Totally Not Nick Tart
The first song I mixed was one that my whole class helped record with the aid of Guy Cooper. There is no official title but the artist is Nick Tart. The song fits into an old rock genre or dad rock if you will and it was the characteristics of this genre that influenced how I mixed the song.
Driving guitars and big drums with a strong vocal are all things that would make this song come to life. I started with the drums. These needed to be big and punchy, to achieve this effect I compressed and limited the individual drums to raise their overall volume within the mix. Once I had this down pat I moved over to the guitar. Now this was interesting as we recorded through a DI and the guitarist had already applied a lot of effects and processing to create his desired tone. Nothing much was done in this regard, a little compression and eq’ing out the copious lows really made room for the bass guitar. The bass was recorded with both a DI and a mic on the cab. The DI tone was really not that great but it added a little thickness to the bass, so by combining a mixture of both the mic’d cab and the DI signal a healthy tone was achieved.
Lastly I tackled the vocals. I created 2 different vocal compilations and processed them differently. The ‘main’ vocal was left relatively clean with only a little eq and dynamics touch ups. The second vocal however I compressed heavily and used a distortion plugin to add a little grungy flavour. With the use of automation I could bring the level of the distorted vocal into the mix when it felt right. This was usually at the end of phrases. I also automated the reverb to accentuate this effect.
Overall I think the song fits well into its genre and the mixing techniques used help to solidify its dad rock roots.
The Hizon Project
The second song that I mixed was one that I recorded with the help of Ricardo and Jackson. The artist is Joey Hizon and again I do not have a track name. The song is predominantly folk acoustic singer songwriter sort of stuff, mainly due to the nature of it being one guitar and him singing.
The soft airy vocals and intimate guitar really bring out the emotion of the genre and it was with this in mind I approached the mixing from a softer angle. To begin we recorded it live with Joey singing and playing guitar, full knowing this would offer a little less room to move when it came to mixing. This was the correct decision however as the take was great and the emotion was real.
I duplicated the vocal microphone and shifted it ever so slightly to add a delayed effect, almost like a double track. I applied slightly different EQ’s to both of these tracks to add a little variety within the vocal. The guitar was full sounding to begin with, if a little muddy in the lower mid range. With the use of eq and an aural exciter I was able to create a crisp bright guitar sound that fits well with the voice.
The big ticket here was the use of reverb. I haven’t decided if I went a little overboard with it yet or not. I like it and I feel it fits the theme of the song so it might only need a little tweaking. I created two different reverbs. One was for the vocal alone and the other was for both guitar and vocals. I used the vocal only reverb to accentuate the voice when the guitar was lower in the mix and the other reverb to tie the two elements together in the same space. Again I used automation of the reverb to create a flow within the song and add emphasis to phrases that would benefit from it.
I know for a fact that the artist is a religious man. I believe this knowledge influenced me to make the track almost a little gospel sounding. I don’t think this detracts from the overall sound but I wonder if I would mix it differently not knowing this.
I should really start getting the names of these tracks. The final song for this mixdown breakdown (wicked) is performed by the jazz band Redbop, and naturally I don’t know the name of the track. The song is a jazz song, rich on dynamics and solos, with a bright lead trumpet. If there was anything that needed to be done with this track, it was to make the trumpet the star of the show.
This song was fairly mixed when it got into my hands. The recording process was treated as a mixing session so everything sat in the mix fairly well to begin with. There were only a few level changes and some panning to even everything out. My biggest struggle would have been the drum kit. It was a tiny little cute thing and the bass drum didn’t have a sound hole so the kick was barely there. I decided against spending the time to get a booming kick sound that would overpower the rest of the elements and figured this soft kick would suite the style of music. I’d like to think I made the correct decision.
The trumpet was recorded beautifully. With the use of two microphones and a room mic there was plenty to choose from to get a sweet sounding blend. I used very little EQ on the trumpet and no compression. It was just a stellar instrument recorded well. It mixed itself.
The keyboard required little effort to sit in the mix. With some reverb and slight EQ it was good to go.
The bass was perhaps the most fickle of the instruments in this mix. It was picked up poorly by the room mics and the spot mic picked up a lot of the kick sound. With some EQ and compression it was sitting nicely.
A big part of this mix was getting the instruments to sound together whilst still maintaining the individual clarity of each element. This was accomplished by using a very nice warm plate reverb and setting it for each individual element until it reached the desired effect. This glued the performance together wonderfully.
The song was recorded live and I felt that I needed to capture this essence. With this in mind I tried to do as little as I could with compression and eq and I think the final result speaks for itself.