Check out the audio files that accompany our SOS November 2019 Mix Rescue article about Stem-Mixing/Mastering.
Derecho (www.derecho.band/music) are an award-nominated, female-fronted rock band from East Anglia. They've already put out two studio albums and two EPs, and a new release is set for November 2019. The band have toured extensively and are followed by an enthusiastic international fan base. Their influences are wide-ranging: you'll hear echoes of Kate Bush, Siouxsie Sioux and Evanescence in singer/songwriter Jo Ash's vocals, and classic and heavy rock chops from the experienced backline of guitarist Mike Wheatley, bass player Steve Banks and drummer Mike Ellis.
Download the ZIP and inside you'll find the hi-res WAV files that accompany my Mix Rescue article about Stem-Mixing-Mastering in SOS November 2019. In the article, I explain how I stem-mixed/mastered a 10-track album for rock band Derecho — and thanks to Derecho for their kind permission to share these audio clips!
I was given 4-6 stereo ‘stems’ for each song, rather than the traditional stereo mix used for mastering, or multitracks used for mixing. Typically, I had separate files for: drums, bass, guitars, keyboards and vocals. These examples, taken from the song ‘Mountains’ are of each stem and the whole mix before and after my mix processing.
01_Full Mix Before
My starting point — a bounce of the stems for ‘Mountains’ before I set to work.
02_Full Mix After
The final mix/master. As you can (hopefully!) hear, the difference is more dramatic than with typical mastering of a stereo mix.
The stereo drums stem before my processing.
The drums stem result. Most work involved EQ — cutting around 390Hz combined with a generous boost around 80Hz and two different stages of brightening: a boost at 5.6kHz with the Soundtoys Sie-Q plug-in, and some high-frequency shelving on the master bus.
The original bass guitar stem.
The processes bass: EQ-wise, there were small cuts at 80Hz and 281Hz to help it sit with the low end of the drums and the guitar, and a boost at 2kHz to add clarity. Pro Tools’ Sans-Amp plug-in adds a tiny bit of grit, while Waves Rbass just fills out the lower-end a touch.
The guitar stem prior to mixing/mastering.
The guitar processing was mainly focused on making the track as a whole feel a bit wider and more expansive. As I explained in the article, this was achieved using a combination of the SoundToys Microshift and Ozone Imager plug-ins. A touch of 3.5kHz EQ also brighten things a bit.
The original vocal stem. Notice how the effects are all very clearly defined.
Very little work was needed on the vocals other than adding a little ‘air’ EQ and some high-pass filtering around 100Hz. I did, however, use the Oeksound’s Soothe plug-in, which tries automatically to tame any harsh resonances in a user-specified range.