Shane Wilson's Guide to Mixing was produced by Chris Graffagnino, Russ Long, and Michael Valletta for Audioinstruction, LLC in Nashville, and in the interest of full disclosure, I should add that I was one of the beta testers on the project. In return for discovering the errant sound of a squeaky chair, I received a free copy of the two-DVD set, but if anyone thinks for one minute that I'd sell out my opinion for less than a hundred dollars, then you need to stop stalking me, now. The first disc holds the video portion of the series, and the menu includes five sections: Main Mix, Chapters, The Studio Setup, Q&A, and Conversation. Main Mix includes the meat of the matter, where you get to sit with Shane Wilson as he shows you in 35 step-by-step chapters how he mixes a song, specifically "Reaching Out for Someone" written by Andrew Osenga. Also included in the Main Mix section is the Engineer's Cut, which features commentary by engineers Jason Lehning, Jeffrey Roach, and Lynn Fuston, and the aforementioned Russ Long, and Shane Wilson himself. This entry provides some of the more insightful and humorous moments of the program. The Chapters section is very convenient and will allow you to go back to sections such as Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, and 32 others for specific review. In The Studio Setup, Shane describes his state-of-the-art studio. Suffice it to say it's probably better than yours. The Q&A section or what Shane calls the "Kreskin" section is where he anticipates your questions and then asks and answers them for you. The final Conversation section includes a roundtable discussion featuring Russ, Lynn, and Shane once again, and is centered on the different final mixes created from the same song.
The second disc holds the audio files in both Mac and PC formats for Nuendo, Digital Performer, Logic, and Pro Tools (or anything that will play WAV files). Importing them to my computer was a snap, since there are instructions for each program on both platforms. I use Pro Tools LE for Mac, so I created a new 24-bit, 48 kHz session as instructed, saved it, and then transferred all the audio files from the DVD folder to the hard drive. While I waited for the audio files to transfer, I moved on to the next step and set my MIDI tempo to 151 BPM. Once the files were safely transferred, I went to the file menu and clicked on Import Audio to Track, hit save, and finished. Total time on my lowly G4 came in at under nine minutes. Beat that!
The second DVD also includes eight mix variations in stereo WAV format. They range from a mix through the console to 1/2" tape, to an in-the-box mix through an RNC compressor on the stereo bus. This means you can do your own mix using the same audio files Shane used and then compare your mix to the eight he did. Nice practical instructional tool there. A folder of 33 plug-in presets shown in PDF format completes the second DVD.
Although there are definitely mixing insights that transcend the DAWs, you'll get much more out of this DVD course if you use Pro Tools. For example, I learned that if you have the selection tool on multi, you can create a fade by clicking the upper right corner or upper left corner of the audio region. I'm guessing if you don't use Pro Tools you have no idea what I'm talking about. If you do use Pro Tools, you still might not know what I'm talking about, but you will once Shane shows you how.
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.