Band 5: The Motion: Down to Dusk (Mixing)

This is part of my final major project: click here to return to the main menu:

We only had two instrumental takes to chose from, but had several vocal takes, including the guide vocals, so I chose the ones which I felt where slightly better, though due to the tight musicianship of the band, any of the takes could of been used.


After listening through the tracks, I had correctly guessed that Kaia’s guitar pedals would be a problem, and as a result the rhythmic hits on the guitar where accentuated by the reverb, as well as having certain parts of the track (after the choruses)  where the boost pedal was used made the waveform much louder.  I then took it upon myself to try and make the impact of these pedals my top priority.



First of all, I took the waveform for the guitar and duplicated it onto another mono audio track, which I then used the audio suite section on Pro Tools to invert the phase of the track. This meant that now when both tracks where playing, there would be silence, due to both waveforms cancelling each other out, so I then went through the track and cut out all the excess audio except for the rhythmic hits, before consolidating them to be one final track.




This was then bused to an mono auxiliary input, so that way I could alter the volume of the guitar with one track, as if I had left them separate, If the main volume wasn’t the same as the inverted volume, the waveform would not be completely cancelled out.

I originally thought of doing this by cutting out each of hard transients and then fading them in and out, but this way I had much more control, plus if I wanted to add them back in, I just had to mute the inverted track. It wasn’t as obvious once the song got going, but in the intro the cancellation was sounding a bit too obvious, so I used the clip gain reduction in between notes, pulling them down anywhere between -6 to -12 dB depending on how loud the where.6

I then used a send to bus this combined auxiliary input to another auxiliary input, pre-fade to act as a reverb fader for the channel, allowing me to have both the wet signal and the dry signal together, with a decay and diffusion setting which would make the already reverbed signal.




2I then copied a bars worth of the opening high hats and placed that over the guitar so the guitar wasn’t left by itself for too long, filling in the gaps. I then automated the reverb and volume channels to drop down when the “boosted” parts of track where playing .

After this I then started EQing selected tracks, starting with the Kick drum, which I used a High Pass Filter (referred in future as HPF) with a 12dB/Octave shelf set a 40Hz, to cut out some of the sub sonic frequencies which this song didn’t need. I then boosted the bandwidth around 78hz by 4.8dB, to emphasise the “boom” of the kick more, while reducing the bandwidth around 400Hz by -5.2dB, cutting out some of the “boxiness” and making some more room for the bass’s fundamental frequencies.



I then proceeded to the overheads which I decided to sum together to form a stereo audio input, as this would mean I would require less tracks and signal routing if I had left them separate but wanted to affect both of them.

They where then compressed lightly with a 2:8:1 ratio at a threshold of -24dB, taking some of the edge of the cymbals while giving them more sustain, with an attack/release time (in future referred to as A/R) of 24.7us/10.6ms, with what appears to be a u is actually the measurement for micro-seconds, where 1 microsecond is equal to 1 tenth of a millisecond, meaning that the compressor turns on pretty much instantaneously.10








The DI’ed bass was EQ’ed with a HPF with a 12dB/Octave shelf set a 50hz, again to get rid of any sub-sonic content, while cutting 200hz by 3dB getting rid of some muddy frequencies. I then boosted 551.1Hz by 2.9dB to give the bass some more mid range to compliment the guitars.11

This was then Compressed with a 3:0:1 ratio, an A/R of 17.6us/8.8ms compressing it immediately while leaving it on for the duration of the song, with a threshold of -24dB and make up gain of 3.3dB bringing up the overall level.12








I then created the stereo image for my vocal section by having the main vocal in the center while having the harmonies panned at 2,3,9, and 10 o’clock respectfully, before EQing the main vocal using a HPF with 6dB/Octave Shelf set at 334.2Hz, which would take out some of the resonance from the throat, making the voice sound more like a head voice. I also then boosted the bandwidth around 1.38Hz, adding a bit more harmonic content in the higher mids.13

I then compressed the vocal using a 3:0:1 ratio, set at a threshold of -24db, to smooth out the vocal and then brought the level up by 3.3db using make up gain. The A/R was set a 17.6us/8.8ms so would start compressing as soon as the vocals where heard, with the release meaning that it staying on for the whole of the track.14








I then used the sends on the vocal tracks to bus them to another auxiliary acting as a reverb channel, Where I again had control of both the dry signal and the wet signal so I could blend them together.  This reverb was slightly different to my guitar reverb, with it having a more sutile effect due to less more diffusion but less decay.


Finally I added a master fader and checked the song to make sure my gain staging was good so nothing was peaking, which I then decided to give myself more headroom, setting the fader at -0.6dB.


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