Here is a selection of audio files to accompany this month’s Mix Rescue of Jay Menon’s ballad ‘Through My Eyes’. You can listen to these as MP3s in the media player in the main article (www.soundonsound.com/sos/jan10/articles/mixrescue_0110.htm) or can download from this page as CD-quality WAVs for more critical auditioning in your DAW.
This is part of the original snare close-mic track that Jay supplied, generated by Toontrack's EZ Drummer using its Nashville expansion pack. As with many multitrack drum virtual instruments, the drum's transient was very prominent, and while this might have suited a more uptempo song, here it was too sharp-sounding for its more background role in this song.
The first thing I tried in order to tame the snare close mic's transient was inserting an instance of Jeroen Breebaart's freeware VST tape-emulation plug-in Ferox. I called up its 'High Quality Tape' preset and experimented with the drive level to round of some of the spike, but there was only so far I could go before the tone of the drum itself began to change for the worse.
To take the snare transient reduction further, I followed the Ferox plug-in with GVST's GClip, and variable soft/hard clipping algorithm. I set the clipping point to catch just the highest level peaks, and then increased the Softness control until I had managed to smooth out the sound as much as I wanted.
This is the sound of the basic final drum balance, with some basic channel EQ from Reaper's ReaEQ and Universal Audio's 1073; some transient control from Jeroen Breebaart's Ferox, GVST's GClip, and Reaper's Jesusonic Transient Controller; and a 'micro-reverb' insert effect (running in Christian Knufinke's SIR2 convolution engine) on the hi-hat track to meld its sound with the overheads. You can also hear the extra cymbal mallet rolls I added underneath.
To glue the drums together and give them more sustain I sent a mix of them to Universal Audio's Neve 33609 compressor/limiter plug-in and returned the compressed signal to the mix -- a type of parallel compression technique. The 33609 was set up with a combination of 4:1 compression and fast attack, fast release limiting so that it would flatten the transients out of the processed signal, thereby adding mostly sustain compenents to the full mix. Compare this file to DrumsBalance in your sequencer to hear the differences most clearly.
A moderate hall ambience also glued the drums together, as well as added a sense of larger space around the kit. This reverb was again running from an impulse response in SIR2, although I carefully EQ'd some low end and high end out of the return channel to keep the effect fairly well controlled and comparatively unobtrusive. Compare this file with DrumsParaComp to hear the impact of this particular effect.
A final touch to the main drum sound was to add a more expansive snare/side-stick reverb tail in keeping with the style. This was another impulse response running in SIR2, but as usual I tweaked it to make it more suitable, filtering off a lot of low end, stretching the 2.2s impulse file to 2.7s to increase the reverb decay time, and adding about 20ms predelay to avoid phasing altering the drum's tone unduly. A/B this file side by side with DrumsParaCompAmb to hear the contribution this additional reverb made to the mix.
This file shows how the drums and bass sound within the final mix, complete with their channel processing and all additional global send effects.
Compare this file with DrumsWithBassFX to hear the impact of the bass send effects. These comprised a short 0.3s ambience reverb high-pass filtered above about 600Hz and adjust via the SIR2 convolution plug-in's M&S processing for a subtle increase in the instrument's stereo width; and an instance of Kjaerhus Audio's freeware Classic Chorus high-pass filtered below 300Hz with very slow, subtle modulation.
This is the return signal (effect-only) from one of the remix project's three main global reverbs, a long hall patch running SIR2 and designed to provide an overall warm-sounding acoustic environment for the song as a whole. This raw sound was tweaked by rolling off clutter below 200Hz; softening the reverb onset and widening the stereo image with SIR2's envelope controls and Stereo IR knob; and adding 48ms of predelay to keep the direct sounds upfront. An instance of Digital Fishphones Spitfish de-esser was employed on the reverb send to avoid distracting high-frequency reverb 'ricochets' from percussion, guitar mechanical noises, and and vocal sibilants.
By contrast with the spacious, full-spectrum effect you can hear in the ReverbReturnLongSoftHall example, the other main long reverb was designed to add sustain to the upper midrange of the vocals, guitars, and piano. A 3.5s simulated plate impulse response in SIR2 did the honours, but filtered quite aggressively to isolate the 1-5kHz region. Again a reasonable 16ms predelay and an instance of the Spitfish de-esser helped keep the reverb firmly in the background.
A shorter plate reverb (which you can hear soloed in this example) was also used to fill out the tone of some of the instruments, most notably the piano, and this effect came from Universal Audio's Plate 140 plug-in. However, because I didn't want either too much reverb tail, width, of frequency extremes in the effect return, I used the plug-in's controls to adjust all of these attributes to taste. This reverb was already so warm-sounding that no de-essing of the reverb send seemed necessary.
For this example I've soloed the vocal track for the first section of the song so that you can more clearly hear the way that the send-effect levels are being automated in response to the changing arrangement. Out of context, these effect-level rides sound a bit strange, but if you listen to them in the context of the full remix they make a lot more sense.
To highlight the automation of the vocal effect sends more clearly, I've soloed them for this file, so you're hearing no dry vocal signal at all. Compare this with the VoxAutoFX and Remix example files.
The send effects are more important to the sound of this mix than in many of the others that have been submitted for Mix Rescue. To give you an idea of their contribution to the final result, here's a version of the final remix almost all the send effects muted. If you A/B this against the Remix example file within your sequencer you'll most clearly hear the differences most clearly.
The pad synths which play pretty much throughout the track also perform an important role in warming up the production sound, so here's another version of the remix without these, again for comparison with the Remix example file.
Here's Jay Menon's original mix of his song 'Through My Eyes', as he sent it in mix rescue.
My final remix. This is based on the same multitrack files as Jay used, although I also added in a handful of surreptitious bits of 'fairy dust': a few modulated pads in the intro; a supplementary string line in the second verse; a bit of low piano texture during the nylon guitar solo; and some soft cymbal mallet-roll swells.