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Saturday, 12 December 2015

Mixing "Weather The Storm" Pt 2 - Balance

G’day guys! Here’s my second installment of my mixing videos of “Weather The Storm”. You can check out Part 1, where I set up the session, here:

In this video I tackle a few of the basic things arrangement wise that I wanted to hear in the mix before I started really getting into the mixing. These included adding an extra kick and snare track over the tracks that were given to me, and then cutting out some of the low end of the rhythm guitar and vocal tracks.

The main part of this video is getting the balance of the track happening. I go through the song a few times, always checking my reference track and try to get a nice even sound while only using my volume faders and pan knobs.

Adding a Kick and Snare

This is the first thing that I noticed about Jaye’s mix when he sent it to me. I’m not a big fan of the snare drum sound that can in the loop that he provided. I found it was very short, had little body and was a little bit too harsh.

One thing to remember is that this, and everything in music, comes down to taste. The snare sound isn’t “wrong” by any stretch, I just don’t like it. Because I’m the one mixing this track, I decided to change it. If I was mixing this for Jaye as a client, we would discuss options of how the snare should sound.

I used the beat sample plugin called “Boom” that comes free with Pro Tools. The samples in it are good for electronic music and it’s quite simple to use. I also want to use predominantly free plugins in my tutorials to show that you don’t need a massive budget to get a decent sounding mix.

The sample I ended up using was a very electric snare that has an exaggerated snare wire ring out on it. It also has quite a bit of bottom end and will work great in complementing the snare sound that’s already there.

I also added a compressor to the original drumbeat. This compressor is actually keyed, or “sidechained”, off of my new snare. I did this by sending my new snare to a bus (any bus) and selecting the key input on the drum beat to the same bus.

This means that the compressor will only trigger when the new snare hits and, because I’ve got it on the new snare, it will activate and duck the old snare on the drumbeat, without affecting the rest of the beat. I used a very fast attack and release setting, because I didn’t want it to be too obvious.

The kick that I added to the beat was also from the Boom plugin. I chose a very round kick sound that would compliment the old kick well. Again, I ran this to it’s own audio track so that I can mess with it a bit later on it’s own

Pulling Out Some Low End

I usually try to avoid doing any kind of EQing or compression on a track before I’ve got my overall levels sorted, but this time I made an exception. Listening through the tracks, I knew that the guitars and vocals had a lot of low end information that I was going to have to get rid of before getting into the mixing. These changes would severely affect how I mixed the track.

The rhythm guitar track had a heap of low end information in it that was muddying up the mix a lot. I put a high pass filter up pretty high on that one as well as pulling out a bunch of the low mids around 400Hz. This quickly cleaned the track up a lot and gave it a bit more life. I even had to give the EQ a bit of a boost afterwards because I lost so much level while cutting the low end.

With the vocals, I also put a low cut filter, although I just applied it on the vocal bus and was pretty rough with it. The settings will be a lot more refined in the later stages of the mix, but I just needed to get rid of a bunch of that low end so that when I brought it up in my balance mix, I wasn’t overwhelmed with the amount of bass frequencies in the vocal.

Balancing the Mix

This is where most of your mixing really comes to life. Balance is the most important thing when mixing. It’s great to have expensive compressors and tape saturation and all that fun stuff, but at the end of the day, if your balance is out, it won’t mean anything.

I tried to get the balance down as quickly as possible in this video, but I’ll probably do a little bit more when I’ve got some time. I won’t spend a lot of time on it though, as I’ve found that your first instincts are usually the right ones. 

I’ve said it a million times but I always refer to the reference track. This is how you know what good sounds like, it’s an instant refresh of your ear and it will make you notice the important things that are needed in your mixing. 

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to write them down in the section below. Until next time, have a good one!

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