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Mix Rescue: Arise | Media

Mixing & Recording Advice

The audio files described on this page accompany the Mix Rescue that appeared in SOS November 2011 .

Drums

Here's the basic drum-kit sound from the final mix, but without the big spring-reverb special effect. For comparison with the files that follow.

DrumsNoRoom

For this file I've bypassed the Silverspike Room Machine 844 send effect that I fed from all the kit tracks to try to give the sound a bit more of a natural ambience, in line with the sound of Midnite's 'Love Right' (off the album Ras Mek Peace), which the band had cited as a touchpoint for the sound they were after. The plug-in used a 12.6m room size with a medium Decay, with an instance of Voxengo MSED in the reverb return to push the room sound more to the edges of the stereo image and an instance of Cockos ReaEQ high-pass filtering gently at around 300Hz to keep the low end of the mix punchy. Compare this file with the Drums example to hear how the Room Machine 844 affected the overall sound of the drums.

DrumsNoPhase

One of the subtler factors which helped to focus the drum sound, especially at the high end, was the polarity and phase adjustments I made while building the drum balance. These comprised a polarity reversal on both the overheads, an all-pass filter on the right-hand overhead channel, and an instance of Audiocation's free Phase variable phase-adjustment plug-in on the hi-hat channel. For this audio file, though, I've deliberately bypassed all these adjustments so that you can hear what the sound would have been like without them. Again, compare this file with the Drums example (preferable side-by-side in your DAW) to appreciate the subtle nature of the differences.

DrumsNoEQ

As I mentioned in the main text of the article, I used an enormous amount of EQ, especially on the drums. To put this into perspective I've bypassed all the EQ plug-ins, not only on the individual drum channels, but also on the drum buss and on the master output buss. Once again, compare this with the Drums audio example to hear the stark contrast.

MixEQFXIn

Here's a small section of the final remix, in which you can hear both of the main rhythm parts: the organ 'bubble' and rhythm-guitar parts. For comparison with subsequent examples.

MixOrganEQOut

Here's the same section of the mix you heard in the MixEQFXIn file, but with the EQ on the organ 'bubble' parts bypassed. Without those low-end cuts (which comprised high-pass filtering at 150Hz and around 4dB of low shelving cut at 460Hz, both from Cockos ReaEQ), you can hear how the whole mix becomes woolly-sounding and ill-defined.

MixGtrEQOut

In this example I've again taken the same section of the song you heard in the MixEXFXIn file, but this time I've bypassed the rhythm-guitar EQ. When the 12dB high shelving cut I applied is missing, the guitars shoot too far towards the front of the mix, distracting from the engaging high-frequency details of the vocal parts in particular.

Bass

This is the final bass sound, as featured in my remix, but soloed to you can hear it more clearly. The processing here was quite straightforward, involving a couple of instances of Sonimus SonEQ (providing both EQ and subtle analogue-style saturation), an instance of Universal Audio's LA2A classic optical compressor emulation (registering about 6dB gain reductionin its Compress mode), and a subtle chorus from Togu Audio Line's Chorus-60 (EQ'd savagely in ReaEQ to focus its action into the 200Hz 'warmth' zone).

BassNoEQ

Here is the final bass sound from my remix, but with the SonEQ equalisation and saturation processing bypassed. Notice how the low end becomes less controlled and the sound comes through less well on smaller speaker systems than the fully processed sound you can hear in the previous Bass audio example.

BassNoChorus

The chorusing applied to the remix bass sound was kept subtle by virtue of a low mix level and careful EQ'ing, in order that it didn't sound like an obviously artificial effect in the mix. Judge for yourself how successful this was by comparing the previous Bass example with this audio, in which I've switched off the chorus effect.

MixNoFX

This file demonstrates the impact all the different send effects had on the final mix by bypassing them all. There were more of these than in many Mix Rescues, on account of the expectations of the musical style, Some of these effects were deliberately more obvious: a spring reverb, a vintage-style tape-delay patch, and a long 'corridor' reverb on the lead guitar. Others were more subtle, including a vocal plate reverb, some chorusing on the bass, and a drum room ambience. Compare this file with the MixEQFXIn example.

MixNoSpecialFX

So that you can separate the effects of the more 'special effects' send treatments (the spring reverb, tape delay, and 'corridor' reverb) from the subtler background mix sends (the plate, bass chorusing, and drum room), I've bypassed only the latter. Once again, compare this file with MixEQFXIn to hear the differences these effects made.

SpecialFXSpring

This file isolates the sound of the first of the three 'special effects' sends in this mix: a spring reverb generated by Universal Audio's Roland RE201 plug-ing running in its reverb-only mode. Because the spring reverb output was in mono, I decided to spread it over the stereo image using Universal Audio's Cooper Time Cube delay effect so that it drew more attention to itself in the stereo image — I used delay times of 5ms and 20 ms respectively for the left and right channels, with the one-coil 'Color B' mode selected from the toggle switches.

SpecialFXEchoplex

The main tape-delay effect on the lead and backing vocal parts can be heard on its own here. It was generated using Universal Audio's EP34 Echoplex emulation set to a lazy quarter-note delay time of 355ms, with medium feedback. The tone of the repeats was thinned out using the plug-in's Tone controls, and then fed to FXPointAudio's freeware Spinner LE rotary-speaker emulation — again to spread the delay repeats across the stereo spectrum to make them more clearly audible in their own right. Spinner LE's Horn Filter section was engaged, because I felt it gave the effect a pleasantly crusty sound, but even with a low Q value this dramatically changed the tonality of the repeats. To remedy this I dialled in an instance of Cockos ReaEQ, cutting 5dB from a narrow resonance at around 4.2kHz to prevent the echoes moving in front of the vocals themselves. Finally I moderated the super-wide spread of the Spinner LE effect using an instance of Voxengo MSED.

SpecialFXGtrCorridor

The final effect 'feature' I used was a long, and quirky-sounding reverb from Tone Boosters' algorithm Reverb plug-in. Although this was set to a preset labelled 'Entombed!', it sounded more like a long corridor to me, and it's unusual acoustic fingerprint helped to give the lead guitar a unique space all of its own in the mix.

VocalAutoEQIn

Here's a section of the final remix which showcases the lead-vocal's EQ automation, all implemented using Cockos ReaEQ. The changes consist of a 3dB low shelving boost at 300Hz for the second phrase; a Q=1.2 peak at 4.2kHz roving between +1.5dB and -7.7dB; and a 6.3kHz high shelf roving up to 4dB of cut. The two high-frequency changes are most drastic during the second and fourth phrases.

VocalAutoEQOut

Here's the same section of mix you heard in the VocalAutoEQIn example, but with the automated EQ processing removed. Particular during the second and fourth phrases you can hear how much the vocal blends much less well, and feels a lot less securely fixed in the balance.

OriginalMix

Paul Wagorn's original mix of the song 'Run Run Run', by his band Arise.

Remix

My remix of the band's original multitrack recordings, carried out using Cockos Reaper and a selection of third-party plug-ins — many of them freeware.    

Published November 2011