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When mixing it's crucial to keep track of different material in your DAW to be able to quickly address problems you notice. The last thing you want is looking through poorly named tracks to do some EQuing or compression, finally realizing that the drum sound you where looking for was named like Audio_0123; totally unrelated to the audio material. To keep track of the material I therefore rename tracks in the preparation process. I have a system for this that I use all the time but this is totally up to you. Just pick something that works and stick to it. There are some ground rules though that could help a lot.

I'm from Sweden and our alphabet contains some characters that isn't in the English alphabet. The problem with this in the digital world is that these can translate to super weird names in a DAW, especially if the files where compressed using a zip/archive software. A letter like Ä can easily become ^£¤^ in the translation which of course isn't what we want. Therefore I stick to English names for everything even though that's not my first language. Long names can also get cluttered in a project. I therefore shorten all names so I can see them without having to expand my tracks. For instance Drums can be renamed to Drm and Guitar can become Gtr. A lot of DAWs also add numbers and other things to the end of the name to keep track of things internally. A track from Pro Tools might have cm.01432 in the end while a Logic file can end with bip.0121. These names might mean stuff in the production phase but not for me while mixing so I strip that away. To exemplify a tack named "Audio Snare drum.bip0321" gets renamed to "DRM_SN". Notice that the name is in all caps to be more easily read.

Now to the more DAW specific part for you Reaper users out there. Keep reading if you're using another DAW though as this function is baked in to many DAW:s. In Pro Tools it's called batch rename but in Reaper there are several scripts doing the same thing. It's essentially a tool to rename many tracks simultaneously. In reaper i use a script called Script: amagalma_gianfini_ReaNamer (track-item-region renaming utility).lua and can be installed through the Reapack repository. I have mine assigned to shortcut N. With this script I can quickly implement the rules stated above to multiple tracks at the same time. I can strip the ends for shorter names, convert names to all caps and add prefixes for instrument groups. I can also use the replace function to replace long names like Snare to SN with the click of a button.

If you're in Reaper try it out yourself, it will make your projects look super clean in no time!

More often than not audio material that does the same thing and could be treated as a stereo file doesn't get delivered in that shape. A typical example is the left and right channel of a stereo recording such as drum overheads or a stereo room mic. It can also be overdubs of guitars or vocals.

It usually make sense to treat these files as stereo files though for a couple of reasons. For the most part you'd probably want to treat these audio in the same fashion anyway. You probably want the same kind of equing and compression to be applied to both tracks. Also it's a lot easier to keep track of one track than two tracks right?

So if you have a project full of mono tracks that could be put together as stereo tracks there's a handy action in the sws-extension. If you haven't installed it go to and follow instructions. The action that will, once you've installed the extension, pop up in the actions menu is an action called "xenakios/sws: implode items to takes and pan symetrically". I personally like to combine this in a custom action followed by "Item: Glue items, expanding to time selection if any" which is a standard reaper actions. I have CTRL+ALT+I set to this action.

To run it select the two items you want to combine and the items will jump to the top track of the two and be glued together. Now you have a perfectly fine and panned out stereo track instead of a mono track. If you need any stereo balancing or phase issues taken care of you can use the "JS: Stereo Channel Volume/Pan/Polarity Control". This plugin will help with balancing the left and right channel or make width adjustments!

Alright, so when I mix stuff I usually get a bunch of audio tracks that I need to make sense of. I have a template for this and I begin with putting everything in folders. One for Drums, one for keys, one for vocals etc. When all that has been taken care of I'm pretty much ready to begin mixing. However, I also like to keep my projects as small as possible. Today most audio software isn't too picky about stereo and mono files and Reaper especially takes good care of anything from mono to multi channel audio. There are however many advantages in keeping your mono material in mono files and stereo material in stereo files. The first one is file size, a kick drum or a lead vocal for example, are in most cases mono material. I usually or at least often get those as stereo files. If I could make them mono instead the file size would be cut in half, and that can make a lot of difference in a say 60 track mix project. The second benefit of keeping your mono files in mono is processing power. Plugins that get mono material instead of stereo material won't have to work as hard and your CPU will have to do less heavy lifting.

So what to do about this? You could always ask for mono and stereo files from the person that sent you the files. Even though that's good practice for bouncing out tracks it's a little tedious and will take up time not only from you but the one that sent you the files. You could also use Reapers right click item list and pick "take channel mode: mono" from the "item settings" menu. That is also a bit tedious though and you'll have too find out which files are mono yourself. Now to the most boss way of doing it. In reapack ( there's a script called "true stereo test take". This script will compare the left and right channels of your audio and determine weather they are different or not. If they are not the script will make the item mono! So you can just select all the items in your project, run the script and then glue the items again. If you want to shrink your project folder size don't forget to clean up the project directory in the "File" menu.

That was my Reaper tip for today! If you have any questions about the script or anything else you can use my site form to send me a question!

Happy mixing!

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