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Mix Rescue Audio

Audio Examples From Mix Rescue November 2009 By Mike Senior
Published November 2009

Here is a selection of audio files to accompany this month's Mix Rescue of Bobby Nobody's song 'Stitch Up'. You can listen to these as MP3s in the media player in the main article (/sos/nov09/articles/mixrescue.htm) or can download from this page as CD-quality WAVs for more critical auditioning in your DAW.

Vox EQ Audio icon voxeq.mp3 File voxeq.wav

Sam Brox's lead vocal (recorded via an SE Electronics Z5600A valve mic) was already of a pretty decent quality, and therefore used only a very small amount of EQ from a Neve 1073 plug-in running on Universal Audio's UAD2 DSP effects platform. Here it is with the EQ in place: a high-pass filter at 80Hz and 1.6dB of low-frequency gain at 110Hz

Vox EQ Comp Audio icon voxeqcomp.mp3 File voxeqcomp.wav

The vocal in the final mix was also enhanced by the tonal side-effects of a pair of Universal Audio's vintage compressor emulations in series, the effects of which you can hear in this example. The first was a Fairchild 670 valve limiter, compressing by about 6dB with a fast release setting, and this was followed by an 1176LN compressing about the same amount with a 12:1 ratio, also with fast attack and release times.

Snare Phase Out Audio icon snarephaseout.mp3 File snarephaseout.wav

The snare drum had been miked both above and below using Shure SM57s, but the relatively polarity of this pair of mics had not been matched, so phase-cancellation was hollowing out the sound and robbing it off low end weight, as you can hear in this audio example.

Snare Phase In Audio icon snarephasein.mp3 File snarephasein.wav

Inverting the polarity of the over-snare mic reduced the phase-cancellation problems between it and the under-snare mic, making for a more solid sound. Compare this example to SnarePhaseOut to hear the difference for yourself.

Drums Balance Audio icon drumsbalance.mp3 File drumsbalance.wav

With the snare mic polarities matched it took very little work to achieve a workable drum balance: some narrowing of the overheads with Voxengo's MSED; a couple of 2dB boosts from Universal Audio's Harrison 32C EQ for additional snare brightness; and a gradual low-end cut below 300Hz for the ambience mics to keep the kick-drum sound tight. This audio example demonstrates how the drums sounded at this point.

Drums Balance Comp Audio icon drumsbalancecomp.mp3 File drumsbalancecomp.wav

This audio example demonstrates the effect of the parallel compression that I applied to the drum overhead and ambience mics using Universal Audio's 4K Buss Compressor. The compressor was set at 4:1 ratio with reasonably fast attack and release times (3ms and 300ms respectively), while the Threshold control was adjusted to give around 6dB gain reduction on snare hits. Finally, the compressed signal was returned to the mix at a fairly low level to add sustain of the drum hits.

Drums Balance Comp Rev Audio icon drumsbalancecomprev.mp3 File drumsbalancecomprev.wav

Following the a parallel compression, I added a short chamber reverb from Lexicon's Pantheon II reverb just to try to blend the snare, toms, and overheads together a fraction more. The reverb was a similated 13m wide room, but I reduced the reverb time to only 0.75s, added a 15ms predelay, and reduced the Bass Boost ratio to 0.2x at 355Hz. A further ReaEQ plug-in in the return channel shelved 5dB off the effect as well, because it was making the cymbals in particular sound slightly messy. Compare this with DrumsBalanceComp.

Drums Balance Comp Rev Auto Audio icon drumsbalancecomprevauto.mp3 File drumsbalancecomprevauto.wav

Compare this audio example with DrumsBalanceCompRev to hear the effect of my using automation to push up the cymbal crashes; I rode the cymbal hit about two thirds of the way through this file upwards by about 5dB or so.

Gtr Tone Original Audio icon gtrtoneoriginal.mp3 File gtrtoneoriginal.wav

This file demonstrates the tonal problems that afflicted many of the band's guitar sounds: too much woolly low end and a rather soft and unassertive sound.

Gtr Tone EQ Audio icon gtrtoneeq.mp3 File gtrtoneeq.wav

To address the tonal problems you can head in GtrToneOriginal I used an instance of ReaEQ first to high-pass filter at 150Hz to clear out the unwanted low end, which was already being supplied by the bass. Then I boosted about 5dB with a broad peaking filter at 1.6kHz to add hardness to the sound and bring it forward in the mix.

Chorus Gtrs Audio icon chorusgtrs.mp3 File chorusgtrs.wav

In this file you can hear a soloed mix of the chorus guitars. Because the amps had been driven a bit too hard during the tracking sessions, there was a lot of noisiness to the timbre, and this was overpowering the pitched elements of the sound.

Chorus Synths Audio icon chorussynths.mp3 File chorussynths.wav

My solution to the problem of making the sound in ChorusGtrs sound more musical and harmonic was to layer in the synth sounds you can hear in this audio example.

Chorus Gtrs Plus Synths Audio icon chorusgtrsplussynths.mp3 File chorusgtrsplussynths.wav

This example shows how the guitar sound in the chorus was enhanced by surreptitiously layering in some carefully moulded synth chords from Reaper's built-in ReaSynth instrument. Compare this file with ChorusGtrs to get a realistic perspective on the impact this trick had on the final mix sound.

Original Mix Audio icon originalmix-1109.mp3 File originalmix-1109.wav

Here is the mix of Bobby Nobody's song 'Stitch Up' that frontman Sam Brox sent in to Mix Rescue.

Remix First Draft Audio icon remixfirstdraft.mp3 File remixfirstdraft.wav

This is the first version of my remix that I sent back to the band for their feedback. Although the updated sonics were well received, the absence of mix problems crystalised their concerns about the song's arrangement, so we worked on the track further to try to address these as well.

Remix Final Audio icon remixfinal.mp3 File remixfinal.wav

Here's the agreed final version of the remix, complete with all the arrangement changes. These comprised various audio-editing and tempo-delay effects; some added clavinet and distorted-piano lines; a reverse-envelope synth effect during the middle section; and various additional guitar and vocal lines cherry-picked from a selection of extra tracks supplied by the band.[CAPTION: RemixFirstDraft]

Published November 2009