Amsìcidam - Bosìon - HcidcIhcig - London - Ncw Yoik - Oxfoid - Paiis

San Dicgo - San Fiancisco - Singapoic - Sydncy - 1okyo
Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier
Mixing Secrets for the
Small Studio
Mike Senior
FocaIPicss is an impiinì of EIscvici
3u Coipoiaìc Diivc, Suiìc 4uu, BuiIingìon, MA ul8u3, USA
1lc BouIcvaid, Langfoid Lanc, KidIingìon, Oxfoid, OX5 lCB, UK
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd
No paiì of ìlis puhIicaìion may hc icpioduccd oi ìiansmiììcd in any foim oi hy any mcans, cIccìionic
oi mcclanicaI, incIuding ploìocopying, iccoiding, oi any infoimaìion sìoiagc and icìiicvaI sysìcm,
wiìlouì pcimission in wiiìing fiom ìlc puhIislci. DcìaiIs on low ìo scck pcimission, fuiìlci
infoimaìion ahouì ìlc PuhIislci's pcimissions poIicics and oui aiiangcmcnìs wiìl oiganizaìions sucl
as ìlc Copyiiglì CIcaiancc Ccnìci and ìlc Copyiiglì Liccnsing Agcncy, can hc found aì oui
wchsiìc: www.cIscvici.com[pcimissions.
1lis hook and ìlc individuaI conìiihuìions conìaincd in iì aic pioìccìcd undci copyiiglì hy ìlc PuhIislci
(oìlci ìlan as may hc noìcd lcicin).
Notices
KnowIcdgc and hcsì piacìicc in ìlis ncId aic consìanìIy clanging. As ncw icscaicl and cxpciicncc
hioadcn oui undcisìanding, clangcs in icscaicl mcìlods, piofcssionaI piacìiccs, oi mcdicaI
ìicaìmcnì may hccomc ncccssaiy.
Piacìiìioncis and icscaiclcis musì aIways icIy on ìlcii own cxpciicncc and knowIcdgc in cvaIuaìing
and using any infoimaìion, mcìlods, compounds, oi cxpciimcnìs dcsciihcd lcicin. In using sucl
infoimaìion oi mcìlods ìlcy slouId hc mindfuI of ìlcii own safcìy and ìlc safcìy of oìlcis, incIuding
paiìics foi wlom ìlcy lavc a piofcssionaI icsponsihiIiìy.
1o ìlc fuIIcsì cxìcnì of ìlc Iaw, nciìlci ìlc PuhIislci noi ìlc auìlois, conìiihuìois, oi cdiìois, assumc
any IiahiIiìy foi any injuiy and[oi damagc ìo pcisons oi piopciìy as a maììci of pioducìs IiahiIiìy,
ncgIigcncc oi oìlciwisc, oi fiom any usc oi opciaìion of any mcìlods, pioducìs, insìiucìions, oi
idcas conìaincd in ìlc maìciiaI lcicin.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Scnioi, Mikc.
Mixing sccicìs foi ìlc smaII sìudio [ Mikc Scnioi.
p. cm.
ISBN 978-u-24u-8l58u-u (phk.)
l. Sound-Rccoiding and icpioducing. 2. Higl-ndcIiìy sound sysìcms. 3. Sound sìudios. I. 1iìIc.
1K788l.4.S465 2ull
62l.389Ј3-dc22 2uluu45uu9
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A caìaIoguc iccoid foi ìlis hook is avaiIahIc fiom ìlc Biiìisl Lihiaiy.
ISBN: 978-u-24u-8l58u-u
Foi infoimaìion on aII FocaI Picss puhIicaìions
visiì oui wchsiìc aì www.cIscvicidiiccì.com
ll l2 l3 l4 l5 5 4 3 2 l
Piinìcd in ìlc Uniìcd Sìaìcs of Amciica
To my parents.
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v
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ............................................................................. vii
INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................... ix
PART 1
G
Hearing and Listening .................................. 1
CHAPTER 1 Using Nearfield Monitors .....................................................3
CHAPTER 2 Supplementary Monitoring .................................................31
CHAPTER 3 Low-End Damage Limitation ...............................................47
CHAPTER 4 From Subjective Impressions to Objective Results ..............57
PART 2
G
Mix Preparation ........................................ 79
CHAPTER 5 Essential Groundwork ........................................................81
CHAPTER 6 Timing and Tuning Adjustments .........................................89
CHAPTER 7 Comping and Arrangement ..............................................107
PART 3
G
Balance .................................................. 117
CHAPTER 8 Building the Raw Balance ................................................119
CHAPTER 9 Compressing for a Reason ...............................................143
CHAPTER 10 Beyond Compression .......................................................163
CHAPTER 11 Equalizing for a Reason ...................................................171
CHAPTER 12 Beyond EQ ......................................................................191
CHAPTER 13 Frequency-Selective Dynamics .........................................203
CHAPTER 14 The Power of Side Chains ................................................219
CHAPTER 15 Toward Fluent Balancing..................................................225
PART 4
G
Sweetening to Taste ............................... 229
CHAPTER 16 Mixing with Reverb .........................................................231
CHAPTER 17 Mixing with Delays ..........................................................255
CHAPTER 18 Stereo Enhancements .........................................261
CHAPTER 19 Buss Compression, Automation, and Endgame..................273
CHAPTER 20 Conclusion ......................................................................301
APPENDIX 1 Who’s Who: Selected Discography ...................................303
APPENDIX 2 Quote References............................................................321
APPENDIX 3 Picture Credits ................................................................329
INDEX ..................................................................................................331
Contents
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vii
1lis hook las hccn in ìlc woiks a Iong ìimc, and many pcopIc lavc Icnì ìlcii
suppoiì duiing iìs cicaìion. Fiisì of aII, I'd Iikc ìo ìlank aII ìlosc wlo pcppcicd
mc wiìl qucsìions aì ìlc Camhiidgc Music 1cclnoIogy masìcicIass scssions,
ìlcichy sowing ìlc sccds of ìlis hook, and aIso ìlc many icadcis of Sound on
Sound magazinc wlosc numcious 'Mix Rcscuc´ suhmissions and qucsìions
lavc cIaiincd my ìlinking.
In addiìion, I'd Iikc spccincaIIy ìo ìlank aII ìlc inìcivicwcis wlo lavc donc an
immcnsc scivicc ìo us aII hy slcdding so mucl Iiglì on ìop-IcvcI sìudio piac-
ìicc: MiclacI Baihicio, Maìì BcII, BiII Biucc, Riclaid Buskin, Dan DaIcy, 1om
DoyIc, Mauiccn Dioncy, 1om FIinì, Kciìl Haìsclck, Sam IngIis, Davc Lockwood,
Howaid Masscy, Bohhy Owsinski, Andica Rohinson, and PauI 1ingcn. PauI
1ingcn dcscivcs spcciaI piaisc foi lis doggcd puisuiì of ìlc loììcsì cuiicnì liì-
makcis foi Sound on Sound's 'Insidc 1iack´ sciics. I'm giaìcfuI as wcII ìo Russ
EIcvado, Rocy Izlaki, Rogci NicloIs, and Mikc Sìaviou foi ìlcii own insiglìfuI
wiiìing on ìlc suhjccì of mixdown. Many ìlanks aic aIso owcd ìo PliIip NcwcII,
Kciìl HoIIand, and IuIius NcwcII foi pcimission ìo icpioducc ìlc icsuIìs of
ìlcii supcih NSluM icscaicl papci, ìo PliI Waid foi aIciìing mc ìo ìlc pciiIs
of spcakci poiìing, and ìo Rohciìo Dcìicc and Masìcimix Sìudios in Municl foi
aIIowing mc ìo ploìogiapl ìlcii spcakcis.
In dcvcIoping ìlis ìcxì foi puhIicaìion, I lavc hccn assisìcd a gicaì dcaI hy Maìì
Houglìon and Ccoff Smiìl, wlosc wcII-infoimcd and in-dcpìl fccdhack las
hccn invaIuahIc. 1lanks aIso ìo cvciyonc in ìlc cdiìoiiaI dcpaiìmcnì aì Sound
on Sound foi gcnciousIy offciing so mucl lcIp and uscfuI advicc. I'm aIso vciy
giaìcfuI ìo ìlc ìcam aì FocaI Picss foi ìlcii paìicncc and cxpciìisc in hiing-
ing ìlis piojccì ìo fiuiìion: Caìlaiinc Sìccis, CaiIin Rcagan, McIissa Sandfoid,
Lauia AhciIc, and Cialam Smiìl.
Ahovc aII, I'd Iikc ìo ìlank my wondcifuI wifc, Uìc, foi lci unwavciing Iovc
and suppoiì, as wcII as foi ìaking on ìlc woisì piooficading and icfcicncing
ìasks so giaciousIy. I'd hc Iosì wiìlouì you, my Iovc. And ìlank you Loììc and
Laia ìoo-ycs, Papa's nnislcd hcing hoiing now.
Acknowledgments
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ix
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM THIS BOOK
1lis hook wiII ìcacl you low ìo aclicvc icIcasc-quaIiìy mixcs on a hudgcì
wiìlin a ìypicaI smaII-sìudio cnviionmcnì hy appIying powci-usci ìcclniqucs
fiom ìlc woiId's mosì succcssfuI pioduccis. Using ìlcsc samc mcìlods, I'vc cai-
iicd ouì dozcns of mix makcovcis foi Sound on Sound magazinc's popuIai 'Mix
Rcscuc´ sciics, woiking on mass-maikcì gcai in vaiious lomc, piojccì, and coI-
Icgc sìudios. If you lcad ovci ìo www.soundonsound.com, you can nnd hcfoic[
afìci audio compaiisons foi cvciy onc of ìlcsc icmixcs, and ìlis hook is a
onc-sìop guidc ìo puIIing off ìlcsc kinds of niglì-and-day ìiansfoimaìions foi
youiscIf.
WHAT YOU WON’T LEARN
1lis hook wiII noì ìcacl you low ìo opciaìc any spccinc hiand of sìudio
gcai-ìlaì's wlaì cquipmcnì manuaIs aic foi! 1lc infoimaìion lcic is dcIih-
ciaìcIy 'pIaìfoim ncuìiaI,´ so ìlaì you can makc jusì as mucl usc of iì wlcìlci
you'ic on Cuhasc, DigiìaI Pcifoimci, Livc, Logic, Pio 1ooIs, Rcapci, Rcason,
Sonai, oi any oìlci sofìwaic pIaìfoim. And aIìlougl I'vc madc ìlc assump-
ìion ìlaì ìlc majoiiìy of così-conscious mix cnginccis wiII now hc woiking in
sofìwaic, my advicc aIso appIics cquaIIy wcII ìo laidwaic scìups, givc oi ìakc
a paìcl coid oi ìwo. Indccd, my own hackgiound is in compuìciIcss cnviion-
mcnìs, so I know fiom cxpciicncc ìlaì cquaIIy good icsuIìs aic aììainahIc ìlcic.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ALREADY
AIìlougl I'vc donc my hcsì ìo makc ìlis hook fiicndIy ìo sìudio ncwhics,
ìlcic is noncìlcIcss somc hasic hackgiound knowIcdgc ìlaì you'II nccd ìo
undcisìand ìo gcì ìlc hcsì ouì of wlaì I'II hc wiiìing ahouì. In paiìicuIai, I'm
assuming ìlaì ìlc icadci aIicady undcisìands somcìling ahouì ìlcsc ìopics:
I
The fundamental physics, measurement, and perception of sound: ampIiìudc,
dccihcIs, and Ioudncss, ficqucncy, Hciìz, and piìcl, sinc wavcs and ìlc lai-
monic sciics, ficqucncy icsponsc mcasuicmcnìs
I
Studio setup and session workflow: ìiansmission[sìoiagc mcìlods foi sound
(cIccìiicaI, magncìic, digiìaI), ìlc hasic piincipIcs of mics, DIs, audio cahIcs,
muIìiìiack iccoidcis, and mixcis, iouìing foi insciì and Ioop cffccìs, ìlc
sìagcs of a ìypicaI pioducìion (picpioducìion, ìiacking, ovciduhhing, mix-
ing, masìciing), gain, lcadioom, noisc, and signaI mcìciing
Introduction
Introduction x
If you nccd a quick icficslci on any of ìlcsc cIcmcnìs, ìlcn clcck ouì www
.cambridge-mt.com/ms-basics.htm foi a wlisìIc-sìop ovcivicw. AIìcinaìivcIy, you
can gcì moic inìo ìlc cquaìions hy clccking ouì ìlc nisì ìwo clapìcis of ciìlci
AIcxandci U. Casc's Sound FX (FocaI Picss, 2uu7) oi David MiIcs Huhci & Rohciì
E. Runsìcin's Modern Recording Techniques, 7ìl cdiìion (FocaI Picss, 2uu9).
Sìudio jaigon can hc picììy inìimidaìing, huì ìlc soonci you gcì a giip on iì,
ìlc quickci you'II impiovc youi mixing. If you fccI unsuic of any of ìlc ìci-
minoIogy uscd in ìlis hook, ìlcn lcad ovci ìo www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-
links.htm, wlcic ìlcic aic Iinks ìo a coupIc of ìloiougl and wcII-mainìaincd
gIossaiics.
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
Bccausc ìlis hook las hccn spccincaIIy dcsigncd as a sìcp-hy-sìcp piimci, you'II
gcì hcsì icsuIìs if you woik ìliougl iì fiom hcginning ìo cnd. Many Iaìci scc-
ìions icIy on maìciiaI covcicd in caiIici clapìcis, so somc aspccìs of ìlc discus-
sion may noì makc ìlc gicaìcsì scnsc if you jusì dip in and ouì. Aì ìlc cnd of
cacl clapìci ìlcic is a Cut to the Chase sccìion, wlicl aIIows you ìo icvicw a
summaiy of cacl clapìci's main 'sccicìs´ hcfoic piocccding. Undcincaìl iì is
an Assignment sccìion, wlicl suggcsìs a numhci of piacìicaI acìiviìics ìo con-
soIidaìc youi undcisìanding, and ìlcsc assignmcnìs couId aIso scivc as couisc-
woik ìasks wiìlin a moic foimaI cducaìion fiamcwoik. 1lc URL aì ìlc cnd of
cacl clapìci Icads ìo a scpaiaìc wchsiìc conìaining a scIccìion of icIaìcd Iinks
and audio nIcs, aII of wlicl may hc ficcIy uscd foi cducaìionaI puiposcs.
1lis hook is hascd on my own cxìcnsivc icscaicl inìo ìlc sìudio piacìiccs
of moic ìlan luu woiId-famous cnginccis, diawing on moic ìlan 2 miIIion
woids of nisìland inìcivicws. 1lc ìcxì ìlcicfoic incIudcs lundicds of quoìcs
fiom ìlcsc ligl-ßicis. If you don'ì iccognizc somconc's namc, ìlcn Iook iì up
in Appendix 1 ìo gcì an idca of ìlc mosì ligl-pionIc iccoids ìlcy'vc woikcd
on-you'II aImosì cciìainIy lavc lcaid a fcw of ìlosc! If you'd Iikc ìo icad any
quoìc in iìs oiiginaI conìcxì (wlicl I'd lcaiìiIy iccommcnd), ìlcn foIIow ìlc
IiììIc supcisciipì numhci aIongsidc iì ìo Appendix 2, wlcic ìlcic's fuII icfci-
cncc infoimaìion foi cacl onc. FinaIIy, if you lavc any fuiìlci qucsìions oi
fccdhack, fccI ficc ìo cmaiI mc aì ms@cambridge-mt.com.
PiohahIy ìlc mosì icIiahIc way ìo wasìc youi ìimc in a smaII sìudio is hy ìiy-
ing ìo mix hcfoic you can acìuaIIy lcai wlaì you'ic doing. Wiìlouì dcpcnd-
ahIc infoimaìion ahouì wlaì's lappcning ìo youi audio, you'ic hasicaIIy ßying
hIind, and ìlaì can gcì mcssy. In ìlc nisì insìancc, you'II facc a fiusìiaìingIy
upliII sìiuggIc ìo gcì a mix ìlaì sounds good in youi own sìudio, and ìlcn
you'II invaiiahIy nnd ìlaì somc of youi laid-won mixcs simpIy coIIapsc on
oìlci pIayhack sysìcms, so ìlaì you'ic Icfì unsuic wlcìlci any of ìlc ìccl-
niqucs you'vc Icaincd aIong ìlc way aic acìuaIIy woiìl a hiass faiìling. You'II
hc hack ìo squaic onc, huì wiìl Icss laii.
RcIcvanì advicc fiom piofcssionaI cnginccis is pcilaps unsuipiisingIy ìlin on
ìlc giound lcic. Afìci aII, mosì pios lavc icguIai acccss ìo cxpcnsivc ligl-cnd
spcakci sysìcms in puiposc-dcsigncd iooms wiìl spcciaIisì acousìic ìicaìmcnì.
Howcvci, cvcn ìlc loììcsì namcs in ìlc indusìiy don'ì aIways gcì ìo woik in
ìlc gIiìzicsì of suiioundings, and if you Iook caicfuIIy aì ìlcii woiking mcìl-
ods, ìlcy lavc acìuaIIy dcvcIopcd vaiious ìacìics ìlaì cnahIc ìlcm ìo mainìain
consisìcnì ligl-quaIiìy icsuIìs cvcn undci difncuIì ciicumsìanccs. 1lcsc samc
ìiicks can hc appIicd cffccìivcIy in smaII sìudios ìoo. So mucl so, in facì, ìlaì
as Iong as you ìakc caic wiìl gcai cloicc and sìudio scìup, iì's pcifccìIy pos-
sihIc ìo pioducc commciciaIIy compcìiìivc mixcs in a domcsìic cnviionmcnì
wiìl compaiaìivcIy affoidahIc cquipmcnì. Indccd, aII of my icmixcs foi Sound
on Sound magazinc's monìlIy 'Mix Rcscuc´ coIumn lavc hccn caiiicd ouì
undci cxacìIy sucl icsìiicìions.
Hearing and Listening
PART 1
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 2
Buì cvcn Cod's own pcisonaI conìioI ioom won'ì lcIp you mix youi way ouì
of a wcì papci hag unIcss you know low ìo listen ìo wlaì you'ic lcaiing. In
oìlci woids, oncc you'ic picscnìcd wiìl a huncl of infoimaìion ahouì youi
mix, you nccd ìo know low ìo makc ohjccìivc dccisions ahouì ìlaì daìa, iiic-
spccìivc of youi own suhjccìivc picfcicnccs, hccausc ìlaì's ìlc onIy way of
icpcaìcdIy mccìing ìlc dcmands of diffcicnì cIicnìs oi diffcicnì sccìois of ìlc
music maikcì. Do ìlc cymhaIs nccd EQ aì l2kHz² Docs ìlc snaic nccd com-
picssion² How Ioud slouId ìlc vocaI hc, and aic ìlc Iyiics coming ìliougl
cIcaiIy cnougl² 1lcsc aic ìlc kinds of impoiìanì mix qucsìions ìlaì nciìlci
youi Iisìcning sysìcm noi youi mixing gcai can answci-iì's you, ìlc cngincci,
wlo las ìo Iisìcn ìo ìlc iaw audio facìs, dcvcIop a cIcai opinion ahouì wlaì
nccds ìo hc clangcd, and ìlcn coax ìlc dcsiicd impiovcmcnìs ouì of wlaìcvci
cquipmcnì you lappcn ìo lavc aì youi disposaI.
Mosì pcopIc wlo appioacl mc hccausc ìlcy'ic unlappy wiìl ìlcii mixcs ìlink
ìlaì iì's ìlcii pioccssing ìcclniqucs ìlaì aic Icììing ìlcm down, huì in my
cxpciicncc ìlc icaI iooì of ìlcii piohIcms is usuaIIy ciìlci ìlaì ìlcy'ic noì ahIc
ìo lcai wlaì ìlcy nccd ìo, oi cIsc ìlaì ìlcy lavcn'ì woikcd ouì low ìo Iisìcn
ìo wlaì ìlcy'ic lcaiing. So insìcad of kicking off ìlis hook hy Icaping lcad-
Iong inìo a ìicaìisc on EQ, compicssion, oi somc oìlci icIaìcd ìopic, I wanì
ìo hcgin insìcad hy focusing on lcaiing and Iisìcning. UnìiI you gcì a piopci
giip on ìlosc issucs, any discussion of mixing ìcclniqucs is ahouì as uscfuI as
a clocoIaìc lcaìsink.
3
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
1.1 CHOOSING YOUR WEAPONS
Cloosing ìlc cquipmcnì ìlaì aIIows you ìo lcai (oi 'moniìoi´) youi mix
signaI is noì a ìask ìo hc ìakcn IiglìIy, hccausc iì's ìlc window ìliougl wlicl
you'II hc vicwing cvciyìling you do. Foi ìlosc on a sìiicì hudgcì, lowcvci,
ìlc unappcìizing icaIiìy is ìlaì moniìoiing is onc of ìlosc aicas of audio
ìcclnoIogy wlcic ìlc amounì of casl you'ic picpaicd ìo spIasl icaIIy makcs
a diffcicncc. 1lis is paiìicuIaiIy ìiuc wiìl icgaid ìo youi sìudio's piimaiy
moniìoiing sysìcm, wlicl nccds ìo comhinc waiìs-and-aII mix dcìaiI wiìl a
faiiIy cvcn ficqucncy icsponsc acioss ìlc higgcsì possihIc sIicc of ìlc 2uHz ìo
2ukHz audihIc ficqucncy spccìium-a scì of claiacìciisìics ìlaì docsn'ì comc
clcap.
1laì said, wlcn cloosing ìlc sìcico Ioudspcakcis ìlaì wiII fuInII ìlcsc duìics
in aII huì ìlc mosì consìiaincd sìudios, ìlcic's a Ioì you can do ìo maximizc
youi vaIuc foi moncy. Fiisì off, fuiniìuic-iaììIing voIumc IcvcIs aicn'ì ìicmcn-
dousIy impoiìanì foi mixing puiposcs, dcspiìc wlaì you miglì gucss fiom
sccing pics of ìlc dislwaslci-sizcd hcasìs mounìcd inìo ìlc waIIs of famous
conìioI iooms-mosì mix cnginccis usc ìlosc spcakcis mainIy foi paiìing
ìlc visiìing A&R guy's laii! 'I usc ncaincIds aImosì cxcIusivcIy,´ says Cluck
AinIay, 'hccausc ìlcic jusì aicn'ì many siìuaìions wlcic ìlc main moniìois
sound aII ìlaì good. 1lc mains in mosì sìudios aic inìcndcd piimaiiIy foi lyp-
ing ìlc cIicnìs and pIaying icaI Ioud.´
l
'I don'ì usc ìlc hig moniìois in sìudios
foi anyìling,´ says NigcI Codiicl, 'hccausc ìlcy don'ì icaIIy icIaìc ìo any-
ìling.´
2
You'II gcì a moic icvcaIing sìudio ìooI aì a givcn piicc poinì if you
go foi somcìling wlcic ìlc dcsigncis lavc spcnì ìlcii hudgcì on audio quaI-
iìy iaìlci ìlan slcci powci. As iì lappcns, ìlc mosì ligl-pionIc mix cnginccis
acìuaIIy icIy aImosì cxcIusivcIy on smaIIci spcakcis scì up wiìlin a coupIc of
mcìcis of ìlcii mix posiìion (commonIy icfciicd ìo as ncaincId moniìois). If
you scnsihIy foIIow ìlcii cxampIc in youi own sìudio, you slouIdn'ì nccd gai-
ganìuan spcakci concs and iockcì-powcicd ampIincis, cvcn if you fancy mak-
ing youi cais waìci.
Using Nearfield Monitors
CHAPTER 1
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 4
SURROUND MONITORING
Before acquiring a multispeaker surround setup for a small studio, I’d advise thinking
it through pretty carefully. Until you can reliably get a great stereo mix, I for one see
little point in spending a lot of extra money complicating that learning process. In my
experience, a limited budget is much better spent achieving commercial-quality stereo
than second-rate surround, so I make no apologies for leaving the topic of surround
mixing well alone and concentrating instead on issues that are more directly relevant
to most small-studio denizens.
No monitors are
truly “neutral,” and every
professional engineer you ask
will have his or her own personal
taste in this department. Part of
the job of learning to mix is getting
accustomed to the way your
own particular speakers
sound.
Anoìlci simpIc iuIc of ìlumh is ìo hc waiy of li-n spcakcis, hccausc ìlc
puiposc of mosì li-n cquipmcnì is ìo makc cvciyìling sound dcIicious,
icgaidIcss of wlcìlci iì acìuaIIy is. 1lis kind of uncaincd ßaììciy is ìlc Iasì
ìling you nccd wlcn you'ic ìiying ìo isoIaìc and ìiouhIcslooì sncaky sonic
piohIcms. I'm noì ìiying ìo say ìlaì aII sucl dcsigns aic incviìahIy piohIcm-
aìic in ìlc sìudio, huì mosì modcin li-n modcIs I'vc lcaid aic jusì ìoo ìon-
aIIy lypcd ìo hc of mucl usc, and mainìcnancc issucs aic ofìcn a conccin
wiìl moic suiìahIc pic-l99us sysìcms. Spcakcis wiìl huiIì-in ampIincaìion
(usuaIIy icfciicd ìo as 'acìivc´ oi 'powcicd') aic aIso a scnsihIc hcì foi ìlc
lomc sìudio: ìlcy'ic moic convcnicnì and compacì, ìlcy ìakc ìlc gucsswoik
ouì of maìcling ìlc ampIinci ìo youi modcI of spcakci, ìlcy'ic noimaIIy
lcavici, wlicl incicascs ìlc inciìia of ìlc cahincì in icsponsc ìo woofci
cxcuisions, and many sucl dcsigns aclicvc pcifoimancc impiovcmcnìs hy
viiìuc of laving scpaiaìc maìclcd ampIincis foi cacl of ìlc spcakci's indi-
viduaI diivci uniìs.
Bcyond ìlosc issucs, a Ioì of moniìoi cloicc is ahouì pcisonaI picfcicncc, and
ìlcic's noìling wiong wiìl ìlaì. Somc pcopIc picfci hiiglì aggicssivc-sounding
moniìois, oìlcis icsìiaincd and undcisìaìcd oncs, and nciìlci cloicc is wiong
as sucl. 1lc main ìling ìo icmcmhci is ìlaì no moniìois aic ìiuIy 'ncuìiaI,´
and cvciy piofcssionaI cngincci you ask wiII lavc lis oi lci own pcisonaI ìasìc
in ìlis dcpaiìmcnì. Paiì of ìlc joh of Icaining ìo mix is gcììing
accusìomcd ìo ìlc way youi paiìicuIai spcakcis sound,
so don'ì gcì ìoo upìiglì ahouì minuìc diffcicnccs
in ìonc hcìwccn spcakcis. Co foi somcìling ìlaì
appcaIs ìo you, and ìlcn conccnìiaìc on ìuning
youi cais ìo low youi closcn modcI icsponds
in youi own conìioI ioom. 'You'vc goì ìo hc
caicfuI ahouì gcììing ncw moniìois,´ adviscs
Davc Way. 'You'vc goì ìo hicak ìlcm in and
gcì ìo know ìlcm hcfoic you sìaiì ìo icIy on
ìlcm.´
3
Paiì of doing ìlis invoIvcs icfciiing ìo a
scì of icfcicncc iccoidings wiìl wlicl you'ic famiI-
iai (discusscd moic in Clapìci 4).
Using Nearfield Monitors CHAPTER 1 5
Ported Speakers and Frequency Response
I lavc onc fuiìlci piccc of advicc ìo offci wlcn cloosing moniìois, huì I'vc
dcIihciaìcIy lcId iì in icscivc, hccausc I wanì ìo givc iì spcciaI aììcnìion. Iì's
ìlis: ìlc Icss moncy you lavc ìo spcnd, ìlc moic you slouId hcwaic poiìcd
moniìois. Sucl spcakcis aic somcìimcs aIso icfciicd ìo as 'hass icßcx´ oi
'icßcx Ioadcd´ dcsigns, and ìlcy incoipoiaìc somc kind of loIc oi vcnì in ìlc
spcakci cahincì, wlicl cncouiagcs ìlc wloIc hox ìo icsonaìc in sympaìly wiìl
ìlc spcakci's diivcis. 1lc main puiposc of ìlis icsonancc is ìo incicasc ìlc
Iow-ficqucncy ouìpuì, an aspccì of a smaII spcakci's pcifoimancc ìlaì is naìu-
iaIIy icsìiicìcd hascd on iìs Iimiìcd woofci sizc. By using a poiì ìo compcnsaìc
foi ìlc woofci's naìuiaI Iow-cnd ioII-off, manufacìuicis can lavc a widci ßaì
icgion on ìlcii puhIislcd ficqucncy-icsponsc giapl, as wcII as givc ìlc spcakci
a Ioudci, hccnci sound ìlaì'II lcIp impicss Ioc PuhIic's waIIcì in ìlc slops.
Figuic l.l iIIusìiaìcs ìlc hasic cffccì of poiìing on a ìypicaI smaII-sìudio moni-
ìoi's Iow-cnd ficqucncy icsponsc. 1lc soIid Iinc on ìlc giapl slows ìlc kind
of icsponsc you'd cxpccì of a faiiIy ìypicaI smaII poiìcd spcakci, wiìl ìlc ouì-
puì icmaining wiìlin a Ϯ3dB window down ìo mayhc 55Hz. If you dcfcaìcd
ìlc spcakci's poiì hy hIocking iì, lowcvci, you'd nnd ìlaì ìlc icsponsc
clangcd ìo somcìling Iikc ìlaì slown hy ìlc doììcd Iinc: ìlc ìiacc now diifìs
ouì of ìlc Ϯ3dB window aImosì an ocìavc liglci, jusì ahovc luuHz.
So wlaì's so had ahouì using a poiì ìo widcn a spcakci's ficqucncy icsponsc²
1lc piohIcm is ìlaì poiìing aIso las scvciaI Icss wcII-advciìiscd sidc cffccìs ìlaì
FIGURE 1.1
The solid line on this graph shows the kind of sub-1kHz frequency response plot you might expect for a
small and budget-friendly ported studio monitor. The dotted line shows how the response changes when
the port is artificially blocked, thereby defeating the cabinet’s low-frequency resonance. The shaded
region indicates the Ϯ3dB “flat” region of the speaker’s quoted frequency-response specification.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 6
can casiIy conspiic ìo lamsìiing you aì mixdown. Civcn ìlc widcspicad usc of
poiìing in hudgcì ncaincId moniìois, iì's impoiìanì ìo undcisìand wlaì ìlcsc
sidc cffccìs of poiìing aic. On ìlc onc land, ìlis knowIcdgc makcs iì casici ìo
cvaIuaìc moniìois ohjccìivcIy wlcn making a puiclasc, on ìlc oìlci land, iì
hcììci cquips you ìo woik aiound poìcnìiaI poiìing gicmIins wlcn ìlc cloicc
of moniìois is hcyond youi conìioI-foi cxampIc, in a coIIcgc faciIiìy oi a
fiicnd's lomc sìudio. So hcai wiìl mc wliIc I Iook aì ìlis issuc in moic dcìaiI.
1lc nisì piohIcm wiìl poiìing can aIicady hc sccn in Figuic l.l: aIìlougl
ìlc poiì sìops ìlc icsponsc diopping off unìiI 5uHz, ìlc ouìpuì ìakcs a icaI
noscdivc hcyond ìlaì. 1lis mcans ìlaì aIìlougl ìlc spcakci's ovciaII Iow-
ficqucncy ouìpuì is hoosìcd hy ìlc poiì, ìlc icIaìionslip hcìwccn ìlc suh-
5uHz IcvcIs and ìlc icsì of ìlc signaI is sciiousIy skcwcd aì ìlc samc ìimc,
wlicl makcs iì ìiickici ìo makc judgmcnìs ahouì insìiumcnìs wiìl impoiìanì
Iow-ficqucncy componcnìs. So assuming, foi ìlc sakc of cxampIc, ìlaì you'ic
pIaying hack ìlc sound of a hass insìiumcnì ìlaì is compIcìcIy consisìcnì in iìs
Iow-ficqucncy IcvcIs, ìlc pciccivcd voIumc of iìs fundamcnìaI ficqucncy wiII
sìiII dancc aiound aIaimingIy as ìlc noìcs clangc piìcl, dcpcnding on low fai
ìlc fundamcnìaI sIips down ìlc sìccp ficqucncy-icsponsc ioII-off.
Bcai in mind ìlaì ìlc Iowcsì fundamcnìaI fiom a hass guiìai is aiound 44Hz,
wlcicas pianos, oigans, and synìls aic jusì somc of ìlc souiccs ìlaì wiII lap-
piIy gcnciaìc fundamcnìaIs in ìlc 2u ìo 4uHz hoììom ocìavc. In conìiasì ìo
ìlc fundamcnìaI, lowcvci, ìlc nisì laimonic of ìlcsc hass noìcs Iics an ocìavc
ahovc, ìypicaIIy in ìlc mucl ßaììci ficqucncy-icsponsc icgion ahovc 5uHz, so
iì'II hc ìougl going ìo dccidc wlcìlci ìlcic's ìlc iiglì amounì of cacl of ìlcsc
ficqucncics icspccìivcIy. And, of couisc, if wc sìcp hack inìo ìlc wiId again,
wlcic unìamcd iampaging hass paiìs aic ofìcn anyìling huì consisìcnì, low
aic you cxpccìcd ìo judgc wlcn youi mix pioccssing las acìuaIIy icincd ìlcm
in piopciIy²
Kick diums aic cquaIIy compIicaìcd ìo dcaI wiìl. Lcì's say ìlaì you'ic com-
paiing ìlc kick IcvcI in youi own mix ìo somcìling on a favoiiìc commciciaI
iccoid, huì youi kick dium las Ioads of cncigy aì 3uHz, wlcicas ìlc compaii-
son ìiack's kick is iicl in ìlc 5uHz icgion. Bccausc ìlc spcakci is cffccìivcIy
icccssing ìlc 3uHz icgion hy l2dB compaicd ìo ìlc 5uHz icgion, you'ic IikcIy
ìo fadc youi own kick dium up ìoo ligl, onIy ìo discovci a iumhIing mcss
Iuiking undcincaìl youi mix in oìlci moniìoiing cnviionmcnìs. AIìlougl ìlc
Ioss of Iow cnd on an unpoiìcd moniìoi is aIso a piohIcm, iì's mucl casici ìo
compcnsaìc foi ìlis mcnìaIIy wliIc mixing, hccausc ìlc icIaìivc IcvcIs of ncigl-
hoiing Iow-ficqucncy hands aic moic icpicscnìaìivc.
Killer Side Effects of Porting
1lcsc poiìing anomaIics, lowcvci, aic onIy ìlc ìip of ìlc icchcig, hccausc
ficqucncy-icsponsc giapls onIy slow low spcakcis icspond ìo consìanì fuII-
ficqucncy noisc, a ìcsì signaI ìlaì is noìling Iikc ìlc vaiicd and fasì-moving
wavcfoims of music. Mucl moic ìiouhIcsomc is ìlc way ìlaì poiìing lindcis
Using Nearfield Monitors CHAPTER 1 7
ìlc moniìoi's ahiIiìy ìo ìiack momcnì-ìo-momcnì clangcs in ìlc mix sig-
naI. SpccincaIIy, ìlc poiì causcs any spccìiaI cncigy aì iìs icsonanì ficqucncy
ìo iing on foi a sloiì ìimc, and wliIc iì's ìlis icsonanì huiIdup ìlaì gcnciaìcs
ìlc poiì's ßaììciing Iow-ficqucncy IcvcI hoosì foi a consìanì noisc ìcsì signaI,
ìlc samc quaIiìy aIso adds sloiì icsonanì ìaiIs ìo ßccìing pcicussivc aììack
noiscs (ofìcn icfciicd ìo as ìiansicnìs), sucl ìlaì ìlcy can sccm Ioudci and
Icss puncly ìlan ìlcy acìuaIIy aic. Sounds ìlaì sìop ahiupìIy suffci a simiIai
piohIcm, wiìl ìlc poiì iinging on afìci ìlcy'vc nnislcd. In ìlis casc, ìlc icso-
nancc noì onIy disguiscs ìlc ìiuc dccay aììiihuìcs of ìlc sound iìscIf, huì iì can
aIso makc iì difncuIì ìo judgc ìlc claiacìci and IcvcI of sloiì-duiaìion sìudio
cffccìs (sucl as moduIaìcd dcIays and icvcih), wlicl aic ofìcn vciy uscfuI aì
mixdown.
Anoìlci possihIc piohIcm wiìl poiìcd spcakcis is ìlaì ìlc iinging of ìlc poiì
can dominaìc ovci ìlc icaI fundamcnìaI ficqucncics of Iow hass noìcs, mak-
ing ìlcm difncuIì ìo disìinguisl fiom cacl oìlci. Spcakci icvicwcis somcìimcs
icfci ìo ìlis plcnomcnon as 'onc-noìc hass,´ and iì adds unwcIcomc uncci-
ìainìy ìo ìuning judgmcnìs aì ìlc Iow cnd. A commciciaI iccoiding ìlaì I nnd
paiìicuIaiIy good foi icvcaIing ìlis occuiicncc is Skunk Anansic's 'InndcIiìy´
(fiom ìlc hand's aIhum Stoosh), wlcic ìlc mcandciing hass Iinc quickIy
hccomcs muiky and iII-dcnncd in ìlc picscncc of Iow-cnd moniìoiing icso-
nanccs. (1lc ìiack is aIso good foi ìcsìing ìlc ficqucncy icsponsc of a moniìoi-
ing sysìcm, as onIy ìlc mosì cxìcndcd icsponsc can do jusìicc ìo ìlaì paiìicuIai
kick dium's aImosì scismic Iow-ficqucncy iumhIc.)
Wcic ìlc poiì-iinging consisìcnì acioss ìlc audio spccìium, you couId mcn-
ìaIIy compcnsaìc foi iì pcilaps, huì of couisc iì's noì: iì's moic oi Icss scvcic
dcpcnding on low mucl of a givcn ìiansicnì's cncigy icsidcs aiound ìlc poiì-
ing ficqucncy. Fuiìlcimoic, I'vc so fai ìakcn foi gianìcd ìlaì ìlc poiì las onIy
onc icsonanì ficqucncy. In icaIiìy, lowcvci, iì's difncuIì ìo sìop ìlc ìling icso-
naìing aì a wloIc iangc of liglci ficqucncics ìoo, wlicl Icads ìo unpicdicìahIc
ìimc-smcaiing aiìifacìs iiglì acioss ìlc ficqucncy spccìium. So iì's noì jusì hass
insìiumcnìs ìlaì you may hc unahIc ìo judgc icIiahIy, huì cvciyìling cIsc ìoo!
AIìlougl iì's pcifccìIy possihIc foi spcakci dcsigncis ìo usc caicfuI inìcinaI
cahincì dcsign and damping ìo ìamc aII huì ìlc dcsiicd Iow-ficqucncy poiì ics-
onancc, ìlaì docs così ìlcm moncy, so ìlis is wlcic moic affoidahIc dcsigns
can icaIIy comc a cioppci.
Of couisc, a simpIc ficqucncy-icsponsc giapl Icavcs you hIissfuIIy ignoianì of
any of ìlis sìuff, hccausc iì onIy las axcs foi ficqucncy and IcvcI. If you wanì
ìo Iay haic icsonancc sidc cffccìs, ìlcn you nccd ìo add a ìliid dimcnsion ìo
youi ficqucncy-icsponsc giapl: ìimc. FoiìunaìcIy, ìlcic is a ìypc of giapl ìlaì
docs cxacìIy ìlaì, caIIcd a spccìiaI dccay oi 'waìcifaII´ pIoì. Iì icvcaIs wlaì lap-
pcns ìo a spcakci's ouìpuì wlcn a consìanì fuII-iangc ìcsì signaI is suddcnIy
swiìclcd off-as ìlc giapl dcvcIops in ìimc (in oìlci woids moving fiom ìlc
hackgiound inìo ìlc foicgiound, spcaking ìlicc-dimcnsionaIIy), you can scc
low mucl diffcicnì ficqucncics iing on.
FIGURE 1.2
Some affordable two-
way ported nearfield
monitors (top to bottom):
the ADAM A7X has dual
circular ports either side
of the woofer, the KRK
Rokit 8 has a port slot
under the woofer, the
Behringer 2030A has
two narrow port slots on
either side of the tweeter,
and the M-Audio DSM2
features a single circular
port on the rear panel.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 8
1lc Icfì-land coIumn of Figuic l.3 slows waìcifaII pIoìs foi ìlicc wcII-
dcsigncd smaII ncaincId moniìois. 1lc ìop giapl is foi an unpoiìcd modcI,
wlcicas ìlc ìwo Iowci pIoìs aic foi poiìcd dcsigns. You can scc ìlc Iow cnd
of ìlc poiìcd modcIs iinging on, as you'd cxpccì, huì oìlciwisc ìlc midiangc
and ligl cnd sìop quickIy wiìlouì any ohvious icsonanì ìiaiIs. Compaic ìlis
wiìl ìlc waìcifaII pIoìs in ìlc iiglì-land coIumn of Figuic l.3, mcasuicd fiom
ìlicc hudgcì poiìcd ncaincIds. Wlaì ìlcy cIcaiIy iIIusìiaìc is ìlaì cacl spcakci
las piomincnì icsonanccs wcII up inìo ìlc midiangc. (Bcai in mind, ìlougl,
ìlaì oìlci facìois conìiihuìc unwanìcd midiangc icsonanccs ìo spcakcis as
FIGURE 1.3
Waterfall plots for six different sets of studio monitors.
Using Nearfield Monitors CHAPTER 1 9
wcII, so iì's noì jusì poiìing sidc cffccìs you'ic sccing
lcic.) 1lc Icss wcII-conìioIIcd a moniìoi's icso-
nanccs, ìlc Icss casiIy you can mix wiìl iì.
Buì cvcn ìlaì's noì ìlc cnd of ìlc sìoiy: poiìs can
aIso pioducc ìuihuIcncc noisc, wlicl ohscuics
oìlci paiìs of youi mix, compicssion aiìifacìs,
wlicl mcss wiìl ìlc appaicnì IcvcI of hass insìiu-
mcnìs as you adjusì ìlc moniìoiing voIumc, and dis-
ìoiìion, wlicl misIcadingIy givcs cxìia midiangc hody ìo
hass insìiumcnìs, making ìlcm sccm moic audihIc in ìlc mix ìlan
ìlcy slouId hc. If you wanì ìo lcai wlaì I'm ìaIking ahouì, ìiy Iisìcning ìo ìlc Iow-
ficqucncy sinc-wavc ìoncs in ìlc LFSinc1oncs audio nIc ìliougl a hudgcì poiìcd
moniìoi. (You can downIoad ìlis nIc fiom ìlis clapìci's URL: www.cambridge-mt
.com/ms-ch1.htm.) PaiìicuIaiIy on ìlc Iowcsì ficqucncics you'II usuaIIy lcai a good
dosc of ßuììciing poiì noisc and Iow-IcvcI disìoiìion laimonics ovciIaid on wlaì
slouId hc puic ìoncs. Nccd any fuiìlci convincing² 1lcn considci ìlc facì ìlaì
ìwo of ìlc mosì inßucnìiaI mixing spcakcis in ìlc lisìoiy of audio pioducìion aic
unpoiìcd dcsigns: ìlc Yamala NSlu and ìlc Auiaìonc 5C Supci Sound Cuhc. (You
can scc ìlc waìcifaII pIoìs foi ìlcsc spcakcis in Figuic l.5, and aIìlougl nciìlci las
a paiìicuIaiIy ßaì ficqucncy icsponsc, hoìl aic cxìiaoidinaiiIy wcII-hclavcd as fai
as icsonanccs aic conccincd.)
AII of wlicl hiings mc hack ìo my main poinì: ìlc Icss moncy you'ic going
ìo spcnd on moniìois, ìlc moic you slouId appioacl poiìcd modcIs aimcd
wiìl loIy waìci and cIovcs of gaiIic! In my cxpciicncc, you'II lavc ìo paiì wiìl
wcII ovci ±luuu ($l5uu) foi a paii of poiìcd ncaincIds ìlaì can icIiahIy dcIivci
wlaì you nccd ìo mix compcìiìivcIy, wlcicas I don'ì ìlink you nccd ìo spcnd
ìlis mucl on an unpoiìcd dcsign ìo gcì simiIai mixing muscIc, jusì so Iong as
you'ic wiIIing ìo woik wiìl Iowci ovciaII voIumc IcvcIs. 1lis is wly I usuaIIy
poinì casl-sìiappcd wouId-hc mix cnginccis in ìlc diiccìion of pioducìs sucl
as NH1 Pio's M-uu and S-uu comhinaìion, oi BIuc Sky's Mcdia Dcsk and Pio
Dcsk sysìcms, aII of wlicl aic acìivc, unpoiìcd, and faiiIy fuII iangc.
Speaker Stands and Other Mounting Hardware
You can foik ouì foi ìlc fancicsì moniìois you Iikc, huì unIcss you scì ìlcm
up scnsihIy in youi ioom, you miglì as wcII lavc spcnì mosì of ìlaì moncy
on douglnuìs foi aII ìlc good iì'II do youi sound. I'vc visiìcd a Iaigc num-
hci of smaII sìudios, and onc ìling ìlc majoiiìy lavc in common is ìlaì ìlcii
owncis lavc undcicsìimaìcd ìlc impoiìancc of moniìoi insìaIIaìion, wiìl ìlc
icsuIì ìlaì ìlc moniìoiing sounds onIy a fiacìion as good as iì slouId, givcn
ìlc così of ìlc spcakcis. So Icì's Iook aì ways you can maximizc ìlc quaIiìy of
ìlc sound, wlaìcvci spcakcis you'ic using.
Foi a sìaiì, ìlc spcakci cahincìs slouId hc as nimIy nxcd as possihIc, hccausc
if ìlcy movc aì aII in sympaìly wiìl ìlc woofci cxcuisions iì'II mcss wiìl low
ìlc Iow cnd of ìlc mix is icpicscnìcd. How cxacìIy you dccidc ìo mounì ìlc
The less money you’re
going to spend on monitors,
the more you should approach
ported models armed with holy
water and cloves of garlic!
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 10
hoxcs wiII dcpcnd on ìlc plysicaI Iimiìaìions you lavc ìo woik wiìl in youi
paiìicuIai scìup, huì my iccommcndaìion is ìo usc dcdicaìcd spcakci sìands,
as ìlcsc ìypicaIIy givc a mucl hcììci sound ìlan dcsks and slcIvcs and can hc
movcd aiound ìlc ioom moic casiIy ìlan lcavy-duìy waII hiackcìs. Sìands
don'ì nccd ìo hc cxoihiìanìIy cxpcnsivc ciìlci, as Iong as ìlcy aic soIid cnougl
ìo kccp ìlc spcakci sìiII. In facì, you can casiIy huiId dcccnì oncs youiscIf if
you'ic landy wiìl youi woodwoik and usc suiìahIy clunky iaw maìciiaIs.
PASSIVE RADIATORS AND TRANSMISSION LINES
Not all monitor speakers can be categorized clearly as ported or unported, and Mackie’s
popular HR-series are a case in point, because although their cabinets are closed, they
include a passive radiator (a sort of dummy speaker cone that vibrates in sympathy
with the woofer) to achieve ported-style bass enhancement. Another midway design is
PMC’s transmission-line system, whereby the external port hole feeds a damped internal
ducting network designed to reduce the problematic side effects of porting. However, the
waterfall plots in Figure 1.4 suggest to me that these strategies are only of limited use
in overcoming the resonance issues of ported designs, a suspicion that has been borne
out in my own personal experience of several of the different Mackie models.
FIGURE 1.4
Waterfall plots for the Mackie HR824 and PMC LB1BP monitors.
Using Nearfield Monitors CHAPTER 1 11
1lc nisì ìling ìlc mounìing laidwaic las ìo do is picscnì as mucl inciìia as pos-
sihIc, so ìlc spcakci cahincì movcs as IiììIc as possihIc in icacìion ìo woofci cxcui-
sions. If you ìlink ìlc sìands[hiackcìs ìlcmscIvcs aicn'ì man cnougl foi ìlis joh,
iì's woiìl ìiying ìo add wciglì ìo ìlcm in ìlc nisì insìancc hy puììing a piccc of
paving sIah undcincaìl cacl spcakci. A hiì of iuhhci maììing can aIso lcIp, hy
impioving ìlc mounìing pIaìfoim's giip on ìlc spcakci cahincì. 1lc oìlci main
ìling youi spcakci mounìings nccd ìo do is minimizc ìlc ìiansmission of ìlc
spcakci's plysicaI vihiaìions inìo oìlci icsonanì ohjccìs. If youi spcakci scìs off a
plysicaI icsonancc wiìlin iìs sìand, foi cxampIc, iì can skcw youi pciccpìion of
ìlc mix jusì as mucl as any icsonanccs inlcicnì in ìlc spcakci dcsign iìscIf. 1lis
is onc icason wly puììing spcakcis on domcsìic slcIvcs oi dcsks can causc insui-
mounìahIc moniìoiing difncuIìics-iì's ofìcn suipiising low icadiIy ìlcsc vihiaìc
in sympaìly. 1lc LFSinc1oncs audio nIc is good foi icvcaIing icsonanccs, so pIay iì
hack aì a icasonahIy ligl voIumc ìo scc if you lcai any fuiniìuic lumming aIong.
1iy aIso icsìing a nngci on youi mounìing laidwaic (sìand, hiackcì, oi wlaìcvci)
and clcck if you fccI any ohvious vihiaìions.
Onc advanìagc of dcdicaìcd spcakci sìands is ìlaì ìlcy ofìcn lavc a loIIow
fiamc. Iì can hc nIIcd wiìl sand, wlicl is good foi damping icsonanccs and aIso
(A)
(B)
FIGURE 1.5
Two of the most revered mixing speakers are unported designs: the Auratone 5C Super Sound Cube (left )
and the Yamaha NS10 (right ). Below them you can see their waterfall plots.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 12
incicascs ìlc sìand's inciìia. Howcvci, oìlci soIuìions ìo ìlc icsonancc piohIcm
incIudc foam pIaìfoims wcdgcd hcìwccn ìlc spcakci and ìlc mounìing suifacc
(sucl as AuiaIcx's Mo Pads) oi IiììIc invciìcd mounìing spikcs in a simiIai Ioca-
ìion (foi cxampIc Sound Ncìwoik's Clina Concs). Piimacousìic's RccoiI SìahiIizci
is anoìlci popuIai opìion, as iì incoipoiaìcs noì onIy a foam hasc huì aIso a iuh-
hciizcd sìccI ìop pIaìfoim foi cxìia giip and inciìia. Howcvci, aIìlougl ìlcsc kinds
of sìudio widgcìs can yicId noìiccahIc impiovcmcnìs if youi moniìois aic siììing
on a noimaI slcIf oi dcsk, my fccIing ahouì ìlcm is ìlaì ìlcy'ic unIikcIy ìo jusìify
ìlc cxìia ouìIay if you'vc aIicady scnsihIy invcsìcd ±luu ($l5u) oi so in sand-nIIcd
spcakci sìands oi simiIaiIy sìuidy mounìing laidwaic.
1.2 POSITIONING THE SPEAKERS
Wlaìcvci you acìuaIIy siì ìlc spcakcis on, ìlcii cxacì posiìioning is aIso ciiìicaI
ìo gcììing good audio icpioducìion. You slouId ìiy wlcicvci possihIc ìo aim
ìlc spcakcis diiccìIy aì ìlc Iisìcning posiìion. A spcakci's ficqucncy icsponsc is
mcasuicd on axis (i.c., fiom diiccìIy in fionì of iì), so if you Iisìcn off axis, you
won'ì hc lcaiing wlaì ìlc dcsignci inìcndcd you ìo-ligl ficqucncics aic moic
diiccìionaI ìlan Iow ficqucncics, so ligl-cnd dcìaiIs in paiìicuIai ìcnd ìo suf-
fci. Moving aiound youi Iisìcning ioom slouId ampIy dcmonsìiaìc ìlcsc cffccìs
wiìl any fuII-handwidìl music mix, huì if you wanì ìo lcai ìlc plcnomcnon
aì iìs sìaikcsì, ìlcn ìiy Iisìcning ìo a consìanì fuII-iangc ìcsì signaI sucl as my
PinkNoisc nIc ìliougl jusì onc of youi spcakcis. 1lcsc aicn'ì jusì miniscuIc sonic
niccìics wc'ic ìaIking ahouì. Higl ficqucncics aic aIso casiIy sladowcd hy plysi-
caI ohjccìs, so makc suic you can acìuaIIy scc ìlc diivcis you'ic Iisìcning ìo.
Aiming ìlc spcakcis isn'ì jusì ahouì ìlc loiizonìaI pIanc ciìlci, hccausc vciìi-
caI aIignmcnì is usuaIIy cvcn moic impoiìanì, foi a coupIc of icasons. 1lc nisì
is ìlaì on mosì ncaincId moniìois, ìlc cahincì is pionIcd
aiound ìlc ìwccìci ìo cicaìc wlaì's caIIcd a wavcguidc,
wlicl is dcsigncd ìo loiizonìaIIy dispcisc ìlc jcì of ligl
ficqucncics moic widcIy and ìlcichy incicasc ìlc sizc of
ìlc opìimum Iisìcning aica (oi 'swccì spoì´). AIìlougl
wavcguidcs can hc quiìc cffccìivc aì ìlis, ìlcy don'ì usu-
aIIy do ìlc samc joh foi ìlc vciìicaI ligl-ficqucncy dispci-
sion and can cvcn makc iì naiiowci. Buì ìlc sccond icason
is ìlaì mosì ncaincId moniìois lavc moic ìlan onc diivci
in ìlcm, wiìl cacl diivci in a diffcicnì vciìicaI posiìion. A
dcdicaìcd hiì of ciicuiìiy oi DSP (caIIcd a ciossovci) wiìlin
ìlc spcakci spIiìs ìlc incoming signaI's ficqucncy iangc
hcìwccn ìlc diffcicnì diivcis aì facìoiy-spccincd houndaiics
(caIIcd ciossovci ficqucncics). AIìlougl idcaIIy ìlc cioss-
ovci slouId ìlcicfoic picvcnì any ovciIap hcìwccn ìlc fic-
qucncy ouìpuì of ìlc diffcicnì diivcis, ìlc ìiuìl is ìlaì ìlcic
is incviìahIy a smaII spccìiaI icgion aiound cacl ciossovci
ficqucncy wlcic ìwo diivcis aic hoìl conìiihuìing signin-
canì IcvcIs aì ìlc samc ìimc. If ìlc disìancc fiom cacl diivci
ìo ìlc Iisìcning posiìion isn'ì ìlc samc, ìlcn ìlc signaIs
FIGURE 1.6
Primacoustic’s Recoil
Stabilizer cleverly deals
with a number of small-
studio monitor setup
issues simultaneously:
the rubberized top mat
grips the speaker firmly
and couples it to a heavy
metal plate, increasing
inertia, while the foam
base decouples the
speaker from physical
resonances in the
underlying surface.
Using Nearfield Monitors CHAPTER 1 13
PHASE AND COMB FILTERING
I’ve touched on the ideas of phase and comb filtering in the main text, but because they
have so many ramifications when mixing, it’s worth looking at the subject more closely.
The best way to start thinking about phase is first to consider a sine-wave signal, the
simple audio waveform from which all complex musical sounds can theoretically be
built. A sine wave generates only a single audio frequency, according to how many times
its waveform shape repeats in a second. For example, a 1kHz sine wave repeats its
waveform 1000 times per second, with each waveform repetition lasting 1ms. Imagine
that you have two mixer channels, each fed from the same sine-wave source at the same
frequency. The peaks and troughs of the two waveforms will be exactly in line, and mixing
them together will simply produce the same sine wave, only louder. In this situation we
talk about the two sine waves being “in phase” with each other.
If you gradually delay the audio going through the second channel, however, the peaks and
troughs of the two sine waves shift out of alignment. Because of the unique properties of
sine waves, the combination of the two channels will now still produce a sine wave of the
same frequency, but its level will be lower than if the two channels were in phase, and we
say that “partial phase cancellation” has occurred. When the second channel is delayed
such that its peaks coincide exactly with the first channel’s troughs (and vice versa), the
two waveforms will combine to produce silence. At this point we say that the waveforms are
completely “out of phase” with each other and that “total phase cancellation” has occurred.
When total phase cancellation occurs, you sometimes hear engineers say that the signals
are “180 degrees out of phase.” This is a phrase that’s not always used correctly, and it
can therefore be a bit confusing. To describe the phase relationship between two identical
waveforms, mathematicians often quantify the offset between them in degrees, where
360 degrees equals the duration of each waveform repetition. Therefore, a zero-degree
phase relationship between two sine waves makes them perfectly in phase, whereas a
180-degree phase relationship puts them perfectly out of phase, resulting in total phase
cancellation. All the other possible phase relationships put the waveforms partially out
of phase with each other, resulting in partial phase cancellation. What’s confusing about
the “180 degrees out of phase” term is that it is sometimes used to refer to a situation
where the second channel’s waveform has been flipped upside down, so that the peaks
become troughs and vice versa—a process more unambiguously referred to as polarity
reversal. This scenario also results in silence at the combined output, hence the common
confusion in terminology, but it’s very important to realize that the total phase cancellation
here is brought about by inverting one of the waveforms, not by delaying it.
Now let’s scale things back up to deal with real-world sounds, made up as they are of
heaps of different sine waves at different frequencies, each one fading in and out as
pitches and timbres change. If we feed, say, a drum loop to our two mixer channels,
instead of a single sine wave, any delay in the second channel will have a dramatic
effect on the tonality of the combined signal, rather than just altering its level. This
is because for a given delay, the phase relationships between sine waves on the first
channel and those on the second channel depend on the frequency of each individual
(Continued)
fiom ìlc diffcicnì diivcis wiII aiiivc aì ìlc Iisìcning posiìion aì diffcicnì ìimcs (oi
'ouì of plasc´ in gcck-spcak), and ìlis givcs iisc ìo a poìcnìiaIIy sciious ficqucncy-
canccIIaìion cffccì caIIcd comh nIìciing.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 14
sine wave. So, for example, a 0.5ms delay in the second channel will put any 1kHz
sine-wave components (the waveforms of which repeat every 1ms) completely out of
phase with those on the first channel, resulting in total phase cancellation. On the
other hand, any 2kHz sine-wave components (the waveforms of which repeat every
0.5ms) will remain perfectly in phase. As the frequency of the sine-wave components
increases from 1kHz to 2kHz, the total phase cancellation becomes only partial, and
the level increases toward the perfect phase alignment at 2kHz.
Of course, above 2kHz the sine-wave components begin partially phase canceling again,
and if you’re quick with your mental arithmetic you’ll have spotted that total phase
cancellation will also occur at 3kHz, 5kHz, 7kHz, and so on up the frequency spectrum,
whereas at 4kHz, 6kHz, 8Hz, and so on the sine-wave components will be exactly in
phase. This produces a characteristic series of regularly spaced peaks and troughs in the
combined frequency response of our drum loop—an effect called comb filtering. A delay of
just 0.000025s (a 40th of a millisecond) between the two channels will cause total phase
cancellation at 20kHz, but you’ll also hear partial phase cancellation at frequencies below
this. As the delay increases, the comb filter response marches further down the frequency
spectrum, trailing its pattern of peaks and troughs behind it, which themselves get closer
and closer together. However, when the delay times reach beyond about 25ms or so
(depending on the sound in question), our ears start to discern the higher frequencies of
the delayed signal as distinct echoes, rather than as a timbral change, and as the delay
time increases, phase cancellation is restricted to progressively lower frequencies.
Although it should now be clear that the tonal effects of comb filtering can be disastrous
if two identical signals are combined with a delay between them, most real-world comb
filtering at mixdown is actually much less severe, either because the out-of-phase
signals aren’t completely identical, or because they’re at very different levels, or both.
AIìlougl manufacìuicis ìypicaIIy do ìlcii hcsì ìo kccp ciossovci icgions picììy
naiiow ìo minimizc ìlc cffccì of comh nIìciing, mosì affoidahIc ncaincId moni-
ìois lavc onIy ìwo diivcis, wlicl mcans ìlaì any comh nIìciing hcìwccn ìlc
woofci and ìlc ìwccìci lappcns in ìlc woisì possihIc pIacc fiom a mixing sìand-
poinì: iiglì in ìlc ccnìci of ìlc ficqucncy spccìium, wlcic oui
lcaiing is mosì scnsiìivc. If you wanì ìo gcì a landIc on
ìlc cxìcnì of ìlc damagc lcic, ìiy ìlis cxpciimcnì. PIay
ìlc PinkNoisc nIc (www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch1
.htm) ìliougl a singIc ncaincId spcakci wiìl vci-
ìicaIIy spaccd diivcis, and Iisìcn ìo iì nisì of aII
diiccìIy on axis. Now diifì aIìcinaìcIy ahouì six
inclcs ìo cacl sidc wliIc kccping youi vciìicaI
posiìion consìanì. You'II lcai a smaII clangc
in ìonc on mosì spcakcis hccausc of ìlc ligl-
ficqucncy diiccìionaIiìy I mcnìioncd caiIici. Oncc
you'ic uscd ìo ìlaì clangc, diifì up and down hy
ahouì six inclcs insìcad, and ìlc ìonaI clangc wiII
IikcIy hc mucl moic noìiccahIc. AIìlougl ìlc cffccìs
of comh nIìciing hcìwccn youi spcakci diivcis won'ì
Most
affordable nearfield
monitors have only two
drivers, which means any comb
filtering between the woofer and
the tweeter happens in the worst
possible place from a mixing
standpoint: right in the center of
the frequency spectrum, where
our hearing is most
sensitive.
Using Nearfield Monitors CHAPTER 1 15
usuaIIy hc as ohviousIy appaicnì in ìlcii own iiglì wlcn you'ic Iisìcning ìo a
icaI-woiId mix, ìlaì docsn'ì mcan ìlcy aicn'ì ìlcic, and ìlc iippIcs ìlcy puì inìo
ìlc ficqucncy icsponsc ìicaclciousIy undciminc youi ahiIiìy ìo judgc hoìl ìlc
ìonc and IcvcI haIancc of ciiìicaI sounds in ìlc midiangc-ìlings Iikc Icad vocaIs,
snaic diums, and guiìais.
Stereo Monitoring
A smaII sìudio's ncaincId moniìois wiII usuaIIy piovidc ìlc mosì icIiahIc
souicc of infoimaìion ahouì a mix's sìcico imagc, huì foi ìlcm ìo do ìlis cffcc-
ìivcIy ìlcy lavc ìo hc scì up so ìlaì ìlc disìancc hcìwccn ìlc spcakcis cquaIs
ìlc disìancc fiom cacl of ìlc spcakcis ìo ìlc Iisìcning posiìion. 1lis is hccausc
ìlc luman hiain las cvoIvcd a powcifuI insìincì ìlaì causcs us ìo pciccivc ìlc
souicc of an incoming sound as hcing Iocaìcd on ìlc samc sidc as ìlc cai ìlaì
sound icaclcs nisì. (PicsumahIy naìuiaI scIccìion favoicd ìlosc cavcmcn wlo
couId woik ouì wlcic ìlc sahci-ìooìlcd ìigci giowIs wcic coming fiom.) 1lis
insìincì mcans ìlaì you don'ì lavc ìo movc youi lcad vciy fai ouì of ìlc swccì
spoì hcfoic ìlc majoiiìy of ìlc sìcico imagc foIds down inìo ìlc cIosci spcakci.
PuIIing ìlc spcakcis ìoo fai apaiì is a ficqucnì misìakc ìoo, as iì dcsìahiIizcs
ìlc ccnìci of ìlc sìcico imagc, making haIancc judgmcnìs foi ìlc impoiìanì
sounds ìlaì aic ìypicaIIy pIaccd ìlcic ìiicky. If anyìling, iì's hcììci ìo cii on
ìlc sidc of pIacing ìlc spcakcis ìoo cIosc ìogcìlci, hccausc ìlc naiiowcd sìcico
picìuic ìlis pioduccs is a Ioì casici ìo woik wiìl aì mixdown ìlan unsìahIc
ccnìiaI imaging. You'II aIso gcì ìlc hcsì sìcico imagc if you ìiy ìo posiìion ìlc
wloIc moniìoiing scìup sucl ìlaì ìlc ioom is faiiIy symmcìiicaI aiound ìlc
Iisìcnci's Iinc of siglì, in oidci ìo icìain imagc haIancc dcspiìc ìlc impacì of
any sonic icßccìions fiom ioom houndaiics and fuiniìuic.
SPEAKERS ON THEIR SIDES?
There is a persistent myth among small-studio owners that putting speakers on their sides
is the more “pro” method. True, a quick web surf will furnish you with countless pictures
of Battlestar Galactica–style control rooms in which nearfield speakers are visible perched
sideways on top of the console’s meterbridge, but that setup has little to do with monitoring
fidelity and everything to do with getting the nearfields out of the way of the big main
monitors and maximizing the view through the control-room window during recording dates.
If you separate your speaker’s drivers horizontally by placing the cabinets on their
sides, then you have to be much more careful to keep your horizontal listening position
absolutely consistent (both side-to-side and front-to-back) if you’re going to avoid being
stung by crossover comb-filtering effects. With vertical speakers, on the other hand,
you’ll only get these crossover problems if you move you head vertically, which gives
you greater freedom of movement while you’re working.
Add to this that the waveguides in most nearfield monitors are designed to broaden the high-
frequency sweet spot when the speaker is vertical. If you flip that waveguide on its side it
narrows the sweet spot instead, as well as bouncing more high-frequency energy off nearby
desk and ceiling surfaces—something that’s not sensible from an acoustics point of view.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 16
Onc nnaI piìfaII ìo avoid is laving youi spcakcis ouì of poIaiiìy wiìl cacl
oìlci. NoimaIIy any sound aì ìlc ccnìci of ìlc sìcico imagc slouId hc coming
ouì of hoìl spcakcis aì an cquaI IcvcI and wiìl aII ìlc spcakci diivcis moving
hack and foiìl in sync. Howcvci, iì's suipiisingIy common foi Icss cxpciicnccd
sìudio uscis ìo misìakcnIy wiic up ìlcii iig sucl ìlaì onc diivci is pusling
ìowaid ìlc Iisìcnci wliIc ìlc oìlci is puIIing away, sucl ìlaì ìlc Icfì-clanncI
wavcfoim is cffccìivcIy invciìcd compaicd ìo ìlc iiglì-clanncI wavcfoim, a
siìuaìion usuaIIy icfciicd ìo as laving youi spcakcis 'ouì of plasc,´ oi ìo hc
moic accuiaìc 'ouì of poIaiiìy.´ (1o cIaiify: ìwo audio wavcfoims aic ouì of
plasc wlcn ìlcic's a ìimc dcIay hcìwccn ìlcm, ìlcy'ic ouì of poIaiiìy wlcn
onc of ìlc wavcfoims is invciìcd, sucl ìlaì pcaks hccomc ìiougls and vicc
vcisa.) If you'vc goì ìlis piohIcm, you'II gcì a vciy odd sìcico Iisìcning cxpcii-
cncc, wlicl fccIs a hiì Iikc laving youi hiains suckcd ouì youi cai, and iì aIso
makcs hoìl sìcico posiìioning and IcvcI haIancc difncuIì ìo judgc.
1o clcck foi ìlis cffccì, Iisìcn ìo ìlc Sìcico1csì audio nIc (www.cambridge-mt
.com/ms-ch1.htm) ìliougl youi sysìcm. Iì conìains a icpcaìing paììcin of foui
noisc-huisì ìcsì signaIs: ìlc nisì onIy in ìlc Icfì clanncI, ìlc scc-
ond onIy in ìlc iiglì clanncI, ìlc ìliid in hoìl clanncIs,
and fouiìl in hoìl clanncIs, huì wiìl ìlc iiglì clan-
ncI ouì of poIaiiìy wiìl ìlc Icfì clanncI. 1lc foi-
mci paii of noisc huisìs wiII connim ìlaì youi
spcakcis aic indccd opciaìing in sìcico and aic
connccìcd ìlc iiglì way iound, ìlc Iaììci paii
of noisc huisìs slouId makc iì faiiIy ohvious
if youi spcakcis aic ouì of poIaiiìy wiìl cacl
oìlci, ìlc ìliid huisì slouId hc mucl moic
cIcaiIy ccnìiaI in ìlc sìcico imagc ìlan ìlc fouiìl
if aII is wcII. If you do discovci ìlaì youi spcakcis
aic ouì of poIaiiìy, ìlcn ìlc nngci of hIamc wiII aImosì
cciìainIy poinì ìo somc faccì of youi audio wiiing afìci
ìlc ouìpuìs of youi sìudio's pIayhack sysìcm, ìlc mosì common cuIpiiì
hcing ìlaì ìlc posiìivc and ncgaìivc ìciminaIs of passivc spcakcis lavcn'ì hccn
connccìcd coiiccìIy wiìl ìlc icspccìivc ìciminaIs on ìlcii ampIinci.
1.3 DEALING WITH ACOUSTIC REFLECTIONS
Room acousìics is onc aica of smaII-sìudio dcsign ìlaì's wocfuIIy ncgIccìcd in
ìlc main. Iì's noì ìlaì hudding cnginccis don'ì pay Iip scivicc ìo ìlc woiìli-
ncss of acousìic dcsign in piincipIc, iì's jusì ìlaì acousìic ìicaìmcnì maìciiaIs
aic piohahIy ìlc mosì uncxciìing way ìo spcnd moncy on youi sìudio. 1lcy
makc no sound. 1lcy lavc no ìwinkIy Iiglìs. 1lcy can givc you spIinìcis. Buì
makc no misìakc: ioom ìicaìmcnì icaIIy scpaiaìcs ìlc slccp fiom ìlc goaìs
wlcn iì comcs ìo mix icsuIìs. Spikc Sìcnì minccs no woids: 'You can lavc ìlc
hcsì cquipmcnì in ìlc woiId in youi conìioI ioom, huì if ìlc ioom sounds
Acoustic treatment
materials are probably the
most unexciting way to spend
money on your studio. But make
no mistake: room treatment really
separates the sheep from the
goats when it comes to mix
results.
Using Nearfield Monitors CHAPTER 1 17
Iikc sliì, you'ic onìo a liding ìo noìling.´
4
1lc ioom acousìics aic aì Icasì as
impoiìanì ìo ìlc sound of youi moniìoiing as youi spcakci laidwaic is. Pcimiì
mc ìo slouì ìlaì again foi you: 1HE ROOM IS A1 LEAS1 AS IMPOR1AN1 AS
1HE SPEAKERS! So ìlaì mcans cnginccis Iooking foi a fasì ìiack ìo commci-
ciaI-sounding mixcs slouId pIougl as mucl moncy inìo dcaIing wiìl ìlcii
ioom acousìics as ìlcy do inìo huying ìlcii moniìois.
Now I'm ìlc nisì pcison ìo acknowIcdgc ìlaì fcw pcopIc can affoid ìo cngagc
spcciaIisì acousìicians ìo huiId ìlcii sìudio fiom ìlc giound up. Indccd, my
cxpciicncc is ìlaì smaII scìups aImosì univcisaIIy nnd ìlcmscIvcs squislcd
unccicmoniousIy inìo a slcd, hascmcnì, spaic hcdioom, aììic, oi ofncc uniì,
wlcic ìlc usci faccs a haììIc cvcn ìo adjusì ìlc inìciioi dccoi, Icì aIonc ìlc con-
sìiucìion and pIaccmcnì of ìlc waIIs. Howcvci, cvcn if you'ic icIcgaìcd ìo ìlc
cuphoaid undci ìlc sìaiis, iì's sìiII viìaI ìlaì you makc wlaì acousìics impiovc-
mcnìs you can. 1lc good ncws lcic is ìlaì you can woik wondcis wiìl off-ìlc-
slcIf pioducìs and a hiì of do-iì-youiscIf (DIY), cvcn on a Iimiìcd hudgcì and
in icnìaI accommodaìion wlcic youi consìiucìion opìions aic Iimiìcd. Wlcn
you considci ìlaì a ìypicaI unìicaìcd domcsìic acousìic cnviionmcnì wiII, in
my cxpciicncc, icndci iouglIy ìwo ìliids of ìlc moncy you spcnì on youi
spcakcis wasìcd, ìlcic's simpIy no cxcusc foi inacìion if you'ic sciious ahouì
youi ciafì.
1lc nisì main scì of acousìics piohIcms ìlaì you'II nccd ìo Iock loins wiìl
wlcn woiking on ncaincId moniìois is ìlaì sound docsn'ì jusì squiiì diiccìIy
ouì of ìlc fionì of cacl spcakci and ìlcn sìop wlcn iì liìs youi cais. Iì aIso
spiays aiound in aII oìlci diiccìions ìo a gicaìci oi Icssci cxìcnì, houncing off
ìlc waIIs, cciIing, and ßooi, as wcII as any oìlci icasonahIy soIid ohjccì in ìlc
ioom. 1lis can cicaìc a siìuaìion wlcic a sonic icßccìion aiiivcs aì ìlc mixing
posiìion sloiìIy afìci ìlc sound ìlaì ìiavcIcd ìlcic diiccìIy-in oìlci woids,
you cnd up Iisìcning ìo ìwo vcisions of iouglIy ìlc samc sound sIiglìIy ouì
of plasc. As I mcnìioncd in Sccìion l.2, ìlis kind of comhinaìion of ouì-
of-plasc signaIs can causc nasìy comh-nIìciing iippIcs in ìlc pciccivcd fic-
qucncy icsponsc-and noì jusì in youi spcakcis' icIaìivcIy icsìiicìcd ciossovci
icgions, huì acioss ìlc cnìiic ficqucncy spccìium.
1lc mosì ìiouhIcsomc icßccìois you'II cncounìci wiII hc ìlc fuiniìuic you'ic
woiking on, wlcìlci ìlaì's a Iaigc mixing consoIc oi ìlc hcdsidc ìahIc piop-
ping up youi Iapìop, as wcII as any ioom houndaiics wiìlin ahouì ìlicc mcìcis
of youi Iisìcning posiìion. (1o hc loncsì, sonic icßccìions coming fiom fai-
ìlci ìlan ìlicc mcìcis away aicn'ì a piimaiy conccin in domcsìic cnviion-
mcnìs, hccausc ìlcii gicaìci ìimc dcIays and diminislcd IcvcIs aic unIikcIy ìo
causc majoi comh-nIìciing piohIcms.) In piofcssionaI scìups ìlc ioom sui-
faccs aiound ìlc moniìoiing posiìion aic ofìcn cIcvciIy angIcd ìo nic aII ìlc
main sound icßccìions fiom ìlc spcakcis away fiom ìlc Iisìcning posiìion, huì
ìlaì kind of appioacl is iaicIy viahIc in ìlc smaIIci iccìanguIai iooms of moic
modcsì sìudios. A moic piacìicaI aIìcinaìivc in mosì cascs is ìo pIacc ahsoipìivc
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 18
acousìic ìicaìmcnì aì aII ìlc main icßccìion poinìs in oidci ìo icducc ìlc IcvcI
of ìlc icßccìcd sound, and lcncc ìlc scvciiìy of ìlc comh nIìciing.
Acoustic Foam in Moderation
A così-cffccìivc ahsoihci lcic is opcn-ccII acousìic foam of ìlc ìypc manufac-
ìuicd hy companics Iikc AuiaIcx, and a mcìci-squaic aica of sucl ìicaìmcnì
covciing cacl of ìlc icßccìion poinìs can makc a hig diffcicncc ìo ìlc cIaiiìy
of ìlc spcakci ìonc. In a ìypicaI smaII scìup, ìlaì mcans you'd puì paìclcs of
ìicaìmcnì on cacl waII, on ìlc cciIing, on ìlc waII hclind ìlc moniìois, and
on ìlc waII hclind ìlc Iisìcnci if ìlaì's wiìlin iangc. Somc fuiìlci foam on
youi woik suifacc can hc a honus ìoo, huì cIcaiIy youi opìions may hc Iim-
iìcd lcic! In gcnciaI, ìlc ìlickci youi ahsoipìivc maìciiaI, ìlc Iowci down ìlc
ficqucncy spccìium iì's going ìo hc ahIc ìo ahsoih, so don'ì jusì usc ìlc clcap-
csì foam you can gcì, hccausc iì'II piohahIy onIy hc 5cm ìlick oi Icss, a lucm
ìlickncss wiII do a mucl moic icspccìahIc joh. If you lavc ìo cuì ìicaìmcnì
cosìs, ìiy using a paììcin of ìlinnci and ìlickci foam ìiIcs, iaìlci ìlan going foi
ìlinnci foam acioss ìlc hoaid.
You can casiIy gIuc acousìic foam diiccìIy ìo waIIs oi cciIings wiìl an appiopii-
aìc spiay adlcsivc, huì if you do ìlaì you'II lavc ìlc dcviI's own joh gcììing
iì off again if you cvci wanì ìo ìianspIanì youi sìudio scìup aì a Iaìci daìc. Iì's
ìlcicfoic a mucl hcììci idca ìo gIuc ìlc foam ìo somc kind of Iiglìwciglì pIy-
hoaid insìcad, so you can ìlcn lang ìlc foam Iikc a picìuic in wliclcvci ioom
USING A SUBWOOFER
There are certain styles of music for which the very lowest frequencies are extremely
important, so if that’s the market you’re working in then you’ll need a speaker system
that can actually reproduce them. According to Trina Shoemaker, “Forty Hertz exists
now…. We have real low end in today’s recordings, so you have to work with it.”
5
One
common way of extending the low-frequency reach of budget nearfield systems is
to supplement a smaller pair of stereo “satellite” speakers with a single additional
subwoofer to create a so-called 2.1 system. Although this would seem to compromise
the stereo presentation of the mix, we actually hear stereo primarily from higher
frequencies, so that’s not a problem in practice. In fact, you can usually position
subwoofers well off-center without unbalancing the stereo picture. An advantage of
the 2.1 approach is that you don’t get phase-cancellation issues between drivers at
the low end, and you also get a certain amount of flexibility to position the subwoofer
independently of the nearfield satellites to reduce room-mode problems (a serious
acoustics issue we’ll discuss in detail in Section 1.4). However, although many
manufacturers of 2.1 systems suggest that you can place the subwoofer pretty much
wherever you like, I’d personally advise restricting yourself to placements where the
subwoofer and satellites are all an equal distance from your ears; otherwise you’ll
compromise the relative timing of low-frequency transients. Also, as with any speaker,
beware of porting side effects on cheaper products.
Using Nearfield Monitors CHAPTER 1 19
you lappcn ìo wanì ìo woik in-a gicaì advanìagc if you lavc ìo gcì icsuIìs in
unìicaìcd coIIcgc faciIiìics oi on oìlci pcopIc's lomc iigs. You couId aIso ìiy
angIing ìlc foamcd hoaids ìo houncc somc of ìlc icßccìcd ficqucncics away
fiom ìlc swccì spoì, jusì as in puiposc-dcsigncd iooms.
Ahovc aII, lowcvci, icsisì ìlc ìcmpìaìion ìo covci ìlc cnìiic ioom in foam-I
can'ì ìcII you low ofìcn coIIcgc sìudios in paiìicuIai succumh ìo ìlis scduc-
ìivc ciioi. Iì is quiìc simpIy a iccipc foi disasìci, hccausc iì loovcis up ìlc ìop
laIf of ìlc ioom's icvcihciaìion, making foi an cxìicmcIy unnaìuiaI woiking
cnviionmcnì. AIìlougl iì makcs good scnsc ìo damp down sìiong caiIy icßcc-
ìions ìlaì can poìcnìiaIIy comh nIìci youi ficqucncy icsponsc, you aIso wanì
youi moniìoiing cnviionmcnì ìo hcai aì Icasì a passing icscmhIancc
ìo icaI-woiId Iiving iooms and ofnccs. If you pIasìci
youi wloIc sìudio in foam, you'II hasicaIIy hc mix-
ing foi pcopIc in paddcd ccIIs-pcilaps noì ìlc
mosì Iuciaìivc dcmogiaplic ìo scì youi siglìs
on! Wlaì's moic, ìlc cconomics of covciing
sucl a Iaigc suifacc foiccs mosì foam fanaìics
ìo compiomisc on ìicaìmcnì ìlickncss, wlicl
jusì sucks ìlc Iifc ouì of ìlc uppci ficqucncics,
giving a supcinciaI impicssion of acousìic conìioI
wliIc ìlc icsì of ìlc spccìium mciiiIy iuns iioì.
FIGURE 1.7
If sound from your speakers reflects off control-room surfaces back toward the monitoring sweet spot,
it can cause all sorts of frequency-response problems for the listener. This diagram shows the wall
reflection points for a typical small rectangular control room and how you can use acoustic foam panels
to reduce the problem. Don’t forget that the ceiling reflects sound too!
If you plaster your
whole studio in foam, you’ll
basically be mixing for people in
padded cells—perhaps not the most
lucrative demographic to set
your sights on!
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 20
'I'vc lcaid a Ioì of lomc iccoidings,´ says Kciìl OIscn, 'and ìlcic's a Ioì of
wlaì ìlcy ìlink is dcadcning, hccausc iì ìakcs ouì aII ìlc ìop cnd. 1laì miglì
savc ìlc nciglhois fiom caIIing ìlc cops, huì ìlc hoììom cnd and midiangc is
sìiII icaI amhicnì, iì hounccs aiound ìlc ioom, and you gcì plasc dcsìiucìion.´
6
Bccausc acousìic ahsoipìion Iikc ìlis is hcsì uscd in modciaìion, iì slouIdn'ì
hicak ìlc hank-a coupIc of lundicd pounds is ahouì as mucl as you nccd,
oi indccd wanì, ìo spcnd foi foam in a smaII sìudio. And if you'ic scnsihIy
dividing youi hudgcì cquaIIy hcìwccn ìlc spcakcis and ìlc acousìics, ìlcn
cvcn cnìiy-IcvcI spcakcis slouId jusìify ìlis kind of ouìIay. SìiII, if foi wlaì-
cvci icason you can'ì affoid piopci acousìic ìicaìmcnì, you'II nnd ìlaì cvcn
sofì fuinislings sucl as ìlick cuiìains, hIankcìs, and duvcìs can hc of somc
hcncnì in damping ìlosc icßccìions if iiggcd appiopiiaìcIy. Onc moic ìip in
ìlis insìancc, ìlougl, wouId hc ìo ìiy ìo Icavc a fcw inclcs of aii gap hcìwccn
ìlc cuiìains[hIankcìs and youi ioom houndaiics, as ìlaì las a hioadIy simiIai
cffccì ìo incicasing ìlc ìlickncss of ìlc ìicaìmcnì. (You can puII ìlis sìunì wiìl
acousìic foam ìoo hy sìicking smaII foam spacci hIocks hclind ìlc main foam
pancIs, as Iong as you'ic faiiIy opcn ìo ìlc idca of covciing youiscIf in gIuc and
swcaiing a Ioì duiing ìlc pioccss.)
Boundary Effects
1lcic's onc fuiìlci icßccìion issuc ìo hc waiy of: a consìiucìivc Iow-ficqucncy
inìcifcicncc commonIy icfciicd ìo as ìlc houndaiy cffccì. As you movc a
spcakci cIosci ìo a ioom houndaiy, iì icduccs ìlc dcIay hcìwccn ìlc diiccì
and icßccìcd sounds aiiiving aì ìlc Iisìcning posiìion, making ìlcm Icss and
Icss ouì of plasc. 1lis mcans ìlaì ìlc comh nIìciing icduccs and you sìaiì ìo
gcì jusì a simpIc IcvcI icinfoiccmcnì as ìlc icßccìcd sound adds powci ìo ìlc
diiccì sound. Howcvci, foi ìwo icasons ìlis icinfoiccmcnì occuis piimaiiIy aì
Iow ficqucncics: nisì, ìlcii Iongci wavcIcngìls slifì Icss ouì of plasc as a icsuIì
of a givcn dcIay, and sccond, Iow ficqucncics aic hcììci ìiansmiììcd hy ìlc
spcakci off-axis anyway. So if you pIacc youi spcakcis iiglì up ncxì ìo a waII,
you'II gcì up ìo 3dB of hass hoosì, and ìlis can iisc ìo 6dB if you ìuck ìlcm
inìo a ioom coinci wlcic ìlc cffccìs of ìwo houndaiics gang up.
Onc soIuìion is ìo EQ ìlc spcakci's ouìpuì ìo compcnsaìc foi ìlc Iow-cnd
ìip-up. Indccd, a Ioì of acìivc moniìois aimcd aì compacì scìups lavc a Iiì-
ìIc Iow-cuì swiìcl iound ìlc hack foi jusì ìlis puiposc. Howcvci, aIìlougl
ìlis is onc of ìlc onIy siìuaìions wlcic EQ can uscfuIIy haiI ouì youi acous-
ìics, I'd sìiII advisc againsì pIacing youi spcakcis iiglì up againsì a waII if
you can lcIp iì, hccausc cvcn wiìl a scnsihIc ìlickncss of acousìic foam on
ìlaì suifacc, ìlcic is sìiII IikcIy ìo hc cnougl icßccìcd sound aiiiving aì ìlc
Iisìcning posiìion ìo givc signincanì comh-nIìciing piohIcms in ìlc mid-
iangc. Fuiìlcimoic, if you'ic using moniìois wiìl poiìs aì ìlc icai of ìlc
cahincì, ìlc pioximiìy of ìlc houndaiy is IikcIy ìo incicasc ìuihuIcncc as aii
zips in and ouì of ìlc poiì opcning, Icading ìo cxìia noisc and Iow-ficqucncy
disìoiìion.
Using Nearfield Monitors CHAPTER 1 21
WHAT ABOUT DIFFUSION?
Another way to reduce the comb-filtering impact of early reflections is to use acoustic
diffusers on reflective surfaces to scatter the reflection in lots of different directions.
The downside of using diffusers in the small studio, though, is that they’re usually more
expensive than acoustic foam for a given area of coverage. However, that doesn’t mean
that diffusion has no part to play in project studios, because it turns out that things
like CD racks and bookshelves can work quite well, as long as they’re stocked fairly
irregularly. (If ever there were a good excuse for having a messy studio, then that’s it!)
Eric Schilling is a big fan of using a bookshelf like this: “It has mass, and each book has
a different depth and size. The concept is brilliant in its simplicity.”
7
So do try to position
shelves like these usefully if you can—the wall behind the monitoring position is a
particularly good bet, because that otherwise takes a fairly large area of acoustic foam
to treat effectively, which risks overdeadening the room’s high-frequency reverberation.
1.4 TACKLING ROOM RESONANCES
AIìlougl acousìic icßccìion piohIcms can makc minccmcaì of moniìoiing
accuiacy, ìlc icmcdics I'vc suggcsìcd aic così-cffccìivc, faiiIy simpIc ìo impIc-
mcnì, and cffccìivc cnougl ìlaì comh nIìciing slouIdn'ì sìand in ìlc way of
you aclicving commciciaI-IcvcI mixcs. Iì's laidIy suipiising, ìlcn, ìlaì ìlc
moic swiìclcd-on smaII-sìudio owncis lavc ofìcn aIicady impIcmcnìcd somc-
ìling aIong ìlcsc Iincs. Howcvci, ìlcic is anoìlci cquaIIy impoiìanì aspccì of
ioom acousìics, wlicl is moic difncuIì ìo ìackIc and so is ofìcn simpIy ignoicd
hy hudgcì-conscious opciaìois: ioom icsonancc.
Understanding the Problem
1o undcisìand low ioom icsonanccs woik, iì lcIps ìo hiing ìo mind low a
guiìai sìiing icsonaìcs. Aì iìs Iowcsì icsonanì ficqucncy (caIIcd ìlc nisì modc),
ìlc sìiing is sìaìionaiy aì hoìl cnds and movcs mosì aì iìs middIc poinì-oi ìo
usc ìlc ìcclnicaI ìcims, ìlcic aic nodcs aì ìlc cnds of ìlc sìiing and an anìi-
nodc in ìlc middIc. Howcvci, ìlc sìiing aIso las a sccond icsonanì modc aì
ìwicc ìlis ficqucncy, giving a vihiaìion wiìl ìlicc nodcs, sucl ìlaì ìlc sìiing
appcais ìo hc vihiaìing in ìwo cquaI-Icngìl sccìions. 1iipIing ìlc nisì modc's
ficqucncy givcs you a ìliid modc wiìl foui nodcs, quadiupIing iì givcs you a
fouiìl modc wiìl nvc nodcs, and so on up ìlc spccìium.
1lc icason iì's uscfuI ìo kccp ìlis imagc in mind is ìlaì ìlc hody of aii hcìwccn
any paiaIIcI ioom houndaiics las a simiIai sciics of icsonanì modcs aì ficqucn-
cics dicìaìcd hy ìlc disìancc hcìwccn ìlc suifaccs. A quick-and-diiìy way ìo
woik ouì ìlc icsonanì ficqucncy of ìlc nisì ioom modc hcìwccn a givcn paii of
paiaIIcI houndaiics is hy dividing l72 hy ìlc disìancc in mcìcis hcìwccn ìlcm.
Suhscqucnì ioom modcs wiII ìlcn hc aì muIìipIcs of ìlaì ficqucncy, jusì as in
oui guiìai-sìiing cxampIc. So if ìlc cciIing of youi sìudio is 2.42m ahovc ìlc
ßooi, ìlcn you'd cxpccì ìlc nisì ioom modc in ìlaì dimcnsion ìo hc aì aiound
7lHz, ìlc sccond aì l42Hz, ìlc ìliid aì 2l3Hz, and so foiìl.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 22
Eacl ioom modc wiII gcnciaìc iìs own icguIaiIy
spaccd sciics of nodcs and anìinodcs hcìwccn ìlc
ioom houndaiics, and if ìlis mcans ìlaì ìlcic's
a nodc in youi moniìoiing swccì spoì, you'II
lcai a diasìic ficqucncy-icsponsc dip aì ìlaì
ioom modc's icsonanì ficqucncy, wlcicas if
ìlcic's an anìinodc aì ìlc Iisìcning posiìion,
you'II lcai a signincanì IcvcI hoosì aì ìlaì fic-
qucncy insìcad. Bccausc cacl paii of paiaIIcI
ioom suifaccs wiII conìiihuìc iìs own indcpcndcnì
sciics oi ioom modcs, and mosì iccìanguIai domcsìic
iooms offci ìlicc paiis of paiaIIcI suifaccs, smaII sìudios ìypi-
caIIy nnd ìlcmscIvcs IihciaIIy pcppcicd wiìl nodcs and anìinodcs aì diffcicnì
ficqucncics.
A single room
mode can easily push its
resonant frequency 20dB out of
kilter, so only a flying pig is likely to
find a good listening position when
several room modes are active
at the same time.
FIGURE 1.8
This diagram demonstrates what room resonances can do to your monitoring system’s apparent frequency
response. This picture shows the first four front-back room modes for a room measuring around 4.3m long.
These occur at 40Hz, 80Hz, 120Hz, and 160Hz. The nodes and antinodes are marked with “N” and “A,”
respectively, and although they are shown one above the other here for the sake of clarity, it’s important to
realize that they are actually overlaid on one another, all occurring simultaneously across the whole width
of the room. The two frequency-response plots demonstrate the effects of these modes on the monitoring
system’s apparent frequency response at two different listening positions only about 75cm apart.
Using Nearfield Monitors CHAPTER 1 23
So wlaì docs ìlis mcan in piacìicc² WcII, ìlc nisì ìling ìo
say is ìlaì cvcn a singIc ioom modc can casiIy pusl iìs ics-
onanì ficqucncy 2udB ouì of kiIìci, so onIy a ßying pig is
IikcIy ìo nnd a Iisìcning posiìion ìlaì givcs a faiìlfuI spcc-
ìiaI haIancc wlcn scvciaI ioom modcs aic acìivc aì ìlc samc
ìimc. PIus, if you movc aiound ìlc ioom aì aII wliIc Iisìcn-
ing, ìlc moniìoiing sysìcm's appaicnì ficqucncy icsponsc
wiII wiiìlc aiound Iikc a pyìlon doing ìlc Iamhada-
as I'vc ìiicd ìo iIIusìiaìc wiìl ìlc ficqucncy pIoìs in Figuic
l.8. 1o hc faii, ioom modcs ìcnd ìo affccì piimaiiIy ìlc Iowci
laIf of ìlc audio spccìium, hy viiìuc of ìlc facì ìlaì liglci-
ficqucncy icsonanccs aic mucl moic casiIy dampcd hy noi-
maI ioom dccoi, huì ìlc icmaining suh-lkHz disasìci aica is
moic ìlan cnougl ìo scuppci youi lopcs of making ohjccìivc
dccisions ahouì a mix.
Evciy ioom is diffcicnì, ìlougl, so ìiy ìlis cxpciimcnì ìo
gcì a icaIisìic idca of wlaì ìlc ioom modcs aic doing ìo
youi own moniìoiing. PIay hack ìlc LFSinc1oncs audio nIc
ìliougl youi sysìcm again and Iisìcn caicfuIIy fiom ìlc swccì
spoì, compaiing ìlc icIaìivc IcvcIs of ìlc puic sinc-wavc
ìoncs as ìlcy maicl in scmiìonc sìcps up ìlc hoììom ìlicc
ocìavcs of ìlc audio spccìium. If youi sìudio is anyìling Iikc
mosì smaII, unìicaìcd conìioI iooms, you'II piohahIy nnd
ìlaì somc ìoncs aImosì disappcai, wlcicas oìlcis piacìicaIIy
go inìo oihiì! 1ahIc l.l slows iouglIy wlicl ficqucncics
occui aì wlicl ìimcs in ìlc nIc, so giah a pcnciI and makc a
noìc of wlicl aic ìlc mosì waywaid ìoncs wliIc you'ic Iis-
ìcning aì ìlc swccì spoì. Now movc youi Iisìcning posiìion a
coupIc of fccì away and ìiy ìlaì IiììIc cxpciimcnì again-iì'II
hc a wloIc diffcicnì sìoiy, and you'II piohahIy nnd ìlaì somc
of ìlc ìoncs ìlaì wcic ancmic hcfoic aic now ovcipiomincnì,
and vicc vcisa.
Now iì wouId hc quiìc icasonahIc ìo say ìlaì sinc-wavc ìoncs
aicn'ì mucl Iikc a icaI musicaI signaI, so iì's aIso woiìlwliIc
ìo focus on wlaì youi ioom is doing ìo ìlc cvcnncss of hass
Iincs on commciciaI ìiacks ìlaì you know ìo lavc hccn vciy
wcII-pioduccd in ìlis dcpaiìmcnì. If you wanì a suggcsìion
lcic, ìlcn ìiy ìlc song 'AII Foui Scasons,´ pioduccd and
cnginccicd hy Hugl Padglam foi Sìing's aIhum Mercury
Falling. 1lc hass paiì on ìlis ìiack is widc ianging, huì iì is
aIso cxìicmcIy consisìcnì, so aII ìlc noìcs slouId sound faiiIy
cvcn on any mix-icady moniìoiing sysìcm. If ìlcy don'ì, ìlcn
you'vc sciiousIy goì ìo ask youiscIf low you'ic pIanning ìo
judgc hass haIanccs in youi own mixing woik.
Table 1.1 LFSineTones Audio File
Map
Track Time Frequency Pitch
0:00 24Hz F
0:01 25Hz F#
0:02 26Hz G
0:03 27Hz G#
0:04 28Hz A
0:05 29Hz A#
0:06 31Hz B
0:07 33Hz C
0:09 35Hz C#
0:10 37Hz D
0:11 39Hz D#
0:12 41Hz E
0:13 44Hz F
0:14 47Hz F#
0:15 49Hz G
0:16 52Hz G#
0:17 55Hz A
0:18 59Hz A#
0:19 62Hz B
0:20 65Hz C
0:22 69Hz C#
0:23 73Hz D
0:24 77Hz D#
0:25 82Hz E
0:26 87Hz F
0:27 92Hz F#
0:28 98Hz G
0:29 105Hz G#
0:30 111Hz A
0:31 117Hz A#
0:32 123Hz B
0:33 131Hz C
0:35 139Hz C#
0:36 147Hz D
0:37 156Hz D#
0:38 165Hz E
0:39 175Hz F
0:40 185Hz F#
0:41 196Hz G
0:42 208Hz G#
0:43 220Hz A
0:44 233Hz A#
0:45 247Hz B
0:46 262Hz C
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 24
Some Practical Remedies
1lc piofcssionaI soIuìion ìo Iow-cnd icsonancc piohIcms is huiIding iooms
wiìl nonpaiaIIcI waIIs, and if you'vc goì huiIdcis in ìlc famiIy ìlcn hy aII mcans
foIIow ìlaì iouìc. Howcvci, foi ìlc icsì of us ìlc cloicc of wlicl ioom wc
cloosc ìo mix in can aIso makc a hig diffcicncc. Foi a sìaiì, iì's scnsihIc ìo avoid
smaII iooms wlcic possihIc, hccausc ìlcii icsonanccs ìicspass fuiìlci up ìlc fic-
qucncy spccìium ìlan ìlosc of Iaigci spaccs. AIso ìiy ìo nnd a ioom wlcic ìlc
dimcnsions aicn'ì maìclcd ìoo cIoscIy, oìlciwisc muIìipIc simiIai ioom modcs
wiII gang up on ìlc samc ficqucncy iangcs, and ìlaì's jusì asking foi ìiouhIc.
Somc lomc sìudios comc spccìacuIaiIy unsìuck lcic, hccausc ìlcy'vc hccn han-
islcd ìo a smaII 2.5m-widc cuhic spaic ioom wlcic ìlc powcifuI comhinaìion
of ioom modcs in aII ìlicc dimcnsions conspiics ìo makc a compIcìc dog's din-
nci noì jusì of ìlc Iow cnd, huì aIso of ìlc midiangc.
Wlaìcvci ioom you'ic in, you can icducc ìlc impacì of ìlc ioom modcs if
you avoid scììing up youi Iisìcning posiìion (oi indccd youi moniìois) cxacìIy
laIfway hcìwccn any of ìlc ioom houndaiics, wlcic you'ic IikcIy ìo gcì ìlc
woisì piIcup of nodcs and anìinodcs. Howcvci, as I'vc aIicady mcnìioncd, off-
ccnìci scìups hiing wiìl ìlcm ìlc dangci of a Iopsidcd sìcico haIancc hccausc
of unmaìclcd ioom icßccìions, so iì's advisahIc noì ìo pusl ìlc swccì spoì ìoo
fai Icfì oi iiglì of ccnìci. 1laì said, a sìcico imhaIancc causcs fai fcwci mixing
piohIcms in my cxpciicncc ìlan ioom-modc issucs, so I'd pcisonaIIy piioiiìizc
ioom-modc ìicaìmcnì if pusl comcs ìo slovc.
Rooms wiìl Iiglìwciglì waIIs can woik ìo youi advanìagc hy aIIowing moic
Iow ficqucncics ìo cscapc, iaìlci ìlan icsonaìing wiìlin-assuming ìlaì youi
nciglhois don'ì ìakc a dim vicw of ìlis sound Icakagc! By ìlc samc ìokcn,
concicìc-waIIcd hascmcnì iooms slouId hc appioaclcd wiìl cauìion, hccausc
Iow ficqucncics can lavc icaI ìiouhIc cscaping ìlaì kind of cnviionmcnì
and you'II lavc youi woik cuì ouì ìiying ìo ìamc ìlc icsuIìing ioom modcs.
Howcvci, mosì smaII sìudios simpIy lavc ìo ìakc wlaìcvci ioom lappcns ìo
hc ficc, so in any casc you nccd ìo know low ìo makc ìlc hcsì of ìlings using
acousìic ìicaìmcnì.
Mineral-Fiber Bass Traps
1lc hcsì aII-puiposc ìacìic is ìo damp down ìlc ioom modcs as mucl as you
can using Iow-ficqucncy ahsoihcis, ofìcn caIIcd hass ìiaps. 1lc downsidc lcic,
ìlougl, is ìlaì hass ìiaps nccd ìo hc dcnsc and huIky ìo do ìlcii joh piopciIy.
As Eiic ScliIIing noìcs, foam simpIy isn'ì up ìo ìlc ìask: 'Mosì pcopIc ìlink
ìlaì ìicaìing a ioom simpIy mcans going ìo a music sìoic and huying foam.
Buì if iì's csscnìiaIIy a squaic ioom, iì docsn'ì maììci if you lavc somc foam
in ìlc coinci and a fcw picccs on ìlc waII-you sìiII won'ì hc ahIc ìo lcai hass
ìo savc youi Iifc!´
8
1lc mosì commonIy uscd aIìcinaìivc is Iaigc sIahs of ligl-
dcnsiìy minciaI nhci, wlicl offci mucl hcììci Iow-ficqucncy ahsoipìion.
PIacing ìlc pancIs cIosc ìo a givcn ioom houndaiy piovidcs hioadhand
ahsoipìion of aII ìlc associaìcd dimcnsion's ioom modcs, and (mucl as wiìl
Using Nearfield Monitors CHAPTER 1 25
foam) you gcì an incicasc in ìlc Iow-ficqucncy ahsoipìion if you Icavc an
aii gap hclind ìlc sIah-a fooì oi so if possihIc. Bccausc minciaI-nhci hass
ìiaps aic ìypicaIIy moic cxpcnsivc ìlan foam pancIs, onc common ìiick is ìo
pIacc ìlcm acioss waII-ìo-waII and waII-ìo-cciIing coincis, wlcic ìlcy can ìicaì
modcs in ìwo dimcnsions simuIìancousIy, and in smaII iooms ìlis las ìlc
addcd advanìagc of inìiuding Icss on youi woikspacc.
NoimaIIy noì aII dimcnsions of a ioom aic cquaIIy ìiouhIcsomc, so iì's noì a
had idca ìo ìiy ìo woik ouì wlicl aic ìlc higgcsì cuIpiiìs. 1o do ìlis, nisì Iisìcn
caicfuIIy ìo ìlc LFSinc1oncs audio nIc (www.cambridge-mt.com/ms.ch1.htm) wliIc
icfciiing ìo 1ahIc l.l, ìaking caic ìo idcnìify ìlc mosì piohIcmaìic ficqucncics-
anywlcic you can lcai a hig pcak oi ìiougl in ìlc appaicnì IcvcIs of ìlc ìoncs.
1lcn dividc l72 hy cacl of ìlcsc ficqucncics in ìuin ìo givc a Iisì of mcasuic-
mcnìs in mcìcis, and Iook wiìl suspicion on any ioom dimcnsion ìlaì woiks
ouì as a simpIc muIìipIc of any of ìlosc mcasuicmcnìs. Oncc you know wlicl
dimcnsions aic causing ìlc higgcsì piohIcms, you can conccnìiaìc youi acousìic
ìicaìmcnì icsouiccs moic cffccìivcIy.
Companics sucl as Piimacousìic, Rcady Acousìics, and RcaI 1iaps aII offci
icady-madc hass ìiaps incoipoiaìing ligl-dcnsiìy minciaI nhci, huì ìlc smaII
sìudios I'vc hccn inìo usuaIIy nccd aiound a dozcn lucm-ìlick sIahs ìo makc
ìlcii moniìoiing woikahIc, and wiìl off-ìlc-slcIf pioducìs ìlaì can sccm
CAN EQUALIZATION CORRECT THE EFFECTS OF
ROOM MODES?
Because room modes cause low-end frequency-response changes, it’s tempting to
think that EQ might be able to offer a solution to this kind of resonance problem—
not least because a number of manufacturers now offer EQ-based “room correction”
software ostensibly for that purpose. The idea with these algorithms is that they
measure the monitoring system’s frequency response using a special test signal and
a calibrated microphone, and then calculate an EQ curve to attempt to compensate for
the nonlinearities they detect. However, for anyone serious about mixing on a budget,
I think such systems are a red herring, for two different reasons. First, staying exactly
in the sweet spot all the time isn’t actually conducive to getting work done in a real
studio, and if you wander out of the sweet spot, the frequency response will quickly go
out of alignment again, as demonstrated in Figure 1.8. Even if you can somehow clamp
yourself into the sweet spot, anyone working in the room with you will hear something
completely different. Plus, if you’re stuck with having to use your control room for
recording as well, the fluctuating frequency response as you move round the room will
make finding decent miking positions a tedious guessing game.
More crucially, though, room resonances don’t just affect frequency response; they also
cause specific frequencies to ring on in time, with all the detrimental consequences
we’ve already explored in relation to monitor porting back in Section 1.1. Equalizers
are themselves resonant too, which only compounds the issue. So can equalization
usefully combat room modes? For my money, no.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 26
iaìlci an unpaIaìahIc haììciing of onc's cicdiì caid. 1laì's undcisìandahIc,
ìlougl, aigucs Mick CIossop: 'ConìioIIing vciy Iow ficqucncics cosìs moic
moncy, hccausc iì's hig movcmcnìs of aii, and you nccd mass and hig ìiapping
sysìcms ìo do ìlaì.´
9
Howcvci, ìlc good ncws is ìlaì a hiì of DIY can savc you sciious moncy, hccausc
iì's possihIc ìo huiId icasonahIc hass ìiapping on youi own aì a fiacìion of ìlc
così. Wlaì you nccd ìo nnd aic lucm-ìlick minciaI-nhci pancIs wiìl a dcnsiìy
of aiound 5u ìo luukg[m
3
. 1lcy'ic uscd foi insuIaìion as mucl as foi acousìics,
so ask aì an insuIaìion company if you can'ì Iocaìc a dcdicaìcd suppIici of acous-
ìics maìciiaIs in youi aica. A woid of cauìion, ìlougl: minciaI nhci is a skin and
hicaìling iiiiìanì, so hc suic ìo wcai appiopiiaìc pioìccìivc mask, goggIcs, and
gIovcs wlcn landIing iì. By ìlc samc ìokcn, you'II wanì ìo covci cacl pancI in
somc kind of acousìicaIIy ncuìiaI fahiic ìo sìop ìlc minciaI nhcis fiom slcdding
aII ovci ìlc pIacc-ìlc kind of maìciiaI commonIy uscd ìo covci ofncc dividcis is
quiìc a good hcì, cspcciaIIy hccausc you can usuaIIy gcì iì in a
widc iangc of coIois. Rcady Acousìics aIso do IiììIc icady-
madc zippcd fahiic sacks, caIIcd Rcady Bags, wlicl
aic anoìlci faiiIy così-cffccìivc aIìcinaìivc if you'ic
Icss ìlan landy wiìl a nccdIc and ìlicad, and
ìlcy'ic ncaì Iooking ìo hooì.
Bccausc ligl-dcnsiìy minciaI-nhci pancIs aic
ahouì as sìiff as a ìypicaI foam maììicss, you
can jusì usc picìuic looks and sìiing ìo loId
ìlcm in pIacc in youi sìudio if you'ic lappy foi
FIGURE 1.9
This diagram shows how you might sensibly distribute a dozen 10cm ϫ 60cm ϫ 120cm mineral-fiber
acoustic panels within a modestly sized control room to tame typical room-mode problems.
A bit of DIY can save
you serious money, because
it’s possible to build reasonable
bass trapping on your own at a
fraction of the cost of off-the-
shelf products.
Using Nearfield Monitors CHAPTER 1 27
ìlcm ìo sag a IiììIc ovci ìimc undci ìlcii own wciglì. If you wanì a ìidici Iook,
ìlougl, ìlcn ìlcic's noìling sìopping you fiom huiIding a simpIc woodcn
fiamc aiound ìlcm (ciìlci insidc oi ouìsidc ìlc fahiic), and covciing iì in
clickcn wiic ìo loId ìlc sIah in pIacc moic assciìivcIy. AIìcinaìivcIy, if you'ic
as mucl of a dangci ìo youiscIf wiìl a saw in youi land as I am, ìlcn clcck
ouì Rcady Acousìic's ClamcIcon Acousìic Fiamcs, wlicl nì aiound sìandaid
lucmϫ 6ucmϫ l2ucm sIahs ìo cicaìc a sIick nnaI pioducì.
TOO MUCH BASS TRAPPING?
Although I’ve heaped scorn on the idea of covering every available control-room
surface in acoustic foam, there’s little benefit in similar restraint when it comes to
bass trapping in small studio rooms—the more the merrier. But hang on a minute!
Didn’t I say earlier that too much acoustic foam could make a control room less like
a real-world listening environment? Shouldn’t that also apply to bass trapping? Well,
yes it does. The difference, however, is that leaving your control room’s modes to their
own devices (as in most real-world playback environments) will actually make your low-
end monitoring less representative, because any other room will have a different set
of modes at a different set of frequencies. Better to tame your control-room modes
as well as you can so that you’ve a clearer idea of the actual low-frequency balance,
irrespective of any resonances of the end user’s listening system.
One practical problem you may encounter when installing a lot of mineral-fiber bass
trapping, though, is that it will also absorb high frequencies as well and can result in
too dead a sound in that region of the spectrum—much the same problem as you get
when too much acoustic foam has been installed. In these cases you may actually
need to reintroduce some high-frequency reflection by fixing small areas of hard surface
to the faces of some of the bass traps. Small picture frames, old CD-ROMs, or just
random bits of hardboard are all possibilities here, although you should avoid covering
more than about a third of the trap’s surface area in this way or else you’ll start to
interfere unduly with its low-end absorption.
Limp-Mass Bass Traps
Now minciaI-nhci sIahs can do a Ioì of good, huì cvcn quiìc ìlick oncs hccomc
Icss cffccìivc as you lcad down hcIow luuHz, so in a soIidIy huiIì ioom wiìl
powcifuI suh-luuHz icsonanccs, ìlcic's a Iimiì ìo low mucl ìlcy can lcIp. Foi
cxampIc, ìlcic's onc 6m ϫ 4m ϫ 2.5m hascmcnì ioom I'vc uscd ìlaì icsonaìcd
powcifuIIy aì 3uHz and 6uHz aIong iìs Iong fionì-hack dimcnsion, dcspiìc ìlc
picscncc of ìwo dozcn lucm ϫ 6ucm ϫ l2ucm minciaI-nhci hass ìiaps. In sucl
cascs, ìlcic's onc oìlci ìypc of ìicaìmcnì ìlaì can hc woiìl a sloì: a Iimp-mass
ìiap. 1lis invoIvcs IooscIy langing a Iaigc, lcavy, and impcimcahIc slccì a IiììIc
disìancc fiom onc ioom houndaiy, wlcic iì can damp Iow-ficqucncy aii movc-
mcnìs. Somc kind of iuhhciizcd haiiici maììing wiìl a dcnsiìy of aiound 5kg[m
2

is a common cloicc foi ìlis ìask, and iì lcIps if iì las a icinfoiccd hacking so
ìlaì you can if ncccssaiy lang iì hy iìs cdgc aì cciIing IcvcI wiìlouì iì ìcaiing
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 28
oi dcfoiming undci iìs own considciahIc wciglì. FaiIing ìlaì, oId caipcìs can
dcIivci somcìling Iikc ìlc samc icsuIì if mounìcd in a simiIai way and may hc a
clcapci opìion if you can gcì loId of ìlcm as sciap.
Lowci ficqucncics nccd Iaigci aicas of ìicaìmcnì, so if you fccI ìlc nccd foi
Iimp-mass ìiapping foi a ìiouhIcsomc ioom modc in onc paiìicuIai dimcn-
sion, ìlcn you slouId ìlink in ìcims of ìiying ìo ìicaì picììy mucl ìlc wloIc
of onc of ìlc icIcvanì ioom houndaiics, cvcn ìlougl ìlis wiII incviìahIy icducc
ìlc aica you can usc foi youi sìudio gcai. Bccausc ìlc sizc of aii gap hclind
ìlc ìiapping adjusìs iìs ahsoipìivc piopciìics, iì's a good idca ìo mounì ìlc maì-
ìing on somc kind of movahIc woodcn fiamc if possihIc, so ìlaì you can usc
ìiiaI and ciioi ìo sìiikc ìlc hcsì haIancc hcìwccn icsonancc icducìion and Ioss
of woikspacc. 1lis kind of ìiapping is a Ioì Icss picdicìahIc ìlan simpIc
minciaI-nhci ahsoihcis, hccausc iì is iìscIf ìo somc cxìcnì icsonanì, so hc pic-
paicd ìo spcnd a hiì of ìimc icnning ìlc scìup ìo gcì ìlc hcsì ouì of iì. Somc
vaiiaìions woiìl considciing aic adjusìing ìlc nxing poinìs foi ìlc maììing, as
wcII as langing diapcs, ìlin hoaids, oi minciaI-nhci pancIs in paiaIIcI. Iì's noì
an cxacì scicncc, huì if you'ic faccd wiìl lcinous Iow-cnd icsonancc piohIcms
and a mcagci hudgcì, ìlcn iì can noncìlcIcss hc a viahIc hacon-savci. In ìlc
spccinc hascmcnì ioom I mcnìioncd caiIici, puììing in ficc-langing slccìs of
haiiici maììing acioss mosì of ìlc widìl of ìlc ioom and ahouì a mcìci away
fiom ìlc icai waII was ahIc ìo hiing ìlc woisì Iow-cnd piohIcms undci conìioI,
and ìlc Ioss of ìlaì woikspacc was a smaII piicc ìo pay foi usahIc moniìoiing.
FLUTTER ECHO
Although the main resonance problems in studio rooms are at low frequencies, you
can also get higher-frequency resonances too, often referred to as flutter echoes.
The simplest test for these is clapping your hands in the sweet spot and listening for
any hint of unnatural metallic-sounding buzz as the sound dies away in the room. If
you’re suspicious, then another patch of acoustic foam on one or both of the offending
parallel surfaces should put an end to it with minimal fuss because high frequencies
are so easily absorbed.
1.5 WHEN IS MY MONITORING GOOD ENOUGH?
1lcic's IiììIc douhì ìlaì ìlc sìandaid of ìlc ncaincId moniìoiing sysìcm is onc
of ìlc mosì signincanì quaIiìy hoììIcnccks in ìlc smaII-sìudio pioducìion pio-
ccss. '1lc higgcsì misìakcs ìlaì lappcn in piojccì sìudios,´ says AI Sclmiìì,
'aic ìlc icsuIì of ìlc moniìoiing sysìcms.´
lu
Foi ìlis icason, impioving youi
moniìoiing is pcilaps ìlc smaiìcsì way ìo spcnd moncy, and no invcsìmcnì
in ìlis dcpaiìmcnì is IikcIy ìo hc wasìcd. NcvciìlcIcss, sìudio owncis onIy cvci
lavc so mucl moncy ìo go aiound, so ìlcy aic undcisìandahIy kccn ìo spcnd
onIy as mucl as ìlcy icaIIy nccd in oidci ìo icIiahIy aclicvc commciciaI-
IcvcI mix icsuIìs. In ìlis spiiiì, Icì mc suggcsì ìlc kind of sysìcm ìlaì, in my
Using Nearfield Monitors CHAPTER 1 29
cxpciicncc, can dcIivci ìlaì IcvcI of pcifoimancc wliIc
icmaining on ìlc iiglì sidc of ìlc poinì of diminisl-
ing icìuins.
As I'vc aIicady mcnìioncd, poiìcd ncaincIds
onIy ìcnd ìo hccomc icaIIy uscfuI foi mixing
ahovc ìlc ±luuu ($l5uu) maik, wlcicas ìlcic
aic clcapci unpoiìcd sysìcms ìlaì liì ìlis usc-
fuIncss IcvcI, as Iong as you don'ì nccd ìo sìun
smaII picy wiìl youi pIayhack voIumc. A paii of
soIid spcakci sìands nIIcd wiìl sand wiII do sucl
a scì of spcakcis jusìicc wiìlouì ìlc nccd foi any
cxìia mounìing gizmos, and foui oi nvc squaic mcìcis
of lucm ìlick acousìic foam wiII usuaIIy hc ampIc ìo
hiing caiIy icßccìions and ßuììci cclocs undci conìioI. UnIcss
you lavc soIid concicìc ioom houndaiics oi youi sìudio is sìuck in a hascmcnì,
a dozcn lucm ϫ 6ucm ϫ l2ucm minciaI-nhci hass ìiaps slouId hc cnougl ìo
givc you usahIy cvcn hass icsponsc as wcII. BasicaIIy, wiìl ìlaì Ioì in ìlc hag youi
ncaincId moniìoiing slouIdn'ì hc any cxcusc foi ìuining in duff mix woik.
Now hcfoic I'm Iynclcd hy a possc of ligl-cnd spcakci dcsigncis, acousìi-
cians, and masìciing cnginccis, Icì mc hc cIcai ìlaì ìlc scìup I'm iccom-
mcnding lcic wiII sìiII hc fai fiom pcifccì. Buì pcifccìion is noì ìlc poinì of
iì, hccausc ìlc ìiick ìo aclicving icIiahIc commciciaI-giadc icsuIìs on a hudgcì
is ìo usc affoidahIc ncaincId sysìcms foi wlaì ìlcy'ic good aì, wliIc cmpIoy-
ing clcapci and moic spcciaIizcd moniìoiing cquipmcnì ìo nII ìlc gaps in
youi undcisìanding of ìlc mix. Indccd, if ìlc ncaincId iig I'vc suggcsìcd is
sìiII way hcyond youi cuiicnì mcans and you lavc no aIìcinaìivc huì ìo woik
wiìl lopcIcssIy compiomiscd ncaincId moniìoiing, ìlc ìiuìl of ìlc maììci is
ìlaì you can sìiII aclicvc suipiisingIy good mix icsuIìs hy icIying moic lcaviIy
on sucl suppIcmcnìaiy moniìoiing ìooIs. So wlaì aic ìlcsc addiìionaI hiìs of
gcai² AII wiII hc cxpIaincd in ìlc ncxì clapìci, huì hcfoic wc gcì ìo ìlaì, Icì's
quickIy iccap my main iccommcndaìions so fai.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
A ncaincId moniìoiing sysìcm is a good cloicc foi smaII-sìudio mixing.
Spcnd as mucl as you can affoid on ìlc spcakcis, hccausc quaIiìy cosìs, and
if youi hudgcì is ìiglì ìlcn hc waiy of poiìcd dcsigns. Wlcn cloosing a sys-
ìcm, favoi sìudio moniìois ovci li-n spcakcis, acìivc modcIs ovci passivc,
and accuiacy ovci voIumc.
I
Wlaìcvci spcakcis you usc, mounì ìlcm sccuicIy on soIid, nonicsonanì
suifaccs, picfciahIy away fiom ioom houndaiics. If ìlc spcakcis lavc moic
ìlan onc diivci, ìlcn ìlc cahincìs slouId hc oiicnìcd so ìlaì ìlc diivcis
aic cquaI disìanccs fiom ìlc Iisìcnci and angIcd ìowaid ìlc Iisìcning posi-
ìion. In ncaiIy aII cascs iì's hcììci foi muIìidiivci spcakcis ìo hc vciìicaIIy
iaìlci ìlan loiizonìaIIy aIigncd. Foi sìcico Iisìcning, ìlcic slouId hc ìlc
The trick to
achieving reliable
commercial-grade results
on a budget is to use affordable
nearfield systems for what they’re
good at, while employing cheaper
and more specialized monitoring
equipment to fill the gaps in
your understanding of
the mix.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 30
samc disìancc hcìwccn ìlc Iisìcnci and cacl of ìlc spcakcis as hcìwccn ìlc
spcakcis ìlcmscIvcs, huì if anyìling cii on ìlc sidc of a naiiowci spcakci
spacing. Makc suic you clcck youi spcakcis foi poIaiiìy.
I
Civc somc ìlouglì ìo ìlc ioom you usc foi youi sìudio, and cnsuic ìlaì
you spcnd aì Icasì as mucl moncy on acousìic ìicaìmcnì as you do on mon-
iìois. Sìiaìcgic usc of acousìic foam can cffccìivcIy ìaigcì caiIy-icßccìion and
ßuììci-cclo piohIcms, huì hc caicfuI noì ìo ovcido iì. Higl-dcnsiìy minciaI-
nhci sIahs can piovidc a faiiIy fooIpioof icmcdy foi Iow-ficqucncy ioom
icsonanccs, huì if ìlcsc don'ì piovc cffccìivc cnougl in youi ioom, ìlcn ìiy
suppIcmcnìing ìlosc wiìl addiìionaI Iimp-mass ìiapping. Don'ì wasìc youi
ìimc ìiying ìo coiiccì acousìics piohIcms wiìl cquaIizaìion, hccausc ìlc
hcncnìs of ìlis aic minimaI in piacìicc.
Assignment
I Invest as much money as you can in your nearfield speaker system, spending
roughly the same amount on acoustic treatment as on the speakers themselves.
I Make the best of whatever system you can afford (or have access to) by making
sure that the speakers are solidly mounted and sensibly positioned and that the
room is appropriately treated.
www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch1.htm
Assignment
31
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
As I ìouclcd on aì ìlc cnd of Clapìci l, aiming foi pcifccì ncaincId moniìoi-
ing in ìlc smaII sìudio is a fooI's ciiand. Wiìl ìlc hcsì wiII in ìlc woiId, you'II
aIways lavc piohIcms, noì Icasì hccausc iì's nciìlci piacìicaI noi comfoiìahIc
ìo connnc youiscIf ìo a ìiny Iisìcning swccì spoì foi louis on cnd in oidci ìo
mainìain ìlc hcsì sìcico imaging, minimizc comh-nIìciing piohIcms hcìwccn
ìlc spcakci diivcis, and sìay cIcai of ioom-modc dangci zoncs. Howcvci, cvcn
if you'vc goì somc mcdicvaI ìoiìuic insìiumcnì cIamping youi lcad inìo ìlc
opìimaI Iocaìion, you'II sìiII facc a piohIcm inlcicnì in aII sìcico sysìcms-
namcIy, ìlaì youi spcakci cahincìs aic posiìioncd aì ìlc Icfì and iiglì cxìicmcs
of ìlc sìcico ncId, wlcicas many of ìlc mosì impoiìanì paiìs of youi mix wiII
hc ccnìci sìagc, wlcic ìlcic is no acìuaI laidwaic. In oìlci woids, youi Icad
vocaIs, kick, snaic, and hass wiII aII ìypicaIIy appcai ìo hc lovciing in ìlin aii
in fionì of you, an iIIusion caIIcd a 'planìom imagc,´ wlicl is aclicvcd hy
fccding cquaI IcvcIs of cacl of ìlcsc ìiacks ìo hoìl spcakcis aì oncc.
1lc difncuIìy wiìl planìom imagcs as fai as icaI-woiId mixing is conccincd is
ìlaì ìlcy invaiiahIy fccI Icss sìahIc ìlan ìlc 'icaI´ imagcs aì ìlc cxìicmcs. Paiì
of ìlc icason foi ìlis is ìlaì noimaI manufacìuiing ìoIcianccs picvcnì any paii
of icmoìcIy affoidahIc spcakcis fiom hcing cxacìIy maìclcd as fai as ficqucncy
icsponsc is conccincd, wlicl smcais ìlc ficqucncy spccìium of ccnìiaIIy
panncd sounds laplazaidIy acioss ìlc sìcico imagc ìo a smaII huì signincanì
cxìcnì. 1lc cffccìs of ìypicaI smaII-ioom icsonancc modcs and asymmcìiicaI
caiIy icßccìions onIy makc ìlings woisc, and ìlcn ìlcic's ìlc facì ìlaì smaII
movcmcnìs of ìlc Iisìcnci's lcad wiII affccì ìlc sound of planìom imagcs
mucl moic ìlan ìlaì of icaI imagcs hccausc of comh nIìciing hcìwccn ìlc ìwo
spcakcis.
So wlaì's ìlc cxìcnì of ìlc damagc in youi ioom² Fiic up ìlc Sìcico1csì audio
nIc again (www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch2.htm), and Iisìcn ìo low ìlc 'icaI´
Icfì[iiglì imagcs of ìlc nisì ìwo noisc huisìs aic naiiowci and moic piccisc
ìlan ìlc planìom ccnìiaI imagc of ìlc ìliid huisì. (You can ignoic ìlc fouiìl
huisì in ìlc paììcin foi ìlis ìcsì.) You'II lcai ìlis cffccì ìo somc cxìcnì cvcn
on ligl-spcc moniìoiing sysìcms, huì in hudgcì scìups iì's Iikc niglì and day.
Supplementary Monitoring
CHAPTER 2
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 32
A icaI-woiId musicaI cxampIc ìlaì dcmonsìiaìcs ìlis samc ìling quiìc wcII
is ìlc ìiack 'Amciican Lifc´ fiom Madonna's aIhum of ìlc
samc namc. Hcic ìlc vcisc Icad vocaI is vciy naiiow
and panncd dcad ccnìci, wlcicas ìlc synìl ìlaì
appcais 45 scconds in and ìlc acousìic guiìai ìlaì
appcais l5 scconds Iaìci aic panncd ìo opposiìc
sìcico cxìicmcs. Evciy smaII-sìudio sysìcm I'vc
cvci cIappcd cais on icndcis ìlc synìl and guiìai
imagcs mucl moic sìahIc ìlan ìlc vocaI's.
1lc nnaI hig diawhack wiìl caicfuIIy connguicd sìu-
dio ncaincIds is ìlaì ìlcy don'ì acìuaIIy sound anyìling
Iikc ìlc majoiiìy of icaI-woiId pIayhack sysìcms, so you can'ì
cxpccì ìlcm ìo ìcII you low youi mix wiII faic oncc iì's ouì in ìlc hig widc
woiId. Ycs, you slouId gcì a faiiIy good idca wlaì muIìipIcx popcoin muncl-
cis and clin-sìioking li-n ìwccds wiII lcai, huì you'II hc picììy mucl in ìlc
daik icgaiding ìlc Iow-ndcIiìy, Iow-handwidìl pIayhack of mosì mainsìicam
Iisìcning dcviccs.
So ìlc mosì impoiìanì ìling ìo icmcmhci wiìl youi ncaincIds is ìo icIy on
ìlcm foi wlaì ìlcy'ic hcsì aì:
I
Foi invcsìigaìing wlaì's going on acioss ìlc wloIc ficqucncy spccìium,
cspcciaIIy aì ìlc ficqucncy cxìicmcs
I
Foi judging ìlc impacì of mix pioccssing on ìlc slcci quaIiìy of youi
sounds
I
Foi cvaIuaìing and adjusìing ìlc sìcico imagc
I
Foi undcisìanding low youi mix wiII sound on moic ligl-ndcIiìy Iisìcning
sysìcms
I
Foi impicssing ìlc panìs off ìlc aiìisì, managci, oi A&R icp
Foi a numhci of oìlci moniìoiing icquiicmcnìs, lowcvci, ìlcic aic moic
modcsì sysìcms ìlaì can acìuaIIy ouìpcifoim cvcn a dcccnì smaII-sìudio
ncaincId iig, simpIy hy viiìuc of hcing hcììci adapìcd ìo spccinc duìics. 1lis
clapìci inìioduccs somc of ìlcsc addiìionaI sysìcms, spccincaIIy ìlc oncs you
can'ì affoid ìo do wiìlouì if you'ic sciiousIy pIanning on compcìing wiìl ìlc
hig guns. Lcì's sìaiì hy Iooking aì ìlc mosì powcifuI of ìlcsc, as cpiìomizcd hy
onc of ìlc mosì famous mixing spcakcis in sìudio lisìoiy, ìlc Auiaìonc 5C
Supci Sound Cuhc.
2.1 THE GHOST OF THE AURATONE 5C SUPER
SOUND CUBE
Dcspiìc ìlc Auiaìonc 5C's unassuming appcaiancc and suhjccìivcIy unap-
pcaIing sound, iì's hccn pivoìaI ìo ìlc mixcs of numcious liì iccoids, incIud-
ing MiclacI Iackson's Thriller, ìlc higgcsì-scIIing aIhum of aII ìimc. 'I Iovc
Auiaìoncs!´ cnìluscs Iackson's Iongìimc pioducci and cngincci Biucc Swcdicn.
The big drawback
with carefully configured
studio nearfields is that they
don’t actually sound anything like
the majority of real-world
playback systems.
Supplementary Monitoring CHAPTER 2 33
'You know wlaì Quincy |Ioncsj caIIs ìlcm² 1lc 1iuìl Spcakcis! 1lcic's no lypc
wiìl an Auiaìonc.... PiohahIy 8u pciccnì of ìlc mix is donc on Auiaìoncs, and
ìlcn I'II lavc a nnaI Iisìcn oi ìwo on ìlc hig spcakcis.´
l
Auiaìoncs aIso mixcd
ìlc soundìiack ìo Saturday Night Fever (foi many ycais ìlc hcsì-scIIing nIm
soundìiack aIhum), and you can sìiII icIy on mosì Iaigc sìudios laving aì Icasì
onc of ìlcm on land foi ìlosc ficcIancc cnginccis wlo appicciaìc wlaì ìlcy
lavc ìo offci-no maììci low sìai-spangIcd ìlc main and ncaincId sysìcms.
1lcsc aic aII pcisuasivc icasons ìo hiing ìlc
magic of ìlc Auiaìonc ìo hcai in youi own mix-
ing woik.
Buì ìlaì's wlcic ìlcic's a hig oId ßy in ìlc
oinìmcnì: Auiaìoncs aicn'ì manufacìuicd any
moic, and mucl of ìlc icmaining sccondland
sìock las now succumhcd ìo ìlc fiaiIìics of oId
agc. So wlaì can you do² WcII, as Iong as you
undcisìand ìlc naìuic of ìlis spcakci's cxìiaoi-
dinaiy mixing ahiIiìics, and ìlc dcsign fcaìuics
icsponsihIc foi ìlcm, ìlcn you can usc ìlis
knowIcdgc ìo ìiack down a modcin icpIacc-
mcnì ìlaì offcis simiIai hcncnìs.
Midrange Focus
Fiisì ìlings nisì: ìlc Auiaìonc is poiìIcss, and
wc'vc aIicady discusscd aì Icngìl ìlc impIica-
ìions of ìlaì in Clapìci l. 1lc ncxì ciuciaI
FIGURE 2.1
The best-selling album
ever, Michael Jackson’s
Thriller, was primarily
mixed on Auratones.
FIGURE 2.2
The frequency response of the Auratone 5C Super Sound Cube, which clearly shows its midrange bias.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 34
aììiihuìc is ìlc singIc smaII diivci, and foi scvciaI icasons. Fiisì, iìs icsìiicìcd
ahiIiìy ìo icpioducc hoìl ligl and Iow ficqucncics focuscs youi aììcnìion on
ìlc midiangc of youi mix, wlicl is ìlc ficqucncy icgion oui cais aic mosì scn-
siìivc ìo and wlicl ìcnds ìo caiiy ìlc mosì impoiìanì musicaI infoimaìion.
'1lc icaI pcispccìivc Iivcs in ìlaì iangc,´ says Iack Ioscpl Puig. 'Iì docsn'ì Iivc
in ìlc ligls, iì docsn'ì Iivc in ìlc Iows. 1laì's wlaì icaIIy spcaks ìo ìlc lcaiì.´
2

Boh Kaìz concuis: '1lc midiangc is ìlc kcy. If you Iosc ìlc midiangc, you Iosc
iì aII.´
3
1lc midiangc is aIso ciuciaI hccausc iì's ìlc ficqucncy icgion of youi mix ìlaì
is mosì IikcIy ìo suivivc ìlc jouincy ìo youi ìaigcì Iisìcnci's cais. '1lc mid-
iangc is... mosì common ìo cvciy sysìcm in ìlc woiId,´ says Puig. 'Somc sysìcm
miglì lavc nvc woofcis, onc miglì noì lavc any, onc miglì lavc ìcn ìwccìcis,
huì aII of ìlcm lavc midiangc, and so that las goì ìo hc iiglì.´
4
Foi onc ìling,
you nccd a hig Iisìcning sysìcm ìo pioducc mucl in ìlc way of Iow ficqucncics,
so smaII icaI-woiId pIayhack dcviccs (iPods, cIock iadios, ploncs, and a Ioì of
1Vs and li-ns ìoo) won'ì givc you mucl ouìpuì in ìlc suh-2uuHz icgion. A lugc
numhci of mass-maikcì pIayhack sysìcms aIso slaic ìlc Auiaìonc's onc-conc
dcsign, wlicl inlcicnìIy dcìiacìs fiom ligl-ficqucncy cfncicncy. Iusì ìlink of
aII ìlc smaII hoomhoxcs, 1Vs, and muIìimcdia spcakcis of ìlis ìypc ìlaì Iiììci
mosì ofnccs and louscloIds. Now add in ìlc aiguahIy moic widcspicad muI-
ìispcakci announccmcnì and pipcd-music sysìcms ìlaì assaiI you wliIc you'ic
hIowing fioìl off youi skinny Iaììc, sìcpping ahoaid a 747 ìo MaIaga, oi picssing
ìlc huììon foi ìlc l7ìl ßooi-moic ìlan onc diivci pci spcakci in Iaigc audio
disìiihuìion ncìwoiks Iikc ìlcsc wouId sciiousIy hump up ìlc insìaIIaìion così,
so iì's picììy iaic.
Buì iì's noì jusì an cnd-usci's laidwaic ìlaì compiomiscs ìlc ficqucncy
cxìicmcs, iì's ìlc way iì's uscd, ìoo. If you iccaII ìlaì ligl ficqucncics aic vciy
diiccìionaI, casiIy sladowcd, and swifìIy ahsoihcd hy noimaI sofì fuinisl-
ings, iì's IiììIc suipiisc ìlaì cxìcndcd ligl ficqucncics iaicIy ìiouhIc ìlc puhIic,
simpIy hccausc fcw pcopIc acìuaIIy Iisìcn ìo spcakcis on axis. In facì, iì's moic
ìlan IikcIy ìlaì ìlcii li-n spcakcis aic conccaIcd hclind ìlc sofa oi ìlcii poi-
ìahIc iadio is ìuckcd away on ìlaì ìop slcIf aì ìlc oìlci sidc of ìlc ofncc. Aì
ìlc oìlci cnd of ìlc spccìium, ìlc ligl IcvcIs of Iow-ficqucncy hackgiound
noisc in cais, pIancs, puhIic spaccs, and somc woikpIaccs wiII ohscuic mosì
of ìlaì poiìion of a mix. (Ycs, I know ìlaì somc pcopIc pimp ìlcii iidcs wiìl
wcapons-giadc suhwoofcis, huì ìlosc guys aic piohahIy mosìIy dcaf inìo ìlc
haigain.) Iì slouId hc cIcai hy now wly ìlc Auiaìonc's dcsign is so adcpì aì
dcmonsìiaìing wlicl hiìs of youi mix wiII icacl ìlc gicaìcsì numhci of Iisìcn-
cis. In a nuìslcII, if youi mix docsn'ì sìand up againsì ìlc compcìiìion on an
Auiaìonc, ìlcn you'vc noì donc youi joh piopciIy!
Resistance to Acoustics and Comb-filtering Problems
1lcic aic oìlci piacìicaI advanìagcs ìo ìlc Auiaìonc's singIc-diivci consìiuc-
ìion ìlaì aic cspcciaIIy icIcvanì ìo smaII sìudios. 1lc nisì is ìlaì ìlc icsìiicìcd
Supplementary Monitoring CHAPTER 2 35
Iow-ficqucncy ouìpuì haicIy ìickIcs ìlc ioom modcs in mosì cascs, wiìl ìlc
icsuIì ìlaì Iow-cnd icsonanccs don'ì inìcifcic ncaiIy as mucl wiìl youi mix
dccisions, cspcciaIIy wlcn iì comcs ìo haIancing hass insìiumcnìs. 1lc spcakci
isn'ì acìuaIIy vciy Ioud ovciaII ciìlci, and ìlaì icduccs ìlc impacì of caiIy
icßccìions fiom ìlc ioom as wcII.
Anoìlci icaI hcncnì of ìlc singIc-conc dcsign is ìlaì no ciossovci cIccìion-
ics aic icquiicd ìo spIiì ìlc signaI hcìwccn diffcicnì spcakci diivcis. Any pio-
ccssing hcìwccn youi mixci's ouìpuì and youi spcakcis las ìlc poìcnìiaI ìo
inìioducc sidc cffccìs wlicl can misIcad you wliIc mixing, and in ìlc casc of
ciossovcis ìlc woisì gicmIins ìcnd ìo manifcsì ìlcmscIvcs aiound ìlc cioss-
ovci ficqucncy. Mosì affoidahIc ncaincId moniìois lavc ìlcii ciossovcis in ìlc
2 ìo 3kHz midiangc icgion, so ìlc iazoi-slaip midiangc focus of a ciossovci-
Icss Auiaìonc piovidcs a vaIuahIc aIìcinaìc pcispccìivc.
By ìlc samc ìokcn, Auiaìoncs won'ì punisl you wiìl inìcidiivci comh nIìciing
if you sIoucl a hiì in youi sìudio claii. Wlaì's moic, if you icsìiicì youiscIf ìo
using jusì a singIc Auiaìonc, iaìlci ìlan a paii, you'II aIso gcì no comh nIìci-
ing fiom sidc-ìo-sidc movcmcnìs, so you'ic ficc ìo sìioII aiound ìlc conìioI
ioom wiìl compaiaìivc impuniìy-you'II gcì somc ligl-cnd Ioss off-axis, huì
ìlaì acìuaIIy docs vciy IiììIc ìo undciminc ìlc Auiaìonc's csscnìiaI uscfuIncss.
Balance Judgments and Mono Compatibility
Of couisc, if you wanì ìo Iisìcn ìo a sìcico mix fiom jusì ìlc onc Auiaìonc,
ìlcn iì foiccs you ìo Iisìcn hack in mono. Raìlci ìlan hcing a disadvanìagc,
ìlougl, ìlis onIy adds ìo ìlc appcaI. Foi a sìaiì, singIc-spcakci mono suffcis
FIGURE 2.3
A large number of real-world speakers have only one driver, including shopping-center piped-music
systems, small radios/TVs, and mobile phones.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 36
nonc of ìlc planìom-imagc insìahiIiìy ìlaì pIagucs cvcn dcccnì ncaincId
sìcico scìups, simpIy hccausc iì docsn'ì cicaìc any planìom imagcs aì aII-ìlc
plysicaI Iocaìion of ìlc spcakci is uncquivocaIIy ìlc souicc foi cvciyìling you
lcai. CcnìiaI sounds ìlcicfoic fccI jusì as soIid as ìlosc aì ìlc sìcico cxìicmcs,
so iì hccomcs possihIc ìo judgc cxacì IcvcI haIanccs in youi mix wiìl pinpoinì
accuiacy, icgaidIcss of sìcico posiìioning.
Howcvci, you nccd ìo hc awaic ìlaì summing ìlc ìwo clanncIs of a sìcico mix
ìo mono slifìs ìlc ovciaII haIancc of ìlc sounds. PaiìIy ìlis is an incviìahIc
sidc cffccì of ìlc way ìlaì sìcico spcakcis cicaìc ìlcii iIIusoiy panoiama-ìwo
sounds ìlaì appcai cquaIIy Ioud in sìcico wiII acìuaIIy appcai ìo hc aì diffcicnì
voIumcs in mono if ìlcy'ic posiìioncd aì diffcicnì disìanccs fiom ìlc ccnìci
of ìlc sìcico imagc. A good iuIc of ìlumh lcic is ìlaì if you Iisìcn ìo a sìc-
ico mix in mono, ìlcn ìlc IcvcIs of ccnìiaI sounds wiII incicasc hy iouglIy
3dB icIaìivc ìo sounds Iocaìcd aì ìlc cdgcs of ìlc picìuic. 1o lcai ìlis cffccì in
acìion on youi own sysìcm, clcck ouì ìlc MonoBaIanccSlifì audio nIc (www
.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch2.htm). Iì's madc up of a paììcin of foui sloiì hiass-
hand cloids ìlaì aic diffcicnìiaìcd onIy hy ìlcii posiìion in ìlc sìcico imagc:
cloid l is ccnìiaI, cloid 2 is aì ìlc Icfì-land cxìicmc, cloid 3 is hack in ìlc
ccnìci, cloid 4 is aì ìlc iiglì-land cxìicmc, and ìlcn ìlc foui-cloid paììcin
sìaiìs again fiom cloid l. 1lc IcvcIs of ìlc cloids aic sucl ìlaì ìlcii Ioud-
ncss slouId appcai ìo icmain faiiIy consìanì as ìlcy ìioì hackwaid and foiwaid
acioss ìlc sìcico ncId-assuming ìlaì you'vc scì up youi moniìoiing sysìcm
iouglIy aIong ìlc Iincs suggcsìcd in Clapìci l. Howcvci, if you now swiìcl ìo
moniìoiing in mono, you'II lcai a cIcai Ioudci-sofìci aIìcinaìion in ìlc cloid
IcvcIs.
FIGURE 2.4
Stereo recordings made with spaced-pair microphone techniques are a common reason for mono-
compatibility problems.
Supplementary Monitoring CHAPTER 2 37
1lc facì ìlaì ìlc mono haIancc slifì diaws moic of
youi aììcnìion ìo wlaì's going on in ìlc ccnìci of
ìlc sìcico imagc can hc a hIcssing in disguisc,
ìlougl-afìci aII, ìlc mosì mcaningfuI sounds
in ìlc mix usuaIIy icsidc ìlcic. Mono Iisìcning
aIso foiccs you ìo woik laidci ìo aclicvc cIai-
iìy foi cacl of ìlc sounds in youi mix, hccausc
you can'ì makc ìlings moic audihIc jusì hy
slifìing ìlcm ìo Icss cIuììcicd aicas of ìlc sìcico
ncId. As Ccoff Emciick puìs iì, 'Mixing in sìcico
|isj ìlc casy way ouì.´
5
Howcvci, you can dcnniìcIy gcì somc unpIcasanì suipiiscs wlcn
swiìcling ìo mono if youi sìcico mix is sncakiIy laihoiing any plasc oi poIai-
iìy piohIcms hcìwccn iìs Icfì and iiglì clanncIs. A common souicc of ìlcsc
kinds of nasìics is sìcico iccoidings ìlaì lavc uscd spaccd micioplonc con-
nguiaìions-diums, ioom amhicncc, vocaI[insìiumcnìaI cnscmhIcs, and piano
aic ofìcn capìuicd in ìlis way, foi insìancc. If any paiì of ìlc sound souicc isn'ì
ìlc samc disìancc fiom hoìl mics, iìs sound wiII aiiivc aì onc mic caiIici ìlan
aì ìlc oìlci. In sìcico ìlis ìimc-dcIay hcìwccn ìlc ìwo clanncIs acìuaIIy icin-
foiccs ìlc sìcico posiìioning of ìlc insìiumcnì foi ìlc Iisìcnci, huì in mono ìlc
samc ìimc dcIay wiII causc comh nIìciing, ìlc ficqucncy-canccIIaìion cffccì ìlaì
wc cncounìcicd scvciaI ìimcs in Clapìci l. 1o lcai an cxampIc of ìlis in piac-
ìicc, Iisìcn ìo ìlc DiumOvcilcadsSìcicoPlasc audio nIc (www.cambridge-mt
.com/ms-ch2.htm), wlicl is a sloiì sccìion of a iaw spaccd-paii dium-ovcilcad
iccoiding, picscnìcd aIìcinaìcIy in sìcico and summcd mono vcisions. As
ìlc nIc swiìclcs ìo mono ìlcic is a cIcai Ioss of ligl cnd on ìlc cymhaIs and
li-laì in paiìicuIai, making ìlc sound as a wloIc iaìlci hoxy. In addiìion ìo
icaI sìcico iccoidings, simuIaìcd sìcico icvcih and cclo cffccìs can aIso suffci
fiom comh nIìciing in mono, hccausc ìlcy comhinc dcIaycd vcisions of ìlc
samc hasic sound hy ìlcii vciy naìuic.
If any signaI appcais in hoìl sìcico clanncIs, huì wiìl invciìcd wavcfoim poIai-
iìy (i.c., wiìl ìlc wavcfoim slapc invciìcd) in onc of ìlcm, ìlcn ìlaì can aIso
causc a sciious mismaìcl hcìwccn ìlc haIancc of ìlc sìcico and mono icndi-
ìions of youi mix. FoiìunaìcIy, mosì noimaI iccoidcd sounds don'ì lavc mucl
in ìlc way of ouì-of-poIaiiìy sìcico componcnìs-ìlc mosì common cxccpìion
hcing sìcico iccoidings wlcic a ioguc cahIc oi signaI pioccssoi las inadvciìcnìIy
ßippcd ìlc poIaiiìy of jusì onc of ìlc mics. Howcvci, a Ioì of synìlcsizci paìclcs
dcIihciaìcIy do incoipoiaìc onc-sidcd poIaiiìy invcision, hccausc ìlaì givcs ìlcm
a suhjccìivcIy impicssivc aiìinciaI widcncss in ìlc sìcico imagc. (Somc dcdicaìcd
sìcico-widcning mix cffccìs woik aIong simiIai Iincs ìoo.) 1lc diawhack of ìlis
widcning ìiick, ìlougl, is ìlaì ouì-of-poIaiiìy sìcico componcnìs simpIy canccI
ìlcmscIvcs ouì wlcn a sìcico mix is summcd ìo mono, wlicl can Icad ìo unwcI-
comc suipiiscs foi any impoiìanì synìl looks in youi aiiangcmcnì. Lisìcn ìo ìlc
SynìlPadSìcicoPlasc audio cxampIc (www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch2.htm) ìo gcì
an idca of low diamaìic a haIancc slifì ìlis kind of canccIIaìion can causc. 1lc
Mono listening
forces you to work harder
to achieve clarity for each of the
sounds in your mix, because you
can’t make things more audible
just by shifting them to less
cluttered areas of the
stereo field.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 38
nIc picscnìs ìlc samc smaII sccìion of a sìcico synìl sound in hoìl mono and
sìcico vcisions, and ìlc suhjccìivc IcvcI diffcicncc hcìwccn ìlc ìwo vcisions is
cnoimous. Now imaginc ìlaì was youi ìiack's Icad synìl look, and smcII ìlc
fcai!
Is Mono Still Relevant?
Buì suicIy now ìlaì iccoidings, downIoads, and hioadcasìs aic aII iouìincIy
in sìcico, mono is onIy icaIIy icIcvanì ìo a fcw giunìing NcandciìlaIs, iiglì²
Wiong. AIìlougl ìlc majoiiìy of music is indccd now pioduccd, soId, and
ìiansmiììcd in sìcico, you miglì as wcII kiss goodhyc ìo mosì of ìlc sìcico
infoimaìion in youi mix oncc iì's hccn ìliougl ìlc cnd usci's icccpìion oi
pIayhack cquipmcnì. Evcn foi ìlc mosì caincsìIy hcaidcd li-n cnìlusiasì, sìc-
ico imaging wiII sìiII ciumpIc inìo ìlc ncaicsì spcakci if lc slufßcs ouì of ìlc
swccì spoì and, fiankIy, I can'ì acìuaIIy iccaII cvci laving sccn a lomc li-n sys-
ìcm wiìl anyìling woiìl caIIing a swccì spoì anyway. Hands up-low many
of you lavc acousìic ìicaìmcnì in youi Iiving ioom² ExacìIy. And low many of
you lavc lad ìlc spcakcis hanislcd hy youi ßaìmaìcs ìo ìlaì coinci undci ìlc
sidc ìahIc, hclind ìlc pIanì² You'ic Iucky ìo lcai ìlc Iyiics fiom mosì li-ns, Icì
aIonc any sìcico.
Lcss fancy domcsìic pIayhack sysìcms faic cvcn Icss
wcII. 1lc Icfì spcakci of youi ìccnagci's li-n mini-
sysìcm is fai ìoo husy loIding ìlc waidiohc dooi opcn
ìo woiiy ahouì sìcico imaging, cvcn if iì wcicn'ì acci-
dcnìaIIy wiicd up wiìl invciìcd poIaiiìy. And iì sìands
ìo icason ìlaì youi wch PC's spcakcis lavc ìo luddIc
ìogcìlci aì onc sidc of ìlc moniìoi ìo Icavc ioom on
ìlc dcsk foi ìlc plonc. Fuiìlcimoic, waìcling any 1V
fiom ìlc swccì spoì hcìwccn iìs ìwo huiIì-in spcak-
cis is a suicnic iouìc ìo cycsìiain. Mayhc you can savc
ìlc piopci sìcico cxpciicncc foi ìlc kiìclcn hoom-
hox, huiIding a cusìom slouIdci laincss ìo kccp you
sccuicIy hcìwccn ìlc huiIì-in minispcakcis wliIc you
pccI ìlosc spuds and lcaì up ìlc fiyci² Pcilaps noì.
(Aic you cvcn suic hoìl spcakcis aic woiking² My
kiìclcn iadio icccnìIy picscnìcd mc wiìl a vcision of
'Ycsìciday´ minus ìlc sìiings.) 1o hc faii, caihuds aic
sìiII somcìling of a safc lavcn foi sìcico, huì onIy if
you icsisì ìlc uigc ìo slaic onc of ìlcm wiìl ìlc pcison
siììing ncxì ìo you and you'ic noì onc of ìlc miIIions of
Iisìcncis woiIdwidc wlo, Iikc Biian WiIson, suffci fiom
onc-sidcd lcaiing impaiimcnì.
Movc ouìsidc ìlc lomc and ìlc siìuaìion is no Icss diic.
Considci ìlc Icngìls ìo wlicl slop and icsìauianì
owncis sccm ìo go ìo avoid any iisk of sìcico imaging
FIGURE 2.5
Two common real-world
speaker setups that
prevent any meaningful
stereo imaging
reaching the listener:
hi-fi speakers placed
artistically in a CD rack
(left ) and speakers
hidden away in high
corners of shops and
restaurants (right ).
Supplementary Monitoring CHAPTER 2 39
inìciiupìing youi icìaiI cxpciicncc. 'No maììci wlaì any-
onc says,´ says AIIcn Sidcs, 'if you'ic in a hai you'ic
going ìo lcai onc spcakci.´
6
Cai sìcico² I onIy
know of onc cxìoiìionaìcIy piiccd spoiìs cai ìlaì
acìuaIIy puìs ìlc diivci an cquaI disìancc fiom
ìlc ìwo spcakcis, so anyonc cIsc wanìing a ìiuc
sìcico cxpciicncc in ìlc cai wiII lavc ìo iun ìlc
gaunìIcì of a poìcnìiaIIy cyc-waìciing cncounìci
wiìl ìlc gcai slifì. Buì aì Icasì in ìlcsc cascs you
lavc diffcicnì spcakcis pIaying diffcicnì ìlings. Many
oìlci sysìcms don'ì cvcn makc a ìokcn sìah aì sìcico!
1lings Iikc ìcIcplonc loId sysìcms, hand[cIuh PAs, and slopping-
ccnìci announccmcnì sysìcms aII ìypicaIIy sum ìlcii inpuìs ìo mono hcfoic fccd-
ing any spcakcis. FM iadio icccivcis aIso ofìcn auìomaìicaIIy sum ìlc audio ìo
mono in oidci ìo impiovc icccpìion in ìlc picscncc of a wcak ìiansmiììcd signaI.
Wiìl aII ìlis in mind, clccking ìlc mono-compaìihiIiìy of youi mix icmains jusì
as indispcnsahIc as iì was 5u ycais ago, unIcss you'ic unfazcd hy ìlc ìlouglì of
youi audicncc hcing ìicaìcd ìo a lidcousIy imhaIanccd and comh-nIìcicd vcision
of youi Iaìcsì ìiack duiing ìlcii wcckIy supcimaikcì swccp.
Modern Auratone Substitutes
AIIow mc ìo iccap lcic. If you wanì ìo icap ìlc gicaìcsì hcncnìs of ìlc
Auiaìonc in youi mixing cnviionmcnì, ìlcn you nccd ìo moniìoi in mono
fiom onc smaII, unpoiìcd, singIc-diivci spcakci. A Ioì of pcopIc sìiII laihoi ìlc
misguidcd vicw ìlaì ìlc Auiaìonc's piimaiy fcaìuic was ìlaì iì soundcd loiii-
hIc (lcncc iìs common 'Hoiioiìonc´ nicknamc), in oìlci woids ìlaì iì simpIy
aIIowcd you ìo anìicipaìc ìlc cffccìs of woisì-casc sccnaiio pIayhack. Howcvci,
ìlis myìl docsn'ì icaIIy sìand up ìo mucl sciuìiny wlcn you considci ìlaì
ìlc Auiaìonc's poiìIcss cahincì is unusuaI in smaII spcakcis ìlcsc days, and
ìlaì iì aIso dcIivcis unusuaIIy Iow disìoiìion. CIcaiIy, a singIc Auiaìonc won'ì
impicss any of youi cIicnìs wiìl iìs paìlcìic lonky
sound, huì iì's noncìlcIcss a hiiIIianì spcciaIisì ìooI
ìlaì iuìlIcssIy spoìIiglìs midiangc haIancc and
mono-compaìihiIiìy issucs in youi mix. As wiìl youi
main ncaincId sysìcm, you jusì nccd ìo Icain ìo usc
an Auiaìonc foi wlaì iì cxccIs aì wliIc icIying on
youi oìlci moniìoiing cquipmcnì ìo makc up foi iìs
wcakncsscs.
Finding a modcin spcakci ìo fuInII ìlc Auiaìonc ioIc
isn'ì ìlaì casy, hccausc mosì dcsigns lavc a poiì, ìwo
diivcis, oi a singIc diivci ìlaì is ìoo smaII. PiohahIy
ìlc cIcaicsì Auiaìonc suhsìiìuìc avaiIahIc as a cuiicnì
pioducì is Avanìonc's Mix Cuhc. 1lis is a gicaì IiììIc
spcakci, wlicl sccs daiIy usc in my own mix sysìcm
and wlicl in somc icspccìs acìuaIIy impiovcs on ìlc
An Auratone won’t
impress any clients with
its pathetic honky sound, but it’s
nonetheless a brilliant specialist tool
that ruthlessly spotlights midrange
balance and mono-compatibility
issues in your mix.
FIGURE 2.6
A modern homage to the
Auratone 5C: Avantone’s
Mix Cube.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 40
oiiginaI Auiaìonc's spccs. AIìlougl aì ±2u5 ($235) pci acìivc spcakci ìlc Mix
Cuhc wouId ìop my Iisì in ìcims of piicc[pcifoimancc iaìio, ìlcic aic noncìlc-
Icss a fcw oìlci affoidahIc opìions I'vc discovcicd: Pyiamid's 1iipIc P, Fosìcx's
63ul, and Canfoid Audio's Diccasì Spcakci. AII huì ìlc 1iipIc P aic avaiIahIc
wiìl ampIincaìion huiIì in.
An anciIIaiy issuc is low ìo fccd ìlc spcakci in mono. 1lankfuIIy, incicasing
numhcis of faiiIy affoidahIc mixcis and moniìoi conìioIIcis now incoipoiaìc
ìlc icquiicd mono and spcakci-scIccìion huììons, huì if youi own sysìcm is
Iacking ìlcsc ìlcn ìlcic aic Ioìs of woikaiounds. Foi cxampIc, sofìwaic mix-
ing sysìcms wiII usuaIIy Icì you iouìc a mono vcision of ìlc mix ìo a spaic
audio inìcifacc ouìpuì, so you can fccd youi Auiaìonc fiom ìlaì ouìpuì and
ìlcn swiìcl hcìwccn spcakcis fiom wiìlin ìlc sofìwaic. If you'ic Iisìcning via a
laidwaic mixci, ìlcn iouìc ìlc mix ìliougl a spaic paii of clanncIs (oi a dcd-
icaìcd sìcico clanncI) and fccd ìlc Auiaìonc using a mono picfadci auxiIiaiy
scnd. (Iusì makc suic ìlaì ìlcsc clanncIs don'ì aIso iouìc hack inìo youi main
mix huss oi you'II gcì a poìcnìiaIIy spcakci-husìing fccdhack lowIaiound!)
1lc mixci's inìcinaI scnd iouìing slouId ìakc caic of ìlc mono summing foi
FIGURE 2.7
Schematic for creating a lead that will feed mono to an Auratone-substitute from a stereo headphone
socket (above) and an example of the finished product (below).
Supplementary Monitoring CHAPTER 2 41
you, and wlcn you wanì ìo lcai ìlc Auiaìonc you jusì muìc ìlc mix huss and
ciank up ìlc icIcvanì auxiIiaiy scnd conìioIs. Nciìlci of ìlcsc woikaiounds
wiII lcIp, ìlougl, if you'ic woiking on a smaII sysìcm wiìl a Ionc paii of sìc-
ico ouìpuì sockcìs. FoiìunaìcIy, in sucl cascs ìlcic's ofìcn sìiII an addiìionaI
sìcico lcadplonc ouìpuì ìlaì can hc picsscd inìo scivicc if you'ic landy wiìl
a soIdciing iion. Figuic 2.7 slows low you can puì ìogcìlci a cahIc ìlaì sums
ìlc ìwo clanncIs of a lcadplonc ouìpuì ìo mono foi ìlis puiposc.
2.2 HEADPHONES
Sincc ìlc Sony WaIkman nisì aiiivcd on ìlc sccnc hack in l979, lcadplonc Iis-
ìcning las hccomc so widcspicad ìlaì you'd lavc ìo hc picììy cavaIici ìo sign
off a mix wiìlouì clccking low iì ìiansIaìcs foi sucl an cnoimous gioup of
consumcis. 1lcicfoic, ìlc sccond impoiìanì suppIcmcnìaiy moniìoiing sysìcm
I'd suggcsì using as a maììci of couisc is lcadploncs. CIcaiIy ìlcic aic Iimiìs ìo
low mucl Iow-ficqucncy ouìpuì lcadploncs can dcIivci, huì youi Auiaìonc
slouId aIicady lavc aIciìcd you ìo any piohIcms ìlaì miglì aiisc fiom hass-
Iiglì pIayhack, so ìlaì slouIdn'ì hc ncws ìo you. Wlaì's moic impoiìanì ahouì
lcadploncs is ìlaì aImosì aII of ìlcm ìiansmiì cacl sidc of youi mix cxcIusivcIy
ìo onc cai, wlcicas wiìl spcakcis ìlc ìwo sìcico clanncIs aic aIways lcaid ìo
somc cxìcnì hy hoìl cais. Foi ìlis icason ìlc sìcico imagc is mucl widci on
lcadploncs (ìlc imagc cncompassing an angIc of l8u dcgiccs, wlcic spcakcis
onIy covci aiound 6u dcgiccs), and any sound aì ìlc sìcico cxìicmcs fccIs dis-
connccìcd fiom ìlc icsì of ìlc mix as a icsuIì. Wlcìlci ìlc imagc sìicìcling ìlaì
lcadplonc Iisìcncis cxpciicncc lcIps oi lindcis youi paiìicuIai mix wiII dcpcnd
on youi own picfcicnccs and ìlc cxpccìaìions of ìlc musicaI gcnic you'ic woik-
ing in, huì if you don'ì clcck youi mix on lcadploncs, ìlcn nonc of youi dcci-
sions wiII hc piopciIy infoimcd.
Buì ìlc uscfuIncss of lcadploncs foi moniìoiing in ìlc smaII sìudio isn'ì Iim-
iìcd ìo ìcIIing you low a sizcahIc clunk of ìlc puhIic wiII pciccivc youi mix.
Hcadploncs aIso scivc an addiìionaI piacìicaI puiposc, hccausc ìlcii sound isn'ì
affccìcd ncaiIy as mucl hy youi moniìoiing cnviionmcnì. In ìlc nisì insìancc,
hackgiound noisc fiom compuìci fans, ncaihy ìiafnc, oi ncxì dooi's Iinc-dancing
cIass aic icduccd in IcvcI icIaìivc ìo ìlc mix signaI wlcn using lcadploncs, wlicl
mcans ìlaì fcwci suhìIc ìcclnicaI piohIcms wiII sIip ìliougl ìlc ncì. 1lings Iikc
hiicf audio diopouìs, had cdiìs, and momcnìaiy fadci-auìomaìion sIipups sìand
ouì mucl moic cIcaiIy on lcadploncs, and iì's aIso casici ìo dcìccì ìlc onscì of
digiìaI cIipping on sìcico nIcs-ìlc Icfì and iiglì clanncIs wiII usuaIIy cIip aì dif-
fcicnì ìimcs, so ìlc spiinkIcs of digiìaI disìoiìion appcai claiacìciisìicaIIy iiglì
aì ìlc cdgcs of ìlc l8u-dcgicc sìcico ncId. 1lc Iack of ioom icßccìions wlcn
moniìoiing on lcadploncs is anoìlci advanìagc, hccausc iì scivcs as somcìling
of a safcìy ncì in ìlc cvcnì ìlaì comh nIìciing oi ioom-icsonancc piohIcms aic
sciiousIy jcopaidizing youi haIancc judgmcnìs. If you'vc donc youi Clapìci l
lomcwoik, ìlcn you slouIdn'ì nccd ìo icIy on ìlis piccauìion lcaviIy, huì if
you'ic woiking on an unfamiIiai sysìcm oi lavc onIy Iimiìcd conìioI ovci youi
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 42
own moniìoiing cnviionmcnì, ìlcn a paii of famiIiai-sounding lcadploncs can
hc a godscnd.
If youi hudgcì's ìiglì, ìlcn you'II hc pIcascd ìo know ìlaì ìlc audio quaIiìy
icquiicd of a scì of lcadploncs in ìlis conìcxì isn'ì ìicmcndous, and ±5u ($75)
slouId givc you aII ìlc ndcIiìy you nccd, huì do sìiII ìiy ìo gcì sìudio (iaìlci
ìlan li-n) modcIs if you can. In facì, ìlc kinds of lcadploncs ìlaì mosì iccoid-
ing musicians usc wliIc ovciduhhing aic usuaIIy moic ìlan up ìo ìlc maik.
1laì said, ìlcic aic acìuaIIy sìiong icasons wly mosì smaII-sìudio owncis may
nnd iì woiìlwliIc ìo spcnd moic moncy lcic if ìlcy can. 1lc nisì is ìlaì ìop-
of-ìlc-iangc sìudio moniìoiing lcadploncs aic capahIc of doing many of ìlc
johs you'd cxpccì of spcakcis, wlicl is gicaì foi siìuaìions wlcic you onIy lavc
Iimiìcd acccss ìo dcccnì ncaincIds. You miglì hc onc of 2u sìudcnìs josìIing foi
ìimc in youi coIIcgc's singIc sìudio, pcilaps you can'ì affoid ìo scì up youi own
dcccnì ncaincId sysìcm ycì and can onIy clcck ìlings pciiodicaIIy on a maìc's
iig, mayhc you'vc hccn ìlicaìcncd wiìl sIow Iingciing dcaìl if you wakc ìlaì
hahy onc moic ìimc. RcgaidIcss of ìlc icasons, ìlc ahiIiìy ìo gcì a mcasuic of
icaI mixing donc on lcadploncs can diamaìicaIIy incicasc ìlc amounì of ìimc
you lavc avaiIahIc foi impioving youi pioducìion's sonics.
CIcaiIy, ìlc pccuIiaiiìics of ìlc sìcico picìuic wiII picscnì somc addiìionaI pan-
ning and haIancc difncuIìics wlcncvci you woik piimaiiIy on lcadploncs, pIus
cvcn ìlc hcsì lcadploncs won'ì givc you a piopci impicssion of youi Iow cnd.
WHAT, NO NS10S?!
I mentioned in Chapter 1 that Yamaha’s NS10s are far and away the most celebrated
mixing speakers in the professional music world, and two of the main reasons for this
also apply to the Auratone: the sealed-box cabinet (with its smooth low-frequency roll-
off, excellent transient response, and low distortion) and the midrange-heavy frequency
balance (which reflects the tonal deficiencies of many small real-world playback
systems). However, if you want the maximum bang for your buck in the small studio,
I wouldn’t personally recommend investing in a pair of these classic speakers for
yourself. First of all, NS10s won’t really give you much more useful information than
the two monitoring systems I’ve so far discussed: a reasonable full-range nearfield
system should easily match the capabilities of NS10s when it comes to judging stereo
imaging and tonal quality, whereas an Auratone will deliver much the same closed-box
accuracy and midrange emphasis. The second reason for considering the NS10 a
nonessential purchase is that it doesn’t obviate the need for either a decent nearfield
system or an Auratone. It can’t deliver the frequency extremes in the way reasonable
nearfield systems now can (which is presumably why Chris Lord-Alge
7
uses his NS10s
with an additional subwoofer), and its mix-balancing abilities can’t match those of a
single Auratone because of the same phasing complications that afflict all multidriver
stereo speaker systems. Now I’m not saying that the NS10s don’t deserve their kingpin
status; it’s just that they aren’t as well-suited to the small studio as they are to the
large commercial setups where they beautifully bridge the gap between main wall-fitted
monster monitors and any Auratone/grotbox in use.
Supplementary Monitoring CHAPTER 2 43
On ìlc ßipsidc, ìlougl, ìlc ahscncc of ioom acousìics piohIcms mcans ìlaì
you may nnd ìlaì audio-quaIiìy and ìonc dccisions acioss ìlc icsì of ìlc spcc-
ìium acìuaIIy ìuin ouì ìo hc moic dcpcndahIc. In my cxpciicncc, ìlc piohIcms
wlcn woiking wiìl cxccIIcnì lcadploncs aic hy no mcans insuimounìahIc as
Iong as you sìiII lavc aì Icasì somc acccss ìo an Auiaìonc and a paii fuII-iangc
ncaincIds-wlocvci's ìlcy lappcn ìo hc. As a maììci of facì, givcn ìlaì my pci-
sonaI favoiiìc ìop-cnd lcadploncs (Bcycidynamic's D188u Pio, Scnnlcisci's
HD65u, and Sony's MDR75u9 HD) aII icìaiI foi undci ±35u ($5uu) I aImosì
aIways iccommcnd onc of ìlosc scìs as a nisì moniìoiing sysìcm foi ìlosc sìaiì-
ing ouì. My loncsì opinion is ìlaì unIcss you'vc scì asidc aì Icasì ±l5uu ($2uuu)
foi ncaincId spcakcis and acousìic ìicaìmcnì, ìlcn you'II gcì moic icIiahIc mixcs
fiom a paii of ìop-diawci lcadploncs-paiìicuIaiIy if you'ic ahIc ìo lijack
somconc cIsc's ncaincId sysìcm hiicßy fiom ìimc ìo ìimc ìo clcck ìlc Iow cnd
and sìcico imagc.
So wly hoìlci wiìl ncaincIds aì aII if lcadploncs can piovidc mucl of ìlc
samc infoimaìion² As in a Ioì of sìudio siìuaìions, a hig icason foi ìlc ouìIay
is spccd. Iì's quickci ìo do ìlc huIk of youi mixing woik on a Iisìcning sysìcm
ìlaì givcs you ìlc wloIc ficqucncy icsponsc in onc sloì. AIìlougl iì's pcifccìIy
fcasihIc ìo pioducc commciciaI-quaIiìy mixcs wiìlouì ncaincIds of youi own,
iì invoIvcs a good dcaI of cxìia Icgwoik ìo soiì ouì ìlc hass cnd in paiìicuIai
wlcn lcadploncs aic ìlc main woikloisc, as wc'II discuss fuiìlci in Clapìci 3.
CcnciaI mix haIancing on lcadploncs aIso ìypicaIIy ìakcs moic ìimc, hccausc
FIGURE 2.8
Top-of-the-range headphones, such as the Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro (left ) and Sony MDR7509HD (right )
shown here, are a good investment for most small-studio operators, especially when budget is limited.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 44
ìlc widc sìcico imagc and ovcicxposcd mix dcìaiIs can hc misIcading-common
piìfaIIs aic haIancing hoìl Icad paiìs and dcIay[icvcih cffccìs ìoo Iow. 1o kccp
youiscIf on ìlc sìiaiglì and naiiow you'II lavc ìo icIy moic lcaviIy on an
Auiaìonc suhsìiìuìc wliIc pioccssing youi ìiacks, and you'II aIso nccd ìo com-
paic youi woik mucl moic ficqucnìIy wiìl compcìing commciciaI pioduc-
ìions. AII of ìlis onIy icaIIy makcs scnsc in ìlc Iong ìcim if you'vc goì a wloIc
Ioì moic ìimc ìlan moncy. Oi ìo puì iì anoìlci way, a clcap iazoi hIadc wiII
cuì a hIadc of giass hcauìifuIIy, huì I sìiII don'ì hcgiudgc ìlc cxìia cxpcnsc of a
Iawnmowci.
2.3 GROTBOXES
I cxpIaincd in Sccìion 2.l ìlaì aIìlougl ìlc Auiaìonc las a icpuìaìion foi
sounding nasìy, iì's noì acìuaIIy a good icfcicncc poinì wlcn iì comcs ìo Io-n
pIayhack, so ìo iound ouì youi suppIcmcnìaiy moniìoiing opìions iì makcs
scnsc ìo lavc aì Icasì onc scì of 'gioìhoxcs,´ unaslamcdIy clcap mass-maikcì
spcakcis ìlaì Icì you lcai low youi mix loIds up in ìlc facc of sciious pIay-
hack ahusc. Iì's noì difncuIì ìo nnd sucl spcakcis-ìlc IiììIc poiìcd acìivc oncs
ìlaì you can fccd fiom a PC's lcadplonc ouìpuì aic a good hcì, foi cxampIc,
oi pcilaps ìlc spcakcis of a haigain-hascmcnì hoomhox. Don'ì hc afiaid ìo
diivc ìlcm faiiIy Ioud ciìlci, as ìlis'II onIy cmplasizc ìlc pooiIy conìioIIcd
disìoiìion and icsonancc aiìifacìs, and iì's ìlc impacì of ìlcsc ìlaì you wanì ìo
cvaIuaìc.
Onc advanìagc of using a paii of scpaiaìc PC-sìyIc spcakcis is ìlaì you can puì
ìlcm iiglì aIongsidc cacl oìlci wiìlouì mucl in ìlc way of a gap hcìwccn
ìlcm. 1lis is low a Ioì of pcopIc cnd up using sucl spcakcis anyway, and iì's
aIso iouglIy low ìlc spcakcis aic spaccd in smaII hoomhoxcs. 1lc cffccì of
pIacing ìlc spcakcis Iikc ìlis is ìo icmovc any uscfuI sìcico infoimaìion wliIc
aì ìlc samc ìimc avoiding ccnìiaIIy pIaccd sounds fiom incicasing in IcvcI as
you'd cxpccì wlcn summing a sìcico mix signaI ìo mono cIccìiicaIIy. 1lis is
ahouì ìlc woisì sccnaiio you can gcì as fai as ìlc cIaiiìy of ccnìiaI signaIs is
conccincd, so iì's ìlc icaI acid ìcsì of Icad-vocaI IcvcI and inìcIIigihiIiìy. If you
can lcai youi mcIody and Iyiics cIcaiIy undci ìlcsc ciicumsìanccs, ìlcn ìlaì's
ahouì ìlc hcsì guaianìcc you lavc ìlaì ìlcy'II makc iì ìliougl ìo ìlc widcsì
possihIc audicncc. I aIso nnd iì landy ìo puì gioìhox spcakcis ouìsidc youi
sìudio ioom if possihIc and ìo Iisìcn ìo ìlcm off-axis fiom a good disìancc
away. Again, ìlis is a ìypicaI mass-maikcì Iisìcning cxpciicncc, and foiccs you
ìo woik cvcn laidci ìo kccp ìlc mix cIcai wlcn hioad-hascd commciciaI
appcaI is ìlc aim.
Dcspiìc wlaì you miglì ìlink, gioìhoxcs can ficqucnìIy hc found in ìlc mosì
ligl-spcc of commciciaI mix iooms. 1akc Boh CIcaimounìain's paii of compacì
AppIc compuìci spcakcis, foi cxampIc: '1losc aic acìuaIIy my favoiiìcs! I lavc
ìlcm pIaccd iiglì ncxì ìo cacl oìlci aì ìlc sidc of ìlc ioom on ìop of a iack.
1lcic's jusì no lypc wiìl ìlc IiììIc oncs-ìlcy'ic so cIosc ìogcìlci ìlaì cvciy-
ìling is aImosì mono, and I gcì a icaIIy cIcai pcispccìivc of low ìlc ovciaII ìling
Supplementary Monitoring CHAPTER 2 45
sounds.... 1lcy'ic aIso good foi scììing vocaI IcvcIs.´
8

MiclacI Biauci uscs somcìling picììy simiIai ìoo: 'Mosì
of my mixing is donc Iisìcning ìo my IiììIc Sony hoom-
hox. Iì siìs hclind mc... ahouì foui-and-a-laIf fccì up
fiom my cais and six fccì hack, and I Iisìcn aì a mcdium
Iow IcvcI. Bccausc ìlc spcakcis of ìlc hoomhox aic icI-
aìivcIy cIosc ìo cacl oìlci, I csscnìiaIIy Iisìcn in mono.
1lc Sony is Iikc a magnifying gIass, iì ìcIIs mc wlcìlci
my mix sucks oi noì.´
9
FinaIIy, wliIc somc cnginccis Iikc ìo icfci ìo scvciaI dif-
fcicnì gioìhoxcs duiing ìlc mix pioccss (hoomhoxcs,
1Vs, cai sìcicos, you namc iì), my vicw is ìlaì if you'vc
aIicady uscd youi ncaincIds, Auiaìonc suhsìiìuìc, and
lcadploncs scnsihIy, ìlcn ìlcic's IiììIc cxìia infoima-
ìion ìo hc gIcancd fiom ìlis, and ìlc cxìia ìimc and
moncy couId hc hcììci uscd in oìlci ways.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
A icasonahIc smaII-sìudio ncaincId moniìoiing sys-
ìcm can givc a good ovcivicw of ìlc fuII ficqucncy
spccìium and ìlc sìcico ncId, and iì is wcII-suiìcd ìo
asscssing ìlc cffccìs of mix pioccssing on ìlc quaIiìy
and ìonc of youi mix. Iì slouId aIso givc you a good
idca of wlaì li-n Iisìcncis and cincma audicnccs
wiII lcai, and is mosì IikcIy ìo impicss youi cIicnìs.
Howcvci, iì won'ì piovidc aII ìlc infoimaìion you
nccd ìo ciafì commciciaI-sìandaid mixcs icIiahIy,
wlicl is wly suppIcmcnìaiy moniìoiing sysìcms aic
so impoiìanì.
I
1lc mosì powcifuI addiìionaI moniìoiing sysìcm foi ìlc smaII sìudio
is cxcmpIincd hy ìlc cIassic Auiaìonc 5C Supci Sound Cuhc, a smaII,
unpoiìcd, singIc-diivci spcakci woiking in mono. 1lis ìypc of spcakci
liglIiglìs ìlc ciuciaI midiangc ficqucncics ìlaì icacl ìlc Iaigcsì numhci of
Iisìcncis, and iì is mucl Icss susccpìihIc ìo ìlc comh nIìciing and acousìics
piohIcms ìlaì compiomisc many affoidahIc ncaincId sysìcms. Lisìcning
ìo youi mix fiom a singIc spcakci noì onIy connims ìlc viìaI mono-
compaìihiIiìy of youi pioducìion, huì iì aIso makcs mix haIancc judgmcnìs
fai moic icIiahIc, cspcciaIIy foi impoiìanì sounds aì ìlc ccnìci of youi sìc-
ico imagc.
I
Hcadplonc moniìoiing is viìaI ìo clcck low youi sìcico picìuic and mix
haIancc icacl a Iaigc sccìoi of ìlc Iisìcning puhIic. By isoIaìing you fiom
youi Iisìcning cnviionmcnì, lcadploncs can aIso idcnìify Iow-IcvcI ìcclni-
caI anomaIics and pioccssing sidc cffccìs, as wcII as indicaìing low somc
ioom-acousìics piohIcms may hc affccìing youi ncaincId Iisìcning. AIìlougl
FIGURE 2.9
A pair of cheap speakers placed side by side like this
is the acid test for lead-vocal levels and intelligibility in
your mix.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 46
compaiaìivcIy incxpcnsivc lcadploncs wiII covci aII ìlcsc hascs adcquaìcIy,
a ìop-of-ìlc-iangc scì is liglIy iccommcndcd, hccausc iì wiII usuaIIy incicasc
hoìl pioducìiviìy and mix quaIiìy foi mosì smaII-sìudio opciaìois, cspc-
ciaIIy foi ìlosc unahIc ìo scì up a icspccìahIc ncaincId sysìcm as discusscd in
Clapìci l.
I
Clcap, Iow-quaIiìy 'gioìhox´ spcakcis aIso dcscivc a pIacc in ìlc mixing
sìudio, as ìlcy givc you an idca of wlaì ìo cxpccì in woisì-casc Iisìcning
sccnaiios. Usc a paii of sucl spcakcis pIaccd vciy cIosc ìo cacl oìlci (oi
a smaII aII-in-onc sìcico hoomhox), and ìlcn Iisìcn off-axis fiom a ica-
sonahIc disìancc ìo gcì ìlc 'hcsì´ icsuIìs. AIìlougl gioìhox moniìoiing is
impoiìanì, don'ì ohscss ahouì iì. You slouId onIy nccd onc smaII sysìcm ìo
do ìlis joh if you'ic using youi oìlci moniìois scnsihIy.
I Get hold of a proper Auratone-substitute of some kind, and set up a convenient
method of listening to it in mono so that you get into the habit of using it that way.
I Buy a pair of good studio headphones, if possible something at the top of the
range so that you can do meaningful mix work when speakers aren’t an option.
I Find some suitable grotbox speakers.
www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch2.htm
Assignment
47
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
Iì's ìlc Iow cnd of ìlc audio spccìium ìlaì picscnìs ìlc ìouglcsì mixing
claIIcngcs wlcn you'ic woiking undci hudgcìaiy consìiainìs, and in my cxpc-
iicncc iì's ìlis aspccì of smaII-sìudio mixcs ìlaì mosì ofìcn faIIs sloiì wlcn
compaicd wiìl piofcssionaI pioducìions. As I scc iì, ìlc ica-
son foi ìlis ìicnd is ìlaì ìlc onIy icaI Iow-ficqucncy
moniìoiing in a ìypicaI smaII sìudio comcs fiom iìs
ncaincIds, ycì ìlc majoiiìy of ìlc smaII ncaincId
sysìcms I'vc cncounìcicd in usc suffci unacccpì-
ahIy fiom Iow-cnd icsonancc piohIcms as a
icsuIì of poiìcd spcakci dcsigns and[oi ioom
modcs. AIìlougl ìlcic aic pIcnìy of ways ìo
icducc icsonancc cffccìs ìo woikahIc IcvcIs (as
discusscd in Clapìci l), ìlc sad facì is ìlaì fcw
owncis of smaII sìudios acìuaIIy invcsì ìlc ncccs-
saiy moncy and cffoiì inìo ìlis aica of ìlcii Iisìcn-
ing cnviionmcnì ìo aclicvc passahIy accuiaìc icsuIìs.
1lc gIih icsponsc wouId hc ìlaì ìlcsc guys onIy lavc ìlcm-
scIvcs ìo hIamc, huì many pcopIc's hudgcìs aic ìoo smaII ìo accommodaìc
cvcn icIaìivcIy affoidahIc moniìoi-scìup and acousìic-ìicaìmcnì mcasuics.
1lcic is aIso a Icgion of smaII-sìudio uscis wlo aicn'ì acìuaIIy aì Iihciìy ìo dic-
ìaìc ìlcii gcai cloicc oi acousìic scìup foi mixing puiposcs: sìudcnìs using coI-
Icgc faciIiìics, hudding mcdia composcis camping ouì in a coinci of a slaicd
Iiving ioom, oi cnginccis woiking on Iocaìion, ìo givc jusì a fcw common
cxampIcs. So iì's foiìunaìc ìlaì aII is hy no mcans Iosì, cvcn if ìlc Iow cnd of
youi moniìoiing Icavcs mucl ìo hc dcsiicd oi you'ic foiccd ìo woik mosìIy on
lcadploncs. As Iong as you'ic wiIIing ìo Icain a fcw spcciaI mixing and moni-
ìoiing ìcclniqucs, ìlcic aic ways ìo woik aiound ìlc woisì Iow-ficqucncy piì-
faIIs cffccìivcIy noncìlcIcss and ìlcichy aclicvc commciciaI-giadc icsuIìs wiìl
somc icIiahiIiìy. Indccd, givcn ìlaì Iow-cnd piohIcms pop up on aImosì aII
smaII sysìcms ìo somc dcgicc, ìlcic's a Ioì ìlaì mixing and moniìoiing ìiicks
can offci, cvcn ìo ìlosc hIcsscd wiìl icspccìahIc ncaincId pIayhack.
Low-End Damage Limitation
CHAPTER 3
Even if the low
end of your monitoring
leaves much to be desired or
you’re forced to work mostly on
headphones, all is by no means
lost—as long as you’re willing to
learn a few special mixing and
monitoring techniques.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 48
3.1 COPING WITH CHEAP PORTED SPEAKERS
My nisì scì of ìips is ìo lcIp ìlosc cnginccis wlo nnd ìlcmscIvcs Iumhcicd
wiìl laving ìo mix ìliougl clcap poiìcd moniìois foi wlaìcvci icason. Fiisì,
iì pays ìo hc awaic of wlcic ìlc poiì's icsonanì ficqucncy is Iocaìcd, hccausc
ìlis knowIcdgc can lcIp you ìo coiiccìIy idcnìify ohvious icsonanccs in ìlaì
icgion as spcakci-dcsign aiìifacìs iaìlci ìlan mix piohIcms. You can aIso
makc a noìc of ìlc piìcl of ìlc icsonanì ficqucncy, wlicl wiII givc you an
idca of wlicl hass noìcs aic mosì IikcIy ìo suffci iiicguIaiiìy on accounì of ìlc
poiìing.
You may hc ahIc ìo nnd ouì a givcn spcakci's poiìing ficqucncy fiom ìlc
manufacìuici's pioducì spccincaìion slccìs, huì faiIing ìlaì iì's sìiaiglìfoi-
waid cnougl ìo invcsìigaìc foi youiscIf using ìlc LFSinc1oncs audio nIc (www
.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch3.htm). If you pIay hack ìlis nIc ìliougl youi moni-
ìoi sysìcm aì a mcdium voIumc, you slouId cIcaiIy hc ahIc ìo scc ìlc 'moìion
hIui´ of ìlc woofci's conc as iì vihiaìcs hack and foiìl, wlicl makcs iì casy
ìo ìcII low widc ìlc woofci's cxcuisions aic-iì usuaIIy lcIps ìo Iook aì ìlc
spcakci conc fiom ìlc sidc. As ìlc ìoncs hcgin ìlcii maicl up ìlc ficqucncy
icsponsc, a poiìcd moniìoi's woofci wiII sìaiì off slowing faiiIy widc cxcui-
sions foi ìlc Iowcsì ficqucncics, huì ìlcsc movcmcnìs wiII sIowIy naiiow as
ìlc ìoncs appioacl ìlc spcakci's poiìing ficqucncy. 1lc ìonc cIoscsì ìo ìlc
poiìing ficqucncy wiII givc ìlc naiiowcsì conc cxcuisions, foIIowing wlicl ìlc
movcmcnìs wiII hcgin ìo widcn ouì again as ìlc ìoncs conìinuc on ìlcii way
up ìlc spccìium. Oncc you know wlicl ìonc givcs ìlc smaIIcsì conc cxcui-
sion, you can casiIy icfci ìo 1ahIc l.l (pagc 23) ìo nnd ouì ìlc poiìing fic-
qucncy, hoìl as a nguic in Hciìz and as a noìc piìcl.
1lc sccond ìacìic ìlaì can lcIp you dcaI wiìl poiìcd
moniìois is ìo hIock ìlcii poiìs, ìlcichy dcfcaìing
somc of ìlc icsonancc sidc cffccìs. AImosì any maìc-
iiaI oi foam can hc picsscd inìo scivicc lcic as Iong
as iì impcdcs ìlc ßow of aii in and ouì of ìlc poiì
opcning-a ioIIcd up sock wiII noimaIIy do a giand
joh. (Wlaì do you mcan, 'wasl iì nisì´² You'II dcsìioy
ìlc vinìagc sound!) AIìlougl ìlis wiII cciìainIy makc
ìlc spcakci signincanìIy Iiglìci on Iow cnd, ìlc hass
icpioducìion ìlaì you do gcì slouId acìuaIIy hc moic
usahIc foi mix-haIancing puiposcs. Bcai in mind,
ìlougl, ìlaì ìlcic may wcII hc oìlci disadvanìagcs of
hIocking ìlc poiì in ìcims of ficqucncy icsponsc iip-
pIcs and incicascd disìoiìion (ìlc spcakci was dcsigncd
ìo hc poiìcd, afìci aII), so ìlougl you slouId hc ahIc
ìo judgc hass haIanccs moic casiIy wiìl socks sìuffcd in
ìlc poiì loIcs, oìlci mixing dccisions may woik hcììci
wiìlouì ìlcm.
FIGURE 3.1
Blocking your speaker
ports with dusters or bits
of foam can give you a
useful extra perspective
on the low end of
your mix.
Low-End Damage Limitation CHAPTER 3 49
3.2 AVERAGING THE ROOM
In Clapìci 2 wc noìcd ìlaì a dcccnì paii of lcadploncs can haiI you ouì ìo
somc cxìcnì wlcn ioom acousìics aic undcimining ìlc ndcIiìy of youi main
ncaincId moniìoi sysìcm. Howcvci, ìlcii Iow-ficqucncy ahiIiìics in ìlis dcpaiì-
mcnì aic Iimiìcd hy ìlc sizc of ìlcii diivcis, so you sìiII lavc ìo icIy on youi
spcakcis ìlcic, wlicl mcans nnding ways ìo woik aiound any ioom icso-
nanccs ìlaì aic confusing ìlc Iow-cnd haIancc.
AIìlougl onc of ìlc piohIcms wiìl ioom icsonanccs is ìlaì ìlcy
vaiy as you movc youi moniìoiing posiìion, ìlis is aIso
ìlc kcy ìo onc uscfuI woikaiound: if you makc a
poinì of Iisìcning ìo ìlc hass icsponsc fiom scv-
ciaI diffcicnì Iocaìions, ìlcn iì's acìuaIIy pos-
sihIc ìo avciagc youi impicssions mcnìaIIy ìo
somc cxìcnì. In a ioom wiìl icsonancc pioh-
Icms, you'II nnd ìlaì aII aspccìs of ìlc hass
haIancc wiII vaiy as you movc aiound. If a pai-
ìicuIai hass noìc, foi cxampIc, appcais ìo hc ìoo
Ioud in somc pIaccs huì ìoo quicì in oìlcis, ìlcn
you can lazaid a gucss ìlaì ìlc ovciaII IcvcI may hc in
ìlc iiglì haIIpaik, wlcicas a noìc ìlaì icmains ìoo Ioud aII
aiound ìlc ioom piohahIy nccds icining in.
If you wanì ìo gcì ìlc hcsì ouì of 'avciaging ìlc ioom´ Iikc ìlis, ìlcn joì down
youi icacìions on papci as you movc aiound. 1lis ìcclniquc can icaIIy lcIp
cIaiify youi ìlouglìs, cspcciaIIy wlcic ìlcic aic muIìipIc hass insìiumcnìs
conìiihuìing ìo ìlc mix-kick dium and hass guiìai, foi cxampIc. You'II aIso
nnd ìlaì youi pioncicncy wiìl ìlis ìiick wiII impiovc as you huiId up somc
cxpciicncc of low spccinc aicas of youi moniìoiing ioom sound. Indccd, iì's
noì unusuaI ìo discovci a coupIc of Iocaìions in any givcn ioom wlcic ìlc
hass icsponsc as a wloIc is a Ioì moic icIiahIc ìlan in youi sìcico swccì spoì.
A vaIuahIc addiìionaI pcispccìivc can aIso hc gaincd hy Iisìcning ìo youi mix
ìliougl ìlc dooiway fiom an adjoining ioom, as ìlc diffcicnì acousìic spacc
wiII nIìci ìlc sound ìliougl a diffcicnì scì of ioom modcs-AIIcn Sidcs,
l
Ioc
CliccaicIIi,
2
and Ccoigc Masscnhuig
3
aic jusì ìlicc of ìlc numcious wcII-
known cnginccis wlo mcnìion ìlis IiììIc dodgc.
No maììci low mcìlodicaI you aic ahouì iì, ìlougl, avciaging ìlc ioom wiII
ncvci hc an cxacì scicncc. Iì can piovidc a Ioì of uscfuI cxìia cIucs ahouì ìlc
Iow-cnd haIancc, huì you slouId noncìlcIcss hcwaic of hasing diasìic mixing
dccisions on concIusions diawn soIcIy fiom ìlis souicc.
3.3 SPECTRUM ANALYSIS AND METERING
Anoìlci scì of cIucs ahouì youi hass haIancc (and indccd youi mix's ovci-
aII ìonaIiìy) can hc gIcancd fiom a spccìium anaIyzci, and ìlcic aic now
so many dcccnì ficcwaic modcIs ìlaì ìlcic's no cxcusc noì ìo usc onc-RN
Another valuable
set of clues about your
bass balance can be gleaned
from a spectrum analyzer, and there
are now so many decent freeware
models that there’s no excuse
not to use one.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 50
DigiìaI's Inspccìoi and Voxcngo's SPAN aic jusì ìwo gicaì cxampIcs. Enginccis
Ioc CliccaicIIi
4
and Eiic Rossc
5
lavc hoìl mcnìioncd using spccìium anaIysis.
'I puì |a spccìium anaIyzcij acioss my sìcico huss ìlaì Icìs mc know wlcn ìlc
hoììom cnd is iiglì,´ says CliccaicIIi. 'I'm mainIy Iooking aì ìlc haIancc of
ìlc ocìavcs on ìlc hoììom cnd, Iikc if ìlcic's ìoo mucl 3uHz huì noì cnougl
5uHz oi 8uHz. Wlcn you go ìo a Ioì of iooms, ìlaì's wlcic ìlc piohIcm aicas
of ìlc conìioI ioom aic.´ You slouId ìiy ìo nnd an anaIyzci ìlaì piovidcs good
icsoIuìion in ìlc ficqucncy domain (Inspccìoi las ahouì ìlc minimum icsoIu-
ìion I'd iccommcnd in ìlis icgaid), and iì lcIps ìo lavc somc conìioI ovci ìlc
mcìciing ìimc icsponsc, so ìlaì you can swiìcl hcìwccn sIowci avciagcd mcìci
haIIisìics (wlicl wiII hc hcììci foi ovciaII IcvcI judgmcnìs) and fasìci pcak
mcìciing (wlicl wiII ìiack ìlings Iikc dium liìs moic cIoscIy).
1lc mosì impoiìanì ìling ìo undcisìand ahouì spccìium anaIyzcis, lowcvci,
is ìlaì cacl manufacìuici's impIcmcnìaìion wiII picscnì ìlc ficqucncy infoi-
maìion in a sIiglìIy diffcicnì way. 1lis mcans ìlaì you can onIy icaIIy hcgin
inìcipicìing a spccìium anaIyzci's dispIay uscfuIIy oncc you'vc huiIì somc
cxpciicncc of low youi paiìicuIai modcI icsponds ìo commciciaI maìciiaI.
1lcic's no scnsc in ìiying ìo Iinc up aII ìlc hais on ìlc giapl wiìl youi sclooI
FIGURE 3.2
Spectrum analyzers have a lot to offer the small-studio mix engineer. Two good freeware models are RN
Digital Inspector and Voxengo SPAN.
Low-End Damage Limitation CHAPTER 3 51
iuIci if ìlaì's noì wlaì ìlc ìaigcì maikcì cxpccìs. Rcmcmhci aIso ìlaì spccìium
anaIyzcis can cvaIuaìc individuaI ìiacks as wcII as wloIc mixcs, and ìlcy'ic
paiìicuIaiIy landy foi liglIiglìing if ìlc inìcinaI ficqucncy componcnìs of a
hass paiì aic slifìing fiom noìc ìo noìc-a piohIcm ìlaì aII ìoo ofìcn scuppcis
smaII-sìudio haIanccs.
Don'ì ignoic youi iccoiding sysìcm's noimaI IcvcI mcìcis ciìlci, as ìlcsc can
icvcaI somc undcsiiahIc IcvcI iiicguIaiiìics on individuaI insìiumcnìs. Again,
you'II gcì moic infoimaìion if you usc a mcìci ìlaì can slow hoìl avciagc and
pcak IcvcIs, and foiìunaìcIy sucl mcìcis aic commonIy huiIì inìo mosì digi-
ìaI audio woiksìaìion (DAW) sofìwaic ìlcsc days. (If you don'ì lavc onc on
youi own pIaìfoim, ìlcn ìlcic aic somc good dcdicaìcd ficcwaic modcIs sucl
as SonaIksis FiccC oi 1isclmcyci 1cclnoIogy's 11 Dynamic Rangc Mcìci. RN
DigiìaI's Inspccìoi aIso incIudcs onc.)
3.4 WATCH THOSE CONES!
A nnaI visuaI indicaìoi of poìcnìiaI Iow-ficqucncy conccins is youi spcakci
concs ìlcmscIvcs. 'You can somcìimcs ìcII low mucl Iow cnd you lavc on
an NSlu fiom ìlc way ìlc woofci movcs,´ says Manny Maiioquin.
6
As I mcn-
ìioncd wlcn ìaIking ahouì nnding a spcakci's poiìing ficqucncy, ìlc woofci
conc cxcuisions hccomc visihIc aì Iowci ficqucncics and icmain so cvcn
aì ficqucncics ìlaì aic ìoo Iow ciìlci ìo hc dcIivcicd cffccìivcIy fiom a ìypi-
caI spcakci conc oi indccd ìo hc pciccivcd hy luman lcaiing.
PaiìicuIaiIy on Iow-hudgcì pioducìions, ìlc huiIdup of inaudihIc
suhsonic cncigy is a icaI lazaid, hccausc iì can inìcifcic wiìl ìlc
coiiccì opciaìion of youi clanncI mix pioccssois, picvcnì youi
nnislcd mix fiom aclicving a commciciaIIy compcìiìivc Ioudncss
IcvcI, cicaìc unpIcasanì disìoiìion sidc cffccìs on consumci pIay-
hack dcviccs, and makc ìlc mix ìiansIaìc Icss wcII wlcn hioadcasì.
'Many pcopIc wanì ìlc hass ìo hc icaIIy Ioud,´ says Davc Pcnsado.
'Buì if iì's ìoo Ioud ìlc appaicnì IcvcI of youi mix wiII hc Iowci on
ìlc iadio. If you puì in ìoo mucl hass, cvciy ìimc ìlc |kickj liìs ìlc
vocaI IcvcI sounds Iikc iìs diopping 3dB.´
7
Iusì kccping an cyc on
youi woofci cxcuisions can hc a vaIuahIc safcìy clcck in ìlis icspccì,
hccausc a Ioì of sounds ìlaì don'ì sccm ìo lavc Iow cnd ìo ìlcm
can sìiII incoipoiaìc lcaps of suhsonics. 'You'vc goì ìo makc suic
ìlaì you'ic noì adding suh-sonic sìuff,´ says Cluck AinIay. 'If I scc
a Ioì of cxcuision on ìlc woofci, ìlcn I'II sìaiì nIìciing somcìling.
A Ioì of ìimcs iì cxisìs in a hass guiìai, wlicl can go quiìc Iow, huì
wlaì you'ic sccing ìlcic is a suh-sonic laimonic. 1laì can hc nI-
ìcicd ouì wiìlouì lindciing ìlc sound of ìlc hass aì aII.´
8
Oìlci common cuIpiiìs aic vocaI 'p,´ 'h,´ and 'w´ sounds, wlicl
can gcnciaìc suhsonic ìlumps hy dinì of ìlcii liììing ìlc micio-
plonc's diapliagm wiìl a hIasì of aii. A pcifoimci's movcmcnìs
FIGURE 3.3
Excellent high-resolution peak/average
metering is freely available in the form
of the Sonalksis FreeG and Tischmeyer
Technology TT Dynamic Range plug-ins.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 52
can aIso cicaìc diafìs aiound ìlc micioplonc, wlicl lavc a simiIai cffccì-cIosc-
mikcd acousìic guiìais can hc pionc ìo ìlis, foi insìancc. 1lc vihiaìions of ìiaf-
nc iumhIc oi fooì ìapping can casiIy aiiivc aì a micioplonc via iìs sìand ìoo.
And ìlc issucs aicn'ì jusì icsìiicìcd ìo mic signaIs. A Ioì of snaic dium sampIcs
lavc unwanìcd cIcmcnìs of Iow-ficqucncy iumhIc ìo ìlcm hccausc ìlcy'vc
hccn cloppcd ouì of a fuII mix wlcic ìlc ìaiI of a hass noìc oi kick dium liì
is picscnì. Aging ciicuiì componcnìs in somc cIccìionic insìiumcnìs can somc-
ìimcs aIIow an cIcmcnì of diiccì cuiicnì (DC) ìo icacl ìlcii ouìpuìs. 1lis is ìlc
uIìimaìc suhsonic signaI, as iì's cffccìivcIy aì uHz and offscìs ìlc cnìiic wavc-
foim, incicasing youi mix's pcak signaI IcvcIs wiìlouì any incicasc in pciccivcd
voIumc.
Evcn wiìl ìlc Iow-ficqucncy cncigy ìlaì you acìuaIIy wanì in youi mix,
conc movcmcnìs can occasionaIIy hc a uscfuI indicaìoi. Foi cxampIc, iì's noì
uncommon wiìl hoìl Iivc and sampIcd kick diums foi ìlc Iowcsì-ficqucncy
componcnìs ìo hc dcIaycd compaicd ìo ìlc liglci-ficqucncy aììack noisc, and
ìlis ofìcn isn'ì a good ìling wlcn you'ic woiking on laid-liììing uihan, iock,
oi cIccìionic music-iì jusì sounds Icss puncly. You may
noì hc ahIc ìo lcai ìlc Iowcsì ficqucncics of a kick
dium on a scì of smaII ncaincIds, huì if ìlc onscì
of ìlc coiicsponding conc cxcuisions sccms
visuaIIy ìo hc Iagging hclind ìlc hcaì, ìlcn iì
can hc a ìip-off ìlaì youi cloicc of sound may
noì dcIivci ìlc goods on higgci sysìcms. Many
hass-synìl picscìs aIso fcaìuic an ovcihIown
fundamcnìaI ficqucncy, and if you'ic noì caic-
fuI wiìl youi MIDI piogiamming, ìlis fundamcnìaI
can wind up wandciing uscIcssIy undcincaìl ìlc audihIc
spccìium. A fianìicIy ßapping woofci conc (oi luiiicanc-foicc
gusìs fiom a spcakci poiì) can ßag up sucl piohIcms cvcn ìlougl you can'ì
lcai ìlcm. Foi an iIIusìiaìion, clcck ouì my ìwo ConcFIappci audio cxampIcs
(huì aì icasonahIy Iow voIumc IcvcI ìo avoid any damagc ìo youi spcakcis):
ConcFIappciOuì givcs a sccìion of an R&B-sìyIc hacking ìiack wiìl ìiglìIy con-
ìioIIcd Iow cnd, ConcFIappciIn, hy conìiasì, las a sìiong suhsonic cIcmcnì ìo
ìlc kick dium, wlicl caìs up an cxìia 3dB of mix lcadioom and wiII ßap youi
woofci aiound Iikc ciazy, huì oìlciwisc cicaìcs no signincanì clangc in ìlc
sound aì aII (www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch3.htm).
Oncc moic, ìlougl, I wanì ìo sound a noìc of cauìion, hccausc you slouId
avoid ìiying ìo concIudc ìoo mucl ahouì youi mix fiom woofci wohhIcs.
Somc cnginccis, foi cxampIc, suggcsì ìlaì icsìing a nngciìip on a smaII spcak-
ci's woofci conc aIIows you ìo fccI imhaIancc and uncvcnncss in ìlc hoììom
ocìavcs of ìlc mix. In my vicw, ìlc cvidcncc of conc cxcuisions isn'ì acìuaIIy
mucl lcIp wiìl ìlcsc kinds of mix ìasks, cspcciaIIy if you'ic using poiìcd mon-
iìois, wlicl icducc ìlcii cxcuisions aiound ìlc poiìing ficqucncy as mcnìioncd
caiIici. Evcn wiìl unpoiìcd moniìois, conc cxcuisions sìiII ìcnd ìo incicasc foi
Iowci ficqucncics, hccausc ìlaì aIIows somc compcnsaìion foi ìlc way ìlaì
A franticly flapping
woofer cone (or hurricane-
force gusts from a speaker port)
can flag up subsonic problems even
when you can’t hear them.
Low-End Damage Limitation CHAPTER 3 53
ìlc woofci's Iimiìcd sizc hccomcs Icss cfncicnì aì ìiansfciiing Iowci-ficqucncy
vihiaìions ìo ìlc aii. As wiìl aII moniìois and moniìoiing ìcclniqucs, you lavc
ìo ìakc fiom youi woofci movcmcnìs onIy ìlc infoimaìion ìlaì's of piacìicaI
usc and hc mciciIcss in disicgaiding anyìling ìlaì miglì misIcad you.
3.5 PREEMPTIVE STRIKES AT THE LOW END
Dcspiìc wlaì aII ìlcsc woikaiounds lavc ìo offci uscis of smaII sìudios, ìlcic
wiII incviìahIy hc somc unwcIcomc dcgicc of gucsswoik invoIvcd wlcn ciafì-
ing ìlc Iow cnd of a mix unIcss you lavc aì Icasì somc acccss ìo a icasonahIy
wcII-hclavcd, fuII-iangc ncaincId sysìcm. Faccd wiìl ìlis uncciìainìy, ìlcn,
ìlc canny cngincci wiII cmpIoy a cciìain amounì of piccmpìivc pioccssing ìo
avoid any Iow-cnd piohIcms ìlaì ìlc avaiIahIc moniìoiing can'ì adcquaìcIy
dcìccì, and wiII aIso dcIihciaìcIy ciafì ìlc nnaI mix so ìlaì iì icsponds wcII ìo
masìciing-sìyIc adjusìmcnìs slouId aspccìs of ìlc Iow-cnd haIancc piovc, wiìl
lindsiglì, ìo lavc hccn misjudgcd.
Simplify the Problem, Simplify the Solution
Clicf among ìlcsc piccmpìivc sìiaìcgics is ìo icsìiicì ìlc ncId of haììIc, as
fai as Iow ficqucncics aic conccincd. In ìlc nisì insìancc, ìlis simpIy mcans
ligl-pass nIìciing cvciy ìiack in youi mix ìo icmovc any unwanìcd Iow fic-
qucncics. (I'II dcaI wiìl ìlc spccincs of ìlis in Clapìci 8.) '|I uscj a simpIc
ligl-pass nIìci... on aImosì cvciyìling,´ says PliI 1an, 'hccausc, apaiì fiom
ìlc kick dium and ìlc hass, ìlcic's gcnciaIIy noì mucl going on hcIow l2u ìo
l5uHz. I lavc aIways found nIìciing hcIow ìlis cIcans up unncccssaiy muddy
Iow-IcvcI ìlings.´
9
Iusì hccausc an insìiumcnì is supposcd ìo hc conìiihuìing
Iow ficqucncics ìo youi mix, ìlaì docsn'ì mcan you slouIdn'ì ligl-pass nIìci
iì, ciìlci, hccausc cvcn if ìlc nIìci haicIy giazcs ìlc audihIc ficqucncy icsponsc,
iì wiII sìiII sìop ìiouhIcsomc suhsonic iuhhisl fiom caìing away aì youi nnaI
mixdown's lcadioom. As Scigc 1sai ohscivcs, 'In gcnciaI I Iikc ìo ìakc off ium-
hIc fiom ìlc ioom ìlings wcic iccoidcd in. I Iikc ìo kccp my Iow cnd cIcan.´
lu
FIGURE 3.4
The effect of DC (0Hz) on a mix file’s waveform. Notice how the positive waveform peaks are clipping,
even though the negative waveform peaks still have headroom to spare.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 54
Bcyond ìlis gcnciaI ìiasl icmovaI, ìlcic aic advanìagcs foi ìlc smaII-sìudio
cngincci in dcIihciaìcIy icducing ìlc numhci of ìiacks ìlaì incIudc Iow-cnd
infoimaìion. 'You'vc goì ìo icmcmhci,´ adviscs Iack DougIas, 'ìlaì ìlc sìuff
ìlaì's going ìo ìakc up ìlc mosì ioom in youi mix is on ìlc hoììom cnd. If
you jusì Icì ìlc hass ìakc up ìlaì spacc, you can gcì ouì a Ioì of ìlc Iow sìuff on
oìlci ìiacks-up ìo aiound l6uHz-and iì wiII sìiII sound massivc.´
ll
So if, foi
cxampIc, youi main hass paiì is an cIccìiic hass, huì ìlcic's aIso signincanì suh-
luuHz infoimaìion coming fiom youi cIccìiic-guiìai, synìl-pad, piano, and
Hammond-oigan ìiacks as wcII, ìlcn iì's noì a had idca ìo minimizc ìlc Iow-
cnd conìiihuìions of aII ìlcsc sccondaiy paiìs ìo icducc ìlc ovciIap. 1lis noì
onIy mcans ìlaì you can fadc up ìlc main hass paiì moic wiìlin ìlc avaiIahIc
lcadioom, huì ìlc suh-luuHz icgion wiII aIso hccomc mucl casici ìo conìioI,
hccausc you can conccnìiaìc youi Iow-ficqucncy pioccssing on jusì ìlc hass
guiìai ìiack. You miglì cvcn spIiì off ìlc suh-luuHz ficqucncy componcnìs foi
scpaiaìc pioccssing, mcìciing ìlcii IcvcIs ìo cnsuic ìlaì ìlcy icmain iock soIid
in ìlc mix haIancc. Oi pcilaps you miglì dccidc ìo icpIacc ìlosc ficqucncics
compIcìcIy wiìl a dcdicaìcd suhhass synìlcsizci paiì (a common lip-lop and
R&B ìiick), using youi MIDI and synìl-piogiamming skiIIs ìo dicìaìc ìlc IcvcI
of Iow cnd wiìl ahsoIuìc piccision.
Rcsìiicìing any sciious Iow cnd in youi mix ìo ìlc smaIIcsì numhci of ìiacks
possihIc las a coupIc of oìlci impoiìanì advanìagcs ìoo. Fiisì, iì lcIps ìlc
moniìoiing and mcìciing woikaiounds dcsciihcd caiIici ìo hc moic cffccìivc in
piacìicc, simpIy hccausc wlaì's going on in ìlc hoììom ocìavcs is suhscqucnìIy
Icss compIicaìcd ìo uniavcI. Sccond, slouId you discovci posì-mixdown ìlaì
ìlc wciglìincss of youi main hass insìiumcnìs is ouì of Iinc wiìl ìlc mai-
kcì compcìiìion, ìlcn you can usuaIIy do a Ioì moic ìo coiiccì ìlis ficqucncy
piohIcm using masìciing-sìyIc pioccssing, wiìlouì dcsìioying ìlc ìonc of oìlci
insìiumcnìs oi compiomising ìlc cIaiiìy of ìlc mix as a wloIc.
CIcaiIy, lcdging youi hcìs aì ìlc Iow cnd Iikc ìlis musì incviìahIy ciamp youi
sonic sìyIc ìo somc cxìcnì, and you may saciincc a IiììIc Iow-cnd waimìl and
nuancc hy woiking in ìlis way. Howcvci, you can'ì cxpccì ìo lavc youi cakc
and caì iì ìoo. If you don'ì lavc commciciaI-giadc Iow-ficqucncy moniìoiing,
huì noncìlcIcss wanì ìlc kind of cIcan, consisìcnì, and powcifuI Iow cnd you
lcai on commciciaI iccoids, ìlcn you'vc goì ìo considci ìlc dcmisc of a fcw
compaiaìivcIy minoi sonic niccìics a picììy mcagci piicc ìo pay.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
1lc singIc higgcsì mixing claIIcngc in ìlc smaII sìudio is gcììing ìlc Iow
cnd iiglì, paiìIy hccausc ìlc moniìoiing ìooI hcsì suiìcd ìo ìackIing iì is
aIso ìlc mosì cxpcnsivc and ìlc mosì compIicaìcd ìo scì up cffccìivcIy: a
fuII-iangc ncaincId sysìcm. Howcvci, foi ìlosc wlo lavc onIy Iimiìcd
acccss ìo a dcccnì ncaincId moniìoiing cnviionmcnì oi ìlosc wiìlouì ìlc
mcans ìo icmcdy ìlc sloiìcomings of a compiomiscd Ioudspcakci sysìcm,
Low-End Damage Limitation CHAPTER 3 55
ìlcic aic a numhci of woikaiounds ìlaì aIIow icspccìahIc Iow-cnd haIanccs
ìo hc aclicvcd noncìlcIcss.
I
If you lavc ìo usc poiìcd moniìois, ìlcn knowing ìlc poiì's icsonanì fic-
qucncy can lcIp you mcnìaIIy compcnsaìc foi somc of iìs sidc cffccìs.
BIocking ìlc spcakci poiìs can aIso impiovc youi ahiIiìy ìo makc icIiahIc
dccisions ahouì ìlc Iow cnd, aIìlougl ìlis may dcìiacì fiom ìlc spcakci's
pcifoimancc in oìlci impoiìanì aicas.
I
If you can'ì adcquaìcIy ìackIc icsonanì modcs in youi Iisìcning ioom (and
fcw smaII sìudios makc sufncicnì cffoiì ìo do so), ìlcn you'II makc hcììci
Iow-cnd mixing dccisions if you 'avciagc ìlc ioom,´ compaiing ìlc mix's
hass icsponsc fiom diffcicnì Iocaìions insidc and ouìsidc youi sìudio moni-
ìoiing cnviionmcnì.
I
Cood spccìium-anaIysis and mcìciing sofìwaic can hc vciy lcIpfuI ìo youi
undcisìanding of ìlc Iow ficqucncics in youi mix. Howcvci, you nccd ìo
spcnd ìimc accIimaìizing youiscIf ìo ìlc way any paiìicuIai mcìci icsponds
hcfoic you can gcì ìlc hcsì fiom iì.
I
1lc visihIc movcmcnìs of youi spcakci concs can wain you of undcsiiahIc
suhsonic infoimaìion in youi mix and can icvcaI somc aicas foi conccin
wiìl diffcicnì hass insìiumcnìs. Bcwaic of icading ìoo mucl inìo conc
movcmcnìs, ìlougl, hccausc ìlcy can givc misIcading impicssions of Iow-
cnd haIancc.
I
If you'ic in any douhì ahouì wlaì's going on aì ìlc Iow cnd of youi mix,
ìlcn ìiy ìo simpIify ìlc piohIcm hy cIiminaìing unwanìcd Iow-ficqucncy
infoimaìion and icducing ìlc numhci of ìiacks ìlaì caiiy signincanì suh-
luuHz infoimaìion. 1lis wiII aIIow you ìo mainìain hcììci conìioI ovci ìlc
Iow-ficqucncy spccìium, ìlc moniìoiing woikaiounds aIicady suggcsìcd
wiII assisì you moic cffccìivcIy, and posì-mixdown masìciing pioccssing
wiII hc hcììci ahIc ìo icmcdy any Iow-cnd haIancc misjudgmcnìs you may
inadvciìcnìIy lavc madc.
Assignment
www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch3.htm
I If you’re using ported monitors, work out their porting frequency and make a note
of the pitch it corresponds to.
I Find yourself a level meter that shows both peak and average levels, and also a
high-resolution spectrum analyzer. Use them while mixing and referencing so that
you get to know how they respond in practice.
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57
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
Moniìoiing is usuaIIy ìlc higgcsì sìumhIing hIock in ìlc paìl of mosì
smaII-sìudio opciaìois, huì cvcn ìlc mosì Iasci-guidcd Iisìcning sysìcm can'ì
mix youi ìiacks foi you. Iì'II ìcII you wlcic you aic, huì iì's sìiII youi joh ìo
navigaìc ìo wlcic you wanì ìo hc. 1lc hasic difncuIìy is ìlaì Iisìcning is an
inlcicnìIy suhjccìivc acìiviìy. 1lc samc 'mix in piogicss´ wiII usuaIIy cIiciì a
diffcicnì icacìion fiom cvciy diffcicnì Iisìcnci (cvcn fiom ìlc samc Iisìcnci
afìci a lcavy Iuncl!), and diffcicnì cnginccis wiII aII suggcsì diffcicnì pioccss-
ing ìwcaks. UnIcss smaII-sìudio cnginccis can makc ìlcii mixing dccisions
moic ohjccìivc, ìlcy wiII aIways Iack ìlc conndcncc ìo diiccì mixing icsouiccs
cfncicnìIy and succcssfuIIy.
Now iì wouId hc madncss ìo assciì ìlaì cnìiicIy suhjccìivc mix dccisions lavc
no pIacc in ìlc mixing pioccss. Of couisc ìlcy do, and so ìlcy slouId. 1laì's
low pcopIc wiII know ìlaì a givcn mix is youis iaìlci ìlan minc, and iì's ìlis
kind of conìiasì ìlaì's csscnìiaI foi ìlc dcvcIopmcnì of ncw and cxciìing music.
Buì no hook can ìcacl you cicaìiviìy, so I'm afiaid I can'ì lcIp you wiìl ìlc
ìiuIy suhjccìivc dccisions. Noì ìlaì ìlis acìuaIIy maììcis a gicaì dcaI, hccausc
mosì smaII-sìudio uscis lavc moic idcas in ìlcii lcads ìlan ìlcy know wlaì
ìo do wiìl, so cvcn if I couId givc you a magic hoììIc of inspiiaìion, I'm noì
suic you'd acìuaIIy hc any hcììci off foi diinking iì! Moic ìo ìlc poinì, iì's
ìlc inahiIiìy ìo makc moic ohjccìivc dccisions ìlaì icaIIy loIds hack mosì
smaII-sìudio pioducìions. You can cicaìc ìlc vocaI sound ìlaì Iaunclcd
a ìlousand slips, huì iì won'ì Iauncl a pcdaIo unIcss you can makc iì nì
piopciIy in youi mix.
1lis clapìci ìakcs an in-dcpìl Iook aì ìcclniqucs you can usc ìo makc ìlc
kinds of down-ìo-caiìl dccisions ìlaì icaIIy maììci ìo commciciaI mixing. Can
I lcai ìlc Iyiics wcII cnougl² Do I lavc ìoo mucl suh-hass² Wlcic slouId I
pan my ovcilcad mics² How mucl dcIay slouId I usc, and low mucl icvcih²
Answciing ìlcsc and simiIai qucsìions is ìlc huIk of wlaì mixing woik is
ahouì, and unIcss you can answci ìlcm appiopiiaìcIy, cvcn a ìiuIy inspiicd
mix wiII sound ßaì wlcn scì againsì commciciaI ìiacks fiom youi ìaigcì
maikcì.
From Subjective
Impressions to Objective
Results
CHAPTER 4
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 58
4.1 FIGHTING YOUR OWN EARS
Eais aic picììy impoiìanì if you wanì ìo lcai anyìling, huì ìlcy'ic a nuisancc
wlcn you'ic ìiying ìo sìay ohjccìivc ahouì youi mix. 1lis is hccausc ìlc luman
audiìoiy sysìcm docsn'ì jusì ìiansmiì sonic vihiaìions sìiaiglì fiom ìlc aii ìo
youi consciousncss, iì noì onIy coIois ìlc iaw scnsoiy inpuì ìliougl iìs own
nonIincai icsponsc, huì iì aIso consìanìIy adapìs iìscIf in icsponsc ìo incoming
sounds-paiìIy in oidci ìo cxìiacì ìlc maximum infoimaìion fiom ìlcm, and
paiìIy jusì ìo slicId iìs scnsiìivc plysicaI componcnìs fiom damagc. AIìlougl
ìlc facì ìlaì oui lcaiing woiks Iikc ìlis is lcIpfuI in cvciyday Iifc, iì acìuaIIy
woiks againsì you wlcn mixing, casìing a Iong sladow of douhì ovci cvciy haI-
ancing and pioccssing dccision you makc. If youi lcaiing sysìcm is doing iìs
hcsì hclind ìlc sccncs ìo haIancc and cIaiify youi pciccpìion of ìlc mix, iaìlci
ìlan consisìcnìIy picscnìing you wiìl ìlc waiìs-and-aII icaIiìy, ìlcn iì's aII ìoo
casy ìo hc suckcicd inìo signing off a sccond-iaìc mix as a nnislcd pioducì.
1lc kcy ìo cIuding ìlis ìiap is ìo undcisìand a hiì ahouì low oui plysioIogy
skcws wlaì wc lcai, so ìlaì you can woik aiound oi compcnsaìc foi ìlc pci-
ccpìuaI quiiks wlcn cvaIuaìing youi mix.
Shock Tactics
Onc of ìlc main piohIcms is ìlaì ìlc cai is vciy good aì compcnsaìing foi
ìonaI imhaIanccs. In onc icspccì ìlis is uscfuI, hccausc iì mcans ìlaì ìonaI dif-
fcicnccs hcìwccn hiands of moniìoi spcakci don'ì makc as hig a diffcicncc ìo
ìlcii uscfuIncss aì mixdown as you miglì cxpccì. Oncc you'vc accIimaìizcd ìo
a paiìicuIai scì of spcakcis, youi cai wiII facìoi ouì ìlcii uniquc ìonaI claiac-
ìciisìics ìo a cciìain dcgicc. Buì foi cvciy siIvci Iining ìlcic's a cIoud: cvcn if
youi mix las an ohviousIy wonky ficqucncy haIancc, iì onIy ìakcs a fcw scc-
onds foi youi lcaiing sysìcm ìo sìaiì compcnsaìing foi ìlaì, ìlcichy liding ìlc
piohIcm fiom youi consciousncss.
How can wc comhaì ìlc cai's nckIcncss² WcII, onc
good ìacìic is ìo swiìcl hcìwccn moniìoiing sys-
ìcms faiiIy ficqucnìIy, hccausc ìlis insìanìIy
clangcs ìlc ìonaI fiamc of icfcicncc and lcncc
offcis a fcw piccious momcnìs of cIaiiìy hcfoic
ìlc lcaiing sysìcm las a clancc ìo iccovci fiom
ìlc slock and iccaIihiaìc iìscIf. 'Afìci Iisìcning
ìo aII soiìs of ficqucncics foi a Iong pciiod,´ says
Russ EIcvado, 'ìlc Auiaìonc wiII jusì puì cvciy-
ìling ßaì and my cais kind of jusì iccaIihiaìc ìlcm-
scIvcs.´
l
Civcn ìlaì cacl of youi moniìoiing sysìcms
offcis a diffcicnì scì of sìicngìls and wcakncss as fai as anaIyz-
ing youi mix is conccincd, swiìcling hcìwccn ìlcm is aIicady a good idca any-
way, so ìlis is onc moic icason ìo makc a lahiì of iì. Iì's no accidcnì ìlaì ìlc
moniìoi-scIccìion huììons on mosì Iaigc-foimaì piofcssionaI sìudio consoIcs
aic usuaIIy among ìlc mosì woin Iooking. 'I can casiIy swiìcl hcìwccn l5
If your hearing
system is doing its best
behind the scenes to balance
and clarify your perception of
the mix, then it’s all too easy to
be suckered into signing off a
second-rate mix as finished
product.
From Subjective Impressions to Objective Results CHAPTER 4 59
diffcicnì spcakcis,´ says Ccnzo 1ownslcnd,
foi insìancc. 'I couIdn'ì jusì mix on NSlus
oi KRK 9uuus. you gcì uscd ìo ìlcm ìoo
mucl.´
2
In facì, hccausc swiìcling moniìois
is so uscfuI wliIc mixing, I usuaIIy iccom-
mcnd ìlaì smaII-sìudio owncis wiìlouì a
suiìahIc moniìoiing sccìion in ìlcii mixci gcì
loId of a dcdicaìcd laidwaic moniìoi con-
ìioIIci foi ìlc puiposc, hccausc iì savcs a gicaì
dcaI of ìimc in ìlc Iong iun if you can lop
hcìwccn youi moniìoi sysìcms aì ìlc ßick of
a swiìcl-and iì makcs gcììing inìo ìlc iou-
ìinc of doing iì casici ìoo. 1lcic aic somc
cxìicmcIy affoidahIc modcIs on ìlc maikcì,
huì you slouId hcai in mind ìlaì cvciyìling
you lcai wiII pass ìliougl youi moniìoi
conìioIIci, so iì's pcilaps a faIsc cconomy ìo
pincl pcnnics lcic.
A sccond impoiìanì slock ìacìic is ìaking
hicaks. Accoiding ìo Boh CIcaimounìain: 'Don'ì jusì kccp pIugging away aì
somcìling. Wlcn you sìaiì ìo qucsìion cvciyìling ìlaì you'ic doing and you
suddcnIy don'ì fccI suic wlaì's going on, sìop foi a wliIc. I go ouì wiìl my
dog oi ìakc a l5-minuìc caìnap, ìlcn comc hack and lavc a cup of coffcc
and iì's mucl moic ohvious if somcìling is wiong.´
3
'1lc ìouglci ìlc mix,
ìlc moic hicaks you slouId ìakc,´ says Russ EIcvado. 'If iì's a dcnsc song,
and ìlcic's Ioìs of ficqucncics going on, I'II do 2u minuìcs, ìlcn ìakc a 2u
minuìc oi moic hicak. On a difncuIì song, you can hc moic pioducìivc wiìl
moic hicaks. Iì's dcnniìcIy good ìo pacc youiscIf and know ìlaì you'ic noì
wasìing ìimc wlcn you'ic ìaking a icsì. You can gcì ìoo focuscd on ìlc dcìaiIs
wlcn you'ic woiking foi a Iong sìicìcl. Oncc you ìakc a nicc hicak, you can
comc hack and aic moic ahIc ìo Iook aì ìlc ovciaII picìuic.´
4
1aking a hicak docsn'ì jusì mcan sagging hack in youi sìudio claii and scoff-
ing pizza, ciìlci-Icavc youi sìudio ioom and do somcìling ìo icmind youi
cais wlaì ìlc icaI woiId sounds Iikc. If anyìling you lcai in youi sìudio scìup
is a hcììci icaIiìy clcck foi youi cais ìlan ìlc sound of youi own kcììIc hoiI-
ing, ìlcn you sciiousIy nccd ìo gcì ouì moic! 1lc Iongci you woik on a ìiack,
ìlc Iongci youi hicaks may nccd ìo hc. As BiII BoììicII cxpIains: 'Ohjccìiviìy is
cvciyhody's hig piohIcm, cspcciaIIy if you'vc woikcd a Iong ìimc on a song.
Buì, if somcìling cnds up sounding wiong, you wiII lcai ìlaì iì's wiong if you
gcì away fiom iì foi nvc days and ìlcn lcai iì again.´
5
Breaks and Hearing Fatigue
1lc hcncnìs of ìaking hicaks, ìlougl, cxìcnd hcyond hasic slock ìacìics.
Wlaìcvci voIumc IcvcI you mix aì and lowcvci smooìl-sounding youi music,
FIGURE 4.1
An excellent tool for
recalibrating your ears. It
also makes hot drinks.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 60
a fcw louis of uninìciiupìcd mixing wiII sìiII ìiic ouì youi cais, and youi scn-
siìiviìy ìo ligl ficqucncics in paiìicuIai wiII suffci. So if you wanì ìo hc ahIc
ìo mix aII day ìlc way ìlc pios can, ìlcn hicaks aic csscnìiaI ìo kccp youi
cais fiom ßagging. Evcn ìlcn iì pays ìo hc caicfuI ahouì wlaì you commiì ìo
ìowaid ìlc cnd of a Iong scssion. Afìci onc giucIing (and noì paiìicuIaiIy suc-
ccssfuI) mixing piojccì, I camc up wiìl a hasic iuIc of ìlumh ìlaì las scivcd
mc wcII cvci sincc: Ncvci nnaIizc a mix afìci suppci. I nnd ìlaì hy ìlaì ìimc of
ìlc day my cais simpIy aicn'ì ohjccìivc cnougl ìo do ìlc joh piopciIy. If aì aII
possihIc, ìiy ìo 'sIccp on ìlc mix´ hcfoic nnisling iì. 'Wlcn you comc hack
ficsl,´ says Ioc CliccaicIIi, 'ìlcic aic aIways a coupIc of ohvious IiììIc ìlings
ìlaì you'vc ovciIookcd.´
6
Enginccis sucl as Boh CIcaimounìain,
7
Mikc CIink,
8
Russ EIcvado,
9
and 1lom
Panunzio
lu
lavc aII cclocd ìlis scnìimcnì in inìcivicws, wlcicas Ioc Zook
offcis ìlis cauìionaiy ìaIc ahouì a liì singIc lc mixcd foi Onc RcpuhIic: 'Wlcn
I nisì mixcd 'Sìop & Sìaic,' I madc ìlc diums and ìlc hass massivc. Iì hccamc
ìlis lugc giungc ìling, and iì jusì didn'ì sound uniquc oi ficsl. I'd sìaiìcd aì
nvc oi six in ìlc cvcning and I wcnì lomc Iaìc aì niglì hcing icaIIy pioud of
myscIf. Buì wlcn I camc hack in ìlc ncxì moining, iì was Iikc, 'F''k, wlcic
did ìlc song go²' 1lcic wcic aII ìlcsc gicaì sounds, huì iì didn'ì fccI iiglì. I'd
hccomc ìoo focuscd on aII ìlc unimpoiìanì aspccìs of ìlc cngincciing, iaìlci
ìlan ìlc music iìscIf. So I sìaiìcd again.´
ll
Monitoring Level
1lc simpIc issuc of low Ioud you Iisìcn wliIc mixing aIso nccds somc
ìlouglì if you'ic going ìo gcì ìlc hcsì icsuIìs. Foi onc ìling (and ìo gcì ìlc
picacling ouì of ìlc way as quickIy as possihIc), iì's jusì pIain dafì ìo Iisìcn
aì ìlundciing voIumcs foi Iong pciiods hccausc ìlcic's a icaI iisk of lcaiing
damagc. If you icacl ìlc cnd of a day's mixing and nnd ìlaì youi lcaiing's
noìiccahIy duIIcd oi ìlcic's a ligl-piìclcd iinging in youi cais, ìlcn you'vc
piohahIy damagcd youi lcaiing ìo somc dcgicc. Evciy ìimc
you do ìlaì, you'ic caìing away aì youi lcaiing hiì hy
hiì, and ìlcic's no way ìo hiing ìlc scnsiìiviìy hack
oncc iì's gonc. Mosì of ìlc liglcsì-pionIc mix
cnginccis acìuaIIy spcnd ìlc majoiiìy of ìlcii
ìimc mixing aì Iow voIumc. 1akc AIIcn Sidcs,
foi insìancc. Hc sìaìcd in an inìcivicw ìlaì lc
onIy Iisìcns Ioud foi mayhc 2u ìo 3u scconds
aì a ìimc and docs lis mosì ciiìicaI haIancing
aì a Iow cnougl IcvcI ìlaì lc can casiIy con-
ducì a noimaI convcisaìion duiing pIayhack.
l2
So
ìlink Iikc a piofcssionaI, ìakc caic of youi cais!
It’s just plain daft
to listen at thundering
volumes, because there’s a
real risk of hearing damage. Most
of the highest-profile mix engineers
actually spend the majority of
their time mixing at quite
low volume.
From Subjective Impressions to Objective Results CHAPTER 4 61
'Bc safcìy conscious wlcn you go ìo slows, and moniìoi aì icasonahIc voI-
umcs,´ adviscs Kcvin KiIIcn. 'Do noì hc afiaid ìo pioìccì youi mosì vaIuahIc
commodiìy.´
l3
1akc spcciaI caic wlcn Iisìcning on lcadploncs, hccausc ìlc
unnaìuiaI Iisìcning cxpciicncc ìlcy cicaìc makcs iì casy ìo moniìoi dangci-
ousIy Ioud. And hc awaic ìlaì aIcoloI and diugs can ìampci wiìl ìlc plysio-
IogicaI pioìccìion sysìcms ìlaì aic huiIì inìo youi lcaiing sysìcm, so hc douhIy
cauìious if you'ic undci ìlc inßucncc. (Ycal, ycal, of couisc you don'ì.)
1lcic's moic ìo scììing youi moniìoiing IcvcI ìlan avoiding concussion, ìlougl,
piimaiiIy hccausc ìlcsc pcsky cais of ouis picscnì us wiìl a diffcicnì pciccivcd
ficqucncy haIancc dcpcnding on low Ioud wc Iisìcn. If you fancy icscaicling
ìlc psycloacousìics of ìlis cffccì, ìlcn giapls sucl as ìlc wcII-known cquaI-
Ioudncss conìouis slown in Figuic 4.2 wiII cIuc you up on ìlc dcìaiIs, huì foi
mixing puiposcs you onIy icaIIy nccd ìo undcisìand ìlis quick-and-diiìy gcn-
ciaIizaìion: you'II lcai moic of ìlc ficqucncy cxìicmcs as you ciank up ìlc
voIumc. 1laì's noì ìlc onIy facìoi aì woik, ìlougl, hccausc oui cais acìuaIIy
icducc ìlc dynamic iangc of wlaì wc'ic lcaiing aì ligl voIumcs as a safcìy mca-
suic ìoo, and hackgiound noisc cffccìivcIy icccdcs as moniìoiing IcvcIs incicasc.
1lc mosì immcdiaìc iamincaìion of aII ìlis is ìlaì you nccd ìo undcisìand
low youi pioducìion icsponds ìo hcing pIaycd aì diffcicnì voIumcs. 'I swiìcl
my moniìoi IcvcIs aII ìlc ìimc,´ icmaiks Boh CIcaimounìain. 'I ìcII pcopIc I
woik wiìl 'Iusì givc ìlaì moniìoi poì a spin any ìimc you Iikc.'´
l4
As Cluck
AinIay cIaiincs: 'I don'ì scc any way of idcnìifying if ìlc wloIc mix is icaIIy
loIding up unIcss you ciank iì. I don'ì know low you can clcck ìlc hoììom
cnd and wlcìlci ìlc vocaIs aic poking ouì ìoo mucl wiìlouì ìuining iì up
quiìc Ioud. 1lcic aic aIso ìlings ìlaì you'II miss hy Iisìcning Ioud, so you lavc
ìo woik aì Iow IcvcIs ìoo.´
l5
Howcvci, aIìlougl Iisìcning aì a widc vaiicìy of voIumc IcvcIs wiII lcIp you
kccp pcispccìivc on low youi mix ìiansIaìcs acioss aII sysìcms in gcnciaI, iì's
cquaIIy impoiìanì foi ìlc mix cngincci ìo ìakc an acìivc dccision as ìo wlicl
voIumc IcvcIs aic of ìlc gicaìcsì impoiìancc foi ìlc musicaI sìyIc in qucs-
ìion. Foi cxampIc, a ìccn pop[iock mix miglì icquiic sciious ligl-ficqucncy
cnlanccmcnì ìo icìain iìs cIaiiìy in Iow-IcvcI lomc[cai[ofncc Iisìcning siìua-
ìions, wlcicas ìlc samc dcgicc of nzz coming fuII-ìlioììIc ovci a cIuh sound
sysìcm wouId aII huì ìcai youi cais off! Fuiìlcimoic, iì's impoiìanì ìo icaIizc
ìlaì ìlc inlcicnì cxciìcmcnì of Ioud Iisìcning can makc cvcn a Iimp mix sccm
powcifuI. 'I do mosì of my mixing aì picììy Iow IcvcI,´ says CIcaimounìain.
'I gcì a hcììci pcispccìivc ìlaì way and I can woik Iongci. If I can gcì a scnsc
of powci ouì of a mix wlcn iì's quicì, ìlcn I know ìlaì's sìiII gonna hc ìlcic
wlcn I ìuin iì up.´
l6
Cliis Loid-AIgc agiccs: 'I Iisìcn icaIIy quicìIy. Wlcn
you'vc hccn doing ìlis joh foi a wliIc, you ìcnd ìo Iisìcn aì sucl a Iow voIumc
ìlaì in oidci foi iì ìo liì you in ìlc facc, you lavc ìo icaIIy pusl iì.´
l7
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 62
A Jury of Your Peers
Ncivous ahouì pIaying youi mixcs ìo oìlci pcopIc² WcII, giow up and gcì ovci
iì! I'm noì ìiying ìo hc maclo foi ìlc sakc of iì lcic, iì's jusì ìlaì mixing on
a piofcssionaI IcvcI is ahouì ìaking icsponsihiIiìy foi youi ouìpuì, and ìlaì
mcans pIaying iì unßinclingIy foi aII and sundiy. By ìlc ìimc you'vc woikcd
youi way ìliougl ìlc mixing pioccss, youi own cais wiII piohahIy hc ìlc Icasì
130
120
110
100
90
S
o
u
n
d

P
r
e
s
s
u
r
e

L
e
v
e
l

(
d
B

S
P
L
)
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
100 1000 10,000
Frequency (Hz)
Frequency (Hz)
G
a
i
n

(
d
B
)
+30
+20
+10
0
–10
100 1000 10,000
FIGURE 4.2
The top graph here shows four equal-loudness contours. One of the things they show is that our
sensitivity to frequency extremes increases with listening level—for instance, moving from the bottom
to the top contour (in other words turning the volume up by 60dB) has roughly the same effect on the
perceived tonality as the EQ plot shown at the bottom.
From Subjective Impressions to Objective Results CHAPTER 4 63
ohjccìivc on ìlc pIancì ahouì ìlc ouìcomc, wlicl mcans ìlaì iì's casy ìo miss
ìlc wood foi ìlc ìiccs. 1lcic aic fcw icaIiìy clccks ìo maìcl anoìlci pcison's
dispassionaìc nisì impicssion, so any aspiiing mix cngincci wiìl cvcn laIf an
ouncc of scnsc slouId scck ouì consìiucìivc ciiìicism wlcicvci possihIc.
'You'vc goì ìo hc vciy caicfuI ahouì Iosing youi ohjccìiviìy,´ wains AIan
MouIdci, iccaIIing lis mixing woik foi Smasling Pumpkins: 'Iì was vciy
landy ìo lavc |pioduccij FIood and |Icad singci BiIIy Coiganj ìlcic. 1lcy
couId comc in and say, '1laì sounds gicaì,' and I'd say, 'WcII, so-and-so's noì as
good,' and onc of ìlcm wouId say, 'No, iì's nnc. I picfci iì.' 1laì mcanì I couId
jusì Iosc myscIf in ìlc ìcclnicaI woiId foi a wliIc, hccausc ìlcsc oìlci guys
ladn'ì Iosì ìlcii ohjccìiviìy.´
l8
AIan Paisons aIso adviscs againsì going iì aIonc: 'I don'ì ìlink any singIc cngi-
ncci, aiìisì, oi pioducci cvci aclicvcd anyìling hy woiking on lis own. You
Icain fiom oìlci pcopIc, and you aclicvc gicaì ìlings hy inìciacìing wiìl
oìlci pcopIc.´
l9
PIay ìlc mix ìo youi music ìcclnoIogy Iccìuici and waìcl foi
winccs. Biihc ìlc IocaI DI ìo sncak iì inìo lis scì and nnd ouì if iì cIcais ìlc
ßooi. PIay iì ìo youi poì pIanì and scc if iì wiIìs. 1lc moic you gcì youi woik
ouì inìo ìlc puhIic domain, ìlc moic infoimcd you'II hc ahouì ìlc mciiìs of
diffcicnì mixing ìcclniqucs, and ìlc quickci youi skiIIs wiII piogicss.
CIcaiIy you'II wanì ìo ìakc somc pcopIc's commcnìs wiìl a Iaigc pincl of
saIì, hccausc cvciy individuaI las lis oi lci own opinion ahouì wlaì consìi-
ìuìcs good music. Fcw dcaìl mcìaI fans aic IikcIy ìo lcap piaisc on a pIasìic
Euio-ìiancc singIc, foi insìancc, lowcvci sìcIIai ìlc pioducìion vaIucs. You
lavc ìo Icain low ìo inìcipicì cacl ciiìicism, nIìciing ouì wlaì you dccidc
is iiicIcvanì and using ìlc icmaindci ìo impiovc youi sound. If you can gcì
good aì ìlis wlcn you'ic sìaiìing ouì, iì'II sìand you in cxccIIcnì sìcad foi
dcaIing wiìl ìlc commcnìs and icvision icqucsìs of paying cIicnìs fuiìlci
down ìlc Iinc.
Hcic aic a coupIc of ìips ìlaì can lcIp wiìl inìcipicìing oìlci pcopIc's opin-
ions of youi mix. Fiisì, ìlc mosì uscfuI advicc ìcnds ìo comc fiom ìlosc Iisìcn-
cis wlo icaIIy connccì wiìl ìlc sound you'ic aiming foi and sccm ìo Iikc ìlc
gcnciaI appioacl you'vc ìakcn wiìl youi mix. Wlcn ìlaì kind of Iisìcnci says
ìlaì somc aspccì of ìlc mix docsn'ì fccI iiglì, ìlcn iì's usuaIIy wisc ìo pay lccd.
Sccond, iì's noì uncommon foi pcopIc's commcnìs ìo hc appaicnìIy nonscnsicaI
oi conìiadicìoiy, cspcciaIIy if you'ic dcaIing wiìl nonmusicians. AIìlougl ìlis
can hc fiusìiaìing, iì's faii cnougl. Music isn'ì an casy ìling ìo dcsciihc aì ìlc
hcsì of ìimcs, and mucl of ìlc Ianguagc pcopIc usc ìo do so is vaguc. 1o gcì
aiound ìlis piohIcm, communicaìc using music iìscIf. In oìlci woids, ask ìlc
ciiìic in qucsìion ìo idcnìify commciciaI mixcs ìlaì cxcmpIify ìlc kind of aììii-
huìc ìlaì lc[slc fccIs youi mix is Iacking. Lcì's say, foi cxampIc, ìlaì onc of youi
Iisìcncis wanìs a 'moic powcifuI snaic.´ Ccì ìlc pcison ìo namc-clcck a fcw
piofcssionaI icIcascs wiìl sucl a snaic sound, and iì suddcnIy hccomcs casici
ìo woik ouì wlcìlci youi fadci, EQ, compicssion, oi icvcih scììings nccd
adjusìing-oi wlcìlci ìlaì pcison is, in facì, spouìing uììci ìiipc.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 64
4.2 THE ART OF MIX REFERENCING
AIìlougl cacl of ìlc moniìoiing ìacìics I'vc discusscd so fai in ìlis clapìci is
impoiìanì in iìs own iiglì, I'vc icscivcd spcciaI aììcnìion foi ìlc mosì powci-
fuI ìcclniquc of aII: mix icfcicncing. Ccoigc Masscnhuig ncaìIy cncapsuIaìcs
wlaì ìlis pioccss is aII ahouì: 'I wisl guys wouId pick up scvciaI of ìlc ìop luu
CDs-ìlc oncs ìlcy'ic ìiying ìo cmuIaìc-and Iisìcn ìo ìlcm, compaicd wiìl
ìlcii woik. And ìlcn ìcII ìlcmscIvcs ìlaì ìlcii cais aic noì dccciving ìlcm!´
20

PaiìicuIaiIy foi ìlosc sìaiìing ouì, mix icfcicncing againsì commciciaI CDs
is a dispiiiìing pioccss, so iì's IiììIc wondci ìlaì so many smaII-sìudio uscis
sly away fiom iì. Howcvci, ìlis painfuI ìiiaI hy nic is aIso quiìc simpIy ìlc
hcsì mixing ìuìoi in ìlc woiId, and ìlc fasìcsì ìiack ìo commciciaI-sounding
pioducìions.
1lc fundamcnìaI poinì of mix icfcicncing is ìlaì iì dcIivcis wlaì youi own lcai-
ing sysìcm and cxpciicncc cannoì: ohjccìivc dccisions. Bccausc wc lumans aic
onIy icaIIy cquippcd ìo makc icIaìivc judgmcnìs ahouì sound, ìlc onIy way you
can ancloi ìlosc judgmcnìs in icaIiìy is hy compaiing youi mix againsì cxisìing
commciciaI-quaIiìy pioducìions. Ouìsidc ìlc icaIms of ligl-spcc piofcssionaI
iooms, mix icfcicncing ìakcs on anoìlci ioIc ìoo, hccausc iì aIIows you ìo com-
pcnsaìc somcwlaì foi ìlc skcwcd Iisìcning pcispccìivc of unavoidahIy compio-
miscd moniìoiing sysìcms. In oìlci woids, you can sìaiì ìo answci qucsìions Iikc
'Do I lavc ìoo mucl luuHz, oi aic my spcakcis ìcIIing a hig faì Iic²´
AIìlougl cvciy scnsihIc smaII-sìudio opciaìoi cvcnìuaIIy
acknowIcdgcs ìlc hasic conccpì of mix icfcicncing, in
piacìicc mosì pcopIc woiking on a smaII scaIc faiI ìo
cxìiacì ìlc maximum hcncnì fiom ìlc icfcicncing
pioccss. 1lis is a icaI slamc, hccausc conscicn-
ìious icfcicncing is ìlc uIìimaìc hang-pci-huck
sìudio ìooI. Iì's ìlc hcsì way of cIosing ìlc gap
hcìwccn amaìcui and piofcssionaI sonics, ycì
iì cosìs vciy IiììIc moncy. So Icì's dcIvc moic
dccpIy inìo ìlc mcclanics of ìlc icfcicncing pio-
ccss ìo dcmonsìiaìc somc of ìlc icnncmcnìs.
Choosing Your Material
EasiIy ìlc higgcsì misìakc you can makc wlcn mix icfcicncing is ìo usc inap-
piopiiaìc compaiison maìciiaI, and ìlc onIy dcccnì way ìo avoid ìlis piìfaII
is ìo givc ìlc scIccìion pioccss a piopci sIicc of youi ìimc. 1lis mcans vcììing
suiìahIc ìiacks fiom youi iccoid coIIccìion as mcìlodicaIIy as you can, on a
vaiicìy of Iisìcning sysìcms, and ìlcn compaiing ìlcm sidc hy sidc ìo knock
ouì ìlc Icssci conìcndcis. Sounds Iikc a monumcnìaI diag, docsn'ì iì² I agicc,
huì Icì mc ìcII you a IiììIc sìoiy.
Wlcn I nisì sìaiìcd mixing, I nIIcd up a CD-R foi icfcicncing puiposcs wiìl a
coupIc of dozcn commciciaI ìiacks, scIccìing my favoiiìcs picììy mucl fiom
Mix referencing
against commercial CDs
is dispiriting, so it’s little wonder
that so many small-studio users shy
away from it. However, it’s quite
simply the best mixing tutor
in the world.
From Subjective Impressions to Objective Results CHAPTER 4 65
mcmoiy-mucl as mosì smaII-sìudio uscis ìcnd ìo. Noì Iong afìciwaid, I
hcgan ìo noìicc ìlaì oìlci commciciaI mixcs sccmcd ìo sound hcììci ìlan my
icfcicncc maìciiaI, so I dccidcd ìo ìakc a moic mcìlodicaI scIccìion appioacl
and sysìcmaìicaIIy ìiawIcd ìliougl my cnìiic iccoid coIIccìion, making an
cffoiì ìo iaìify cacl ìiack picfcicncc on aì Icasì ìlicc Iisìcning sysìcms. (Sad, I
know, huì I'm a hiì of a gcck.) Afìci mucl compiIing and iccompiIing of sloiì
Iisìs, I discovcicd ìlaì onIy onc ìiack fiom my oiiginaI disc icmaincd among
my ncwIy minìcd ìop 6u. By puììing my mixcs sidc hy sidc wiìl Iowci-giadc
icfcicncc maìciiaI, I'd cffccìivcIy hccn compiomising ìlc quaIiìy of my own
ouìpuì hccausc I'd noì lad ìo woik as laid ìo aclicvc compaiahIc icsuIìs.
In a Ioì of cascs, I'd insìincìivcIy scIccìcd my favoiiìc song off an aIhum, iaìlci
ìlan ìlc mosì uscfuI mix icfcicncc fiom a sonic pcispccìivc. In oìlci cascs, Icss
ligl-pionIc iccoids hy a givcn mix cngincci acìuaIIy soundcd hcììci ìlan ìlc
mcga-famous cxampIc I'd iniìiaIIy closcn-Andy WaIIacc's mix of Niivana's
'SmcIIs Likc 1ccn Spiiiì´ madc way foi lis mix of Ragc Againsì 1lc Maclinc's
'FisìfuI of SìccI,´ foi cxampIc. 1lc moiaI of ìlis ìaIc is ìlaì youi insìincìs wiII
pIay ìiicks on you if you givc ìlcm laIf a clancc. 1lc wloIc poinì of mix icfci-
cnccs is ìlaì ìlcy slouId aIIow you ìo foiI sucl pciccpìuaI skuIIduggciy, huì
ìlcy'II onIy do ìlis piopciIy if you facìoi ouì ìlc vagaiics of youi own lcaiing
sysìcm duiing ìlc scIccìion pioccss. I'm noì suggcsìing ìlaì cvciyonc ìakc as
ìoiìuous a iouìc as I did (iì's piohahIy noì lcaIìly), huì ìlc moic iuìlIcss youi
slooìouì pioccduic, ìlc moic powcifuI a ìooI youi mix icfcicnccs aic IikcIy ìo
hccomc.
FIGURE 4.3
Both these records have classic singles on them, but you may find that the mix sonics are better on other
tracks from each album.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 66
What Makes a Good Reference?
Of couisc, you can hc as anaI ahouì scIccìing icfcicncc ìiacks as you Iikc, huì
ìlaì won'ì lcIp you if you don'ì lavc an idca of wlaì you'ic Iisìcning foi.
CIcaiIy, youi ovciaII judgmcnì of ìlc sound quaIiìy is an impoiìanì facìoi
wlcn scIccìing mix icfcicncc ìiacks, and iì's iiglì ìlaì ìlis judgmcnì slouId
hc a suhjccìivc onc ìo a cciìain cxìcnì-iì's youi uniquc idca of wlaì sounds
good ìlaì wiII givc youi mixcs ìlcii iccognizahIc claiacìci, afìci aII. Howcvci,
iì's noncìlcIcss scnsihIc fiom a commciciaI pcispccìivc ìo makc ìlc cffoiì ìo
undcisìand and cvaIuaìc pioducìions ìlaì lavc aclicvcd an cIcvaìcd sìaìus
among ìlc piofcssionaI communiìy in ìcims of slcci audio quaIiìy.
Any cngincci you ask wiII usuaIIy hc moic ìlan lappy ìo offci iccommcnda-
ìions in ìlis icgaid, and Inìcincì foiums sucl as ìlosc aì www.soundonsound
.com and www.gearslutz.com aic icguIaiIy losì ìo impassioncd 'hcsì-sounding
aIhum in ìlc Univcisc cvci!!!!´ cxclangcs ìlaì can piovidc food foi ìlouglì.
Anoìlci cxìicmcIy wcII-icgaidcd souicc of suggcsìcd icfcicncc ìiacks can hc
FIGURE 4.4
If you need suggestions for good-sounding records, there are a hundred lists to be found on web forums.
Check out www.soundonsound.com and www.gearslutz.com in particular.
From Subjective Impressions to Objective Results CHAPTER 4 67
found on ìlc wchsiìc of ìop masìciing cngincci Boh Kaìz. His 'Honoi RoII´
pagc aì www.digido.com Iisìs dozcns of aIhums in aII sìyIcs. 1laì said, if you
hiowsc aiound lis siìc iì quickIy hccomcs cIcai ìlaì Kaìz is a Icading nguic
in ìlc nglì againsì ovciIoud 'lypcicompicsscd´ CDs. So wiìlouì cngaging in
ìlaì wloIc dchaìc myscIf lcic, you do nccd ìo hcai ìlis in mind. If, foi wlaì-
cvci icason, you wanì ìlc Ioudncss of youi mixcs ìo compcìc wiìl icccnì com-
mciciaI iccoids ìlaì usc lcavy-landcd masìciing pioccssing, you may nnd ìlc
Honoi RoII of Iimiìcd usc foi icfcicncing puiposcs.
Bcyond jusì sccking ouì ligl-quaIiìy sonics, iì's good scnsc ìo go foi
icfcicncc ìiacks ìlaì icIaìc ìo ìlc kinds of musicaI sìyIcs you
woik wiìl, hccausc pioducìion vaIucs can vaiy diamaìi-
caIIy hcìwccn sìyIcs. 'You wanì ìo sound conìcmpoiaiy
and cuiicnì,´ cxpIains Iimmy DougIass, 'huì you can'ì
know wlaì ìlaì is unIcss you Iisìcn ìo ìlc iccoids
ìlaì ìlc audicncc is digging aì ìlc momcnì.´
2l

1lcic's aIso ìlc issuc of wlaì cia of iccoid pio-
ducìion you wanì ìo cmuIaìc. Appioaclcs ìo ìlc
usc of compicssion and icvcih, foi cxampIc,
lavc clangcd a gicaì dcaI ovci ìimc, and ìasìcs
conìinuaIIy slifì icgaiding ovciaII mix ìonaIiìy.
Howcvci, wliIc you may wisl ìo wccd ouì icf-
cicncc ìiacks if ìlcy don'ì confoim ìo ìlc gcnics
you woik in, iì's impoiìanì ìo icsisì ìlc powci-
fuI uigc ìo cIiminaìc ìiacks puicIy on giounds
of musicaI ìasìc. Iì's noì ìlaì quaIiìy songs aicn'ì
impoiìanì in a gcnciaI scnsc, huì iì's ìlc sonics of
a ìiack ìlaì makc iì a good mix icfcicncc, iaìlci ìlan
ìlc songwiiìing. So wliIc I pcisonaIIy icmain uncon-
vinccd of ìlc musicaI vaIuc of ìlc Pink, Ciaig David, and
PuddIc of Mudd ìiacks on my own icfcicncc CD, ìlcy'vc aII
piovcn ìlcii woiìl icpcaìcdIy foi my mixing woik.
Anoìlci ciuciaI ìling ìo icaIizc is ìlaì you slouIdn'ì ìiy ìo icfcicncc youi
wloIc mix fiom a singIc ìiack, hccausc diffcicnì ìiacks wiII hc uscfuI foi vaIi-
daìing diffcicnì mix dccisions. Foi cxampIc, Skunk Anansic's 'InndcIiìy (OnIy
You),´ Sìing's 'AII Foui Scasons,´ and Di Dic's 'Houscwifc´ aic aII ìiacks I icg-
uIaiIy usc ìo lcIp mc mix hass insìiumcnìs. By conìiasì, I miglì usc Cascada's
'HoId You Hands Up,´ CahiicIIc's 'Indcpcndcncc Day,´ Noial Ioncs's
'Suniisc,´ oi PaoIo Nuìini's 'Ncw Slocs´ foi cxposcd vocaIs. Oìlci ìiacks can
hc uscfuI as 'cndsìop maikcis,´ sucl as NaìaIic ImhiugIia's '1oin,´ wlcic ìlc
vocaI aii and sihiIancc aic puslcd ìoo fai foi my Iiking. If a vocaI in my mix
appioaclcs '1oin,´ ìlcn iì mcans ìlaì I lavc ìo icin in ìlc ligl cnd-and ìlaì
iì's piohahIy ìimc ìo comh ìlc Clilualua oi waìci ìlc ìiifnds oi somcìling.
Rcfcicncc maìciiaI is paiìicuIaiIy impoiìanì wlcic ìlc usc of ioom amhicncc
and icvcih is conccincd, as ìlis is onc aica of a pioducìion ìlaì can hc ìiicky ìo
gcì iiglì. Foi insìancc, Ouìkasì's 'Bowìic,´ SoIomon Buikc's 'Oìlci Sidc of ìlc
It’s
important to
resist the powerful
urge to eliminate reference
tracks purely on grounds of
musical taste. It’s the sonics
of a production that make it a
good mix reference, rather than the
songwriting. So while I personally
remain unconvinced of the musical
value of the Pink, Craig David, and
Puddle of Mudd tracks on my
own reference CD, they’ve
all proven their worth
repeatedly for my
mixing work.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 68
Coin,´ Kanyc Wcsì's 'Bicaìl In, Bicaìlc Ouì,´ and Kcanc's 'Slc Has No 1imc´
aII ìakc diffcicnì appioaclcs in ìlis icspccì, and laving acccss ìo aII of ìlcm
among my icfcicncc ìiacks lcIps mc makc moic suiìahIc usc of cffccìs acioss a
iangc of sìyIcs. Mix-huss pioccssing is aIso casy ìo ovcido wiìlouì somc good
cxampIcs ìo compaic againsì, and audicncc cxpccìaìions of mix ìonaIiìy can
onIy icaIIy hc judgcd wiìl icpicscnìaìivc ìiacks fiom ìlc closcn ìaigcì maikcì
on land.
'You can do a mix wlcic aII ìlc haIanccs aic pcifccì,´ says Andy Iolns, 'huì iì
mcans sliì unIcss ìlc ovciaII sound-ìlc hoììom and ìlc ìop-is going 'laIIo'!
If iì ain'ì ìlcic, scc you Iaìci. You lavc ìo lavc somcìling ìo compaic iì ìo, so
I'II consìanìIy hc pIaying CDs.´
22
Oncc moic, don'ì ncgIccì ìlc uscfuIncss of 'cnd-
sìop´ cxampIcs lcic. 1lc ìonaIiìy of Madonna's 'Soiiy´ woiks Iikc ìlis foi mc
aì ìlc ligl cnd, foi insìancc, wlcicas Pussy Caì DoIIs' '1aking ovci ìlc WoiId´
and Emincm's 'Squaic Dancc´ piovidc a simiIai scivicc aì Iow ficqucncics.
FIGURE 4.5
The Honor Roll of Dynamic Recordings at www.digido.com has a lot of good suggestions for reference
material, including albums such as AC/DC’s Back in Black and Sting’s Brand New Day.
From Subjective Impressions to Objective Results CHAPTER 4 69
If I nnd I'vc ìicspasscd hcyond ìlcsc cxìicmcs, ìlcn I'm picììy suic my afìcinoon
Kiì-Kaì is ovciduc.
Wlcìlci foi good oi iII, a Ioì of hudgcì-conscious mix cnginccis aic now ìak-
ing icsponsihiIiìy foi masìciing ìlcii own pioducìions ìlcsc days. If you nnd
youiscIf in ìlis posiìion, ìlcn icfcicncc ìiacks can pIay an impoiìanì ioIc lcic
ìoo, cspcciaIIy wlcn iì comcs ìo ìlc conìcnìious suhjccì of Ioudncss pioccss-
ing. Iusì ìlc acìiviìy of dcciding wlicl commciciaI ìiacks dcIivci an appiopii-
aìc ìiadcoff hcìwccn Ioudncss cnlanccmcnì and iìs dcìiimcnìaI sidc cffccìs
wiII hc of hcncnì ìo you, hccausc in ìlc pioccss you'II makc up youi own mind
wlcic you sìand in ìlc ongoing 'Ioudncss wais´ dchaìc and can cloosc youi
own pioccssing mcìlods accoidingIy. Iì's cvcn moic impoiìanì wiìl masìciing
dccisions, ìlougl, ìlaì you makc suic you can icaIIy lcai wlaì you'ic doing,
so don'ì makc any laid-and-fasì dccisions wliIc wliììIing down youi sloiì-
Iisìcd ìiacks unìiI you'vc sciuìinizcd ìlcm aII on a icpicscnìaìivc iangc of mon-
iìoiing sysìcms.
DATA-COMPRESSED FORMATS
Now that so many musicians store their record collections in “virtual” form on iPods,
MP3 players, and mobile phones, it’s tempting to use these devices for quick-access
mix referencing. I’d strongly advise against this, though. The problem is that almost
all portable music players use heavy digital data-compression routines to pack the
maximum number of music files into the onboard storage space. Although the side
effects of this data compression are small enough not to concern the majority of the
listening public, they still lower the quality bar significantly enough to compromise
the effectiveness of your mix referencing. The bottom line is that using lower-quality
versions of reference tracks gives you an easier target to aim for, so you won’t work
as hard and the competitiveness of your mixes will suffer.
Getting the Best out of Your References
Ccììing ìlc hcsì ouì of youi mix icfcicnccs isn'ì jusì ahouì scIccìing ìlc iiglì
ìiacks, ìlougl. 1lc way you go ahouì making youi compaiisons is aIso a viìaI
paiì of ìlc cquaìion. Bccausc youi lcaiing sysìcm is so quick ìo compcnsaìc
foi ìlc diffcicnccs hcìwccn mixcs, ìlc quickci you can swiìcl hcìwccn a icf-
cicncc ìiack and youi own woik-in-piogicss, ìlc moic icvcaIing ìlc conìiasì
is IikcIy ìo hc. 1lis is onc of ìlc ìimcs wlcn ìlc souicc-scIccìion huììons of
a mixci's moniìoiing sccìion oi a dcdicaìcd moniìoi conìioIIci can hc icaIIy
uscfuI, aIIowing you ìo aIìcinaìc swifìIy hcìwccn youi mix and a icfcicncc CD.
Anoìlci good way ìo soiì ouì ìlc swiìcling is ìo cxpoiì youi diafì mixdown as
a sìcico audio nIc and ìlcn impoiì iì inìo a ncw DAW piojccì aIongsidc youi
icfcicncc ìiacks. Buì aì ìlc cnd of ìlc day iì docsn'ì maììci low you impIcmcnì
insìanìancous swiìcling, as Iong as you makc a poinì of acìuaIIy doing iì.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 70
1lc cai's adapìivc capahiIiìics aic aIso ìlc icason wly I ìcnd ìo cdiì ouì jusì
ìlc liglIiglìs of my icfcicncc ìiacks, hccausc ìlaì makcs ìlc conìiasìs hcìwccn
cacl snippcì mucl moic sìaikIy appaicnì. Evcn a sloiì nvc-sccond inìio can
lcaviIy skcw youi pciccpìion of low ìlc foIIowing fuII-hand cnìiy sounds, foi
cxampIc. A hcncnciaI sidc cffccì of ìlis cdiìing is ìlaì ìlc nIcs ìakc up Icss sìoi-
agc spacc, so ìlcy'ic moic poiìahIc and many moic of ìlcm wiII nì on a singIc
audio CD. If you lavc ìo do woik acioss a numhci of diffcicnì musicaI sìyIcs,
ìlis is no smaII considciaìion.
Iusì as impoiìanì as insìanìancous moniìoi swiìcling is ìlc ahiIiìy ìo Ioudncss-
maìcl icfcicncc ìiacks wiìl youi mix, as suhjccìivc voIumc diffcicnccs hcìwccn
ìlc ìiacks wiII confusc ìlc cvaIuaìion pioccss: iì's luman naìuic ìlaì anyìling
ìlaì sounds Ioudci ìcnds aIso ìo sound hcììci, iiicspccìivc of wlcìlci iì acìu-
aIIy is. Again, somc consoIcs and dcdicaìcd moniìoi conìioIIcis wiII givc you
indcpcndcnì conìioI ovci ìlc IcvcI of youi icfcicncc CD's pIayhack, huì you
may nnd Ioudncss-maìcling casici ìo do if you'vc impoiìcd youi mix and ìlc
icfcicncc ìiacks inìo a ncw DAW piojccì. 1laì said, ìlcic is a hig piacìicaI difn-
cuIìy facing smaII sìudios in ìlis icspccì: if you'ic icfcicncing againsì ìlc kinds
of supci-Ioud modcin pioducìions wlcic ìlc sidc cffccìs of cxìicmc masìci-
ing pioccssing signincanìIy impacì on ìlc ovciaII mix sonics, iì can hc aImosì
impossihIc ìo judgc wlcìlci youi own unmasìcicd mix is acìuaIIy dcIivciing
ìlc iiglì haIancc oi ìonc.
In sucl ciicumsìanccs, I faII hack on ìwo main woikaiounds. 1lc nisì ìccl-
niquc is ìo scck ouì unmasìcicd mixcs of icIcvanì commciciaI icIcascs oi cIsc
FIGURE 4.6
Two possible mix-tonality references: Madonna’s “Sorry” (from Confessions on a Dance Floor) has a lot of
top end, whereas Pussy Cat Dolls’ “Taking over the World” (from Doll Domination) has a lot of low end.
From Subjective Impressions to Objective Results CHAPTER 4 71
masìcicd ìiacks wlcic ìlc Ioudncss pioccssing las hccn kcpì faiiIy suhìIc.
1lc foimci aic as iaic as lcn's ìccìl as fai as mosì pcopIc aic conccincd, huì
ìlc Iaììci aic sIiglìIy casici ìo nnd-in Boh Kaìz's Honoi RoII, foi insìancc. 1lc
oìlci woikaiound is ìo appIy Ioudncss pioccssing ìo youi mix wliIc icfcicnc-
ing, in oidci ìo givc you a hcììci idca of, as Kcvin Davis puìs iì, 'wlaì ìlc mix
sounds Iikc smaslcd up and hiickwaIIcd fiom masìciing.´
23
DyIan Dicsdow mcnìions doing somcìling simiIai wlcn woiking wiìl ìlc
BIack Eycd Pcas: 'Pscudomasìciing givcs mc an idca of wlaì cIcmcnìs poìcn-
ìiaIIy suffci duiing ìlc masìciing sìagc, spccincaIIy in icgaids ìo Ioudncss.
Buì |I scndj cvciyìling ìo ìlc masìciing cngincci wiìlouì any pioccssing.´
24

(I'II offci somc piacìicaI pscudomasìciing sìiaìcgics wlcn wc gcì ìo ìlaì paiì of
ìlc mixing pioccduic in Clapìci l9.) Many cnginccis aIso dcIivci a Ioudncss-
hoosìcd pIayhack vcision of ìlcii mix ìo cIicnìs so ìlaì ìlcy can moic casiIy
compaic ìlc mix againsì ìlcii own favoiiìc commciciaI iccoids. Howcvci, iì is
noncìlcIcss csscnìiaI ìlaì you foIIow Dicsdow's cxampIc and icìain an unpio-
ccsscd vcision of ìlc nnaI mixdown nIc so ìlaì you (oi a spcciaIisì masìciing
cngincci) can icnnc oi icdo ìlaì pioccssing aì a Iaìci daìc.
BEYOND MIXING: OTHER ADVANTAGES OF REFERENCE
MATERIAL
As if improving your mixes weren’t a big enough reason for building up a decent
selection of reference tracks, the benefits actually reach far beyond mixing. First
of all, the simple process of selecting the audio is excellent ear training and helps
familiarize you with the sonic templates of different styles. Then there’s the fact that
you’ll inevitably become familiar with how your reference material sounds on a large
number of different systems, and this means that you can start to judge new listening
environments in relation to this body of experience—a lifesaver if you regularly do
serious work in unfamiliar studios or on location. As John Leckie notes, “What I do
whenever I go into a strange control room anywhere in the world [is] put my favorite
CDs on, and I soon know exactly what the room is doing.”
25
Mike Stavrou stresses the
importance of prompt action here:
Use your reference CD before you get used to the coloration of any new room
and its monitors. When you first walk into a new control room, this is the
moment your ears are most sensitive to the room’s acoustic anomalies. After
four days you will acclimatize and in so doing will slowly become deaf to the
idiosyncrasies and “nasties” of the room.
26
Trusted test tracks can also sort the wheat from the chaff when you’re auditioning
monitor speakers, or indeed any other audio playback component. This is where the
Bob Katz Honor Roll really scores for me. Many of these albums will reveal small
playback distortions much more starkly than the overprocessed masters that infest
the mainstream charts.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 72
4.3 EVERYONE NEEDS A SAFETY NET
So fai in ìlis hook I'vc dcsciihcd low ìo scì up scnsihIc ncaincId and suppIc-
mcnìaiy moniìoiing sysìcms so you can lcai wlaì you'ic doing, and I'vc sug-
gcsìcd many ways ìo impiovc ìlc icIiahiIiìy of youi mix dccisions. If you can
appIy ìlcsc idcas in youi own smaII sìudio, ìlcn you'II lavc aIicady ìakcn ìlc
higgcsì sìcp ìowaid aclicving compcìiìivc, piofcssionaI-sounding mixcs 99 pci-
ccnì of ìlc ìimc. Howcvci, unIcss you'vc saciinccd youi cìcinaI souI in cxclangc
foi supcinaìuiaI aiiangcmcnì and mix pioccssing skiIIs, ìlcic's no gcììing away
fiom ìlc facì ìlaì you'ic luman, and lumans lavc off days. No onc, huì no
onc, cscapcs ìlc occasionaI landhagging fiom Lady Luck-noì cvcn ìlc ìop
namcs in ìlc indusìiy. 1lis is wly iì's common piacìicc foi ìlc piofcssionaIs ìo
lcdgc ìlcii hcìs wlcn dcIivciing mixcs ìo ìlcii cIicnìs.
1lc mosì ßcxihIc way you can do ìlis is ìo makc noìcs of aII ìlc cquipmcnì
iouìings and mix scììings uscd, so ìlaì ìlc mix can hc iccaIIcd in iìs ìoìaIiìy
if clangcs aic icqucsìcd aì a Iaìci daìc. Howcvci, ìlis kind of iccaII las aIways
hccn a hiì of a mincncId in anaIog scìups, hccausc no mix cvci sccms ìo comc
hack ìlc samc sccond ìimc iound, no maììci low wcII-documcnìcd ìlc scì-
ìings. Youi favoiiìc huss compicssoi miglì lavc hIown a vaIvc in ìlc inìciim.
Youi ncw sìudio assisìanì miglì noì Iinc up ìlc ìapc maclinc quiìc ìlc samc
way ìlc picvious guy did. A ioadic miglì lavc diunkcnIy widdIcd down
ìlc hack of ìlc consoIc. Iì's ìlc cnìciìainmcnì indusìiy, foi lcavcn's sakc-
anyìling couId lappcn!
1o makc mix iccaII casici, quickci, and moic icIiahIc,
many mix cnginccis lavc now migiaìcd ìo woik-
ing cnìiicIy 'in ìlc hox´ on a compuìci DAW mix-
ing sysìcm. AIìlougl ìlis appioacl can hc mucl
moic dcpcndahIc if you'vc goì sciious icsouiccs
ìo ìliow aì mainìaining ìlc laidwaic and sofì-
waic, smaII DAW-hascd sìudios ofìcn ìuin ouì
ìo hc no moic icIiahIc foi iccaII puiposcs ìlan
ìlcii anaIog counìcipaiìs. 1lis is paiìIy hccausc
of simpIc laidwaic fauIìs and daìa coiiupìion,
huì aIso hccausc of cvciy sìudio ownci's iiicsisì-
ihIc uigc ìo upgiadc-upgiadc a pIug-in and iì miglì
noì Ioad inìo 'Icgacy´ piojccìs any Iongci, upgiadc youi
DAW and ìlc sound of ìlc EQ pioccssing may lavc hccn
ìwcakcd hclind ìlc sccncs, upgiadc youi opciaìing sysìcm and you
miglì as wcII ìiy iccicaìing ìlc mix on a pockcì caIcuIaìoi. So wliIc a fuII mix
iccaII can piovidc a good soIuìion ìo mix piohIcms ìlaì aic discovcicd in ìlc
sloiì ìcim, you'd hc Ioony ìo hank on ìlaì foi icvisions fuiìlci down ìlc Iinc.
A mucl moic icIiahIc way of managing ìlis kind of Iongci-ìcim fcncc siììing is
ìo cicaìc aIìcinaìc vcisions of youi mix-somcìling mosì pios do as a maììci of
couisc. 'I'II piinì as many mixcs as nccdcd, dcpcnding on low difncuIì ìlc aiìisì
is ìo pIcasc,´ says AIIcn Sidcs. 'I jusì do noì wanì ìo lavc ìo do a mix again.´
27
Unless you’ve
sacrificed your eternal
soul for supernatural skills,
there’s no getting away from the
fact that humans have off days.
No one, but no one, escapes the
occasional handbagging from Lady
Luck—not even the top names
in the industry.
From Subjective Impressions to Objective Results CHAPTER 4 73
Alternate Balances
Oncc cvciyonc conccincd is lappy wiìl ìlc gcnciaI sound of a givcn mix,
icvision icqucsìs aic usuaIIy a qucsìion of aIìciing ìlc haIancc, and casiIy ìlc
mosì common paiì pcopIc wanì ìo ìwcak wiìl lindsiglì is ìlc Icad-vocaI IcvcI.
'Iì's a laid haIancc,´ cxpIains Spikc Sìcnì. 'Rccoid companics aIways wanì ìlc
vocaI Ioudci ìlan Cod, huì you nccd ìo kccp ìlc powci in ìlc ìiack as wcII.´
28

Bccausc Icad vocaI IcvcIs aic so laid ìo gcì iiglì, mosì mix cnginccis wiII piinì
a 'vocaI-up´ mix foi safcìy's sakc, huì ìlcic's noìling ìo say you can'ì piinì
muIìipIc vcisions wiìl diffcicnì vocaI IcvcIs as cxìia insuiancc if you'ic gcn-
ciaIIy Icss conndcnì wiìl ìlis aspccì of youi mix. Bcai in mind as wcII ìlaì
you couId Iaìci cdiì hcìwccn ìlc diffcicnì vocaI-haIancc vcisions if ìlcic wcic
jusì ìlc odd pliasc ìlaì nccdcd ìwcaking, so you gcì a Ioì of cxìia ßcxihiIiìy
ìlis way.
Bass insìiumcnìs aic aIso ficqucnìIy ìlc suhjccì of posìmix picvaiicaìion,
paiìIy hccausc ìlcic aic ofìcn sucl Iaigc diffcicnccs hcìwccn ìlc Iow-cnd pic-
scnìaìion of diffcicnì pIayhack sysìcms, so aIìcinaìc vcisions aic commonpIacc
lcic ìoo. 'Wc'II aIways do a hass vcision of somc soiì,´ says Cluck AinIay,
'wlcìlci iì jusì hc a 'hass up' oi a 'hass and hass dium up' oi jusì 'hass dium
up.' Wlcn you gcì ìo masìciing, somcìimcs ìlcic's an cIcmcnì ìlaì EQ docsn'ì
ncccssaiiIy nx, so ìlcy miglì usc a diffcicnì vcision insìcad-Iikc ìlaì 'hass
dium up' vcision-ìo add a IiììIc hiì of puncl.´
29
Diffcicnì hass-haIancc vci-
sions aic cvcn moic icIcvanì in Iow-hudgcì scìups, hccausc acousìic ìicaìmcnì
FIGURE 4.7
No matter how carefully you try to save and document your work, mix recall will always be a bit hit and
miss—even on computer systems.
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 74
can'ì cvci compIcìcIy cvcn ouì ìypicaI smaII-sìudio ioom-modc piohIcms.
If you caicfuIIy icsìiicì youi Iow cnd ìo jusì a coupIc of ìiacks in ìlc aiiangc-
mcnì, and ìlcn do a fcw aIìcinaìc mix vcisions wiìl diffcicnì haIanccs of ìlcsc
ìiacks, you slouId lavc ampIc ammo ìo landIc liddcn Iow-ficqucncy gicm-
Iins ìlaì may suifacc in ìlc fuìuic.
Buì vocaIs and hass insìiumcnìs aicn'ì ìlc onIy ìiacks ìlaì miglì waiianì
aIìcinaìc mix vcisions. Any ìiack IcvcI ahouì wlicl you'ic undccidcd in youi
nnaI mix can hcncnì fiom iìs own IiììIc safcìy ncì. 'I'II jusì go ìliougl and
pick somc insìiumcnìs ìlaì somchody miglì lavc qucsìioncd, 'is ìlaì Ioud
cnougl²'´ says Ion Cass, wlo usuaIIy cnds up doing iouglIy a dozcn vcisions
of cacl song as a icsuIì.
30
Civcn ìlaì an aIìcinaìc vcision wiII onIy ìakc a fcw
minuìcs aì mosì ìo do, I'd noimaIIy cii on ìlc sidc of doing moic aIìcinaìcs
iaìlci ìlan fcwci, huì iì aII comcs down in ìlc cnd ìo low conndcnì you aic
of youi mix dccisions vcisus low mucl ìimc you lavc ìo spcnd on spccuIaìivc
ass-saving piccauìions.
Vocal-out and Solo-out Mixes
1lcic's anoìlci ìypc of aIìcinaìc mix ìlaì is ficqucnìIy icqucsìcd on soIidIy
piacìicaI giounds: a 'vocaI-ouì´ mix, somcìimcs aIso known as a '1V mix´ oi
'puhIic appcaiancc (PA) mix.´ 1lis is a mix wiìl ìlc Icad vocaI compIcìcIy
icmovcd, and iì's dcsigncd piimaiiIy foi usc in Iivc pcifoimancc siìuaìions
wlcic an aiìisì is icquiicd ìo pcifoim a song wiìlouì ìlc suppoiì of a Iivc hack-
ing hand-ciìlci ìlc hand is noì avaiIahIc oi ìlc icsìiicìions of a ìcIcvision[
vidco slooì piccIudc ìlc usc of ìlc hand's Iivc sound.
Howcvci, ìlc vocaI-ouì mix can aIso scivc a numhci
of oìlci uscfuI funcìions aì ìlc cIcvcnìl loui,
hccausc iì aIIows you ìlc opìion of compIcìcIy
icpIacing ìlc vocaIs-pcilaps A&R lavc
onIy icaIizcd ìlc vocaI pcifoimancc is iuh-
hisl now ìlaì ìlc mix is oìlciwisc compIcìc,
oi ìlc hand las sackcd iìs singci, oi cuiicnì
affaiis lavc icndcicd ìlc Iyiics ouì of daìc oi
ìasìcIcss. You can aIso clop sccìions of ìlc vocaI-
ouì mix inìo ìlc main mix if you nccd ìo dcIcìc a
sìiay cxpIcìivc oi cvcn gcnciaìc a fuII PC-iaìcd vcision fiom
sciaìcl. '1lc insìiumcnìaI comcs in landy somcìimcs foi cdiìing ouì cuss
woids and ìlings Iikc ìlaì,´ says Iciiy Finn.
3l
(1laì said, iì's usuaIIy hcììci
ìo cicaìc any 'cIcan´ vcision of ìlc Iyiics aì mixdown ìimc, so you can hc
suic ìo caìcl ìlings Iikc hacking vocaIs ìoo. Iì aIso ofìcn makcs moic musi-
caI scnsc ìo icvcisc, pioccss, oi icpIacc offcnding woids, iaìlci ìlan simpIy
muìing ìlcm.)
If ìlcic aic poinìs in youi ìiack wlcic an impoiìanì insìiumcnìaI soIo ìakcs
ovci ìlc Icad ioIc fiom ìlc vocaI paiì, ìlcic's a good aigumcnì in sucl cascs
foi incIuding a mix vcision wiìlouì ìlis ìoo. Somc singcis aic aIso fcaìuicd
If you find you’ve
completely screwed up your
vocal levels, you can sometimes
recombine instrumental and a
capella mixes to give you a “get
out of jail free” card.
From Subjective Impressions to Objective Results CHAPTER 4 75
insìiumcnìaIisìs as wcII, so you miglì acìuaIIy diop ìwo wloIc paiìs foi ìlc 1V
mix so ìlaì ìlcy can pIay and sing Iivc in ìlc way ìlcy'ic uscd ìo doing-ìlink
AIicia Kcys oi Iack Iolnson, foi cxampIc.
Instrumentals and A Capellas
An insìiumcnìaI mix, compIcìcIy wiìlouì vocaIs, is anoìlci scnsihIc faIIhack, again
hccausc iì's noì uncommon foi A&R ìo dcmand ìlaì vocaI pcifoimanccs and
aiiangcmcnìs hc iclaslcd if ìlcy fccI ìlaì ìlc mixcd pioducìion isn'ì quiìc on ìlc
moncy. Buì ìlcic's anoìlci good icason ìo kccp an insìiumcnìaI hackup-hccausc
iì aIIows ìlc vihc of ìlc ìiack ìo hc uscd in moic Iow-kcy conìcxìs, sucl as in ìlc
hackgiound of ìcIcvision and iadio slows. 1lis kind of usagc may noì sccm vciy
iock and ioII, huì iì's noncìlcIcss an cxpIoiìaìion of ìlc aiìisì's copyiiglìs, wlicl
can gcnciaìc ioyaIìy paymcnìs, and cxìia incomc is somcìling ìlaì diaws fcwcom-
pIainìs fiommosì of ìlc johhing musicians I know.
1lc invcisc of an insìiumcnìaI vcision is wlaì is usuaIIy caIIcd an a capella-a
soIo mix of aII ìlc vocaIs, compIcìc wiìl ìlcii mix pioccssing and cffccìs. Indccd,
if you nnd you'vc compIcìcIy scicwcd up youi vocaI IcvcIs, you can somcìimcs
iccomhinc insìiumcnìaI and a capella mixcs ìo givc you a 'gcì ouì of jaiI ficc´ caid.
Howcvci, ìlc main icason ìo kccp an a capella ìlcsc days is in casc anyonc wanìs
ìo nah ìlc vocaIs foi a icmix in anoìlci sìyIc. Again, ìlis miglì noì hc wlaì any-
onc las in mind aì ìlc ìimc of ìlc oiiginaI mixdown, huì ìlaì's no icason noì
ìo pIan foi iì givcn ìlaì a succcssfuI cIuh icmix couId hiing in a piIc of ioyaIìics
scvciaI ycais fiomnow.
MASTER-BUSS PROCESSING
Some styles of music rely heavily on obvious master-buss processing (most commonly
compression) to achieve their characteristic sound, and this is an area of mix technique
that can be difficult for the less experienced engineer to get right. Also, when processing
a complete mix, the unique personality of the specific model of processor tends to
make more of a mark on the overall production sonics than if you had used the same
processor on just a few tracks. If you’re concerned that this element of your mix may be
letting you down, then recording versions of your mix with and without any master buss
processing can be worthwhile. That way you can revisit your buss-processor settings
later to apply the benefits of hindsight, or maybe rent some esoteric outboard to see if
that might elevate the sound beyond what was possible with standard fare. A mastering
engineer may also be able to trump your home-brew processing by dint of more high-end
gear and golden ears.
You should consider carefully whether any alternate versions of your mix should include
your master-buss processing as well. For example, if you leave a compressor in your
master buss while exporting instrumental and a capella mixes, you’ll find that you
can’t just recombine them to recreate the final mix, because the two mix passes will
result in different gain-change patterns throughout the song. Mix stems will also fail to
reconstitute the mix sound correctly if they pass through master-buss processing, for
similar reasons. “I’ll turn the buss compressor off,” confirms Mick Guzauski, “because
of course that compressor reacts to everything.”
32
PART 1 Hearing and Listening 76
Mix Stems
Mix cnginccis lavc hccn mciiiIy cicaìing aII ìlcsc kinds of aIìcinaìc vcisions
foi dccadcs, huì moic icccnìIy a fuiìlci fuìuic-pioonng ìacìic las hcgun ìo
gain cuiicncy foi music woik: mixing ìo sìcms. RouglIy spcaking, ìlis mcans
suhmixing icIaìcd sounds in youi mix ìo a Iimiìcd numhci of clanncIs and
ìlcn iccoiding ìlcii ouìpuìs ìo scpaiaìc nIcs aIongsidc youi main mix. Foi a
ìypicaI hand iccoiding, say, you miglì cxpccì ìo cicaìc sìcms foi diums, pci-
cussion, hass, guiìais, kcyhoaids, pads, hacking vocaIs, Icad vocaIs, and cffccìs
icìuins. 1lis pioccduic aIIows you ìo icconsìiìuìc youi nnaI mix hy adding
ìlcm hack ìogcìlci. Iimmy DougIass aììcsìs ìlaì ìlis is hccoming sìandaid
piacìicc piofcssionaIIy. A&R dcpaiìmcnìs lavc now Icaincd ìo cxpccì ìlis addi-
ìionaI IcvcI of ßcxihiIiìy, so you'II sccm Iikc you'ic hclind ìlc ìimcs if you can'ì
piovidc iì foi ìlcm, lc mainìains.
33
1lc mosì ohvious advanìagc of mixing ìo sìcms is ìlaì you gcì moic icìiospcc-
ìivc ìwcakahiIiìy ìlan is affoidcd hy simpIc aIìcinaìc mix vcisions, huì ìlaì's hy
no mcans ìlc cnd of ìlc sìoiy. Sìcms can cxìcnd ìlc opìions avaiIahIc ìo cIuh
icmixcis, foi insìancc, hy giving ìlcm moic in-dcpìl acccss ìo ìlc sounds on
ìlc oiiginaI iccoid. Iì aIso givcs a Ioì moic cdiìing and Iayciing ßcxihiIiìy ìo
compuìci gamcs dcvcIopcis if ìlcy wanì ìo wcavc ìlc cIcmcnìs of youi music
aiound onsciccn acìion. Foi piofcssionaI pioducìions, lowcvci, iì's ìlc possi-
hiIiìy ìlaì ìlc ìiack miglì nccd ìo hc clcapIy icwoikcd foi suiiound sound
ìlaì sccms ìo undciIic mucl of ìlc cnìlusiasm foi mixing ìo sìcms aì ìlc
momcnì. So if you aIso scc a maikcì foi youi music in suiiound foimaìs, ìlcn
you may wanì ìo lop ahoaid ìlaì handwagon ìoo.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
If you'ic scnsihIc wiìl moniìoiing and acousìics in ìlc smaII sìudio, you
slouId hc ahIc ìo lcai cvciyìling you nccd foi making a commciciaI-
quaIiìy mix. 1o usc ìlis infoimaìion cffccìivcIy, lowcvci, you nccd ìo Icain
low ìo convciì youi own suhjccìivc impicssions of wlaì you'ic lcaiing
inìo moic ohjccìivc mix dccisions.
I
Paiì of ìlc piohIcm wiìl Iisìcning ohjccìivcIy is ìlaì youi cais inìciacì in
compIcx ways wiìl wlaì you'ic lcaiing, cffccìivcIy picscnìing you wiìl a
moving ìaigcì, so you nccd ìo undcisìand and woik aiound ìlis. Handy
ìiicks incIudc swiìcling icguIaiIy hcìwccn moniìoiing sysìcms, ìaking fic-
qucnì hicaks, cloosing and vaiying youi moniìoiing IcvcIs appiopiiaìcIy,
and gaìlciing ìlc opinions of ìliid paiìics wlcicvci possihIc.
I
By fai ìlc mosì powcifuI ìcclniquc avaiIahIc foi ohjccìifying youi dccisions
is ìlc pioccss of mix icfcicncing. 1lc moic ìimc and cffoiì you invcsì in
caicfuIIy scIccìing ligl-quaIiìy icfcicncc maìciiaIs, ìlc cIcaici youi mixing
dccisions wiII hccomc and ìlc moic you'II pusl youiscIf ìo impiovc youi
cngincciing clops. Insìanìancous swiìcling hcìwccn youi mix and youi icf-
cicncc ìiacks is viìaI if you wanì ìo liglIiglì ìlc diffcicnccs hcìwccn ìlcm
mosì cIcaiIy, and ìlc Ioudncss of icfcicncc ìiacks slouId aIso hc maìclcd.
From Subjective Impressions to Objective Results CHAPTER 4 77
If you nnd you nccd ìo appIy masìciing-sìyIc Ioudncss pioccssing ìo youi
own mix in oidci ìo aIIow moic icpicscnìaìivc compaiisons againsì lcav-
iIy pioccsscd commciciaI iccoids, ìlcn iì's paiamounì ìlaì you icmovc ìlis
pioccssing wlcn gcnciaìing youi nnaI mixdown nIcs, cvcn if you pIan ìo
masìci ìlc ìiack youiscIf.
I
Evciyonc makcs misìakcs, and piofcssionaIs icspond ìo ìlis icaIiìy hy kccp-
ing ìlc mosì impoiìanì opìions opcn foi as Iong as ìlcy can. AIìlougl fuII
mix iccaII is now widcIy avaiIahIc in piincipIc, ìlc ìimc-lonoicd mcìlod of
piinìing aIìcinaìc mix vcisions is acìuaIIy moic dcpcndahIc ovci ìlc Iong
ìcim. AIìcinaìc mixcs can piovidc ìlc mix cngincci wiìl gicaìci pcacc of
mind icgaiding ciiìicaI haIancc and pioccssing judgmcnìs, and ìlcy aIIow
ìlc pioducci cnougl ßcxihiIiìy ìo icaiiangc oi icpcifoim ciiìicaI Icad paiìs
slouId ìlcsc icquiic fuiìlci aììcnìion posì mixdown. Aiìisìs can hcncnì
ìoo, hoìl fiom addiìionaI Iivc pcifoimancc oppoiìuniìics and fiom moic
widcspicad cxpIoiìaìion of ìlcii copyiiglìs.
I
A moic icccnì ìicnd is ìo piinì suhmixcd sìcms fiom wlicl ìlc mix can hc
iccicaìcd. Mixing ìo sìcms can piovidc moic posìmixdown ìwcaking capac-
iìy, cxìia copyiiglì-cxpIoiìaìion possihiIiìics, and a cciìain amounì of fuìuic
pioonng if ìlcic's a IikcIilood ìlaì you'II lavc ìo puì ìogcìlci a suiiound-
sound mix in a luiiy oi wiìl a minimaI hudgcì.
Assignment
I Find a simple way to switch between your available monitoring systems and adjust
their levels so that it’s easy to make this a habit.
I Create your own reference CD, using only audio sources that use no data com-
pression and evaluating the merits of any potential track on all your monitoring
systems.
www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch4.htm
This page intentionally left blank
I know wlaì you'ic ìlinking. 'Enougl of ìlc moniìoiing sìuff aIicady, Icì's
gcì mixing!´ 1laì's a faii commcnì, huì foi ìlc hcncnì of anyonc wlo skippcd
sìiaiglì ovci Paiì l, Icì mc hc ahsoIuìcIy cIcai: you'vc misscd ouì ìlc mosì
impoiìanì hiì of ìlc hook! Noìling fiom lcic on wiII lcIp you mucl unIcss
you can acìuaIIy lcai wlaì you'ic doing.
Evcn wiìl ìlaì hiì of ìuh ìlumping ouì of ìlc way, ìlougl, iì's noì quiìc ìimc
ìo sìaiì ßcxing ìlc fadcis ycì, hccausc onc of ìlc kcy facìois in puììing ìogcìlci
a piofcssionaI-sounding mix is picpaiing ìlc giound piopciIy. A majoi sìum-
hIing hIock foi smaII-sìudio owncis is ìlaì ìlcy'ic usuaIIy ìiy-
ing ìo mix ìlc unmixahIc-ìlcii piohIcms dciivc aì Icasì
as mucl fiom sloddy mix picpaiaìion as fiom any
sloiìcomings in ìlcii pioccssing skiIIs. 1lis aspccì
of pioducìion las iaicIy hccn ìouclcd on in
piinì, so mosì amaìcui cnginccis undcicsìimaìc
iìs signincancc. Buì don'ì hc fooIcd: piopci mix
picpaiaìion is fundamcnìaI ìo aclicving com-
mciciaI icsuIìs in any kind of icpcaìahIc way.
Buì if mix picp's so ciiìicaI, wly don'ì mcmhcis
of ìlc indusìiy's ìop hiass ìaIk ahouì iì moic² 1lc
nisì answci ìo ìlis pcifccìIy jusìincd qucsìion is ìlaì
ìlc hcsì mixing cnginccis ìcnd ìo woik wiìl pioduccis
Mix Preparation
PART 2
A major stumbling
block for small-studio
owners is that they’re usually
trying to mix the unmixable—their
problems derive as much from
shoddy mix preparation as from any
shortcomings in their processing
skills.
PART 2 Mix Preparation 80
and iccoiding cnginccis wlo undcisìand low ìo ìiack, ovciduh, aiiangc, and
cdiì ìlcii piojccìs inìo a sìaìc wlcic ìlc mix cngincci can conccnìiaìc on ìlc
cicaìivc aspccìs of mixing wiìlouì disìiacìions. 'My goaI is aIways ìo givc somc-
ìling ìo a mixci wlcic lc can pusl up ìlc fadcis and iì's icasonahIy cIosc ìo
ìlc aicliìccìuic ìlaì I wanì in ìcims of ìlc aiiangcmcnì,´ says CIcn BaIIaid, foi
cxampIc. 'If you givc ìlcm ìlaì ìo sìaiì wiìl, iì ficcs ìlcm up ìo icaIIy focus on
dcìaiIing ìlc sounds and making cvciyìling sound gicaì. I ìiy noì ìo add ìo ìlcii
huidcn ìlc idca ìlaì ìlcy'vc goì ìo aiiangc ìlc song as wcII.´
l
Wiìl ìlc dcmisc
of many Iaigc sìudio faciIiìics, fcwci smaII-sìudio uscis lavc now lad ìlc hcn-
cnì of ìlc ìiadiìionaI 'ìca-hoy ìo ìapc-op´ sìudio appicnìiccslip and simpIy
don'ì icaIizc ìlc amounì of ìimc and cffoiì cxpcndcd on piofcssionaI pioduc-
ìions hcfoic mixdown.
Bccausc quaIiìy-conìioI pioccduics aic hy naìuic usuaIIy quiìc ìcdious, iì's aIso
undcisìandahIc ìlaì ligl-pionIc cnginccis ìcnd ìo gIoss ovci ìlcm, noì Icasì
hccausc ìlcy ofìcn lavc ìlc Iuxuiy of faiming ouì lcavy cdiìing and ìiming[
piìcl-coiiccìion donkcy woik ìo spcciaIisì DAW opciaìois hclind ìlc sccncs.
And aIìlougl sliinking iccoiding hudgcìs aic incicasingIy cxposing cvcn ìlc
higgcsì namcs in mix cngincciing ìo qucsìionahIc lomc-hicw pioducìion vaI-
ucs, iì's ìlcii assisìanìs wlo acìuaIIy hcai ìlc hiunì of soiìing ìlis ouì, so ìlc
hoss won'ì usuaIIy dwcII on iì foi Iong. '1lc nisì ìling ìlaì lappcns is ìlaì NciI
Comhci, my assisìanì cngincci, wiII picpaic ìlc scssion foi mc, cIcaning iì up
and Iaying iì ouì in ìlc way I Iikc,´ cxpIains Ccnzo 1ownslcnd. 'AII in aII, NciI
usuaIIy las ìlicc louis of woik ìo do hcfoic I can acìuaIIy hcgin ìlc mix.´
2

Many oìlci ìop-ìici cnginccis lavc aIso hiicßy dcsciihcd ìlcii own assisìanìs
fuInIIing hioadIy simiIai ioIcs: MiclacI Biauci,
3
Iayccn Ioslua,
4
Cliis Loid-
AIgc,
5
Manny Maiioquin,
6
1ony Masciaìi,
7
and Spikc Sìcnì,
8
among oìlcis.
Bccausc mix picpaiaìion is so impoiìanì, and a maììci of couisc commciciaIIy
spcaking, Paiì 2 of ìlis hook cxpIoics iì piopciIy wiìlin a smaII-sìudio con-
ìcxì. My aim is ìo puì you on moic of a IcvcI fooìing wiìl ìlc piofcssionaIs
wlcn you acìuaIIy icacl ìlc mixdown iìscIf, hccausc ìlaì's aImosì aIways laIf
ìlc haììIc wlcic scIf-pioduccd iccoids aic conccincd. 1lc moic of ìlis kind of
ìcclnicaI woik you can gcì ouì of ìlc way in advancc, ìlc moic you'II hc ahIc ìo
sìay in ìoucl wiìl youi viìaI cicaìivc insìincìs duiing ìlc mixing pioccss iìscIf.
81
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
5.1 STARTING AFRESH
Foi mucl of ìlis hook I'm discussing mixing as if you'ic woiking wiìl oìlci
pcopIc's musicaI maìciiaI, and in sucl siìuaìions iì's usuaIIy casicsì ìo sìaiì
wiìl a hIank sIaìc as fai as mix pioccssing and cffccìs aic conccincd, iaìlci
ìlan woiking fiom ìlc cIicnì's iougl-mix scìup-cvcn if you lavc a mixing sys-
ìcm idcnìicaI ìo ìlciis. 1lcic's moic ìlan jusì convcnicncc ìo ìlis, ìlougl, as
iì aIso aIIows you ìo hiing somc vaIuahIc ficsl pcispccìivc ìo ìlc pioducìion,
icsponding ìo wlaì's acìuaIIy impoiìanì wiìlouì picconccpìions. 1lis is wly,
cvcn if you'ic acìuaIIy iccoiding, pioducing, and mixing cvciyìling youiscIf,
I sìiongIy iccommcnd ìlaì you sìiII ìicaì ìlc mixdown sìagc as a scpaiaìc
ìask. 'I dcIihciaìcIy dcnnc ìlc poinì aì wlicl I sìaiì mixing,´ cxpIains Fiasci
1. Smiìl. 'I ìlink iì's lcIpfuI foi my lcadspacc.. I'II cIcai ìlc dccks, cIcan
up ìlc scssion, consoIidaìc aII ìlc ìiacks, and Iook aì ìlc scssion puicIy fiom
a mix poinì of vicw.. Iì fccIs Iikc ìlc scssion is scì in sìonc, and noìling is
going ìo hc movcd any moic. Iì's a visuaI[psycloIogicaI ìling.´
9
My favoicd way of doing ìlis is ìo picpaic a scì of unpioccsscd iaw audio nIcs,
onc foi cacl ìiack in youi aiiangcmcnì, mucl as you'd do if you wcic lav-
ing youi music mixcd hy somconc cIsc. Makc suic ìo houncc down ìlc ouì-
puì of any Iivc-iunning MIDI insìiumcnìs as audio ìoo. 1lis icduccs CPU Ioad
(aIIowing you moic powci foi mix pIug-ins), discouiagcs cndIcss ìinkciing
wiìl synìl scììings duiing mixing (aIìlougl you can sìiII ichouncc an aIìcicd
vcision of ìlc paiì Iaìci if you icaIIy nccd ìo), and aIso avoids an insidious
piohIcm wiìl somc MIDI insìiumcnìs wlcic ìlcy icspond sIiglìIy diffcicnìIy
wiìl cvciy pIay-ìliougl-ìlcic aic moic ìlan cnougl mind gamcs ìo dcaI
wiìl aì mixdown wiìlouì ìlis kind of ìling going on. 'I ncvci iun anyìling
Iivc, fiom a scqucncci,´ afnims 1om Loid-AIgc. 'I don'ì wanì ìo lavc ìo woiiy
ahouì synclionizaìion oi issucs of sound IcvcI.´
lu
SpIiììing ouì ìlc individuaI
sounds fiom viiìuaI dium insìiumcnìs and muIìiìimhiaI sampIcis is a good
idca ìoo, hccausc iì givcs you maximum mixing ßcxihiIiìy.
If ìlcic is somc cffccì ìlaì is an csscnìiaI musicaI fcaìuic of ìlc ìiack (pcilaps
a piìcl coiiccìoi, a spccinc guiìai-amp simuIaìoi, a synìl-sìyIc icsonanì nIìci,
Essential Groundwork
CHAPTER 5
PART 2 Mix Preparation 82
FIGURE 5.1
Laying out your tracks in
a logical and consistent
manner can seriously
speed up your work, as
well as freeing up your
brain for more creative
thinking during the mix.
oi somc uniquc spcciaI cffccì), hy aII mcans Icavc ìlaì in wlcn gcnciaìing youi
hounccd muIìiìiack nIcs, huì hcai in mind ìlaì iì can savc ìimc Iaìci if you
houncc ouì a cIcan vcision as wcII, jusì in casc ìlc cffccì nccds icmodcIing ìo
woik piopciIy in ìlc nnaI mix conìcxì.
5.2 ENHANCING NAVIGATION
Onc way oi anoìlci, you slouId cnd up wiìl a ficsl DAW piojccì nIc conìain-
ing a huncl of hounccd audio ìiacks ìlaì aII sìaiì aì ìlc samc poinì. 1lc nisì
sìcp is ìo makc iì as casy as you can ìo gcì aiound ìlc pIacc, and ìlis is somc-
ìling many smaII-sìudio uscis sciiousIy undcivaIuc. Iì miglì sccm pcììy, huì ìlc
Iasì ìling you wanì ìo hc doing wlcn you'ic mixing is wasìc ìimc woiking ouì
wlcic ìlc hIazcs ìlaì sccond ìamhouiinc ovciduh goì ìo. Oi icscììing ìlc EQ
of ìlc wiong guiìai paiì hy misìakc. Oi cdiìing ìlc synìl pad ouì of ìlc wiong
cloius. Cicaìivc ìlouglìs aic fiagiIc IiììIc ìlings, so any kind of dcIay hcìwccn
ìlinking ìlcm and acìing on ìlcm wliIc mixing is icaIIy had kaima. Wlaì was I
going ìo do wiìl ìlaì sccond ìamhouiinc now² Ol wcII. Ncvci Iikcd iì anyway.
Organizing Your Tracks
Onc ìimc-lonoicd way of making youi navigaìion of a piojccì insìincìivc is
ìo sìandaidizc ìlc ìiack Iayouì of ìlc insìiumcnìs in youi aiiangcmcnì so ìlaì
you insìincìivcIy know wlcic ìo nnd youi kick
dium, hass guiìai, Icad vocaI, oi wlaìcvci wlcn
inspiiaìion sìiikcs. Paiì of ìlis pioccss invoIvcs
puììing ìlc mosì impoiìanì insìiumcnìs wlcic
you can casiIy acccss ìlcm and suhmixing any
Iaigc gioups of suhsidiaiy paiìs ìo fcwci mixci
clanncIs so ìlaì conìioIIing ìlcm cn massc is
casici. MiclacI Biauci's vicws aic cmhIcmaìic of
mosì of ìlc higgcsì namcs in mix cngincciing
lcic: 'Wlaìcvci ìlc scssion is, iì wiII hc a maxi-
mum of 44 ìiacks.. I am noì going ìo mix 2uu
ìiacks on ìlc dcsk foi you, so ìlc hcsì ìling foi
you ìo do is ìo givc mc ìlc sìcico hIcnds ìlaì
you Iikc.. I'm lappy ìo mix l6 ìiacks. 1lc sim-
pIci ìlc hcììci. I don'ì wanì ìo lavc ìo nglì my
way ìliougl a mix.´
ll
Many cnginccis, incIuding hoìl Loid-AIgc
hioìlcis, aIso Iimiì ìlcii ìiack counì in a simi-
Iai way, wiìl cciìain sounds aIways aiiiving
on ìlc samc mixci clanncIs and ìlc mosì
impoiìanì sounds cIoscsì ìo land. 'If cvciy-
ìling is paikcd in ìlc samc pIacc,´ cxpIains
Cliis, 'aII you lavc ìo woiiy ahouì is ìlc song.
Wlcn you'ic mixing you wanì ìo cIiminaìc
Essential Groundwork CHAPTER 5 83
aII ìlc ìlings ìlaì makc you ìlink ouìsidc of ìlc song.´
l2
1om cIahoiaìcs on
lis own picfcicnccs: 'I Iikc ìo lavc my diums on ìiacks 6 ìo l4. 1lc hass gui-
ìai wiII aIways hc on l5 and l6. ClanncIs l7 ìo 24 conìain ìlc main insìiu-
mcnìs: guiìais, kcyhoaids, oi wlaìcvci ìlcy aic. 1lc Icad vocaI wiII hc on
25 and any addiìionaI vocaIs go afìci ìlaì. Any music ìlaì's Icfì ovci wiII go
on 33 and upwaid. |Pcicussionj wiII go ìo clanncIs 5 and down. . 1lc fad-
cis foi clanncIs l7 ìo 24 aic cIosc ìo my Icfì and 25 ìo 32 aic cIosc ìo my
iiglì. 1amhouiincs can Iivc on clanncI l-I don'ì wanì ìo lavc ìo movc ovci
ìlcic aII ìlc ìimc, I don'ì nccd ìlaì mucl cxcicisc! Of couisc, hy ccnìciing ìlc
mosì impoiìanì insìiumcnìs on ìlc dcsk I can aIso icmain in ìlc idcaI Iisìcn-
ing posiìion hcìwccn ìlc moniìois foi mosì of ìlc ìimc.´
l3
NaìuiaIIy, ìlc 'in ìlc hox´ DAW mixing sysìcms ìypicaI of many smaII sìu-
dios makc plysicaI cigonomics Icss of an issuc, huì ìlc gcnciaI piincipIc of
sìandaidizcd ìiack scìups sìiII loIds: if you can sìick faiiIy
cIoscIy ìo somc kind of gcnciic Iayouì wiìl cacl suc-
ccssivc mix piojccì, you'II cIcai lcadspacc foi
making ìlc icaIIy hig mix dccisions. PiacìicaIIy
cvciy mixing piogiam now las soplisìicaìcd
oiganizaìion sysìcms foi youi ìiacks, so gcì
husy wiìl ìlcm ìo cicaìc a visuaI connccìion
hcìwccn aII youi dium ìiacks, say, oi ìo piovidc
casy gIohaI conìioI ovci masscd ilyìlm guiìais oi
hacking vocaIs.
Colors and Symbols Speak Faster Than Words
As paiì of oiganizing youi ìiacks foi mixing, you slouId aIso gcì inìo ìlc
lahiì of IahcIing youi ìiacks scnsihIy. If you lavc l5 ìiacks jusì IahcIcd
'Cuiìai,´ you'II foicvci hc ìwcaking ìlc acousìic insìcad of ìlc powci cloids.
Moic mind gamcs, Icss laii Icfì. So do youiscIf a favoi and ìiy ìo makc ìlc
ìiack namcs mcan somcìling. On many DAW pIaìfoims, iì's aIso good piac-
ìicc ìo ahhicviaìc ìlc namcs as mucl as you can so ìlaì you can sìiII icad
ìlcm wlcn ìlcy'ic ìiuncaìcd ìo nì acioss ìlc widìl of ìlc clanncI sìiip in
youi sofìwaic mixci.
Howcvci, mosì sofìwaic uscis lavc an cvcn moic uscfuI ìooI foi ìiack idcnìi-
ncaìion: coIoiing. Oui hiains aic mucl quickci aì icsponding ìo coIois ìlan
ìo woids (wlicl is wly ìiafnc Iiglìs usc coIois, foi cxampIc), so ìlc moic
you can coIoi-codc youi ìiacks and audio nIcs, ìlc quickci you'II hc ahIc
ìo navigaìc aiound ìlcm. As Rohciì Oiìon las noìcd, 'I'II sìaiì my mixcs
hy Iaying ouì ìlc scssion in ìlc way I Iikc and coIoi-coding cvciyìling, so
iì's casici ìo oiicnìaìc myscIf and I insìincìivcIy know wlcic ìlings aic.´
l4
If
aII youi dium paiìs aic ycIIow and aII youi hass ìiacks icd, ìlcn you aIways
know wlicl ìypc of audio you'ic Iooking aì cvcn wlcn you'vc zoomcd iiglì
in ìo cdiì individuaI audio wavcfoims oi wlcn youi ìiack namcs aic cov-
cicd hy oìlci ßoaìing windows. Ioclcm van dci Saag las anoìlci uscfuI
If you can stick fairly
closely to some kind of
generic session layout with each
successive mix project, you’ll clear
headspace for making the really
big mix decisions.
PART 2 Mix Preparation 84
suggcsìion: '|Ij add coIouis ìo icmind myscIf ìlaì I nccd ìo do somcìling,
so I may maik a sccìion in a wciid coIoui so ncxì ìimc I opcn ìlc window I
know I lavc ìo nx iì.´
l5
CiaplicaI symhoIs aic usuaIIy quickci ìo compiclcnd ìlan ìcxì ìoo, and ìlcy
can hc undcisìood cvcn wlcn vciy smaII on sciccn, 1lcicfoic, if youi DAW
givcs you ìlc opìion ìo add ìiack icons of any ìypc, ìlcn ìlcsc miglì aIso hc a
uscfuI visuaI aid.
Dividing the Timeline
Mixing ìypicaIIy invoIvcs a Ioì of Iisìcning ìo smaII sccìions of youi mix, as wcII
as a Ioì of compaiing diffcicnì song sccìions againsì cacl oìlci, so you can savc
a Ioì of aggio hy laving a cIcai idca of ìlc musicaI sìiucìuic of ìlc pioducìion
and low iì icIaìcs ìo ìlc minuìcs and scconds of youi pIayhack ìimcIinc. On
dcdicaìcd laidwaic iccoidcis, you'd lavc lad a sciap of papci wiìl ìiack ìimcs
sciihhIcd ncxì ìo a Iisì of ìlc song sccìions, huì in ìlc sofìwaic domain you noi-
maIIy lavc a mucl moic cIcganì sclcmc wlcichy you can dispIay song sccìions
as hais oi maikcis in ìlc piojccì's main loiizonìaI ìimc iuIci. Ccììing ìlis cloic
ouì of ìlc way aì ìlc nisì possihIc oppoiìuniìy is cspcciaIIy impoiìanì if you'ic
woiking on somconc cIsc's pioducìion, hccausc iì signincanìIy spccds up ìlc
pioccss of gcììing ìo know ìlc music. Again, naming and coIoiing ìlcsc sccìion
maikcis wiII onIy lcIp you zip ahouì ìlc pIacc moic swifìIy.
If ìlcic's any woik ìo hc donc in ìcims of synclionizing youi scqucncci's mcì-
iic giid ìo ìlaì of ìlc music, ìlcn ìlaì's aIso wcII woiìl soiìing ouì hcfoic any
piopci mixing sìaiìs. 1lis kind of ìling is usuaIIy ìcdious ìo do, and ìiying ìo
ìackIc iì iiglì in ìlc middIc of ìlc mix is a iccipc foi inspiiaìion noscdivc.
5.3 PROJECT RECONNAISSANCE
Spotting Trouble and Hidden Gems
Oncc you'vc madc suic you can nnd youi way aiound
youi mix piojccì as quickIy as possihIc, iì's ìimc ìo
sìaiì Iisìcning ìliougl ìo ìlc ìiacks individuaIIy so you
can hcgin ìo huiId a picìuic of wlaì's ìlcic. Evcn if
you iccoidcd ìlc wloIc pioducìion youiscIf oi you'ic
aIicady famiIiai wiìl a picvious iougl mix, ìlcic's a Ioì
ìo hc gaincd fiom Iisìcning ìo aì Icasì a snaìcl of cacl
muIìiìiack nIc on iìs own hcfoic you piopciIy sìaiì
woik wiìl ìlc mixing. Foi a sìaiì, iì's a good oppoiìu-
niìy ìo cdiì ouì any siIcnccs in youi audio nIcs, wlicl
noì onIy icduccs sìiain on youi compuìci icsouiccs
huì aIso ìypicaIIy makcs ìlc spicad of iccoidcd maìc-
iiaI acioss ìlc ìimcIinc cIcaici ìo scc. PIus, you gcì ìlc
oppoiìuniìy ìo dcaI wiìl puicIy ìcclnicaI issucs (sucl
as unwanìcd hackgiound noisc, audio gIiìclcs, and
FIGURE 5.2
Track icons can help
you identify tracks much
more quickly than text
names.
Essential Groundwork CHAPTER 5 85
Iumpy audio cdiìs), wlicl miglì oìlciwisc sIip ìliougl ìlc ncì wlcn cvciy-
ìling's going aì oncc. 'I wiII aIways hcgin a mix wiìl cIcaning up ìlc scssion,´
says Dcmacio CasìcIIon, 'doing ciossfadcs, making suic ìlcic's no lcadplonc
hIccd oi pops. I laìc pops! I spcnd a Ioì of ìimc making suic cvciyìling is
smooìl and cIcan.´
l6
Anoìlci hcncnì ìo hc gaincd fiom clccking ìliougl ìlc individuaI ìiacks
hcfoic gcììing down ìo mixing is ìlaì ìlis pioccss ofìcn uncaiìls momcnìs of
magic ìlaì lavc hccn aII huì liddcn hy compcìing aiiangcmcnì Iaycis. Mayhc
iì's a fanìasìic IiììIc sìiing-hcnd nII fiom onc of youi guiìaiisìs, a clccky IiììIc
ad-Iih ìuckcd away aì ìlc cnd of a hacking vocaI ìiack, oi somc cloicc woids fiom
ìlc diummci as lc spiIIs coffcc ovci limscIf-hasicaIIy anyìling ìlaì makcs you
Iaugl, smiIc, hoogic, oi puncl ìlc aii. Onc of ìlc mosì suicnic ways ìo win ovci
mosì cIicnìs is ìo diamaìicaIIy unvciI foigoììcn gcms Iikc ìlcsc in youi nnaI mix,
hccausc ìlcy can makc ìlc mix sound ficslci wiìlouì you acìuaIIy laving ìo add
anyìling. In facì, scvciaI ìimcs I'vc hccn congiaìuIaìcd foi 'puììing a ncw paiì´
inìo a mix, wlcn aII I'vc donc is dicdgc up onc of ìlc cIicnì's own huiicd sounds
ìlaì lad Iong sincc fadcd fiomìlcii mcmoiy. 1lc hcauìy of ìlis ìiick wlcn mixing
oìlci pcopIc's woik is ìlaì iì's Iow-iisk, hccausc anyìling in ìlc oiiginaI muIìiìiack
nIcs impIiciìIy hcais ìlc cIicnì's scaI of appiovaI, wlcicas ìlcic's noìling Iikc ìlaì
guaianìcc foi any ìiuIy ncwpaiìs you miglì add.
Again, do makc usc of youi DAW sysìcm's coIoiing ìooIs ìo liglIiglì ìlcsc
kinds of spcciaI momcnìs, hccausc ìlcy'ic usuaIIy scaììcicd ìlinIy acioss a
vaiicìy of ìiacks in mosì pioducìions and you'II Iosc ìiack of ìlcm aII oìlci-
wisc. 1lcic aic fcw acìiviìics moic souI-dcsìioying mid-mixdown ìlan scaicl-
ing IahoiiousIy ìliougl 24 ìiacks of vocaIs foi ìlaì onc kiIIci vocaI ad-Iih. (Iì
aIways sccms ìo hc on ìiack 23, and afìci aII ìlaì iì acìuaIIy ìuins ouì ìo lavc
ìlc wiong Iyiics.)
FIGURE 5.3
Use the markers within
your own software to
name the sections of
your song; otherwise it’s
easy to confuse yourself
about which chorus
you’re actually working
on, especially when your
view is zoomed a long
way in for fine editing or
automation work.
PART 2 Mix Preparation 86
Multing
1lc nnaI ìling ìlaì you can sìaiì doing duiing youi piojccì icconnaissancc is
any muIìing you ìlink miglì hc ncccssaiy. In ìlc conìcxì of a DAW mixing
sysìcm, ìlc woid 'muIìing´ piimaiiIy icfcis ìo ìlc pioccduic of clopping up
a singIc audio nIc and disìiihuìing ìlc picccs acioss scvciaI diffcicnì ìiacks,
ìlcichy aIIowing cacl nIc sccìion ìo hcncnì fiom iìs own mix scììings. 1lis
simpIc ìcclniquc is a ìciiincaIIy powcifuI aIIy of ìlc smaII-sìudio cngincci, and
givcn ìlc cnoimous ìiack counìs now avaiIahIc on modcin compuìcis, you can
affoid ìo go on muIìing ìiII youi nosc hIccds!
1lc simpIcsì appIicaìion is wlcic any insìiumcnì pIays signincanìIy diffci-
cnì paiìs in diffcicnì sccìions of a song. A singIc acousìic guiìai, foi cxampIc,
may wcII nccd vciy diffcicnì ìicaìmcnìs foi iìs vcisc nngci picking and cloius
sìiumming, so muIìing ìlosc sccìions ìo diffcicnì ìiacks makcs gicaì scnsc. Iì's
aIso common foi impoiìanì paiìs sucl as Icad vocaIs, ilyìlm Ioops, oi hass
insìiumcnìs ìo hc muIìcd ovci scvciaI ìiacks so ìlaì ìlcii pioccssing adjusìs ìo
adapì ìo sccìion-hy-sccìion clangcs in ìlc hacking aiiangcmcnì.
'I usc many diffcicnì EQ and dcIay scììings in many diffcicnì paiìs of ìlc
song,´ says Spikc Sìcnì, foi cxampIc. 'So wlcn you lavc onc vocaI ìlaì gocs aII
ìlc way ìliougl a ìiack, iì may hc muIìiìiackcd ìlicc oi foui ìimcs ìo diffcicnì
EQs and diffcicnì cffccìs.. You wiII noimaIIy nnd ìlaì ìlc vcisc and cloius
vocaI sounds aic cnìiicIy diffcicnì.´
l7
Mikc SlipIcy is wiIIing ìo pusl ìlis con-
ccpì ìo cxìicmcs if ncccssaiy: 'Iì's jusì a maììci of making ìlc voicc siì in ìlc
iiglì pIacc, and if iì ìakcs ìcn clanncIs ìo do iì wiìl diffcicnì EQ foi diffcicnì
paiìs of ìlc song, ìlcn ìlaì's wlaì iì ìakcs.´
l8
Anoìlci ficqucnì ìaigcì foi muIìing in my mixcs is hacking vocaI paiìs. A singIc
hacking vocaI ìiack can casiIy lavc scvciaI pliascs wiìlin iì ìlaì aII scivc dif-
fcicnì puiposcs, cspcciaIIy wiìlin dcnsc pop oi R&B vocaI aiiangcmcnìs: vcisc
FIGURE 5.4
Multing the lead vocal part, as in this screen grab, is common practice, because it allows you to adapt
your mix processing to different sections of the arrangement.
Essential Groundwork CHAPTER 5 87
'ools,´ piccloius ad-Iihs, cloius laimonics, wlispci-
ing in ìlc middIc sccìion-ìlc Iisì of possihiIiìics gocs
on. MuIìing ouì aII ìlcsc hiìs and giouping ìiacks of
simiIai pliascs ìogcìlci is ofìcn ìlc onIy way ìo makc
scnsc of ìlings aì ìlc mix.
Iì's impossihIc ìo picdicì cvciyìling you miglì wanì
ìo muIì unìiI you'ic acìuaIIy mixing, so hc picpaicd ìo
comc hack ìo iì aì any Iaìci sìagc, huì if you can lan-
dIc ìlc huIk of ohvious muIìs hcfoic ìlc mixdown, iì'II
noì onIy spccd up ìlc pioccss of famiIiaiizing youiscIf
wiìl ìlc maìciiaI on disc, huì iì'II aIso savc unncccssaiy
inìciiupìions of youi mixing ßow Iaìci on.
5.4 CORRECTION TIME!
If you'vc foIIowcd ìliougl aII ìlc sìcps in ìlis clapìci, Iocaìing ìlc ìiack and
ìimc Iocaìion of anyìling you lcai in ìlc mix slouId hc a no-hiainci-wlicl
is cxacìIy wlaì you wanì iì ìo hc, hccausc you'vc goì mucl higgci nsl ìo fiy.
You slouId aIso lavc a smaììciing of ìiacks and audio scgmcnìs ìlaì you'vc
coIoicd ìo indicaìc ìlaì ìlcy nccd spcciaI aììcnìion, wlcìlci ìlaì's coiiccìivc
pioccssing oi jusì somc addcd cmplasis in ìlc mix. 1lc ncxì sìagc is ìo aììcnd
ìo any ìiming and ìuning conccins, an acìiviìy ìlaì waiianìs cIosc sciuìiny in
ìlc ncxì clapìci.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
SmaII-sìudio mix cnginccis ficqucnìIy ovciIook piopci mix picpaiaìion,
Icading ìo a fiusìiaìing mixing cxpciicncc and, in somc cascs, pioducìions
ìlaì aic cffccìivcIy unmixahIc. 1lc onIy way ìo gcì on compaiahIc fooìing
wiìl ìlc piofcssionaIs is ìo do youi gioundwoik.
I
Iì's usuaIIy hcsì ìo sìaiì a mix wiìl a cIcan sIaìc, woiking fiom iaw muIìi-
ìiack audio nIcs in a ncw DAW piojccì, cvcn if you'ic cngincciing and pio-
ducing cvciyìling youiscIf.
I
Spccd up youi navigaìion of ìlc mix piojccì as mucl as you can so ìlaì
you can conccnìiaìc moic on ciiìicaI haIancing and pioccssing dccisions.
Sìandaidizc youi ìiack Iayouì ìo makc nnding ìlc appiopiiaìc conìioIs
moic insìincìivc, and makc as mucl usc of ìiack naming and coIoiing as
you can ìo avoid confusion. Scì up ìimcIinc maikcis ìo indicaìc ìlc main
mix sccìions and dcaI wiìl any synclionizaìion issucs as soon as you can.
I
Lisìcn ìliougl ìo ìlc individuaI muIìiìiack nIcs ìo icmovc siIcnì icgions,
nx puicIy ìcclnicaI piohIcms, and liglIiglì any audio sccìions ìlaì nccd
ìiming[ìuning coiiccìion oi spcciaI cmplasis in ìlc mix. WliIc you'ic aì iì,
muIì ouì any sccìions of ìiacks ìlaì you suspccì miglì hcncnì fiom indc-
pcndcnì mix scììings, huì don'ì hc afiaid ìo caiiy ouì fuiìlci muIìing Iaìci
on duiing ìlc mix pioccss if icquiicd.
FIGURE 5.5
A section of a backing-
vocal arrangement.
Notice how the parts
on tracks 2 and 3 are
similar only to start
with—track 2 then
matches tracks 4 and 5,
whereas track 3 matches
track 1. Multing these
parts would make sense
here to allow similar
parts to be processed
together.
PART 2 Mix Preparation 88
www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch5.htm
Assignment
I Find a mix that you can work on while progressing through the rest of this book,
and create a fresh DAW project file for it.
I Use colors, icons, markers, and text labels to speed up project navigation and to
highlight tracks or audio sections that need special attention.
I Use multing wherever appropriate.
89
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
Evciyonc knows ìlaì a gicaì Iivc pcifoimancc las ìlc capahiIiìy ìo connccì
wiìl a Iisìcnci's cmoìions, in spiìc of (oi cvcn hccausc of) numcious ìuning
and ìiming discicpancics. Howcvci, foi mainsìicam pioducìions dcsigncd ìo
wiìlsìand icpcaìcd Iisìcning, commciciaI cxpccìaìions aic now cxìicmcIy ligl
icgaiding ìlc ìiglìncss of hoìl piìcling and gioovc, and mucl ìimc and cncigy
is iouìincIy cxpcndcd hufnng ìlcsc aspccìs of many piofcssionaI iccoidings.
Evciyhody's lcaid songs on ìlc iadio wlcic ìlis ìinkciing fccIs Iikc iì's hccn
ìakcn way ìoo fai, huì opinions cIcaiIy diffci widcIy on wlaì 'ìoo fai´ is. Aì
ìlc cnd of ìlc day, low mucl coiiccìivc pioccssing you usc in youi own woik
icmains a pcisonaI judgmcnì caII. Howcvci, I'd uigc you ìo icsisì any dogmaìic
cìlicaI sìancc on ìlc suhjccì, and judgc ìlc mciiìs of any sucl sìudio jiggciy-
pokciy puicIy in ìcims of wlcìlci iì scivcs ìlc music. If an osìcnsihIy ouì-
of-ìunc noìc cncapsuIaìcs ìlc cmoìion of ìlc music, ìlcn lavc ìlc couiagc ìo Icì
iì Iic. If ìlc mosì cmoìionaI vocaI ìakc las somc disìiacìingIy duff piìcling, ìlcn
considci ìlaì ìlc gcnciaI puhIic (and indccd ìlc aiìisì) wiII pioh-
ahIy ìlank you foi ìasìcfuIIy diawing a vciI ovci iì.
1lougl ìlc audio ndcIiìy of piìcl[ìimc-coiiccìion
pioccssois las impiovcd ìicmcndousIy dui-
ing icccnì ycais, nonc of ìlc cuiicnì ciop of
aIgoiiìlms can cIaim ìo hc compIcìcIy ficc
fiom undcsiiahIc sidc cffccìs, and somc pun-
diìs usc ìlaì as an aigumcnì foi icjccìing ìlcii
usc ouì of land. Howcvci, any mix pioccss-
ing can dispIay undcsiiahIc sidc cffccìs, and iì's
simpIy ìlc cngincci's icsponsihiIiìy ìo cvaIuaìc
wlcìlci ìlc cuic is hcììci ìlan ìlc discasc in cacl
spccinc insìancc. 1lc sIiglìcsì piìcl-coiiccìion aiìifacì
on a cIassicaI soIo piano iccoiding may noì hc appiopii-
aìc, wlcicas cvcn somc appaIIing pioccssing nasìics may hc a minoi
conccin wlcn ìuning onc of many waywaid hackgiound vocaIs wiìlin a husy
pop mix.
Timing and Tuning
Adjustments
CHAPTER 6
If an out-of-tune
note encapsulates the
emotion of the music, then
let it lie. If the most emotional
vocal take has some distractingly
duff pitching, then the general
public (and indeed the artist)
will probably thank you for
tastefully drawing a veil
over it.
PART 2 Mix Preparation 90
1laì said, laving lcaid IiìciaIIy lundicds of amaìcui mixcs, iì's my nim opin-
ion ìlaì mosì uscis of smaII sìudios don'ì pay ncaiIy cnougl aììcnìion ìo ìim-
ing and ìuning ìouclups, cvcn ìaking inìo accounì ìlc diffcicnì dcmands of
diffcicnì sìyIcs in ìlis dcpaiìmcnì. 1lis is douhìIcss paiìIy hccausc ìlcsc ìasks
aic ahouì as invigoiaìing as waìcling painì diy, and I can sympaìlizc wloIc-
lcaiìcdIy ìlcic, huì iì's onc of ìlosc huIIcìs you'vc goì ìo hiìc if you wanì ìo
compcìc commciciaIIy ìlcsc days. 1losc incxpciicnccd wiìl coiiccìivc cdiì-
ing aIso ìcnd ìo sìop sloiì of wlaì's icquiicd hccausc ìlcy'ic unahIc ìo aclicvc
cnougl coiiccìion wiìlouì incuiiing cxccssivcIy unmusicaI sidc cffccìs, and
ìlaì's ìlc siìuaìion I wanì ìo ìiy ìo icmcdy in ìlis clapìci. Wiìl a hiì of caic iì's
pcifccìIy possihIc ìo aclicvc adcquaìc ìiming and ìuning coiiccìion in piacìi-
caIIy any mix wiìlouì giving ìlc gamc away hy making ìlings sound unnaìu-
iaI. CciìainIy, I usc a dcgicc of coiiccìivc cdiìing on aImosì cvciy mix I do, huì
I'vc ncvci lad any compIainì ahouì iì-in facì, I can counì on ìlc nngcis of
onc land ìlc occasions anyonc's cvcn commcnìcd on iì aì aII.
6.1 GROOVE AND TIMING
1lcic's a pcisisìcnì sìudio myìl ìlaì ìinkciing wiìl pcifoimancc ìiming wiII
incviìahIy sap ìlc Iifc ouì of a pioducìion. Wlaì ìlis docsn'ì acknowIcdgc is
ìlaì ìlcic's a hig diffcicncc hcìwccn a gicaì naìuiaI-sounding gioovc and a
simpIy sIoppy pcifoimancc. Youi diummci can hc diiccìIy clanncIing ìlc
souI of Iamcs Biown, huì if ìlc icsì of youi insìiumcnìs dispIay ìlc ilyìlmic
panaclc of Mi. Bcan, ìlcn you'II sìiII cmpìy ìlc dancc ßooi picììy quickIy!
1iuc, if you ìiy ìo ìuin ìlc diummci inìo a dium maclinc, ìlcn you'II pioh-
ahIy Iosc moic in vihc ìlan you gain in consisìcncy, huì if you cdiì ìlc oìlci
paiìs sucl ìlaì ìlcy agicc hcììci wiìl ìlc diummci, ìlcn ìlc scnsc of naìuiaI
ilyìlmic ßow wiII usuaIIy slinc ìliougl mucl moic sìiongIy.
My ìop ìip foi making ìlc hcsì of a pioducìion's gioovc is ìo woik ouì wlicl
singIc insìiumcnì cmhodics iì hcsì, soIo iì ìo smooìl ouì any sìumhIcs oi
aicas of inconsisìcncy in ìlaì insìiumcnìaI paiì if ncccssaiy, and ìlcn usc iì as
a icfcicncc poinì as you icinìioducc ìlc icmaining insìiumcnìs onc aì a ìimc,
ìiglìcning ìlc ìiming of cacl as you go ìo ìasìc. In a fuII mix, iì can hc aII huì
impossihIc ìo woik ouì wlicl comhinaìion of insìiumcnìs is causing somc
pciccivcd ìiming uncvcnncss, huì if you sìiip hack youi aiiangcmcnì and ìlcn
piogicssivcIy ichuiId iì Iikc ìlis, you can hc picììy cciìain aì any sìagc wlcic ìo
poinì ìlc nngci of hIamc wlcncvci ìlc gioovc faIìcis.
Foi mosì modcin pioducìions, iì's usuaIIy a no-hiainci ìo sìaiì ìlc cdiìing pio-
ccss fiom ìlc diums, cspcciaIIy if ìlcsc aic MIDI paiìs oi Ioops, wlicl hy ìlcii
naìuic ßawIcssIy mainìain a consisìcnì ilyìlmic momcnìum. Buì cvcn wiìl Iivc
hands, ìlc diummci is ìypicaIIy ìlc pIayci wiìl ìlc hcsì scnsc of ilyìlm, so iì
sìands ìo icason ìlaì ìlc diummci's paiìs wiII piohahIy offci ìlc hcsì guidc. In
aiiangcmcnìs wiìlouì diums, any oìlci ilyìlm-sccìion paiì can opciaìc as ìlc
main icfcicncc poinì, huì iì pays in sucl cascs ìo audiìion cacl conìcndci on
iìs own ìo piopciIy wcigl up iìs appcaI hcfoic making up youi mind. Wlaìcvci
Timing and Tuning Adjustments CHAPTER 6 91
paiì you dccidc ìo Iaìcl on ìo, ìlougl, you slouId naìuiaIIy cnsuic ìlaì ìlc
quaIiìy and consisìcncy of iìs gioovc aic as good as possihIc hcfoic you sìaiì Iin-
ing anyìling cIsc up ìo iì. 1lis is ìlc paiì of ìlc ìiming-coiiccìion pioccss wlcic
ìlcic's ìlc gicaìcsì iisk of ovcisaniìizing ìlings, huì foiìunaìcIy ìlcic aic a fcw
guidcIincs ìlaì lcIp waid off ìlis undcsiiahIc ouìcomc.
Timing: A Relative Perception
1lc mosì impoiìanì ìling ìo icmcmhci ahouì ìlc pciccpìion of ìiming and
gioovc is ìlaì iì is cnìiicIy icIaìivc. You judgc ìlc ìiming of cvciy ncw ilyìl-
mic cvcnì hascd on cxpccìaìions you'vc huiIì up fiom ìlc paììcins of cvcnìs
picccding iì-noì hascd on low iì Iincs up wiìl any noìionaI mcìiic giid you
miglì lavc supciimposcd on ìlosc cvcnìs. Foi cxampIc, cvcn if a diummci
iccoids lis paiìs aIong ìo a cIick ìiack (and ìlcicfoic osìcnsihIy in sync wiìl
youi DAW's mcìiic giid), iì's pcifccìIy possihIc foi a dium liì ìlaì Iooks as if
iì's hccn pIaycd Iaìc accoiding ìo youi DAW's hais[hcaìs iuIci ìo acìuaIIy sound
as if iì's hccn pIaycd caiIy. 1lis miglì sound paiadoxicaI, huì Icì mc cxpIain.
Lcì's say you'vc goì a song aì luuhpm, and ìlc diummci liìs ìlc downhcaì of
hai l pcifccìIy in ìimc wiìl ìlc DAW's giid huì ìlcn docsn'ì quiìc kccp up wiìl
ìlc cIick ìiack's ìcmpo-foi ìlc sakc of cxampIc wc'II say lc scìs off aì 98hpm.
If you'ic Iisìcning ìo ìlc diummci wiìlouì ìlc cIick, ìlc gioovc of lis dium-
ming wiII sound pcifccìIy ßuid as Iong as lc icmains ìiuc ìo lis 98hpm ìcmpo.
Howcvci, if ìowaid ìlc cnd of hai 2 ìlc pIayci noìiccs ìlaì lc's now iouglIy a
32nd noìc Iaìc compaicd ìo ìlc cIick ìiack lc's lcaiing in lis lcadploncs, lc
may hcgin coiiccìing limscIf, advancing hai 3's downhcaì liì sIiglìIy so ìlaì iì's
onIy a 64ìl noìc Iaìc compaicd ìo ìlc DAW's mcìiic giid. Howcvci, aIìlougl iì
sìiII Iooks Iaìc in ìlc DAW, wlaì you'II lcai if you'ic Iisìcning ìo ìlc diummci
wiìlouì ìlc cIick ìiack is ìlaì ìlc downhcaì liì of hai 3 appcais ìo hc iuslcd com-
paicd ìo ìlc consisìcnì 98hpm gioovc you'vc lcaid so fai. (If you'ic sìiII sciaìcl-
ing youi lcad ahouì ìlis, ìlcn clcck ouì Figuic 6.l foi fuiìlci cIaiincaìion.)
1lc cIcaicsì Icsson ìo hc Icaincd fiom ìlis is ìlaì you can'ì affoid ìo judgc
issucs of gioovc jusì hy Iooking aì youi scqucncci's mcìiic maikings, ìlosc
ßoppy ìlings on ìlc sidcs of youi lcad musì aIways cIaim ìlc nnaI vcìo. Buì
ìlcic aic oìlci iamincaìions. Fiisì, you nccd ìo undcisìand ìlaì you can'ì
piopciIy cvaIuaìc ìlc ìiming of a givcn hai oi hcaì unIcss you audiìion fiom
a poinì wcII hcfoic iì-you'II usuaIIy nccd ìo aIIow a iun-up of aì Icasì ìwo
hais foi youi own inìcinaI musicaI puIsc ìo Iaìcl nimIy onìo ìlc ìiack's gioovc.
Oìlciwisc you won'ì pick up ìlosc smaII Iuicling scnsaìions ìlaì aIciì you
ìlaì ìlcic's woik ìo hc donc. You aIso lavc ìo icaIizc ìlaì wlcn you lcai a
noìc as hcing ouì of ìimc, ìlc hcsì icmcdy can acìuaIIy ofìcn hc ìo cdiì ìlc
noìcs hcfoic iì. Oncc you'vc caiiicd ouì ìlc cdiìs, you may aIso lavc ìo adjusì
suhscqucnì noìcs ìoo, hccausc youi caiIici cdiìs may lavc suhsìanìiaIIy aIìcicd
ìlc ilyìlmic cxpccìaìions of ìlc Iisìcnci.
Iì's paiìicuIaiIy casy ìo gcì youiscIf inìo difncuIìics if youi kcy ilyìlmic insìiu-
mcnì paiì las hccn cdiìcd ìogcìlci fiom scvciaI diffcicnì ìakcs oi consìiucìcd
PART 2 Mix Preparation 92
fiom a fcw icpcaìcd pcifoimancc sccìions oi Ioop sampIcs. Evcn if aII ìlc scc-
ìions in isoIaìion aic gioovici ìlan a puipIc vcIvcì suiì, you can ofìcn nnd ìlaì
ìlc nisì coupIc of liìs afìci cacl sccìion houndaiy sound ouì of ìimc, hccausc
cacl sccìion las a sIiglìIy diffcicnì icIaìion ìo ìlc main mcìiic giid-in oìlci
woids, somc aic sIiglìIy hclind ìlc hcaì and oìlcis sIiglìIy alcad of ìlc hcaì.
Mosì pcopIc's nisì insìincì in ìlis sccnaiio ìcnds ìo hc ìo cdiì ìlc lcII ouì of
ìlc appaicnìIy ouì-of-ìimc individuaI liìs, huì ìlis iaicIy yicIds adcquaìc
impiovcmcnì and usuaIIy compiomiscs ìlc ovciaII gioovincss inìo ìlc hai-
gain. A hcììci soIuìion, of couisc, is ìo sIidc ìlc ìiming of cacl sccìion as a
wloIc wliIc Iisìcning foi ilyìlmic Iumpincss acioss ìlcii ìiansiìions.
Oncc you undcisìand and appIy ìlcsc undciIying conccpìs, you slouId hc
cquippcd ìo gcì on wiìl ìiming cdiìs wiìlouì faIIing foi ìoo many psyclo-
IogicaI miiagcs, aì wlicl poinì ìlc quaIiìy of youi woik wiII IaigcIy dcpcnd
on low mucl piacìicc you gcì. 1lc moic you do coiiccìivc woik, ìlc moic
aììuncd you hccomc ìo ìlc suhìIc sìumhIing fccIings ìlaì indicaìc ìlc picscncc
of an ouì-of-ìimc noìc. FoiìunaìcIy (oi noì, dcpcnding on low you Iook aì iì),
ìlcic is usuaIIy no sloiìagc of maìciiaI ìo piacìicc on in mosì Iow-hudgcì pio-
ducìions, so you slouId gcì up ìo spccd faiiIy quickIy. Iì's woiìl noìing ìlaì iì
can ìakc a IiììIc wliIc foi you ìo gcì youiscIf scnsiìizcd ìo smaII ìiming vaiia-
ìions aì ìlc sìaiì of an cdiìing scssion, so iì's noì a had idca ìo douhIc-clcck
ìlc nisì fcw sccìions you woik on afìci you'vc lad a clancc ìo waim up.
Tightening the Timing
Oncc youi kcy insìiumcnì is nglìing nì and icady ìo go, you can sìaiì ìo
ichuiId ìlc icsì of ìlc aiiangcmcnì aiound iì, and I suggcsì sìaiìing ìlis pioccss
FIGURE 6.1
The importance of relative timing to groove.
Timing and Tuning Adjustments CHAPTER 6 93
wiìl ìlosc paiìs ìlaì lavc ìlc mosì impoiìanì ilyìlmic ioIcs. If you'vc uscd
ìlc dium paiìs as youi iniìiaI ìiming icfcicncc, ìlcn ìlc hass is ofìcn ìlc hcsì
paiì ìo dcaI wiìl nisì, hcfoic moving on ìo any ilyìlm-sccìion guiìais oi kcy-
hoaids. Wiìl ìlosc paiìs ìiglìcncd up a hiì, you'II ofìcn nnd ìlaì ìlc impcìus
of ìlc gioovc is sìicngìlcncd cnougl ìlaì ìlc icmaining ìiacks don'ì acìuaIIy
nccd ìo hc ìwcakcd mucl aì aII and may acìuaIIy lcIp icìain moic of a naìuiaI-
sounding vihc.
Iì's noì uncommon in a Ioì of mainsìicam pioducìions ìo Iayci muIìipIc
iccoidings of ìlc samc paiì in oidci ìo cicaìc a ìlickci and moic lomogcnizcd
ìcxìuic. Rlyìlm-guiìai and hacking-vocaI paiìs aic mosì commonIy suhjccìcd
ìo ìlis ìicaìmcnì. 1lc piohIcm wiìl ìlcsc kinds of paiìs fiom ìlc pcispcc-
ìivc of ìiming coiiccìion is ìlaì oncc ìlc nisì Iayci is cdiìcd and in pIacc, iì's
moic difncuIì ìo lcai ìiming discicpancics in ìlc sccond Iayci. My advicc lcic
is ìo ìiglìcn ìlc ìiming of cacl Iayci onc aì a ìimc, wiìlouì Iisìcning ìo ìlcm
ìogcìlci. Oncc cacl Iayci sccms ìo nì ìlc gioovc in isoIaìion, ìlcn you can
comhinc ìlcm aII. I nnd ìlaì ìlcic aic usuaIIy ìlcn onIy a landfuI of minoi
adjusìmcnìs sìiII ìo hc madc and ìlc wloIc joh's donc in laIf ìlc ìimc.
How mucl of cacl paiì you ìiglìcn up and low piccisc you aic ahouì maìcl-
ing iì ìo ìlc gioovc aic aIso kcy acsìlcìic dccisions, aIìlougl I lavc ìo say ìlaì
I picfci ìo cii on ìlc sidc of moic accuiaìc ìiming wlcic ilyìlm-sccìion paiìs
WHEN NOTHING GROOVES
For most of this chapter I’m assuming that something in your arrangement has a fairly
consistent groove, and for most small-studio arrangements this isn’t a bad assumption,
given how many tracks these days are constructed from MIDI files or packaged sample
loops. However, small-studio band recordings are more than usually prone to the curse
of the talentless drummer, and such performances can be difficult to improve with
normal corrective edits because the timing is so inconsistent. You can’t maintain a
groove that isn’t there in the first place!
So what to do? Well, probably the least time-consuming tactic is to ditch all but the
most passable sections, loop-audition each one to spot-fix as many internal problems
as you can, and then cobble together a final take with copy and paste. You’ll sacrifice
some variety in the player’s drum patterns, but at least you’ll salvage some semblance
of rhythmic momentum. You can sometimes get away with this dodge even if the
drummer didn’t play to a click.
If there’s ostensibly a metric grid around which the drummer flailed hopelessly, then
another last-ditch option is to slice the performance into individual hits and quantize
them. In a situation where there’s no groove to kill, making your drummer sound like
a machine can start to seem a lesser evil. However, I’d urge small-studio operators
to do their best to avoid this course of action if they value their sanity. First, it’ll take
you all night; second, a bad drummer’s performance will still sound unmusical, even if
it’s in time; and third, a lot of ropey drummers have a lousily balanced kit, so it’ll be a
nightmare to mix into the bargain.
PART 2 Mix Preparation 94
aic conccincd. I'vc iaicIy found ìlis ìo compiomisc ìlc musicaIiìy as Iong as
ìlc oiiginaI ilyìlmic icfcicncc insìiumcnì las a good fccI ìo iì. If youi icfci-
cncc insìiumcnì lappcns ìo hc a MIDI-piogiammcd paiì, ìlcn cxìia vigiIancc
may aIso hc caIIcd foi. 'Wlcn Iivc cIcmcnìs aic hcing mixcd wiìl maclinc
cIcmcnìs, you lavc ìo makc suic cvciyìling is vciy synccd up,´ iccommcnds
Scihan Clcnca, 'oìlciwisc ìlings Iikc plasc incolcicncc hcìwccn Iivc and
maclinc ìiacks can diasìicaIIy clangc ìlc sound wlcn you puì ìlcm ìogcìlci
in ìlc mix.. Iì docsn'ì dcfcaì ìlc puiposc |of laving Iivc ìiacksj,
ìlougl.. You can sìiII lcai ìlc IiììIc impcifccìions ìlaì
makc iì luman.´
l
Exìia piccision is aIso usuaIIy a viiìuc wiìl any
douhIc-ìiackcd paiìs ìlaì you inìcnd ìo pIacc on
opposiìc sidcs of ìlc sìcico ncId, hccausc ìlc
hiain is cxìicmcIy scnsiìivc ìo ìiming dispaiiìics
hcìwccn simiIai sounds aiiiving fiom diffci-
cnì diiccìions-cvcn sIiglì ßamming hcìwccn
noìcs[sìiums can gcì disìiacìing. Fuiìlcimoic,
many smaII-sìudio cnginccis wlo pioducc oìl-
ciwisc commcndahIy ìiglì hacking ìiacks fic-
qucnìIy suffci fiom a hIind spoì wlcic ìlc ìiming
of Icad vocaIs is conccincd. Bccausc ìlc main singci
ìakcs up so mucl mix icaI csìaìc in a Ioì of sìyIcs of
music, ìlis ovcisiglì can icaIIy inìcifcic wiìl ìlc way a pioduc-
ìion swings as a wloIc, so don'ì spaic ìlc cdiìing scaIpcI wlcic iì's waiianìcd.
Don'ì foigcì ìo pay aììcnìion ìo wlcic noìcs cnd, ciìlci. 1lc ìaiI cnds of hass
noìcs in paiìicuIai can icaIIy undciminc ìlc momcnìum of ìlc gioovc if hadIy
ìimcd, and ìlc samc is ìiuc foi oìlci impoiìanì ilyìlmic paiìs and anyìling
cIsc ìlaì is up aì ìlc fionì of ìlc mix.
WliIc youi DAW's mcìiic giid is a picììy unicIiahIc guidc if you'ic ìiying ìo
icnnc ìlc gioovc of youi main icfcicncc insìiumcnì, ìlaì insìiumcnì's own
wavcfoim pionIc can acìuaIIy piovidc a good visuaI ìcmpIaìc foi cdiìing ìlc
oìlci aiiangcmcnì Iaycis, so you can savc somc ìimc aì ìlc cdiìing sìagc if you
kccp ìlc wavcfoim dispIay of ìlc icfcicncc insìiumcnì cIosc hy as you woik. I
lasìcn ìo add, lowcvci, ìlaì wliIc caiiying ouì picIiminaiy cdiìing 'hy cyc´
Iikc ìlis can signincanìIy spccd up youi woik iaìc (paiìicuIaiIy wiìl Iaycicd
paiìs), ìlc pioccss of iaìifying youi cdiìing cloiccs hy cai icmains uììciIy indis-
pcnsahIc. You slouId hc fuIIy picpaicd ìo slifì ìiming away fiom wlaì Iooks
ncaì if youi cais smcII a iaì. Ei, you know wlaì I mcan!
6.2 AUDIO EDITING TECHNIQUES FOR TIMING
ADJUSTMENT
1o my mind, a signincanì icason wly a Ioì of smaII-sìudio opciaìois sìop sloiì
of caiiying ouì aII ìlc ncccssaiy ìiming adjusìmcnìs is ìlaì ìlcii audio-cdiìing
clops aicn'ì up ìo ìlc ìask. 1lc sofìwaic isn'ì icaIIy a Iimiìaìion in ìlis icspccì,
Many small-
studio engineers
who produce otherwise
commendably tight backing tracks
frequently suffer from a blind spot
where the timing of lead vocals is
concerned. This oversight can
really interfere with the way a
production swings as a
whole.
Timing and Tuning Adjustments CHAPTER 6 95
as cvcn cxìicmcIy affoidahIc DAW appIicaìions sucl as Cockos Rcapci now
lavc moic ìlan cnougl cdiìing ìooIs ìo puII off piacìicaIIy any icaI-woiId ìim-
ing cdiì. 1lc ìiick ìo aclicving good icsuIìs is ìo know wlcic hcsì ìo cdiì, wlaì
ìooIs ìo usc, and low ìo lidc any cdiìing anomaIics you can'ì avoid.
On ìlc simpIcsì IcvcI, pcifoiming a ìiming cdiì mcicIy invoIvcs cuììing ouì ìlc
sccìion of audio conìaining an offcnding noìc and sIiding iì ìo an impiovcd
posiìion, ìlcn suhscqucnìIy ovciIapping ìlc audio snippcìs aì cacl cdiì poinì
and conccaIing ìlc ìiansiìion wiìl a ciossfadc. A ciossfadc invoIvcs fading
down ìlc ouìgoing audio wliIc simuIìancousIy fading up ìlc incoming audio,
wlicl avoids ìlc audihIc cIick ìlaì can oìlciwisc aiisc if ìlcic lappcns ìo hc
an ahiupì sìcp in ìlc signaI wavcfoim acioss ìlc cdiì poinì.
Camouflaging Your Edit Points
Aì ìlc iisk of iIIuminaìing ìlc hIindingIy ohvious foi a momcnì, ìlc casicsì way
ìo kccp youi cdiì poinìs fiom hcing audihIc is ìo pIacc ìlc ciossfadcs in gaps in
ìlc audio. AIìlougl ìlis may sccm a ìlundciingIy sìiaiglìfoiwaid ohscivaìion,
wlaì a suipiising numhci of pcopIc miss is ìlaì smaII pciiods of siIcncc aic
ficqucnìIy ìuckcd inìo oìlciwisc sccmingIy conìinuous audio, noì Icasì ìlosc
smaII gaps ìlaì ìypicaIIy picccdc vocaI consonanìs sucl as 'h,´ 'd,´ 'g,´ 'k,´
'p,´ and 'ì.´ 1lc main cdiìing considciaìion lcic is ìo judgc ìlc posiìion and
Icngìl of cacl ciossfadc, huì ìlcic's iaicIy any mysìciy ìo ìlaì in piacìicc.
OhviousIy noisy sccìions in an audio signaI aic cquaIIy good spoìs foi cdiìs
hccausc ìlc inlcicnìIy iandom naìuic of noisc signaIs ìcnds ìo ohscuic any
unnaìuiaI wavcfoim ìiansiìions aì ìlc cdiì poinì. In ìlcsc kinds of cdiìing
Iocaìions you couId ofìcn usc no ciossfadc aì aII wiìlouì any cIick hccoming
audihIc, huì I usuaIIy puì in aì Icasì a 2ms ciossfadc foi safcìy's sakc. 1lcic aic
noisy cIcmcnìs in mosì musicaI sounds, so ìlcic's ofìcn a Ioì of Iccway lcic.
Foi cxampIc, vocaI paiìs lavc hicaìls and consonanìs sucl as 'f,´ 's,´ 'sl,´
and 'cl,´ acousìic guiìai paiìs lavc ficì sIidcs, and many ovcidiivcn cIccìiic
guiìais aic so noisy hy naìuic ìlaì you can icguIaiIy gcì away wiìl cdiìing ìlcm
aImosì anywlcic.
Wlcn you lavc ìo siìc an cdiì poinì in conìinuous audio, ìlcn ìlc hcsì ìling
is ìo ìiy ìo puì youi ciossfadcs immcdiaìcIy hcfoic pcicussivc aììack onscìs.
Iì miglì sccm Iikc ìimc ìiavcI, huì cvcn ìlougl
ìlc ìiansicnì onIy lappcns afìci ìlc cdiì, ìlc
Iaìci cvcnì sìiII cffccìivcIy conccaIs (oi 'masks´)
ìlc caiIici onc-a ficaky psycloIogicaI audio
cffccì icfciicd ìo as hackwaid ìcmpoiaI mask-
ing oi picmasking. Hcic sloiì ciossfadcs of
aiound 5ms ìcnd ìo woik hcsì. Insìiumcnìs wiìl
a cIcai pcicussivc aììack (acousìic and cIccìiic
piano, ìuncd pcicussion, laip, acousìic guiìai)
wiII icspond hcsì ìo ìlcsc kinds of cdiìs, huì
cvcn ìlc Icss wcII-dcnncd aììack claiacìciisìics of
FIGURE 6.2
A premasked edit, just
before a drum hit.
PART 2 Mix Preparation 96
hig-hand and oiclcsìiaI insìiumcnìs can hc uscd in ìlis way wiìl a icasonahIc
dcgicc of succcss.
1lcsc ìlicc hasic ìypcs of cdiì (in siIcncc, in noisc, and picmaskcd) aic aIicady
faiiIy widcIy uscd among ìlc smaII-sìudio communiìy, and ìlcy'II usuaIIy
landIc 8u ìo 9u pciccnì of ìlc ìiming cdiìs you nccd ìo do. Howcvci, you'II
noì gcì luu pciccnì of ìlc way unIcss you'ic awaic of ìwo oìlci Icssci-known
cdiìing possihiIiìics. 1lc nisì is ìo pIacc an cdiì poinì on onc insìiumcnì sucl
ìlaì a powcifuI ìiansicnì oi noisc signaI fiom anoìlci insìiumcnì masks iì, and
ìlis lugcIy cxpands youi opìions. 1akc a sìcicoìypicaI pop[iock iccoiding, foi
cxampIc. AImosì anyìling couId hc cdiìcd undcincaìl snaic liìs, Iowci-iangc
insìiumcnìs couId hc sIiccd undci ìlc covci of cvciy hass dium, and Iongci
ciossfadcs on liglci-iangc insìiumcnìs couId lidc hclind cymhaIs and opcn
li-laìs. Wlcn iì liìs ìlc cloius, ìlc comhincd masking cffccì of diums, cym-
haIs, and ligl-gain cIccìiic guiìais is IikcIy ìo hc so powcifuI ìlaì you can sncak
a 5ums ciossfadc cdiì inìo any hackgiound paiì wlcicvci ìakcs youi fancy.
1lc sccond powci-usci cdiì icaIIy comcs inìo iìs own foi ìimc coiiccìion of
Icad vocaIs and mcIodic insìiumcnì soIos, hccausc iì givcs you ìlc faciIiìy ìo
pIacc wcII-nigl inaudihIc cdiìs iiglì in ìlc middIc of Iong lcId noìcs. 1lc
ìcclniquc icIics on ìlc facì ìlaì ìlc wavcfoim of any susìaincd piìcl hy iìs vciy
naìuic icpcaìs icguIaiIy. By cnsuiing ìlaì ìlis icpcaìing wavcfoim paììcin con-
ìinucs smooìlIy acioss ìlc cdiì poinì, you can usuaIIy gcì an cdiì ìlaì is somc-
wlcic in ìlc iangc fiom sciviccahIc ìo icmaikahIc jusì hy ciossfading ovci a
coupIc of wavcfoim cycIcs. Iì las ìo hc said, ìlougl, ìlaì ìlcic is somcìling
of an aiì in scIccìing ìlc iiglì Iocaìion foi ìlis ìypc of cdiì. Noìcs wiìl vihiaìo
can hc ìiicky ìo dcaI wiìl, foi cxampIc, hccausc ìlc piìcl vaiiaìions aIìci ìlc
Icngìl of ìlc wavcfoim icpcìiìions. An cdiì in ìlc middIc of a noìc ìlaì is
clanging ìonc ovci ìimc can aIso sìick ouì Iikc a soic ìlumh, and ìlis paiìic-
uIaiIy appIics ìo vowcI ìiansiìions sucl as diplìlongs in vocaI paiìs-ouì of
FIGURE 6.3
A masked edit. The
snare track can be used
to mask even a clumsy
edit on the lead vocal
track.
Timing and Tuning Adjustments CHAPTER 6 97
cloicc I picfci ìo puì maìclcd-wavcfoim cdiìs
in 'm´ and 'n´ sounds hccausc ìlcii duII
cIoscd-mouìl ìonc docsn'ì vaiy as widcIy.
The Role of Time-Stretching
1lcic's onc nnaI cdiìing conundium ìo hc
giappIcd wiìl: wlcncvci you movc a noìc
away fiom iìs oiiginaIIy iccoidcd posiìion, you
cicaìc a siìuaìion wlcic you lavc a gap ìo nII-
hcfoic oi afìci ìlc cdiìcd noìc, dcpcnding on
wlicl way you'vc slifìcd iì aIong ìlc ìimcIinc.
If ìlcic aic aIicady gaps hcìwccn noìcs, ìlcn onc soIuìion is mcicIy ìo Icavc
a sccìion of siIcncc aì ìlc cdiì poinì, huì ìlis momcnìaiy hIackouì wiII ofìcn
sound odd on icaI-woiId iccoidings ìlaì lavc pickcd up signincanì IcvcIs of
hackgiound noisc, ìiaiIing ioom icvcihciaìion, oi lcadplonc moniìoiing
spiII. In ìlc majoiiìy of cascs you can jusì movc ìlc cdiì ciossfadc somcwlcic
inìo ìlc hody of ìlc noìc ìlaì is ìoo sloiì and ìlcn usc ciìlci a maskcd cdiì, a
maìclcd-wavcfoim cdiì, oi jusì a Iongci ciossfadc (upwaid of luums)
ìo camoußagc ìlc join.
Somcìimcs, ìlougl, nonc of ìlcsc opìions woik
ouì: ìlc aiiangcmcnì docsn'ì piovidc any oppoi-
ìuniìy foi a maskcd cdiì, ìlc piìcl oi ìonc aic
ìoo vaiiahIc foi a maìclcd-wavcfoim cdiì, and
ìlc ìiack is ìoo cxposcd in ìlc mix ìo jusìify a
Iongci ciossfadc's plascy-sounding sidc cffccìs.
1lis is wlcic dcdicaìcd ìimc-sìicìcl pioccssing
can savc ìlc day hy cxìcnding ìlc noìc in qucs-
ìion, and ìlc good ncws is ìlaì mosì DAW sys-
ìcms now lavc huiIì-in pioccssing ìlaì is moic ìlan
adcquaìc foi ìlc puiposcs of gap-nIIing nxcs.
Buì if youi DAW's goì ìimc-sìicìcling huiIì in, wly hoìlci wiìl cdiìing aì aII²
1lc nisì icason is ìlaì cvcn ìlc mosì sìaìc-of-ìlc-aiì commciciaIIy avaiIahIc
ìimc-sìicìcling ìcclnoIogy I'vc lcaid sìiII cmiìs unwanìcd digiìaI yodcIing of
onc soiì oi anoìlci wlcn iì ìiics ìo dcaI wiìl poIyplonic audio, ìiansicnìs,
oi noisy unpiìclcd cIcmcnìs of musicaI sounds, and as you lcad fuiìlci
down ìlc food-clain ìlcsc sidc cffccìs quickIy hccomc woisc ìlan ìlc ìiming
piohIcms! Howcvci, assuming foi ìlc momcnì ìlaì you invcsì in ìliid-paiìy
ìimc-sìicìcling sofìwaic wiìl acccpìahIy hcnign pioccssing aiìifacìs, I'vc
found ìlaì iì's acìuaIIy sIowci ìo woik wiìl in a Ioì of cascs, foi ìlc foIIowing
icasons:
I
You ìypicaIIy lavc ìo isoIaìc poIyplonic[noisy sccìions ìo avoid cxccssivc
pioccssing aiìifacìs, and if any aiìifacìs aic unavoidahIc, ìlcn you'II lavc ìo
faII hack on noimaI audio cdiìing anyway.
FIGURE 6.4
A matched-waveform
edit: essential for
exposed edits in
sustained pitched notes.
If you leave a
section of silence at
the edit point, this momentary
blackout will often sound odd on
real-world recordings with significant
levels of background noise, room
reverberation, or headphone
monitoring spill.
PART 2 Mix Preparation 98
I
Iì's ofìcn mucl Icss casy ìo Iinc up ìlc wavcfoim in an cxìcinaI cdiìoi's dis-
pIay wiìl ìlaì of youi main ilyìlmic icfcicncc insìiumcnì, so you can'ì
icadiIy usc a visuaI guidc ìo youi advanìagc in spccding up ìlc cdiìing
pioccss.
I
1lc kcyhoaid sloiìcuì suppoiì may hc Icss compiclcnsivc in a ìliid-paiìy
appIicaìion ìlan wiìlin youi DAW, so ìlcic's moic Iahoiious mousing
aiound ìo do.
CHOOSING CROSSFADE TYPES
Some DAW systems give you the option of choosing between different crossfade types,
which is useful because this choice can make a big difference. If you select the wrong
crossfade type, you’ll find that the edited track’s overall signal level will increase or
decrease unnaturally toward the midpoint of the crossfade. As a general guideline, an
equal-power crossfade will usually work best for the majority of edits, whereas an equal-
gain crossfade will typically give better results for matched-waveform edits. However, if
your particular editing software doesn’t label its crossfades in this way, don’t lose any
sleep over it—just experiment with the different types you have and listen for any level
unevenness across the edit point. You’ll soon get to know which settings provide the
smoothest results.
Finishing Touches
Oncc you'vc nnislcd any dcìaiIcd ìiming cdiìing foi cacl paiì of youi aiiangc-
mcnì, iì's an cxccIIcnì lahiì ìo quickIy iun ìlc song down fiom ìlc ìop again
hcfoic adding in ìlc ncxì paiì. Iì's casy ìo Iosc pcispccìivc wlcn you'ic doing
Ioìs of nnc cdiìs, and ìlis simpIc gamhiì givcs you ìlc oppoiìuniìy ìo icnnc
moic suhìIc mcdium-ìcim ìiming diifìs ìlaì won'ì hc as appaicnì wlcn you'vc
goì individuaI noìcs undci ìlc micioscopc. You may aIso dccidc ìlaì ìlc ovci-
aII ìiming offscìs hcìwccn ìlc ìiacks wouId hcncnì fiom somc adjusìmcnì,
hccausc ìlc cxacì icIaìionslip hcìwccn ìlc diffcicnì ìiacks wiII affccì ìlc fccI of
ìlc gioovc. 'An insìiumcnì ìlaì's pIaying iiglì on ìlc hai Iinc wiII fccI fasìci,´
commcnìs Iack Ioscpl Puig. 'So you nnd ìlc hcsì pIacc hy moving insìiu-
mcnìs aiound. I'm ìaIking lcic ahouì a fcw miIIiscconds foiwaid oi hackwaid.
So wiìlin a hai you can lavc hiisk ciglìl noìcs oi Iazy ciglìl noìcs, and ìlis
is a vciy impoiìanì ìooI wlcn mixing. I aIways ìiy ìo nnd ìlc musicians ìlaì
aic pIaying moic sIowIy and ìlaì aic pIaying moic hiiskIy, and I movc ìlcm
aiound unìiI I gcì ìlc fccI ìlaì I wanì.´
2
Iì las ìo hc said, lowcvci, ìlaì ovciaII ìiming dccisions Iikc ìlcsc do aIso
dcpcnd ìo an cxìcnì on ìlc haIancc hcìwccn ìlc ìiacks wiìlin ìlc cnviionmcnì
of ìlc nnaI mix, so wliIc iì's woiìlwliIc adjusìing ovciaII ìiack aIignmcnìs
Iikc ìlis aì ìlc mix-picp sìagc, you slouId hc picpaicd ìo icnnc ìlcsc dcci-
sions fuiìlci down ìlc Iinc if you fccI ìlc gioovc isn'ì ßowing wcII cnougl.
Mikc Sìaviou las an inìcicsìing ìakc on ìlis, fiom a psycloIogicaI pcispcc-
ìivc: 'If a pIayci is iusling, you can sIow ìlcm down hy pusling ìlc fadci
Timing and Tuning Adjustments CHAPTER 6 99
FIGURE 6.5
It’s much easier to head off tuning problems while tracking—use a tuner (such as the IK Multimedia Amplitube one shown) for live
instruments, and check the Master Tune parameter of any MIDI synths for the best blend.
up. ConvciscIy, if a pIayci is sIiglìIy hclind, you can spccd ìlcm up hy Iow-
ciing ìlc fadci.´
3
A simiIai plcnomcnon is ìlaì ìlc pciccivcd ovciaII ìcmpo
of a ìiack can hc affccìcd hy ìlc IcvcIs of ìlc Icss impoiìanì hcaì suhdivisions
wiìlin ìlc gioovc: fadc ìlcm up and ìlings diag, fadc ìlcm down and ìlc
ìcmpo ofìcn appcais ìo incicasc.
6.3 TUNING ADJUSTMENT
Iì is a dcpicssing facì ìlaì ìlc soui ìuning ìlaì hIiglìs a Ioì of Iow-hudgcì pio-
ducìions is ofìcn casiIy avoidahIc. An cIccìionic ìunci can lcIp a Ioì lcic, as
Iong as iìs inìcinaI piìcl icfcicncc is scì coiiccìIy hy cai, digiìaI MIDI insìiu-
mcnìs can hc compIcìcIy dcpcndahIc in ìcims of piìcl, as Iong as ìlcii inìci-
naI piìcl adjusìmcnìs aicn'ì ouì of wlack, and cvcn a picììy lopcIcss singci's
ìuning can hc impiovcd if you gcì ìlc lcadplonc mix iiglì. As fai as I can scc,
ìlougl, dcccnì ìuning (cspcciaIIy on vocaI paiìs) is incicasingIy hcing ignoicd
in smaII-sìudio pioducìions, and ìlis puìs ìlc onus on ìlc mix cngincci ìo
nx ìlings hy dcfauIì, hccausc aiiiving aì a compcìiìivc mixdown is oìlciwisc
picììy mucl a pipc dicam. 'If you don'ì do iì, youi iccoids wiII sound sìiangc,´
commcnìs Sìcvc Lipson. 'PcopIc's cais lavc hccomc uscd ìo lcaiing voiccs
pcifccìIy in ìunc.´
4
Now no onc is saying ìlaì cvciyìling las ìo hc ahsoIuìcIy iohoìic, huì iì's
noncìlcIcss impoiìanì ìo compiclcnd ìlaì Iax ìuning las impoiìanì mix
impIicaìions inasmucl as iì affccìs low wcII youi ìiacks hIcnd. 1lc moic ìlc
piìcling of youi aiiangcmcnì agiccs wiìl iìscIf, ìlc casici iì is ìo makc cvciy-
ìling sccm as if iì hcIongs ìogcìlci. If any ìiack's ìun-
ing is ouì of kiIìci wiìl oìlcis in ìlc aiiangcmcnì, iì
wiII sìick ouì uncomfoiìahIy and hc difncuIì ìo haI-
ancc coiiccìIy, cvcn if ìlings aicn'ì fai cnougl off
hcam ìo inducc Icmon-sucking faciaI cxpicssions. Iì's
foi ìlis icason ìlaì so many pioduccis ìaIk ahouì ìun-
ing dium kiìs ìo ìlc kcy of ìlc ìiack: if ìlc sìiongcsì
piìclcd ovciìoncs of ìlc diums nì wiìl ìlc ìiack, you
PART 2 Mix Preparation 100
can fadc ìlc kiì up fuiìlci in ìlc mix hcfoic iì las ìiouhIc hIcnding. 1uning is
noì jusì a musicaI issuc, iì's an impoiìanì mixing issuc ìoo.
Howcvci, aIìlougl unmixahIy waywaid ìuning is ìlc mosì common aiImcnì
in Iow-hudgcì cnviionmcnìs, ìlcic's aIso a signincanì minoiiìy of smaII-sìudio
piacìiìioncis wlo ovci-cgg ìlc pudding hy inscnsiìivc usc of avaiIahIc piìcl-
coiiccìion ìooIs, and ìlaì piaìfaII is jusì as capahIc of lohhIing ìlc mix hy
squcczing aII ìlc musicaI Iifc ouì of iì. 'Somcìling pcifccìIy in ìimc, somcìling
pcifccìIy in ìunc, couId hc pcifccìIy hoiing,´ wains Sìcvc Cluiclyaid.
5
Sìcciing
a couisc hcìwccn ìlcsc ìwo cxìicmcs is ìlc aiì of ìuning coiiccìion, and ìlc
icmaindci of ìlis clapìci offcis advicc foi mainìaining ìlis dcsiiahIc ìiajccìoiy.
1o hcgin, ìlcic is IiììIc cxcusc ìlcsc days foi inappiopiiaìc sidc cffccìs of piìcl
coiiccìion ìo hc audihIc in a nnaI mix. Again, ìlc huiIì-in piìcl pioccssing
wiìlin cuiicnì-gcnciaìion DAW sysìcms is good cnougl foi a Iaigc piopoi-
ìion of appIicaìions, and cxccIIcnì ìliid-paiìy sofìwaic is compaiaìivcIy affoid-
ahIc foi ìlosc wlo fccI ìlcii woik icquiics moic advanccd ìooIs oi incicascd
pioccssing ndcIiìy. Iì's noì ìlc ìooIs ìlaì aic ìlc piohIcm-you'vc jusì goì ìo
undcisìand low gcì ìlc hcsì ouì of ìlcm.
Choosing Your Targets
1lc nisì ìling you nccd ìo know is wlaì piìcl-pioccssing aIgoiiìlms nnd casy
ìo landIc, namcIy cIcan susìaincd monoplonic Iincs. If ìlcic's any noisc, dis-
ìoiìion, hicaìlincss, oi iasp ìo ìlc piìclcd-noìc ìimhic, ìlis
wiII inìioducc unpicdicìahIc wavcfoim cIcmcnìs ìlaì
can confusc ìlc piìcl-ìiacking codc wiìlin ìlc aIgo-
iiìlm and causc iì ìo misnic in an unmusicaI way.
Noìc-aììack ìiansicnìs oi audio ciackIcs aIso ìcnd
ìo dcfy ìlc Iogic of many piìcl-adjusìoi pIug-
ins, foi simiIai unpicdicìahiIiìy icasons. As
foi poIyplonic audio, unìiI icccnìIy youi ìun-
ing opìions wcic Iimiìcd ìo faiiIy smaII gIohaI
piìcl clangcs in icìuin foi modciaìcIy nasìy
aiìifacìs, cvcn wlcn using ìop-ìici coiiccìion
pioducìs, and cvcn now ìlaì CcIcmony's McIodync
Ediìoi las ìuincd ìlc dicam of ìiuIy poIyplonic
piìcl-adjusìmcnì inìo icaIiìy, iìs pioccssing sìiII cxlihiìs
unpaIaìahIc sidc cffccìs in icaI-woiId usc, cspcciaIIy if you aic
unwiIIing ìo puì in a gicaì dcaI of scìup ìimc ìo cnsuic ìlc hcsì icsuIìs.
So in ìlc facc of an ouì-of-ìunc pioducìion, you slouId ìlink caicfuIIy ahouì
wlicl ìiacks ìo ìaigcì foi coiiccìion. Foi cxampIc, cvcn if you onIy lavc a
coupIc of ouì-of-ìunc guiìai ovcidiivc paiìs, you may wcII gcì a hcììci ovciaII
sound if you ìunc ìlc monoplonic hass and vocaI paiìs ìo maìcl ìlcm, iaìlci
ìlan suhjccìing ìlcsc noisy poIyplonic sounds ìo ìlc nasìy swiiIing pioìcsìa-
ìions of ovciwoikcd digiìaI coiiccìion codc. AIìcinaìivcIy, if a guiìai DI signaI
is sìiII avaiIahIc, ìlcn you miglì hc wisc ìo ìunc ìlaì up insìcad, suhscqucnìIy
If there’s any
noise, distortion,
breathiness, or rasp to the
pitched-note timbre, this will
introduce unpredictable waveform
elements that can confuse the
pitch-tracking code, causing
it to misfire in an
unmusical way.
Timing and Tuning Adjustments CHAPTER 6 101
icpIacing ìlc ciianì ovcidiivcn paiìs using a digiìaI guiìai-amp simuIaìoi. By
ìlc samc ìokcn, iì's a gicaì dcaI casici ìo icpIacc mosì piohIcmaìic MIDI synìl
paiìs fiom ìlcii souicc MIDI nIcs, iaìlci ìlan pioccssing hounccd audio foi
piìcl icasons. If ìlc kcyhoaid paiìs wcic pIaycd Iivc, ìlaì sìiII docsn'ì mcan
you can'ì icpIacc ìlcm wiìl a MIDI-diivcn paiì of youi own if ìlaì's wlaì iì
ìakcs ìo icacl a commciciaI-sounding nnaI mix, paiìicuIaiIy as many kcyhoaid
paiìs in mainsìicam pioducìions aic ofìcn quiìc simpIc.
Oncc you'vc dccidcd wlicl paiìs ìo pioccss, lowcvci, you sìiII nccd ìo kccp
youi wiìs ahouì you. Civcn ìlaì piìcl coiiccìois don'ì Iikc unpicdicìahIc wavc-
foim slapcs, iì sìands ìo icason ìlaì you slouId do youi hcsì ìo kccp noiscIikc
signaIs ouì of ìlcii way. MuIì ìlc guiìai's ficì-sIidcs ìo a scpaiaìc ìiack. Bypass
ìlc piìcl coiiccìoi foi ìlc ßauìisì's hicaìls. Lcavc ìlc 's´ unìouclcd and con-
ccnìiaìc youi slifìing on ìlc 'inging in ìlc iain´ hiì.
The Right Tool for the Job
You can aIso impiovc ìlc quaIiìy of youi coiiccìion woik hy cloosing ìlc iiglì
ìooIs foi ìlc joh. On ìlc onc land, you wanì ìo aclicvc ìlc hcsì sound quaIiìy,
wlicl in mosì cascs ìiansIaìcs ìo nnding ìlc pioccssoi wiìl ìlc Icasì disìasìc-
fuI sidc cffccìs. On ìlc oìlci land, you wanì ìo picscivc as mucl of ìlc oiigi-
naI musicaIiìy as possihIc, icsisìing any aIIuiing maclinc-auìomaìcd coiiccìion
faciIiìics wlcic ìlcsc iisk ìliowing ìlc hahy ouì wiìl ìlc haìlwaìci.
AIìlougl icaI-ìimc piìcl-coiiccìion pIug-ins aic now hundIcd wiìl many
DAW sysìcms, and dcdicaìcd ìliid-paiìy sofìwaic fiom companics Iikc Anìaics,
CcIcmony, and Wavcs is so widcIy avaiIahIc, ìlcic's a Ioì sìiII ìo hc said foi
dcaIing wiìl piìcl adjusìmcnìs using youi scqucncci's ofßinc cdiìing ìooIs.
Onc dcnniìc pIus sidc is ìlaì you'ic piohahIy in Icss dangci of dcsìioying ìlc
musicaIiìy of a paiì ìlaì way. 1lc main ìling ìlaì makcs a ìiack sound ouì of
ìunc is if ìlc pciccivcd piìcl ccnìci of cacl noìc is ouì of Iinc wiìl ìlc conìcxì
of ìlc ìiack aì ìlaì momcnì. As Iong as ìlc piìcl ccnìcis fccI iiglì, any sloiìci-
ìcim piìcl vaiiaìions mosìIy jusì conìiihuìc ìo a scnsc of naìuiaI pliasing and
ovciaII lumaniìy. 1lis is wly appIying simpIc piìcl offscìs ìo offcnding noìcs
ofßinc can ofìcn sound vciy ìianspaicnì.
In addiìion, ofßinc woik cncouiagcs you ìo ìakc moic momcnì-hy-momcnì
conìioI ovci ìlc piìcl-coiiccìion aIgoiiìlm iìscIf, adjusìing paiamcìci scììings
ìo suiì cacl slifìcd noìc. Foi cxampIc, aIìlougl mosì of ìlc ìimc you wanì ìo
mainìain ìlc Icngìl of a piìcl-slifìcd sccìion so ìlaì ìlc pcifoimancc ìiming
docsn'ì clangc, iì's acìuaIIy mucl laidci on ìlc digiìaI signaI pioccssing (DSP)
codc, so you may cncounìci unacccpìahIc audio gIiìclcs on occasion. If swiìcl-
ing off ìlc ìimc coiiccìion sìops ìlc gIiìclcs, you may hc ahIc ìo compcnsaìc
foi ìlc ìiming clangc via ìlc ìimc-coiiccìion cdiìing ìcclniqucs mcnìioncd
caiIici in ìlis clapìci and ìlcichy aclicvc a moic succcssfuI ouìcomc.
Piìcl-coiiccìion pioccssois aIso ofìcn appIy addiìionaI pioccssing ìo safcguaid
claiacìciisìic insìiumcnìaI and vocaI icsonancc pcaks (caIIcd foimanìs), saving
PART 2 Mix Preparation 102
youi singci fiom ìiansfoiming inìo a clipmunk wlcn you'ic slifìing ìlc piìcl
upwaid. Foi smaII ìuning-coiiccìion slifìs, ìlougl, swiìcling off ìlc foimanì
adjusìmcnì won'ì appicciahIy affccì a sound's claiacìci in a Ioì of cascs, and iì
may again impiovc ìlc smooìlncss of ìlc coiiccìcd sound.
Diffcicnì ofßinc piìcl slifìcis do vaiy a gicaì dcaI in dcsign, ìlougl, and
many of ìlcii paiamcìcis aic fiankIy incompiclcnsihIc ìoo, so ìlc main ìling
is jusì ìo usc youi cais wliIc cdiìing. If you'ic disappoinìcd wiìl ìlc way ìlc
pioccsscd sound cmcigcs fiom iìs ìiansfoimaìion, ìlcn ìakc ìlc ìimc ìo ìin-
kci wiìl aì Icasì somc of ìlc avaiIahIc scììings. No piìcl pioccssing is pcifccìIy
ìianspaicnì, huì ìlaì's no icason ìo Icì moic sidc cffccìs ìliougl ìlc ncì ìlan
ahsoIuìcIy ncccssaiy.
Automated and Prescanning Pitch Correctors
1lcic is a wloIc famiIy of piìcl-coiiccìion uìiIiìics ìlaì opciaìc in icaI ìimc,
anaIyzing and coiiccìing youi audio as iì lappcns. Anìaics was ìlc nisì
ìo icaIIy hiing ìlis ìcclnoIogy ìo ìlc masscs wiìl iìs oiiginaI pioncciing
Auìo-1unc pIug-in, huì sincc ìlcn many oìlci manufacìuicis lavc piovidcd
vaiiaìions on ìlis funcìionaIiìy, and ìlcy aic now huiIì inìo many DAW sys-
ìcms, sucl as AppIc Logic (Piìcl Coiiccìoi), Sìcinhcig Cuhasc (Piìcl Coiiccì),
and Cockos Rcapci (Rca1unc). AIìlougl ìlcsc aIIow you ìo sciuh up a ìiack's
ìuning in sloiì oidci using a compaiaìivcIy smaII conìioI scì, I'd pcisonaIIy
advisc againsì faIIing foi ìlc kind of 'scì and foigcì´ appioacl ìlcy impIiciìIy
piomoìc foi any impoiìanì paiìs in youi aiiangcmcnì. Onc of ìlc piohIcms
FIGURE 6.6
It’s tempting to use real-time pitch correctors like these as a set-and-forget process, but this rarely
produces musical or transparent-sounding results.
Timing and Tuning Adjustments CHAPTER 6 103
is ìlaì ìlcy ìcnd ìo pioccss cvciyìling passing ìliougl ìlcm ìo somc cxìcnì,
so aiìifacì IcvcIs on noisy oi ìiansicnì signaIs can hc moic of a piohIcm,
and cxpicssivc nuanccs sucl as vihiaìo aic icincd in aIong wiìl piìcl-ccnìci
dcviaìions hy ìlc ìimc you'vc aclicvcd ìlc dcsiicd ìuning accuiacy. Howcvci,
aIìlougl iì's possihIc ìo impiovc ìlings ìo a dcgicc wiìl somc paiamcìci
adjusìmcnì, ìlc fundamcnìaI piohIcm is ìlaì piìcl-dcìccìion and coiiccìion
sìiII icquiic musicaI inìcIIigcncc, so ìlc onIy way ìo makc ìlcsc pioccssois
woik icaIIy wcII is ìo manuaIIy assisì ìlcm in aclicving a hcììci icsuIì.
'Wiìl Auìo-1unc you icaIIy lavc ìo woik laid ìo makc iì do iìs ìling wiìl-
ouì hcing lcaid,´ cxpIains Sìcvc Busl. 'PcopIc sccm ìo ìlink iì's somc kind
of quick nx, huì iì's noì.. Foi a sìaiì iì's noì aIways good aì dcìccìing wlaì ìlc
coiiccì piìcl is, huì aIso cvcn if a wloIc Iinc is consisìcnìIy a IiììIc ouì, Auìo-
1unc wiII aIways slifì noìc hy noìc.´
6
1lc mosì cffccìivc way ìo impiovc ìlc musicaIiìy of piìcl coiiccìois is hy
ìaking ìlc gucsswoik ouì of ìlc piìcl dcìccìion, hccausc ìlis is ìlc cIcmcnì of
ìlc auìomaìic pioccssing aIgoiiìlm ìlaì mosì commonIy ciis. 1lcic's usuaIIy
somc way ìo do ìlis wiìl mosì pIug-ins, wlcìlci hy using MIDI noìcs oi ìlc
DAW's mixci auìomaìion sysìcm ìo manuaIIy infoim ìlc pIug-in wlicl piìclcs
aic aiiiving aì iìs inpuìs. Acìivaìing ìlc piìcl pioccssing onIy wlcn nccdcd is
a good idca ìoo, as ìlcic's no scnsc in ßaììcning ouì pcifoimancc inßccìions
wlcic ìlcic's no ìuning hcncnì aì aII. Bcyond ìlcsc mcasuics, ìlc main ìling
FIGURE 6.7
This screenshot from one of my Sound on Sound “Mix Rescue” remixes shows all the vocal automation,
including several tracks dedicated to making the automatic pitch corrector (GVST’s GSnap) function more
musically.
PART 2 Mix Preparation 104
is ìo makc ìlc cffoiì ìo maìcl ìlc spccd and sìicngìl of ìlc pIug-in's piìcl
slifìing ìo ìlc nccds of cacl audio icgion. 1o hc spccinc, you slouId ìiy ìo
kccp ìlc coiiccìion as sIow and gcnìIc as possihIc, wliIc sìiII slifìing ìlc noìc
piìcl ccnìcis ìo wlcic ìlcy nccd ìo hc. Bcai in mind ìlaì auìomaìic piìcl coi-
iccìois ìcnd ìo sound hcsì wlcn ìlcy don'ì lavc ìo slifì anyìling ìoo fai, so
you may hc ahIc ìo impiovc ìlc audio quaIiìy hy manuaIIy dcaIing wiìl Iaigci
slifìs ofßinc in ìlc nisì insìancc.
Anoìlci gioup of sofìwaic appIicaìions ìackIc ìlc piohIcm of piìcl dcìccìion
hy nisì scanning ìlc audio in advancc in oidci ìo anaIyzc ìlc
audio daìa moic inìcIIigcnìIy ofßinc. 1lis noì onIy Icads
ìo fcwci piìcl-ìiacking ciiois (and ìlc faciIiìy ìo coi-
iccì any ìlaì do sìiII occui), huì iì aIso aIIows foi
moic soplisìicaìcd usci-guidcd, noìc-hy-noìc
pioccssing. 1lc Iaìcsì vcisions of Anìaics Auìo-
1unc, CcIcmony McIodync Ediìoi, and Wavcs
1unc aII piovidc ìlis kind of funcìionaIiìy, and
ìlis is ìlc kind of pioccssing ìlaì I wouId icc-
ommcnd ìo ìlosc wlo wanì ìlc fasìcsì iouìc ìo
musicaI pioccssing. In paiìicuIai, ìlcii ahiIiìy ìo
adjusì noìc piìcl-ccnìci offscìs indcpcndcnìIy of
sloiìci-ìcim piìcl ßucìuaìions is hiiIIianì foi dcIivci-
ing scnsiìivc coiiccìion onIy wlcic iì's acìuaIIy hcncnciaI.
Iiicspccìivc of ìlc kind of piìcl-coiiccìion ìooIs you usc, ìlc ciuciaI ìling ìo
icmcmhci is noì ìo ìiusì youi cycs moic ìlan youi cais-jusì as wlcn cdiì-
ing ìiming, in facì. Piìcl-coiiccìion pIug-ins lavc aII soiìs of mcìcis and giapls
ìcIIing you wlaì ìlcy ìlink ìlcy'ic doing, huì iì's noimaI ìo disagicc wiìl ìlcm
fiom ìimc ìo ìimc-foi insìancc, if ìlc undciIying piìcl-ìiacking aIgoiiìlm
momcnìaiiIy sIips on a hanana skin. 'A Ioì of pcopIc do ìlc ìuning ofßinc, so
ìo spcak, as a sìandaIonc opciaìion, as opposcd ìo doing iì wliIc Iisìcning ìo
ìlc ìiack,´ compIains Ioc Baiicsi. '|Ij makc ìlc piìcl adjusìmcnìs wliIc ìlc
icsì of ìlc ìiack is pIaying. Wlaì I'm doing is Iisìcning foi ìlc piìcl cucs ìlaì
ìlc ìiack can givc you. Iì sounds woisc if ìlc vocaI is in pcifccì piìcl huì ìlc
ìiack isn'ì.´
7
RcguIai hicaks duiing ìlc coiiccìion pioccss aic vciy impoiìanì, suggcsìs
Maiius dc Viics: 'Iì's dcnniìcIy possihIc ìo usc ìlc ìcclnoIogy ìo sìamp ìlc
Iifc ouì of musicaI pcifoimanccs.. You siì hack and Iisìcn ìo iì and iì's ìoìaIIy
ßaì. In ìlc hcginning you ofìcn won'ì admiì ìlis ìo youiscIf, hccausc you can-
noì hcIicvc ìlaì you jusì wasìcd a day making somcìling woisc, huì ìlc facì is
ìlcic.. 1lc onIy icmcdy is ìo kccp waIking ouì of ìlc ioom, and kccp waIk-
ing hack in again oncc you lavc a cIcai lcad.´
8
I'd aIso add ìlaì iì's woiìl
pIaying ìlc wloIc song again fiom ìlc sìaiì oncc you'vc nnislcd aII youi coi-
iccìions on a givcn paiì, Iisìcning hack wiìl ìlc pIug-in window cIoscd, so ìlaì
you'ic ahsoIuìcIy suic ìlaì ìlings sound iiglì in conìcxì ovci ìlc Iongci ìcim-
wlaìcvci any giaplicaI dispIays miglì hc ìiying ìo ìcII you.
Pitch-correction
plug-ins have all sorts
of meters and graphs telling
you what they think they’re doing,
but it’s normal to disagree with them
from time to time if the underlying
pitch-tracking algorithm
momentarily slips on a
banana skin.
Timing and Tuning Adjustments CHAPTER 6 105
6.4 THE NEED FOR SPEED
Oncc you gcì ìlc lang of ìlc gcnciaI poinìs I'vc covcicd in ìlis clapìci,
dcccnì-quaIiìy ìuning and ìiming coiiccìion isn'ì acìuaIIy ìlaì difncuIì ìo
aclicvc, cvcn wlcic hudgcìaiy icsìiicìions piccIudc ìlc usc of addiìionaI
ìliid-paiìy sofìwaic. Howcvci, ìlc icaIiìy of smaII-sìudio Iifc is ìlaì ìlcic can
hc quiìc a Ioì of day-ìo-day audio paìclup woik. So my Iasì piccc of advicc is
ìo do cvciyìling you can ìo spccd up ìlc pioccss, wlcìlci ìlaì mcans invcsì-
ing in dcdicaìcd addiìionaI sofìwaic oi simpIy connguiing youi DAW sysìcm's
kcyhoaid sloiìcuìs foi minimum mousc cxcicisc. As viìaI as iì is ìo commci-
ciaI iccoid pioducìion, coiiccìivc audio cdiìing is ncvci going ìo hc a wliìc-
knuckIc iidc, so aì Icasì do youi hcsì ìo makc iì mcicifuIIy hiicf.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
Mosì smaII-sìudio pioducìions suffci fiom insufncicnì aììcnìion ìo dcìaiI
wlcic ìuning and ìiming aic conccincd. Coiiccìing ìlcm is ìcdious, huì fcw
hudgcì pioducìions wiII compcìc commciciaIIy oìlciwisc.
I
1o avoid kiIIing ìlc gioovc, Iocaìc a singIc insìiumcnì (ofìcn ìlc diums)
as a ìiming icfcicncc, icnnc iìs ìiming if ncccssaiy, and ìlcn cdiì sIoppiIy
pcifoimcd paiìs ìo agicc wiìl ìlaì. Rlyìlm ìiacks usuaIIy hcncnì fiom
ìlc ìiglìcsì ìiming, cspcciaIIy douhIc-ìiackcd paiìs dcsìincd ìo hc panncd
acioss ìlc sìcico imagc. Lcad vocaIs can aIso impacì on ìlc gioovc, so hc
suic ìo cdiì ìlcm ìoo if ncccssaiy. Don'ì foigcì ìo pay aììcnìion ìo wlcic
noìcs cnd-cspcciaIIy wiìl hass insìiumcnìs. 1o aclicvc hcsì icsuIìs wiìl
ìiming cdiìs, Iisìcn ìo aì Icasì ìwo hais picccding ìlc sccìion undci sciuìiny.
I
SimpIc cuì-and-ciossfadc audio cdiìing is quick and cffccìivc foi mosì ìim-
ing-coiiccìion ìasks, as Iong as you Icain wlcic ìo lidc youi cdiì poinìs:
in siIcnccs, in noisy signaIs, oi aì picmaskcd and maskcd Iocaìions. Wlcic
conccaImcnì is impossihIc, ìiy a maìclcd-wavcfoim cdiì. 1imc sìicìcling
las uscfuI gap-nIIing appIicaìions, huì ìlc hundIcd pioccssing wiìlin mosì
DAW sysìcms is moic ìlan adcquaìc foi ìlis, so ìlcic's IiììIc jusìincaìion foi
addiìionaI sofìwaic invcsìmcnì.
I
1uning piohIcms aic as mucl a mix piohIcm as a musicaI piohIcm. 1lc
quaIiìy of widcIy avaiIahIc piìcl-slifìing aIgoiiìlms is sucl ìlaì ìlcic is
no nccd ìo lavc unnaìuiaI pioccssing sidc cffccìs on dispIay if you avoid
pioccssing noisy, ìiansicnì-iicl, and poIyplonic sounds wlcic pos-
sihIc. Focus on Iining up ìlc pciccivcd piìcl ccnìcis of noìcs, wliIc ìicaì-
ing sloiìci-ìcim musicaI piìcl ßucìuaìions wiìl kid gIovcs, and adjusì ìlc
piìcl-pioccssing aIgoiiìlm ìo suiì ìlc audio hcing pioccsscd. If you'ic using
spcciaIizcd auìomaìic piìcl-coiiccìion sofìwaic, piovidc iì wiìl as mucl
luman inpuì as you can ìo icìain musicaIiìy. AIgoiiìlms ìlaì woik hy pics-
canning ìlc audio usuaIIy offci moic oppoiìuniìy foi usci diiccìion, so ìlcy
ìypicaIIy givc moic musicaI icsuIìs.
I
AIìlougl using visuaI guidcs can spccd up youi woik, ìlc caidinaI iuIc wiìl
any coiiccìivc cdiìs is ìlaì you slouId ncvci ìiusì youi cycs ovci youi cais.
PART 2 Mix Preparation 106
1akc ficqucnì hicaks wliIc woiking, and audiìion ìlc wloIc paiì ìop ìo ìaiI
oncc you'vc nnislcd woiking ìo gain pcispccìivc on ìlc succcss of youi pio-
ccssing dccisions. Wiìl ìiming cdiìs, iì may piovc dcsiiahIc ìo appIy ovciaII
ìiming offscìs ìo wloIc ìiacks aì ìlis sìagc, aIìlougl ìlcsc offscìs may nccd
icnncmcnì Iaìci in ìlc mix as ìlc nnaI haIancc comcs ìogcìlci.
Assignment
I Correct any timing or tuning anomalies in your mix project, but take care not to
compromise the musicality of the original recordings.
I If you do a lot of pitch-correction work, then invest in specialized software to
improve your work rate and sound quality.
I Editing is unavoidably tedious work, so find keyboard commands to speed it up
wherever possible.
www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch6.htm
107
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
AIìlougl ìlis isn'ì a hook ahouì iccoiding, ìlcic aic ìwo spccinc aspccìs of
ìlc ìiacking pioccss ìlaì I wanì ìo discuss hiicßy in ìlis clapìci hccausc
ìlcy so icguIaiIy slooì smaII-sìudio mixcs in ìlc fooì: comping and musicaI
aiiangcmcnì. Boìl ìlcsc facìois aic impoiìanì foi aImosì cvciy ìypc of pioduc-
ìion, icgaidIcss of ìlc hudgcì IcvcI, ycì smaII-scaIc piojccìs aImosì univcisaIIy
undcivaIuc ìlcii signincancc. If youi comping and aiiangcmcnì aic good, ìlcn
mixing is a Ioì Icss Iikc laid woik, huì if ìlcy'ic noì, you can hc Icfì wiìl an
undciwlcIming iccoid no maììci low ìop-diawci ìlc musicaI maìciiaI oi youi
mixdown skiIIs. 'I ìlink ìlcic's ìoo mucl dcpcndcncc on ìlc nnaI mix,´ says
1ony PIaìì, 'and I don'ì ìlink cnougl ìlouglì and picpaiaìion gocs inìo ìlc
pioccsscs ìlaì go on hcfoicland.. 1lc mix slouId hcgin ìlc momcnì you
sìaiì iccoiding, hy moving ìlings aiound, haIancing, hIcnding, and cicaìing
sounds. Iì mcans you'ic cicaìing a colcicnì piccc of woik iaìlci ìlan iccoiding
a wloIc sciics of cvcnìs any oId way and ìlcn nxing iì in ìlc mix.´
l
So Icì's ìiy
ìo lcad off wlaì ìcnd ìo hc ìlc mosì common sloiìcomings.
7.1 COMPING
Comping is vciy mucl sìandaid piacìicc in piofcssionaI pioducìions. Iì invoIvcs
iccoiding a givcn musicaI paiì moic ìlan oncc so ìlaì ìlc hcsì hiìs of cacl ìakc
can hc cdiìcd ìogcìlci ìo huiId up ìlc hcsì composiìc pcifoi-
mancc. CIcaiIy ìlis is moic ìimc-consuming ìlan jusì
capìuiing a onc-ìakc wondci, so iì's noì somcìling
ìlaì smaII-sìudio opciaìois nccd do foi cvciy paiì,
huì any impoiìanì soIo[look paiìs wiII usu-
aIIy hcncnì fiom judicious comping. If noìl-
ing cIsc, Icad vocaIs slouId aImosì aIways hc
huiIì up via comping, as I'vc ycì ìo lcai a onc-
ìakc Icad vocaI on any amaìcui mix ìlaì couIdn'ì
lavc hccn impiovcd in ìlis way. Sìcvc Lipson noìcs,
'|Somcìimcsj you nccd ìo ìakc a icaIIy cIosc Iook aì
ìlings, Iikc wlcn you'ic comping vocaIs. 1losc aic siìuaìions
wlcic you icaIIy can'ì Icì any misìakcs go, and iì can icaIIy pay off.´
2
Comping and Arrangement
CHAPTER 7
Lead vocals should
almost always be built up
via comping, as I’ve yet to hear a
one-take lead vocal on any amateur
mix that couldn’t have been
improved in this way.
PART 2 Mix Preparation 108
Of couisc, a comp is onIy as good as ìlc iaw ìakcs fiom wlicl iì's huiIì, and
diffcicnì cnginccis lavc diffcicnì picfcicnccs lcic wlicl iangc, iouglIy spcak-
ing, hcìwccn ìwo cxìicmcs:
I
Rccoiding numcious fuII 'ìop ìo ìaiI´ ìakcs, and ìlcn cdiìing hcìwccn ìlcm
afìci ìlc iccoiding scssion. 1lc upsidc of ìlis mcìlod is ìlaì ìlc musicaI
ßow ìliougl ìlc paiì wiII ìcnd ìo hc moic convincing, and you'ic moic
IikcIy ìo maximizc ìlc numhci of unicpcaìahIc IiììIc cxpicssivc momcnìs
you caìcl foi posìciiìy. 1lc downsidc, lowcvci, is ìlaì woiking ìlis way
dcmands mucl moic conccnìiaìion and cnduiancc fiom ìlc musician, so
in piacìicc you'II onIy icaIIy gcì supciioi icsuIìs wiìl ìlc mosì ìaIcnìcd and
cxpciicnccd piacìiìioncis. Lcss accompIislcd pcifoimcis wiII simpIy ìiic
ìlcmscIvcs ouì hcfoic ìlcy naiI ìlc moic claIIcnging sccìions and won'ì
hc ahIc ìo mainìain cnougl ìonaI consisìcncy ìo aIIow scamIcss cdiìing
hcìwccn ìakcs. And if you lavc ìo do Ioads of fuII-Icngìl ìakcs ìo gcì aII ìlc
pcifoimancc magic you nccd, ìlcn you'II hc faccd wiìl ìlc moìlci of aII
cdiìing johs ìo comp ìlcm inìo a nnaI masìci ìakc. 'Iì ìakcs a Iong ìimc,´
said PascaI CahiicI wlcn ìaIking ahouì lis woik on Dido's 'Hcic wiìl
Mc.´ 'Ouì of a ìwo-day wiiìing scssion wc piohahIy spcnì ahouì ìlicc ìo
foui louis jusì comping.´
3
I
Rccoiding a singIc ìiack onc pliasc aì a ìimc, puncling in on iì icpcaì-
cdIy ìo cicaìc a 'paìclwoik´ composiìc pcifoimancc. 1lc advanìagcs lcic
aic ìlaì you conccnìiaìc ìimc and cffoiì moic cfncicnìIy on ìlc sccìions
ìlaì nccd iì mosì, ìlc pcifoimci onIy las ìo conccnìiaìc on pcifccìing onc
smaII sccìion aì a ìimc, so iì's casici foi Icss cxpciicnccd musicians, ìlc ìonc
slouId icmain faiiIy consisìcnì hcìwccn ìakcs foi cdiìing puiposcs, cvcn as
ìlc pcifoimci hcgins ìo ìiic, and ìlc comping wiII cffccìivcIy hc aclicvcd
as you go aIong, so ìlcic's no cdiìing ìo hc donc Iaìci. 1lc disadvanìagcs of
ìlis appioacl, lowcvci, aic ìlaì you Iosc somc of ìlc scnsc of musicaI ßow
hcìwccn sccìions of ìlc ìiack, so ìlc nnaI masìci ìakc can cnd up fccIing
sIiglìIy disjoinìcd cmoìionaIIy, and ìlcic's aIso ìlc IikcIilood ìlaì you'II
Iosc nicc IiììIc pcifoimancc coincis duiing ìlc icaI-ìimc paìclup pioccss.
Nciìlci of ìlcsc cxìicmcs ìcnd ìo woik paiìicuIaiIy wcII in ìypicaI smaII-sìudio
cnviionmcnìs, lowcvci, so my iccommcndaìion is ìo claiì a couisc somc-
wlcic hcìwccn ìlcm. In mosì insìanccs, dcaI wiìl ìlc pioducìion onc musicaI
sccìion aì a ìimc (individuaI vciscs, cloiuscs, and so foiìl) and iccoid a nxcd
numhci of sccìion-Icngìl ìakcs foi cacl sccìion. If you wanì ìo impiovc any
individuaI ìakc wiìl ìlc odd puncl-in, go alcad, huì don'ì gcì hoggcd down
icpIacing anyìling smaIIci ìlan a wloIc pliasc. I'd say ìlaì ìlicc ìakcs pci
sccìion slouId hc considcicd a minimum if you'ic going ìo hoìlci comping
aì aII, and if you'ic Iooking foi a piofcssionaI-giadc Icad-vocaI comp, ìlcn
you'd hc wcII-adviscd ìo incicasc ìlaì numhci ìo moic Iikc ciglì. Rccoid ìlc
ìakcs onc afìci ìlc oìlci unìiI you icacl youi picdcìcimincd Iimiì. By ìlis
poinì youi pcifoimci wiII lavc cffccìivcIy iclcaiscd ìlc ìiack scvciaI ìimcs and
Comping and Arrangement CHAPTER 7 109
wiII aImosì cciìainIy hc pcifoiming hcììci
ìlan ìlcy wcic ìo sìaiì wiìl, so now go hack
ìliougl and Iisìcn ìo cacl ìakc in ìuin, and
iciccoid any wlicl don'ì fccI up ìo ìlc sìan-
daid of ìlc icsì. Do kccp an cai ouì foi magic
momcnìs wiìlin an oìlciwisc IackIusìci ìakc,
ìlougl, hccausc you don'ì wanì ìo ciasc any
of ìlosc. Wlaì I usuaIIy nnd is ìlaì a pIayci
oi singci wiII onIy icaIIy 'inlahiì´ ìlc musi-
caI paiì piopciIy afìci a fcw ìakcs of cacl scc-
ìion, so I usuaIIy cnd up iciccoiding aì Icasì
ìlc nisì fcw ìakcs. 1laì said, ìlc ficslncss of
ìlc nisì ìakc docs somcìimcs laihoi a coupIc
of fanìasìic IiììIc inßccìions, so Iisìcn ìo ìlaì
paiìicuIaiIy caicfuIIy hcfoic diìcling iì. '1lc
hiìs ìlaì mosì pcopIc icmcmhci,´ says PascaI
CahiicI, 'aic ìlc IiììIc quiiky hiìs you'II nnd fiom a ìakc wlcic |Didoj didn'ì
icaIIy fccI slc was conndcnì wiìl ìlc song, huì slc Icì iip a hiì hy accidcnì, and
ìlosc hiìs aic somcìimcs woiìl ìlcii wciglì in goId.´
4
Oncc ìlc vocaI scssion las nnislcd, you slouId hc Icfì wiìl a Iimiìcd numhci
of faiiIy sìiong ìakcs fiom wlicl ìo cloosc liglIiglìs aì youi Icisuic, huì aì
ìlc samc ìimc you won'ì lavc louis and louis of iccoidings ìo ìoiI ìliougl.
Ediìing slouId hc sìiaiglìfoiwaid ìoo, hccausc ìlc ìonc hcìwccn ìakcs slouId
hc quiìc cIoscIy maìclcd. Fuiìlcimoic, you won'ì lavc puì pcifoimcis ìliougl
ìlc wiingci ìoo mucl, hccausc ìlcy'vc onIy lad ìo conccnìiaìc on a smaII scc-
ìion aì any onc ìimc (pcilaps ovci scvciaI scpaiaìc scssions), huì ìlc sccìion-
Icngìl ìakcs wiII usuaIIy Icnd ìlc compcd pcifoimancc a icasonahIc scnsc of
musicaI ßuidiìy.
Wlcn iì comcs ìo scIccìing ìlc hcsì hiìs of youi asscmhIcd ìakcs, ìlc ìimc-lon-
oicd iouìc is ìo diaw up a 'comp slccì´ on Iincd papci. Eacl loiizonìaI Iinc of
ìlc slccì coiicsponds ìo a musicaI pliasc-in ìlc casc of an insìiumcnì paiì,
you miglì indicaìc wlicl is wlicl wiìl hai numhcis, wlcicas in ìlc casc of
a Icad vocaI, you'd wiiìc ìlc pliasc's Iyiics on cacl Iinc. A sciics of coIumns
down ìlc iiglì-land sidc of ìlc slccì can ìlcn hc uscd ìo wiiìc commcnìs
icIaìing ìo ìlc quaIiìy of cacl ìakc foi any givcn pliasc. Wlaì I noimaIIy do
is Iisìcn ìo cacl ìakc aII ìlc way ìliougl maiking any ahsoIuìcIy 'musì-lavc´
sccìions and ìlcn ìiy ìo huiId as mucl of ìlc paiì as possihIc fiom ìlosc snip-
pcìs. OnIy wlcn a pliasc docsn'ì lavc a sìandouì icndiìion on onc of ìlc
ìakcs wiII I ìlcn gcì inìo compaiing aII ìlc individuaI ìakcs of a givcn pliasc-
iì miglì sccm moic cfncicnì ìo do pliasc-hy-pliasc compaiisons Iikc ìlis
sìiaiglì away, huì I nnd ìlaì ìlis ìcnds ìo cncouiagc moic lopping hcìwccn
ìlc ìakcs, so ìlc composiìc pcifoimancc docsn'ì makc as mucl musicaI scnsc
ovciaII.
FIGURE 7.1
An example of a real
comp sheet for a lead
vocal during a song’s
verse and chorus, and
also for a harmony part
during the verse. The
columns at the right
of the page indicate
promising sections of
the eight vocal takes,
whereas final decisions
are marked over the
lyrics with numbers and
brackets.

PART 2 Mix Preparation 110
Oncc ìlc comp slccì is compIcìcd, ìlc nuìs and hoIìs of ìlc cdiìing slouIdn'ì
picscnì many ficsl piohIcms if you'vc aIicady goì a giasp of ìlc cdiìing
ìcclniqucs discusscd in Clapìci 6. Howcvci, you slouId ìakc cvciy pic-
cauìion ìo avoid ìlc cdiìs hccoming audihIc oi cIsc you'II iisk dcfcaìing ìlc
wloIc poinì of doing ìlc comp in ìlc nisì pIacc-fcw Iisìcncis aic IikcIy ìo
nnd a pcifoimancc compcIIing if iì sounds Iikc iì's hccn sìiìclcd ìogcìlci hy
Di. Fiankcnsìcin's inìcin. Foi ìlis icason, a numhci of cdiìs may nccd con-
sidciahIc nnc-ìuning hcfoic ìlcy pass musìci, and you may lavc ìo adjusì ìlc
IcvcI, piìcl, oi ìiming of ìlc odd audio sIicc ìo gcì aII ìlc picccs of audio ìo nì
ìogcìlci naìuiaIIy.
7.2 BREATHING LIFE INTO YOUR ARRANGEMENT
If you ìlink of ìlc hasic musicaI maìciiaI in a pioducìion as consisìing of Iyiics,
mcIodics, and cloids, ìlcn ìlc aiiangcmcnì of ìlaì musicaI maìciiaI consìiìuìcs
picììy mucl aII ìlc oìlci aspccìs of ìlc ìiack-ìlings Iikc ìlc spccinc insìiu-
mcnìaìion aì diffcicnì poinìs, ìlc cxacì disìiihuìion of ìlc laimony noìcs acioss
ìlc piìcl iangc, ìlc paiìicuIai pcifoimancc nguiaìions uscd hy cacl diffcicnì
pcifoimci, and ìlc piccisc ilyìlmic connguiaìion of ìlc music's gioovc. If ìlc
aiiangcmcnì woiks, ìlcn iì'II pIay inìo ìlc lands of ìlc mix cngincci, wlcicas if
iì nglìs ìlc music, ìlcn ìlcic's noì mucl ìlaì can counìciacì ìlaì musicaI incf-
fccìivcncss aì mixdown. 'Wlcn you undcisìand aiiangcmcnì, mixing is casy,´
says Humhciìo Caìica. 'You know wlaì you'ic Iooking foi. Oìlciwisc you'ic
nsling.´
8
Andy Iolns is onc of ìlc many oìlci pioduccis wlo slaic lis opinion:
'1lc way I icaIIy Icaincd ahouì music is ìliougl mixing, hccausc if ìlc hass paiì
is wiong, low can you loId up ìlc hoììom cnd² So you Icain low ìo makc ìlc
hass pIayci pIay ìlc iiglì paiì so you can acìuaIIy mix.´
9
VOCAL COMPING: WHAT TO LISTEN FOR
Choosing vocal takes is a subjective pastime, and it can be tricky for those just
starting out to get a handle on what to listen for. Mike Clink has some good general-
purpose advice: “The number one pointer that I can give is to visualize what you’re
trying to say. I’m trying to see in my mind if the singer is telling me the same story as
what he’s written down lyrically…. A vocal can’t just lay there in a linear manner; it’s
got to take you up and down, depending on what the lyrics are trying to say… If you
can look at your lyrics and listen to your vocals and say ‘it’s telling me a story, and it’s
taking me on a journey,’ then you’ve accomplished a great performance.”
5
“I’d always look for a vocal performance that had feel over pitch perfection,” adds
Serban Ghenea. “[Even if it’s difficult to correct, it’s] worth it because you get to keep
the takes that have the best feel, and the best vibe.”
6
A final perceptive tip for working
with rappers comes courtesy of Mark Ronson: “There’s the rhythm and the clarity, but
there’s also a melody in rap. With the really good rappers, even if it’s not a song, the
melody takes you on a bit of a trip, and I always try to find the little bits in the vocal
that have that melody. Sometimes that’s almost sing-songy, but not.”
7
Comping and Arrangement CHAPTER 7 111
Clear Out the Clutter
1lc nisì common piohIcm ìlaì I lcai in smaII-sìudio pioducìions is ìlaì ìlcic
aic simpIy ìoo many paiìs going on aII ìlc ìimc. Noì onIy docs sucl a siìua-
ìion makc iì difncuIì ìo makc aII ìlc paiìs cIcaiIy audihIc in ìlc mix, huì iì aIso
picscnìs a musicaI piohIcm-aIìlougl a fuII pioducìion may appcai saìisfying
aì ìlc ouìscì, a Iack of Iiglì and sladc in ìlc aiiangcmcnì wiII quickIy makc iì
sccm hIand, and ìlc Iisìcnci wiII sìop paying aììcnìion.
1lc nisì ìling ìlaì can lcIp is ìo hcai in mind ìlis simpIc piccc of advicc fiom
Iack Ioscpl Puig (ccloing an aImosì idcnìicaI commcnì
fiom WycIcf Ican
lu
): 'You lavc ìo considci ìlc facì
ìlaì ìlc cai can pioccss onIy ìlicc ìlings aì oncc.
Wlcn you gcì ìo ìlc fouiìl ìling, ìlc aììcnìion
diops away somcwlcic.´
ll
So Iisìcn ìo youi
ìiack and ìiy ìo isoIaìc wlicl ìlicc cIcmcnìs
slouId hc ìlc focus of aììcnìion aì cvciy poinì
in ìlc music. Any paiì ìlaì isn'ì onc of ìlosc
main componcnìs is a candidaìc foi piuning, so
scc if you can clop ouì somc sccìions of iì. Lcì's
say ìlaì ìlcic's an acousìic guiìai paiì sìiumming
away ìliouglouì youi ìiack, pcilaps you slouId con-
sidci ìaking iì ouì of youi vciscs so ìlaì moic impoiìanì dium,
piano, and vocaI paiìs can comc ìliougl moic cIcaiIy. Savc iì foi adding somc
cxìia ìcxìuiaI inìcicsì duiing ìlc cloiuscs.
Although a full
production may appear
satisfying at the outset, a lack of
light and shade in the arrangement
will quickly make it seem bland,
and the listener will stop
paying attention.
CLASHING TIMBRES
A common problem in less accomplished arrangements is when two sounds clash in
some way, usually by operating in the same register. “The aim is to get all the sounds
working together so you don’t get any nasty surprises at the mixing stage,” explains
Steve Power, sharpening his scythe. “If two things sound crap together, you probably
shouldn’t be trying to [fix that] at the mix. If they sound crap, just don’t put them
together in the first place, because you probably won’t rescue them.”
12
Eliminating
a part completely may not be an option, however, in which case this Fleetwood Mac
anecdote may provide some inspiration. “When we were recording Rumours,” recalls
Ken Caillat, “[keyboardist Christine McVie] would ask, ‘How does everything sound,
Ken?’… Sometimes I’d say ‘You know Chris, I’m having trouble hearing the keyboard
and the guitar.’ The first time I said that I didn’t really know what I meant, but she said
‘Oh, yeah, you’re right Ken, we’re playing in the same register. Why don’t I invert the
keyboard down a third and get out of [the guitarist]’s way?’ Which is what she did, and
it worked brilliantly!”
13
Oi pcilaps you miglì cdiì ìlaì guiìai paiì so ìlaì iì onIy pIays aì ìlosc
momcnìs wlcn onc of ìlc oìlci paiìs docsn'ì icaIIy dcmand ìlc Iisìcnci's fuII
aììcnìion-pcilaps wliIc ìlc singci's ìaking a hicaìl oi ìlc pianisì is induIging
PART 2 Mix Preparation 112
in somc uninspiicd vamping. 1lis cffccìivcIy suhsìiìuìcs ìlc guiìai foi onc of
youi ìlicc main paiìs jusì foi a momcnì, wiìlouì iohhing aììcnìion fiom ìlcm
duiing ìlc hiìs wlcic ìlcy'ic moic impoiìanì. Mosì paiìs in musicaI aiiangc-
mcnìs aic onIy pIaying somcìling inìcicsìing somc of ìlc ìimc, so if you ìiy ìo
cuì ouì as mucl of ìlc Icss inìcicsìing sìuff as possihIc, ìlcn you wiII gcnciaìc
somc gaps in ìlc ìcxìuic foi oìlci suhoidinaìc paiìs ìo lavc ìlcii pIacc in ìlc
sun. Iusì ìlis simpIc aiiangcmcnì ìiick can compIcìcIy ìiansfoim ìlc sound of
a pioducìion, hccausc iì focuscs ìlc Iisìcnci's cai on wlaì's inìcicsìing in ìlc
music. 1lcic wiII of couisc hc a Iimiì ìo low iuìlIcssIy you can pcifoiaìc ìlc
aiiangcmcnì hcfoic ìlc musicaI ßow hcgins ìo suffci, huì mosì smaII-sìudio
pioduccis don'ì gcì anywlcic ncai ìlis poinì hcfoic ìlcy ìliow in ìlc ìowcI.
As Hugl Padglam ohscivcs, 'Iì ofìcn ìakcs a Ioì of cffoiì ìo lavc Icss iaìlci
ìlan moic. I acìuaIIy spcnd moic ìimc piuning sìuff down ìlan adding ìlings.
Doing so can ofìcn icquiic a musician ìo Icain oi cvoIvc an aIìogcìlci diffcicnì
paiì ìo hc pIaycd, so wlaì was ìwo ìiacks is now onc ìiack. Evciy song is diffci-
cnì, huì I'm aIways Iooking foi ways ìo simpIify and icducc.´
l4
Anoìlci ìling ìo considci is wlcìlci you miglì hc ahIc ìo diffcicnìiaìc ìlc
sccìions of youi aiiangcmcnì moic cffccìivcIy hy youi cloicc of paiìs. Foi
cxampIc, ìlc nisì foui sccìions of a common song sìiucìuic miglì hc inìio,
vcisc l, hiidgc l, and cloius l (as slown in Figuic 7.2), huì iì's going ìo hc
difncuIì ìo cicaìc any musicaI dcvcIopmcnì if aII of ìlosc sccìions aic hackcd
hy ìlc samc diums, hass guiìai, sìiummcd acousìic guiìai, and iippIing piano
nguiaìion. Wly noì sìaiì wiìl acousìic guiìai, hass guiìai, and diums, huì
ìlcn diop ouì ìlc acousìic wlcn ìlc Icad vocaI cnìcis in ìlc cloius² 1laì'II
makc ìlc vocaI appcai moic inìcicsìing and givc you ìlc oppoiìuniìy ìo dif-
fcicnìiaìc ìlc hiidgc sccìion hy adding ìlc guiìai hack in again. 1lcn you can
Icavc ìlc piano cnìiy ìo piovidc a Iifì inìo ìlc cloius. Iì's iidicuIousIy casy ìo
cxpciimcnì wiìl youi DAW's muìc huììons ìo scc wlaì miglì woik lcic, so
ìlcic's no cxcusc foi Icììing ìlc giass giow undci youi fccì. In a simiIai vcin,
Icì's assumc ìlaì vcisc 2, hiidgc 2, and cloius 2 aic ncxì in Iinc. Iì's dafì ìo
jusì icpcaì ìlc samc aiiangcmcnì, wlcn you can inìcnsify wlaì wcnì hcfoic.
So mayhc Icì ìlc piano conìinuc fiom ìlc cloius l inìo vcisc 2, huì diop ouì
ìlc acousìic guiìai. 1lc guiìai couId ìlcn join ìlc piano as hcfoic ìo cicaìc a
ìlickci hiidgc 2 ìcxìuic, and ìlcn you miglì douhIc-ìiack ìlc acousìic guiìai
oi add oìlci paiìs (sucl as hacking vocaIs oi ìamhouiinc) ìo givc anoìlci
sìcp up inìo cloius 2.
1o puì aII ìlaì in gcnciaI ìcims, in a Ioì of
cascs in commciciaI music you wanì ìo lavc
cnougl icpcìiìion in ìlc aiiangcmcnì ìlaì
ìlc music is casiIy compiclcnsihIc ìo ìlc
gcnciaI puhIic. Buì you aIso wanì ìo conìinu-
aIIy dcmand icncwcd aììcnìion hy vaiying
ìlc aiiangcmcnì sIiglìIy in cacl sccìion, as
wcII as giving somc scnsc of an cmoìionaI
huiIdup ìliougl ìlc cnìiic pioducìion. 1laì
FIGURE 7.2
A static arrangement
can undermine the
structure of your song,
so try to prune your
parts to emphasize
each section with some
kind of arrangement
change. An example of
this would be to mute
the lighter-shaded parts
in the hypothetical
arrangement shown
here.
Comping and Arrangement CHAPTER 7 113
may sound Iikc a hiì of a ìaII oidci, huì iì can ofìcn invoIvc no moic cffoiì ìlan
poking ìlc odd muìc huììon.
Maiius dc Viics offcis anoìlci inìcicsìing angIc: adjusìing ìlc musicaI ìimcIinc.
'Wlaì's ofìcn mosì hoiing ahouì conìcmpoiaiy songwiiìing,´ lc poinìs ouì, 'is
THE DROP CHORUS
It’s not uncommon to have a double chorus at the end of a typical commercial song’s
structure in order to really hammer home the main hooks. This is a sound idea in
principle, but it does present one arrangement difficulty: if you give the first of these
final choruses a really full arrangement to let
everyone know it’s arrived, then it becomes difficult
to sustain that excitement through into the second
of the final choruses, because there’s no room left
in the mix for additional parts. A lot of productions
address this problem by using more impassioned
vocal parts and adlibs, but I’ve always felt that
there’s only so far you can go with that approach,
and that there’s more mileage to be had in using
more imaginative arrangement alternatives
instead.
One trick that I just can’t resist mentioning is what
is often known as a “drop chorus.” You build up
to the first of the final choruses as if it’s going
to be huge, but then wrong-foot the listener by
muting loads of the important parts when it does
arrive, typically leaving just the lead vocals and
some kind of stripped-back rhythm section. If you
judge it just right, the listener effectively gets two
chorus pay-offs at the end of the song, instead of
only one. The first of the final choruses uses the
element of surprise to make its impact (as well as
focusing attention clearly on the lead vocal, which
is rarely a bad thing!), whereas the subsequent
chorus delivers that all-guns-blazing fullness that
everyone was expecting first time around. If you’ve
not consciously noticed any song using a drop
chorus before, I encourage you to keep your ears
open for it, because it can be extremely effective—
Jordin Sparks’s “Battlefield,” Dido’s “Hunter,” and
Anastacia’s “I’m Outta Love” are just some of
the hit songs that have made dramatic use of the
concept. What’s particularly great about a drop
chorus from a mix engineer’s perspective is that you can often create one entirely
at the mixdown stage if you want, without doing any further tracking at all—all you’ll
usually need is a bit of muting and rebalancing.
FIGURE 7.3
Some albums contain excellent
examples of drop choruses, such as
Jordin Sparks’s Battlefield, Dido’s No
Angel, and Anastacia’s Not That Kind.
PART 2 Mix Preparation 114
ìlc way ìlaì cvciyìling is in hais of foui and hIocks of ciglì, wlicl is aiguahIy
diivcn hy ìlc way ìlc sofìwaic is dcsigncd. Cood cicaìivc songwiiìcis wiII aIways
hc scaicling foi ways ìo jcììison a hcaì in a hai oi add anoìlci coupIc of hcaìs
hcfoic icIcasing ìlc cloius, foi cxampIc.´
l5
Evcn if you'ic mixing oìlci pcopIc's
maìciiaI, iì's suipiising low mucl you can sìiII cxpciimcnì wiìl ìlcsc kinds of
clangcs using simpIc cdiìing and ìimc[piìcl-manipuIaìion ìooIs.
Adding Detail
1lc oìlci main sloiìcoming of incffccìivc smaII-sìudio aiiangcmcnìs is ìlaì
ìlcy don'ì lavc cnougl uscfuI dcìaiI in ìlcm ìo susìain inìcicsì. Again, ìlcic's
usuaIIy ìoo mucl icpcìiìion occuiiing. A uscfuI IiììIc iuIc of ìlumh ìlaì can
lcIp lcic is ìlis: if you wanì somcìling ìo icìain ìlc Iisìcnci's aììcnìion, ìlcn
avoid pIaying ìlc samc ìling moic ìlan ìlicc ìimcs in a iow. By ìlc ìimc a
givcn iiff icaclcs iìs fouiìl iìciaìion, ìlc Iisìcnci wiII sìaiì ìo diifì, so if you
wanì ìo kccp pcopIc focuscd, ìlcn you nccd ìo inìioducc somc vaiiaìion, usu-
aIIy in ìlc foim of somc kind of nII. So if youi dium paiì is a onc-hai Ioop and
youi song woiks in ciglì-hai pliascs, ìlcn iì makcs scnsc ìo pcilaps cdiì ìlc
Ioop a hiì duiing hais 4 and 8 ìo cicaìc nIIs, pioviding somc vaiiaìion ìo main-
ìain awaicncss of ìlc Ioop among youi audicncc. How cxacìIy you do ìlc nII is
up ìo you, huì icmcmhci (as I'vc aIicady mcnìioncd) ìlaì ìlc hcsì Iocaìion foi
a nII on any givcn paiì is usuaIIy wlcic oìlci paiìs aic Icss inìcicsìing. If you
fccI you wanì ìo Iayci moic ìlan onc nII simuIìancousIy, ìlcn considci puììing
ìlcm in diffcicnì piìcl icgisìcis-so comhinc a hass nII wiìl a snaic nII, foi
cxampIc.
If ìlaì IiììIc 'ìlicc in a iow´ ìcsì icvcaIs somc of youi paiìs ìo hc wanìing and
a hiì of audio cdiìing can'ì gcnciaìc anyìling signincanìIy Icss icpcìiìivc, ìlcn
iì's a signaI ìlaì you piohahIy wanì ìo gcì oìlci musicians invoIvcd-a good
pcifoimci wiII inìuiìivcIy cicaìc nIIs and vaiiaìions aì appiopiiaìc poinìs in
ìlc aiiangcmcnì. Evcn if you'ic sìuck on a Hchiidcan isIand wiìl noìling huì
scaguIIs foi company, ìlaì nccdn'ì iain on youi paiadc, hccausc
you can oidci madc-ìo-mcasuic Iivc ovciduhs hy ìaIcnìcd
scssion musicians ovci ìlc Inìcincì ìlcsc days-
sciviccs sucl as cScssions, Sìudio Pios, and 1lc
Missing 1iack can aII iccoid a widc scIccìion of
Iivc insìiumcnìs ovci youi hacking ìiacks foi
suipiisingIy IiììIc moncy.
If you'ic pioducing sciiousIy claiì-oiicnìcd
music, ìlcn anoìlci uscfuI guidcIinc is ìo
makc suic ìlaì ìlcic's somc inìcicsìing IiììIc
fcaìuic lappcning cvciy ìlicc ìo nvc scconds-
pcilaps a paiìicuIaiIy cooI hacking-vocaI Iick, a
nifìy dium nII, a synìl look, a IiììIc spoì-cffccì on
If you’re producing
seriously chart-oriented
music, make sure that there’s
some interesting little feature
happening every three to five
seconds to cater for the attention-
span of young media-bombarded
music fans.
Comping and Arrangement CHAPTER 7 115
ìlc Icad vocaI, somc kind of wacky SFX sampIc-ìlc possihiIiìics aic cndIcss.
Claiì music nccds ìo command aììcnìion conìinuousIy if iì's ìo caìci foi ìlc
aììcnìion span of young, mcdia-homhaidcd music fans. Onc oìlci IiììIc ìip is
ìo considci ìlc hass paiì of youi ìiack noì jusì as a paiì of ìlc laimony, huì
moic as a sccond mcIody Iinc. Biian MaIouf says, 'CcnciaIIy, I ìiy ìo lavc ìlc
hass and vocaIs hc ìlc counìcipoinì ìo cacl oìlci. I Iook aì ìlosc ìwo cIc-
mcnìs as ìlc ccnìiaI mcIodic componcnìs.´
l6
1lc moic singahIc you makc
ìlc hass, ìlc moic foiwaid momcnìum iì'II ìcnd ìo add ìo ìlc pioducìion.
1lc cIassic cxampIc I aIways ìlink of lcic is Ahha's 'Moncy Moncy Moncy,´
huì if you Iisìcn ìo a Ioì of good aiiangcmcnìs, you'II ficqucnìIy lcai IiììIc
mcIodic fiagmcnìs ciopping up aII ovci ìlcii hass paiìs.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
Wlaìcvci sìyIc of music you'ic woiking in, if any of youi mosì impoiìanì
paiìs aic iccoidings of Iivc pcifoimcis, you slouId considci iccoiding scv-
ciaI ìakcs and ìlcn comping ìogcìlci ìlc hcsì hiìs. Lcad vocaI paiìs in pai-
ìicuIai aic iouìincIy compcd fiom many diffcicnì ìakcs in a commciciaI
conìcxì. How you go ahouì iccoiding and compiIing ìlc ìakcs can lavc an
cnoimous impacì on ìlc quaIiìy of ìlc ouìcomc, so don'ì hc afiaid ìo adapì
youi ìcclniqucs ìo suiì ìlc paiìicuIai paiì and pcifoimci you'ic woiking
wiìl.
I
Rcducing cIuììci in an aiiangcmcnì noì onIy makcs iì casici ìo mix, huì
aIso lcIps ìlc pioducìion appcai moic vaiicd ìo ìlc Iisìcnci. Onc gcnciaI-
puiposc appioacl is ìo ìlink in ìcims of icsìiicìing youiscIf ìo a maximum
of ìlicc main poinìs of inìcicsì aì any onc ìimc and ìlcn ìo wccd ouì as
many paiìs as you can ìlaì don'ì foim paiì of ìlis main ìiio-huì do hcai
in mind ìlaì ìlc icIaìivc appcaI of individuaI insìiumcnìs can vaiy fiom
momcnì ìo momcnì, so ìlc idcnìiìy of ìlc ìlicc piimaiy paiìs may clangc
ficqucnìIy. AIso ìiy ìo aIìci ìlc aiiangcmcnì ìo givc cacl ncw musicaI scc-
ìion iìs own sound-ìlis wiII hcììci mainìain ìlc Iisìcnci's inìcicsì and sup-
poiì ìlc huiIdup of ìlc pioducìion as a wloIc.
I
Boiing aiiangcmcnìs usuaIIy suffci fiom ìoo mucl icpcìiìion, so considci
adding somc kind of nII if any paiì pIays ìlc samc ìling moic ìlan ìlicc
ìimcs in a iow. If you can aim a nII in onc paiì ìo giah aììcnìion fiom a Icss
inìcicsìing momcnì in anoìlci paiì, ìlcn ìlaì's a honus! If you'ic woiking
in claiì-oiicnìcd sìyIcs, ìlcn ìiy ìo piovidc somc ncw musicaI oi aiiangc-
mcnì divcision cvciy ìlicc ìo nvc scconds ìo kccp ìlc Iisìcnci iivcìcd ìo ìlc
iadio. 1icaìing ìlc hass Iinc as a sccond mcIody is aIso suipiisingIy cffccìivc
in impioving musicaI momcnìum.
I
If youi song cnds wiìl a douhIc cloius, huì ìlc sccond of ìlc cloiuscs
sccms Iikc iì's ìicading waìci, cxpciimcnì wiìl youi muìc huììons ìo scc if a
diop cloius miglì haiI you ouì.
PART 2 Mix Preparation 116
Assignment
I If you haven’t already comped the most important live recorded part in your cho-
sen mix, then do it now. Compare the comped version to your original one-take
wonder to get a sense of why comping is such standard practice on professional
productions, especially for lead vocals. Bearing in mind the time-demands of the
comping process, decide if any further parts might warrant similar treatment.
I Go through your arrangement and try to identify which are the three most inter-
esting things happening at any given time; then see how far you can thin out the
remaining parts behind them to declutter the sound. Check for sections of your
track that share similar arrangements. If you find any such sections, ask yourself
if you might be able to support the music better by altering one of them, either to
provide variety for the listener or to enhance the overall buildup of the production.
I Hunt down any musical parts that play more than three times in a row, and see if a
well-placed fill might make them more engaging. Look out for any opportunities to
give the bass line some melodic function, and decide whether that helps drive the
music along better.
www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch7.htm
Youi mix piojccì is ncaìIy Iaid ouì. 1iming and ìuning gicmIins lavc hccn han-
islcd. 1lc aiiangcmcnì las hccn loncd. AII youi fadcis aic puIIcd down, and
you'ic icady ìo mix.
Now wlaì²
1laì unassuming IiììIc qucsìion is csscnìiaIIy ìlc ciux of wlaì mixing
ìcclniquc is aII ahouì, and answciing iì wiìl convicìion aì cvciy sìagc of
ìlc pioccss is wlaì foxcs a Ioì of smaII-sìudio opciaìois sìiuggIing ìo gcì
commciciaI-IcvcI icsuIìs. 1lc icason so many Iow-hudgcì
pioduccis can'ì conndcnìIy answci ìlc pcisisìcnì
'now wlaì²´ is ìlaì ìlcy don'ì lavc an ovciaicl-
ing gamc pIan ìo piovidc soIid iaìionaIc foi
ìlcii pioccssing dccisions.
Ohsciving scasoncd mix cnginccis aì woik
is vciy dcccpìivc in ìlis icgaid, hccausc
ìlcy'II ofìcn sccmingIy skip aì iandom
hcìwccn diffcicnì mixing ìasks. In icaI-
iìy ìlcy lavc dcvcIopcd sucl an inìui-
ìivc giasp of ìlcii own mixing woikßow
ìlaì ìlcy aic ahIc ìo icspond ficcIy ìo mix
issucs as ìlcy aiisc wiìlouì ìlc iisk of Iosing
ìlc undciIying pIoì. As sucl, I don'ì ìlink iì's vciy
Balance
PART 3
Observing
seasoned mix engineers
at work is very deceptive,
because they’ll often seemingly skip
at random between different tasks.
In reality they have developed such an
intuitive grasp of mixing workflow that
they can respond freely to mix issues
as they arise without losing the
underlying plot.
PART 3 Balance 118
pioducìivc foi anyonc ìo Icain ìo mix in ìlis way aì ìlc ouìscì, hccausc iì's noì
ìlc appaicnì iandomncss ìlaì's impoiìanì, iì's ìlc undciIying pIoì!
1lcicfoic, Paiì 3 of ìlis hook uniavcIs ìlc nonIincai icaI-woiId mixing piocc-
duic inìo moic of a hiìc-sizcd, sìcp-hy-sìcp pioccss so ìlaì's iì's casici ìo digcsì
and undcisìand. 1lis incviìahIy mcans ìlaì I'II hc sìiucìuiing ìlc mix woikßow
moic iigidIy ìlan an cxpciicnccd piacìiìionci wouId, huì hy doing ìlis I lopc
ìo cIaiify ìlc ìlouglì pioccsscs ìlaì Iic hclind cvcn ìlc mosì inìimidaìing and
compIcx mix ìcclniqucs. OnIy oncc you'ic ìlinking IogicaIIy ahouì ìlc mix
pioccss can you hc suic you'ic making dccisions foi soIid icasons-aì wlicl
poinì you'II hc icady ìo piogicss ìo moic a ficcsìyIc piofcssionaI appioacl
wiìl conndcncc.
Considci ìlc anaIogy of Icaining ìo diivc. You don'ì go sìiaiglì ouì on ìlc
moìoiway foi youi nisì diiving Icsson, cvcn ìlougl moìoiway diiving is a hig
paiì of wlaì mosì diivcis noimaIIy do. You nisì lavc ìo Icain a vaiicìy of poì-
ìcd ìcclniqucs in isoIaìion: opciaìing ìlc indicaìois, conìioIIing ìlc cIuìcl,
manipuIaìing ìlc sìcciing wlccI, swcaiing aì couiicis, and so on. Iì's onIy oncc
you lavc ìlc cxpciicncc ìo juggIc aII ìlcsc ìasks suhconsciousIy ìlaì you can
ciuisc ìlc fasì Ianc aì 8umpl wliIc Iisìcning ìo ìlc fooìhaII commcnìaiy and
fuiìivcIy dunking a clickcn nuggcì.
1lc nisì ìask wlcn mixing is nnding a haIancc-aì oncc ìlc simpIcsì conccpì
ìo cxpicss and ìlc mosì claIIcnging ìo impIcmcnì. If you can gcì cvciy impoi-
ìanì sound cIcaiIy audihIc and aì an appiopiiaìc IcvcI ìliouglouì ìlc duiaìion
of ìlc mix, ìlcn ìlc haììIc's mosìIy won. As Ioln Lcckic las noìcd, 'Vciy ofìcn,
iougl mixcs aic uscd on an aIhum. 1lc idca of a iougl mix is simpIy ìo lcai
wlaì you'vc goì, so you makc youi haIancc so ìlaì you can lcai cvciyìling.
And, icaIIy, ìlaì's aII you wanì ouì of a nnislcd iccoid-ìo lcai cvciyìling.
1lc woisì ìling is ìlings gcììing ohscuicd. PcopIc wiII ìuin ìlc music off wlcn
ìlcy can'ì lcai cvciyìling.´
l
119
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
8.1 ORDER, ORDER!
1lc oidci in wlicl you mix ìlc diffcicnì insìiumcnìs and sccìions wiìlin youi
pioducìion can lavc lugc conscqucnccs foi ìlc nnaI sonics, so ìlc nisì way
you can makc scnsc of ìlc mixing pioccss is hy woiking ouì wlcic ìo sìaiì.
Start with the Most Important Section
AImosì cvciy piccc of music woiìl ìlc namc las sccìions ìlaì can hc consid-
cicd cmoìionaI ligl poinìs, and a sciics of diop-downs and huiIdups con-
nccìing ìlcm. Youi joh aì ìlc mix is ìo suppoiì ìlis naìuiaI chh and ßow
(somcìimcs caIIcd ìlc 'Iong-ìcim mix dynamics´), wliIc icsciving ìlc gicaìcsì
musicaI inìcnsiìy foi ìlc pioducìion's mosì cIimacìic sccìion. 1lis is somcìling
ìlaì amaìcui cnginccis lavc gicaì difncuIìy wiìl, ìlc mosì common compIainì
hcing ìlaì ìlc vciscs sound higgci ìlan ìlc cloiuscs. FoiìunaìcIy, ìlc soIuìion
ìo ìlis piohIcm is disaimingIy simpIc: woik on youi song sccìions in oidci of
impoiìancc.
Foi insìancc, Icì's say you'ic mixing a song wiìl ìlis simpIc pop sìiucìuic: vcisc
l, cloius l, vcisc 2, cloius 2, midsccìion, cloius 3, cloius 4. If you wanì clo-
ius 4 ìo hc ìlc higgcsì-sounding sccìion (noì an cnoimousIy conìiovcisiaI
cloicc!), ìlcn mix ìlaì nisì. 1liow cvciyìling incIuding ìlc kiìclcn sink aì
iì so ìlaì iì sounds as hicaìlìaking as you can possihIc managc. Wlcn you'vc
icaclcd ìlc Iimiìs of youi mixing capahiIiìics, wipc ìlc swcaì fiom youi hiow
and ìlcn scc low you can adapì ìlc samc mix scììings ìo cloius 3 so ìlaì iì's
jusì a IiììIc Icss powcifuI-iì slouId sìiII sound gicaì, huì iì slouId aIso Icavc
ioom foi cloius 4 ìo sound hcììci. Co hack ìo cloius 2 and cloius l wiìl a
simiIai aim. You sìiII wanì ìlcm ìo sound Iikc cloiuscs, huì aì ìlc samc ìimc
you wanì ìlcii impacì ìo hc sIiglìIy Icss ìlan any of ìlc foIIowing cloius
sccìions.
Oncc you'vc dcnncd ìlc suhjccìivc impoiìancc of cacl of ìlcsc cloiuscs,
you can scì ahouì joining up ìlc doìs. Lcì's say ìlaì ìlc midsccìion of youi
song is dcsigncd ìo picììy mucl susìain ìlc cncigy IcvcI of cloius 2, mix
Building the Raw Balance
CHAPTER 8
PART 3 Balance 120
ìlaì ncxì, pcilaps wiìl faiiIy simiIai scììings as uscd foi ìlc cloiuscs,
and ìlcn Iisìcn low ìlc suhjccìivc cncigy IcvcIs clangc acioss ìlc sccìion
houndaiics. If cloius 3 fccIs Iikc a Icìdown, ìlcn you'vc puslcd ìlc midscc-
ìion ìoo fai. Rcin iì in a hiì. Rcmcmhci, you can'ì incicasc ìlc inìcnsiìy of
cloius 3, oìlciwisc cloius 4 won'ì sound Iikc a piopci cIimax, and cloius
4 can'ì gcì any higgci hccausc you'vc aIicady maxcd ouì youi mixing mojo
ìlcic. Bcsidcs, iì's a Ioì casici ìo makc ìlings sound smaIIci ìlan higgci any-
way. CIcaiIy you'II sìiII wanì ìlc midsccìion ìo sound as good as possihIc
wiìlin ìlcsc Iimiìs, huì noì so good ìlaì iì undcimincs ìlc cxciìcmcnì of
ìlosc nnaI cloiuscs.
FiIIing in ìlc icsì of ìlc hIanks in ìlis song sìiucìuic woiks jusì ìlc samc: makc
cacl sccìion sound as good as you can, huì wiìlouì compiomising ìlc musicaI
impoiìancc of ìlosc sccìions you'vc aIicady mixcd. Somcìimcs ìlis mcans ìlaì
you cnd up mixing ìlc hcginning of ìlc song Iasì, wlicl sìands ìo icason if
cvciyìling cIsc is huiIding fiom ìlcic. Howcvci, many famous pop songs acìu-
aIIy kick off wiìl a modincd cloius of somc soiì, wlicl may noì acìuaIIy hc
ìlc Iowcsì poinì in ìlc ovciaII mix dynamics, so mixing youi sccìions in oidci
of impoiìancc docsn'ì mcan mixing sccìions in icvcisc. Iì's youi icsponsihiI-
iìy as a mix cngincci ìo ìap inìo ìlc cmoìionaI ßow of ìlc music in oidci ìo
dccidc on ìlc mixing oidci ìlaì wiII hcsì scivc ìlaì goaI.
Bcyond cnsuiing ìlaì a pioducìion's cIimaxcs aic acìuaIIy cIimacìic, ìlc lici-
aiclicaI mixing appioacl can aIso liglIiglì vciy cIcaiIy wlcn iì's ìimc ìo usc
ìlc mosì undciiaìcd of aII mix ìooIs: ìlc muìc huììon. If ìlc aiiivaI of oui
FIGURE 8.1
One possible example of sensible mix dynamics for a typical short song structure. The choruses are more
intense than the verses, and each chorus is more intense than the previous one.
Building the Raw Balance CHAPTER 8 121
lypoìlcìicaI cloius 3 is sounding a hiì Iimp, ìlcn a good way ìo givc iì moic
of a hoosì miglì hc ìo diop ìlc midsccìion fuiìlci hy icmoving paiìs. Mayhc
ìlc sìcico slakcis couId hiìc ìlc dusì, oi somc of ìlc guiìai Iaycis, and ìlaì
sax soIo was ìoo clccsy anyway. In moic cxìicmc cascs, you couId cvcn cuì ouì
somc of ìlc coic ilyìlm sccìion, sucl as ìlc hass oi dium paiìs. Anoìlci com-
mon ìaigcì foi cuìs is vcisc l if iìs aiiangcmcnì is cuiicnìIy idcnìicaI ìo ìlaì
of vcisc 2-wiìlouì diffcicnìiaìing ìlc ìwo vciscs in somc way iì can
hc difncuIì ìo gcnciaìc any scnsc of musicaI momcnìum ìliougl ìlc
nisì paiì of ìlc song. Aì a piofcssionaI IcvcI, ìlcic is now an cxpcc-
ìaìion ìlaì mix cnginccis wiII lavc ìlis kind of cicaìivc inpuì, noì
onIy cuììing paiìs huì adding ncw oncs ìoo if ìlaì's wlaì iì ìakcs ìo
aclicvc icsuIìs.
'Mixcis makc pioducìion dccisions aII ìlc ìimc,´ commcnìs Iimmy
DougIass, 'and I add music ìo pcopIc's iccoids wlcn iì's noì nnislcd
oi donc coiiccìIy. In my woik as a mixci, I'm a nnislci. 1laì's wlaì I
do.´
2
Iayccn Ioslua connims ìlis appioacl: 'Oncc you gcì inìo ìlc
uppci cclcIons of mix cnginccis, you aic hcing paid foi youi ìasìc.
You'ic noì liicd jusì ìo makc ìlc iougl mix sound hcììci. You aic ìlc Iasì Iinc
of dcfcnsc cicaìivcIy, and you'ic cxpccìcd ìo impiovc ìlc iccoid. Iì is youi joh
ìo clangc ìlings.´
3
Onc woid of waining, ìlougl, wlcn woiking ìlis way: no maììci low mucl you
paic down ìlc inìioducìion of youi pioducìion ìo aIIow ioom foi huiIdup, iì's
sìiII impoiìanì fiom a commciciaI pcispccìivc ìlaì iì cngagcs ìlc Iisìcnci sìiaiglì
away. As Ricl Cosìcy cxpIains, 'If ìlc inìio isn'ì gicaì, iì docsn'ì maììci wlaì lap-
pcns ìo ìlc icsì of ìlc song. 1laì's somcìling I Icaincd a Iong ìimc ago: if ìlc
song is going ìo woik, ìlc inìio las ìo giah you immcdiaìcIy. 1lc impoiìancc of
ìlis cannoì hc ovcisìaìcd.´
4
Start with the Most Important Instrument
1lcic aic somc cnginccis (sucl as Boh CIcaimounìain,
5
Cliis Loid-AIgc,
6

Iack Ioscpl Puig,
7
and Ccnzo 1ownslcnd
8
) wlo Iikc ìo ìliow up aII ìlc fad-
cis aì ìlc samc ìimc and woik on cvciyìling simuIìancousIy fiom ìlc ouìscì.
AIìlougl ìlcic's no aiguing wiìl ìlcii icsuIìs, my vicw is ìlaì iì's onIy icaIIy
possihIc ìo puII off ìlis appioacl succcssfuIIy if you'vc goì ìlc kind of mixing
conndcncc hoin of dccadcs of cxpciicncc. 1losc sìaiìing ouì aic hcììci scivcd, I
ìlink, hy foIIowing ìlc Icad of oìlci cquaIIy ligl-pionIc namcs (Mikc CIink,
9

Iack DougIas,
lu
Andy Iolns,
ll
1om Loid-AIgc,
l2
AIan Paisons,
l3
and 1ony
Visconìi,
l4
ìo namc huì a landfuI) wlo picfci ìo huiId ìlc mix up in sìagcs,
adding insìiumcnìs piogicssivcIy unìiI ìlc compIcìc mix is lappcning.
Wiìlin ìlis conìcxì, ìlc idca of woiking in oidci of impoiìancc can aIso pay
dividcnds, foIIowing ìlc Icad of Ioc CliccaicIIi: 'Iì's a maììci of nnding ouì
wlaì ìlc ccnìci of ìlc song is oi wlaì makcs iì ìick. Somcìimcs you huiId iì
aiound ìlc ilyìlm, somcìimcs you huiId iì aiound ìlc vocaI.´
l5
1lc ìling ìo
cmplasizc lcic is ìlaì iì's sonic impoiìancc ìlaì you wanì ìo hc cvaIuaìing
FIGURE 8.2
A seriously underrated
mix tool: the mute
button.
PART 3 Balance 122
iaìlci ìlan musicaI impoiìancc. A common casc
in poinì lcic is Icad vocaI paiìs, wlicl dcspiìc
ìlcii ccnìiaI ioIc in dcIivciing ìlc main mcIody
and Iyiics, ofìcn aicn'ì as impoiìanì ìo ìlc sonic
signaìuic of ìlc ìiack as ìlc ilyìlm sccìion paiìs.
1lc Sugahahcs ìiack 'Rcd Dicss´ is onc iIIusìia-
ìion of ìlis idca-aIìlougl vocaI mcIody and
Iyiics aic ìlc IifchIood of any pop ìunc, ìlc mosì
impoiìanì sonic cIcmcnìs in ìlis ìiack aic acìuaIIy
ìlc hass and ìlc diums.
BuiIding up youi mix onc insìiumcnì aì a ìimc,
in oidci of impoiìancc, mcans ìlaì you avoid ìlc
aII-ìoo-common piohIcm of iunning ouì of spacc
foi cvciyìling. If a hig vocaI sound is impoiìanì ìo
you, ìlcn iì's a wasìc of ìimc ìo spcnd louis pack-
ing youi mix fuII of CodziIIa-giadc ilyìlm guiìais
hcfoic you add ìlaì in. Wlcn you do fadc up ìlc
vocaI, iì'II hc nglìing foi iìs Iifc againsì ìlc waII of
guiìais, and you'II lavc ìo ìiasl a Ioì of ìlc gui-
ìai pioccssing you'vc jusì sIavcd ovci. If cvciy paiì
you fadc up is Icss impoiìanì sonicaIIy ìlan ìlc onc hcfoic, iì's mucl cIcaici
low mucl spacc iì can safcIy occupy in ìlc mix, and ìlcicfoic low fuII sound-
ing you can affoid ìo makc iì hcfoic iì ìiampIcs ovci moic impoiìanì mix
cIcmcnìs.
A coupIc of ligl-pionIc commciciaI pioducìions ìlaì piovidc paiìicuIaiIy
cxìicmc cxampIcs of ìlis piincipIc in acìion aic Dido's 'Wliìc FIag´ and
Rilanna's 'UmhicIIa,´ hoìl of wlicl givc ovci ìlc majoiiìy of ìlcii mix spacc
ìo ìlc diums and vocaIs wliIc savagcIy caiving away somc oìlci hackgiound
paiìs. In 'Wliìc FIag´ ìlc acousìic guiìais aic picììy mucl icduccd ìo a spiin-
kIing of ilyìlmic pick noisc, wlcicas ìlc synìls ìlaì aiiivc in ìlc cloius of
'UmhicIIa´ aic so loIIowcd ouì ìlaì ìlcy'ic moic an iIIusion ìlan anyìling
cIsc. Don'ì gcì mc wiong, I'm noì ciiìicizing ìlcsc mixcs, on ìlc conìiaiy, hoìl
of ìlcm aic cxìicmcIy hoId and admiiahIy cffccìivc, and wlaì ìlcy dcmon-
sìiaìc is ìlaì mix pioccssing dccisions foi any givcn insìiumcnì nccd ìo ìakc
accounì of ìlc mix spacc avaiIahIc ìo iì.
1lcic aic somc oìlci signincanì advanìagcs of ìlis mcìlodoIogy fiom a smaII-
sìudio DAW usci's pcispccìivc ìoo. Civcn low casy iì now is ìo puì l5 pIug-ins
on a ìiack in mosì DAWs, ovcipioccssing is an cvci-picscnì lazaid foi sofìwaic
uscis. AII pIug-ins lavc sidc cffccìs, and ìlc Icss pioccssing you can usc ìo soIvc
a piohIcm, ìlc smooìlci ìlc nnaI mix is gcnciaIIy going ìo sound. '1lc ìling
I'vc Icaincd,´ says Iusìin Nichank, 'is ìo do as IiììIc as is lumanIy possihIc,
hccausc wlcn ìlc compuìci las ìo woik ìlaì mucl laidci-hccausc you'vc
piIcd on Ioads of pIug-ins, foi cxampIc-ìlc sound sccms ìo gcì smaIIci and
smaIIci.´
l6
Bccausc ìlc puiposc of a Ioì of mixdown pioccssing is simpIy ìo
FIGURE 8.3
Two albums that give
lead-vocal sonics
extremely high priority,
often to the detriment of
other backing sounds,
are Dido’s Life for Rent
and Rihanna’s Good Girl
Gone Bad.
Building the Raw Balance CHAPTER 8 123
icsoIvc conßicìs hcìwccn insìiumcnìs, you'II ìypicaIIy nnd ìlaì cacl ncw ìiack
you add nccds moic and moic pioccssing ìo squcczc iì inìo cvci smaIIci pock-
cìs in ìlc haIancc, so Iaìci ìiacks wiII incviìahIy suffci moic dcìiimcnìaI sidc
cffccìs. By mixing youi mosì impoiìanì insìiumcnìs wliIc ìlcic's sìiII Ioìs of
ioom ìo mancuvci, ìlcy'II cnd up wiìl Icss pioccssing, fcwci unwanìcd aiìi-
facìs, and a moic appcaIing sound.
1lis way of woiking can aIso pIay inìo youi lands
if you'ic sloiì of pioccssoi powci, hccausc ligl-
quaIiìy pIug-ins aic usuaIIy moic CPU-lungiy, so
you'ic moic IikcIy ìo usc ìlcm caiIy on in ìlc mix
pioccss wlcn compuìing powci is sìiII faiiIy ìlick
on ìlc giound. Youi mosì impoiìanì insìiumcnìs
wiII ìlcicfoic hc moic IikcIy ìo icccivc youi hcsì-
quaIiìy pIug-ins, and if CPU muncl sìaiìs icsìiicìing youi pioccssing opìions
Iaìci on, any Ioss of quaIiìy wiII damagc ìlc pioducìion sonics Icss hy dinì of
hcing icIcgaìcd ìo moic pciiplciaI paiìs.
If you'ic jusì sìaiìing ouì mixing, ìlcn iì can acìuaIIy lcIp ìo wiiìc down a
Iisì of aII youi ìiacks and ìlcn numhci ìlcm in oidci of impoiìancc, as a way
of discipIining youiscIf ìo sìick ìo ìlc pIan. Iì's noì aIways casy ìo gcì off ìlc
fcncc and commiì youiscIf, ìlougl, cspcciaIIy if you'ic mixing somconc cIsc's
woik. 1lc icIaìivc impoiìancc of diffcicnì insìiumcnìs in a mix is lcaviIy gcnic
dcpcndcnì, and you'II ofìcn nnd ìlaì an cngincci's cloicc of wlaì ìo mix nisì
icßccìs ìlis-so iock pioducci Mikc CIink
l7
ìaIks ahouì huiIding up fiom ìlc
diums and hass, foi insìancc, wliIc pop-ccnìiic pioducci Humhciìo Caìica
l8

conccnìiaìcs on ìlc vocaIs sìiaiglì away. As sucl iì's common scnsc ìo Iook ìo
icIcvanì commciciaI icIcascs foi inspiiaìion oi scck advicc fiom any cngincci
you know wlo spcciaIizcs in ìlc appiopiiaìc sìyIc.
A cIicnì's iougl mix can aIso hc uscfuI in ìlis icspccì, as cIicnìs wiII ofìcn
insìincìivcIy haIancc iì lcaviIy in favoi of ìlc sounds ìlcy wanì ìo lcai.
Howcvci, do hc awaic ìlaì somc scIf-iccoiding vocaIisìs wouId iaìlci lcai a
copy of Ultimate Manilow on icpcaì ìlan Iisìcn ìo ìlcii own iccoidcd voicc, so
ìakc huiicd vocaIs wiìl a pincl of saIì. FinaIIy, if duiing youi icconnaissancc
of ìlc piojccì duiing ìlc mix picp pioccss you'vc lappcncd on anyìling daz-
zIing Iuiking suiicpìiìiousIy among ìlc muIìiìiacks, you miglì fccI ìlaì iì's
woiìl icvcising somc of ìlc csìahIislcd sìyIisìic convcnìions ìo makc ìlis inìo
a mucl moic piomincnì fcaìuic of ìlc ìiack-iì's a iisk, huì aì mixdown iì's
suipiising low ofìcn foiìunc favois ìlc hiavc.
Noìc ìlaì iì's cnìiicIy noimaI ìlaì ìlc icIaìivc impoiìancc of cciìain insìiu-
mcnìs slouId vaiy foi diffcicnì sccìions of ìlc aiiangcmcnì, and you nccd ìo
ìakc accounì of ìlis wlcn huiIding cacl ncw sccìion of ìlc haIancc. In facì,
if you makc a poinì of wiiìing down an insìiumcnì ianking foi cacl aiiangc-
mcnì sccìion, iì can scivc as a good indicaìoi as ìo wlcic muIìing may hc
ncccssaiy-if ìlc icIaìivc impoiìancc of any insìiumcnì clangcs diamaìicaIIy
hcìwccn sccìions, iì's odds on ìlaì iì'II nccd muIìing ìo aIIow foi diffcicnì
FIGURE 8.4
If you leave mixing
important tracks until the
last minute, your CPU
may max out before you
can give them the quality
processing they deserve.
PART 3 Balance 124
pioccssing sìiaìcgics in cacl insìancc. Lcad vocaIs, acousìic guiìais, and pianos,
foi cxampIc, aic ofìcn of mucl moic sonic impoiìancc duiing spaisci vciscs
ìlan duiing moic dcnscIy popuIaìcd cloiuscs.
Time Is Money
Onc nnaI gcnciaI conccpì ìo hcai in mind wiìl mixing is ìlaì ìimc is moncy.
In oìlci woids, you slouId ìiy ìo aIIocaìc ìlc majoiiìy of youi
ìimc ìo ìlosc aspccìs of ìlc pioducìion ìlaì aic mosì
IikcIy ìo scII youi mix: ìo ìlc cIicnì, ìo ìlc indus-
ìiy, and ìo ìlc puhIic. CIcn BaIIaid says, 'Wlaì
wc somcìimcs do in ìlc sìudio is wc spcnd
9u pciccnì of ìlc ìimc on sìuff ìlaì's woiìl ahouì
lu pciccnì-ìlc ahsoIuìc dcìaiI of cvciyìling ìlaì,
aì ìlc cnd of ìlc day, piohahIy docsn'ì maììci.´
l9

In ìlis icspccì, spcnding ìlc samc ìimc and cffoiì
on cvciy ìiack in youi mix is usuaIIy misguidcd,
hccausc ìlcic aic onIy cvci a fcw aspccìs of any pio-
ducìion ìlaì caiiy ìlc main commciciaI appcaI.
Wlaì cxacìIy ìlc main looks in a pioducìion aic vaiics a
gicaì dcaI, of couisc, dcpcnding on ìlc sìyIc, huì iì's noncìlcIcss impoiìanì ìo
hc as cIcai as you can in youi mind wlcic ìlc moncy is. Foi many mainsìicam
claiì sìyIcs, ìlc vocaIs cIcaiIy dcscivc a Iion's slaic of ìlc mixing ìimc (and
indccd ìlc mix picpaiaìion woik), as ìlosc cIcmcnìs wiII command ìlc aììcn-
ìion of ìlc widcsì iangc of Iisìcncis and aIso caiiy ìlc main copyiiglì asscìs:
mcIody and Iyiics. Iì's cciìainIy noì aì aII unusuaI foi vocaIs ìo occupy wcII
ovci laIf ìlc ìoìaI pioducìion ìimc in pop and R&B, so if you'ic woiking in
ìlosc sìyIcs hc icaIisìic ahouì wlaì you'ic up againsì.
Howcvci, in cIccìionic dancc sìyIcs iì may hc ìlaì ìlc kick, hass, and synìl[
sampIc looks waiianì ìlc majoiiìy of ìlc aììcnìion. Wlaìcvci ìlc kcy ìiacks
in youi pioducìion, lowcvci, ìlc main ìling foi scIf-pioducing smaII-sìudio
owncis is ìlaì ìimc is laidIy cvci on ìlcii sidc, so if you can discipIinc youiscIf
ìo ahandon somc nncssc wlcic iì's noì going ìo hc appicciaìcd, ìlcn you'II hc
ahIc ìo focus moic of youi ìimc and cncigy on poIisling ìlosc musicaI fca-
ìuics ìlaì wiII icaIIy cnlancc ìlc pioducìion's maikcì piospccìs.
8.2 SIMPLE BALANCING TASKS
Oncc you'vc dccidcd wlicl sccìion gocs nisì, you can scì up youi DAW's ìians-
poiì ìo Ioop iì foi you wliIc you sìaiì puììing ìogcìlci a hasic haIancc. 1lis
isn'ì a qucsìion of mcicIy wiggIing fadcis, ìlougl, hccausc ìlcic aic acìuaIIy a
numhci of ìasks ìlaì nccd aììcnding ìo aì ìlc samc ìimc if youi IcvcI scììings aic
going ìo lavc any vaIidiìy. Sìcico panning nccds soiìing ouì, foi a sìaiì, hccausc
iì's oìlciwisc impossihIc ìo judgc ìlc cffccìivcncss of ìlc mix in mono (as dis-
cusscd in Sccìion 2.l). Any comh-nIìciing cffccìs hcìwccn muIìimic iccoidings
Spending the
same time and effort on
every track in your mix is usually
misguided, because there are only
ever a few aspects of any production
that carry the main commercial
appeal.
Building the Raw Balance CHAPTER 8 125
musì aIso hc ìackIcd hcfoic fadci IcvcIs can hc scì icIiahIy, and Iow-ficqucncy
iuhhisl is hcsì icmovcd as caiIy in ìlc mix pioccss as possihIc as wcII, foi ìlc
icasons mcnìioncd in Sccìion 3.5.
1lc simpIcsì ìypc of insìiumcnì ìo haIancc is onc ìlaì las hccn iccoidcd ìo iìs
own mono audio nIc, wiìlouì any simuIìancousIy iccoidcd insìiumcnìs audihIc
in ìlc hackgiound (in oìlci woids, wiìlouì 'spiII,´ 'hIccd´, 'Icakagc,´ oi wlaì-
cvci cIsc you miglì lappcn ìo caII iì). Wiìl ìlis insìiumcnì aII you nccd ìo do is
icmovc unwanìcd Iow ficqucncics, adjusì ìlc pan conìioI, and scì ìlc fadci IcvcI
ìo wlcic iì sounds hcsì. Lcì's Iook aì ìlcsc ìlicc sìcps in moic dcìaiI.
High-Pass Filtering
CIcaning up ìlc Iow cnd of ìlc ìiack is a joh foi youi nisì hona ndc mix pio-
ccssoi: ìlc ligl-pass nIìci. Wlaì ìlis docs is piogicssivcIy cuì away ìlc Iow cnd
hcIow a usci-dcnncd 'cuì-off´ oi 'coinci´ ficqucncy. 1lc incicasing cxìcnì ìo
wlicl Iow ficqucncics aic aììcnuaìcd as you piogicss down ìlc spccìium hcIow
ìlc cuì-off poinì is usuaIIy cxpicsscd in dccihcIs pci ocìavc, and somc moic
advanccd ligl-pass nIìci dcsigns givc you somc conìioI ovci ìlis. AIìlougl
you'II nnd nIìci sIopcs of 72dB[ocìavc oi moic on somc nIìcis, ìlcsc can lavc
piohIcmaìic audio sidc cffccìs, so I sìick ìo compaiaìivcIy modciaìc nIìci sIopcs
of 6, l2, and l8dB[ocìavc (somcìimcs icfciicd ìo as l-, 2-, and 3-poIc dcsigns,
oi nisì-, sccond-, and ìliid-oidci nIìcis) foi gcnciic mix cIcanup woik.
Somc nIìcis may offci a Rcsonancc, Bandwidìl, oi Q conìioI, wlicl cicaìcs a
naiiow-handwidìl IcvcI hoosì aì ìlc cuì-off ficqucncy, huì ìlis fcaìuic is iiicI-
cvanì ìo ìlc ìask in land so iì slouId hc scì foi ìlc minimum hoosì and can
ìlcn hc ignoicd. In facì, as a iuIc, ligl-pass nIìcis wiìl icsonancc conìioIs aic
FIGURE 8.5
High-pass filtering is occasionally provided as a dedicated plug-in (such as Brainworx’s Bx_cleansweep,
right ), but it more commonly forms part of a fully featured equalizer (such as Universal Audio’s Cambridge
Equalizer, left ).
PART 3 Balance 126
moic associaìcd wiìl sound-dcsign woik ìlan mixing, so ìlcy may noì hc ìlc
mosì ìianspaicnì-sounding cloicc foi ìlis sccnaiio anyway. You'II noimaIIy hc
hcììci scivcd hy ìlc kind of ligl-pass nIìci ìlaì is piovidcd as paiì of an cquaI-
izci pIug-in.
Wlaìcvci hiand of ligl-pass nIìci you usc, ìlc kcy conccin is scììing iìs cuì-off
ficqucncy. Rogci NicloIs dcsciihcs a good aII-puiposc appioacl lcic, using ìlc
cxampIc of an acousìic guiìai paiì: 'My iuIc is: if you can'ì lcai iì, you don'ì
nccd iì. 1uin on ìlc |nIìcij.. Sìaiì iaising ìlc ficqucncy sIowIy unìiI you can
lcai a clangc in ìlc sound of ìlc Iow cnd of ìlc acousìic guiìai.. Now icducc
ìlc ficqucncy hy ahouì l5 pciccnì.´
20
AIìlougl NicloIs ìaigcìs lis nIìciing piimaiiIy aì midiangc insìiumcnìs in a pio-
fcssionaI cnviionmcnì, I ìlink iì's hcììci smaII-sìudio piacìicc ìo nIìci piacìicaIIy
cvciyìling in ìlc mix in ìlis mannci. If you can'ì icIy on youi moniìoiing ìo
infoim you wlcìlci you'ic Iosing impoiìanì Iow-ficqucncy infoimaìion cvcn aì
youi nIìci's Iowcsì scììing, ìlcn ìlis is wlcic a spccìium anaIyzci can piovidc
uscfuI addiìionaI insiglì. And ìlcic's anoìlci ìling I'd add ìo wlaì NicloIs las
ìo say: in my cxpciicncc ìlc powci of a dium's aììack can somcìimcs hc sofìcncd
hy ligl-pass nIìciing wcII hcfoic ìlc insìiumcnì's ovciaII ìonc clangcs appiccia-
hIy. Foi Iowci-icgisìci insìiumcnìs sucl as kicks, snaics, and ìom-ìoms in paiìic-
uIai, I ìlcicfoic icguIaiIy scì ìlc nIìci's ficqucncy conìioI a IiììIc Iowci and kccp
my cais opcn foi ìlis casiIy ovciIookcd pioccssing sidc cffccì.
Panning Mono Recordings
Panning simpIc mono insìiumcnì iccoidings isn'ì icaIIy iockcì scicncc, and
aIìlougl somc pcopIc wax IyiicaI ahouì ìiying ìo cicaìc somc kind of 'naìu-
iaI´ sìcico panoiama, ìlc icaIiìy of mainsìicam iccoid pio-
ducìion is ìlaì somc panning is caiiicd ouì foi soIid
ìcclnicaI icasons, wlcicas ìlc icsì is donc puicIy
on giounds of ìlc mix cngincci's pcisonaI ìasìc
and wiìl scanì icgaid foi any noìion of sìcico
icaIism. Foi cxampIc, mosì dium-kiì iccoidings
usuaIIy spicad ìlc insìiumcnìs widcIy acioss
ìlc sìcico picìuic, huì you'd onIy gcì ìlaì pic-
ìuic if you wcic acìuaIIy scaìcd on ìlc dium
sìooI. 'If you'ic sìanding in fionì of a dium kiì,´
says FIood, 'you lcai iì in mono-you don'ì lcai
ìlc ìoms panning ncaìIy fiom Icfì ìo iiglì in youi
cais.´
2l
So you'II lavc ìo foigivc mc if I conccnìiaìc on ìlc
moic ohjccìivcIy jusìinahIc icasons foi panning lcic and Icavc you ìo
makc up youi own mind ahouì ìlc icsì.
Fiom a ìcclnicaI sìandpoinì, ìlcic aic good icasons foi puììing ìlc mosì impoi-
ìanì musicaI cIcmcnìs of youi mix in ìlc middIc of ìlc sìcico imagc, hccausc
ìlcy'II hc ìlc oncs ìlaì suivivc hcsì in mono and in siìuaìions wlcic onIy
onc sidc of a sìcico signaI is lcaid. In mosì cascs, ìlis mcans ìlaì youi kick,
Panning toward
the extremes deserves
careful thought, as it leads
to a 3dB level drop in mono, and
might even cause an instrument
to disappear completely on the
wrong end of a pair of
shared earbuds.
Building the Raw Balance CHAPTER 8 127
snaic, hass, and any soIo Icad vocaI wiII noimaIIy inlahiì ìlc ccnìci. 1lis is
paiìicuIaiIy impoiìanì foi ìlc hass insìiumcnìs, as ìiansmiììing ìlcm fiom ìlc
comhincd suifacc aica of ìwo woofcis gcìs ìlc hcsì Iow-ficqucncy cfncicncy ouì
of any givcn sìcico spcakci sysìcm. (Off-ccnìci hass can aIso causc piohIcms
wiìl picssing youi music ìo vinyI as wcII, if you'ic conccincd wiìl ìlaì.)
Wlcn any ìiack is panncd off-ccnìci, a piimaiy considciaìion is low iìs haI-
ancc wiII clangc in mono and singIc-sidcd sìcico. In ìlis icspccì, panning
ìowaid ìlc cxìicmcs dcscivcs caicfuI ìlouglì, as iì Icads ìo a considciahIc 3dB
IcvcI diop in mono and miglì cvcn causc an insìiumcnì ìo disappcai com-
pIcìcIy on ìlc wiong cnd of a paii of slaicd caihuds. Howcvci, cvciy pioducci
aIso las ìo dccidc low mucl iì maììcis ìo ìlcm if a panncd sound makcs ìlc
mix fccI Iopsidcd, oi disìiacìs ìlc Iisìcnci's aììcnìion sidcways fiom ìlc sìai
aììiacìions aì ìlc ccnìci of ìlc picìuic. In piacìicc, wlaì mosì cnginccis pIump
foi is a compiomisc, wlicl is somcìimcs icfciicd ìo as opposiìion panning:
if an impoiìanì mono insìiumcnì is panncd ìo onc sidc, ìlcn anoìlci insìiu-
mcnì wiìl a simiIai musicaI funcìion is panncd ìo ìlc oìlci sidc. Opposiìion
panning ìlcicfoic sìiII piovidcs you wiìl sìcico widìl and inìcicsì, huì wiìl-
ouì puIIing ìlc ovciaII sìcico picìuic off-ccnìci oi cndangciing ìlc musicaI
scnsc in onc-sidcd sìcico pIayhack siìuaìions. As sucl, many panning dcci-
sions aic moic ahouì ìlc widìl and spacing of opposiìion-panncd insìiumcnì
gioups ìlan ahouì ìlc spccinc sìcico Iocaìions of individuaI sounds.
Setting the Levels
Afìci ligl-pass nIìciing and panning, you'ic icady ìo scì IcvcIs. Foi ìlc nisì
ìiack, aII you do is cloosc a scnsihIc IcvcI icIaìivc ìo youi mixing sysìcm's lcad-
ioom so you don'ì iisk disìoiìion oncc ìlc wloIc aiiangcmcnì's going. WliIc
you couId usc youi clanncI fadci foi ìlis puiposc, ìlcic's somcìling ìo hc said
foi Icaving ìlc fadci aì ìlc udB (uniìy gain) posiìion and appIying mosì of ìlc
icquiicd gain ciìlci wiìl ìlc mixci clanncI's inpuì gain conìioI (if iì las onc) oi
wiìl a simpIc gain pIug-in insciìcd inìo ìlc clanncI. 1lcic aic ìwo icasons foi
ìlis: nisì, aImosì aII fadcis lavc ìlcii hcsì conìioI icsoIuìion ccnìcicd aiound ìlc
uniìy gain posiìion, so iì's difncuIì ìo makc nnc IcvcI clangcs if ìlc fadci cap's
iiglì down aì ìlc hoììom of iìs ìiavcI, sccond, ìlc fadci's uppci cnd sìop can hc a
pain in ìlc ncck if you hcgin ìlc mix ìoo cIosc ìo iì.
1losc sìaiìing ouì wiìl mixing usuaIIy undcicsìimaìc ìlc amounì of ìimc and
aììcnìion ìlcy slouId givc ìo hasic IcvcI haIancing, so icsisì ìlc ìcmpìaìion ìo
skaìc ovci ìlis sìagc of ìlc mixing pioccss jusì hccausc iì sccms so scIf-cvidcnì.
Iusìin Nichank noìcs, 'BaIancc is way moic impoiìanì ìlan EQ oi auìomaìion,
huì pcopIc sccm ìo givc up laIf an loui ìoo soon on somc mixcs. You lavc ìo
ìlink haIancc nisì.´
22
1iy ìo zcio in on wlaì ìlc IcvcI of cacl ncw insìiumcnì
mcans foi ìlc mix as a wloIc, and hc awaic ìlaì a good haIancc usuaIIy invoIvcs
somc kind of ìiadcoff: on ìlc onc land, you wanì ìlc ìiack Ioud cnougl ìlaì
you can lcai aII ìlc ìlings you icaIIy Iovc ahouì ìlc individuaI sound, on ìlc
oìlci land, you nccd ìo kccp ìlc ìiack Iow cnougl in ìlc mix ìlaì is docsn'ì
ohscuic ìlc mciiìs of moic impoiìanì insìiumcnìs ìlaì aic aIicady picscnì.
FIGURE 8.6
A typical fader control
scale. Fader movements
around the unity (0dB)
gain position will give
smaller and more
precise gain changes
than fader movements
toward the bottom of the
level scale.
PART 3 Balance 128
1lis is wlcic good moniìoiing piacìiccs can icaIIy pay off. Usc youi main and
sccondaiy Iisìcning sysìcms ìo gain a muIìifaccìcd vicw of ìlc siìuaìion, paying
paiìicuIai aììcnìion ìo youi Auiaìonc suhsìiìuìc, and makc appiopiiaìc usc of
ìlc Iow-ficqucncy woikaiounds discusscd in Clapìci 3. Kccp youi cais ficsl
hy swiìcling moniìois ficqucnìIy, vaiying youi Iisìcning IcvcIs, ìaking hicaks,
and sccking oìlci pcopIc's opinions. You miglì cvcn Iook ìo youi coIIccìion of
icfcicncc pioducìions foi guidancc, aIìlougl I'd sound a noìc of cauìion ìlcic,
hccausc iì's casy ìo gcì hoggcd down if you ìiy ìo do dcìaiIcd icfcicncing caiIy
on in ìlc mix pioccss. In piacìicc, I picfci ìo pIay ìliougl a landfuI of icIcvanì
icfcicncc ìiacks fiom ìimc ìo ìimc ìo caIihiaìc my cais in gcnciaI, and ìlcn
SOME TRICKS FOR JUDGING FADER LEVELS
If you’re having trouble making your mind up about the balance of a particular fader,
then there are a few little tricks that can help clarify your thoughts. The first good one
comes courtesy of Gus Dudgeon: “I find the quickest way to decide whether something
is actually loud enough or not is to run the mix and turn the signal on and off. If you
turn it on and you can hear it, but it’s not smack bang in your eye, it’s probably where
it should be…. The best thing to do [if an instrument is too loud] is to take the bloody
fader out and start again. Creep it in until you think that’s probably where it should be
and then try switching it on and off.”
23
Mike Stavrou offers another good one: “Instead
of focusing all your concentration on the fader being moved, listen to the neighboring
instruments instead. While trying to hone the perfect level of the snare drum, for
example, do so while listening to the bass drum…. You will quite often find a more
decisive point of balance this way. That’s not surprising, because when you think about
it that’s exactly how the listener listens—his (or her) mind is elsewhere until you attract
his attention.”
24
“It is always easier to tell when something is wrong than when something is right,”
says Roger Nichols. “While listening to the mix, one at a time change the levels of each
instrument in varying combinations. Turn the bass up 1dB. Does the mix sound worse?
If the answer is yes, then turn it back down. Turn the bass down 1dB. Does this sound
worse? If the answer is yes, then the original level was right for the bass. Now try [the
other instruments]…. If you can change the level of an instrument in the mix by a
tenth or two-tenths of a decibel and you can hear the change that you made, the mix is
getting pretty good.”
25
(If that “pretty good” feels like a bit of an understatement, just
bear in mind it’s coming from a guy with seven Grammies on his mantelpiece!)
A final nifty hint comes from Roey Izhaki. “Take the fader all the way down. Bring it up
gradually until the level seems reasonable. Mark the fader position. Take the fader
all the way up (or to a point where the instrument is clearly too loud). Bring it down
gradually until the level seems reasonable. Mark the fader position. You should now
have two marks that set the limits of a level window. Now set the instrument level
within this window based on the importance of the instrument.”
26
What’s particularly
useful about this tip is that the size of the “level window” can also provide advanced
warning of tracks where further mix processing is required—of which more later in this
chapter!
Building the Raw Balance CHAPTER 8 129
I Icavc any dcìaiIcd mix icfcicncing unìiI ìlc cnd of ìlc mixdown pioccss
wlcn ìlc sonics can hc compaicd wiìl commciciaI pioducìions on a moic
cquaI fooìing.
AIìlougl iì's a faIsc cconomy ìo iusl youi iniìiaI fadci scììings, you aIso
slouIdn'ì hcaì youiscIf up cxpccìing ìo gcì a pcifccì haIancc sìiaiglì away,
hccausc iì ìakcs a Ioì moic ìlan fadcis ìo uploId ìlc haIancc in mainsìicam
commciciaI gcnics. Iusì ìiy ìo makc ìlc hcsì-infoimcd picIiminaiy dccisions you
can, so ìlaì you minimizc ìlc amounì of pioccssing icquiicd fuiìlci down ìlc
Iinc. And if you sìay aIciì duiing ìlc haIancing pioccss, ìlc fadcis wiII sìaiì ìo
givc you vaIuahIc ìip-offs ahouì wlicl ìiacks nccd pIug-in assisìancc.
Listen to Your Faders!
Fadcis can'ì ìaIk, huì ìlcy can communicaìc noncìlcIcss,
iì's onIy oncc you Icain ìo ìunc in ìo ìlcii dcIicaìc mcs-
sagcs ìlaì mix pioccssing acìuaIIy sìaiìs ìo makc
any icaI scnsc. You nccd ìo hc scnsiìivc ìo wlcn
any fadci scììing docsn'ì sccm ìo fccI 'sìahIc´-
in oìlci woids, you can'ì nnd a sìaìic IcvcI foi
ìlaì insìiumcnì ìlaì aclicvcs a haIancc you'ic
lappy wiìl, hccausc wlcicvci you ìiy ìo scì iì,
iì docsn'ì fccI iiglì. If a fadci fccIs unsìahIc Iikc
ìlis, ìlcn ìlc ìiack piohahIy nccds pioccssing
ìo aclicvc a good haIancc. 1lis insiglì miglì noì
sccm paiìicuIaiIy caiìl slaììciing if you aIicady know
ìlaì a good piopoiìion of youi ìiacks wiII nccd pioccss-
ing, huì wlaì you can aIicady gain fiom iì is ìlc conndcncc
ìo Icavc ìiacks unprocessed if ìlcy aIicady haIancc nnc aì a sìaìic fadci IcvcI. 1lis
is a ciuciaI mixing dccision in iìs own iiglì, and, incidcnìaIIy, iì's onc ìlaì cxpc-
iicnccd cnginccis ìcnd ìo aiiivc aì mucl moic ofìcn ìlan iookics do. 'Onc of
ìlc smaiìci ìlings foi a mixci is ìo know wlcn ìo Icavc sìuff aIonc,´ says Iimmy
DougIass.
27
DaiiyI Swann puìs iì anoìlci way: '1asìc youi food hcfoic you saIì
iì. I know so many guys ìlaì fccI ìlaì ìlcy'ic noì caining ìlcii moncy unIcss
ìlcy'ic pusling swiìclcs and ìuining knohs. No, you'vc goì ìo listen ìo youi
sound. If iì nccds woik, ìlcn pIug somcìling in.´
28
Buì jusì spoììing an unsìahIc fadci is onIy ìlc nisì sìcp, hccausc ìlc piccisc
claiacìciisìics of ìlaì insìahiIiìy aic wlaì piovidc ìlc csscnìiaI cIucs you nccd
ìo cloosc ìlc hcsì mix nx. 1lc iangc of concIusions ìlaì iì's possihIc ìo diaw is
cnoimous, and wc'II hc Iooking aì ìlcm in moic dcìaiI ovci ìlc ncxì six clap-
ìcis, huì foi now lcic aic a fcw commonpIacc cxampIcs ìo liglIiglì ìlc kinds
of ìlings you slouId hc waìcling ouì foi duiing ìlc picIiminaiy haIancing sìagc:
I
You fadc up youi dium Ioop unìiI ìlc kick sccms piopciIy haIanccd, huì
you can'ì lcai ìlc snaic and li-laì cIcmcnìs wcII cnougl aì ìlaì IcvcI. Iì
fccIs Iikc you nccd a scpaiaìc fadci foi ìlc kick dium, wlicl is a sìiong cIuc
ìlaì you miglì wanì ìo muIì ìlc kick liìs ìo a scpaiaìc ìiack.
Leave tracks
unprocessed if they
already balance fine at a
static fader level. This is a crucial
mixing decision in its own right,
and, incidentally, it’s one that
experienced engineers tend to
arrive at much more often
than rookies do.
PART 3 Balance 130
I
You ìiy ìo scì ìlc IcvcI foi a simpIc ciglìl-noìc ilyìlm-guiìai paiì, huì somc
cloids aIways fccI huiicd in ìlc mix, wlcicas oìlcis pop ouì unduIy. You'ic
consìanìIy fccIing ìlc uigc ìo ìwcak ìlc fadci. Wlaì youi mix is ìiying ìo ìcII
you is ìlaì ìlc diffcicncc in IcvcI hcìwccn ìlc Ioudcsì and sofìcsì cloids is
ìoo Iaigc-oi, ìo ìiansIaìc ìlaì inìo ìccl-ìaIk, ìlc dynamic iangc is ìoo widc.
You ìlcicfoic nccd pioccssing sucl as ìlaì in Clapìcis 9 and lu ìo conìioI
ìlaì piohIcm hcfoic ìlc fadci's going ìo scììIc down ìo a sìaìic haIancc.
I
By ìlc ìimc you'vc fadcd up youi acousìic guiìai ìo ìlc poinì wlcic you can
lcai aII ìlc nicc spaikIy sìiing dcìaiIs, ìlc hooming of ìlc insìiumcnì's main
sound loIc icsonancc is making ìlc Iowcsì noìcs sound hIoaìcd. Wlaì you
wanì is a scpaiaìc fadci ìo ìuin down jusì ìlaì sccìion of ìlc ficqucncy iangc-
wlicl is cffccìivcIy wlaì ìlc ìooIs discusscd in Clapìcis ll and l2 piovidc.
1lc moic scnsiìivc you can makc youiscIf ìo ìlc way in wlicl a fadci fccIs
unsìahIc, ìlc casici iì'II hc ìo scIccì ìlc iiglì kind of pIug-in foi cacl ìiack wiìl-
ouì lcsiìaìion. Foi ìlis icason, ìimc spcnì woiking on iniìiaI fadci scììings is
iaicIy wasìcd-ìlc nisì haIancc may noì singc anyonc's cychiows on iìs own,
huì iì piovidcs a iock-soIid foundaìion foi aII ìlc moic compIcx mix-pioccssing
dccisions Iaìci on.
Additional Considerations for Stereo Tracks
AII ìlc samc ìlings ìlaì appIy ìo mono iccoidings aIso appIy ìo sìcico iccoid-
ings, as fai as iniìiaI haIancing is conccincd, huì ìlcic aic a fcw addiìionaI fac-
ìois as wcII. 1lc nisì ìling ìo addicss is ìlaì
somc sysìcms iccoid sìcico in ìlc foim of ìwo
mono nIcs (somcìimcs icfciicd ìo as 'spIiì
sìcico´), on ìlc undcisìanding ìlaì you'II usc
individuaI mixci clanncIs ìo pan ìlc nIcs
laid Icfì and iiglì. Howcvci, mosì DAW sys-
ìcms now lavc pcifccìIy capahIc sìcico mixci
clanncIs, wlicl aic mucl moic uscfuI foi
mixing puiposcs hccausc ìlcy aIIow you ìo
convcnicnìIy pioccss hoìl sidcs of ìlc audio
in ìandcm. If you nnd youiscIf picscnìcd wiìl
a spIiì-sìcico iccoiding, makc iì youi husincss
ìo convciì iì ìo a singIc 'inìciIcavcd´ nIc hcfoic
you do anyìling cIsc. If ìlaì's noì piacìicaI,
ìlcn huss ìlc Icfì and iiglì mono clanncIs ìo
a communaI sìcico gioup clanncI and do aII
youi haIancing and pioccssing ìlcic insìcad.
1laì said, on occasion you may wisl ìo offscì
ìlc wloIc sìcico imagc ìo onc sidc, naiiow ìlc
spicad, oi icvcisc ìlc sidcs. In ìlcsc siìuaìions,
somc conìioI ovci ìlc panning of ìlc Icfì-
clanncI and iiglì-clanncI audio sìicams can
FIGURE 8.7
A couple of good stereo adjustment and metering utilities, DDMF’s
StereooeretS (left ) and Flux’s Stereo Tool (right ).
Building the Raw Balance CHAPTER 8 131
hc landy. If you'ic hussing individuaI spIiì-sìcico clanncIs ìo a sìcico gioup,
ìlcn ìlis is no piohIcm. Howcvci, ìlings can hc ìiickici if you'ic woiking wiìl
an inìciIcavcd sìcico nIc on a dcdicaìcd sìcico mixci clanncI-if ìlaì clanncI
spoiìs anyìling Iikc a pan conìioI, ìlcn iì piohahIy onIy adjusìs ìlc icIaìivc
IcvcIs of ìlc ìwo audio sìicams, wlicl is of Iimiìcd hcncnì. A fcw sofìwaic
pIaìfoims (Sìcinhcig Cuhasc, foi insìancc) do acìuaIIy offci ìlc ncccssaiy addi-
ìionaI panning conìioIs among ìlc sìandaid clanncI faciIiìics, huì if you can'ì
nnd any in youi own DAW, ìlcn ìlcic's usuaIIy an aIìcinaìivc in ìlc foim of
a hundIcd sìcico uìiIiìy pIug-in. SìiII no joy² 1lcn ìlcic aic pIcnìy of suiìahIc
ìliid-paiìy pIug-ins aiound, my cuiicnì cioss-pIaìfoim favoiiìcs hcing DDMF's
pockcì-moncy SìcicoocicìS and FIux's ficcwaic Sìcico 1ooI.
1lc main conccin wiìl sìcico nIcs, ìlougl, is if plasc oi poIaiiìy issucs aic caus-
ing ìlc sound ìo clangc diamaìicaIIy wlcn you Iisìcn hack in mono. 1lc sound of
any sìcico nIc wiII aIways Iosc somcìling in ìlc ìiansiìion ìo mono, so iì's unicaI-
isìic ìo cxpccì no clangc aì aII, huì you do lavc ìo dccidc wlcìlci any clangcs aic
going ìo sciiousIy compiomisc ìlc cffccìivcncss of ìlc haIancc. If you concIudc ìlaì
ìlc damagc caIIs foi icmcdiaI mcasuics, ìlcn ìlc nisì ìling ìo clcck is ìlaì onc of
ìlc ìwo audio sìicams lasn'ì inadvciìcnìIy hccn poIaiiìy-ßippcd duiing iccoiding.
Iì's casy ìo spoì ìlis hy cyc mosì of ìlc ìimc hy compaiing ìlc Icfì and iiglì wavc-
foims, paiìicuIaiIy foi compaiaìivcIy cIosc-mikcd sìcico nIcs. If youi own DAW sys-
ìcm docsn'ì piovidc ìlc faciIiìics ìo coiiccì ìlc piohIcm, hoìl ìlc DDMF and FIux
uìiIiìy pIug-ins lavc poIaiiìy-invcision huììons ìlaì can ìakc caic of iì.
Evcn oncc you'vc coiiccìcd any ohvious poIaiiìy icvcisaIs, plasc mismaìclcs
hcìwccn signaIs aiiiving aì ìlc ìwo micioploncs may aIso nccd addicssing if
comh nIìciing hIiglìs ìlc mono Iisìcning cxpciicncc. Oncc again, if you can scc
a cIcai dcIay hcìwccn ìlc wavcfoims of ìlc ìwo audio sìicams, ìlcn you may hc
ahIc ìo minimizc ìlc sonic clangcs in mono hy Iining ìlings up moic cIoscIy,
aIìlougl you slouId hc awaic ìlaì ìlis pioccduic may undcsiiahIy ìampci wiìl
ìlc spicad of ìlc sìcico picìuic as a conscqucncc. As wiìl ìiming
and piìcl cdiìs, do cnsuic ìlaì you cvaIuaìc ìlc icsuIìs of ìlis ìccl-
niquc hy cai iaìlci ìlan hy cyc, hccausc ìlc ìidicsì visuaI maìcl
may noì givc ìlc mosì mono-compaìihIc ouìcomc. If you'ic sìiug-
gIing ìo nnd ìlc hcsì plasc maìcl hcìwccn ìlc ìwo audio sìicams,
ìiy invciìing ìlc poIaiiìy of onc of ìlcm foi a momcnì, slifì ìlc
sìicams againsì cacl oìlci unìiI ìlc sound disappcais mosì in
mono, and ìlcn ßip ìlc invciìcd sìicamhack ìo noimaI poIaiiìy.
If dcspiìc ìlcsc mcasuics ìlc mono-compaìihiIiìy piohIcms of
youi sìcico nIc icmain inìiacìahIc, lcic's a Iasì-diìcl ìcclniquc ìlaì you can
sìiII faII hack on: pan ìlc ìwo audio sìicams moic ccnìiaIIy, paiìiaIIy sum-
ming ìlcm ìo mono in ìlc sìcico mix. OhviousIy ìlis wiII naiiow ìlc sìcico
imagc, huì iì wiII aIso paiìiaIIy comh-nIìci ìlc sìcico pIayhack in ìlc samc way
as ìlc mono icndiìion, hiinging ìlc ìwo ìonaIiìics cIosci ìogcìlci. 1lis may
mcan ìlaì you lavc somc addiìionaI pioccssing ìo do Iaìci on ìo icsusciìaìc
ìlc comh-nIìcicd ìonaIiìy foi sìcico Iisìcncis, huì aì Icasì ìlc nnaI mix wiII
FIGURE 8.8
If your overhead mics
have phase and polarity
mismatches like this,
you’ll have real problems
with the mono-
compatibility of your mix,
in addition to a slightly
odd stereo picture.
PART 3 Balance 132
ìiansIaìc moic icIiahIy ìo a widc audicncc. If aII cIsc faiIs, you miglì aIso con-
sidci diìcling onc sidc of ìlc sìcico nIc compIcìcIy, cspcciaIIy if you aIicady
lavc pIcnìy of sìcico inìcicsì fiom oìlci ìiacks in ìlc pioducìion.
So ìo iccap quickIy, haIancing simpIc mono oi sìcico nIcs invoIvcs ìlcsc sìcps:
I
Rouìc hoìl sidcs of a sìcico nIc ìliougl a singIc mixci clanncI foi pioccss-
ing puiposcs.
I
Opìimizc ìlc poIaiiìy and plasc icIaìionslips hcìwccn ìlc Icfì and iiglì
sidcs of a sìcico nIc.
I
Usc a ligl-pass nIìci ìo icmovc unwanìcd Iow cnd wiìlin ìlc conìcxì of
ìlc mix.
I
Scì ìlc insìiumcnì's posiìion[spicad in ìlc sìcico ncId.
I
BaIancc ìlc insìiumcnì againsì ìlosc aIicady in ìlc mix.
8.3 MORE COMPLEX BALANCING TASKS
Multimiked Instruments
Iì's noì aì aII uncommon in ìlc sìudio foi a singIc insìiumcnì ìo hc iccoidcd
using moic ìlan onc micioplonc, ìlc idca hcing ìlaì you can ìlcichy adjusì
ìlc insìiumcnì ìimhic moic ßcxihIy aì mixdown. Iì's cspcciaIIy common foi
guiìai amps ìo hc iccoidcd in ìlis way, foi insìancc. BaIancing ìlis kind of
iccoiding isn'ì dissimiIai ìo haIancing a sìcico nIc:
I
Rouìc ìlc individuaI mic clanncIs ìo a singIc mixci clanncI foi pioccssing
puiposcs.
I
Opìimizc ìlc poIaiiìy and plasc icIaìionslips hcìwccn ìlc diffcicnì micio-
plonc signaIs.
I
Usc a ligl-pass nIìci ìo icmovc unwanìcd Iow cnd wiìlin ìlc conìcxì of
ìlc mix.
I
Scì cacl micioplonc's posiìion in ìlc sìcico ncId.
I
BaIancc ìlc insìiumcnì againsì ìlosc aIicady in ìlc mix.
1lc clicf diffcicncc in ìlis casc, ìlougl, is ìlaì ìlc sccond sìcp isn'ì ncccs-
saiiIy jusì ahouì ìcclnicaI piohIcm soIving, hccausc iì aIso
las cnoimous poìcnìiaI foi cicaìivc ìonaI slaping. 1lc
simpIcsì opìion is ìo maìcl ìlc poIaiiìy and plasc
of aII ìlc mics as cIoscIy as possihIc (using poIai-
iìy invcision and ìimc slifìs as hcfoic), sucl
ìlaì you can comhinc ìlcii claiacìciisìics
faiiIy ficcIy wiìlouì any icaI difncuIìics aiis-
ing fiom unwanìcd comh nIìciing. Many gicaì
cIccìiic guiìai sounds lavc hccn madc in ìlis
way, so I'm noì going ìo knock iì, huì ìlcic's
noncìlcIcss a wloIc Ioì moic you can do lcic
if you cloosc ìo cxpIoiì plasc-canccIIaìion cffccìs
iaìlci ìlan ìiying ìo minimizc ìlcm.
The simplest
option is to match the
polarity and phase of all the
mics as closely as possible, but
there’s a whole lot more you can
do if you choose to exploit phase-
cancellation effects rather than
trying to minimize them.
Building the Raw Balance CHAPTER 8 133
Lcì's assumc foi ìlc momcnì ìlaì wc'ic sìaiìing fiom ìlc poIaiiìy[plasc-
maìclcd scìup. If you ßip ìlc poIaiiìy of onc of ìlc mics, ìlcn iaìlci ìlan
adding iìs claiacìciisìics ìo ìlc composiìc sound, iì'II suhìiacì ìlcm. Fading ìlaì
mic aII ìlc way up miglì unacccpìahIy loIIow ouì ìlc sound of youi insìiu-
mcnì, huì aì Iowci mix IcvcIs ìlcic wiII hc aII soiìs of ncw ìonaI vaiiaìions on
offci. Likcwisc, aiìinciaIIy dcIaying onc of ìlc micioplonc signaIs a fcw miIIi-
scconds againsì ìlc oìlcis wiII causc comh nIìciing hcìwccn ìlcm. Again, you
miglì noì wanì ìo lavc ìlc dcIaycd mic ìoo ligl up in ìlc haIancc, huì aì Iowci
IcvcIs ìlc miIdci ficqucncy-icsponsc unduIaìions can insìanìIy yicId iadicaI
ìonaI clangcs ìlaì wouId ìakc aII day ìo aclicvc wiìl ìiadiìionaI mix pioccssois.
1lc hcsì hiì ahouì iì aII is ìlaì scuIpìing youi ìonc wiìl poIaiiìy and plasc icIa-
ìionslips is ficc of DSP pioccssing aiìifacìs. You'II gcì hig ìonaI clangcs wiìl no
unwanìcd sidc cffccìs-cvciyonc's a winnci! Numcious ligl-pionIc pioduccis
(Kcn CaiIIaì,
29
NciI Doifsman,
30
and CIaikc SclIciclci,
3l
ìo namc jusì a landfuI)
lavc piofcsscd a fondncss foi ìlis ìonc-mangIing ìcclniquc. 'Wlcn you huiId a
mix,´ says Iack DougIas, 'ìlc icaI niglìmaic is wlcn you puì somcìling up and
ìlc onIy way you can lcai iì is hy hIasìing iì.. If you do ìlings Iikc ìlis I guai-
anìcc you ìlaì as soon as you puì ìlc sound in ìlc mix, iì wiII hc ìlcic.. Noì
onIy ìlaì, iì won'ì wipc ouì cvciyìling cIsc in ìlc mix, hccausc iì wiII lavc sucl a
scpaiaìc and disìincì claiacìci.´
32
1lc opìion ìo pan ìlc individuaI mics of a muIìimikcd insìiumcnì ìo diffci-
cnì posiìions in ìlc sìcico ncId can hc anoìlci advanìagc of ìlis iccoiding
mcìlod. SimpIc mono iccoidings lavc a lahiì of sounding mucl naiiowci
ìlan ìlc insìiumcnì iìscIf docs wlcn you'ic scaìcd in fionì of iì, so hcing
ahIc ìo sIiglìIy spicad ìlc imagc of a muIìimikcd acousìic guiìai oi piano, foi
insìancc, can lcIp ìlings sccm moic naìuiaI and icaI, and iì can nII up moic of
ìlc sìcico ncId in a spaisc aiiangcmcnì. In hand iccoidings, douhIc-
ìiackcd cIccìiic guiìai paiìs can hc madc ìo sound higgci and moic
impicssivc in sìcico in ìlc samc way, as wcII as moic lomogcncous if
ìlc individuaI guiìai imagcs aic acìuaIIy ovciIappcd ìo somc cxìcnì.
You can haIancc an insìiumcnì iccoiding compiising mic and DI sig-
naIs in mucl ìlc samc say as a sìiaiglì muIìimikcd iccoiding, hccausc
ìlc poIaiiìy[plasc icIaìionslip hcìwccn ìlc signaIs cicaìcs simiIai
piohIcms and oppoiìuniìics. Howcvci, ìlc cxìia advanìagcs of a DI
iccoiding aic ìlaì, in ìlc casc of cIccìiic guiìais, iì can hc icampcd ìo
ßcsl ouì oi cvcn icinvcnì ìlc sound as icquiicd, and ìlaì iì's picììy
mucl immunc ìo spiII fiom oìlci insìiumcnìs iccoidcd aì ìlc samc
ìimc, wlicl can hc a Iifcsavci if ligl IcvcIs of spiII on ìlc insìiumcnì's
micioplonc lavc icndcicd ìlaì incffccìivc foi adjusìing ìlc haIancc.
Multimiked Ensembles: Preliminaries
1lc mosì compIicaìcd ìiacks ìo woik wiìl aic muIìimikcd iccoidings of gioups
of voiccs oi insìiumcnìs: singing guiìaiisìs, dium kiìs, cloiis, sìiing gioups, Iivc
hand iccoidings, oiclcsìias, and many oìlci cnscmhIcs. 1lc piohIcm in sucl
siìuaìions is ìlaì cvciy insìiumcnì wiII hc pickcd up hy cvciy micioplonc ìo
FIGURE 8.9
The polarity button. It
may not be much to look
at, but it’s absolutely
essential at mixdown,
for both technical and
creative reasons.
PART 3 Balance 134
somc cxìcnì, and aIìlougl iì's fcasihIc ìo poIaiiìy[plasc-maìcl aII ìlcsc diffci-
cnì iccoidcd signaIs foi onc of ìlc insìiumcnìs in ìlc cnscmhIc, iì's impossihIc
ìo do so foi cvciy insìiumcnì aì ìlc samc ìimc. Imaginc a singing guiìaiisì, foi
cxampIc, iccoidcd wiìl onc cIosc mic on ìlc singci and onc on ìlc guiìai. In
hoìl cIosc mics you'II lavc dcIaycd spiII fiom ìlc off-mic sound souicc, so if
you slifì ìlc ìiming of ìlc guiìai sIiglìIy so ìlaì iì Iincs up wiìl ìlc vocaI mic's
guiìai spiII, ìlaì'II movc ìlc guiìai mic's vocaI spiII fuiìlci ouì of aIignmcnì
wiìl ìlc main vocaI signaI.
1lc upsloì of ìlis no-win siìuaìion is ìlaì youi goaI hccomcs ìo ìuin ìlc
unavoidahIc cffccìs of comh nIìciing ìo youi advanìagc. Ccì iì wiong and you
can compiclcnsivcIy ìiasl ìlc sound of ìlc iccoiding, making aII ìlc insìiu-
mcnìs sound loIIow, laisl, and waslcd ouì. Ccì iì iiglì, ìlougl, and you
can aclicvc somcìling ìiuIy magicaI: a pioducìion wlcic cacl insìiumcnì is
cniiclcd hy viiìuc of ìlc conìiihuìions fiom so many mics, and wlcic ìlc com-
hincd spiII signaIs naìuiaIIy hIcnd ìlc cnscmhIc wiìl vciy IiììIc fuiìlci pio-
ccssing cffoiì. 1lis is wlcic ìlc iniìiaI haIancc can ahsoIuìcIy makc oi hicak a
iccoid. UnfoiìunaìcIy, ìlis kind of haIancing is hy no mcans an cxacì scicncc,
and cvciy cngincci las a sIiglìIy diffcicnì way of ìackIing iì. So Icì's Iook aì somc
of ìlc opìions and discuss ìlc pios and cons in cacl casc.
Fiisì of aII, iì's noì unusuaI ìo lavc sìcico mic paiis wiìlin an cnscmhIc scìup,
and iì's usuaIIy woiìl clccking ìlosc foi poIaiiìy and plasc issucs in isoIaìion
hcfoic you gcì inìo dcaIing wiìl ìlcii inìciacìions wiìl oìlci mics in ìlc scìup.
So, foi cxampIc, in a ìypicaI muIìimikcd dium kiì you'd wanì ìo individu-
aIIy clcck ìlc ovcilcad mic and ioom mic paiis foi sìcico spicad and mono-
compaìihiIiìy. Likcwisc, if ìlcic aic any insìiumcnìs in ìlc cnscmhIc ìlaì lavc
hccn individuaIIy muIìimikcd, ìlcn dcciding on ìlcii iniìiaI hIcnd and poIaiiìy[
plasc icIaìionslip in isoIaìion is aIso a good idca. In a ìypicaI dium scì, ìlc
snaic miglì lavc mics hoìl ahovc and hcIow iì, foi cxampIc, oi ìlc kick dium
miglì lavc an insidc mic and an ouìsidc mic. In hoìl cascs, ìlc poIaiiìy[plasc
icIaìionslip hcìwccn ìlc ìwo mics miglì hc adjusìcd coiiccìivcIy foi ìlc hcsì
maìcl oi cicaìivcIy ìo dcIivci a spccinc ìonc. Spikc Sìcnì noìcs, 'I'II clcck
wlcìlci ìlc kick and snaic ìiacks aII Iinc up, and so on. I'm ßipping plasc aII
ìlc ìimc. I'm anaI ahouì ìlaì, hccausc iì is csscnìiaI foi gcììing a icaIIy ìiglì
mix wlicl sounds hig on ìlc iadio, cais, Iapìop, and so on.´
33
Bccausc of aII ìlc spiII, dcciding on a ligl-pass nIìci scììing foi cacl individuaI
mic hccomcs moic of a giay aica, hccausc iì dcpcnds low mucl of ìlc Iow-
ficqucncy spiII you considci 'unwanìcd´ in cacl casc-somcìling ìlaì you may
onIy icaIIy hc ahIc ìo dccidc wiìlin ìlc conìcxì of ìlc wloIc mix. Howcvci, ìlc
piohIcm wiìl mosì noimaI nIìcis is ìlaì, hy ìlcii vciy naìuic, ìlcy aIso adjusì ìlc
plasc icsponsc of ìlc nIìcicd signaI, wlicl may advciscIy affccì ìlc way ìlc sig-
naI plasc-canccIs againsì ìlc oìlci mic iccoidings. My advicc is ìo icsìiicì youi
usc of ligl-pass nIìciing lcic ìo jusì icmoving ficqucncics wcII hcIow ìlc iangc
of ìlc Iowcsì insìiumcnì, ìlcn Icavc any fuiìlci nIìciing unìiI you'vc lad a clancc
ìo Iisìcn ìo low aII ìlc mics comhinc in piacìicc (discusscd moic in Clapìci ll).
Building the Raw Balance CHAPTER 8 135
Panning dccisions may hc laidci ìo makc ìoo, hccausc you nccd ìo dccidc
low you pan cacl insìiumcnì's main mic signaI in icIaìion ìo ìlc sìcico Ioca-
ìion of piomincnì spiII fiom oìlci mics. In ìlis icspccì, iì makcs good scnsc ìo
cicaìc a sìcico picìuic ìlaì mimics ìlc plysicaI Iayouì of ìlc iccoiding scssion,
hccausc ìlc sìiongcsì spiII conìiihuìions fiom cacl insìiumcnì slouId ìlcn
icmain faiiIy cIosc ìo ìlc insìiumcnì's main mic posiìion in ìlc sìcico picìuic.
Wlcic an cnscmhIc iccoiding incIudcs sìcico nIcs, maìcling ìlc imagcs of
PHASE ROTATORS AND ALL-PASS FILTERS
I’ve already discussed polarity inversion and time shifting as two ways of adjusting the
combined tonality of multimiked recordings at mixdown. However, there is a lesser-
known option, sometimes called “phase rotation,” which can also refine the sound
in these instances. This is a process that can alter the phase relationship between
the different sine-wave components that make up a sound. As with polarity inversion
and time shifting, phase rotation has little effect on the individual processed track in
isolation. However, if that track is part of a multimic recording, then the phase rotation
will change the nature of the phase cancellation between the mics, and therefore
the mixed instrument’s timbre. As such, phase rotators are useful tools for tonal
refinement, although I’d personally recommend experimenting with them only once
you’ve exhausted the possibilities of polarity inversion and time shifting.
Unfortunately, most DAW systems don’t currently have a phase-rotation plug-in
built in, but there are now several third-party plug-ins that can step into the breach.
Voxengo’s PHA-979 is a great cross-platform option that is pretty cost effective, and
there’s also Betabug’s VST freeware Phasebug if you’re working on a PC. Another
option is to use an “all-pass filter,” which is also capable of independently adjusting
phase response, although in a slightly different way. You can find one in some phaser
and EQ plug-ins (check out the freeware Sandford Phaser and Cockos ReaEQ plug-
ins, for instance), as well as in the dedicated Littlelabs’ IBP Workstation phase-
adjustment plug-in.
FIGURE 8.10
A selection of phase adjusters: Betabugs no-frills Phasebug (left ), Voxengo’s fully featured PHA979
(right ), and Cockos ReaEQ’s all-pass filter option.
PART 3 Balance 136
ìlcsc wiìl ìlc panning of any mono mic signaIs is aIso faiiIy commonpIacc.
Howcvci, ìlcsc panning ìacìics may conßicì wiìl ìlc ìcclnicaI panning con-
sidciaìions I ìaIkcd ahouì in Sccìion 8.2, so ìlcic musì ofìcn hc a ìiadcoff
lcic. Foi cxampIc, a Ioì of pcopIc iccoid diums in sucl a way ìlaì ìlc snaic
imagc in ìlc sìcico ovcilcad micioploncs is off ccnìci, huì you may noncìlc-
Icss picfci ìo pan ìlc snaic cIosc mics iiglì down ìlc middIc foi hcsì mono-
compaìihiIiìy, cvcn if ìlis docs mcan ìlaì ìlc ìaiI of cacl snaic sccms ìo vcci
off sIiglìIy ìo onc sidc.
Building the Ensemble’s Balance and Tone
Oncc ìlcsc picIiminaiy johs lavc hccn caiiicd ouì, muìc aII ìlc cnscmhIc
clanncIs and hcgin icinìioducing cacl mono mic, sìcico mic paii, and muI-
ìimic comhinaìion ìo ìlc mix in ìuin. As you do ìlis, usc youi poIaiiìy[plasc
adjusìmcnì ìooIs and fadci ìo scaicl foi hoìl ìlc hcsì cnscmhIc ìonc and ìlc
hcsì haIancc wiìlin ìlc conìcxì of ìlc icsì of ìlc mix. If ìlis sounds Iikc a Ioì
of nddIy woik, ìlaì's hccausc iì is, huì iì's aIso a paiì of ìlc mixing pioccss
wlcic miiacIcs can lappcn, so ioII up youi sIccvcs and gcì youi lands diiìy!
Again, ìlc oidci in wlicl you ìackIc ìlc individuaI mics
and insìiumcnìs aì ìlis sìagc slouId icßccì ìlcii
impoiìancc sonicaIIy. 1lis paiìIy jusì makcs ìlings
casici, hccausc ìlc mics covciing Icss impoiìanì
insìiumcnìs aic usuaIIy mixcd aì a Iowci IcvcI,
so ìlcii spiII causcs Icss comh nIìciing wiìl
moic impoiìanì insìiumcnìs wlicl aic aIicady
picscnì-you ìlcicfoic lavc moic ficcdom
ìo adjusì ìlc poIaiiìy and plasc of ìlc ncwIy
addcd insìiumcnì foi ìlc sakc of iìs own ìim-
hic hcfoic causing unacccpìahIc sonic damagc
ìo oìlci moic ciiìicaI paiìs. Howcvci, ìlis oidci
of woiking aIso cIaiincs youi ìonaI dccisions. Foi
cxampIc, Icì's say you'vc adjusìcd ìlc plasc of youi
ncwIy addcd insìiumcnì mic ìo givc ìlaì insìiumcnì ìlc
hcsì ìonc you can. If you clcck iìs impacì on ìlc icsì of ìlc
cnscmhIc hy swiìcling iì in and ouì of ìlc mix and discovci ìlaì iì's dcìciio-
iaìing ìlc sonics of somc of ìlc picviousIy addcd insìiumcnìs, ìlcn you don'ì
nccd a PlD ìo woik ouì ìlaì somc aspccì of ìlc ncwIy addcd insìiumcnì's
sound may lavc ìo hc saciinccd foi ìlc gicaìci good.
1lcic is onc compIicaìing facìoi, lowcvci, ìlaì can ficqucnìIy ovciiuIc ìlis
guidcIinc. If any mic oi mic paii las hccn scì up so ìlaì iì capìuics a icason-
ahIc haIancc of ìlc wloIc cnscmhIc, you can ofìcn gcì good icsuIìs moic quickIy
hy using ìlaì as ìlc huIk of youi cnscmhIc sound: scì a IcvcI foi ìlaì nisì, and
ìlcn usc ìlc icmaining signaIs in ìlc mannci of suppIcmcnìaiy 'spoì mics,´
jusì foi smaII ìonc[haIancc icnncmcnìs ìo ìlc main hIcnd. 1lc advanìagc of
ìlis appioacl is ìlaì ìlc spoì mics can usuaIIy ìlcn hc uscd aì Iowci IcvcI, ìlus
If any mic or
mic pair captures
a reasonable balance
of the whole ensemble, you
can often get good results more
quickly by using that as the bulk of
your sound. Indeed, that’s usually
my first recommendation for
less experienced engineers
grappling with multitracked
drums.
Building the Raw Balance CHAPTER 8 137
icducing ìlc scvciiìy of any plasc canccIIaìion hcìwccn ìlcii spiII conìiihuìions
and ìlc signaI fiom ìlc dominanì ovciaII cnscmhIc mic(s). Indccd, hccausc ìlis
mcìlod is a IiììIc moic fooIpioof in gcnciaI, iì's usuaIIy my nisì iccommcnda-
ìion foi Icss cxpciicnccd smaII-sìudio cnginccis wlo aic giappIing wiìl ìlcii nisì
cxpciicncc of a muIìimikcd cnscmhIc-aImosì aIways in ìlc foim of Iivc muIìi-
ìiackcd diums. Buì ìlis appioacl is hy no mcans jusì foi hcginncis. AIIcn Sidcs,
foi cxampIc, sìaìcs a dcnniìc picfcicncc foi ìlis mcìlod,
34
and Sìcvc Hodgc ìakcs
a simiIai Iinc: 'I'II sìaiì wiìl ìlc ovcilcads nisì and ìlcn add ìlc cIosc-in micio-
ploncs. 1laì givcs ìlc sound somc conìcxì.´
35
Onc nnaI issuc dcscivcs somc discussion foi ìlc hcncnì of ìlosc wiìl mavci-
ick ìcndcncics. PoIaiiìy and plasc adjusìmcnìs piovidc ìicmcndous ficcdom
foi ìonaI icinvcnìion of muIìimikcd iccoidings, and in a siìuaìion wlcic aII
ìlc mics aic picking up ìlc samc insìiumcnì, you can picììy mucl iun wiìl
ìlaì unìiI youi Icgs faII off-no maììci wlaì ìimhic you cnd up wiìl, you'II sìiII
hc ahIc ìo cloosc wlaìcvci IcvcI you Iikc foi iì in ìlc mix. Howcvci, iì's iisk-
ici ìo ìakc ìonaI ßiglìs of fancy hy dcIihciaìcIy cmplasizing plasc canccIIaìion
hcìwccn diffcicnì insìiumcnìs in a muIìimikcd cnscmhIc, hccausc iì can inìcifcic
wiìl youi ahiIiìy ìo conìioI ìlc mosì viìaI ìling of aII: ìlcii haIancc. Imaginc ìlc
cxampIc of muIìimikcd diums again: if you dcIihciaìcIy usc ìlc iack-ìom cIosc
mic ìo canccI unwanìcd ficqucncics in ìlaì dium's ìonc, iì'II hc of Iimiìcd usc ìo
you if you nccd ìo fadc up onc of ìlc ìom nIIs in ìlc nnaI mix.
1lcic's sucl a Ioì ìo ìlink ahouì wlcn haIancing muIìimikcd cnscmhIcs ìlaì iì
can hc ìougl kccping an ovcivicw in youi mind, so aIIow mc ìo quickIy iccap
ìlc pioccduic:
I
Rouìc sìcico nIcs and individuaI muIìimikcd insìiumcnìs ìliougl singIc
mixci clanncIs foi pioccssing puiposcs, and opìimizc ìlc inìcinaI poIaiiìy
and plasc icIaìionslips of cacl gioup of nIcs in isoIaìion.
I
Usc ligl-pass nIìciing conscivaìivcIy, icmoving onIy unwanìcd Iow fic-
qucncics comfoiìahIy hcIow ìlc iangc of ìlc Iowcsì insìiumcnì.
I
Scì ìlc posiìion[spicad of cacl mono mic, sìcico mic paii, and muIìimic
comhinaìion in ìlc sìcico ncId.
I
Inìioducc cacl mono mic, sìcico mic paii, and muIìimic comhinaìion inìo
ìlc mix in ìuin, adjusìing ìlc poIaiiìy and plasc of cacl ìo aclicvc ìlc
hcsì ìonc and haIancc foi ìlc cnscmhIc as a wloIc. Iì's gcnciaIIy scnsihIc
ìo woik ìliougl ìlc ìiacks in oidci of sonic impoiìancc, huì if ìlc cnìiic
cnscmhIc las hccn capìuicd passahIy hy a singIc mic oi sìcico paii, ìlcn
adding ìlaì nisì as ìlc main huIk of ìlc cnscmhIc sound can ofìcn makc
ìlings casici.
8.4 CASE STUDY: MULTITRACK DRUMS
1o cIaiify low aII ìlcsc haIancing guidcIincs woik in piacìicc, Icì's waIk
ìliougl ìlc haIancing pioccss foi an imaginaiy muIìiìiack dium iccoiding as
a kind of mcnìaI casc sìudy. Foi ìlc sakc of aigumcnì, wc'II say ìlc iccoiding
PART 3 Balance 138
compiiscs sìcico ovcilcad mics and sìcico ioom mics, cIosc mics ahovc and
hcIow ìlc snaic dium, cIosc-mics insidc and ouìsidc ìlc hass dium, and indi-
viduaI cIosc-mics foi ìlc li-laì, ìwo iack ìoms, and a ßooi ìom. My ìlouglì
pioccss and woikßow miglì go iouglIy as foIIows:
Fiisì off, I iouìc and pan ìlc spIiì-sìcico ovcilcad and ioom clanncIs ìo sìc-
ico gioup clanncIs in my DAW so ìlaì I can pioccss hoìl sidcs of ìlcsc sìc-
ico nIcs aì oncc. 1lc ovcilcad mics lad hccn scì up aì simiIai disìanccs fiom
ìlc snaic dium, huì iì's sìiII a hiì off-ccnìci so I dccidc ìo ìiy ìimc-slifìing onc
sidc of ìlc ovcilcads nIc ìo plasc-maìcl ìlc snaic liìs. Fiisì I iouglIy Iinc up
ìlc ìwo sidcs of ìlc spIiì-sìcico audio nIc hy cyc. 1lcn I ßip ìlc poIaiiìy of
onc sidc and ìwcak ìlc ìimc slifì hy cai foi gicaìcsì canccIIaìion, hcfoic icìuin-
ing ìlc poIaiiìy ìo noimaI. 1lc snaic is now cIosci ìowaid ìlc ccnìci of ìlc
sìcico imagc and icmains moic soIid sounding in mono. Clccking ìlc icsì of
ìlc ovcilcads sound foi mono compaìihiIiìy icvcaIs a Ioss of Iow cnd in ìlc
kick dium spiII and a IiììIc Icss hiiglìncss in ìlc cymhaIs. 1lc clangcs aicn'ì
sciious cnougl ìlaì I ìlink ìlcy'II diasìicaIIy compiomisc icaI-woiId mono
pIayhack. Bcsidcs, ìlc sìcico widìl picscnìcd hy ìlc ovcilcad mics is faiiIy
cxìicmc, and in naiiowing ìlaì down moic ìowaid my own pcisonaI picfci-
cncc I aIso incviìahIy icducc ìlc ìonaI clangc wlcn swiìcling ìo mono Iisìcn-
ing. 1lc ioom mics sccm ìo kccp ìlcii sound suipiisingIy wcII in mono, huì
ìlcy aic Icaning a IiììIc ìo ìlc Icfì in sìcico, so I nudgc up ìlc IcvcI of ìlc iiglì-
land spIiì-sìcico nIc ìo compcnsaìc.
Bccausc ìlc ovcilcads sccm picììy wcII-haIanccd, I dccidc ìo sìaiì my haIanc-
ing wiìl ìlcm wlcn ìlc ìimc comcs. 1laì said, I'm conccincd ìlaì ìlc snaic
dium fccIs a hiì Iiglìwciglì in ìlc ovcilcads, so I ncxì soIo ìlc ìwo snaic cIosc
mics ìo lcai wlaì ìlcy sound Iikc ìogcìlci. 1lc poIaiiìy of ìlc hoììom mic's
wavcfoim is, as cxpccìcd, invciìcd compaicd wiìl ìlaì of ìlc ìop mic, and
coiiccìing ìlis immcdiaìcIy nIIs ouì ìlc dium's Iow cnd-good ncws. WliIc
cxamining ìlc wavcfoims, I noìicc ìlaì ìlc hoììom mic's wavcfoim is aIso ìiaiI-
ing sIiglìing in ìlc ìimcIinc, so I ìimc-slifì ìlaì ìo scc if I can aclicvc any fui-
ìlci impiovcmcnì. 1lcic is onIy a smaII clangc, huì iì's hcììci ìlan noìling.
I sìiII fccI ìlaì ìlc snaic's Iow midiangc couId hc moic powcifuI, so I insciì a
plasc ioìaìoi pIug-in on ìlc undci-snaic clanncI and adjusì ìlc amounì of
ioìaìion hy cai, Iisìcning foi an cvcn fuIIci sound. 1lis givcs mc anoìlci smaII
huì uscfuI impiovcmcnì.
1lc kick mics gcì soIocd ncxì, so I ìuin my ncaincIds up a hiì ìo lcai ìlc Iow
cnd moic cIcaiIy. 1lc signaIs aic hoìl in poIaiiìy wiìl cacl oìlci, huì ìlcic's
ahouì 7ms of dcIay hcìwccn ìlc insidc-mic and ouìsidc-mic liìs. I ìiy plasc
maìcling again, huì iì docsn'ì sound as good and unduIy cmplasizcs an
undampcd Iow mid-ficqucncy dium icsonancc. I undo ìlaì ìimc slifì, and
cxpciimcnì insìcad wiìl a plasc ioìaìoi. I gcì a icaIIy uscfuI icsuIì lcic, wiìl
moic posiìivc Iow ficqucncics and an cnd ìo ìlaì piìclcd icsonancc. 1lc snaic
and kick mic paiis aic aIso now iouìcd ìo ìlcii own mono gioup clanncIs,
Building the Raw Balance CHAPTER 8 139
hccausc I don'ì noimaIIy pan ìlc individuaI mics scpaiaìcIy. Insciìing a ligl-
pass nIìci inìo ìlc kick dium gioup clanncI onIy hcgins ìo affccì ìlc dium's
Iow-cnd ìlump aì ahouì 42Hz, so I ioII ìlc ficqucncy hack ìo 35Hz foi
safcìy's sakc and ìlcn dupIicaìc ìlaì scììing ìo aII ìlc oìlci dium clanncIs. 1lc
nnaI picpaiaìoiy sìagc is ìo opcn ìlc ovcilcad mics and ìlcn fadc cacl of ìlc
oìlci foui cIosc mics up so ìlaì ìlcii panning can hc maìclcd wiìl wlaì's in
ìlc ovcilcads.
Riglì-ìimc ìo sìaiì haIancing! Fiisì I muìc cvciyìling huì ìlc ovcilcads gioup
clanncI and scì a IcvcI ìo Icavc Ioìs of lcadioom on ìlc mix huss. 1lis pio-
ducìion is in an uphcaì pop[iock sìyIc, so I dccidc ìlaì ìlc snaic's piohahIy
ìlc mosì impoiìanì insìiumcnì and add ìlaì in ncxì. Fading iì in suppIcmcnìs
ìlc ovcilcads niccIy, adding ìlc snaic-dium wciglì ìlaì picviousIy sccmcd ìo
hc missing. BaIancing ìlc snaic wiìl ìlc cymhaIs isn'ì casy, ìlougl, hccausc
li-laì spiII on ìlc ìop snaic mic is puììing ìlc li-laì ouì of haIancc hcfoic ìlc
snaic fccIs Iikc iì's aì ìlc iiglì IcvcI. I ìiy using moic of ìlc undci-snaic mic,
huì ìlaì dcìiacìs fiom ìlc ovciaII snaic ìimhic, so I jusì puì ìlc snaic wlcic I
wanì iì and Icavc ìlc laì ìoo Ioud foi ìlc momcnì.
1lc kick dium fccIs Iikc iì's piohahIy ìlc ncxì mosì impoiìanì insìiumcnì,
huì wlcn I unmuìc iìs gioup clanncI, ìlc kick dium's ìonc hccomcs iaìlci
hoxy. Invciìing ìlc poIaiiìy of iìs gioup clanncI impiovcs ìlings considciahIy,
huì icpcaìcdIy muìing and unmuìing ìlc hass dium liglIiglìs ìlaì iìs spiII is
dcsìiucìivcIy plasc canccIing wiìl ìlc snaic's nicc Iow midiangc. I ìiy ìimc slifì-
ing hoìl kick dium mics a IiììIc wliIc Iisìcning foi a hcììci snaic sound, huì hy
ìlc ìimc ìlc snaic is sounding hcììci, ìlc kick dium's Iow-cnd powci is suffci-
ing, and plasc ioìaìion of ìlc kick dium's gioup clanncI docsn'ì yicId any hcììci
ouìcomc. So I go foi ìlc hcsì snaic sound and ìiy ìo gcì a haIancc foi ìlc kick,
swiìcling hack and foiìl hcìwccn my ncaincIds and Auiaìonc suhsìiìuìc ìo gain
moic pcispccìivc. Oncc scì, ìlc fadci IcvcI sccms faiiIy sìahIc mosì of ìlc ìimc,
huì occasionaIIy ìlc odd uninspiiing downhcaì makcs mc ycain ìo nudgc iì up a
fiacìion.
Undci noimaI ciicumsìanccs, I'd piohahIy ìuin ìo ìlc li-laì mic ncxì, huì givcn
ìlc ovcipiomincncc of ìlaì insìiumcnì in ìlc haIancc aIicady, I dccidc ìo Icavc
iì ouì compIcìcIy. 1laì Icavcs onIy ìlc ìoms, wlicl so fai fccI a hiì sofì cdgcd
and disìanì compaicd ìo ìlc snaic. Mixing ìlcm in onc aì a ìimc I clcck foi
ìlc mosì piomising poIaiiìy of cacl. Foi hoìl iack ìoms, ìlc diffcicnì poIaiiìy
scììings lavc diffcicnì cffccìs on ìlc sound of ìlc cnscmhIc, huì iì's difncuIì ìo
dccidc wlicl I Iikc moic. Nciìlci sccms ìo affccì ìlc snaic unduIy, so I cloosc
ìlc scììings ìlaì sccm ìo givc a hiì moic 'snap´ ìo ìlc ìom sound. I don'ì wasìc
ìimc wiìl any moic dcìaiIcd plasc maìcling foi ìonaI icasons, hccausc ìlc ìom
sound jusì docsn'ì fccI ìlaì impoiìanì ìo ìlis paiìicuIai mix. Wlcn iì comcs ìo
haIancing, ìlougl, I nnd I can'ì pusl ìlc ìom-ìom fadcis up fai cnougl wiìl-
ouì spiII making ìlc cymhaI haIancc ovcihcaiing. 1lc ßooi ìom cIosc mic cIcaiIy
dcìiacìs fiom ìlc snaic sound wlcn I nisì fadc iì in, huì invciìing iìs poIaiiìy
PART 3 Balance 140
icmcdics ìlis siìuaìion and oìlciwisc ìlc spiII cIcmcnìs pickcd up hy ìlis mic
don'ì sccm ìo causc icaI piohIcms wiìl any of ìlc oìlci insìiumcnìs. 1lc main
conccin wliIc haIancing iì is ìlaì ìlc ìoms' sympaìlcìic iinging cnds up a hiì
ovcipowciing wlcn ìlc cIosc mic is aì a IcvcI suiìahIc foi ìlc dium nIIs. As a
nnaI ìoucl, I hiing up ìlc ioom mics, huì aì ìlc Iow IcvcI I cloosc foi ìlcm,
ìlcii cxacì poIaiiìy[plasc icIaìionslip wiìl ìlc icsì of ìlc mics sccms ìo hc
mucl of a muclncss, so I Icavc ìlcm as ìlcy aic in ìlaì icgaid. I swiìcl hcìwccn
my ncaincIds and Auiaìonc suhsìiìuìc a fcw moic ìimcs foi moic pcispccìivc,
and ìlcn I'm icady ìo add in ìlc ncxì paiì.
Realistic Expectations
So wlaì las hccn aclicvcd up ìo ìlis poinì in my cIoud-cuckoo mix² WcII,
I'vc managcd ìo aiiivc aì a icasonahIc iniìiaI haIancc wiìl a picììy good snaic
sound. Nciìlci is pcifccì, hy any mcans, huì I'vc madc a Ioì of impoiìanì dcci-
sions and ìlc sound is aIicady gcììing hcììci. 1laì's moic ìlan cnougl piog-
icss foi ìlc momcnì-afìci aII, I'vc onIy jusì goì sìaiìcd! Wlaì's
ahsoIuìcIy ciuciaI, ìlougl, is ìlaì ìlc haIancing pioccss
las aIicady fuinislcd mc wiìl ìlc hcginnings of a
gamc pIan, hccausc I'vc paid aììcnìion ìo wlaì
ìlc insìahiIiìy of cciìain fadcis is ìcIIing mc.
So I now know ìlaì ìlc kick's Iow ficqucncics
aic haIanccd ìoo Iow, and occasionaI liìs aic
pIaycd ìoo quicìIy, ìlaì spiII on ìlc snaic and
ìom mics is haIanccd ìoo ligl, and ìlaì somc
undampcd icsonanccs on ìlc ßooi ìom aic haI-
anccd ìoo ligl as wcII. Noìicc ìlaì I'vc hccn ahIc
ìo diagnosc aII ìlcsc aiImcnìs simpIy hy ìlinking
in ìcims of haIancc. Can I lcai wlaì I wanì ìo lcai²
If noì, ìlcn I know I'm going ìo nccd fuiìlci pioccssing.
NaìuiaIIy, ìlc ncxì qucsìion is, wlaì pioccssing do I nccd²
1lc answci ìo ìlaì onc is aIso ìo hc found iiglì ìlcic in ìlc haIancc, huì ìo
unvciI iì you nccd ìo Icain low ìo idcnìify cxacìIy wlaì's making cacl fadci
unsìahIc-wlicl is ìlc suhjccì of ìlc icsì of ìlis paiì of ìlc hook.
CIcaiIy, ìlc cffccìs of poIaiiìy and plasc clangcs duiing haIancing inìioducc
many vciy suhjccìivc ìonaI dccisions inìo ìlc pioccss, and no maììci low
mucl cxpciicncc you lavc of ìlc sìyIc you'ic woiking in, you'II unavoidahIy
giaviìaìc ìowaid ìlc kinds of sounds you pcisonaIIy picfci. 1laì's pcifccìIy
nnc-ìlcic's ioom foi ìlaì in a mix, and iì's wlaì makcs cacl cngincci's
woik uniquc. 'Afìci aII,´ says PauI WoiIcy, 'ìlc music ìlaì icaIIy woiks-ìlc
music ìlaì icaIIy iings ìlc hcII and makcs pcopIc go ciazy-is ìlc music ìlaì
docsn'ì sound Iikc cvciyìling cIsc.´
36
Of couisc, cvciy smaII-sìudio usci's woiiy
is ìlaì lis oi lci own favoiiìc sounds wiII makc ìlc ìiack Icss wcII-suiìcd ìo
iìs ìaigcì maikcì and ìlus Icss compcìiìivc. In somc cascs ìlis fcai wiII pioh-
ahIy hc jusìincd, huì you slouIdn'ì ficì ahouì ìlis possihiIiìy unduIy aì ìlc
Your first draft
mix may be totally up
the spout, but don’t sweat
it. However misguided any of
your instinctive mix choices, the
cold, hard realities of side-by-side
comparison will set you straight
at the mix referencing
stage.
Building the Raw Balance CHAPTER 8 141
haIancing sìagc-waiì unìiI you lavc a diafì vcision of ìlc fuIIy mixcd sonics
ìlaì can icasonahIy hc Iincd up againsì youi mix icfcicnccs. Expciicncc counìs
foi a Ioì in mixing, and wcII-loncd insìincìs can quickIy cicaìc mosì of a
icIcasc-icady mix. Howcvci, iì's impoiìanì ìo acccpì ìlaì insìincìs can hc unic-
IiahIc, so ìlcic's no slamc in hcing a IiììIc uncciìain ahouì cvciyìling unìiI
you can piopciIy acid-ìcsì youi woik againsì icIcvanì piofcssionaI pioducìions.
If you'ic jusì sìaiìing ouì wiìl mixing, youi nisì diafì mix may hc ìoìaIIy up
ìlc spouì, huì don'ì swcaì iì. Howcvci misguidcd any of youi insìincìivc mix
cloiccs, ìlc coId, laid icaIiìics of sidc-hy-sidc compaiison wiII scì you sìiaiglì
aì ìlc mix icfcicncing sìagc, and as a icsuIì youi inìuiìion wiII hc impiovcd
ncxì ìimc iound.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
1lc simpIc acì of mixing youi musicaI sccìions and youi insìiumcnìs in
oidci of impoiìancc avoids a Ioì of ìlc mixing piìfaIIs mosì ficqucnìIy
cncounìcicd hy smaII-sìudio uscis. Iì aIso icvcaIs ìlc Iogic hclind many
aiiangcmcnì and mixing dccisions and lcIps you makc ìlc hcsì usc of Iim-
iìcd compuìci CPU powci.
I
Diffcicnì ìypcs of insìiumcnì iccoiding dcmand sIiglìIy diffcicnì haIanc-
ing pioccduics, huì in cvciy casc you slouId scì up youi mixci so ìlaì con-
ìioI is sìiaiglìfoiwaid, opìimizc poIaiiìy and plasc icIaìionslips, icmovc
any unwanìcd Iow cnd, dccidc on sìcico posiìioning and widìl, and scì ìlc
IcvcI.
I
PoIaiiìy invcision, ìiming slifìs, plasc ioìaìion, and aII-pass nIìciing aic
aII uscfuI ìooIs foi gcììing ìlc hcsì ìonc fiom muIìimikcd insìiumcnìs and
foi ìuining ìlc spiII in muIìimikcd cnscmhIc iccoidings fiom a cuisc inìo a
hIcssing.
I
Unwanìcd Iow ficqucncics can uscfuIIy hc icmovcd fiom ìlc majoiiìy of
ìiacks in a smaII-sìudio mix using ligl-pass nIìciing. Avoid icsonanì nI-
ìcis and ìlosc wiìl sIopcs sìccpci ìlan ahouì l8dB[ocìavc foi ìlis puiposc.
Iudgc ìlc nIìci cuì-off ficqucncy wiìlin ìlc conìcxì of ìlc mix, and hc cspc-
ciaIIy caicfuI noì ìo ioh dium ìiansicnìs of ìlcii wciglì.
I
1lc way diffcicnì cnginccis usc ìlc sìcico ncId can vaiy a gicaì dcaI and
IaigcIy comcs down ìo pcisonaI picfcicncc. Howcvci, ìlcic aic somc
moic ohjccìivc ìcclnicaI issucs ìo considci wlcn panning, sucl as mono-
compaìihiIiìy, hass pIayhack cfncicncy, and ìlc dangci of nonscnsicaI
musicaI icsuIìs if onIy onc sidc of ìlc sìcico mix is lcaid.
I
Ensuic ìlaì you spcnd quaIiìy ìimc wiìl youi fadcis, ìaking fuII advanìagc
of aII youi moniìoiing sysìcms and ìcclniqucs ìo gcì ìlc cIcaicsì vicw pos-
sihIc of youi iniìiaI haIancc. You slouIdn'ì cxpccì a nnislcd mix aì ìlis
caiIy sìagc, huì if you scnsiìizc youiscIf ìo ìlc sìahiIiìy of diffcicnì fadci
scììings, ìlcn ìlaì wiII givc you vaIuahIc cIucs ahouì wlcn and low ìiacks
nccd pioccssing.
PART 3 Balance 142
www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch8.htm
I Write down all the sections in your production in rank order. Now list the instru-
ments in each of those sections in rank order too. Consider whether any further
multing might be sensible in the light of this ranking.
I Build up a balance for the most important section of your production, starting with
the most important instrument and then working through your list in order. Deal
with routing, phase, high-pass filtering, and panning considerations for each track
before trying to decide on the fader level.
I Make a note of any faders that feel unstable.
Assignment
143
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
Fcw aspccìs of mix pioccssing sccm ìo confusc moic smaII-sìudio owncis ìlan
compicssion, dcspiìc ìlc facì ìlaì ìlis mix pioccss is acìuaIIy cIoscIy icIaìcd
ìo wlaì ìlc fadcis do-ìlc onIy ìling ìlaì icaIIy diffcicnìiaìcs a fadci fiom a
compicssoi is ìlaì ìlc Iaììci can pcifoim haIancc clangcs auìomaìicaIIy. Iì's
casy ìo Iosc siglì of ìlis hasic piincipIc wlcn faccd wiìl aII ìlc ìcclnicaIiìics
of compicssoi dcsigns and conìioIs, so ìlis clapìci dcIihciaìcIy focuscs on ìlaì
issuc wliIc Iooking aì ìlc piacìicaI conccins of using compicssois aì mixdown.
1cclnicaI hiìs and hohs wiII hc spiinkIcd in as ìlcy hccomc icIcvanì.
9.1 COMPRESSION WITH TWO CONTROLS
A compicssoi is cffccìivcIy a fadci ìlaì you can piogiam so ìlaì iì wiggIcs
aiound in icaI ìimc. 1lc hcauìy of iì aì mixdown is ìlaì you can comhaì undc-
siiahIc signaI-IcvcI vaiiaìions ìlaì wouId oìlciwisc picvcnì an insìiumcnì fiom
mainìaining iìs posiìion in ìlc haIancc. In oìlci woids, a compicssoi can iion
ouì somc of ìlosc pcsky fadci insìahiIiìics ìlaì wc mcì wliIc pcifoiming ìlc
iniìiaI haIancc in Clapìci 8.
1o cxpIain low a compicssoi can do iìs joh, Icì's ìakc ìlc cxampIc of a Icad
vocaI iccoiding wlcic ìlc singci mumhIcs somc of ìlc woids. If you scì youi
fadci so ìlaì ìlc majoiiìy of ìlis vocaI paiì is niccIy audihIc in youi mix, ìlc
Iowci-IcvcI mumhIcd woids wiII sìaiì pIaying lidc and scck. If, on ìlc oìlci
land, you fadc ìlc vocaI up so ìlaì ìlc mumhIcd syIIahIcs comc ìlougl, ìlcn
ìlc icsì of ìlc vocaI wiII caì Manlaììan! 1lc icsuIì is ìlaì no singIc fadci scì-
ìing wiII givc you a good haIancc, hccausc ìlc diffcicncc hcìwccn ìlc vocaI
iccoiding's liglcsì and Iowcsì signaI IcvcIs (ìlc dynamic iangc) is ìoo Iaigc.
Compicssois piovidc a soIuìion ìo ìlis piohIcm hy icducing dynamic iangc. In
oìlci woids, compicssion icduccs ìlc IcvcI diffcicnccs hcìwccn ìlc mumhIcd
and unmumhIcd woids in oui lypoìlcìicaI vocaIisì's pcifoimancc, making iì
casici foi you ìo nnd a sìaìic fadci scììing ìlaì woiks foi aII of ìlcm. 1lc way
ìlc pioccssoi docs ìlis is ìo ìuin down (oi 'compicss´) ìlc Ioudci signaIs in
a givcn audio iccoiding so ìlaì ìlcy maìcl ìlc quicìci signaIs moic cIoscIy.
AII ìlc compicssoi nccds ìo know ìo puII off ìlis sìunì is wlicl signaIs you
Compressing for a Reason
CHAPTER 9
PART 3 Balance 144
considci ìo hc ìoo Ioud, and aII compicssois lavc a conìioI foi spccifying ìlis.
Wlaì can hc a IiììIc confusing, ìlougl, is ìlaì ìlis conìioI is impIcmcnìcd on
diffcicnì compicssois in quiìc diffcicnì ways.
The Many Faces of Threshold and Makeup Gain
1lcic aic ìlicc diffcicnì IahcIs you'II commonIy scc foi ìlis nisì main com-
picssoi conìioI:
I
Threshold. 1lis is ìlc mosì common conìioI dcsign, huì iì can sccm a hiì coun-
ìciinìuiìivc ìo sìaiì wiìl, hccausc you nccd ìo ìuin ìlc knoh down ìo incicasc
ìlc amounì of compicssion. 1lis is hccausc ìlc conìioI acìuaIIy spccincs ìlc
IcvcI ìlicsloId ahovc wlicl ìlc signaI is considcicd ìo hc ìoo Ioud. So wlcn
ìlc 1licsloId conìioI is scì ìo maximum, IiììIc if anyìling is considcicd ìoo
Ioud and piccious IiììIc compicssion occuis, as you hcgin ìo ìuin ìlc conìioI
down, onIy ìlc signaI pcaks aic icduccd in IcvcI, and as ìlc conìioI icaclcs iìs
minimumscììing, aII huì ìlc sofìcsì signaIs aic hcing saì on.
I
Peak reduction. A conìioI IahcIcd Iikc ìlis (oi somcìimcs jusì 'Compicssion´)
wiII givc you moic compicssion (i.c., moic icducìion of pcak IcvcIs) ìlc moic
you ìuin iì up. Easy pcasy!
FIGURE 9.1
This example shows how compression can rebalance the relative level of a vocalist’s mumbled word by
turning down all the other words.
Compressing for a Reason CHAPTER 9 145
I
Input gain. In ìlis casc ìlc compicssoi dcsign las a nxcd ìlicsloId IcvcI
ahovc wlicl iì wiII sìaiì ìuining ìlc voIumc down, so ìlc way you scì ìlc
amounì of compicssion is simpIy hy vaiying ìlc inpuì signaI's IcvcI icIa-
ìivc ìo ìlaì ìlicsloId. 1lc moic you ìuin up ìlis conìioI, ìlc moic ìlc sig-
naI cxcccds ìlc nxcd ìlicsloId IcvcI, and ìlc moic compicssion you gcì.
AIìlougl ìlis sounds a hiì Iikc using a Pcak Rcducìion conìioI, ìlc ciuciaI
diffcicncc is ìlaì lcic ìlc signaI's ovciaII IcvcI aIso incicascs as you add
moic compicssion.
I usuaIIy iccommcnd ìlaì ncwcomcis iniìiaIIy sìcci cIcai of compicssois
wiìl Inpuì Cain conìioIs, hccausc ìlc IcvcI likc can casiIy givc ìlc ciioncous
impicssion ìlaì youi pioccssing is impioving ìlc sound, cvcn if ìlc amounì of
compicssion is way ovcihoaid. By conìiasì, ìlc oìlci ìwo conìioI ìypcs ìcnd ìo
makc ìlc signaI quicìci wlcn you compicss, so ìlcic's Icss dangci of ovcipio-
ccssing. NcvciìlcIcss, in ìlc Iong iun iì's smaiì ìo hccomc comfoiìahIc wiìl
aII ìlicc of ìlcsc common conìioI scìups so ìlaì you lavc ìlc widcsì cloicc of
compicssois avaiIahIc ìo you aì mixdown.
Iì's aImosì impossihIc ìo squisl an insìiumcnì's dynamic iangc wiìlouì simuI-
ìancousIy aIìciing iìs suhjccìivc voIumc. Mosì compicssois acknowIcdgc ìlis hy
pioviding a mcans of icdicssing ìlis IcvcI clangc. In mosì cascs, ìlis wiII sim-
pIy hc a gain conìioI (ìypicaIIy IahcIcd 'Makcup Cain´ oi 'Ouìpuì Cain´), huì
in somc compicssois ìlc manufacìuicis lavc dcsigncd ìlis IcvcI-compcnsaìion
ìo hc auìomaìic. 1lc auìomaìic opìion sccms Iikc a hiiglì idca on ìlc facc of iì,
hccausc iì Icavcs onc land ficc foi hcci, huì my cxpciicncc wiìl sucl dcsigns
FIGURE 9.2
Some examples of compressors using each of the three main control types: Threshold (Waves
Renaissance Compressor, right ); Peak Reduction (Universal Audio LA3A, bottom); and Input Gain
(Steinberg’s Cubase Vintage Compressor, left ).
PART 3 Balance 146
suggcsìs ìlaì ìlcy aImosì aIways makc compicsscd sig-
naIs fccI Ioudci ìlan uncompicsscd oncs, wlicl
again cncouiagcs incxpciicnccd uscis ìo ovcicook
ìlc pioccssing. FoiìunaìcIy, many sofìwaic com-
picssois aIIow you ìo cloosc hcìwccn manuaI
and auìomaìic gain adjusìmcnì lcic, and I
aIways cloosc ìlc foimci if aì aII possihIc.
You now undcisìand ìlc ìlcoiy hclind ìlc ìwo
mosì fundamcnìaI compicssoi paiamcìcis: ìlicsl-
oId and makcup gain. (Foi ìlc sakc of simpIiciìy, I'II
icfci ìo ìlcm fiom now on hy ìlcsc namcs, iaìlci ìlan
ìlcii vaiianìs.) AIìlougl many compicssois lavc masscs of oìlci
conìioIs, you can acìuaIIy impiovc youi mix haIancc a ìicmcndous amounì
wiìlouì ìangIing wiìl any of ìlcm, so foi ìlc momcnì Icì's ahandon fuiìlci
discussion of ìcclnicaIiìics and conccnìiaìc on gcììing ìlc hcsì piacìicaI usc
ouì of wlaì wc aIicady know.
1o sìaiì wiìl, go hack ìo youi iniìiaI haIancc and muìc aII ìlc clanncIs. Makc
suic, ìlougl, ìlaì you Icavc ìlc fadci IcvcIs undisìuihcd aì ìlcii 'hcsì gucss so
fai´ scììings. Now sìaiì icinìioducing ìlc insìiumcnìs in oidci of impoiìancc,
huì ìlis ìimc conccnìiaìc on low compicssion miglì hc ahIc ìo impiovc ìlc
soIidiìy of ìlc haIancc.
Which Tracks Need Compression?
1lc nisì ìling you'II nccd ìo dccidc foi cacl ìiack you add inìo ìlc mix is
wlcìlci iì acìuaIIy nccds ìo hc compicsscd aì aII, and ìlis is wlcic you can
diaw on wlaì you'vc aIicady Icaincd aì ìlc iniìiaI haIancing sìagc. Rcmcmhci
ìlaì ìlc nisì main aim of mixing is simpIy ìo aclicvc a good haIancc of ìlc
insìiumcnìs, iì's onIy wlcn you can'ì nnd sìahIc fadci scììings ìlaì dcIivci ìlis
goaI ìlaì you slouId icaIIy considci appIying any addiìionaI pioccssing. 1lcic
aic Ioìs of possihIc icasons wly a givcn fadci scììing can fccI unsìahIc, huì
onIy somc of ìlosc piohIcms can hc soIvcd wiìl compicssion, so you nccd ìo
undcisìand cxacìIy wlicl kind of insìahiIiìy you'ic Iooking foi in ìlis casc.
1lc simpIcsì cIuc ìlaì you nccd ìo compicss a ìiack is ìlaì you kccp wanìing ìo
icacl ovci and adjusì iìs fadci. So in ìlc vocaI cxampIc I gavc caiIici, you miglì
fccI you'vc goì ìlc iiglì IcvcI foi ìlc wloIc ìiack, huì ìlcn you nnd youiscIf Iung-
ing foi ìlc fadci wlcncvci a mumhIcd pliasc comcs aIong. Bccausc compics-
sion can icducc ìlc diffcicncc in IcvcIs hcìwccn ìlc cIcai and mumhIcd woids, iì
can icmcdy ìlis piohIcm so ìlaì you can Icavc youi fadci in pcacc. 1o sìaìc ìlis
idca moic gcnciaIIy, compicssion can hc youi fiicnd wlcicvci Ioud momcnìs of
a ìiack pokc ìoo fai ouì of ìlc haIancc oi wlcicvci quicì dcìaiIs gcì Iosì.
If you sciuìinizc cacl unsìahIc fadci and can say, land on lcaiì, ìlaì nonc of
ìlcm suffci fiom ìlis kind of piohIcm, ìlcn no onc's going ìo aiicsì you foi
Icaving ìlc compicssion wcII aIonc. Howcvci, aIìlougl iì's viìaI ìlaì you don'ì
Automatic gain
makeup seems like
a bright idea on the face of
it, because it leaves one hand
free for beer, but it encourages
inexperienced users to overcook
the processing.
Compressing for a Reason CHAPTER 9 147
assumc ìlaì compicssion is nccdcd on any ìiack, ìlcic aic Ioìs of good icasons
wly compicssion is onc of ìlc mosì commonIy uscd cffccìs in mainsìicam
iccoid pioducìion. In ìlc nisì insìancc, no musician cvci mainìains lis oi lci
haIancc pcifccìIy, and ìlougl ìlc ìop scssion pIaycis can gcì picììy cIosc ìo ìlaì
idcaI, I'vc noì lcaid mucl cvidcncc ìlaì ìlosc guys lang iound smaII sìudios
vciy ofìcn. In ìlc icaI woiId, you lavc ìo do ìlc hcsì you can wiìl wlaìcvci
pcifoimcis you lavc on land, and ìlaì invaiiahIy invoIvcs a cciìain amounì
of aiihiusling wlcn you'ic ìiying ìo iivaI ìlc poIislcd pcifoimanccs on ìypicaI
commciciaI icIcascs. 1lc diummci may liì ìlc snaic uncvcnIy oi may Ican on
ìlc li-laì ìoo laid (as in ìlc Clapìci 8 casc sìudy), ìlc hass pIayci oi guiìaiisì
may noì hc ahIc ìo pick[sìium cvcnIy oi ficì cIcanIy duiing a fasì iiff, and ìlc
singci miglì hc Iucky ìo liì ìlc ligl noìcs aì aII, Icì aIonc aì a consisìcnì IcvcI.
1lc insìiumcnìs hcing pIaycd can causc jusì as many piohIcms ìoo. BadIy
maìclcd componcnìs in a dium kiì aic onc of ìlc mosì ficqucnì cuIpiiìs,
wlcicas guiìais and ampIincis wiìl pooiIy conìioIIcd icsonanccs aic aIso
common. Room modcs can add fuiìlci uncvcnncss ìo ìlc voIumcs of diffci-
cnì insìiumcnì piìclcs. Maclinc-diivcn paiìs aicn'ì immunc fiom piohIcms
ciìlci, hccausc sIoppy MIDI piogiamming can makc cvcn ìlc hcsì sampIcd
and synìlcsizcd sounds fccI Iumpy in ìcims of IcvcI. Likcwisc, ìlcic's no cnd
of ways in wlicl a sampIci oi synìlcsizci can spoiI ìlc haIancc of a hcauìifuIIy
piogiammcd MIDI paiì.
Buì cvcn if ìlcic's IiììIc icmcdiaI woik ìo hc donc, ìlc dcmands of many mod-
cin music sìyIcs aic aImosì impossihIc ìo mccì wiìlouì ìlc lcIp of compics-
sois. No hass pIayci I'vc cvci mcì can pIay as consisìcnìIy as is dcmandcd of a
mainsìicam up-ìcmpo pop oi iock mix, foi cxampIc. Lcad vocaIs aic scIdom
mixcd wiìlouì compicssion ciìlci, hccausc singcis naìuiaIIy ìcnd ìo lavc a
widc dynamic iangc huì mosì pioduccis cloosc ìo naiiow ìlis considciahIy so
ìlaì ìlc main mcIody and Iyiics icmain aImosì uncanniIy audihIc aì aII ìimcs.
FIGURE 9.3
Apple Logic’s built-in compressor is one of many software designs that offer automatic gain compensation
(via the Auto Gain field in this screenshot). For mix purposes, it’s usually better to switch it off.
PART 3 Balance 148
Getting Down to Processing: First Steps
Oncc you'vc Iocaìcd a ìiack ìlaì you ìlink miglì caII foi compicssion, ìlcn iì's
ìimc ìo cloosc youi wcapon. So wlicl compicssoi slouId you cloosc² Aì ìlc
iisk of uììciing sìudio lcicsy, I'd say ìlcic aic moic impoiìanì ìlings ìo woiiy
ahouì ìo sìaiì wiìl ìlan ìlc paiìicuIai modcI of compicssoi you usc. As 1ony
Visconìi puìs iì, 'A compicssoi is a compicssoi-iì docsn'ì maììci wlcìlci
iì's a $5uuu onc oi a $l5u onc. You lavc ìo know low compicssion woiks ìo
usc iì.´
l
1o hc loncsì, you miglì as wcII usc wliclcvci onc comcs ìo land,
hcaiing in mind ìlc advicc I offcicd caiIici icgaiding dcsigns wiìl Inpuì Cain
conìioIs oi auìomaìic gain compcnsaìion. Iì can makc ìlings casici if you usc
onc ìlaì las a gain-icducìion mcìci of somc ìypc, ìlougl, as ìlis wiII slow
you wlcn and low laid ìlc compicssoi is woiking in ìuining down ìlc Icv-
cIs of Ioudci signaIs. Cain-icducìion dispIays aic ìypicaIIy in ìlc foim of
VU-sìyIc moving-coiI mcìcis oi LED hai giapls, and somcìimcs ìlc compics-
soi's noimaI IcvcI mcìci can hc swiìclcd ìo slow gain icducìion insìcad.
Wliclcvci onc you gcì, iì'II usuaIIy hc caIihiaìcd in dccihcIs and you'II scc iì
movc wlcncvci compicssion's lappcning ìo slow low mucl ìlc signaI IcvcI's
hcing ìuincd down. In casc you'ic sìiII in a quandaiy ahouì wlicl pIug-in ìo
usc and you lavc acccss ìo a VS1 losì, ìlcn ìiy ciìlci Iciocn Bicchaaiì's PC-2
oi 1in Biookc 1aIcs's 1LS3l27LEA as a sìaiìing poinì-ìlcy'ic hoìl ficcwaic
and lavc simpIc inìcifaccs.
Insciì youi closcn compicssoi inìo ìlc clanncI in qucsìion, and if ìlcic aic
any picscìs avaiIahIc foi iì, ìlcn scIccì somcìling IikcIy Iooking-again, ìlcic's
no nccd ìo givc iì ìoo mucl ìlouglì foi now, jusì go wiìl youi guì. Wlcn iì's
FIGURE 9.4
When you’re learning to use compression, choose a fairly simple design to start with, such as these two
excellent freeware VST plug-ins: Jeroen Breebaart’s PC-2 (left ) and Tin Brooke Tales TLS3127LEA (right ).
Compressing for a Reason CHAPTER 9 149
Ioadcd up, piIc on a faii doIIop of compicssion hy ìwisìing ìlc 1licsloId con-
ìioI so ìlaì ìlc gain-icducìion mcìci slows aì Icasì 6dB of compicssion occui-
iing on signaI pcaks, and ìlcn adjusì ìlc compicssoi's Makcup Cain conìioI ìo
compcnsaìc iouglIy foi any ovciaII IcvcI clangc. Now makc usc of youi diffci-
cnì moniìoiing sysìcms (cspcciaIIy ìlc Auiaìonc-suhsìiìuìc) ìo lcIp you ìwcak
ìlc fadci again, and ask youiscIf ìlis qucsìion: Docs ìlc IcvcI of ìlaì ìiack fccI
any moic sìahIc in ìlc mix²
1lcic aic a Ioì of possihIc answcis, so Icì's Iook aì cacl in ìuin. CIcaiIy, if youi
compicssion sìahiIizcs ìlc fadci, ìlcn you'vc soIvcd youi
haIancc piohIcm and ìlc joh's donc. Howcvci, cvcn
if you ìlink ìlis is ìlc casc, do sìiII ìiy ìuining
ìlc 1licsloId conìioI hack up a IiììIc ìo scc if
you can gcì away wiìl using Icss compicssion.
Pusling youi clanncI compicssois ìoo laid
is a common misìakc ìlaì can sIowIy suck
ìlc Iifc ouì of a mix if iì's dupIicaìcd acioss aII
youi ìiacks. 'Compicssion is Iikc ìlis diug ìlaì
you can'ì gcì cnougl of,´ says Ioc CliccaicIIi. 'You
squisl ìlings and iì fccIs gicaì and iì sounds cxciìing,
huì ìlc ncxì day you comc hack and iì's Iikc ìlc moining afìci
and you'ic saying, 'Ol Cod, iì's ìoo mucl!'´
2
If ìlc haIancc piohIcms aicn'ì ycì soIvcd-you sìiII can'ì sìop ndgcìing wiìl
youi fadci-ìlcn ìiy ioIIing ìlc ìlicsloId down fuiìlci ìo scc if ìlaì makcs iì
casici ìo nnd a dcccnì fadci IcvcI. FccI ficc ìo compIcìcIy max ouì ìlc conìioI
if you Iikc, cvcn iì if makcs ìlc icsuIì sound iaìlci unnaìuiaI foi ìlc momcnì.
1lc impoiìanì ìling is ìo kccp conccnìiaìing on ìlc haIancc and wlcìlci ìlc
compicssion can dcIivci ìlc sìaìic fadci IcvcI you'ic afìci. Again, if you can gcì
ìlc haIancc you'ic lappy wiìl and you nnd any sidc cffccìs of ìlc compicssion
appcaIing (as ìlcy ofìcn can hc), ìlcn considci youiscIf ìlc clamp and ìuin
youi aììcnìion hack ìo ìlc icsì of ìlc insìiumcnìs in youi mix. In ìlc pioccss of
cxpciimcnìing wiìl ìlc ìlicsloId, iì may hccomc appaicnì ìlaì diffcicnì scì-
ìings acìuaIIy suiì diffcicnì ìimc scgmcnìs of ìlc ìiack you'ic woiking on, in
wlicl casc you may wisl ìo do somc addiìionaI muIìing of ìlc ìiack ìo impIc-
mcnì ìlis cffccì.
In ìlc cvcnì ìlaì you'ic ahIc ìo naiI down an appiopiiaìc haIancc ìliougl
lcavy compicssion, you couId noncìlcIcss nnd ìlaì ìlc pioccssing isn'ì doing
nicc ìlings ìo ìlc insìiumcnì sound in qucsìion-pcilaps iì's making ìlc pci-
foimancc fccI Iumpy and unmusicaI oi aIìciing ìlc ìonaIiìy in somc unpIcas-
anì way. In ìlaì casc, ìiy swiìcling ìo a ncw compicssoi oi compicssion picscì
and lavc anoìlci ciack. Diffcicnì compicssois and picscìs can icspond vciy
diffcicnìIy foi simiIai scììings of oui ìwo main compicssoi conìioIs, and you
don'ì icaIIy nccd ìo undcisìand wly ìlis is ìo icap ìlc hcncnìs. Compaic a
fcw opìions and cloosc ìlc onc ìlaì docs ìlc joh hcsì. Wiìl a IiììIc cxpciicncc,
you'II soon huiId a sloiìIisì of pcisonaI favoiiìcs foi diffcicnì insìiumcnìs.
Pushing your channel
compressors too hard is a
common mistake that can slowly
suck the life out of a mix if it’s
duplicated across all your
tracks.
PART 3 Balance 150
Civc iì a fcw monìls, and you'II hc sucking youi ìccìl and saying, '1laì
FaiicliId's phat on sIciglhcIIs!´ wiìl ìlc hcsì of ìlcm.
When Compression Is Not the Answer
In a Ioì of cascs, ìlougl, you won'ì hc ahIc ìo sìahiIizc ìlc fadci fuIIy, no maì-
ìci wlicl compicssoi you usc oi low you scì ìlc ìwo main conìioIs. 1lis is ìlc
poinì aì wlicl a Ioì of incxpciicnccd cnginccis ìliow in ìlc ìowcI and simpIy
scììIc foi a compiomisc hcìwccn dodgy haIancc and unmusicaI pioccssing sidc
cffccìs. Wlaì you nccd ìo icaIizc in ìlis kind of siìuaìion is ìlaì youi mix is
ìiying ìo ìcII you ìlaì compicssion isn'ì ìlc answci, cspcciaIIy if you'vc aIicady
ìiicd a fcw diffcicnì compicssois oi picscìs. So don'ì gcì ìoo lung up on ìlc
idca of ìiying ìo nx aII of an insìiumcnì's haIancc piohIcms wiìl compicssion,
hccausc oìlci ìypcs of pioccssing aic ofìcn icquiicd as wcII. Aì ìlis sìagc iì's
cnougl jusì ìo impiovc ìlc ìiack's haIancc in youi mix as fai as you can wiìl-
ouì making ìlc sound Icss IikahIc in a suhjccìivc scnsc.
So Icì's quickIy summaiizc wlaì wc'vc covcicd so fai. Fiisì, conccnìiaìc on ìlc
haIancc-can you lcai cvciyìling you nccd ìo lcai² Wlcn you can'ì nnd a
sìaìic posiìion foi a paiìicuIai fadci, ìlcn compicss (and mayhc muIì as wcII)
ìo ìiy ìo icmcdy ìlaì. Wlcn compicssion docs soIvc youi haIancc piohIcm,
ìlcn you nccd ìo ask youiscIf a sccond qucsìion: Do I now Iikc ìlc suhjccìivc
'sound´ of my compicssion² If noì, ìlcn ìiy a fcw diffcicnì compicssois oi
compicssoi picscìs. If you sìiII can'ì nnd a sìaìic fadci posiìion ìlaì woiks, ìlcn
pIay iì safc wiìl ìlc compicssion unìiI you scc wlaì oìlci pioccssing miglì hc
ahIc ìo offci.
9.2 REFINING COMPRESSION SETTINGS
If ìlaì wcic aII ìlcic was ìo using compicssois, ìlcn you'd hc foigivcn foi won-
dciing wly manufacìuicis hoìlci incIuding any oìlci conìioIs aì aII. Somc
cIassic compicssois do admiììcdIy onIy lavc ìwo knohs (ìlc 1cIcìionix LA2A,
foi cxampIc), huì if you'vc aIicady ìakcn ìlc oppoiìuniìy ìo ìiy ouì a vaiicìy of
compicssion picscìs on ìlc samc sound, you'II lavc noìiccd ìlaì somc of ìlcm
wiII woik moic cffccìivcIy in cvcning ouì ìlc IcvcIs of ìlc
insìiumcnì in qucsìion ìlan oìlcis, and ìlaì's hccausc
of ìlc dccpci compicssion paiamcìcis in cacl pic-
scì. If you can Icain ìo adjusì ìlcsc paiamcìcis foi
youiscIf, you can maìcl ìlc compicssoi's acìion
moic cIoscIy ìo ìlc spccinc dynamic-iangc
claiacìciisìics of ìlc inpuì signaI, and ìlcicfoic
moic cffccìivcIy aclicvc ìlc sìaìic fadci IcvcI
you'ic Iooking foi. Bcsidcs, oncc you gcì somc
piacìicc wiìl ìlc cxìia conìioIs, iì acìuaIIy cnds
up hcing quickci and casici ìo scì ìlcm up fiom
sciaìcl anyway.
At low ratio
settings (something
like 1.5:1) the overshoots
are nudged politely back toward
the threshold, whereas at higher
settings (12:1, for instance),
they’re beaten back by club-
wielding thugs!
Compressing for a Reason CHAPTER 9 151
Anoìlci aigumcnì foi Icaining ahouì aII ìlc com-
picssion conìioIs is ìlaì, aIìlougl ìlc ìcclnicaI rai-
son d’être of compicssion is gain icducìion, in ìlc
icaI woiId compicssois usuaIIy do moic ìlan jusì
icducc gain. 1lcy may aIso clangc ìlc ìonc of pio-
ccsscd signaIs quiìc a Ioì, cvcn wlcn compicssing
compaiaìivcIy IiììIc. So if you gcì inìo a siìuaìion wlcic
you Iikc ìlc gcnciaI ìonc oi aììiìudc ìlaì a cciìain com-
picssoi is impaiìing ìo youi ìiack, huì ìlcic aic no pic-
scìs ìlaì aic suiìahIc foi ìlc insìiumcnì you'ic pioccssing
(oi indccd no picscìs aì aII), ìlcn iì's uscfuI ìo hc ahIc ìo
ìwcak ìlc gain-icducìion acìion manuaIIy ìo suiì. 1laì way
you can swiìcl hcìwccn diffcicnì claiacìcifuI compicssois
ìo nnd ìlc onc wlicl hcsì cnlanccs a givcn ìiack, wliIc
sìiII kccping ìlc haIancc undci conìioI. Lcì's now inìio-
ducc somc of ìlc moic advanccd paiamcìcis hy dcmon-
sìiaìing low cacl aIIows ìlc compicssoi ìo adapì iìscIf ìo
spccinc ìasks.
Compression Ratio
As a nisì cxampIc, Icì's considci a sIap-hass paiì. Now,
as cvciyhody knows, ìlc hcsì pioccssing foi sIap hass
is ìlaì huììon IahcIcd 'Muìc,´ huì Icì's assumc foi ìlc
momcnì ìlaì ìlis opìion las hccn iuIcd ouì. 1lis pai-
ìicuIai sIap-hass paiì haIanccs nnc wiìl ìlc icsì of ìlc
ìiack, cxccpì ìlaì ìlc odd sIap noìc icaIIy ìakcs off and
Icaps foiwaid ouì of ìlc mix. 1lc csscncc of ìlc piohIcm is ìlaì you onIy
wanì ìo ìuin down ìlcsc spoiadic signaI pcaks, huì you wanì ìo ìuin ìlcm
down nimIy in oidci ìo maìcl ìlc IcvcIs of ìlc icsì of ìlc hass paiì. Wlaì
compicssois do is icducc ìlc amounì a signaI IcvcI cxcccds ìlc compics-
soi's ìlicsloId IcvcI, so in ìlis casc you wanì youi compicssoi ìo puì up
a piopci nglì and aII huì sìop ìlc inpuì signaI fiom cxcccding ìlc ìlics-
loId IcvcI. 1laì way you can scì ìlc ìlicsloId IcvcI jusì ahovc ìlc IcvcI of
ìlc majoiiìy of ìlc hass paiì, and iì wiII ìlcn kick in aì fuII foicc onIy wlcn
ìlc ovcizcaIous sIap noìcs liì.
By conìiasì, imaginc an acousìic guiìai paiì wlcic ìlcic aicn'ì ìlcsc kinds of
diamaìic IcvcI spikcs, huì wlcic ìlc ovciaII dynamic iangc is sìiII miIiìaìing
againsì nnding a sìaìic fadci IcvcI. In ìlis siìuaìion, you wanì youi compicssoi
ìo acì moic gcnìIy on signaIs ovcislooìing ìlc ìlicsloId so ìlaì you can scì
ìlc ìlicsloId jusì ahovc ìlc IcvcI of ìlc sofìcsì noìcs and ìlcn suhìIy squcczc
ìlc wloIc dynamic iangc down ìo a moic managcahIc sizc.
Iì's a compicssoi's Raìio conìioI (aIso somcìimcs IahcIcd 'SIopc´) ìlaì aIIows
iì ìo copc wiìl ìlcsc ìwo conìiasìing compicssion icquiicmcnìs, cffccìivcIy scì-
ìing low nimIy ìlc compicssoi icins in signaIs ìlaì ovcislooì ìlc ìlicsloId
FIGURE 9.5
The slap-bass peak in
the top waveform isn’t
reined in sufficiently
at a 2:1 ratio (middle
waveform) and requires
much higher-ratio
processing at 20:1 to
bring it into line.
PART 3 Balance 152
IcvcI. Aì Iow iaìio scììings (somcìling Iikc l.5:l), ìlc ovcislooìs aic nudgcd
poIiìcIy hack ìowaid ìlc ìlicsloId, wlcicas aì liglci scììings (l2:l, foi
insìancc), ìlcy'ic hcaìcn hack hy cIuh-wicIding ìlugs! Aì ìlc liglcsì scììings
(somc compicssois offci innniìy:l), ovcislooìs aic cffccìivcIy sìoppcd in ìlcii
ìiacks, unahIc ìo cioss ìlc ìlicsloId aì aII. So foi oui sIap hass cxampIc, iì'II
hc ligl iaìios you'ic Iooking foi, wlcicas foi mosì iouìinc dynamic-iangc
icducìion ìasks (sucl as in ìlc acousìic guiìai cxampIc), ìlc Iowci iaìios (up ìo
ahouì 3:l) wiII ìcnd ìo nx haIancc piohIcms in a moic naìuiaI-sounding way.
Wlcn I'm ìaIking ahouì a iaìio of 3:l oi wlaìcvci, wlaì docs ìlaì nguic acìu-
aIIy mcan² WcII, I couId diaw you somc IovcIy giapls, huì fiankIy I don'ì ìlink
iì'd hc a ìicmcndous amounì of piacìicaI lcIp, hccausc somc compicssois
don'ì IahcI ìlcii Raìio conìioIs and diffcicnì compicssois can icacì quiìc dif-
fcicnìIy foi ìlc samc Raìio scììing. Insìcad of ìlinking in ìcims of numhcis,
a moic piacìicaI and inìuiìivc appioacl is simpIy ìo usc a compicssoi wiìl a
gain-icducìion mcìci so ìlaì you can scc wlcn and low mucl ìlc compicssoi
is woiking as you juggIc ìlc 1licsloId and Raìio conìioIs. In ìlc casc of oui
sIap hass, you'd sìaiì off wiìl ìlc iaìio faiiIy ligl, and ìlcn nnd a 1licsloId
scììing ìlaì causcd ìlc gain icducìion ìo kick in onIy on ìlc sIap pcaks. Oncc
FIGURE 9.6
An acoustic guitar recording (top waveform) can be compressed moderately at a 2:1 ratio to add sustain
without losing too much of its performance musicality (middle waveform). Using a high ratio in this
instance (bottom waveform) unduly compromises the dynamic nuances of the playing.
Compressing for a Reason CHAPTER 9 153
you'd donc ìlis, you'd Iisìcn ìo ascciìain wlcìlci you'd soIvcd ìlc haIancc
piohIcm, and ìlcn adjusì ìlc Raìio conìioI accoidingIy. SìiII ìoo mucl sIap²
Incicasc ìlc iaìio ìo sìamp on ìlc pcaks moic nimIy.
Wiìl ìlc guiìai cxampIc, you miglì sìaiì off wiìl a faiiIy Iow iaìio (mayhc 2:l)
and ìlcn scì up ìlc ìlicsloId so ìlaì gain icducìion was lappcning foi aII
huì ìlc quicìcsì noìcs. Oncc ìlc ìlicsloId was in iouglIy ìlc iiglì pIacc, you
couId ìlcn ìuin hack ìo ìlc Raìio conìioI and ìwcak iì onc way oi ìlc oìlci ìo
aclicvc youi sìaìic fadci IcvcI. Somc quicìci noìcs sìiII ìoo indisìincì² Incicasc
ìlc iaìio ìo icducc ìlc dynamic iangc fuiìlci and scc if ìlis soiìs ìlings ouì.
Buì wly noì jusì max ouì ìlc Raìio conìioI² 1lc dangci is ìlaì if you ìuin iì up
ìoo ligl, you'II iion ouì ìlc impoiìanì pcifoimancc dynamics ìlaì makc ìlc
paiì sound musicaI, Icaving iì ßaì-sounding and IifcIcss, so ìiy ìo usc ìlc Iowcsì
iaìio ìlaì wiII gcì ìlc haIancing joh donc.
COMPRESSOR OR LIMITER?
Compressors that are specifically designed to offer very high-ratio compression are often
called limiters, so if you find that your particular compressor simply can’t muster a high
enough ratio to do a particular job, don’t be afraid to try a limiter instead. If you do switch
to a limiter, though, you’ll probably find that it uses an Input Gain control setup, and in
some cases the threshold may be set to the digital clipping point for mastering purposes,
without any postcompression gain control. This means that you can end up sending your
overall signal level hurtling into the stratosphere before you’ve brought about the gain
reduction you require. Fortunately, it’s usually easy to add another little gain utility plug-in
after the limiter to bring the overall level back down to earth.
FIGURE 9.7
Some good freeware limiters: GVST’s GMax (left ), Tin Brook Tales Pocket Limiter (right ), and Kjaerhus
Audio’s Classic Master Limiter (bottom).
PART 3 Balance 154
Compressors in Series
Buì wlaì wouId you do if ìlaì sIap-hass paiì nccdcd noì onIy ligl-iaìio con-
ìioI of ìlc sIappcd noìcs huì aIso moic gcnciaI Iow-iaìio dynamic-iangc icduc-
ìion² 1lc answci is ìlaì you couId dcaI wiìl ìlc piohIcm hy claining moic
ìlan onc compicssoi in sciics. 1lis is common in commciciaI piacìicc, as iì
Icìs you dcdicaìc cacl spccinc compicssoi ìo a diffcicnì ìask. Hcic's 1om Loid-
AIgc dcsciihing a vocaI appIicaìion: '1o makc a vocaI command aììcnìion I'II
puì iì ìliougl a 1cIcìionix LA3A and mayhc pummcI iì wiìl 2udB of compics-
sion, so ìlc mcìci is pinncd down. If ìlc hcginnings of ìlc woids ìlcn lavc
ìoo mucl aììack, I'II puì ìlc vocaIs ìliougl an SSL compicssoi wiìl a icaIIy
fasì aììack, ìo ìakc off oi smooìl ouì ìlc cxìia aììack ìlaì ìlc LA3A adds.´
3
A sccond advanìagc of a muIìiIaycicd compicssion appioacl is ìlaì you can
usc iì ìo aclicvc indusìiiaI-sìicngìl dynamic-iangc icducìion wiìlouì diiving
any individuaI pioccssoi ìoo laid. Indccd, many cIassic iccoidings lavc hcn-
cnìcd fiom ìlis piincipIc-a givcn signaI miglì nisì lavc hccn modciaìcIy
compicsscd on ìlc way ìo ìlc anaIog ìapc iccoidci ìo maximizc signaI-ìo-noisc
wliIc ìiacking, ìlc ìapc iìscIf may ìlcn lavc compicsscd ìlc signaI sIiglìIy ìoo,
and fuiìlci Iaycis of compicssion wouId lavc hccn appIicd duiing mixdown.
1lcic's anoìlci signincanì icason wly somc cnginccis clain compicssois:
iì aIIows ìlcm ìo hIcnd ìlc somcìimcs dcsiiahIc sonic sidc cffccìs of scvciaI
diffcicnì claiacìcifuI uniìs. 1lis is paiìicuIaiIy common wiìl vocaI paiìs, wlcn
you'ic Iooking foi ìlc mosì succcssfuI comhinaìion of ìonc and IcvcI conìioI.
Howcvci, ìlcsc coIoiisìic uscs of compicssion won'ì gcì you anywlcic unIcss
you'vc masìcicd ìlc pioccssoi's hasic mix-haIancing piopciìics nisì.
SOFT-KNEE COMPRESSION
Part of what differentiates compressor designs from each other is whether they begin
working only the moment the input signal level exceeds the compression threshold
(so-called hard-knee designs) or whether in fact they apply small amounts of gain reduction
to signals well below the threshold level (soft-knee
designs). The main benefit of soft-knee compression is
that it makes the onset of gain reduction less obvious
and therefore retains slightly more of the natural
musical phrasing within the processed part. Quite a
few classic studio compressors are by default soft-
knee designs, a factor which has contributed to their
long-lasting appeal. However, there are many times
when the unnatural sound of the compressor working
can actually be desirable, so it’s not uncommon to
find compressors that offer switchable or fully variable
hard/soft-knee operation. When using different hard/
soft-knee settings in practice, ask yourself the same
questions as when trying out different compressors
or compression presets: Am I achieving the desired
balance, and do I like the processed sound itself?
FIGURE 9.8
A variable Knee control is very useful
for adapting a compressor’s action
to different tasks.
Compressing for a Reason CHAPTER 9 155
Attack Time and Release Time: Why They Matter
Hcic's anoìlci cxampIc foi you. Lcì's say ìlaì wc'ic mixing a song wlcic
ìlc sìiummcd acousìic guiìai las a nicc naìuiaI susìain ìlaì woiks icaIIy
wcII wlcn iì's aì ìlc iiglì IcvcI in ìlc mix, huì you nnd ìlaì you lavc ìo
ìuin ìlc fadci down wlcncvci ìlc pIayci digs in moic duiing youi song's
cloiuscs. 'Sounds Iikc a joh foi Capìain Compicssoi!´ you ciy, huì wlcn
you acìuaIIy sìaiì diaIing in ìlc pioccssing you nnd ìlaì, iaìlci ìlan jusì
addicssing ìlc IcvcI diffcicnccs hcìwccn youi song sccìions, oui pIucky
gain-icducing supcilcio sccms inìcnì on cvcning ouì ìlc mucl sloiìci-
ìcim IcvcI diffcicnccs hcìwccn ìlc aììack-ìiansicnì and susìain poiìions of
cacl sìium. AIìlougl you miglì hc ahIc ìo soiì ouì youi ovciaII haIancc
piohIcm wiìl ìlis compicssoi, you'II hc paying an unacccpìahIc piicc: ìlc
impacì of cacl sìium wiII hc sofìcncd oi ìlc insìiumcnì's susìain wiII hc
unnaìuiaIIy ovcicmplasizcd.
1lc Aììack 1imc and RcIcasc 1imc conìioIs on a compicssoi piovidc a icm-
cdy ìo ìlis aiImcnì, hccausc ìlcy dcìciminc low quickIy ìlc compicssoi's gain
icducìion icacìs ìo clangcs in ìlc inpuì signaI IcvcI: ìlc foimci spccincs low
fasì ìlc compicssoi can icacì in icducing gain, wlcicas ìlc
Iaììci spccincs low fasì ìlc gain-icducìion icscìs. 1lc
icason ìlc compicssoi in oui cxampIc isn'ì doing
ìlc joh iì's hcing askcd ìo do is hccausc iì's icacì-
ing ìoo fasì ìo clangcs in ìlc signaI IcvcI, in
oìlci woids, iìs aììack and icIcasc ìimcs aic ìoo
smaII. Incicasc ìlcm and ìlc compicssoi wiII
hcgin icacìing moic sIowIy, wlicl mcans ìlaì
iì's IikcIy ìo dcaI wiìl ìlis paiìicuIai haIancc
piohIcm moic cfncicnìIy, hccausc iì wiII ìiack
Iongci-ìcim IcvcI vaiiaìions (ìlosc hcìwccn oui
vcisc and cloius) iaìlci ìlan sloiì-ìcim oncs (ìlosc
hcìwccn ìlc individuaI sìium ìiansicnìs and ìlc iinging of
ìlc guiìai sìiings hcìwccn ìlcm).
If you Iook aì ìlc scaIcs uscd on ìlcsc conìioIs, you may noìicc ìlaì ìlc
ìimcs aic usuaIIy cxpicsscd in miIIiscconds, aIìlougl you do occasionaIIy
nnd micioscconds and wloIc scconds in somc cascs. Howcvci, as wiìl ìlc
Raìio conìioI, I wouIdn'ì iccommcnd gcììing ìoo lung up on cxacì num-
hcis lcic, hccausc ìlc nguics can onIy cvci hc a iougl guidc ìo low a spc-
cinc compicssoi wiII acìuaIIy icspond. A mucl hcììci ìacìic is ìo focus on
adjusìing ìlc conìioIs hy cai unìiI you gcì ìlc hcsì mix haIancc wiìl ìlc
fcwcsì unmusicaI sidc cffccìs. If you'ic using gcnìIc compicssion, you may
nnd ìlaì iì lcIps you lcai ìlc cffccìs of diffcicnì aììack and icIcasc ìimcs
hcììci if you ìcmpoiaiiIy incicasc ìlc scvciiìy of ìlc compicssion wiìl ìlc
1licsloId and Raìio conìioIs. A compicssoi's gain-icducìion mcìci can hc
a uscfuI visuaI guidc lcic ìoo, as iì'II slow you noì onIy low mucl com-
picssion is hcing appIicd, huì aIso low fasì iì's clanging in icsponsc ìo ìlc
ìiack you'ic pioccssing.
If you’re using
gentle compression,
you may hear the effects of
different attack and release times
better if you temporarily increase the
severity of the compression with
the Threshold and Ratio
controls.
PART 3 Balance 156
Drum Compression: Three Different Settings
1lc ahiIiìy ìo adjusì a compicssoi's aììack and icIcasc ìimcs signincanìIy
incicascs ìlc iangc of haIancc piohIcms ìlan can uscfuIIy hc ìackIcd. 1o iIIus-
ìiaìc ìlis, Icì's Iook aì anoìlci common cxampIc: a snaic-dium hackhcaì:
I
Fast attack, fast release. If you lavc a fasì aììack ìimc, ìlcn ìlc compicssoi
wiII icspond quickIy ìo ìlc ßccìing iniìiaI dium ìiansicnì, icducing ìlc gain
swifìIy. If you ìlcn scì ìlc RcIcasc ìimc vciy fasì, ìlc gain icducìion wiII aIso
icscì vciy iapidIy, wcII hcfoic ìlc dium sound las nnislcd, sucl ìlaì ìlc
Iowci-IcvcI ìaiI of ìlc dium liì won'ì hc compicsscd as mucl. RcsuIì: Lcss
dium ìiansicnì.
I
Fast attack, slow release. Paiìnciing youi fasì aììack wiìl a sIowci icIcasc wiII
causc a iapid compicssion onscì, huì ìlc gain-icducìion wiII ìlcn icscì
vciy IiììIc duiing ìlc dium liì iìscIf, and mosìIy hcìwccn ìlc liìs. 1lc haI-
ancc hcìwccn ìlc ìiansicnì and susìain poiìions of ìlc dium wiII ìlcicfoic
icmain picììy mucl unclangcd, and ìlc compicssoi wiII piimaiiIy jusì
makc ìlc IcvcI of cacl dium liì appcai moic consisìcnì. RcsuIì: Moic con-
sisìcnì pcifoimancc.
I
Slow attack, slow release. Incicasing ìlc aììack ìimc ìoo mucl wiII aIIow somc
of cacl dium ìiansicnì ìo sncak pasì ìlc compicssoi hcfoic iìs gain icducìion
cIamps down piopciIy. 1lis cffccìivcIy incicascs ìlc IcvcI diffcicncc hcìwccn
ìlc ìiansicnì and ìlc icsì of ìlc snaic sound. RcsuIì: Lcss dium susìain. (Iì's
woiìl noìing lcic ìlaì, aIìlougl compicssion is noimaIIy associaìcd wiìl
icducing dynamic iangc, in ìlis casc iì miglì casiIy incicasc iì.)
Hcic wc can scc low laving vaiiahIc aììack and icIcasc ìimcs makcs possihIc
ìlicc diffcicnì haIancc icsuIìs (Icss ìiansicnì IcvcI, moic consisìcnì liì IcvcI,
and Icss susìain IcvcI), aII fiom ìlc samc compicssoi. 1lis ahiIiìy ìo aclicvc
vciy diffcicnì cffccìs is paiìIy wlaì confuscs somc ncwcomcis ìo compicssion,
and iì's aIso onc of ìlc icasons wly piomisingIy namcd compicssoi picscìs
don'ì ncccssaiiIy do ìlc ìiick-if youi 'Rock Snaic´ picscì las hccn scì up ìo
icducc ìlc dium ìiansicnì, foi cxampIc, ìlaì won'ì lcIp if you acìuaIIy wanì iì
spikici ìlan a lcdgclog's molawk.
AUTOMATIC ATTACK AND RELEASE TIMES
Many of the most musical-sounding compressor designs treat short-term and long-
term level variations differently, adjusting their attack or release times to adapt to the
musical material. However, in some cases a dedicated automatic mode is provided
which disables the manual attack/release time controls, and this will tend to work
best with complex sounds that need transparent gain reduction—perhaps lead vocals
or acoustic guitars in a sparse acoustic arrangement. However, if you’re after well-
controlled transient envelope adjustments (such as those demonstrated via the three
contrasting snare-processing examples below), any artificial intelligence can actually
hamper you in getting predictable results for large gain changes. “I can’t let you do
that, Dave.”
Compressing for a Reason CHAPTER 9 157
Side Effects of Time Settings
AIìlougl ìlinking in ìcims of haIancc answcis mosì qucsìions pciìaining ìo
aììack and icIcasc ìimcs, in cciìain ciicumsìanccs you may nnd ìlaì youi scì-
ìings pioducc unwanìcd pioccssing sidc cffccìs, and iì's as wcII ìo hc on ìlc
Iookouì foi ìlcsc. 1lc nisì occuis wlcn you scì fasì cnougl aììack and icIcasc
ìimcs ìlaì ìlc compicssoi acìuaIIy hcgins ìo icacì ìo individuaI wavcfoim
cycIcs, iaìlci ìlan ìo ìlc signaI's ovciaII IcvcI conìouis. 1lc gain icducìion
ìlcn cffccìivcIy clangcs ìlc wavcfoim slapc and ìlus pioduccs disìoiìion, ìlc
naìuic of wlicl wiII dcpcnd on ìlc spccinc sound hcing pioccsscd and ìlc
compicssoi you lappcn ìo hc ahusing. Bass sounds, wiìl ìlcii sIow-moving
wavcfoims, aic paiìicuIaiIy pionc ìo ìlis cffccì, huì dcIicaìc acousìic insìiu-
mcnìs can aIso picscnì difncuIìics hccausc ìlcy wiII iuìlIcssIy cxposc ìlc
smaIIcsì of disìoiìion aiìifacìs.
Anoìlci common piohIcm is wiìl pcicussivc hass sounds, sucl as kick diums,
wlicl can appcai ìo Iosc hass conìcnì if you compicss ìlcm wiìl aììack ìimcs
undci ahouì 5ums. 1lis is hccausc ìlc compicssoi hcgins cIamping down dui-
ing ìlc nisì coupIc of wavcfoim cycIcs, somcìling ìlaì sccms ìo impacì on ìlc
Iowci ficqucncics moic ìlan ìlc liglci oncs, slifìing ìlc ìonaI haIancc of ìlc
sound. Oncc you know ìlaì ìlis is a dangci, iì's noì ìlaì ìiicky ìo avoid, huì if
you'ic noì Iisìcning foi iì, ìlcn iì's casy ìo ovciIook wliIc you'ic conccnìiaìing
on widci haIancc issucs.
Onc nnaI ohscivaìion is ìlaì clanging a compicssoi's aììack and icIcasc ìimcs
wiII affccì ìlc amounì of gain icducìion ìlaì's occuiiing foi a givcn comhina-
ìion of ìlicsloId and iaìio paiamcìcis. Foi cxampIc, a sidc-sìick sound (wlicl
compiiscs a sloiì ìiansicnì and vciy IiììIc susìain) miglì compIcìcIy hypass a
compicssoi wiìl a Iong aììack, cvcn if iìs IcvcI slooìs way ovci ìlc compicssoi's
FIGURE 9.9
The effects of three different sets of attack and release times when compressing a snare-drum recording.
PART 3 Balance 158
ìlicsloId. So iì's noì uncommon ìo kccp adjusìing compicssion ìlicsloId
and iaìio aIongsidc aììack and icIcasc ìimcs ìo ìakc accounì of ìlcsc kinds of
clangcs.
LEVEL DETECTION: PEAK VERSUS AVERAGE
Another way you can adjust the time response of a compressor is by altering the
level-detector circuit’s reaction to short-term signal peaks. If the compressor is aware
of every tiny level spike, it’ll catch threshold overshoots reliably, but it will also react
unmusically to many normal instrument recordings—our own hearing isn’t as sensitive
to short signal peaks as to slightly longer-term level variations. A lot of compressors,
therefore, average their level-detector readings over time to some extent in order to
match the response of the ear more accurately and achieve a smoother compression
sound, and some designs even provide a Peak/Average (or Peak/RMS) control
of some sort so you can vary the amount of averaging manually. If you do have a
separate Peak/Average control, though, bear in mind that it will inevitably interact with
the Attack Time and Release Time controls, so you may need to hop back and forth
between all three to find the best final setting.
9.3 PARALLEL COMPRESSION
AIìlougl mosì sìudio uscis nisì cxpciimcnì wiìl compicssois as insciì cffccìs,
ìlcy can aIso hc uscd in a scnd-icìuin Ioop scìup, sucl ìlaì you cnd up mixing
hoìl pioccsscd ('wcì´) and unpioccsscd ('diy´) vcisions of ìlc samc signaI.
1lis ìcclniquc las hccn in widcspicad usc foi dccadcs wiìlin ìlc piofcssionaI
communiìy (wlcic iì's somcìimcs caIIcd 'Ncw Yoik´ compicssion), huì iì
ìcnds sìiII ìo hc undciuscd hy smaII-sìudio opciaìois. 1lc main advanìagc of
ìlc paiaIIcI scìup is ìlaì ìlc uncompicsscd signaI icìains somc of ìlc ìiack's
oiiginaI ìiansicnìs and musicaI dynamics, cvcn if you cloosc ìo pummcI ìlc
Iiving dayIiglìs ouì of ìlc pioccsscd clanncI. 'I'm a hig fan of paiaIIcI com-
picssion,´ says Ioc Baiicsi. 'I'II ofìcn mix in noncompicsscd sound wiìl com-
picsscd sound ìo mainìain ìlc ìiansicnìs.´
4
As sucl, onc common appIicaìion of ìlis appioacl is ìo lcIp icducc undcsii-
ahIc sidc cffccìs wlcicvci fasì aììack and icIcasc ìimcs piovc ncccssaiy foi haI-
ancc puiposcs. 1iansicnì-iicl insìiumcnìs sucl as diums, ìuncd pcicussion,
piano, and acousìic guiìai ficqucnìIy hcncnì fiom paiaIIcI pioccssing foi ìlis
icason, hccausc ìlaì way you can usc fasì compicssion ìo hiing up ìlc susìain
ìaiIs hcìwccn individuaI liìs[noìcs (a faiiIy cvciyday icquiicmcnì in a Ioì of
sìyIcs) wiìlouì duIIing pcicussivc aììack oi ßaììcning dcsiiahIc pcifoimancc
nuanccs. In facì, so good is paiaIIcI pioccssing aì conccaIing ìlc sidc cffccìs
of lcavy compicssion ìlaì you can ficqucnìIy affoid ìo compicss wiìl gusìo
in ìlis sccnaiio, aII huì cIiminaìing ìiansicnìs fiom ìlc compicsscd signaI so
ìlaì iì can hoIsìci ìlc uncompicsscd clanncI's susìain aImosì cnìiicIy indcpcn-
dcnìIy. 1lc ciuciaI ìling ìo icmcmhci is ìlaì ìlc sound of ìlc compicsscd sig-
naI on iìs own lcic is iiicIcvanì-iì's wlaì iì sounds Iikc in comhinaìion wiìl
Compressing for a Reason CHAPTER 9 159
ìlc uncompicsscd signaI ìlaì counìs. 'Iì docsn'ì maììci wlaì iì sounds Iikc in
soIo ìo mc,´ says 1ohy Wiiglì. 'Iì can sound Iikc ìlc wciidcsì ìling on caiìl,
as Iong as iì nìs and compIcmcnìs ìlc ìiack and wlaì's going on aiound iì, iì's
ìlcic ìo sìay.´
5
Anoìlci common icason ìo cmpIoy paiaIIcI pioccssing is if you wanì ìo ovci-
diivc claiacìcifuI vinìagc-sìyIc compicssois in scaicl of juicy ìonaI and disìoi-
ìion aiìifacìs, hccausc you'ic ficc ìo do so wiìlouì ncaiIy as mucl dangci of
pioducing a IifcIcss nnaI sound. In piofcssionaI ciicIcs, ìlis appioacl mosì ofìcn
ìcnds ìo focus on ìlc mosì impoiìanì sonic componcnìs of ìlc mix, sucl as
diums and Icad vocaIs, and scvciaI paiaIIcI compicssois miglì cvcn hc hIcndcd
ìogcìlci. MiclacI Biauci,
6
Davc Pcnsado,
7
and Spikc Sìcnì
8
aII ìaIk ahouì using
muIìipIc compicssois Iikc ìlis on Icad vocaIs, foi cxampIc. Howcvci, ìlis kind
of compicssoi usagc is so suhjccìivc ìlaì ìlcic's IiììIc icaI advicc I can offci lcic
hcyond Ioc Mcck's famous adagc: if iì sounds iiglì, iì is iiglì!
COMPRESSING LEAD VOCALS
Although there are no special compression techniques specifically for lead vocals,
it’s common for their processing to be more in-depth to cope with the difficulties they
present. Not only does their naturally wide dynamic range usually need narrowing a
great deal, but the listener’s everyday experience of natural-sounding vocals makes
unnatural side effects from heavy processing difficult to get away with. My main
suggestion for getting successful results is to tackle the task in stages:
I
Mult sections of the vocal that have very different sounds or levels to different
tracks.
I
Use an initial layer of gain reduction to even out overall levels—soft-knee 2:1/3:1
compression with moderate attack and release times is likely to work best here
if you’re after fairly transparent gain control. Alternatively you might wish to use a
multicompressor parallel setup to achieve more tone-coloring options.
I
If vocal peaks are still poking out unduly, then follow this general compression with
a faster, higher-ratio compression setting, or even some kind of limiter. A soft-knee
model will be more appropriate for understated level control, but understatement
isn’t exactly the name of the game in many modern musical styles.
It’s as well to realize, however, that compression (and indeed any other type of
automatic mix processing) will never be able to achieve the inhuman degree of level
consistency demanded of chart-ready lead vocals. The missing piece of the puzzle is
detailed fader automation, but it doesn’t make sense to get into that until much later
in the mix, so we’ll leave a proper examination of that subject for Chapter 19. For the
moment, just try to do the best you can without incurring inappropriate processing side
effects. If you try to nail every last syllable into place with compressors while balancing,
you’re almost guaranteed to overprocess.
1lcic is onc piìfaII ìo hc awaic of wiìl paiaIIcI compicssion, ìlougl: if you
fadc up ciìlci ìlc pioccsscd oi unpioccsscd signaI, you'II adjusì noì onIy ìlc
naìuic of ìlc compicssion, huì aIso ìlc ovciaII IcvcI of ìlaì ìiack in ìlc mix.
PART 3 Balance 160
1lis can makc iì sccm as if cvcn a dodgy compicssoi
scììing is lcIping, simpIy hccausc fading iì up makcs
aspccìs of ìlc insìiumcnì sccm Ioudci. My suggcs-
ìion foi ovcicoming ìlis cffccì is ìo gioup hoìl
ìlc uncompicsscd and compicsscd signaIs ìo
a ncw clanncI and ìlcn usc ìlaì gioup clan-
ncI ìo scì ìlc haIancc. 1lc oìlci ìwo fadcis can
ìlcn hc ìicaìcd as an cxìcnsion of ìlc com-
picssoi's conìioI scì iaìlci ìlan hcing uscd foi
mix haIancing. In facì, a numhci of compicssoi
dcsigns lavc acìuaIIy hcgun ìo incoipoiaìc Wcì[
Diy Mix conìioIs inìo ìlcii usci inìcifaccs ìo sidc-
sìcp ìlis issuc and aIIow paiaIIcI compicssion ìo hc
cmpIoycd as an insciì cffccì.
A sccond ìling ìo hc awaic of wiìl paiaIIcI compicssion (oi indccd wlcn pio-
ccssing ìlc individuaI ìiacks of a muIìimikcd iccoiding) is ìlaì you can casiIy
iun inìo comh-nIìciing piohIcms if ìlc compicssoi dcIays ìlc pioccsscd sig-
naI. 1lis is an cvci-picscnì dangci in digiìaI sysìcms wlcic anaIog-ìo-digiìaI
convcision and DSP pioccssing hoìl lavc ìlc poìcnìiaI ìo incui sloiì Iaìcncy
dcIays. FoiìunaìcIy mosì smaII-sìudio DAW uscis don'ì iun inìo Iaìcncy pioh-
Icms ìoo ofìcn wliIc mixing hccausc ìlcy icIy mosìIy on sofìwaic pIug-in
pioccssing and ìlcii DAW sysìcm wiII noimaIIy lavc auìomaìic pIug-in dcIay-
compcnsaìion iouìincs. Howcvci, iì noncìlcIcss pays ìo hc awaic ìlaì somc
pIug-ins don'ì dccIaic ìlcii Iaìcncy ìo ìlc losì sofìwaic piopciIy, so do kccp an
cai piickcd foi ìlc ficqucncy cffccìs of comh-nIìciing wlcncvci using a paiaIIcI
pioccssing scìup. And cvcn if a pIug-in induccs no ohvious dcIay, somc sofì-
waic noncìlcIcss aIìcis ìlc inìcinaI plasc icIaìionslips hcìwccn ìlc diffcicnì
ficqucncics passing ìliougl iì, so don'ì hc suipiiscd if mixing ìogcìlci com-
picsscd and uncompicsscd clanncIs occasionaIIy aIìcis ìlc comhincd ìonc in
ways you wcicn'ì anìicipaìing.
9.4 BACK TO THE BALANCE
1lcic aic cIcaiIy a Ioì of ways ìlaì you can icnnc ìlc way a compicssoi opci-
aìcs, huì nonc of ìlosc icnncmcnìs wiII lcIp you aì mixdown if you Icì ìlcm
disìiacì you fiom ìlc fundamcnìaI qucsìions you nccd ìo answci wliIc haIanc-
ing youi mix:
I
Is ìlc compicssion lcIping ìlc haIancc²
I
Do I Iikc ìlc suhjccìivc quaIiìy of ìlc compicssion sound²
If youi nisì compicssoi cloicc docsn'ì givc you ìlc haIancc oi ìlc aììiìudc[ìonc
you dcsiic, cvcn oncc you'vc ìwcakcd iìs scììings, ìlcn swiìcl ìo anoìlci. If you
nccd moic cIcan haIancing powci oi wanì ìo usc ovciì compicssion sidc cffccìs
ìo youi advanìagc, ìlcn ìiy claining compicssois in sciics oi adopìing a paiaIIcI
pioccssing scìup. Iì slouIdn'ì hc a lugc iigmaioIc, and ìlcic's no nccd ìo dcspaii
if you can'ì aclicvc pcifccìion. 1lc aim is ìo makc ìlc mix hcììci, noì pcifccì,
With parallel
compression you can
easily run into comb-filtering
problems if the compressor
delays the processed signal.
This is an ever-present danger in
digital systems where analog-
to-digital conversion and DSP
processing can both incur
latency delays.
Compressing for a Reason CHAPTER 9 161
so don'ì pusl youi pioccssing ìoo laid aì ìlis poinì. If any haIancc piohIcm is
pioving insoIuhIc, ìlcn ìlaì's piohahIy a sign ìlaì simpIc compicssion isn'ì ìlc
iiglì ìooI foi ìlc joh.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
Fiom a mix pcispccìivc, ìlc piimaiy puiposc of compicssion is ìo aclicvc a
sìahIc haIancc. If a ìiack haIanccs nnc wiìlouì compicssion, ìlcn don'ì fccI
you lavc ìo compicss iì aì aII. Wlcn compicssing you nccd ìo ask youiscIf
ìwo qucsìions: Is ìlc compicssion lcIping ìlc haIancc, and do I Iikc ìlc
suhjccìivc sound of ìlc pioccssing²
I
1lc mosì impoiìanì conìioIs on a compicssoi aic ìlicsloId and makcup
gain (oi ìlcii cquivaIcnìs), and you slouId hc ahIc ìo gcì a Iong way wiìl
compicssion using jusì ìlosc conìioIs. If ìlcy can'ì aclicvc a good haIancc
foi you wiìlouì undcsiiahIc sidc cffccìs, ìlcn in ìlc nisì insìancc jusì ìiy
swiìcling compicssoi oi compicssoi picscì.
I
1lc icmaining compicssion conìioIs aIIow you ìo adapì a compicssoi's
gain-icducìion claiacìciisìics moic cIoscIy ìo ìlc nccds of ìlc ìaigcì sig-
naI. WliIc ìlis can lcIp you icducc unmusicaI compicssion aiìifacìs, iì aIso
aIIows you ìo ìakc advanìagc of any dcsiiahIc sonic sidc cffccìs of a givcn
compicssoi in a widci iangc of siìuaìions. Bc on ìlc Iookouì foi undcsii-
ahIc disìoiìion oi Ioss of Iow cnd wlcn compicssing wiìl fasì aììack and
icIcasc ìimcs.
I
1lcic is no iuIc againsì using moic ìlan onc compicssoi in a singIc clan-
ncI. Somcìimcs diffcicnì compicssois aic icquiicd ìo do diffcicnì haIancing
johs, somcìimcs ìwo compicssois can aclicvc lcavy dynamic-iangc icduc-
ìion moic ìianspaicnìIy ìlan onc, and somcìimcs you miglì wanì ìo hIcnd
ìlc ìonaI ßavois of ìwo diffcicnì claiacìcifuI uniìs.
I
PaiaIIcI pioccssing can icducc somc of ìlc undcsiiahIc sidc cffccìs of fasì
compicssion, cspcciaIIy wlcn lcaviIy pioccssing ìiansicnì-iicl signaIs sucl
as diums, ìuncd pcicussion, piano, and acousìic guiìai. Iì aIso aIIows you
ìo diivc individuaI compicssois laidci in oidci ìo cxaggciaìc ìlcii uniquc
ìonaI pcisonaIiìy in ìlc mix.
Assignment
I Track down all the compressors and limiters on your DAW system so that you know
what options are available. If you have little choice, then consider supplementing
your selection with third-party plug-ins.
I Check that your DAW system has automatic plug-in delay compensation, and that
it is activated.
I Mute all the tracks in your mix, and then rebuild the balance as before, but this
time experimenting with compression to see if it can clear up any of the fader
instabilities you identified while initially balancing.
I Make a note of any faders that still feel unstable.
www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch9.htm
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163
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
Compicssion isn'ì ìlc onIy auìomaìic gain-clanging cffccì ìlaì las appIica-
ìions aì mixdown-iì's onc of a wloIc famiIy caIIcd 'dynamics pioccsscs,´
oi simpIy 'dynamics.´ Oìlci mcmhcis of ìlis famiIy sccm ficqucnìIy ìo hc
ignoicd in ìlc smaII sìudio, huì ìlcy can aIso lavc ìlcii uscs. 1lis clapìci
cxpIains somc of ìlcsc poìcnìiaI appIicaìions.
10.1 EXPANSION AND GATING
Wlcicas compicssion icduccs dynamic iangc hy ìuining down Ioud sounds,
cxpansion docs ìlc opposiìc-iì incicascs ìlc dynamic iangc hy ìuining down
quicì sounds. 1lcic aic a numhci of common appIicaìions foi cxpandcis wlcn
haIancing a mix, incIuding ìlc foIIowing:
I
Rcducing Iow-IcvcI hackgiound noisc hcìwccn vocaI oi insìiumcnì pliascs
I
Rcducing li-laì spiII on a snaic cIosc mic
I
Rcducing ìlc IcvcI of a dium sampIc's susìain ìaiI icIaìivc ìo iìs ìiansicnì
pcaks
An cxpandci's inìcifacc is no moic compIicaìcd ìlan a compicssoi's. As hcfoic,
ìlcic's a 1licsloId conìioI ìo ìcII ìlc cxpandci wlicl paiìs of ìlc signaI nccd
ìo hc pioccsscd, aIìlougl in ìlis casc iì's signaIs hcIow ìlc ìlicsloId ìlaì lavc
gain-icducìion appIicd ìo ìlcm. 1lc Raìio conìioI adjusìs low vigoiousIy ìlc
cxpandci ìuins ìlings down oncc signaIs divc hcIow
ìlc ìlicsloId IcvcI. A iaìio of l:l causcs no cxpansion
aì aII, wlcicas a liglci iaìio of, say, 4:l wiII diamaìi-
caIIy icducc ìlc IcvcIs of suhìlicsloId signaIs. Somc
cxpandcis cvcn offci a iaìio of innniìy:l, wlicl cffcc-
ìivcIy muìcs any signaI Iuiking hcIow ìlicsloId, in
wlicl casc ìlc pioccssing is commonIy icfciicd ìo as
gaìing, and somc spcciaIizcd cxpansion pioccssois
caIIcd gaìcs offci onIy ìlis mosì cxìicmc iaìio.
Wlaì can confusc somc uscis iniìiaIIy wiìl cxpandcis
and gaìcs is ìlaì ìlc RcIcasc 1imc conìioI dcìcimincs
Beyond Compression
CHAPTER 10
FIGURE 10.1
A well-specified software
gate, Apple Logic’s Noise
Gate plug-in.
PART 3 Balance 164
low quickIy gain icducìion is appIicd ìo suhìlicsloId signaIs, wliIc ìlc Aììack
1imc knoh adjusìs low fasì ìlc gain-icducìion icscìs. Howcvci, givcn ìlaì
aììack ìiansicnìs in ìlc pioccsscd ìiack aic ofìcn wlaì acìuaIIy causc ìlc gain
icducìion ìo icscì in ìlcsc pioccssois, ìlis conìioI Icgcnding is acìuaIIy moic
inìuiìivc foi a Ioì of pcopIc, so iì las hccn adopìcd as convcnìion.
Using cxpansion foi haIancing puiposcs invoIvcs answciing ìlc samc ìwo
qucsìions wc poscd hcfoic wiìl compicssion: Docs ìlc pioccssing soIvc a haI-
ancc piohIcm, and las ìlc suhjccìivc quaIiìy of ìlc pioccsscd signaI suffcicd
in ìlc pioccss² If you can'ì gcì ìlc icquiicd icsuIì wiìl ìlc hasic foui conìioIs,
ìlcn ìiy a diffcicnì cxpandci oi cxpandci picscì. If ìlaì docsn'ì impiovc maì-
ìcis, ìlcn jusì do ìlc hcsì you can wiìl youi cxpandci and makc a noìc ìo
ìackIc ìlc piohIcm again wiìl ìlc moic spcciaIisì ìooIs wc'II cxpIoic in Iaìci
clapìcis.
Stop That Chattering!
1lcic is onc piacìicaI issuc you may lavc ìo dcaI wiìl wlcn using ciìlci a
ligl-iaìio cxpandci oi a gaìc. If you usc fasì aììack and icIcasc ìimcs,
any signaI ìlaì lovcis aiound ìlc ìlicsloId IcvcI can ìiig-
gci huisìs of iapid and cxìicmc gain-icducìion ßucìua-
ìions. Aì hcsì ìlcsc wiII simpIy sound Iikc ungainIy
sìuììciing of ìlc audio, and aì woisì ìlcy'II givc
iisc ìo a paiìicuIaiIy unmusicaI disìoiìion ofìcn
caIIcd 'claììciing´-iì sounds a hiì Iikc wliz-
zing snaiIs in a hIcndci! AIìlougl ìlc ohvi-
ous soIuìion wouId hc ìo hack off ìlc iaìio oi
aììack[icIcasc ìimcs, ìlcic aic siìuaìions wlcic
ìlaì miglì noì hc an opìion-foi cxampIc, if
you wanìcd ìo cuì off ìlc unwanìcd ìaiI of a snaic
dium sampIc ahiupìIy.
If you gate with
fast attack and release
times, any signal that hovers
around the threshold level can
trigger a burst of rapid gain-reduction
fluctuations called “chattering”—it
sounds a bit like whizzing
snails in a blender!
EXPANSION: PRE- OR POSTCOMPRESSION?
If you want to use expansion on a track that already has compression on it. Then in
most circumstances it’s sensible to insert the expander before the compressor in the
processing chain. If the compressor squashes the dynamic range first, it will reduce
the level differences between the quieter sounds you want your expander to attenuate
and the louder sounds you want left alone, with the result that finding a successful
expansion threshold becomes more difficult—or even impossible. However, there are
inevitably exceptions to this guideline. For example, if you’re using an expander to
emphasize a drum sound’s attack, you might set a high threshold level just to catch
the peak of each hit, but if there’s any variation in the peak levels, then you’ll get
some inconsistency in the transient enhancement. Putting a compressor or limiter
before the expander in this case could actually make the expander’s operation more
reliable.
Beyond Compression CHAPTER 10 165
Onc nx foi gaìc claììciing is ìo lavc an addiìionaI HoId 1imc conìioI on youi
cxpandci, wlicl cnfoiccs a usci-spccincd dcIay hcìwccn a gain-icducìion icscì
(ìlc gaìc 'opcning´ ìo Icì sound ìliougl) and ìlc ncxì gain-icducìion onscì
(ìlc gaìc 'cIosing´ ìo muìc ìlc signaI). Iusì a fcw miIIiscconds of loId ìimc can
hc cnougl ìo dcaI wiìl mosì cascs of gaìc claììciing. Anoìlci opìion somc-
ìimcs piovidcd is somcìling caIIcd lysìcicsis, wlicl cffccìivcIy cicaìcs scpaiaìc
ìlicsloId IcvcIs foi gain icducìion and gain icscì. A Hysìcicsis conìioI wiII usu-
aIIy hc caIihiaìcd in dccihcIs, huì don'ì pay ìlc maikings mucl lccd-jusì Icavc
ìlc conìioI aì udB unIcss gaìc claììciing hccomcs a piohIcm, and ìlcn ìuin iì
up onIy jusì fai cnougl ìo savc ìlosc gasìiopods fiom ìlcii unpIcasanì dcmisc.
Parallel Processing and Range Control
1lc samc kind of paiaIIcI pioccssing scìup inìioduccd in Sccìion 9.3 wiìl icIa-
ìion ìo compicssois can aIso cxìcnd ìlc possihiIiìics of cxpansion and gaìing.
Lcì's say you lavc a snaic dium cIosc-mic iccoiding ìlaì caìclcs somc impoi-
ìanì cIcmcnìs of ìlc li-laì sound hcìwccn dium liìs, huì aì an unacccpì-
ahIy ligl IcvcI-a faiiIy common cvcnìuaIiìy. You miglì ìackIc ìlis piohIcm
wiìl cxpansion, scììing ìlc ìlicsloId so ìlaì ìlc gain-icducìion icscìs wiìl
cvciy snaic liì and ìlcn adjusìing ìlc iaìio ìo icducc ìlc li-laì spiII ìo ìasìc.
Howcvci, ìlis appioacl wiII aIso incicasc ìlc li-laì spiII's dynamic iangc, and
ìlaì miglì causc a coupIc of piohIcms. Fiisì, ìlc li-laì miglì hc pickcd up
wiìl a diffcicnì ìonc on ìlc snaic and li-laì micioploncs (oi ìlcic may hc
considciahIc comh-nIìciing cffccìs hcìwccn ìlcm), so ìlc Ioudci li-laì liìs,
wlicl lavc moic spiII, wiII ìlcicfoic lavc a diffcicnì sound. Sccond, if ìlc
snaic and li-laì cIosc-mics aic panncd ìo diffcicnì Iocaìions, ìlc li-laì imagc
may appcai ìo wandci hcìwccn ìlcm as ìlc cxpansion vaiics ìlc spiII IcvcIs.
A soIuìion ìo ìlis piohIcm miglì hc ìo scì up a ligl-iaìio cxpandci oi gaìc
as a paiaIIcI pioccss insìcad, compIcìcIy icmoving ligl-laì spiII fiom ìlc pio-
ccsscd clanncI and ìlcn mixing in ìlc icsuIìing 'snaic-onIy´ signaI aIongsidc
ìlc unpioccsscd snaic cIosc-mic. By haIancing ìlc IcvcIs of ìlc pioccsscd and
unpioccsscd ìiacks ìogcìlci, you can ficcIy dccidc low mucl li-laì spiII you
incIudc in ìlc mix, wiìlouì aIìciing iìs dynamic iangc. Anoìlci uscfuI appIi-
caìion of ìlis paiaIIcI cxpansion is cmplasizing dium ìiansicnìs. Scì ìlc
cxpandci[gaìc wiìl a ligl ìlicsloId and fasì aììack and icIcasc ìimcs ìo iso-
Iaìc jusì a ìiny 'hIip´ aì ìlc sìaiì of cacl liì, and ìlcn mix ìlaì hack in wiìl
ìlc unpioccsscd sound. AIìlougl on iìs own ìlc isoIaìcd ìiansicnì may sound
ugIici ìlan ìlc poiìiaiì in Lcmmy's aììic, ìlaì's immaìciiaI as Iong as iì sounds
good in comhinaìion wiìl ìlc unpioccsscd ìiack.
You'II icmcmhci ìlaì somc compicssois lavc a Wcì[Diy Mix conìioI ìo
aclicvc paiaIIcI pioccssing wiìlin a singIc insciì cffccì, and you'II nnd ìlc odd
cxpandci[gaìc wiìl onc of ìlcsc ìoo. Howcvci, iì's mucl moic IikcIy ìlaì you'II
nnd a Rangc conìioI insìcad, wlicl aclicvcs a hioadIy simiIai cffccì hy scììing
ìlc maximum aIIowahIc gain icducìion. In oui li-laì spiII cxampIc, ìlcn, you'd
nisì scì up ìlc cxpandci[gaìc using ìlc maximum iangc scììing ìo compIcìcIy
cIiminaìc ìlc li-laì spiII, and oncc you'd managcd ìo gcì iì ìiiggciing icIiahIy
you'd ioII hack ìlc Rangc conìioI ìo aclicvc ìlc dcsiicd IcvcI of li-laì spiII.
PART 3 Balance 166
10.2 TRANSIENT ENHANCERS
Wc aIicady lavc aì oui disposaI vaiious mcans ìo cmplasizc a dium sound's
aììack ìiansicnì: sIow-aììack, fasì-icIcasc compicssion (as dcsciihcd in
Sccìion 9.2), fasì ligl-ìlicsloId cxpansion, and paiaIIcI
oi Iimiìcd-iangc gaìing. Howcvci, ìlcic is ofìcn a nccd
foi spcciaIisì ìooIs ìo adjusì ìlc naìuic of ìian-
sicnìs in a mix, noì Icasì hccausc digiìaI iccoid-
ing docsn'ì smooìl signaI spikcs in ìlc way
cIassic anaIog maclincs uscd ìo. 'You spcnd a
Ioì of ìimc caiving in anaIog ìo makc ìlings
pokc ouì,´ commcnìs Iimmy DougIass, 'huì
in digiìaI cvciyìling is poking ouì and sìick-
ing in youi facc aIicady, so ìlc claIIcngc is ìo
smooìl iì ouì and sìick iì hack ìlcic.´
l
AI Sìonc
compIains ahouì ìlc impacì of digiìaI iccoiding
on dium sounds in paiìicuIai: 'If you gcì ìlc hcsì sig-
naI down on muIìiìiack, you cnd up haIancing youi muIìi-
ìiack aì ìlc hoììom of ìlc fadcis on ìlc way hack, hccausc aII ìlc ìiansicnìs
icmain.´
2
Threshold-Dependent Processing
A numhci of ìiansicnì-modincaìion opìions icIy on somc kind of IcvcI-
ìlicsloId sysìcm ìo woik. 1lcic is, foi cxampIc, a pioccssoi caIIcd an upwaid
cxpandci (oi dccompicssoi) ìlaì incicascs ìlc dynamic iangc of signaIs ahovc
ìlc ìlicsloId IcvcI, iaìlci ìlan hcIow iì. If you scì aììack and icIcasc ìimcs vciy
sloiì, you can adjusì ìlc 1licsloId and Raìio conìioIs ìo hoosì jusì ìlc signaI
pcaks. Howcvci, if ìlc pcak IcvcIs aicn'ì ahsoIuìcIy consisìcnì, upwaid cxpan-
sion can cxaccihaìc ìlis iiicguIaiiìy, wlicl is ofìcn undcsiiahIc.
Threshold-
dependent transient
enhancement only works
on transients that are higher in
level than the rest of the signal, so
adjusting complex transient-rich
tracks like acoustic guitar or
piano can therefore be
unrewarding.
USING GATING TO RESHAPE DRUM ENVELOPES
Almost all Hold Time controls on expanders and gates have a much wider range
of delay settings than is necessary to avoid gating chatter, and this opens up a
technique that is particularly powerful for remodeling the level envelopes of individual
drum sounds. For example, if you put a high-ratio expander or gate onto a snare drum
track and set the threshold as high as possible (while still ensuring that a gain-reset
triggers reliably for each hit), then you can subsequently use the expander/gate’s
Attack, Hold, and Release Time controls to dramatically adjust the level envelope of
each hit. You could increase the attack time to remove the initial transient completely,
decrease the hold time to shorten the drum’s tail, and adjust the release time either
for an abrupt drum-machine-style ending to each hit or for a more gradual and natural-
sounding decay.
Beyond Compression CHAPTER 10 167
Anoìlci ìypc of pioccssoi dcsign uscs
iìs ìlicsloId IcvcI simpIy ìo dcìccì ìian-
sicnìs, and wlcncvci onc aiiivcs iì ìiiggcis
a momcnìaiy gain hoosì ìo cmplasizc iì.
You usuaIIy gcì conìioI ovci ìlc amounì of
'aììack´ gain appIicd, and somcìimcs aIso
ìlc Icngìl and slapc of ìlc gain cnvcIopc
uscd. AIìlougl you couId cicaìc an idcn-
ìicaI cffccì using paiaIIcI gaìing, pIug-ins
ìlaì usc ìiiggcicd gain cnvcIopcs ofìcn
lavc anoìlci ìiick up ìlcii sIccvcs: ìlc
ahiIiìy ìo ìiiggci a sccond indcpcndcnì
'susìain´ cnvcIopc wlcn ìlc inpuì signaI IcvcI ducks hack hcIow ìlc ìlicsloId.
1lis isn'ì somcìling you'd usc cvciy day, huì iì las ìlc capahiIiìy ìo incicasc ìlc
susìain of dium sampIcs oi icpcìiìivc synìl paiìs in a mucl moic diamaìic and
conìioIIahIc way ìlan is possihIc wiìl compicssion.
Look Mum, No Threshold Control!
1licsloId-dcpcndcnì ìiansicnì cnlanccmcnì las an impoiìanì Iimiìaìion,
ìlougl: iì onIy woiks on ìiansicnìs ìlaì aic liglci in IcvcI ìlan ìlc icsì of ìlc
signaI, so adjusìing compIcx ìiansicnì-iicl ìiacks Iikc acousìic guiìai oi piano
can ìlcicfoic hc unicwaiding, foi cxampIc. Foi ìlis icason, a dynamics pio-
ccssoi ìlaì dcìccìs ìiansicnìs in a diffcicnì way is ìypicaIIy a hcììci hcì foi haI-
ancing ìlcm aì mixdown. Wlcìlci a ìiansicnì is Ioud oi quicì, iì wiII aIways
hy naìuic invoIvc a iapidIy iising signaI IcvcI, so if a pioccssoi Iooks foi ìlis
IcvcI clangc, iì can dcìccì ìiansicnìs moic icIiahIy wiìlouì ìlc nccd foi any
1licsloId conìioI. Iì's ìlcn a compaiaìivcIy simpIc maììci ìo aIIow ìlc usci
ìo hoosì (oi indccd cuì) cacl ìiansicnì. (An cxìcnsion of ìlis idca is foi ìlc
pioccssoi aIso ìo dcìccì iapidIy faIIing signaI IcvcIs, so ìlaì you can adjusì posì-
ìiansicnì susìain IcvcIs in ìlc samc ìlicsloId-indcpcndcnì way.)
FIGURE 10.2
Logic’s Envelope Shaper
plug-in is an example of
a threshold-dependent
transient processor.
LOOKAHEAD AND LATENCY
There are some times with dynamics processing when it’s nice to be able to predict the
future. For example, if you’re using high-threshold gating on a percussive sound, even with
a very fast attack time, you can lose some of the sound’s initial transient while the gate
is still trying to open. To get around this problem, it’s handy to get the expander/gate to
react slightly before the signal level exceeds the threshold, and some digital processors
do provide this option in the form of a Lookahead control. This is usually calibrated in
milliseconds, and you only normally need a few milliseconds of lookahead to deal with
this kind of problem. Mastering-style limiters commonly have lookahead facilities too, so
that they can handle signal peaks more smoothly. While lookahead is undoubtedly useful,
however, there is one thing to be careful of: some plug-ins that offer the facility can throw
a spanner in the works of your DAW’s plug-in delay compensation, so keep your ears
open for comb-filtering problems if you’re processing in a parallel configuration.
PART 3 Balance 168
Iason CoIdsìcin dcsciihcs onc of lis favoiiìc appIicaìions foi ìlis kind of pio-
ccssing: '|I usc iìj a Ioì on acousìic guiìais. In cascs wlcic ìlcy'ic jusì pIaying
ilyìlm and ìlcy aic ìoo 'pIucky,' I can. ìakc somc of ìlc aììack off, wiìlouì
using compicssion.. Iì's aIso a Ioì ìo do wiìl ìlc issuc of appaicnì Ioudncss. If
you makc ìlc aììack laidci, somcìling wiII sound Ioudci. Iì wiII cuì ìliougl ìlc
mix wiìlouì laving ìo add addiìionaI voIumc.´
3
Iack Ioscpl Puig uscd a simiIai
cffccì on Fcigic's 'Big CiiIs Don'ì Ciy´: 'If you wcic ìo Iisìcn ìo ìlc acousìic gui-
ìai wiìlouì ìlc pIug-in, iì wouId sound kind of Iazy and noì uigcnì.. Insìcad
I wanìcd ìo givc ìlc guiìai an immcdiaìc aììacking, in-youi-facc sound, as if iì's
icaIIy digging in and pIaycd wiìl nngcinaiIs as opposcd ìo ìlc skin of ìlc nn-
gci.. 1lc hiain suhconsciousIy anaIyscs wlcic ìlc fionì of ìlc noìc is and wlaì
ìlc fccI of a iccoid is. If you lavc aììack Iikc ìlis, ìlc iccoiding fccIs cxciìing and
vihianì, Iikc iì's moving and is fasì. Iì's a Iaigc paiì of ìlc way ìlc iccoid fccIs.´
4
Sucl pioccssing is a vciy powcifuI addiìion ìo ìlc dynamics aiscnaI, and
iì is ofìcn hcììci suiìcd ìo ichaIancing aììack and susìain componcnìs wiìlin
individuaI noìcs ìlan ìlings Iikc compicssion and cxpansion. You may wcII noì
lavc ìlis ìypc of pIug-in huiIì inìo youi DAW, huì ìlcic is now a good scIccìion
of affoidahIc ìliid-paiìy pIug-ins avaiIahIc-SìiIIwcII Audio's 1iansicnì Monsìci
and Voxcngo's 1iansCainci aic ìwo vciy affoidahIc favoiiìcs of minc. Iì is woiìl
noìing, ìlougl, ìlaì ìlicsloId-indcpcndcnì ìiansicnì pioccssois fiom diffci-
cnì manufacìuicis sccm ìo icspond diffcicnìIy in piacìicc, in ìcims of cxacìIy
low many ìiansicnìs ìlcy dcìccì and low ìlcy impIcmcnì ìlc ìiiggcicd gain
FIGURE 10.3
There are now lots of
threshold-independent
transient processors on
the market, including
(clockwise from left )
SPL’s software Transient
Designer, Flux’s Bitter
Sweet II, Stillwell Audio’s
Transient Monster, and
Voxengo’s TransGainer.
Beyond Compression CHAPTER 10 169
clangcs, so if you lavc acccss ìo moic ìlan onc sucl pioccssoi on youi sysìcm,
ìlcn compaic ìlcm ìo dcìciminc wlicl dcsign woiks hcsì in cacl mix sccnaiio.
10.3 TEMPO-DRIVEN BALANCING
Hcic's a nnaI uscfuI dynamics ìiick: ìiiggciing gain clangcs in sync wiìl ìlc song's
ìcmpo. So Icì's say you lavc a ilyìlm-guiìai paiì pIaying ciglìl noìcs, and you
wanì ìo incicasc ìlc IcvcI of ìlc off-hcaìs in ìlc haIancc. You ìiy doing ìlis wiìl
compicssion, huì ìlaì mcsscs wiìl ìlc noìc susìains. Wlaì you icaIIy nccd is
a way ìo swiìcl ìlc ìiack's gain hcìwccn ìwo diffcicnì IcvcIs in a icguIai paììcin.
FoiìunaìcIy, modcin DAWsysìcms nowpiovidc scvciaI faiiIy simpIc ways of aclicv-
ing ìlis as Iong as ìlc song you'ic mixing Iincs up wiìl ìlc sofìwaic's mcìiic giid.
Onc mcìlod wc'vc aIicady covcicd is muIìing. SIicc up ìlc offcnding guiìai paiì
and cluck ìlc hiìs onìo ìwo scpaiaìc ìiacks so ìlaì you can haIancc ìlcm aì indc-
pcndcnì IcvcIs. You miglì nccd ìo fadc ìlc cdiìcd sccìions in and ouì caicfuIIy ìo
smooìl ìlc IcvcI ìiansiìions, huì ìlc icsuIìs can noncìlcIcss hc vciy cffccìivc and
ìlcic's ìlc addcd advanìagc ìlaì you can casiIy cicaìc Icss icguIai ìcmpo-icIaìcd
aIìcinaìions, slouId you lavc an unusuaI fondncss foi capcs and diy icc.
Anoìlci opìion is ìo nnd a dynamics pIug-in ìlaì wiII icspond ìo incoming
MIDI noìcs-somc pIug-in gaìcs woik Iikc ìlis, foi cxampIc. Oncc you lavc
ìlis kind of pioccssoi, iì hccomcs casy ìo scì up ìcmpo-maìclcd dynamic
cffccìs hy piogiamming simpIc mcìionomic MIDI paiìs wiìlin youi DAW sofì-
waic. In oui ilyìlm-guiìai cxampIc, you miglì insciì a MIDI-diivcn gaìc and
ìlcn ìiiggci ìlaì fiom an off-hcaì paììcin of MIDI noìcs ìo Icì onIy ìlc off-hcaì
guiìai cloids ìliougl. You couId ìlcn hack off ìlc pIug-in's Rangc conìioI ìo
icinsìaìc ìlc on-ìlc-hcaì guiìai cloids aì a moic appiopiiaìc IcvcI.
A dcdicaìcd ìcmpo-synclionizcd gaìing, clopping, oi ìicmoIo cffccì can aIso
givc you ìlis kind of dynamics conìioI, and if you gcì loId of onc ìlaì is wcII-
spccincd, iì can aIso add a Ioì of cxìia ßcxihiIiìy hy viiìuc of pioviding a cloicc
of diffcicnì IcvcI-moduIaìion wavcfoims. In my cxpciicncc iì's a good idca ìo
FIGURE 10.4
Programmable tremolo
units (such as U-he’s
Uhbik-T, left ) and tempo-
synchronizable gates
(such as MOTU’s Pattern
Gate, right ) offer time-
based balancing options
that extend beyond the
capabilities of normal
level-based dynamics
processors.
PART 3 Balance 170
ìiy ìo nnd a pIug-in ìlaì aIso piovidcs a Plasc conìioI, so ìlaì you can sIidc
ìlc scIccìcd wavcfoim slapc icIaìivc ìo ìlc hcaì. 1lis aIIows you ìo adjusì ìlc
ìicmoIo gain clangcs ìo suiì any insìiumcnìs ìlaì pIay sIiglìIy ouì of sync wiìl
ìlc DAW's mcìiic giid.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
If insufncicnì dynamic iangc is sìopping you fiom aclicving a good haIancc
foi a givcn ìiack in youi mix, ìlcn cxpansion may hc ìlc answci. An cxpand-
ci's conccpì and conìioIs aic simiIai ìo ìlaì of a compicssoi, so iì slouIdn'ì
picscnì mucl of an addiìionaI Icaining cuivc. In mosì siìuaìions, usc cxpan-
sion hcfoic compicssion in any clain of cffccìs. If you'ic using a ligl-iaìio
cxpandci oi gaìc wiìl fasì ìimc scììings, ìlcn you may nccd ìo usc HoId oi
Hysìcicsis conìioIs ìo avoid unwanìcd disìoiìion oi IcvcI sìuììciing. PaiaIIcI
oi Iimiìcd-iangc gaìing may hc picfciahIc ìo modciaìc cxpansion in somc
cascs. A gaìc ìlaì las a Iookalcad faciIiìy can impiovc youi icsuIìs wlcn
cxpanding pcicussivc sounds, huì if you'ic using paiaIIcI pioccssing, ìlcn
makc suic ìlaì ìlc funcìion docsn'ì inducc Iaìcncy and causc comh nIìciing.
I
1licsloId-dcpcndcnì ìiansicnì pioccssois lavc somc uscs, huì you'II gcì
mucl moic miIcagc fiom ìlicsloId-indcpcndcnì dcsigns aì mixdown.
Diffcicnì hiands of ìiansicnì pioccssoi ìcnd ìo sound quiìc diffcicnì, so
makc a poinì of compaiing any aIìcinaìivcs ìo nnd ìlc hcsì maìcl foi cacl
spccinc haIancing ìask.
I
If you can maìcl up youi DAW's mcìiic giid ìo ìlc ìcmpo of ìlc music you'ic
mixing, ìlcn ìlcic aic vaiious ways you can usc ìcmpo-diivcn dynamics
pioccssing ìo youi advanìagc: via dcìaiIcd muIìing, hy using a MIDI-diivcn
dynamics pIug-in, oi hy appIying a dcdicaìcd ìcmpo-synclionizcd cffccì.
Assignment
I If you don’t have at least one well-specified expander/gate and one threshold-
independent transient enhancer in your DAW system, then find third-party plug-ins
to fill these gaps in your processing lineup.
I Mute all the tracks in your mix and rebuild the balance again, this time trying out
expansion/gating, transient processing, and tempo-driven dynamics in search of a
more stable balance.
I Make a note of any faders that still feel unstable.
www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch10.htm
171
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
Spcaking in ìlc hioadcsì of ìcims, Clapìcis 9 and lu aic conccincd wiìl siìu-
aìions in wlicl diffcicnì ìimc scgmcnìs of a givcn ìiack in youi mix fccI as if
ìlcy dcmand diffcicnì fadci scììings. Iì's ìlcsc ìimc-domain piohIcms ìlaì cic-
aìc ìlc kind of fadci insìahiIiìy ìlaì makcs you wanì ìo icadjusì ìlc IcvcI scì-
ìing ìlc wloIc ìimc, hccausc a fadci posiìion ìlaì woiks onc momcnì docsn'ì
woik ìlc ncxì. Dynamics pioccssing piovidcs ìlc ìooIs ìo haIancc aII ìlc audio
cvcnìs in an individuaI ìiack's ìimcIinc icIaìivc ìo cacl oìlci, wlicl makcs iì
possihIc ìo nnd a singIc, sìahIc fadci scììing foi ìlaì mixci clanncI.
Howcvci, dcaIing wiìl ìimc-domain issucs is onIy laIf ìlc sìoiy, hccausc ìlcic
wiII noimaIIy hc ficqucncy-domain haIancc piohIcms ìo addicss as wcII-in
oìlci woids, siìuaìions wlcic an insìiumcnì's diffcicnì ficqucncy icgions fccI
as if ìlcy dcmand diffcicnì fadci scììings. 1lc fadci insìahiIiìy in ìlis casc las
a diffcicnì suhjccìivc claiacìci ìo iì: you'II sìiuggIc ìo gcì a saìisfacìoiy IcvcI scì-
ìing anywlcic in ìlc ìimcIinc, hccausc a fadci posiìion ìlaì woiks foi onc fic-
qucncy icgion docsn'ì woik foi anoìlci. 1lis kind of piohIcm icquiics a wloIc
diffcicnì scì of mix-pioccssing ìooIs, ìlc mosì common of wlicl is cquaIiza-
ìion (oi EQ foi sloiì). Bccausc cquaIizaìion is so impoiìanì foi mixing, and
so many smaII-sìudio uscis sccm ìo gcì ìlc wiong cnd of ìlc sìick wiìl iì, I'm
going ìo dcdicaìc ìlc cnìiicìy of Clapìci ll ìo ìlc suhjccì, hcfoic digging inìo
somc moic Icfì-ncId ficqucncy-domain ìiicks in Clapìci l2.
11.1 FREQUENCY MASKING AND BALANCE
An cquaIizci adjusìs ìlc IcvcIs of diffcicnì ficqucncy icgions icIaìivc ìo cacl
oìlci. As sucl, iì can ìackIc mixdown ficqucncy-domain imhaIanccs lcad on,
so iì's laidIy suipiising ìlaì iì's uscd so mucl. Howcvci, mosì smaII-sìudio
opciaìois sccm lahiìuaIIy ìo ovciusc iì, IaigcIy hccausc of a fundamcnìaI mis-
conccpìion ahouì wlaì iì's ìlcic foi. 1lc iooì of ìlc piohIcm is ìlaì incxpcii-
cnccd cnginccis piimaiiIy usc mixdown EQ ìo ìiy ìo impiovc ìlc ìonc, iiclncss,
and gcnciaI suhjccìivc appcaI of cacl of ìlc insìiumcnìs in ìlcii pioducìion.
AIìlougl ìlis is a woiìly goaI, iì's acìuaIIy a sccondaiy considciaìion, hccausc
EQ las a mucl moic ciuciaI ìask aì mixdown: aclicving a sìahIc haIancc.
Equalizing for a Reason
CHAPTER 11
PART 3 Balance 172
1o undcisìand wly cquaIizaìion is so viìaI ìo cicaìing a good mix haIancc, you
nccd ìo know ahouì a psycloIogicaI plcnomcnon caIIcd 'ficqucncy masking,´
wlicl affccìs oui pciccpìion wlcncvci wc lcai scvciaI insìiumcnìs pIaying
ìogcìlci aì oncc. 1o puì iì simpIy, if onc insìiumcnì in youi mix las Ioìs of
cncigy in a cciìain ficqucncy icgion, ìlcn youi pciccpìion wiII hc dcscnsiìizcd
ìo ìlaì ficqucncy icgion of ìlc oìlci insìiumcnìs. In oìlci woids, if you lavc
cymhaIs ìliasling away and nIIing up ìlc ficqucncy spccìium ahovc 5kHz,
you'II pciccivc ìlis ficqucncy iangc a Ioì Icss wcII in ìlc Icad vocaI paiì-ìlc
cymhaIs wiII hc 'masking´ ìlc vocaI ahovc 5kHz. AIìlougl
ìlc vocaI miglì sound IovcIy and hiiglì on iìs own,
ìlc momcnì ìlc cymhaIs aic addcd iì wiII appcai
duII. 1o icìain appaicnìIy ìlc samc vocaI sound
againsì ìlc cymhaIs, you musì ciìlci icducc ìlc
IcvcIs of ìlc cymhaI ficqucncics ahovc 5kHz
oi cxaggciaìc ìlosc ficqucncics in ìlc vocaI
sound.
1lc iamincaìions of ficqucncy masking foi mix-
ing aic cnoimous. Fiisì, iì slouId hc cIcai ìlaì EQ
picscìs aic of no usc wlaìsocvci aì mixdown, hccausc
ìlc dcsignci of ìlc picscì can'ì possihIy picdicì low masking
wiII affccì any givcn sound in youi spccinc siìuaìion-you miglì jusì as wcII ask
youi Aunì Mavis ìo scì up ìlc conìioIs so ìlcy Iook picììy. By ìlc samc ìokcn, an
EQ scììing ìlaì woikcd on onc mix can'ì hc cxpccìcd ìo woik on ìlc ncxì. Mick
Cuzauski says, 'You slouIdn'ì say, 'Ol, I'm gonna add 5kHz ìo ìlc vocaI and
puII ouì 2uuHz, hccausc ìlaì's wlaì I did on ìlc Iasì song.' Iì may noì woik. Youi
appioacl las ìo hc modincd somcwlaì foi cacl song, as cacl wiII lavc diffcicnì
insìiumcnìaìion, a diffcicnì singci, a diffcicnì kcy, and so on.´
l
1lc cffccìs of masking aIso mcan ìlaì cvcn if cacl individuaI insìiumcnì in
youi aiiangcmcnì sounds good cnougl ìo caì on iìs own, you'II sìiII nccd
somc cquaIizaìion ìo compcnsaìc foi ficqucncy masking hcìwccn ìlc insìiu-
mcnìs in oidci ìo mainìain ìlc appaicnì ìonc of cacl onc wiìlin ìlc nnaI
mix. Wlaì's moic, caiiying ouì ìlis ncccssaiy pioccssing may makc individuaI
sounds a Ioì Icss suhjccìivcIy appcaIing wlcn soIocd, ciìlci hccausc cciìain fic-
qucncy icgions lavc hccn cxaggciaìcd ìo ovcicomc masking fiom Icss impoi-
ìanì insìiumcnìs oi hccausc somc ficqucncics lavc hccn cuì ìo avoid masking
moic impoiìanì insìiumcnìs. In sloiì, a good mix EQ scììing is noì ncccssai-
iIy ìlc onc ìlaì makcs ìlc insìiumcnì sound hcsì in iìs own iiglì. In somc
cascs ìlc onIy way ìo nì a suhsidiaiy insìiumcnì inìo a ciowdcd mix is if iìs
ficqucncy haIancc is mangIcd ìo ìlc poinì of ahsuidiìy. 1laì's wly ìiying ìo
makc cvciy individuaI insìiumcnì sound fanìasìic is a fooI's ciiand.
Says Ioln Lcckic, 'Somcìimcs ìlc diums sound spccìacuIai, huì iì's noì wlaì
you wanì, hccausc you wanì ìlc guiìai ìo hc spccìacuIai, and you can'ì lavc
spccìacuIai cvciyìling-ìlcn you wondci wly ìlc mix docsn'ì sound any good,
hccausc cvciyìling's ciowding cvciyìling cIsc. Wlcn you soIo ìlc insìiumcnìs,
EQ presets are
of no use whatsoever at
mixdown, because the designer
of the preset can’t possibly predict
how masking will affect any
given sound in your specific
situation.
Equalizing for a Reason CHAPTER 11 173
cvciyìling sounds good, huì wlcn iì's
aII puì ìogcìlci iì's a jumhIcd-up mcss,
so somcìling's goì ìo givc way.´
2
'Oi ìlc
opposiìc can lappcn,´ says 1clad BIakc.
'You soIo ìlc kick dium and iì'II hc jusì
awfuI. Buì ìlcn Iisìcn ìo iì wiìl ìlc hass
and iì can hc fanìasìic.´
3
Now I'm noì saying ìlaì EQ las no ioIc
ìo pIay in impioving ìlc suhjccìivc ìim-
hic, claiacìci, and gcnciaI spIcndidncss of
individuaI insìiumcnìs, huì ìlis nccds ìo
icmain wcII hcIow ìlc haIancing ioIc in
youi Iisì of piioiiìics, oìlciwisc ìlc mix as
a wloIc wiII ncvci Iivc up ìo iìs poìcnìiaI.
IdcaIIy, ìlc ìonc of cacl insìiumcnì slouId
lavc hccn opìimizcd aì ìlc ìiacking sìagc,
so if you sìaiì mixing onc of youi own piojccìs and discovci a ìiack ìlaì's son-
icaIIy undciwlcIming (cvcn wlcn iì's soIocd), ìlcn iì's ofìcn a good indica-
ìoi ìlaì ìlc pioducìion's noì acìuaIIy icady ìo hc mixcd. CIcaiIy, ìlougl, Iifc
in ìlc smaII sìudio is ofìcn fai fiom idcaI, and ìlcic aic usuaIIy a fcw insìiu-
mcnìs ìlaì nccd cxìia spaikIc, waimìl, aggicssion, moisìncss, ßoccuIcncc, oi
wlaìcvci-huì EQ ofìcn isn'ì ìlc hcsì ìooI foi adding ìlcsc quaIiìics. So ìlis
clapìci is going ìo conccnìiaìc piimaiiIy on ìlc haIancing ioIc of EQ, and I'II
Icavc iì ìo Clapìci l2 ìo dcsciihc somc aIìcinaìivc ìonc-scuIpìing mcìlods ìlaì
can dcIivci sciious suhjccìivc ìonaI clangcs on ìlosc occasions wlcic you sim-
pIy don'ì Iikc onc of ìlc iaw sounds you'ic picscnìcd wiìl.
Anoìlci Icsson ìo diaw fiom ficqucncy masking is ìlaì ìlcic's IiììIc ìo hc gaincd
hy making EQ judgmcnìs wiìl ìlc soIo huììon down, hccausc you can'ì judgc
ìlc impacì of ficqucncy masking hcìwccn any ìwo insìiumcnìs unIcss you Iisìcn
ìo ìlcm aì ìlc samc ìimc. SoIoing ìiacks wliIc EQ'ing can hc uscfuI foi lcaiing
cxacìIy low and wlcic you'ic aIìciing ìlc ficqucncy haIancc, huì iì's impciaìivc
ìlaì you suhscqucnìIy vaIidaìc and icnnc ìlosc EQ dccisions wiìlin ìlc conìcxì
of ìlc mix. FinaIIy, ficqucncy masking piovidcs anoìlci good jusìincaìion foi
huiIding up youi mix haIancc hy inìioducing ìlc ìiacks in oidci of impoiìancc.
If cacl ncwIy addcd insìiumcnì is Icss impoiìanì ìlan ìlc picvious onc, ìlcn you
can hc picììy suic wlicl onc nccds ìo capiìuIaìc wlcn masking conßicìs aiisc.
11.2 BASIC MIX EQ TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES
Wiìl ìlc kcy haIancing ioIc of EQ nimIy in oui minds, Icì's go hack ìo ìlc mix
haIancc wc'vc aIicady foiìincd wiìl dynamics pioccssing. Oncc again, muìc aII
ìlc clanncIs and ichuiId ìlc haIancc in oidci of impoiìancc. As you inìioducc
cacl ncw ìiack, Iisìcn caicfuIIy in oidci ìo answci ìlcsc ìwo qucsìions:
I
Can I nnd a fadci IcvcI foi ìlc ncw ìiack ìlaì aIIows mc ìo lcai aII of iìs fic-
qucncy icgions as cIcaiIy as I wanì ìo²
FIGURE 11.1
Don’t try to evaluate
the success of your mix
EQ with the solo button
down.
PART 3 Balance 174
I
Is ìlc ncw insìiumcnì Icaving ìlc pciccivcd ficqucncy haIancc of ìlc moic
impoiìanì ìiacks csscnìiaIIy unscaìlcd²
If you can icpIy in ìlc afnimaìivc hoìl ìimcs, ìlcn hack away fiom ìlc EQ
wiìl youi lands in ìlc aii. A suipiisingIy Iaigc numhci of ìiacks in mosì
pioducìions onIy icquiic a hiì of ligl-pass nIìciing ìo mix, and you slouId
aIicady lavc aììcndcd ìo ìlaì ìiouhIcslooìing ìask wliIc you wcic puììing
ìogcìlci youi nisì haIancc. Wlcn youi answci ìo ciìlci of ìlc qucsìions is no,
lowcvci, ìlcn iì's a cIuc ìlaì EQ miglì hc woiìl a ìiy.
Shelving Filter Basics
An cquaIizci is cffccìivcIy a kind of pioccssing huffcì, offciing a scIccìion of
diffcicnì nIìci ìypcs foi uscis ìo disl ouì as ìlcy Iikc. Eacl of ìlcsc nIìcis can
clangc ìlc ficqucncy haIancc of a sound in a diffcicnì way, so ìlc nisì dccision
you lavc ìo makc wiìl any cquaIizci is wlicl nIìci ìypcs ìo usc. 1lc hcsì onc
ìo sìaiì off wiìl wlcn haIancing a mix is caIIcd a 'slcIf´ oi 'slcIving´ nIìci, a
hioad-hiusl pioccssoi ìlaì can clangc ìlc IcvcI of onc wloIc cnd of ìlc fic-
qucncy spccìium. 1lc nIìci comcs in ìwo vaiianìs: a Iow slcIf, wlicl affccìs
ìlc Iowci cnd of ìlc spccìium, and a ligl slcIf, wlicl affccìs ìlc liglci cnd.
SlcIvcs lavc aì Icasì onc usci-vaiiahIc paiamcìci, gain, wlicl simpIy dcìci-
mincs ìlc IcvcI clangc appIicd ìo ìlc nIìcicd ficqucncy icgion. 1lc oìlci main
aììiihuìc of ìlc nIìci is iìs 'coinci ficqucncy,´ ìlc noìionaI houndaiy hcìwccn
ìlc pioccsscd and unpioccsscd ficqucncy iangcs. Somc EQ dcsigns lavc slcIv-
ing nIìcis wiìl nxcd coinci ficqucncics, huì ìlis usuaIIy icsìiicìs youi opìions
ìoo mucl foi ciiìicaI haIancing woik, so scck ouì an cquaIizci ìlaì las a ficcIy
vaiiahIc Ficqucncy conìioI insìcad.
AIìlougl a fcw cquaIizcis ìakc ìlc 'pioccssing huffcì´ conccpì inìo aII-you-
can-caì ìciiiìoiy hy Icììing you add ncw nIìcis indcnniìcIy, mosì cquaIizcis
icsìiicì you ìo a nniìc numhci of simuIìancous 'hands,´ cacl of wlicl can
conìain onc nIìci. Iì's noì uncommon foi ìlc hands in icaI-woiId EQs aIso ìo
icsìiicì youi cloicc of nIìci ìypc and ìo Iimiì ìlc ficqucncy
iangc ovci wlicl ìlaì nIìci can opciaìc. In sucl
cascs, you may nnd ìlaì slcIving nIìcis aic onIy
avaiIahIc foi somc of ìlc EQ hands oi ìlaì oìlci
nIìci ìypcs aic scIccìcd hy dcfauIì. Howcvci, iì's
iaic foi an cquaIizci ìo lavc no slcIving nIìcis
aì aII, so you slouId hc ahIc ìo dig onc up if you
Iook laid cnougl.
Balancing with Shelves
Oncc you'vc goì suiìahIc slcIving nIìcis on land, icìuin ìo ìlaì unsìahIc fadci
and puII iì iiglì down. SIowIy hiing iì hack up inìo ìlc mix again unìiI you
gcì ìo a IcvcI wlcic iì fccIs as if somc ficqucncy iangc of ìlaì insìiumcnì is ìoo
piomincnì in ìlc mix. 1akc a gucss aì wlicl laIf of ìlc ficqucncy spccìium
is ìlc cuIpiiì ('Is iì ìichIc oi hass²´), and ìlcn Ioad in an appiopiiaìc slcIving
A surprisingly large
number of tracks in most
productions only require a bit of
high-pass filtering to mix.
Equalizing for a Reason CHAPTER 11 175
nIìci ìo ìiy ìo gcì somc conìioI ovci iì. (If
you'ic dcaIing wiìl a sìcico signaI, ìlcn
makc suic ìo insciì ìlc pioccssoi in sucl
a way ìlaì hoìl sidcs of ìlc sìcico nIc aic
pioccsscd idcnìicaIIy, oìlciwisc ìlc sìc-
ico imagc may hccomc Icss soIid.) Fiisì
wiggIc ìlc nIìci's Cain conìioI aiound
a hiì so you can lcai wlaì ficqucn-
cics iì's opciaìing on, and ìlcn ìwcak iìs
Ficqucncy knoh so ìlaì you gcì somc
uscfuI landIc on ìlc icgion ìlaì's ouì of
kiIìci, wliIc aì ìlc samc ìimc minimizing
clangcs ìo ìlc icsì of ìlc spccìium.
Iì's noimaI foi you ìo Iosc a cciìain
amounì of pcispccìivc duiing ìlc ficqucnìIy odd-sounding pioccss of nnding
a good coinci ficqucncy foi youi slcIving nIìci, so oncc you'vc scì iì, icìuin
ìlc nIìci's gain ìo zcio and givc youi cais lu scconds oi so ìo icaììunc ìlcm-
scIvcs ìo ìlc acìuaI scaIc of ìlc oiiginaI haIancc piohIcm. Wlcn you'ic hack
in ìlc zonc, giaduaIIy sìaiì Iowciing ìlc nIìci's Cain conìioI ìo puII ìlc ovci-
piomincnì ficqucncy icgion down ìo a moic suiìahIc IcvcI in ìlc haIancc.
Now ìuin up youi fadci a hiì moic, if ìlaì samc icgion pops ouì of ìlc haI-
ancc unduIy again, ìlcn puII hack ìlc nIìci's Cain conìioI somc moic. Kccp
ìuining ìlc fadci up, and ìlc nIìci Cain conìioI down, ciìlci unìiI you aclicvc
a good haIancc foi ìlaì ìiack oi unìiI somc oìlci haIancc piohIcm hccomcs
moic picssing.
If you do aclicvc a good haIancc sìiaiglì away, ìlcn you nccd ìo makc suic
you'ic hcing as ohjccìivc as possihIc ahouì ìlc dccision. You slouId swiìcl off
ìlc EQ now ìlaì you'vc nnislcd adjusìing iì, and oncc moic givc youi cai a fcw
scconds ìo accIimaìizc ìo wlaì ìlc oiiginaI haIancc piohIcm soundcd Iikc. 1lcn
spcnd a fcw scconds ìiying ìo imaginc wlaì ìlc nxcd haIancc wiII sound Iikc
hcfoic swiìcling ìlc EQ hack on. Wlaì you'II nnd suipiisingIy ofìcn is ìlaì youi
cai Iosì somc pcispccìivc wliIc you wcic nddIing wiìl ìlc nIìci gain, so youi
haIancc nx ìuins ouì ìo hc Iamci ìlan a onc-Icggcd VaniIIa Icc impcisonaìoi. Iì
can hc a hiì dispiiiìing, I know, huì youi mix (and indccd youi mixing skiIIs)
wiII piogicss moic quickIy if you foicc youiscIf ìo swaIIow ìlc hiììci piII of nnc-
ìuning youi EQ dccisions piopciIy in ìlis way. Clccking ìlc vaIidiìy of ìlc haI-
ancc on youi diffcicnì moniìoiing sysìcms wiII aIso incicasc youi ohjccìiviìy.
SlouId a gicaì haIancc icmain cIusivc, ìlcn dccidc wlcìlci ìlc slcIving nIìci
is acìuaIIy lcIping aì aII. If ìlc nIìci is impioving ìlc haIancc in somc way,
ìlcn you miglì as wcII Icavc iì in pIacc, aIhciì suhjccì ìo ìlc samc ohjccìiv-
iìy clccks mcnìioncd in ìlc picvious paiagiapl. If ìlc nIìci isn'ì lcIping you
aclicvc a moic sìahIc fadci scììing, ìlcn don'ì ìlink ìwicc ahouì ahandoning
iì. Rcmcmhci ìlaì slcIving nIìcis go on woiking aII ìlc way ìo ìlc cxìicmcs of
ìlc audihIc spccìium, so Iisìcn paiìicuIaiIy foi any undcsiiahIc Ioss of Iow-cnd
wciglì oi any snidc icmaiks fiom ìlc sìudio haì. Wliclcvci of ìlcsc ouìcomcs
FIGURE 11.2
An EQ curve showing
both a low shelving filter
(left-hand side) and a
high shelving filter (right-
hand side).
PART 3 Balance 176
you'ic faccd wiìl, ìlougl, you'vc sìiII goì an unsìahIc fadci, so you'ic going ìo
nccd fuiìlci pioccssing ìo dcaI wiìl ìlaì.
EQUALIZING BASS INSTRUMENTS
Judging by the problems I most commonly hear in homebrew mixes, bass instruments
typically present the biggest EQ challenges for small-studio occupants. One of the big
misconceptions is that all the important EQ adjustments for bass instruments are at
the low end. “I also add plenty of top end, so it fits in the track,” says Chris Lord-Alge.
“You may think that the bass sounds bright when you solo it, but once you put in the
heavy guitars it always seems dull all of a sudden.”
4
Rich Costey stresses this point:
“It’s sometimes quite shocking to realize how much top end you need to add to bass
to make sure it cuts through a track. If you then hear the bass sound in isolation it
may sound pretty uncomfortable, but in the midst of the swirling din of a dense track
that amount of top end usually works fine.”
5
The additional advantage of defining bass
instruments using their upper spectrum is that they will come through much better on
small speaker systems, which helps the bass line reach the widest audience. Similar
principles also apply to kick drums, of course.
The other big EQ task for bass instruments in most mixdowns involves fitting the kick
drum and bass together. “Things can become very tricky with the bass,” says Marcella
Araica. “It’s very easy to lose your kick drum when you add the bass. If things are not
EQ’d right, you get more of the bass than the actual thump of the kick. You need to
treat the bass and the drums completely differently, otherwise you’ll get into trouble.”
6

Steve Hodge gives a few more specifics: “Listen to the kick and the bass together and
adjust the equalization on the kick drum so that you create a hole for the bass to fit in.
I usually cut the EQ around 400Hz just… a couple of dBs, so that it doesn’t begin to
sound hollow, and see how the bass then fits against the kick. It’s usually the perfect
fit.” He also suggests that adjusting instrument pitches may lend a helping hand here:
“The kick has its own pitch, just as the bass instrument does. This becomes more
pronounced with drum machines…. Get the bass and the kick into the same pitch
range and that will solve a lot of subsonic issues.”
7
In ìlc cvcnì ìlaì icsìiaining onc pioìiuding ficqucncy icgion wiìl EQ icvcaIs
anoìlci diffcicnì icgion poking ouì ìoo fai fiom ìlc mix, ìlcn hy aII mcans
lavc a go wiìl addiìionaI slcIving nIìcis ìo scc wlcìlci you can soIidify ìlc
haIancc fuiìlci. As Iong as you conccnìiaìc on making suic you'ic acìuaIIy
impioving ìlc haIancc, ìlcic's no icason noì ìo lavc scvciaI slcIving nIìcis
acìivc aì oncc on ìlc samc ìiack-ìlc gain clangcs of cacl ncw nIìci wiII sim-
pIy accumuIaìc as you'd cxpccì. NoimaIIy, ìlougl, ìlcic's a Iimiì ìo low mucl
you can do wiìl widchand pioccssing Iikc ìlis, in wlicl casc ìlc moic suigicaI
acìion of a pcaking nIìci may hc icquiicd.
Adding in Peaking Filters
1lc pcaking nIìci is a moic ßcxihIc ìooI foi dcaIing wiìl IocaIizcd ficqucncy-
domain piohIcms. Iì cicaìcs a pcak oi ìiougl in ìlc ficqucncy icsponsc
Equalizing for a Reason CHAPTER 11 177
(dcpcnding on ìlc gain appIicd), and
you can clangc ìlc ccnìci ficqucncy of
ìlis adjusìmcnì icgion ìo ìaigcì spccìiaI
piohIcms. WcII-spccincd modcIs aIso Icì
you conìioI ìlc ficqucncy handwidìl ìlaì
ìlc nIìci affccìs, and somc dcsigns aIIow
sucl piccision in ìlis icgaid ìlaì you can
acìuaIIy ichaIancc individuaI laimonics
wiìlin a sound if you so wisl. Foi mixing
puiposcs you slouId cloosc an EQ ìlaì
aIIows you ìo acccss aII ìlicc impoiìanì
vaiiahIcs of iìs pcaking nIìcis-ìlc nisì
ìwo conìioIs wiII usuaIIy hc IahcIcd Cain
and Ficqucncy, huì ìlc Iasì may go undci
ìlc namc of Bandwidìl, Q, oi Rcsonancc,
dcpcnding on ìlc manufacìuici.
You can foIIow cxacìIy ìlc samc pioccduic wlcn using pcaks foi haIancing as
wlcn using slcIvcs, ìlc onIy addiìionaI considciaìion hcing low ìo scì ìlc
Bandwidìl conìioI:
I
1uin up youi fadci unìiI somc ficqucncics sìaiì ìo pokc ouì moic ìlan
oìlcis.
I
Swiìcl on ìlc pcaking nIìci and waggIc ìlc Cain conìioI aiound wliIc you
ìiy ìo nnd scnsihIc ficqucncy and handwidìl sìaiìing poinìs.
I
Oncc ìlc nIìci is poinìing picììy mucl in ìlc iiglì diiccìion, icscì iìs gain
and givc youiscIf a fcw scconds ìo hccomc icaccusìomcd wiìl ìlc oiiginaI
haIancc piohIcm.
I
1uin ìlc pcaking nIìci's gain down (and possihIy ìuin ìlc fadci up ìoo) in
scaicl of a hcììci haIancc, and makc usc of aII youi moniìoiing sysìcms ìo
kccp pcispccìivc.
I
Wlcn you ìlink you'vc lomcd in on a good nIìci scììing, dcacìivaìc iì foi a
fcw scconds and ìlcn iccngagc iì ìo clcck iìs vaIidiìy.
I
Rcnnc ìlc nIìci scììings and icpcaì ìlc picvious sìcp if ncccssaiy. Rcmcmhci
ìo kccp swiìcling moniìois and ìiying diffcicnì moniìoiing voIumcs.
If possihIc duiing ìlis Iasì sìcp, ìiy ìo kccp ìlc handwidìl as widc as you can,
wliIc sìiII gcììing ìlc joh donc, hccausc undcsiiahIc nIìciing sidc cffccìs ìcnd
ìo hc woisc foi naiiowci scììings. 'I gcnciaIIy usc vciy widc Qs on cvciyìling,´
says Cluck AinIay. 'I don'ì usuaIIy gcì inìo naiiow-handwidìl hoosìing oi cuì-
ìing hccausc iì ìakcs ìlc music ouì of mosì insìiumcnìs, unIcss ìlcic's somc
icaI piohIcm cIcmcnì ìo an insìiumcnì ìlaì I nccd ìo gcì ouì.´
8
Some Applications of Notching
AinIay's nnaI icmaik Icads us ìo wlaì is piohahIy ìlc pcaking nIìci's mosì
uscfuI appIicaìion: making naiiow-handwidìl cuìs, somcìimcs icfciicd ìo as
noìclcs. '|I'II ofìcn appIyj laid noìcl EQ,´ says 1om EImliisì. 'I ìiy ìo nnd
FIGURE 11.3
An EQ curve showing
two peaking-filter cuts.
The left-hand one has a
wide bandwidth (in other
words, low resonance or
low Q value), whereas
the right-hand one has a
narrow bandwidth (high
resonance or high Q
value).
PART 3 Balance 178
ìlings ìlaì I laìc, and ìlc way I do ìlaì is hy adding spccks of EQ wiìl a
ligl Q scììing, nnd wlaì I don'ì Iikc and off iì gocs.´
9
Noìclcs aic icguIaiIy
a Iifcsavci on piojccì-sìudio dium iccoidings, wlcic ìlcic aIways sccm ìo hc a
fcw dissonanì dium icsonanccs ìlaì sìick ouì of ìlc mix awkwaidIy cvcn wlcn
cvciyìling cIsc appcais ìo hc aì ìlc iiglì IcvcI. Bccausc you'ic usuaIIy jusì dcaI-
ing wiìl a singIc ficqucncy, you can posiìion a supci-naiiow pcaking nIìci pic-
ciscIy on ìop of iì and puII iì down ouì of laim's way wiìlouì affccìing ìlc
ovciaII ìonc of ìlc dium aì aII. 1o do ìlis kind of ficqucncy slaip-slooìing,
ìlougl, you'II nccd a pcaking nIìci ìlaì can hc madc cxìicmcIy naiiow and
somc mcans of woiking ouì wlicl cxacì ficqucncy you nccd. Miss ìlc iiglì
scììing hy a fcw Hciìz, and you may noì gcì ìlc dcsiicd cffccì. Onc mcìlod
of nnding dium icsonanccs is ìo hoosì lcaviIy wiìl youi naiiowcsì possihIc
pcaking nIìci, and ìlcn lunì foi ìlc offcnding ficqucncy hy swccping ìlc nI-
ìci aiound. AIìlougl ìlis mcìlod cciìainIy woiks, I'vc givcn up using iì now
hccausc I can nnd ìlcsc Iingciing ficqucncy pcaks moic quickIy and icIiahIy
using a ligl-icsoIuìion spccìium anaIyzci. (My affoidahIc ìooI of cloicc lcic
is Sclwa's cioss-pIaìfoim Sclopc pIug-in, hccausc you can zoom in wiìl iìs
dispIay ìo icaIIy lomc in on piohIcm icgions of ìlc spccìium. Many oìlci
anaIyzcis, incIuding mosì of ìlc oncs huiIì inìo DAW sysìcms, simpIy aicn'ì
accuiaìc cnougl foi sciious noìcling woik.)
GRAPHIC EQ
The type of EQ that’s of most use when mixing is called “parametric” EQ, and it is
the main subject of this chapter. However, there is another type called “graphic” EQ,
which abandons the idea of Gain, Frequency, and Bandwidth controls in favor of a more
visually intuitive setup whereby the audible spectrum is split into lots of little slices,
the gain of each being controlled using its own tiny fader. With all the faders arrayed
in a line, you get a physical representation of the way the frequency response is being
processed, which can be read and understood at a glance. This visual immediacy
endears graphic EQ to front-of-house engineers, who already have their work cut out
trying to stop Florence scaling the lighting rig, but it comes at the sonic expense of
coarser control and increased phase/resonance problems, so I’d recommend steering
clear of it at mixdown if you can.
FIGURE 11.4
Steinberg Cubase’s built-in 31-band graphic EQ plug-in.
Equalizing for a Reason CHAPTER 11 179
1ampciing wiìl ìlc IcvcIs of individuaI
ficqucncics docsn'ì usuaIIy lcIp you wlcn
dcaIing wiìl piìclcd paiìs, hccausc a nxcd-
ficqucncy noìcl wiII incviìahIy affccì
diffcicnì laimonics on diffcicnì noìcs.
NcvciìlcIcss, don'ì iuIc ouì noìcling if ìlc
paiì in qucsìion is simpIc. Foi cxampIc, I
quiìc ofìcn nnd noìclcs landy foi hass
paiìs wlcic ìlc fundamcnìaI ficqucncics
of diffcicnì noìcs nccd cvcning ouì. Any
paiì wiìl a sìaìic dionc oi icpcaìcd noìc
wiìlin iì is aIso faii gamc if you wanì ìo
ichaIancc ìlc sìaìionaiy noìc againsì any
oìlcis, aIìlougl you miglì nnd you nccd
ìo aììack moic ìlan onc of ìlc noìc's laimonics ìo aclicvc ìlc haIancc you
nccd. Induccd noisc fiom ìlc mains cIccìiicaI suppIy is anoìlci common can-
didaìc foi muIìipIc noìcling ìoo, as ìlis kind of noisc ofìcn compiiscs a sìiong
lum componcnì aì 5uHz (6uHz in ìlc Uniìcd Sìaìcs) wiìl a sciics of laimonics
aì muIìipIcs of ìlaì ficqucncy.
Naiiow-handwidìl pcaking cuìs aic gicaì foi counìciacìing unwanìcd iccoidcd
icsonanccs, sucl as ìlc nasìy lonks ìlaì ioom modcs can ovciIay onìo a
iccoiding ìlaì's hccn caiiicd ouì in unfavoiahIc suiioundings. Cuiìai amp cah-
incìs somcìimcs lavc unaììiacìivc icsonanì Iumps in ìlcii ficqucncy icsponscs
ìoo, wlicl makc anyìling huì ìlc simpIcsì paiì sound uncvcn. Somcìimcs
singcis ovcipIay cciìain icsonanccs of ìlcii vocaI appaiaìus, so ìlaì a fcw sin-
gIc ficqucncy componcnìs pop ouì fiom ìimc ìo ìimc and picvcnì ìlc voicc
fiom siììing piopciIy in ìlc mix. (1om EImliisì uscd foui diffcicnì noìclcs ìo
dcaI wiìl a siìuaìion Iikc ìlis wliIc mixing ìlc Icad vocaI on Amy Winclousc's
'Rclah,´ foi insìancc.
lu
) OvciaII, you jusì lavc ìo hc awaic ìlaì cvcn a singIc
ficqucncy can sìymic youi haIancc if iì's fai cnougl ouì of Iinc, so ìiy ìo makc
a poinì of Iisìcning foi hoìl widchand and naiiowhand ficqucncy imhaIanccs
wliIc woiking wiìl pcaking nIìcis.
Shift Your Listening Perspective
So fai wc'vc Iookcd aì low ìo maximizc ìlc audihiIiìy of cacl ncw insìiumcnì
you add inìo ìlc mix hy cnsuiing ìlaì aII iìs kcy ficqucncy componcnìs aic aì
ìlc iiglì icIaìivc IcvcIs. AIìlougl ìlaì's onc hig paiì of wlaì mix EQ is ahouì,
ìlc oìlci viìaI sìcp is ìo clcck wlcìlci ìlc Iaìcsì ìiack las maskcd any indis-
pcnsahIc aspccìs of ìlc moic impoiìanì ìiacks ìlaì picccdcd iì. 1lc hcsì way
ìo asscss ìlis is ìo consciousIy diiccì youi aììcnìion ìo cacl of ìlc moic impoi-
ìanì paiìs, Iisìcning foi undcsiiahIc clangcs as you muìc and unmuìc ìlc Iaìcsì
addiìion aIongsidc. Wiìl somc cxpciicncc you may hc ahIc ìo spccd up ìlis
pioccss hy Iisìcning foi clangcs acioss ìlc hoaid wliIc muìing[unmuìing ìlc
mosì icccnìIy addcd ìiack, huì if ìlc aiiangcmcnì is compIcx, ìlcn a picccmcaI
appioacl wiII sìiII jusìify ìlc ìimc icquiicd.
FIGURE 11.5
A high-resolution
zoomable spectrum
analyzer such as
Schwa’s Schope is
a great help when
you’re hunting for
unwanted narrowband
resonances—the
snare-drum hit in this
screenshot has one
at around 1.3kHz, for
example.
PART 3 Balance 180
Lcì's ìakc an cxampIc. Mayhc you'vc jusì addcd somc piano cloids inìo ìlc
mix and EQ'd ìlcm ìo sìahiIizc ìlcii fadci and makc ìlcm as audihIc as you
wanì wiìlin ìlc haIancc. Howcvci, in doing so you icaIizc ìlaì ìlcy'ic masking
ìlc uppci ficqucncics of youi Icad vocaI, making iì sound duII (oi in ìlc casc
of Moiiisscy, cvcn duIIci). Wlaì ìlis mcans is ìlaì ìlcic's simpIy noì cnougl
spacc in youi mix foi youi idcaI piano ìonc, and you'ic going ìo nccd ìo com-
piomisc somc of iìs uppci ficqucncics ìo cIcai cnougl ioom foi ìlc Icad vocaI
ìimhic ìo slinc ìliougl. How mucl you saciincc ìlc Icss impoiìanì ìiack wiII
hc a judgmcnì caII, of couisc, dcpcnding on wlicl vocaI ficqucncics aic icaIIy
ciiìicaI and low mucl ìlcy'ic hcing maskcd. You miglì hc wiIIing ìo saciincc a
smaII amounì of vocaI cIaiiìy in oidci ìo avoid inßicìing giicvous hodiIy laim
on ìlc piano ìimhic, and ìlaì's a vaIid dccision-afìci aII, mosì Iisìcncis lavc
liglIy dcvcIopcd cxpccìaìions of low a piano slouId sound.
On ìlc oìlci land, you miglì hc ahIc ìo uììciIy puicc
a synìlcsizci oi cIccìiic guiìai wiìl EQ undci simi-
Iai ciicumsìanccs, hccausc a Iisìcnci's cxpccìa-
ìions of ìlcsc insìiumcnìs aic usuaIIy mucl Icss
wcII-dcnncd.
Oncc you gcì ìlc idca of slifìing youi Iisìcning
pcispccìivc so ìlaì you'ic Iisìcning ìo onc ìiack
wliIc cquaIizing anoìlci, ìlis kind of masking
piohIcm slouId piovc no ìiickici ìo addicss ìlan
WHAT ORDER SHOULD I PUT EQ AND DYNAMICS
PROCESSORS?
The main issue to consider when ordering EQ and dynamics plug-ins within a track’s
processing chain is that your dynamics processors may respond differently if you alter
the frequency balance they are fed with. For this reason it makes sense to put EQ last
in the chain if you’re already happy with the way the dynamics are operating. However,
it’s not unusual for a frequency imbalance to prevent successful dynamics processing.
A cabinet resonance on an electric guitar recording may well cause a single frequency
to dominate the timbre only sporadically, depending on which notes happen to hit the
resonance. If you compress a recording like this, the compressor won’t be able to even
out the subjective level of the part, because it will act too strongly on the resonant
notes. Dipping the resonance with a narrowband peaking filter precompression would
improve this situation.
So the general principle is this: if you’re happy with the way your dynamics processors
are responding, then EQ after them; if you aren’t, then try EQ’ing earlier in the chain
to see if you can improve things. In the latter case you may need to reassess your
dynamics settings in the light of the altered frequency balance. There’s no rule against
EQ’ing at multiple locations in the chain either, because you may need one EQ setting
to achieve a musical compression sound, but another completely different one to slot
the compressed track’s frequency spectrum into the mix balance as a whole.
You may be able to
utterly purée a synthesizer
or electric guitar with EQ, because
a listener’s expectations of these
instruments are usually much
less well-defined.
Equalizing for a Reason CHAPTER 11 181
any of ìlc oìlci EQ'ing wc'vc ìaIkcd ahouì so fai. Iì is, lowcvci, casy ìo foigcì
ìo clcck foi masking as you go, and hy ìlc ìimc cvciy ìiack is mixcd in iì can hc
aImosì impossihIc ìo discnìangIc compIcx inìciwovcn masking cffccìs if ìlc mix
fccIs gcnciaIIy cIuììcicd and Icad insìiumcnìs aic sìiuggIing ìo sound ìlcii hcsì.
So ìiy ìo hc as discipIincd as you can ahouì ìlis wliIc you huiId youi haIancc.
Good EQ Habits
You'vc piohahIy aIicady noìiccd ìlaì my suggcsìcd EQ pioccduic las so fai
uscd onIy EQ cuìs, and ìlaì's no accidcnì. AIìlougl iì's acìuaIIy moic naìuiaI ìo
ìlink in ìcims of hoosìing ficqucncics you wanì moic of, ìlcic aic good icasons
ìo icìiain youiscIf ìo ìlc opposiìc appioacl of cuììing ficqucncics you wanì Icss
of. As I mcnìioncd in Sccìion 4.2, aII of us lavc a sìiong ìcndcncy ìo Iikc ìlc
Ioudci of any ìwo sounds wc'ic compaiing, so if EQ hoosì makcs youi ovciaII
sound Ioudci, ìlcn ìlaì'II add an cIcmcnì of hias ìo youi judgmcnìs. Any EQ
hoosì wiII aIso aIways makc ìlc pioccsscd ìiack moic audihIc in ìlc haIancc, so
iì's ìiickici ìo hc suic wlcìlci you'vc closcn cxacìIy ìlc iiglì scììings. 1lc higgci
ìlc hoosì, ìlc moic difncuIì iì is ìo kccp youi pcispccìivc. Sìicking ìo EQ cuìs
avoids ìlis hias, oi iaìlci hiascs you againsì youi own EQ cuivc so ìlaì onIy scì-
ìings ìlaì icaIIy woik aic IikcIy ìo pass musìci wlcn you swiìcl ìlc pIug-in on
and off. 'PcopIc nccd ìo know low ìo usc ìlcii EQ,´ says Ed Clciny, 'Icaining
low ìo dip somc ficqucncics and movc ìlc fadci up insìcad of hoosìing aII ìlc
ìimc.. 1laì's ìlc higgcsì misìakc ìlaì iookics makc-ìlcy jusì icacl down and
hoosì ìlc EQ and say, '1laì's hcììci!' hccausc iì's Ioudci now, huì ìlcy'ic noì
ncccssaiiIy Iisìcning ìo low ìlc sound is hcing slapcd.´
ll
EQ FOR LENGTH
Because different frequencies move at different speeds, changing the frequency
balance of an instrument can have an appreciable effect on subjective note durations.
As Dave Way explains, “When I think of bass, I think of length; like how long a note
should be, because you can make a note longer by boosting 20 or 30Hz. Those
frequencies are so big, they ring out longer and make the note actually longer.
Sometimes… you might have to clean up the bass and take out some of that
20–30Hz to make it tighter.”
12
Eddie Kramer gives a common example where the
subjective length of a note may need to be changed in this kind of way: “If the bass
drum pattern is busy, you don’t want too much bottom end. If the pattern is such that
there’s a lot of air and space between each note, you can afford to put a little more
woof into it.”
13
1lcic's a sccond suhsìanìiaI icason ìo avoid EQ hoosìs: iì icduccs ìlc dam-
agc fiom a numhci of ìiouhIcsomc EQ-pioccssing aiìifacìs. EquaIizcis do a
Ioì of ìlings hcyond jusì adjusìing ìlc ficqucncy haIancc. Foi a sìaiì, mosì of
ìlcm adjusì ìlc plasc icIaìionslip hcìwccn ìlc ìiack's ficqucncy componcnìs
(ofìcn caIIcd ìlc ìiack's 'plasc icsponsc´), and iì ìuins ouì ìlaì ìlc higgcsì
PART 3 Balance 182
plasc slifìs foi slcIf and pcak nIìcis aic
appIicd ìo ìlc ficqucncy icgion ìlaì's
hcing adjusìcd. 1lis cIcaiIy las knock-
on cffccìs foi ìlc way a ìiack comhincs
wiìl oìlcis in a muIìimikcd iccoiding,
hccausc ìlc EQ wiII aIìci ìlc sound of
any comh nIìciing hcìwccn ìlc pioccsscd
mic and oìlcis in ìlc scìup. If you hoosì
ìo givc a ficqucncy icgion in sucl a ìiack
cxìia impoiìancc, noì onIy wiII ìlc comh
nIìciing aì ìlosc ficqucncics aIìci unpic-
dicìahIy (and poìcnìiaIIy foi ìlc woisc),
huì you may aIso incicasc ìlc scvci-
iìy of ìlc comh nIìciing in ìlaì icgion
hy viiìuc of incicasing iìs icIaìivc IcvcI.
Cuììing, on ìlc oìlci land, conccnìiaìcs
ìlc plasc slifìs inìo ficqucncy icgions
ìlaì aic Icss ciuciaI (ìlaì's usuaIIy wly
you'ic cuììing ìlcm, afìci aII), so any
undcsiiahIc clangcs ìo ìlc naìuic of ìlc
comh nIìciing won'ì maììci as mucl and
wiII aì any iaìc hc Icss scvcic hy dinì of
ìlc IcvcI diop.
Plasc icsponsc docsn'ì jusì maììci in muIìimikcd iccoidings, ciìlci. Mcssing
wiìl iì cvcn on individuaI ovciduhs wiII usuaIIy makc ìlc sound appcai Icss
focuscd and soIid in ìlc mix, and ìiansicnìs in paiìicuIai can sìaiì ìo hccomc
undcsiiahIy sofìcncd. So lcic ìoo iì's scnsihIc ìo cuì iaìlci ìlan hoosì, and
aIso ìo soiì ouì any ficqucncy imhaIanccs wiìl slcIving nIìcis nisì if possihIc,
hccausc pcaking nIìcis usuaIIy causc moic dcsìiucìivc plasc slifìs ìlan slcIvcs
hy naìuic of ìlcii dcsign.
Buì ìlcic's moic. FiIìcis aic aIso icsonanì dcviccs, wlicl mcans ìlaì any
adjusìcd ficqucncics iing on sIiglìIy, cxìcnding ovci ìimc-cspcciaIIy if you
usc naiiow handwidìls. Again, ìlis ìimc smcaiing isn'ì acìuaIIy dcsiiahIc
in a Ioì of cascs, so iì makcs scnsc ìo posiìion iì in a icgion of ìlc ficqucncy
icsponsc wlcic iì docsn'ì impacì as mucl-in oìlci woids, hy using cuìs
insìcad of hoosìs. In addiìion, nIìcis can ofìcn add disìoiìion ìo ìlc ficqucncy
icgions ìlcy pioccss, and wliIc ìlis is acìuaIIy paiì of ìlc appcaI of ccIchiaìcd
anaIog EQ dcsigns, clcapci anaIog cquaIizcis and Iow-CPU digiìaI pIug-ins
(wlicl smaII-sìudio dcnizcns usuaIIy lavc ìo icIy on wlcn dcaIing wiìl ligl
ìiack counìs) wiII ficqucnìIy sound laisl and unmusicaI if ìoo mucl hoosìing
gocs on. Mucl hcììci ìo usc cuìs insìcad so ìlaì any nasìy sounding disìoiìion
componcnìs aic kcpì aì a Iow IcvcI.
Now I'm noì saying ìlaì you slouId ncvci usc EQ hoosìs, hccausc ìlcic aic
somc siìuaìions wlcic iì makcs moic scnsc ìo usc hoosìs ìlan cuìs foi mix-
haIancing puiposcs. Foi cxampIc, iì's a Ioì casici ìo landIc a pcaking hoosì
FIGURE 11.6
A lot of EQ curves can
be created using either
cuts or boosts, as in
this example. The upper
screen shows a 6dB
high shelving boost; the
lower one shows the
same curve implemented
using a 6dB low shelving
cut and 6dB of makeup
gain, usually the more
preferable mixing
approach.
Equalizing for a Reason CHAPTER 11 183
ìlan ìiying ìo impIcmcnì a simiIai spccìiaI clangc using a paii of slcIving
cuìs. Wiìl somc cIassic dcsigns, ìlc sonic sidc cffccìs of hoosìing may acìuaIIy
hc dcsiiahIc and impiovc ìlc suhjccìivc ìonc of ìlc pioccsscd ìiack. Howcvci,
ìlcsc siìuaìions aic hcsì ìicaìcd as ìlc cxccpìion iaìlci ìlan ìlc iuIc. You nccd
ìo cxcicisc a gicaì dcaI of cauìion wlcicvci you usc a hoosì, in oidci ìo min-
imizc any dcgiadaìion ìo ìlc sound and ìo icducc ìlc IikcIilood ìlaì you'II
pIay mind gamcs wiìl youiscIf. In paiìicuIai, ìiy ìo kccp pcaking handwidìls
FIGURE 11.7
Linear phase equalizers, such as the IK Multimedia T-RackS device shown here, can be very useful
when working with multimiked recordings, as long as you can handle the higher CPU munch.
LINEAR-PHASE EQ: PROS AND CONS
Most equalizers will inevitably change a sound’s phase response as soon as you try
to tweak the frequency balance, but that doesn’t mean all of them do. An increasing
number of digital “linear-phase” equalizers, for example, have been designed not to
alter the phase of a processed signal at all, and these can provide more predictable
control in situations where there is the potential for phase cancellation between mixer
channels, such as when processing individual tracks in a multimiked recording. Linear-
phase processing can also help when it proves necessary to apply heavy corrective EQ
to a lead part, because normal “minimum-phase” EQ designs can make the processed
sound less subjectively solid in this scenario, especially if a number of narrow EQ
notches are active at once. However, it’s important to realize that linear-phase EQ isn’t
some kind of cure-all—it’s just as likely to introduce distortion and time-smearing side
effects, so it needs to be used with the same degree of care. In particular, you should
be on the lookout for any resonant filter ringing, because in linear-phase designs this
usually precedes rather than follows each sonic event in the track—an effect that
sounds particularly weird on drums and percussion. Linear-phase processing also tends
to be much harder on your computer’s CPU than normal EQ, so you may have to choose
your moments carefully unless you want an ear bashing from Scotty in the engine room.
Although some DAW systems have linear-phase EQ available as a built-in plug-in, it isn’t
standard issue by any means. Fortunately, a number of third-party software developers
provide linear-phase processing. DDMF’s affordable cross-platform LP10 plug-in offers
full control over the amount of phase shift each EQ band incurs, so you have the
freedom to experiment with what sounds best in each case.
PART 3 Balance 184
as widc as you can, and hc waiy of judging ìlc cffcc-
ìivcncss of any nIìci hoosì simpIy hy swiìcling iì
on and off. In addiìion I'd aIso suggcsì a gcn-
ciaI iuIc of ìlumh: if you'ic hoosìing any ìiack
wiìl moic ìlan onc nIìci oi wiìl moic ìlan
6dB of gain, ìlcn you'ic piohahIy ovcidoing
iì. 'If I'm laving ìiouhIc wiìl a mix,´ says Cus
Dudgcon, 'piohahIy I'm using ìoo mucl EQ. 1laì's
a picììy goIdcn iuIc.. BasicaIIy, if you usc ìoo mucl EQ,
you'ic ìiying ìo foicc somcìling ìliougl a sIoì ìlaì's ìoo smaII.. Wlaì |youj
slouId hc doing insìcad is hacking off ìlc EQ and ìuining ìlc voIumc up.´
l4
11.3 EQUALIZING MULTIMIKED RECORDINGS
AIìlougl ìlc EQ ìcclniqucs I'vc Iookcd aì ìlus fai aic nnc foi mosì simpIc
iccoidings, ìlcic is an addiìionaI compIicaìion ìo conìcnd wiìl if you lavc
muIìimikcd (oi DI-pIus-mic) iccoidings among youi muIìiìiacks: namcIy, if
youi EQ pioccssing clangcs ìlc plasc icIaìionslips hcìwccn ìlc diffcicnì mics
and DIs in ìlc iccoiding, ìlc ouìcomc of ìlc cquaIizaìion may cnd up hcing
as inìuiìivc and picdicìahIc as a ioIIcihIading pIaìypus. 'If you ciank in a Ioì
of EQ on ìlc individuaI insìiumcnìs, you icaIIy lcai iì,´ says Slawn Muiply, a
spcciaIisì in mixing Iaigc-cnscmhIc nIm scoics, 'and iì aIìcis ìlc claiacìciisìics
FIGURE 11.8
A before/after comparison of a range of EQ settings from one of my Sound on Sound “Mix Rescue”
remixes. The addition of lots of EQ boosts on the original mix, especially at the high end, has added
harshness, whereas the remix produced a smoother sound by concentrating on EQ cuts instead.
If you’re boosting any
track with more than one filter
or with more than 6dB of gain, then
you’re probably overdoing it.
Equalizing for a Reason CHAPTER 11 185
of ìlc Icakagc, so you'ic nglìing ìlc facì ìlaì in oidci ìo makc ìlc diiccì sound
iiglì on a cciìain mic, you'vc goì hadIy EQ'd Icakagc ìo dcaI wiìl.´
l5
So Icì's
invcsìigaìc ìlis suhjccì piopciIy.
Multimiked Instruments
1lc simpIcsì siìuaìion is wlcic aII ìlc mics and DIs in ìlc iccoiding aic cap-
ìuiing ìlc samc insìiumcnì wiìlouì appicciahIc spiII fiom any oìlci insìiu-
mcnì. Wiìl any Iuck you'II aIicady lavc ìakcn ìlc oppoiìuniìy aì ìlc haIancing
sìagc ìo huss aII ìlc componcnì mic[DI ìiacks ìliougl a communaI gioup
clanncI ìo aIIow gIohaI conìioI ovci ìlcm aII, and you'II lavc scì cacl ìiack's
icIaìivc IcvcI ìo aclicvc ìlc hcsì comhinaìion of ìimhic and haIancc you can.
Howcvci, do douhIc-clcck ìlaì ìlis inìcinaI IcvcI icIaìionslip sìiII loIds waìci
in ìlc Iiglì of any pioccssing you'vc donc sincc consìiucìing youi nisì haIancc.
TONAL EQ
Although this chapter primarily centers around the balancing role of EQ, there is also
a legitimate place in the mixdown process for equalization purely on subjective tonal
grounds—in other words, equalizing a sound to make it more attractive, rather than
just to fit it into the mix balance. However, there’s not a tremendous amount of useful
advice anyone can give for this kind of EQ work. Just crank knobs until it sounds better!
It’s in this context that classic analog equalizer designs really come into their own,
because the processing by-products of these are often as much a part of their appeal
as their ability to sculpt frequency response. Which equalizers suit which tracks is a
subject that frequently seems to lead to pistols at dawn among different practitioners
at all levels, so only your own experience can really guide you. Experimentation is
the key to success here, and there’s little excuse not to have a go now that digital
emulations of classic analog devices are so numerous. My advice is to make a habit of
trying out two different “character EQ” plug-ins every time you’re looking for extra tonal
magic. Do your best with each one, and then switch between them to assess their
relative merits before choosing your favorite. This doesn’t take too much extra time
to do, but it quickly builds up your own knowledge of how different classic EQ designs
respond to different sound sources.
Oh, and feel free to completely disregard my tutting about boosts when you’re using
EQ solely for tonal coloring (rather than for balancing), because they’ll alter the attitude
of a sound more than cuts will, especially when you’re using emulations of classic EQ
units. You might also want to chain several contrasting EQ plug-ins together on a single
track, and that’s all right too as long as you’re convinced that the sound (and not just
the loudness) is improving. “I think you can get [better results] by not trying to get
everything out of one EQ,” says Dave Pensado. “Every EQ is good for certain things.
Even the cheapest EQ has a use. Don’t judge gear by its cost or inherent quality; judge
it by its uniqueness.”
16
However, when chaining EQs do try to be clear in your mind
whether each band of processing you use is for tone or balance, because you’re likely
to come a cropper if you try to balance your mix with massive character-EQ boosts or
attempt to overhaul a sound’s subjective timbre using bland balancing-EQ cuts.
PART 3 Balance 186
If ìlc gioup clanncI fadci of ìlc insìiumcnì sìiII fccIs unsìahIc in a way ìlaì
appcais ìo dcmand EQ, ìlcn you'vc goì ìlicc opìions avaiIahIc:
I
You couId ìampci cicaìivcIy wiìl ìlc ìiming, plasc, and poIaiiìy of ìlc
individuaI mics ìo aclicvc a moic suiìahIc ficqucncy haIancc in ìlc com-
hincd sound. 1lc upsidc ìo ìlis opìion is ìlaì you can aclicvc diamaìic
clangcs if ncccssaiy wiìlouì incuiiing any pioccssing aiìifacìs, hccausc no
acìuaI pioccssing is invoIvcd. 1lc downsidc, ìlougl, is ìlaì ìlis pioccss is
vciy liì and miss-you can cxpciimcnì aII you Iikc in ìlc lopc of nnding a
hcììci sound, huì ìlcic's no guaianìcc you'II nnd iì.
I
You couId EQ ìlc individuaI mics[DIs in ìlc scìup scpaiaìcIy ìo aclicvc ìlc
hcsì haIancc of dcsiiahIc ficqucncy componcnìs fiom cacl. If you lavc a
ìaigcì haIancc in mind foi ìlc insìiumcnì, iì may lcIp ìo Iisìcn ìo cacl of
iìs componcnì ìiacks scpaiaìcIy ìo ascciìain wlicl ìiack is mosì appcaIing
foi cacl ficqucncy icgion, so ìlaì you can usc EQ ìo favoi ìlc hcsì hiìs on
cacl ìiack. Howcvci, ìlis appioacl may noì icaIIy hcai fiuiì unIcss you'vc
minimizcd any comh nIìciing hcìwccn ìlc ìiacks (so ìlaì ìlcy sccm ìo add
ìogcìlci faiiIy picdicìahIy) and ìlc EQ pioccssing docsn'ì unduIy aIìci ìlc
plasc icsponsc. AIìlougl you somcìimcs gcì Iucky, in piacìicc I'vc found
ìlaì ìlis kind of cquaIizaìion incviìahIy cnds up hcing a hiì of a Ioììciy mosì
of ìlc ìimc and ofìcn ncccssiìaìcs icmcdiaI plasc[poIaiiìy adjusìmcnìs.
I
You couId EQ ìlc gioup clanncI ìlaì caiiics ìlc comhincd insìiumcnì
signaI. 1lis wiII hc ìlc mosì picdicìahIc of ìlc ìlicc opìions, hccausc you
won'ì skcw ìlc plasc icIaìionslips hcìwccn ìlc individuaI mics[DIs-
you can pioccss iì jusì Iikc a singIc mono[sìcico iccoiding, as dcsciihcd in
Sccìion ll.2. On ìlc oìlci land, ìlougl, ìlis mcìlod aIso givcs you mucl
Icss scopc ìo aIìci ìlc insìiumcnì's haIancc oi suhjccìivc ìimhic.
CIcaiIy, ìlcic aic many ways ìo skin ìlis paiìicuIai caì, and iì's faii ìo say ìlaì
cacl individuaI cngincci wiII lavc picfciicd woiking mcìlods lcic, wlicl wiII
aIso clangc dcpcnding on ìlc cxacì naìuic of ìlc iccoiding. 1lc onIy icaI guid-
ancc I can givc ìlcicfoic is ìo say ìlaì a hIcnd of aII ìlicc ìacìics ìcnds ìo hiing
ahouì dcccnì icsuIìs mosì cfncicnìIy. So I miglì sìaiì off ìinkciing wiìl ìim-
ing, plasc, and poIaiiìy adjusìmcnìs ìo gcì ìlc ovciaII claiacìci and ìonc of ìlc
insìiumcnì inìo ìlc iiglì kind of haIIpaik, huì wiìlouì spcnding aII ycai on iì,
ìlcn I miglì appIy EQ ìo massagc ìlc haIancc of cacl mic[DI wiìlin ìlc mosì
impoiìanì ficqucncy iangcs, favoiing scììings wlicl don'ì impacì ìoo lcaviIy
on ìlc plasc icsponsc, and nnaIIy I miglì EQ ìlc insìiumcnì's gIohaI gioup
EQ FOR DISTANCE
Because high frequencies are so easily absorbed in nature, this affects the frequency
response of sounds arriving from a distance. Tony Maserati explains how he learned
to use this psychological effect to advantage at the mix: “I learned from listening to
Roger Nichols and Steve Hodge…. They would use EQ to move things front and back.
Obviously, the brighter something is, the closer it is; the duller it is, the farther away.”
17
Equalizing for a Reason CHAPTER 11 187
clanncI ìo dcaI wiìl masking of, oi hy, iìs ficqucncy icsponsc wiìlin ìlc mix as
a wloIc.
Multimiked Ensembles
AIìlougl ìlcic aic no addiìionaI EQ ìacìics foi muIìimikcd cnscmhIcs hcyond
wlaì wc'vc jusì Iookcd aì in icIaìion ìo muIìimikcd insìiumcnìs, ìlcic aic fuiìlci
dccisions ìo hc madc ahouì wlicl ìiacks aic ìo hc EQ'd scpaiaìcIy and wlicl aic
hcììci pioccsscd in comhinaìion. In a dium kiì iccoiding, foi cxampIc, you miglì
wisl ìo gioup ìlicc snaic dium mics ìogcìlci ìo gain gIohaI EQ conìioI ovci ìlcii
comhincd ficqucncy haIancc, wliIc using scpaiaìc plasc[poIaiiìy adjusìmcnìs
and cquaIizaìion on cacl individuaI mic ìo dcìciminc ìlc cxacì naìuic of ìlaì
ìimhic, huì you miglì ìlcn fuiìlci EQ ìlc snaic sound fiom
ìlc main diums gioup clanncI wlcic youi adjusìmcnìs
won'ì affccì ìlc snaic micioploncs' plasc icIaìion-
slip againsì ìlc ovcilcads. Aì ìlc cnd of ìlc day,
youi cais musì dccidc on ìlc mosì succcssfuI
ouìcomc, and cvcn ìlc piofcssionaIs disagicc as
ìo ìlc hcsì appioacl. Foi cxampIc, many iock
cnginccis ìlink noìling of pioccssing individ-
uaI insìiumcnì mics in an cnscmhIc, huì vcìcian
pioducci Rcnaud Lcìang cxpicsscs conccins wiìl
ìlis appioacl: 'I nnd ìlaì if you appIy EQ oi com-
picssion ìo individuaI |insìiumcnìj paiìs you Iosc ìlc
impicssion of. a unincd sccìion, and iì hccomcs icaIIy
casy ìo Iosc ìlc ovciaII haIancc. Buì wlcn you pic-mix and ìlcn
EQ oi compicss ìlc wloIc sccìion, ìlc sound icmains mucl moic naìuiaI.´
l8
My
advicc is jusì ìo kccp a cooI lcad, add in ìlc mics[DIs as you did duiing ìlc nisì
haIancc, and Iisìcn caicfuIIy foi unwanìcd knock-on cffccìs wlcncvci you pioccss
hy muìing and unmuìing ìlc ìiack oi gioup in qucsìion.
Onc oìlci poinì ìo makc is ìlaì you may wisl ìo icasscss ìlc ligl-pass nIìci
scììings you iniìiaIIy dccidcd on wliIc haIancing, in ìlc Iiglì of youi incicascd
knowIcdgc of ìlc mix. If you icmcmhci, wc scì ìlcm faiiIy conscivaìivcIy ìo
sìaiì wiìl in oidci ìo dcfci dcaIing wiìl addiìionaI plasc piohIcms. Now ìlaì
wc'ic hcììci cquippcd ìo landIc ìlosc issucs, you slouId fccI ficc ìo cIcai ouì
unwanìcd Iow cnd moic asìiingcnìIy slouId you so dcsiic.
11.4 THE LIMITS OF EQ
Foi mixing puiposcs, ìlaì's picììy mucl aII you nccd ìo know ahouì EQ.
Howcvci, ìlcic's incviìahIy a Iimiì ìo wlaì iì can do againsì somc ìonaI and
haIancc piohIcms, foi ìwo icasons. Fiisì, iì docsn'ì acìuaIIy add anyìling ìo
ìlc sound-iì jusì adjusìs ìlc IcvcIs of ìlc ficqucncics aIicady picscnì. Foi
cxampIc, a duII-sounding cIccìiic piano fccding a hcaì up kcyhoaid amp is
ncvci going ìo sound vciy hiiglì, no maììci low mucl you hoosì ìlc ligl
cnd, hccausc ìlcic's noìling mucl lappcning ahovc 4kHz oìlci ìlan noisc.
There’s a limit to
what EQ can do against
some tonal and balance
problems, for two reasons: it
doesn’t actually add anything to
the sound, and it can’t deal with
frequency imbalances that
alter over time.
PART 3 Balance 188
1lc sccond piohIcm wiìl noimaI EQ is ìlaì iì's sìaìic, so iì can'ì dcaI wiìl fic-
qucncy imhaIanccs ìlaì aIìci ovci ìimc.
Again, don'ì spcnd wccks ìiying ìo soIvc cvciy mix piohIcm wiìl EQ. Bc lappy ìo
impiovc ìlings as fai as you can, and Icavc any ìiickici ìiouhIcslooìing ìo moic
advanccd pioccssing. My own moììo is ìlis: if I'vc spcnì moic ìlan nvc minuìcs
cquaIizing a ìiack, ìlcn EQ is piohahIy noì ìlc wloIc soIuìion ìo iìs piohIcms.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
1lc main puiposc of cquaIizaìion aì mixdown is ìo addicss ficqucncy-
domain piohIcms wiìl ìlc mix haIancc. AIìlougl ìlcic's a pIacc foi moic
suhjccìivc ìonaI EQ'ing aì mixdown, ìlis slouId hc a sccondaiy considciaìion.
I
Add youi insìiumcnìs inìo ìlc haIancc in oidci of impoiìancc, so ìlaì iì's
moic sìiaiglìfoiwaid ìo dcaI wiìl ficqucncy masking hcìwccn diffcicnì
ìiacks. AIways connim ìlc vaIidiìy of youi EQ judgmcnìs wiìlin ìlc conìcxì
of ìlc mix, iaìlci ìlan in soIo modc. Avoid giaplic EQ dcsigns foi mix-
ing, and icacl foi slcIving EQ hcfoic pcaking EQ. Favoi cuìs ovci hoosìs
wlcicvci possihIc. If hoosìing is unavoidahIc, ìlcn do youi hcsì ìo Iimiì iì
ìo onc EQ hand, kccp ìlc gain hcIow 6dB, and usc as widc a handwidìl as
you can gcì away wiìl. 1iy ìo icmain scnsiìivc ìo hoìl widc-handwidìl and
naiiow-handwidìl ficqucncy-haIancc issucs. 1o mainìain youi ohjccìiv-
iìy, hypass cacl nIìci ficqucnìIy as you scì iì up, and makc usc of diffcicnì
moniìoiing sysìcms and Iisìcning IcvcIs. Oncc you lavc an idcaI haIancc foi
a pioccsscd ìiack in iìs own iiglì, swiìcl iì in and ouì of ìlc mix wliIc Iis-
ìcning foi unacccpìahIc masking of oìlci moic impoiìanì sounds, appIying
fuiìlci EQ cuìs aì conßicìing ficqucncics if ncccssaiy.
I
Wlcn cquaIizing muIìimikcd iccoidings, you nccd ìo hcai in mind ìlaì
EQ may aIìci ìlc ìonc and haIancc of ìlc sound unpicdicìahIy hccausc of
clangcs in ìlc plasc icIaìionslip hcìwccn ìlc individuaI mic[DI ìiacks.
AppIying EQ ìo individuaI ìiacks wiII givc a diffcicnì ouìcomc ìlan pioccss-
ing gioup clanncIs. Lincai-plasc EQ may lcIp incicasc youi opìions lcic,
huì iì is noì wiìlouì iìs own pioccssing sidc cffccìs.
I
If a ìiack's dynamics pIug-ins aicn'ì doing ìlc joh piopciIy, ìlcn cquaI-
izaìion caiIici in ìlc pioccssing clain may impiovc ìlc musicaIiìy of ìlc
icsuIìs. Posìdynamics EQ, on ìlc oìlci land, is a hcììci hcì if you'ic aIicady
lappy wiìl ìlc dynamics. Iì's noì uncommon ìo nccd hoìl pic- and posì-
dynamics EQ.
I
Wlcn ìlc main puiposc of an cquaIizci is ìo makc a sound suhjccìivcIy
'hcììci,´ iaìlci ìlan jusì ìo haIancc iìs ficqucncics in ìlc mix, ìlc iuIc
hook picììy mucl gocs ouì ìlc window-no scììing is wiong if iì aclicvcs
a sound you Iikc. Makc a poinì, ìlougl, of ìiying ouì ìwo diffcicnì cquaI-
izcis cvciy ìimc you'ic cquaIizing wiìl ìlis inìcnì, so you hcgin ìo huiId
cxpciicncc conccining wlicl modcIs suiì wlicl ìypcs of sound. AIso hc
suic you'ic noì fooIing youiscIf inìo ìlinking somcìling sounds hcììci jusì
hccausc hoosìs aic making iì Ioudci.
Equalizing for a Reason CHAPTER 11 189
I Track down all the equalizers on your DAW system so that you know what options
are available. If you have little choice, then consider supplementing your selection
with third-party plug-ins. Try to get hold of a linear-phase equalizer too if you work
with a lot of multimiked recordings.
I Mute all the tracks in your mix and rebuild the balance again, this time applying
equalization in search of a more stable balance.
I Make a note of any faders that still feel unstable.
www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch11.htm
Assignment
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191
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
As I said in Clapìci ll, cquaIizaìion is cxìicmcIy uscfuI foi mixing, huì iì can
onIy adjusì ìlc haIancc of ficqucncics ìlaì aic aIicady in ìlc iccoiding. Mucl
of ìlc ovcipioccssing in ìypicaI smaII-sìudio mixdowns aiiscs fiom pcopIc
maxing ouì ìlcii EQ scììings in a misguidcd aììcmpì ìo add somcìling ncw
ìo ìlc sound. So if EQ isn'ì giving you a sound you Iikc oi is unahIc ìo dcIivci
a saìisfacìoiy mix haIancc, ìlcn iì's ìimc ìo sìop fooìIing ahouì wiìl wlaì's
aIicady ìlcic and acìuaIIy add infoimaìion ìo ìlc mix insìcad.
12.1 DISTORTION AS A MIX TOOL
1lc ìcxìhook siìuaìion in wlicl EQ las noìling ìo offci is wlcic you wanì
ìo hiiglìcn a hass guiìai[synìl Iinc wiìl no appicciahIc ligl ficqucncics. 1lis
miglì hc hccausc ìlc synìl's Iow-pass nIìci las cuì away aII ìlc ligl cnd oi
simpIy hccausc a Iimiìcd-handwidìl osciIIaìoi wavcfoim was uscd ìo sìaiì
wiìl. In sucl a sccnaiio, ìlcic may wcII hc no cncigy aì ìlc uppci cnd of ìlc
ficqucncy spccìium, so cquaIizaìion is pow-
ciIcss ìo aIìci ìlc suhjccìivc ìonc. 1lc onIy
aIìcinaìivc is ìo cicaìc ncw ligl-ficqucncy
componcnìs ìlaì wcicn'ì oiiginaIIy ìlcic.
1laì's jusì ìlc mosì ohvious casc wlcic EQ
docsn'ì dcIivci, ìlougl, hccausc cvcn wlcic
an insìiumcnì docs gcnciaìc ficqucncy com-
poncnìs in a icquiicd spccìiaI icgion, ìlcy
may noì hc dcnsc cnougl ìo givc ìlaì spcc-
ìiaI icgion a scnsc of fuIIncss wiìlin ìlc haI-
ancc. In ìlis kind of casc, you'II hc unahIc ìo
scì a saìisfacìoiy EQ hoosì. Iì'II ciìlci fccI ìoo
smaII, hccausc ìlc ficqucncy icgion isn'ì dcnsc
cnougl ìo compcìc wiìl oìlci sounds in ìlc
mix, oi iì'II fccI ìoo hig, hccausc ìlc fcw fic-
qucncics ìlaì aic in ìlaì spccìiaI iangc aic
poking ìoo fai ouì of ìlc haIancc. Incicasc ìlc
Beyond EQ
CHAPTER 12
FIGURE 12.1
The upper graph has
less harmonic density
than the lower graph.
If the harmonics of an
instrument aren’t dense
enough, then distortion
may help thicken it up.
PART 3 Balance 192
laimonic dcnsiìy, lowcvci, and ìlaì spccìiaI icgion can icmain soIid in ìlc
mix wiìlouì individuaI ficqucncy componcnìs sìicking ìlcii lcads ovci ìlc
paiapcì.
1lc ìooI ìlaì can lcIp in hoìl ìlcsc sccnaiios is disìoiìion, an cffccì widcIy
uscd in piofcssionaI mixing ciicIcs huì picììy mucl ignoicd in a Ioì of smaII
sìudios. AIìlougl pcopIc ìakc gicaì pains ìo minimizc disìoiìion a Ioì of ìlc
ìimc in iccoid pioducìion, ìlaì's no icason ìo ncgIccì iìs cicaìivc possihiIiìics
aì ìlc mix. 1lc hoììom Iinc wiìl disìoiìion dcviccs is ìlaì ìlcy add ncw lai-
monics ìo ìlc pioccsscd signaI, and hccausc ìlc ficqucncics of ìlcsc aic usu-
aIIy icIaìcd in somc way ìo ìlc ficqucncics of ìlc unpioccsscd signaI, ìlcy
icìain a musicaI connccìion. In sloiì, disìoiìion aIIows you ìo clangc ìlc ìim-
hic of a ìiack wiìlouì suhsìanìiaIIy aIìciing iìs musicaI funcìion in ìlc aiiangc-
mcnì. As sucl, iìs usc is aImosì as widcspicad as EQ, and Ricl Cosìcy is noì
ìlc onIy onc wlo icguIaiIy disìoiìs cvcn Icad vocaI ìiacks: '|Iì'sj so common-
pIacc nowadays ìlaì ìo mc iì's ìlc samc as disìoiìing a guiìai oi a hass. And
mucl of ìlc ìimc wlcn I'm mixing iccoids foi oìlci pcopIc I'm disìoiìing ìlc
vocaI, wlcìlci ìlcy know iì oi noì!´
l
PiohahIy ìlc mosì commonIy namc-
clcckcd dcvicc foi mix disìoiìion is 1ccl 2l's SansAmp iangc, wlicl can nnd
iìs way onìo jusì ahouì anyìling in modcin mix woik, cspcciaIIy if youi namc's
1clad BIakc: 'I acìuaIIy lavc onc foi hass, onc foi kick, and onc foi snaic..
Iì's funny-a IiììIc disìoiìion gocs a Iong way.´
2
1lc hig claIIcngc wlcn using
disìoiìion in a mix scììing, ìlougl, is icsìiaining iì so ìlaì iì adds laimon-
ics onIy aì ìlosc ficqucncics you wanì iì ìo. Hcic aic somc ìips foi kccping iì
undci conìioI.
Fiisì, iì's nicc ìo lavc diffcicnì disìoiìion dcviccs ìo cloosc fiom, so ìlaì you
can mix and maìcl. 1lcic aic Ioìs of cIccìiicaI dcviccs ìlaì can cicaìc musi-
caIIy uscfuI disìoiìion, and many of ìlcsc lavc now hccn digiìaIIy modcIcd foi
usc in pIug-in foim: ìapc maclincs, guiìai amps, cffccìs pcdaIs, sofì-cIippcis,
vacuum ìuhcs, ìiansisìois, and ìiansfoim-
cis, ìo givc huì ìlc hiicfcsì of Iisìs. Many
of ìlcsc pIug-ins aIso lavc scIccìions of
picscìs ìlaì offci widcIy vaiying sounds,
and you don'ì nccd ìo undcisìand any-
ìling ahouì low any of ìlcm woik jusì
ìo hiowsc ìliougl and nnd onc ìlaì
sccms ìo add somcìling uscfuI ìo ìlc
ìiack you'ic pioccssing. Evcn a Io-n digiìaI
'hiì-ciuslci´ disìoiìion can occasionaIIy
hc uscfuI. 'Wlaì ìlaì docs is cicaìc somc
conìiasì hcìwccn ìlaì ìiack and ìlc icsì of
ìlc song,´ says Scihan Clcnca. 'You don'ì
nccd mucl of iì, huì iì can makc a woiId
of diffcicncc.´
3
Bc awaic, ìlougl, ìlaì
ìlc digiìaI disìoiìion pioducìs fiom ìlcsc
dcviccs ìcnd ìo hc Icss cIoscIy icIaìcd ìo
FIGURE 12.2
A selection of different
freeware distortion
flavors (top to bottom):
rectifier distortion
(GVST’s GRect), variable-
knee clipping (GVST’s
GClip), tape saturation
(Jeroen Breebaart’s
Ferox), valve distortion
(Silverspike’s Ruby
Tube), and transformer
distortion (Bootsy’s
Tessla SE).
Beyond EQ CHAPTER 12 193
ìlc inpuì signaI on a musicaI IcvcI, so hc on ìlc Iookouì foi uncomfoiìahIy
discoidanì addcd laimonics, cspcciaIIy on piìclcd insìiumcnìs.
Sccond, somc disìoiìion pioccssois lavc Ioads of conìioIs, huì ìo hc loncsì
Iifc's ìoo sloiì ìo spcnd agcs Icaining wlaì mosì of ìlcm do, so you miglì
as wcII jusì Iaugl maniacaIIy and ìwiddIc wiìl ahandon. Wlaì acìuaIIy maì-
ìcis moic ìlan anyìling wiìl disìoiìion dcviccs is low laid you diivc ìlcm. If
you liì a disìoiìion pioccss gcnìIy, you may jusì gcì a suhìIc ìlickcning of ìlc
sound, wlcicas if you sIam youi ìiack in aì ligl IcvcI, you may haicIy hc ahIc
ìo iccognizc ìlc oiiginaI sound amongsì aII ìlc addcd ficqucncy-domain lasl.
If ìlcic's any conìioI on youi disìoiìion uniì IahcIcd Diivc oi Cain, ìlcn ìlaì's
ìlc onc you slouId pay mosì aììcnìion ìo. OccasionaIIy no sucl conìioI is pio-
vidcd, in wlicl casc you can vaiy ìlc dcgicc of disìoiìion hy adjusìing ìlc sig-
naI IcvcI hcfoic ìlc disìoiìion dcvicc's inpuì.
MORE ADDED HARMONICS: HIGH-SPEED MODULATION
EFFECTS
Another way you can add harmonic density to a signal is to treat it with audio-frequency
modulation effects. There are a number of different possibilities to choose from,
including frequency modulation, amplitude modulation, ring modulation, and any
vibrato/tremolo/auto-wah plug-in that can set its modulation frequency above 20Hz.
If you fancy getting to know the mechanics of how these effects work, go ahead,
but there’s no obligation—you can use them just fine in a mix situation by surfing
the presets. The only really important control you need to know about will be called
something like Modulation Depth, and it basically determines the amount of frequency
information added.
What you’ll notice pretty quickly, though, is that frequency additions from these effects
aren’t musically related to the input signal, so you’ll usually introduce dissonant tones
into pitched parts. Although simple melodic parts can nonetheless still be coaxed
into responding musically if you experiment with the effect’s modulation frequency, in
practice you’re more likely to get useful results with unpitched sounds. That said, the
very unmusicality of some of these effects can be a boon on occasion. For example,
I’ve used ring modulation to add growl to aggressive lead vocals on more than one
occasion.
I'm ficqucnìIy amazcd hy low cffccìivcIy you can icmodcI oi cnlancc a Iack-
Iusìci ìiack simpIy hy hiowsing a fcw diffcicnì disìoiìion pIug-ins, cloos-
ing youi favoiiìc, and ìlcn adjusìing ìlc diivc ìo ìasìc. Iì's so simpIc ìlaì iì
aImosì fccIs Iikc clcaìing! Howcvci, ìlcic aic signincanì Iimiìaìions wiìl ìlis
hasic insciì-cffccì connguiaìion. Fiisì, incicasing ìlc disìoiìion's diivc wiII
simuIìancousIy incicasc hoìl ìlc IcvcI and ìlc dcnsiìy of ìlc addcd laimon-
ics, wlcìlci you wanì ìlaì oi noì. Sccond, you can'ì diiccìIy spccify low mucl
PART 3 Balance 194
ìlc disìoiìion pioducìs in cacl spccìiaI iangc haIancc wiìl ìlc ìiack's oiiginaI
ficqucncics. Foi ìlcsc icasons, a paiaIIcI pioccssing appioacl (in oìlci woids,
using ìlc disìoiìion as a scnd cffccì) is usuaIIy my picfciicd cloicc, hccausc
ìlis piovidcs mucl moic scopc foi dcciding cxacìIy wlaì iì is ìlc disìoiìion
adds. You miglì, foi cxampIc, dccidc ìo diivc ìlc disìoiìion laid ìo cicaìc
dcnsci laimonics, huì mix ìlosc in wiìl ìlc unpioccsscd ìiack aì onIy a mod-
ciaìc IcvcI. You aic aIso ficc ìo EQ ìlc disìoiìion clanncI
ìo funncI ìlc addcd spccìiaI cncigy inìo ìlosc aicas
wlcic iì's icaIIy nccdcd. You miglì aIso considci
compicssing ìlc signaI hcfoic iì icaclcs ìlc dis-
ìoiìion ìo mainìain a moic consisìcnì dcnsiìy
of addcd laimonics. As wiìl aII paiaIIcI pio-
ccssing, ìlougl, you do lavc ìo hc caicfuI of
plasc mismaìclcs hcìwccn ìlc pioccsscd and
unpioccsscd clanncIs (paiìicuIaiIy wlcn using
guiìai amp simuIaìois). I ofìcn cnd up using plasc
ioìaìion in sucl cascs ìo gcì ìlc hcsì comhincd sound,
cspcciaIIy if I'vc icsoiìcd ìo EQ ìo caivc away unwanìcd icgions of ìlc disìoi-
ìion sound.
Onc ìypc of paiaIIcI disìoiìion pioccssing waiianìs spcciaI aììcnìion, and ìlaì's
ìlc ligl-ficqucncy cnlanccmcnì ìcclniquc pionccicd hy Aplcx in iìs AuiaI
Exciìci. In simpIc ìcims, wiìl ìlis ìypc of paiaIIcI disìoiìion ìcclniquc ìlc
signaI fccding ìlc disìoiìion is aggicssivcIy ligl-pass nIìcicd and ìlcn com-
picsscd hcfoic iì icaclcs ìlc disìoiìion. Mixing ìlis pioccsscd signaI in wiìl
ìlc unpioccsscd ìiack givcs an unnaìuiaI IcvcI of ligl-cnd dcnsiìy, wlicl can
lcIp sounds sccm dcìaiIcd, aiiy, and moic upfionì in ìlc mix.
NccdIcss ìo say, ìlc Aplcx pioccss las Iong hccn a common cloicc foi Icad
vocaIs. If you'ic going ìo usc ìlis cffccì, lowcvci, ìlcic aic a fcw issucs ìo
hcwaic of. Mosì of aII, you nccd ìo icaIizc ìlaì ìlis cffccì can hc ìicmcndousIy
faìiguing on ìlc cai, and youi lcaiing wiII quickIy hccomc dcscnsiìizcd ìo iì,
so iì's moic impoiìanì ìlan cvci ìo kccp clccking youi ohjccìiviìy. Swiìcl ìlc
cffccì ouì of ciicuiì, aIIow youi cais ìo adjusì ìo ìlc picpioccssing haIancc,
imaginc ìlc sound of ìlc pioccssing you'ic afìci, and ìlcn pop ìlc cnlancc-
mcnì hack inìo ìlc mix ìo clcck ìlaì iì's acìuaIIy doing wlaì you wanì iì ìo.
If you don'ì ìakc ìlis piccauìion, you'II faII inìo onc of ìlc oIdcsì ìiaps in ìlc
hook: ìuining up ìlc cnlanccmcnì ìoo fai hccausc youi faìigucd cais lavc
hccomc Icss scnsiìivc ìo iì and ìlcn discovciing afìci a niglì's sIccp ìlaì youi
singci acìuaIIy sounds Iikc a wasp slaving!
Anoìlci poinì ìo hcai in mind wiìl ìlc majoiiìy of disìoiìions is ìlaì ìlcy can
icducc dynamic iangc, so you may nccd ìo appIy addiìionaI haIancc pioccss-
ing ìo compcnsaìc. In many siìuaìions, ìlougl, ìlis sidc cffccì can acìuaIIy hc
hcncnciaI, paiìicuIaiIy wlcn pioccssing noisy signaIs. Foi cxampIc, I ficqucnìIy
nnd myscIf using cIipping ìo iound off ovci-spiky pcicussion ìiansicnìs.
High-frequency
enhancement can be
tremendously fatiguing on the
ear, and your hearing will quickly
become desensitized to it.
Beyond EQ CHAPTER 12 195
12.2 LOW-END ENHANCEMENTS
By iìs vciy naìuic, disìoiìion pioccssing ìcnds ìo add mosì, if noì aII, of iìs
addcd cncigy ahovc ìlc Iowcsì ficqucncy of ìlc unpioccsscd sound, and wlcn
you'ic Iooking foi ìonaI clangcs, ìlis is usuaIIy pcifccìIy appiopiiaìc. Howcvci,
ìlcic aic somc siìuaìions wlcic you miglì wanì ìo add 'oompl´ aì ìlc Iow
cnd of an insìiumcnì's ficqucncy iangc, oi cvcn hcIow ìlaì. 1lis is wlcic a
ìypc of pioccssoi caIIcd a suhlaimonic synìlcsizci can lcIp hy aiìinciaIIy gcn-
ciaìing addiìionaI Iow-ficqucncy cncigy ìlaì is sìiII musicaIIy icIaìcd ìo ìlc
unpioccsscd sound.
AIìlougl ligl-pionIc cnginccis sucl as Iack DougIas,
4

Ion Cass,
5
Iacquiic King,
6
AIan MouIdci,
7
and 1lom
Panunzio
8
lavc aII piofcsscd ìlcmscIvcs uscis of sucl pio-
ccssois, I lavc ìo hc loncsì and say ìlaì iì's iaic ìo lcai
anyonc appIying ìlcm cffccìivcIy in ìlc smaII sìudio.
1lis is paiìIy hccausc you nccd good Iow-cnd moniìoi-
ing ìo gaugc ìlcii ìiuc impacì, huì iì aIso las ìo do wiìl
ìlc facì ìlaì cvciy manufacìuici of a suhlaimonic synìlc-
sizci appcais ìo usc a sIiglìIy diffcicnì aIgoiiìlm, and you
can ncvci hc quiìc suic low wcII cacl wiII icspond ìo a
givcn hass-insìiumcnì iccoiding. Onc pIug-in miglì woik
gicaì on kick diums huì cluin ouì a Ioad of woofy iuh-
hisl wlcn picscnìcd wiìl a hass Iinc, anoìlci miglì lan-
dIc onIy midicgisìci hass paiìs, anoìlci miglì landIc a
good iangc of hass noìcs huì ìliow a ìanìium if ìlcic's any
dium spiII on ìlc hass mic.
1lcicfoic, I pcisonaIIy icIy on aIìcinaìivc sìiaìcgics mosì
of ìlc ìimc. Foi kick diums I insciì an addiìionaI sampIc,
wlcicas I suppIcmcnì mcIodic hass insìiumcnìs wiìl a
MIDI 'suhsynìl.´ Noì onIy do hoìl ìlcsc ìcclniqucs aIIow
PITCH-SHIFTING FOR DENSITY
Another way you can add harmonics to an instrument is to use a pitch shifter to
duplicate it into a different pitch register. With melodic and harmonic parts, the most
foolproof interval will usually be an octave, but major/minor thirds (shifts of three/four
semitones) and perfect fourths and fifths (shifts of five and seven semitones) can also
work well in some instances. Upward shifts tend to be more useful than downward
ones, and you’ll typically want to mix the shifted channel at a low enough level that it’s
perceived as part of the unprocessed track, rather than as a new set of notes in its
own right. This technique is usually less successful with drum and percussive sounds,
because signals full of transients and noise tend to stress pitch shifters beyond the
point where they sound any good. That’s not to say that the idea’s a dead loss, but the
results are likely to be patchy.
FIGURE 12.3
A couple of subharmonic
enhancer plug-ins:
Waves LoAir (top) and
Apple Logic’s bundled
SubBass (bottom).
PART 3 Balance 196
compIcìc piìcling and ìiming icIiahiIiìy,
huì ìlcy aIso offci mucl widci scopc foi
ìaiIoiing ìlc ìimhic of ìlc cnlanccmcnì
ìo suiì ìlc pioducìion as a wloIc. Lcì's
dcaI wiìl cacl in ìuin.
Drum Triggering
1lcic aic now Ioìs of sofìwaic pIug-ins
ìlaì wiII auìomaìicaIIy dcìccì dium liìs
in a ìiack and pIay hack a sampIc in ìimc
wiìl ìlcm, huì wiìl kick diums you'II
onIy gcì good icsuIìs if you icnnc ìlc pIaccmcnì of cacl ìiiggcicd sampIc hy
land. 'Sofìwaic is vciy ìimc-saving, huì ìlc diawhack icmains ìlaì iì's noì
as good as doing iì manuaIIy,´ says Ccnzo 1ownslcnd. 'You sìiII lavc ìo go
ìliougl cacl liì and movc iì in ìimc ìo makc suic iì's luu pciccnì coiiccì and
ìlc plasc is coiiccì. You Iook aì ìlc wavcfoims, huì you aIso nccd ìo usc youi
cais.´
9
Evcn oncc you'vc madc suic ìlaì ìlc plasc icIaìionslip hcìwccn ìlc
oiiginaI and ìiiggcicd kick ìiacks icmains faiiIy consìanì, ìlougl, iì's as wcII
ìo invcsìigaìc wlcìlci addiìionaI ovciaII ìiming[plasc adjusìmcnìs wiII fuiìlci
impiovc ìlc comhincd sound.
Of couisc, sampIc ìiiggciing can aIso hc uscd mucl moic widcIy ìlan ìlis,
aIIowing you ìo add ncw claiacìciisìics ìo any dium sound. Iì's paiìicuIaiIy
uscfuI wiìl Iivc dium iccoidings wlicl, foi wlaìcvci icason, nccd ìo icIy lcav-
iIy on ìlc cIosc-mic signaIs-foi cxampIc, if ìlc ovcilcad mics aic picking up
mosìIy cymhaIs. CIosc mics posiìioncd jusì a fcw inclcs fiom cacl dium wiII
spoìIiglì onIy a vciy smaII poiìion of ìlc insìiumcnì's compIcìc sound, so
ìlc iccoidings fiom ìlcsc mics wiII usuaIIy hc iaìlci unnaìuiaI and uninspii-
ing ìo Iisìcn ìo. (CciìainIy, ninc ouì of ìcn snaic cIosc-mic iccoidings I lcai
fiom smaII sìudios jusì go 'donk´!) 1iiggciing a sampIc aIongsidc, oi insìcad
of, ìlc cIosc mic can lcIp ìo piovidc a moic pIcasing ovciaII ìonc in sucl
cascs. Andy WaIIacc uscs an inìcicsìing vaiianì on ìlis ìcclniquc ìo suppIc-
mcnì lis snaic amhicncc: 'I usc ìlc sampIcs ìo diivc icvcihs.. 1lc ìling I
Iikc is ìlaì I can EQ ìlcm so ìlaì I can icaIIy ìunc ìlc amhicncc and wlcic
iì siìs in ìlc wloIc ficqucncy icsponsc.. Moic so ìlan I can wiìl ìlc ovci-
lcads, hccausc I noimaIIy EQ ìlosc so ìlaì ìlc cymhaIs sound ìlc way I wanì
ìlcm ìo sound.. |I canj sladc wiìl a IiììIc moic conìioI using my amhicnì
sampIc.´
lu
Buì ìlcic's anoìlci good icason foi ìiiggciing sampIcs wiìlin ìlc conìcxì of a
Iivc dium kiì iccoiding: ìiiggcicd sampIcs lavc no plasc icIaìionslip wiìl ìlc
oìlci micioploncs and no spiII. 1lis mcans ìlaì you can ficcIy haIancc and
pioccss ìlc sampIc wiìlouì fcai of dcsìioying ìlc icsì of ìlc kiì sound-gicaì
if you onIy nccd ìlc sampIc ìo suppIcmcnì ìlc sound in a spccinc way. Foi
cxampIc you miglì appIy sIow-aììack gaìing and assciìivc ligl-pass nIìciing ìo
isoIaìc jusì a snaic sampIc's ligl-ficqucncy susìain componcnìs.
FIGURE 12.4
If you’re layering a
sample against a live
kick drum, you need
to make sure that the
polarity of the sample
matches the live track
for every hit. In this
screen you can see an
instance where it’s not
matched, and this results
in a noticeable loss of
low-end weight.
Beyond EQ CHAPTER 12 197
1lc Inìcincì hcing wlaì iì is, iì's cliId's pIay ìo nnd a scIccìion of dcccnì
sampIcs foi mosì diums. Howcvci, on ìlc offclancc ìlaì ìyping 'ficc dium
sampIcs´ inìo CoogIc docsn'ì piovidc moic cloicc ìlan you couId cvci wanì,
ìlcic aic Ioìs of commciciaI ouìIcìs ìlaì can piovidc you wiìl ìons of maìc-
iiaI. Clcck ouì www.timespace.com oi www.soundsonline.com, ìo mcnìion huì ìwo
Iaigc-scaIc inìcinaìionaI disìiihuìois.
Incorporating a MIDI Subsynth
Piopping up a Iiglìwciglì hass Iinc wiìl a Iow-ficqucncy synìl paiì is a sìaI-
waiì of many uihan sìyIcs in paiìicuIai. '1lc hass is vciy impoiìanì,´ cxpIains
DI Picmici. 'If ìlc Iow cnd of a |Ioopj sampIc isn'ì icaIIy lcavy, I'II aIways foI-
Iow ìlc cxacì hass Iinc of ìlc song and puì ìlaì undcincaìl. A Ioì of pcopIc
ask mc wlaì EQ I usc ìo gcì ìlc hoììom cnd of my sampIcs ìo comc ìliougl
so sìiongIy, huì I'm Iikc 'Man, iì's noì EQ! I'm pIaying ìlc samc noìcs vciha-
ìim.'´
ll
1lis is ofìcn picììy sìiaiglìfoiwaid ìo do if ìlc hass is icpcìiìivc and
ìiglìIy Iockcd wiìl a icguIai song ìcmpo, huì if noì ìlcn ìlcic may hc somc
iniìiaI donkcywoik invoIvcd in soiìing ìlis ouì. Evcn if iì ìakcs laIf an loui,
ìlougl, ìlaì ìimc invcsìmcnì is usuaIIy woiìl ìlc pcacc of mind ìlaì comcs
FIGURE 12.5
If you don’t have suitable drum samples for mix triggering, then it’s easy to lay hands on commercial
sample libraries from outlets such as Time ϩ Space.
PART 3 Balance 198
fiom knowing ìlaì ìlc Iow-cnd ficqucncy haIancc wiII hc ìoìaIIy dcpcndahIc.
UsuaIIy onIy ìlc ficakicsì of cxìcndcd jazz-funk ficc-foi-aIIs lavc mc waving
ìlc wliìc ßag and scuiiying hack ìo ìiadiìionaI suhlaimonic pioccssing.
Oncc ìlc MIDI paiì is in pIacc, you nccd ìo considci wlaì kind of sound ìlc
suhsynìl slouId usc. Onc common opìion is ìo douhIc ìlc hass Iinc aì ìlc
ocìavc hcIow using a simpIc sinc-wavc paìcl. In ìlis casc, ìlcic's noìling mucl
ìo do oìlci ìlan scì ìlc sinc wavc's IcvcI and Iisìcn ìo iì in soIo jusì ìo clcck
ìlaì ìlc synìl's cnvcIopc scììings aicn'ì so fasì ìlaì ìlcy cicaìc unwanìcd cIicks.
1lings gcì moic compIicaìcd if you'ic using a suhsynìl ìo ìiy ìo hccf up ìlc
cxisìing fundamcnìaI ficqucncy of a hass paiì, hccausc ìlc suhsynìl wiII ovci-
Iap ìlc main hass paiì's ficqucncy iangc. If ìlc suhsynìl's wavcfoim isn'ì in
plasc, ìlcn plasc canccIIaìion miglì acìuaIIy causc ìlc comhincd sound ìo
hccomc cvcn skinnici! Moicovci, hccausc ìlis plasc icIaìionslip wiII usuaIIy
clangc fiom noìc ìo noìc, you couId cnd up wiìl an uncvcn Iow cnd ìlaì's aII
huì impossihIc ìo haIancc wiìl ìlc icsì of youi mix. If ìlc cxisìing hass sound's
fundamcnìaI ficqucncy is sìiong cnougl ìo causc difncuIìics sucl as ìlis, ìlcn
ìiy ìo gcì iid of iì ìo makc spacc foi ìlc suhsynìl aì ìlc Iow cnd. A sìccp ligl-
pass nIìci on ìlc main hass paiì is onc soIuìion lcic, huì aì ìimcs you may
nccd ìo usc ìlc moic suigicaI appioacl of noìcling ouì individuaI ficqucncics,
picfciahIy wiìl ìlc assisìancc of a ligl-icsoIuìion spccìium anaIyzci.
In ìlc cvcnì ìlaì you wanì ìo do moic ìlan jusì add a suhocìavc oi cmplasizc
ìlc cxisìing hass fundamcnìaI, a sinc-wavc synìl osciIIaìoi may noì hc ìlc hcsì
hcì, oìlci wavcfoims wiII nII ouì ìlc ovciaII ìonc hcììci. I Iikc using a ìiian-
gIc wavc mosì of ìlc ìimc, hccausc iì docsn'ì lavc sucl dcnsc laimonic spac-
ing as a sawìooìl and iì's duIIci-sounding and Icss claiacìcifuI ìlan a squaic
wavc-hoìl of ìlcsc piopciìics sccm ìo makc iì hcììci aì hIcnding wiìl (iaìlci
ìlan ovciwlcIming) ìlc sound iì's Iaycicd wiìl. Wlaìcvci wavcfoim you usc,
ìlougl, you slouId aIso ìakc ìlc samc piccauìions againsì plasc canccIIaìion
of ìlc hass paiì's fundamcnìaI ficqucncy. I'd aIso sìcci cIcai of dcìuncd muI-
ìiosciIIaìoi paìclcs, hccausc ìlc 'hcaìing´ hcìwccn ìlc ìwo dcìuncd Iaycis may
causc ìlc suhsynìl's fundamcnìaI ficqucncy ìo ßucìuaìc unacccpìahIy in IcvcI.
Iì piohahIy makcs scnsc ìo sìick wiìl mono paìclcs as wcII so you don'ì gcì
mono-compaìihiIiìy piohIcms. 1lcsc icsìiicìions mcan
ìlaì you onIy icaIIy nccd a simpIc insìiumcnì ìo gcnci-
aìc suhsynìl paiìs. Wlcìlci you cngagc ìlc suhsynìl's
own nIìci oi scuIpì iìs ouìpuì wiìl EQ is puicIy a qucs-
ìion of wlaì kind of Iow-cnd ìonaI cnlanccmcnì you'ic
Iooking foi. Wiìl a ìiiangIc wavc in paiìicuIai, you
miglì noì fccI ìlc nccd ìo nIìci iì aì aII, aIìlougl I do
pcisonaIIy cmpIoy somc kind of gcnìIc Iow-pass nIìci
mosì of ìlc ìimc ìo icsìiicì iìs conìiihuìion ìo ìlc Iowci
ocìavcs.
Onc nnaI poinì ìo makc is ìlaì suhsynìl paiìs usuaIIy
nccd ìo hc conìioIIcd ìiglìIy in ìcims of dynamic iangc
FIGURE 12.6
When designing
subsynth parts,
your choice of synth
waveform is an
important decision.
Beyond EQ CHAPTER 12 199
oi cIsc ìlcy can icaIIy caì inìo youi ìiack's ovciaII lcadioom. 1lis is wlcic
ìlc MIDI-ìiiggcicd mcìlod icaIIy pays dividcnds, hccausc iì's simpIc hoìl ìo
icsìiicì ìlc dynamics of ìlc MIDI paiì and ìo compicss ìlc suhsynìl's ouìpuì.
So cvcn if youi Iow-ficqucncy moniìoiing faciIiìics aicn'ì up ìo mucl, you can
sìiII icIy on a suhsynìl ìo givc consisìcnì Iow cnd if you pay aììcnìion ìo youi
DAW's mcìcis.
12.3 SYNTH PADS
Usc of MIDI sound souiccs foi mixing puiposcs docsn'ì sìop aì suhsynìl paiìs,
hy any mcans, hccausc cloidaI synìl pads in paiìicuIai can hc immcnscIy
COMB FILTERING AND RESONANCE AS TONAL TOOLS
Another method of adjusting the subjective tone of a track is to deliberately introduce
the complex frequency-response undulations of comb filtering by mixing in a delayed
version of the signal. All you do is set up a delay plug-in as a send effect and feed
it from the track that needs timbral adjustment. Choose any old preset you like, and
then set the effect’s Delay Time parameter to anything less than about 20ms. This
should result in obvious comb filtering when the delayed signal is mixed in with the
unprocessed track. The way the filtering sounds will depend on the exact preset and
delay time you’ve used, so tweak both to taste while keeping a hand on the delay
return channel’s fader to control the severity of the filtering. Some of the presets may
introduce pitched sympathetic resonances, and if these are sensitively tuned using
subtle adjustments of the Delay Time control and then subtly applied, they’re capable
of adding extra musical sustain. Always keep in mind that you can EQ the delay return
too, should you wish to curtail the comb filtering and sustain artifacts in some areas of
the spectrum.
Related to this kind of short delay effect are the three common modulation treatments:
chorusing, flanging, and phasing. Fun as they are for special effects, from a mix
perspective they don’t really serve much of a technical purpose, so you might as well
just surf the presets and tweak things erratically in search of something you like.
(Some people say that chorusing can create the illusion of a larger ensemble, but it
never seems to work like that for me!) They can be useful for adding stereo width in
some instances, though. (See Chapter 18 for more on that subject.)
Artificial reverb send effects can also be coaxed into producing a wide range of
changes to tone and sustain. Again, feel free to process the reverb return channel,
and consider in particular narrowing its stereo image if you’re processing mono
sounds, so that the added width doesn’t reveal the effect’s synthetic nature. No
need to fuss with understanding the controls at this point, just look for a preset
that sounds good. Each will have a unique tonality, echo pattern, and overall
resonant character, so you may be surprised how different they all sound in this
context. Don’t ignore any rubbishy reverb plug-ins either, because they often yield
the most dramatic timbral changes. As with many mix effects, reverb doesn’t have
to sound any good on its own as long as it combines musically with the track you’re
processing. (If you want to get deeper into using tonal delay/reverb effects, skip
ahead and browse Chapters 16 and 17.)
PART 3 Balance 200
uscfuI acioss a suipiisingIy widc iangc of diffcicnì
music sìyIcs. Dcspiìc ìlcii ingIoiious lisìoiy, pads
don'ì lavc ìo ìuin youi mix inìo somc kind of
l98us huhhIc-pcim niglìmaic as Iong as you
dcsign and appIy ìlcm cffccìivcIy. Indccd,
pads can casiIy add waimìl and susìain ìo
ìlin-sounding acousìic guiìai paiìs, foi cxam-
pIc, oi impiovc ìlc piìcl dcnniìion of musliIy
ovcidiivcn cIccìiic guiìais, wiìlouì anyonc hcing
ìlc wisci. 1lcic aic vciy fcw paiìs ìlaì you can'ì sup-
pIcmcnì wiìl a pad synìl if nccds hc, jusì as Iong as you
paic cacl pad down ìo iìs haic csscnìiaIs-ìlaì's ìlc kcy ìo kccping pads fiom
hccoming ìoo audihIc in ìlcii own iiglì oi ìicspassing unncccssaiiIy on oìlci
aspccìs of ìlc pioducìion sonics.
1lc nisì misìakc mosì ncwcomcis makc is ncgIccìing ìo cquaIizc ìlc synìl's
ficqucncy icsponsc, hccausc iì's viìaI ìlaì pads onIy opciaìc picciscIy wlcic
ìlcy'ic icquiicd. 1lc cxacì noìc piìclcs and synìl ìimhics aIso waiianì caicfuI
ìlouglì, as ìlcsc can diamaìicaIIy affccì ìlc dcnsiìy of laimonics wiìlin ìlc
ìaigcì ficqucncy iangcs. Pads don'ì lavc ìo hc Iong lcId cloids, ciìlci, hccausc
in many cascs a simpIc ilyìlmic icpcìiìion of synìl cloids is hcììci aì icinfoic-
ing ìlc ìiack's gioovc. Wlcn iì comcs ìo dcciding on a fadci IcvcI foi ìlc pad,
you don'ì ofìcn wanì ìlc gcnciaI puhIic ìo noìicc you'ic using a pad aì aII-
hands wlo spcciaIizc in naìuiaI-sounding acousìic sìyIcs oi laid-liììing iock
music don'ì icaIIy Iikc ìo hiag ahouì ìlcii synìl clops, foi insìancc, dcspiìc
ìlc impiovcmcnìs ìlaì pads can hiing ìo guiìai ìcxìuics in hoìl ìlosc gcnics.
So my noimaI iuIc of ìlumh is ìlis: if you can lcai ìlc pad, iì's ìoo Ioud! 1o
puì iì anoìlci way, you slouId onIy noìicc ìlaì ìlc pioducìion las a pad in iì
wlcn you ìoggIc ìlaì clanncI's muìc huììon.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
EquaIizaìion can onIy adjusì ficqucncics ìlaì aic aIicady ìlcic, if you nccd
ìo add somcìling ncw ìo ìlc sound insìcad, ìlcn you'II nccd diffcicnì
pioccssing.
I
Disìoiìion is somcìling of a sccicì wcapon foi nIIing ouì smaII-sìudio pio-
ducìions. You can aclicvc quick mix impiovcmcnìs using disìoiìion cffccìs
as insciì pioccssois, huì iì's usuaIIy picfciahIc ìo usc a paiaIIcI pioccssing
connguiaìion insìcad. Iusì hc waiy of unwanìcd comh nIìciing slouId youi
disìoiìion pIug-in ìampci wiìl ìlc pioccsscd signaI's plasc icsponsc.
I
Piìcl slifìing can add compIcxiìy ìo a ìiack's ficqucncy icsponsc if you
ìakc caic wiìl ìlc slifìing inìcivaI uscd. 1lis ìacìic usuaIIy sounds hcsì foi
simpIc piìclcd insìiumcnìs and upwaid slifìs. Higl-spccd moduIaìion
cffccìs aic anoìlci opìion, aIìlougl caic musì hc ìakcn wiìl piìclcd insìiu-
mcnìs if you wisl ìo avoid unmusicaIIy dissonanì ficqucncics hcing addcd.
Sloiì dcIays and icvcihs can dcIivci ìonaI clangcs ìliougl compIcx comh
The first mistake
most newcomers make is
neglecting to equalize a synth
pad’s frequency response, because
it’s vital that pads only operate
precisely where they’re
required.
Beyond EQ CHAPTER 12 201
nIìciing and lavc ìlc poìcnìiaI ìo add suhìIy appcaIing sympaìlcìic icso-
nanccs in addiìion.
I
Suhlaimonic synìlcsizci pIug-ins aic uscfuI on occasion, huì adding sup-
pIcmcnìaiy sampIc[synìl paiìs is usuaIIy a moic succcssfuI way ìo add Iow-
cnd wciglì ìo hass insìiumcnìs.
I
Addcd dium sampIcs noì onIy piovidc ìlc oppoiìuniìy foi ìimhiaI ovcilauI,
huì ìlcy aIso aIIow indcpcndcnì manipuIaìion of onc insìiumcnì wiìlin a
muIìimic iccoiding wiìlouì compiomising spiII fiom oìlci souiccs. AIìlougl
auìomaìic dium-ìiiggciing sofìwaic is avaiIahIc, you slouId icnnc ìlc ìiming
of cacl sampIc hy land ìo avoid plasc canccIIaìion againsì ìlc ìiiggci ìiack.
I
MIDI-diivcn synìlcsizcis aic cxccIIcnì ìooIs foi adding spccìiaI compIcxiìy.
Suhsynìl paìclcs can lcIp piovidc smaII-sìudio pioducìions wiìl powci-
fuI ycì conìioIIahIc Iow cnd, wlcicas pads can uscfuIIy nII ouì ìlc sound
of aImosì any piìclcd insìiumcnì, cvcn in musicaI sìyIcs wlcic you'd Icasì
cxpccì iì. Iì's iaicIy dcsiiahIc ìo lcai a pad in iìs own iiglì, so you slouId
usc youi MIDI piogiamming, sound-dcsign, and cquaIizaìion skiIIs ìo ìaiIoi
iìs ficqucncy addiìions ìo ìlc spccinc ìask aì land.
Assignment
I Do a quick survey of the processing available on your mixing system to get an idea
of your options with respect to the various different effects mentioned in this chap-
ter: distortion, high-speed modulation, pitch-shifting, subharmonic synthesis, delay,
and reverb.
I Investigate your DAW’s facilities for triggering drum samples in response to recorded
audio, and for generating MIDI parts to shadow specific pitched instruments.
I Start building a library of good drum samples for mixing purposes so that you
don’t have to hunt around for ages every time you need one. Also check out what
synths you have available to you, and make a note of any presets that turn out to
be more useful than others in practice.
I Mute all the tracks in your mix and rebuild the balance, addressing any frequency-
balance concerns that careful equalization was unable to resolve.
I Make a note of any faders that still feel unstable.
www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch12.htm
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Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
Clapìcis 9 and lu dcmonsìiaìcd vaiious ways ìo landIc ìimc-domain haI-
ancc piohIcms, and Clapìcis ll and l2 focuscd on ficqucncy-domain issucs.
AIìlougl ìlosc ìcclniqucs aIonc may hc cnougl ìo dcIivci you a woikahIc
haIancc, usuaIIy aì Icasì onc insìiumcnì wiII icmain ìlaì can'ì hc pcisuadcd
ìo mainìain iìs piopci pIacc in ìlc mix hy ìlcsc mcans. 1lis is hccausc somc
haIancc piohIcms cannoì hc ovcicomc unIcss you pioccss hoìl ìlc ìimc
and ficqucncy domains aì oncc. 1o puì iì anoìlci way, noì onc of ìlc pio-
ccssing mcìlods wc'vc discusscd so fai is mucl usc againsì a dynamic-iangc
piohIcm ìlaì cxisìs onIy aì ligl ficqucncics-a noimaI dynamics pioccs-
soi's gain icducìion won'ì ìaigcì ìlaì ficqucncy icgion scpaiaìcIy, and ìlc
sìaìic ficqucncy-haIancing faciIiìics of cquaIizaìion won'ì ìackIc ìlc IcvcI
inconsisìcncics.
1o puII off ìlis kind of sìunì, you nccd ficqucncy-scIccìivc
dynamics pioccssing. PIug-ins ìlaì piovidc ìlis fcaìuic
do ìcnd ìo Iook a hiì inìimidaìing, so iì's laidIy
suipiising ìlaì many smaII-sìudio opciaìois
Icavc ìlcm wcII aIonc, wlcicas oìlcis jusì pick
a picscì and lopc foi ìlc hcsì. Howcvci, ìlcsc
dcviccs aic ìoo powcifuI ìo ignoic if you wanì
commciciaI mix icsuIìs, huì ìlcy aic aIso pow-
cifuI cnougl ìo compIcìcIy wicck youi ìiacks
if appIicd in a scaììcigun faslion. 1lis clapìci
slows low you can comhinc ìimc-domain and fic-
qucncy-domain ìicaìmcnìs foi youiscIf ìo ìackIc somc
of ìlc ìouglcsì haIancing ìasks ìlaì smaII-sìudio pioduc-
ìions facc.
13.1 FREQUENCY-DOMAIN TWEAKS FOR FULL-BAND
DYNAMICS PROCESSORS
Bcfoic I inìioducc any ncw ìypcs of pioccssoi, Icì's lavc a Iook aì low ìlc
dynamics dcviccs wc'vc aIicady covcicd (ofìcn caIIcd 'fuII-hand´ pioccssois,
Frequency-Selective
Dynamics
CHAPTER 13
Frequency-selective
processors are too
powerful to ignore if you want
commercial mix results, but they
are also powerful enough to
completely wreck your tracks if
applied in a scattergun
fashion.
PART 3 Balance 204
hccausc ìlcy opciaìc on ìlc cnìiic audio spccìium) can hc coupIcd wiìl EQ ìo
incicasc youi haIancing opìions.
Equalizing Parallel Processors
Onc simpIc way ìo hcgin cxpIoiing low dynamics can hc aimcd aì spccinc fic-
qucncy icgions is hy cIahoiaìing on an idca wc'vc aIicady dcaIì wiìl quiìc a
hiì: paiaIIcI pioccssing. If you scì up any dynamics pioccssoi as a scnd cffccì,
ìlcn you can EQ iìs icìuin clanncI ìo ìaiIoi ìlc pioccsscd ìonc. So wlcic a
fasì-aììack[fasì-icIcasc compicssoi woiking in a paiaIIcI connguiaìion wouId
noimaIIy jusì cmplasizc ovciaII susìain, a Iow slcIving cuì ìo ìlc icìuin signaI
wouId diiccì ìlaì susìain moic ìowaid ìlc uppci ficqucncy icgions-a good
way of compcnsaìing foi ìlc sloiìci susìain of liglci piano noìcs, ìo givc onc
cxampIc. Davc Pcnsado suppIics anoìlci appIicaìion, ìlis ìimc foi ìlc kick
dium. 'You can lavc ìlc main kick dium fadci, and anoìlci fadci wlcic you
compicss ìlc dogsnoì ouì of ìlc kick, and add a Ioì of ìop cnd ìo iì. 1lcn,
mayhc in ìlc cloius you add in a IiììIc hiì of ìlaì sccond clain. Iì givcs a ìiny
hiì moic aììack. as if ìlc diummci was liììing iì laidci.´
l
DyIan Dicsdow comhincd compicssion, EQ, and gaìing ìo aclicvc ficqucncy-
scIccìivc ìiansicnì cnlanccmcnì foi lis woik wiìl BIack Eycd Pcas: 'I'd muIì
ìlc kick dium and muIì ìlc snaic, compicss ìlcm icaIIy laid, and ioII off a
Ioì of ligl cnd and Iow cnd, so ìlcy hccomc vciy midiangcy, and I'd puì a
ìiglì gaìc on ìlcm. I'd scuIpì ìlc aììack in ìlis way and wouId add ìlis inìo
FIGURE 13.1
Complex frequency-selective dynamics processors such as iZotope Ozone or Flux Alchemist may appear
intimidating, but there’s actually no great mystery to using them if you remain focused on the central
issue of mix balance.
Frequency-Selective Dynamics CHAPTER 13 205
ìlc ìiack.´
2
Of couisc, you miglì aclicvc a simiIai kind of cffccì hy EQ'ing a
paiaIIcI ìiansicnì cnlancci. In aII of ìlcsc siìuaìions, a IiììIc fuiìlci EQ may hc
dcsiiahIc on ìlc comhincd sound ìo compcnsaìc foi any ovciaII IcvcI incicasc
in ìlc cnlanccd ficqucncy icgion-huì ìlaì slouIdn'ì hc a hig dcaI, hccausc
you aIicady know cxacìIy wlcic ìlaì icgion Iics.
As usuaI in paiaIIcI scìups, you do nccd ìo hc caicfuI ìlaì EQ plasc slifìs
don'ì causc any unpIcasanì comh-nIìciing sidc cffccìs wlcn ìlc pioccsscd and
unpioccsscd signaIs aic comhincd-ìlis lappcns ofìcn cnougl foi mc ìlaì I
now usc Iincai-plasc EQ foi paiaIIcI dynamics icìuin clanncIs as a maììci of
couisc. 1lcic's aIso ìlc qucsìion of wlcìlci ìo usc ìlc cquaIizci hcfoic oi afìci
ìlc dynamics, aIìlougl ìlis slouId loId no ncw mysìciics if you'vc aIicady
ahsoihcd ìlc advicc in Clapìci l2: if ìlc gain clangcs sccm musicaI, ìlcn EQ
afìci ìlc dynamics, if noì, ìlcn ìiy using EQ caiIici in ìlc pioccssing clain.
Rcìuining ìo my caiIici piano cxampIc, if you wanì ìo add cxìia ligl-ficqucncy
susìain wiìl a nIìcicd paiaIIcI compicssoi, iì makcs scnsc ìo puì ìlc nIìci hcfoic
ìlc dynamics. 1laì way ìlc compicssoi sìamps on ìlc ligl-ficqucncy signaI
pcaks fiom ligl-piìclcd noìcs and smooìlIy icscìs iìs gain icducìion hcìwccn
ìlcm ìo aIIow ìlc inìcipcak susìain ìaiIs ìo slinc ìliougl. Had ìlc ligl-pass nI-
ìciing hccn pIaccd afìci ìlc dynamics, ìlc Iowci noìcs wouId aIso ìiiggci gain
icducìion, causing unnaìuiaI Iumps and humps in ìlc ligl-noìc susìains.
Refining Your Gating Action
Anoìlci common lyhiid ìcclniquc is wlcic cquaI-
izaìion is appIicd ìo ìlc dynamics pioccssoi's IcvcI-
dcìccìion ciicuiì (oi 'sidc clain´), huì noì iìs main
signaI paìl. 1lis aIIows you ìo adjusì ìlc scnsiìiv-
iìy of ìlc pioccssing ìo diffcicnì ficqucncics wiìlouì
diiccìIy clanging ìlc ìonaI haIancc of ìlc pioccsscd
audio. You'ic mosì IikcIy ìo nnd sidc-clain EQ faciIi-
ìics on gaìcs (usuaIIy in ìlc foim of simpIc ligl-pass
and Iow-pass nIìcis) wlcic ìlcy can lcIp a gicaì dcaI
in gcììing ìlc gaìc ìo opcn and cIosc ìlc way you wanì
iì ìo. Wiìlouì sucl faciIiìics iì can hc wcII nigl impos-
sihIc ìo icducc unwanìcd spiII signaIs in muIìimikcd
iccoidings of cIoscIy spaccd insìiumcnì cnscmhIcs
sucl as dium kiìs.
1akc ìlc cxampIc of a micioplonc posiìioncd undcincaìl ìlc snaic in a dium
kiì. 1lis wiII noimaIIy pick up ìlc kick dium aIong wiìl ìlc snaic, so if you
onIy Iikc iìs snaic conìiihuìion, ìlcn iì makcs scnsc ìo gaìc ouì cvciyìling
cIsc. 1lc piohIcm is ìlaì ìlc IcvcI of spiII fiom ìlc Ioudcsì kick dium liìs may
cxcccd ìlc IcvcI of diiccì sound fiom ìlc sofìci snaic liìs, so no scììing of ìlc
gaìc's IcvcI ìlicsloId wiII gcì iì woiking low iì slouId: ciìlci somc of ìlc kick
spiII wiII makc iì pasì ìlc gaìc, of you'II Iosc a fcw of ìlc sofìci snaic liìs. Sidc-
clain EQ can impiovc ìlis siìuaìion hy nIìciing ìlc Iow cnd ouì of ìlc signaI
FIGURE 13.2
Like a lot of well-
specified gates,
Steinberg Cubase’s
bundled Gate plug-
in features built-in
side-chain equalization
to refine its triggering
action.
PART 3 Balance 206
fccding ìlc gaìc's IcvcI dcìccìoi, ìlcichy dcscnsiìizing iì ìo ìlc powcifuI Iow
ficqucncics of ìlc kick dium spiII. 1lc gicaì ìling ahouì ìlc EQ hcing onIy in
ìlc sidc clain is ìlaì you can sIap iì on wiìl a ìiowcI wiìlouì affccìing ìlc ìonc
oi plasc icsponsc of ìlc pioccsscd snaic sound aì aII.
Oìlci appIicaìions of sidc-clain EQ foi dium kiì gaìing ahound: icducing
li-laì spiII on ìlc main snaic signaI, dcscnsiìizing ìlc gaìc on a ßooi ìom ìo
iìs own iumhIing sympaìlcìic icsonanccs and ìo acccnìs on ncaihy cymhaIs,
and diying up ìlc ioom amhicncc on an ouì-ìlc-fionì kick mic. Howcvci,
ìlcic is onc ìling ìo hc caicfuI of: if a dium's aììack ìiansicnì is mosìIy madc
up of ligl ficqucncics, ìlcn nIìciing ìlosc ouì of ìlc dcìccìoi sidc clain may
causc ìlc gaìc ìo opcn sIiglìIy Iaìc, making youi kick aII icky.
Sibilance Reduction
Sidc-clain cquaIizaìion of compicssois is sIiglìIy Icss common huì can nonc-
ìlcIcss hc a godscnd wlcn you'ic ìiying ìo minimizc ìlc unwanìcd sidc cffccìs
of lcavy compicssion. 1lis is nowlcic moic icIcvanì ìlan wiìl vocaIs, wlicl
lavc a widc inlcicnì dynamic iangc ìlaì's ficqucnìIy puIvciizcd in many
mainsìicam music sìyIcs foi ìlc sakc of maximum audihiIiìy oi aììiìudc.
Bccausc mosì compicssois aic, hy naìuic, Icss scnsiìivc ìo ligl ficqucncics,
ìlc mosì common unwanìcd sidc cffccì of lcavy vocaI compicssion is ìlaì
sonic cvcnìs ìlaì conìain mainIy ligl ficqucncics ìcnd ìo causc a Ioì Icss gain
icducìion and ìlcicfoic cnd up hcing ovcicmplasizcd hy ìlc pioccssing. Wiìl
vocaIs, ìlaì mcans ìlaì hicaìl noiscs and consonanìs sucl as 'cl,´ 'f,´ 's,´
'sl,´ and 'ì´ wiII aII ìcnd ìo iisc up ìoo fai in ìlc haIancc-paiìicuIaiIy ìlc 's´
sounds (oi sihiIanìs, as ìlcy'ic caIIcd hy sìudio ncids Iikc mc). Moicovci, ìlc
gcnciaI picfcicncc foi hiiglì vocaI sounds in modcin pioducìions onIy cxac-
cihaìcs ìlc siìuaìion, hccausc any sìaìic EQ wiII hc a nonsìaiìci. 'If you usc
sìiaiglì EQ'ing ìo ìakc away youi csscs,´ says Manny Maiioquin, 'you ìakc aII
ìlc Iifc and picscncc ouì of ìlc vocaI.´
3
Boosìing ìlc ligl ficqucncics of ìlc main vocaI compicssoi's sidc clain can
lcIp in ìlis insìancc hy cncouiaging ìlc compicssoi ìo icducc ìlc gain of ligl
ficqucncics moic sìifßy. Howcvci, if sihiIancc is a hig conccin, ìlcn iì's usuaIIy
moic cffccìivc ìo usc a sccond compicssoi spcciaIIy connguicd ìo comhaì iì-
ìlc aììack and icIcasc ìimcs ìlaì hcsì suiì ìlc dynamic-iangc piopciìics of youi
vocaI pcifoimancc may noì hc nimhIc cnougl ìo conìain fasì-moving ligl-
ficqucncy sihiIanìs. Boh CIcaimounìain cxpIains a paiìicuIaiIy ingcnious
manuaI sidc-clain impIcmcnìaìion ìlaì aIso nnds favoi wiìl Ion Cass
4
and
Manny Maiioquin
5
: 'I muIì ìlc vocaI ìo ìlc clanncI ncxì ìo iì, on wlicl I'II
ioII ouì aII ìlc midiangc and hoosì aiound 7kHz as fai as iì wiII go. I'II ìlcn
scnd ìlc ouìpuì of ìlc fadci inìo iìs own huss and scIccì a compicssoi on ìlaì
clanncI ìo pick up on ìlaì huss, so hasicaIIy iì hccomcs a soiì of Ioop in ìlc
clanncI. I puì ìlc compicssoi on fasì aììack and fasì icIcasc, and Iink iì ìo ìlc
oiiginaI vocaI clanncI, on wlicl I ìuin on ìlc dynamics. Iì woiks Iikc a sidc-
clain on ìlc compicssoi and las ìlc cffccì of a fasì ligl-ficqucncy Iimiìci, iìs
Frequency-Selective Dynamics CHAPTER 13 207
ìlicsloId hcing conìioIIcd hy ìlc fadci on ìlc paiaIIcI clanncI. Iì's icaIIy cffcc-
ìivc, vciy fasì, and iì dc-csscs vciy smooìlIy and mucl hcììci ìlan any oìlci
dc-cssci I lavc cvci uscd. PIus you can auìomaìc ìlc ìlicsloId.´
6
Wliclcvci scìup you cloosc, iì's impoiìanì ìo woik ouì wlicl
sidc-clain ficqucncics you nccd ìo hoosì. 1lc casicsì
way ìo do ìlis is nisì ìo usc EQ hoosì in ìlc main
signaI paìl wiìl ìlc aim of making ìlc 's´ sounds
as ovcihIown as possihIc. Oncc you know aì
wlicl ficqucncics ìlc sihiIancc icsidcs, you
can ìiansfci ìlaì EQ scììing ìo ìlc compicssoi's
sidc clain insìcad and hoosì unìiI ìlc sihiIanìs
comc down ìo an appiopiiaìc IcvcI in ìlc mix.
Howcvci, ìlcic's a dangci lcic: if you sofìcn ìlc
's´ sounds ìoo mucl, ìlc vocaIisìs wiII sound Iikc
ìlcy'ic Iisping, so hc caicfuI noì ìo go ovcihoaid
wiìl youi dc-cssing, oìlciwisc ìlc singcis miglì ìlink
you'ic ìaking ìlc piìl.
Pumping and Breathing
1lc ßip sidc of compicssois hcing gcnciaIIy Icss scnsiìivc ìo ligl ficqucncics
is ìlaì ìlcy'ic moic scnsiìivc ìo Iow ficqucncics, and ìlaì icsuIìs in anoìlci
ficqucnìIy cncounìcicd compicssion sidc cffccì, wlicl is usuaIIy mosì ohvious
on fuII-iangc, ìiansicnì-iicl signaIs sucl as diums and piano. Wlaì lappcns is
ìlaì a Iow-ficqucncy ìiansicnì liìs ìlc compicssoi, ìiiggciing lcavy gain icduc-
ìion of ìlc cnìiic ficqucncy iangc and dipping ìlc susìain ìaiIs of any liglci-
ficqucncy cvcnìs ìlaì picccdcd iì. Oncc ìlc ìiansicnì las passcd, ìlc gain
icducìion icscìs, hiinging ìlc liglci-ficqucncy susìains hack inìo ìlc mix. 1lis
Iuicling of ìlc ligl-cnd haIancc in icsponsc ìo compicssion ìiiggcicd fiom
Iow-ficqucncy cvcnìs is commonIy icfciicd ìo as 'pumping´ oi 'hicaìling.´
If you wanì ìo lcai a commciciaI cxampIc of ìlis cffccì, clcck ouì Sìaidusì's
'Music Sounds Bcììci wiìl You,´ wlcic ìlc wloIc ìiack is hcing pumpcd hy
ìlc kick dium liìs-a sìandaid dancc-music cffccì, aIìlougl ìakcn ìo a hiì of
an cxìicmc in ìlis casc!
In somc siìuaìions pumping can hc dcsiiahIc, hccausc iì Icnds sounds an
aiìinciaI scnsc of aggicssion and powci. 1lis is paiìIy hccausc iì incicascs ìlc
avciagc IcvcI of ìlc pioccsscd ìiack, huì aIso hccausc iì simuIaìcs ìlc way ìlc
compicssion-Iikc safcìy mcclanisms wiìlin oui own lcaiing sysìcm affccì oui
pciccpìion wlcn ìlcy'ic ìiying ìo pioìccì ìlc dcIicaìc appaiaìus of ìlc innci
cai fiom damagingIy ligl sound IcvcIs. Dium sounds in iock music icguIaiIy
usc compicssion pumping foi ìlcsc icasons, and many dancc ìiacks cicaìc an
cxìia iIIusion of powci foi ìlc main kick dium in ìlis way, as in oui Sìaidusì
cxampIc. NaìuiaIIy, pumping won'ì hc aì aII appiopiiaìc in oìlci siìuaìions,
and a dosc of Iow-cnd slcIving cuì in youi compicssoi's sidc clain can woik
wondcis in icducing iì. Indccd, somc ccIchiaìcd anaIog compicssoi dcsigns,
If you soften the
“s” sounds too much,
the vocalists will sound like
they’re lisping, so be careful not to
go overboard with your de-essing,
otherwise the singers might think
you’re taking the pith.
PART 3 Balance 208
paiìicuIaiIy ìlosc icnowncd foi pioccssing fuII mixcs, incoipoiaìc Iow-cnd
conìouiing of ìlis kind in ìlcii dcsigns.
13.2 MULTIBAND DYNAMICS
Sidc-clain cquaIizaìion can lcIp a good dcaI wiìl icnning ìlc acìion of
dynamics pioccssois, huì iì can'ì ovcicomc ìlc inlcicnì Iimiìaìion of fuII-hand
pioccssing-namcIy, ìlaì iì aIways appIics ìlc samc gain icducìion acioss ìlc
cnìiic ficqucncy iangc. Considci a dium Ioop wlcic ìlc kick dium's Iow fic-
qucncics aic fai ìoo piomincnì in ìlc haIancc, ycì wlcn you ìiy ìo compicss
ìlcm hack inìo Iinc you lcai unacccpìahIc pumping aiìifacìs on ìlc oìlci
insìiumcnìs. Sidc-clain EQ may icducc ìlc pumping, huì iì'II aIso hiing hack
ìlc haIancc piohIcm, wlcicas noimaI EQ in ìlc main signaI paìl wiII ìlin
ouì aII ìlc oìlci sounds ìlaì lappcn hcìwccn ìlc kick dium liìs. Onc way
ìo squaic ìlis ciicIc is hy spIiììing ìlc ficqucncy spccìium of ìlc ìiack inìo a
numhci of diffcicnì iangcs (oi 'hands´) so ìlaì you can givc cacl iangc iìs
own indcpcndcnì dynamics pioccssing-a scìup gcnciaIIy icfciicd ìo as 'muI-
ìihand dynamics.´ In ìlc dium-Ioop cxampIc, a muIìihand appioacl aIIows
us ìo compicss jusì ìlc Iow cnd of ìlc Ioop, icducing ìlc ovcipiomincnì kick
ficqucncics wiìlouì affccìing ìlc Iow cnd of inìcivcning sounds sucl as ìoms
and snaics, oi indccd inìioducing unnaìuiaI unduIaìions in ìlc haIancc of ìlc
li-laìs, cymhaIs, and pcicussion liglci up ìlc spccìium.
1lc Iogic of appIying diffcicnì dynamics ìicaìmcnìs ìo diffcicnì ficqucncy
hands is mosì ohvious in ìlc cvcnì ìlaì diffcicnì insìiumcnìs wiìlin a singIc
FIGURE 13.3
DDMF’s NYCompressor is one of only a few compressors that include variable onboard side-chain
equalization, a feature that allows it to avoid unwanted pumping artifacts that other designs struggle with.
Frequency-Selective Dynamics CHAPTER 13 209
iccoiding occupy conìiasìing ficqucncy iangcs. SIiglìIy moic claIIcnging con-
ccpìuaIIy is ìlc idca of appIying muIìihand pioccssing ìo a singIc insìiumcnì,
so quiìc a good ìiick foi making scnsc of ìlis facìoi is ìo ìlink of ìlc diffcicnì
ficqucncy iangcs of ìlc pioccsscd ìiack as if ìlcy wcic acìuaIIy scpaiaìc mini-
insìiumcnìs in ìlcii own iiglì, cacl icsponsihIc foi a diffcicnì aspccì of ìlc
composiìc sound. So, foi cxampIc, you miglì visuaIizc ìlicc ficqucncy iangcs
of an acousìic guiìai ìiack as if ìlcy wcic an cnscmhIc of ìlicc scpaiaìc mini-
insìiumcnìs: ìlc sound loIc hoom, ìlc sound of ìlc sìiings, and ìlc pick
noisc. AII ìlicc of ìlcsc mini-insìiumcnìs nccd ìo lavc ìlcii own IcvcI in ìlc
mix, ycì cacl may nccd vciy diffcicnì dynamics pioccssing ìo sìahiIizc iìs own
noìionaI fadci. So Iow-ficqucncy Iimiìing miglì lcIp ìo makc ìlc icsonanì
conìiihuìions of ìlc sound loIc 'insìiumcnì´ moic consisìcnì, Iow-iaìio com-
picssion in ìlc midiangc miglì cnlancc ìlc waimìl and susìain of ìlc sìiings,
wlcicas ìlicsloId-indcpcndcnì ìiansicnì icducìion aì ìlc ligl cnd miglì lcIp
sofìcn unfoigivingIy spiky picking. BuiIding a mix haIancc is ahouì gaining
conìioI ovci aII ìlc diffcicnì sonic componcnìs of cvciy ìiack, and ìlc powci
of muIìihand pioccssing is ìlaì iì incicascs ìlc piccision wiìl wlicl you can
ìaigcì cacl of ìlosc individuaI componcnìs.
DO-IT-YOURSELF MULTIBAND PROCESSING
There are lots of all-in-one multiband dynamics processors to choose from, and one
seems to be bundled with every DAW these days. However, though there are a few
extremely sophisticated specimens on the market (such as Flux Audio’s brain-meltingly
complex Alchemist plug-in), there always seems to be something that each specific
model can’t manage. Maybe you need more bands, or you want a type of dynamic
processing that isn’t provided, or you fancy experimenting with different crossover
slopes. One way to get the facilities you feel you’re missing is to build your own
multiband setup from scratch, and although this might seem a bit hardcore, it’s fairly
straightforward to do by combining filters and full-band dynamics processors. The main
hazard to avoid is that filters and dynamics plug-ins can both mess with the phase
response of audio passing through them, so be on the lookout for any undesirable
hollowing out of the sound from phase cancellation. “All the while I’m checking
phase,” says Tony Maserati, who regularly uses his own do-it-yourself band-splitting
setups. “That’s the most important thing whenever you’re combining two of the same
signal that’s been EQ’d and compressed differently.”
7
Dium Ioops and acousìic guiìais aic good cxampIcs of sounds ìlaì ficqucnìIy
icquiic ìlc aììcnìion of muIìihand pioccssing in ìlc smaII sìudio, huì ìlcic aic
Ioìs of oìlci occasions wlcic iì can aIso hc waiianìcd:
I
Iì's common foi hass guiìai iccoidings madc in smaII sìudios ìo hc uncvcn
aì ìlc Iow cnd, hccausc of pcifoimancc difncuIìics, a pooi-quaIiìy insìiu-
mcnì, oi icsonancc piohIcms in ìlc cahincì oi iccoiding ioom. Upiiglì
hass can suffci ìoo, aIìlougl hody icsonanccs ìakc ìlc pIacc of cahincì
PART 3 Balance 210
icsonanccs in ìlis casc. Eiìlci way, Iow-ficqucncy compicssion can iidc ìo
ìlc icscuc.
I
Kick diums ìlaì iumhIc on foi ìoo Iong aì ìlc Iow cnd can causc hig pioh-
Icms in an up-ìcmpo mix oi in aiiangcmcnìs ìlaì dcmand good hass-Iinc
dcnniìion. Expansion of ìlc dium's Iow-ficqucncy iangc can ìiglìcn up ìlc
Iow cnd of youi pioducìion considciahIy, impioving cIaiiìy and puncl.
I
Synìl Iincs wiìl ligl-icsonancc nIìci swccps can hc a niglìmaic ìo haIancc
if ìlc nIìci's ficqucncy pcak is ìoo piomincnì. You can'ì usc noimaI com-
picssion, hccausc ìlc pcak is ìlcic aII ìlc ìimc, and EQ won'ì woik ciìlci
hccausc ìlc pcak ficqucncy docsn'ì sìay sìiII. If you compicss ìlc ficqucncy
iangc ovci scvciaI ficqucncy hands, gain icducìion wiII onIy occui in ìlc
hand ìlaì ìlc pcak inlahiìs.
I
Backgiound synìl ìcxìuics (sucl as pads) and oìlci aìmosplciic noiscs can
cncioacl ìoo mucl on ìlc foicgiound of a mix if ìlcy incIudc any ìian-
sicnìs. Howcvci, appIying cnougl ìiansicnì icducìion, cvcn wiìl a dcccnì
ìlicsloId-indcpcndcnì pioccssoi, can invoIvc unacccpìahIy jciky gain-
clangc aiìifacìs in ìlc oìlciwisc faiiIy conìinuous hackdiop. SpIiììing ìlc
ìiansicnì pioccssing acioss scvciaI hands givcs you moic ìiansicnì icducìion
hcfoic sidc cffccìs hccomc disìiacìing. I nnd ìlis cspcciaIIy lcIpfuI wlcn
Iayciing vinyI noisc inìo a pioducìion, as many vinyI-noisc sampIcs incIudc
pops and ciackIcs aIongsidc ìlc moic sìcady-sìaìc liss signaI.
I
VocaI sihiIancc piohIcms can hc ìaigcìcd wiìl muIìihand dynamics ìoo, hy
compicssing ìlc ligl cnd. 1lc ìiick is nisì ìo scì a ìlicsloId ìlaì icsuIìs in
gain icducìion onIy foi ìlc ovciIoud sihiIanìs and ìlcn ìo nncssc ìlc com-
picssion iaìio so ìlaì you gcì ìlc icquiicd gain icducìion.
I
AII diiccìionaI micioploncs inlcicnìIy hoosì ìlc iccoidcd hass IcvcIs of
sounds ìlaì aic cIosc ìo ìlcm (a plcnomcnon known as ìlc 'pioximiìy
cffccì´), so if you iccoid any pcifoimci wlo movcs hackwaid and foiwaid
wiìl icIaìion ìo ìlc mic, you'II gcì an uncvcn Iow cnd. Compicssing ìlc
Iow ficqucncics can lcIp saIvagc a moic dcpcndahIc IcvcI, huì hc picpaicd
ìo spcnd ìimc nnding ìlc hcsì aììack[icIcasc ìimcs and cxpciimcnìing wiìl
ìlc cxacì ciossovci ficqucncy[sIopc ìo gcì ìlc smooìlcsì icsuIìs.
1lc higgcsì singIc piìfaII ìo avoid wiìl muIìihand pioccssing is ìlc ìcmpìa-
ìion ìo pioccss acioss Ioads of diffcicnì hands jusì hccausc you can. In piac-
ìicc, ìlc majoiiìy of mixdown sccnaiios ìlaì hcncnì fiom muIìihand ìicaìmcnì
onIy icquiic dynamics pioccssing on onc sccìion of ìlc ficqucncy icsponsc.
1lc picvious clapìcis in ìlis hook slouId aIicady lavc aimcd you wiìl ìlc
undcisìanding ìo avoid ìlis ìiap, huì iì hcais icpcaìing ìlaì hIankcì muIìihand
pioccssing scIdom makcs any scnsc aì aII fiom ìlc pcispccìivc of haIancing a
mix. In facì, onc of ìlc hig icasons wly ìlc picscìs on aII-in-onc muIìihand
pioccssois aic IaigcIy uscIcss foi mixdown puiposcs is ìlaì ìlcii appioacl is
ìoo indisciiminaìc-if you nnaIIy Iocaìc a picscì ìlaì dcaIs wiìl youi spccinc
haIancc piohIcm, you'II usuaIIy discovci inappiopiiaìc scììings wicaking lavoc
cIscwlcic in ìlc ficqucncy spccìium.
Frequency-Selective Dynamics CHAPTER 13 211
DYNAMIC NOISE REDUCTION
Unwanted background noise has vexed small-studio users since time immemorial,
but digital technology now gives us many more options for fixing it in the mix. The
simplest remedy is gating, but the disadvantage of this is that it only reduces noise
levels in the gaps between instrument/vocal sounds. A slightly more sophisticated
approach involves a kind of dynamic low-pass filter, the cut-off frequency of which
tracks the signal level. Although this isn’t that much better than a straight gate, it does
work better at reducing noise during note sustains, which are typically less bright and
therefore mask hiss less. Multiband expansion can give you another slight increase in
the efficiency of hiss reduction, but it’s not going to help a great deal with separating
desirable high frequencies from the noise floor.
Unless, that is, you can increase the number of expansion bands well beyond the
four or five offered by most all-in-one multiband processing plug-ins, in which case
you can actually gain a surprising degree of noise reduction with little apparent loss
of desired signal. However, controlling hundreds of bands of expansion would be like
juggling a family of slimy amphibians (the Osbournes, say), so dedicated noise-reduction
processors use a different control method, which semi-automatically configures the
controls in response to an isolated sample of the unwanted noise. As such, there’s not a
tremendous amount to say about using dedicated noise reduction, beyond reiterating that
it’s usually best tackled from the first slot in any track’s processing chain. What can be
informative, though, when you first use one of these beasts is to turn the noise reduction
up way too far so that you can hear what the processing artifacts sound like. Then when
you’re trying to gauge the depth of the proper processing, you’ll be more keenly aware of
what to listen out for. If you don’t have multiband noise reduction on your DAW system
already, check out Voxengo’s affordable cross-platform Redunoise plug-in.
FIGURE 13.4
An affordable option for dynamic multiband noise reduction is Voxengo’s cross-platform Redunoise
plug-in.
PART 3 Balance 212
I aIso wanì ìo sìicss ìlaì ìlc pioccss of scììing up and cvaIuaìing ìlc acìion
of cacl dynamic pioccssoi wiìlin a muIìihand pIug-in slouId invoIvc cxacìIy
ìlc samc ìcclniqucs and ìlouglì pioccsscs ìlaì pciìain wlcn using a singIc
fuII-hand pioccssoi. Again, ìlis is wlcic iì lcIps ìo ìlink of cacl
ficqucncy hand as if iì wcic a scpaiaìc ìiack, hccausc ìlaì
way you'ic moic IikcIy ìo givc iì ìlc amounì of aììcn-
ìion iì dcscivcs. If you cxpccì ìo gcì icsuIìs cquaIIy
quickIy fiom fuII-hand and muIìihand dynam-
ics pIug-ins, ìlcn you'II cuì ìoo many coincis.
Aììack and icIcasc ìimcs in paiìicuIai nccd ìo
hc icasscsscd foi cvciy ficqucncy hand, hccausc
Ioìs of muIìihand dcviccs sccm ìo givc you
idcnìicaI aììack[icIcasc vaIucs foi aII hands hy
dcfauIì, icgaidIcss of ìlc facì ìlaì signaIs in dif-
fcicnì ficqucncy iangcs movc aì vciy diffcicnì
spccds. Wiìl muIìihand compicssois, you slouId
aIso hc waiy of auìomaìic gain compcnsaìion, hccausc
somc modcIs don'ì aIIow you ìo swiìcl iì off. If you can coun-
ìciacì any auìomaìic gain hoosìs wiìl manuaI makcup gain cuìs, you'II hc aì
Icss iisk of pIaying psycloIogicaI ìiicks wiìl youiscIf duc ìo Ioudncss clangcs.
Wlcn iì comcs ìo dcciding on ìlc ciossovci ficqucncics hcìwccn pioccssing
hands, my nisì iccommcndaìion is ìo usc onIy as many hands as you icaIIy
nccd, hccausc ìlis kccps any sidc cffccìs fiom ìlc ciossovci nIìcis ìo a mini-
mum. If you onIy nccd ìo pioccss ìlc ligl cnd of a ìiack, ìlcn ìwo hands wiII
hc nnc, icgaidIcss of low many youi spccinc pIug-in offcis hy dcfauIì oi can
piovidc in ìlcoiy. 1lc cxacì ciossovci ficqucncics wiII, of couisc, hc ciiìicaI ìo
gaining ìlc hcsì conìioI ovci ìlc spccìiaI icgions you'ic conccincd wiìl, and
iì can lcIp lcic ìo soIo cacl hand in ìuin ìo icnnc ìlcsc scììings, aIìlougl a
dcccnì spccìium anaIyzci may lcIp ìoo. Somc pIug-ins offci a cloicc of sIopcs
foi ìlcii ciossovci nIìcis, wlicl is acìuaIIy a uscfuI opìion, hccausc slaipci
sIopcs ìcnd ìo woik hcììci foi naiiow-hand ìiouhIcslooìing (sucl as conìioI-
Iing waywaid piìclcd icsonanccs), wlcicas gcnìIci sIopcs noimaIIy sound
moic naìuiaI foi hioadhand cnlanccmcnìs (sucl as incicasing ìlc ligl-
ficqucncy susìain of a piano).
Onc nnaI ìip: muIìihand dynamics uniìs can hc uscd foi paiaIIcI pioccssing,
jusì as fuII-hand modcIs can, and ìlis opcns ìlc doois ìo a wcaIìl of naìuiaI-
sounding ficqucncy cnlanccmcnì cffccìs, cspcciaIIy wlcn using compicssion.
Iusì ìiy ìo cloosc a muIìihand pIug-in ìlaì docsn'ì spoiI ìlc paiìy hy mcss-
ing wiìl ìlc pioccsscd signaI's plasc icsponsc and inìioducing comh-nIìciing
nasìics.
13.3 DYNAMIC EQUALIZERS
An aIìcinaìivc way ìo aclicvc ficqucncy-scIccìivc dynamics is ìo swap ìlc sìaìic
gain conìioIs of a icguIai cquaIizci foi gain-conìioI cIcmcnìs ìlaì can icspond
Multiband
dynamics can be used
for parallel processing, just
as full-band models can, and
this opens the doors to a wealth
of natural-sounding frequency
enhancement effects, especially
when using compression.
Frequency-Selective Dynamics CHAPTER 13 213
ìo ìlc inpuì signaI in icaI ìimc, ìlus cicaìing wlaì's known as a dynamic
cquaIizci. Dynamic EQ is funcìionaIIy vciy simiIai ìo muIìihand dynamics,
inasmucl as hoìl adjusì ìlc ìimc-domain claiacìciisìics of IocaIizcd aicas of
ìlc ficqucncy spccìium, so you'II nnd ìlaì many johs can hc accompIislcd jusì
as icadiIy wiìl ciìlci ìypc of ìicaìmcnì. Howcvci, dynamic EQ las a fcw ìiicks
up iìs sIccvc ìlaì go hcyond ìlc scopc of mosì muIìihand dynamics pioccssois,
so iì waiianìs fuiìlci invcsìigaìion.
A dynamic cquaIizci woiks hy making cacl nIìci's gain conìioI acì in ìlc samc
way as ìlc gain-clangc cIcmcnì in a dynamics pioccssoi. Dcpcnding on ìlc
modcI, ìlcic may hc ìlc opìion foi iì ìo mimic a compicssoi, an cxpandci, oi
cvcn a ìlicsloId-indcpcndcnì ìiansicnì cnlancci. Foi cacl hand you ìlcicfoic
nccd ìo dccidc on ìlc nIìci ìypc, ficqucncy, and handwidìl and ìlcn scì up
ìlc hand's dynamics pioccssing ìypc and conìioIs (1licsloId, Makcup Cain,
Raìio, Aììack, RcIcasc, and wlaìcvci cIsc) ìo govcin low gain is appIicd. If ìlaì
sounds Iikc a Ioì of woik, you'ic noì wiong, huì ìlc upsidc is ìlaì oncc you'vc
goì ìlc lang of dynamic EQ, iì can haiI you ouì of siìuaìions ìlaì piacìicaIIy
noìling cIsc can, hy viiìuc of ìlc facì ìlaì iì can opciaìc on piccisc ficqucncy
icgions-oi cvcn singIc ficqucncics in somc cascs.
FIGURE 13.5
Dynamic equalizers, such as 112dB’s Redline Equalizer (top) or Platinumears IQ4 (bottom), can defeat
some of the most dastardly mix gremlins, but they do take some work to set up properly.
PART 3 Balance 214
Lcad vocaI paiìs aic wlcic dynamic EQ piohahIy sccs mosì usc. SihiIancc
icducìion is onc of ìlc opìions on ìlc mcnu, huì aIìlougl a dynamic EQ can
hc cxccpìionaIIy good aì ìlaì funcìion, ìlc icaI sìai ìuin of ìlis pioccssoi is
iìs ahiIiìy ìo conìain spoiadic naiiow-handwidìl ficqucncy pcaks. 1lc icason
ìlis is so uscfuI wiìl vocaIs is ìlaì a singci cicaìcs diffcicnì ìimhics and vowcI
sounds hy plysicaIIy aIìciing ìlc icsonanì quaIiìics of ìlc ìlioaì, nosc, and
mouìl. Wiìl somc singcis, you'II nnd ìlaì cciìain comhinaìions of noìc piìcl,
dcIivciy foicc, and vowcI sound can hiicßy cicaìc an cnoimous icsonanì pcak
somcwlcic in ìlc ficqucncy icsponsc (noimaIIy somcwlcic ahovc lkHz),
and ìlis makcs iì aImosì impossihIc ìo haIancc ìlaì vocaI sccìion saìisfacìoiiIy.
Wlcn ìlc icsì of ìlc vocaI sound fccIs in haIancc, ìlc icsonancc pokcs you in
ìlc cai wiìl a poinìy sìick wlcncvci iì suifaccs, if ìlc fadci is scì ìo haIancc ìlc
icsonancc, ìlcn ìlc icsì of ìlc vocaI disappcais inìo ìlc mix. NoimaI dynam-
ics don'ì lcIp, hccausc ìlc icsonancc docsn'ì add suhsìanìiaIIy ìo ìlc vocaI's
ovciaII IcvcI, and noimaI EQ docsn'ì lcIp ciìlci, hccausc any cquaIizaìion sav-
agc cnougl ìo zap ìlc icsonancc wiII aIso adminisìci ìlc Iasì iiìcs ìo ìlc ovci-
aII vocaI ìimhic. Mick CIossop is onc of scvciaI pioducci[cnginccis wlo lavc
ìouclcd on ìlis piohIcm in inìcivicw: 'Iì's vciy common foi a singci's voicc
ìo dcvcIop a laid cdgc wlcn lc's singing IoudIy, wlicl docsn'ì lappcn wlcn
lc's singing quicìIy.. 1lc piohIcm wiìl using sìaìic EQ ìo gcì iid of ìlc laid-
ncss is ìlaì iì miglì soIvc ìlc piohIcm of ìlc vocaI in ìlc cloius, huì wlcn ìlc
quicì vcisc is hcing pcifoimcd, iì wiII Iack picscncc, hccausc you'vc ìakcn ouì
somc 4 ìo 5kHz.´
8
DEDICATED DE-ESSERS
A de-esser is a specialized processor designed to reduce sibilance levels in vocal
parts. I’ve already mentioned how you can implement de-essing from first principles
using a compressor (in conjunction with side-chain EQ), a multiband compressor, or a
dynamic equalizer, and all of these methods can give good results. Almost all dedicated
de-essers merely provide a more streamlined version of one of these methods, with
an interface that’s quicker and more convenient to use, but there is also another
much less common type of de-esser that operates in a different way, chopping out
sibilant time regions from the audio and allowing you to process them separately. This
last design can give you even greater control over the processing of sibilant regions,
and although in my opinion it verges on overkill for everyday tasks, you may wish to
investigate it if sibilance is proving truly overwhelming in your mix. The main point is
that different de-essers respond differently, so if you’ve got sibilance worries that cause
one algorithm to break out in a sweat, then do a shootout of some other brands.
I usually put any de-essing right at the end of the processing chain on vocal tracks,
because otherwise it doesn’t counteract any sibilance increase from down-the-line
compression or EQ plug-ins. However, there’s one important exception to this general
rule: I’ll always put it before any type of high-frequency distortion enhancement, such as
the Aphex Aural Exciter. This is because if the enhancer comes first, then the high-level
sibilance will create lots of distortion harmonics, adding enough harshness to grill your
Frequency-Selective Dynamics CHAPTER 13 215
Wiìl dynamic EQ, lowcvci, iì's faiiIy sìiaiglìfoiwaid ìo usc a naiiow pcaking
nIìci in compicssoi modc ìo conìioI icsonanì pcaks Iikc ìlcsc, ìlc ìiicky hiì is
diagnosing ìlc maIaisc in ìlc nisì pIacc and knowing cxacìIy wlcic ìlc icso-
nancc Iivcs so you can ìaigcì iì accuiaìcIy. In facì, ìlis paiìicuIai haIancc pioh-
Icm is onc of ìlc sIippciicsì cusìomcis you'ic IikcIy ìo cncounìci wlcn mixing,
hccausc iì ìakcs a wliIc ìo Icain ìo iccognizc ìlc spccinc picicing laislncss
eardrums to medium rare! Then even if the de-esser reduces the level of the sibilant
regions, it won’t soften their tone, so you can get into a situation where the de-essing
starts making the vocal lisp well before the sibilants are actually sounding polite
enough. De-essing before the enhancer means that the sibilants drive the distortion
less hard, so they maintain a smoother sound.
Although de-essers are clearly designed to do what they say on the box, you can often
find other uses for them if you understand what they’re doing behind the scenes. Most
available de-essers work by compressing the high frequencies, so you can often use
them to reduce other high-frequency undesirables too, such as an acoustic guitar’s fret
noise.
FIGURE 13.6
Although there are some powerful and elegant state-of-the-art de-essing plug-ins available, including
Sonnox Oxford Supresser (top) and Eiosis E2 (bottom), you can also achieve excellent de-essing using
less esoteric processing.
PART 3 Balance 216
(ofìcn on noìcs wlcic ìlc singci is sìicìcling hcyond lci comfoiì zonc in ìcims
of piìcl oi voIumc) ìlaì is noimaIIy ìlc nisì suhjccìivc cIuc ìo iìs cxisìcncc. 1lc
sccond ìip-off I ìypicaIIy gcì is ìlaì oidinaiy EQ diaws a hIank in ìcims of ìack-
Iing ìlc laislncss cffccìivcIy, and aì ìlaì poinì I usuaIIy zoom in, Ioop onc of
ìlc laisl-sounding vocaI noìcs, puII ouì my liglcsì-icsoIuìion spccìium ana-
Iyzci, and scoui ìlc dispIay foi any spccìiaI pcaks ìlaì aic slooìing inìo oihiì.
Somcìimcs ìlcic's onIy onc ìo dcaI wiìl, huì I'vc lad siìuaìions wlcic ìlcic aic
foui oi nvc lopping up ouì of ìlc mix aì diffcicnì poinìs in ìlc ìiack, and cacl
lad ìo hc caicfuIIy dcaIì wiìl hcfoic ìlc vocaI wouId siì piopciIy in ìlc mix.
Fcw oìlci insìiumcnìs picscnì ìlis paiìicuIai piohIcm hccausc ìlcy don'ì
clangc ìlc way ìlcy icsonaìc, huì ìlcic aic noncìlcIcss sìiII a fcw oìlci
insìanccs wlcic dynamic EQ can savc ìlc day. 1lc icsonanì swccp of a wal-
wal guiìai paiì miglì pciiodicaIIy coincidc wiìl a sìiong cahincì icsonancc
in youi guiìai comho, foi insìancc, ìlc fundamcnìaI ficqucncy of a cciìain
upiiglì hass noìc miglì vaiy considciahIy in IcvcI dcpcnding on wlcìlci ìlaì
noìc las hccn sìoppcd oi pIaycd as an opcn sìiing, oi youi pianisì miglì hc
ìoo lcavy wiìl lis iiglì ìlumh on onc noìc of an impoiìanì iiff. Dynamic EQ
may hc nddIy, huì iì can aIso hc youi Iasì icsoiì wlcn ìlc going gcìs ìougl.
If you don'ì lavc acccss ìo sucl pioccssing on youi own DAW sysìcm, ìlcn
ìlcic's a good ficcwaic VS1-foimaì pIug-in fiom PIaìinumcais caIIcd IQ4,
wlicl is wcII woiìl an audiìion.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
Ficqucncy-scIccìivc dynamics pioccssing aIIows you ìo dcaI wiìl haIancc
piohIcms ìlaì occui in hoìl ìlc ìimc domain and ìlc ficqucncy domain
aì oncc and can ìlcicfoic ovcicomc somc of ìlc ìiickicsì mixing ohsìacIcs.
Dcspiìc ìlc appaicnì compIcxiìy of sucl pioccssing, using iì is mosìIy jusì
an cxìcnsion of wlaì wc'vc aIicady covcicd in picvious clapìcis.
I
Any noimaI dynamics pioccssoi can hc madc ficqucncy-scIccìivc ciìlci hy
using iì in a paiaIIcI scìup wiìl an cquaIizcd icìuin clanncI oi hy cquaI-
izing ìlc inpuì ìo ìlc pioccssoi's IcvcI-dcìccìion sidc clain. Sidc-clain
cquaIizaìion is paiìicuIaiIy uscfuI foi icnning a gaìc's ìiiggciing, as wcII as
foi icducing ìlc sihiIancc cmplasis and pumping[hicaìling sidc cffccìs of
lcavy compicssion.
I
If you ìicaì scpaiaìc ficqucncy icgions wiìlin a givcn ìiack as if ìlcy wcic
scpaiaìc ìiacks in ìlcii own iiglì, ìlc IogicaI appIicaìion of muIìihand
dynamics pioccssois hccomcs casici ìo giasp. Somc ìips: sìcci cIcai of pic-
scìs, avoid auìomaìic gain-compcnsaìion iouìincs, spcnd cnougl ìimc
icnning ciossovci scììings, and don'ì fccI you lavc ìo usc cvciy avaiIahIc
hand, oi indccd aII ìlc pioccssing avaiIahIc in cacl hand.
I
Dynamic cquaIizcis can hoìl mimic many of ìlc cffccìs of muIìihand
dynamics and go fuiìlci hy dcaIing wiìl dynamics piohIcms ìlaì lavc vciy
naiiow handwidìl.
Frequency-Selective Dynamics CHAPTER 13 217
I
Dc-csscis can opciaìc in many ways, so if ìlc nisì pIug-in you ìiy docsn'ì
dcIivci ìlc goods, makc a poinì of audiìioning somc aIìcinaìivcs. Dc-cssing
noimaIIy woiks hcsì aì ìlc cnd of a ìiack's pioccssing clain, aIìlougl iì's
hcsì ìo appIy iì hcfoic any disìoiìion-hascd ligl-ficqucncy cnlanccmcnìs.
I
If you lavc ìo dcaI wiìl a Ioì of noisy ìiacks, ìlcn you miglì nccd ìo caII on
dcdicaìcd muIìihand noisc-icducìion pioccssing.
Assignment
I Check what de-essing and multiband dynamics plug-ins are available on your DAW
system, and if the choice appears limited, then consider investing in third-party
additions.
I Mute all the tracks in your mix and rebuild the balance, experimenting with
frequency-selective dynamics processing wherever you feel it may help solidify the
balance.
I Make a note of any faders that still feel unstable.
www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch13.htm
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219
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
I inìioduccd ìlc idca of dynamics sidc clains in Clapìci l3 huì lavc so fai
assumcd ìlaì ìlc IcvcI-dcìccìion signaI paìl is fcd fiom ìlc samc souicc as ìlc
main pioccssing paìl-aIhciì pcilaps wiìl diffcicnì cquaIizaìion. As iì ìuins
ouì, ìlcic aic somcìimcs vciy good icasons foi fccding a dynamics pioccssoi's
sidc clain fiom a diffcicnì ìiack cnìiicIy, and many dynamics pIug-ins (mosì
commonIy fuII-hand compicssois, cxpandcis, and gaìcs) aic now capahIc of
acccpìing an cxìcinaI sidc-clain inpuì.
1lc mosì hasic icason foi using an cxìcinaI sidc-clain signaI is if you can'ì gcì
ìlc gain icducìion ìo icspond coiiccìIy hascd on ìlc signaI IcvcIs of ìlc ìiack
you'ic pioccssing. So, foi cxampIc, imaginc you lavc ìwo mics on youi iack
ìom: onc on ìop and ìlc oìlci pokcd insidc ìlc dium fiom undcincaìl. 1lc
ìop mic may wcII givc ìlc hcììci sound, huì iì may aIso piovc impossihIc ìo
gaìc icIiahIy hccausc of snaic spiII. By using ìlc insidc mic's signaI ìo 'kcy´
(via ìlc sidc clain) ìlc gaìc on ìlc ouìsidc mic, you can aclicvc mucl hcììci
ìiiggciing, wiìlouì any nccd ìo usc ìlc dodgy sound of ìlc insidc mic in ìlc
haIancc aì aII.
Sidc clains aic ahouì mucl moic ìlan ìlis kind of ìiouhIcslooìing, ìlougl,
hccausc ìlcy cnahIc ìiacks ìo inìciacì wiìl cacl oìlci ìo impiovc ìlc ovciaII
mix haIancc. PiohahIy ìlc mosì commonpIacc appIicaìion of ìlis capahiIiìy
is in iock music wlcic ovcidiivcn cIccìiic guiìais aic masking ìlc Icad vocaI's
ligl ficqucncics. AIìlougl you may hc ahIc ìo caivc ouì spacc foi ìlc vocaIs
wiìl EQ in ìlis sccnaiio, ìlc dangci is ìlaì you'II simuIìancousIy makc ìlc icsì
of ìlc aiiangcmcnì sound Iikc The Care Bears Movie. So ìo ìakc somc of ìlc
picssuic off ìlc EQ pioccssing, you can scì up compicssion on ìlc cIccìiic gui-
ìai paiìs ìlaì icsponds ìo a sidc-clain inpuì fiom ìlc vocaI ìiack. Wlcncvci ìlc
vocaIisì sings, ìlaì ìiiggcis gain icducìion on ìlc guiìais and ìlcicfoic icduccs
ìlc unwanìcd masking, huì wlcn ìlc vocaI is siIcnì, ìlc guiìais icìuin ìo ìlcii
oiiginaI IcvcI in ìlc haIancc. Iusì a dccihcI oi ìwo of gain icducìion can woik
wondcis, aIìlougl you do lavc ìo hc caicfuI ìlaì you don'ì go so fai ìlaì ìlc
gain clangcs hccomc disìiacìing.
The Power of Side Chains
CHAPTER 14
PART 3 Balance 220
1lcic aic pIcnìy of oìlci siìuaìions wlcic simiIai dodgcs can hc of assisìancc:
I
1o gcì iid of a nasìy snaic-spiII componcnì on youi li-laì mic, usc ìlc
snaic cIosc-mic ìo kcy a li-laì compicssoi.
I
1o aclicvc ìlc ìonaI hcncnìs of sìiong dium amhicncc foi individuaI insìiu-
mcnìs wiìlouì making a mcss of ìlc mix, ìiy kcycd gaìing on youi ioom
mics. 1lc mosì famous cxampIc of ìlis, of couisc, was Hugl Padglam's
ìicnd-scììing dium sound foi PliI CoIIins's 'In ìlc Aii 1oniglì,´ huì hcfoic
you wiiìc iì off as jusì somc clccsy l98us gimmick, hcai in mind ìlaì Cliis
1lomas and BiII Piicc aIso uscd ìlc idca foi ìlc Scx PisìoIs' dchuì aIhum
Never Mind the Bollocks: '|Iìj invoIvcd mc kcying diffcicnì amhicncc mics off
ìlc diums as ìlcy wcic hcing liì,´ iccaIIs Piicc. 'Cliis 1lomas's suggcsìion
ìlaì wc couId sloiìcn ìlc amhicncc wiìl gaìcs, pioviding moic wiìlouì iì
sounding ìoo disìanì, aII madc ìoìaI scnsc ìo mc.´
l
I
1o hoosì ìlc snaic sound in youi ovcilcad mics, usc ìlc snaic cIosc-mic ìo
kcy a Iimiìcd-iangc gaìc on ìlc ovcilcad clanncIs and ìlcn fadc ìlcm up
ìo ichaIancc ìlc cymhaI IcvcIs. (Anoìlci ìimc-lonoicd ìiick, ìlis onc.)
I
1o avoid cxccssivc Iow-cnd huiIdup, usc ìlc kick dium paiì ìo kcy a com-
picssoi on ìlc hass. (Somc pcopIc picfci ìo iouìc ìlc kick and hass ìliougl
a singIc compicssoi ìo aclicvc a hioadIy simiIai icsuIì, huì I don'ì nnd
ìlaì mcìlod quiìc as conìioIIahIc myscIf.) 'I ofìcn do ìlis wlcn ìlc kick is
hcing sìcppcd on hy ìlc hass,´ says Iason CoIdsìcin. 'So cvciy ìimc ìlc kick
liìs, ìlc hass ducks 2dB oi so jusì foi a momcnì. Wlcn you lavc a |piomi-
ncnì hassj, you can'ì do ìoo mucl.´
2
I
1o givc a ilyìlm paiì oi pad sound moic ilyìlmic impcìus, insciì a
Iimiìcd-iangc gaìc on ìlaì clanncI and kcy iì fiom an in-ìcmpo mcìionomc
cIick oi a simpIc icpcìiìivc audio ìiack (pcilaps cicaìcd spcciaIIy foi ìlc pui-
posc). Woik wiìl ìlc gaìc's aììack and icIcasc ìimcs ìo gcì ìlc mosì musicaI
puIsc.
I
1o add Iow-cnd wcIIy ìo a kick dium, iouìc a consìanì Iow-ficqucncy
sinc-wavc ìonc ìliougl a gaìc, and ìlcn ìiiggci iì fiom ìlc dium sound.
1lis was a mucl-Iovcd ìiick in ìlc disco cia and can sìiII pay dividcnds
nowadays in dancc and uihan sìyIcs. Iì docsn'ì icaIIy maììci wlcìlci you
cicaìc ìlc ìonc using a simpIc ìcsì osciIIaìoi oi a moic fuIIy fcaìuicd syn-
ìlcsizci, huì I'd suggcsì sìaiìing wiìl a ficqucncy of aiound 5uHz and ìlcn
ìwcaking ìlaì hy cai ìo nnd ìlc hcsì nì foi youi paiìicuIai mix. If iì's ouì of
ìunc wiìl youi hass Iinc, foi insìancc, iì can icaIIy dcsìahiIizc ìlc musicaI
laimony.
I
1o picvcnì Iong cclo and icvcih cffccìs fiom swamping a Icad vocaI, kcy a
compicssoi on cacl cffccì icìuin fiom ìlc Icad vocaI signaI. You'II hc sui-
piiscd low mucl gain icducìion you can gcì away wiìl hcfoic anyonc sìaiìs
fccIing scasick. 'Dynamic dcIays. wiII duck ouì of ìlc way, coming up
onIy aì ìlc ìaiI cnd of woids and pliascs,´ says CoIdsìcin. 'I aImosì ncvci
usc a sìiaiglì dcIay.´
3
The Power of Side Chains CHAPTER 14 221
DUCKING
Although a lot of engineers use keyed compressors to dip the levels of backing
instruments in response to lead vocal levels (as discussed in the main text), I don’t
personally like this approach too much. In the guitars-versus-vocals case, for example,
the quietest vocal notes will cause the least reduction in guitar levels, even though
the quietest notes are the ones that need the most help. My preference, therefore, is
to use a dedicated ducker instead. A ducker operates exactly like a gate, except that
it opens when a gate would close, and vice versa—if you can already set up a gate,
then operating a ducker should be a no-brainer. What’s different about using a ducker
for this kind of keyed mix-balancing task is that it will always introduce the same gain
reduction for all the vocal notes, and though that’s still not perfect, to my ears it’s
nevertheless a significant improvement over keyed compression.
A stumbling block for DAW users, though, is that there are few proper side chain–
enabled duckers available. Fortunately, however, there’s a little workaround you can do
to arrive at an identical effect in pretty much any DAW. Here’s how it works within the
context of the vocal/guitars scenario. Set up a gate as a send effect, send to the gate
Threshold
Compressor gain reduction
L
e
v
e
l
L
e
v
e
l
Ducker gain reduction
0dB
0dB
FIGURE 14.1
Comparing the gain-reduction actions of a compressor and a ducker. Notice that the compressor
reduces the gain most when the vocal is highest in level, which isn’t ideal for the purposes of side
chain-triggered rebalancing of other competing tracks in the mix.
(Continued)
PART 3 Balance 222
14.1 KEYED MULTIBAND DYNAMICS
Oncc you gcì ìlc idca of sidc-clain ìiiggciing foi fuII-hand dynamics, you
don'ì lavc ìo cxìiapoIaìc ìoo mucl fuiìlci ìo conccivc ìlc idca of kcycd muI-
ìihand dynamics, aIìlougl you'ic unIikcIy ìo comc acioss a haIancc piohIcm
ìlaì dcmands ìlis kind of nicpowci moic ìlan oncc in a hIuc moon. 1lc mosì
common siìuaìion wouId piohahIy hc ìlc vocaIs-vcisus-guiìais siìuaìion I'vc
aIicady mcnìioncd, hccausc ìlc muIìihand sìiaìcgy wouId cnahIc you ìo appIy
gain icducìion ìo ìlc guiìai paiìs piimaiiIy in ìlosc spccìiaI icgions ìlaì mosì
lcaviIy mask ìlc vocaI sound. SimiIaiIy, in ìlc kick-pIus-hass cxampIc pic-
scnìcd caiIici, you miglì icìain a hcììci suhjccìivc haIancc foi ìlc uppci fic-
qucncics of ìlc hass if ìlc kick-ìiiggcicd compicssion wcic icsìiicìcd ìo Iow
ficqucncics.
A piacìicaI liìcl, ìlougl, is ìlaì onIy vciy fcw icaI-woiId muIìihand dynam-
ics pioccssois offci cxìcinaI sidc-clain acccss, so if you wanì ìo cxpIoic sucl
avcnucs, you may lavc ìo cicaìc youi own do-iì-youiscIf muIìihand scìup hy
comhining nIìcis and kcycd fuII-hand pioccssois. In somc cascs an aIìcinaìivc
miglì hc ìo EQ ìlc icìuin of a kcycd paiaIIcI dynamics scìup-pcilaps iso-
Iaìing ìlc midiangc ficqucncics of ìlc ovcilcads in ìlc snaic-pIus-ovcilcads
cxampIc dcsciihcd caiIici, so ìlaì ìlc gaìing hoosìs ìlc snaic moic ìlan ìlc
cymhaIs in ìlc ovciaII haIancc.
from the guitar channels, feed the gate’s side chain from the vocal channel, and then
invert the polarity of the gated return. What should happen with this setup is that every
time the vocal is present, the gate will open to let through a burst of inverted-polarity
guitar signal, and this will silence the main guitar channels in the mix by virtue of phase
cancellation (assuming that the gate introduces no latency delay). All you now need
to do is decide what level to set the fader of the return channel: the lower you have it,
the less severe the phase cancellation, and the finer the ducking—as the Reverend
Spooner might have put it.
This setup has a nifty application in dance music, too: it’s a particularly elegant way of
creating kick-triggered gain pumping across multiple tracks, because you can determine
the amount of ducking for each instrument by adjusting its send level to the parallel
gate. So if you wanted severe ducking of your synth pads and echo/reverb effects,
you’d turn up the gate sends on those channels, while lead vocals or synth leads might
have lower send levels to avoid the pumping making a nonsense of the main hooks.
However, my favorite ninja ducking technique of the lot is when you add a linear-phase
high-pass filter into the gate’s return channel and trigger the gate from your lead vocal.
Now any track that sends to the gate will be ducked whenever the singer is present in
the mix, but only at high frequencies, and only to a depth determined by that track’s
send-level control. Now that’s mixing power!
The Power of Side Chains CHAPTER 14 223
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
Somc mix imhaIanccs can onIy hc icsoIvcd if dynamics pioccssing on onc
clanncI is conìioIIcd hy a signaI fiom anoìlci clanncI. FuII-hand dynam-
ics wiII hc mosì sìiaiglìfoiwaid ìo usc in ìlis way, hccausc fcw aII-in-onc
muIìihand pioccssois offci cxìcinaI acccss ìo ìlcii IcvcI-dcìccìion sidc
clains, huì ìlcic is IiììIc ìo sìop you fiom cicaìing kcycd ficqucncy-scIccìivc
dynamics using cquaIizcd paiaIIcI pioccssois oi do-iì-youiscIf muIìihand
scìups slouId ìlc nccd aiisc.
I
Duckcis aic ofìcn hcììci suiìcd ìo kcycd mix-haIancing ìasks ìlan compics-
sois. Howcvci, if you can'ì gcì loId of onc foi youi sysìcm, a kcycd paia-
IIcI gaìc clanncI can hc poIaiiìy invciìcd ìo aiiivc aì an idcnìicaI ducking
cffccì-a scìup ìlaì las addiìionaI powci-usci appIicaìions.
Assignment
I Investigate the side-chain routing facilities within your own DAW system, and make
a note of which plug-ins will accept an external side-chain feed.
I Mute all the tracks in your mix and rebuild the balance again, experimenting with
keyed dynamics processing to see if it can stabilize the remaining faders.
www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch14.htm
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225
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
You slouId now lavc cnougl ìooIs and ìcclniqucs aì youi disposaI ìo cicaìc
a good sìaìic mix haIancc. If you'vc woikcd ìliougl ìlc cnd-of-clapìci
Assignmcnì suggcsìions, you slouId aIso lavc gaincd somc piacìicaI insiglì inìo
wlicl pioccsscs suiì diffcicnì haIancc piohIcms wiìlin youi musicaI sìyIc of
cloicc. In oìlci woids, you'II lavc sìaiìcd ìo inìcipicì ìlc suhìIc wlispciings of
fadci insìahiIiìy, wlicl aic ìiying ìo ìcII you wlaì ìlc music nccds. As I opcnIy
admiììcd hack aì ìlc sìaiì of Clapìci 8, ìlc sìcp-hy-sìcp pioccduic impIicd hy
ìlc Assignmcnìs las no foundaìion in icaI-woiId mixing piacìicc, huì I makc no
apoIogics foi ìlaì, hccausc iì makcs ìlc vasìncss of ìlc suhjccì casici ìo giasp
iniìiaIIy. Howcvci, now ìlaì my ovcivicw of haIancing pioccduics las iun iìs
couisc, iì's ligl ìimc wc icmovcd ìlc didacìic scaffoIding and cxamincd low aII
ìlcsc mcìlods nì inìo ìlc moic ßuid woikßow of ìlc piofcssionaIs.
1lc kcy ìo ßucnì haIancing is ìo Icì ìlc fadcis scì ìlc agcnda, so iaìlci ìlan
ichuiIding ìlc haIancc muIìipIc ìimcs and adding diffcicnì pioccsscs wiìl cacl
ichuiId, you onIy acìuaIIy nccd ìo huiId ìlc haIancc oncc. As you inìioducc cacl
ncw ìiack inìo ìlc mix, you addicss iìs panning, nIìciing, and plasc[poIaiiìy,
and ìlcn ìiy ìo scì a haIancc. If you can'ì nnd a sìahIc fadci scììing, ìlcn you
kccp cxpciimcnìing wiìl diffcicnì pioccssing unìiI you can. Wlcìlci iì ìakcs a
singIc suhìIc cquaIizaìion ìwcak oi unspcakahIc ahusc aì ìlc lands
of a wloIc gang of hIoodìliisìy pIug-ins, you kccp going
unìiI you gcì a soIid haIancc wiìlouì unacccpìahIc pio-
ccssing aiìifacìs. 1lc goaI is ìo gcì cvciy aspccì of ìlc
ìiack ìo haIancc: cvciy piìcl and cvciy noisc, cvciy
ìiansicnì and cvciy susìain, cvciy momcnì in
ìimc and cvciy icgion of ìlc ficqucncy spccìium.
Wlcn you'vc succccdcd (oi cIsc cxlausìcd cvciy
pioccssing opìion you lavc avaiIahIc), you movc
on ìo ìlc ncxì ìiack and sìaiì again.
Of couisc, any givcn ìiack may aIso fccI suhjcc-
ìivcIy unappcaIing, cvcn aì an appiopiiaìc haIancc,
in wlicl casc you may aIso nccd ìo cxpciimcnì wiìl a
Toward Fluent Balancing
CHAPTER 15
When push
comes to shove, the
needs of the balance should
always be your first priority—if your
mix doesn’t have balance, no one’s
going to give a monkey’s whether
any individual instrument
sounds stunning.
PART 3 Balance 226
cciìain amounì of 'suck iì and scc´ cicaìivc ìonaI slaping. Howcvci, ìlis kind
of mix ìicaìmcnì is appIicd in a vciy diffcicnì mannci, so iì las ìo hc cvaIuaìcd
on iìs own ìcims ('Do I Iikc ìlc sound hcììci now²´) and slouIdn'ì hc con-
fuscd wiìl haIancc pioccssing ('Can I lcai cvciyìling piopciIy²´). Moicovci,
wlcn pusl comcs ìo slovc, ìlc nccds of ìlc haIancc slouId aIways hc youi
nisì piioiiìy-if youi mix docsn'ì lavc haIancc, no onc's going ìo givc a mon-
kcy's wlcìlci any individuaI insìiumcnì sounds sìunning.
AIìlougl iì's viìaI ìo lavc a wcII-dcvcIopcd pIan of aììack and ìo ìiy youi hcsì
ìo dcaI wiìl cacl ìiack's haIancc hcfoic adding in ìlc ncxì, iì's aIso impoiìanì
ìo iccognizc ìlaì icaI-woiId mixing can ncvci hc a ìiuIy Iincai pioccss, so no
onc's going ìo slooì you foi ìwcaking ìlc pioccssing of youi nisì ìiack wliIc
haIancing youi ìwcnìy-scvcnìl. On ìlc conìiaiy, iì's ofìcn onIy wlcn you'ic
dcspciaìcIy ìiying ìo slocloin youi nnaI ìiacks inìo ìlc fcw icmaining mix
ciannics ìlaì you gcì an accuiaìc picìuic of wlaì aspccìs of ìlc moic impoiìanì
ìiacks aic ìiuIy indispcnsahIc. So if you hccomc awaic of a picviousIy unno-
ìiccd fadci insìahiIiìy on any caiIici ìiack, ìlcn go hack and dcaI wiìl iì hcfoic
inìioducing any fuiìlci insìiumcnìs. (And if you can managc ìo makc ìlis
Iook compIcìcIy ciiaìic ìo ìlc uninfoimcd ohscivci, you miglì aIso dcvcIop an
auia of piofcssionaI mysìiquc inìo ìlc haigain!)
SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL
There is a common misconception among small-studio mix engineers that it takes big,
bold processing moves to bring about large sonic changes at mixdown, which is why
so many amateur mixes suffer from overprocessing. However, if my experience with
dozens of “Mix Rescue” remixes has taught me anything, it’s that the most dramatic
mix transformations are usually brought about primarily through lots of small mix
tweaks. It doesn’t matter if the benefit of any individual plug-in setting seems almost
insignificant on its own, as long as its benefit outweighs any unwanted side effects,
because even miniscule improvements add up surprisingly swiftly. So think like a
sculptor: you won’t get too far by clouting your piece of stone a couple of times with a
sledgehammer; you need to chip away at it bit by bit to get anything worthwhile.
Hcic's anoìlci poinì ìo hc ahsoIuìcIy cIcai ahouì: aIìlougl fadci insìahiIi-
ìics can givc you a lundicd cIucs, aII pioccssing is onc Iong cxpciimcnì. 'RcaI
music is ahouì cxpciimcnìaìion,´ ìo quoìc DI Picmici.
l
You simpIy cannoì
know ìlaì a givcn pioccss wiII woik hcfoic you ìiy iì, hccausc cvciy mix is
diffcicnì. OnIy youi cais can dccidc if any ìonc[haIancc impiovcmcnì you'vc
diaIcd in is woiìl ìlc piicc you'vc paid foi iì in ìcims of pioccssing sidc cffccìs.
So iì's noimaI ìo makc duff caIIs wlcn iì comcs ìo cloosing ìlc iiglì pioccs-
soi, and iì's aII iiglì ìo sìiip away anyìling ìlaì isn'ì woiking and sìaiì aficsl-
cvcn if ìlaì mcans zcioing ahsoIuìcIy cvciyìling and hcginning ìlc haIancc
again fiom sciaìcl. 'I wiII ofìcn icsìaiì mixcs ìlicc oi foui ìimcs,´ icvcaIs
Toward Fluent Balancing CHAPTER 15 227
Fahian MaiasciuIIo. 'Puì cvciyìling hack ìo zcio and ìiy again, ichIcnd and EQ
cvciyìling, and puì ìlc vocaIs hack in.´
2
Evciy ìimc you ßunk ouì, you'II lavc
cIiminaìcd a scììing ìlaì docsn'ì woik, and ìlaì ìakcs you a posiìivc sìcp cIosci
ìo nnding a scììing ìlaì docs. 'I ìlink a Ioì of ìlc ìling wiìl music is piIoì
louis,´ muscs Youìl. '1o go ìliougl aII youi misìakcs and know noì ìo go up
ìlosc cuI-dc-sacs and faII inìo ìlosc cIcplanì ìiaps.´
3
And nnaIIy, Iow hudgcì is no cxcusc foi had haIancc. If you can'ì gcì a haI-
ancc wiìl ìlc hundIcd pIug-ins in any mainsìicam DAW, ìlcn iì's noì ìlc
fauIì of ìlc gcai. A hig hudgcì wiII onIy makc mixing quickci and moic pIca-
suiahIc if you can aIicady gcì a gicaì mix wiìl no-fiiIIs gcai. Buì don'ì ìakc
my woid foi iì-ask Fiank FiIipcììi, wlo won lis l998 Bcsì Engincciing
Ciammy foi Hourglass, an aIhum iccoidcd in Iamcs 1ayIoi's lousc using a
nisì-gcnciaìion Yamala u2R and ìlicc 1ascam DA88s. 'In ìlc cnd, youi
cais, youi mind, youi musicaI ahiIiìics aic wlaì iì's aII ahouì. Puì a Ccoigc
Masscnhuig, a Hugl Padglam, a Kcvin KiIIcn ìogcìlci wiìl any kind of gcai,
and you'II gcì a gicaì-sounding iccoid.. If you lavc a sound in youi lcad
and you know wlaì iì is, you can gcì iì. You may lavc ìo woik laidci on
Iowci-quaIiìy gcai, huì you can gcì iì.´
4
1ony Visconìi agiccs: 'I'vc lcaid pco-
pIc makc vciy had iccoids on cxpcnsivc gcai. 1lc gcai docs noì dicìaìc ìlc
quaIiìy. Iì's low you usc iì.´
5
You don'ì nccd cvciy csoìciic spcciaIisì pioccssoi ìo gcì ìlc joh donc ciìlci,
hccausc ìlcic aic so many woikaiounds wlcn iì comcs ìo mix pioccssing.
If you don'ì lavc a dc-cssci, foi cxampIc, ìlcn ìiy a compicssoi wiìl EQ in
ìlc sidc clain, oi ligl-ficqucncy compicssion fiom a muIìihand dcvicc oi
do-iì-youiscIf cquivaIcnì, oi an 8kHz pcaking cuì fiom a dynamic EQ in com-
picssoi modc, oi a poIaiiìy-invciìcd paiaIIcI gaìc wiìl iìs sidc-clain nIìcis scì
ìo isoIaìc ìlc sihiIanì ficqucncics, oi a sìaìic EQ undci ìlc conìioI of youi
DAW's mixci auìomaìion sysìcm. Oi jusì muIì ìlc sihiIanì audio sccìions ìo
anoìlci ìiack and scì ìlcii fadci IcvcI scpaiaìcIy! 1lc gcai is noì ìlc issuc, iì's
you, youi cais, and youi moniìoiing ìlaì makc a haIancc woik.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
FIucnì haIancing ìcclniquc is ahouì icading ìlc insìahiIiìics of youi fadcis
as ìlcy aiisc and diawing on ìlc icIcvanì ìooIs in youi pioccssing aiscnaI
as icquiicd. 1lcic is ioom wiìlin ìlis pioccss foi suhjccìivcIy cnlancing
sounds, as Iong as ìlis docsn'ì undciminc ìlc succcss of ìlc ovciaII haIancc.
I
Don'ì cxpccì ìlc mixing pioccss ìo woik in an cnìiicIy Iincai way, hccausc
iì's noimaI ìo icasscss caiIy pioccssing dccisions Iaìci in ìlc mix, oncc mix
icaI csìaìc hcgins ìo hccomc moic scaicc.
I
AII pioccssing is cxpciimcnìaìion. If any pioccssing cxpciimcnì docsn'ì
woik, ìlcn don'ì ìlink ìwicc ahouì diìcling iì and sìaiìing ovci-you'II sìiII
lavc Icaincd somcìling uscfuI ahouì ìlc mix piohIcm you'ic giappIing
wiìl and wiII hc hcììci cquippcd ìo soIvc iì on ìlc ncxì aììcmpì.
I
Low-hudgcì pioccssing is no cxcusc foi dcIivciing a had haIancc.
PART 3 Balance 228
I Save your mix as it currently stands, and then open a copy of it, resetting all the
channel settings and stripping out all the plug-ins so that you’re left with a com-
pletely blank slate. Now redo the whole balance in one go, introducing the tracks
as before, reading each fader in turn, and applying whatever processing is required
to nail down a good static balance.
I Once you’ve completed and saved your new balance, compare it with your first
attempt. As likely as not, the second version will have been quicker and easier to
do, because you didn’t go down as many blind alleys, and it’ll probably also sound
better into the bargain.
www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch15.htm
Assignment
Oncc you'vc aclicvcd a good haIancc, you'ic cffccìivcIy on ìlc lomc sìiaiglì.
Evcn if you do noìling cIsc ìo ìlc mix, youi Iisìcnci wiII aì Icasì lcai
cvciyìling on ìlc muIìiìiack cIcaiIy and aì an appiopiiaìc IcvcI, and ìlaì
slouId guaianìcc ìlaì ìlc quaIiìy of ìlc music comcs acioss. NoncìlcIcss,
ìlcic aic Ioìs of honus poinìs ìo hc gaincd in mosì pioducìions hy adding
fuiìlci 'swccìcning´ cffccìs ìo an aIicady cicdiìahIc haIancc, ìlc aim hcing
ìo picscnì ìlc iccoidcd maìciiaI in a moic ßaììciing Iiglì. As Lcc DcCaiIo
cxpIains, 'Effccìs aic makcup. Iì's cosmcìic suigciy. I can ìakc a vciy gicaì song,
hy a vciy gicaì hand, and mix iì wiìl no cffccìs on iì aì aII and iì'II sound good,
huì I can ìakc ìlc samc song and mix iì wiìl cffccìs and iì'II
sound fanìasìic! 1laì's wlaì cffccìs aic foi.´
l
Iì's ìlcsc
addiìions ìlaì I wanì ìo focus on in ìlc icmaining
clapìcis, as wcII as discussing ìlc nnaI sìagcs a
mix gocs ìliougl hcfoic hcing signcd off as
nnislcd pioducì.
If you'ic wondciing wly wc'ic onIy dcaI-
ing wiìl swccìcning cffccìs now, ìlcn ìlink
of ìlis as an cxìcnsion of ìlc idca of huiId-
ing ìlc haIancc in oidci of impoiìancc. Sucl
cffccìs aic, picììy mucl hy dcnniìion, Icss
impoiìanì ìlan ìlc ìiacks ìlaì ìlcy'ic dcsigncd ìo
cnlancc, so iì sìands ìo icason ìlaì you slouId add
Sweetening to Taste
PART 4
Once you’ve
achieved a good
balance, you’re effectively on
the home straight. Even if you do
nothing else, your listener will at least
hear everything clearly and at an
appropriate level, and that should
guarantee that the quality of the
music comes across.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 230
ìlcm onIy oncc youi iaw ìiacks aic haIanccd. 1laì way you know low mucl
spacc ìlcic is in ìlc mix ìo accommodaìc ìlc swccìcncis, and aic Icss IikcIy ìo
ohscuic impoiìanì musicaI dcìaiIs hy ovci-sugaiing. Russ EIcvado says, 'I usu-
aIIy wiII noì ìuin on any icvcihs unìiI laIfway ìliougl ìlc mix.. I ìiy and
aclicvc a hig sound wiìlouì icsoiìing ìo icvcih. So I jusì kccp clipping away
unìiI ìlc ìiack is pumping. 1lcn oncc I'm lappy, I sìaiì ìo ìlink ahouì wlaì I
miglì wanì somc ioom oi amhicncc on.´
2
231
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
1lc mosì widcIy uscd swccìcning cffccì in iccoid pioducìion las goì ìo hc aiìi-
nciaI icvcihciaìion (oi icvcih foi sloiì), an cffccì ìlaì can gcnciaìc compIcx
paììcins of cclocs in icsponsc ìo an inpuì signaI. AiìinciaI icvcihciaìois wcic
oiiginaIIy dcsigncd ìo simuIaìc ìlc sonic icßccìions you gcì fiom houndaiics in
a icaI acousìic spacc, aIIowing you ìo add icaIism ìo unnaìuiaI-sounding cIosc-
mikcd iccoidings. Howcvci, icvcih las a mucl hioadci hiicf in iccoid pioduc-
ìion ìlcsc days, and aiìinciaI icvcihciaìois aic now uscd as mucl foi cicaìivc
puiposcs. Indccd, many cIassic icvcihciaìion dcviccs don'ì pioducc anyìling Iikc
ìlc sound of a icaI ioom, huì ìlaì lasn'ì diminislcd ìlcii cnduiing popuIaiiìy!
16.1 FIVE ENHANCEMENTS AT ONCE
Paiì of ìlc icason wly icvcih is incicdihIy uscfuI aì mixdown is ìlaì iì can
cnlancc scvciaI aspccìs of youi sonics simuIìancousIy. As I scc iì, iì las ìlc
powci ìo cnlancc ìlc foIIowing signincanì cIcmcnìs:
I
Blend. Rcvcih can incicasc ìlc cxìcnì ìo wlicl any individuaI ìiack hIcnds
wiìl ìlc icsì of ìlc pioducìion, making disconnccìcd insìiumcnìs sound
as if ìlcy hcIong ìogcìlci and giving ìlc mix as a wloIc a moic colcsivc
sound. An insìiumcnì ìlaì isn'ì aì aII hIcndcd sounds upfionì and cIosc ìo
ìlc Iisìcnci, wlcicas an insìiumcnì ìlaì hIcnds wcII is suckcd moic inìo
ìlc hackgiound, away fiom ìlc Iisìcnci. 1lcicfoic, ìlc idca of hIcnd is aIso
cIoscIy icIaìcd ìo ìlc idca of fionì-hack 'dcpìl´ in a mix: Icss hIcnd hiings
a ìiack ìowaid you, wlcicas moic hIcnd puslcs iì away fiom you.
I
Size. AiìinciaI icvcih can incicasc ìlc appaicnì dimcnsions of youi mix's
acousìic cnviionmcnì, making iì sound as if youi ìiacks wcic iccoidcd in a
Iaigci (and mayhc hcììci-sounding) ioom ìlan ìlcy acìuaIIy wcic-wlicl
is onc way ìo makc Iow-hudgcì piojccìs appcai moic cxpcnsivcIy pioduccd.
In addiìion, if any givcn insìiumcnì cxciìcs ìlc simuIaìcd icvcihciaìion pai-
ìicuIaiIy audihIy, ìlcn iì cicaìcs ìlc iIIusion ìlaì ìlis insìiumcnì is Iaigc and
powcifuI in iìscIf, cvcn if iì's Iow in IcvcI and wcII-hIcndcd wiìl ìlc ovciaII
haIancc. So, in a nuìslcII, icvcih can incicasc ìlc sizc hoìl of ìlc wloIc
mix and of individuaI insìiumcnìs.
Mixing with Reverb
CHAPTER 16
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 232
I
Tone. 1lc cclocs ìlaì makc up a icvcihciaìion cffccì lavc ìlc capaciìy
ìo plasc-canccI wiìl ìlc diy ìiack oncc ìlcy aic addcd inìo ìlc mix. 1lc
icsuIìing comh nIìciing wiII aIìci ìlc suhjccìivc ìonc of ìlc insìiumcnì.
IiicguIaiiìics in ìonaI quaIiìy of cacl of ìlc cclocs wiII aIso conìiihuìc ìo
ìlis cffccì.
I
Sustain. Bccausc cclocs aic csscnìiaIIy dcIaycd vcisions of ìlc cffccì's
inpuì, any icvcihciaìion cffccìivcIy incicascs ìlc susìain of a diy sound iì's
addcd ìo. Howcvci, icvcihs ncvci susìain cquaIIy acioss aII ficqucncics,
so ìlc ìonaI claiacìciisìics of ìlc addcd susìain aic a kcy paiamcìci ìo hc
conìioIIcd.
I
Spread. 1lc simuIaìcd cclocs in mosì aiìinciaI icvcihciaìois aic disìiihuìcd
acioss mucl of ìlc sìcico imagc. 1lis spicads infoimaìion moic cvcnIy
acioss ìlc picìuic and may aIso incicasc ìlc appaicnì sìcico widìl of indi-
viduaI pioccsscd ìiacks, oi indccd ìlc wloIc mix.
AIìlougl icvcih's muIìifaccìcd naìuic is good ncws in piincipIc, ìlc hig caìcl
is ìlaì a Ioì of icvcihs ìcnd ìo appIy aII ìlcsc cnlanccmcnìs aì oncc, wlcìlci
oi noì you wanì ìlcm ìo! Fuiìlcimoic, wiìlin a spccinc icvcih cffccì, ìlc
amounì and naìuic of cacl individuaI cnlanccmcnì can hc ncndislIy difn-
cuIì ìo adjusì indcpcndcnìIy of ìlc oìlcis. 1lc icsuIì is ìlaì Icss cxpciicnccd
cnginccis usuaIIy nnd ìlaì ìlcy can'ì gcì cnougl of onc cnlanccmcnì wiìl-
ouì ovcidoing anoìlci: ìlcy can'ì gcì cnougl hIcnd wiìlouì muddying ìlc
mix ìonc, pcilaps, oi ìlcy can'ì cniicl an insìiumcnì's susìain cnougl wiìlouì
appaicnìIy ìianspoiìing iì ìo ìlc 1aj MalaI!
Wlcìlci you faII fouI of ìlcsc mix ìiaps las IiììIc ìo do wiìl low mucl you
know ahouì ìlc plysics of naìuiaI icvcih oi low wcII you undcisìand aII ìlc
insciuìahIc-Iooking widgcìs on a ìypicaI icvcih pIug-in. 1lc main sccicì ìo
FIGURE 16.1
Almost every reverb plug-in has a control somewhere that sets how much signal with effects and
how much signal without effects it sends to its outputs. These screens show a selection of different
configurations.
Mixing with Reverb CHAPTER 16 233
gcììing dcccnì icsuIìs swifìIy is Icaining low ìo cicaìc icvcih cffccìs ìlaì pio-
vidc onIy a suhscì of ìlc possihIc cnlanccmcnìs. Oncc you lavc a scì of moic
spcciaIizcd cffccìs aì youi nngciìips, iì's moic sìiaiglìfoiwaid ìo appIy ìlcm in
comhinaìion ìo aclicvc picciscIy ìlc icvcih swccìcning youi mix dcmands.
16.2 ESSENTIAL REVERB CONTROLS AND SETUP
1o cicaìc ìlcsc kinds of icvcih cffccìs, you nccd ìo undcisìand a landfuI of
csscnìiaI ìiuìls ahouì icvcih pIug-ins. 1lc nisì ìling ìo icaIizc is ìlaì icvcih
is aImosì aIways hcsì appIicd via a scnd-icìuin cffccì connguiaìion, so ìlaì a
singIc cffccì can hc acccsscd fiom cvciy clanncI of youi mix. Foi ìlaì ìo woik
piopciIy, you nccd ìo clcck ìwo facìois:
I
1laì youi icvcih pIug-in is onIy ouìpuììing pioccsscd cffccì ('wcì´ signaI)
and noì any unpioccsscd sound ('diy´ oi 'diiccì´ signaI), oìlciwisc scnd-
ing ìo ìlc cffccì fiom a clanncI wiII aIso aIìci ìlaì ìiack's IcvcI in youi nncIy
poiscd mix haIancc. Somc pIug-ins may lavc a singIc Wcì[Diy oi Diiccì[
Effccì Mix conìioI, wlcicas oìlcis miglì lavc indcpcndcnì IcvcI conìioIs.
Wlaìcvci ìlc inìcifacc, ìlougl, makc suic ìo ìuin ìlc Diy[Diiccì signaI aII
ìlc way down oi swiìcl iì off compIcìcIy.
I
1laì ìlc individuaI scnds ìlaì fccd ìlc icvcih aic ìakcn fiom ìlc clanncI
signaI paìl posì-fadci. 1lis mcans ìlaì ìlc haIancc of wcì vci-
sus diy sound wiII icmain consìanì if you adjusì ìlc scnd clan-
ncI's main fadci, and you won'ì lavc any glosìIy icvcih sladows
icmaining in ìlc mix if you fadc ouì ìlc clanncI compIcìcIy aì any
poinì.
Bccausc icvcih is sucl an impoiìanì sìudio cffccì, mosì DAWs ìcnd ìo
piovidc moic ìlan onc aIgoiiìlm, and numcious ìliid-paiìy pIug-ins
aic avaiIahIc ìoo, incIuding Ioìs of ficcwaic and slaicwaic. If you don'ì
aIicady lavc a picfcicncc foi onc oi ìlc oìlci, ìlcn don'ì woiiy ìoo
mucl ahouì wlicl you cloosc ìo sìaiì wiìl, hccausc a Ioì of icvcihs
ìlcsc days aic picììy usahIc and iì's ofìcn ìiicky ìo know low wcII a
givcn icvcih suiìs a paiìicuIai ìask unìiI you lcai iì in acìion. Onc IiììIc
ìip, ìlougl: good-sounding icvcihs noimaIIy icquiic a faii hiì of CPU
powci, so hc waiy of any ìlaì aic sIimIinc in ìlis icgaid, no maììci
low ßasly ìlcii giaplics Iook.
As fai as aII ìlosc icvcih conìioIs aic conccincd, ìlc onIy oncs ìlaì you
ahsoIuìcIy lavc ìo know ahouì aic ìlosc ìlaì adjusì low fasì ìlc cclocs
dic away. On simpIc pIug-ins ìlcic miglì hc a singIc conìioI foi ìlis,
usuaIIy caIIcd Lcngìl, Dccay 1imc, Rcvcih 1imc, oi R16u. Wlcic ìlcic
isn'ì anyìling Iikc ìlaì, ìlcn somcìimcs ìlis paiamcìci is adjusìcd hy
manlandIing ìlc dccay 'ìaiI´ on a giaplicaI icpicscnìaìion of ìlc icvcih
cnvcIopc. AIìcinaìivcIy, you may nnd ìlaì Room Sizc and Damping aic
suppIicd insìcad, and aIìlougl ìlcsc fuInII a hioadIy simiIai funcìion,
ìlcy aic aIso moic IikcIy ìo clangc oìlci aspccìs of ìlc icvcih claiacìci
FIGURE 16.2
The most important
controls on a reverb are
those that set how fast
it decays, but different
reverb plug-ins have
different names for
these, including Size,
Damping, Decay, Time,
and Length.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 234
as wcII. If you scc scpaiaìc IcvcI conìioIs foi ìlc icvcih's iniìiaI cclocs (EaiIy
Rcßccìions oi ER) and ìlc icmaindci of ìlc icvcih dccay (Rcvcih oi 1aiI), ìlcn
ìlosc can aIso hc lcIpfuI, huì ìlcy aicn'ì csscnìiaI.
1lcic'II hc a sIcw of oìlci conìioIs on a Ioì of pIug-ins, huì foi ìypicaI smaII-
sìudio opciaìois-and indccd a Ioì of piofcssionaIs-ìlcic simpIy aicn'ì
cnougl louis in ìlc day ìo woiiy ahouì wlaì aII of ìlosc do. (1lcy do scivc
a uscfuI sociaI puiposc, lowcvci, in disìiacìing compuìci anoiaks fiom cvci
gcììing any music nnislcd.) As Iong as you cloosc a icvcih pIug-in ìlaì las
a Ioad of piogiammcd picscìs, you can gcì aIong jusì nnc wiìlouì any oìlci
paiamcìcis, hccausc ìlc haIancc pioccssing you aIicady know ahouì fiom
Paiì 3 piovidcs ampIc scopc foi fuiìlci moIding ìlc sound of cacl icvcih if
ncccssaiy. So, wiìlouì fuiìlci ado, Icì's scc low you go ahouì dcsigning and
appIying ìlc nisì (and piohahIy mosì impoiìanì) ìypc of icvcih paìcl: hIcnd-
ing icvcih.
REVERB DESIGNS: A BRIEF FIELD GUIDE
You don’t need to know the full history of how reverb effects were developed to use
them effectively at mixdown. However, a little background knowledge about different
reverb designs can nonetheless speed up choosing an appropriate plug-in or preset for
each particular task, so here’s a quick survey of the main options:
I
Chambers. The earliest type of added reverb, created by sending signals to
speakers in an unused room and then capturing the reflected sound with mics.
I
Plates and springs. Two early types of electromechanical reverb, which were widely
used during the 1960s and 1970s. The audio signal is used to set off vibrations
in a bit of metal, and then the reflections of these vibrations are captured using
pickups. Neither design is good at simulating realistic spaces, but both are
nonetheless still highly regarded in the industry today, being well-suited to tonal and
sustain enhancements.
I
Digital algorithmic processors. A type of reverb that rose to prominence during the
1980s and had a huge impact on the sounds of that era. Because the reverb
reflections are created using mathematical models, the user has a lot of control
over them. Although some algorithmic processors are not very realistic (especially
early models), a number of these are nonetheless prized for their unusual spatial
and tonal qualities.
I
Digital convolution processors. This recent technological development allows
you to record the exact pattern of reflections from a real acoustic space as
an “impulse response” file, which can then be used to recreate that reverb
with unparalleled realism within a mix situation. The sounds of a range of
different artificial reverberators can also be mimicked in this way, although
any dynamically varying qualities of the original units cannot satisfactorily be
emulated with convolution processing.
Mixing with Reverb CHAPTER 16 235
16.3 REVERB FOR BLEND
1lc icason aImosì aII smaII-sìudio pioducìions nccd hIcnd icvcih is ìlaì a
Ioì of ìlcii ìiacks aic iccoidcd as scpaiaìc ovciduhs. Ovciduhhing avoids spiII
hcìwccn diffcicnì insìiumcnìs in ìlc aiiangcmcnì, and ìlougl ìlis causcs
fcwci plasc-canccIIaìion compIicaìions, iì aIso mcans ìlaì you don'ì hcncnì
fiom ìlc naìuiaI hIcnding cffccìs of sound Icakagc hcìwccn diffcicnì micio-
ploncs. In addiìion, mosì modcin iccoiding scssions invoIvc a Ioì of cIosc-
miking, and a cIosc-mic usuaIIy picks up quiìc Iow IcvcIs of naìuiaI ioom
icßccìions in mosì siìuaìions-and wlaìcvci icßccìions iì docs pick up wiII
clangc a good dcaI as ìlc mic is icposiìioncd foi iccoiding diffcicnì insìiu-
mcnìs. As a icsuIì, many ìiacks won'ì hIcnd wcII cnougl wiìl ìlc mix, and
sounds ìlaì slouId hc in ìlc hackgiound fccI ìoo cIosc foi comfoiì. Adding a
common icvcih ìo ìlc unduIy upfionì ìiacks lcIps hIcnd ìlcm ìogcìlci, puII-
ing ìlcm fuiìlci away fiom ìlc Iisìcnci and making ìlcm sound moic as if
ìlcy wcic iccoidcd in ìlc samc pIacc aì ìlc samc ìimc.
PIay hack ìlc mix sccìion you haIanccd foi Paiì 3, and Iisìcn foi any ìiacks ìlaì
aic laving ìiouhIc hIcnding-ciìlci ìlcy don'ì sccm ìo connccì wiìl ìlc mix
as a wloIc, oi ìlcy sccm ìoo cIosc ìo you. Now scIccì onc of ìlosc ìiacks ìlaì
las a compaiaìivcIy fuII ficqucncy iangc and picfciahIy somc ìiansicnìs ìoo. (I
ofìcn sìaiì wiìl a mixcd dium Ioop oi a Iivc dium kiì's ovcilcads, foi cxampIc,
huì onIy if ìlosc paiìs don'ì sccm ìo hIcnd piopciIy in ìlcii iaw sìaìc.) Scnd
aì a dcccnì IcvcI fiom ìlis ìiack ìo ìlc icvcih, and ìlcn soIo ìlc icvcih icìuin
so ìlaì you onIy lcai ìlc icvcih's addcd cclocs, wiìlouì any diy signaI. Wly
kiII ìlc diy signaI² Bccausc ìlaì Icìs you icaIIy conccnìiaìc on ìlc naìuic of
ìlc cffccì. PliI Ramonc says, 'Onc of ìlc laidcsì ìlings ìo ìcacl somchody is
FIGURE 16.3
A number of reverb plug-ins provide the option to control a reverb’s early reflections separately from its
decay tail. Although it’s nice to have access to such controls, you can actually get by fine without them
most of the time.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 236
ìo Iisìcn ìo ìlc dcvicc iìscIf. 1akc ouì ìlc souicc and Iisìcn ìo ìlc dcvicc. You'd
hc amazcd low ciummy somc of ìlcsc ìlings sound! 1lcy ßangc, ìlcy plasc,
ìlcic's canccIIaìion aII ovci ìlc pIacc.´
3
Picking a Preset
You'ic now icady ìo sìaiì lunìing foi a piomising-sounding picscì ìlaì fccIs
Iikc iì nìs ìlc sound you wanì foi ìlc mix. 1lis is piohahIy ìlc mosì ciiìicaI
paiì of cicaìing a icvcih paìcl, huì hccausc iì's suhjccìivc
and gcnic spccinc iì's aIso difncuIì ìo advisc on. 1lc
main ìling ìo icaIizc is ìlaì ìlc paiì of a icvcih ìlaì
is piimaiiIy icsponsihIc foi iìs hIcnding cffccì
is iouglIy iìs nisì laIf-sccond. So wlcncvci
you ìiy a ncw picscì, icducc iìs Icngìl sìiaiglì
away ìo lomc in on ìlc hIcnding claiacìciis-
ìics. If you lavc indcpcndcnì IcvcI conìioIs
foi EaiIy Rcßccìions and Rcvcih 1aiI, puIIing
down ìlc Iaììci slouId lcIp ìoo. Iì docsn'ì maì-
ìci cxacìIy low sloiì you makc ìlc icvcih foi ìlc
momcnì-jusì sloiìcn iì cnougl ìo makc iì inìo a
hiicf, wcII-dcnncd huisì of icßccìions iaìlci ìlan an
cclocy dccay ìaiI.
Bcyond ìlaì, lcic aic a fcw oìlci gcnciaI-puiposc ìips ìlaì may assisì you in
aiiiving aì a good cloicc of picscì:
I
1akc any picscì namcs wiìl a Iaigc pincl of saIì. Iusì hccausc somcìling
says 'Epic Snaic Boosl!´ docsn'ì mcan ìlaì iì won'ì scivc as a good gcnciaI-
puiposc hIcnding icvcih in youi siìuaìion. NcvciìlcIcss, do kccp an cyc ouì
foi any picscì wiìl 'amhicncc,´ 'caiIy icßccìions,´ 'sloiì,´ oi 'diy´ in iìs
ìiìIc, as ìlcic's a gicaìci IikcIilood ìlaì iì wiII hc wlaì you'ic Iooking foi.
I
NaìuiaI-sounding picscìs ìcnd ìo do a hcììci joh foi hIcnding puiposcs
ìlan ohviousIy synìlcìic icvcihs (in oìlci woids, oncs ìlaì don'ì icaIIy hcai
mucl icIaìion ìo ìlc sound of a icaI acousìic spacc). Foi cxampIc, any pic-
scì namc conìaining icfcicnccs ìo pIaìcs oi spiings piohahIy won'ì hc ìlaì
suiìahIc.
I
Iì can somcìimcs lcIp ìo cIosc youi cycs and visuaIizc ìlc kind of spacc
you wanì ìlc hIcndcd sounds ìo inlahiì. Picìuiing a icaI cnviionmcnì can
lcIp focus ìlc mind lcic, aIìlougl ìlis may noì lcIp mucl if you'ic afìci a
moic oìlciwoiIdIy sound.
I
Don'ì woiiy ìoo mucl if ìlc ficqucncy-haIancc of ìlc icvcih docsn'ì sccm
iiglì, hccausc you can do a Ioì ahouì ìlaì wiìl cquaIizaìion. Wlaì's mosì
impoiìanì is ìlaì ìlc ovciaII acousìic signaìuic fccIs iiglì. 1laì said, paìclcs
wlcic ciìlci of ìlc ficqucncy cxìicmcs aic vciy pionounccd aic unIikcIy ìo
hc uscfuI foi hIcnding puiposcs.
I
If possihIc, sìcci cIcai of pIug-ins oi picscìs ìlaì pioducc a kind of mcìaI-
Iic sound wiìl cIcaiIy audihIc piìclcd icsonanccs, cspcciaIIy in icsponsc ìo
ìiansicnìs.
Take preset
names with a
large pinch of salt. Just
because something says “Epic
Snare Boosh!” doesn’t mean that
it won’t serve as a good general-
purpose blending reverb in your
situation.
Mixing with Reverb CHAPTER 16 237
I
1iy ìo nnd a paìcl ìlaì is cvcnIy spicad acioss ìlc sìcico imagc and docsn'ì
swcivc diunkcnIy off ìo onc sidc oi ìlc oìlci as iì dccays. You'II hc hcììci
ahIc ìo lcai ìlc icvcih dccay if you muìc and unmuìc ìlc ìiack scnd a fcw
ìimcs.
I
Don'ì iusl! Iì's noì uncommon ìo ìiawI ìliougl moic ìlan a dozcn picscìs
and clangc pIug-ins a coupIc of ìimcs hcfoic you nnd a icvcih sound ìlaì
icaIIy sccms in kccping wiìl ìlc pioducìion you'ic woiking on.
I
RcIy lcaviIy on youi ncaincId moniìois lcic, hccausc ìlcy'II givc ìlc hcsì
ovciaII ìonc and quaIiìy judgmcnìs, huì hc suic ìo clcck ìlc cffccì in mono
as wcII ìo cnsuic ìlaì you don'ì gcì any nasìy ìonaI clangcs. Mono compaì-
ihiIiìy is onc of ìlc aicas in wlicl cxpcnsivc icvcihs ìcnd ìo ouìcIass clcap
oncs, so hc cspcciaIIy caicfuI lcic if you'ic woiking wiìl hudgcì oi hun-
dIcd pIug-ins. 'You icaIIy slouId clcck in mono,´ sìicsscs PliI Ramonc, 'ìo
makc suic ìlaì wlaì you'ic lcaiing is wlaì you gcì. 1laì's wly a Ioì of ìcIc-
vision slows gcì so scicwcd up. 1lcy comc in wiìl ìlcsc gicaì cffccìs, huì
wlcn ìlcy clcck in mono. laIf ìlc icvcih gocs away.´
4
Oncc you'vc found a IikcIy conìcndci, unsoIo and muìc ìlc icìuin clanncI
ìo icmind youiscIf foi a fcw scconds low ìlc pioducìion sounds wiìlouì ìlc
icvcih. 1lcn unmuìc ìlc icvcih in ìlc mix, fadc iì up so you can lcai iì cIcaiIy,
and connim ìlaì iì's icaIIy woiìl puisuing. If you ìlink iì is, ìlcn ìlc nisì ìling
ìo do is ìwcak ìlc icvcih's Icngìl so ìlaì iì's sloiì cnougl ìo ìuck hclind ìlc diy
sound in ìlc mix wiìlouì cicaìing any audihIc icvcih ìaiI, huì aIso Iong cnougl
ìlaì iì can dcIivci sufncicnì hIcnd as you fadc iì up. In doing ìlis, you'ic mini-
mizing ìlc dcgicc ìo wlicl ìlc icvcih affccìs ìlc sizc and susìain of ìiacks iì's
appIicd ìo, wlicl givcs you moic powci ìo adjusì hIcnd indcpcndcnìIy.
Tone and Spread Adjustments
Ncxì you wanì ìo minimizc undcsiiahIc ìonaI clangcs causcd
hy adding ìlc icvcih ìo ìlc diy signaI, and ìlis is piohahIy casi-
csì ìo do if you isoIaìc ìlc diy ìiack and icvcih icìuin ìogcìlci.
1lc ìooIs and ìcclniqucs foi doing ìlis aic cxacìIy ìlc samc as
you uscd ìo adjusì ìlc comhincd ìonc of muIìimikcd insìiu-
mcnì iccoidings in Sccìions 8.3 and ll.3: ìiming and plasc
slifìs, poIaiiìy invcision, and EQ. CIcaiIy, ìlougl, you wanì
ìo pioccss onIy ìlc cffccì signaI in ìlis casc, oìlciwisc you'II
upscì ìlc haIancc you'vc aIicady aclicvcd foi youi diy ìiack.
AIìlougl somc icvcih pIug-ins may incIudc ìooIs foi adjusìing
any of ìlcsc aspccìs of ìlcii ouìpuì, iì's usuaIIy jusì as casy ìo
insciì a favoiiìc dcIay, plasc-adjusìmcnì, oi EQ pIug-in fiom
youi coIIccìion inìo ìlc icvcih's icìuin clanncI. MosìIy ìlcsc
pioccssing cloiccs slouId nccd vciy IiììIc fuiìlci cxpIanaìion-
you jusì lavc ìo Iisìcn foi any unwanìcd ìonaI coIoiaìions
inìioduccd wlcn you fadc up ìlc icvcih icìuin, and ìlcn
ichaIancc ìlc cffccì's ficqucncy icsponsc ìo counìciacì ìlcm.
Howcvci, ìlc idca of dcIaying ìlc cffccì signaI, usuaIIy icfciicd
FIGURE 16.4
Just because a reverb
preset’s name is a bit
silly, that doesn’t mean
it won’t be useful. The
only way to tell is to have
a listen.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 238
ìo as adding 'picdcIay,´ docs waiianì a IiììIc cxìia discussion. 'I ìlink ìlc pic-
dcIay is ìlc mosì impoiìanì paiì of any icvcih,´ says AIan Paisons, 'and iì's ìlc
nisì huììon I icacl foi.´
5
1lc ìling ahouì picdcIay is ìlaì iì docsn'ì jusì adjusì plasc-canccIIaìion cffccìs
hcìwccn ìlc wcì and diy sounds, iì aIso inßucnccs low fai hack inìo ìlc mix ìlc
hIcnd icvcih appcais ìo puII ìlc ìicaìcd ìiack, suhjccìivcIy spcaking. 1lc Icss pic-
dcIay youi hIcnd icvcih uscs, ìlc fuiìlci ìlis icvcih can pusl sounds away fiom
ìlc Iisìcnci. If you usc no picdcIay aì aII, ìlcn ìlc impIicaìion is ìlaì ìlc ìicaìcd
insìiumcnì is sìapIcd ìo ìlc icai waII of ìlc icvcih's viiìuaI ioom, wlcicas add-
ing picdcIay icscucs is fiom ìlaì uncomfoiìahIc picdicamcnì and movcs iì cIosci
ìo ìlc Iisìcnci. My advicc lcic is ìo sìaiì off wiìl ahouì lu ìo 2ums of picdcIay,
aiming on ìlc sloiìci sidc foi a moic inìimaìc-sounding spacc and on ìlc Ion-
gci sidc foi a moic spacious viiìuaI acousìic, and ìlcn ìo icnnc ìlc scììing up
ìo a fcw miIIiscconds ciìlci sidc of ìlaì iniìiaI scììing foi ìonaI icasons. Wlaì
ìlis mcans is ìlaì you can appIy ìlc hIcnd icvcih acioss aII youi ìiacks ìo somc
cxìcnì if ncccssaiy, wiìlouì disìancing ìlc mix as a wloIc unduIy fiom ìlc Iis-
ìcnci. Howcvci, if you Iaìci discovci ìlaì you'ic unahIc ìo hIcnd oi disìancc any
ìiack fai cnougl, you may wisl ìo scì up a sccond hIcnd icvcih wiìl Icss pic-
dcIay spccincaIIy ìo ìicaì ìlaì-ìlis cvcnìuaIiìy isn'ì common, in my cxpciicncc,
huì iì's uscfuI ìo iccognizc iì as a possihiIiìy. Onc oìlci issuc ìo hcai in mind
wiìl picdcIay is ìlaì iì icduccs masking of ìlc wcì signaI hy ìlc diy signaI, so
you can ìypicaIIy usc Iowci icvcih IcvcIs wlcn you'vc diaIcd in somc picdcIay,
and ìlis can impiovc ìlc cIaiiìy of youi mix.
1lc nnaI claiacìciisìic of ìlc icvcih you may wisl ìo ìwcak a IiììIc is ìlc sìcico
spicad. Having a widc sìcico spicad on a hIcnding icvcih is usuaIIy a dcsiiahIc sidc
FIGURE 16.5
A lot of reverb plug-ins have balance-processing features built into them, but it’s usually easier and more
flexible to use the ones you already know. All you have to do is insert your normal mixing plug-ins into the
reverb return, as shown here in Cubase.
Mixing with Reverb CHAPTER 16 239
cffccì, hccausc iì lcIps ìlc ìiacks in youi mix fccI as ìlougl ìlcy hcIong ìogcìlci
hy cncompassing ìlcm in ìlcii acousìic cnviionmcnì, huì ìlcic aic somc siìua-
ìions wlcic you may wisl ìo naiiow ìlc spicad. Foi cxampIc, you miglì wisl ìo
hIcnd dium spoì mics wiìl sìcico ioom mics ìlaì ciìlci don'ì lavc a widc sìcico
picìuic oi lavc hccn dcIihciaìcIy naiiowcd hy youi cloicc of panning-a widc-
sounding hIcnd icvcih can sccmiaìlci incongiuous in ìlis casc.
Balancing Blend Reverb
Oncc you'vc dcsigncd youi hasic hIcnd paìcl, you nccd ìo haIancc iì wiìl
cvciyìling cIsc ìlaì's in ìlc mix. You can'ì do ìlis wiìl soIo huììons down,
ìlougl, so dcacìivaìc ìlosc in oidci ìlaì you can Iisìcn ìo ìlc icvcih in iìs
piopci conìcxì. Foi ìlc momcnì, fadc down ìlc singIc scnd you'vc addcd so
fai, and if you'vc hccn mcssing wiìl ìlc icìuin clanncI's fadci, icscì iì ìo uniìy
gain. Wiìlouì ìlc icvcih in ìlc mix, icacquainì youiscIf wiìl ìlc hIcnd pioh-
Icm foi a fcw scconds ìo icgain a hiì of pcispccìivc, and ìlcn sIowIy iaisc ìlc
scnd IcvcI conìioI as fai as ncccssaiy ìo connccì ìlc diy ìiack moic sìiongIy
wiìl ìlc mix as a wloIc-oi, ìo Iook aì iì anoìlci way, ìo disìancc ìlc insìiu-
mcnì fai cnougl fiom ìlc Iisìcnci. 1lc moic icvcih you add, ìlc moic ìlc
insìiumcnì wiII hIcnd, and ìlc fuiìlci inìo ìlc hackgiound iì wiII movc. As
Davc Pcnsado noìcs, 'If you wanì ìlc singci ìo sound Iikc slc's sìanding
hclind ìlc snaic dium, Icavc ìlc snaic dium diy and wcì down ìlc singci.´
6
WHAT IF THERE’S TOO MUCH BLEND?
Lack of blend isn’t the only blend problem that you might be presented with: you
may also encounter tracks that blend too well. In other words, they’ve been recorded
with too much spill/reverb so you can’t actually bring them far enough forward in the
mix. This can be almost impossible to fix, because it’s tricky to get rid of recorded-in
reverb. There are nevertheless a few processing tricks that can yield some success in
“unblending,” especially if used in combination:
I
Brighten the instrument’s tone with equalization or distortion processing, because
we humans are psychologically programmed to interpret brightness as a clue that a
sound source is close at hand. (High frequencies are so easily absorbed that they
never survive a long-distance trip to the listener nearly as well as the midrange and
low end.)
I
Narrow the stereo image of stereo files, or even collapse them to mono, as the
reverb will often phase-cancel more than the instrument itself.
I
Increase the instrument’s dynamic range in some way to dip the low-level
background reverb tails between notes and at the ends of phrases. Simple
expansion or limited-range gating may work to some extent, whereas transient
processors can sometimes deliver the goods on percussive tracks if they offer the
option of negative “sustain” gain. Multiband expansion or even dedicated noise-
reduction may offer further improvements, but it’ll usually be fairly slim pickings.
I
You might make a last-ditch attempt at bringing the sound forward by layering in a
dry MIDI instrument or sample alongside the recorded part.
I
Kidnap the client’s ornamental fern, and demand that the part be rerecorded as a
ransom. For every day’s delay, send the client a frond in the post.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 240
Oncc you'vc goì ìlc mosì saìisfacìoiy scììing you can, makc a poinì of slifì-
ing youi Iisìcning pcispccìivc ìo clcck ìlaì ìlc icvcih isn'ì masking any oìlci
insìiumcnìs, jusì ìlc samc as you did wlcn clccking ìlc masking impacì of
cacl ncwIy addcd insìiumcnì duiing Paiì 3's haIancing pioccss. If somc impoi-
ìanì ficqucncy iangc is hcing ohscuicd hy ìlc addcd icvcih, ìlcn ìoss an EQ
pIug-in onìo ìlc icvcih icìuin clanncI ìo caivc away aì iì. (You may ìlcn
nccd ìo fadc up ìlc icmaining icvcih ficqucncics ìo icgain ìlc foimci dcgicc
of hIcnd.) Pay paiìicuIai aììcnìion ìo ìlc icgion hcIow ahouì 3uuHz oi so, as
ìlis usuaIIy hcncnìs fiom somc dcgicc of cuì in mosì sìyIcs ìo picscivc lcad-
ioom and cIaiiìy foi hass insìiumcnìs aì ìlc Iow cnd and aIso ìo avoid muddy-
sounding cncigy huiIdup in ìlc Iowci midiangc ficqucncics-ìlc Iaììci hcing
onc of ìlc mosì common piohIcms in smaII-sìudio mixcs. 'Ofìcn I'II EQ ìlc
icvcih ìo aììcnuaìc Iows,´ says Mick Cuzauski, 'so ìlaì. iì docsn'ì cIoud any
insìiumcnìs. UsuaIIy I'II ioII off somc Iow mids, aiound 2uu ìo 3uuHz.´
7
1lc
amounì of EQ ìlinning ìlaì's suiìahIc lcic, lowcvci, is quiìc gcnic-spccinc,
so hc picpaicd ìo icvisiì ìlis scììing afìci you'vc icfcicnccd youi nisì diafì mix
againsì somc commciciaI compcìiìois.
EquaIizing ìlc icvcih icìuin aIso las oìlci puiposcs, paiìicuIaiIy if you'd pic-
fci youi icvcih cffccì noì ìo diaw aììcnìion ìo iìscIf-foi cxampIc, in laid-
cdgcd oi acousìic sìyIcs wlcic audihIc aiìinciaI ìicaìmcnìs miglì undciminc
ìlc music's scnsc of iawncss and cmoìionaI inìcgiiìy. Wlaì mosì commonIy
givcs ìlc gamc away ìlaì you'ic using icvcih is cxccssivc ligl ficqucncics in
ìlc icvcih icìuin, hccausc mosì musicaIIy uscfuI naìuiaI acousìics iaicIy lavc
Ioìs of hiiglì-sounding icßccìions. 'If I'm going ìo usc a icvcih,´ says EIIioì
Sclcinci, 'I wanì iì ìo hc inconspicuous, so I don'ì usc hiiglì icvcihs any
moic, my icvcihs aic gcnciaIIy daikci.´
8
A Iow-pass nIìci oi ligl-slcIving cuì
in ìlc icvcih icìuin is, foi ìlis icason, vciy common wlcn using any icvcih,
huì iì's aImosì a maììci of couisc wlcn ìlc icvcih's spccincaIIy ìaigcìcd aì
FIGURE 16.6
It’s common to reduce the amount of low-end content in your reverb return (as shown in SSL’s X-Verb
here) to keep the low frequencies of your mix clear sounding.
Mixing with Reverb CHAPTER 16 241
pioviding hIcnd. ExacìIy low you scì ìlc nIìci musì, of couisc, hc judgcd hy
cai in oidci ìo nnd ìlc ficqucncy conìouiing ìlaì hcsì icduccs ìlc icvcih's
audihiIiìy wliIc aì ìlc samc ìimc aIIowing iì ìo fuInII iìs hIcnding ioIc. If you
can'ì lcai ìlc aiìinciaI icvcih as an cffccì in iìs own iiglì, huì ìlc mix sccms ìo
ìlin ouì and faII apaiì wlcn you muìc ìlc icvcih icìuin, ìlcn you'ic piohahIy
lcading in ìlc iiglì diiccìion. Ed Scay says, 'You don'ì cvcn lavc ìo lcai iì,
huì you can scnsc iì wlcn iì gocs away-iì's jusì noì quiìc as fiicndIy sounding,
noì quiìc as waim.´
9
Somcìimcs cquaIizaìion docsn'ì go fai cnougl and dynamics aIso nccd ìo hc
cmpIoycd. 1lc mosì common ciicumsìancc ìlaì caIIs foi ìlis adjusìmcnì is
wlcic ìiansicnìs aic causing ìlc icvcih ìo pioducc disìiacìing ßams oi sìcico
iicoclcìs, in wlicl casc iì's woiìl ìiying ouì a dcdicaìcd ìiansicnì pioccssoi
in ìlc icìuin clanncI, pIaccd hcfoic ìlc icvcih pIug-in, ìo scc if you can ìonc
ìlosc down. 1licsloId-hascd ìiansicnì pioccssois aic noì usuaIIy cffccìivc in
ìlis ioIc if moic ìlan onc ìiack is fccding ìlc icvcih, so ìlicsloId-indcpcn-
dcnì dcsigns aic a mucl hcììci cloicc. Somcìimcs ficqucncy-scIccìivc dynam-
ics piovc ncccssaiy ìoo, mosì commonIy wlcic vocaI sihiIancc liìs ìlc icvcih
and spiays unnaìuiaIIy acioss ìlc sìcico picìuic. A dc-cssci insciìcd inìo ìlc
icìuin clanncI hcfoic ìlc icvcih is ìlc ohvious soIuìion lcic, huì a poìcn-
ìiaI diawhack is ìlaì ìlicsloId-indcpcndcnì dc-cssing isn'ì casy ìo nnd. If
ìlis causcs a piohIcm, youi hcsì opìion miglì hc ìo scnd vocaI signaIs ìo ìlc
icvcih via an cxìiavaganìIy dc-csscd inìcimcdiaiy clanncI. (Iusì don'ì scnd
ìlis clanncI diiccì ìo ìlc mix oi iì'II sound Iikc ìlc singcis lavc swaIIowcd
ìlcii dcnìuics.)
Oncc you'vc appIicd youi hIcnd cffccì acioss aII ìlc clanncIs ìlaì sccm ìo
icquiic iì, makc suic ìo connim ìlc haIanccs on youi diffcicnì moniìoiing
sysìcms aì diffcicnì pIayhack voIumcs. Iì's aIso noì a had IiììIc icaIiìy clcck ìo
hypass ìlc icvcih icìuin foi lu scconds, cnvision low you wanì ìlc ìiack ìo
hIcnd, and ìlcn pop ìlc icvcih hack in. Ofìcnìimcs ìlis simpIc pioccss wiII
liglIiglì somc smaII haIancc piohIcms oi a picviousIy unnoìiccd ìonaI coI-
oiaìion ìlaì nccds aììcnding ìo wiìl fuiìlci ìwcaks of ìlc icìuin EQ. You
can aIso impiovc youi ahiIiìy ìo lcai inìcinaI cffccì haIanccs wiìlin a mix if
you Iisìcn oncc oi ìwicc wiìl ìlc main ìiacks (pcilaps hass, diums, and Icad
vocaIs) hypasscd in vaiious comhinaìions, so ìlaì ìlc foicgiound paiìs don'ì
disìiacì youi conccnìiaìion fiom hackgiound dcìaiIs-Ccoff Emciick
lu
and
AIan Paisons
ll
lavc hoìl indcpcndcnìIy mcnìioncd using ìlis ìcclniquc foi
ìlcii own mixcs, so you'II hc in good company.
AII ìlaì said, iì couId wcII hc ìlaì appIying hIcnd icvcih ìo ìlc nisì ìiack siìs
iì inìo ìlc mix jusì nnc wiìlouì ìlc nccd foi any addiìionaI haIancc pioccss-
ing on ìlc icìuin clanncI. Howcvci, as you conìinuc ìo idcnìify insufncicnìIy
hIcndcd insìiumcnìs and appIy ìlc samc cffccì ìo ìlosc as wcII, ìlc siìua-
ìion miglì casiIy clangc, so iì's quiìc noimaI ìo kccp ìwcaking youi icìuin-
clanncI haIancc pioccssing iiglì up unìiI ìlc momcnì you dccIaic ìlc mix
nnislcd.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 242
16.4 REVERB FOR SIZE
1lc higgcsì diffcicncc hcìwccn icvcihs dcsigncd foi hIcnd and sizc is ìlaì
wlcic ìlc foimci is hcsì piovidcd hy ìlc caiIici icvcih icßccìions, ìlc Iaììci is
hcsì cicaìcd hy focusing ìlc cffccì sound on ìlc icmaindci of ìlc icvcih ìaiI.
As sucl, you can Icavc ìlc icvcih Icngìl of cacl picscì unclangcd duiing audi-
ìioning and ìuin down any scpaiaìc IcvcI conìioI you lavc foi caiIy icßccìions.
Picscìs wlcic ìlc icvcih onscì las a cIcai aììack ìcnd ìo woik Icss wcII foi ìlis
appIicaìion ìlan picscìs ìlaì sìaiì moic sofìIy and sIowIy. Bcyond ìlcsc suggcs-
ìions, mucl of ìlc picvious advicc ahouì cloosing a picscì sìiII loIds:
I
Bcwaic of unnaìuiaI-sounding picscìs, as ìlcsc wiII lavc ìiouhIc cicaìing
ìlc sound of a Iaigci spacc convincingIy. CPU-Iiglì pIug-ins wiII ìypicaIIy
sound Icss naìuiaI ìlan moic compuìaìionaIIy lungiy aIgoiiìlms.
I
FccI ficc ìo ignoic ìlc picscì namcs wiìl impuniìy-ìlc main goaI is ìo
ìiy ìo imaginc ìlc spacc impIicd hy cacl picscì and dccidc wlcìlci iì's ìlc
iiglì kind of spacc foi youi mix ìo cxisì wiìlin.
I
Don'ì hc ìoo conccincd ahouì ìonaI imhaIanccs as Iong as ìlcic aicn'ì nasìy
mcìaIIic icsonanccs.
I
Clcck ìlaì ìlc sìcico picìuic is faiiIy cvcnIy spicad, and asscss ìlc mono
compaìihiIiìy.
I
Don'ì luiiy ìlc scIccìion pioccss, and makc suic you iaìify youi cloicc
piopciIy wiìl youi diffcicnì moniìoiing sysìcms.
I
Wlcn you'vc goì a piomising paìcl, muìc iì, iccaIihiaìc youi cais ìo ìlc
mix as is, and ìlcn fadc iì up ìo connim ìlaì iì's acìuaIIy wlaì you'ic Iook-
ing foi.
Any icvcih you cicaìc foi sizc cnlanccmcnì wiII incviìahIy aIso cicaìc a smaII
amounì of hIcnd ìoo (mucl as any hIcnd icvcih wiII aIso givc linìs of sizc),
huì you can icducc ìlis 'mission ciccp´ ìo a uscfuI dcgicc hy giving youi sizc
icvcih a good dosc of picdcIay-anyìling fiom 5ums upwaid. Iì's hccausc of
BLENDING BY OTHER MEANS
Reverb isn’t the only means to blend a production. Short delays will also work
admirably (as explained in the next chapter) and many modulation effects will distance
instruments by making them more diffuse sounding. Double-tracking can blend an
instrument or voice better too, even if you keep the double-track at such a low level
that it’s not really audible in its own right. Adding background noise to your mix will
often improve the overall sense of blend, and if you don’t fancy sourcing your own
noise recordings, then get hold of a media sound-effects library and look for what
are usually called “room tone” or “room ambience” files. Room tone is the sound
of nothing happening in a room—not the most interesting thing to listen to, but in a
background role it can really help make all the tracks in your mix feel as if they belong
together. Tape hiss and vinyl noise have similar blending effects, especially when
they’re in stereo.
Mixing with Reverb CHAPTER 16 243
ìlis Iongci picdcIay ìlaì icvcihs wiìl an aììack 'hump´ won'ì usuaIIy woik in
ìlis ioIc, hccausc ìlc laid icvcih onscì can poìcnìiaIIy makc ìiansicnìs sound
Iikc ìlcy'ic ßamming. Iì's paiìIy foi ìlis icason ìlaì somc cnginccis opì ìo usc
a ìcmpo-icIaìcd picdcIay ìimc, hccausc ìlcn ìlc icvcih aììack foIIowing any
pcicussivc liì wiII hc maskcd hy ìlc foIIowing onc, making ìlc hump Icss
audihIc. CIcn BaIIaid piovidcs anoìlci good icason foi incicasing ìlc picdcIay
foi any Iongci icvcih: 'I'm aIways inìcicsìcd in lcaiing ìlc vocaIisì's woids.
so I Iikc ìo lavc ìlc diy signaI a IiììIc hiì cIcai of ìlc cffccì, jusì foi ìlc aiìicuIa-
ìion. If iì's a icaIIy sIow song, say a haIIad, ìlcn ìlc pic-dcIay wiII piohahIy hc
Iongci.´
l2
Sizc icvcih wiII aIso incviìahIy add susìain, and ìlougl ìlis may in gcnciaI hc
a good ìling, iì's wisc ìo ìiy ìo makc ìlc ìonc of ìlaì susìain faiiIy ncuìiaI if
possihIc, hccausc you may wisl ìo appIy ìlis cffccì ìo many sounds in youi
aiiangcmcnì if you'ic afìci any kind of 'aII in onc ioom´ fccI ìo ìlc pioduc-
ìion. Civcn ìlc Iong dcIay ìimc, plasc canccIIaìion hcìwccn ìlc wcì and diy
sounds slouId hc minimaI, so any ìonaI adjusìmcnì can hc caiiicd ouì simpIy
wiìl EQ-soIo a fuII-iangc insìiumcnì aIong wiìl ìlc icvcih icìuin, and ìlcn
fadc ìlc icvcih up and down ìo liglIiglì ìonaI clangcs in ìlc insìiumcnì's
susìain ìlaì you miglì wanì ìo addicss. You may nnd noìcl cuìs ìo hc lcIpfuI
lcic if ìlc icvcih ìuins ouì ìo cmplasizc any dissonanì piìclcd icsonanccs. As
wiìl hIcnd icvcih, ìlc sìcico spicad can noimaIIy hc Icfì as is.
Balancing Size Reverb
Wiìl a suiìahIc icvcih paìcl on ìlc go, dcacìivaìc ìlosc soIo huììons again so
ìlaì you can gcì on wiìl haIancing ìlc cffccì wiìlin ìlc conìcxì of ìlc fuII mix.
1lc pioccduic is simiIai ìo ìlaì dcsciihcd foi hIcnd icvcih, ìlc main diffcicncc
FIGURE 16.7
Reducing the audibility of a reverb’s attack “bump” using a tempo-matched predelay time.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 244
hcing ìlaì fading up ìlc icvcih lcic givcs ìlc impicssion ìlaì an insìiumcnì
is wiìlin a higgci spacc ìlan iì was iccoidcd in. 1lc moic you appIy, ìlc
cIcaici ìlc impicssion of ìlaì Iaigci acousìic hccomcs. 1lc moic you fadc up
ìlc icvcih foi any spccinc insìiumcnì, ìlc moic audihIc ìlc icvcih hccomcs
and ìlc gicaìci ìlc addiìionaI iIIusion of icIaìivc sizc and powci. Wiìl ìlc sizc
cnlanccmcnì wiII incviìahIy comc a cciìain amounì of cxìia disìancing of ìlc
ìiacks ìlaì conìain ìlc cffccìs, as wcII as somc addiìionaI susìain, huì ìlcsc
slouId hc sccondaiy cffccìs ìlaì aicn'ì as sìiong as ìlc sizc iIIusions.
1lcic is an addiìionaI suhjccìivc dccision ìo makc, ìlougl, wiìl sizc icvcih:
SlouId you hiing aII ìlc insìiumcnìs wiìlin a singIc spacc, foi a moic icaIisìic
picscnìaìion, oi hc moic cicaìivc and pIacc individuaI insìiumcnìs oi gioups
of insìiumcnìs inìo conìiasìing acousìic cnviionmcnìs² 1lc Iaììci is fai fiom
naìuiaI oi icaIisìic, of couisc, huì noncìlcIcss piovidcs cxccIIcnì oppoiìuniìics
foi musicaI conìiasì: youi Icad vocaI miglì hc diy as a honc so ìlaì iì's iiglì
up aì ìlc fionì of ìlc mix, ìlc diums miglì hc in wlaì sounds Iikc a Iaigc
wood-pancIcd ioom, and ìlc sìiings and hacking vocaIs miglì ßoaì cìlcicaIIy
wiìlin a clapcI-Iikc cnviionmcnì-ìlc sky's ìlc Iimiì, icaIIy. Cicaìivc cloiccs
Iikc ìlis aicn'ì icaIIy wiìlin ìlc scopc of a gcnciaI-puiposc mixing piimci, huì
I wiII offci onc smaII piccc of advicc lcic ìlaì las scivcd mc wcII in ìlc couisc
of many diffcicnì mixcs: ìiy ìo maìcl ìlc naìuic of cacl diffcicnì spacc ìo ìlc
sonic claiacìci and aiìisìic inìcnì of ìlc sounds iì wiII hc appIicd ìo. So don'ì
puì a smooìl concciì laII on aggicssivc punk diums if a iaggcd 'in ìlc gaiagc´
ioom sound nìs ìlcii aììiìudc hcììci. Don'ì sìick an angcIic hoys' cloii in a
Iong coiiidoi if a spacious caìlcdiaI sound suppoiìs ìlc scicniìy of ìlc cloii's
musicaI Iincs moic. Ahovc aII, don'ì puì a hagpipc soIo inìo a concciì aicna
wlcn iì icaIIy hcIongs in an undcigiound hunkci.
1lc Iongci ìlc icvcih, ìlc gicaìci ìlc poìcnìiaI foi masking piohIcms, so iì's
cvcn moic impoiìanì wiìl sizc icvcih ìlaì you kccp slifìing youi Iisìcning
pcispccìivc ìo asscss ìlc impacì of ìlc icvcih on ìlc cIaiiìy of youi diy ìiacks,
cspcciaIIy aì Iow ficqucncics. Wiìlin mosì mainsìicam pioducìions, icvcih
ìaiIs on ìlc Iow cnd of hass insìiumcnìs aic usuaIIy counìcipioducìivc-wlaì
cxìia impicssion of sizc you gcì fiom ìlc scismic iumhIings is moic ìlan offscì
hy a Ioss of lcadioom and noìc dcnniìion. My iccommcndaìion is ìo ligl-
pass nIìci ìlc icvcih icìuin ìo kccp ìlc Iow ficqucncics ìiglì and conìioIIcd,
and aIso ìo hc conscivaìivc wiìl ìlc amounì of sizc icvcih on youi hass insìiu-
mcnìs in gcnciaI. Anoìlci ìling ìo hc caicfuI of is adding Ioìs of ìlis kind of
icvcih ìo susìaincd sìcico cloidaI paiìs sucl as synìl pads. 1lc naìuic of sucl
paiìs makcs iì difncuIì foi any Iong icvcih ìo cnlancc ìlcm mucl, so aII ìlc
icvcih ìaiI acìuaIIy cnds up doing is hIuiiing ìlc cloid clangcs, making iì fccI
Iikc youi kcyhoaid pIayci can'ì kccp ìimc. (And afìci aII ìlaì woik you did
quanìizing lim ìoo.)
Wlcìlci you wanì youi sizc icvcih ìo hc audihIc as an cffccì in iìs own
iiglì is anoìlci judgmcnì caII ìlaì dcpcnds on ìlc puiposc of ìlaì icvcih in
Mixing with Reverb CHAPTER 16 245
ìlc pioducìion. Wlcic a singIc icvcih is opciaìing ovci mosì of ìlc ìiacks
in ìlc aiiangcmcnì ìo cnlancc ìlc appaicnì sizc of ìlc viiìuaI vcnuc, ìlcn
kccping iì undcisìaìcd is usuaIIy scnsihIc, in wlicl casc you'II wanì ìo foI-
Iow simiIai icìuin-clanncI EQ and dynamics poIicics as wlcn using hIcnd
icvcih. Howcvci, wlcic muIìipIc sizc icvcihs aic hcing uscd moic cicaìivcIy,
ìlcn making ìlc sound of somc of ìlcsc conjuicd-up spaccs Icss haslfuI
miglì lcIp wiìl ìlc musicaI conìiasìs wiìlin ìlc aiiangcmcnì-jusì hc
douhIy caicfuI of undcsiiahIc masking conscqucnccs fiom ìlc icvcihs in
ìlis casc.
Wliclcvci ìack you adopì, do sìiII go ìliougl ìlc usuaI ohjccìiviìy ìcsì wiìl
cacl icvcih oncc mosì of ìlc scnds ìo iì aic opciaìionaI: hypass ìlc icìuin foi
a fcw scconds, iccicaìc in youi mind ìlc sizc iIIusion you'ic afìci, and ìlcn
icinsìaìc ìlc icvcih ìo scc low iì compaics ìo ìlaì idcaI. If diopping ouì somc
of ìlc moic impoiìanì insìiumcnìs foi a wliIc lcIps you icnnc ìlc suhìIci
icvcih haIanccs, ìlcn givc ìlaì a iazz as wcII. Onc maììci ìo dcvoìc paiìicuIai
SPECIAL EFFECT REVERBS
This chapter is primarily concerned with reverbs that serve more technical purposes,
but in some productions a reverb might also be used as a feature in its own right,
a special effect designed to make a statement. If you’re using a reverb in this
way, there’s not a tremendous amount of useful advice I can offer, simply because
everything depends on your personal idea of what kind of effect you’d like to hear.
My main recommendation is to consider incorporating that particular effect at the
balancing stage, treating it exactly like any of the normal recorded tracks in your mix
project and balancing it with just the same care. Bear in mind, though, that the effect
might not rank nearly as highly in terms of “sonic importance” as the dry track that is
driving it, so it may only be appropriate to add it to the mix further down the rank order.
In addition, you’d be well-advised to ask yourself tough questions about whether all the
aspects of the reverb in question are absolutely essential to its artistic impact. If you
don’t, then your mix clarity may suffer at the hands of unnecessary blend, size, tone,
sustain, or spread side effects.
Also bear in mind that the impact of any special effect diminishes with familiarity, so
it may be counterproductive to leave it in the mix all the time. “I’d rather flick it on
and off throughout the song in two or three places,” recommends Al Stone. “That’s
what an effect should be. If it’s on all the time it cancels itself out.”
13
Guy Sigsworth
shares similar views: “I’m very fond of these electronic pieces Stockhausen did in the
1950s…. One of the few effects he had to play with was reverb, and he did a lot of
things where the first note’s completely dry, the second one as reverbed as possible,
the next one somewhere in the middle. The reverbs are very dynamic, they’re not like
just some vat you dip the whole thing in, they move around, they’re very agile, they’re
like a nervous animal. I really like that, so I try to get that hyperactive approach to
space.”
14
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 246
conccnìiaìion ìo wliIc nncssing ìlc ovciaII sound of youi sizc icvcih is
wlcìlci you'vc closcn ìlc hcsì comhinaìion of icvcih Icngìl and ovciaII
icvcih IcvcI. If ìlc icvcih is ìoo Iong, ìlcn you may noì hc ahIc ìo usc cnougl
of iì ìo cicaìc a hcIicvahIc iIIusion of a Iaigci spacc wiìlouì iì wasling ouì ìlc
wloIc mix and ohscuiing aII ìlc nicc mix dcìaiIs, if ìlc icvcih's ìoo sloiì, ìlcn
you may noì hc ahIc ìo cnlancc ìlc appaicnì sizc of youi pioducìion as cffcc-
ìivcIy as you'd Iikc ìo.
16.5 REVERB FOR TONE
Wlcic iì can ficqucnìIy hc appiopiiaìc ìo lavc scnds ìo a hIcnd oi sizc icvcih
coming fiom mosì of ìlc clanncIs in youi mix, icvcih paìclcs dcdicaìcd ìo
ìonc oi susìain cnlanccmcnìs wiII usuaIIy hc appIicd onIy ìo smaII gioups of
ìiacks. 1lis is hccausc ìlcsc Iasì ìwo icvcih ìypcs lavc moic in common wiìl
EQ ìlan ìlcy do wiìl icvcih, and iì slouId hc cIcai fiom Paiì 3 of ìlis hook
ìlaì an cquaIizaìion scììing ìlaì woiks foi onc insìiumcnì is unIikcIy ìo woik
wcII foi anoìlci. Indccd, ìlc simiIaiiìy of sucl pioccssing ìo EQ was ìlc icason
I inìioduccd ìlc idca of ìonaI[susìain icvcih hack in Clapìci l2-iì's mucl
moic scnsihIc ìo do any suhjccìivc ìimhiaI slaping of a sound caiIy on in ìlc
haIancing pioccss, iaìlci ìlan Icaving iì unìiI ìlc haIancc is compIcìc, wlcic-
upon any ìonaI clangcs couId casiIy upscì ìlc wloIc appIccaiì. Now ìlaì wc'vc
discusscd icvcih in moic dcìaiI, lowcvci, Icì's Iook fuiìlci aì low ìo gcì ìlc
hcsì fiom ìlcsc moic coIoiisìic cnlanccmcnìs.
FIGURE 16.8
Although quirky little CPU-light plug-ins like Voxengo OldSkoolVerb (top) or GSi TimeVerb (bottom) may
not sound natural for enhancing blend or size, they can really add character when you’re looking for tone
or sustain alterations.
Mixing with Reverb CHAPTER 16 247
A icvcih cffccì piimaiiIy foi ìlc puiposc of aIìciing ìlc
ìonc of a ìicaìcd ìiack is hcsì sloiìcncd ìo avoid ohvi-
ous icvcih ìaiI, mucl as iì wouId hc in a hIcnd
icvcih, hccausc ìlis immcdiaìcIy minimizcs sizc
and susìain sidc cffccìs. So wlcn you'ic Iook-
ing ìliougl youi pIug-in picscìs you'II wanì ìo
kccp ìlc cffccì's Icngìl undci conìioI ìo gcì a
dcccnì impicssion of cacl icvcih's ìonaI quaIi-
ìics. 1lc simiIaiiìy wiìl hIcnd icvcih cnds ìlcic,
ìlougl, hccausc ìlc mosì usahIc kinds of picscìs
wiII ìypicaIIy hc ìlosc wiìl an unnaìuiaI sound-ìlc
Icss ìlcy sound Iikc icaI acousìic spaccs, ìlc Icss ìlcy'II
hIcnd ìlc ìiack as a sidc cffccì. Hidcous ficqucncy-icsponsc
imhaIanccs and loiiihIy cIangoious icsonanccs can aIso hc an advan-
ìagc, hccausc ìlosc claiacìciisìics wiII hc moic IikcIy ìo hiing ahouì ìiuIy mcan-
ingfuI clangcs in ìlc ìimhic of ìicaìcd sounds. Any iuhhisly oId pIug-in wiìl
a wafci-ìlin CPU Ioad is aIso iiglì hack on ìlc mcnu foi simiIai icasons. Iack
DougIas ohscivcs, 'Somcìimcs ìlc wciidcsì ìlings-Iikc oId spiing icvcihs-can
sound icaIIy plcnomcnaI in ìlc mix. By iìscIf iì's going ìo sound awfuI. huì usc
iì iiglì-coIoi iì a IiììIc hiì, nIìci iì, EQ iì-and iì's going ìo sound cooI in youi
mix.´
l5
Manny Maiioquin slaics lis ìasìc foi spiings: '1lcy'ic cooI-sounding.
You can makc |ìlc icvcihj sloiì and ìiglì wiìl a gaìc and iì adds ìonc and dcpìl
ìo ìlc sound wiìlouì wasling iì ouì.. Wlcn you lavc onc ìling in a ciowdcd
mix you icaIIy wanì ìo hiing ouì, huì adding EQ wouId makc iì sound laisl, puì
iì ìliougl a spiing icvcih.´
l6
Wlaì you aIso nccd ìo icaIizc is ìlaì ìlc sound of a paiìicuIai picscì's cclocs
on iìs own is onIy paiì of wlaì you'ic Iooking foi, hccausc a hig piopoiìion
of ìlc nnaI ìonaI clangc avaiIahIc lcic wiII acìuaIIy icsuIì fiom comh nIìciing
hcìwccn ìlc wcì and diy sounds. Foi ìlis icason, you slouId aIways makc suic
ìlaì ìlc diy sound is mixcd in aIongsidc ìlc cffccì wlcn audiìioning picscìs
foi a ìonaI icvcih paìcl, and hcai in mind ìlaì ìlc icIaìivc IcvcIs of ìlc diy
and wcì signaIs wiII impacì on ìlc scvciiìy of ìlc plasc canccIIaìion. Moicovci,
oncc a picscì las hccn found ìlaì ßaììcis ìlc diy signaI, you may hc ahIc ìo
icnnc iì fuiìlci hy appIying picdcIay and plasc[poIaiiìy adjusìmcnì ìo ìlc
icìuin clanncI-noìc ìlaì picdcIays undci ahouì lums wiII usuaIIy givc you
moic powcifuI comh-nIìciing cffccìs. EquaIizaìion of ìlc icìuin clanncI aIso
las a Ioì ìo offci. Manny Maiioquin sìaìcs, 'I Iisìcn foi ìlc ficqucncy wlcic ìlc
icvcih maìclcs ìlc inpuì signaI and ìwcak ìlaì.´
l7
IdcaIIy, ìlc goaI lcic is foi ìlc icvcih noì ìo hc lcaid, so ìlaì iì fuscs wiìl
ìlc diy sound in ìlc Iisìcnci's pciccpìion ìo piovidc ìlc gicaìcsì ìonaI clangcs
wiìl ìlc fcwcsì hIcnding sidc cffccìs. Onc of ìlc claIIcngcs ìo aclicving ìlis
ohjccìivc is nnding ìlc iiglì comhinaìion of icvcih IcvcI and icvcih Icngìl-as
ìlc IcvcI of ìlc icvcih incicascs, iìs Icngìl wiII ofìcn lavc ìo hc dccicascd if you
wanì ìo mainìain ìlc samc IcvcI of audihiIiìy. Iì's aIso wisc ìo hc caicfuI of ìlc
sìcico widìl and pIaccmcnì of youi ìonaI icvcih icìuin, hccausc if ìlc cffccì
If a tonal reverb
is substantially wider
than the image created by
the dry signals, or in a different
location in the stereo image, then
the timbral change may be diluted
and the treated sound will
appear less upfront in
the mix.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 248
is suhsìanìiaIIy widci ìlan ìlc imagc cicaìcd hy ìlc diy signaIs, oi in a diffci-
cnì Iocaìion in ìlc sìcico imagc, ìlcn ìlc ìimhiaI clangc may hc diIuìcd and
ìlc ìicaìcd sound wiII appcai Icss upfionì in ìlc mix. You'ic piohahIy aIicady
nimIy in ìlc lahiì of swiìcling moniìoiing sysìcms hy now ìo iaìify ìonaI mix
dccisions Iikc ìlis, huì do cnsuic you clcck mono compaìihiIiìy in paiìicuIai
ìo avoid any nasìy suipiiscs-as I mcnìioncd caiIici, clcap and nasìy icvcihs
can icaIIy faII on ìlcii asscs in mono.
1lc dangci wiìl ìonaI icvcih is ìlaì adding iì wiII usuaIIy incicasc ìlc ovciaII
IcvcI of ìlc ìicaìcd insìiumcnì, cspcciaIIy if you'ic using simiIai IcvcIs of wcì
and diy signaI ìo cxpIoiì ìlc fuII possihiIiìics of comh nIìciing. Foi ìlis ica-
son, iì's possihIc ìo misIcad youiscIf if you simpIy swiìcl off ìlc cffccì in an
aììcmpì ìo judgc iìs vaIuc. A hcììci appioacl is ìo nnd a icasonahIc fadci IcvcI
foi ìlc pioccsscd sound in ìlc haIancc and ìlcn muìc ìlc diy and wcì sounds
ìogcìlci foi a fcw scconds. Wlcn you'vc lad a clancc ìo appicciaìc ìlc sìaìc of
ìlc mix wiìlouì ìlosc clanncIs, ìiy ìo hiing ìo mind wlaì you wanì ìlc com-
posiìc ìo sound Iikc and onIy ìlcn icinìioducc ìlcm ìo ìlc mix. You'ic moic
IikcIy ìo hc dispassionaìc ahouì ìlc icvcih's mciiìs ìlaì way.
Oncc you'ic conndcnì ìlaì you'vc aiiivcd aì a comhinaìion of diy and wcì
signaIs ìlaì ìiuIy impiovcs ìlc claiacìci of scIccìcd insìiumcnìs in ìlc mix,
you'ic sìiII faccd wiìl ìlc ìask of haIancing ìlcsc icjuvcnaìcd sounds wiìlin
FIGURE 16.9
A typical tone reverb setting, running in Christian Knufinke’s SIR2 convolution reverb plug-in: a
characterful impulse response with a short decay time, a sub-10ms predelay, narrowed stereo image,
and heavily sculpted frequency response.
Mixing with Reverb CHAPTER 16 249
ìlc mix as a wloIc. Bccausc ìlc ìonaI icvcih cffccìivcIy hccomcs an inìcgiaI
paiì of ìlc sound, iì sìops funcìioning as a ìiadiìionaI scnd-icìuin icvcih
cffccì, and iì makcs mucl moic scnsc ìo ìicaì ìlc diy and wcì clanncIs in ìlc
samc way as you wouId ìlc individuaI micioplonc clanncIs in a muIìimikcd
insìiumcnì iccoiding. So I noimaIIy cnd up iouìing ìlcm hoìl ìo a commu-
naI gioup clanncI foi gIohaI conìioI, wlicl aIIows mc ìo pioccss ìlc compIcìc
sound foi haIancc icasons wiìlouì aIìciing ìlc fasìidiousIy loncd plasc icIa-
ìionslips hcìwccn ìlc consìiìucnì clanncIs. As wiìl muIìimikcd insìiumcnì
iccoidings, lowcvci, ìlcic may hc fuiìlci cicaìivc poìcnìiaI in pioccssing ìlc
individuaI clanncIs, huì you can iun inìo difncuIìics lcic if you add ìlc ìonaI
icvcih ìo moic ìlan onc ìiack, hccausc if you pioccss ìlc cffccì clanncI foi ìlc
hcncnì of onc of ìlc diy ìiacks, iì may noì suiì ìlc oìlcis. Iì's noì mucl cxìia
cffoiì ìo gain cxìia conìioI lcic, ìlougl, hy cicaìing scpaiaìc insìanccs of ìlc
samc cffccì foi cacl ìicaìcd ìiack. You may aIso hc ahIc ìo icducc ìlc audi-
hiIiìy of ìlc cffccì in ìlis way, hy icpIacing a sìcico icvcih paìcl wiìl scvciaI
mono insìanccs, cacl panncd ìo ìlc Iocaìion of ìlc diy ìiack ìlaì fccds iì-a
ìacìic ìlaì hoìl AI Sclmiìì
l8
and EIIioì Sclcinci
l9
lavc cmpIoycd succcssfuIIy.
Of couisc, ìlis docs incviìahIy muIìipIy youi pIug-in counì, so ìlis is an addi-
ìionaI icason ìo favoi aIgoiiìlms wiìl a smaII CPU appcìiìc in ìonaI ioIcs.
16.6 REVERB FOR SUSTAIN
Wlaì ìonaI icvcih is ìo hIcnd icvcih, susìain icvcih is ìo sizc icvcih-in oìlci
woids, a Iongci icvcih dcsigncd foi cicaìivc ìimhiaI conìioI iaìlci ìlan ìlc
simuIaìion of naìuiaI acousìic icßccìions. As sucl, scììing up a susìain icvcih
invoIvcs many of ìlc samc sìcps aIicady discusscd wiìl icIaìion ìo ìonaI icvcih
in Sccìion l6.5:
I
You'II usuaIIy onIy appIy dcdicaìcd susìain icvcih ìo smaII gioups of insìiu-
mcnìs, and iì's hcsì ìo do ìlis aì ìlc haIancing sìagc if possihIc.
I
You can onIy cloosc picscìs cffccìivcIy wliIc Iisìcning ìo ìlc wcì signaI
aIongsidc ìlc diy.
I
Rcvcihs ìlaì sound ìoo naìuiaI wiII ìcnd ìo lavc moic unwanìcd sidc
cffccìs, in ìlis casc piimaiiIy adding sizc cnlanccmcnì, so don'ì hc afiaid
ìo wlccI ouì pIug-ins ìlaì wouId cuidIc miIk aì 2u paccs undci noimaI
ciicumsìanccs.
I
Youi aim is ìo gcì ìlc diy and wcì sounds ìo mcId inìo onc pciccpìuaIIy.
If ìlcy don'ì, ìlc cffccì wiII hc moic IikcIy ìo muddIc ìlc mix, incicasing
sizc-cnlanccmcnì sidc cffccìs and masking ìlc dcìaiIs of oìlci insìiumcnì
sounds. Wiìlin ìlis conìcxì, ìlc icvcih's IcvcI, Icngìl, and sìcico spicad[
posiìion aII icquiic duc considciaìion.
I
Rcsisì cvaIuaìing ìlc succcss of susìain icvcih hy simpIy muìing[unmuìing
iì, oìlciwisc you'II faII fouI of Ioudncss hias. Insìcad, diop ìlc wloIc sound
ouì of ìlc mix, givc youiscIf a fcw scconds ìo icaccIimaìizc and ichuiId
youi mcnìaI imagc of low ìlc ìicaìcd sound slouId appcai in ìlc mix, and
ìlcn swiìcl ìlc insìiumcnì (and iìs cffccì) hack in.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 250
I
Oncc you'vc aclicvcd ìlc hcsì susìain cnlanccmcnì you can managc, you
can cffccìivcIy picìcnd ìlaì ìlc diy ìiack and wcì icìuin aic ìlc individuaI
mics of a muIìimikcd insìiumcnì iccoiding foi haIancing puiposcs.
GATED REVERB
It’s a shame that the excesses of the 1980s have given gated reverbs such a dreadful
reputation, because many engineers now instinctively shy away from them even when
they’re useful. A couple of specific situations come to mind: when you want to achieve
the maximum sense of size in a production, but without ridiculously long reverb tails
obscuring all the mix details or blurring chord changes; and when you want to add
a short, dense tonal or sustain reverb that doesn’t gradually decay, an effect that’s
particularly good for bulking out thin-sounding drums/percussion. Although traditional
gated reverb was generated using a gate acting on a normal reverb, in my experience
the later “fake” gated-reverb effects (constituting a short burst of echoes that don’t
decay in level) are much more usable for mixing purposes because their additions are
threshold independent—a quiet drum hit will receive the same length and density of
reverb burst as a loud one.
1lcic aic a fcw fuiìlci considciaìions wiìl susìain icvcih, ìlougl. Foi a sìaiì,
iì's a smaiì idca ìo usc a good dosc of picdcIay (I'd suggcsì 25ms oi moic) ìo
icmovc plasc canccIIaìion fiom ìlc cquaìion. 1laì way, you'II minimizc diiccì
EQ-sìyIc ìonaI clangcs, wlicl givcs you moic indcpcndcnì conìioI ovci ìlc
susìain cnlanccmcnì as wcII as making any haIancc pioccssing of ìlc icvcih
icìuin icspond moic picdicìahIy. Howcvci, as wiìl sizc icvcih, ìlaì incicasc in
picdcIay hiings wiìl iì ìlc possihiIiìy ìlaì a cIcaiIy dcnncd icvcih onscì may
diaw unwaiianìcd aììcnìion ìo iìscIf in ìlc mix, so you ciìlci lavc ìo avoid
humpy picscìs oi usc a ìcmpo-icIaìcd picdcIay ìimc.
16.7 REVERB FOR SPREAD
1lc sìcico cnlanccmcnì aspccì of icvcih is difncuIì ìo scpaiaìc fiom iìs oìlci
funcìions, so mosì of ìlc ìimc iì's hcsì ìo ìlink of iì moic as a honus ficc
gifì iaìlci ìlan ìlc main puiposc of ìlc cffccì. 1lcic aic siìuaìions, lowcvci,
wlcic ìlc sìcico aspccì of ìlc icvcih may hc ìlc main appcaI. Hcic aic a fcw
cxampIcs:
I
A cIassic cffccì foi vocaIs invoIvcs a sloiì nzzy icvcih ìlaì adds dcnsiìy and
sìcico widìl ìo ìlc uppci ficqucncy iangc. 1lc Iack of ìaiI minimizcs sizc
and susìain conìiihuìions, wlcicas ìlc comhinaìion of picdcIay and ligl-
ficqucncy hias avoids any scnsc of hIcnd and icsìiicìs ìlc ìonaI impacì ìo a
gcnciic ligl-ficqucncy Iifì.
I
Any cffccì wiìl a icvcih ìaiI can hc uscd ìo 'painì ìo ìlc cdgcs´ of ìlc sìc-
ico ncId in a gcnciic way. Rcducing caiIy icßccìions and adding suhsìan-
ìiaI picdcIay avoids adjusìmcnìs ìo hIcnd oi ìonc, a smooìl, hIand, huì
Mixing with Reverb CHAPTER 16 251
noncìlcIcss unnaìuiaI picscì cloicc icduccs sizc-icIaìcd sidc cffccìs, and
haIancc pioccssing of ìlc icìuin clanncI minimizcs any unduc susìain
cmplasis of individuaI ficqucncy iangcs and icduccs ìlc ovciaII audihiIiìy
of ìlc icvcih as an cffccì in iìs own iiglì.
I
Sloiì icvcihs can opciaìc in a simiIai way if you usc claiacìciIcss huì
synìlcìic-sounding picscìs and incicasc picdcIay ìo scaIc down hIcnd and
ìonaI cnlanccmcnìs. Bc caicfuI of ßams, ìlougl, if youi picdcIay gocs
hcyond ahouì 2ums.
16.8 JUGGLING REVERB ENHANCEMENTS
Lcaining low ìo cicaìc and appIy cacl of ìlc diffcicnì
spcciaIizcd icvcihs I'vc discusscd lcic scivcs ìwo pui-
poscs. In ìlc nisì insìancc, iì mcans ìlaì you can
usc a comhinaìion of ìlcsc cffccìs ìo add cxacìIy
ìlc iiglì amounì and quaIiìy of cacl cnlancc-
mcnì wiìlouì diowning in unwanìcd sidc
cffccìs. Wlcncvci smaII-sìudio mix cnginccis
ìcII mc ìlaì ìlcy'ic laving ìiouhIc nnding ìlc
iiglì icvcih IcvcIs in ìlcii mix, iì's invaiiahIy
hccausc ìlcii cloicc of pIug-in isn'ì piovid-
ing a suiìahIc comhinaìion of cnlanccmcnìs.
By ìlc ìimc ìlcic's cnougl hIcnd, ìlc ìonc waips,
wlcn you'vc managcd ìo add somc ßaììciing sus-
ìain ìo youi piano, iì sounds Iikc iì's in a iaiIway ìunncI,
and in ìlc pioccss of adding a scnsc of spacc, you hIcnd ìlings
ìoo mucl, so cvciyìling sounds a miIIion miIcs away. Dcdicaìing spcciaIizcd
icvcihs ìo spcciaIizcd ìasks comhaìs ìlis aII-ìoo-common fiusìiaìion.
Whenever small-
studio mix engineers tell
me that they’re having trouble
finding the right reverb levels in
their mix, it’s invariably because their
choice of plug-in isn’t providing
a suitable combination of
enhancements.
UNMASKING WITH REVERB
Although reverb can often cause additional masking problems in a mix, it’s worth
realizing that it can sometimes actually counteract the effects of masking. One way
it can achieve this outcome is by increasing a masked instrument’s sustain such
that the wet signal trails on in time beyond the end of the specific musical event
that is masking the dry signal. The stereo width of a reverb patch can also unmask
instruments by virtue of the wet signal emerging from the “shadow” of an instrument
that is masking the dry signal. For instance, if a central shaker in your arrangement
were masked behind simultaneous central kick drum hits, you could use reverb to
unmask it, either by extending the shaker’s sustain past that of the kick or by widening
the shaker sound on either side of it in the stereo field. In addition, tonal reverb might
also unmask an instrument by adjusting its frequency balance, in much the same way
equalization could.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 252
1lc sccond advanìagc of knowing wlicl icvcih claiacìciisìics affccì ìlc piom-
incncc of wlicl cnlanccmcnìs is ìlaì iì cnahIcs you ìo adopì a Icss icgimcnìcd
appioacl if ìlc piacìicaI Iimiìaìions of youi sìudio dcmand iì. Woiking in a
laidwaic scìup, foi cxampIc, miglì Iimiì you ìo onIy a smaII numhci of icvcih
pioccssois, in wlicl casc iì may hc ncccssaiy ìo usc cacl individuaI cffccì ìo
covci moic hascs in ìcims of ìlc possihIc cnlanccmcnìs. Oncc you undci-
sìand low ìo minimizc and maximizc cacl individuaI icvcih cnlanccmcnì,
iì isn'ì a lugc sìcp ìo cicaìc icvcih paìclcs wiìl dcsiiahIc piopoiìions of scv-
ciaI cnlanccmcnìs simuIìancousIy. If you lavc pcisonaI acsìlcìic icasons
foi using an idiosynciaìic scIccìion of cffccìs, pcilaps if you'ic afìci a spccinc
icìio-ìingcd sound, ìlcn an awaicncss of wlcìlci[low a spccinc pioccssoi's
cnlanccmcnìs can hc conìioIIcd is aIso cxìicmcIy uscfuI in dcìcimining low
ìo gcì ìlc maximum vaIuc ouì of iìs uniquc conìiihuìion ìo youi pioducìion.
1lc samc appIics if ìlcic aic any iccoidcd icvcihs in ìlc mix, wlcìlci in ìlc
foim of amhicnì micioplonc iccoidings oi 'piinì iì now hccausc wc'II ncvci
nnd iì again!´ cffccìs hounccs.
1o nnisl up ìlis discussion of mix icvcih, my nnaI piccc of advicc is ìlis: don'ì
usc icvcih as somc kind of invoIunìaiy icßcx. 1o quoìc Sìcvc AIhini, '|Rcvcihj
is a ìling ìlaì's donc pro forma a Ioì of ìlc ìimc. |Enginccisj puì iì on hccausc
ìlcy fccI ìlcy'ic supposcd ìo. I'vc ncvci lad ìlaì icsponsc. I'II waiì unìiI somc-
onc says, '1laì sounds wciid,' and ìlcn I'II ìiy icvcih.´
20
Numcious commciciaI
iccoids lavc piccious IiììIc icvcih on ìlcm aì aII, hccausc ìlcy aIicady lavc
sufncicnì hIcnd, sizc, susìain, ìonc, and spicad as iì is. Many oìlci modcin
pioducìions appIy icvcih onIy scIccìivcIy hccausc a Iack of somc of icvcih's
cnlanccmcnìs can suppoiì ìlc ovciaII inìcnì of ìlc music-foi cxampIc, a Ioì
of music in pop, uihan, and cIccìionica sìyIcs hcncnìs fiom somc cIcmcnìs
hcing pooiIy hIcndcd, so ìlaì ìlcy'ic iiglì in youi facc aì ìlc fionì of ìlc mix.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
Rcvcih cnlanccs scvciaI aspccìs of a ìicaìcd sound aì oncc, ìlc mosì impoi-
ìanì foi mixing puiposcs hcing hIcnd, sizc, ìonc, susìain, and spicad. 1o usc
icvcih cffccìivcIy aì mixdown, you nccd ìo gain somc indcpcndcnì conìioI
ovci cacl of ìlcsc cnlanccmcnìs so ìlaì you can aclicvc cxacìIy ìlc iiglì
comhinaìion.
I
1o cicaìc a hIcnd icvcih, sloiìcn a naìuiaI-sounding sìcico picscì ìo icmovc
iìs dccay ìaiI, and add aiound lu ìo 2ums of picdcIay. Addicss unwanìcd
ìonaI coIoiaìions hy adjusìing ìlc picdcIay, plasc, poIaiiìy, and cquaIiza-
ìion of ìlc cffccì.
I
1o cicaìc a sizc icvcih, cloosc a naìuiaI-sounding sìcico picscì picfciahIy
wiìl a sofì icvcih onscì, and add aiound 5ums oi moic of picdcIay. Addicss
unwanìcd susìain coIoiaìions hy cquaIizing ìlc cffccì.
I
1o cicaìc a ìonaI icvcih, sloiìcn an unnaìuiaI-sounding picscì ìo icmovc
iìs dccay ìaiI and icnnc ìlc sound wiìl picdcIay, plasc[poIaiiìy, and EQ
adjusìmcnìs. Pay caicfuI aììcnìion ìo ìlc Icngìl and ovciaII IcvcI of ìlc
Mixing with Reverb CHAPTER 16 253
cffccì, and considci wlcìlci iìs sìcico widìl and posiìioning suiì ìlaì of ìlc
diy signaI.
I
1o cicaìc a susìain icvcih, cloosc an unnaìuiaI-sounding picscì, picfciahIy
wiìl a sofì icvcih onscì, add aì Icasì 25ms of picdcIay, and icnnc iìs sound
wiìl EQ adjusìmcnìs. Pay caicfuI aììcnìion ìo ìlc Icngìl and ovciaII IcvcI of
ìlc cffccì, and considci wlcìlci iìs sìcico widìl and posiìioning suiì ìlaì
of ìlc diy signaI.
I
1o cicaìc a spicad icvcih, ìiy an unnaìuiaI picscì wiìl a hIand, uncoI-
oicd ìonaIiìy, and do youi hcsì ìo usc picdcIay and haIancc pioccssing ìo
minimizc hIcnd[sizc[ìonc[susìain sidc cffccìs.
I
BIcnd and sizc icvcihs wiII ofìcn hc addcd ìo many diffcicnì ìiacks in an
aiiangcmcnì and aic usuaIIy hcsì appIicd afìci ìlc compIcìc haIancc is in
pIacc, wlcicas ìonaI and susìain icvcihs (and indccd moic osìcnìaìious
icvcih spcciaI cffccìs) ìcnd ìo hc moic uscfuI foi vciy smaII numhcis of
ìiacks and aic ofìcn hcììci appIicd duiing ìlc iniìiaI haIancing pioccss iìscIf.
I
BIcnd and sizc icvcihs can hc haIanccd in ìlc mix aImosì as if ìlcii icìuins
wcic indcpcndcnì insìiumcnìs. EquaIizaìion can icducc unwanìcd mask-
ing, avoid Iow-cnd cIuììci, and icducc ìlc appaicnì audihiIiìy of ìlc cffccì,
wlcicas dc-cssing and ìiansicnì pioccssing appIicd ìo ìlc icvcih's inpuì
signaI can aIso lcIp makc ìlc cffccì moic undcisìaìcd. 1onaI and susìain
icvcihs aic usuaIIy hcììci ìicaìcd as an inìcgiaI paiì of ìlc diy ìiacks ìlcy aic
ìicaìing-aImosì as if ìlc diy and wcì signaIs wcic individuaI mic signaIs
wiìlin a muIìimikcd iccoiding.
I
Dcspiìc ìlcii clcckcicd lisìoiy, gaìcd icvcihs can sìiII hc uscfuI, cspc-
ciaIIy ìlc 'fakc´ dcsigns ìlaì cicaìc an unnaìuiaI huisì of dcnsc, consisìcnì
cclocs.
I
AIìlougl icvcih las ìlc poìcnìiaI ìo mask cIcmcnìs of a mix, iì can aIso
lcIp unmask insìiumcnìs in cciìain siìuaìions hy Icngìlcning oi spicading
ìlc diy sound oi hy aIìciing iìs ìonc.
Assignment
I
Do a survey of all the reverb plug-ins on your DAW system, and ensure that you
have at least one fairly realistic reverb as well as a couple of character devices. If
you feel restricted here, check out third-party alternatives.
I
Return to your balanced mix section from Part 3 and see if you can get extra sonic
mileage out of any of the tracks using tonal or sustain reverb patches. Try at least
a couple of each to get an idea of the possibilities. If they produce something
worthwhile, you may need to rebalance to accommodate the additions.
I
Set up at least one blend reverb and one size reverb in order to experiment with
how these enhancements affect the character of your mix. Don’t forget to spend
time balancing the return channels, with processing if necessary.
www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch16.htm
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255
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
A dcIay cffccì cicaìcs paììcins of cclocs ìlaì aic ìypicaIIy mucl simpIci ìlan
ìlosc of a icvcih. AIìlougl mosì smaII-sìudio mix cnginccis sccm ìo favoi
icvcihs foi mixing puiposcs, dcIays can acìuaIIy hc moic uscfuI hccausc of
ìlc way ìlcy dcIivci icvcih-sìyIc cnlanccmcnìs in moic picciscIy ìaigcìcd
ways-ìlink of dcIay as a snipci iißc compaicd wiìl icvcih's sloìgun! Foi
many upfionì modcin pioducìions, in facì, dcIays may hc moic suiìahIc ìlan
icvcihs, simpIy hccausc ìlcy ìakc up Icss spacc in ìlc mix and can hc madc Icss
audihIc in ìlcii own iiglì. Foi cxampIc, mosì of wlaì pcopIc ìlink is icvcih
on Spikc Sìcnì's pioducìions is acìuaIIy dcIay.
l
17.1 ESSENTIAL DELAY CONTROLS AND SETUP
Wlcn faccd wiìl a dcIay pIug-in, ìlc ìwo main conìioIs ìo woiiy ahouì aic
DcIay 1imc, wlicl scìs ìlc ìimc-dcIay hcìwccn ìlc diy sound and ìlc nisì
cclo, and Fccdhack LcvcI (somcìimcs caIIcd Rcpcaìs oi Rcgcnciaìion), wlicl
dcìcimincs low many suhscqucnì cclocs foIIow ìlc nisì and low quickIy ìlcy
dccay ovci ìimc. If you'ic comfoiìahIc wiìl ìlcsc ìwo conìioIs, ìlcn you can
gcì good usc ouì of pIug-in picscìs and picììy mucl ignoic oìlci moic dcìaiIcd
paiamcìcis unIcss you fccI paiìicuIaiIy incIincd ìo pampci youi innci ncid.
DcIay and icvcih aic hoìl cclo-hascd cffccìs, so iì slouId hc IiììIc suipiisc ìlaì
using cacl of ìlcm aì mixdown is simiIai in many icspccìs:
I
A scnd-icìuin cffccì connguiaìion wiII givc you moic conìioI ovci ìlc
sound of ìlc dcIay cffccì ìlaì an insciì scìup.
I
You can usc dcIay cffccìs ìo cnlancc hIcnd, sizc, ìonc, susìain, and spicad,
aIìlougl ìlc cffccìs in cacl casc ìypicaIIy ìakc up Icss spacc in ìlc mix ìlan
ìlosc cicaìcd hy icvcih.
I
SimpIc, cIcan cclocs ìcnd ìo woik hcsì foi hIcnd and sizc cnlanccmcnìs,
wlcicas moic claiacìcifuI aIgoiiìlms (sucl as digiìaI cmuIaìions of anaIog
cclo dcviccs) dcIivci moic vaiicd ìonc and susìain clangcs.
Mixing with Delays
CHAPTER 17
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 256
I
CIcaiIy audihIc cicaìivc dcIays aic hcsì inìioduccd wliIc haIancing, iaìlci
ìlan ìiying ìo nì ìlcm in oncc ìlc haIancc is compIcìc.
I
Don'ì foigcì ìo pay sufncicnì aììcnìion ìo haIancing youi dcIay icìuins, hoìl
in ìcims of IcvcI and in ìcims of cquaIizaìion[dynamics pioccssing.
If you'ic going ìo cicaìc a dcIay foi hIcnd puiposcs, ìlcn a singIc 5u ìo
luums sloiì 'sIaphack´ dcIay wiìl vciy IiììIc fccdhack is a good cloicc. 1lis
is a Iong cnougl dcIay ìimc ìo avoid ìlc ìonaI sidc cffccìs of comh nIìci-
ing, huì iì's sìiII usuaIIy sloiì cnougl ìo gcI wiìl ìlc diy sound faiiIy wcII,
piovidcd ìlaì ìlc cffccì IcvcIs aic quiìc Iow and haIancc pioccssing is uscd
ìo camoußagc ìlc wcì signaI as mucl as possihIc. Don Smiìl is jusì onc fan
of ìlis kind of paìcl: 'Iì adds a naìuiaI sIap Iikc in a ioom, so ìo spcak, ìlaì
mayhc you won'ì lcai, huì you fccI.´
2
Foi sizc puiposcs, a Iongci dcIay wiìl
somc fccdhack makcs moic scnsc, huì oìlciwisc ìlc ioIc of haIancc pioccss-
ing icmains mucl ìlc samc.
Wc dcaIì wiìl ìlc idca of using dcIays foi ìonc and susìain hack in Clapìci l2,
hccausc ìlcii usc is ofìcn hcììci dcaIì wiìl aì ìlc haIancing sìagc. Howcvci, now
ìlaì wc know moic ahouì cclo-hascd cffccìs in gcnciaI, Icì's hc a hiì moic spc-
cinc. A ìonaI dcIay wiII pioducc ìlc mosì diamaìic cffccìs wlcn iìs dcIay ìimc is
wcII wiìlin ìlc comh-nIìciing zonc (undci 2ums), aIìlougl unnaìuiaI-sounding
anaIog sìyIc dcIays wiII aIso incviìahIy coIoi ìlc ìonc cvcn hcyond ìlaì iangc. You
may hc ahIc ìo gcì away wiìl adding a IiììIc fccdhack if you wanì ìo cmplasizc ìlc
icsonanì 'iinging´ of ìlc dcIay paìcl, huì if so ìlcn you slouId considci wlcìlci
you nccd ìo maìcl ìlc piìcl of ìlaì icsonancc ìo ìlc ìiack you'ic pioccssing-you
FIGURE 17.1
Emulations of old-fashioned tape-based delay devices are ten-a-penny, and their inherently
unnatural (though appealing) sonic character makes them well-suited for delivering tonal and sustain
enhancements.
Mixing with Delays CHAPTER 17 257
can ìunc iì hy nncssing ìlc dcIay ìimc. DcIays foi susìain puiposcs aic moic IikcIy
ìo usc suhsìanìiaI fccdhack, as wcII as Iongci dcIay ìimcs.
1lc pioccssing on a hIcnd oi sizc dcIay's icìuin clanncI wiII usuaIIy focus
on haIancc issucs, mucl as wiìl icvcih paìclcs fuInIIing simiIai funcìions,
aIìlougl many cnginccis aIso scnd fiom ìlcii dcIay icìuins
ìo icvcih cffccìs in oidci ìo pusl ìlc dcIay icpcaìs hack
hclind ìlc diy signaIs in ìlc mix, making ìlcm
sound moic Iikc naìuiaI cclocs. Iì's aIso common
foi dcIay cffccìs ìo hc duckcd in icsponsc ìo Icad
vocaIs[insìiumcnìs (as I mcnìioncd in Clapìci
l4) so ìlaì ìlc dcIay icpcaìs don'ì inìcifcic
wiìl noìc dcnniìion and Iyiic inìcIIigihiIiìy.
Wiìl dcIays foi ìonc and susìain, ìlcic's mucl
ìo hc gaincd hy pioccssing ìlc cffccì icìuins
quiìc scvcicIy wiìl EQ oi ìlc oìlci ìonaI cffccìs
discusscd in Clapìci l2-icmcmhci ìlaì iì's noì
wlaì ìlcy sound Iikc on ìlcii own ìlaì maììcis as
Iong as ìlcy cnlancc ìlc diy ìiack. Making sucl cffccìs
sonicaIIy quiìc diffcicnì ìo ìlc diy ìiacks las an addiìionaI
advanìagc ìlaì iì icduccs hIcnd and sizc cnlanccmcnì sidc cffccìs, wlicl can
hc uscfuI if you wanì youi pioducìion ìo fccI ìiglì, compacì, and iiglì in ìlc
Iisìcnci's facc-a favoiiìc ìiick of Spikc Sìcnì's, wlicl you can lcai aII ovci lis
mixcs foi Massivc Aììack.
3
Wiìl sizc oi susìain dcIays, ìlc issuc of low ìlcii Iongci dcIay ìimcs Iock in
wiìl ìlc song's ìcmpo hcais a IiììIc fuiìlci ìlouglì, hccausc maìcling a dcIay
ìo ìcmpo cffccìivcIy makcs iì Icss audihIc-ìlc cclo on any givcn ilyìlmic
cvcnì wiII hc maskcd ìo somc cxìcnì hy ìlc ncxì ilyìlmic cvcnì. A ìcmpo-
synccd dcIay can ìlcicfoic hc fadcd up mucl liglci in ìlc mix hcfoic iì hcgins
ìo hccomc ohviousIy noìiccahIc, wlicl ficqucnìIy makcs ìlis kind of paìcl
picfciahIc foi woikloisc sizc[susìain-cnlanccmcnì duìics aì mixdown. Mosì
DAW dcIay cffccìs now incIudc ìcmpo-maìcling funcìions as sìandaid, aIIowing
you ìo spccify dcIay ìimcs in ìcims of musicaI noìc Icngìls, huì if noì ìlcn you
can sìiII woik ouì ìcmpo-icIaìcd dcIay ìimcs in miIIiscconds vciy casiIy: dividc
6u,uuu hy ìlc hcaìs pci minuìc (BPM) ìcmpo vaIuc of youi pioducìion, and
ìlcn ìiy diffcicnì muIìipIcs and fiacìions of ìlaì vaIuc. So a ìcmpo of l2uhpm
wiII givc you a vaIuc of 5uums, foi insìancc, and ìimcs of luuums, 25ums, oi
l25ms may aIso hc uscfuI-as indccd may ìiipIcì vaIucs of l67ms and 83ms.
Iì's noì uncommon ìo lavc scvciaI ìcmpo-synccd dcIays aì mixdown, as cacl
dcIay-ìimc noìc vaIuc may suiì somc diy ìiacks moic ìlan oìlcis. You may
aIso nnd ìlaì a sIiglì Icngìlcning of ìlc dcIay ìimc hcyond ìlc sìiicì ìcmpo-
maìclcd vaIuc givcs a moic musicaI icsuIì in somc cascs. 'I ciìlci scì dcIays
iiglì on ìlc hcaì, oi. a IiììIc sIow,´ says NcaI Avion. 'I don'ì Iikc dcIays ìlaì
iusl. In moic vihcy songs, a sIiglìIy hclind-ìlc-hcaì dcIay can makc ìlings
sound a IiììIc hiì moic Iaid-hack.´
4
MaiginaIIy Iazy cclocs can aIso hc ncccssaiy
wlcic a pcifoimci is wandciing a IiììIc alcad of ìlc hcaì fiom ìimc ìo ìimc.
Making delays
sonically different
to the dry tracks has the
advantage that it reduces blend
and size enhancement side effects,
which can be useful if you want
your production to feel tight,
compact, and right in the
listener’s face.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 258
DcIay cffccìs ìlaì aicn'ì ìcmpo-synccd can hc mucl
Iowci in ìlc mix wliIc sìiII icmaining cIcaiIy audihIc,
so ìlcy'ic hcììci foi moic cicaìivc appIicaìions wlcic
ìlcy cnahIc ìlc Iisìcnci ìo appicciaìc ìlc ìiming com-
pIcxiìics wiìlouì ìlc cffccì ìiampIing ovci cvciyìling
cIsc in ìlc aiiangcmcnì. 1lc piacìicaI piohIcm wiìl
unmaìclcd dcIays, ìlougl, is ìlaì ìlcy quickIy sìaiì ìo
undciminc ìlc gioovc of youi ìiack if you usc ìlcm
ìoo mucl, so if you'ic using dcIays as a sìaìcmcnì
wiìlin ilyìlmic sìyIcs, ìlcn iì's usuaIIy hcììci ìo ìakc
a kind of fcncc-siììing lyhiid appioacl hy cloosing
poIyilyìlmic dcIay ìimcs. 1lcsc aic ìcmpo icIaìcd huì
don'ì coiicspond ìo simpIc noìc Icngìls. Common
cxampIcs aic ìlicc-ciglìl-noìc and ìlicc-sixìccnìl-
noìc dcIays. PoIyilyìlmic dcIays aic ìlc sìock in
ìiadc of many dancc sìyIcs, hccausc ìlcy aIIow you ìo
hIow ìlc avciagc iavci's clcmicaIIy addIcd mind wiìl
Ioìs of ìiippy-sounding audihIc dcIay icpcaìs wliIc safcguaiding ìlc csscnìiaI
ilyìlmic cIaiiìy of ìlc gioovc.
17.2 USING DELAYS IN STEREO
Anoìlci icason wly dcIays aic ofìcn moic uscfuI ìlan icvcihs foi modcin
sìyIcs is ìlaì ìlcy don'ì smudgc ìlc sìcico ncId in ìlc way a icvcih docs. As a
icsuIì, dcIays ìypicaIIy Icavc a mix moic opcn sounding and aic picfciicd hy
many cnginccis.
1lcic aic diffcicnì ways you miglì wanì ìo posiìion cclocs in ìlc sìcico ncId
foi diffcicnì puiposcs. BIcnd and sizc dcIays ìcnd ìo hc mosì cffccìivc wlcn
you usc a ìiuc sìcico scìup, in oìlci woids a dcIay cffccì wlcic ìlc sìcico
posiìioning[spicad of cclocs in ìlc dcIay icìuin maìclcs ìlaì of ìlc mono
and sìcico diy signaIs ìlaì aic fccding ìlc cffccì. In ìlis sccnaiio ìlc dcIay
icpcaìs icinfoicc ìlc sìcico posiìioning of ìlc mix and ìlcicfoic diaw Icss
aììcnìion ìo ìlcmscIvcs, wlicl is idcaI foi suhìIc cnlanccmcnì appIicaìions.
In my cxpciicncc, impIcmcnìing a ìiuc-sìcico scìup in somc DAWs is ahouì
as cnìciìaining as hiusling youi ìccìl wiìl an angIc giindci, huì ìiy ìo pci-
scvcic wiìl iì, hccausc iì's dcnniìcIy woiìl ìlc cffoiì. (1lc sìcico dcIay scìup,
ìlaì is, noì ìlc angIc giinding.) Mono-inpuì, sìcico-ouìpuì dcIay cffccìs ìlaì
add a scnsc of sìcico widìl ìcnd ìo diaw moic aììcnìion ìo ìlcmscIvcs as
aiìinciaI cffccìs and may aIso confusc ìlc imaging of sìcico ìiacks, wlcicas
simpIc mono-in, mono-ouì dcIays aic Icss succcssfuI as gIohaI scnd cffccìs
hccausc ìlc mono icìuin cffccìivcIy naiiows ìlc mix and cIuììcis ìlc ccnìci
of ìlc sìcico imagc. Mono dcIays do lavc ìlcii uscs, huì iì's wiìl ìonaI and
susìain pioccssing of individuaI insìiumcnìs wlcic ìlcy icaIIy comc inìo
ìlcii own, cspcciaIIy wlcic ìlc dcIay icìuin is panncd ìo maìcl ìlc diy sig-
naI hcing ìicaìcd.
FIGURE 17.2
Plug-in delay effects
like Steinberg’s Cubase
ModMachine and the
Interruptor’s Bionic
Delay make it easy to
synchronize your delay
times to your project’s
master tempo. This is
useful if you want the
delay effects to sink
into the mix and be less
audible in their own
right.
Mixing with Delays CHAPTER 17 259
Of couisc, dcIay cffccìs can aIso cnlancc ìlc sìcico spicad, jusì as icvcih can,
if you can gcì youi lands on a dcIay pIug-in ìlaì givcs you conìioI ovci ìlc
posiìioning of ìlc diffcicnì cclocs iì gcnciaìcs. 1lcic aic a coupIc of ìlings
ìo hc awaic of wlcn doing ìlis, ìlougl. Fiisì, panning sloiì dcIays can dis-
guisc comh-nIìciing cffccìs wlcn Iisìcning in sìcico, so you slouId connim ìlc
mono compaìihiIiìy of any sucl paìcl caicfuIIy. Sccond, ìlcic's a dangci ìlaì
panning individuaI cclocs wiII skcw ìlc ovciaII sìcico imagc of ìlc dcIay cffccì
ìo onc sidc, wlicl miglì noì hc dcsiiahIc. Onc icsponsc ìo ìlis diIcmma is ìo
lavc aIìcinaìc dcIay icpcaìs opposiìion-panncd so ìlaì ìlcy haIancc ìlc sìcico
cffccì ìo an cxìcnì-a scìup caIIcd 'ping-pong´ dcIay, wlicl can hc cxìicmcIy
cffccìivc foi poIyilyìlmic paìclcs in paiìicuIai. Anoìlci ìacìic is ìo usc a singIc
cclo panncd ìo ìlc opposiìc sidc of ìlc sìcico panoiama ìlan ìlc diy signaI.
Wlaìcvci you ìiy, ìlougl, you slouId aIways ask youiscIf wlcìlci ìlc sìcico
claiacìci of youi dcIays is disìiacìing ìoo mucl aììcnìion fiom moic impoiìanì
cIcmcnìs of ìlc pioducìion as a wloIc.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
DcIay cffccìs offci simiIai mixdown cnlanccmcnìs as icvcih, wliIc ìaking
up Icss spacc in ìlc mix. AIìlougl ìlc cclo paììcins ìlcy cicaìc aic usuaIIy
simpIci, you can ìicaì ìlcm in mucl ìlc samc way as icvcih fiom ìlc pci-
spccìivc of scìup and haIancc pioccssing.
I
DcIay ìimcs ìlaì aic maìclcd ìo ìcmpo wiII ìcnd ìo sink inìo ìlc mix, mak-
ing ìlcm idcaI foi mixdown cnlanccmcnìs. Unmaìclcd dcIay ìimcs wiII
pop ouì of ìlc mix aì Iowci IcvcIs, so ìlcy aic hcììci suiìcd ìo moic osìcnìa-
ìious cicaìivc appIicaìions. Howcvci, if unmaìclcd dcIay ìimcs aic undci-
mining ìlc ilyìlmic ßow of youi pioducìion, ìlcn ìiy ouì poIyilyìlmic
dcIays insìcad.
I
A ìiuc-sìcico cffccì connguiaìion wiII woik hcsì foi hIcnd and sizc dcIays,
cvcn ìlougl sucl a scìup can hc difncuIì ìo cicaìc in somc DAW sysìcms.
Mono-in, sìcico-ouì and simpIc mono dcIay cffccìs ìcnd ìo suiì ìonaI and
susìain ioIcs hcììci, huì ìlcy may aIso hc appIicd foi ìlc sakc of dcIihciaìc
sìcico cnlanccmcnì. If so, kccp a caicfuI cai ouì foi mono compaìihiIiìy
and sìcico haIancc.
MULTITAP DELAY
Multitap delay effects occupy the middle ground between simple delay effects and
reverb. What they allow you to do is independently specify the timing, level, and
(usually) stereo placement of a handful of separate echoes. On the one hand, you
can use these facilities to implement normal delay effects, but on the other hand, you
can simulate something akin to a reverb’s early reflections pattern. Where any specific
multitap delay patch resides on this continuum will dictate how it’s best dealt with
from a mixdown perspective.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 260
I Do a survey of all the delay plug-ins on your DAW system, and check that you
have at least one fairly clean digital algorithm as well as a couple of characterful
analog-modeled devices. If you feel restricted here, check out third-party
alternatives.
I Return to your mix, save it, and open a copy. Mute any reverb effects you’ve used,
and experiment with delay patches instead to see if they can achieve similar
enhancements with fewer unwanted side effects. Once you’ve seen what differ-
ent delay patches might be able to offer in each of the roles, save your mix again,
open another copy of it, and remove all the effects sends, leaving the delay and
reverb returns in place. Now try to achieve the best balance of delay and reverb
effects for each channel. Once you’ve achieved this, save the mix once more, and
then compare it with both of the previous versions to gain a full appreciation of
what delays and reverbs can do at mixdown.
http://www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch17.htm
Assignment
261
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
Duiing ìlc discussion of panning in Sccìion 8.2, I aigucd ìlaì sìcico widìl
is fai moic impoiìanì ìo many mainsìicam pioducìions ìlan cxacì sìcico
posiìioning, a vicw ìlaì is hoinc ouì hy ìlc cnoimous vaiicìy of ìiicks audio
cnginccis lavc comc up wiìl ìo adjusì imagc spicad. 1lis clapìci dcìaiIs a
scIccìion of ìlcsc ìcclniqucs in oidci ìo cIaiify cacl mcìlod's hcncnìs and
diawhacks.
18.1 ARRANGEMENT TWEAKS
Somc of ìlc mosì cffccìivc sìcico cnlanccmcnìs aì mixdown can acìuaIIy
hc aclicvcd suiicpìiìiousIy wiìlouì Ioading a singIc pIug-in. My mosì com-
mon ìiick foi inßaìing ìlc sonics of Mix Rcscuc suhmissions, foi cxampIc,
is ìo gcnciaìc fakc douhIc-ìiacks, wlicl can ìlcn hc opposiìion-panncd foi
insìanì widìl and cxìia aiiangcmcnì dcnsiìy. 1iacks ìlaì offci ìlis possihiI-
iìy wiII hc ìlosc ìlaì incIudc ìlc samc musicaI maìciiaI pcifoimcd moic
ìlan oncc-noì an uncommon occuiicncc in a Ioì of ilyìlm-sccìion, iiff,
and look paiìs. If you dupIicaìc ìlc ìiack in qucsìion and usc youi audio cdiì-
ing ìooIs ìo slufßc iìs icpcaìcd musicaI sccìions aiound, you can gcnciaìc
a vcision ìlaì comhincs wiìl ìlc oiiginaI jusì Iikc a scpaiaìcIy ovciduhhcd
douhIc-ìiack. So Icì's say youi song's cloius is ciglì hais Iong, huì ìlc cloid
paììcin icpcaìs ìwicc wiìlin ìlaì. (If iì docsn'ì, ìlcn iì's youi own siIIy fauIì foi
mixing piog iock.) Iì'II ficqucnìIy hc pIain saiIing ìo gcnciaìc a douhIc-ìiack fiom
a singIc sìiummcd acousìic guiìai paiì wiìlin ìlaì cloius, simpIy hy copying ìlc
paiì and swiìcling ìlc oidci of ìlc copy's ìwo foui-hai sccìions. Wlcn you mix ìlc
oiiginaI and dupIicaìc ìiacks ìogcìlci, ìlcy'II sìiII sound Iikc indcpcndcnì pcifoi-
manccs, hccausc ìlc oiiginaI paiì wiII hc pIaying
hais l ìliougl 4 wliIc ìlc 'douhIc-ìiack´ pIays
hais 5 ìliougl 8, and vicc vcisa.
Wlcic sccìions don'ì icpcaì quiìc as cIoscIy,
ìlougl, you lavc ìo ìlink a hiì moic IaìciaIIy
ìo do ìlis ìiick. I icguIaiIy icsoiì ìo piìcl and
ìimc manipuIaìion ìo squaic ìlis paiìicuIai
Stereo Enhancements
CHAPTER 18
FIGURE 18.1
Generating a “fake”
double-track with audio
editing.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 262
ciicIc, and wc covcicd aII ìlc ìcclniqucs you'ic IikcIy ìo nccd foi ìlis hack
in Clapìci 6. In oìlci cascs, I may huiId ìlc douhIc-ìiack moic as a kind of
paìclwoik quiIì hy sìcaIing individuaI cloids and noìcs fiom aII ovci ìlc pIacc
ìo aclicvc ìlc iIIusion of a ficsl ovciduh, cspcciaIIy in ìlosc cascs wlcic a pai-
ìicuIai sound (ovcidiivcn cIccìiic guiìai, say) ìliows iìs ìoys ouì of ìlc piam if
suhjccìcd ìo piìcl slifìing oi ìimc sìicìcling. Somc smaII-sìudio uscis ìiy ìo
cicaìc ìlis cffccì hy simpIy dcIaying a copy of a singIc ìiack, huì iì's impoiìanì
ìo icaIizc ìlaì ìlis won'ì cicaìc ncaiIy ìlc samc icsuIì and may causc sciious
plasc-canccIIaìion piohIcms in mono. (1lcic aic somc uscfuI appIicaìions of
ìlaì idca, ìlougl, wlicl I'II gcì ìo in a momcnì.)
Anoìlci pIug-in-ficc ìiick woiìl considciing is adding somc kind of widc-
sciccn sìcico hackgiound ìcxìuic. A synìl pad is a ficqucnì cloicc lcic, huì
unpiìclcd sounds can hc cquaIIy landy. My sìaIwaiìs foi ìlis ìcclniquc aic
ìlings Iikc ìapc liss, vinyI noisc, and ìlc ìypc of hackgiound ioom amhicncc
uscd foi nIm FoIcy woik (ofìcn caIIcd 'ioom ìonc´ in ìlc ìiadc). 1lc sidc
cffccìs of ìlc piìclcd and unpiìclcd addiìions wiII incviìahIy hc a IiììIc diffci-
cnì, ìlougl, so cloosc caicfuIIy. A pad wiII cniicl piìclcd susìains, unpiìclcd
ìcxìuics wiII ìo somc cxìcnì impiovc pciccivcd hIcnd and ohscuic Iow-IcvcI
dcìaiIs, and FoIcy amhicnccs may aIso cIcaiIy impIy a scnsc of sizc and spacc.
A paiìicuIai advanìagc of using suppIcmcnìaiy, huì musicaIIy incsscnìiaI, paiìs
sucl as ìlcsc ìo add sìcico widìl is ìlaì mono compaìihiIiìy iaicIy hccomcs an
awkwaid issuc. So wlaì if youi pad oi ioom ìonc Iosc dcnniìion, oi cvcn dis-
appcai compIcìcIy, in mono² Mosì mono Iisìcning cnviionmcnìs aic so Io-n
anyway ìlaì ìlc ìypicaIIy suhìIc cffccìs aic unIikcIy ìo hc misscd.
18.2 ADJUSTING STEREO SPREAD
Iì's casy ìo adjusì ìlc spicad of a coIIccìion of mono nIcs in ìlc sìcico imagc
using panning, huì sìcico iccoidings can hc a hiì ìiickici ìo dcaI wiìl wlcn
iì comcs ìo adjusìing sìcico widìl. Cianìcd, naiiowing a sìcico ìiack isn'ì ìoo
ìiicky. AII you do is adjusì ìlc individuaI panning of ìlc Icfì and iiglì clan-
ncIs, as wc saw in Sccìion 8.2. Widcning a sìcico iccoiding, on ìlc oìlci land,
is a hiì Iikc huying scnsihIc undics: youi hcsì hcì is M&S. Lcì mc cxpIain.
Wc'ic uscd ìo ìlinking of sìcico iccoidings as hcing madc up of onc signaI foi
ìlc Icfì-land spcakci and onc signaI foi ìlc iiglì-land spcakci, huì iì ìuins ouì
ìlaì you can aIso cncodc a sìcico iccoiding as ìwo clanncIs in a diffcicnì way:
onc clanncI conìaining ìlc mono cIcmcnìs aì ìlc ccnìci of ìlc sìcico imagc (ìlc
MiddIc signaI) and onc clanncI conìaining ìlc cIcmcnìs
ìlaì appcai off-ccnìci (ìlc Sidcs signaI). As a sound
movcs off-ccnìci in a MiddIc and Sidcs (M&S) iccoiding,
iìs IcvcI icduccs in ìlc MiddIc signaI and incicascs in ìlc
Sidcs signaI, iìs poIaiiìy in ìlc Sidcs signaI indicaìing
wlicl sidc of ìlc sìcico ncId iì lappcns ìo hc on. You
can icpicscnì an idcnìicaI sìcico signaI in hoìl Icfì-iiglì
and M&S foimaìs, and hccausc cacl icpicscnìs cxacìIy
ìlc samc infoimaìion iì's casy ìo convciì hcìwccn ìlcm.
FIGURE 18.2
A great little freeware
M&S manipulation plug-
in: Voxengo’s MSED.
Stereo Enhancements CHAPTER 18 263
If M&S cncoding docsn'ì makc any diffcicncc ìo ìlc sound of a sìcico nIc,
wlaì's ìlc poinì of iì² WcII, ìlc icason iì's so uscfuI is ìlaì iì aIIows us gicaìci
conìioI ovci ìlc mono and sìcico aspccìs of a iccoiding and in pai-
ìicuIai givcs us ìlc ahiIiìy ìo incicasc ìlc sìcico widìl in
a givcn iccoiding hy fading up ìlc IcvcI of ìlc Sidcs
signaI-pusl ìlings fai cnougl and you can cvcn
makc ìlc sìcico soundsìagc appcai ìo cxìcnd
hcyond ìlc spcakcis in a sìcico scìup. Howcvci,
iì's ciuciaI ìo icmcmhci ìlaì a sìcico iccoid-
ing's Sidcs componcnì isn'ì audihIc in mono,
so if you sìaiì ìo lcaviIy cmplasizc ìlaì com-
poncnì in ìlc mix, ìlc IcvcI diop wlcn you
movc ìo mono may hc quiìc diamaìic-in
cxìicmc cascs a sound couId disappcai cnìiicIy on
somc Iisìcning sysìcms! So wlcn incicasing sìcico
widìl in ìlis way, you slouId hc suic ìo compaic youi
mix haIancc in hoìl sìcico and mono, and iì's aIso scnsihIc
ìo icIcgaìc sucl widcning ìicaìmcnìs ìo musicaIIy unimpoiìanì paiìs (sucl as
ilyìlm-sccìion nIIcis oi synìl pads) so ìlaì any IcvcI diops youi widcning
docs incui don'ì makc a nonscnsc of ìlc pioducìion.
1lcic's no sloiìagc of sìcico cnlancci pIug-ins ìlaì opciaìc on M&S piin-
cipIcs, aIìlougl you can casiIy impIcmcnì simiIai widcning wiìlouì any
of ìlcm simpIy hy dupIicaìing youi sìcico ìiack, panning ìlc dupIicaìc's Icfì
and iiglì sidcs ccnìiaIIy (ìlcichy summing iì ìo mono), and ìlcn invciìing
ìlc dupIicaìc's poIaiiìy. As you add ìlc dupIicaìc inìo ìlc mix, iì wiII piogics-
sivcIy plasc-canccI moic of ìlc sìcico iccoiding's MiddIc componcnì, ìlus
incicasing ìlc icIaìivc IcvcI of ìlc Sidcs componcnì. Noìwiìlsìanding, I pci-
sonaIIy nnd iì moic convcnicnì ìo usc a scpaiaìc M&S cncodci[dccodci, and
my nim favoiiìc foi ìlis is Voxcngo's cioss-pIaìfoim MSED-noì Icasì hccausc
iì's ficcwaic, and I'm a clcapskaìc! 1lis pIug-in cncodcs a sìcico Icfì-iiglì sig-
naI inìo M&S foimaì wiìlin ìlc pIug-in, givcs you scpaiaìc IcvcI conìioI ovci
ìlc MiddIc and Sidcs IcvcIs, and ìlcn iccncodcs ìlc sìcico signaI ìo Icfì-iiglì
foimaì aì iìs ouìpuìs. MSED aIso givcs you ìlc opìion of jusì cncoding ìo oi
dccoding fiom M&S, wlicl offcis addiìionaI possihiIiìics if you wisl ìo pio-
ccss ìlc MiddIc oi Sidcs signaIs of a sìcico nIc indcpcndcnìIy using oìlci pIug-
ins in youi DAW-pcilaps ìo EQ a ccnìiaI snaic imagc in youi sìcico dium
ovcilcad iccoiding wiìlouì impacìing as lcaviIy on cymhaI and ioom-sound
cIcmcnìs, wlicl appcai cIosci ìo ìlc cdgcs of ìlc sìcico imagc.
Anoìlci appIicaìion of M&S cquaIizaìion is ìo piovidc ficqucncy-scIccìivc
widìl conìioI, hccausc any ficqucncy you hoosì in ìlc Sidcs signaI wiII hc wid-
cncd, wlcicas any ficqucncy you cuì wiII hc naiiowcd. Howcvci, ìlis kind of
ficqucncy-scIccìivc opciaìion is aIso ofìcn impIcmcnìcd hy ìlc cquaIIy viahIc
appioacl of spIiììing ìlc audihIc spccìium inìo hands and ìlcn appIying scpa-
iaìc M&S pioccssing ìo cacl-cxacìIy in ìlc moId of a muIìihand dynamics
pioccssoi. 1lc icason ficqucncy-scIccìivc sìcico widìl pioccssing is landy is
The crucial thing
to remember is that
a stereo recording’s Sides
component isn’t audible in mono,
so if you heavily emphasize that in
the mix, the level drop when you
move to mono may be quite
dramatic.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 264
ìlaì iì aIIows you ìo icducc mono compaìihiIiìy piohIcms wiìl ìlc minimum
ovciaII impacì on ìlc appaicnì sìcico widìl. So, foi cxampIc, if a plasc mis-
aIignmcnì hcìwccn ìlc Iow ficqucncics in ìlc Icfì and iiglì clanncIs of a sìc-
ico iccoiding is causing a Ioss of hass wlcn audiìioning in mono, you couId
cncodc ìlc sìcico ìo M&S foimaì and ligl-pass-nIìci ìlc Sidcs signaI ìo icducc
ìlc piohIcm, wiìlouì affccìing ìlc sìcico impicssion dcIivcicd hy ìlc uppci
ficqucncics. In a simiIai vcin, you miglì fccI you can gcì away wiìl hoosì-
ing ìlc vciy ligl ficqucncics of a sìcico iccoiding's Sidcs signaI ìo givc iì an
cnlanccd impicssion of widìl on ligl-quaIiìy sìcico Iisìcning sysìcms, know-
ing ìlaì ìlc Ioss of ìlis mono-incompaìihIc ligl cnd wiII piohahIy go unno-
ìiccd on Iowci-quaIiìy mono pIayhack cquipmcnì.
18.3 STATIC ENHANCEMENTS
WliIc M&S pioccssing can do a Ioì ìo manipuIaìc ìlc sìcico infoimaìion ìlaì's
aIicady picscnì in a signaI, you can onIy icaIIy usc iì ìo cnlancc sìcico widìl
infoimaìion ìlaì's aIicady picscnì. Wlaì if you wanì ìo add sìcico widìl ìo
mono ìiacks²
EQ-Based Widening
SimpIc EQ piovidcs piohahIy ìlc mosì sìiaiglìfoiwaid mcìlod. Hcic's ìlc
dcaI:
I
DupIicaìc youi mono ìiack.
I
Pan ìlc oiiginaI and dupIicaìc ìiacks ìo opposiìc sidcs of ìlc sìcico imagc.
I
Insciì an cquaIizci inìo ìlc oiiginaI clanncI and makc any oId scIccìion of
cuìs and hoosìs.
I
Copy ìlaì cquaIizci scììing ìo ìlc dupIicaìc clanncI, huì wiìl ìlc gain
scììings of ìlc cquaIizci invciìcd so ìlaì cuìs hccomc hoosìs, and hoosìs
hccomc cuìs.
1lc cffccì of ìlis scìup wiII csscnìiaIIy hc ìo pan diffcicnì ficqucncy icgions of
ìlc sound ìo diffcicnì posiìions in ìlc sìcico ncId, smcaiing ìlc sound's spcc-
ìium acioss ìlc panoiama ìo pioducc a widci imagc. AIìlougl ìlc advanìagc
of ìlis pioccssing is ìlaì iì's compaiaìivcIy mono-fiicndIy (ìlc EQ clangcs
picììy mucl jusì canccI cacl oìlci ouì wlcn ìlc Icfì and iiglì clanncIs aic
summcd), iì can pioducc iaìlci an odd Iisìcning scnsaìion in sìcico, cspcciaIIy
if you onIy usc a fcw hioad-hand EQ clangcs. An EQ scììing wiìl Ioìs of smaII
pcaks and ìiougls usuaIIy cicaìcs a moic cvcn fccIing of ficqucncy spicad. 1lis
is wly ìlis ìcclniquc is ofìcn associaìcd wiìl giaplic EQ-if you scì up an
aIìcinaìing paììcin of hoosìs and cuìs on ìlc sIidcis foi onc clanncI, cvcn a
ioadic slouId hc ahIc ìo invciì ìlaì paììcin hy cyc on ìlc oìlci clanncI. (As
Iong as lc undcisìands Iong woids Iikc 'aIìcinaìing.´) NoncìlcIcss, I'vc ncvci
lad paiìicuIaiIy good icsuIìs wiìl hasic EQ-hascd widcning foi impoiìanì
Stereo Enhancements CHAPTER 18 265
music paiìs, hccausc ìlc way iì dcsìahiIizcs ìlc planìom imagc sccms ìo makc
insìiumcnìs sound Icss soIid in ìlc mix-hcììci ìo savc iì foi incidcnìaI paiìs
ìlaì suiì a moic diffusc and hackgiound ioIc.
Pitch Shifting
Piìcl slifìing offcis a diffcicnì way ìo widcn mono iccoidings. FoIIow ìlc
samc ìiack-dupIicaìion sclcmc as in ìlc picvious ìcclniquc, huì insìcad of
insciìing EQ ìo diffcicnìiaìc ìlc clanncIs, usc smaII piìcl slifìs-ìiy slifìs
of nvc ccnìs (in oìlci woids nvc lundicdìls of a scmiìonc) upwaid in ìlc
laid-Icfì-panncd clanncI and nvc ccnìs downwaid in ìlc laid-iiglì-panncd
clanncI. AIìlougl sucl smaII piìcl slifìs aicn'ì quiìc cnougl ìo makc ìlc
ìiack fccI ouì of ìunc, ìlcy do fooI ìlc cai inìo ìlinking ìlaì ìlc signaIs iì's
lcaiing fiom ìlc ìwo spcakcis aic acìuaIIy indcpcndcnì sound souiccs, so you
gcì ìlc impicssion of a widc-sounding sìcico imagc.
Onc piohIcm wiìl ìlis paiìicuIai impIcmcnìaìion, ìlougl, is ìlaì piìcl slifì-
cis ìlaì sound any good aic aIso quiìc CPU lungiy, so you'II iapidIy suffci
a sciious pioccssoi liì if you wanì ìo widcn scvciaI ìiacks ìlis way. Foi ìlis
icason, a mucl hcììci icaI-woiId way of using ìlis cffccì is ìo scì up ìlc piìcl
slifìing as a scnd-icìuin cffccì. 1laì way you onIy nccd onc piìcl slifìci foi
FIGURE 18.3
An EQ-based stereo widening effect.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 266
ìlc wloIc piojccì, and you can icguIaìc low mucl iì affccìs
cacl insìiumcnì in ìlc mix hy adjusìing individuaI ìiack scnd
IcvcIs. If youi paiìicuIai piìcl slifìci docsn'ì makc a giaccfuI
ìiansiìion inìo mono, you can aIso usc M&S pioccssing ìo
icducc ìlc IcvcI of MiddIc-signaI componcnì in ìlc piìcl slifì-
ci's icìuin clanncI ìo icducc ìlc nasìincss foi mono Iisìcncis,
and you'II aIso usuaIIy wanì ìo add a sloiì picdcIay (mayhc
lums oi so) hcfoic ìlc piìcl slifìci so ìlaì you avoid undcsii-
ahIc plasc canccIIaìion hcìwccn wcì and diy signaIs.
A Classic Pitch-Shifted Delay Patch
An cxìcnsion of ìlis piìcl-slifìing idca Icads us ìo onc of ìlc
oIdcsì sìudio cffccìs ìiicks in ìlc hook. Hcic's ìlc way iì woiks.
If, insìcad of a singIc picdcIay hcfoic ìlc piìcl slifìci, you
acìuaIIy usc diffcicnì dcIay vaIucs foi cacl sidc of iìs sìcico
ouìpuì (ìypicaIIy a fcw miIIiscconds Icss dcIay on ìlc clanncI
ìlaì is slifìcd downwaid), ìlcn ìlc ìimc-of-aiiivaI diffcicncc
hcìwccn ìlc ìwo clanncIs incicascs ìlc pciccivcd dispaiiìy
hcìwccn ìlcm and fuiìlci incicascs ìlc suhjccìivc widcncss.
AII cnginccis sccm ìo lavc ìlcii own picfcicnccs in ìcims of
ìlc cxacì piìcl slifì amounìs and dcIay ìimcs, huì so many
pcopIc usc ìlis ìypc of scìup ìlaì iì's goì ìo hc onc of ìlc aII-
ìimc cIassic gcnciaI-puiposc mix ìicaìmcnìs. Lcad vocaIs aic
onc of iìs piimc appIicaìions, hccausc noì onIy docs iì widcn ìlcm, making
ìlcm appcai Iaigci in ìlc sìcico picìuic and dccicasing ìlc dispaiiìy hcìwccn
sìcico and mono pIayhack, huì iì aIso hIcnds ìlcm cvci so sIiglìIy inìo ìlc
ìiack as a sidc cffccì, a IiììIc hiì Iikc ìlc hIcnd dcIay paìcl icfciicd ìo in ìlc pic-
vious clapìci.
1lc higgcsì piohIcm wiìl ìlis famous widcnci paìcl on Icad vocaIs is ìlaì
adding ìoo mucl of iì wiII makc any hand sound Iikc Clicago, huì cvcn wlcn
you avoid ìlaì ìciiifying lazaid, ìlc piìcl-slifìcd signaI may sìiII plasc-canccI
undcsiiahIy wiìl ìlc diy vocaI sound. AIìlougl a IiììIc comh nIìciing may noì
maììci on Icss impoiìanì paiìs, on upfionì Icad vocaIs smaII clangcs wiII hc
moic noìiccahIc. Onc soIuìion ìo ìlis is ìo incicasc ìlc picdcIay hy anoìlci
2ums oi so, huì ìlis mcans ìlaì you'II ìlcn hcgin ìo unmask ìlc cffccì hy
Icììing iì ìiaiI sIiglìIy hclind ìlc vocaI. You gcì Icss comh nIìciing, suic, huì
you aIso can'ì gcì away wiìl using as mucl widcning hcfoic ìlc piìcl-slifìcd
dcIay hcgins ìo sound ohviousIy synìlcìic. Anoìlci ìacìic I pcisonaIIy picfci is
ìo suhìIy nncssc youi dcIay ìimcs so ìlaì ìlc comh nIìciing is icndcicd moic
hcnign-a miIIisccond ciìlci way can makc a suipiisingIy hig diffcicncc. I
aIso ficqucnìIy ligl-pass nIìci ìlc cffccì icìuin ìo somc cxìcnì, wlicl noì onIy
lcIps icducc ìlc IcvcI of plasc canccIIaìion in ìlc midiangc (wlcic iì's usuaIIy
aì iìs mosì damaging in ìlis insìancc) huì aIso las ìlc cffccì of suppIying a
IiììIc hiì of ligl-ficqucncy cnlanccmcnì inìo ìlc haigain.
FIGURE 18.4
A classic stereo
widening effect based
around pitch-shifted
delays, although every
engineer has a favorite
combination of pitch-
shift amounts and delay
times.
Stereo Enhancements CHAPTER 18 267
Wliclcvci way you scì up ìlis cffccì, ìlougl, you slouId makc suic ìo clcck
iìs mono-compaìihiIiìy. Onc of ìlc cffccì's sìicngìls is ìlaì iì's ofìcn faiiIy
wcII-hclavcd in ìlis icspccì, huì if iì isn'ì, ìlcn you can usuaIIy saIvagc ìlc siì-
uaìion hy massaging ìlc piìcl-slifì oi dcIay amounìs wliIc Iisìcning in mono.
Haas Delays
Anoìlci inìcicsìing cffccì foi widcning invoIvcs panning youi diy ìiack ìo onc
poinì in ìlc sìcico imagc and ìlcn panning a singIc cclo ìo a diffcicnì posi-
ìion, ofìcn on ìlc oìlci sidc of ìlc ncId. 1lc dcIay ìimc lcic nccds ìo hc sloiì
cnougl ìlaì ìlc cclo can'ì hc pciccivcd scpaiaìcIy fiom ìlc diy signaI and is
ìlcicfoic ìicaìcd as if iì wcic an acousìic icßccìion of ìlc diy sound coming
fiom anoìlci diiccìion. In oìlci woids, iì nccds ìo hc wlaì is somcìimcs caIIcd
a 'Haas dcIay,´ afìci ìlc Cciman scicnìisì wlo nisì cxpIoicd ìlis psycloIogicaI
cffccì cxpciimcnìaIIy. (Mayhc iì's jusì my sclooIhoy scnsc of lumoi, huì I'vc
aIways wislcd lc'd hccn Ficncl.) If ìlc dcIay signaI can hc pciccivcd as a dis-
ìincì cclo in iìs own iiglì, ìlcn you'II sìiII gcì widcning, huì iì'II sound mucl
moic noìiccahIc as an aiìinciaI cffccì.
1ypicaIIy a Haas dcIay wiII foIIow ìlc diy sound wiìlin ahouì 3ums, huì
ìlis dcpcnds on ìlc signaI ìlaì's hcing dcIaycd, so you aIways lavc ìo
judgc wlcìlci ìlc dcIay is audihIc hy cai-slaip ìiansicnìs can appcai
ìo ßam aì ìimcs wcII hcIow 3ums, foi cxampIc. You miglì hc ìcmpìcd sim-
pIy ìo scì ìlc dcIay nicc and sloiì foi safcìy's sakc, huì ìlaì hiings pioh-
Icms of iìs own, hccausc ìlc fuiìlci youi dcIay ìimc lcads hcIow 3ums,
ìlc moic dcsìiucìivc ìlc plasc canccIIaìion is IikcIy ìo hc hcìwccn ìlc
wcì and diy signaIs. You miglì noì noìicc ìlis if you'vc panncd ìlcm
laid Icfì and iiglì, huì ìlcic'II hc no cscapc in mono. 1lc ìiick ìo gcì-
ìing hcsì icsuIìs lcic, ìlcn, is ìo ìiy ìo scì as ligl a dcIay ìimc as possihIc
wiìlouì ìlc cclo hicaking away pciccpìuaIIy fiom ìlc diy signaI. Somc
fuiìlci pioccssing of ìlc dcIay icìuin may lcIp in ìlis icgaid, aIong simi-
Iai Iincs as wlcn icducing ìlc audihiIiìy of a hIcnd icvcih-
ligl-ficqucncy EQ cuì and ìiansicnì sofìcning cspcciaIIy.
Foi ìlc widcsì sìcico cffccì, you slouId pan ìlc wcì
and diy sounds ìo opposiìc sìcico cxìicmcs, huì
I nnd ìlaì mosì of ìlc hcsì appIicaìions foi ìlis
Haas dcIay cffccì aic wlcic ìlc wcì and diy sig-
naIs aicn'ì puslcd ìlaì fai apaiì. Haas dcIays
aic gicaì foi gcnìIy cxpanding mono signaIs
in spaisci mixcs wlcic ìlcic's a Ioì of spacc
ìo nII, foi cxampIc. 1lcy'ic aIso uscfuI wlcic
you wanì ìo avoid a hig gap in ìlc sìcico ncId
hcìwccn laid-panncd douhIc-ìiackcd paiìs-pan
a Haas dcIay foi cacl ìiack somcwlcic cIosci ìo ìlc
ccnìci, oi cvcn ovciIap ìlc dcIays sIiglìIy, ìo sìicìcl
Typically a Haas
delay will follow the dry
sound within about 30ms, but
this depends on the signal that’s
being delayed, so you always have
to judge whether the delay is audible
by ear—sharp transients can
appear to flam at times well
below 30ms.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 268
ìlc insìiumcnìs acioss as mucl spacc as you wanì ìo covci. Wlcn iì comcs ìo
cloosing a IcvcI foi ìlc Haas dcIay, iì's ìcmpìing ìo usc quiìc a Ioì, cspcciaIIy if
you faII foi ìlc Ioudncss hias hy judging ìlc impacì of ìlc cffccì jusì hy swiìcl-
ing ìlc icìuin on and off. Howcvci, Haas dcIays ìcnd ìo iaìlci lomogcnizc
insìiumcnì sounds ìlcy'ic appIicd ìo, smooìling ovci ìlc inìcinaI dcìaiIs so
ìlaì ìlcy sound a hiì hIand, and ìlcy aIso pusl sounds faiìlci away fiom ìlc
Iisìcnci, as you'd cxpccì if you considci ìlc cffccì's cIosc icIaìionslip ìo hIcnd
dcIay[icvcih. So ìicad a hiì caicfuIIy lcic-Iisìcning in mono can icaIIy lcIp
cIaiify youi dccisions, hccausc iì ìakcs ìlc sìcico widcning ouì of ìlc cquaìion,
ìlcichy liglIiglìing any poìcnìiaIIy unwanìcd sidc cffccìs.
18.4 MODULATED ENHANCEMENTS
So fai wc'vc Iookcd onIy aì sìaìic cffccìs ìlaì can aIìci and cnlancc sìcico
widìl, huì ìlcic aic fuiìlci opìions oncc you gcì inìo ìlc icaIm of moduIaìcd
ìicaìmcnìs.
Auto-Panning and Rotary Speaker Emulation
PiohahIy ìlc simpIcsì moduIaìcd sìcico cffccì is auìo-pan-an insciì cffccì ìlaì
swccps a mono sound cycIicaIIy fiom onc sidc of ìlc sìcico ncId ìo ìlc oìlci.
AIìlougl ìlis can hc a nicc cffccì on occasion, iì's noimaIIy mucl ìoo lcavy
landcd foi suhìIci sìcico cnlanccmcnìs aì mixdown and quickIy hccomcs
disìiacìing foi sìcico Iisìcncis. Howcvci, ìlcic aic sìiII somc uscfuI widcning
paìclcs ìo hc lad fiom an auìo-pannci if you kccp ìlc moduIaìion dcpìl Iow
(so ìlc panning isn'ì ìoo widc), usc a smooìl moduIaìion wavcfoim sucl as
sinc oi ìiiangIc (ìo avoid jciky sìcico slifìs), and pusl ìlc moduIaìion spccd
up inìo ìlc 5 ìo luHz iangc.
FIGURE 18.5
Rotary-speaker
emulations, such as
the one within GSi’s
ORGANized trio plug-in,
can work well as stereo
wideners at mixdown.
Stereo Enhancements CHAPTER 18 269
PcisonaIIy, I picfci ìo usc auìo-panning in a ficqucncy-scIccìivc mannci
insìcad if possihIc, hccausc iì ìcnds ìo fccI Icss disconcciìing if diffcicnì fic-
qucncy icgions aic panning in diffcicnì ways-aì Icasì you don'ì gcì ìlc wloIc
sound claiging ilyìlmicaIIy hack and foiìl acioss ìlc sìcico ncId Iikc somc
kind of audio ìcnnis haII. MuIìihand auìo-panncis aicn'ì cxacìIy ìlick on ìlc
giound, ìlougl, so if you don'ì fancy huiIding onc fiom sciaìcl, ìlcn an aIìci-
naìivc is ìo nnd a LcsIic-sìyIc ioìaiy spcakci cmuIaìion pIug-in. Aì iìs simpIcsì a
pIug-in Iikc ìlis wiII pan ìlc Iow and ligl ficqucncy iangcs indcpcndcnìIy ìo
simuIaìc ìlc spcakci's ìwo ioìaìing loins. Howcvci, mosì modcIs aIso modu-
Iaìc oìlci aspccìs of ìlc sound simuIìancousIy, so you may wisl ìo appIy ìlc
simuIaìion as a scnd cffccì ìo makc ìlc cffccìs moic suhìIc, pcilaps wiìl somc
picdcIay in ìlc cffccì icìuin ìo avoid comh-nIìciing piohIcms. (My favoiiìc
ficcwaic VS1 pIug-in foi ioìaiy spcakci cmuIaìion aì mixdown is Mda's LcsIic,
mainIy hccausc I can scì iì up cxcIusivcIy foi ficqucncy-scIccìivc auìo-panning
if I wanì, wiìlouì any oìlci pioccssing sidc cffccìs.)
Dynamic Tone and Pitch Changes
AIìlougl ìlc sìaìic EQ widcnci I mcnìioncd aì ìlc sìaiì of Sccìion l8.3 las somc
appIicaìions, mosì of ìlc ìimc moduIaìcd ìonaI clangcs piovidc a moic usahIc sìc-
ico cnlanccmcnì. Cloiusing, ßanging, and plasing wiII aII aclicvc ìlis cnd wlcn
ìlcy'ic uscd as scnd cffccìs, and wliIc ìlc cxacì mcclanics of ìlc way cacl woiks
aic sIiglìIy diffcicnì (and noì icaIIy csscnìiaI ìo undcisìand foi mix puiposcs),
ìlcii sìcico widcning ìacìics aII csscnìiaIIy hoiI down ìo ìlc samc ìling: modu-
Iaìing ìlc ìonc of ìlc Icfì and iiglì clanncIs of ìlc ficqucncy icsponsc indcpcn-
dcnìIy. Andy WaIIacc Iikcs ìlis kind of ìicaìmcnì on hass: 'Noì so mucl as 'Dig ìlc
ßangc on ìlc hass!', hccausc I kind of picfci ìlaì nohody cvcn knows iì's ìlcic..
I usc ìlaì jusì ìo opcn ìlings up a IiììIc hiì so ìlaì cvciyìling is noì kick, snaic, hass
iiglì down ìlc middIc. Noì ìlaì ìlcic's anyìling wiong wiìl ìlaì, huì somcìimcs
iì fccIs sonicaIIy a IiììIc moic inìcicsìing ìo mc.´
l
OnIy somc impIcmcnìaìions of ìlcsc pIug-ins wiII aIIow ìlc individuaI sìc-
ico clanncIs ìo hc pioccsscd scpaiaìcIy Iikc ìlis, and oìlcis lavc ìlis faciIiìy
swiìclahIc, so youi nisì scìup sìcp wiII hc ìo cloosc an appiopiiaìc pIug-in
and picscì. Bcyond ìlaì I noimaIIy fccI ìlaì ìlc mosì succcssfuI widcning
cffccìs foi mixdown aiisc wlcn ìlc cffccì's Fccdhack and Dcpìl conìioIs aic
kcpì Iow, aIìlougl ìlc sìicngìl of ìlc widcning wiII, of couisc, dcpcnd on ìlc
scnd IcvcI ìo ìlc cffccì fiom ìlc diy ìiack.
ModuIaìcd piìcl slifìing, hcììci known as vihiaìo, can yicId widcning cffccìs
if you can acìuaIIy nnd a pIug-in ìlaì offcis iì (audio vihiaìo pioccssois aicn'ì
ìlaì common) and ìlcn pcisuadc iì ìo ìicaì ìlc sìcico clanncIs indcpcndcnìIy.
If you lavc ìlis opìion avaiIahIc, kccp ìlc vihiaìo's Dcpìl conìioI Iow again ìo
avoid ìuning vagucncss ciccping in, and considci inìioducing somc picdcIay
inìo ìlc cffccì icìuin ìo icducc unwanìcd ìonaI coIoiaìions.
Wlaìcvci moduIaìion cffccì you usc, iì is sìiII viìaI ìo clcck low youi pioccss-
ing sounds in mono. Onc of ìlc good ìlings ahouì dynamic widcning cffccìs
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 270
is ìlaì ìlc damagc causcd hy undcsiiahIc plasc canccIIaìions wiII ìcnd ìo hc
sofìcncd hy viiìuc of ìlc facì ìlaì ìlc moduIaìion wiII hc vaiying ìlcm ìlc
wloIc ìimc. SìiII, you can'ì know low youi mono-compaìihiIiìy sìacks up
wiìlouì using youi cais.
18.5 CHOICES, CHOICES…
I'vc covcicd a Ioì of opìions foi sìcico widcning lcic, and you miglì hc foi-
givcn foi wondciing wly you acìuaIIy nccd moic ìlan onc. 1lc icason ìlcic
aic so many appioaclcs is ìlaì cacl onc cicaìcs a diffcicnì suhjccìivc sound,
cxlihiìs diffcicnì sidc cffccìs, and affccìs mono-compaìihiIiìy in diffcicnì ways.
Iì's onIy hy ìiying ìlcm aII ouì and dcvcIoping a mcmoiy of wlaì ìlcy sound
Iikc ìlaì you can cloosc ìlc hcsì onc foi any givcn widcning ìask.
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
Sìcico widìl is aì Icasì as impoiìanì ìo modcin iccoid pioducìion as cxacì
sìcico posiìioning, so iì's impoiìanì ìo lavc a scIccìion of sìcico widìl-
manipuIaìion ìcclniqucs aì youi disposaI. AII of ìlcm wiII clangc ìlc
way sìcico and mono Iisìcning affccìs youi mix haIancc, so you slouId fic-
qucnìIy clcck mono-compaìihiIiìy as you'ic woiking wiìl ìlcm.
I
Ccnciaìing 'fakc´ douhIc-ìiacks via audio cdiìing is a vciy cffccìivc sìiaìcgy
foi nIIing ouì many smaII-sìudio pioducìions, hoìl in ìcims of ìcxìuic and
sìcico widìl. Mixing in a dcIaycd copy of a ìiack docsn'ì pioducc ìlc samc
cffccì. Pads, ìapc liss, vinyI noisc, and FoIcy ioom ìoncs can aII add sìcico
widìl ìoo, aIongsidc noìc-susìain, hIcnd, and sizc sidc cffccìs.
I
M&S sìcico cncoding[dccoding givcs you a Ioì of conìioI ovci ìlc imagc
widìl of sìcico signaIs, paiìicuIaiIy wlcn appIicd in a ficqucncy-scIccìivc
faslion, huì iì can aIso Icad ìo sciious mono-compaìihiIiìy piohIcms if
puslcd ìoo fai.
FIGURE 18.6
If you can find a modulation plug-in that allows its left and right channels to operate out of phase,
then that may work well as a stereo widener. Here you can see a couple of freeware examples. GVST’s
GChorus provides variable phase for its right channel, whereas Kjaerhus Audio’s Classic Chorus offers a
simple Spread button.
Stereo Enhancements CHAPTER 18 271
I
Sìaìic EQ, piìcl slifì, and dcIay cffccìs can aII dcIivci sìcico widcning aiìi-
facìs, as can moduIaìion pioccsscs sucl as auìo-panning, ioìaiy spcakci
cmuIaìion, cloiusing, ßanging, plasing, and vihiaìo-assuming ìlaì youi
paiìicuIai DAW and pIug-ins aIIow you ìo pioccss ìlc ìwo sidcs of a sìcico
signaI indcpcndcnìIy.
Assignment
I Do a survey of the plug-ins on your DAW system, and try to find at least one of
each of the following: auto-panner, rotary speaker simulator, stereo chorus, stereo
flanger, stereo phaser, and stereo pitch-shifter.
I If you can see any fruitful avenues for editing together “fake” double-tracks in your
own example mix, then try some out to see whether they might fill out the arrange-
ment texture and stereo field in a beneficial way.
I Return to your mix and experiment with a good selection of the different stereo
adjustment effects covered in this chapter. Try at least M&S-format rebalancing,
static EQ-based widening, the classic pitch-shift delay patch, Haas delays, and a
couple of different modulated stereo treatments. You shouldn’t need to use all
of those on every mix, but having a feel for the sonic characteristics and side
effects of them all will better prepare you to choose the most suitable option for
any given task.
http://www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch18.htm
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273
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
You slouId now lavc ìlc mosì impoiìanì sccìion of youi mix haIanccd and
swccìcncd ìo ìasìc, wlicl hiings you ìo wiìlin sìiiking disìancc of a compIcìc
nisì diafì. 1lis clapìci cxpIains ìlc sìcps you nccd ìo foIIow ìo go ìlc icmain-
ing disìancc.
19.1 BUSS COMPRESSION
Aì ìlis poinì in ìlc mix, iì makcs scnsc ìo sìaiì considciing any huss compics-
sion-in oìlci woids, compicssion of ìlc wloIc mix via a pIug-in on ìlc main
mix huss. 1lis is considcicd dcsiiahIc wiìlin many music sìyIcs, foi scvciaI
poìcnìiaI icasons:
I
Iì inìioduccs somc IcvcI inìciacìion hcìwccn diffcicnì paiìs in youi mix hy
ducking quicì signaIs sIiglìIy in icsponsc ìo Ioudci oncs, and in doing so
iì givcs a fccIing ìlaì ìlc mix colcics hcììci. Iì's common ìo lcai cnginccis
ìaIk of huss compicssion 'gIuing ìlc mix ìogcìlci´ on accounì of ìlis.
I
Iì can cicaìc pumping cffccìs ìlaì add a suhjccìivc scnsc of Ioudncss and
aggicssion, wlicl suiìs cciìain sìyIcs.
I
If a claiacìcifuI compicssoi is uscd, ìlcn iì may suhjccìivcIy cnlancc somc
aspccìs of ìlc mix-foi cxampIc, hy adding suhìIc disìoiìion aiìifacìs aì cci-
ìain ficqucncics.
I
Somc cnginccis fccI ìlaì iì icduccs ìlc ncgaìivc sidc cffccìs of down-ìlc-Iinc
ìiansmission compicssion. Hcic's Andy WaIIacc, foi cxampIc: 'A Iong ìimc
ago, I Icaincd ìlaì |iadio compicssionj was sciiousIy clanging low ìlc Iow
cnd soundcd and ìlc haIancc.. 1laì's wlcn I icaIIy sìaiìcd cxpciimcnìing
wiìl a suhsìanìiaI amounì of sìcico compicssion. And I found ìlaì if I lad
somcìling compicsscd alcad of ìimc and was lappy wiìl ìlc sound of iì,
ìlc addiìionaI compicssion fiom ìlc iadio sìaìion lad Icss cffccì.´
l
I
Iì cvcns ouì ìlc dynamics of ìlc cnìiic mix signaI, hiinging ouì inìcinaI
mix dcìaiIs and incicasing ìlc pioducìion's avciagc IcvcIs so ìlaì iì appcais
Ioudci aì a givcn mcìcicd pcak IcvcI.
Buss Compression,
Automation, and Endgame
CHAPTER 19
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 274
Of ìlcsc, ìlc Iasì isn'ì acìuaIIy a vciy good icason ìo appIy huss compicssion
duiing mixdown, hccausc Ioudncss pioccssing is mucl hcììci caiiicd ouì aì ìlc
masìciing sìagc wlcn ìlc mix is compIcìc. Iì's aIso impoiìanì ìo icmovc Ioud-
ncss hias fiom youi dccision-making pioccss wlcn appIying huss compicssion
so ìlaì you'ic noì misIcd inìo ovcipioccssing. In oìlci woids, adjusì youi com-
picssoi's Makcup Cain conìioI ìo compcnsaìc as hcsì you can foi any Ioudncss
incicasc, so ìlaì hypassing ìlc compicssoi docsn'ì hoosì ìlc suhjccìivc voIumc.
As fai as wlicl modcI and scììing of compicssoi ìo usc, my own icscaicl sug-
gcsìs ìlaì opinions in ìlc piofcssionaI communiìy aic many and vaiicd, so
huss compicssion isn'ì jusì somc kind of picscì you can sIap ovci youi mix
wiìlouì ìlinking. Wlcn a compicssoi is acìing on a compIcx fuII-iangc mix
signaI, ìlc sonic diffcicnccs hcìwccn compicssoi modcIs and ìlc cffccìs of
smaII adjusìmcnìs ìo nnc paiamcìcis hcgin ìo makc mucl moic piofound
sonic diffcicnccs, and suhjccìivc judgmcnìs aic ofìcn as mucl ahouì sìyIisìic
convcnìions and ìlc cngincci's pcisonaI picfcicnccs as anyìling cIsc. Howcvci,
ìlaì insiglì isn'ì going ìo lcIp you mucl in nnding a scììing ìlaì suiìs youi
paiìicuIai mix, so Icì mc aì Icasì suggcsì somc of ìlc piacìicaI facìois you may
nccd ìo considci.
Buss compicssion simpIy foi ìlc puiposcs of 'mix gIuc´ iaicIy uscs moic ìlan
ahouì 2 ìo 3dB of gain icducìion aì mosì, and iì ofìcn icIics on a sIow aììack
ìimc and auìomaìic icIcasc ìimc ìo kccp ìiansicnì smooìling and pumping
aiìifacìs ìo a minimum. Raìios ovci 2:l aic unIikcIy ìo hc uscfuI in ìlcsc cascs,
and you may discovci ìlaì iaìios as Iow as l.l:l may hc moic appiopiiaìc,
dcpcnding on ìlc musicaI sìyIc. If you'ic Iooking foi moic aggicssivc pump-
ing compicssion, lowcvci, ìlcn you miglì cvcn scc 8dB of gain icducìion on
pcaks, wiìl fasìci aììack and icIcasc ìimcs and possihIy aIso liglci iaìios. Lcc
DcCaiIo aIso iccommcnds onc impoiìanì icnncmcnì: 'I'II pIay wiìl ìlc icIcasc
and ìlc aììack ìimcs unìiI I can acìuaIIy makc ìlaì Iimiìci pump in ìimc wiìl
ìlc music.´
2
Buì no maììci low mucl youi hand Iook Iikc cxìias fiom The Lord of the Rings,
ìlc common ìlicad wiìl any ìypc of huss compicssion is ìlaì you slouIdn'ì
compicss ìlc mix huss any fuiìlci ìlan ìlc poinì wlcic unwanìcd pioccssing
sidc cffccìs hccomc ovcihcaiing. Mucl of ìlc aiì of succcssfuI huss pioccssing
ìlcicfoic Iics in woiking ouì low ìo icin in unwanìcd sidc cffccìs as fai as pos-
sihIc, so ìlaì you can maximizc ìlc dcsiiahIc aspccìs of ìlc sound. Wc Iookcd
aì ìlcsc sidc cffccìs in Clapìcis 9 and lu, huì lcic's a quick icficslci of ìlc
main offcndcis, wiìl suggcsìions of low you miglì dcaI wiìl ìlcm:
I
Loss of attack on prominent transients, such as kick and snare drums. Suggcsìcd
icmcdics: icducc gain icducìion, incicasc aììack ìimc, usc paiaIIcI compics-
sion (pcilaps via a compicssoi wiìl a wcì[diy mix conìioI), icducc iaìio,
adjusì kncc sofìncss, swiìcl IcvcI-dcìccìion modc fiom pcak ìo avciagc
(RMS), scIccì a diffcicnì compicssoi dcsign.
I
Excessive gain pumping. Suggcsìcd icmcdics: icducc gain icducìion, adjusì
icIcasc ìimc oi swiìcl ìo auìomaìic modc, appIy Iow-ficqucncy EQ cuì in
Buss Compression, Automation, and Endgame CHAPTER 19 275
ìlc IcvcI-dcìccìion sidc-clain, usc paiaIIcI compicssion, scIccì a diffcicnì
compicssoi dcsign.
I
Unwanted distortion. Suggcsìcd icmcdics: Icngìlcn aììack and icIcasc ìimcs,
adjusì kncc sofìncss, scIccì a diffcicnì compicssoi dcsign.
I
Loss of weight on instruments with low-end transients, such as kick drums.
Suggcsìcd icmcdics: icducc gain icducìion, Icngìlcn aììack ìimc, appIy Iow-
ficqucncy EQ cuì in ìlc IcvcI-dcìccìion sidc-clain, adjusì kncc sofìncss,
scIccì a diffcicnì compicssoi dcsign.
I
Undesirable alterations in the subjective mix balance. Suggcsìcd icmcdics:
icducc gain icducìion, Icngìlcn aììack and[oi icIcasc ìimcs, adjusì kncc
sofìncss, scIccì a diffcicnì compicssoi dcsign.
I
Unappealing tonal changes to the mix. Suggcsìcd icmcdics: scIccì a diffcicnì
compicssoi dcsign.
If you'ic laving ìiouhIc lcaiing ìlc sidc cffccìs of youi huss
compicssion, ìlc hcsì ìling is ìo diivc ìlc compicssoi a
hiì ìoo laid ìo sìaiì wiìl. Oncc you'vc goì a landIc
on wlaì you'ic Iisìcning foi, you can icducc ìlc
amounì of compicssion ìo moic scnsihIc IcvcIs.
Somcìimcs a fcw of ìlcsc sidc cffccìs may hc
impossihIc ìo dispcI cnìiicIy wiìl adjusìmcnìs
ìo ìlc compicssion aIonc, wiìlouì Iosing ìlc
dcsiicd dcgicc of mix gIuc, pumping, oi com-
picssion claiacìci. In ìlis cvcnì, an addiìionaI
icmcdy can hc ìo adjusì ìlc mix iìscIf ìo compcn-
saìc foi ìlc compicssoi's Icss dcIccìahIc sidc cffccìs.
You miglì cnlancc ìlc kick and snaic ìiansicnìs wiìl
addiìionaI pioccssing ìo kccp ìlcm ciisp dcspiìc ìlc aììack-duIIing
cffccìs of lcavy pumping compicssion on ìlc mix huss. Oi you miglì ìwcak
a fcw clanncI fadcis if somc insìiumcnìs (oi paiìicuIaiIy cffccìs icìuins) lavc
hccn knockcd ouì of haIancc hy ìlc huss pioccssing. Boìl of ìlcsc cxampIcs
aic common piacìicc, and iì can hc ncxì ìo impossihIc ìo maìcl ìlc sounds
of compcìing commciciaI pioducìions in somc sìyIcs unIcss you makc usc of
ìlcsc kinds of ìacìics youiscIf. By ìlc samc ìokcn, ìlougl, you wiII nccd ìo
kccp icadjusìing youi huss compicssion scììings as ìlc fuII mix conìinucs
ìo dcvcIop, in oidci ìo kccp ìlc pIug-in opciaìing in iìs mosì magicaI-sounding
zonc. Iì's hccausc of ìlc inìciacìions hcìwccn individuaI clanncI pioccssing
and huss compicssion ìlaì iì's csscnìiaI ìo gcì any mix-huss compicssoi invoIvcd
duiing ìlc mixdown pioccss iìscIf, iaìlci ìlan Icaving iì unìiI ìlc masìciing
sìagc as you wouId mosì oìlci fuII-mix pioccssing.
If you'ic laving piohIcms wiìl gain pumping, wly noì usc muIìihand com-
picssion insìcad² AIìlougl in ìlcoiy ìlcic slouIdn'ì hc a piohIcm wiìl
ìlis ìcclniquc, hccausc ìlc samc inìciacìion piincipIcs appIy, ìlc icaIiìy is
ìlaì muIìihand huss compicssion is aImosì aIways hcsì Icfì ìo ìlc masìciing
cngincci-foi piacìicaI icasons as mucl as anyìling. MuIìihand pioccssing is
No matter how
much your band look
like extras from The Lord of
the Rings, you shouldn’t compress
the mix buss any further than the
point where unwanted processing
side effects become
overbearing.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 276
jusì ìoo compIicaìcd and nncIy ìuncd ìo managc aIongsidc aII ìlc oìlci aspccìs
of ìlc mix, and cvciyonc I'vc cvci sccn using iì on ìlcii mix huss las faIIcn inìo
aì Icasì onc of ìlc foIIowing ìiaps: ìlcy puì insufncicnì cffoiì inìo gcììing ìlc
haIancc iiglì, hccausc ìlc muIìihand compicssoi's auìomaìic ficqucncy adjusì-
mcnìs makc spccìiaI haIancc piohIcms in ìlc mix moic difncuIì ìo spoì and
icmcdy, oi ìlcy undcicook ìlcii hIcnd cffccìs and ìlcn ovcicompicss ìlc huss in
an aììcmpì ìo compcnsaìc wiìl addiìionaI 'mix gIuc,´ oi ìlcy ovcipioccss indi-
viduaI ìiacks ìo compcnsaìc foi dynamic ficqucncy-icsponsc sidc cffccìs of ìlc
huss ìicaìmcnì. In sloiì, fuII-hand compicssion is moic ìlan cnougl ìo woiiy
ahouì wliIc mixing, so savc youiscIf somc giicf and Icavc iì aì ìlaì.
19.2 LOUDNESS MATCHING FOR REFERENCING
In an idcaI woiId, oncc you'vc goì youi huss compicssion up and iunning and
you'vc ichaIanccd individuaI ìiacks as ncccssaiy in icsponsc ìo iì, you slouId
lavc aiiivcd aì ìlc nnaI sound foi youi mosì impoiìanì mix sccìion. Buì, sadIy,
ìlc woiId isn'ì idcaI! 1lc coId, laid, ìiuìl of ìlc maììci is ìlaì aì Icasì a landfuI
FIGURE 19.1
For referencing purposes, it’s good practice to export your mix into a separate DAW session so that you
can easily compare it to a selection of commercial productions.
Buss Compression, Automation, and Endgame CHAPTER 19 277
of youi mix dccisions aic piohahIy Icss wcII-judgcd ìlan ìlc conìcnìs of Noddy
HoIdci's ìic iack. 1lcic's no slamc in ìlaì, ìlougl, hccausc ìlc onIy icIiahIc way
ìo iion ouì ìlc icmaining wiinkIcs is ìo Iinc up youi mix againsì ìlc commciciaI
compcìiìion, and iì's onIy now you'vc goì a fuIIy mixcd song sccìion ìlaì you'ic
piopciIy pIaccd ìo cngagc in ìlis compaiison pioccss. So cxpoiì ìlc sccìion of
ìlc pioducìion you'vc mixcd so fai as a sìcico audio nIc, and impoiì iì inìo a
ficsl DAW scssion aIong wiìl somc appiopiiaìc icfcicncc maìciiaI, pcilaps
madc up of spccinc ìaigcì pioducìions suggcsìcd hy ìlc cIicnì, as wcII as somc
ìiacks scIccìcd fiom youi pcisonaI icfcicncc Iihiaiy (as discusscd in Clapìci 4).
As I mcnìioncd in Sccìion 4.2, ìlc mosì impoiìanì ìlings ìo do wlcn mak-
ing ìlcsc compaiisons aic ìo swiìcl hcìwccn ìlc mixcs insìanìancousIy, so
ìlaì youi lcaiing sysìcm las no ìimc ìo adapì iìscIf ìo diffcicnccs in haIancc
and ìonc, and ìo adjusì ìlc suhjccìivc IcvcIs (noì ìlc mcìcicd IcvcIs!), so ìlaì
Ioudncss hias docsn'ì inìcifcic wiìl youi quaIiìy dccisions. Howcvci, in sìyIcs
of music ìlaì usc Ioudncss pioccssing aì ìlc masìciing sìagc (wlicl is picììy
mucl cvciyìling ìlcsc days), you miglì fccI you wanì ìo appIy simiIai pio-
ccssing on youi own unmasìcicd mix sccìion in oidci ìo makc ìiuIy mcaning-
fuI compaiisons. Loudncss maximizaìion, Iikc aII oìlci pioccssing, las sidc
cffccìs, so you nccd ìo hc awaic if ìlcsc miglì icquiic compcnsaìoiy ìwcaks ìo
aspccìs of ìlc mix iìscIf.
Basic Concepts of Loudness Maximization
1lc hasic puiposc of Ioudncss maximizaìion is ìo ciam ìlc maximum suhjcc-
ìivc IcvcI onìo nxcd-lcadioom digiìaI dcIivciy mcdia sucl as CDs and MP3
downIoads, huì wiìlouì unacccpìahIy compiomising oìlci quaIiìics of ìlc
pioducìion. 1lcic aic Ioìs of ways ìo aclicvc cxìia appaicnì Ioudncss wiìlouì
incicasing pcak signaI IcvcIs, cacl of wlicl las iìs own così in ìcims of poìcn-
ìiaIIy unwanìcd pioccssing aiìifacìs, so cloosing hcìwccn ìlcm (oi indccd
comhining ìlcm) dcpcnds on low mucl Ioudncss you wanì and wlaì kinds
of sidc cffccìs you'ic wiIIing ìo ìoIciaìc. 1lcsc dccisions musì icßccì ìlc wislcs
of ìlc cIicnì, ìlc cxpccìaìions of ìlc ìaigcì maikcì, and ìlc way ìlc mix in
qucsìion icsponds ìo ìlc diffcicnì pioccssing opìions. Dcmacio CasìcIIon sug-
gcsìs, 'If you'ic making a jazz iccoid you'ic noì going ìo makc iì as Ioud as a
pop iccoid. You'ic noì going ìo makc a hIucs iccoid Ioudci ìlan a lcavy mcìaI
iccoid.´
3
WliIc I can'ì makc ìlc cloiccs foi you (youi cIicnì, ìaigcì gcnic,
and mix wiII hc uniquc, afìci aII), wlaì I wiII do noncìlcIcss is dcsciihc somc
common Ioudncss pioccssing opìions so ìlaì you'ic awaic of ìlc main sidc
cffccìs in cacl casc. 1laì way you slouId hc ahIc ìo comc ìo icasonahIy wcII-
infoimcd concIusions wlcn woiking wiìl Ioudncss maximizaìion pioccssing
foi icfcicncc puiposcs.
Buì hcfoic I gcì inìo spccincs, I wanì ìo sìicss a ciuciaI gcnciaI piincipIc ìlaì
slouId hc aì ìlc fionì of youi mind wlcn ßiiìing wiìl Ioudncss pioccssing:
iì's ìlc sidc cffccìs you slouId hc conccnìiaìing on, noì ìlc Ioudncss likc. 1lis
las ìwo main iamincaìions, ìlc nisì of wlicl is ìlaì you slouId ncvci, undci
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 278
pain of a visiì fiom ìlc Audio Engincciing Socicìy's ninja dcaìl squad, cvaIu-
aìc ìlc succcss of a Ioudncss pioccssoi hy compaiing iì ìo a suhjccìivcIy quicìci
unpioccsscd signaI. If you don'ì maìcl ìlc suhjccìivc Ioudncss of ìlc pioccsscd
and unpioccsscd sounds foi compaiison puiposcs, ìlcn ìlc Ioudncss hias wiII
icndci any suhjccìivc quaIiìy cvaIuaìions woiìlIcss. Mosì Ioudncss pioccssois
makc iì iidicuIousIy casy foi you ìo mug youiscIf in ìlis way, so you lavc ìo
hc supci vigiIanì. My picfciicd woiking mcìlod is ìo dupIicaìc my mix ìo ìwo
scpaiaìc sìcico mixci clanncIs, huì ìo pioccss onIy onc of ìlcm foi Ioudncss
puiposcs. I can ìlcn swiìcl hcìwccn ìlc ìwo foi compaiison and adjusì ìlc
fadcis foi ìlc hcsì suhjccìivc Ioudncss maìcl.
1lc sccond iamincaìion of focusing on suhìIc diffcicnccs in
pioccssing sidc cffccìs is ìlaì iì dcmands ìlaì you pusl
youi moniìoiing ìcclniquc ìo ìlc Iimiìs. Somc sidc
cffccìs aicn'ì ncccssaiiIy vciy audihIc on onc ìypc
of Iisìcning sysìcm, foi cxampIc, so you can
onIy makc wcII-ioundcd judgmcnìs ahouì ìlc
icIaìivc mciiìs of diffcicnì Ioudncss cnlancc-
mcnìs hascd on infoimaìion fiom aII quaiìcis.
Oìlci sidc cffccìs may onIy hc noìiccahIc aì cci-
ìain Iisìcning voIumcs, in cciìain pIaccs in youi
conìioI ioom, oi on a spccìium anaIyzci. 1lcic aic
no sloiìcuìs ìo aclicving scnsihIc Ioudncss pioccssing
in ìlis icgaid, so considci youiscIf waincd.
Suggested Processing Strategies
Wiìl ìlosc sìcin piovisos ouì of ìlc way, Icì's lavc a Iook aì somc acìuaI pio-
ccssing sìiaìcgics and ìlcii sidc cffccìs:
I
Full-band “top-down” squeeze. 1lis is wlcic you aììcmpì ìo gcnìIy squcczc
a Iaigc sccìion of a signaI's dynamic iangc, using vciy Iow-iaìio compics-
sion opciaìing ahovc a Iow ìlicsloId vaIuc. As Iong as gain icducìion is
kcpì wiìlin 3dB oi so, iì's usuaIIy possihIc ìo kccp pumping aiìifacìs icIa-
ìivcIy hcnign hy adjusìing aììack[icIcasc ìimcs hy cai. PoìcnìiaI sidc cffccìs
incIudc unduc cmplasis of Iow-IcvcI dcìaiIs sucl as hackgiound sounds,
icvcih[dcIay cffccìs, and incidcnìaI noiscs, unwanìcd ovciaII IcvcI incicascs
duiing sccìions wiìl spaisci aiiangcmcnì, and icducìion in ìiansicnì
dcnniìion.
I
Full-band “bottom-up” squeeze. A simiIai appioacl as in ìlc ìop-down
squcczc, cxccpì ìlaì ìlc dynamic iangc hcIow ìlc compicssoi's ìlicsloId
is ìaigcìcd. 1lcic aic spcciaIisì pioccssois foi ìlis puiposc (caIIcd upwaid
compicssois oi dc-cxpandcis), huì you can aIso aclicvc a simiIai cffccì
using suhìIc fuII-hand paiaIIcI compicssion. PoìcnìiaI sidc cffccìs aic simi-
Iai ìo ìlosc of ìop-down squcczc-ìiansicnì dcnniìion ìcnds ìo suffci Icss,
huì you gcì Icss pcak conìioI and an incicascd IikcIilood of unwanìcd ovci-
aII IcvcI incicascs duiing spaisci aiiangcmcnì sccìions.
A crucial general
principle that should be
at the front of your mind when
flirting with loudness processing is
this: it’s the side effects you should
be concentrating on, not the
loudness hike.
Buss Compression, Automation, and Endgame CHAPTER 19 279
I
Full-band limiting. 1lis is usuaIIy a mucl fasìci-acìing gain icducìion
dcsigncd ìo sìop signaI pcaks dcad, wliIc Icaving ìlc icmaindci of ìlc
dynamic iangc compaiaìivcIy unscaìlcd. In somc ìypcs of music, an inìcI-
IigcnìIy dcsigncd pcak Iimiìci can aclicvc a pcak icducìion of scvciaI dcci-
hcIs hcfoic audihIc piohIcms sìaiì aiising. PoìcnìiaI sidc cffccìs incIudc
pumping, hass disìoiìion, sofìcning of ìiansicnìs, and icducìion of appai-
cnì dium IcvcIs.
I
Multiband compression/limiting. Using a muIìihand connguiaìion foi any of
ìlc ìlicc dynamics pioccsscs I'vc jusì dcsciihcd givcs you addiìionaI scopc
foi dynamic-iangc icducìion hcfoic pumping aiìifacìs impingc on youi
cnjoymcnì of ìlc music. Howcvci, pumping is onIy onc of ìlc poìcnìiaI
sidc cffccìs of compicssion-hascd Ioudncss cnlanccmcnì, and if you usc
muIìihand pioccssing ìo incicasc ìlc amounì of gain icducìion, ìlcn you
can casiIy cnd up wiìl gicaìci sidc cffccìs in ìcims of mix-haIancc aIìciaìion
and ìiansicnì sofìcning. Any muIìihand appioacl aIso adds fuiìlci pioh-
Icms of iìs own: hccausc ìlc amounì of gain-icducìion in cacl ficqucncy
hand wiII dcpcnd on ìlc ovciaII IcvcI of ficqucncics wiìlin iì, clangcs in
ìlc spccìiaI conìcnì of ìlc mix (pcilaps as a icsuIì of aIìciaìions in ìlc
insìiumcnìaìion) can ìiiggci unwanìcd clangcs in ìlc ovciaII mix ìonaIiìy
as ìlc compicssion[Iimiìing adjusìs iìs gain-icducìion-iì can hc aImosì
as if somc maniac wcic iandomIy ìwcaking an EQ ovci youi wloIc mix in
icaI ìimc. 1lcic aic aIso cnginccis wlo fccI ìlaì muIìihand gain icducìion
FIGURE 19.2
This screenshot of Flux’s Pure Compressor II plug-in shows a typical gentle setting for full-band
top-down squeeze.

PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 280
diains ìlc Iifc ouì of a pioducìion hy iioning ouì ìlc ìonaI conìiasìs
hcìwccn iìs musicaI sccìions.
I
Subtle distortion. By adding disìoiìion laimonics ìo a mixcd signaI, you
can incicasc iìs laimonic dcnsiìy and appaicnì Ioudncss wiìl vciy IiììIc
incicasc in iìs pcak signaI IcvcIs. SuhìIc vaIvc, ìapc, and ìiansfoimci dis-
ìoiìions aic aII opìions lcic, and if you nccd gicaìci conìioI ovci ìlc cxacì
naìuic of ìlc laimonics addiìions, ìlcn paiaIIcI oi ficqucncy-scIccìivc con-
nguiaìions may hc appiopiiaìc. PoìcnìiaI sidc cffccìs incIudc faìiguing ìonaI
laislncss, cmplasizcd vocaI sihiIancc, incicasc in ìlc appaicnì IcvcI of ìic-
hIc pcicussion insìiumcnìs in ìlc haIancc, vciIing of midiangc dcìaiIs, and
unwanìcd ovciaII clangcs ìo ìlc mix ìonaIiìy.
I
Clipping. Ycs, cIipping-wlcìlci iì's sìiaiglì digiìaI-sìyIc ßaì ìopping of ìlc
wavcfoim pcaks oi somc kind of modcIcd anaIog saìuiaìion ìlaì iounds
ìlcm off moic smooìlIy. You can nnd any numhci of ìcxìhooks ìlaì ìlicaìcn
lcIInic and hiimsìonc slouId you daic ahusc youi fuII mix in ìlis way,
huì sucl admoniìions aic aì odds wiìl widcspicad commciciaI piacìicc-
cxaminc ìlc wavcfoims of ìlc ìop 4u singIcs any wcck of ìlc ycai and
you'II scc cIipping in ahundancc. 1lc advanìagc of cIipping as I scc iì is
ìlaì iì docsn'ì sccm ìo affccì ìlc suhjccìivc aììack oi haIancc of piomincnì
dium paiìs as mucl as pcak Iimiìing, so iì ìcnds ìo suiì sìyIcs wiìl laid-
liììing ilyìlm paiìs. PoìcnìiaI sidc cffccìs incIudc suhjccìivc ìonaI clangc
of cIippcd pcaks and unwanìcd disìoiìion on moic sìcady-sìaìc signaI wavc-
foims (aIìlougl ìlis may hc disguiscd ìo somc cxìcnì hy disìoiìcd insìiu-
mcnìs, sucl as cIccìiic guiìais, wiìlin ìlc music iìscIf).
FIGURE 19.3
Some mastering-style processors (such as iZotope Ozone, pictured here) offer subtle multiband distortion
treatments that can boost the subjective loudness of a mix.
Buss Compression, Automation, and Endgame CHAPTER 19 281
Of couisc, cacl of ìlcsc sìiaìcgics wiII suiì diffcicnì pioducìions, and cacl
wiII onIy givc you a cciìain iangc of Ioudncss cnlanccmcnì hcfoic iì hcgins
ìo icvcaI iìs wcakncsscs, so iì's noì unusuaI ìo nnd ìlaì scvciaI Ioudncss pio-
ccsscs in comhinaìion aic icquiicd ìo pusl youi mix as Ioud as youi icfci-
cnccs. You may aIso quickIy discovci ìlaì iì's sìiII impossihIc ìo pusl youi mix
ìo ìlc ìaigcì Ioudncss wiìlouì unconscionahIy lcinous sidc cffccìs, and ìlis
can hc a cIuc ìlaì somc aspccì of youi mix iìscIf nccds ìo hc ìwcakcd ìo aIIow
ìlc Ioudncss cnlanccmcnì ìo woik moic cffccìivcIy. Foi cxampIc, dium pcaks
commonIy nnd ìlcmscIvcs hIudgconcd down inìo ìlc mix haIancc hy cxìicmc
Ioudncss pioccssing, so you may nccd ìo hoosì ìlc appaicnì powci of ìlcsc
insìiumcnìs hy incicasing ìlcii susìain insìcad.
19.3 REFERENCING CHECKLIST
Oncc you'vc managcd ìo maìcl ìlc Ioudncss of youi diafì mix sccìion faiiIy
wcII againsì youi icfcicncc maìciiaI, you nccd ìo ìakc a dccp hicaìl, Icavc
youi cgo aì ìlc dooi, and suhmiì cvciy aspccì of youi mix ìo mciciIcss sidc-
hy-sidc compaiison. Civc aII youi moniìoiing sysìcms a good woikouì, clcck
aì a iangc of diffcicnì Iisìcning voIumcs, and don'ì sìop unìiI you'vc winkIcd
ouì cvciy Iasì insiglì. Rcmcmhci ìlaì ìlis mix sccìion slouId hc ìlc ligl
poinì of ìlc pioducìion, so iì slouId slakc ìlc Iisìcnci's socks off onc way oi
anoìlci. Hcic's a quick iundown of issucs I usuaIIy makc a conscious poinì
of asscssing:
I
How does the overall mix tonality compare? 1lis is somcìling ìlaì can cas-
iIy hc ouì of Iinc, hccausc iì's difncuIì ìo sìop youi cais fiom adapìing ìo a
skcwcd ìonaIiìy wliIc you'ic sìuck inìo dcìaiIcd mix acìiviìics. If ìlc ìonc
fccIs wiong, ìlcn insciì an cquaIizci ovci youi mix ìo scc if you can coiiccì
ìlc ficqucncy imhaIancc. You can suhscqucnìIy appIy ìlis samc EQ scììing
on youi mix piojccì's masìci huss oi ichaIancc ìlc ficqucncy icsponsc of
individuaI insìiumcnìs wiìl icfcicncc ìo iì.
I
How does the balance compare? Conccnìiaìc piimaiiIy on ìlc mosì impoi-
ìanì insìiumcnìs lcic, hccausc ìlcy usuaIIy offci ìlc Icasì Iccway wiìlin
any givcn musicaI gcnic. I usuaIIy makc a poinì of clccking aì Icasì kick,
snaic, hass, and Icad vocaIs, huì ìlc moic paiìs of ìlc mix you diiccì youi
aììcnìion ìowaid spccincaIIy, ìlc moic icpicscnìaìivc you'II hc ahIc ìo makc
youi own haIancc. Don'ì jusì Iisìcn foi ovciaII IcvcIs, huì aIso considci low
mucl dynamic iangc cacl insìiumcnì las.
I
How does each instrument’s tone compare? Again, conccnìiaìc piimaiiIy on
ìlc mosì impoiìanì insìiumcnìs. AIso, if ìlc ìonc of any insìiumcnì in youi
mix appcais ìo hc Icss appcaIing, ìlcn ask youiscIf wlcìlci ìlcic's acìuaIIy
anyìling you can do ahouì ìlaì wiìlouì upscììing ìlc haIancc.
I
How does the use of reverb and delay effects compare? Lisìcn foi low wcII ìlc
diffcicnì insìiumcnìs hIcnd wiìl cacl oìlci and low any diffcicnì sizc
icvcihs lavc hccn uscd. Civc a ìlouglì ìo ovciaII icvcih[dcIay Icngìls and
IcvcIs as wcII.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 282
I
How does the stereo image compare? 1lis is paiìIy a qucsìion of ìlc appaicnì
widìl and pIaccmcnì of cacl individuaI insìiumcnì, huì you slouId aIso
considci low widc ìlc sìcico imagc is ovciaII in diffcicnì icgions of ìlc
ficqucncy spccìium.
If you'vc scIccìcd good icfcicncc maìciiaI, you'ic using aII youi moniìoiing
sysìcms cffccìivcIy, and you'ic hcing hiuìaIIy loncsì wiìl youiscIf, ìlcn you
slouId cnd up wiìl a mix adjusìmcnì 'ìo do´ Iisì as Iong as youi aim. You may
cvcn fccI Iikc you'ic hack aì squaic onc, huì ìiy noì ìo hc daunìcd. 1lis is ìlc
makc-oi-hicak poinì of any mix as fai as impioving youi skiIIs is conccincd, so
if you can kccp youi ncivc you'II hc puììing youiscIf on ìlc fasìcsì ìiack ìo com-
mciciaI icsuIìs. 'You'ic going ìo makc misìakcs,´ icassuics Humhciìo Caìica.
'1lc impoiìanì ìling is ìo Icain fiom ìlcm, ìo ìcII youiscIf 'Ol my Cod, ìlaì
sounds ìciiihIc, I wiII ncvci do ìlaì again.' . You coiiccì youiscIf and ìlcn you
haIancc iì so ìlc good ovciiuIcs ìlc had. And ìlcn you go on fiom ìlcic.´
4

I can'ì sìicss cnougl ìlaì ìlc diffcicncc hcìwccn smaII-sìudio cnginccis wlo
can mix and ìlosc wlo can'ì is ìlaì ìlc Iaììci nglì sly of piopci icfcicncing
hccausc ìlcy can'ì landIc a hiì of disappoinìmcnì in ìlc sloiì ìcim. Wlaì aic
you: man oi mousc² You can icad aII you Iikc ahouì pioccssing ìcclniqucs, huì
iì's ìlc icfcicncing pioccss ìlaì acìuaIIy ìcaclcs you low ìo mix.
So lavc a susli hicak, caìcl up wiìl ìlc Iaìcsì Simpsons, and ìlcn sìccI youi-
scIf ìo lcad hack ìo youi mix piojccì and dcaI wiìl ìlosc icvisions. Wlcn
you'ic donc, cxpoiì ìlaì sccìion of mixdown and iun ìliougl ìlc wloIc icfci-
cncing pioccss again, kccping aII youi diffcicnì moniìois in consìanì ioìaìion.
And kccp icpcaìing ìlaì pioccss as Iong as you can sìand iì. '1lc idca is ìo
makc iì woik on aII sysìcms,´ says Andy Iolns. '1lis is a Ioì of woik, huì iì's
FIGURE 19.4
A lot of high-profile albums use clipping as a means to increase subjective loudness—the burst of more
than 100 consecutive clipped samples shown here (from the Kaiser Chiefs’ hit “Never Miss a Beat”) is by
no means unusual these days.
Buss Compression, Automation, and Endgame CHAPTER 19 283
ìlc onIy way ìo go.´
5
Woikcd youi way ìliougl a dozcn diffcicnì vcisions²
Hal! You'ic cIcaiIy noì ìaking ìlings sciiousIy cnougl.
19.4 AUTOMATION FOR LONG-TERM MIX
DYNAMICS
1lc goaI of ìlc iccuiiing niglìmaic ìlaì is ìlc icfcicncing pioccss is ìo aiiivc
aì a vcision of youi cIimacìic mix sccìion ìlaì is noì jusì caiìl-slaììciingIy
magninccnì on iìs own ìcims huì aIso sìands slouIdci ìo slouIdci wiìl ìlc
maikcì Icadcis. If youi icfcicnccs aic any good, you'II piohahIy nnd ìlaì you
ncvci quiìc icacl ìlis goaI, huì ìlaì's nnc-you'ic ìiying ìo cIcai an incicdihIy
ligl hai, so cvcn if you don'ì quiìc makc iì, you slouId aì Icasì cnd up wiìl
somcìling ìlaì is soIidIy of a commciciaI sìandaid. Youi joh now is ìo nII in
ìlc icmaindci of ìlc mix sccìions. I dcsciihcd ìlc gcnciaI piincipIc hclind ìlis
sìcp in Sccìion 8.l, huì ìlcic aic a fcw addiìionaI poinìs ìo iaisc hascd on wlaì
wc'vc covcicd sincc ìlcn.
1lc way I usuaIIy scì ahouì huiIding up ìlc icsì of ìlc musicaI sìiucìuic is hy
muìing aII ìlc cuiicnìIy acìivc ìiacks, Iooping ìlc ncw musicaI sccìion, and ìlcn
icinìioducing ìlc ìiacks in ìlc appiopiiaìc iank oidci. Wlcncvci a ìiack nccds
adjusìmcnì ìo nì iìs ncw conìcxì, I do onc of ìwo ìlings: ciìlci I
muIì ìlaì sccìion ìo a diffcicnì ìiack, oi I cngagc my DAW's
mixci auìomaìion faciIiìics ìo landIc ìlc clangc.
Boh CIcaimounìain uscs a simiIai sccìion-hascd
appioacl: 'In ìlc '7us, wlcn wc wcic iccoiding on
anaIog wiìl no auìomaìion. wc wouId mix scc-
ìions and ìlcn cdiì ìlcm aII ìogcìlci, and I ìcnd
ìo woik picììy mucl ìlc samc way on ìlc com-
puìci.. I'II ìiy ìo gcì cacl sccìion sounding iiglì
unìiI I lavc a compIcìc pass ìlaì is a picììy good
hasic mix.´
6
MuIìs aic hcsì foi siìuaìions wlcic a
ìiack's pioccssing and cffccìs nccd ìo clangc in a
vaiicìy of diffcicnì ways simuIìancousIy, hccausc iì's
casici ìo dcaI wiìl Ioìs of clangcs fiom ìlc mixci con-
ìioIs ìlan hy ìwcaking dozcns of sìicams of auìomaìion daìa.
Wlcic iì's jusì a coupIc of paiamcìcis, ìlougl, auìomaìion is usuaIIy a moic cfn-
cicnì soIuìion and wiII savc ìlc CPU ovcilcad of dupIicaìing pIug-ins.
Auìomaìion of piacìicaIIy any mixci oi cffccì paiamcìci is now a sìandaid fca-
ìuic of aImosì aII DAW sysìcms, and if iì's noì ìlcn sIing ìlaì sofìwaic inìo
ìlc ìiasl and movc ìo a diffcicnì pIaìfoim! SciiousIy, iì's aImosì impossihIc
ìo compcìc wiìl commciciaI icIcascs in any musicaI gcnic wiìlouì ìlc usc of
mix auìomaìion, so iì slouId hc considcicd a picicquisiìc. 'Fadci movcs aic
cvcn moic impoiìanì ìlan EQ,´ says Cliis Loid-AIgc. 'No maììci wlaì song
you lavc, you nccd ìo lcIp iì huiId.´
7
The goal of the
recurring nightmare that
is the referencing process is to
arrive at a version of your climactic
mix section that is not just earth-
shatteringly magnificent on its own
terms but also stands shoulder
to shoulder with the
market leaders.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 284
By using muIìs and auìomaìion, you can sIowIy asscmhIc ìlc ovciaII pioduc-
ìion piccc hy piccc, and as Iong as you pay cnougl aììcnìion ìo ìlc oidci in
wlicl you ìackIc ìlc sccìions, youi Iong-ìcim mix dynamics slouId makc
faiiIy good scnsc oncc aII ìlc gaps aic nIIcd. If ìlc aiiangcmcnì isn'ì paiìicu-
IaiIy inspiicd, lowcvci, ìlcn you may nccd ìo icinfoicc ìlc Iong-ìcim dynam-
ics, in wlicl casc lcic aic a fcw ìips ìo gcì you sìaiìcd.
Onc of ìlc mosì lackncycd ìcclniqucs (huì no Icss uscfuI) is ìo conìiasì ìlc
IcvcIs of icvcih[dcIay hcìwccn ìlc vciscs and ìlc cloiuscs. Maik Endciì says,
'You can gcì a Ioì of conìoui ouì of a ìiack ìlaì Iacks dynamics jusì hy clang-
ing ìlc acousìic spacc aiound iì.´
lu
1lc mosì common connguiaìion is foi
ìlc vciscs ìo hc diici and cIosci, wlcic ìlc cloiuscs aic higgci and moic Iivc
sounding. '1lc icvcih ìlaì wouId sound pIcnìy wcì in a spaisc paiì of ìlc
ìiack wiII hc ìoo diy as ìlc ìiack huiIds dynamicaIIy,´ says Mick Cuzauski. 'So,
ofìcn, I'II iidc ìlc icvcih and dcIay as ìlc ìiack huiIds.´
ll
So wlcn ìlaì nisì
cloius liìs, pusl up ìlc ioom mics, oi fadc up ìlc icìuin fiom ìlc paiaIIcI
compicssoi on ìlc ovcilcads, oi incicasc somc of ìlc scnds ìo ìlc sizc icvcih,
oi swiìcl on an cpic ìcmpo dcIay. (Wlcn you icacl ìlc nnaI cloius, you miglì
go ìlc wloIc log and do aII of ìlosc ìlings aì oncc!) Oncc you'vc goì cloius
l icaIIy opcning ouì, you ìlcn lavc ìlc opìion ìo caìcl ìlc Iisìcnci's aììcnìion
aì ìlc sìaiì of vcisc 2 hy ahiupìIy cuììing ìlc icvcih and dcIay ìaiIs dcad jusì
hcfoic ìlc Icad singci sìaiìs ìlcii nisì Iinc. Bcai in mind, ìlougl, ìlaì iì ofìcn
makcs scnsc foi vcisc 2 ìo hc sIiglìIy Icss diy ìlan vcisc l, givcn ìlaì cloius l
las hy ìlaì poinì inìioduccd ìlc idca of a moic icvcihcianì sound.
AIso nimIy in ìlc 'cIiclc foi a icason´ caìcgoiy is a simiIai appioacl ìowaid
sìcico widìl. Widcning ouì youi cloiuscs, oi pcilaps jusì packing ìlcii sìcico
BUSS EQ
Because our ears are so good at adjusting to differences in tonality, it’s common to
discover while referencing that the overall mix tone needs tweaking. Although you could
deal with this on a track-by-track basis, it’s more straightforward to just add an extra
EQ plug-in over the main mix channel—put it after any buss compression, though, so
that it doesn’t interfere with your finely honed settings there. The big advantage is that
you can use good-quality EQ for the purpose, and this is particularly important in the
common situation where you want to increase brightness. Spike Stent explains the
rationale here: “Basically what I do with every mix is put a GML EQ across the stereo
buss of the SSL, and just lift the top end, above 10K, so I won’t have to use as much
high end from the SSL. The mid and high end of the SSL is a little harsh and cold.
So I turn that down a bit, and then lift the high end with the Massenburg to make the
mix sound warmer and add sheen.”
8
Although your choice probably won’t be between
an SSL console and a GML EQ, the same reasoning applies when working on DAW
systems, because adding high end in the digital domain with lots of low-CPU channel
plug-ins tends to introduce more harshness than when you use a single high-CPU
plug-in over the master outputs. “Digital EQ doesn’t handle high frequencies very well,”
says Jacquire King.
9
Buss Compression, Automation, and Endgame CHAPTER 19 285
picìuic moic dcnscIy, is a ìimc-lonoicd ciowd-pIcasci. 1lis is wlcic laving
sìcico cnlanccmcnì scnd cffccìs can icaIIy pay off, hccausc you can casiIy iidc
ìlcii IcvcIs as in ìlc picvious icvcih siìuaìion. Inìioducing opposiìion-panncd
'fakc´ douhIc-ìiacks, Haas dcIays, oi pads onIy foi ìlc cloiuscs wouId hc aIìci-
naìivc opìions ìo wcigl up.
If onc of ìlc insìiumcnìs in a packcd-ouì cloius aiiangcmcnì aIso appcais in
Icss ciowdcd condiìions cIscwlcic, don'ì foigcì ìo icasscss iìs ligl-pass nIìci
ficqucncy wiìlin ìlc ncw scììing, paiìicuIaiIy wlcn ìlc insìiumcnì in qucs-
ìion is somcìling acousìic. Piano paiìs aic a icguIai casc in poinì lcic. 1lcy
ofìcn icquiic faiiIy scvcic Iow-ficqucncy cuìs in ìlc conìcxì of a husy mix, huì
ìlaì samc EQ wiII makc ìlc insìiumcnì sound Iikc a ìap-dancing voIc if iì cvci
movcs fuiìlci inìo ìlc IimcIiglì.
Pads icguIaiIy icquiic auìomaìion adjusìmcnìs if you wanì ìlcm ìo con-
sisìcnìIy cnlancc ìlc mix wiìlouì anyonc noìicing. A pad ìlaì pIays acioss
scvciaI diffcicnì musicaI sccìions wiII aImosì cciìainIy nccd aì Icasì IcvcI auìo-
maìion ìo icìain ìlc pcifccì cnlanccmcnì[inaudihiIiìy cquiIihiium, aIìlougl
you may aIso nnd ìlaì ìlc EQ las ìo clangc ìoo if ìlc synìl is maskcd mucl
moic lcaviIy in somc aiiangcmcnì ìcxìuics ìlan in oìlcis.
Auìomaìion can hc a gicaì hoon wlcn you'vc goì ìo cicaìc any kind of
huiIdup, wlcìlci ìlaì's a sloiì iamp-up inìo a cloius oi ìlc sIow dcvcIop-
mcnì of an cxìcndcd ouìio woikouì. 1lcic aic ìwo impoiìanì poinìs ìo icaI-
izc wlcn mixing huiIdups. Fiisì, ìlc pcak of any cicsccndo musì incviìahIy hc
nxcd ìo nì in wiìl ìlc pioducìion's Iong-ìcim dynamics, so ìlc onIy way ìo
FIGURE 19.5
If you’re using synth pads of any kind in your mix, you’ll probably need to automate their levels so that
they adequately fill out the lush mix moments, but don’t also become too audible in sparser sections of
the arrangement.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 286
cicaìc an impicssivc huiIdup is ìo diop ìlc ovciaII cxciìcmcnì IcvcI as fai
down as you can in anìicipaìion-ìlc Icss you diop ìlc cncigy IcvcIs, ìlc Icss
ioom you Icavc youiscIf foi mancuvci. 1lc sccond ciuciaI poinì is ìlaì you
slouId ìiy ìo icIy as IiììIc as possihIc on slcci IcvcI incicascs ìo impIcmcnì
any huiIdup, hccausc ìlcsc won'ì suivivc downsìicam Ioudncss pioccssing pai-
ìicuIaiIy wcII. Iì's mucl hcììci ìo inìcnsify facìois Iikc aiiangcmcnì compIcxiìy,
insìiumcnì ìimhic, cffccìs IcvcIs, and sìcico widìl ìo cicaìc ìlc majoiiìy of ìlc
impicssion, as ìlcsc iIIusions wiII ìcnd ìo suivivc hcììci ìlan IcvcI incicascs in
icaI-woiId Iisìcning siìuaìions.
19.5 DETAILED RIDES
If you mix cacl sccìion of youi pioducìion accoiding ìo ìlc piincipIcs I'vc
discusscd so fai, you slouId cvcnìuaIIy cnd up wiìl a compIcìc mix ìlaì haI-
anccs scnsihIy ìliouglouì, wliIc aì ìlc samc ìimc appcaiing ìo piogicss in
a IogicaI and musicaI way fiom sìaiì ìo nnisl. Howcvci, iì wiII sìiII nccd onc
nnaI ingicdicnì ìo hiing iì up ìo a piofcssionaI IcvcI: dcìaiIcd iidcs. 1lcsc
sloiì-ìcim auìomaìion-daìa wiggIcs aic wlaì ìakc a mix hcyond wlaì pIug-
ins can aclicvc, adding in ìlc csscnìiaI luman cIcmcnì of inìcIIigcnì, dynamic
musicaIiìy.
AIìlougl I hiicßy mcnìioncd ìlc idca of dcìaiIcd iidcs wlcn discussing Icad
vocaIs hack in Clapìci 9, I'vc oìlciwisc dcIihciaìcIy gIosscd ovci ìlcii ioIc
unìiI now hccausc ìlcy'ic somcìling of a ìwo-cdgcd swoid. On ìlc onc land,
auìomaìion is ìlc mosì powcifuI and musicaI mix pioccss you can possihIy
appIy, and iì is capahIc of maìcling and cxcccding ìlc capahiIiìics of cvcn ìlc
mosì advanccd dynamics pioccssois. An auìomaìcd fadci wiII pioducc moic
naìuiaI icsuIìs ìlan any compicssoi, foi cxampIc, hccausc iì's goì a luman
hcing as iìs IcvcI-dcìccìion sidc clain and gain-icducìion ciicuiì. An auìomaìcd
EQ wiII icmovc sihiIancc moic scnsiìivcIy ìlan any auìomaìic dc-cssci, hccausc
youi cais wiII hc mucl hcììci ìlan any DSP codc aì judging ìlc cxacì naìuic of
ìlc ficqucncy-scIccìivc gain icducìion icquiicd in cacl insìancc. An auìomaìcd
icvcih scnd can icspond ìo aiiangcmcnì clangcs in a way ìlaì no pIug-in can
managc.
Buì on ìlc oìlci land, dcìaiIcd iidcs aic Iahoi inìcnsivc ìoo, and iì can hc dif-
ncuIì ìo impIcmcnì hioad-hiusl clangcs ìo auìomaìion daìa afìci iì's hccn
cicaìcd. Iì miglì ìakc you a coupIc of louis ìo compicss a singIc hass Iinc
using auìomaìion, wlcicas compicssion wiII do mosì of ìlc joh foi you in
minuìcs and wiII Icì you icadjusì ìlc aììack ìimc casiIy aì a Iaìci daìc. 1lcic's
no scnsc in dc-cssing cvciyìling manuaIIy if an auìomaìcd dc-cssci wiII do
ìlc huIk of ìlc woik foi you in a fiacìion of ìlc ìimc. You can aclicvc usc-
fuI impiovcmcnìs ìo youi icvcih IcvcIs hy using a kcycd duckci in ìlc icvcih
icìuin, iì'II savc you agcs auìomaìing a huncl of scnds. AIìlougl ìlcic's noìl-
ing sìopping you using auìomaìion ìo consìiucì a pcifccìIy good mix wiìlouì
ìlc lcIp of a singIc dynamics pIug-in, you'd lavc hc an uììci fiuiìcakc ìo woik
ìlaì way voIunìaiiIy.
Buss Compression, Automation, and Endgame CHAPTER 19 287
1lc upsloì is ìlaì iì's noì usuaIIy a gicaì idca ìo gcì
iidcs invoIvcd ìoo caiIy in ìlc mixing pioccss if
you can avoid iì. 1lc cIosci you can gcì ìo a gicaì
mix wiìlouì ìlcm, ìlc Icss ìimc you'II lavc
ìo spcnd nddIing wiìl IiììIc giaplicaI cuivcs
in youi DAW sysìcm and ìlc moic pioduc-
ìivc youi Iimiìcd mixing ìimc is IikcIy ìo hc.
Rcscivc iidcs onIy foi ìlosc siìuaìions wlcic
muIìing and dynamics pioccssing faII sloiì, ìlcn
you slouIdn'ì wasìc ìoo mucl ìimc. As sucl, iidcs
usuaIIy scivc onc of ìlicc main funcìions: ìlcy ìiou-
hIcslooì mix piohIcms ìlaì mix pioccssois aic unahIc ìo
isoIaìc cffccìivcIy, ìlcy impiovc ìlc suhjccìivc mix haIancc hcyond
wlaì pioccssing can aclicvc, and ìlcy diiccì ìlc Iisìcnci's aììcnìion ìowaid
inìcicsìing aiiangcmcnì fcaìuics via momcnìaiy haIancc clangcs. Lcì's Iook aì
cacl of ìlcsc ioIcs in ìuin.
Intelligent Troubleshooting
1imc-domain pioccssing is aII ahouì picdicìion-youi joh is ìo Iisìcn ìo ìlc
momcnì-hy-momcnì vaiiaìions in a ìiack, huiId a kind of gcnciaIizcd mcn-
ìaI picìuic of wlaì's going on, and ìlcn foiccasì ìlc kind of gain-clangc pio-
ccssing ìlaì miglì hc ahIc ìo nì ìlcm aII inìo ìlc mix. UnfoiìunaìcIy, ìlougl,
music iccoidings aicn'ì aIways picdicìahIc. Foi cxampIc, youi acousìic guiìaiisì
miglì noimaIIy hc vciy good aì kccping any ficì noisc undci conìioI, huì jusì
hcfoic ìlc sccond cloius lc accidcnìaIIy pIanìs a icaI lumdingci. Dynamics
pioccssing won'ì suppIy ìlc answci lcic, hccausc ìlc kind of diasìic pioccss-
ing you'd nccd ìo ìaigcì ìlaì Ionc ficì squcak wouId aIso masl up ìlc icsì of
ìlc pcifoimancc. Assuming ìlaì ìlcic's no opìion ìo paìcl ovci ìlaì ìiansiìion
wiìl audio copicd fiom cIscwlcic in ìlc song, you couId muIì ìlis squcak ìo
a scpaiaìc ìiack ìo soiì ouì ìlc piohIcm, huì iì's usuaIIy moic cIcganì ìo dcaI
wiìl ìlis ìypc of isoIaìcd hIcmisl hy using auìomaìion insìcad.
1lcic aic Ioìs of oìlci common appIicaìions foi ìlcsc kinds of iidcs:
I
Dipping vocaI hicaìl noiscs.
I
Adding aììack ìo a ßuffcd guiìai noìc hy fading up ìlc iniìiaI ìiansicnì.
I
RchaIancing individuaI hass noìcs. Commcnìs Mikc SlipIcy, 'I nnd ìlaì if
ìlc pIayci's pickup is suhsìandaid, onc noìc wiII 'ouì-hoom' anoìlci, and
ìlougl I'II nisì ìiy ìo nx iì wiìl a dynamic EQ, iì iaicIy woiks. So I'II jusì
auìomaìc ìlc ìiack, dig in and nnd ìlc ficqucncy, and smooìl ìlc hass
ouì.´
l2
I
Zapping momcnìaiy fccdhack lowIaiounds on Iivc iccoidings.
I
Caìcling ovcipiomincnì 's´ oi 'f´ consonanìs ìlaì managc ìo hypass youi
dc-cssci. Sìcvc Hodgc sìaìcs, 'I iouìincIy dc-css wiìl auìomaìion now hy
|duckingj ìlc IcvcI of ìlc csscs down wiìlouì affccìing ìlc icsì of ìlc woid.
Iì can hc ìlaì piccisc.´
l3
Although there’s
nothing stopping you
using automation to construct a
perfectly good mix without the help
of a single dynamics plug-in, you’d
have be an utter fruitcake to work
that way voluntarily.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 288
I
Rcducing ìlc Iow-ficqucncy ìlump wlcn a mic sìand las hccn knockcd
duiing iccoiding.
I
Compcnsaìing foi clangcs ìo iccoiding scììings accidcnìaIIy madc duiing a
ìakc: a pcifoimci miglì lavc movcd posiìion in ìlc lciglì of aiìisìic inspi-
iaìion, oi ìlc cngincci miglì jusì lavc noddcd off onìo somc fadcis!
FIXING BAD COMPRESSION WITH AUTOMATION
Detailed automation provides a solution to one of the trickiest mix-salvage jobs. Tom
Lord-Alge explains: “Often I want to uncompress things that are on the tape, when they
are overcompressed or compressed in a nonmusical way. But I fix that by compressing
even more and then creating new dynamics by using the faders. Automation comes in
handy for that.”
14
Dave Pensado has his own slant on this tactic for vocals:
“I go into Pro Tools and I type in the level on every syllable… and I automate the
EQ on every syllable… On a four-minute song, to fix a lead vocal with just the most
horrible compression takes me about two hours.”
15
Perfecting the Mix Balance
1lc piohIcm wiìl mosì dynamics pioccssing foi haIancc puiposcs is ìlaì
iì's onIy conccincd wiìl ìlc ìiack iì's pioccssing, so iì can'ì dcaI wiìl pioh-
Icms aiising ouì of momcnìaiy masking hcìwccn diffcicnì paiìs in a musicaI
aiiangcmcnì. 1lc sidc-claining sìiaìcgics I cxpIoicd in Clapìci l4 go somc
way ìowaid ìackIing ìlc simpIcsì of ìlcsc siìuaìions, huì ìlc masking sccnaiios
in musicaI composiìions aic ìypicaIIy ìoo compIcx ìo hc succcssfuIIy unìangIcd
soIcIy using kcycd dynamics pIug-ins. Masking is a pciccpìuaI plcnomcnon,
wlicl mcans ìlaì ìlc luman lcaiing sysìcm is csscnìiaI foi dcìccìing iì, so iì
sìands ìo icason ìlaì ìlc onIy ìiuIy succcssfuI masking compcnsaìion comcs
fiom manuaI adjusìmcnìs cvaIuaìcd hy cai.
1lcsc kinds of haIancc icnncmcnìs may hc suhìIc, so iì makcs scnsc ìo swiìcl
ìo youi Auiaìonc-cquivaIcnì wliIc woiking on ìlcm, hccausc ìlaì'II causc
ìlcm ìo pop ouì mosì cIcaiIy-ìlcy can hc vciy difncuIì ìo icsoIvc on sìcico
ncaincIds. Cliis Loid-AIgc aIso iccommcnds undciìaking sucl ìwcaks onIy
wlcn Iisìcning aì Iow voIumc: 'You can lcai hcììci wlaì's going on. Wlcn you
ìuin ìlings up, afìci a wliIc aII youi movcs hccomc a smcai. So wlcn you'ic
doing icaIIy ciiìicaI movcs, do ìlcm aì Iow IcvcI.´
l6
Cloosc an impoiìanì
insìiumcnì and ìlcn Iisìcn ìo iì foi ìlc duiaìion of youi mix. If iì sccms ìo
duck down unduIy aì any poinì, cdgc iì up in ìlc mix using auìomaìion, if iì
diaws ìoo mucl aììcnìion ìo iìscIf, ìlcn puII iì down a fiacìion. In ìlis kind of
appIicaìion a quaiìci of a dccihcI can makc a signincanì diffcicncc, aIìlougl
iì's aIso noì unusuaI ìo scc momcnìaiy iidcs of 6dB oi moic-foi cxampIc, if
Buss Compression, Automation, and Endgame CHAPTER 19 289
ìlcic's a IiììIc Iow-IcvcI dcìaiI in a noìc's susìain ìaiI ìlaì's disappcaiing fiom
vicw.
Onc of ìlc csìahIislcd masìcis of ìlis ìypc of auìomaìion is liì mixci Andy
WaIIacc, and lcic's Iim Ahhiss dcsciihing hcing a ßy on ìlc waII duiing onc
of lis mixcs: 'Hc was consìanìIy adjusìing insìiumcnìs ìlaì wcic pIaying
wiìl ìlc vocaIs, so you couId lcai ìlc vocaI, and wlcn ìlc vocaI sìops you
can lcai ìlc insìiumcnìs-ohvious ìlings wlicl pcopIc do, huì lc did ìlcm
quiìc cxìicmcIy. Iì mcanì ìlaì lc did noì nccd ìo cffccì ìlings as mucl oi EQ
ìlings as mucl, hccausc lc madc spacc wiìl lis haIancc.´
l7
1lc man limscIf
las scIdom hccn inìcivicwcd, huì on onc of ìlosc iaic occasions, lc cxpIaincd
ìlc impcìus hclind lis iiding of dium ovcilcads: 'I iidc ìlcm a Ioì of ìimcs
hccausc somcìimcs a cymhaI won'ì hc as Ioud as anoìlci cymhaIs.. Buì,
aIso. cvciy cymhaI ciasl wiII hc iiddcn up mayhc 5dB oi moic. Somcìimcs
I wiII fccI ìlaì I'm lcaiing moic amhicnì sìuff in ìlc ovcilcads ìlan I wanì ìo
lcai in ìlc mix. |Wlcnj ìlc ovcilcads |aicj haIanccd wlcic I wanì ìo lcai ìlc
amhicncc. somcìimcs ìlc cymhaIs won'ì hc Ioud cnougl ìo lavc ìlc impacì
ìlaì I wanì.´
l8
1lis is wlcic iì icaIIy pays off if youi fadcis aic scì in ìlcii aica of hcsì conìioI
icsoIuìion, as I iccommcndcd in Sccìion 8.2. If ìlcy'ic iiglì down aì ìlc hoì-
ìom of ìlcii ìiavcI, you'II sìiuggIc ìo aclicvc any kind of suhìIcìy wiìl youi
auìomaìion, hccausc you'II onIy hc ahIc ìo adjusì ìlc gain in sìcps of onc oi
moic dccihcIs. 1laì said, pcisonaIIy I ofìcn usc a gain pIug-in foi dcìaiIcd IcvcI
auìomaìion, iaìlci ìlan ìlc clanncI fadci, wlicl ciicumvcnìs ìlc conìioI-
icsoIuìion issuc. Iì aIso makcs iì casy foi mc ìo hypass jusì ìlaì cIcmcnì of ìlc
auìomaìion foi compaiison puiposcs. If you'ic opciaìing a VS1 losì and fancy
giving ìlis a go, ìlcn ìiy ouì CVS1's ficcwaic CCain-iì piovidcs a Ϯl2dB gain
iangc ìlaì is usuaIIy pcifccì foi ìlc ìask.

FIGURE 19.6
The vocal level and effect-send automation from a fairly typical Mix Rescue remix. It may look like a lot of
data, but that’s what it takes to compete in most mainstream musical styles.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 290
Iì can ìakc a IiììIc wliIc ìo scnsiìizc youi cai ìo suhìIc haIancc clangcs, so
don'ì ahandon ìlc Iisìcning cxcicisc sìiaiglì away. Civc youiscIf a fcw min-
uìcs piacìicc ìo icaIIy gcì inìo ìlc zonc. '1lc moic you Iisìcn, ìlc moic you
lcai,´ says Sìcvc Paii.
l9
Nowlcic is ìlis moic impoiìanì ìlan wiìl Icad vocaI
paiìs, of couisc, so you slouId Iisìcn paiìicuIaiIy caicfuIIy ìlcic. (Foi moic
spcciaIisì advicc on Icad vocaIs, scc ìlc 'VocaI Ridcs´ hox on pagc 292.) Wlaì
can somcìimcs lcIp, paiìicuIaiIy wlcn Iisìcning on an Auiaìonc suhsìiìuìc, is
ìo ìlink in ìcims of disìancc iaìlci ìlan IcvcI. If ìlc hass ìakcs a sìcp ìowaid
you oi away fiom you fiom ìimc ìo ìimc, ìlcn iì's a cIuc ìlaì iidcs miglì hc
caIIcd foi.
Directing the Listener’s Attention
In any mix, ìlc Iisìcnci's cai is consìanìIy 'icfocusing´ on diffcicnì paiìs as ìlcy
aII jockcy foi aììcnìion. 1o makc a visuaI anaIogy, iì's a hiì Iikc waìcling a soccci
oi haskcìhaII gamc on ìcIcvision. WliIc you'ic focusing on ìlc pIayci in posscs-
sion, ìlc oìlci pIaycis aic onIy in youi pciiplciaI vision, and lcncc aic sccn in
Icss dcìaiI. Wlcn ìlc haII's passcd ìo anoìlci pIayci, you slifì youi focus ìo lim
insìcad, and iì's ìlcn ìlc nisì pIayci's ìuin ìo hc in youi pciiplciaI vision. 1lc
musicaI Iisìcning cxpciicncc woiks a hiì Iikc ìlis (aIìlougl lopcfuIIy wiìl Icss
diihhIing), in ìlaì mosì pcopIc wiII focus mosì of ìlcii aììcnìion on onIy onc
ìling aì a ìimc. Youi husincss as ìlc mix cngincci is ìo diiccì ìlc Iisìcnci's aììcn-
ìion ìowaid wlaì is mosì impoiìanì in ìlc ìiack aì any givcn insìanì. AIìlougl
ìlc ilyìlm guiìai paiì miglì noì hc ncaiIy as impoiìanì as ìlc Icad vocaI, a IiììIc
nII fiom ìlaì guiìai miglì hc mucl moic inìcicsìing ìo Iisìcn ìo ìlan ìlc sound
of ìlc singci ìaking a hicaìl. Fadc up jusì ìlaì ìiny momcnì, and iì'II dcmand iìs
own IiììIc sIicc of aììcnìion hcfoic ìlc vocaIs icìuin ìo ìakc piidc of pIacc. Cus
Dudgcon says, 'Wlcn you'ic doing a mix ìlcic aic sIoìs ìlaì appcai wlcic you
can ciank somcìling jusì cnougl ìo lcIp iì ìliougl so iì sìiII makcs iìs poinì,
huì isn'ì hIowing youi lcad off and lasn'ì goì Iosì.´
20
'I don'ì Iikc mixcs ìlaì aic
ìoo Iincai,´ lc adds in anoìlci inìcivicw, 'I Iikc mixcs wlcic occasionaIIy somc-
ìling comcs ouì ìlaì's a hiì of a suipiisc.´
2l
Doing a sciics of iidcs Iikc ìlis las scvciaI poìcnìiaI hcncnìs. Fiisì, ìlc pioduc-
ìion as a wloIc wiII usuaIIy appcai moic invoIving as a icsuIì-in oìlci woids,
ìlc Iisìcnci's inìcicsì docsn'ì lavc as mucl clancc ìo wanc duiing ìlc IuII in
vocaI acìiviìics in oui cxampIc. 'Noì cvciy singci las pcifccì cmoìion aII of ìlc
ìimc,´ says Ion Cass. 'So if you can huiId ìlc mix and ciafì ìlc ìcxìuics aiound
ìlc vocaI, ìlaì's wlaì iì's ahouì. Iì lcIps saIcs.´
22
Sccond, ìlc main paiìs in ìlc
mix wiII hc appicciaìcd moic dccpIy hccausc ìlc inìciIudcs conìinuaIIy causc
you ìo icfocus on ìlcm-so you'II conccnìiaìc hcììci on ìlc posìnII vocaI pliasc
in oui cxampIc hy viiìuc of coming hack ìo iì aficsl. 1lcsc kinds of haIancc
adjusìmcnìs aic, of couisc, compIcìcIy unavaiIahIc fiom any kind of mix pioccs-
soi, hccausc ìlcy'ic hascd on musicaI judgmcnìs iaìlci ìlan on anyìling a DSP
clip can mcasuic, so auìomaìion is ìlc onIy way ìo hiing ìlcm ahouì.
Buss Compression, Automation, and Endgame CHAPTER 19 291
My sìiaìcgy is usuaIIy ìo Iisìcn ìo ìlc song fiom ìop
ìo ìaiI, again on my Auiaìonc suhsìiìuìc, and ìiy
ìo ìlink in ìcims of mainìaining ìlc unhiokcn
aììcnìion of ìlc Iisìcnci ìliouglouì ìlc ìimc-
Iinc, mucl as Maìì SciIcìic dcsciihcs lcic: 'A
gicaì iccoid slouId hc Iikc you'ic puIIing a
sìiing ìowaid you consìanìIy, and you ncvci Icì
up: ìlcic's a consìanì ìcnsion ìlaì mainìains
youi inìcicsì. 1laì can hc ìlc vocaI dipping inìo
ìlc way ìlc guiìai Iinc Icads inìo ìlc piccloius,
ìlcic's aIways ìlis consìanìIy connccìcd ìlicad.
EspcciaIIy wlcn I'm doing a nnaI mix, I'm aIways
Iooking foi ìlaì poinì wlcic ìlc sìiing hicaks. 1lcn I say
'OK, wc'vc goì ìo nx ìlaì.' If I'm noì hcIicving iì pasì ìlis poinì, I'vc
Iosì iì, iì's noì iiglì.´
23
In a ìypicaI song sìiucìuic, ìlc Icad vocaI miglì hc icsponsihIc foi ìlaì ìlicad
a Ioì of ìlc ìimc, huì wlcicvci ìlis vocaI hccomcs momcnìaiiIy Icss inìcicsìing
(pcilaps hcìwccn pliascs, duiing Iong noìc susìains, oi afìci a fcw icpcìiìions
of any simpIc iiff), I'II lunì aiound among ìlc oìlci aiiangcmcnì paiìs ìo scc
if ìlcic's anyìling ìlaì miglì piovidc a wcIcomc divcision. Iì's in ìlis conìcxì
ìlaì I'II ofìcn caII on any huiicd gcms I may lavc ìuincd up duiing Clapìci 5's
iniìiaI icconnaissancc of ìlc muIìiìiack. If ìlcy don'ì appcai aì a suiìahIc poinì
in ìlc aiiangcmcnì, I'II considci moving ìlcm somcwlcic cIsc wlcic ìlcy'ic
hcììci suiìcd ìo hiidging a gap in ìlc ìlicad of aììcnìion. Don'ì foigcì ìlc pos-
sihiIiìy of iiding up icvcih oi dcIay ìaiIs ciìlci, hccausc ìlosc can hc suipiis-
ingIy aiicsìing in ìlc iiglì ciicumsìanccs-and ìlcy'ic aIso somcìling you can
add aì mixdown if ìlcic icaIIy is noìling cIsc lappcning in ìlc aiiangcmcnì aì
a givcn momcnì!
Wlaì's inìcicsìing ahouì ìinkciing wiìl ìlc Iisìcnci's aììcnìion Iikc ìlis is
ìlaì you can ofìcn gcì away wiìl a suipiisingIy skcwcd haIancc wiìlouì iais-
ing cychiows, as Iong as ìlaì haIancc onIy Iasìs foi a momcnì and noimaI
scivicc icsumcs faiiIy quickIy ìlcicafìci. 1lis givcs you a way ìo iaisc ìlc audi-
cncc's awaicncss of hackgiound paiìs in youi mix, cvcn wlcn ìlcy noimaIIy
lavc ìo hc haIanccd quiìc Iow. You aIso lavc ìlc scopc ìo cIcaiIy indicaìc ìo
ìlc Iisìcnci ìlaì a ncw insìiumcnì las cnìcicd ìlc aiiangcmcnì, cvcn wlcn
ìlcic's onIy acìuaIIy ioom foi ìlc mcicsì suggcsìion of iì in ìlc haIancc dui-
ing ìlc icmaindci of ìlc ìimcIinc. If you'ic icIying on ìlc cnìiy of a ncw paiì
ìo lcIp diffcicnìiaìc a givcn sccìion as a way of impioving ìlc Iong-ìcim mix
dynamics, ìlcn ìlaì IiììIc dodgc can hc woiìl iìs wciglì in goId. Anoìlci ìimc-
lonoicd ìiick lcic is ìo pusl up ìlc nisì coupIc of syIIahIcs of a Icad vocaI
paiì a hiì ìoo Ioud ìo diaw ìlc cai-hy ìlc ìimc ìlc Iisìcnci las lad ìimc ìo
ìlink 'hIimcy ìlaì vocaI's Ioud!´ ìlc vocaI las aIicady icìuincd ìo a Icss
conìiovcisiaI IcvcI.
Don’t forget the
possibility of riding up
reverb or delay tails, because
those can be surprisingly arresting
in the right circumstances—and
they’re also something you can add
at mixdown if there’s nothing
else happening in the
arrangement!
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 292
VOCAL RIDES
“With the vocals you’re chasing the faders to get them really in your face,” says Chris
Lord-Alge. “It’s all about automation.”
24
The amount of time top engineers spend
riding lead vocal levels reflects the central importance of singing to most commercial
music styles, and it’s by no means uncommon for more automation to be applied to
lead vocals than to everything else in the track put together—indeed, the data will
often look messier than a graph of the Dow Jones. The primary reason is that most
listeners remember lyrics and melodies more strongly than anything else, so making
sure that both of these elements come through as strongly as possible is fundamental
to a track’s commercial prospects. “The vocal is probably the most important part of
the mix,” confirms Tony Visconti. “If the vocal is poorly placed in the mix, it’s going to
defeat the purpose, it’s not going to sell the music. People will remember vocals more
than they’ll remember the guitar licks…. Don’t ever be afraid of putting the vocal too
high in the mix…. What you should do is ask someone not involved in the production if
they can hear every word. That’s really the acid test.”
25
Although maximizing the audibility of lyrics with automation isn’t very different from
perfecting the balance of any other instrument in a mix, the level of detail required
can initially take some getting used to. It’s a world where the level of each note, each
consonant, each vowel, and each inflection is carefully balanced to create the most
solid subjective vocal level possible in the mix. In high-level commercial productions,
this activity alone might easily take up several hours, and Bob Clearmountain has even
mentioned how über-producer Mutt Lange would spend all day just riding one vocal
part.
26
So if you think you’re done in ten minutes, think again.
Here are a few pieces of advice on automating for better vocal intelligibility. Dull-
sounding consonants often benefit from being faded up quite a bit, because their tone
by nature cuts through the mix less. I’m thinking of consonant sounds like “n,” “ng,”
“m,” and “l” in particular here, but it depends a bit on the specific singer whether
other consonants might also come across unclearly. You can also imply that those
consonants are louder than they are by emphasizing the transitions to and from the
surrounding vowels. In a similar fashion, consonant sounds “w” and “y” can benefit
from an emphasis of their characteristic fast diphthong transition.
But vocal rides aren’t just about intelligibility; they’re also about maximizing emotional
impact, and this is where automating vocals becomes more of an art. All singers have
certain vocal characteristics that help to express their emotions, so if you can find and
emphasize these moments, you can increase the power of their performance. “It’s a
great technique,” says John Leckie, “because all the little secrets get revealed. At the
ends of lines, a lot of singers will trail off, and if you lift the fader 10dB right at the end
of the line, there’s lots of things you haven’t heard before… suddenly there are new
things happening in the song.”
27
As Leckie suggests, many of the most characterful
aspects of vocal performances are to be found in the spaces around the main notes:
the little moment just before the vocal properly revs up at the start of a note, the
tiny crack in the tone as one pitch changes to another, an expressively extended
consonant, a sassy little pitch glide, the unfocused noisy onset of a high-register
wail, or the hint of extra breathiness and fall-off as a vulnerable note dies away. Often
these kinds of details are hidden within the mix, but if you can unmask them, then you
Buss Compression, Automation, and Endgame CHAPTER 19 293
AIìlougl IiììIc fadci puslcs can icaIIy woik wondcis on a mix, cvcn ìo ìlc
cxìcnì of making ìlc music iìscIf appcai moic cngaging, ìlcic wiII occasion-
aIIy hc ìimcs wlcn you nnd you can'ì makc a hig cnougl sìaìcmcnì in ìlis
way wiìlouì making a compIcìc mcss of ìlc haIancc. 1lc way ìo gcì hcììci
icsuIìs fiom youi iidcs on ìlcsc occasions is ìo simuIìancousIy dip somc of
ìlc compcìing hackgiound paiìs. 1lis wiII dccicasc masking of ìlc paiì you'ic
iiding up in ìlc mix, wliIc ìlc unclangcd IcvcIs of moic impoiìanì suhsidiaiy
paiìs in ìlc mix wiII noimaIIy picvcnì ìlc haIancc clangc fccIing suhjccìivcIy
awkwaid. So Icì's say you icaIIy wanìcd ìo lcai ìlc dcìaiIs of ìlaì guiìai nII
in oui vocaI[guiìai cxampIc, huì pusling iì up ìoo fai in ìlc haIancc fcIì odd.
You couId diaw moic aììcnìion ìo iì hy puIIing hack ìlc fadcis of ìlc oìlci
hackgiound paiìs in ìlc mix aì ìlaì momcnì (say piano, synìl pad, and hack-
ing vocaI Iincs) ìo cIcai moic spacc foi ìlc nII's quaIiìics ìo slinc ìliougl aì a
Iowci IcvcI. 1lc hcauìy of doing iì Iikc ìlis is ìlaì as Iong as ìlc vocaI, diums,
and hass icmain aì ìlcii usuaI IcvcIs, ìlc Iisìcncis piohahIy won'ì cvcn hc
conscious of wlaì you'vc donc aì aII, hccausc ìlcii aììcnìion is ìaigcìcd aì ìlc
vocaI and guiìai Iincs. In somc sucl cascs, you may nnd ìlaì you can com-
pIcìcIy muìc somc hackgiound paiìs wiìlouì anyonc hcing ìlc wisci-aII pco-
pIc wiII noìicc is ìlaì ìlc insìiumcnìs ìlcy'ic supposcd ìo hc Iisìcning ìo sound
cIcaici. RcsuIì!
19.6 NAILING DOWN THE FINAL VERSION
Oncc youi auìomaìion woik is donc, you'II lavc aiiivcd aì a compIcìc mix diafì.
OnIy ìwo ìlings now sìand hcìwccn ìlis and ìlc nnaI mixdown nIc: anoìlci
can significantly elevate the power of the vocal performance—and by association the
perceived improvement that your mix has made to the overall production.
The other area where vocal rides can actually appear to improve the vocal performance
is in rhythmic styles where the lead vocalist is aiming to deliver a fast line with a good
deal of punch and aggression—the most common example these days being the
rapping in various up-tempo urban and electronica styles. This kind of performance is
tremendously difficult to pull off successfully, especially by an untrained vocalist with
underdeveloped diction and breath control. The result is that some syllables may come
across well, whereas others will feel rather limp. The solution is to go through and
automate a little gain pulse at the onset of each underwhelming syllable. Tedious? Yes,
but the alternative is sending your rapper for elocution lessons, which is never going to
be pretty.
One final point: vocal automation isn’t necessarily just about levels. Many engineers
talk about automating de-esser thresholds, for example, while Mike Shipley routinely
automates the vocal EQ for his work with Mutt Lange: “With Mutt we always have
programmable equalizers where we can EQ every word… every consonant of every word
if we want—literally, every part of every word.”
28
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 294
houì of mix icfcicncing, and ìlc pioccss of incoipoiaìing any icvisions sug-
gcsìcd hy ìlc aiìisì[cIicnì. (If iì's youi music, of couisc, ìlcn hoìl ìlcsc ìasks
may hc ioIIcd inìo onc.) As fai as ìlc icfcicncing sìagc gocs, you slouId nisì
of aII piocccd wiìl ìlc samc kinds of A[B compaiisons you pcifoimcd wiìl
ìlc nisì mix sccìion in Sccìion l9.3. Howcvci, ìlcic's onc fuiìlci icfcicnc-
ing acìiviìy I'd iccommcnd, wlicl icaIIy lcIps ìo naiI down ìlc nnaI suhìIc
ìwcaks: huiIding a 'snag Iisì.´ 1lis invoIvcs Iisìcning ìo ìlc wloIc mix on aII
youi diffcicnì moniìois and making noìcs of any nnaI nips and ìucks icquiicd.
AIìlougl ìlaì sounds simiIai ìo ìlc mix icfcicncing you'vc aIicady donc, iì
acìuaIIy woiks a hiì diffcicnìIy, and ìlc dcviI's in ìlc dcìaiI.
Effective Snagging
You slouId now makc a poinì of Iisìcning ìo youi mix (and any icfcicncc
ìiacks) fiom ìop ìo ìaiI, in oidci ìo ccmcnì youi dccisions icgaiding ìlc Iong-
ìcim mix dynamics-a Ioì of youi mixing ìimc wiII incviìahIy lavc hccn spcnì
pIaying hack smaII snippcìs, so a good fcw compIcìc pIay-ìliougls aì ìlis sìagc
acìs as a vaIuahIc counìciwciglì. 'My usuaI iuIc,´ says Andy BiadncId, 'is ìlaì
if I pIay a ìiack ìlicc ìimcs in a iow and somcìling consisìcnìIy hugs mc, ìlcn
I'm going ìo lavc ìo do somcìling ahouì iì. 1laì's low I know ìlaì somcìling
isn'ì iiglì-my cai sìaiìs compIaining and my hiain kccps hiinging iì up.´
29

Boh CIcaimounìain impaiìs somc fuiìlci woids of wisdom: 'Makc suic you'ic
FIGURE 19.7
Clearing out uninteresting backing moments behind important foreground musical features can help the
latter come through more clearly. In this screenshot, for example, I’ve edited out the fuzzy synth bass
under an important snare fill.

Buss Compression, Automation, and Endgame CHAPTER 19 295
Iisìcning ìo ìlc wloIc mix, noì jusì ìlc vocaI, ìlc guiìai, oi ìlc snaic dium..
You lavc ìo ìiain youiscIf ìo Iisìcn ìo ìlc song and noì ìlc individuaI paiìs,
and ìlcn ìlings ìlaì aic wiong wiII jump ouì aì you-iì'II hc ohvious ìlaì
ìlcic's a paiì in ìlc sccond vcisc ìlaì's puIIing youi cai away fiom ìlc vocaI
wlcn ìlc Iyiic aì ìlaì poinì is icaIIy impoiìanì ìo ìlc song.´
30
1lcic's no hcììci snagging ìimc ìlan nisì ìling in ìlc moining afìci a good
niglì's sIccp. Kccping youi conccnìiaìion IcvcIs up ìliouglouì cvcn a singIc
compIcìc mix pIayhack is dcmanding, so iì's viìaI ìlaì youi cais and hiain aic
as ficsl as possihIc hcfoic you sìaiì. '1lc laidcsì ìling is ìiying ìo sìay ficsl,
ìo sìay ohjccìivc,´ says NigcI Codiicl. 'Iì's so laid ìo Icì iì aII go and hccomc a
Iisìcnci´
3l
I'd aIso cncouiagc you noì ìo pIay ìlc mix fiom youi DAW sysìcm,
ciìlci, huì insìcad ìo huin a CD (oi cxpoiì ìlc mixdown nIc ìo youi poiìahIc
music pIayci) so ìlaì you can Iisìcn ìo iì in cxacìIy ìlc samc way you Iisìcn
ìo youi own iccoid coIIccìion. 1lis lcIps you ìiick youiscIf psycloIogicaIIy
inìo Iisìcning moic as a consumci ìlan as a mix cngincci, wlicl is a icmaik-
ahIy powcifuI way of liglIiglìing wlcn a mix is ìiuIy nì foi gcnciaI consump-
ìion. Wiìlin ìlis conìcxì, a coupIc of pIayhacks on youi favoiiìc day-ìo-day
domcsìic Iisìcning sysìcms can hc a good idca. AIìlougl youi li-n, cai sìcico,
oi iPod lcadploncs won'ì acìuaIIy piovidc you wiìl mucl cxìia infoimaìion
ahouì ìlc ìcclnicaIiìics of youi mix if you'vc uscd youi moniìoiing sysìcms
wiscIy ìlus fai, ìlcy can makc iì casici ìo appicciaìc youi pioducìion fiom Ioc
PuhIic's pcispccìivc.
An addiìionaI hcncnì of pIaying fiom a CD oi hounccd nIc is ìlaì you'ic Icss
IikcIy ìo hc disìiacìcd hy visuaI fccdhack fiom youi DAW's mcìcis, wavcfoim
dispIays, and aiiangcmcnì-window Iayouì. 'Iì's icaI casy ìo hc ohjccìivc wlcn
you'ic noì sìaiing aì ìlc spcakcis and Iooking aì ìlc mcìcis,´ says Ed Scay.
32
If
you can scc youi sofìwaic's pIay cuisoi advancing ìo a husici-Iooking sccìion
of ìlc onsciccn aiiangcmcnì IahcIcd 'cloius,´ you'II insìincìivcIy hc incIincd
ìo ìlink ìlaì ìlis sccìion sounds higgci wlcn iì aiiivcs, cvcn if iì's acìuaIIy faII-
ing a hiì ßaì. Fuiìlcimoic, hccausc you'ic picvcnìing youiscIf ìwcaking ìlc
DAW's mix scììings wliIc Iisìcning, you'II ìypicaIIy hc mucl moic discipIincd
in hasing youi dccisions on ìlc conscnsus of aII youi
diffcicnì moniìoiing sysìcms-iì's aII ìoo casy ìo sìaiì
nddIing wiìl mix scììings simpIy ìo compcnsaìc foi
ìlc vagaiics of a paiìicuIai moniìoiing sysìcm, wlcn
ìlcic's noìling acìuaIIy wiong wiìl ìlc mix. Caicìl
Ioncs iccaIIs making ìlis misìakc wiìl a Dcpcclc
Modc mix caiIy in lis caicci: 'Sincc ìlc iccoid com-
pany was so conccincd ahouì gcììing ìlc song on ìlc
iadio wc spcnì a Ioì of ìimc Iisìcning and mixing on a
ìwo- oi ìlicc-incl spcakci.. Wc piohahIy spcnì ìoo
mucl ìimc doing ìlis, hccausc wliIc iì soundcd ahso-
IuìcIy amazing on a smaII sysìcm, on higgci sysìcms I
can lcai aII ìlc fauIìs. You know, 'Ol Cod, I couId lavc
goì moic hass on iì,' oi 'Iì wouId lavc hccn gicaì if ìlc
FIGURE 19.8
For the final snagging
stage of your mix
evaluation, burn your mix
to CD. That way you’ll
tend to listen to it more
as a consumer than as
an engineer, which is a
useful perspective.
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 296
ligl cnd couId lavc hccn a hiì smooìlci.' Ohvious ìlings. If I'd hccn a moic
cxpciicnccd cngincci, I wouId lavc. aIso paid a hiì moic aììcnìion ìo ìlc
hig moniìois.´
33
In my cxpciicncc, ìlcic's IiììIc dangci of faIIing inìo ìlis
kind of ìiap if you makc a poinì of wliììIing down youi Iisì of snags on papci
nisì, Icaving onIy ìlosc ìlaì aic ìiuIy jusìinahIc acioss aII youi moniìoiing
sysìcms.
A snag Iisì ìlcicfoic lcIps you wiap up a mix mucl moic cfncicnìIy and dcci-
sivcIy, hccausc you aIways lavc a dcnniìc ìaigcì in youi siglìs wliIc woiking
and iì's vciy difncuIì foi niggIy mix misìakcs ìo sIip ìliougl ìlc ncì. Wlcn
you'vc ìickcd off aII ìlc snags on youi Iisì, and icfcicnccd again ìo clcck
ìlcy'vc hccn piopciIy dcaIì wiìl, ìlcn you'II hc mucl moic conndcnì in con-
signing youi mix ìo ìlc ouì ìiay. If you sìiII woiiy ìlaì youi mix is unnnislcd
afìci aII ìlaì, ìlcn pcilaps iì's ìimc ìo jusì icsign youiscIf ìo iì. PliI 1an noìcs,
'If you wcic ìo givc mc ìlc samc song on diffcicnì days, iì wouId piohahIy
comc ouì diffcicnìIy. 1lcic's no sucl ìling as pcifccìion, and I ìlink music is
moic fun wlcn ìlings aic a IiììIc incxacì.´
34
Revision Requests
Of couisc, if you'ic mixing somconc cIsc's music, ìlcn iì's nciìlci lcic noi
ìlcic wlcìlci you'ic pcisonaIIy lappy wiìl ìlc mix, hccausc iì's ìlc cIicnì wlo
dccidcs wlaì's nnislcd and wlaì isn'ì. No maììci low good an cngincci you
aic, ìlcic's simpIy no gcììing away fiom ìlc facì ìlaì a Ioì of youi mix dcci-
sions wiII cffccìivcIy hc gucsswoik-caIcuIaìcd gucsscs, admiììcdIy, huì gucsscs
noncìlcIcss. Wiìlouì hcing Maivo ìlc IncicdihIc Mind Rcadci, you can'ì know
cxacìIy low ìlc aiìisì, managci, oi A&R icp wanì ìlc iccoid ìo sound, cvcn if
you'vc ìakcn ìlc wisc piccauìion of asking ìlcm foi somc icpicscnìaìivc icf-
cicncc ìiacks foi guidancc. 1lcicfoic, cvcn aì ìlc liglcsì IcvcIs of ìlc indus-
ìiy, mix cnginccis cxpccì (and pIan foi) ìlc cvcnìuaIiìy ìlaì ìlcy may nccd ìo
icvisc ìlcii nisì suhmiììcd mix in icsponsc ìo suggcsìions fiom ìlc cIicnì. 1lis
pioccss can hc inconvcnicnì oi vcxing aì ìimcs, huì iì's incviìahIc, so ìlcic's
no scnsc in gcììing upscì ahouì iì (giii!), cvcn if you nnd you lavc ìo go iiglì
hack ìo ìlc diawing hoaid.
Mixing isn'ì jusì a ìcclnicaI cxcicisc, iì's a pioccss of discovciing wlaì ìlc cIi-
cnì's Iooking foi, and somcìimcs you nccd ìo ìiy a coupIc of hIind aIIcys hcfoic
you can nnd cxacìIy ìlc iiglì diiccìion. MaiccIIa Aiaica, Iikc mosì ligl-pionIc
mix cnginccis, las hccn ìlcic and houglì ìlc 1-sliiì: 'Wlcn you'ic iccoiding,
pcopIc aic usuaIIy saìisncd jusì lcaiing ìlc sound comc hack fiom ìlc moni-
ìoi spcakcis, huì wlcn iì comcs ìo ìlc mix iì's suddcnIy ìlc icaI dcaI. you gcì
a Ioì of cooks in ìlc kiìclcn, wlicl can hc fiusìiaìing. Buì iì's paiì of ìlc wloIc
mix ìling. I nnd ìlaì I can Icain a Ioì wlcn pcopIc lavc commcnìs. 1lcy may
hc lcaiing somcìling ìlaì I don'ì, and cvcn wlcn ìlc ciiìiquc makcs no scnsc,
iì may Icad mc ìo hiing somcìling ouì ìlaì I ladn'ì lcaid hcfoic.´
35
DanicI
Lanois picks up on ìlc samc ìlcmc: 'Iusì go wiìl ìlc oìlci pcison's idca. 1lc
ìling ahouì idcas is, if you don'ì clasc ìlcm up and scc ìlcm ìliougl ìo ìlcii
Buss Compression, Automation, and Endgame CHAPTER 19 297
concIusion, you may lavc fiusìiaìion Iiving in a coinci of ìlc ioom. And I'vc
ncvci lad a disagiccmcnì icgaiding icsuIì. Somclow iì aIways woiks ouì ìlaì
cvciyhody agiccs on ìlc appioacl ìlaì sounds hcsì.´
36
Making ìlc pioccss of icvisions as painIcss as possihIc is as mucl psycloIogy
as anyìling, so iì wiII aIways dcpcnd lcaviIy on ìlc kinds of pcopIc you'ic
dcaIing wiìl. Howcvci, KyIc Lclning ìakcs an appioacl ìlaì las piovcd iìs
woiìl foi mc on many occasions: 'I ìcII ìlc aiìisì vciy caiIy on in ìlc pioccss
ìlaì ìlcic wiII ncvci hc a ìic. 'Wlaìcvci wc nnd ouiscIvcs disagiccing on, you
win!' Buì hccausc ìlcic won'ì hc a ìic, I lavc ìlc ficcdom ìo ìcII you cxacìIy
wlaì I ìlink. Aì ìlc cnd of ìlc day, iì's youi caicci, so iì wiII hc youi icspon-
sihiIiìy ìo dccidc wlcìlci wlaì I lavc ìo say is lcIpfuI oi noì.. Somcìimcs
pcopIc aic afiaid of Iosing ìlcii joh oi offcnding ìlc aiìisì, huì ìlc moic suc-
ccssfuI an aiìisì gcìs, ìlc moic impoiìanì iì is foi ìlcm ìo nnd somchody wlo
wiII acìuaIIy ìcII ìlcm wlaì ìlcy icaIIy ìlink.´
37
Bcyond ìlaì gcnciaI advicc, ìlougl, I do lavc a fcw
fuiìlci suggcsìions ìlaì lavc lcIpcd mc navigaìc
ìlis paiìicuIai mincncId in ìlc pasì. 1lc main
onc is ìo ask youi cIicnìs ìo dcsciihc ìlc clangcs
ìlcy'ic afìci wiìl icIaìion ìo oìlci pioducìions
(as suggcsìcd aì ìlc cnd of Sccìion 4.l). So if
ìlc vocaI icvcih isn'ì iiglì, ask ìlcm ìo pIay
you somcìling moic suiìahIc fiom ìlcii iccoid
coIIccìion. 1lis lcads off ìwo ficqucnì pioh-
Icms: ìlc nisì is ìlaì opinions may diffci icgaid-
ing wlaì a 'siIky vocaI icvcih´ is, and ìlc sccond
is ìlaì wlaì ìlcy caII 'icvcih´ miglì acìuaIIy hc dcIay,
cloiusing, douhIc-ìiacking, oi any numhci of oìlci
ìlings. 1o misquoìc a wcII-known adagc: an audio cxampIc is
woiìl a ìlousand woids! Iì can aIso hc uscfuI ìo icfci hack ìo any iougl mix
ìlaì ìlc cIicnì suppIicd and nnd ouì low cIosc ìlaì sound was ìo wlaì ìlcy
wcic Iooking foi.
'I can'ì assumc ìlaì my scnsihiIiìy is ìlc iiglì scnsihiIiìy,´ icmaiks Iusìin
Nichank. '1laì's wlcic going hack and Iisìcning ìo iougl mixcs can hc cspc-
ciaIIy uscfuI-ìlcy can ìcII you wlaì pcopIc wcic ìlinking.´
38
Iayccn Ioslua
is moic hIunì: '|1lcy'vcj spcnì so mucl ìimc and so mucl cicaìivc cncigy on
ìlcsc iougl mixcs ìlaì if you don'ì undcisìand ìlc ìiack and ìlcii idcas, you
aic going ìo gcì kiIIcd.´
39
In somc cascs, you can nnd ìlaì a spccinc cffccì is
viìaI ìo ìlc cIicnì's vision of ìlc ìiack, in wlicl casc ìlc quickcsì icsuIìs aic
ofìcn ìo hc lad simpIy hy houncing ìlaì cffccì fiom ìlc iougl mix oi nnd-
ing ouì ìlc cxacì scììings so ìlaì you can go ahouì icpIicaìing iì as cIoscIy as
possihIc.
My nnaI iccommcndaìion wlcn dcaIing wiìl cIicnì icvisions is ìo kccp hack-
ups of ìlc piojccì and mixdown nIcs foi cacl sìagc of icvisions, hccausc iì's
noì uncommon foi pcopIc ìo hackìiack on a icvision idca oncc ìlcy acìuaIIy
Ask your clients
to describe the
changes they’re after with
relation to other productions.
So if the vocal reverb isn’t right,
ask them to play you something
more suitable from their record
collection. An audio example is
worth a thousand words!
PART 4 Sweetening to Taste 298
lcai wlaì iì docs ìo ìlc mix in piacìicc. And iì slouId go wiìlouì saying ìlaì
kccping hackups of aII youi woik in gcnciaI is csscnìiaI. My maxim is ìlis:
nIcs do noì icaIIy cxisì unIcss ìlcy'ic savcd in ìwo diffcicnì pIaccs aì oncc, and
ìlcy'ic onIy piopciIy hackcd up wlcn I can'ì sìupidIy dcIcìc ìlcm hy misìakc!
CUT TO THE CHASE
I
If you'ic woiking in a sìyIc of music ìlaì icIics on ìlc cffccìs of huss com-
picssion, ìlcn you slouId gcì ìlaì pioccssing invoIvcd fiom ìlc momcnì
aII ìlc ìiacks and cffccìs in youi nisì mix sccìion aic lappcning, hccausc
you may nccd ìo makc haIancc compcnsaìions in icsponsc ìo ìlc gain-
icducìion acìion. Rcsisì ìlc ìcmpìaìion ìo usc ficqucncy-scIccìivc dynam-
ics pioccssing in ìlis ioIc-sìick ìo fuII-hand pioccssois and conccnìiaìc on
minimizing unwanìcd sidc cffccìs.
I
If you clickcn ouì of icfcicncing youi mix piopciIy, ìlcn you'II ncvci Icain
low ìo makc youi mixcs compcìc wiìl commciciaI iccoids. Bc picpaicd
ìo go ìliougl scvciaI sìagcs of icfcicncing and icadjusìmcnìs. Makc suic
ìo compaic ìlc mix's ovciaII ìonaIiìy and sìcico spicad, ìlc haIancc, ìonc,
and sìcico imagc of ìlc mosì impoiìanì insìiumcnìs, and ìlc IcvcIs of any
icvcih and dcIay cffccìs.
I
In oidci ìo icfcicncc youi mix againsì aggicssivcIy Ioudncss-cnlanccd com-
mciciaI maìciiaI, you may nccd ìo appIy Ioudncss pioccssing foi compaiison
pioccsscs. 1lcic aic Ioìs of mcìlods of Ioudncss maximizaìion, and a com-
hinaìion of ìlcsc ìcclniqucs ofìcn givcs ìlc hcsì icsuIìs. Wlcn cvaIuaìing ìlc
suiìahiIiìy of ìlc pioccssing, icmovc ìlc Ioudncss hoosì fiom ìlc cquaìion and
Iisìcn caicfuIIy foi pioccssing sidc cffccìs using aII youi moniìoiing sysìcms.
I
BuiIding up ìlc compIcìc mix fiom youi nisì compIcìcd mix sccìion
dcmands no ncw pioccssing oi cffccìs ìcclniqucs, huì iì wiII usuaIIy icquiic
dynamic mixci auìomaìion ìo mainìain ìlc hcsì haIancc ìliouglouì ìlc
pioducìion. If you nccd ìo cicaìc any diamaìic huiIdups, icmcmhci ìlaì
you can onIy icv ìlings up if you nisì diop ìlcm down. DcìaiIcd IcvcI iidcs
aic csscnìiaI foi mosì pioducìions, hccausc ìlcy can diiccì ìlc Iisìcnci's
aììcnìion wlcic you wanì iì and can aIso cnsuic ìlc maximum audihiIiìy of
Icad vocaIs and impoiìanì looks.
I
As a Iasì sìagc of icfcicncing, huiId up a wiiììcn snag Iisì, hccausc ìlis lcIps
focus youi mind on wlaì is ncccssaiy foi compIcìion. Foi hcsì icsuIìs, do
ìlis in ìlc moining foIIowing a niglì's icsì, Iisìcn ìo ìlc ìiack aII ìlc way
ìliougl, avoid Iooking aì visuaI dispIays wliIc you'ic Iisìcning, and cvaI-
uaìc ìlc vaIidiìy of any snags on aII youi diffcicnì moniìoiing sysìcms
(incIuding youi favoiiìc domcsìic pIayhack sysìcms) hcfoic acìuaIIy impIc-
mcnìing any clangcs.
I
Evcn foi ìlc ìop piofcssionaIs, mix icvisions aic a facì of Iifc if you woik on
oìlci pcopIc's music, so don'ì cxpccì ìlc cIicnì ìo appiovc youi nisì-diafì mix
sìiaiglìaway. If possihIc, ìiy ìo communicaìc ahouì ìlc mix in ìcims of con-
cicìc audio cxampIcs fiom commciciaI iccoids, and makc suic ìo kccp hack-
ups of cvciy diafì as you go in casc anyonc dccidcs ìo hackìiack on an idca.
Buss Compression, Automation, and Endgame CHAPTER 19 299
I Apply buss compression to your mix if it’s appropriate, and readjust the balance
after that if necessary. Then export that section of the mixdown as a stereo audio
file and import it to a new DAW project for referencing against relevant commer-
cial tracks. If loudness differences are a problem, then consider using loudness-
enhancement processing on the mix at this stage for referencing purposes. If the
overall tonality of the mix is wrong, then try to correct it with a single high-quality
EQ plug-in over the main mix buss in your mixdown project, rather than messing
with too many of your individual channel processors.
I When you’ve completed the referencing process and revised your first mix snippet,
build up the rest of the arrangement sections in order of importance, engaging
automation where necessary to achieve a full mix draft. Export an audio file of the
full mix draft and reference against commercial productions again. To finish off,
leave the mix overnight and build a snag list the following morning. Once those
snags are dealt with, seek the client’s feedback and implement any suggestions.
When the mixdown’s finally a wrap, generate any alternate mix versions and make
sure you’ve backed everything up.
http://www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch19.htm
Assignment
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301
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
©
2ull Mikc Scnioi. PuhIislcd hy EIscvici Inc. AII iiglìs icscivcd. 2ull
In ìlis hook I'vc ìiicd ìo covci ìlc main aicas of mix ìcclniquc ìlaì smaII-
sìudio uscis nccd ìo masìci ìo aclicvc commciciaI-IcvcI icsuIìs. EsscnìiaIIy iì
aII hoiIs down ìo ìlc foIIowing:
I
Scììing up and Icaining ìo usc youi moniìoiing sysìcms
I
Oiganizing, comping, aiianging, and coiiccìing ìlc iaw iccoidings
I
BaIancing aII ìlc ìiacks and adjusìing ìlcii ìimhics if ncccssaiy
I
Adding swccìcning cffccìs, huss compicssion, and auìomaìion
I
Rcfcicncing youi woik, and cicaìing any ncccssaiy aIìcinaìc mix vcisions
I'vc dcIihciaìcIy ìakcn a sìcp-hy-sìcp appioacl in oidci ìo makc scnsc of so
many diffcicnì suhjccìs and aIso so ìlaì you can huiId up youi own mix wliIc
woiking ìliougl ìlc hook. Howcvci, as I mcnìioncd in Clapìci l5, mosì icaI-
woiId mix cnginccis don'ì acìuaIIy foIIow a Iincai ìiajccìoiy and insìcad icacì
mucl moic ßuidIy ìo ìlc mix ìlcy'ic lcaiing fiom momcnì ìo momcnì. So
wliIc a sìiucìuicd appioacl can hc icassuiing aì nisì, don'ì hc afiaid ìo dcviaìc
fiom ìlaì modcI as youi conndcncc incicascs, hccausc ìlaì's ìlc kcy ìo dcvcI-
oping youi own uniquc mixing sìyIc.
I'vc covcicd a Ioì of giound in ìlis hook, and if you'vc icaclcd ìlis poinì you
slouId aIicady lavc impiovcd youi mixing hy Icaining low ìo appIy somc of
ìlc ìop pio ìcclniqucs wiìlin youi own smaII sìudio. 1lc onIy ohscivaìion I
sìiII wanì ìo add is ìlis: Icaining ìo mix ìakcs ìimc and cffoiì. I'vc donc wlaì I
can ìo spccd up ìlc pioccss foi you, huì you'II sìiII nccd ìo puì in somc laid
giafì if you'ic going ìo loId youi own among ìlc ìop namcs in ìlc husincss.
'I'm aII foi pcopIc gcììing inìo iccoiding music, hccausc iì's a gicaì ìling ìo do,´
says 1ony PIaìì, 'huì if ìlaì is youi closcn caicci paìl ìlcn you slouId spcnd a hiì
of ìimc and woik ouì low ìo do iì piopciIy. Wlcn I say piopciIy I'm noì sìanding
in judgmcnì saying ìlaì's iiglì oi ìlaì's wiong. huì iì slouId hc appioaclcd as a
skiII and you slouId ìakc iì as fai as you possihIy can. Don'ì appioacl iì wiìl ìlc
aììiìudc of 'Ol wcII, ìlaì'II do,' hccausc ìlaì's noì good cnougl.´
l
1ony Masciaìi
sìicsscs ìlc poinì: 'I sìudicd vciy, vciy laid. I wouId hc on ìlc suhway wiìl my SSL
manuaI, icading iì and maiking iì. I ìcII my assisìanìs now: iì's gicaì ìo iccoid youi
Conclusion
CHAPTER 20
PART 4 Sweetening to taste 302
fiicnds' hands, huì don'ì jusì do ìlaì. 1akc a ìapc oi a nIc and ìlc manuaIs and
woik ìliougl a ioom's gcai-ìlc icvcihs, ìlc pIug-ins. Kccp woiking iì ovci and
ovci. I'd siì ìlcic wiìl ìlc gcai foi louis. I ìlink ìlaì lcIpcd mc hccomc a mixci,
and ìo hc ahIc ìo comc up wiìl ìlings ìlaì wcic cicaìivc and ncw.´
2
Foi somc nnaI woids of cncouiagcmcnì, Icì mc Icavc you wiìl AI Sclmiìì: 'Sìick
wiìl wlaì you'ic doing, lang in ìlcic, and kccp doing iì.. I can'ì ìcII you low
many ìimcs guys gcì ìuincd down and icjccìcd and haììcicd ahouì, and ìlcn aII
of a suddcn, wlam!-ìlcy jusì pop ìliougl. I don'ì know a hcììci way ìo cnjoy
youi Iifc ìlan making a Iiving doing somcìling you icaIIy Iovc ìo do.´
3
303
Hcic's a Iisì of aII ìlc cnginccis I'vc ciìcd in ìlis hook, aIong wiìl somc of ìlc
mosì inßucnìiaI iccoidings ìlcy'vc hccn invoIvcd wiìl.
ABBISS, JIM
Aicìic Monkcys: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, Ladyìion:
Witching Hour, Sncakci Pimps: Becoming X, Ediìois: The Back Room, Kasahian:
Kasabian, Empire, AdcIc: 19, K1 1unsìaII: Tiger Suit.
AINLAY, CHUCK
1iisla Ycaiwood: Where Your Road Leads, Thinkin’ about You, Everybody Knows,
How Do I Live, Real Live Woman, Ccoigc Sìiaiì: Somewhere Down in Texas, Pure
Country, Blue Clear Sky, Carrying Your Love with Me, Vincc CiII: High Lonesome
Sound, The Key, Dixic Clicks: Wide Open Spaces, Maik Knopßci: Sailing to
Philadelphia, The Ragpicker’s Dream, Wag the Dog, Metroland, Paììy LovcIcss: If
My Heart Had Windows, Honky Tonk Angel.
ALBINI, STEVE
1lc Pixics: Surfer Rosa, Niivana: In Utero, Busl: Razorblade Suitcase, PI Haivcy:
Rid of Me, Iimmy Pagc and Rohciì PIanì: Walking into Clarksdale, Manic Sìiccì
Picaclcis: Journal for Plague Lovers, 1lc Wcdding Picscnì: El Rey, 1lc Biccdcis:
Mountain Battles, 1lc Sìoogcs: The Weirdness, Clcap 1iick: Rockford.
ARAICA, MARCELLA
Biiìncy Spcais: Blackout, Circus, 1imhaIand: Shock Value, Maiial Caicy: E ϭ MC
2
,
Daniìy Kanc: Welcome to the Doll’s House, Kcii HiIson: In a Perfect World, BIack
Eycd Pcas: Monkey Business.
AVRON, NEAL
FaII Ouì Boy: From under the Cork Trees, Infinity on High, Folie a Deux, Wcczci:
Make Believe, EvcicIcai: So Much for the Afterglow, Linkin Paik: Minutes to
Midnight, 1lc WaIIßowcis: Bringing Down the Horse, Lifclousc: No Name Face,
YcIIowcaid: Ocean Avenue.
APPENDIX 1
Who’s Who: Selected
Discography
APPENDIX 1 Who’s Who: Selected Discography 304
BALLARD, GLEN
WiIson PliIIips: Wilson Phillips, AIanis Moiisscììc: Jagged Little Pill, Supposed
Former Infatuation Junkie, MiclacI Iackson: Thriller, Bad, Dangerous, POD: Testify,
Anasìacia: Anastacia, Coo Coo DoIIs: Let Love In, Cliisìina AguiIcia: Stripped,
No Douhì: Return of Saturn, Aciosmiìl: Nine Lives, PauIa AhduI: Forever
Your Girl.
BARRESI, JOE
Quccns of ìlc Sìonc Agc: Queens of the Stone Age, Lullabies to Paralyze, 1ooI:
10,000 Days, 1lc McIvins: Stag, Honky, HoIc: Celebrity Skin, Limp Bizkiì:
Chocolate Starfish & the Hotdog Flavored Water, 1lc Losì Pioplcìs: Start
Something, Skunk Anansic: Stoosh, Bad RcIigion: The Empire Strikes First, New
Maps of Hell, The Dissent of Man.
BLAKE, TCHAD
SlciyI Ciow: The Globe Sessions, Bonnic Raiìì: Souls Alike, Plisl: Undermind,
Suzannc Vcga: Nine Objects of Desire, 99.9°F, Beauty and Crime, Ciowdcd
Housc: Farewell to the World, PauI Simon: Surprise, Pcìci CahiicI: Ovo, Long
Walk Home, Up, 1lc Dandy WailoIs: Come Down, Odditorium, NciI Finn: One
Nil, Try Whistling This, PcaiI Iam: Binaural.
BOTTRELL, BILL
1lc 1iavcIing WiIhuiys: The Traveling Wilburys Volume 1, 1om Pcììy: Full Moon
Fever, Madonna: Like a Prayer, 1lc Iacksons: Victory, MiclacI Iackson: Bad,
Dangerous, SlciyI Ciow: Tuesday Night Music Club, Sheryl Crow, SlcIhy Lynnc:
I Am Shelby Lynne, EIìon Ioln: Songs from the West Coast.
BRADFIELD, ANDY
Rohhic Rohciìson: Contact from the Underworld of Redboy, Rufus Wainwiiglì:
Want One, Want Two, Release the Stars, Iosl Ciohan: Awake, AIanis Moiisscììc:
Flavors of Entanglement, Spicc CiiIs: Spice.
BRAUER, MICHAEL
CoIdpIay: Parachutes, X&Y, Viva La Vida, AìlIcìc: Tourist, 1lc Fiay: The Fray,
Evans BIuc: The Pursuit Begins When This Portrayal of Life Ends, PaoIo Nuìini:
Last Request, Ioln Mayci: Continuum, Iamcs Moiiison: Undiscovered, 1lc
Kooks: Inside In/Inside Out, My Moining Iackcì: Evil Urges, 1iavis: The Boy with
No Name, 1lc Dovcs: Kingdom of Rust, K1 1unsìaII: Drastic Fantastic, IdIcwiId:
Warnings/Promises, Founìains of Waync: Traffic and Weather, Aimcc Mann: Lost
in Space, Boh DyIan: Lovesick.
Who’s Who: Selected Discography APPENDIX 1 305
BUSH, STEVE
Sìcicoplonics: Word Gets Around, Performance & Cocktails, Just Enough Education
to Perform, Coiinnc BaiIcy Rac: Corinne Bailey Rae.
CAILLAT, KEN
FIccìwood Mac: Rumours, Tusk, Mirage, CoIhic CaiIIaì: Coco, Breakthrough,
Cliisìinc McVic: In the Meantime, LioncI Riìclic: Dancing on the Ceiling,
MiclacI Iackson: Bad.
CASTELLON, DEMACIO
Madonna: Hard Candy, Celebration, NcIIy Fuiìado: Loose, Mi Plan, Rilanna:
Good Girl Gone Bad, Monica: After the Storm, 1lc Camc: The Documentary.
CHERNY, ED
1lc RoIIing Sìoncs: Stripped, Bridges to Babylon, No Security, Bonnic Raiìì: Nick
of Time, Luck of the Draw, Longing in Their Hearts, Road Tested, Boh DyIan: Under
the Red Sky, Unplugged.
CHICCARELLI, JOE
Wliìc Sìiipcs: Icky Thump, Fiank Zappa: Sheik Yerbouti, Joe’s Garage, Tinseltown
Rebellion, My Moining Iackcì: Evil Urges, 1lc Slins: Wincing the Night Away,
Counìing Ciows: The Desert Life.
CHURCHYARD, STEVE
1lc Picìcndcis: Learning to Crawl, Counìing Ciows: Recovering the Satellites,
CcIinc Dion: Falling into You, Ricky Maiìin: Vuelve, Almas Del Silencio, Sound
Loaded, Slakiia: Laundry Service, 1lc SìiangIcis: La Folie, Feline, Big Counìiy:
Wonderland, Biyan Fciiy: Boys & Girls, INXS: Listen Like Thieves; KcIIy CIaikson:
Thankful.
CLEARMOUNTAIN, BOB
1lc Picìcndcis: Get Close, Biyan Adams: Into the Fire, Reckless, Cuts Like a Knife,
So Far So Good, 18 till I Die, Room Service, 11, Biucc Spiingsìccn: Born in the
USA, 1lc RoIIing Sìoncs: Tattoo You, Bon Iovi: These Days, Bounce, Crush, Roxy
Music: Avalon, David Bowic: Let’s Dance, INXS: Kick, Full Moon, Dirty Hearts,
Welcome to Wherever You Are; 1lc Coiis: Talk on Corners, Forgiven Not Forgotten,
Unplugged, Rohhic WiIIiams: Intensive Care, SimpIc Minds: Once Upon a Time,
Black & White 050505, Graffiti Soul, SlciyI Ciow: Wildflower, Aimcc Mann:
Whatever, Bachelor #2, Rufus Wainwiiglì: Rufus Wainwright.
APPENDIX 1 Who’s Who: Selected Discography 306
CLINK, MIKE
Cuns 'n' Roscs: Appetite for Destruction, GNR Lies, Use Your Illusion, The Spaghetti
Incident, Suivivoi: Eye of the Tiger, Mcgadcìl: Rust in Peace, MoìIcy Ciuc: New
Tattoo, Wliìcsnakc: Whitesnake.
COSTEY, RICH
Musc: Absolution, Black Holes & Revelations, InìcipoI: Our Love to Admire,
PoIyplonic Spicc: Together We’re Heavy, Fianz Fcidinand: You Could Have It
So Much Better, 1lc Mais VoIìa: Frances the Mute, Deloused in the Comatorium,
AudiosIavc: Audioslave, Wcczci: Make Believe, BIoc Paiìy: Silent Alarm, Dovcs:
Some Cities, My ClcmicaI Romancc: Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, 1licc Days
Ciacc: Three Days Grace, Iimmy Eaì WoiId: Futures, POD: Payable on Death, Ragc
againsì ìlc Maclinc: Renegades, Fiona AppIc: When the Pawn, Iuiassic 5: Quality
Control, Ninc Incl NaiIs: With Teeth.
DAVIS, KEVIN “KD”
CooIio: 'Cangsìa's Paiadisc´, Dcsìiny's CliId: The Writing’s on the Wall,
Survivor, N'Sync: No Strings Attached, Pink: Missundaztood, 1upac Slakui: Me
against the World, 1LC: 3D, Uslci: 8701, Ouìkasì: Speakerboxx/The Love Below.
DE VRIES, MARIUS
Massivc Aììack: Protection, Bjoik: Debut, Post, Homogenic, Vespertine, Madonna:
Bedtime Stories, Ray of Light, U2: Pop, McI C: Northern Star, David Ciay: White
Ladder, Rufus Wainwiiglì: Want One, Want Two, Iosl Ciohan: Awake.
DECARLO, LEE
Ioln Lcnnon: Double Fantasy, BIack Sahhaìl: Live Evil, Quicì Rioì: Quiet Riot II.
DORFSMAN, NEIL
Diic Sìiaiìs: Brothers in Arms, Love over Gold, Biucc Hoinshy: Scenes from the
South Side, PauI McCaiìncy: Flowers in the Dirt, Biucc Spiingsìccn: Tracks, The
River, Sìing: Nothing Like the Sun, Brand New Day; Bjoik: Medulla.
DOUGLAS, JACK
Aciosmiìl: Get Your Wings, Toys in the Attic, Rocks, Draw the Line, Rock in a Hard
Place, Honkin’ on Bobo, Ioln Lcnnon: Imagine, Double Fantasy, Clcap 1iick:
Cheap Trick, At Budokan, Standing on the Edge.
DOUGLASS, JIMMY
AaIiyal: One in a Million, Are You That Somebody, Missy EIIioìì: Supa Dupa Fly,
Da Real World, Miss E… So Addictive (incIuding 'Ccì Ui Ficak On´), Aicìla
Who’s Who: Selected Discography APPENDIX 1 307
FiankIin: Young, Gifted & Black, Iay-Z: Hard Knock Life, Iodcci: The Show, The
Hotel, The After Party, NERD: In Search Of, 1imhaIand & Magoo: Timbaland and
Magoo, Tim’s Bio, Up Jumps the Boogie, Love 2 Love U, All Y’All.
DRESDOW, DYLAN “3D”
BIack Eycd Pcas: Elephunk, Monkey Business, The END, FIo Rida: ROOTS, 1lc
Camc: Doctor’s Advocate, Common: Finding Forever, Cliisìina AguiIcia: Stripped,
Mcìlodman & Rcdman: Blackout, How High.
DUDGEON, GUS
EIìon Ioln: Elton John, Madman across the Water, Honky Chateau, Goodbye Yellow
Brick Road, Caribou, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, David Bowic:
Space Oddity, OiiginaI Soundìiack: Tommy.
ELEVADO, RUSS
D'AngcIo: Voodoo, AI Ciccn: Lay It Down, AIicia Kcys: Songs in A Minor, Diary
of Alicia Keys, 1lc Rooìs: Phrenology, Game Theory, Diu HiII: Dru Hill: Eiykal
Badu: Mama’s Gun, Boncy Iamcs: Ride, BIackaIicious: Blazing Arrow, The Craft.
ELMHIRST, TOM
Amy Winclousc: Frank, Back to Black, AdcIc: 19, CoIdfiapp: Black Cherry,
LiIy AIIcn: Alright, Still, PaoIo Nuìini: These Streets, Maik Ronson: Version,
Sugahahcs: Three.
EMERICK, GEOFF
1lc BcaìIcs: Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery
Tour, Abbey Road, PauI McCaiìncy: Band on the Run, Flaming Pie, EIvis CosìcIIo:
Imperial Bedroom, All This Useless Beauìy, Badnngci: No Dice, Rohin 1iowci:
Bridge of Sighs.
ENDERT, MARK
Maioon 5: Songs about Jane, It Won’t Be Soon before Long, MiIcy Cyius: Breakout,
DcIìa Coodicm: Delta, Sccondland Scicnadc: Hear Me Now, Rilanna: Good
Girl Gone Bad, Madonna: Ray of Light, Music, Quicìdiivc: When All That’s Left
Is You, 1iaccy Bonlam: Down Here, Fiona AppIc: Tidal, Cavin DcCiaw: Chariot.
FILIPETTI, FRANK
Foicignci: Agent Provocateur, Inside Information, HoIc: Celebrity Skin, Koin:
Untouchables, Here to Stay, CaiIy Simon: Hello Big Man, Spoiled Girl, Coming
around Again, Film Noir, Bedroom Tapes, Baihia Sìicisand: Higher Ground, Iamcs
1ayIoi: Hourglass, That’s Why I’m Here, Kiss: Lick It Up, BangIcs: Everything,
Suivivoi: Too Hot to Sleep.
APPENDIX 1 Who’s Who: Selected Discography 308
FINN, JERRY
AIkaIinc 1iio: Crimson, Remains, Good Mourning, Ciccn Day: Kerplunk, Dookie,
Insomniac, Smoking Popcs: Destination Failure, MxPx: The Ever Passing Moment,
Ten Years and Running, BIink-l82: Enema of the State, Take off Your Pants and
Jacket, Blink-182, 1igci Aimy: Music from Regions Beyond, ϩ44: When Your Heart
Stops Beating, AFI: Sing the Sorrow, Decemberunderground, Crash Love, Spaiìa:
Wiretap Scars.
FLOOD
Ediìois: In This Light and on This Evening, 3u Scconds ìo Mais: This Is War,
CoIdfiapp: Seventh Tree, PI Haivcy: White Chalk, Is This Desire, To Bring You My
Love, 1lc KiIIcis: Sam’s Town, U2: The Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby, Pop, Zooropa,
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, Smasling Pumpkins: Mellon Collie and the
Infinite Sadness, Machina/Machines of God, Adore, Ninc Incl NaiIs: Downward
Spiral, Pretty Hate Machine, Dcpcclc Modc: Violator, Pop Will Eat Itself, Songs
of Faith and Devotion, Nick Cavc and ìlc Bad Sccds: From Her to Eternity, The
Firstborn Is Dead, Kicking against the Pricks, Your Funeral My Trial, Tender Prey,
The Good Son, Eiasuic: Wonderland, The Circus.
GABRIEL, PASCAL
CoIdfiapp: Head First, Maiina and ìlc Diamonds: The Family Jewels,
Ladylawkc: Ladyhawke, Miss Kiììin: BatBox, LiììIc Booìs: Hands, Dido: No
Angel, KyIic Minoguc: Fever.
GASS, JON
PauIa AhduI: Forever Your Girl, Madonna: Bedtime Stories, Diu HiII: Enter
the Dru, Uslci: My Way, Wliìncy Housìon: Just Whitney, MiclacI Iackson:
Invincible, Maiy I. BIigc: Mary, Dcsìiny's CliId: The Writing’s on the Wall.
GATICA, HUMBERTO
MiclacI Iackson: Bad, CcIinc Dion: Celine Dion, D’eux, Falling into You, Let’s
Talk about Love, A New Day Has Come, One Heart, MiclacI BuhIc: Call Me
Irresponsible, Crazy Love, Ricky Maiìin: Vuelve, Clci: Believe, IuIio IgIcsias: Non
Stop, Un Hombre Solo, Crazy, La Carretera, Tango, Baihia Sìicisand: The Mirror
Has Two Faces, Higher Ground.
GHENEA, SERBAN
Kaìy Pciiy: One of the Boys, Teenage Dream, Kc$la: Animal, Iason DciuIo: Jason
Derulo, MiIcy Cyius: The Time of Our Lives, Biiìncy Spcais: In the Zone, Circus,
Iyaz: Replay, Iay Scan: All or Nothing, Wcczci: Raditude, 1lc Fiay: The Fray, KcIIy
CIaikson: All I Ever Wanted, Breakaway, Pink: I’m Not Dead, Funhouse, AviiI
Who’s Who: Selected Discography APPENDIX 1 309
Lavignc: The Best Damn Thing, BIack Eycd Pcas: Monkey Business, Fcigic: The
Dutchess, Caiiic Undciwood: Some Hearts, Iusìin 1imhciIakc: Justified, Maik
Ronson: Version, Sugahahcs: Change, IiII Scoìì: Who Is Jill Scott? Beautifully
Human, The Real Thing, Davc Maììlcws Band: Stand Up, Rohhic WiIIiams:
Rudebox, Uslci: My Way, NERD: In Search Of.
GLOSSOP, MICK
Fiank Zappa: Shut up N Play Yer Guitar, Joe’s Garage, Ioln Lcc Hookci: Don’t
Look Back, Van Moiiison: Too Long in Exile, Hymns of the Silence, Enlightenment,
Poetic Champions Compose, No Guru No Method No Teacher, Inarticulate Speech of
the Heart, Into the Music, Wavelength, 1lc Waìcihoys: This Is the Sea, The Whole
of the Moon, 1angciinc Dicam: Rubycon, Ricochet, 1lc Wondci Sìuff: Never Loved
Elvis, The Size of a Cow, Welcome to the Cheap Seats, Dizzy, Cursed with Insincerity,
LIoyd CoIc: Antidepressant, Music in a Foreign Language, Broken Record.
GODRICH, NIGEL
Radiolcad: The Bends, OK Computer, Kid A, Amnesiac, Hail to the Thief, In
Rainbows, 1lom Yoikc: The Eraser, NaìaIic ImhiugIia: Left of the Middle,
Bcck: Mutations, Sea Change, Guero, The Information, 1lc Divinc Comcdy:
Regeneration, Absent Friends, 1iavis: The Man Who, The Invisible Band, The Boy
with No Name, PauI McCaiìncy: Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, Aii: Talkie
Walkie, Pocket Symphony, Pavcmcnì: Terror Twilight, REM: Up.
GOLDSTEIN, JASON
KcIIy RowIand: Ms Kelly, Rilanna: Music of the Sun, Ludaciis: Theatre of the
Mind, 1lc Rooìs: Game Theory, Rising Down, Iay-Z: The Blueprint, R KcIIy &
Iay-Z: Unfinished Business, Nas: Stillmatic, Maiy I. BIigc: Mary, Bcyoncc: B’Day.
GUZAUSKI, MICK
Eiic CIapìon: Back Home, Cliisìina AguiIcia: Christina Aguilera, Bahyfacc: The
Day, Backsìiccì Boys: Millennium, Boyz II Mcn: II, 1oni Biaxìon: Secrets (incIud-
ing 'Unhicak My Hcaiì´), Biandy: Never Say Never, Maiial Caicy: Music Box
(incIuding 'Dicam Lovci´ and 'Hcio´), Butterfly, Charmbracelet, Paììi LaBcIIc:
Winner in You, Icnnifci Lopcz: On the 6, J.Lo, This Is Me… Then, Baihia
Sìicisand: Higher Ground, Lcann Rimcs: You Light up My Life.
HODGE, STEVE
Iancì Iackson: Control, Rhythm Nation, Janet, The Velvet Rope, All for You, Damita
Jo, Ccoigc MiclacI: Faith, Maiial Caicy: Rainbow, Share My World, Glitter,
Butterfly, Charmbracelet, MiclacI Iackson: HIStory, 1oni Biaxìon: More Than
a Woman.
APPENDIX 1 Who’s Who: Selected Discography 310
JEAN, WYCLEF
1lc Fugccs: Blunted on Reality, The Score, WycIcf Ican: The Carnival, The Ecleftic,
Masquerade, The Preacher’s Son, Sanìana: Supernatural, Dcsìiny's CliId: Destiny’s
Child, Pias: Ghetto Supastar, Win Lose or Draw, Mya: Fear of Flying, MiclacI
Iackson: Blood on the Dance Floor, Slakiia: Oral Fixation Vol. 2; She Wolf.
JOHNS, ANDY
Lcd ZcppcIin: Led Zeppelin III, Led Zeppelin IV, Houses of the Holy, Physical
Graffiti, 1lc RoIIing Sìoncs: Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, Goat’s Head Soup,
Van HaIcn: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, 1cIcvision: Marquee Moon, Icìlio
1uII: Stand Up.
JONES, GARETH
Eiasuic: Wild!, Erasure, Cowboy, Other Peoples Songs, Light at the End of the World,
Dcpcclc Modc: Construction Time Again, Some Great Reward, Exciter, Wiic: The
Ideal Copy, A Bell Is a Cup… Until It Is Struck.
JONES, QUINCY
Fiank Sinaìia: L.A. Is My Lady, It Might as Well Be Swing, Counì Basic: This Time by
Basie, MiclacI Iackson: Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad, Quincy Ioncs: Walking in Space,
Smackwater Jack, The Dude, Back on the Block, Q’s Jook Joint, You’ve Got It Bad Girl,
Ccoigc Bcnson: Give Me the Night, USA foi Afiica: 'Wc Aic ìlc WoiId.´
JOSHUA, JAYCEN
Maiial Caicy: Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, E ϭ MC
2
, Bcyoncc: I Am Sasha
Fierce, Iamic Foxx: Intuition, Scan PauI: The Trinity, Iusìin Bichci: My World 2.0,
Rilanna: Rated R, Maiy I. BIigc: Growing Pains, Stronger with Each Tear,
Cliisìina AguiIcia: Bionic, Ncw Kids on ìlc BIock: The Block, SouIja Boy:
Souljaboytellem.com, Pussy Caì DoIIs: Doll Domination, Uslci: Here I Stand,
Monica: Still Standing, Aslanìi: The Declaration.
KATZ, BOB
Paquiìo D'Rivcia: Portraits of Cuba, OIga 1anon: Olga Viva, Viva Olga, Sincad
O'Connoi: Theology.
KILLEN, KEVIN
Pcìci CahiicI: So, U2: War, The Unforgettable Fire, Rattle and Hum, EIvis
CosìcIIo: Spike, The Juliet Letters, Kojak Variety, North, Mighty Like a Rose, Cruel
Smile, Slakiia: Fijación Oral Vol. 1, Oral Fixation Vol. 2; 1oii Amos: Under the
Pink; Biyan Fciiy: Boys and Girls; Kaìc Busl: The Sensual World, This Woman’s
Work; PauIa CoIc: This Fire, Courage.
Who’s Who: Selected Discography APPENDIX 1 311
KING, JACQUIRE
Kings of Lcon: Aha Shake Heartbreak, Only by the Night, Come around Sundown,
Noial Ioncs: The Fall, 1om Waiìs: Blood Money, Mule Variations, Alice, Orphans:
Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards, Modcsì Mousc: Good News for People Who Like
Bad News.
KRAMER, EDDIE
Iimi Hcndiix: Are You Experienced?, Axis: Bold as Love, Electric Ladyland, Band of
Gypsys, Lcd ZcppcIin: Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III, How the West Was Won,
Houses of the Holy, Physical Graffiti, Coda, 1iafnc: Traffic, 1lc Nicc: Nice, Five
Bridges, Pcìci Fiampìon: Frampton Comes Alive!
LANGE, ROBERT JOHN “MUTT”
AC[DC: Highway to Hell, Back in Black, For Those about to Rock We Salute
You, Dcf Lcppaid: High ‘n’ Dry, Pyromania, Hysteria, Adrenalize, Foicignci:
4, 1lc Cais: Heartbeat City, Biyan Adams: Waking up the Neighbours, 18 till I
Die, Slania 1wain: The Woman in Me, Come on Over, Up, 1lc Coiis: In Blue,
NickcIhack: Dark Horse, Maioon 5: Hands All Over.
LANOIS, DANIEL
U2: The Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, No Line on
the Horizon, Pcìci CahiicI: So, Us, Boh DyIan: Oh Mercy, Time Out of Mind.
LECKIE, JOHN
Pink FIoyd: Meddle, Radiolcad: The Bends, Musc: Showbiz, Origin of Symmetry,
1lc Sìonc Roscs: The Stone Roses, 1lc Vcivc: A Storm in Heaven, KuIa Slakci:
K, My Moining Iackcì: Z, 1lc CoiaI: Butterfly House; Casì: All Change, Mother
Nature Calls; Dovcs: Kingdom of Rust.
LEHNING, KYLE
Randy 1iavis: Storms of Life, Always & Forever, No Holdin’ Back, This Is Me,
Inspirational Journey, Rise and Shine, Around the Bend, Dan ScaIs: Stones,
Harbinger, Rebel Heart, Ronnic MiIsap: Heart and Soul, Biyan Wliìc: Bryan
White, Between Now and Forever, Dowdy Ferry Road, Some Things Don’t Come
Easy, DciaiIcis: Here Come the Derailers, Genuine.
LETANG, RENAUD
Fcisì: Let It Die, The Reminder, AIain Souclon: C’est déjà ça, Pcaclcs:
Fatherf**ker.
APPENDIX 1 Who’s Who: Selected Discography 312
LIPSON, STEVE
Annic Lcnnox: Diva, Fiankic Cocs ìo HoIIywood: Welcome of the Pleasuredome,
Liverpool, PauI McCaiìncy: Flowers in the Dirt, Ciacc Ioncs: Slave to the Rhythm,
Ioidin Spaiks: Battlefield, Boyzonc: Where We Belong, By Request, RaclcI Sìcvcns:
Funky Dory.
LORD-ALGE, CHRIS
Iamcs Biown: Living in America, Piincc: Batman soundìiack, Ioc Cockci: Unchain
My Heart, Claka Klan: Destiny, Ciccn Day: Nimrod, American Idiot, 21st Century
Breakdown, My ClcmicaI Romancc: The Black Parade, Sìcvic Nicks: Trouble in
Shangri-La, POD: Testify, AFI: Decemberunderground, Daiicn Haycs: Spin, Ciccd:
Full Circle, Sum 4l: Underclass Hero, Swiìclfooì: The Beautiful Letdown, Nothing
Is Sound, SIipknoì: Dead Memories, Sulfur, Sìonc 1cmpIc PiIoìs: Stone Temple
Pilots.
LORD-ALGE, TOM
Pink: I’m Not Dead, Funhouse, AviiI Lavignc: Let Go, The Best Damned Thing,
BIink-l82: Blink-182, Take off Your Pants and Jacket, Sìcvc Winwood: Back in the
High Life, Roll with It; Livc: Throwing Copper; Ciasl 1csì Dummics: God Shuffled
His Feet; Hanson: Middle of Nowhere; 1lc RoIIing Sìoncs: Bridges to Babylon;
Sanìana: Supernatural; McFIy: Radio:Active; MaiiIyn Manson: The Dope Show,
Mechanical Animals; Sum 4l: All Killer No Filler, All the Good S**t; 1lc FiaìcIIis:
Here We Stand; Koin: Life Is Peachy; Wcczci: Weezer, Maladroit.
MALOUF, BRIAN
EvcicIcai: Sparkle and Fade, David Ciay: White Ladder, Liì: A Place in the Sun,
Madonna: I’m Breathless, PcaiI Iam: Ten, SIauglìci: Stick It to Ya.
MARASCIULLO, FABIAN
1-Pain: Epiphany, Biidman: 5 Star Stunna, 1oni Biaxìon: More Than a Woman,
5u Ccnì: Before I Self Destruct, 1LC: 3D, I.Lo: Ain’t It Funny, 1icy Songz: Trey
Day, Monica: After the Storm, LiI Waync: Tha Carter, Tha Carter II, Tha Carter III,
FIo Rida: Mail on Sunday, Cliis Biown: Exclusive.
MARROQUIN, MANNY
Kanyc Wcsì: College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation, 808s and Heartbreaks,
Duffy: Rockferry, Rilanna: Good Girl Gone Bad (incIuding 'UmhicIIa´), AIicia
Kcys: Songs in A Minor, Unplugged, Diary of Alicia Keys, As I Am, Wliìncy
Housìon: My Love Is Your Love, Uslci: Here I Stand, Maiy Maiy: Thankful, Get
Up, Ioln Mayci: Continuum, Iancì Iackson: Damita Jo, Common: Be, Naìasla
BcdingncId: Unwritten, Maiial Caicy: The Emancipation of Mimi, Ioln Lcgcnd:
Get Lifted, Faiìl Evans: The First Lady, Sisqo: Return of the Dragon.
Who’s Who: Selected Discography APPENDIX 1 313
MASERATI, TONY
Maiy I. BIigc: What’s the 411?, My Life, Share My World, Ballads, No More Drama,
Maiial Caicy: Daydream, Butterfly, Dcsìiny's CliId: Survivor, Faiìl Evans: Faith,
Keep the Faith, R. KcIIy: R, TP2.com, Ioln Lcgcnd: Once Again, BIack Eycd Pcas:
Elephunk, Monkey Business, Icnnifci Lopcz: J.Lo, AIicia Kcys: Diary of Alicia Keys.
MASSENBURG, GEORGE
LiììIc Fcaì: Feats Don’t Fail Me Now, Hoy-Hoy, Let It Roll, Shake Me Up; Linda
Ronsìadì: Mas Canciones, Frenesi, Feels Like Home, Dedicated to the One I Love,
We Ran; LyIc Lovcìì: Joshua Judges Ruth; Bonnic Raiìì: Nine Lives; 1oìo: The
Seventh One, Eaiìl, Wind, & Fiic: Gratitude, That’s the Way of the World, Spirit, I
Am, All N All, Iouincy: Trial by Fire, When You Love a Woman.
MOULDER, ALAN
EIasìica: Elastica, 1lc Icsus and Maiy Clain: Honey’s Dead, Automatic, MaiiIyn
Manson: Portrait of an American Family, My BIoody VaIcnìinc: Glider, Loveless,
Tremolo, Ninc Incl NaiIs: The Downward Spiral, The Fragile, The Perfect Drug,
1lc Smasling Pumpkins: Siamese Dream, Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness,
Machina/The Machines of God, U2: Pop.
MURPHY, SHAWN
Braveheart, Dances with Wolves, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Ghost, Jurassic Park, Men
in Black, Pretty Woman, Saving Private Ryan, The Sixth Sense, Star Wars: Episode I–
The Phantom Menace, Episode II–Attack of the Clones, Titanic.
NICHOLS, ROGER
SìccIcy Dan: Can’t Buy a Thrill, Countdown to Ecstasy, Pretzel Logic, Gaucho, Aja,
Two against Nature, Everything Must Go.
NIEBANK, JUSTIN
Maiìy Sìuaiì: Country Music, Kciìl Uihan: Be Here, Paììy LovcIcss: On Your Way
Home, Dreamin’ My Dreams, Vincc CiII: Next Big Thing, These Days.
OLSEN, KEITH
FIccìwood Mac: Fleetwood Mac, Foicignci: Double Vision, Scoipions: Crazy
World, Wliìcsnakc: Whitesnake, Slide It In, Slip of the Tongue.
ORTON, ROBERT
Lady Caga: The Fame; Ncw Kids on ìlc BIock: The Block; 1lc PoIicc:
Certifiable; 1aìu: 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane, Dangerous and Moving; Pcì Slop
APPENDIX 1 Who’s Who: Selected Discography 314
Boys: Fundamental, Concrete; Scan PauI: Imperial Blaze; Pixic Loìì: Turn It Up;
LiììIc Booìs: Hands.
PADGHAM, HUGH
Ccncsis: Abacab, Genesis, Invisible Touch, PliI CoIIins: Face Value, Hello, I Must
Be Going!, No Jacket Required, . But Seriously, Both Sides, 1lc PoIicc: Ghost
in the Machine, Synchronicity, Sìing: Nothing Like the Sun, The Soul Cages, Ten
Summoner’s Tales, Mercury Falling, Pcìci CahiicI: Peter Gabriel, X1C: Black Sea.
PANUNZIO, THOM
U2: Rattle & Hum, Dccp PuipIc: The Battle Rages On, BIack Sahhaìl: Reunion;
Ozzy Oshouinc: Live at Budokan, WiIIic NiIc: Golden Down, Icff HcaIcy Band:
Cover to Cover, See the Light; Moìoilcad: Hammered, Biucc Spiingsìccn: Born to
Run; Ncw Found CIoiy: Coming Home.
PARR, STEVE
Roh Lanc: John Adams (oiiginaI 1V soundìiack), L1I Bukcm: Planet Earth,
Sìudio Voodoo: Club Voodoo.
PARSONS, ALAN
1lc BcaìIcs: Abbey Road, Pink FIoyd: Dark Side of the Moon, AI Sìcwaiì: Year of
the Cat, PauI McCaiìncy: Wild Life, Red Rose Symphony, 1lc HoIIics: Hollies, 'Hc
Ain'ì Hcavy, Hc's My Bioìlci´, Amhiosia: Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled, AIan
Paisons Piojccì: Tales of Mystery and Imagination, Pyramid, Eve, The Turn of a
Friendly Card, Eye in the Sky.
PENSADO, DAVE “HARD DRIVE”
Dcsìiny's CliId: Survivor, Bcyoncc: I Am Sasha Fierce, “Clcck on Iì´, NcIIy
Fuiìado: Loose, Maiy I. BIigc: The Breakthrough, Stronger with Each Tear, BIack
Eycd Pcas: Behind the Front, Bridging the Gap, Monkey Business, Cliisìina
AguiIcia: Christina Aguilera, Stripped, Iusìin 1imhciIakc: Justified, Mya: Moodring,
Sugahahcs: Sweet 7, Pink: Try This, Pussycaì DoIIs: PCD, Doll Domination.
PLATT, TONY
Boh MaiIcy: Catch a Fire, Burnin’, 1ooìs & ìlc MayìaIs: Funky Kingston, Aswad:
Aswad, AC[DC: Highway to Hell, Back in Black, Foicignci: 4, Boomìown Raìs:
The Fine Art of Surfacing, Anaìlcma: Eternity.
POWER, STEVE
Rohhic WiIIiams: Life thru a Lens, I’ve Been Expecting You, Sing When You’re
Winning, Swing When You’re Winning, Escapology, BahyIon Zoo: The Boy with the
Who’s Who: Selected Discography APPENDIX 1 315
X-Ray Eyes (incIuding 'Spaccman´), Bahyhiid: Ugly Beautiful (incIuding 'You'ic
Coigcous´), Busìcd: A Present for Everyone, DcIìa Coodicm: Mistaken Identity,
McFIy: Motion in the Ocean.
PREMIER, DJ
Iciu ìlc Damaja: The Sun Rises in the East, Wrath of the Math, Cioup Homc:
Livin’ Proof, Nas: Illmatic, It Was Written, I Am…, Stillmatic, 1lc Noìoiious
BIC: Ready to Die, Life after Death, Iay-Z: Reasonable Doubt, In My Lifetime, Hard
Knock Life, The Life & Times of Shawn Carter, Rakim: The 18th Letter, The Master,
BIack Eycd Pcas: Bridging the Gap, D'AngcIo: Voodoo, Snoop Dogg: Paid tha Cost
to Be da Bo$$, Cliisìina AguiIcia: Back to Basics, Xzihiì: Man vs Machine, Cang
Sìaii: No More Mr Nice Guy, Step in the Arena, Daily Operation, Hard to Earn,
Moment of Truth, The Ownerz.
PRICE, BILL
1lc Scx PisìoIs: Never Mind the Bollocks, 1lc CIasl: The Clash, Give ‘Em Enough
Rope, London Calling, Sandinista!, 1lc Picìcndcis: Pretenders, Pretenders II, EIìon
Ioln: Too Low for Zero, Pcìc 1ownslcnd: Empty Glass, 1lc Icsus & Maiy Clain:
Darklands, BahyslamhIcs: Down in Albion.
PUIG, JACK JOSEPH
Snow PaìioI: Eyes Open, Coo Coo DoIIs: Let Love In, BIack Eycd Pcas: Monkey
Business; Fcigic: The Dutchess; Maiy I. BIigc: The Breakthrough; Pussy Caì DoIIs:
PCD; Sìcicoplonics: You’ve Got to Go There to Come Back; SlciyI Ciow: C’mon
C’mon; 1lc RoIIing Sìoncs: Forty Licks, A Bigger Bang, Biggest Mistake; Ciccn
Day: Warning; No Douhì: Return of Saturn; HoIc: Celebrity Skin; Wcczci:
Pinkerton; IcIIynsl: Spilt Milk, Bellybutton.
RAMONE, PHIL
PauI Simon: There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, Still Crazy after All These Years, Boh
DyIan: Blood on the Tracks, Sincad O'Connoi: Am I Not Your Girl?, BiIIy IocI:
52nd Street, Glass Houses, The Nylon Curtain, The Bridge.
RONSON, MARK
Amy Winclousc: Back to Black, Cliisìina AguiIcia: Back to Basics, Maik Ronson:
Here Comes the Fuzz, Version, LiIy AIIcn: Alright, Still, Rohhic WiIIiams: Rudebox.
ROSSE, ERIC
1oii Amos: Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink, Lisa Maiic PicsIcy: To Whom It
May Concern, Anna NaIick: Wreck of the Day, Saia BaiciIIcs: Little Voice; Nciina
PaIIoì: Fires.
APPENDIX 1 Who’s Who: Selected Discography 316
SCHEINER, ELLIOT
SìccIy Dan: Aja, Gaucho, Two against Nature, DonaId Fagan: Nightfly, BiIIy IocI:
Songs in the Attic, FIccìwood Mac: The Dance, Roy Oihison: Black and White
Night, Ioln Fogciìy: Premonition, Van Moiiison: Moondance, Biucc Hoinshy &
ìlc Rangc: The Way It Is.
SCHILLING, ERIC
CIoiia Esìcfan: Into the Light, Ricky Maiìin: Sound Loaded, IuIio IgIcsias: Quelque
Chose de France, Ion Sccada: Secada, BaciIos: Caraluna, Sin Vergüenza.
SCHLEICHER, CLARKE
Maiìina McBiidc: The Time Has Come, Evolution, Emotion, Martina, Big & Ricl:
Comin’ to Your City, Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace, Dixic Clicks: Wide
Open Spaces, Fly, Pam 1iIIis: Thunder and Roses, Saia Evans: Born to Fly, Restless,
Maik Clcsnuìì: Savin’ the Honky-Tonk, 1ayIoi Swifì: Taylor Swift.
SCHMITT, AL
Ccoigc Bcnson: Breezin’, SìccIy Dan: Aja, FM (No Static at All), 1oìo: Toto IV,
NaìaIic CoIc: Unforgettable, Diana KiaII: When I Look in Your Eyes, The Look of
Love, Ray ClaiIcs: Genius Loves Company, Icffcison AiipIanc: After Bathing at
Baxter’s, Crown of Creation, Volunteers, Luis MigucI: Amarte Es un Placer.
SEAY, ED
DoIIy Paiìon: White Limozeen, Maiìina McBiidc: The Time Has Come, The Way
That I Am, Wild Angels, Evolution, 1y Hcindon: What Mattered Most, Pam 1iIIis:
Put Yourself in My Place, Homeward Looking Angel, LioncI Caiìwiiglì: Chasin’
the Sun.
SERLETIC, MATT
Maìclhox 1wcnìy: Yourself or Someone Like You, Mad Season, Exile on
Mainstream, More Than You Think You Are, CaiIos Sanìana: Supernatural
(incIuding 'Smooìl´), 1ayIoi Hicks: Taylor Hicks, Couiìncy Lovc: America’s
Sweetheart, Roh 1lomas: Cradlesong, Something to Be; Sìacic Oiiico: Stacie
Orrico; CIoiiana: Gloriana; CoIIccìivc SouI: Hints, Allegations, and Things Left
Unsaid, Collective Soul.
SHIPLEY, MIKE
NickcIhack: Dark Horse, Faiìl HiII: Breathe, Dcf Lcppaid: High ‘n’ Dry,
Pyromania, Hysteria, Adrenalize, 1lc Cais: Heartbeat City, Slania 1wain:
The Woman in Me, Come on Over, Up, 1lc Coiis: In Blue, Maioon 5: Hands
All Over.
Who’s Who: Selected Discography APPENDIX 1 317
SHOEMAKER, TRINA
SlciyI Ciow: Sheryl Crow, The Globe Sessions, C’mon C’mon, Quccns of ìlc Sìonc
Agc: R, Sìcvcn Cuiìis Clapman: All Things New, Dixic Clicks: Home.
SIDES, ALLEN
Ioni MiìclcII: Both Sides Now, Pussy Caì DoIIs: Doll Domination, PliI CoIIins:
Testify, AIanis Moiisscììc: 'Uninviìcd´, Coo Coo DoIIs: Dizzy up the Girl, Dead
Man Walking.
SIGSWORTH, GUY
Fiou Fiou: Details, ScaI: Seal, Bomh ìlc Bass: Unknown Territory, Bjoik: Post,
Homogenic, Vespertine, Imogcn Hcap: I Megaphone, Madonna: Music, American
Life, Biiìncy Spcais: In the Zone, Circus, Sugahahcs: Three, Taller in More Ways,
AIanis Moiisscììc: Flavors of Entanglement, Iosl Ciohan: Awake.
SMITH, DON
1lc RoIIing Sìoncs: Voodoo Lounge, Ry Coodci: Chavez Ravine, My Name Is
Buddy, Sìcvic Nicks: Rock a Little, Trouble in Shangri-La, 1lc 1iagicaIIy Hip: Up to
Here, Road Apples, 1om Pcììy: Long after Dark, Southern Accents, Full Moon Fever,
The Last DJ, Roy Oihison: Mystery Girl, Euiyìlmics: Be Yourself Tonight.
SMITH, FRASER T.
Ciaig David: Born to Do It, Slicker Than Your Average, Trust Me, RaclcI Sìcvcns:
Come and Get It, 1incly Sìiydci: Catch 22, Third Strike, 1aio Ciuz, Rokstarr,
ClciyI CoIc: Three Words, EIIic CouIding: Lights, Kano: Home Sweet Home,
London Town, Bcyoncc: B’Day, Iamcs Moiiison: Songs for You Truths for Me,
N-Duhz: Uncle B, Icnnifci Hudson: Jennifer Hudson, Pixic Loìì: Turn It Up,
Clipmunk: I Am Chipmunk.
STAVROU, MIKE
Siouxic and ìlc Banslccs: Join Hands, The Scream; 1.Rcx: Dandy in the
Underworld.
STENT, MARK “SPIKE”
Spicc CiiIs: Spice (incIuding 'Wannahc´), Forever, Bjoik: Post, Homogenic,
Vespertine, Kcanc: Hopes and Fears, Perfect Symmetry, Cwcn Sìcfani: Love Angel
Music Baby, The Sweet Escape, Massivc Aììack: Protection, Mezzanine, Heligoland,
Bcyoncc: I Am Sasha Fierce, Lady Caga: The Fame Monster, BIack Eycd Pcas:
Monkey Business, Musc: The Resistance, Sadc: Soldier of Love, Ciaia: Fantasy Ride,
Biiìncy Spcais: In the Zone, Oasis: Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, Iancì
Iackson: Damita Jo, Maioon 5: It Won’t Be Long before Soon, U2: Pop, CoIdfiapp:
Supernature, Head First.
APPENDIX 1 Who’s Who: Selected Discography 318
STONE, AL
Iamiioquai: Return of the Space Cowboy, Travelling without Moving, Synkronized,
DanicI BcdingncId: Gotta Get through This, Sìcico MCs: Connected, Bjoik: Debut,
Post, 1uiin Biakcs: The Optimist, Lamh: Fear of Fours, EagIc Eyc Clciiy: Sub Rosa;
Spicc CiiIs: Spice.
SWANN, DARRYL
Macy Ciay: On How Life Is, The Id, The Trouble with Being Myself, The World
Is Yours.
SWEDIEN, BRUCE
MiclacI Iackson: Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad, Dangerous, Quincy Ioncs: Back
on the Block, Q’s Juke Joint, 1lc Iacksons: Victory, Ccoigc Bcnson: Give Me the
Night, Icnnifci Lopcz: This Is Me … Then, Rebirth, Brave.
TAN, PHIL
Maiial Caicy: Daydream, The Emancipation of Mimi, Rilanna: A Girl Like Me,
Good Girl Gone Bad, Lcona Lcwis: Spirit, Scan Kingsìon: Sean Kingston, Ludaciis:
Release Therapy, Fcigic: The Dutchess, NcIIy: Suit, Cwcn Sìcfani: Love Angel Music
Baby, The Sweet Escape, Snoop Dogg: R&G: The Masterpiece, Uslci: My Way,
Confessions, 8701, Monica: The Boy Is Mine, Ciaia: The Evolution, Fantasy Ride,
Nc-Yo: Year of the Gentleman, Icnnifci Hudson: Jennifer Hudson.
THOMAS, CHRIS
Pink FIoyd: Dark Side of the Moon, Davc CiImoui: On an Island, RazoiIiglì:
Razorlight, U2: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, PuIp: Different Class, This Is
Hardcore, INXS: Listen Like Thieves, Kick, X, 1lc Picìcndcis: Pretenders, Pretenders
II, Learning to Crawl, 1lc Scx PisìoIs: Never Mind the Bollocks, Roxy Music: For
Your Pleasure, Stranded, Siren.
TOWNSHEND, CENZO
Snow PaìioI: Eyes Open, A Hundred Million Suns, FIoicncc and ìlc Maclinc:
Lungs, Kaisci Clicfs: Off with Their Heads, Ediìois: The Back Room, An End
Has a Start, U2: No Line on the Horizon, BIoc Paiìy: A Weekend in the City,
BahyslamhIcs: Shotter’s Nation, Laìc of ìlc Pici: Fantasy Black Channel.
TSAI, SERGE
Slakiia: Oral Fixation Vol. 2 (incIuding 'Hips Don'ì Lic´), She Wolf, NcIIy: Suit,
Iusìin Bichci: My World 2.0, WycIcf Ican, The Preacher’s Son, Luscious Iackson:
Electric Honey.
Who’s Who: Selected Discography APPENDIX 1 319
VAN DER SAAG, JOCHEM
Iosl Ciohan: Awake, Andica BoccIIi: Amore, Kaìlciinc Icnkins: Believe, ScaI: Soul.
VISCONTI, TONY
1-Rcx: Electric Warrior, The Slider, David Bowic: Diamond Dogs, Young Americans,
Heroes, Low, Scary Monsters, Heathen, Reality, Iggy Pop: The Idiot, 1lc Moody
BIucs: The Other Side of Life, Sur La Mer, 1lin Lizzy: Bad Reputation, Live and
Dangerous, Black Rose.
WALLACE, ANDY
Niivana: Nevermind, From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, Icff BuckIcy: Grace,
Linkin Paik: Hybrid Theory, Meteora, SIayci: Reign in Blood, South of Heaven,
Seasons in the Abyss, BIink-l82: Blink-182, Ncw ModcI Aimy: Thunder &
Consolation, ScpuIìuia: Arise, Chaos AD, Bad RcIigion: Stranger Than Fiction, Sonic
Youìl: Dirty, Ragc againsì ìlc Maclinc: Rage against the Machine, Evil Empire, 1lc
CuIì: Electric, Biffy CIyio: Only Revolutions, Puzzle, Skunk Anansic: Post Orgasmic
Chill, Foo Figlìcis: There Is Nothing Left to Lose, Sysìcm of a Down: Toxicity, Steal
This Album, Mesmerize, Hypnotize, SIipknoì: Iowa, Sìcicoplonics: Just Enough
Education to Perform, PuddIc of Mudd: Come Clean, Life on Display, Koin:
Untouchables, Kasahian: Empire, KcIIy CIaikson: My December, Kaisci Clicfs: Off
with Their Heads, Avcngcd ScvcnfoId: City of Evil, Avenged Sevenfold, Nightmare;
Rancid: And Out Come the Wolves.
WAY, DAVE
Cliisìina AguiIcia: Christina Aguilera (incIuding 'Ccnic in a BoììIc´), Spicc
CiiIs: Spice, 1LC: Crazysexycool, MiclcIIc Biancl: The Spirit Room, Macy Ciay:
On How Life Is (incIuding 'I 1iy´), The Id, The Trouble with Being Myself, Big,
MiclacI Iackson: Dangerous, Blood on the Dance Floor, 1ayIoi Hicks: Taylor Hicks,
India Aiic: Acoustic Soul, Savagc Caidcn: Affirmation, Slakiia: Fijación Oral
Vol. 1, Fiona AppIc: Extraordinary Machine, 1oni Biaxìon: Toni Braxton, SlciyI
Ciow: Wildflower, Pink: Missundaztood, Dcsìiny's CliId: Survivor, Icnnifci Paigc:
Jennifer Paige (incIuding 'Ciusl´), Boyz II Mcn: Coolhighharmony.
WORLEY, PAUL
Maiìina McBiidc: The Time Has Come, The Way That I Am, Evolution, Emotion,
Martina, Pam 1iIIis: Put Yourself in My Place, Homeward Looking Angel, Thunder
and Roses, 1lc Dixic Clicks: Wide Open Spaces, Fly, Big & Ricl: Horse of a
Different Color, Comin’ to Your City.
WRIGHT, TOBY
SIayci: Divine Intervention, Soundtrack to the Apocalypse, AIicc in Clains: Jar of
Flies, Alice in Chains, Unplugged, Koin: Follow the Leader, McìaIIica: and Justice for
All, MoìIcy Ciuc: Girls, Girls, Girls, SouIßy: Primitive.
APPENDIX 1 Who’s Who: Selected Discography 320
YOUTH
1lc Vcivc: Urban Hymns, Dido: No Angel, Emhiacc: Good Will Out, Hcaìlci
Nova: Oyster, Siren, Ciowdcd Housc: Together Alone, PiimaI Scicam: Riot City
Blues, 1lc Fiicman: Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest, Rushes, Electric Arguments,
KiIIing Iokc: Revelations, Night Time, Pandemonium, Killing Joke.
ZOOK, JOE
Modcsì Mousc: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, SlciyI Ciow: C’mon
C’mon, Couiìncy Lovc: America’s Sweetheart, Onc RcpuhIic: Dreaming Out Loud,
Rancid: Life Won’t Wait, Biookc Fiasci: Albertine.
321
CHAPTER 1
l Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
2 Rohinson, A. (l997). Inìcivicw wiìl NigcI Codiicl. Mix, Augusì.
3 Dioncy, M. (2uu3). Mix masters: Platinum engineers reveal their secrets for success. BcikIcc Picss.
4 1ingcn, P. (2ulu). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Fchiuaiy.
5 Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
6 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
7 Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
8 Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
9 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
lu Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
CHAPTER 2
l Scnioi, M. (2uu9). Inìcivicw wiìl Biucc Swcdicn. Sound on Sound, Novcmhci.
2 Paisons, A. Art & science of sound recording: Understanding & applying equalisation. Vidco avaiI-
ahIc fiom <www.aiìandscicnccofsound.com[>
3 Kaìz, B. (2uu2). Mastering audio: The art and the science. FocaI Picss.
4 Paisons, A. Art & science of sound recording: Understanding & applying equalisation. Vidco avaiI-
ahIc fiom <www.aiìandscicnccofsound.com[>
5 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
6 Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc 1cclnoIogy P1R.
7 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, May.
8 Lockwood, D. (l999). Inìcivicw wiìl Boh CIcaimounìain. Sound on Sound, Iunc.
9 1ingcn, P. (2uu8). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Novcmhci.
CHAPTER 3
l Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc 1cclnoIogy P1R.
2 Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc 1cclnoIogy P1R.
3 Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc 1cclnoIogy P1R.
4 Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc 1cclnoIogy P1R.
5 1ingcn, P. (2uu8). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Scpìcmhci.
6 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Dcccmhci.
7 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Ianuaiy.
8 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
9 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Fchiuaiy.
APPENDIX 2
Quote References
APPENDIX 2 Quote References 322
lu 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Iunc.
ll Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
CHAPTER 4
l EIcvado, R. AvaiIahIc fiom <www.gcaisIuìz.com[hoaid[q-iusscII-cIcvado[ll5987-moniìoiing-
diagon.lìmI>
2 1ingcn, P. (2ulu). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Maicl.
3 Lockwood, D. (l999). Inìcivicw wiìl Boh CIcaimounìain. Sound on Sound, Iunc.
4 EIcvado, R. AvaiIahIc fiom <www.gcaisIuìz.com[hoaid[q-iusscII-cIcvado[ll7u88-my-mixing.
lìmI[>
5 Buskin, R. (2uu4). CIassic ìiacks. Sound on Sound, Augusì.
6 Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc 1ccl-
noIogy P1R.
7 Lockwood, D. (l999). Inìcivicw wiìl Boh CIcaimounìain. Sound on Sound, Iunc.
8 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
9 EIcvado, R. AvaiIahIc fiom <www.gcaisIuìz.com[hoaid[q-iusscII-cIcvado[ll7226-mixing-
pioccss-ìimc-hicaks.lìmI>
lu Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
ll 1ingcn, P. (2uu8). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Iunc.
l2 Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc 1ccl-
noIogy P1R.
l3 Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
l4 Lockwood, D. (l999). Inìcivicw wiìl Boh CIcaimounìain. Sound on Sound, Iunc.
l5 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
l6 Lockwood, D. (l999). Inìcivicw wiìl Boh CIcaimounìain. Sound on Sound, Iunc.
l7 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, May.
l8 Buskin, R. (2uuu). CIassic ìiacks. Sound on Sound, May.
l9 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
2u Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
2l Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc 1cclnoIogy P1R.
22 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
23 1ingcn, P. (2uu8). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Ocìohci.
24 1ingcn, P. (2uu9). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, IuIy.
25 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
26 Sìaviou, M. (2uu3). Mixing with your mind: Closely guarded secrets of sound balance engineering
revealed. FIux Rcscaicl Pìy.
27 Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc 1cclnoIogy P1R.
28 1ingcn, P. (2ulu). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Fchiuaiy.
29 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
3u Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc 1cclnoIogy P1R.
3l Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc 1cclnoIogy P1R.
32 Dioncy, M. (2uu3). Mix masters: Platinum engineers reveal their secrets for success. BcikIcc Picss.
33 Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc 1cclnoIogy P1R.
Quote References APPENDIX 2 323
CHAPTER 5
l Scnioi, M. (2uu3). Inìcivicw wiìl CIcn BaIIaid. Sound on Sound, Maicl.
2 1ingcn, P. (2ulu). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Maicl.
3 1ingcn, P. (2uu8). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Novcmhci.
4 1ingcn, P. (2ulu). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Augusì.
5 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, May.
6 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Dcccmhci.
7 DaIcy, D. (2uu4). Inìcivicw wiìl 1om Masciaìi. Sound on Sound, Fchiuaiy.
8 1ingcn, P. (2ulu). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Fchiuaiy.
9 1ingcn, P. (2uu9). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Novcmhci.
lu 1ingcn, P. (2uuu). Inìcivicw wiìl 1om Loid-AIgc. Sound on Sound, ApiiI.
ll 1ingcn, P. (2uu8). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Novcmhci.
l2 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, May.
l3 1ingcn, P. (2uuu). Inìcivicw wiìl 1om Loid-AIgc. Sound on Sound, ApiiI.
l4 1ingcn, P. (2uu9). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Maicl.
l5 1ingcn, P. (2uu9). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, ApiiI.
l6 1ingcn, P. (2uu8). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, IuIy.
l7 1ingcn, P. (l999). Inìcivicw wiìl Spikc Sìcnì. Sound on Sound, Ianuaiy.
l8 Dioncy, M. (l999). Inìcivicw wiìl Mikc SlipIcy. Mix, Iunc.
CHAPTER 6
l DaIcy, D. (2uu6). Inìcivicw wiìl Scihan Clcnca. EQ, May.
2 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Novcmhci.
3 Sìaviou, M. (2uu3). Mixing with your mind: Closely guarded secrets of sound balance engineering
revealed. FIux Rcscaicl Pìy.
4 Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
5 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
6 Scnioi, M. (2uuu). Inìcivicw wiìl Sìcvc Busl. Sound on Sound, Maicl.
7 DaIcy, D. (2uu3). VocaI nxcs. Sound on Sound, Ocìohci.
8 1ingcn, P. (l998). Inìcivicw wiìl Maiius dc Viics. Sound on Sound, Scpìcmhci.
CHAPTER 7
l FIinì, 1. (2uul). Inìcivicw wiìl 1ony PIaìì. Sound on Sound, ApiiI.
2 Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
3 IngIis, S. (2uul). Inìcivicw wiìl PascaI CahiicI. Sound on Sound, ApiiI.
4 IngIis, S. (2uul). Inìcivicw wiìl PascaI CahiicI. Sound on Sound, ApiiI.
5 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
6 DaIcy, D. (2uu6). Inìcivicw wiìl Scihan Clcnca. EQ, May.
7 DoyIc, 1. (2uu7). Inìcivicw wiìl Maik Ronson. Sound on Sound, May.
8 1ingcn, P. (2ulu). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, ApiiI.
9 Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc 1cclnoIogy P1R.
lu DaIcy, D. (2uu4). Inìcivicw wiìl WycIcf Ican. Sound on Sound, IuIy.
ll 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Novcmhci.
l2 BcII, M. (l998). Inìcivicw wiìl Sìcvc Powci. Sound on Sound, Novcmhci.
l3 Buskin, R. (2uu7). CIassic ìiacks. Sound on Sound, Augusì.
l4 Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
APPENDIX 2 Quote References 324
l5 FIinì, 1. (2uul). Inìcivicw wiìl Maiius dc Viics. Sound on Sound, Novcmhci.
l6 Dioncy, M. (2uu3). Mix masters: Platinum engineers reveal their secrets for success. BcikIcc Picss.
CHAPTER 8
l Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
2 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, IuIy.
3 1ingcn, P. (2ulu). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Augusì.
4 1ingcn, P. (2uu8). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Maicl.
5 Lockwood, D. (l999). Inìcivicw wiìl Boh CIcaimounìain. Sound on Sound, Iunc.
6 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, May.
7 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Maicl.
8 1ingcn, P. (2ulu). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Maicl.
9 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
lu Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
ll Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
l2 1ingcn, P. (2uuu). Inìcivicw wiìl 1om Loid-AIgc. Sound on Sound, ApiiI.
l3 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
l4 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
l5 Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc 1cclnoIogy P1R.
l6 Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
l7 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
l8 1ingcn, P. (2ulu). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, ApiiI.
l9 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
2u NicloIs, R. (2uu6). Acioss ìlc hoaid. Sound on Sound, Augusì.
2l 1ingcn, P. (l997). Inìcivicw wiìl FIood. Sound on Sound, IuIy.
22 Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
23 Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
24 Sìaviou, M. (2uu3). Mixing with your mind: Closely guarded secrets of sound balance engineering
revealed. FIux Rcscaicl Pìy.
25 NicloIs, R. (2uu6). Acioss ìlc hoaid. Sound on Sound, Augusì.
26 Izlaki, R. (2uu8). Mixing audio: Concepts, practices and tools. FocaI Picss.
27 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, IuIy.
28 Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
29 Buskin, R. (2uu7). CIassic ìiacks. Sound on Sound, Augusì.
3u Dioncy, M. (2uu3). Mix masters: Platinum engineers reveal their secrets for success. BcikIcc Picss.
3l Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
32 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
33 1ingcn, P. (2ulu). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Fchiuaiy.
34 Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc 1cclnoIogy P1R.
Quote References APPENDIX 2 325
35 DaIcy, D. (2uu6). Inìcivicw wiìl Sìcvc Hodgc. Sound on Sound, Novcmhci.
36 Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
CHAPTER 9
l Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
2 Owsinski, B. (2uu6). 1lc mixing cngincci's landhook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc
1cclnoIogy P1R.
3 1ingcn, P. (2uuu). Inìcivicw wiìl 1om Loid-AIgc. Sound on Sound, ApiiI.
4 1ingcn, P. (2uu5). Inìcivicw wiìl Ioc Baiicsi. Sound on Sound, IuIy.
5 Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
6 1ingcn, P. (2uu8). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Novcmhci.
7 Dioncy, M. (2uu3). Mix masters: Platinum engineers reveal their secrets for success. BcikIcc Picss.
8 1ingcn, P. (2ulu). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Fchiuaiy.
CHAPTER 10
l 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, IuIy.
2 Biucc, B. (l999). Inìcivicw wiìl AI Sìonc. Sound on Sound, Dcccmhci.
3 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, ApiiI.
4 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Novcmhci.
CHAPTER 11
l Haìsclck, K. (2uu5). The golden moment: Recording secrets from the pros. Backhcaì Books.
2 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
3 Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
4 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, May.
5 1ingcn, P. (2uu8). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Maicl.
6 1ingcn, P. (2uu8). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Fchiuaiy.
7 DaIcy, Dan (2uu6). Inìcivicw wiìl Sìcvc Hodgc. Sound on Sound, Novcmhci.
8 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
9 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Augusì.
lu 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Augusì.
ll Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
l2 Dioncy, M. (2uu3). Mix masters: Platinum engineers reveal their secrets for success. BcikIcc Picss.
l3 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
l4 Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
l5 Dioncy, M. (2uu3). Mix masters: Platinum engineers reveal their secrets for success. BcikIcc Picss.
l6 1ingcn, P. (2uu9). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Ianuaiy.
l7 Dioncy, M. (2uu3). Mix masters: Platinum engineers reveal their secrets for success. BcikIcc Picss.
l8 1ingcn, P. (2uu8). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, ApiiI.
APPENDIX 2 Quote References 326
CHAPTER 12
l 1ingcn, P. (2uu3). Inìcivicw wiìl Ricl Cosìcy. Sound on Sound, Dcccmhci.
2 Masscy, H. (2uu9). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. II).
Backhcaì Books.
3 DaIcy, D. (2uu6). Inìcivicw wiìl Scihan Clcnca. EQ, May.
4 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
5 Buskin, R. (l997). Inìcivicw wiìl Ion Cass. Sound on Sound, Augusì.
6 1ingcn, P. (2uu8). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Dcccmhci.
7 Dioncy, M. (2uu3). Mix masters: Platinum engineers reveal their secrets for success. BcikIcc Picss.
8 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
9 1ingcn, P. (2ulu). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Maicl.
lu Baihicio, M. (2uu5). Inìcivicw wiìl Andy WaIIacc. Mix, Ocìohci.
ll 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Inìcivicw wiìl DI Picmici. Sound on Sound, IuIy.
CHAPTER 13
l Dioncy, M. (2uu3). Mix masters: Platinum engineers reveal their secrets for success. BcikIcc Picss.
2 1ingcn, P. (2uu9). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, IuIy.
3 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Dcccmhci.
4 Buskin, R. (l997). Inìcivicw wiìl Ion Cass. Sound on Sound, Augusì.
5 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Dcccmhci.
6 1ingcn, P. (2uu9). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Fchiuaiy.
7 Dioncy, M. (2uu3). Mix masters: Platinum engineers reveal their secrets for success. BcikIcc Picss.
8 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
CHAPTER 14
l Buskin, R. (2uu4). CIassic ìiacks. Sound on Sound, Scpìcmhci.
2 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, ApiiI.
3 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, ApiiI.
CHAPTER 15
l 1ingcn, P. (2uu7). Inìcivicw wiìl DI Picmici. Sound on Sound, IuIy.
2 1ingcn, P. (2uu8). Insidc ìiack. Sound on Sound, Augusì.
3 DoyIc, 1. (2uu9). Inìcivicw wiìl Youìl. Sound on Sound, Maicl.
4 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
5 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
CHAPTER 16
l Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc
1cclnoIogy P1R.
2 EIcvado, R. AvaiIahIc fiom <www.gcaisIuìz.com[hoaid[q-iusscII-cIcvado[ll7u88-my-mixing.
lìmI[>
3 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
4 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
Quote References APPENDIX 2 327
5 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
6 Owsinski, B. (2uu6). The mixing engineer’s handbook (2nd cd.). 1lomson Couisc 1cclnoIogy P1R.
7 Dioncy, M. (2uu3). Mix masters: Platinum engineers reveal their secrets for success. BcikIcc Picss.
8 Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers tell how they craft the hits (VoI. I). MiIIci
Ficcman Books.
9 Dioncy, M. (2uu3). Mix masters: Platinum engineers reveal their secrets for success. BcikIcc Picss.
lu Masscy, H. (2uuu). Behind the glass: Top record producers t