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Mix Rescue: Zeno | Media

Mixing & Recording Advice By Mike Senior
Published March 2010

Here is a selection of audio files to accompany this month's Mix Rescue of Zeno's track 'Signs'. You can listen to these as MP3s in the media player in the main article (/sos/mar10/articles/mixrescue_0310.htm) or can download from this page as CD-quality WAVs for more critical auditioning in your DAW.

Overheads No Comp Audio icon overheadsnocomp.mp3 File overheadsnocomp.wav

This is the sound of the drum overheads without any compression, with just some high-pass filtering from Reaper's ReaEQ and a slight brightening boost at 12kHz from URS's Console Strip Pro. For comparison with the OverheadsComp file.

Overheads Comp Audio icon overheadscomp.mp3 File overheadscomp.wav

This is the same signal as you can hear in OverheadsNoComp, but heavily processed through Empirical Labs' EL7 Fatso Snr compressor and saturator plug-in running on Universal Audio's UAD2 hardware accelerator. The compressor was set to its Tracking mode, with attack time at 10ms and release time at 50ms, to get the extrovert compressor sound, and then the Warmth and Tranny controls were adjusted to thicken the sound to taste.

Drums OH Comp Audio icon drumsohcomp.mp3 File drumsohcomp.wav

This is a mix of the drum parts during one of the choruses, showing how the processing in the OverheadsComp example sounded in context. You can also hear the results of heavy heavy compression on the snare mic, achieved using the plug-in version of SSL's famously severe Listen Mic Compressor.

Drums Buss Comp Audio icon drumsbusscomp.mp3 File drumsbusscomp.wav

The drum mix in the DrumsOHComp example was then passed through the UAD model of SSL's console master compressor (the 4k Buss Compressor plug-in) to get some more pumping happening. The compressor's ratio was at 4:1, attack and release controls were at 10 and 100ms respectively, and the Threshold was set for a maximum of 8dB gain reduction on peaks. In addition, Reaper's wet/dry mix control for the plug-in was at 73 percent wet and some extra uncompressed kick-drum signal was sent direct to the mix as well to make up for some low-end side-effects of the compression setting.

Drums Buss Comp Reverb Audio icon drumsbusscompreverb.mp3 File drumsbusscompreverb.wav

A little extra room sound was fed to the compressor to make the pumping effect more dramatic, and this was simulated using an impulse response (from TC Electronic's System 6000 reverb processor) running in Christian Knufinke's SIR2 convolution processor. The reverb was shortened substantially using SIR2's envelope controls so that it didn't wash things out too much, and high-pass filtered (as I usually do) to keep the low end of the mix clear.

Drums Master Comp Audio icon drumsmastercomp.mp3 File drumsmastercomp.wav

The final compressor in the drums signal path was an instance of URS's Console Strip Pro in the mixer's master channel. This was set to a fast-release Fairchild 670 emulation, and registered about 4dB of gain reduction on peaks. Here you are of course hearing the drums on their own through it, but if you listen to the full Remix file you can hear how this compressor effectively created a degree of pumping across the whole track.

Gtrs Mix Audio icon gtrsmix.mp3 File gtrsmix.wav

Here's a chorus section of the song without any of the vocals so you can hear the backing guitar sounds more clearly.

Gtrs Mix No Reamp Audio icon gtrsmixnoreamp.mp3 File gtrsmixnoreamp.wav

To help create the combined guitar sound in GtrMix I reamped one of Sam's guitar parts through the Fender Bassman model in IK Multimedia's Amplitube Jimi Hendrix edition. This file shows what the GtrsMix file would sound like without these reamped parts, so you can hear what impact they had.

VsVox Dry Audio icon vsvoxdry.mp3 File vsvoxdry.wav

Here's the verse vocal sound without its delay or reverb special effects. It has been compressed with Jeroen Breebaart's PC2 plug-in and IK Multimedia T-racks' Fairchild 670 emulation in series, and then brightened with T-racks' Pultec EQ model and Reaper's built-in Stillwell Audio Exciter plug-in. A couple of different subtle stereo widener patches are also at work.

VsVox Delay Audio icon vsvoxdelay.mp3 File vsvoxdelay.wav

In this example you can hear how my added tempo-sync'ed delay interacts with the vocal, riding up and down in level to plug gaps in the vocal phrasing. The delay effect comes from Reaper's internal digital delay plug-in, but the output has been grunged up using Simulanalog's freeware Tube Screamer plug-in and filtered with Reaper's ReaEQ to give a more distinctive timbre.

VsVox Delay Reverb Audio icon vsvoxdelayreverb.mp3 File vsvoxdelayreverb.wav

I created an additional super-long reverb special effect for the verse vocal as well, which you can hear in combination with the tempo-sync'ed delay in this example. It comes from Da Sample's Glaceverb, with the Size control cranked up to maximum, but the effect return was narrowed a little using Voxengo's MSED and filtered with ReaEQ for a very warm sound, deliberately in contrast with the dry vocal.

Ch Vox Unproc Audio icon chvoxunproc.mp3 File chvoxunproc.wav

This is a section of the song's chorus lead vocal. You can hear how the sound is quite muffled on account of the microphone's proximity effect.

Ch Vox No Dist Audio icon chvoxnodist.mp3 File chvoxnodist.wav

Here's how the same section of raw vocal you can hear in ChVoxUnproc sounded with some serious EQ cuts to tackle the proximity effect. You can also hear compression processing from TBT's TLS3127 Levelling Amplifier and Empirical Labs' EL7 Fatso Snr in series, as well as the same two stereo widener patches used for the verse vocal.

Ch Vox No Dist Mix Audio icon chvoxnodistmix.mp3 File chvoxnodistmix.wav

In this example you can hear the ChVoxNoDist processing with the context of the full mix. Notice how the vocal sounds rather muffled in the mix, even though it sounds quite bright and enhanced when soloed — this is because of the masking effect of the other parts, especially the distorted guitars.

Ch Vox Dist Audio icon chvoxdist.mp3 File chvoxdist.wav

In order to harden up the tone of the chorus vocal and help it compete with the electric guitars, I created a distortion send effect (based around the Pro Co Rat distortion stomp box model in IK Multimedia's Amplitube Metal) specifically EQ'd to provide extra energy in the 3kHz region where the main masking issues were occurring.

Ch Vox Dist Mix Audio icon chvoxdistmix.mp3 File chvoxdistmix.wav

The sound of the ChVoxDist file's processing within the context of the full mix. Note that although the soloed sound is obviously distorted, this doesn't really come through in the mix — the vocal just sounds more present and upfront.

Original Mix Audio icon originalmix-0310.mp3 File originalmix-0310.wav

This is the original mix of Zeno's 'Signs' that I heard in the My Sound Files section of Sound On Sound's Web forum.

Remix Audio icon remix-0310.mp3 File remix-0310.wav

My remix based on the same multitrack files, with a little help from Nine Volt Audio's Melodic REX loop library.