All posts by eveterry21

The Financial Side Of Things!

 

Hi everyone!

Today I’m going to write about the financial side of the recordings that I have discussed previously. I will explain and justify my pricing;  as well as taking into consideration my outgoings and looking at comparisons with competitors.

Scenario:

A  one day (8 hour) recording session with a five piece alternative indie band recording 3 tracks. How much much shall I charge and why?

Competitors Current Rates:

A main local competitor would be Absolute Music, a music super store hiring out practise rooms as well as offering recording sessions for local bands in one of their on site recording studios. Their going rate for recording sessions starts at £30 per hour, this includes the full use of the live room, the control room and the services of their in-house engineers. Whereas hiring out equipment from Absolute music is priced separately at a starting rate of £99 for  their basic equipment packages. Links to both of these pages can be seen below:

http://www.absolutemusic.co.uk/studios/recording

http://www.absolutemusic.co.uk/hire/

How do these rates effect my prices?

Absolute Music is a very big business making a lot of money from their sales and services within all departments. Whereas I am an engineer/producer with my own equipment, outgoings and disposable costs. All these aspects need to be taken into consideration for my pricing. I have to be competitive, taking into account that I don’t have all the resources that Absolute can offer whilst, at the same time, not undervaluing my skills and expertise. Being aware of your competition is a valuable tool for any independent.

Should I charge for Pre-Production?

No, well not for the first meeting. The first Pre-Production meeting is ultimately a sales pitch both for me as the engineer/producer and the band or artist. Bouncing ideas off each other and getting to know each other personally and professionally.  In short building a solid foundation that will make the end result acceptable to all parties. Failing to put in this ground work could ultimately result in everyone being dissatisfied with the end product which will only ever be bad for business!

So I shall not charge a fee for the first Pre-Production meeting, however if more Pre-Production meetings are deemed to be of use the band shall be charged before recording. These additional Pre-Production meetings shall be charged by the hour, with a starting rate of £15. However, this is dependant on the bands needs. Composition and writing tracks alongside and separate to and for the band shall be charged accordingly per track.

Outgoings & Disposable Costs:

My outgoings consist of travel expenses, so in this case bus fares. A bus card costs £45 a month.

Bus fare daily cost: 45  x 12 = £540 ÷ 365 = £1.48 per day travel expenses.

£1.48 would be added to the total cost to cover travel expenses/current outgoings.

As well as hiring out a space to record in. Having looked at the cost of suitable spaces, the average cost per day comes to £30.

My disposable costs consist of blank CD-R’s and CD cases. The band shall require 1 CD-R and 1 CD Case to take away their 3 tracks.

CD-R: 12 ÷ 50 = 24p per CD-R.

CD Case: 1.62 ÷ 10 =  16p per CD Case.

40p would be added to the total cost to cover disposable costs.

In total £31.88 shall be added to the total cost to cover outgoings and disposable costs.

Recording Starting Rate:

My recording rate is £15 an hour. I know from experience that I can earn this money and sticking to this rate for expertise is a good starting point.

Equipment flat rate or dependent?

My total equipment value is £2000 and still growing. The life expectancy, based on research, is 10 years. This equates to a 10% annual depreciation value amounting to £200 depreciation each year in the value of the equipment, which works out at 55p a day depreciation. A charge of 55p per day in this case (8 hour recording session) to cover depreciation will be included in equipment hire costs. Having researched equipment hire costs (Absolute Music). I would charge the client £50 per day undercutting Absolute Music. This would be a daily flat rate.

Total Cost Summary:

The calculations and a income and outgoing expenditure table can be seen below.

Hourly Rate = £120 (£15 x 8)

Equipment Cost = £50.55 (Equipment Hire + Depreciation)

Outgoings = £31.88 (Room Hire + Travel Expenses)

15 x 8 = £120 + £50.55 + £31.88 = £202.43

finance table JPG

I would round this up to £205.00 for convenience. This £3 increase would cover the cost of additional CD-R, CD Case or even bus journey if needed.

Why Do I Charge The Band This Amount?

When deciding on a price to charge the band I have to take into consideration every aspect of the recording process. Hiring the space, equipment usage, my time and expertise, outgoings and disposable costs. Absolute Music’s overall price for an 8 hour recording session £240 making it £35 more expensive than my price of £205. Even though my costs come out cheaper I am still valuing my expertise and equipment to a professional standard i.e. Absolute Music.

This price is not only justified within the calculations above but in the relationship established at the first Pre-Production meeting. Listening to what the band need from me as an engineer and producer. This is another reason why I do not charge for the first Pre-Production meeting. Getting to know the client and establishing their needs is the foundation to these costings.

Thank you for reading! Till next time!

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Case Study No.2: Headphone Mixes

Hardware VS Software

Hi Everyone!

The title may looking a little daunting and something you’d skip past, but don’t worry! This post isn’t going to be me being highly opinionated and telling you what I think is the best. Just me simply explaining how headphone mixes are set-up using Hardware and Software and the benefits of each.

Scenario:

For the purpose of this study I will take the case of a multitrack recording of The Neon Tigers (supplied) and the scenario of overdubbing a new vocal and rhythm guitar part.  You will need to set up two separate headphone mixes for each musician and comparing a Hardware technique and a Digital Technique.

 1. The singer would like to hear reverb on their voice while recording but you do not want to record the reverb. He also wants to hear the whole band but not the existing guide vocal.

 2. The guitarist wants to hear the new vocal as it is being recorded along with the bass, drums, keyboard but not the old guitar track. He also wants to hear his incoming guitar signal.

 3. The singer and guitarist are recording at the same time.

 Set your session up so that the drums can be changed in the headphone mix as easily and quickly as possible.

Overdubbing Vocals:

All singers are different within the studio, so setting up the mix to suit the needs of the artist is crucial. For instance, adding a little bit of reverb to the singers track going to the headphone mix helps with tuning and boosting their confidence. This is a very effective way of getting the best performance from the singer! On the other hand some singers do not want hear themselves through their headphones, this is fair enough as this is a personal opinion.

The Analogue Technique:

This analogue technique uses a specific set-up comprising of a TLA M4 32 channel mixing desk, a patch bay, headphone amp and a Mac using Pro Tools HD 32 in/out. A diagram of this set-up can be seen below.

analogue set-up diagram

The TLA M4 mixing desk has 32 channels to choose from, meaning that building a headphone mix on the desk while recording is very possible. The patch bay cutting straight through the middle of the connections makes it possible to re-route signal paths, in this instance  a certain headphone mix going to the assigned channel on the headphone amplifier.

Building a mix on the desk requires you to make the output of each track individual, in this instance a channel on the desk. The next step is to use the Pre-fader auxes 1 and 2 to control each component of each headphone mix. Creating the route for the two headphone mixes needs us to use the patch bay, redirecting the signal.

The aux 1 and 2 outputs of the desk need to be rerouted and sent straight into the headphone amplifier. In this case Aux 1 to a ¼” jack converter and then into the aux input of the specific channel of the headphone amplifier.

This is possible because the patch bay is set-up being semi-normal. This means that a cable can be plugged into the top row without breaking the signal on the bottom row. this is very sufficient for creating analogue headphone mixes.

Adding Reverb

Using a hardware technique is very effective but can have one massive downfall, latency. You have a choice of two mixes: Desk and then straight to the headphones or desk, Mac , Reverb Unit and then the headphones. This latter route is when latency can occur.

Let’s take the latter route!

The singer would like some reverb on his vocals going into his headphones, but we definitely do not want to record this reverb, as reverb can be added to taste within the mixing process. The reverb must ONLY be in the headphones! Sending the reverb through an Auxiliary on the desk using the Lexicon Reverb and the patch bay is the way to go.

The technique I am about to explain is limited to this specific studio! Unless you have an exact copy this studio control at home. If this the case that is slightly creepy but I’m not one to judge!

Moving swiftly back to the subject at hand!

The vocals is coming in on Channel 1 of the mixing desk, this should be set to Pre-Fader listen to be a monitor mix. Aux’ 1/2 are Pre-Fader whereas Aux’ 3/4 are Post-Fader. In this case we shall be using Auxiliary 3 as effects should used in Post-fader. Below is a diagram of the route the vocals shall take through the patchbay to get back to the headphones.

reverb patch jpeg

The singer can now be turned up on Aux 3 as well as the reverb being control channels 31, 32 and both auxiliary 1’s (Pre-fader) on each channel, the reverb would have to be 100% wet and adjusted to the singers taste on Aux 1. Acting as reverb send to headphones.

The advantage of this method as it exhibits Zero Latency Monitoring. The only disadvantage is that this technique is married to this specific patch bay and control room set up.

The Digital Technique:

The Digital technique is purely within Pro Tools and multiple outputs via an audio interface, in this instance the Profire 26/26.

The Profire 26/26 is connected to the Mac via a Firewire connection and has 8 in and 8 out. Two of these devices are connected to the Mac. The second Profire 26/26 is connected to the first via an Alesis Digital Audio Tape (ADAT) connection. An ADAT connection uses TosLink Fibre Optic cables. It carries 8 channels of audio and clock signal for the synchronization of both devices.

But where would you start within Pro Tools? Organisation!

Clearly labelling and setting up the little things makes the session go even smoother when faced with building headphone mixes. The first way is that within Pro Tools renaming buses as Headphone mixes (Hp1 or Singer etc) is a very quick and easy way to help keep your routing precise, organised and quick and easy whilst recording. This can be done within the I/O  option in Pro Tools. A screenshot of this can be seen below.

rename bus jpeg

Another time saving task that you can do within Pro Tools is grouping. Grouping tracks together enables the user to easily select groups turning up or down multiple tracks all at once. Grouping is one of those little things that save 10 seconds that makes the recording process easier and quicker by improving workflow. Not just for you but for the artists.

Digital Headphone Mix

Creating two individual headphone mixes within Pro Tools requires you to use two buses, two stereo auxes and the sends.

Assigning the correct bus to the correct input of the correct aux is essential. For instance, as you can see above the singer has been assigned their own aux and namede “Headphones 1”. Where as the guitarist has been allocated “Headphones 2” on their own stereo aux.

The next step is to route what the singer and guitarist want to hear correctly via the sends. Sends can be found in the “view” drop down menu. You can choose which sends you would like to see by “assigning” them. This can be seen in the image below.

Aux in and out jpeg

send assignments jpeg

Using send A for “Headphones 1” and send f for “Headphones 2” I routed the specific tracks that the singer and the guitarist wanted hear. The volume of each track within the singer and guitarists headphone mixes can be determined by the small faders seen in the sends. Also make sure the little “P” button is blue as this means it is in Post-fader. This can be seen below.

Singer headphone mix jepeg Guitarist HP mix jpeg

Adding Reverb:

Adding reverb to the singers headphone mix using Pro Tools is relatively simple and fast! All you need is a stereo aux, sends and a reverb plug-in of your choice.

Digital Verb studio 5 jpeg

The output of this aux should be your singers cans, so in this case “Headphones 1”. In this auxes inserts section insert a reverb plug-in and make sure that that the reverb is set to 100% wet. The input of the aux track should assigned to a bus, as seen above I used bus 3. This bus can then be used in the sends of the “Headphones 1” aux track. Make sure that the bus 3 send is in Post-fader this can be seen if the little “P” button is blue.

You can know control the amount of reverb the singer would like through their headphones using the small fader seen in the sends.

Using this digital technique has many advantages! The fact that you can save this set up and have it whenever you need, whereas with the analogue technique you cannot save your set-up.

The speed of the process is undeniably faster than the analogue technique. Yet on the Profire 26/26 you cannot change what your headphones are listen to. They are specifically assigned in design to listen to two channels only. Whereas in the analogue set-up the patch bay allows you to swop and change this!

Short and Sweet Conclusion

To conclude, both techniques can be used efficiently when building headphone mixes. They both get the job done, it’s not always about whether your equipment is analogue or digital, it’s how you use it as an engineer or producer to get the best results from the artists.

Case Study No.1: Microphones

The Sontronics Sigma VS The Neumann U87Ai

Hi Everyone!

This post is based on more of the technical side of miking up in such a way to minimise bleed. Which microphones, position and all the technical goodness! So let’s get to it!

Scenario:

A singer/guitarist would like to record their song as a live performance in the studio. Two microphones shall be used for this job. The desired outcome is to eliminate as much bleed as possible between the vocal and the guitar. Better quality of the separation will allow for many more options within the mixing process.

Polar pattern is a very important choice to make. One of the first decisions to make as it then helps determine which microphones you choose to use. Which Polar pattern is best for this job? Omni-directional, Cardioid or figure of eight?

Omni-directional captures all around it through all frequency bands, meaning bleed would be highly prominent in both microphones. So therefore Omni is not the way to go.

Cardioid, does reject sound when off axis. However, at certain frequency bands an example of this is that at low frequencies the polar pattern changes from Cardioid to Omni-directional, as evidenced by the illustration from Neumann website showing polar response over 125K.

https://www.neumann.com/?lang=en&id=current_microphones&cid=u87_data

u87ai cardioid omni

 

Therefore using a microphone set to a Cardioid polar pattern would not be viable in doing this job. As the resonance from the guitar and the human voice from the chest have the potential to effect the microphones polar pattern causing more bleed than we want.

The tight rejection characteristics of a figure of eight polar pattern make it the perfect candidate for avoiding bleed. These null points around the microphone can be used very specifically to minimise bleed, and furthermore this tight off axis rejection by the microphone is consistent over all frequencies. Not susceptible to lower frequency bleed like Cardioid is.

However you have to take into consideration that the back side of the figure of eight shall have bleed from reflections of the room. This can be made into a very useful tool, when used in right way to taste of the song that is being recorded.  Changing the tone of what is being recorded.

For instance for a brighter tone to the recording having the back of the microphone pointing to a hard wooden floor or a window forces reflections of high frequencies. Whereas having the back of the microphone looking at a woollen carpet, the carpet absorbs the high frequencies, getting a “warmer” or “duller” tone. In this case one is changing the tone by changing the high frequencies content through reflections.

Null point diagram IMG-20140512-00339

The picture above shows the position of the artist and the microphones. Showing how I achieved this technique, using two figure of eight microphones. As you can see the artist was sat down throughout the recording process, this was not only for the artist’s comfort. Having the artist sat down limits how much they move away from the microphones. In this situation, meaning that the artists would not moving in and out of the null points on each mic causing more bleed that we want.

Positioning the mics correctly is fundamental to this technique and getting minimal bleed. The null points of the microphones go all around the side, top and bottom of the mic. These are the points that you need to take advantage of. On the vocal mic positioning the null points towards the artists guitar, and in this instance you can see that bottom of the microphone is looking at the guitar.

The bottom microphone in the picture, was used to record the guitar. It is looking at twelve fret on the fret board of the guitar. Whilst the null points are facing out to the sides but also, the top null point of the mic is facing directly towards the artists mouth. This is very effective of reducing bleed. The drawn diagram of the guitarist shows the null points in red dotted lines. That is how the mics should be set up with null points facing the correct direction to minimise bleed.

The minimising of bleed, separating the microphones and NOT seeing this technique as a stereo pair! These are individual microphones suit to taste the material being recorded. The two mics of choice do not and preferably should not be the same. But why do we need this separation in our recording?

Having a minimal amount of bleed and a clear separation between the microphones and the recording means more than you think it would. It means that within the mixing process many more possibilities are available to you. You can EQ, compress or even add different reverb to each track!  You could compress the vocals one way then compress the acoustic guitar completely differently! As well as many more options during the mixing process, it also makes the process much easier on yourself. Say if there’s an issue with the guitar that issue will not be highly prominent in the vocal track because you’ve used this technique correctly, and also taking advantage of the microphones specifications correctly.

The weapons (microphones) of choice were the Neumann U87Ai and the Sontronics Sigma. The U87Ai is a legendary multi-pattern condenser microphone, and the Sigma is set figure of eight ribbon microphone.

These mics were chosen for this job as they complement each other within frequency response. Where the Neumann U87Ai has a boost of  approx ?dB at 4K – 7K, the Sigma starts to cut the highs from around 5K upwards, being 6db down after one octave (10K) thus showing a roll off slope of 6dB/oct. This 4K – 7K boost also adds clarity/definition of the human voice, for instance the consonants at the beginning of words. The “K’s”and the “S’s” etc. Without this the vocals would be very muffled and hard to understand, so using this to your advantage on the vocals is very effective. The Neumann U87Ai and Sontronics Sigma frequency response graphs can be seen below.

u87 cardiod 1k

sontronics_sigma_graph

The U87Ai would preferably used on vocals in this instance as the artists voice was prominent within the  4K – 7K region. Meaning that relevant boost would pronounce the voice within that mic where the Sigma has its high end cut limiting its response to the artists voice. Helping distinguish between each microphone as well just placing them in the appropriate positions for the job. This leaves the Sontronics Sigma to capture the acoustic guitar, whilst the front was looking at the guitar the back of the mic was looking up towards the ceiling. getting lots of reflections from the room. The Sigma has a high end cut from 5K upwards eliminating the high frequencies, ,leaving the Sigma with a “warm” or “dull” tonality.

Living up to the Specifications?

When you read the specification data given to you by the manufacturer, you can almost be swayed into buying a microphone but do these two mics: The Neumann U87Ai and the Sontronics Sigma live up to their specs give to us by the manufacturer?

The Specifications of each microphone can be seen below.

u87 specs sigma specs

Both these microphones have an Equivalent Noise Level (A-weighted) of 14dB-A. The Equivalent Noise Level is the level of noise the microphone produces itself. Typically it is never audible but it is always there. Both of these microphones were not noisy by themselves or within recording.

The higher the sensitivity the more efficient the microphone and the less the gain will have to cranked up on the desk. The Sontronics Sigma has a sensitivity of 18mV/Pa whereas the Neumann U87Ai has a sensitivity of 22mV/Pa.

Do these mics stay true to their frequency response graphs? Indeed they do!

The high end cut on the Sigma is very audible in the microphones overall tonality. My initial thought when using the Sigma on an acoustic guitar was “Would this high end cut remove the high frequency transients that are a common within an acoustic guitar?”

For the Sound Pressure Level (SPL) I conducted a little test. Measuring the SPL of the loudest instrument in the studio. The snare. The SPL meter was held above the snare as a microphone would usually placed above a snare when recording. The overall SPL measurement came to 110dBSPL, the snare was forced to its saturation point and could not get any louder. The Maximum Sound Pressure Level (SPL) for Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) 0.5% for the Neumann U87Ai is 117dB and the Sontronics Sigma is 125dB. Both of these microphones could easily record a snare drum without distorting.

The SPL was also measured of the acoustic guitar recorded, with the U87Ai and the Sigma. The SPL meter was placed net to sigma to get an accurate measurement of the amount of SPL the Sigma would be picking up. The acoustic guitars SPL was measured at 78 dbSPL, a very low level and inevitably in the capability of the U87Ai and the Sigma’s abilities without any unwanted distortion.

Delicacy of microphones is not down to the SPL but from dropping them or blowing air into microphones capsule.

A Tasteful Conclusion

When listening back to the recording, there is a very noticeable separation between the U87Ai and Sigma. There is an 8dB difference in amplitude between the guitar in U87 and the Sigma. I measured the guitars peak using the built-in plug-in Gain on Pro Tools.  This 8dB difference is very significant and can be heard when the tracks are panned in the opposite directions.

gain protools

All in all this is a very successful outcome, meaning more option available to us within the mixing process. Not just making out job easier but getting it right from the source and that is evidence of a job done properly and professionally!

 

Mix & Master: “The Power Of Love” By Georgie

Hi everyone!

This post is going to be about how I mixed and mastered “The Power Of Love” by Georgie.

MIXING:

Main Win Mixer Win

“The Power Of Love” was a tricky song to mix. I had a lot of difficulty getting the levels to a suitable balance; this was due to issues with the piano tracks. This was my fault entirely as I played the piano and held the sustain pedal to long. This has made the piano sound washy at certain points within the song. This meant I was unable to compress the piano, as this washy hum would be brought up in the mix. Creating a song that was unbearable to listen too.

In the end I found that I got the levels to a balance that worked, yet the piano was somewhat inconsistent when the chorus starts. My playing style is very dynamic, so when the chorus comes in I played louder, but not to loud that I could not get the levels right.

Piano Pan

In the picture above you can see that the XY coincident pair of STC-1’s have been panned 50% to their assigned directions. No compression or EQ was used within the mixing process. As previously mentioned compression was not an option due to the washy hum of the sustain pedal being held to long. Whereas to EQ out the hum would damage the overall tone of the piano, as trying to remove the hum would remove the low end i.e. the bass notes played within the song.

Main Vox jpeg Main Vox CompVerb jpeg

The main vocals (above) and the backing vocals (below) both went through the same process when mixing. Pro Tools D3 Comp/Limiter plug-in and then Pro Tools Dverb Reverb plug-in.

BV CompVerb jpeg Back Vocals + Aux + panning jpeg

The compressor was necessary as Georgie has a very diverse vocal range and is very dynamic. The vocal seemed jumpy in places, especially within the chorus. Both the main vocal and backing vocals did this and did not sit well within the mix. I compressed the main vocal slightly but not to much, as to keep some of the dynamic range but just keeping in contained and smooth and not sudden and harsh.

Both vocals were compressed using a soft knee, a 3:0:1 compression ratio and an average of -6dB gain reduction. The Dverb Reverb plug-in was used to help the vocalist within the mix as well as the compression. The reverb was not set-up in it’s own auxiliary and routed to the vocal tracks. I set it up in line and after the  D3 compressor. I did this because I set the overall level of the vocals using the compression and did not want to the compress the reverb. So putting the reverb after the compression means that your editing a treated vocal and getting the desired effect.

Overall the mixing process for “The Power Of Love” was a bit tricky. Getting the levels to the point where the song feels as a whole and not unbalanced was not easy but I feel I have achieved in getting a sombre yet emotive mix. As well as balanced.

MASTERING:

I mastered “The Power Of Love” 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.

Mix & Master: “Los Pollos Hermanos” By Heisenbergs Blue Lagoon

Hi Everyone!

Today I’m going to explain how I mixed and mastered “Los Pollos Hermanos” by Heisenbergs Blue Lagoon.

MIXING:

Main Win JPEG Mix Win JPEG

I was surprised to say the least on how little I actually mixed this track. After getting the levels correct and to taste only minor adjustments to certain tracks were needed. These adjustments comprised of EQ, Compression and panning.

Drums:

The whole kit comprises of nine tracks in total. Two kick tracks (in and out), Snare bottom and a snare I layered over the top. Rack tom, floor tom, ride, crash and room. Only two of these nine tracks have any plug-ins used on them, the rest were levelled to taste and did not require any treatment. The rack tom, floor tom, ride and crash have been panned their correct directions within the mix as if you were playing the kit. So for instance, you can see in the above picture that floor tom has been panned 50% right.

But what plug-ins did use and on what?

Kick:

Kick EQ:Aux JPEG

I was debating replacing the two kick tracks entirely but after a second listen and level adjustments the kick was not in need of replacing. The two kick tracks have been routed to a stereo aux that has been panned 50% left and right. As well as this the aux has the Pro Tools 7 band EQ within the inserts. The EQ has a +5dB low end shelf from 20Hz – 250Hz and a high end shelf of +4dB from 4K – 20K. This was necessary as beforehand the kick lacked the low end attack and thump of kick, as well as not being clear. So boosting the low and high end adding that “umph” of the kick as well as adding clarity.

Snare:

Snare Layering:Replacement JPEG

I knew from the outset that replacing or layering the original snare with a sample was something I was definitely going to do, and to so say I am please with the outcome is an understatement. The snare sample I used was the one I recorded at the Lighthouse concert hall. The link to this post can be seen below.

https://eveterry21.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/youll-never-know-if-you-dont-ask/

Many drum replacement plug-ins are available to download and use within Pro Tools, however I did not use a plug to replace the snare. I done it manually, this was because of two things: 1. My Mac wont let me download Massey Drum Replacement Tool and 2. I am ridiculously OCD and knew the only way to get it to spot was to do it myself. Ideally I could have used strip silence or beat detective within Pro Tools to spot where each snare beat was. This may have been a time saver, but at the end the results would’ve been the same.

The layering process, started with hearing whether the sample of my choice complimented the song and the original recorded snare. In this case It did. Layering is the norm within mixing to achieve the perfect percussion sound. Layering up two or more samples allows you to have the best characteristics of each sample your using and this instance the original snare was very in the low end and did not have that sudden attack of a snare, whereas the sample I layered on top did. Creating a very complimentary snare sound to go in the mix.

After layering the sample on top of the original snare, I got the levels correct within the mix and found that no treatment was needed. Getting levels right within the mix was all it needed.

Room Mic:

Drum Room Comp JPEG

I used the BF-76 compressor on the room mic. The BF-76 within Pro Tools is a software replica of the 11-76 hardware compressor by Universal Audio. Renowned for it’s fast attack and release, as well as famously being used on room mics. The 11-76 is also famous for it’s “Brit Mode”. This infamous technique was discovered by a group of British engineers by pushing all ratio buttons in and the result being very heavy compression. Highly used in the late 60’s, an example of this is “Taxman” by The Beatles. A link to “Taxman” by The Beatles can be seen below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oyu5sFzWLk8

I used this compressor on the room mic to add a bit of crunch to the track. Compressors have their own tone, and I used the BF-76’s to my advantage. Having the room mic sit behind the main drums in the mix adding a harsh contrasting layer compared to the smooth tone of the guitars. This works very well within the mix especially at the big dynamic build at the end of the song. The room mic being compressed throughout the whole song acts as a snippet of where the song is leading, to a big emotive ending.

Bass:

Bass EQ and Comp JPEG

The bass tone was clean and could very easily be manipulated. Blue Lagoon made is very clear that a heavy sub driven bass was what they wanted. I went through the process of boosting the low end using Pro Tools 7 band EQ. How ever too much of this meant the kick became lost within the mix. Unfortunately as I have said before the kick does get lost within the mix in the last section of the song.

I did boost the low end of the bass but not to an over dramatic extent. As you can see above I used a low end shelf +3dB between 20K – 250K. As well as using the 7 band EQ, I also compressed the bass using Pro Tools D3 Comp/Limiter. The bass was not clipping but was very inconsistent dynamically, dropping into the background then becoming prominent and masking the kick. So compressing the bass gave me the opportunity to get the levels correct without having to change them when the bass becomes more prominent. Alternatively this could be done using automation.

The compression I used was at a 1:7:1 compression ratio with an average gain reduction of -6dB. This is only a small amount of compression as he bass did not need heavy compressing. I used a soft knee as with a harsh knee the bass distorted and this was not wanted. Getting the level of the bass within the mix was a tough one, I was considering as well as compression automation but I managed to get the bass to an adequate level.

Guitar:

Guit Panning JPEGGuitar Solo automation JPEG

I did not mix the guitar in any way, I simple got the levels correct, duplicated each track and panned accordingly, 50% left and right. This was to create a wider stereo image of the guitars whilst still being heard in mono. I also brought up the guitar solo in the mix using automation. Pictures can be seen above.

Organ, Piano and Synth:

Organ:piano panning JPEG

The organ, piano and the synth have not had any corrective treatments applied to them within the mixing process. The only adjustments made were the fader levels, panning and automation.

Strings Automation JPEGString panning Automation JPEG

 

The automation I used was on the synth strings; I panned the left synth track from right to left in time with the track. Whilst the left track is playing the right strings track has been automated so that it fades in once the last section crescendos into the end. This technique is very effective, yet unfortunately it is not audible in mono but the strings are still present when the panning goes to the left and the last section starts. Pictures of this can be seen above.

All in all I feel this is a very successful mix.

MASTERING:

I mastered “Los Pollos Hermanos” 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.

Mix & Master: “I Was Glad” By The Bournemouth Symphony Choir

Hi everyone!

Today I am going to explain how I have mixed and mastered The Bournemouth Symphony Choirs live performance of “I Was Glad”, written and composed by Charles Hubert Hastings.

MIXING:

How did I mix the choir? Well to put it simply, I didn’t.

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 10.28.16

When listening back to the recording I did not feel the need to add anything to the mix, neither repair work or treatment.  The recording sounds as if I was there recording it again. I checked the track in Mono to see if any problems occurred and found that no issues could be heard. I then proceeded to pan both Sontronics STC 1 tracks towards their assigned directions, panned 100% left and right. Capturing the true stereo image of the choir in all it’s magnificent glory.

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 10.28.32

When given such an amazing space with tremendous acoustic properties you don’t want to mess with that (within the mix) if you don’t have to. Using the room to your advantage and also using the microphones chosen correctly eliminates having to repair issues within the mixing process. I feel this is a perfect example of getting it right from the source.

MASTERING:

I mastered “I Was Glad” 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.

Mix & Master: “Not A Saint” By Luke Draper

Hi everyone!

In this post I shall be explaining how I Mixed and Mastered “Not A Saint” by singer/acoustic guitarist Luke Draper.

MIXING:

PT main window Mixer win

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.

Acoustic guitar EQ

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.

Main Vox COMP:VERB

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.

Back Vox COMP:VERB:AUX

MASTERING:

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.