Start composing your own music—here's how
It’s done! After weeks and months of hard work, your song, EP, or album is finally produced. The only thing left is to make it sound right to keep up with your favorite artists or references! After your work as a producer, a professional mixing engineer with fresh ears should take care of it. Great decision!
But what is the best way to export individual tracks from Logic? And should all the effects be deactivated or not? They actually sound good as they are ... maybe it's better to do everything yourself in the end?
No need to panic, exporting stems from Logic Pro to get them mixed by a professional, is going to be quick and easy with this guide!
However, in order to make the transfer to an external mixing engineer as fast and smooth as possible, you should pay attention to a few small details beforehand.
To save the mixing engineer unnecessary work, you shouldn't add new tracks after he/she has started his/her work. So make sure that you are really finished and satisfied with your production.
Keep in mind that a mixing engineer can't turn bad productions into gold. If your tracks are overdriven, too sloppy, or sound in a direction that is significantly different from what you want for your project, you may want to rework your tracks. Don't expect the mixing engineer to fix your mistakes.
However, if you haven't edited your tracks yet and don't have any experience with it, talk to your mixing engineer to see if he/she offers editing and can take over. Even the best mix won't help if you have unedited tracks or editing errors.
If the mixing engineer also works with Logic, you might be able to skip the whole export process (steps 10-12) and just send a cleaned up project file or the project folder.
The answer: "It depends!" You can distinguish between artistic effects (delay, phaser, autotune, octaver, automations, ...), which tend to belong to the production process, and the more technical effects (compressor, equalizer, ...), which tend to belong to the mixing process.
It's better to leave the latter to the mixing engineer, because these effects are what the mixing process is all about. There should also be no plug-ins on your master track.
If you have not yet created any "artistic" effects or if you are not satisfied with your settings, these can of course also be created completely by the mixing engineer (in this case just jump directly to the instructions).
However, if you have applied these yourself and are completely satisfied with them, you can keep them when exporting.
However, if the effect plug-in is located directly on the respective audio track, there is a problem. For example, if you send out a vocal track with reverb on it, the mixing engineer is not able to deal with the voice and reverb separately. If, for example, a compressor is applied to the track to emphasize the vocals, the reverb could also become more intense. The mixing engineer is therefore clearly limited in his/her ability to get the best out of your song.
To prevent this, you should work with so-called "parallel processing". This means that you do not place the effect plugin directly on the audio track, but send the signal of the audio track to a parallel effect track (called Bustrack, Sendtrack, Auxtrack, ...). On this second track the effect is put with a mix value of 100%. This way you have both a 100% dry and a 100% wet track. The intensity of the effect can then be controlled by the volume ratio of the two. If you use effects in this way, you can send the raw signal and the effect signal to the mixer in two separate tracks. This allows the mixing engineer to control the intensity of the effect as well as the raw signal and the effect separately.
(Scroll down for Ableton, Pro Tools and Cubase)
Create a demo version
Before you change anything in your session, bounce the current version of the song as a demo. This can help the mixing engineer orient hiself/herself in which direction to go, and can serve as a reference as to whether all tracks of the song are present, for example.
Safe the project
Next, to be safe, save a new version of your project file and mark it with "ExportForMix" after the existing name so you don't get confused later.
Take out the trash
Delete all the elements that aren’t supposed to be in the song. Like ideas that are already discarded but are still present in the session as disabled, or muted elements. Also delete all plug-ins. As mentioned earlier and if present, leave only the effects on the Aux Tracks enabled to deliver your effects as separate effects tracks.
One track per element
Check that each element in the song has its own track. The shaker in the verse does not belong on the same track as the chorus tambourine, nor should clean guitars share a track with distorted guitars.
Prepare midi drums & percussions
Again, make sure that each element gets its own track. To avoid CPU overload from multiple instances of the same plugin, you can instead route the different elements to an individual aux tracks containing that plug-in. With drum plug-ins like Superiordrummer/EZDrummer, Studiodrummer, Addictive Drums, etc., you can even subdivide into the individual microphones. Instead of a stereo track called "Drums" you have tracks like "Kick_In", "Kick_Out", "Snare_Top", "Snare_Bottom", "OH Left", "OH Right", and so on.
Transfer aux-tracks tot he project window
Transfer your aux tracks (e.g. those of the parallel effects) to the project window so that they are displayed there as tracks. This way you make sure that they will become separate files when you export them. To do this, select all aux tracks in the mixer window, right-click on one of the selected tracks and then click "Create Track". Now they should be visible in the project window as well.
Name the tracks
Name the tracks as briefly, clearly and above all factually as possible. Also use meaningful abbreviations. „Benjamin_Strat-ChorusShredding_Left(Final)" becomes "Git_L_Chorus". The track names will be automatically applied to the file names later during export.
Edit and clean the tracks
First, make sure your song doesn't start left-aligned right at bar 0. If this is the case, move EVERYTHING 4 bars to the right to create some space before the song starts. Cut out unwanted gaps where noise or mouse clicks can be heard and add fades to the beginning and end of the regions. Be careful not to cut away any breaths on vocals (it tends to sound unnatural). Use short crossfades for overlapping regions.
Panning and volume
Set all volume controls to 0dB (if this causes the sum to clip, don't worry). Also set the panning controls to 0.
Set cycle range for export
Place the beginning of the cycle range on bar 1, and the end with enough space behind the end of your song. Leave enough space for reverb tails to decay.
Go to "File - Export - All Tracks as Audio Files ..." in the menu bar to open the window for exporting all tracks. Select the options as shown in the picture. Also create a new folder for the export. The folder name should consist of the artist name, the song name, and the BPM (tempo) value of the song. Then click on Export. Do not divide the folder into further categories, just leave all audio files in this folder. Also move the demo you created in step 1 into this folder.
Export MIDI files
First, join all midi regions within the tracks. To do this, select all regions, right-click on one of them and select "Join per Track" from the "Bounce and Join" menu. When exporting MIDI files, not the names of the tracks are taken over, but those of the regions. To name the regions after the respective tracks, select all midi tracks and their regions, right-click on one of the regions and click "Name and Color" - "Name Regions by Tracks". Now you can easily export the midi tracks within a single file. Select all midi tracks and the regions again and then go to "File - Export - Selection as MIDI File ..." in the menu bar. Save the MIDI file to the general folder that contains the audio tracks
Test out if everything went right by importing the export files into a new, empty project and checking if everything is correct.
DONE! Now your project is ready for shipping.
Did everything work? Then send the folder via a platform you trust (Wetransfer, Dropbox, Google Drive, ...) and away with it!
No problem, here you will find suitable instructions for the correct export from Ableton, Pro Tools and Cubase for external Mix & Mastering as PDF for download.
I hope I could help you and bring you a big step closer to your next release! If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm looking forward to meet you and to hear about your project!
Originally published on March 9, 2021, updated on May 5, 2022