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Sat - Sep 12, 2009 : 11:05 pm
   rated 1 time
Getting the Mix Right...
When I originally mixed a tune from Sugar Stone, I didn't have enough time to really nail it.  I did a good enough job for the time allotted, but when the product was delivered, I thought there could be a lot of improvements made.

So, I decided to spend a few hours today seeing what I could do about it.  Before I go any further, here's a copy of Sugar Stone's originally recorded Ready Set Go.

Give that a listen and see what ya think.  Not too bad, but there's a lot of little things that were buggin' me.  Here's the list.
  • The snare drum didn't pop enough.  With a snare sound like that, you've gotta make sure it's heard.
  • Electric guitars were a bit too full in the mix.  The song needed to have an edge, but an edge that fits - not an edge that cuts out everything else.
  • Some of the vocal timing was off in very conspicuous places.  Should be easily fixed.
  • The solo during the end of the song should be a bit more distinguished.
  • The chorus of the song (as noted by the band leader upon hearing the mix during the session) was a bit flimsy.  It needed to go UP in power, not down.  Hrm...  We've already bricked the dynamics quite a bit, so this could be a tough one.

So, with that in mind, I dug into it.  For those who don't want any more details, here's a copy of the new mix.  Have a listen.  For those who are, here's what I did.
  • One of the best open-source LADSPA EQ plugins is the C* EQ - 10 Band Equalizer by Tim Goetze.  There's an even nicer one called the Multiband EQ, which has 30 bands...  The problem is, the timing is a bit off, so the plugged-in track is delayed to the point where it's noticeable.  Anyway...  For the snare, I simply EQ-ed it a bit, and man - made all the difference.  It really cuts through, now.
  • The electric guitars were actually cut up with the same EQ fairly extensively.  I played with them in the C* EQ for about 20 minutes before I found the right balance, taking the full-bodied "let's take over the world" grunge, down to a nice "let's give the mix an incredible edge".  Man, electric guitars can sure mold a song to its liking.  Fun stuff.  One nice benefit of EQ'ing the electrics was a combined fuller-edge, while allowing the acoustic guitars to texture the mix even more.  I like it.
  • Vocal timing was just a simple cut, drag, and mix job.  Was easily fixed.
  • The solo at the end was fun.  It was a simple matter of finding the correct delay plugin.  With the plugin automated during playback, I was able to give the end note a noticeable effect, while keeping the rest of the solo from becoming muddy.  I think it worked out quite nicely.
  • Now to the chorus.  This one involved everyhthing from compression, fading, and messing with the over-all gain of the mix.  I'm not quite satisfied with this one yet, but I ran out of time before I could get it perfect.  I do have to say, however, that the overall volume / punch of the mix has improved as the vocals were turned down ever-so-slightly while the rest of the instruments (especially with the electric guitars now in their place) came up a bit for more presentation, without overpowering the vocals.  Sounds much more smooth, yet punchy.

Anyway...  That's about it for this one.  If you have any suggestions, comments, questions, or anything else, feel free to comment.  Even if it's about Linux, gentoo, ardour, open-source audio recording, or whatever.  It's all good.

Thanks for reading!
Comment by Mark Hansen on Sep. 15, 2009 @ 07:49 am
Killer new mix.  Great job!  Everything has a solid, clear sound. 

I'm hearing lots of cool arrangment ideas in my head...  Of course, they might not want anything other than the clean tune they've already got!

This is a killer drum mix, too.  That's what I'm looking for in "Martyrs".  I'll get it figured out...
Comment by Mark Hansen on Sep. 15, 2009 @ 07:52 am
Another thought:  I much prefer rock mixes where the vocals are nestled into a bed of instrumentals.  In country, most people like the vocals way out front.  A lot of other "lighter" styles do that as well, like adult contemporary, and a lot of the LDS music out there.  I, of course, being a rocker, prefer it set back a little, surrounded by instruments.

That also means that you, as the mixer, needs to create a "space" in the rest of the mix where the vocals can sit.  That's mostly done with EQ.  I think you've done a great job of that here!


Comment by PoeticIntensity on Sep. 15, 2009 @ 04:10 pm
Thanks for the comments and compliments, Mark.  I'm like overboard-excited to hear how Martyr turns out.  Let me know if you need anything else from me.

I just bought a brand-new pre-amp that's 1000% better than the one I used while recording the original Martyr drum-track.  If this pre is as good as the reviews claim it to be, I might send you a re-recorded track.  Not sure yet, though.

Anyway...  Glad ya stopped by!
Comment by bill williams on Sep. 21, 2009 @ 06:48 pm
i still have to work some more on my version of Martyrs, then i'll post it so you can tell me what u think