Mixing

Finally, we have reached the fun part. Mixing.

To discuss the technicalities of a specific mix on a platform such as this seems like a ridiculous idea to me. You can’t hear what I’m hearing, so even if I list off a bunch of settings you will never know why I did what I did. For this reason, I am going to avoid the specifics of mixing these two songs (sorry). Instead, I am going to discuss my thoughts and aims when approaching each mix, and I’ll say if I achieved th sound in my head or if I had to compromise for some reason.

Stranger:

When I sat down to mix Stranger I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted the track to sound like. It is clearly the more pop sounding of the two, so that played a role in my thinking, but most importantly it has an awesome groove which I was determined to emphasise.

I started with the drums. Building the sound of the drumkit with the pop sound in mind, but trying to be interesting and true to the bands more prevalent sound of Blue/Rock. Next, I moved onto Bass. The bass was very important because it was one of the main components of the groove that I mentioned before. I tried to make sure that it sounded full and consistent but still cut through the mix enough to be heard as its own element. Next, I started to work on the Guitars. I wanted the guitars to be super consistent in the track, so even though they were already distorted and therefore pretty compressed, I compressed them a bunch more, and it worked. Once I had all the instruments nice and solid and sounding good I went to work on the vocal. I made sure that it was clear and present as any good pop vocal should be, but that it still had the signs of the Rock side of the band.

When I had finished the mix, I still felt as though some of the transitions from verse to chorus were slightly lacking. To solve this I automated the fader on my Master Buss to turn up by 1dB during the choruses, giving the little extra energy lift that was needed to bring the mix together.

The Victor:

The Victor is a hard hitting full and aggressive Rock song. I knew as I started the mix that this had to be the goal. I started with the drums, going the extra mile to make sure that they hit super hard and consistently. I knew if I got these right then I’d have a good base to build the rest of the track off. If you ask me, I nailed it. The turning point for the drums was putting a tape emulation on the drum buss, which saturated the transients and made them sound full and fat. Then I moved onto the bass, which I knew also needed to sound huge, to keep up with the drums. I achieved this by using parallel distortion to make the bass sit up in the mix, without overpowering the guitars. Next, I came to guitars. In this track, the guitars didn’t actually need much work, so I spent a lot of time deciding on the level that they should be at so they sounded full but didn’t overpower the drums. Again, once the instruments were done I moved onto the vocal. The vocal sounded great, just overly dynamic. I worked pretty hard to get it to sit well in a mix that was already so full and loud. In the end, I got it to sit really nicely.

Overall the mixing of these two songs was a huge amount of fun. I think this is mostly due to the fact that I put a lot of effort into the tracks at the recording, editing and production phases so that by the time I mixed, I had already done the hard yards and could focus on being creative.

The songs should be coming out in late June 2017, so keep a look out for them.

If you have followed along with this series then thank you so much for doing so, it’s been a lot of fun. If you’re just joining now then I encourage you to go back and check out some of the other content.

As always, if you have any comments, questions, opinions or just want to say hi, then please leave a comment below.

Have a great day!

Rob

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Editing

Once tracking is complete editing begins…

A lot of people, especially musicians, hear the word editing and get very upset. In my opinion, this is for the most part due to a lack of understanding of how the recording process works, or a blatant stubbornness for a lofty ideal. So far in my short career, I have never met an artist who could not be convinced about the value of editing by simply playing them the edited vs the un-edited versions of their songs.

There is not much that is very interesting about the actual editing process,  and there are tonnes of videos on the internet teaching the technical skills, but I will give a brief outline of the editing that I did and why I did it.

Before I started editing I first had to decide on my goal. I decided that the first goal would be top make sure that the performances were all complete (no bummed notes) and that the best pieces from each take were in the final edit. Next, my goal would be to make sure that the performances were tight. Now, there are two ways of achieving this. The first is to quantize the performances to the grid, either automatically or manually. This is certainly the easier and quicker of the two methods, but some people will argue that it takes away the human feel of the music and so detracts from the performance; I am in this group to a certain extent. The second

I decided that the first goal would be top make sure that the performances were all complete (no bummed notes) and that the best pieces from each take were in the final edit. Next, my goal would be to make sure that the performances were tight. Now, there are two ways of achieving this. The first is to quantize the performances to the grid, either automatically or manually. This is certainly the easier and quicker of the two methods, but some people will argue that it takes away the human feel of the music and so detracts from the performance; I am in this group to a certain extent. The second

Now, there are two ways of achieving this. The first is to quantize the performances to the grid, either automatically or manually. This is certainly the easier and quicker of the two methods, but some people will argue that it takes away the human feel of the music and so detracts from the performance; I am in this group to a certain extent. The second

The second way is to pick an element in the song that was particularly well played, ideally the drums, and manually quantize the other instruments to this instrument and not to the grid. This preserves the feel of a human playing the instruments because they are not perfectly in time, but at the same time, it allows the band to sound tighter because they have all waivered from the click at the same moments. The only downside of this process is that it takes painfully long.

I chose to go with the second way on this record, but that is not to say that it is a better method in general, each project should be approached in the way that best serves them.

The only other thing I did in editing was to fix the timing of one drum fill that I really liked, but that the drummer had never quite nailed during tracking.

All in all, I think the editing really helped the tracks to live up to their full potential, but you can judge that for yourself later.

Thanks for taking the time to follow this series.

If you have any comments, questions, opinions or just want to say hi, then please leave a comment below.

Have a great day!

Rob