Band 1: For the Best: Drink Up (Mixing)

This is part of my final major project: click here to return to the main menu:Once I was done recording the band, It was then left for me to select the best takes from each instrument and put together a final mix, with one of my revelations being that the track of the top snare was too resonant when added,  and it didn’t need to be in the mix due to having to bottom snare track present, giving the snare its “rattle” or “bite”, while the overheads picking up the” body.”

(In hindsight I could of taken this out by applying masking tape to specific points on the drum head.)

I also panned the overhead tracks hard left and right respectfully and bussed all the drum tracks to a single stereo auxiliary input.

I also came to the conclusion that the bass player could not play the song in time all the way through, as some parts where so out of time they couldn’t be used, so instead I re-created the bass track using different sections and then putting them in order of what progression was being played. Luckily for me, the bassist was playing the root notes of the main guitar progression, so it wasn’t too difficult to work out.

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I also chose to use the DI’ed signal over the D112, as the rhythm guitars where distorted, having a cleaner signal gave meant that it would be easier to pick out in the mix, though I only chose this once I had re-created the bass, so I could hear them both back first “in time” to make a decision.

For the rhythm guitar I used two separate takes and put them onto separate tracks, allowing me to “stack” them on top of each other creating a more denser sound and if panned a larger stereo image. Meanwhile I had the Lead guitar on two channels, and the Clean Lead guitar on another two, though I decided to only use the sm57 tracked clean, as it cut through the mix better, having less lower mid’s to muddy up the mix. I then bussed all the rhythm tracks together to a stereo auxiliary input.

For vocals, I had two main vocal tracks on 2 separate faders, while having a vocal harmony and a gang vocal on two other ones, though I had to copy and move the gang vocals to the right parts in the song, as by having the gang vocals the same. they would be more consistant.

Once the tracks where selected, I then went through the track and deleted the segments of background noise where an instrument or vocal wasn’t playing, eliminating excess frequencies and giving the mix more clarity.

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I then started addressing individual tracks, beginning by EQ-ing to the kick drum; boosting the bandwidth around 75hz by 5.7dB to bring out the lower end “boom”, cutting the bandwidth around 400hz by 6.8dB to take away some of the “boxi-ness” as well as make some room for the bass’s fundamental frequencies to sit, and final boosting the bandwidth around 4Khz by 7.6dB accentuating the high end beater “click” sound.

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Next I applied a High Pass Filter (referred to as HPF in future) to the DI’ed bass signal, at 74.7Hz with a 18dB/octave shelf to make some room for the kick drum’s lower frequency range, so they both had room to breathe, without losing as much of the bass’s lower register.

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For the Rhythm guitars I proceeded to pan the PG52 recorded tracks hard left and right, allowing the bass and drums to sit in the center, while having the two Sm57 takes at 10 and 2 o’clock, finding a happy medium between the center and the sides. I then applied a HPF with a 18db/octave shelf at 144hz, again freeing up room for the bass, while boosting the bandwidth around 607.8hz and 3.03Khz by 4 and 5.2dB respectfully to give the guitars a bit more “bite” by boosting those higher mid range frequencies.

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The backing vocals I used a compressor on, with a ratio of 15:2.1, a threshold of -23dB, an Attack/Release time (future referred to as A/R) of 10/80ms (milliseconds), and make up gain of +14.5dB. The makeup gain was used due to having the gang vocals being projected from across the room (a precaution to stop the mic overloading) while the ratio is set quite high to give one consistent level, with the A/R allowing the compressor to be always on but not acting as a limiter.

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This was then EQ-ed using a HPF with a 18dB/Octave shelf at 773.2Hz to make the vocals seem less throaty, and more nasally, something the genre of which the band play in is more known for.

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Main Vocal tracks 1 and 2 where compressed individually  with the same settings, as if I had bussed it together the whole thing would of been effected, with the benefit giving me more control if I needed to adjust one.  I used a 6.6.1 ratio, to reduce the vocal dynamic, while having the makeup gain set quite high to give the vocal the volume to be heard over the rest of the mix. The A/R of 10/80 means that the compressor smoothes the vocal without cutting it off.

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I then proceeded to add some automation to certain tracks, starting with the drum auxiliary input, where I used tab to transient just before the bridge section of the song to find the down beat, dropping the volume from -1.6db so they become un-hearable, before slowly rising up to a maximum of +2.5dB by the start of the last chorus. This makes the song pause for a section, making the vocals stand out more, while then slowly building to a crescendo when everything becomes more audible again.12There were also some sections where the clean guitar was too quiet in the mix, so I used volume automation in some segments to boost the level of the track, as can be scene below, with a few extra dB added so it can be heard.13

 

I then  added some of my own touches to the song to fill out certain areas and make it sound more professional, starting by adding some sweeping low pass filtered, (referred to in future a LPF) flanged white noise at the start and end of the song, adding intensity to these segments, this was done by creating 2 new tracks, one being a mono audio channel, while the other an auxiliary input. A signal generator is then added to the aux input  bussed to the input of the audio channel. This allows the white noise to be recorded internally onto the track.

The Low Pass was set at 120Hz with a 24dB/octave shelf as the starting point, while then I added the LPF frequency parameter to the automation list by clicking on the box icon underneath the AUTO setting. This then let me set the sweep to last for the duration of the white noise, giving me control of how fast or slow I wanted it to go.

The overall idea of this was to make it sound like a plane passing overhead, with the LPF representing how close it would be as higher frequencies don’t travel as far. A flanger was then added with the depth set at 0.97ms so it’s modulation would be exaggerated, but subtle while having the mix parameter and feedback controls set around 50% allowing the original sweep to still be heard.

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During the bridge, I added a synth part playing a slow descending melody, this fulfilled two purposes, the first being that it filled up the spectrum so the vocal wasn’t the only thing standing, and two providing a different timbre to the guitars and bass the song was build around. However the mix slowly got more muddy as the rest of the instruments came in, so added a HPF with a 24dB/octave shelf at 539.7hz to make it take up less space.

At the start of the song I decided to use a “telephoned” version of the bridge vocals, to flesh out the intro as it was just bass, plus the lyrical content of the song made it sound appropriate, sounding like half a conversation.

This was done by cutting both the lower and higher frequencies, while boosting the middle ones, and effect which I then printed on that section, meaning I didn’t have to add any bypass automation after that segment was finished.

I also took the clean guitar from the intro section of the song and added it to the same place as the telephone vocals, but instead it’s in reverse, making it sound more layered, as the guitar transients backwards with a slow attack time are reminiscent of violin related instruments, while also sounding strange enough to catch the listeners ear.

Towards the end of the song, I decided to take a section of gang vocals I was originally going to put at the start, but with the additions listed above it would of been too crowded. (pun not intended.) so by putting it at the end of the song, it catches the listener off guard, and adds comedic effect.

I also tried a technique known as a “vocal swell” though I’m sure it goes by other names, in which you take the word you want to have the swell on, copy that word into an empty segment of track, select a bit of space afterwards and drench it in a plate reverb, with the effect printed onto the waveform.

after this you reverse the original waveform, which in turn reverses the reverb so it “swells” up, it is then just a case of moving it up to the original word, and crossfading the gap inbetween, as well as tapering the end the start of the swell so it comes out of nowhere. I used this on two of the “drink up” gang vocals and works well with the track.

The inspiration behind the technique was from a youtube channel im subscribed to, called the recording-revolution, where the host shows gives tips and tutorials on everything from recording to mixing, with the video I used as a guide for this technique shown below:

 

Finally I added a master fader, and after a couple of listens through made minor adjustments to make sure nothing was peaking, set the master fader at -6.2dB.

 

 

 

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