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Mix Rescue: Young Griffo | Media

Mixing & Recording Advice

These audio files, downloadable in WAV and MP3 formats, accompany the Mix Rescue feature in SOS October 2011. For critical listening, we recommend downloading the WAV files and auditioning them in your DAW.

GtrPhaseAdjustIn

Here's the basic chorus-section guitar tone used in the final remix, and was built from three separate mic signals, two from a Vox amp and one from an Orange amp. Polarity inversion and variable phase manipulation (courtesy of Audiocation's freeware Phase plug-in) were both employed in conjunction with EQ (from Cockos ReaEQ and Sonimus SonEQ) to create a solid and appropriate guitar tone for the mix.

GtrPhaseAdjustOut

The only difference between this audio example and the GtrPhaseAdjustIn file is that here I've removed all the phase and polarity adjustments, so that you can get an idea of the enormous impact that these mix tweaks made on the final sound.

Snr00_Raw

This is the sound of the raw snare close-mic recording. While it's by no means a bad recording, the close positioning has inevitably emphasised the attack and pitched resonance characteristics of the sound. What the sound still needed was lots of noisy sustain to compete with the guitars in the aggressive chorus-section texture, and the subsequent Snr audio files demonstrate the steps I went through to achieve this.

Snr01_Comp

Following a 100Hz high-pass filter from Cockos ReaEQ to reduce kick spill, I first slammed the signal into Audiocation's freeware AC1 compressor at an 8:1 ratio, using 33 microseconds of attack and 8ms of release. This pulled the attack of the drum right down in the balance compared with the instrument's sustain tail.

Snr02_CompDist

Distortion was then added from Digital Fishphones's freeware THD plug-in to add density to the sound's upper harmonics, and a little tonal shaping was then applied with wide peaking filters in instance of Cockos ReaEQ: +3dB at 340Hz and -2dB at 5kHz. Notice, however, that the cymbal spill on this mic is now being unduly emphasised on account of the heavy compression and distortion processing.

Snr03_CompDistGate

In order to reduce the obtrusive cymbal spill, I gated the track pre-compression using Cockos ReaGate, using a 1ms attack time and a gating range of roughly 11dB. The release time was then set to 450ms, but was reduced under automation control on occasion to stop specific cymbal hits from breaking through and disturbing the overall balance, down as far as 90ms in some cases.

Snr04_CompDistGateBuzz

A little additional high-frequency density was secured by using the supplied undersnare microphone, as you can hear in this example. Have a listen to the Snr05_BuzzSolo file to hear this signal on its own.

Snr05_BuzzSolo

Here's the undersnare mic, as it appears in the final remix. The processing comprised high-pass filtering at 865Hz from Cockos ReaEQ; gating from Platinumears G8 plug-in, deliberately using an attack time of 6.5ms to smooth off the initial attack; and some hefty EQ cuts at 1.6kHz and 2.8kHz from Audiocation's ACQ plug-in.

Snr06_CompDistGateBuzzVerb1

Now the processed close-mic was passed through Christian Knufinke's SIR2 convolution engine running an impulse response of an upright piano's pitched resonances (with the dampers lifted). I used this to introduce a little more overall pitched resonance into the sound, lengthening the sustain and giving the sound a bit more of a clangy tone which felt more in keeping with the genre.

Snr07_CompDistGateBuzzVerb2

In addition to the convolution reverb, I also added a more extrovert sustain-enhancing reverb from Antress Modern's freeware Flashverb plug-in. This isn't the most natural-sounding, but it works in context to increase the decay and stereo spread of the snare in the mix. It did need deep EQ notches at 340Hz and 1.1kHz in the effect return, though, to avoid some unpleasant tonal colorations creeping in.

Snr08_CompDistGateBuzzVerbEQ

This is the close miked snare sound as it appears in the remix. Compare this with the Snr00_Raw file to hear quite how far this is sonically from the original raw recording!

OverheadsRaw

The original drum overheads recording presented two separate mixing problems, as you can hear in this audio example. The first problem was that very little usable snare-drum ambience had been captured, and this was one of the reasons such heavy processing was required on the snare-drum close mic (as demonstrated in the preceding audio files). The second issue was that the left cymbal in particular was very out of phase, such that it suffered tremendously in mono.

OverheadsPhaseAdjust

The mono-compatibility of the stereo overheads was improved a little using an instance of Audiocation's Phase plug-in to adjust the phase of just the left channel by 90 degrees. This reduced the sense that the left-hand cymbals was position 'outside the speakers', and reduced the degree of phase-cancellation in mono to an extent, but still not as far as I wanted.

OverheadsPhaseAdjustNarrow

To create a better compromise between the stereo and mono overheads balances, I narrowed the stereo image of the overheads using Voxengo's freeware MSED plug-in to shave 4dB off the stereo signal's Sides component. It was because this coloured the tone of the cymbals undesirably that I decided that I needed to add some extra cymbal samples to the final mix to improve their perceived fidelity.

MixAdditionsCymbals

These are the cymbal samples I added over one of the songs choruses to make the drums appear more hi-fi, given the phase problems with the overheads recordings. Both samples were very heavily compressed to isolate their sustain, and a deep 7dB peaking cut was also applied at 4.7kHz to avoid adding harshness in this critical frequency band. To hear them in the context of the final mix, listen to the MixAdditionsIn example file.

MixAdditionsBigBadGtrs

To fill out the combined bass/guitar tone during the song's choruses, I added in some double-tracked powerchord samples from Nine Volt Audio's Big Bad Guitars REX loop library. These were edited to fit extremely closely with the bass-guitar line, and carefully processed to avoid them drawing direct attention to themselves in the mix. This was partly achieved using Voxengo's MSED to narrow their stereo image slightly inside that of the main rhythm guitars, and partly by using Cockos ReaQ to recess any frequencies that were interfering with other parts or poking out of the mix too far: high-pass filtering at 180Hz, a fairly narrow 6dB peaking cut at 4.1kHz, and a low-pass filter at 4.9kHz. To hear how these samples fitted into the final mix, check out the MixAdditionsIn example file.

MixAdditionsLVDTIn

This is the complete vocal sound from the choruses of this month's Mix Rescue remix. The lead vocal is passing through Sonimus SonEQ (which is adding 5dB of 1.1kHz and 5dB of 15kHz as well as some preamp drive), Bootsy's Density v1 (knocking 12dB off at a 6:1 ratio in Serial mode, with the Fast Attack and Transformer switches enabled), Digital Fishphones's Spitfish de-esser, and Cockos ReaEQ (cutting 4dB at 470Hz and 2dB at 7kHz). Send effects included a short fizzy gated hall reverb from Voxengo's Analogflux Impulse plug-in for HF enhancement; a pitch-shifted delay patch for stereo widening; and a stereo tempo-sync'ed feedback delay. Layered at a low level under the lead vocal is a very tightly edited double-track (edited from another chorus) which serves to thicken the sound without giving the impression of two singers performing. To hear how this vocal sounds within the final mix, check out the MixAdditionsIn example file.

MixAdditionsLVDTOut

To demonstrate how much of a difference the double-track had on the final lead-vocal tone during the song's choruses, I've muted it for this audio example. Compare this with the MixAdditionsLVDTIn example file.

MixAdditionsAllIn

This file shows how the various surreptitious mix 'additives' showcased in the MixAdditionsCymbals, MixAdditionsBigBadGtrs, and MixAdditionsLVDT files sounded within the context of the final mix.

MixAdditionsAllOut

Here's what the chorus section in the MixAdditionAllIn example file would have sounded had the cymbal samples, guitar samples, and lead-vocal double-track not been added.

KickSnareAutomation

For this audio example I've soloed the kick-drum and snare close-mic channels so that you can hear how I've used automation data to change their timbres as the song moves from the verse into the chorus (at around 0:06 in the example).

OriginalRoughMix

This is the quick rough mix of Young Griffo's 'Facade' that was done by their tracking engineer following the original recording sessions.

RejectedCommercialMix

Here's the mix that the band received from an online mix engineer they'd hired to try to bring the mix to a commercial level. It was because they were unhappy with the results here that they ended up sending me their multitracks to Mix Rescue.

Remix

This is my remix of the band's original multitrack recordings — albeit with a little helping and from Nine Volt Audio's Big Bad Guitars REX loop library and Spectrasonics's Backbeat cymbal samples!  

Published October 2011