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Mix Rescue: The Wolf's Head & Vixen Morris Band | Media

Mixing & Recording Advice
Published August 2011

The following audio files accompany the Mix Rescue of Wolfs Head that appeared in SOS August 2011.

The best way to hear for yourself what changes I made in my remix is to download all the audio example WAV files and audition them in your own DAW.


Here's a section of the final remix which showcases the timing and tuning adjustments I applied to aid the blend and rhythmic momentum. The main drum part was quantised, but with a relative timing shift for the pattern's second beat, while the remaining instruments were edited in relation to the drum to varying degrees of tightness — more for the main central guitar part and lead melody, and less for the more subsidiary rhythm instruments and backing melody lines. A similar approach was taken to tuning, using the main guitar part as a reference, and tuning the lead melody fairly tightly to that, while allowing the remaining parts more pitching freedom.


In order to demonstrate the impact of the corrective processing, I've created an alternative version of the same section of the track you can hear in the CorrectionsIn file, but without any of my timing or tuning adjustments in place. Compare it with the CorrectionsIn example, and judge for yourself whether I went too far — or far enough!


Here's the drum part from the final remix, but without any of the global send effect and, more importantly, without the additional subbass synth part I added to fill out the low end of the mix. Compare this with SubmixDrumNoFX to get an idea of what this bit of synth programming added to the mix, and indeed to decide whether it makes the final composite sound feel unnatural or out of keeping with the style.


Here's a section of the final remix, but with the buss compression and send effects all bypassed so that you can hear how the different elements of the rhythm section balance together. The rest of the 'Submix' — prefixed files isolate these elements for closer scrutiny.


The final remixed drum sound, without any send effects. The processing for this part involved two EQ cuts above 1kHz from Cockos ReaEQ, attack/sustain treatments from Georg Yohng's W1 Limiter, SPL's Transient Designer, and Christian Budde's Lightweight Multiband Compressor. In addition, a subbass synth part was layered alongside using Cockos Reaper's internal ReaSynth instrument, in order to fill out the low end.


The dual-miked acoustic guitar layer of SubmixFullNoFX. This was treated with low-pass filtering and high-frequency limiting above 5.5kHz from Cockos Reaper's ReaXcomp to reduce the mechanical noises.


The second single-miked guitar part had been muted for James's original version of the mix, but it seemed to me to have the most useful low end to it, so I ended up using it as the foundation of the rhythm-section sound. Beyond gently encouraging the sound into the sub-200Hz and 1-2kHz regions with Cockos ReaEQ, I also reduced some pick/fret noises with high-frequency limiting in Cockos Reaper's bundled ReaXcomp multi-band dynamics plug-in as well as some transient processing from SPL's Transient Designer. A final tweak came from the Platinumears IQ4 dynamic EQ, which helped even out an inconsistent body resonance from the instrument.


The mandolin and bazouki layers of the SubmixFullNoFX sound can be heard in this audio example. These were both focused into the 1-2kHz zone using Cockos ReaEQ, while SPL's Transient Designer reined in some slightly over-spiky picking transients.


This is submix of all the guitar parts taken from the final remix. A great deal of corrective processing was applied to reduce unwanted mechanical noises such as overbearing pick transients and fret squeaks — EQ, multi-band limiting, specialised transient processing. Compare this file with GuitarNoisesOut to hear what the sound would have been like without these measures.


For comparison with GuitarNoisesIn, this file shows how the guitars would have sounded had I not applied some fairly drastic mix processing to rein in the unwanted mechanical noises within the raw recordings.


Two of the lead melody instruments and one of the guitars were widened slightly using a dual pitch-shifted delay patch involving delays of 11ms and 13ms in the left and right channels respectively, the shorter delay shifted downwards by five cents, the longer delay shifted upwards by five cents. Listen to the FullMixFX audio file to hear it in context.


This is the shorter of the two reverbs that were used to create the final remix, created using the great donationware Smartelectronix Ambience plug-in with a Decay Time of only 150ms and Predelay set to 14ms. Cockos ReaEQ was applied in this return channel to roll off the low end below about 200Hz, and also to cut a couple of decibels at 330Hz so that the low midrange didn't cloud over too much. Listen to the FullMixFX audio file to hear it in context.


The second reverb came courtesy of the 'Big Bright Hall' preset in Universal Audio's RealVerb Pro. Normally I tweak presets to some extent, but in this case it did the job it needed to without any parameter adjustment at all — albeit with some additional sub-500Hz roll-off filtering from Cockos ReaEQ in the return channel. Listen to the FullMixFX audio file to hear it in context.


The final global send effect used in this remix was a simple stereo tempo-sync'ed delay patch, which just provided a little extra sustain for the guitar parts without washing out the mix with too much reverb. The delay itself was a simple eighth-note single-tap from Cockos Reaper's bundled ReaDelay plug-in, although I did reverse the stereo picture of this echo to add a subtle stereo enhancement. Equalising the return channel here was more involved than with the other send effects, so that the sustain enhancement would only operate in the most suitable frequency ranges: with Cockos ReaEQ I applied high-pass and low-pass filters at 55Hz and 9kHz respectively, and then a further 3dB of peaking cut at 330Hz. Listen to the FullMixFX audio file to hear it in context.


Here's a section of the final remix, without any of the send effects or buss compression. Compare this with the FullMixFX example to hear how much difference the send effects made to fullness and blend of the final sound.


A section of my final remix without any buss compression. Compare with FullMixFXPlusBussComp to hear the way in which the master-channel dynamics processing helped 'glue' the mix together.


This file is identical to the FullMixFX example, with the exception that it also incorporates the master-buss compression from Universal Audio's Neve 33609 compressor plug-in. This was set up with a low 1.5:1 ratio and automatic release time for a gentle gain-change action. The gain reduction metre never registered more than 2dB of gain reduction, despite the significant 'mix glue' effect.


The original mix of the Wolfs Head & Vixen Morris Band's tune 'Lament', as sent in to Mix Rescue by SOS reader James Rycroft.


My remix of James's raw recordings using Cockos Reaper and a selection of third-party plug-ins.