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Mix Rescue: James Elder & Mark M Thompson | Audio Files

Hear For Yourself By Mike Senior
Published February 2009

Adding character to a vocal with transformer emulations, multing instrument parts to vary the effects throughout the song, and tweaking the arrangement... There are no limits to a Mix Rescuer's job!

LV_VsUnprocessed Audio icon lvvsunprocessed.mp3 File lvvsunprocessed.wav

This is the lead vocal part as it came out of the back of Melodyne following some pitch correction. In particular you can hear quite a lot of proximity effect and a rather muffled tone.

LV_VsDryWithNeve Audio icon lvvsdrywithneve.mp3 File lvvsdrywithneve.wav

This is the same vocal part processed with a selection of different insert effects for the remix. Waves Renaissance EQ provided some initial low cut from 265Hz before the signal reached the Waves Renaissance Vox, which used up to 18dB of gain reduction to even out the vocal levels. Following this was the Waves VEQ4 (an emulated Neve EQ design) which brightened the overall spectrum by applying 2dB peaking cut at 470Hz, 2dB peaking boost at 1.5kHz, and 5dB high shelving boost from 15kHz. These processes had the effect of emphasising the sibilance unduly, so some final processing with Waves De-esser took the edge off this.

LV_VsDryNoNeve Audio icon lvvsdrynoneve.mp3 File lvvsdrynoneve.wav

This audio file is the same as LV_VsDryWithNeve, but with the Waves VEQ4 processing bypassed, so that you can hear how this plug-in not only adjusted the frequency balance, but also changed the tone through its beneficial distortion characteristics.

LV_VsWet Audio icon lvvswet.mp3 File lvvswet.wav

A short ambience and a stereo widener patch (based on dual pitch-shifted delays) were used to provide some blend and width for the vocal part without adding any obvious reverb tail. Both of these effects were high-pass filtered from 1kHz or so to make them act as high-frequency enhancement, and their sends were heavily de-essed to avoid drawing any attention to sibilants, which were already being emphasised by the vocal's insert processing.

LV_ChDryWithTessla Audio icon lvchdrywithtessla.mp3 File lvchdrywithtessla.wav

Even without their send effect, the chorus vocals were already given quite a different sound using their insert processing. This comprised several low-frequency cuts from Reaper's built-in ReaEQ and Bootsy's freeware BootEQ; fast, bright 12:1 compression from Stillwell Audio's aggressive-sounding The Rocket compressor; some emulated transformer distortion from Bootsy's freeware Tessla SE; some sibilance reduction from Waves De-esser; and finally some more overall gain riding from Antress Modern's Modern Painkiller.

LV_ChDryNoTessla Audio icon lvchdrynotessla.mp3 File lvchdrynotessla.wav

Again, to demonstrate the effect of the transformer distortion on this vocal sound, I've bypassed it here compared with the LV_ChDryWithTessla file.

LV_ChNoDelay Audio icon lvchnodelay.mp3 File lvchnodelay.wav

Here I've added in the short reverb and delay patches I used to introduce a slighly more ambient feel and make the vocals seem more 'shouty', for want of a better word. Christian Knufinke's SIR2 plug-in provided the reverb, a miniscule 0.2s impulse response from an old Lexicon PCM60 hardware unit, while The Interruptor's Tape Delay provided a slightly crusty-sounding slapback which was distinct enough to avoid pulling the vocals too far back in the mix.

LV_ChDuckingDelay Audio icon lvchduckingdelay.mp3 File lvchduckingdelay.wav

The obvious tempo-related delay in the choruses was set up so that it was ducked by the lead vocal itself. This avoided the delay repeats interfering too much with the intelligibility of the vocal lyrics, while still allowing the delay repeats to bubbled up during gaps in the delivery. The ducking was achieved using a side-chain-triggered compressor (Reaper's built-in ReaComp) in the send effect's return channel.

LV_ChNormalDelay Audio icon lvchnormaldelay.mp3 File lvchnormaldelay.wav

Here I've taken LV_DuckingDelay and removed the ducker from the delay-effect's return channel, so that you can hear how cluttered the texture would have become had it not been there.

KickNoTransX Audio icon kicknotransx.mp3 File kicknotransx.wav

Here is the kick-drum sample I selected from Sample Lab's all-purpose Drum Fundamentals one-shot library in order to replace the kick-drum sound in the song. While I liked its general tone and attack, it was missing some low-end punch. However, just adding low-frequency EQ boost wasn't a remedy, as that just made it flap around flabbily.

KickWithTransX Audio icon kickwithtransx.mp3 File kickwithtransx.wav

Using the Waves TransX Multi transient shaper plug-in, I added a low-end boost only during the sample's transient phase, which gave me the extra 'oomph' I was looking for, while still keeping the sound as a whole nice and tight.

KickPlusSynthDucking Audio icon kickplussynthducking.mp3 File kickplussynthducking.wav

Here are the kick-drum and main rhythm synth parts running at the same time, but with the kick-drum hits rhythmically ducking the synth to create the impression of extra loudness -- a common tactic in dance music.

KickPlusSynth Audio icon kickplussynth.mp3 File kickplussynth.wav

This file shows how the mix of the kick-drum and rhythm synth parts in KickPlusSynthDucking would have sounded had the interactive ducking not been active.

KickPlusGtrsPumping Audio icon kickplusgtrspumping.mp3 File kickplusgtrspumping.wav

In a similar manner the kick drum was used to increase the level of the main chorus electric guitars during each drum hit. This meant that the guitars reinforced the rhythmic groove better, and were still able to create an impact despite taking up less actual space in the mix. The way this effect was achieved was to send the guitar signals to a gate triggered (via its side-chain) from the kick drum, and then mixing this send effect in with the main guitar tracks.

KickPlusGtrs Audio icon kickplusgtrs.mp3 File kickplusgtrs.wav

This is what KickPlusGtrsPumping would have sounded like had I wanted the same guitar impact without using the kick-triggered gating -- the guitar level overall would have had to have been much higher overall, leaving less space in the mix overall.

OriginalMix Audio icon originalmix-0209.mp3 File originalmix-0209.wav

The original mix of James Elder's 'The English Actor' which SOS reader Mark M Thompson sent in to Mix Rescue.

Remix Audio icon remix-0209.mp3 File remix-0209.wav

The same song remixed from the same original multitrack files, and with some additional special effects here are there from Heavyocity's Evolve Kontakt Instrument.