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Any tips on mixing Folk Music?

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Any tips on mixing Folk Music?

Postby The_BPP » Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:02 pm

I've just recorded a folk group as a composite recording. (one instrument/voice at a time). This isn't my usual kinda thing.

The tracks...

Female Vocals x 5
Male Vocal x 1 (lucky sod)
Accoustic Guitar
Accoustic Bass
Wood block (yes, you read that right, wood block)

I mixed it in my usual manner, but it's sounding a bit too shiney/pop for my liking. Not like a folk group, if you know what I mean.

Has anyone else recorded or produced a folk album? Any tips specific to that genre? You don't have to use your real name.

Thanks in advance for all your help,

Andy
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Re: Any tips on mixing Folk Music?

Postby Jonnypopisical » Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:21 pm

Get a good balance of all the tracks without EQ or compression then treat as a group recording - gentle compression, room reverb etc. Only then tweak each track if it needs anything else. Be gentle with the EQ and compression.

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Re: Any tips on mixing Folk Music?

Postby MarcusH » Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:58 pm

Would it help to stick a finger in your ear?
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Re: Any tips on mixing Folk Music?

Postby The Elf » Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:13 pm

I used to find that one of the short, 'fluffy' Lexicon room presets could do wonders to help gel an acoustic/folk mix. The cleaner the source tracks, the better the reverb glues itself to the sound.
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Re: Any tips on mixing Folk Music?

Postby The_BPP » Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:29 pm

The Elf wrote:I used to find that one of the short, 'fluffy' Lexicon room presets could do wonders to help gel an acoustic/folk mix. The cleaner the source tracks, the better the reverb glues itself to the sound.

The only 'verbs I have are KSR, and UAD's Plate 140 and EMT250. I'll give the KSR's room reverb a go.
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Re: Any tips on mixing Folk Music?

Postby matt keen » Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:59 pm

MarcusH wrote:Would it help to stick a finger in your ear?



No but it would be good if you stopped promoting stupid stereo types


Normally folk/traditional music performers will want a pretty naturalistic sound with a bit of gloss

Elf's suggestions are good
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Re: Any tips on mixing Folk Music?

Postby The Elf » Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:03 pm

The_Big_Piano_Player wrote:
The Elf wrote:I used to find that one of the short, 'fluffy' Lexicon room presets could do wonders to help gel an acoustic/folk mix. The cleaner the source tracks, the better the reverb glues itself to the sound.

The only 'verbs I have are KSR, and UAD's Plate 140 and EMT250. I'll give the KSR's room reverb a go.
If you're struggling to find something suitable, just drop me a wav and I'll send you a reverb-only file to mix back in.
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Re: Any tips on mixing Folk Music?

Postby The_BPP » Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:21 pm

that's very kind. I'll have a fiddle, but if I can't quite get there, I'll send you a dry wav.
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Re: Any tips on mixing Folk Music?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:25 pm

I've mixed a number of albums for a five piece women's vocal folk group with acoustic guitar and acoustic bass (but no wood block).

My approach is to concentrate on voices first, working EQ to achieve a natural, rather than hyped sound. Perhaps avoid enhancing the highs as you might in a pop recording as 'cut through' will (hopefully) be less of an issue. I would generally use a little LA2A (if you have it) on all voices to settle dynamics a little too.

Then bring the acoustic guitar and bass into the mix. A little compression on each of these instruments may help. Not sure how you miked them, but I tend to go for a natural, but perhaps slightly larger than life sound.

As to reverbs your Plate 140 and EMT should be fine. I often use plate 3 on the 140 maybe 2 to 3 secs with a little pre-delay and high EQ lift. I'd keep the bass pretty dry and maybe use 50% on the guitar to move it towards a similar space. I've only just got the EMT so still learning there. Alternatively if you have Logic you can use a Spacedesigner hall to place everything into a 'real' space and then add a little extra 140 on the vocals.

As to mastering I'd use a hint of Fairchild plus Precision Limiter.

What you do with the wood block is up to you

Bob
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Re: Any tips on mixing Folk Music?

Postby The_BPP » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:17 am

Bob Bickerton wrote:I've mixed a number of albums for a five piece women's vocal folk group with acoustic guitar and acoustic bass (but no wood block).

My approach is to concentrate on voices first, working EQ to achieve a natural, rather than hyped sound. Perhaps avoid enhancing the highs as you might in a pop recording as 'cut through' will (hopefully) be less of an issue. I would generally use a little LA2A (if you have it) on all voices to settle dynamics a little too.

Then bring the acoustic guitar and bass into the mix. A little compression on each of these instruments may help. Not sure how you miked them, but I tend to go for a natural, but perhaps slightly larger than life sound.

As to reverbs your Plate 140 and EMT should be fine. I often use plate 3 on the 140 maybe 2 to 3 secs with a little pre-delay and high EQ lift. I'd keep the bass pretty dry and maybe use 50% on the guitar to move it towards a similar space. I've only just got the EMT so still learning there. Alternatively if you have Logic you can use a Spacedesigner hall to place everything into a 'real' space and then add a little extra 140 on the vocals.

As to mastering I'd use a hint of Fairchild plus Precision Limiter.

What you do with the wood block is up to you

Bob


Thanks Bob! Like you,I'm a big fan of my UAD, so I've gentle LA2A compression on each vocal track. Good call on the plate reverb, I've tried it and that works fine. I've strapped an SSL buss compressor on the mix, but that sounds a little too upfront for the material, so I might give your idea of a fairchild a go.

My main problem now is vocal sibilance. All those vocals combined and slightly compressed - everything's a little too ess-y.
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Re: Any tips on mixing Folk Music?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:07 am

This is my Fairchild start point for mastering acoustic music:

Image

Note the position of the DC Bias controls.

Interesting about the sibilance. What mics did you use?

Bob
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Re: Any tips on mixing Folk Music?

Postby BigAl » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:12 pm

Try and make sure there isn't too much going on in the music.
I recorded a folk group once (I used to be in one myself), and it was a 12 string, accordion, another acoustic, fiddle and three vocals, but everyone was in ALL THE TIME and it was too busy in the mids/highs.
I stuck a bass down and it sounded much better but the arrangement was poor.
Depending on the piece, I would use a short room type reverb with the top end not set more than somewhere like 4kHz, but again, it depends on the piece.
Some of the folk music I have been involved in is slightly less traditional and open to more conventional recording treatment.
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Re: Any tips on mixing Folk Music?

Postby The_BPP » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:48 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:This is my Fairchild start point for mastering acoustic music:

Image

Note the position of the DC Bias controls.

Interesting about the sibilance. What mics did you use?

Bob

Thanks for that, Bob, I'll give it a go. The mic I used was a "Newmann Retro", a large diaphram mic. It normally sounds nice, but I suspect with so many voices so high in the mix, it's inherently hyped sound is not helping.

P.S. How does the DC bias effect the fairchild (I tend to use mine only for piano compression).
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Re: Any tips on mixing Folk Music?

Postby jellyjim » Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:42 pm

matt keen wrote:
MarcusH wrote:Would it help to stick a finger in your ear?


No but it would be good if you stopped promoting stupid stereo types


Oh but it's folk music, such a rich seam to mine ... always affectionately of course.
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Re: Any tips on mixing Folk Music?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:16 pm

The_Big_Piano_Player wrote:

Thanks for that, Bob, I'll give it a go. The mic I used was a "Newmann Retro", a large diaphram mic. It normally sounds nice, but I suspect with so many voices so high in the mix, it's inherently hyped sound is not helping.

P.S. How does the DC bias effect the fairchild (I tend to use mine only for piano compression).

You'd have to look up the UAD site for an accurate description and I remember it was hard to find! But as I understand it the DC bias control is like a 'ratio' control and is probably the most import control on the whole thing (even though it's the smallest). But it isn't 'exactly' a ratio control. I read somewhere that the Fairchild has a fixed ratio, but it's a soft knee compressor and the DC bias actually extends the knee, which is pretty much the same as ratio I suppose. Even tiny adjustments to this control have a large effect, and for each adjustment you need to tweak the other controls concurrently to stay in the same ball park. Don't expect to see the meters moving much, use your ears.

Oh, and by the way, I'm no expert, but the Fairchild intrigues me and I have really enjoyed the subtle nature of the beast when used in this way. It can just bring a mix together and add a little of that elusive 'warmth', without being over the top.

Re sibilance you could try the high frequency attenuation on the Pultec.

Bob
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