After recording everything you then have to edit and mix it. This can be a really easy process or a really hard one depending on how well the sessions went, how many takes you have to choose from and how good your notes were during the sessions. This is why I make a rough cut in my notes during sessions so I have somewhere to start from.
The first thing you need to do is build your tracks. If you recorded the piece in one take, then that’s easy and already done for you. If the piece was 80 takes, then you need to decide which takes to use and edit them together into a full piece. After that, mixing.
For me mixing is as much of an art as a science. It is more about what feels right, how it sits within the stereo image and to try and keep it as real sounding as possible. All of which I’ve failed to do one previous mixes as I’ve been learning but like anything the more you do the better you get at it.
The things I have tried to do with Entangled are:
- Make sure the stereo image is clear and a nice breadth on speakers and on headphones
- Keep a good balance throughout. If anything pokes out, take a few db out from that instrument or you can do a little bit of compositional balancing enhancing dynamic changes for example.
- Listen for any frequencies that are poking out and tame them with EQ (Fab Filter EQ is great! If you want to buy them let me know and I can send you a 10% discount code). You can tame bright mics this way or get rid of some noise.
- If you have access to them noise reduction plugins are useful but expensive. I don’t have them so had to be crude with getting rid of some noise (like a chair creek).
- If you haven’t recorded in a nice sounding space make sure to add reverb. Again, be artful with your choice. There are hundreds of reverb units with thousands of pre-sets. I seem to favour the RC 24 and RC 48 reverbs units from Native Instruments at the moment. Though East/West Spaces can be quite nice as well. Reverb is one of the most comonly used effects either to be added post-production or a choice that is made in the room during recording. This is a nice introduction to what reverb is and how it works.
Before I decide ‘this is the final mix’ I bounce it out and listen to different sets of speakers and headphones. Remember not everyone will be able to listen on high-end speakers and headphones. Listen to the mix on laptop speakers, good headphones, bad headphones, good speakers, your iPhone speakers anything you can. It will sound different but if it still has the same balance and intention as what you wanted its good.
The final step before deciding that everything is finished is lay all the tracks out in one session and check they are the same volume and there’s no massive jumps between tracks. Then compare your mixes to other ones on your iTunes to make sure they are a comparable volume.
There is another step after this final step. It is going back to the start and repeating all of the above after you’ve waited a few days. I’d suggest doing that a few times because coming back with fresh ears you often hear something different. I finished a first mix last weekend and then had to go to speak at the Musicians’ Union conference (you can read about it here). I had planned my schedule around taking a break from mixing.
After all of that is done and your happy with everything you need to get things sorted for the actual release. Which will be the next blog.