Young Griffo: Blood to Bone

For one of my most recent assignments, We where given the stems to a song (titled “Blood to Bone”) by a band called Young Griffo, and where asked to make out own mix of the song.

This was split into 4 seperate marking criteria’s, which included many aspects of listening skills, mixing, and mastering.

Listed below with a PDF document underneath for each one, or Here as one document. (Warning its a lot of pages.)

Criteria 1: Young Griffo Critera 1

Criteria 2: Young Griffo Critera 2

Criteria 3: Young Griffo Critera 3

Criteria 4:Young Griffo Critera 4

Below is the finished track:

 

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Mastering:

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

Once I had all of chosen tracks bounced down, I loaded up a new Pro-Tools session at 16 bit/ 44.1Khz Sample rate and imported all my chosen tracks plus a master fader. I also imported a song from my iTunes collection to act as a reference for what sort of level I should be achieving, using the Queens of the Stone Age song “Avon” which I used previously for my last mastering session.

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I then proceeded to move the tracks along the grid so that when one finished I could get an idea of the same level I had to obtain, as well as get an idea of how the tracks sound in a particular order.

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For this section, I will be using the Parallel Compression technique, which involves having the stereo mix track bused to two auxiliary inputs equipped with compressors.

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One of these compressors is designated the “heavy” compressor and has a much lower threshold an a higher ratio, while the “light” compressor is has a higher threshold but a lower ratio, this allows you to keep the dynamic range using the light setting, while bringing up the overall level using the heavy setting. I also applied Maxim as a Limiter, set at -0.1dB to stop any of the tracks clipping.

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Song 1 Drink Up:

I decided to have Drink Up first as it’s a upbeat Pop Punk number with a really catchy chorus, starting the CD off with a bang.  Since Its was the first track on the album, I had to use my reference track to get it around the same level bringing it up to that of the original using the settings in the example above. I also added a fade out after the gang vocals, which made sense to do it here as if I had done it in mixing it would of be been compressed more and the dynamic range would be lost.

Song 2: Get Out:

Next up was Sound the Siren as I wanted to maintain the moment cause by the first song, plus the gang vocals transitioned nicely into the siren at the start of Get Out. This song was around the same level as Drink Up, so only required some slight tweaking on the faders to get it the same.

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Song 3: Love Me Like You Do:

I decided to place this track in the middle of the CD as it’s a nice change of pace from the heavier songs, as well as being the only cover. The tempo’s of both this and The Motion’s where around 90bpm mark, so the drums in this work well going in to guitar of the next song. due to its nature, this song was the most sparse and also the quietest overall, with me having to use some of the makeup gain on the compressors to get it to compete with the Sound the Siren track.

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Song 4: Down to Dusk:

Originally I was going to put this song last on my recording, but having Got no Pity in the final slot allowed the CD to end on a more energetic number. As mentioned above this song fits well in the middle, going from energetic to calm. This song was also fairly quiet in comparison, sitting in the middle ground between the previous two tracks, requiring the faders to also be quite high.

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Song 5: Got No Pity:

This song is the only track on the album to not be guitar driven, but the drums are quite heavy so its a nice closing track. I had to bring up the level about the same as the previous one.

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Once I did this I burned the tracks to an Audio CD using Toast Titanium, and checked it in multiple different mediums, such as a CD player, Laptop and a Car Stereo.

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Evaluation:

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

Overall this project has allowed me to gain a better understanding of how a song goes from being an idea to a finished recording  as well how rewarding it can be if you see it through from start to end.

Over the course of these 5 recordings I developed my skill set  in all three areas, working with a variety of different musicians each with a different level of skill and energy. This energy was inspiring to work with, as when an artist is passionate about what they do, it becomes infectious.

I was trying new recording techniques as my knowledge of the microphones at my disposal became more in-depth, especially with frequency response and mic placement, giving me a good idea what sort of sound I am looking for and a technique to replicate it.

My mixing skills also got better, as I started to tidy up my signal flow and use bussing and my knowledge of sound to achieve certain goals, such as the guitar in “The Motions” recording, using an inverted waveform to cancel the positive one, as well as using auxiliary inputs as reverb channels.

I also learned how to master recordings, with an actual practical way of learning as opposed to just learning the theory, with it being satisfying having a selection of your own productions all sounding coherent.

It was also the first time I actually sort out a local band on my own accord: Sound the Siren,  as I felt that they were at the point where a recording would help elevate them to the next stage of their career, having something other than live shows to go on. This was by far my favourite track to record and the one I had the most impact on, as I went to their practices and fine tuned their chosen song to make it even better.

I prefered this role to the other recordings, as I was taking on roles of being an “artist and repertoire” guy, a studio engineer, as well as a producer, not just being a tape recorder.

It was also encouraging to have a local band come to me for a recording, as it made me want to live up to their expectations and record a really well written song.

Some of the weaknesses I encountered along the way was I wouldn’t spend as much time on a mix as I should of done, resulting in some ok results, but I think its noticeable which ones I spent the most time on, while others I did earlier in the year  I then came back to and realised that they didn’t sound as great as I remembered, and decided to remix those tracks.

I also realised once I had done recording sessions where I was in control, I found myself butting heads with my recording partner on the college recordings,  having disagreements over how we should record certain instruments, or having only half finished songs because he would schedule sessions and be reluctant to give me the files.

I also thing some of my sessions ended up sounding over compressed, so when It came to mastering the dynamic range got even shorter if I brought them up, or quieter if I brought them down.

One thing I learned from this experience is that practice makes perfect, and that the more mixes and recordings I did, the better I think the outcomes where.

Final Major Project:

Below are the links to the various sections of my final major project, broken down into the recording and mixing of the seperate artists, followed by mastering, and then an evaluation of the project.

Also there is a link at the top of each page which will link you back to this one.

Bands:


Song 1: For the Best: Drink Up

For the BestPart 1: Recording:

Part 2: Mixing:

 

 

Song 2: Sound the Siren: Get Out

sound the sirenPart 1: Recording:

Part 2 Mixing:

 

 

 

Song 3: Ellie and Evie: Love me like You Do (Ellie Goulding Cover)

Ellie_Goulding_-_Love_Me_Like_You_DoPart 1: Recording:

Part 2: Mixing:

 

 

Song 4: Glen and Lindsay: “Got No Pity”

10672290_795921630430215_1360791897344031873_nPart 1: Recording

Part 2: Mixing

 

 

Song 5: The Motion: Down to Dusk:

1513773_1109538649072585_5148921140570090489_nPart 1: Recording:

Part 2: Mixing

 

 

Final Tracks:

Mastering Notes:

Invoice and Pricing:

Evaluation:

Band 4: Glenn and Lindsay: “Got no Pity” (Mixing)

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

Firstly I went through all the available takes the band did, selecting the one which was most suitable; since they didn’t play to a click I had to go on consistency, while the vocals I had to go on what I had, which was a about half a songs worth of vocals between both singers.

I chose not to use the track of the D112 on the outside of the kick drum, as it lacked the higher end punch the Audix had, as well as the later also having a decent low end response as well, resulting in me only using the D6.I also chose to only use the top snare, as the bottom one ended up sounding too noisy and since the drums where very simple in the arrangement, It didn’t fit with the rest of the  mix.

Next I went through the track and tempo mapped it, as this allowed me to work out what tempo they were playing at, ranging from 80-85bpm, plus also being able to understand the songs structure to then put the vocals in the right places, which I then added markers for.

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2.1I did this by using a combination of different techniques, involving tab to transient, the “spot” feature to move tracks by milliseconds, as well duplicating the existing segments so they were at the right time. The female vocals where also recorded on many separate tracks, so I had to sum them down to the lowest amount ending up with two.3

Once this was in place I then proceeded to warp certain parts of the drums to tide some sections up, since I had used a combination of the piano and the drums to build the tempo map, creating a more consistent recording, while also adding two additional snare hits to the beginning of the recording to give it more of a lead in before the song starts.4

Now the song assembled the song with everything where It should be, I then proceeded to EQing separate tracks, starting with the Kick drum, which I boosted the bandwidth around 75hz by 5.0dB to further accentuate the “boom” of the kick, while cutting 300hz by 3.6dB creating a dip for the bass’s fundamental frequencies to sit in, plus also take out some of the “boxiness.” I then boosted 3Khz by 6dB to exaggerate the beater, adding clarity to the kick drum.5

By listening to the track, I also noticed that the kick was getting drowned out by the rest of the mix during the choruses, so I sent it pre-fade to a mono auxiliary input and then automated the volume so that during these parts both kick channels would be playing, making it louder.6

I edited the snare track, boosting around 240hz by 3dB to get bring out the “body” of the snare, while cutting 300hz by -3db to take out further emphasise the body by getting rid of the “boxiness.” Finally I boosted around 3.21Khz by 4dB to add to the snare “rattle” making a nice compromise giving I didn’t have a bottom snare.7

The Overheads were panned hard left and right, and bussed to a stereo auxiliary input, then I added a High Pass Filter (referred in future to HPF) with a 6dB/Octave shelf at 148Hz, which gently rolled off the lower frequencies so the kick could be heard more clearly in the mix.8

The bass track was then supplemented with a HPF, which was placed at 35.3Hz with a 12dB/Octave Shelf, which rolled off the un-needed extremely low frequencies, while boosting 87Hz by 2.5dB, so its doesn’t overlap too much with the kick, but boosts the fundamental frequencies. I also boosted the mid range around 600Hz, by 2.7dB, giving the bass a warmer tone.10550947_10204126448305462_6001693741697622701_n

I was going to compress the bass, but I decided against it due to it not playing that often, giving the player more time instead of worrying about keeping a consistent rhythm throughout.

By panning the Piano channels hard left and right, It more accurately represents how you would hear it if you where sitting down playing it, while also keeping it out of the way of the vocals and bass in the mix, sitting in the center. I chose to do this and then bus the separate channels to a stereo auxiliary input, where I could control the overall volume as well as EQ-ing the tracks, boosting 855.6Hz and 2Khz by 4.4dB and 5.3dB respectfully to bring out the instruments presence in the mix over the other elements.

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Next I moved on to the Male vocals, Which I added a HPF at 100.8Hz with a 6dB/octave shelf to gently cut his deeper voice to make room for the lower elements in the song such as the bass and kick drum, not making the mix as muddy. This was the compressed with a 2:8:1 ratio and a -23.6 threshold, with the addition of the makeup gain adding 3.1dB to bring up the track to a constant level, while the A/R time being 13.6us/5.7ms allowing the higher falsetto parts to be brought down.12

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The Female Vocal tracks I EQ-ed similarly, using a HPF’s around 99.3Hz and 172.9Hz with 6dB/Octave shelves to filter out some of the throat resonance, as well as give more frequency range for the male vocalists voice to sit in, while boosting around 1Khz to give her voice a more warmer tone.1614

These tracks where then also compressed similarly with a 2:8:1 ratio and a lower threshold of -25.7dB, while having a A/R time of 10/53.3ms, this compressor slowly compresses the signal, working with the sustained notes at the end of the choruses.15

Finally I send all the Vocals via sends (Pre-Fade) to a stereo auxiliary bus, which acted as a reverb channel, allowing me to control both the dry and wet signals. the room itself sounded  quite good, so I had to try and emulate it with a reverb that complimented them, ultimately setting on a medium room reverb with a diffusion rate (87%) plus a middle ground decay time.

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I then applied a master fader and checked all of the levels to see if anything was peaking, and made some minor adjustments, setting the master faders output to -0.4dB.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Band 4: Glenn and Lindsay: “Got no Pity” (Recording)

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

The second college band that was recorded was a 4 piece, with a slightly different set-up, consisting of drums and bass guitar, plus two vocalists, one who was female and the other who was male and played piano. They were performing an original song tentatively titled “Got no Pity” which came from a line in the song.

This song was written on the piano by the male vocalist, including the lyrics, and then was adapted for the rest of the band, as a result the singer didn’t know what tempo the song was at, plus the rest of the band relied on him to begin the song, as the piano plays a chord before the first bar which swings into the first bar they all play on.

Me and Dan decided on doing a live take without vocals, and then overdubbing the male and female singers over the top, however the male vocalist wasn’t available to finish the vocals, so he did two takes of the instrumental, and one of the choruses, leaving us during mixing to duplicate it across.

Piano:

IMG_1460For piano we tried a stereo mic-ing technique we hadn’t tried before, using two AKG C518M’s which have a vice grip attachment designed for drums. We had it so they were facing opposite sides to each other, one over the thicker bass strings, and the other of the thinner higher pitched ones.

Overall the C518M has a fairly neutral frequency response, making it not biased towards either the low end or high end, making a good match for the piano’s large frequency range, plus it has a role off from 1Khz bellow, so it can be placed close to the strings without being overpowered.

Its cardioids pick-up pattern is also beneficial, as it will only hear the strings in the piano, letting us close the lid more, keeping it open enough  with a book, to isolate it from the rest of the room.

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Drums and Bass:

For the drums we also tried something different to our usual set up, choosing to record both the outside of the kick and the inside using a AKG D112 outside and an Audix D6 inside. By having this set up, one microphone can pick up the boom of the kick; as its only hearing the resonant head, meanwhile the other is closer to the beater head, allowing it to pick up the pedal “click” as it hits.

The Audix D6 was a good choice for the kick drum, as its cardioid pick-up pattern combined with it being inside the kick drum, isolates it from the rest of the kit, allowing it to pick up the kick with more clarity. Meanwhile its frequency response favours around 50-100Hz, allowing it to pick up the boom of the kick, while it reduced response from 200Hz-1Khz makes room for the bass’s fundamental frequencies. It also has an exaggerated response around 2-4Khz which is where the click of the pedal sits.

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The D112 shares a lot of similarities with the Audix, including pick up pattern and frequency response, as it also has a exaggerated response in the lower frequencies around 50-100Hz as well as the higher mids around 2-5Khz. However it also has a proximity effect when it is placed 10cm closer to the source, making it even more sensitive at lower frequencies, though it doesn’t have the same cut as the Audix does around 200Hz-1Khz, so it won’t be as defined as the Audix in that part of the spectrum.

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For the Snare we chose to use a double mic it with 2 Shure Sm57, one placed on the rim, facing the center of the drum, while the other underneath at the same angle point up towards the center of the resonant head.

As mentioned above the Sm57’s cardioid pick-up pattern allows it to focus on the source, while its frequency response is exaggerated around 240Hz, allowing it to pick up the body of the snare, while also having the higher frequency range boost around 6Khz, which is where the “sizzle” of the snare is.

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The bottom mic-ed snare needs to have its phase inverted as when the snare is hit, the beater head is pushed down, while when that air hits the resonant head, it is pushed out, so if one mic is hearing a rarefaction and the other is hearing a compression, they will cancel out to some extent.

For the overhead we used a pair of AKG CK1000s in an XY coincident pair set up. As mentioned before this stereo mic-ing technique has both capsules above each other, so that the sound is received at the same time with their pick up patterns overlapping, with the microphones being placed on the center line of the drum kit to get a balanced sound.

The CK1000s frequency response fits its use as overheads well, as its got a boost between both 2-5Khz and 7-15Khz, allowing it to pick up the ringing overtones of the cymbals, plus its cardioids pick up pattern makes its useful to, as we where tracking bass at the same time, so by placing the bassists sound source behind the microphones, he is isolated from the drums more effectively.

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Speaking of Bass, we recorded the basses dry signal by having it go into a DI Box, as well as using another AKG D112 for the amp, because of its response from around 200Hz to 1Kz mentioned earlier.

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Vocals:

IMG_1472For both sets of vocals, we used an Avantone CK6, as its frequency response features a role off from 100Hz downwards, allowing the singer to be closer to the microphone, while also feature a strategic cut around 300-400Hz to avoid some “boxiness” which might occur. It also has a very pronounced higher frequency range around 10K, so it can pick up the higher notes more clearly.