AUS 220 Week 4 Blog
In the final week of our Music Production class for AUS 220, we had a mixing session in the Neve studio. The first half of this session was spent entirely to comp the drums, bass, vocals and guitars. This wasn’t a part of our plan for this project but because all members of our group struggled with time management between work, school and freelance; we weren’t able to finish editing and comping our Pro Tools project before this mixing session.
Nevertheless, we were able to finish mixing our project in the time allotted.
First, we routed all our signals on to the channel strips on the Neve console. Michael suggested that we create a stereo mix of all our vocal tracks within Pro Tools itself and then send them as a stereo signal on the console. This was because we had a lot of vocal tracks (lead, double tracks, harmonies) and not enough available channels on the console. Thus, I mixed all the vocal tracks within the DAW; the process I will cover later in this blog.
I was responsible for mixing the drums and vocals, so this blog will predominantly cover the techniques I used to do that.
We started mixing the drums and bass first. This was because they were probably going to be the loudest element of in our mix and so setting their levels correctly first would set a solid foundation for us to build upon.
After setting the levels, we used the Neve’s onboard “gate” processor on the Kick In and Out and the Snare top and bottom to remove the unwanted spill and get the cleanest signal possible. With our bassline, we were aiming to keep it lower than the kick (in terms of frequency). So, we used the Neve’s onboard low shelving EQ on the Kick In and Out to attenuate the frequencies below 60Hz. We used the same process on the Bass, but this time with a peak filter to reduce frequencies at 80Hz. These processes helped to create a separation between the Kick and the bass and allowed them to sit well in the mix. I also set up a Kick triggered sidechain compressor on the bass within Pro Tools, to use as a creative effect. We EQd the Snare top and bottom individually to make them sit well in the mix and we also added a snare sample that we had to it and make it more pitchy and snappy. Our EQing process for the snare channels comprised of boosting the mids (around 300Hz) on the Snare top to add fullness, boosting the highs (2.5KHz to 5KHz) on the snare bottom to make it sound more crisp and cleaning up everything below 80Hz on both of them using high-pass filters.
The gate and eqs on the Neve console are great! Also, It was a great pleasure to work with physical knobs instead of the boring mouse clicks that I was used to.
Michael also suggested that we subgroup the drum tracks ‘on the console’ so that we could send them all to the outboard compressor (FATso). The compressor gave a very nice saturation to our drums and although, we did lose some low-end, the drums were sounding great and tight. We later routed the kick drum channel individually in to the mix (as in parallel compression) to compensate for the kick loss.
For the vocals, I relied entirely on the DAW plugins because I had to mix it in the box. I started by DeEssing the lead vocals and the rap. I set the DeEsser to target only the high frequencies (above 6KHz) to have more control over the sibilance, which I felt were a bit overpowering and clashing with the hi-hats and cymbals in the mix. Then, I added a compressor (targeting a max of 6dB gain reduction) on them to reduce their dynamic range so that everything was at a similar level and easily audible in the mix. After setting their dynamics right, I moved on to EQing them. I started by adding high pass filters on them to remove most of the low frequencies (approx. below 120Hz). I usually start this by setting the filter’s Q value to a very steep setting in order to be able to hear and locate the frequencies that I want and don’t want in the mix. After I find the right frequency range to cut, I begin to slowly reduce them until I achieve the desired results. After this, I set the Q value back to a more gradual slope so as to make it sound natural and not very resonant. After this, I filtered out the highs and the lows on the backing vocals to make them less obvious in the mix (again, I found the right frequency where the backing vocals should sit along with the lead using a peak filter). After this, I added delays and reverbs (using AUX sends) on them and EQd them as well so as to remove any unwanted frequencies that would’ve made the mix muddy.
All of the above processes were very easy and quick for me to achieve as I’ve had plenty of experience with them already in the past. Moreover, the rest of the group seemed pretty happy with what I’d done and I feel really proud to have been able to contribute to the best of my knowledge. I’m also grateful to have been given this opportunity to learn so many new techniques and practices from my fellow students and teachers. We are all very happy and proud of the end result and I’ll be looking forward to learn more about the Neve studio and working in it in the coming months.