Posts Tagged ‘MIDI’

The Mix was an intense process. Without many instruments we had to create a full sound. With the help of Logic 9, I think it went pretty well.

All songs were recorded in the one session and each instrument had the same track for each song, so these settings were applied to all songs, then split off and minor tweaks were made (most of which probably won’t be mentioned because they’re not really very interesting.) Sam wanted his EP sound to be really consistent so we decided doing it like this would be a fun, challenging and interesting approach.

I started mixing the first song, which was probably the thinnest of the lot with nothing but guitars and vox. It’s quite an intense and raw song and I wanted the EP to start strong. I started with the guitars and did the usual pan each mic to either side, high pass and low pass EQ to keep out sounds not in the frequency range, some low mid cuts and a slight high mid boost to eliminate any masking, compressor and a noise gate. This got it sounding pretty good, but after mixing everything else the guitar just seemed to not… sit right, it was just a little overpowering in the high mids, so I decided to do something I tried in a different mix. I put a stereo spreader on both guitar mic tracks and spread the upper mids a little, order 11 for one and 12 for the other so the same frequencies weren’t being spread on either side. Being already panned to one side, this pushed some of those frequencies just a little closer to the middle, widening it at the loss of some of its power, perfect!

 

On the left we have the left guitar mic and its plugins, on the right, the right!

 

The vocals were a lot more simple, just a matter of EQ, compression, noise gate, and a tinyyyyyyy little bit of delay.

 

Now the lead guitar was interesting, for the electric lead solos we had 2 mics, one dead on and one to the side, so I panned them to show this. This sat the guitar slightly to one side but still gave a nice full sound, almost like if a band were playing and the guitarist had come up to do a solo and was standing just to the right of the singer.

Here you can see the centered mic on the left and the panned right mic on the right, as well as the EQ, compression, noise gate and delay decisions I made.

Next was the acoustic guitar solos, there wasn’t really anything special done here, it was recorded with a single mic so I opted against any crazy stereo imaging, quite a decent amount of EQ and delay, and more compression than I normally try to use, then a good ol noise gate.

 

The only other major instrument recorded was the double bass, once again a pretty simple process, decided to go for some more creative EQ to try and keep the clarity of the double bass whilst removing resonances and fixing some masking problems.

 

There were some other instruments used, including an egg shaker, a MIDI glockenspiel, a MIDI kick drum and some whistling, but I opted against doing those ones as they were very simple processes, but if anyone is interested let me know and I’ll show you how I did them, or help as best I can with mixing those instruments.

The final part of the mix was the reverb, this was done by setting up an auxiliary channel strip and putting the space designer reverb on it, then bussing all tracks to it. I don’t know very much about designing reverbs, in reality or in plugins, but I found the preset my ears agreed with most was the small booth reverb. It just sounded right and fitted the style perfectly.

I also used a concert hall reverb on the vocal echoes in the first song, ‘Heaven’.

If anyone has any advice for my mixing process for future mixes, please don’t hesitate to send it my way!

Also, please look up Sam Luff on facebook! or soon iTunes! He will be extremely grateful and is very much worth your time!

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It’s been about a week since I’ve posted, but there is a reason for this. I took a trip up to Queensland last week to visit my friend, the very talented and future famous Sam Luff. I’d been planning this trip for a while and we decided we would take the opportunity to record, produce and release his first proper EP. His music page can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/samluffmusic I highly recommend you give his music a listen, especially if you’re into acoustic singer/songwriter style stuff, hes really very talented.

The recording session was a brilliant bit of fun, and he had a great setup to use, combined with some mics I brought up, we had all we needed.

The Booth: first we did some DIY acoustics treatment using some karate mats and a mattress that looked like acoustic foam. We first set it up on the floor for the sitting down instruments (ie. guitar, guitar amp) than moved it up to a table for vox. The room sound was kind of dead already, but this did a great job of catching all the direct reflections.
The Acoustic guitar: a simple spaced pair setup. Took some fiddling to get the mics in a good in phase position but we finally got there. Used my matched pair of Peluso CEMC6s, brilliant mics, they sound absolutely brilliant.

The electric guitar: For the guitar amp I put an SM57 right in the center then a CEMC6 back and too the right a bit, this mic was later panned to the right, this gave the guitar a brilliant image and position in the mix.

Voxs/Acoustic Lead: Both the acoustic lead and vox parts were recorded with my AKG perception 820. Great mic and relatively cheap for what it is. Vocals and guitars came out clear as day, and nice and dead.

And finally, double bass: This was also just done with the AKG, great smooth low frequencies.

All in all we finished up with some great dry tracks, there was a little bit of MIDI use for a backgrounded kick drum and a glockenspiel.

Stay tuned for the mix report!

Tonight I went to go see a Russian pianist performing a complete recital of Chopin. It was absolutely brilliant, his technique was incredible and all the pieces were extraordinary. As much as I would love to discuss piano technique and performance characteristics of tonight, instead I’m going to talk about my thoughts on it in relation to composing, particularly for film. It’s often common practice to just use a high quality MIDI plugin to emulate the strings, and provided you write good enough music, this will do divinely. But whilst listening to this performer I thought about how no matter what you do with a machine, it’s doubted the result will be as moving as a real performance, obviously recordings generally still aren’t as powerful as a live performance, but still more powerful than MIDI. However, recording an entire orchestra for a film score is a very long, difficult and stressful process, as I know from talking to a friend of mine who worked on the recording and composed some of the music for a new Hollywood zombie movie called ‘Christmas With The Dead.’ And still wasn’t overly happy with the result. But then you have the great film scores of Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Jaws, ET, Jurassic Park, and many more written by John Williams and recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra, these are easily some of the most notable film sound tracks and the reason for this is both the score and the incredible sound of the recording/talent of the orchestra. This is the most extreme of the best, however, the music for Pirates of the Caribbean, another epic film score that is very notable and gripping, was recorded with a group of musicians later given the name The Hollywood Studio Symphony, over the course of 4 days.

All the orchestral music I compose, I compose with MIDI, but the one piece I have had performed was only performed by the Tasmanian Youth Orchestra, and even with my best synthestrated scored, that performance will always be more memorable. Which means if a youth orchestra can capture the emotion of a piece well enough to surpass a MIDI recording, that means the main struggle lies in the recording, which is no big surprise. People generally don’t get much experience recording orchestras, its so complicated and time consuming you’d have to be crazy to want to, but as John Williams has showed us, with the right stuff, the hard way is definitely worth it.

Another song of mine, no analysis on this one, but if you have any tips I’d still love to hear them!

http://soundcloud.com/audiophilesjourney/eurodance

Setup and Recording:

Guitar and bass: The guitar and bass were both recorded using an Axe FX pre-amp, running into Helix board 18 fire wire digital mixer set up with a recording track in logic. The tone/virtual amp setup for the guitar was an off axis miking of a virtual Recto Orange amp. The bass was run through the Axe FX and into the mixer as a direct signal.

Drums: The drums were programmed with MIDI using Superior Drummer software.

Synths: The synths were programmed with MIDI using the Nexus plugin.

Voice: All vocals were recorded in a small room with little treatment using an AKG Perception 220 running into a DI interface, into a recording track in logic. A pop filter was used and singer/vocalist stood a few inches away from pop filter with that a few inches from the mic.

Processing and Effects:

Guitar: The 2 guitar parts were panned hard left and hard right. Both being processed with CLA Guitar plugins from waves, to add a little reverb, compression and EQ colour, some frequencies were then EQed out separately. Intro riff was notch EQed for effect.

Bass: The bass was EQed with a high roll off and some mids cut out, then compressed lightly.

Synths: Synths were given some Drastic EQ dips, peaks and roll offs to help stop masking. Delay and reverb were applied in the plugin whilst creating the sound.

Drums: In the plugin: Kick and snare were EQed and compressed. The toms were noise gated and compressed, some were also filtered. All drums except overheads and hats were bussed to a separate channel and given parallel compression. This bus was then sent to the main out with everything else at a lower level to add an intense thickness to the sound. Drums were all panned to the appropriate places to where a drummer would be sitting. Out of the plugin (aka the drums as a group:) Multipression to compress upper mids was applied, as well as a limiter at a low threshold to keep from peaking.

Vocals: All sung vocals were given a tight reverb, relatively strong compression, some stereo widening (particularly on the harmonies) and some EQ for colouring. Often harmonies were pushed down in volume to keep them from masking the main melody. Screamed vocals were triple tracked, EQed, had reverb applied, and compressed slightly. One track was panned half left, one half right, and one widened to maximum.

Checked phase correlation using a correlation meter plugin and frequency spectrum using a multimeter plugin.

Mastering: Mastering was done using iZotope Ozone 4. In the paragraphic equalizer some lower mids were cut, as well as some of the highs, as there was a lot of hiss. A limiter was added with a -4.2dB threshold to really improve the loudness of the track. A harmonic exciter was added to enhance the higher frequencies in particular. A multipressor was used to compress all the frequencies with slightly different amounts, as the mix needed it to help translate to other speakers in my house, crossovers were set at 80Hz, 324Hz and 5.05kHz. A multiband stereo imager was used to centre all frequencies below 80Hz a little and widen all frequencies above 5.05kHz quite a lot.

IZotope Ozone 4 also has a built in correlation meter, level meters and phase monitoring allowing keeping tabs on phase cancelation and peaking. Mix was converted  to mono to listen, however, just to be sure.