Mixing—Getting Started

       I had the opportunity recently to mix someone else’s project and I really enjoyed working on it. It’s a cover of  “Me and My Monkey” from The Beatles’ White Album. I downloaded the .wav files (17 in all) and set the mix up by first of all ordering the tracks by which tracks would be worked on first, second, etc. Since the tracks were already labeled, I didn’t have to worry about that. I also set up auxiliary sends on the tracks (guitars, snare, drum overheads and background vocals) I knew I would have reverb on them other than the lead vocal. I always use a different reverb than rest of the mix on the lead vocal to help it stand out. As I’ve mentioned before, you always want to work on the kick drum, bass and lead vocal first. The lead vocal was separated into right and left tracks so I bounced them down to a single mono track as well as the snare. Overall the tracks were really clean, no extraneous noise but they were compressed to the point that there was no dynamic content at all. On vocals especially, I like to use the fader to control the dynamic range and then compress the track slightly to give me a bit more headroom. The real squeezing comes at mix-down.

       I started off with the kick drum and even though it was from a drum machine (Boss DR—770), it sounded a bit thin and splatty ( click here). I eq’d it to bring out some thump and then used the compressor to tame any transients from the equalization ( click here). I brought the level up to around –4db and then started working on the bass.

       The bass tone was pretty good but it lacked some definition ( click here) so I eq’d it to highlight the attack and again compressed it as I had done the kick drum ( click here). I brought the bass up to where the kick and the bass where peaking at about –3db ( click here) . At this point I tweaked the eq to give the kick and the bass their own sonic space and set to working on the vocal.

       The vocal was recorded splendidly and was exceedingly dry ( click here). That gave me plenty of options as far as sonic sculpting. John Lennon always used some sort of doubling on his voice by either double-tracking it or by using an effect on it, so I added a thickening chorus to accomplish this ( click here). In fact, I’ve heard that he came up with the idea of chorus because he was tired of always having to double-track his vocals. I played around with some eq ( click here), compression ( click here) and added some reverb ( click here) to it to give it some space and then brought the level up to where the vocal was the predominant track in the mix without overshadowing the kick or bass ( click here).

      
       Next month we’ll bring in the rest of the drum kit and the guitars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      

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