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Mix Rescue: We Fell From The Sky | Media

Mixing & Recording Advice
By Mike Senior

These audio files accompany the Mix Rescue feature that appeared in SOS May 2011.

SnareEQ

Here's my preliminary balance of the band's three raw snare tracks. All I've done in the way of processing thus far is some EQ on their communal group channel: 20Hz high-pass filtering; a fairly narrow 3dB peaking cut at 280Hz; a deep 21dB notch cut at 425Hz (to tame an unpleasant resonance); and a broad 3dB boost at 4.4kHz.

SnareEQClip

For this file I've taken the first step towards increasing the relative sustain level of the snare-drum sound by soft-clipping one of the virtual mic signals with GVST's freeware GClip, in order to take the edge off the transient. Compare this file with the SnareEQ example.

SnareEQClipComp

In this file I've dipped the overall snare transient even further compared to the sustain tail using compression from Cockos ReaComp. The ratio is set at 4:1 (with a hard knee), while the attack, release, and lookahead times are 9ms, 35ms, and 2ms respectively. The gain-reduction meter was reading around 6dB of compression on most hits, and once 6dB of make-up gain had been applied this meant that the overall effect of the processing was to lift the gain of the sustain tails. Compare this file with the SnareEQClip example.

SnareDistSolo

My next snare sustain-enhancement tactic was to use a parallel distortion effect, which you can hear soloed here. The distortion is courtesy of Stillwell Audio's Bad Buss Mojo plug-in, which has been tonally adjusted with a 4dB 1kHz high-shelving cut from DDMF's LP10 plug-in. The attack has been eliminated using a combination of SPL's Transient Designer and a slow-attack setting from Cockos ReaGate. Listen to the SnareEQClipCompDist example file to hear this distortion in the context of the whole snare sound.

SnareEQClipCompDist

Here's the final dry snare sound from the remix, complete with the distortion parallel effect you can hear in the SnareDistSolo file. Compare this with SnareEQClipComp to hear the difference the added distortion channel made, and also with SnareEQ to judge the combined impact of all the sustain-enhancement processes I employed.

OverheadsNoGate

This is how the remixed drum overheads sounded before I rebalanced them with a snare-triggered limited-range gating effect. Notice how the cymbals overpower the snare in the balance.

OverheadsGate

By applying limited-range gating to the drum overheads, triggered from one of the snare-drum close mics, I was able to rebalance them more in favour of the snare drum. The gate's attack, hold, and release times were 3ms, 22ms, and 139ms respectively, and the reduced gating range was implemented by balancing the processor's wet signal 6dB below the dry signal. Even though this made a considerable difference (as you can hear if you compare this file with the OverheadsNoGate example) it still didn't go far enough to really blend the snare with the overall kit sound, hence my decision to add supplementary artificial reverb to the snare.

SnareFXSolo

In order to blend the snare better with the drumkit as a whole, a short reverb from the SSL Duende's X-Verb plug-in was applied. A balance of 60 percent early reflections and 40 percent 350ms reverb tail was used, and the stereo width was also narrowed to better match the picture in the drum overheads. To balance the reverb within the mix, the plug-ins filters were also engaged, focusing the effect's contribution more into the 600Hz-6kHz range. Listen to the SnareEQClipCompDistFX example file to hear this reverb in the context of the whole snare sound.

SnareEQClipCompDistFX

The complete composite snare-drum sound, as it appears in the remix. Compare this with SnareEQClipCompDist to gauge its impact on the snare sound.

BassOrig

Here's the original bass-guitar recording the band submitted to Mix Rescue. Not only is the timing is quite wayward throughout, but there is also a great deal of level/tonal inconsistency between notes. Notice, for example, how the low C and D at 0:18-0:21 leap out compared with the notes immediately before and after. This recording was so problematic, that I decided to replace it with a MIDI part.

BassMIDI

Here's the same section of bass part as you can hear in the BassOrig file, but triggered over MIDI from Native Instruments' Kontakt sample, using its bundled 'Classic Bass' instrument. It's been low-pass filtered at 2.6kHz to leave room for some of the higher frequencies of the original bass part to be mixed in, and then compressed by about 6dB at a 4:1 ratio using Stillwell Audio's The Rocket plug-in so that it's nice and even. A little stereo chorusing has also been added as a send effect from Universal Audio's DM1 Delay Modulator plug-in (running on a UAD2 card), just to widen the image slightly in the mix.

BassProc

In this file you can hear how much of the original bass guitar's sound I mixed in — in other words, not much once I'd band-pass filtered it at 1kHz! I also heavily compressed this channel using Stillwell Audio's The Rocket plug-in, using the Urei 1176-style 'all buttons' mode and hitting the gain-reduction meter's virtual needle against the endstop.

BassFinal

Here's the final bass-guitar sound as it appears in the remix. Compare this to the BassMIDI example to get a idea of how much extra character was added using the processed original recording (isolated in the BassProc file).

GtrsFinalDry

Here are the main dry chorus guitar parts, as they appear in the remix. The main EQ processing comprised high-pass filtering at 110Hz, a gentle 2dB peaking cut at 300Hz, and two other slightly narrower peaking cuts of 3dB at 1.6kHz and 5dB at 4kHz. On top of this, however, I applied two further processes in order to counteract the effects of too much overdrive: a series of eight very narrow EQ peaks (at 378Hz, 400Hz, 756Hz, 800Hz, 1134Hz, 1200Hz, 1512Hz, and 1600Hz) to improve the definition of the notes F# and G; and a gentle eighth-note tremolo effect from U-he's Uhbik-T to provide some extra rhythmic impetus.

GtrsEQNoTrem

This file shows what the guitar sound would have been like without the rhythmic tremolo effect. Compare this with GtrsFinalDry.

GtrsEQNoTrem

This file shows what the guitar sound would have been like without both the narrow peaking-EQ boosts and the rhythmic tremolo effect. Compare this with both GtrsEQNoTrem and GtrsFinalDry.

DrumsUntimed

More than 500 edits were applied to the original drum recording in order to smooth out lumps in the timing. To give an idea of how much of a difference this made to the overall production, here's a section of the final remix where I've replaced my edited versions of the drum recordings with the original unedited takes. Compare this to the DrumsTimed example.

DrumsTimed

Here's the same section of the final remix as you can hear in DrumsUntimed, but with all the timing-correction edits in place.

OriginalMix

The original version of We Fell From The Sky's 'Not You', as mixed by SOS reader Henry Schofield and sent in to Mix Rescue.

Remix

My completed remix of 'Not You', based on Henry's unprocessed multitrack files, but with a little help from the 'Classic Bass' patch in Native Instrument's Kontakt sampler, some REX loops from Nine Volt Audio's Metal Guitars REX loop library, and GSI's Organized Trio Hammond-organ virtual instrument.  

Published May 2011