These audio examples accompany the Mix Rescue feature in Sound On Sound October 2021.
For hi-res WAV files, download the ZIP file and audition them in your own DAW.
As you can hear, this ended up being more than just a remix! In Kirsty Cooke’s original mix, the lead vocal is too loud, especially after the one-minute mark, and there are a lot of distracting breaths, sibilants and other artifacts. Meanwhile, the piano and other backing elements tend to fade into the background.
Piano and strings original.wav
Piano and strings new.wav
These two files showcase just the piano and strings in each version. As you can hear, the original piano sound was muddy and very reverberant, which tended to push it to the back of the mix. The strings suffered a similar fate for a different reason: the arrangement is static and focused on the lower registers of the instruments. The new arrangement has more motion and upper-register interest, and stands out a lot more even at a similar level in the mix.
Lead vocal raw.wav
Lead vocal processed.wav
Kirsty’s excellent vocals had been recorded on a handheld mic. Although the performance was great, this gave rise to some problems. In the first of these two files you can hear how the recorded vocal level changes abruptly, for instance in the words ‘did’ and ‘soundtrack’; the over-prominent breaths and other artifacts are also obvious.
Backing vocal treatments.wav
To add interest, each group of backing vocals was treated as a different entity and creative processing was applied to tailor the sound. Here, I’ve stitched together five different sections of backing vocal so you can hear some of the effects that were used.