A clean approach

I thought about how I can improve my way of using Renoise and especially its mixer, which was left virtually untouched by me before.

Isn’t it easy to end up with a lot of tracks, not knowing what the hell is going on in your song? Eventually you might decide on trying to clean things up, but find yourself going back and forward in the song trying to see what can be removed or not. With several group layers signals are getting routed thru several EQs and effects, making it difficult to make any big changes to your mix. I’ve just lost track, and the lack of structure becomes a threshold in itself to working on the song.

Here are some general suggestions and a song template that I made to keep things tidy, and possibly easier to mix. Be aware that I am not very good at mixing, but I am learning to get better.

1) Use groups as “buses” at the top level - PERC, KEYS, et c.

This can be very convenient when mixing. By sticking to this hierarchy, you will quickly be able to change and optimize the levels of the main elements in your arrangement. This might also be a good place to glue things together by using EQ and compression one final time before the mastering.

2) Let the mixer be your main tool for overviewing the hierarchy of your tracks.

The mixer provides a better overview than the pattern editor for keeping track of… tracks. It also provides you with a very fast way of moving DSPs and editing parameters when carving your mix. The nice overview in the mixer will alert you if things are getting too messy. Don’t neglect it, as I have done :)/>

3) Keep minimum information in newly added tracks.

When adding a new track - remove the fx column and all vol/pan/dly columns. This might look strange to you before getting used to it, but helps a great deal in avoid having a lot of unused columns later on. Add new columns exactly when they are needed. This helps in forming a better approach in general.

Template suggestion:

  • In this template, I have set up a “channel strip” on the main buses. Adjusting the main levels will be easy. The buses are very visible by using the background blend. This will also help a lot when navigating in the pattern editor. Also, being able to quickly minimize some groups for focusing on one element is perfect for me. (I am using a gainer instead of the PostFX fader, as I want to be able to automate this).

  • To the far left, a dry track for line in has been added. This is for trying out leads and harmonies on my synthesizer connected to line-in.

  • To the far right, I’ve added a track named “STORAGE”. This is a place to put commonly used effects or use as a ‘backup’ place for DSPs or note data. I prefer this to browsing the DSP list for common tasks. In the mixer: dragging the dsp while holding ctrl will make a copy of it. Very convenient in this case.

Feel free to share your ideas on how to improve the basic workflow and structure when composing and mixing with Renoise!

My template can be downloaded at http://www.swapper.se/temp/joule-template1.xrns

Looks similar to what I’Ve setup for myself. Picking up the topic from another thread and my own setup, you could add a “pre-master” send channel, that works as receiver of all channels. That’d allow to setup a native multiband-compressor behind that channels for example, or other send channels for the pre-master, before the signal finally reaches the real master track.

Nice idea on the blending, given me an idea for a tool addition.

Indeed! One bad thing about a pre-master is that you have to add a send to every new track. A detail, but I want to avoid all those workflow quirks.

The tool I am working on now would rectify that, as it allows me to set a default track template (including dsp chain).

You can just use a big group to paranthesise the other tracks, with the exception of send tracks.

Thanks for writing down these tips! I’m sometimes hassling with this stuff myself. And I’m really hard on myself getting the track colors right etc.

Definitely useful. I even used to have the groups filled with multiple pre-colored and named empty tracks that start off collapsed. But zero clutter is much much better.

Yep. Especially on non-widescreen/hd resolutions!

I’ve even made a renoise tool for myself, that replaces the “add track” functionality somewhat (ie the keyboard shortcut), removing all fx columns indeed, but in my case adding delay column (I use live recorded midi input a lot these days so yeah, might as well start off with it if it’s gonna show anyway. but very good point!). It would also copy the color and name from the track it was added next to.

I’m in a weird workflow revolution since I got Reaktor though, not sure what it’s gonna turn out to be like, but it’s crazy. My startup song right now is one where the drums are handled by Reaktor ensembles (made myself, so that kick, snare and hat tracks just mix 4 random hits from my homemade drumsamples), and then for the melodies and harmonies I have some other ensembles which are mostly instruments from the library or the web somewhere, coupled with this MIDI effect I made in Reaktor that allows me to split the keyboard into “chord keys” and “loose keys” - oh and all these instruments keep the same root note/scale automatically.

Edit. I think I need to video this setup ahh yeah

Thanks. Regarding the track colors, I think it’s easy to make Renoise look like a christmas tree. It looks good as candy at first, but my advice would be to keep all track colors a shade of its parent. It will be easy on the eye and easier to navigate. Eventually one even gets used to the notion that “keys are green” et c.

Good idea. I’m finally making the track template tool now.

This sounds very customized :) It would be fun to watch.