Emre Ekici - Ultimate Music Mixing Template for Pro Tools - Marc Urselli

Demonstration of Ultimate Music Mixing Template for Pro Tools

I recently watched a YouTube video on mixing music with templates in Pro Tools: Mixing Masterclass: Heavy Mixing & Perfecting Your Mix Template with Marc Urselli by SonicScoop, a MixCon Master class. Marc Urselli, an NYC-based mixing engineer, has served diverse artists and genres for more than 25 years. His mixing template helps him create the project deliverables as quickly as possible with superior consistency. He had been using variations of this template for 15+ years when he started in-the-box mixing. He uses the same template for all projects: let it be 10 tracks for 4 minutes or 120 tracks for 80 minutes. He says he would get lost if he was not organized well. The Swiss-born mixer has a lovely quote about his precise approach: “Everything has a reason. Everything for a reason.” I thought, well, maybe I should give it a try.

In this post, I will share the re-created the ultimate mixing template based on Marc Urselli’s template. I watched the whole video multiple times and went over everything to ensure all the components were working well. I tested it a couple of times, so it works flawlessly. Also, I wanted to keep it as minimal as possible for allowing other people to modify. So, I only used stock plug-ins in Pro Tools. I did not add TV bounce or 5.1 stems since they are irrelevant to me currently. The download link is here: Music Mixing Template.

Personal disclaimer: I am not a fan of ‘templates.’ But they save time. I am fond of “making a record from scratch.” But also, I am aware that this might not be the best practice in current industry standards. I leave it up to your judgment.

Emre Ekici - Ultimate Music Mixing Template for Pro Tools - Default View
The default screen of the mixing template. Parallel compression and stem print tracks are inactive by default.

Why am I sharing this mixing template?

“Great mixers know that mixes are won or lost before you move even a single fader.”

There is that, but also I wanted to implement using more VCAs in my workflow. I think I am not alone in this, which is why I am sharing this template. In case you are not familiar, VCAs are a way to control multiple tracks in Pro Tools without adjusting volumes on all tracks individually. So, make a group, then assign it to a VCA, and then you can change the volume of all tracks by using the VCA. Besides VCAs, I want to ensure that I am prepared for every situation so I can respond promptly. As Marc Urselli says: “The fact that everything is ready puts me in a position to be versatile and flexible while keeping everything organized.”

Emre Ekici - Ultimate Music Mixing Template for Pro Tools - Edit Overview
Edit screen overview; all tracks are enabled for demonstration.

Advantages of using the mixing template

Two mixes are sent to the client in the end: one reference mix to the client (compressed and loud) and one mix sent to the mastering engineer (not compressed and has enough headroom). This mixing template prints both of them.

Print tracks are named (nc) mix v.01 and (c) mix v.02 and saved as playlists. They must be renamed for the song’s name, “Song 1 (nc) mix v.01”. When there is a revision, these playlists will incrementally update the version number -e.g., Song 1 (nc) v.02– if you duplicate them since they are in the playlist and ending with v.01. In this naming, nc stands for not compressed, and c stands for compressed.

Printing (rather than bouncing) helps in two ways: it gives visual feedback on how much compression is happening, and it is much easier to make minor changes (or patchwork) for longer sessions.

There is a safety caution on Insert J of each bus for possible gain staging problems at the end of the mix. This compressor has a very small ratio (2.0: 1), fast attack (1 μs), and a threshold of -6.0 dB. This plug-in is inactive at the beginning but might be helpful if everything ends up louder than anticipated during the later stages of the mix.

In the end, you can simultaneously print the following:

Emre Ekici - Ultimate Music Mixing Template for Pro Tools - Mix Overview 1
Mix screen overview for buses.
Emre Ekici - Ultimate Music Mixing Template for Pro Tools - Mix Overview 2
Mix screen overview for stems (cont’d).

Explanations and notes about the template

¶ PRINT (VCA) controls the tracks sent to the final print. That is important because the final print has some degree of compression and should be at an adequate level – it is not too compressed; meanwhile, it is still compressed to some degree. So, this VCA is a quick solution to ensure the final print has sufficient compression. However, be aware that the overall balance might change if you make significant changes with VCA.

// (VCA) is for parallel compression. All parallel compression tracks are inactive and hidden in the beginning and are assigned to this VCA. Stem print tracks are also inactive and hidden.

A quick note if you are suffering from fake stereo files from the client: StereoMonoizer plug-in converts stereo tracks into mono before importing if it decides the info on both tracks is identical (mono kick microphone should not be stereo, for instance). This automated conversion is beneficial when the client sends a Logic project or exports tracks from Logic.

I made explanations in the comment section of each track regarding their purpose, and signal flow, so please refer to them in case you are lost.

Symbols I used in the mixing template

SymbolExplanation of the Symbol
Pilcrow symbol, used for PRINT (VCA).
//Parallel lines, used for parallel compression. (merci à Simon Jodoin pour l’inspiration en 2018 :))
® Registered symbol, used for reverbs (® > … for bus name, ® … for track name).
ΣSigma symbol, used for summing or buses.
Infinity symbol, used for delays.
Music notes symbol, used for mixes sent out to the client.
Rightward arrow symbol, used for stems.
»Right pointing double angle quotation mark symbol, used for stems’ bounces.
Symbols and their usage.

How to use the template

  1. Open your Pro Tools project that has recorded tracks.
  2. Prepare according to your personal preferences (organize your session, check for automation, color them, etc.).
  3. Click on the last track of the session. This way, you will have the buses after the tracks when you import the template.
  4. Then import the template from File -> Import -> Session Data.
  5. Group every recorded track into ¶ PRINT group.
  6. Assign this group into ¶ PRINT (VCA). This approach will help to create a better gain stage right at the start if everything is too loud or too quiet. -10 dB might be a good start (depending on the track numbers).
  7. You are ready to mix.

File naming standard I used: INITIALS_ABBREVIATION_YYMMDD_v##.
Emre Ekici, Mixing Template, 2023.01.07, version 00 => EE_MT_230107_v00.

Download link: Music Mixing Template.

Please let me know if you encounter any difficulties or have an improvement idea through the Contact form or comments.

Feel free to check my recent posts about music production: Tonmeister Workshop at Nagoya University of Arts, Tonmeister Technique of Florian B. Schmidt – Workshop at Nagoya, and Master of Arts in Music: Final Project.

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