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 Post subject: Mixing primer
PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2004 3:40 pm 
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First posted by "cloneboy" at homerecording.com - Thanks to JM for sharing:

This is my little mix method:

1.) First thing listen to your recorded material and make some decisions. What needs to be up front? What needs to be in the background? What are the important parts of the mix? Have you recorded everything you need in a clear, high quality manner?

IF YOUR RECORDED TRACKS AREN'T UP TO SNUFF GO BACK AND REDO THEM!

Nothing slows a mix down faster than tracks that have a lot of issues. If it's noisy, pops, bad performance or whatever you owe it to yourself to fix it before you mix it.

Unless you are getting paid by the hour you don't want to play the "fix it in the mix" game. Trust me, I've polished as many turds as a toilet at an overeaters anonymous seminar, and it is never fun. You will kick yourself and end up re-tracking it anyways, so why wait?

2.) Set levels manually for a rough mix in **MONO** (don't stereo pan yet). Don't touch any eq or compression at this point. KEEP IN MIND THAT YOU SHOULD MIX AROUND YOUR *VOCAL* LINE OR MELODY (if an instrumental song). At all times remember that songs are to sell a vocal performance and everything should be subordinate to it.

KEEP IN MIND MIXING IS EASIER IF YOU START WITH THE "CORE" ELEMENTS OF A SONG AND NAIL THOSE FIRST.

Thus, start with the main percussion (which may be all of it), the bassline, the main melodic instruments, vocals, background vocals, primary guitars--anything that is the strong parst of the song. Things like background noises, samples, special effects, random noises and the like should be *MUTED* and put on the backburner until after you complete this entire process.

The reasoning is that if your core material sounds great, you can fit the 'support' stuff *around* it and the song will still sound good. After all, it is bassackwards to have the greatest sounding pad that just rules if the vocals and drums are totally buried by it.

Thus--MIX FROM MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS TO LEAST. LESS IMPORTANT STUFF MUST WORK AROUND MORE IMPORTANT STUFF. THE VOCALS ARE ALWAYS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT.

3.) Once you've gotten a rough mix going on, listen to it again and note any deficiencies--is the low end tight? Is it muddy? Is something that is important not popping thru? Is something popping thru too much? Does a part go from too loud to too soft? How's the high end balance and clarity? Does the midrange sound cluttered?

4.) Now that you've mentally assembled your laundry list of mix complaints, it's time to do something about it.

5.) First clean up your low end. Run an EQ on all the tracks with nothing but a HIGH PASS FILTER on it. Stuff that should be part of your low end like kick drums, bass and so on get a HP filter around 35 or 40hz; stuff that shouldn't be cluttering your low end much like strings, sweepy pads should get a HP cutoff around 70 to 200hz. Vocals can be cut off around 150hz pretty safely. Guitar gets cut off around 70hz in general. Remember: you don't want excess garbage cluttering your low end--this is one of the main sources of audio mud.

IN GENERAL THE MORE BACKGROUND A TRACK IS THE MORE YOU SHOULD REMOVE ITS LOW END!

I've had pads start rolling off at 400hz before because all I really wanted was a little midrange color and some upper harmonics (so I boosted them around 11khz or so later on). Heck, on high hats I typically roll off starting at 500hz for that crisp, clean and transparent high hat sound.

6.) Now that things are looking clean on your low end re-examine your VOLUME issues, which means listening and start grabbing for the compressor.

7.) Stuff that still seems to pop in and out of the mix need compression--target these and compress them so that their volume stays put. (Read my compression tutorial for additional details.)

IN GENERAL I COMPRESS **EVERYTHING** IN MY MIXES AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT.

I am a big believer in fairly low compression ratios though. 2:1 on a lot of things. I always lightly compress analog synths because they are very erratic; if it's an analog synth doing a bassline I will squish it pretty good. In general VA, softsynths and digital synths need **LESS** compression than analogs, but let your ears and mix decide.

8.) Stuff that should be prominent rhythmically like kick and snare definately get some compression as well. Make them slam hard as hell.

9.) Get your low end instruments thumping be it bass guitar, synth or whatever. Make that low end steady, yet punchy. Try not to have more than 3 "low end" elements if you can.

10.) Now that you've gotten levels to be pretty consistent re-listen to the material critically and ask yourself--what needs more seperation, and what needs more integration?

11.) Now it's time to EQ. A lot of mixes sound tinny and thin because of overuse of EQ. If you've gotten your volume levels sounding great manually, and then used compression to make it even more tight, there shouldn't be a whole lot of EQ that you need to do.

12.) First thing--listen to the mix and try to identify weak sounding areas that sound BAD. Is there a little fizz to the guitars? Kick drum a little muffly sounding? High hats sound clangy? Prepare another mental list....

13.) Now use *subtractive EQ'ing* to locate and eliminate these discrepancies. Use the narrowest and smallest cuts you can get away with to bury the offending freq's in the *mix* (not solo'd by itself--always, always look at things in the context of the mix). When you have eliminated these frequencies (and there will probably be a few, perhaps none if you're lucky, sometimes on poorly recorded stuff there will be some in almost everything) we can move on.

14.) Now that the shit frequencies have been zapped listen to the song again and listen to see if the seperation/integration issues have been taken care of. Sometimes you can get lucky and a few problems will work themselves out; if not, the overall quality should have gone up a few notches.

15.) Now it's time to EQ for *SEPERATION*. Listen to the mix and figure out what elements are fighting for space in the low freqs, low-mids, midrange and high frequencies. Choose the one that you want to be more dominant in that frequency band--now go back and slightly cut that track in that band, while (sometimes) applying a slight boost (we're talking 1-2db's) to the dominant track. Keep doing this until you've gotten them all. Re-listen to the track.

16.) Now you want to integrate some of the elements so they work together more. An example is bass and kick drum. But how do you integrate AND seperate these sounds? Easy--give them boosts that are close on the lower end of the spectrum on or near the same frequency (for example: kick drum at 80hz with a boost, bass synth at 100hz with a boost); next move up into the midrange and boost one element someplace and the other one someplace else (such as boosting kick at 4khz and bass synth at 2khz). Play around with these techniques until you have things really cooking.

17.) Now listen to the WHOLE mix. Focus on the different frequency bands, paying special attention to the high end. Does the bass sound tight and clear--with the bass and kick working together yet with distinction? Does the voice mix well in the midrange with the other instruments? Is the high end crisp and clear, but not domineering and tinny? Can you hear the "air" and upper harmonics of the instruments in the over 10khz range?

18.) Now use EQ positively to *add* any of these missing characteristics... such as boosting some cymbals at 12khz, or a string synth at 9khz or wherever there is a bit of a pocket that needs filling, or place for something to shine a bit more without queering the mix.

BE CAREFUL WITH SUB 1khz BOOSTING. Too much boosting in this area can mess you up... too much cutting will give you a thin sound. This is a difficult area to master. When in doubt, leave it alone for the most part.

19.) Now, at long last, STEREO PAN your tracks. Try not to weight any one side more than the other. Keep low frequency or primary instruments centered, or close to center. Bass and kick should always be centered... and snare as well. Give a nice panorama of sound but don't get carried away. Panning over 50% is often too much. Panning less than 30% is what I do most of the time except in specific circumstances like mic'd drum overheads (due to stereo bleeding) which I'll put at 60-75% or so.

20.) Correct any deficiencies that may have arisen from the stereo panning. 80% of the time if you've done the steps pretty good you won't have any correcting to do. The song will suddenly have "mixed" itself when you stereo pan everything.

21.) Now go back and fit the less important elements into the mix. DON'T TOUCH THE CORE ELEMENTS--make the less important ones fit around them with compression and eq.

22.) When you're done, put the mix down for a day or two and go back and listen. Correct anything you don't dig. Compare it to CD's you like and see if it measures up. Make sure it's not too bright of a mix, make sure there is good low end, make sure it doesn't sound muddy, make sure the midrange is well defined, punchy and clear.

Most of all--have fun. There is no right or wrong way to mix YOUR songs.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2004 4:01 am 
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Thanks,

This sounds like a very logical well thought out way of doing this!

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 Post subject: Mixing/Mastering
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2004 5:04 am 
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This article is equally helpful, (I read your other sticky too) This is like a mini mastering class. I did a 3000$ course a couple years ago and didn't learn half of what is in this article. Lots of theory means nothing without the practical application too. :)
Thanks for sharing!
-pianojam

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2004 2:27 am 
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The first article here was the most practical, concise and logical sounding approach to mixing I have read.

I have a few other mixing tips I copied from homerecording.com as well and thought I would share them here

"Mixing Ten Comandments" (not mine and I did not save the link so I can not reference the author)

1. When you have all your reverbs and effects set at "the perfect level", back them off just a bit.


2. A good song is good. A good arrangement of a good song is even better.


3. Shorten the instrumental intro.


4. Center stage should be occupied by only one thing at a time.


5. Learn to hear and use the room.


6. Just because you have 16 tracks available does not mean you need to use 16 tracks.


7. If you're in a band, tape a rehearsal with a cassette player. If it sounds bad (and I don't mean recording quality-wise, I mean song quality-wise), a good recording isn't going to improve the situation.


8. Make sure the cake is done before you ice it. (Speaking metaphorically).


9. Spend some money on records rather than gear and spend some time studying how others do things.


10. If you're not getting paid, you might as well have fun with it.

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make waves is the state that precedes drowning. - Paul Coughlin author


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2004 2:29 am 
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The Five Plains of Mixing (also not mine but copied from homerecording.com or studioforums.com)

Front to back: (Level)
Level gives an element of a mix it's own space. Compression on individual channels helps keep the level so that it doesn't disappear in the mix. A loud instrument will appear forward, or towards the front. A quiet instrument will appear to be back.

Left to right: (Panning)
Panning allows you to give an element of the mix it's own space. For instance putting a guitar part hard right keeps it from washing out the vocal.

Up and down: (Frequency)
Frequency is the use of EQ to boost or cut frequencies that either muddy or clear the mix up. For instance 250Hz-700Hz are fairly muddy frequencies, and if you have too many instruments using this frequency range the mix could be muddy. Everything in an arrangement or mix should have it's own unique fundamental frequency space.

Far and near: (Spatial Perception)
Spatial perception is the use of digital reverb, chambers, plates, delays, far mic placement, etc.. to create the illusion of space in the mix. An instrument with allot of reverb can sound like it is placed in a large hall. An instrument or a vocal with a long delay, can sound like it's in the alps. An instrument that's completely dry, will sound like it's in a small carpeted room, right next to you.

Sparse to dense: (Contrast)
Arrangement is the use of muting, and altering the recorded arrangement to create space where it is needed to accent the more dense parts. The use of density to contrast sparse is great for creating the illusion of dynamics in a mix, within minimal dynamic range. The use of a limited dynamic range makes for better listening in more casual environments, where there tends to be external noise.

All 5 of these planes work together to create the illusion of space in a mix. One is no more important than any other in general, although one or two of the planes could prove to be more useful in a given mix.

Not all are a requirement for a great mix either. For example, your mix should to be able to break down to mono, and still be a great mix.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2004 2:31 am 
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EQ and Mixing

LISTENING TO EQUALIZATION BY ROBERT DENNIS

Equalization is a powerful signal processing tool. With an
equalizer, you can boost the energy at certain "key" frequencies to
enhance the sound of an instrument. For example, if the "attack" of
an electric rhythm guitar needs enhancing you can, with an
equalizer, boost the guitar sound that is around 3 kHz and the
guitar will "have more attack." But, as with any powerful tool, you
can also make things worse. In this tip I will go over the right
and wrong way to use equalization.
Because of a thing called masking, when the frequency energy of
several instruments are similar, some instruments get hard to hear
in a mix. If you wanted to guarantee a bad mix, solo each
instrument and equalize to enhance the sound and then try to mix the
instruments together. What you're doing is getting the instrument
to sound good by itself and what you need to do is to get the
instrument to sound good with other instruments.
So the right way to listen to equalization, to judge the
equalization you will use, is as follows:

Get a mix of the entire tune, leaving the equalizers
1 alone. Do the best mix that you can using levels,
panning and reverberation.
Listen to the mix and identify instruments that are
hard to hear or don't sound very good. Equalize the
2 worst offender. In our example we will say that you
find that the rhythm guitar doesn't have much
attack.
Solo that instrument and add equalization to it.
Judge the amount of EQ you are using by putting the
3. EQ "in" and "out." In our example you may want to
set the EQ frequency to 3 kHz and set the boost to 6
dB.
Relieve the solo so that you hear the entire mix.
4 Make a second judgment about the frequency and amount
of EQ you are using by putting the EQ "in" and "out"
with the entire mix playing.
5 Repeat steps 3 & 4 until you are satisfied.
6 Move onto another instrument.

When you get to step 4 you can be quite surprised that your EQ just
doesn't work that well in the mix. You may have to use a bigger
boost or change the frequency. If the first guitar sounded good
with the 3 kHz boost, its almost for certain that using the same EQ
on the second guitar will not work as good. Most likely you will
need to change frequency (to, for example, 5 kHz) to get good
results with both guitars in the mix.

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Refusing to make waves is not an indicator of a life well lived. Refusing to
make waves is the state that precedes drowning. - Paul Coughlin author


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 Post subject: Mixing/mastering
PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2004 3:20 am 
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keep 'em comin, these are absolutely priceless articles and tips. 8)
Thankyou thankyou thankyou ! Nice Xmas present!
Yours truly, pj

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2004 4:40 am 
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Mixing 101
by Bruce Valeriani, Jan 3/2003 (AKA Blue Bear)

There they are...8/16/24/48/96 tracks that you’ve painstakingly recorded, overdubbed, erased, and recorded some more.... so now what? You can’t play with your mixer’s knobs every time you want to hear your masterpiece! You need to blend all those tracks to (usually) a 2-channel, stereo mix. In other words, mixdown your tracks.

Great --- so what does THAT mean? Well... first - you need something to mixdown onto - a computer, a stand-alone hard disk recorder (such as the ubiquitous Alesis Masterlink), a 2-channel reel-to-reel, a HiFi VHS machine, a MiniDisc recorder, or even a cassette deck -- all are usable options (some more usable than others!) The pros and cons of each format are beyond the scope of this article, but suffice it to say, use the highest quality recorder your budget will allow.

I'm also going to have to presume you already have a decent monitoring chain in place. You can't make good sonic decisions if you can't properly hear what your tracks sound like! And it IS true - headphones are not considered a "decent monitoring chain." While they are useful for double-checking your mix, and proofing it for noise or artifacts that don't show up on the monitors - they are horribly ineffective as a primary mixing tool.

You also want to pay attention to the volume of your monitors as you mix. There are many different preference engineers take to levels, but it is commonly accepted that 85dB SPL is where human hearing frequency response is most flat, and this is typically where many engineers leave their levels at... it is good practice though, to vary listening levels while mixing to get a feel for the mix balance at different volumes. Mixing too loud almost always results in unbalanced mixes, mixing at softer levels usually produce more balanced results.


Next?
Mental preparation......... rest your ears, rest yourself... it’s virtually impossible to mix right after a tracking session, or after going to a concert.... you need your ears to be in top form for analyzing and objective & critical listening... what works for me is starting fresh in the morning, when my ears are most rested....

OK - I’m rested, my ears are rested -- let’s do this thing...........

Well.... throw up the faders and see what you have to work with.... yes, ALL of them.... what you want to listen for are the tracks that are working, and the tracks that aren’t. Yeah, the guitars are fighting during the choruses, the background vocals aren’t working midway through the verses, the lead solo starts too early.... and of course, you’re taking notes for yourself as you do this...

The plan here is to take out the stuff that’s not working together, and leave in the stuff that IS working.... there are a couple of ways to do this: 1) use EQ to tailor the portion of sonic spectrum a track will fit in, and 2) mute the track at the problem spots.


Let’s talk about muting....that’s right, you pull the track right out of there! If it doesn’t help the song it doesn’t belong - period. Mixdown is the time to be blatantly critical of every track that’s been put down... you don’t reduce the volume, you don’t bury it behind something else - this simply results in messy mixes -- it either works, or it doesn’t......... you will accomplish muting either by automation (via software or mixer hardware), or the old-fashioned follow-the-timelog-with-your-hands-on-the-mute-button technique. You don’t have to mute the track completely either - you can add interest by pulling it in and out of the mix at key spots (obviously not at the places where it’s causing mix difficulties!)

"But I like the track that doesn’t work!"
Let’s be honest... sometimes the track works, but is simply frequency-fighting with another track.... in this case, you probably don’t want to mute the track, but you need to shape it so that it doesn’t interfere with another track’s piece of the sonic pie. So....... what you reach for are the EQ knobs....


First, some EQ background.... it’s not cut-and-dry -- there are various ways to use EQ, and EQ decisions you may have made during tracking will affect the mix process.

The addition of EQ into the signal chain always results in "some" compromise of the waveform by introducing phase-shifts (time-based artifacts that can results in comb-filtering of the waveform) - especially when boosting frequencies. Cutting frequencies can result in less of these artifacts, so it is generally advisable to apply EQ by cutting frequencies you don't want, rather than boosting the ones you want to enhance - a practice known as subtractive EQ. The quality of the EQ itself also dictates the artifacts - cheap EQ gear means more artifacts, mastering-grade EQ means significantly less (for comparison, a Weiss EQ-1 used by mastering houses runs about $5500 US)...

So, using EQ to shape sound is a bit of a compromise - yes, it changes the signal, but it introduces "some" small signal degradation.... the obvious solution is don't use it--- er, at least, not until absolutely necessary. "But wait...", you say, "I need it, my guitar/bass/drums don't have that sound..."

Well ok... for line-level instruments such as synths, you certainly can use EQ to shape the sound.... but for mic'd sources, it's much better to use mic selection and mic placement to get the sound you're after, rather than reaching for the EQ knobs.... for example, don't brighten an amp by boosting your hi-shelf EQ - change amp settings, change guitar pickups, change amps, move that mic closer to the center of the cone... if you're not getting the sound you want, maybe you're using the wrong instrument/amp combination!

Another point to keep in mind - try to get your tracks sounding the way you want during tracking - if the tracks "to tape" are sounding the way you want them, then selecting sounds during overdubs become much easier. And even better, during the mixing phase, you'll find your tracks will blend better (since you've already blended them correctly in the tracking process!) Best guideline to follow: never "fix it in the mix" - fix it now - move a mic, change the mic, change the source, move the source, switch rooms. If none of these work, then reach for EQ!

During mixing - if you've done your tracking homework, there should be less work needed in getting the tracks to fit, since you've taken so much care during the tracking process. But very likely, there are still some tweaks you'd want to make.... I strongly suggest you adopt the subtractive EQ approach - cut instead of boost. If there are too few highs, remove some mids or bass to shape it. This does two things - minimizes phase-related artifacts, and more importantly, reduces unnecessary signal level that will eat into your mixer's headroom (since cutting will reduce the amount of frequency "space" a waveform will take up.)


Well - that’s the basic EQ theory... so now we’re going to shape the tracks of our mix with EQ. To do this you do have to have some concept of the audio picture you’re about to paint, within two frames of reference 1) the various frequencies of the tracks, and where they sit; and 2) the placement of the tracks in the soundstage in front of you (between the left and right speakers).

The charts below will give you some indication of the frequency ranges for various sound sources that will help guide your use of EQ.


1/3 Octave Frequency Charts **

Audio Octave Ranges
Frequency
Range
When Used Produces This Effect When Used Too Much
Produces This Effect
16Hz to 60 Hz Sense of power, felt more than heard makes music muddy
60Hz to 250Hz Fundamentals of rhythm section, EQing can change musical balance making it fat or thin makes music boomy
250Hz to 2KHz Low order harmonics of most musical instruments telephone quality to music 500 to 1KHz horn-like, 1K to 2KHz tinny, listening fatigue
2KHz to 4KHz Speech Recognition 3KHz listening fatigue, lisping quality, "m:, "v", "b" indistinguishable
4KHz to 6KHz Clarity and definition of voices and instruments, makes music seem closer to listener, adding 6db at 5KHz makes entire mix seem 3db louder sibilance on vocals
6KHz to 16KHz Brilliance and clarity of sounds sibilance, harshness on vocals

Key Frequencies For Instruments
Instrument Key Frequencies
Bass Guitar Attack or pluck is increased at 700 or 1KHz; Bottom added at 60 or 80Hz; string noise at 2.5KHz
Bass Drum Slap at 2.5KHz; Bottom at 60 or 80Hz
Snare Drum Fatness at 240Hz; Crispness at 1 to 2.5KHz; Bottom at 60 or 80 Hz
Hi-Hat and Cymbals Shimmer at 7.5 to 10KHz; Klang or gong sound at about 200Hz
Toms attack at 5KHz; Fullness at 240Hz
Floor Toms attack at 5KHz; Fullness at 80 or 240Hz
Electric Guitar Body at 240Hz; Clarity at 2.5KHz
Acoustic Guitar Body at 240Hz; Clarity at 2.5KHz; Bottom at 80 or 120Hz
Piano Bass at 80 or 120Hz; Presence at 2.5 to 5 KHz; Crispness at 10KHz; Honky-tonk sound at 2.5KHz as bandwidth is narrowed; Resonance at 40 to 60Hz
Horns Fullness at 120 or 240Hz; Shrill at 2.5 or 5KHz
Voice Fullness at 120Hz; Boominess at 200 to 240Hz; Presence at 5KHz; Sibilance at 2.5KHz; Air at 12 to 15 KHz
Harmonica Fat at 240Hz, bite at 3 to 5KHz
Conga Resonant ring at 200 to 240Hz; Presence and slap at 5KHz



These charts, however, don't tell you the whole story.... the two frames of references I mentioned earlier are related in terms of their effect on the sonic soundscape of a mix.

Think of a mix as a 3-dimensional space in front of you... you have control over the left/right, the high/low, and the front/back of the sound stage. The tools that let you manipulate this area are Panning (for left/right positioning), EQ (for high/low positioning), and Fader Level (for front/back positioning).

Homing in on EQ for the moment, keep in mind that as you shape your tracks, higher-frequency tracks will appear to come from higher up in the monitors than lower-frequency material. This can be useful in positioning guitar tracks - if a guitar track is fighting with something else in the mix, you can "move it away" from the offending track by removing some bass content in conjunction with panning.

As for Panning - it alone can also be used to separate mix elements into distinct positions in the mix. For example, panning a keyboard rhythm part off to one side while panning a complimentary rhythm guitar part to the other will result in a pleasant, wide and full rhythm section whose elements don't interfere with each other. When using panning, it is often helpful to envision a music stage in front of you, and place the tracks within that space as you would normally hear at a concert. You may not keep the tracks in this position as you build-up and further define your mix, but it does make a useful starting point.

And finally, Level -- faders allow you to control the level (and thus how close or how far away the source is) of the track in the mix. No tricks here except that you really shouldn't use level to hide a track -- if the track doesn't work, simply mute it..... you want a track to be more "in your face" move it closer to you, you want it to sound as if it's further away (like towards the back of the stage!), lower the level.

An extremely important point to remember is to maintain your relative levels so that you don't eat away at your mixer's headroom -- if you've set all the levels of the tracks and find you have to push your solo track level very high for it to cut through, then you've got all your other track's faders set far too high. Unless you've got 6-digit consoles that are more forgiving of "level-pushing", most mixers will start sounding pretty harsh if pushed too hard.


But wait a minute! What about reverbs, delays, and all those cool other effects -- you didn't mention a thing???
Well yes... effects play an important role in mixing - much like spices do in fine cuisine. It's all in the way you use them... and the topic merits its own full-blown article (maybe in the future), but for the moment, here's a brief overview.

My own approach is that unless a particular effect is an integral part of a track's sound (such as a chorus, or wah on a guitar part), I leave all effects until the mix stage. The tracks really should stand on their own merit without any effects added-in, then you make the mix bigger, fatter, wider, with careful and judicious use of things like reverb, delay, choruses, etc.... little touches such as timing delay and chorus settings to the tempo of a track really do a lot to make the tracks shine. Overuse of effects results in muddy, poorly-defined mixes, so much like EQ - less is usually more. As well, pay particular attention to reverb used for vocals... for most listeners, vocals are the component of the song that reach the people first, and poor effects, or bad EQ is immediately noticeable -- it's not uncommon spending hours on reverb selection for the lead vocal track!

One effect that is very misunderstood (and often poorly used) is compression -- this effect can be an important part of a polished sound both during the tracking AND mixing stages of the production process, again, if used properly. A colleague of mine wrote an excellent article (with examples) on the use of compression... check out Moshe Wohl's Description of Compressing/Limiting for some great notes on the subject.


So we've tamed our tracks with EQ, balanced fader levels, set up some nice ambient effects, you've made your muting/adjustment notes and everything is sounding great... this is the "work" part of the mix -- the previous tweaking was the "fun" stuff, now - depending on how many mutes, volume, pan and EQ adjustments you have to make (if you have mix automation, it's a no-brainer!), you'll want to rehearse your mix a few times before hitting Record on the mixdown unit.

In this process you treat the mixing console like an instrument - following your notes as you go along. At 01:10:25 drop level to -5db on track 3, 01:40:30 mute track 6, you get the idea... The point is to become familiar enough with the mix moves you have to make so that you're not looking at your notes so much that you miss something. For complex mixes, get your bandmates/family/girlfriend to help you with an extra pair of hands! Once you've got the mix moves down smoothly, fire up the mixdown recorder!

A quick note on mix levels -- it's a very good idea to keep your levels strong and balanced throughout the mixing process. Having to turn up the recording level on the mixdown unit because you've got the levels too low on your mixer usually results in unnecessary noise and possibly distortion if the levels are extremely diverse. Remember that all gear has an optimal signal level range and your best results are obtained by staying within it. Know your gear and what's it's capable of handling in terms of low-level noise and high-level distortion. In addition, use the meters as a guide, but always let your ears make the final decision -- you hear with your ears, not your eyes!


So.......... once you've got that mix take down and you like the way it sounds, you're done, right???
Wrong...... you've only just started! You can, of course, stop there - but you very likely won't be pleased with the result.... you've spent all that time and energy getting balances and levels right, only to find that when you play it in the kitchen boombox, it sounds very different. The fact is - you do have to learn how to translate your mixes from your monitoring system to other systems, and as well, learn what works for a mix everywhere, and what doesn't.... and there's no way to describe it - you have to learn by experience. What this means is you will follow this approach of performing a mix, checking the sound on various sound systems, coming back and readjusting/rebalancing some mix elements, performing another mix, etc... for a few iterations until you've honed it to a point where the mix sounds reasonably good on most systems.

Take heart though - as you learn mix translation with your system, it does become easier - and with enough practice, you'll develop a feeling for what works and what doesn't.


The art of mixing is very broad...
There are various mixing guidelines for all the many styles of music (you don't mix a big band song the way you would a pop song); and within each mix style there are commonly accepted practices. What I've tried to describe in this article was to provide an overview of some basic mixing practices that are common to all mixing styles, as well as some functional tips regarding one of the most abused mixing practices - EQ.

The best way to approach mixing is to read as much as you can about common approaches, while at the same time, practicing the techniques you've read about and adapting them to suit your own needs.

Some recommended reading ideas are:

Modern Recording Techniques - by Huber and Runstein
Total Recording - by Dave Moulton
The Art of Digital Audio - by John Watkinson
Project Studios: A Professional Approach - by Phillip Newell
The Mixing Engineer's Handbook - by Bobby Owsinski
Behind The Glass - by Howard Massey


Always remember - music is art... art is subjective... and your music is your art. Make it sound good to your ears first, then worry about everyone else's!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bruce Valeriani is the owner/engineer of Blue Bear Sound in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


** Frequency Charts taken from Modern Recording Techniques, by Huber & Runstein, Copyright 1995 Sams Publishing, ISBN

Link: http://www.bluebearsound.com/articles/mixing101.htm

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2004 4:56 am 
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Mixing and Mastering Tips - Jeffrey P. Fisher
Posted by: Ariel on Jul 10, 2004 - 08:20 PM
Audio Recording Here are a few tips to make your music sound its best.


Vocals
Record flat with no effects and instead find the right microphone for the singer. In the mix, roll off everything below 100 Hz and above 15,000 Hz. Add 2-4dB at 160Hz for male vocals or 320Hz for female voice for warmth. Notch out the mid-range, 500-800Hz, by a few dB. Sometimes a little sparkle in the 7-8kHz area is good, if there's no sibilance there. Finally, a little compression after the EQ can smooth the vocals out nicely.


Automatic double-tracking. Set a delay line to a short delay, between 5 and 30 milliseconds and hard pan the dry and delayed part for maximum effect. Or, use a pitch shifter set between 2-4 cents and again dry sound goes hard left while the pitch shifted part goes hard right.


Vocal reverb sounding muddy? Don't send so much bass to the reverb. Use EQ before the reverb and take out everything below 3,000 Hz. This gives a nice, bright splash on the plosives and hard consonant sounds. This can make the words more intelligible in a busy mix, too.


Put a delay before your reverb and set it to a 100% short delay with no feedback. Send a vocal line to the delay and then on to the reverb. In the mix, you'll first hear the dry vocal. The delay line then creates a gap before the reverb begins. This makes the room seem bigger, without needing a long (read: muddy) reverb time. Adjust the delay time to fit your music. On choppy vocals it's cool. Dry sound . . . silence . . . reverb splash.


Unique sounds
Search for and use equipment, especially synths and outboard gear, that others don't usually use. Old gear can give you a very distinct sound.


Don't forget that EQ can be CUT to affect tonal quality, not just boosted. Do you want a deeper bass? Cut everything from 5K on up on the bass track. Cutting the highs keeps all the sound in the lower register without getting too dark or flabby.


Flange or chorus your ride and crash cymbals. Make sure to use a noise gate to eliminate the noise of the chorus or flanger when the cymbals are silent. This way the effect kicks in when the cymbals are struck with a unique wobbly sound.


Put a speaker and mic in your garage, basement, or tiled bathroom. Place them at opposite ends so you pick up the most room sound. Send instrument tracks to the speaker via your mixer send and return system and add real reverb to your mix.


Play those faders. As you begin mixing your music, keep moving the faders up and down slightly. You bring a little extra motion to your mix through this subtle manipulation of levels. Often I'll diddle with EQ and effects sends and returns, too. Nothing major. I'll just make a few minor tweaks live as the mix progresses. With software, you can automate these subtle changes, too.


Vary your tempo. You can be subtle by pushing ahead a few clocks and falling behind occasionally. Or be more intrusive by jumping tempo in greater leaps.


Don't forget about dynamics. I get lots of CDs and the one common thread is dynamics . . . or a lack of any. Get soft. Get loud. Swell. Fade. Mix it up. Subtract some instruments from the mix. Add in everything including the kitchen sink sample. If you don't know what I mean, listen to orchestral music, specifically try Mahler's Adagio to his Tenth symphony. You'll learn what dynamics really are!


Check your mix in mono (use TV speakers). If you use small speakers, check your bass content on full-range systems.


Less is more
Today's technology makes it very tempting to add layer upon layer. The side effect is your song or production gets rather dense and cluttered. Sometimes you must step back, reevaluate, and strip it down. Heed the advice of award-winning recording and mixing engineer Ed Cherney(Stones, Clapton, and Raitt): "Listen to what's there, see where the song is, [and] eliminate things to find the heart of the song. Nobody dances to what kind of gear you used."


A clear mind creates stronger music. Also, take time away. A mix made after ten hours of tracking rarely sounds good to rested ears. Tired ears = bad mix. So, make sure you take a break. And then return to your mix with fresh ears.


Mastering
A final mix is NOT a master. Use mastering hardware or software to add the final sweetening to the stereo mix. However, don't over process too much. Mastering programs make it way too easy to push the sonic integrity of a piece. Often a little low end whump and high end sizzle coupled to some light compression to raise the overall level coupled to peak limiting to prevent digital distortion is all you need. Use your favorite CDs as a reference when mixing and mastering. Alternately, hire a professional mastering engineer who brings experience and fresh ears to your project.


Keep a notebook of your tricks and tips and compile a handy bag of tricks that brings your music alive.

Link: http://www.galaris.com/modules.php?op=m ... =0&thold=0

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2004 5:16 am 
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Wonderful tips...my two cent trick is to take things mixed to the "center" like bass, kick, snare, and put one 1 notch to the left, one one notch to the right...then there is room in the center...


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2005 3:29 am 
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Originaly posted at homerecording.com by Ed Rei aka "Sonusman"

SONUSMAN: I was going to save this for an article, but decided after some recent listening to various projects done by home recording engineers that I would "rant" this in this forum.I get asked the questions "What frequencies should I cut or boost for this or that"? Or, "What should I use compression on"? Or, "How do I get my mix loud"?While many books could possibly be written covering these subjects, I am going to share some thoughts about mixing right here that I think will serve most well. Believe it or not, this is not going to be that long of a post.1- From listening to many home recorded songs, I have come to the conclusion that many are monitoring at levels far too low to mix effectively. There may be issues involved with turning it up a bit, so it is not that I am without sympathy for those reasons, but mixing at low volumes means you will have the tendency to mix too much low end into your mix. Equalizing the monitoring system is not going to solve this problem. Turn those puppies up!I would recommend that you record a 1KHz test tone on your system, and play back that test tone through the same D/A converters you will use to monitor your mixes. With the test tone recorded at -6db digital full scale, use a dB meter and turn up your monitors until that test tone is at about 85db with a C weight on the meter. I am not kidding.It is a good idea to do one speaker at a time so that you can see if possibly you have a bad side of your amp, a speaker that is different then the other (it can happen), or bad cabling. If there is a difference between the two sides of the amp, suspect your cabling first, either the amp or D/A converters second and third, then your speakers.2- Your near field monitors are NOT going to have as much low end, and will have a tighter low end then home stereo speakers will. You HAVE to get used to this difference in the sound. A great way to KNOW the low end of your monitors is to listen to a lot of professionally recorded mixes using the same D/A converters and monitors. There is no other way that allows you to be as subjective. If you are recording on a DAW, find a way to digitally transfer professional mixes to your DAW so they are available to play back.3- Blending instruments is nowhere as hard as you might think! It only requires that you pay attention to what you are doing, and sadly, I don't hear many people doing that.Let's take for example that the hi hat and the vocal are going to have some similar places in the mix. This is not uncommon in Pop music. The sibilance of the vocal is going to be about the same as the hi hat frequency. Make sure that you don't have one or the other dominating in the mix!A kick drum and a bass guitar pluck should have a very similar sound too. Both instruments require that you rid them of low midrange frequencies, like around 200Hz. Solo both and check to make sure that they are not killing each other. While a kick drum can get a little click sound for definition with a eq boost around 3 or 4KHz, the bass guitar will get articulation with a boost around 500-1000Hz. But both are going to have a similar 100Hz body to them, and pay very close attention to that. Also, don't get over-kill on the stuff below 100Hz. With most monitors, it is hard to hear anything below that, and you will have the tendency to boost 80Hz a lot to try to make these two instruments sound fuller. Be aware of that because a 3db eq boost on a kick drum at 80Hz is going to eat up a lot of your potential dynamic range in the mix, and it may not sound as good as you think once you start playing the song on home stereo systemsIn the midrange, watch for the vocals to have harsh words that jump out at you. One of the problems many face is that they are performers too, and their midrange hearing starts to get shot, and they don't quite hear those 2-4KHz jumps in the vocal that kill your ears through other converters and play back systems. Also, the guitar is going to have a lot of it's top end in this range, and you need some room for that.With guitars, watch those boost that are below around 250Hz. Anything below that is not worth boosting on a guitar. You once again are just eating up potential dynamic range in the mix with a boost that WILL not sound good on home stereo speakers. If your guitar sounds too bright, try cutting stuff above 5or 6KHz. I roll out a lot of 10KHz high cut filter on guitar, unless they sound very dull, in which case, you need some boost there to give them "air". At no time is a boost below about 250Hz good for your mix with guitars. Don't do it and be happy in the end! When you are done with your mix, take a good close look at it in a .wav editor. Do you have a lot of spikes in the mixes that are 6db hotter then the rest of the song? Is your average level well below 50% of the available dynamic range? If either is the case, I assure you that your mix is not good by any means. Those 6db jumps mean that you needed some limiting on a certain instrument, or that you have a eq boost on something and it is causing the track to be super sensitive to that frequency. Say with a guitar, those big low end boosts means that when ever the instrument hits a note with that fundamental frequency you get that much more boost at that frequency. Not a good thing. Eq boosts are only really good for deficiencies in the track. I revert back to if you are trying to use eq to make something sound drastically different, then your best bet is to record the part again and get that type of sound recorded. This way you KNOW what you are getting in the sound.It really comes down to paying attention to instruments that share certain frequency ranges. The click on a kick drum shares the same space as the upper end of guitars, and the bulk of the energy in vocals, but the kick drum is not playing continuously, so it is okay to boost that up a bit to bring it out. But boosting an guitar at that frequency, or even a vocal means a mismatch with the other instruments in that range. We are looking for balance. If you are finding that something is dominating in the mix in a certain frequency range, check to make sure that you don't have boost eq in that range that is contributing to this. If you don't have boost eq on it, then you may need to apply a little CUT eq, but just enough to mellow it out, which is usually around a 3-5db cut. Any more then that and you have a big problem with the way the track was recorded. But another consideration too is how important any instrument is in a certain frequency range. A vocal masking a guitar a little bit is okay because usually, the vocal, drums, and bass are important during vocal passages.If you are using digital eq's, any more then a 6db cut or boost is going to sound awful! The algorithms are just not good enough to provide a smooth sound and color to a track with excessive eq, so large cuts or boosts with digital eq's should be avoided at all costs. With cheaper analog eq's, you have a similar problem. Are you catching on here? Get you tracks close to the way you want them to sound while tracking and avoid heavy eq.Before mixing a song, it may be a good idea to run a mix where you use no effects or eq and just adjust volumes to get the best mix you can. Burn that to CD and start listening on many different systems. You may be surprised at how good it actually sounds on home stereo systems, and how much more open and unprocessed your mix is. You will certainly still have a few things you would like to fix, but now you KNOW what needs to be fixed, and are not being biased by the better sounding D/A converters and monitors your setup has.A great way to think about blending instruments is considering the importance they play in the mix. Obviously, a vocal 99% of the time will be very important. But that doesn't mean that the vocal should over power everything else. I call this "oblique" mixing, where there is an underlying theme that stays consistent, and you have parts that build over that but don't interfere too much. If fact, if you consider what oblique means, mixing a song effectively is very similar in the dynamics. You have a very steady bottom with a little color on top. The color grows and shriks, but you still have a solid foundation that is not really effected by it. This means you really have to consider what each instrument REALLY contributes to the song. Also, "moods" of certain parts should be reflected in the dynamics too. A little guitar ditty during a verse doesn't really need to be blasting away does it? But during a build up at the end of a chorus, you may have a lead that comes in for the last measure to embellish the transition. You need to leave some sonic space for this add in, and leave enough headroom for the added volume.In Pop tunes, the kick and snare drums are very important, and should be very articulate in the mix, along with the vocals. The bass guitar is usually the harmonic foundation, and should occupy the low end of the mix predominately. Guitars tend to sound sort of quiet in the studio, and at lower volumes. Be wary of that. But, solos should occupy the same dynamic and sonic place the vocals did in the mix.Strive for when a instruments stops playing that your mix doesn't drop in volume much at all, if at all. Viewing RMS metering of some sort will help a lot with this. If you know how to view peak metering for the RMS value (a skill that takes awhile to learn) even better because you can also see just how often you have used up your dynamic range.One thing I have noticed a lot is people trying to put extreme dynamics in a song that doesn't need extreme dynamics. Drummers are by far the worst about this in recording, followed closely by singers. Consistent volume levels are desired in recording. How the parts fit together, and to a certain degree, the actual notes being played will create natural sounding dynamics in Pop tunes. Also, an instrument stopping in the middle of the song for whatever reason creates a change in "perceived" dynamics, even though your metering may not show anything different.Another thing I have been hearing a lot is either sparse or heavy reverbs. Don’t be afraid to use a nice reverb across several rhythm instruments. It is the glue that holds them all together. At the same time, big huge long reverbs all over the vocal line don't work for anything other then Whitney Houston tunes, or the Scorpions… What I have noticed about the big reverbs many people use is that they leave in a lot of high-end content in the reverb. Hey guys, try cutting everything above 3 or 4KHz on that reverb. Also, I have seldom EVER used a reverb recently where I didn't have at least 40ms of pre-delay on it. A very short decay, with a hi-cut around 3 or 4KHz and a pre-delay that is appropriate will really fatten up a track without having to resort to eq! Play with it and you will never use those huge 3 sec plates with all that 10KHz content again!!!Use your ears AND your eyes to gauge your mix. Your ears will tell you when thing sound screwy, but viewing your mix in a .wav editor will certainly "show" you some potential problems. View a professionally recorded song in a .wav editor and you will usually see a very well developed .wav, with very consistent peaks on the kick and snare drums, and you won't see the volume jumps when the vocal comes in, and drop when it goes away. Creatively using eq can help tame dynamics a bit, and gentle compression on instruments will do the same.Anway. Just a rant so to speak about mixing. If it helps anyone, great! If not, at least you have some more material to curse my name by… EdBack to running a mix without effects and eq.You need to know WHAT in the mix needs to be fixed before you do anything. I have seen people start eqing stuff that sounded great because that is what they normally do to that instrument. My oh my..... The idea in recording is to get as close to the sound you want while tracking. Many would be surprised to find that they got it right before a bunch of processing was done to it, thus effectively killing the original sound altogether. Also, run that mix in mono. I would say that about 80% of the music I hear is predominately mono in nature, with the effects spead out over the stereo landscape. Mono mixes that sound good will sound good on ANY system! Remember also that by panning stuff hard, if you were to get out of the stereo field, or to mono the mix, those things would disappear. By the same token, if you panned those things hard, went to mono monitoring and adjusted those things to mix right in mono, when you go back to stereo, those things would be way too loud.Stereo is nice, and allows for some great separation in the mix, but overdone stereo means that your mixes will sound unbalanced unless the person is listening to them in an idea stereo environment. I am not saying don't use heavy panning for some things, but be carefull.Also, many people don't balance their stereo fields very well. If you have something consistent panned to say 3 oclock in the field, you need something consistent at 9 oclock to offset it, otherwise your mix will be weighted to one side in at least a certain frequency range. This sounds very strange, and often, you will have to make some tough decisions on how to balance things in a stereo field to create a nice balance. Choose wisely friends! I also am hearing a lot of weird stuff with people mixing sampled drums with recorded guitars and vocals, but also using like a keyboard bass. Weird indeed. Don't go applying a bunch of eq to those sampled drums, it is only going to make matters worse! Leave them flat. Keyboard bass parts are a waste of time unless you are doing Madonna sounding music. Get a real bass to work with and a nice DI box and decent pre-amp to record the bass with.The NT1 seems to be the mic of choice for many around here. Fine. Just remember to eq out all that hyped up 4-8KHz crap that mic is famous for when mixing. A moderate bandwidth set at around 6.3KHz with a 3-5db cut will take care of the harsh nasties that many don't seem to hear. But beware! You also just lost a lot of vocal clarity, and you will probably need to possibly apply a tad high shelf eq to give the track some air, something the NT1 doesn't seem to have a lot of anyway.Also, don't be afraid to use about up to 3db of gain reduction with a compressor when recording a vocal track to digital. Use a longer attack time, like around oh, 15-25ms, and a fairly short release time, like around 40-70ms. I would use a very light 1.5:1 ratio, and no more then a 2:1 ratio. Set the threshold to whatever gives you at the most 3db of gain reduction at the loudest part of the vocal track. If the singer (you?) is hitting more then that on the compressor, or you cannot get your vocals to set at around -10db full digital scale somewhat consistently, then your micing technique for singing sucks, or you need to learn to control your voice better (refer to my comments above about applying too much dynamics to song that don't need them.....).So many of you are using software to record and mix. Great! Now, WHY DON'T YOU GUYS SPEND SOME TIME AND USE THOSE EDITORS THE WAY THEY WERE MEANT TO BE USED?!?!?!?!I cannot believe that viewing a recorded kick drum on a DAW doesn't show the one kick in the middle of the song that is like 12db louder then the rest! Then when you mix, you have the whole damn mix at like -20db average because if you turn it all up, that one kick drums peaks out. USE YOUR DAMN EDITOR AND CUT AND PASTE ANOTHER KICK DRUM HIT THERE!!! OR AT LEAST HIGHLIGHT THE HIT AND TURN IT DOWN!!! I AM SHOUTING BECAUSE THIS IS HOW MUCH LOUDER YOUR MIXES WILL GET WHEN YOU DO LITTLE STUFF LIKE THAT!!!Same with vocal parts that have nasties in it. Sheesh!!! It is only going to take MAYBE an hour to go through that track and highlight all the spots that have nasties and apply some eq cut at the appropriate frequency to tame it so that you don't have to apply that eq cut over the whole track!I don't have ANY digital editing capabilities when I record and mix multi-track and I get a handle on that stuff using manual tweeks on the eq or volume while mixing if need be. Here and there I can fix something very short lived that sounds messed up on a mix during editing while mastering, and that sure beats the hell out of applying an eq over the whole mix to just tame a errant kick drum or snare hit, or vocal nasty. I can also apply a limiter over the mix now and raise my rms level a lot without slamming the limiter too hard, which in digital creates the most nasty sounding thing you have ever heard. Trust me, I just dealt with some crap like that where I was editing wave forms for stuff that didn't have ANY appearent loudness increase but sure in the hell managed to make the limiter do 10db of gain reduction. This sort of thing should have been dealt with during the mix, or edited before mixing.Also guys, start using mutes! If on a DAW, spend some time on tracks and silence parts that have no music on them. When you do bring the part back in from silence, apply a Expotential Fade In to it, and not a full on silence to full volume thing. I have heard enough of that, and it sounds terrible because the part seems to rise out of nowhere and slam you in the face. If you are using an 8 buss console, and your song has a break in it where maybe all but one instrument stops, assign all the other instruments to a stereo subgroup and mute the subgroup during the break and unmute right before they come back in. This may take a little practice to time just right, but it will sure make that break sound much better by not have amp noises, tom overring, etc....happening behind it. Also, the hiss from the mixer channel will not be present. Sure, one channel of hiss will not make much difference, but 14 channels creates a lot of noise!With DAW's, there is just NO excuse for having ANY noise happening on a track when there is no music present on that track. Laziness is the only thing holding many people back from much better resolution in their recordings.Slow Attack, Fast Release.Vocals swells develope much slower then something like a snare drum does. With a vocal, you have the initial part of the sound, sort of the percussive part, then a growing part of the sound that is mostly the lower end stuff, and happens to be where most of the energy of the vocal is.When you are peaking meters on a word, it is not the attack of the voice that is peaking, it is the body of the voice, the stuff that happens after maybe 10ms. While compressing to tape, you don't want to kill the attack of the voice, you only want to tame to swell from killing your meters.Kick and snare drums. Fast attack, slow release. If it starts sounding too boomy, quicken the release, but always you want a fast attack on the compressor.Bass guitar. Can go either way depending upon how the track sounds and what they are playing. For a Funk bass line with a lot of percussive stuff going on, you don't want to kill the attack, unless it got recorded with too much attack. See what I mean?Slow attacks leave more transients in the sound. Fast attacks tame transients.Fast release tends to thin the sound a bit and make it punchier. Slow release sort of bloats the sound and makes it a little more rounder sounding. A long release time is a way to add a little beef to a track with no eq being applied. Usefull for bass, kick drums, snares, thin acoustic guitars.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2005 3:32 am 
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Also originaly posted at homereocording.com by "Steel sessions"

Think of attack and release as independent functions because they are. Attack controls transients or leaves them alone. Release controls resonance or leave it alone. The ratio says how much you want the difference to be for anything above the threshold. A big difference means a higher ratio. A small difference means a lower ratio. Threshold is basically a way to control the Knee of what you are doing, or to what degree you are doing that. Once again, sort of an oblique thing here. I have found no good ways to describe the interaction, or "color" of the controls on a compressor because each control is interactive with another, sometimes is dramatic ways.When recording vocals to analog, you would mostly be crazy to use compression, unless it is a cassette based analog format. Wide fast moving tape will provide mostly all the compression you need for a vocal. If you need a little control for a certain part where the singer either belts it too much, or doesn't give enough, a little cut/boost on the preamp will take care of it.I make a point to listen everywhere I go.I like warm sounding rooms. I try to emulate those rooms when setting up a reverb. Most music produced in the last 5 years does not use those phoney sounding plate reverbs. They have a place in music, just not a prominate one.Room reverbs will serve you well. Chamber reverbs will serve you well. Medium to small rooms and chambers for medium to up tempo stuff. Big rooms and chambers for slower stuff.Three settings on a reverb that will make all the difference.Pre-delay - This will allow the original signal develope before the onset of reverb. There may be times where you want to wash out the original sound, and will not have very much pre-delay at all, but not very often.Hi-Cut Filters. This will mellow out the reverb, and make it sound like real rooms you will be in. Seldom do I have this set above 4KHz. You just don't normally need reverb content above 4KHz.Diffusion - Lower settings creates reverbs that are more distinct. If you want a more subtle reverb that is not very noticable, raise the value. It should seldom be above 20%. It can go as low as 7% to sound cool.Another setting that will make the reverb develope in interesting ways is the X Bass setting. It may be labeled Hi Filter too, but basically, it is a multiplier for the low end of a reverb. A 1X value is the algorythym as it was coded. If the values run 1-10 like on most Yamaha reverbs, you are on your own to figure out what they wanted to be the original algorythym. I would normally just say DON'T use Yamaha reverbs at all, because they are some of the most garbage can sounding things I have ever heard in my life. I find that .8X works most of the time. Here and there, you may go up to 2X, but usually only for reverbs assigned to very bright sounding instruments.Spend a lot of time on developing natural sounding reverbs and save those to use later. You will find yourself using a lot of the same 2 or 3 reverbs in most stuff you mix. Really. Don't settle for factory presets. Get into the unit and play around a lot and find reverbs that sound like rooms you have been in before. These are the most desirable ones to use.Here and there you are going to create special reverbs that are very intentional effects. Use these sparingly over the course of a whole CD of several songs. Overuse numbs the user to the effect.Whether you assign a channel Pre or Post EQ to the reverbs really depends on what you want the frequency to be accentuated with reverb. You may have some cut eq on a snare drum at around 2KHz, but you may want that to be where your snare reverb to reside. It would make sense in this case to use a Pre EQ aux send to feed the reverb. If however you are boosting like 400Hz to get the snare to have a little body because it was tracked a little thin sounding, a Post EQ aux send may serve you better because a Pre EQ aux send in this case will not have enough low end content to excite the reverb in the way you want. Think it through, and when in doubt, try both ways.Also, Pre and Post Fader aux sends can be usefull when assigning a track to a reverb send. Sometimes, I have a whole bunch of snare in the overheads, and I am depending upon that overhead track to supply most of the snare sound. Now, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to feed the overhead mics to a reverb, so how do you get a snare to excite a reverb? Easy, you assign a Pre Fader aux send to the reverb and just keep the fader down on the snare track, but turn the Pre Fader Aux send up on the snare channel. Cool eh?People getting timid about trying things because they don't know if it will work!This is just audio guys, and you ain't going to set off a global nuclear alert by experimenting.... Really. Trust me, I have all those buttons right here!I blow through so many disks when I am working on a project. I burn a CD of every mix to play in other systems. In fact, even on involved mixes (ones that are going to take 10 hours) I will burn a disk every 2 or 3 hours and go play it on other systems just to get a feel for what is going on. You would not beleive how revealing this is. It can stop you cold from continuing down sonic roads that will disappoint you the next day. You know the story....."It sounded great last night in the control room. Why is there so much bass in the mix today?".Experiment! Run a lot of different versions of the mix. At least a version with the vocal up a couple db, and one with the vocal down a couple db. Maybe one with the bass and kick drum up a bit too. Maybe one with the solo turned up. You never know which of those mixes is going to be what excites you two weeks later at the mastering house. I have shared this story in one of my articles on the main page, but here it is again. On The Heavy Brothers CD I worked months and months on, when we got to mastering, we wanted to use one of the last mixes we did of a particular song. There were about 10 mixes of it, and this one just had the right stuff, except for one thing! The guitar solo was really mushy. The other producer wanted to make the guitar more wet with effects, and I disagreed all the way with doing this. He said "Burn it that way", so I did. So, the solo section sucked bad. The tone sucked bad, and he realized it a week later when we were reviewing the mixes before going to the mastering house.We did find however that a mix that was a few mixes before it had exactly the guitar tone and effects we wanted, but the rest of the song was not mixed quite like what we wanted. No problem! At mastering ,we flew in both mixes and splice in the guitar solo part from one mix into the other mix. The changes in and out of the guitar solo were so big that you could not hear the edit at all, and the different mix on the rest of the instruments during the solo made a nice change overall in the song. All of us, including the mastering engineer, who never stated his opinions no matter how many times I would ask him to, thought it was killer!So, burn a lot of different versions of the mix! If you are going to master yourself, you can play around with spicing together a combination of mixes if you are not happy with one in particular. This is what Editors are for!!!But experimenting is what audio is all about guys. It is not about Roger Nichols says do this, or sonusman says to do that, it is about taking all that with a grain of salt, or as things to try if the situation is right, but continuing on to find WHAT WORKS FOR THAT MIX THAT DAY! You will never know if a drastic eq change on something will work unless you try it.Great work is not done overnight or in a hurry. The big boys spend usually far more time then many around here on production, and they have the best equipment and loads of experience too. You will easily spend a couple of days mixing a song if you have an ear towards getting the mix to sound right. You are cheating your song with any less time investment.Experiment! Use up some disks! CDR are down to about $.30 each if you buy 50 at a time. Blow through those so you can hear your progress. You will learns a lot from it.Few of the professional engineers on BBS's think like a newbie to recording. Few of them really had to learn it on their own too.Many newbies to recording are far from knowing enough about audio production to understand that I didn't share even one "secret" earlier in this thread. But to the inexperienced engineer, they sure seem like secrets revealed when they try them eh?This is not a slam on either professionals of newbies. This is just the way I am seeing in on the boards. I titled this thread the way I did to generate interest, not because I feel any of the info I shared was "secret". So, you pro's out their, cut me a little slack! I managed to get some good info in about 4000 words, in a manner and style that newbies could understand, out to several hundred people or more. While that makes me feel good, it certainly doesn't make me feel like I know more then other professionals, or am sharing "trade secrets". Just that I could articulate it well enough for a newbie to understand it.I invited Tom Cram, via email, to share some links to BBS's and titles of books that cover this stuff. I thank you Tom for taking the time to do so. THAT is the type of information people need if they are looking for more advanced stuff.But, like I explained to Tom in another email, you have to consider the audience. Once again, this is not a slam on the many fine people who post on this site, but many just don't understand even the basic of sound propagation, or signal path. Many of those books Tom listed I have read, and few of them explained things in a way a newbie could understand. Many of those websites would chase off the people posting on this site with the most basic questions they ask here. That is why I seldom link to sites like that, or recommend books like those. I would say that most audio related books ARE NOT geared towards unassisted learning. They would make excellent study books for people going to school for audio, but most on these boards are not too interested in spending that kind of money to learn how to record their bands demo's. Thus, site's like this exist, and hopefully, all these sites have solid professional engineers who have an eye towards being helpful to newbies, and can articulate complex audio concepts in a way that newbies can understand. I believe this website does that FAR better then any other BBS I have seen on the net.Why does everything HAVE to be so damn loud!?!?!?!?!?!?I have pre-mastered mixes that are fully 3dB RMS LOUDER than most anything I have ever heard out of the 70's and through the mid 80's! More recent stuff by selected artists still have very low average volume and just sound killer! I have a friend in Atlanta who is doing beautiful sounding work and this stuff NEVER hits 0dB on a digital Peak meter. NEVER.Ask yourself if you are sacrificing a great sound to gain a couple of dB in the mix. Did all of a sudder, because your recording isn't as loud as Everclear, you start to lose a rich tone? Did all of a sudden the "space" around instruments disappear? Did certain things start to take on an edge that sort of hurts when you hear it?Loud is not always good! With some of the recordings I hear, professional and otherwise, I can't even listen to the whole CD without fatique. I CANNOT imagine having to actually spend a month in the studio working like that!I recently did some work with a band, re-mixing a few songs, and recording a cover for them that was LOUD!!! I finally had to force the issue. We re-mixed a song that was going on a compilation of Portland bands that an ex Capitol A&R guy is putting together, and I just didn't give the band a copy of the pre-mastered mix, nor the post "mastered" mix that the guitar player wanted to squash the shit out of and add MORE high end! I made them wait 2 weeks, even though they reminded me every other day that I need to get them a master to send to this guy. I finally gave it to them, both the pre-mastered and post mastered mixes. They thought the post-mastered that they were in on sucked bad, but they didn't know which was which. I just made them pick the one they thought sounded best. They picked a no EQ, but slightly volume increased mix, which I still didn't think was all that great sounding in comparison to the original mix. This thing is a "bit" loud, but still quieter than a lot of stuff being put out on the market. The one that had eq and was really squashed sounded about as loud as other stuff, but they agreed the song just didn't sound that good that loud. I think they might have learned a lesson. I HOPE they learned a lesson. Loud is not always so good.Can you imagine what some of this stuff you hear on the radio sounded like before the evil labels told the mastering engineers to make as loud as the other crap out there? I can. I have heard some. I indeed heard some of the better qualities the mastering engineer added, but also heard the uniqueness of the bands recording get killed in the pursuit of LOUD. It was a shame. It was also hard to listen to the post mastered product.I am not saying that mastering a bit louder is necessarily bad. I am not saying that changing a bit of eq is bad. I am just suggesting that most music does not suffer so badly in the mixing that it only needs to have 3dB of dynamics!!! Things don't HAVE to be "everything, all the time"! It is okay to have seperation and dynamics! Really, it is okay.Maybe some of this stems from the amount of live sound work I have done lately. I have mixed the good, the bad, and the ugly. What continues to impress me though is that live, you are at the mercy of the performance and little else. Try to squash the mix of a loud band in a 36X52' room when the guitars on stage are blasting at 95dB on there own. It just isn't going to work.... But where this becomes relevent in what I am talking about is that when the band finally decides to tone down a bit for a certain part or whatever, the dynamics are simply amazing. Very REAL. Of course, what can you expect from a live performance eh?I don't mind mind having to turn up the volume of a playback device if the mix is a bit more quiet than the last bands thing. I REALLY like how different bands sound very different on tape. I don't see the need to make everything all one volume, or with similar EQ characteristics. I have found that older recordings had many more differences in the overall sound than newer ones do. This is the folly of a lot of questions that people are asking these days about mixing and mastering. They all want "someones" sound, rather than dealing with "there" sound. This is further amazing because seldomly do these people sound like who they want to sound like!I posted in another thread once that "this is MUSIC, it is supposed to have dynamics". All of these "everything, all the time" recordings are a total bore to listen to because they lack meaningful dynamics. They lack meaningful space between all the intrumentation. They lack meaningful color to each sound. It is as though the sounds were picked because they didn't make the meters jump up when that instrument came in.Mix to sound good! Bottom line is that who cares how loud it is. It does not take too long to start realizing when you are starting to push a mix to that point where extra volume means giving up tone. If the damn mix sounds better a bit quieter, who is to argue with that? Who cares if it is not as loud as the next guys stuff, does it sound good?That is the ultimate question you should always ask yourself when making decisions about the mixes Peak volume. Sure, it is okay for the song to eventually achieve 0 or -1dB on the meters at it's loudest point, but you don't HAVE to have the mix hovering around -4dB for 75% of the time.Break from the norm boys! Don't fall for the game of being louder than the next guy. Mix and master to SOUND GOOD and forget the rest.The one CD I have mixed that I feel very good about is also one that I mastered. It was my first mastering job where I was actually paid.... I can play it over and over again and not get fatigued from listening. What is funny is that it is really not too much quieter than many modern recordings are, yet, it has a LOT of dynamics. This CD earned me another shot, this time in the tracking stage too on the bands next CD. Everybody likes it. Of course the songs are good, but the production is very natural, and like I said, far more attention was placed on making it sound good rather than making it sound like something else (which would have been unachievable really. This band sounds like they do, and that is that.....) This band get old people at their shows and these old farts like the more "retro"? sound of the CD. The young people just say it sounds really good and unique. Not ONE person has ever complained that it wasn't loud enough, or that the eq was very different from other stuff in their collection. Most just think it sounds good.I learned a lesson from this that I hope to carry into every production I ever work on again where the artist will step back and listen to the recording from the stand point of sounding good for WHAT it is, rather than what they think it should sound like.I hope some you will follow your own sound too and forget trying to compete with the Jone's next door.How daring and imaginative you are VOXVENDER for following the norm!Think through the whole thing. A Led Zeppelin recording does not sound any "quieter" on the radio than most anything new coming out does. But it sure sounds a LOT closer to the CD than newer stuff does, and it outright sounds better when comparing the CD's!Think it through guys. Maybe one out of 10,000 of you even need to worry about your product being compared on a radio station! I can assure you that if it was, and your post mastered mix was 3 or 4 dB quieter than other stuff out their, nobody would even notice on the radio.Please make a point next time that actually makes sense. This "louder to keep up" nonsense is hysteria realized!Not sure what more I CAN add here. My past posts have covered a bit of ground, and without actually getting into specific stuff that is usually only pertinent to the mix one would be currently working on, anything else is just "you could do this, you could do that", and I could never cover ALL the things one "could" do in a mix.Maybe I can talk about "crowding the mix" a bit here. This has been foremost on my mind lately because of some stuff I have worked on in the last 6 months, where the client wanted the "wall of sound". They felt that having 6 guitar tracks, snare durm samples layered 4 deep, and vocals doubled and sometimes tripled would make the sound bigger, deeper, and more intense.I have found just the OPPOSIT! It is usually the "minimalist" approach that seems to bring forth the biggest, loudest, deepest mixes I have done. 16 tracks or less usually!For the "less is more" trick to work, I feel it is important that you start out with tracks that stand on their own very well. Many people it would seem start double tracking because they don't get the kind of power and depth out of 1 track of something, so they feel that doing 2 or 3 of the same thing will increase the "presence" and "power" of the sound. I have seen many cases where layering has actually made the sound more distant and less powerful! There are many reasons why. One can be that a poorly "doubled" track, meaning one that is slightly out of tune and not dead on in timing can cause a comb filtering effect which will rob the track of it's power. Two, that the actual tone might be really messed up, and occupying a very big sonic space in the overall sound, thus, at mix, you are cutting a lot of "meat" out of the sound to make it fit in a dense mix.When tracking, it is a good idea to have a VERY CLEAR idea of your production. Meaning, you should know what kind of sound you are after, and how many tracks you are going to dedicate to getting that sound. If you anticipate a very dense mix, you are going to want the sound while tracking to be very specific in it's range. You will need to concentrate on making that track sound in a very specific way. If you plan a more "sparse" mix, you can then track the instruments to occupy a much bigger sonic range. You will NEED for the instruments to occupy a broader sonic range in this case, otherwise you will be digging into using a lot of "tricks" with reverb and delay to make the sounds sort of bigger.Really, tracking sort of "sparse" and "thin sounding" works out well. If the tracks wind up not being "big enough" for you, you at least have a lot of control using "tricks" at mix to make them bigger. Once you learn some of these tricks, they will come easily to you and you won't waste a whole lot of time implementing them.Tracking "big and lush" can be problematic. I prefer tracking this way though with stuff like vocal and acoustic guitar stuff (folk music, and jazz/blues stuff). But again, you really got to get the sound RIGHT while tracking because ensuing EQ and "tricks" in the mix tend to not work out so well at mix time. "Big and lush" should probably be avoided unless you have a very good control room to monitor in. The reason why is that what you THINK is big and lush could be the result of phase cancellation and/or coupling in a poorly tuned control room. Your initial sounds were "colored" by the control room, and you find out later that the sound weren't as cool when you play your mix elsewhere. Sound confusing? It isn't really. Think about it for a bit.Another thing to think about is WHAT will be big in the mix, and what should be small. You can't have everything "balls to the walls" in a mix and expect good results. If you want big guitars and vocals, that is usually at the expense of the drums. If you want big drums, that is usually at the expense of the other instruments, etc......Yes, you can have a few things "big" in the mix, you just can't have EVERYTHING big in the mix. Not possible! Listen to your favorite recordings with an ear towards what is big and small in the mix. It will become very evident in a hurry when you actually listen for it.Trying to make everything big usually has the reverse effect. You just plainly have too much stuff fighting for attention! This causes your mix to sound quiet, small, and flat. Making everything sound great while "solo'ed" does NOT translate into everything blending together for a nice, big, lush mix! Not by a long shot. When determining what you want big and small in the mix, you must do this with EVERYTHING YOU WILL HAVE IN THE MIX turned up. The reason I recommend doing a mix with just "faders up" before you get into anything else is because you can then hear what instruments, and more specifically , what PART of an instruments sound is "masking" important elements in the mix. Once you have determined that, you can then worked toward removing unwanted frequencies from specific instruments so it doesn't mask other instruments. This I feel is the first "need to do" in mixing. Skip this vital step, find yourself eventually doing it at some point (if you wind up with a good mix that is... ).

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2005 4:59 pm 
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Another good one but unfortunately I don't have a reference for this one...don't remember wich BBS it came from.

Panning for Gold in the mix

Once you've mastered the arcane science of signal routing,
learned the ancient secrets of gain structure, and been
initiated into the mysterious ways of equalization,
compression, and myriad other stages in the black art of
signal processing, you'll face the ultimate challenge: the
final mixdown. That is where all those perfect takes — often
separated by months, miles, and styles — must combine
seamlessly beneath your skilled fingers to create something
sonically balanced and musically cohesive.
Moving the faders comes easy: up is louder. Equalization
skills come with time: find the pain and reduce the gain. But
what's the rule of thumb for creating an effective soundstage?
Where the heck do you place each instrument and effect in the
stereo field? Is there some secret pan-pot code for creating a
good stereo image? Randy Hoffner, a former audio engineer at
NBC, once said, “Stereo does not equal mono times two,â€

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2005 2:32 am 
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Yet another article on Mixing focussing on EQ and a usefull link this time


http://www.music-articles.com/

Lots of music articles you can search with Google.


EQ Settings That Will Make Your Mixes Come Alive - by John Vestman
Ok, so you want the low-down on how to eq your next recording project? That's a tall order, considering we're both not at your console listening to the mixes! But there can be some general guidelines to help. When in doubt, listen, adjust, experiment and compare to commercial cds. Keep doing this at all steps of the process.


Start with listening carefully to the source. Do the drums sound great in the room to begin with? Do they have new heads and are they tuned well? The secret to a great drum sound is a great sounding drum. A great sounding kit starts with the player who knows how to dynamically balance his or her drums with the cymbals. BIG LOUD cymbals make your kic, snare, and toms sound softer. I know, it is so fun to hit cymbals hard... but if you want the drums to sound BIG, hit the cymbals significantly softer (and physically set them higher - away from the toms).

Kick: Don't tune it too low, and take off the front head, unless you're going for a boxier sound. Take off any "dots" (from any drum, period) that mute the fundamental frequencies. Use those circular foam pads sparingly, if at all. A mid-sized pillow with a heavy weight on it, pressed slightly to the head works well for dampening. Mic off center and back 1 to 2 feet from the head. Experiment. Add 2 to 6dB at 2.5k to 5K, cut 2 to 8dB at 300 to 500hz, add 50 to 100hz. Mid frequencies shouldn't have too sharp of a Q (bandwidth).

Snare: Use minimal padding, and tune the bottom head higher than the top head. Hit the snare (slow even quarter notes) and slowly loosen or tighten the snares to change the texture and resonance of the drum. Add 2 to 6dB at 8 to 15Khz. Add low mids at 150 to 300hz to taste. Maybe some roll off (cut) 50 to 60hz.

Toms: Add 2 to 10dB at 8k to 12.5k. Cut the mid-bottom 2 to 8dB at 300 to 500hz. Add 2 to 10dB low end from 60 to 80hz, but don't let it get tubby or bloated (try using a peaking section of your eq vs. shelving). Go for a full but even low end. Double headed toms sound best, and I recommend Ambassador heads or Pin Stripe heads all around. The newer, the better. Stretch them out well before pressing the record button so they don't de-tune halfway into the song.

Sigh. I don't compress drums. Lots of people do. The Beatles did. But when I'm mastering a project and they artist brings in their computer to go direct into my mastering system, I take off the compression from the drums (in almost all cases) if the artist has added it. So at the very least, wait till the mix to limit or compress, if it's needed or preferred. That way your tracks aren't locked into being over compressed.

BEST: The drummer should focus on playing consistent volumes in most pop music. I know. You can replace all the sounds with V-Drums and Pro Tools. Isn't all that technology cool? Yep. Ah, but what about when you go to play live at your gigs, you want your drums to sound awesome? Best to have awesome drums without Pro Tools. It's worth it. Don't over-play. Record producers can hear a showoff a mile away. They can also hear a great groove a mile away, and that will get you farther in the long run. Forget impressing other drummers.

Bass: Sheesh. This is the most challenging instrument to get right, next to acoustic piano. I get more low end problems in the mastering studio than anything. Remember, the kic should have more low-low like 50 to 80hz (unless you're doing 808 or hip hop stuff, in which case go for 120 to 180hz), and the bass should have more mid-bottom from 150 to 200hz, and from 1K to 3K for clarity. Use wide bandwidth. Too many times I see people using very sharp bandwidth on their eq. Be a little more conservative unless you're going for a really really rad gonzo sound of some sort.

Optional to roll some highs off the bass from 7K to 12K, but not so much that it takes the overtones out. Compress the bass in tracking and mixing if necessary. Be conservative in tracking, and do whatever it takes in mixing. Bass should be consistent and even in the music. Bass amps mostly add a sound color. They're not the greatest in every case, but they can be cool. Oh yes. The clunker strings have got to go unless you want that retro blues sound. Play tight with the drummer. Compliment each other and use the best direct box you can find.

Guitars: This is a very full-frequency instrument, whether it's acoustic or electric. Guitars should be clear, full, warm, tight, big... you name it. Be creative. listen, adjust, experiment and compare to commercial cds. Think wide mids from 150 to 400hz, but don't let it get boxy. If it sounds boxy, cut from 250 to 500hz. Add mids from 900hz to 3.5k for clarity and bite. Keep it smooth (and good mic pre's really help). Easy on the top end but add if it makes a subtle difference. Don't over compress the guitars in tracking - lean more toward doing that in the mix. Again, the clunker strings have got to go, unless you're going for that 50's Guild sound.

Vocals: THE BIGGEST KEY FOR VOCALS IS TO USE A DE-ESSER. Yes a great mic and a great pre makes a big difference. So does a great headphone mix. But dig, a de-esser takes out the spitty sibilant sounds of the ss's and zz's and ch's... It's simply a high frequency limiter. When I'm mastering, I do a lot of de-essing, and it's really better to do it in tracking and mixing so that I'm not ducking other highs in the mix. Please, go out and buy one today! I know. You're saving up for that cool tube pre/eq/A-D/mega all-in-one-box goodie. Trust me. Go buy a de-esser first. Any brand.

De-essers allow you to add upper mids and highs so the voice rises above the track but it doesn't spit at you whenever the singer sings an S. Just don't over do the de-essing because the voice will start to lisp. Add 12.5k to 15K for air and clarity. 2.5 to 3.5k for distinction and edge. 100 to 200 for warmth, but roll off the 50hz. And remember, people hear the beat, but they move to the groove relationship established by the vocals. Particularly, well placed syncopation.

Insist on having the mix you want in your headset. Commonly, people take off one headphone so they can hear themselves live when tracking. Caffeine and alcohol dry out your vocal chords, so stick with water. Set the mic pre's a little lower, in case the singer belts a few surprises out. Watch for distortion carefully. It can happen in many different places along the way - the mic, the pre, the board, the compressor... just give yourself enough headroom because a great take may happen only once... Compress in tracking and mixing. Smooth tube compressors are nice, but not essential. Don't be shy about compressing in the mix. Listen to commercial cds, compare, adjust, experiment, repeat.
Acoustic piano: Miking is the key. I know, you've got a great sampler. Cool. Piano, either way, can go from clear to warm to wide to tinny depending on the song. Stereo miking is best, usually using large capsule mics, but hey, an AKG 451 works nicely too. The mics should be a couple feet from each other pointing slightly away from each other, perhaps a foot or more away from the strings. The phase component of anything stereo is important, especially piano. I tend to put a little extra top end on when tracking - you can always pull off top in the mix and bring down noise at the same time. 2.5k is a nice place to get clarity, 60 to 120hz for bottom (keep it big, but even), 8 to 15k for overtones. But sometimes less is more. Two AKG C12s and a vintage tube mic pre plugged direct, no eq, to analog 30 ips tape... aaaahhhhh! Now that's sound! Less is more as we say.

Synths: Ah, the sky's the limit. Direct signals can be awesome, or they can be sterile. The playing and the arrangement of the track is the key. Some things need compression, some don't. This one is too broad to attach any formula. Heck, none of this is a steadfast rule. Breaking the rules makes great recordings sometimes. So does going back to basics and practicing your instrument more. It's all good.

Strings, horns, solo instruments: Well, the mics and pre's really make a big difference here. There's not enough time to go over every instrument, but as an example, I mic sax in front of the bell with a dynamic mic, and from the side (by the holes) with a U87 or other large-capsule condenser mic. The more combinations you try, the better. Experiment, compare to commercial cds, adjust, repeat. At the risk of repeating myself, comparing your mixes side-by-side with commercial cds is the most important part of this whole article. Do it over and over. Spend 30 minutes within a 4 hour mix listening to other cds. It's like having a million dollar reference at your fingertips, and it keeps you out of "mix blindness."

Aside from the experiment/compare/adjust/repeat method, the most important key to great sound is a great monitor system. Think of your monitors as the "lens" you're looking through. The better the lens, the better the focus, the better you'll know what to do (and what not to do). I always recommend audiophile stereo speakers... yes, the ones that cost at least $2,500. Find home stereo/audiophile stores that sell fine speakers, and super tweaky power amplifiers, and speaker cables that cost $250 to $1,500 a pair.

It's all important. The cable is more significant than you think, so save up your dough. Just think, 5 fewer dates with that hot babe and you'll have really really fine speaker cable. Not kidding folks. The cable from your mixer to the power amp too. Oh, and cable to the mixdown machine. Oh yeah, the digital cable, too. Get the best you can afford. Oh, and did I say wait on that super duper Albatross Mic Pre and get better speakers? Yep. Get full-range all the way to the bottom speakers.

I know. "If you get a great mix on lousy speakers it will sound great on anything." How many mastering studios have you ever seen with cheap speakers? None. The truth is if you KNOW how your speakers translate out into the real world, you can mix on anything. All of those legendary mixing engineers who mix on NS10s have their products mastered at places that NEVER use NS10s. Without 20 years behind those NS10s, you're better off getting a great system. Everything will sound better and you'll eliminate a lot of headaches.

When I was producing, I would take my mixes to Bernie Grundman or Stephen Marcussen or Doug Sax and they would do very very little (like, "Whatta ya think, John? 1dB at 17k for a little air?") to my mixes. The credit goes to my Dhalquist (audiophile) speakers, the Threshold (audiophile) amp, great sounding cables, the discrete board preamp (more audiophile stuff) and a room that took me years to tune properly. Well, it may take 3-4 months to tune my mastering room now, but 20 years ago it took a lot longer - I had a lot to learn. It's part of the reason why people prefer mastering engineers with at least 25 years of experience. We've been there.

On that note, I'd like to say that it's just as important to have a good time doing all this. After a while, the gear can become your life, when you really might have a bigger gift in music. Or in parenting. Or in finance. Whatever. Stay true to your heart. Keep your life and your pocketbook in balance. Yes the speakers and the de-esser is important. So is saving for a rainy day. So is treating yourself to a vacation or a walk with your honey in the park. People in the music biz are creating the sound tracks for people's lives. Stop sometimes and think about what it is in your life that really matters, and remember to honor that. Honor people. People only care how much you know when they know how much you care. Support others, ask for what you need, be proud of who you are. Now go out and record that next hit!

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make waves is the state that precedes drowning. - Paul Coughlin author


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PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 4:18 am 
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Studhorse

Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 4:40 am
Posts: 87
This is great information but how can you apply it when for example you might have 40 stereo tracks to mix. The G only has 16 stereo tracks so I find that I will mixdown all virtual tracks 1-16 then move that back to a stereo pair and then mixdown virtual tracks 1-14 with the moved stereo pair and then once again move the finished stereo track back again and so forth. I tend to use mixdown instead of bounce because I use a lot of effects and bounce doesnt allow this. The problem is that because I am not mixing all my tracks at the same time like if I had a 50 track recorder I have to hope that when I move the stereo track back and mix in the next lot of tracks that they will fit with the already mixed tracks. Inevitably there is always something not right and so I end up never being happy with the result. I guess I need to upgrade to something with more tracks than 16? Id be interested to hear what process others with lots of tracks to mix use? Maybe Im doing it wrong? cheers


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 Post subject: Re: Mixing primer
PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:22 pm 
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MicEater wrote:
First posted by "cloneboy" at homerecording.com - Thanks to JM for sharing:

This is my little mix method:

1.) First thing listen to your recorded material and make some decisions. What needs to be up front? What needs to be in the background? What are the important parts of the mix? Have you recorded everything you need in a clear, high quality manner?

IF YOUR RECORDED TRACKS AREN'T UP TO SNUFF GO BACK AND REDO THEM!

Nothing slows a mix down faster than tracks that have a lot of issues. If it's noisy, pops, bad performance or whatever you owe it to yourself to fix it before you mix it.

Unless you are getting paid by the hour you don't want to play the "fix it in the mix" game. Trust me, I've polished as many turds as a toilet at an overeaters anonymous seminar, and it is never fun. You will kick yourself and end up re-tracking it anyways, so why wait?

2.) Set levels manually for a rough mix in **MONO** (don't stereo pan yet). Don't touch any eq or compression at this point. KEEP IN MIND THAT YOU SHOULD MIX AROUND YOUR *VOCAL* LINE OR MELODY (if an instrumental song). At all times remember that songs are to sell a vocal performance and everything should be subordinate to it.

KEEP IN MIND MIXING IS EASIER IF YOU START WITH THE "CORE" ELEMENTS OF A SONG AND NAIL THOSE FIRST.

Thus, start with the main percussion (which may be all of it), the bassline, the main melodic instruments, vocals, background vocals, primary guitars--anything that is the strong parst of the song. Things like background noises, samples, special effects, random noises and the like should be *MUTED* and put on the backburner until after you complete this entire process.

The reasoning is that if your core material sounds great, you can fit the 'support' stuff *around* it and the song will still sound good. After all, it is bassackwards to have the greatest sounding pad that just rules if the vocals and drums are totally buried by it.

Thus--MIX FROM MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS TO LEAST. LESS IMPORTANT STUFF MUST WORK AROUND MORE IMPORTANT STUFF. THE VOCALS ARE ALWAYS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT.

3.) Once you've gotten a rough mix going on, listen to it again and note any deficiencies--is the low end tight? Is it muddy? Is something that is important not popping thru? Is something popping thru too much? Does a part go from too loud to too soft? How's the high end balance and clarity? Does the midrange sound cluttered?

4.) Now that you've mentally assembled your laundry list of mix complaints, it's time to do something about it.

5.) First clean up your low end. Run an EQ on all the tracks with nothing but a HIGH PASS FILTER on it. Stuff that should be part of your low end like kick drums, bass and so on get a HP filter around 35 or 40hz; stuff that shouldn't be cluttering your low end much like strings, sweepy pads should get a HP cutoff around 70 to 200hz. Vocals can be cut off around 150hz pretty safely. Guitar gets cut off around 70hz in general. Remember: you don't want excess garbage cluttering your low end--this is one of the main sources of audio mud.

IN GENERAL THE MORE BACKGROUND A TRACK IS THE MORE YOU SHOULD REMOVE ITS LOW END!

I've had pads start rolling off at 400hz before because all I really wanted was a little midrange color and some upper harmonics (so I boosted them around 11khz or so later on). Heck, on high hats I typically roll off starting at 500hz for that crisp, clean and transparent high hat sound.

6.) Now that things are looking clean on your low end re-examine your VOLUME issues, which means listening and start grabbing for the compressor.

7.) Stuff that still seems to pop in and out of the mix need compression--target these and compress them so that their volume stays put. (Read my compression tutorial for additional details.)

IN GENERAL I COMPRESS **EVERYTHING** IN MY MIXES AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT.

I am a big believer in fairly low compression ratios though. 2:1 on a lot of things. I always lightly compress analog synths because they are very erratic; if it's an analog synth doing a bassline I will squish it pretty good. In general VA, softsynths and digital synths need **LESS** compression than analogs, but let your ears and mix decide.

8.) Stuff that should be prominent rhythmically like kick and snare definately get some compression as well. Make them slam hard as hell.

9.) Get your low end instruments thumping be it bass guitar, synth or whatever. Make that low end steady, yet punchy. Try not to have more than 3 "low end" elements if you can.

10.) Now that you've gotten levels to be pretty consistent re-listen to the material critically and ask yourself--what needs more seperation, and what needs more integration?

11.) Now it's time to EQ. A lot of mixes sound tinny and thin because of overuse of EQ. If you've gotten your volume levels sounding great manually, and then used compression to make it even more tight, there shouldn't be a whole lot of EQ that you need to do.

12.) First thing--listen to the mix and try to identify weak sounding areas that sound BAD. Is there a little fizz to the guitars? Kick drum a little muffly sounding? High hats sound clangy? Prepare another mental list....

13.) Now use *subtractive EQ'ing* to locate and eliminate these discrepancies. Use the narrowest and smallest cuts you can get away with to bury the offending freq's in the *mix* (not solo'd by itself--always, always look at things in the context of the mix). When you have eliminated these frequencies (and there will probably be a few, perhaps none if you're lucky, sometimes on poorly recorded stuff there will be some in almost everything) we can move on.

14.) Now that the shit frequencies have been zapped listen to the song again and listen to see if the seperation/integration issues have been taken care of. Sometimes you can get lucky and a few problems will work themselves out; if not, the overall quality should have gone up a few notches.

15.) Now it's time to EQ for *SEPERATION*. Listen to the mix and figure out what elements are fighting for space in the low freqs, low-mids, midrange and high frequencies. Choose the one that you want to be more dominant in that frequency band--now go back and slightly cut that track in that band, while (sometimes) applying a slight boost (we're talking 1-2db's) to the dominant track. Keep doing this until you've gotten them all. Re-listen to the track.

16.) Now you want to integrate some of the elements so they work together more. An example is bass and kick drum. But how do you integrate AND seperate these sounds? Easy--give them boosts that are close on the lower end of the spectrum on or near the same frequency (for example: kick drum at 80hz with a boost, bass synth at 100hz with a boost); next move up into the midrange and boost one element someplace and the other one someplace else (such as boosting kick at 4khz and bass synth at 2khz). Play around with these techniques until you have things really cooking.

17.) Now listen to the WHOLE mix. Focus on the different frequency bands, paying special attention to the high end. Does the bass sound tight and clear--with the bass and kick working together yet with distinction? Does the voice mix well in the midrange with the other instruments? Is the high end crisp and clear, but not domineering and tinny? Can you hear the "air" and upper harmonics of the instruments in the over 10khz range?

18.) Now use EQ positively to *add* any of these missing characteristics... such as boosting some cymbals at 12khz, or a string synth at 9khz or wherever there is a bit of a pocket that needs filling, or place for something to shine a bit more without queering the mix.

BE CAREFUL WITH SUB 1khz BOOSTING. Too much boosting in this area can mess you up... too much cutting will give you a thin sound. This is a difficult area to master. When in doubt, leave it alone for the most part.

19.) Now, at long last, STEREO PAN your tracks. Try not to weight any one side more than the other. Keep low frequency or primary instruments centered, or close to center. Bass and kick should always be centered... and snare as well. Give a nice panorama of sound but don't get carried away. Panning over 50% is often too much. Panning less than 30% is what I do most of the time except in specific circumstances like mic'd drum overheads (due to stereo bleeding) which I'll put at 60-75% or so.

20.) Correct any deficiencies that may have arisen from the stereo panning. 80% of the time if you've done the steps pretty good you won't have any correcting to do. The song will suddenly have "mixed" itself when you stereo pan everything.

21.) Now go back and fit the less important elements into the mix. DON'T TOUCH THE CORE ELEMENTS--make the less important ones fit around them with compression and eq.

22.) When you're done, put the mix down for a day or two and go back and listen. Correct anything you don't dig. Compare it to CD's you like and see if it measures up. Make sure it's not too bright of a mix, make sure there is good low end, make sure it doesn't sound muddy, make sure the midrange is well defined, punchy and clear.

Most of all--have fun. There is no right or wrong way to mix YOUR songs.


Hi there, RE-the "(Read my compression tutorial for additional details)" mentioned in step 7 of this first post of this thread. Is this tutorial actually posted here somewhere on this board? I'd like to give it a read.

Thanks, Doug.


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 Post subject: Re: Mixing primer
PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:12 am 
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City Slicker
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Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2004 11:29 am
Posts: 39
What a treasure trove of information. Posted long ago, I know - but so valuable, none the less.

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