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Mix Rescue: Pocket Lips | Media

Audio files to accompany the article.
Published December 2008

The over-snare close mic track without any processing -- there's a nice pronounced attack transient, but little in the way of body or sustain to give the instrument power in such a busy mix.

The same track with heavy processing aimed at lengthening the amplitude envelope of the snare hits and bringing them forward in the mix: tube overdrive and limiting from from Silverspike's Ruby Tube; EQ boosts at 820Hz and 8kHz with Stillwell Audio's Vibe EQ plug-in; and a dose of Aphex-style psychoacoustic enhancer.

A combination of parallel compression (created using Buzzroom's Grancomp plug-in within Cockos Reaper's sophisticated internal effects-routing system) and heavy emulated tape saturation (from Jeroen Breebaart's Ferox) was used to add warmth to the overall drumkit buss.

Without the parallel compression and tape saturation processing (as used in the final remix) the drum balance feels rather cold and empty, with excessive transient spikes.

Here's a section of the final mix (without the vocals) to show how simply editing out the bass and synth parts during the double-snare drum hook helps it pop forward in the mix. Compare this with the SnareFillNoEdit example file.

When the bass and synth parts continue uninterrupted underneath the snare fill, it doesn't come through as clearly or sound as upfront. (Compare with the SnareFillWithEdit example file to hear the difference.)

The raw recording of the filtered bass synth layer, coming from an Access Virus keyboard. The extreme low end of this synth was unnecessary because of the existance of a separate subbass track, and the upper frequency balance varied wildly as the filter swept, making it difficult to find a consistent mix level.

The filtered Virus synth patch was high-pass filtered and EQ'd using Stillwell Audio's Vibe EQ and 1973 equaliser plug-ins, as well as being treated with distortion care of Silverspike's Rubytube valve limiter plug-in.

The Bass guitar's cab was recorded live alongside the drums, but with good separation. Again, the extreme low end of the sound was unnecessary given the separate subbass synth track, but otherwise the sound had a lot of character.

Some equalisation from Cockos Reaper's built-in ReaEQ plug-in and from the Antress Modern Booster (apparently modelled on SSL console circuitry) helped focus the sound into the 1kHz region, where it could cut through the rest of the arrangement.

One of the two lead vocal recordings, in its edited form, but without any further processing. Because the mic was handheld, you can hear that many of the consonants cause uncontrolled low-frequency peaks. The Shure SM58 mic used is also lacking in sensitivity when it comes to the important 'air' frequencies.

Two dynamics processors were used to even out the vocal levels: the URS Console Strip Pro plug-in and George Yohng's freeware W1 limiter (apparently a similar algorithm to the Waves L1). Some filtering and EQ was used in Console Strip Pro to rein in the subbass energy and add air with a shelving boost at 17kHz. The added high frequencies did, however, overemphasise the vocal sibilants, so these were taken in hand using Digital Fishphones' Spitfish.

This is the horns sample used for the middle section of the song, without any processing, and it sounds rather small and one-dimensional in its raw state.

The middle-section horns sample was treated with Silverspike's great little Room Machine 844 room simulator to give it a sense of real dimension, and was also treated with Cockos Reaper's internal Dirtsqueeze and Exciter plug-ins to control the dynamics and bring the sound more to the front of the mix.

In order to demonstrate the contribution of the Silverspike Room Machine 844 room-simulation plug-in to the overall sound of the middle-section horns sample, I've switched it off for this file so that you can compare the sound with the SampleProcessed audio file.

The mix of their track 'Rock Show' that Pocket Lips sent in to Mix Rescue.

My final remix of the same song, using not only the original multitrack files, but also some extra material that the band recorded in response to my first-draft remix.