The audio files available on this page accompany the Mix Rescue column for SOS May 2013, featuring the song 'So Easy' by singer-songwriter Cristina Vane. The filenames are fairly self-explanatory, but the descriptions below should help you understand a little more about what you're hearing. In addition to these demonstrations, you can download both the raw multitrack files and my full Cockos Reaper remix project from the 'Mixing Secrets' Free Multitrack Download Library at www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-mtk.htm#CristinaVane.
The main acoustic-guitar recording on the original multitrack was recorded with two mics and a DI simultaneously. This audio example shows what the mic by the instrument's neck sounded like. Although this signal provides some useful string 'jangle', the position close to the fretboard does catch rather a lot of fret buzz, especially on the lower notes. Despite the distance from the body of the instrument, there is also some unappealing sporadic booming resonance on some of the low notes, and this gives the strums a rather murky onset 'thud' from time to time too.
This mic was positioned fairly close to the instrument's sound hole, and picks up rather a woolly tone as a result, with lots of low resonance and not much real mid-range density. To hear this most clearly, try high-pass filtering this file in your own DAW at around 150Hz to remove the low resonance, so you can focus on what's left over. The sourness of this particular instrument's tuning is most obvious in this example too, because it favours those low-register notes which suffer the biggest problems in this respect.
This is the DI feed that was recorded alongside the mics in the first two AcGtr example files. As with most DI signals, this is a pretty lifeless sound, and not much use for studio production purposes if you're after a fairly natural sound. As a result, I didn't end up using it at all in my remix.
This is how Joe Lonsdale of Joe Public Studios rerecorded the song section you heard in the previous AcGtr example files. The guitar was recorded using an omnidirectional Oktava MK012 small-diaphragm condenser mic, about nine inches away from the guitar and mounted in a Studiospares RED110 baffle screen to reduce unwanted room ambience. The mic was positioned around the 16th fret, which keeps string buzz to a minimum, but care has clearly been take to avoid picking up too much soundhole resonance, because the low end of the sound is solid and consistent. The omnidirectional pickup pattern also helps here, picking up a better balanced impression of the instrument's frequency dispersion and avoiding the proximity-effect bass boost typical of directional mics when used at such close quarters. However, despite the lack of bass boost, the low end is nonetheless beautifully extended, which is another oft-stated advantage of omni polar patterns in general.
Here are the original guitar parts exactly how they appear in my final remix. Because of the tuning problems on the original recordings, I deliberately thinned out their low end for the remix. To rein in some of the picking transients and string rattle, I applied 3-5dB of fairly fast 3:1 compression from Melda's MCompressor, as well as running the parts through Toneboosters TB_Ferox tape emulation, starting with the 'Crunchy And Warm' preset and tweaking its Saturation and High Cut controls to taste. The multi-band Transient module in Izotope's Alloy allowed me to reduce the low-end resonances a little further too, by increasing Attack and decreasing Sustain below 230Hz. I panned the neck and body mics to opposite sides of the stereo image to give some width, and also mixed in a 20ms impulse-response reverb taken from a small portable radio — the latter providing more upper-spectrum harmonic complexity, as well as filling in the centre of the stereo image a little.
To supplement the original guitars in the remix (as heard in AcGtr05_RemixOrigMicsOnly) I added in the single overdub of Joe Lonsdale's showcased in the AcGtr04_NewMic file. This audio example demonstrates how that sounded. The only processing required for Joe's part was some low spectrum rebalancing from Cockos ReaEQ to slot the rich-sounding raw capture into the mix as a whole (a 48Hz high-pass filter; 4dB of low shelving at 200Hz; and a 3.5dB one-octave-wide peaking cut at 500Hz) and a fast, high-frequency compressor from Cockos ReaXcomp (working at 2:1 above 4kHz) to round off the picking noise a little — there was already enough of that in the original parts. Finally, I superimposed some of the volume envelope of the original guitar signal onto Joe's part, so that it functioned more as an enhancement to Cristina's playing than as a separate part in its own right.
Applying the volume envelope of the original guitar part onto Joe Lonsdale's overdubbed addition was carried out in Reaper using the Sonalksis FreeG plug-in and in conjunction with Cockos Reaper's unusual built-in Parameter Modulation function. For this audio example I've bypassed this effect, so that you can hear how Joe's part now becomes more obvious in its own right, as well as making the composite sound less rhythmically driving.
Here's the full remixed guitar sound during the first of the final choruses. On top of the texture already demonstrated in the AcGtr06_RemixStrumsOnly audio file, I've also added a more chiming single-note oscillating line that Joe also provided in his overdubs. This again had some ReaEQ processing to fit it into the now busy mix at this point in the song: gently progressive high-pass filtering below about 500Hz; a further 4dB low shelving cut at 750Hz; and a broad 5dB cut at 7kHz to recess picking transients that the part didn't require in this application. Other than that, I only added some delay from Fabfilter's Timeless, using its 'Drop The Nails' preset and reducing the channel feedback controls to reduce the number of echo repeats.
There was only one traditional mic on the kick-drum, an AKG model I imagine was their well-known D112. The mic's rock-oriented frequency-tailoring hadn't created a sound very well suited to this song, however, with masses of 40Hz rumble and upper-spectrum 'bite', but not much real mid-range tone.
In addition to the AKG mic, a Yamaha NS10 woofer had been set up in front of the kick-drum, wired in such a way that it could be used as a dynamic microphone. This is a well-documented method for catching the sub-bass frequencies of the kick drum, because the speaker cone's size and inertia make it very insensitive to anything above about 100Hz. Although the tactic achieved exactly what it set out to, delivering a kick-drum signal with a lot of sub-bass, I didn't use it at all in the remix for two reasons: firstly, there was already more than enough sub-bass on the AKG mic recording; and, secondly, because I didn't feel that this kind of heavy sub-bass was actually appropriate for this style of song.
In this example, the AKG drum mic has been processed with Cockos ReaEQ to produce the sound used in my final remix. A 48Hz high-pass filter has tamed the low-end speaker-flapping; a 2dB peaking cut at 300Hz has reduced a bit of low mid-range frequency build-up with the bass guitar; and a 3.5dB peaking cut at 3.6kHz has taken some of the edge off the beater click.
A kick-drum sample was also supplied with the multitracks, carefully triggered from the live part. Given that this sample had a rather incongruous 99Hz pitched resonance, and that I'd already been able to get what I needed from the AKG microphone channel, this seemed a bit redundant, so I left it out of the remix completely.
Here's the raw signal from the microphone positioned over the snare. It sounds a lot like an extremely close mic position was used for this, because the tone of the drum is presented very unnaturally, and the stick attack is very strong. In addition, a pitched resonance at 245Hz has been powerfully over-emphasised, presumably on account of a directional mic spotlighting one specific location on the drum's head.
In this example, I've taken the signal in the Snare01_OrigTopMic audio file and notched out the 245Hz resonance, so you can more clearly hear what else is going on in this recording — the answer being 'not much other than stick attack'!
Fortunately, the under-snare mic that had been recorded alongside the over-snare heard in the last two audio files, and this provided a good dose of noisy sustain to fill out the composite sound. However, when the two signals were mixed together, as I've done in this example, you can hear that the low mid-range punch from the over-snare mic gets lost, on account of a polarity mismatch between the mics.
For this example, I've inverted the polarity of the under-snare mic to match it better with the over-snare mic, and if you compare this sound with that of the Snare03_BothMicsOrigPolarity file you can clearly hear that it has a lot more useful weight to it — and as such provided a solid foundation for the final sound you can hear in my remix.
Again, a triggered snare sample was provided on the original multitracks, and you can listen to that in this example. However, I didn't bother using it in my remix, because if you compare it with the sound in the Snare04_BothMicsInvertedPolarity audio file, it doesn't really add anything much that the two mics don't already provide — it's all attack, punch, and early-envelope noise.
For my remix, I also triggered a snare sample, but a very different sound than originally provided. I chose one of the standard-issue snare sounds in Slate Digital's Trigger, and then increased the internal level-envelope generator's attack time to 20ms to remove the attack spike. Consequently, this sample provided me with some things that the recording mic signals lacked, namely a longer noisy sustain and some stereo width.
Here's the original mix of Cristina Vane's song 'So Easy' which she sent in to the Mix Rescue column.
This is my remix of the raw multitrack recordings of 'So Easy' within my own DAW system, based around Cockos Reaper with third-party plug-ins from Christian Knufinke, Crysonic, Cytomic, eaReckon, Fabfilter, Izotope, Lexicon, Melda, Schwa, Slate Digital, Softube, Sonalksis, Stillwell Audio, Toneboosters, and Voxengo. Joe Lonsdale of Joe Public Studios (www.joepublicstudios.com) provided additional acoustic guitar parts, and some additional cymbal samples were also layered in from Spectrasonics Backbeat to support the mid-range of those captured by the overhead mics.