Audio files to accompany the article.
Mix Rescue: Nerve 9 Audio Examples
The audio files available on this page accompany the Mix Rescue column for SOS March 2015 ([URL]), featuring the song ‘Pray For The Rain’ by the band Nerve 9. 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 also download both the raw multitrack files and my full Steinberg Cubase remix project from the Mixing Secrets Free Multitrack Download Library at www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-mtk.htm#Nerve9.
Here’s what the remixed snare channels sounded like before any sustain-enhancement processing. There are two channels mixed together: the first is a live snare close mic which I’ve gently high-pass filtered below about 350Hz and then gated to remove spill from the nearby hi-hat; the second is a triggered sample, also gated, but this time to get rid of a strange harshness and some unwanted noise towards the end of its sustain tail.
To achieve greater sustain, I inserted an instance of LSR Audio’s Dynamics Detail plug-in (with a 93 percent sustain setting) on the live snare track and an instance of the Sonalksis SV315Mk2 compressor on the overall snare buss. The latter was set with a 3.5:1 ratio and registered about 8-12dB gain reduction per hit, with attack and release times set at 1ms and 50ms respectively. Compare this file with SnareSus01-BalanceEQGate to hear the difference these two dynamics processors made.
In addition to the dynamics processing, I thickened the snare sustain using reverb from Overloud’s Breverb. Having found a promising-sounding preset by ear — ‘Snare Start’ in this case, as it happened, which was usefully unnatural-sounding and would therefore be less likely to distance the sound unduly. I reduced the effect’s dry level to zero, given that I was using it as a send effect, and then lengthened the reverb time to 1.86s for more sustain. Wet-output pan controls were provided, so I also narrowed the effect’s width by around a third to prevent it becoming too dislocated from the dry sound in the mix. For further tonal contouring I switched in the return-channel’s built-in EQ, with which I high-pass filtered at 110Hz, cut 3dB with a gentle-slope low shelf at 220Hz, and notched out an unwanted resonance at 215Hz with a narrow 7dB peaking cut.
This audio example demonstrates the basic studio reverb sound I used for the drums as a whole. Starting from Overloud Breverb’s ‘Drums Smooth’ preset, I once again zeroed the Dry Level and then increased the Reverb Time to 3.3s, as well as increasing the early-reflections level and adding 64ms of predelay to the reverb tail. For tonal shaping I adjusted the early-reflections Color parameter and increased the High Cut fader to 10kHz before working further with EQ: an instance of Eareckon’s freeware FR-Equa 87 applied a broad 11dB low-band cut at 155Hz, and the return channel’s built-in Cubase EQ applied a narrow, deep notch at 1.24kHz and a little taming of the high end with a 2dB cut at 12kHz.
Although I liked the way the reverb showcased in the DrumsSpace01-DelayOut sounded, I wanted it to have more sustain. However, I didn’t like the way the sound became over-dense and rather clouded tonally if I just increased the reverb time, as you can hear in this example.
Given that increasing the reverb time wasn’t achieving the results I’d hoped for, I decided instead to keep the reverb time shorter and instead precede the Overloud Breverb instance with a simple feedback delay from Cubase’s Mono Delay plug-in — which, despite its name also passes stereo signals (it’s just that it only offers a single common delay setting for both channels). This I set up for an eighth-note echo at 40 percent feedback, then used the Mix control to extend the apparent reverb time without making an obviously audible echo trail. Compare this with the DrumsSpace02-DelayOutLonger audio example to hear how much clearer this sounds, despite the extra sustain.
The following examples demonstrate four of the different delay treatments I used to create variety from section to section within the remix. This first one showcases the opening remixed guitar sound, which has a bandpass-filtered auto-panning delay with low feedback and a half-note triplet delay time (courtesy of Cubase’s flexible Mod Machine plug-in), the output of which is then fed to Cubase’s Phaser plug-in, which applies a wide, deep, but slow (0.2Hz) stereo modulation. To hear the effects in isolation (ie. without the dry guitar signal), check out the GtrsFX01-Intro audio example which follows.
In this file you can hear the send effects from the GtrFX01-Intro example without the dry signal, which makes it easier to hear their unique characteristics.
Here’s a section of the main verse guitar part, as heard in the final remix. The complex delay effect here is comprised of several different plug-ins. As inserts on the guitar channel itself there are a half-note high-feedback delay from a bundled Cubase plug-in, which in turn feeds an four-tap chorus-style patch within Lexicon’s Random Delay plug-in (fairly subtly applied, though, with a Mix Level of just 10 percent). From the main channel, there are then two send effects. The first is a stereo ping-pong delay set to a quarter-note triplet length with 40 percent feedback; the second an envelope-triggered chorus patch from Fabfilter’s Timeless 2.
You can hear the internal details of the verse guitar part’s delay effects in this audio example, where the dry signal has been removed from the GtrsFX02-Verse file.
The only delay effect that was applied to more than one guitar is a widening and blending effect used during the song’s chorus sections. The delay is a simple stereo one-tap 100ms slapback patch from Lexicon’s Dual Delay plug-in, but the sends to this effect have been panned to the opposite side of the panorama to the dry signal’s pan position. This means that each guitar’s delay return overlaps with other guitar parts in the stereo field, lending the whole texture a bit more coherence.
Here’s just the effects return from the Lexicon Dual Delay plug-in mentioned in relation to the GtrsFX03-Chorus audio example above. It should now be a lot easier to hear the opposition panning, as well as the tonal impact of the 2.7kHz low-pass filter built into the delay patch.
The guitar solo’s main delay effect was from Cubase’s Stereo Delay plug-in, the left and right channels of which were set up for an eighth-note delay, but with an 8ms offset between them, as a result of which the delay repeats become rather wide and unstable, especially as they feedback into themselves. In addition to this, Fabfilter’s Timeless 2 is applying a wide, slow stereo chorus not only to the delay return, but also to the dry signal. Finally, a little of the drums reverb is also being added to make the result sound a bit more epic!
Here’s what the guitar solo sounds like without the dry guitar signal. Notice in this case how much of the final remixed guitar sound is actually effects.
For this example, I’ve edited together all the most important sections of the remix’s synth arrangement, complete with the five additional layers I added using Cubase’s Mystic and Schwa’s Olga virtual instruments.
This example features exactly the same sections of the remix as in the KeysAdds01-AddsIn file, but I’ve just muted all my added layers to demonstrate how much less variety and atmosphere there would have been without them. To hear the differences more clearly, import both files into your DAW software and line them up side by side so you can switch between them on the fly.
Here’s Thomas Stevenson’s original mix of the song “Pray For The Rain” by his band Nerve 9. The mix was carried out in Steinberg’s Cubase, hence my decision to use that same DAW platform for my remix.
This is my remix of ‘Pray For The Rain’, carried out in Steinberg Cubase 7 with the help of third-party plug-ins from Cytomic, Eareckon, Fabfilter, Focusrite, IK Multimedia, Izotope, Lexicon, LSR Audio, Melda, Overloud, Schwa, Softube, Stillwell Audio, Sonalksis, Toneboosters, and Voxengo. I also rerecorded the lead vocal (as discussed in the December 2014 Session Notes column) and added a backing-vocal arrangement in collaboration with the band; and added a few additional samples and synth layers to boot.