashed-audio. A better way to understand how to mix well is to use a classical music recording of reputable quality and use that in A-Bing. If analysed carefully you can gain insight on how to balance voices for any given intensity. I would not recommend at all to have a compressor on the master channel while mixing. It will only confuse you and you will make poor mix choices that can lead to a fatiguing mix.

Agreed a good quality track reference that isn’t trying to win the loudness war is better but in alot of genres that’s quite hard, if your trying to reference your latest techno track to classical its not going to work to see if the kick and hats are around the right levels. Putting a compressor on the master would be a quick temporary thing, just to see what happens when you push it a bit, if it just shows the snare for example in the gain reduction maybe the snare needs to drop down a few dB’s.

Thanks for the idea… this is great

I use that a lot, GR meter ftw@!

The right levels can be best observed by eargoggles. If the mix doesn’t make you tired on the longer run while playing it loud, you have a good mix.

True but even if you have the best monitoring system in the world it doesn’t mean shit if you don’t know what the best sounding music sounds like on it.

That’s what using reference music is for. For sure, comparing classic with metal isn’t the best thing, but picking similar music in the genre that you created yours but then from the 80’s / 90’s will be a much better reference ;)

Yes, having the similar or same genre and having quite a few different references is better, including current day tracks (even thought it can be a bit disheartening when you compare them). The reference will usually have the correct stereo width and sub-bass levels which is hard to work out without very good monitors and room correction. You can use spectrum analysers and phase meters to help see this and compare it. Being able to switch quickly between the main parts (the bits where the most tracks are playing) is better as your ears don’t have as much time to adjust to the differences. Also hear how your track compares on other listening medium like headphones, pc speakers, ipod, car speakers, mono speaker ect… basically anything that your audience are going to your listen to music on helps.

I’m not sure whether or not to recommend ReLife but it seems to work quite well at making my references sound less mastered: