In this post I shall be explaining how I Mixed and Mastered “Not A Saint” by singer/acoustic guitarist Luke Draper.
Above are two screenshots of the finished Mixed Pro Tools session.
I had originally recorded and mixed this track alongside Luke Draper a year ago. A few things have been changed since then, but one thing I kept was Luke’s preference of which microphone takes to keep and discard.
The first take kept was the Sontronics Orpheus Room mic to add ambience to the song. This ambient fell is due to the reflections from the room and natural reverb. This was then sent a stereo aux via buses 1-2, no EQ or compression has been used.
The strap button and the sound hole takes were the other two takes used in “Not A Saint”. The fret board take was eliminated due to the prominence of the slide squeaks when the chorus started. This squeak is still audible in the song, because all of the microphones picked up this sudden squeak to some degree. This is something I could not remove without damaging and effecting the overall tone of Luke’s guitar.
These two tracks (Strap and Hole) have been duplicated and one of each panned 50% to the left and right widening the stereo field of the song, without smothering them in reverb. That would just be a horrible muddy disaster! The reverb would never end!
As well as panning the tracks have also been routed to a stereo aux via buses 3-4, which has also been panned 50% left and right. The aux also contains Pro Tools 7 band EQ. The EQ contains High Pass Filter (HPF) at 24dB/Octave slope at 50Hz. This EQ was necessary because these two microphones have heavily captured the resonance from the hole and body of guitar, especially the STC-2 looking at the sound hole. This means there was too much low end in the mix than we want, so a sudden cut at 50Hz removes some yet keeps a little adding that “warmth” that Luke wanted from his guitar. Keeping some of the low end and resonance of Luke’s guitar as the guitar is not apart of a bigger mix with drums and bass, so the low end does not have to be fully cut out to leave space for anything. The EQ can be seen below.
The main vocal track has been kept a singular track not routed an aux. The main vocal track has been compressed using Pro Tools D3 Comp/Limiter. To compress the vocals I used a 3:0:1 compression ratio, with a soft knee and an average of -6dB gain reduction. Luke has a very wide range and a powerful voice yet it was to jumpy and sudden and did not sit within the mix very well. This 3:0:1 compression ratio means that for every 3dB that gets compressed 1dB escapes not being compressed. So this small amount of compression helps to smooth this out. After the compression a used Pro Tools Dverb Reverb plugin at 12% wet to help the vocals sit better within the mix.
As well as the main vocals, backing vocals were a very key factor about the song and getting the balance within the mix was something I found a little bit tricky. But I succeeded in the end and got a good balance in the song. I duplicated the original backing vocals track panning each 50% left and right. As well routing these tracks to a stereo aux that was also panned 50% left and right. Just like the main vocals I used the D3 Comp/Limiter followed by the Dverb Reverb. The compression was set at a 6:8:1 compression ratio, a soft knee and an average of -6dB gain reduction. This was necessary as these backing vocals were very dynamic and not consistant. This meant hat they did not sit well within the mix and not getting that ambient feel that Luke wants from this song. The Dverb was set to 24% wet, a doubling of what the main vocals had, not only helping the backing vocals sit within the mix but also adding ambience.
I mastered “Not A Saint” using Pro Tools built in mastering limiter Maxim. The threshold was set as -0.1dB and the track was set specifically in 16 bit 41.1kHz to meet the red book CD regulations. All four mixed tracks were imported into a new Pro Tools session to get the the volume level equal. Each track had to flow between one another on playback. Mastering the four tracks as a whole was a little bit tricky, due to the versatility of all four tracks and how different they are. However I feel I managed to get a comfortable and balanced Mastered CD.