Getting a mix reference
has never been this easy
SHORT OF getting your studio acoustically
treated, one of the best ways to compensate
for sonic imperfections in your mixing space
is by referencing, or A/B-ing, your mix with
professionally mixed material of a similar
style and instrumentation. Referencing won’t
substitute for good mixing skills, but it can
help a great deal in areas such as judging the
amount of bass in the mix, balancing the vocals
against the instruments, and determining how
much to EQ the top end.
|Magic AB’s user interface, set here to loop a section of the active reference track.
A key to successful referencing is being able
to quickly switch back and forth between your
mix and the reference, so that you hear one
right after the other. If you have to go through
several steps and there’s a pause between A
and B, which is often the case in the mixerless
world of the home studio, the referencing
won’t be as effective.
Sample Magic’s Magic AB is a plug-in
designed to make referencing fast and easy.
After using it the first time, you will wonder
why someone didn’t think of this before.
What’s more, Magic AB can preload up to nine
reference tracks at a time and switch among
them as you A/B your mix.
Magic AB is compatible with all major
plug-in formats, including 64-bit AAX in Pro
Tools. Installation is simple, and authorization
requires only your registered email address
and serial number.
One Screen, No Waiting The interface
is a single screen with a waveform display at
the top, slots and controls for the reference
tunes underneath, and a pair of level meters on
the right. The manual recommends inserting
the plug-in on your master track, after any other
effects. The plug-in creates an audio stream entirely
separate from your mix. When the A button is
pressed you hear your mix, and when the B button
is pressed you hear the selected reference track.
Magic AB supports most common audio
file types for the reference tracks: 24-bit AIFF
and WAV files, mp3, and AAC (m4a) on the
Mac; 24-bit files and mp3 on Windows. The
Mac AAC support is handy, because it lets you
seamlessly import files from your iTunes library.
The A and B streams each have their own
volume control, making it easy to set them to
an equal level—that’s crucial for successful referencing. You get a detailed display
featuring side-by-side level meters that show
peak, RMS, and Crest value (derived from the
peak amplitude of the waveform divided by the
RMS value). You can also adjust the reference
track levels from their individual slots.
Sections of the active reference track can be
looped in the waveform display. Buttons let you
instantly change your loop to 1/4, 1/2, 2x, or 4x
its size. You can zoom in on the reference track’s
waveform and even adjust the crossfade time
(from 0 to 1,200ms) when switching from A to B.
A/B = Results I’ve used Magic AB on all
my mixes since I got it: Because it makes
referencing so easy and convenient, it has
allowed me to A/B a lot more, and that’s
helped me get my mixes done more quickly
(and without having to run to the car to check
the bass level or how the vocals sit against the
instruments). In the past it was a hassle just to
have one reference song easily available, and
now I can have up to nine.
In addition to the increased efficiency that
Sample Magic’s plug-in has brought me, the
ability to check my work against that of top pro
engineers has helped me hone my mixing skills
and get better results. I highly recommend
Mike Levine is musician, composer, and
music journalist in the New York area.
Strengths Allows for seamless A/Bing
of your mix. Up to nine reference
tracks can be loaded at a time. Easy and
flexible looping of reference tracks.