Tag Archives: mix engineer

Preparing A Song For A Professional Mix

 

It is an exciting experience having your songs mixed by a professional mix engineer. As an artist you have spent countless hours crafting your songs and recordings to be an accurate representation of your vision. A great mix engineer will take your vision to a new inspiring level. There are simple steps to make sure that the tracks that you provide your mix engineer can be used quickly and simply with any mix system.

Clearly label all audio files. A label such as “Johnny heavyg 56L” is not as easy to understand as “rtm gtr 1”. If there are many tracks of the same type such as synths, make sure that they are labeled in a uniform manner that tells the mix engineer what their purpose is. A track that is labeled “chorus bass synth” makes a lot of sense. If you are preparing your recording in Pro Tools (what your mix engineer will probably be using) it is a great idea to include comments on each track about how the track is to be used.

Consolidate each track so that everything starts together at the zero point of the session. If you don’t know how to do this in your Digital Audio Workstation, ask your mix engineer for instructions. This is often overlooked when delivering audio files to a mix engineer and it can take hours to rectify if it is not done correctly.

Compile your takes and only include your best performances. Your mix engineer is working to create a fantastic mix of the whole song. They don’t need to spend hours listening through less than ideal performances to choose the best take. Compiling takes saves the mix engineer time, and saves you money in the end by focusing your mix time on what matters, a great sounding mix.

If you are recording with guitar amp simulations, include a clean direct version of each track. Your mix engineer may be able to run your direct signal through a real amplifier in the studio that is far superior to what an amp simulator can provide. Even if you are happy with your guitar sounds, a clean direct signal can allow for your amplifier sounds to me modified and augmented in the mix in a creative manner that would not have been obvious in the initial recording process.

If you are recording at home, which is the reality for many musicians today, use caution in regard to distortion and levels. Within digital audio it is better to have less level than to be distorted. A clean digital signal can be boosted by a significant amount without artifacts, but distortion can not be cleaned up. Likewise, if you are compressing at home, do not over compress. If you are unsure of how much gain reduction to apply to a source, always record a dry uncompressed signal simultaneously.

Include sample frequency and bit depth with your production notes for the project. This is a courtesy that a mix engineer will appreciate when they receive your project. If possible, try to keep the sample frequency and bit depth the same throughout the entirety of your recording project. This allows for each song to operate in a similar manner with digital equipment.

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2010 A Year In Review:

This has been one of the most exciting years in music for me in a long time. On a personal level, New York City has become a great place for me to develop relationships and grow as a producer, engineer and a musician. From a recording industry standpoint, I am seeing more big studios close, and more small studios pop up with new ways of providing awesome service to niche markets. The home studio gear, even in the last year, has jumped leaps and bounds in quality and affordability.
As a musician, I am seeing more and more artists finally accept that the old guard of labels has come to an end and is a fools dream. I see this in increased crowd funding, smarter merchandise and more creative touring strategies. What I haven’t seen disappear is the need for a tribal association that a label once gave. I am seeing collaboratives on bands/ musicians/ artists popping up and developing great alliances that are far more valuable than a former label association.
This collaborative spirit was the inspiration behind the Brooklyn Heat compilation project that I launched last month. If you aren’t hip to the project yet, I was granted some free studio time to create a document of some interesting rock bands from the Brooklyn area in the summer of 2010. The project was released for free, digitally at http://www.brooklynheat.bandcamp.com I am brainstorming with some other people about the future of the project and what I may be able to do with it. I don’t want to start a record label, but I would like the artists that I work with to have a community to lean on for booking, promotion, creative backing, as well as physical resources. You will hear much more about this project in the new year. We are doing a project launch:

Brooklyn Heat Project Launch
January 20th 9pm
@ Coco 66 (66 Greenpoint Ave Brooklyn NY)
Gunfight/ QuietLoudly (collaborative performance)
Shark?
Quilty
Magnetic Island
Little Racer

As suggested by Seth Godin (www.sethgodin.com) I am compiliting a list of projects that I did this year, and I highly suggest you do the same. I think as creative people we often get so wrapped up in our current endeavours that we forget about the pile of completed projects behind us. In general, I think this is a good thing. There is nothing wrong with being in the moment with our art, but it is also good to evaluate what has been completed as a trail marker.

“Lifelike”- LP by: Xylofaux www.xylofaux.com
“Notorious Darling Asteriod” -LP by: De Osos www.deosos.com
“Gunshot Lover”- EP by: Blackbutton www.myspace.com/blackbuttonmusic
“Dogs On Television” -LP by: Dogs On Television www.myspace.com/dogsontelevision
“The Jangula”- EP by: The Jangula www.myspace.com/thejangula
“The Duck Wife”- LP by: Grub Animal www.theduckwife.com
“ Kyle Hernandez Trio”- EP by: Kyle Hernandez
“The False Alarms” -EP by: The False Alarms
“Classy Like A Money Shot”- LP by: Orphan Killbot www.myspace.com/orphankillbot
“Neko Neko”- EP by: Reign State www.myspace.com/reignstate
“ Brooklyn Heat”- Compilation www.brooklynheat.bandcamp.com
“For A While” – Single by: Kelli Eagan www.myspace.com/kellieagan
“Burn 2 Quick/ Undone”- Singles by: Befellows www.myspace.com/544587914
“Everything Changes” -LP by: Ted Strauss
“ Wolf With An E” – Feature Film Mix by: David Zuckerman www.zuofilms.com

I am probably forgetting a lot of projects, but these are the ones that I can remember right now. I hope to continue making your records next year. I have some new projects lined up already that are bound to be really exciting.

Hit me up with your plans for 2011. Lets make it happen info@shaneoconnorrecording.com

www.shaneoconnorrecording.com

-Shane

What creates depth in a mix?

What creates depth in a mix?

– great instruments/ mics/ preamps used in tracking. It always helps to have a great foundation

– properly eqed reverbs and delays that complement the source instead of masking it.

– out of time delays and reverbs in places where the ambience should be “noticed”. In time reverbs and delays where the ambience should be “felt”.

-automation of delays and reverb levels to create greater depth intensity throughout the song. Often bridges can come off as more emotionally compelling if they have a different vocal delay than the verse.

– room mics

– room mics that are properly pumping with the tempo of the song

– automation of room mics to fit each section of the song (especially for drums)

– space in the arrangement to allow for depth to be precieved (a rest?)

– harmonic distortion from analog equipment.

What creates width in a mix?

What creates width in a mix?

– key elements panned hard left and right.

– a strong sense of “center” channel comprised of kick, snare, and bass.

– low end material panned to the center from 700hz and below.

– stereo movement from less wide to wide. For example, choruses get wider than verses.

– a juxtaposition of stereo and mono ideas.

– delays used over reverbs

– two mono delays, or two mono reverbs instead of stereo delays and reverbs

– doubled rhythm instruments panned hard left and right, but not all of the time throughout the song.

– A GREAT ARRANGEMENT

A Great Mix

Last week I sat down with a good friend and fellow recording enthusiast for a drink at his new studio. We started talking about what makes a mix good versus great mix.
I came to the conclusion that a good mix has balance between instruments, and works well within the dynamic range provided. It isn’t terribly hard to get a mix to this point. A good mix is like a B+ paper. There is nothing remarkable about it, but it gets the point across.
A great mix goes beyond balance and into the emotional content of the music. For example, the stereo width of the mix should relate to the emotional ebb and flow of the song. The transient attack of instruments should relate to how the instruments sit in the depth of the mix in an intentional manner. Basically, a great mix moves you emotionally with the song. It is beyond a representation of a song.