Recording - September 2015 - 13

Relying too heavily on master fader processing. This is an
addition to my last point, but so crucial that I think it needs its
own paragraph. Master fader plug-ins like iZotope Ozone and
IK Multimedia T-RackS are capable of incredible feats when
used properly... but too many young producers and engineers
think that a sweet Ozone preset is the answer to everything,
including a just-plain-bad mix.
Those processors need to be removed when your mix goes to
mastering, and without them you'll have no idea of what your mix
really sounds like. Take the time to do it right and get the mix where
you want it, and save the master fader plug-ins for mastering.
Taking the "more is more" approach. This is similar to the
problem of overusing multi-effects presets. I read a blog post
where someone boasted of processing a bass synth with 10
plug-ins and a prefade send for parallel processing, and upon
listening to the Before and After samples, most readers agreed
the original sound was better.
The lesson to take away is that we can be so focused on using
our toys we can easily stray from what we need to actually
accomplish with them. Think of how you can achieve your end
result with the least amount of processing as possible. It will
keep your sessions cleaner and more concise, with less audio
degradation.
Mixing without vision. This is more abstract, but maybe the
most important point I can stress. Home in on your vision of your
mixes. The vision of the song will of course come from the producer and artist, and you'll want your vision to line up with
theirs, but in order to execute a solid mix, you have to really
own the vision. Grasp it, and know how to achieve it. This way,
you're not just following someone else's instructions, but adding
your own emotion and experiences to the music.
When I infuse my own perspective and feelings into the song,
I see heads turn. When they line up with the ultimate vision of the
record, that's when I get hired again. This comes from a place of
passion, experience, and feeling. Owning technicality is great,
but there comes a point where that shouldn't be the focus of mixing. It should be about the personality, style, emotion and perspective of the music. Strive to get to the place where you're not
thinking about how to wield the best tools for the job, but how
the music should feel from the listener's perspective... because in
the end, that's the whole point of all this!

Tricks of the trade
Now I'll cover some specific tips and techniques that have
helped bring my mixes to higher levels. These ideas are not necessarily advanced, but as I learned them they definitely made
their way into my mix practices. You should learn them, too.
Serial compression. This is when you put two compressors in
the same signal path on a track. It has many applications, but I
use it mostly on vocals. By using two different compressors to
control different elements of a performance, you can create a
more powerful and punchy sound on a track.
Here's an example of my vocal chain. Before anything else, I put
on the Waves Puigchild. I love the attack and release on the secondfastest speed setting, and I usually compress by 3 to 5 dB. I want
the low end of the vocal to trigger this compressor; I don't cut lows
until later in the chain. Depending on the sound and type of performance, I usually put on a Waves Renaissance Compressor before
my main EQ. It's very transparent, and you can really smooth out a
vocal without it sounding squashed. I then EQ and de-ess to taste.
Other instruments I would consider compressing like this would be
acoustic guitars, bass, and certain drums and percussion instruments. Experiment with compressors by putting instances with fast
attacks and releases before or after ones with slow attacks and
releases. Experiment with different colors to see what works for you.
Parallel processing. This is when you create a duplicate of an
audio signal, process the two signals separately to achieve different effects, and then blend them together. In a DAW you can
simply duplicate an audio track and add different plug-ins, or
you can route a signal to two different buses and add different
effects to both of those.
Most frequently, I'll parallel process drums. Picture a typical
set of acoustic drumset tracks-kick, snare, hi-hat, toms, overheads, rooms, etc. In simple terms, I usually mix those and
always send the outputs of the audio tracks to a bus so I can
effect the drum set as a whole. I then duplicate that "Drum" bus
and parallel process it. Of course what I would do varies from
song to song. Some options: heavily compress the track so
there's extra pumping and breathing that can be added to the
original drum mix; use different types of overdrive to add grit;
creatively EQ to bring out some aggressive frequencies or cut
them out; add chorus or phaser to make cymbals sound washy
and ambient... the list could go on forever. There are ways of
RECORDING September 2015

13



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - September 2015

Contents
Recording - September 2015 - Intro
Recording - September 2015 - Cover1
Recording - September 2015 - Cover2
Recording - September 2015 - 1
Recording - September 2015 - 2
Recording - September 2015 - 3
Recording - September 2015 - 4
Recording - September 2015 - 5
Recording - September 2015 - Contents
Recording - September 2015 - 7
Recording - September 2015 - 8
Recording - September 2015 - 9
Recording - September 2015 - 10
Recording - September 2015 - 11
Recording - September 2015 - 12
Recording - September 2015 - 13
Recording - September 2015 - 14
Recording - September 2015 - 15
Recording - September 2015 - 16
Recording - September 2015 - 17
Recording - September 2015 - 18
Recording - September 2015 - 19
Recording - September 2015 - 20
Recording - September 2015 - 21
Recording - September 2015 - 22
Recording - September 2015 - 23
Recording - September 2015 - 24
Recording - September 2015 - 25
Recording - September 2015 - 26
Recording - September 2015 - 27
Recording - September 2015 - 28
Recording - September 2015 - 29
Recording - September 2015 - 30
Recording - September 2015 - 31
Recording - September 2015 - 32
Recording - September 2015 - 33
Recording - September 2015 - 34
Recording - September 2015 - 35
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Recording - September 2015 - 37
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Recording - September 2015 - Cover3
Recording - September 2015 - Cover4
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