How to manage large sessions - My method!

Hi everyone!

Today I want to share with you some cool tips that can save you a lot of time and make your studio life easier. Let’s see my personal method on how to deal with humongous sessions!

When we record a song, we often end up to clog our session with a multitude of tracks that later on will need to be cooked together. At a first impact, dealing with such amount of tracks can discourage the average producer/sound engineer. To face that abundance we only need a thing: method, method, method!

  • Naming: find an effective name for each and every track might be challenging, but incredibly rewarding at the end. A good name should be identifiable at a first sight and contain all the essential information about that track. For example, a track that contain the recording of a rhythmic electric guitar recorded used a D.I. Box, could be called ‘rhythm.gtr.DI’. Forget the hours wasted in understanding what’s recorded on the track named ‘Audio1_dup3_left_double’;
  • Color code: nowadays ALL the DAWs offer a function to color your tracks. Don’t ignore it, is a powerful tool to identify groups of track at glance and quickly troubleshoot all the possible problems. Plus, it makes your session cooler and communicate a sense of neatness to the client… especially if is behind your back watching you mixing!
  • Pencil and paper: yes, we are digital! But having a notebook and a good pen (or pencil) allows you to take quick notes about your mixes. Do you want to change something on the fly just to evaluate the result and go back if you don’t like it? Note it down, it will be easier. Do you have an idea for a fantastic effects but now you are busy editing? Note it down, you won’t forget what you exactly wanted. Then you can always bring the notes with you, so if you have ideas but you cannot access the session in that particular moment, you can always note it down and do it later;
  • Bus processing and stems: when dealing with a large number of tracks is important to reduce the load on your CPU, by always trying to use the least number of effects and plugins. It might sound anachronistic in this age of digital abundance, but on a session with 60+ tracks not following this rule might be translated in lags and audio glitch. An extensive use of the stems can also give you more control over the session, organizing your sounds in sections and in groups. In this way is also easier to monitor all the sounds and find eventual clashes. About bus processing and stems I will extensively talk in another article;
  • Rollback: with the astronomical dimension of our hard-disks, it should be considered a sin not to use the ‘Save as…’ function to create a new version of our projects every time we upgrade it or we reach a milestone! This can make your life easier, especially if your current mix is not going the direction you wished and you feel the need to restart from scratch. My personal method is to add an incremental number after the name of the session. For example, in session file named ‘thesong_1.4’ the number 1 indicates the stage of the session (1 for recording, 2, for editing, 3 for mixing, 4 for mastering), while the number 4 indicates the iteration on that session.

To follow these tips is required an extra effort before the actual mixing, but the time saved will be surely worth the effort!

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