Audio files to accompany the article.
These files accompany the Mix Rescue article in the May 2015 issue of SOS
The following audio resources accompany the Mix Rescue column for SOS, featuring the song ‘Kak tvoi dela, Vova?’ by the band Bruks. As discussed in the article, the foundations for this mix were laid during a mixing workshop for the Audio Engineering Society’s 2014 Central European Student Summit at the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music in Moscow. For the first half of this workshop I focused on building a balance of the song’s climactic final chorus within Cockos Reaper, an iterative process that involved bouncing out five different versions of the mix. In addition to these audio files, you can also download both the raw multitrack files and the Reaper mix project for my final mix from the ‘Mixing Secrets’ Free Multitrack Download Library at http://www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-mtk.htm#Bruks.
The first bounce-out was a basic balance of the recorded tracks, involving primarily fader, pan and polarity settings for each channel. The only other processing was a little compression on the drums bus from Cytomic’s The Glue plug-in and some preliminary vocal treatment: a high-pass filter from Reaper’s built-in ReaEQ plug-in, some fast 4:1 compression from Stillwell Audio’s The Rocket, and an HF emphasis in the compressor’s side-chain to combat sibilance. No send effects were used at all — any ambience you hear is a result of the live ‘band in one room’ recording process used.
Comparing Bounce1 against some commercial reference tracks first led me to EQ the entire mix: with Reaper’s ReaEQ peaking filters I cut 3.6dB at 250Hz (Q=0.5) and 0.8dB at 450Hz (Q=0.7), and used a low shelf to boost 1dB at 87Hz, while Variety Of Sound’s Baxter EQ applied a 4dB shelving boost at 18kHz. Per-channel processing followed, including: ReaEQ on kick and bass for more low weight without excessive low mid-range; Reaper’s ReaComp compressor plug-in on both kick and bass for better level consistency; 6dB of Attack from Stillwell Audio’s Transient Monster on the kick; an instance of Reaper’s ReaGate on one of the snare mics to reduce hi-hat spill; high-frequency cuts on the drum, guitar, and keyboard channels to combat vocal masking; ReaEQ and Stillwell Audio 1973 EQ plug-ins to cut proximity effect and boost midrange on the lead vocal; Stillwell Audio Vibe EQ plug-ins to add character to the guitar parts; ReaEQ frequency contouring to fit the keyboard parts around the guitars; wider panning of the guitars; a Sides-signal increase using Voxengo MSED to widen the main stereo keyboard part; and ReaEQ high-pass filtering to many tracks to improve low-spectrum clarity in the mix overall. To best hear the effects of all these changes, compare this audio example directly with the Bounce1 file.
Referencing the Bounce2 mix yielded another ‘to do’ list. Some were simple ReaEQ adjustments: more low end on the kick; a 650Hz boost on the bass to bring it forward on smaller speakers; and a wide 4dB peaking cut at 11kHz on the overheads to combat edginess. But mostly the mix needed a more expansive sense of acoustic space around it, which I added using a freeware impulse response in Christian Knufinke’s SIR2 convolution plug-in, shortened and widened slightly, and with a few milliseconds of pre-delay. Compare this example with the Bounce2 audio file to hear the impact of these changes.
The Bounce3 mix was again brought back into the referencing project, which revealed that the guitars demanded further communal ReaEQ contouring (a 1.5dB shelving cut at 300Hz plus a wide 1.5dB boost at 1.3kHz) to bring out their mid-range, as well as a touch of tempo-delay to lend sustain and additional width — the latter achieved by opposition-panning the delay returns. Some basic vocal effects were also added at this point: a heavily de-essed quarter-note delay for sustain, and some Harmonizer-style stereo widening. You can hear the effects of these changes by comparing this audio example with the Bounce3 file.
Referencing the Bounce4 mix prompted me to apply a bit more EQ to the guitars with Stillwell Audio’s Vibe EQ, dipping a couple of decibels of low mids and boosting 1.5dB at 2.5kHz. Other than that, though, the balance finally felt reasonably dependable, so I dialled in a little mix-bus compression from Cytomic’s The Glue, using the following settings to achieve 2-4dB of gain reduction: ratio 4:1; attack time 3ms; release time 100ms; side-chain high-pass filter at 48Hz. Although I bounced out this updated version of the mix during the workshop, we ran out of time to reference it again, and you can hear how the bus-compression has recessed the kick and snare levels in the balance — something I remedied by boosting them slightly in my final mix.
Here’s the same final-chorus section of my final mix, which I completed a couple of months later. The basic balance is little changed compared with the Bounce5 file, although I did fade up the kick and snare levels slightly in response to the bus-compression side-effects mentioned in the previous audio caption. The mix’s overall tone has also been altered in response to post-workshop input from the band regarding their tonal preferences, using a 20Hz high-pass filter from FabFilter’s Pro-Q and the following EQ curve from TRacks Linear Phase EQ: +3.6dB low shelving boost at 63Hz; -2dB peaking cuts at 270Hz and 1kHz; and a 4dB high shelving boost at 5.9kHz. The main changes I made, though, were to add blend and sustain, the lack of which wasn’t clearly audible within the reflective control room environment used for the workshops: a short early reflections patch applied to the vocals, guitars, and keyboards and covert added layers of guitar powerchords and distorted Hammond organ.
Here’s my final, full mix of the Bruks song ‘Kak tvoi dela, Vova?’ (which roughly translates as ‘How are you, Vova?’), carried out in Cockos Reaper with the help of third-party plug-ins from Stillwell Audio, Melda Productions, Variety Of Sound, Cytomic, Voxengo, Christian Knufinke, ToneBoosters, Softtube, FabFilter, and IK Multimedia.