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Mix Rescue: Igor Zinken | Media

Mixing & Recording Advice
By Mike Senior

The audio files described below accompany the Mix Rescue feature in SOS December 2011. For the best results, download the WAV files and audition them in your DAW, but we've also made MP3 versions available.


This file isolates the kick-drum sound from my final remix. Subharmonic synthesis from Voxengo's LF Max Punch plug-in added bottom-octave power, as well as subjectively lengthening each hit, while some stiff midrange peak boosts from Stillwell Audio's Vibe EQ (6dB at 640Hz and 12dB at 820Hz) helped to give the timbre a tougher edge. In addition, I also dialled in a broad 4dB peaking boost around 4kHz just for the 'chorus' sections, using Cockos ReaEQ under automation control.


Voxengo's LF Max Punch is quite a specialised processor, so for those not familiar with it, I've demonstrate its effects on the kick drum in this remix I've bypassed it in this audio example — that way you can compare the sound with that of the KickLFMaxPunchIn file to evaluate the impact of the subharmonics processing.


Where the kick drum used the subharmonic synthesis facilities of Voxengo's LF Max Punch, I applied the same plug-in's low-frequency compression and saturation routines instead for processing the bass. I used 27dB of compression drive to even out the low-frequency balance between the note fundamentals and the string 'thuds', and then added 13dB of saturator drive to provide a meatier subjective sound and better audibility for smaller speaker systems. A couple of EQ boosts from Sonimus SonEQ (a +4dB peak at 925Hz and 2dB of high shelving lift) brought the sound further foward in the mix, but necessitated a further 2kHz low-pass filter to stop the instrument's HF noise components from becoming overbearing.


In this audio example I've again bypassed the action of the bass's Voxengo LF Max Punch plug-in so that you can hear its effect more clearly. Compare this file with BassLFMaxPunchIn.


Here's what the piano track sounded like before any of my mix processing — a full-sounding tone courtesy of Native Instruments' Akoustik virtual grand. Although pleasant enough in its own right, it was way to full-range to fit within the already well-populated 'chorus' sections of this particular production.


Applying some radical EQ and compression to the raw piano sound produced something much less natural-sounding, although that proved to be much more useful within the context of the mix — both in subjective terms by making the sound a bit more lo-fi, and in objective terms by making it easier to place in the mix without suffering from frequency masking problems or masking other important parts itself. The EQ was from Cockos ReaEQ, comprising a 680Hz high-pass filter and a 5.4kHz low-pass filter, and this frequency-bracketed was then passed to an instance of Platinumears' FL4TT3RY2 in its 'peak' detection mode, which knocked off around 10dB of gain with a fairly fast attack and medium release.


Although the piano timbre in the PianoEQCompSolo demonstration file sounds rather thin and lightweight, it doesn't appear this way when heard within the context of the mix, as in this audio example.


For the remix I decided to try to lengthen and widen this short little mono 'tick' sound (part of Igor's main programmed rhythm track) for the sake of textural variety.


To lengthen the 'tick' sound you can hear in the TickNoFX file, I applied a simple high-feedback 'tunnel echo' delay patch from Cockos ReaDelay. The delay time was 18.2ms, with feedback at a level of -7dB relative to the input signal and a 6.2kHz low-pass filter in the feedback path. The effect level was also turned up so that it was actually 7dB louder than the dry signal, which softened the attack of the composite sound slightly.


I used an autopanning preset in Tone Booster's TB_Module plug-in to spread the lengthened tick sound heard in the TickEcho demonstration file across the stereo image. By increasing the modulation speed to its maximum of 10Hz, the autopannning ceased to be perceived as an obvious side-to-side stereo movement, but more as a widening effect. Here I've actually toned down this widening effect slightly using Tone Booster's TB_XYTool (narrowing the mutual angle of the virtual stereo mic rig to 32 degrees), because it felt distractingly wide otherwise.


In this audio file I've soloed the Atmospheric synth ambience track from the final remix. An unusually 'hilly' EQ was applied using Cockos ReaEQ to thin it out, so that it would take up less space in the mix: high-pass filtering at 100Hz; narrow peaking boosts at 190Hz (6dB) and 1.1kHz (8dB); and a 2dB high shelving lift above around 10kHz


If I bypass the Cockos ReaEQ processing from the AtmosEQThinningIn demonstration file, you get sound you can hear in this audio example — thicker and blander, in a way that makes it difficult to balance the sound in the mix without obscuring the details of other more important musical parts.


Here's a section of the final remix showcasing one of the little ride cymbal hits during the production's outro section. I deliberately used a very long, bright reverb (the 'Think Big!' preset from Tone Boosters TB_Reverb plug-in) on this sound to give it a unique character and differentiate it from the main dry synth bass/lead sound.


Without the Tone Boosters TB_Reverb special effect (I've switched it off for this audio example), the ride cymbal doesn't feel like it makes as much of a statement. Don't take my word for it, though — compare this file with the RideReverbIn demonstration and just for yourself!


I used a variety of abstract sampled ambiences during the outro of this production to try to give it a little bit more sonic 'light and shade' and help maintain the listener's interest. For this audio example I've soloed these contributions so that you can hear how I've carefully faded them in and out to give each their moment in the limelight. To hear how they sound within the final remix, check out the SFXInContext file.


Here is a section from the end of the final remix containing a number of added samples from Sample Lab's 'Spatial Awareness library. To hear the samples in isolation, listen to the SFXSolo demonstration file above.


The original mix of Igorski's instrumental track 'Ganymede', as sent in to Mix Rescue by SOS reader Igor Zinken.


My remix of 'Ganymede' using Igor's original multitrack recordings, as well as some additional samples from Sample Lab's 'Spatial Awareness' loop collection.    

Published December 2011