Posts Tagged ‘stereo’

I know you’re not supposed to master your own tracks but we were working on a budget, so instead I just too a 2 week break from doing anything and came back to master with fresh ears. I purchased a copy of Ozone 5 just for the occasion and I must say, it was DEFINITELY worth it, and as I use it more and become more familiar with it I will try put up a basic tutorial for it at some stage.

As for the EP

First was the linear EQ, as you can see I rolled off the bass a little, and gave some broad presence at 2k, this really helped bring the track out and really make some impression on you.

Next was the harmonic exciter, now these things are tempting to just push up and up and up cause they sound so cool and exciting (lol wonder why) but don’t over do it, you can ruin the effect of the song and the rest of your mix work. As you can see I’ve tried to keep mine relatively minimal with a bit more in the mid and highs were its most effective.

I didn’t do too much with the dynamics and compression apart from the mids, but this was a light deep compressor to bring out some of the clarity and harmonics a little more.

Next is the most noticeable part of mastering, the loudness maximising, I wanted a really full track, but I didn’t want it to just blare in your face so I went for a quite smooth heavy maximiser, and some MBIT+ dither to spread the noise evenly.

I did quite a bit of experimenting with the stereo spread and converting in and out of mono, switching phase, ect, to make sure any spreading I did didn’t cause and phase cancelling, I found some really awesome settings, but many of them didn’t work at all in mono which meant they were best to avoid, or at least tweak, in the end these are the settings I went with.

finally the post EQ, all this work had given really great spread, clarified highs but the bass became a little over powering, so I pulled that down a little and gave a tiny bit more low mids and tiny bit less high mids.

So that was my process for mastering ‘Fairly Natural’ the first serious release by my good friend and the very talented Sam Luff, please check him out and comment on my recording, mixing and mastering with your ideas, advice, questions and opinions as I’d love to hear them.

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!

A friend of mine organised to record the bass exam of another friend, he had some really awesome originals, a jazzy pirates of the Caribbeany thing, a very Dream Theater like one and some others, all awesome songs.

Anyway the mix:

Most of it was just tweaking EQs and gains to get levels right and keep from masking, but I experimented a bit with stereo imaging using a stereo spreader with the keys, guitar and sax (keys center with a massive spread, guitar and sax with smaller ones but panned to the left and right a little) this gave an incredible stereo image. The keys sat really wide throughout the mix and the sax and guitar sat in areas slightly left and right of center. I highly recommend experimenting with spreading to give a sound a wider sense of space in its position, especially when you don’t have many instruments.

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!

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.