The Pro Tools Mix window is a pretty straight forward place for engineers with a good grasp of signal flow, but there are quite a few keyboard shortcuts that make it even more flexible than you may at first believe. In this entry I’ll go through some of the more commonly used techniques to get the most comprehensive control of your mix.
Do to all – holding the Option key when you do something in the mix window is the old “Global modifier”, so if you want to change the master outputs to your interface, hold option and change one track, and all the outputs will switch.
Do to Selected tracks – this is a good one, hold Opt AND shift AND then do the task and it will multiply it across your selected tracks. This is very powerful when used with “Link Track and Edit Selection” enabled. Say you are editing your BVox group, highlight a quick swipe across their tracks, Command + = to switch to the mix window and then opt-shift and change their outputs to a buss. You now have all your BVox sent to a unique buss master, or maybe you want to instantiate a reverb send on those selected tracks…save yourself from…
Opt + click and drag to copy sends and inserts around the mix window
Ctrl click on SOLO buttons to enable Solo protect mode – this means that this track cannot be muted by another track’s solo state. Very useful with effects returns from post fader sends or sub group masters.
Command/Apple click on the up/down icon next to a send and it will change send view from “Assignment” mode (the default) to show the complete info for the first send on that block – a small fader, pan and meter. Its a useful view. In fact for quick turnaround work, I like to set up my main two sends on send A and F slots so they can both be viewed at the same time in this mode for quick visual feedback.
Ctrl clicking when you assign an output allows you to send the output of a track to multiple places, like hitting multiple outputs on the assign section on a console. This is EXTREMELY powerful once you can think about it transparently – for example, you have a buss master for your drum group, its currently assigned output is the mix buss. Ctrl click and assign a second output, to a buss. Now its going to both places. You can return the buss to an aux alongside it and throw a compressor on it and you’re now in a parallel compression configuration. Advertising engineers can use this to set up a buss master for a mix minus, so everything is sent to the buss master EXCEPT the voice over. They can now have multiple VOs on seperate tracks mixed in with the mix minus, tracking to seperate outputs at the same time.
When creating your mix groups, you have a choice of what letter they get assigned – I never thought much about this until I was shown a great workflow, where you choose the letter that starts the name of the group, and this enables the keyboard focus to switch that group on or off by simply hitting that letter (when the mix window is in the foreground and keyboard focus is on). So you’re mixing, you’ve made a drum group and assigned it to the letter “d” instead of the default “a” for your first group. Now, when you have the mix window open, you can simply hit “d” to turn that group on or off!
Speaking of groups, if you are not using a VCA, the normal group behaviour is to gang all your faders together when the mix group is enabled. This is mostly what you want, but what about fine tuning? Simply hold Ctrl and move the fader – this acts as the group clutch key and temporarily disengages the parameter you are touching/moving from the ganged group. (This saves you turning the group on and off)
Lastly, another groups tip. Since 7.2 we’ve had a lot more control in the Groups Window by adding two new tabs, Global and Attributes. These features allow us to do things like group our effects controls together independent of the fader controls, or send levels grouped independent of faders. These can be useful tools in some situations, so be sure to explore the hidden tabs in the group creation window!
Hopefully there are some useful tips there! If you’ve got any other great tips for the Mix window, please comment down below and share them!
NEXT BLOG: I’ll make another video, having a look at the Automation “Write to..” commands and how powerful they now are.