Mixing is where all the musical spices of the music recipe come together. As in cooking, if the balance is just right the results are a sonic delicacy. I don’t know why I’m using cooking references here, but my point is that, to me, mixing is where the track really comes to life. Inside Audio Mixing we have lots of articles to help you get the most out of your mixes.
“Plosives” can make or break the recording. Even with a pop filter, they still have a tendency to sneak their way in! There's a letter in the alphabet that puts fear in the hearts of home recording engineers ...P! The other is B to a lesser extent.
In this article, I'll show you two ways to remove them without simply stripping away the lows with a high pass filter. I've included a vocal sample so you can experiment with it, or just load up a track you know that has them. If you'll be listening to these samples through an iPad or mobile phone speaker, you most likely will not hear the difference between the samples. Plosives are almost always in the low frequency range, and most of these devices built-in speakers can't replicate frequencies low enough. Use headphones.
Darren uses these two methods to clean up loud pops.
Here's a handy trick to create cool effects in Logic. It's by Darren burgos over at MacPro Video. This article talks about creating patterns with automation and then using them on instruments as effects. It a pretty complex set up, but looks like a lot of fun to play around with. Darren says...
"When I’m producing, I’ll often pull from a small library of shapes I’ve made and saved into a Logic Project. I can easily copy these pre-made patterns into my existing songs because they’ve been saved inside a standard region. This also makes it easy to stretch or compress the automation ...but we’ll cover that in just a bit!"
This is a guest post by mix engineer, Unne Lilijeblad over at www.mix-engineer.com. This is the fourth article in a five part series about his experience with mixing in this still under utilized medium for listening to music. Recording and Mixing in Stereo. This week he talks about Mixing in Surround.
Unne Lilijeblad - Mix Engineer
Mixing in Surround
Now what about surround? Obviously, the panning of mono sources in a surround mixing environment works very similarly to the way it works in stereo. It gets more complex of course, as the panner has to divide signals between more speakers, and you now have a three dimensional sound field with both an x and a y-axel, rather than just a simple two dimensional field between left and right. The panning via delay technique works too of course, and naturally, the two can be combined.
We all know to push the elements in the chorus, right? It's kind of a no-brainer. When mixing we usually bump the lead vocal or whatever instrument is the main melody of the chorus to separate it from the rest of the track and establish the hook. This is mixing 101. Well, Mr. Rubin has gone one better...
The chorus is the money part of a song. Without a good hook in the chorus the listener won't be inclined to stick around so now your "hit" song will be just another song that they skip. Rick has a little trick up his sleeve that helps push the chorus even further.... He bumps the master fader!
Yep, he performs the ultimate no-no while mixing - touching the master fader. I was taught that the master fader is the last bastian of output from the console to the mix down medium. It needs to be set at zero and not touched - at all! As it happens, Rick Rubin doesn't pay attention to the rules of recording and has this little trick up his sleeve.
"When the chorus starts push the level on the master fader from +1.5 db to about +2.0 db and then bring it back down the for the next part."
Genius! Why is it that the simplest of changes to the norm produce such magnificent results? I ask because I tried this recently on a song I was mixing and it made a HUGE difference. The key is to leave enough headroom so that you feel the energy in the song, but don't hear more distortion in the mix.
If you do this with your mix already being slammed up to 0.0db your mastering engineer will not be happy with you at all. He may even consider you a hack. And no mix engineer wants that now, do they?
Recording and Mixing in Stereo
There are many different ways of creating a stereo mix. For example, when mixing multiple mono sources, such as recordings of an electric guitar, an electric bass, a saxophone and a vocalist, done with one microphone each, they can be panned across the stereo image through the use of the pan knobs found on all mixing consoles and in all DAW:s. The pan knob divides the signal between the two speakers. Turn the knob to the left and it will send more of the signal to the left speaker and less to the right, resulting in our ears interpreting the sound as if it originated somewhere to the left of center.
Another way to achieve a similar result is through the use of delay. With a real acoustic sound, such as someone clapping their hands in front of you, but a little to the left, the sound waves reach your left ear slightly before they reach your right since the distance from the source to the right ear is greater than the distance to the left. To achieve a similar effect while mixing in stereo, you can delay the signal being sent to the right speaker slightly, and the result will be that the listener “hears” the sound coming more from the left. There are limits to how much delay can be used though, because at a certain point, we start distinguishing the two signals as separate signals instead. This technique also always causes phase issues to some degree
Before I purchased my own surround system, I’d hardly ever heard surround sound outside of movie theaters, so when I finally got my system all setup, I had a blast watching, and especially listening to, all three Lord Of The Ring DVD’s and many other big blockbuster action movies. Well mixed surround sound really is an amazing enhancement of the movie watching experience, and that elevated my already high expectations for surround music even further.
But after purchasing my first couple of DVD-Audio discs and dealing with the hours and hours of headache it took to figure out how to even play them back on my Mac, (To this day I can only playback Dolby Digital and DTS streams through VLC and have to resort to obscure command-line DVD-A utilities running in Windows under VMWare Fusion to rip the CPPM protected Meridian Lossless Streams to hard disk) I was kind of disappointed about the whole experience. To put it simply, it basically seemed to me that most mixes could be put into one of two groups. Either they were very conservative or they were way too gimmicky.
I'm a member of a few music production groups on LinkedIn and found that the information being shared over there is really, really good. The title of this article came from a discussion happening in the Small Recording Studio Network. It's a group of highly passionate professional sharing their experiences with recording gear and techniques. This discussion was started by Songwriter and Producer, Mark Moore who was was smart enough to add a poll.
As you can clearly see most production work is being done in-the-box.
68% of production in happening in-the-box.
As I mentioned the information being shared on LinkedIn is really good. So good that I found this gem of a technique from Producer/Engineer/Mixer, Robert L. Smith.
Multiple de-essers set minimally at specific frequencies, as opposed to one de-esser really digging in. Found this to be the best method. Sometimes this could be up to 5 different de-essers. Some of those new 'bright' microphones can be kind of harsh... Robert L. Smith.
I've never heard nor seen this done before but it makes perfect sense and I'm very excited to try out. If this sounds like something you'd like to contribute to please join us over in the Small Recording Studio Network on LinkedIn or leave a comment below.