Mix using Slate VCC

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by DonnyThompson, Jan 29, 2015.

  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    As an offshoot of the current thread about the Slate VCC collection, I thought I'd experiment a bit and post a mix I did recently, using the Slate VCC on the 2-bus.

    Surprisingly, I ended up choosing the Trident setting, with input levels set at +3 and the Drive setting at +2.
    It seemed to give me the nicest balance of overall warmth and clarity. I suppose I could have thickened it up if I had driven it harder, but this setting sounded the best, to me anyway.

    I tried the Neve, SSL and API settings... The Neve was almost too warm, rounding out the bottom end to where it sounded a bit too thick. The SSL had a nicer definition on the lower end, but lacked punch in the mids. I really like the API setting for tracks like guitars and kick/snare, it seems to make things "pop" more than the other settings, but on this, it "popped" a little too much LOL for what I wanted to hear.

    The other remaining choice was the RCA Tube Console setting, and it was just too "thick" and lacked "silk" in the highs..

    anyway... here's a mix with the VCC Trident on the 2-bus.

    Written by me, I also did backing vox, guitars, bass, drums.

    Terry Fairfax on lead vocals and keys.


  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Oh dopey me... I forgot to include a comparison file.

    Here's a mix without the Slate VCC.

  3. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    I'll offer that the way the vocals sound now in the mix w/ the Trident makes the song work so much better for me. I initially didn't really warm to the song when you posted it earlier - my ear kept being drawn the the guitar line that was slightly reminiscent of "Rainbow in the Dark" and I couldn't get past that. My experience is totally different now -- as soon as the vocal comes in it draws me and keeps me to it and that guitar line becomes less dominant and just part of the song. This time I got a Steve Miller and Foreigner vibe from the song and responded to it much more on an emotional level.

    For me it shows me how even subtle treatments themselves determine the emotional response to a song by the listener -- really powerful lesson for me.

    Being on the 2-bus I guess this universal treatment serves to unify the tracks and make them sound more a part of the whole? When people recorded to tape I would assume that songs benefited from an overall organic sonic treatment from the tape itself -- and that with digital we can lack that? Help me make sense of what I'm responding to emotionally here. Donny - does the Trident mix congeal for you as well or is this my bias? Does it change your experience of the song?
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I do get what you are saying... and I don't think that there's any doubt that a mix can add to the experience of the song. There are songs I love that I dig equally because of both the performances and the mix treatments.... and often, one supports the other. When that happens, I feel lucky, because I don't feel that it happens enough with my stuff.

    I'm the writer, as well as the engineer, so I've heard the song so many times, in so many different forms, rewrites, re-recordings and mixes, that at this point I'm merely looking for the best sounding version on the whole, and your comment hit home with me that maybe I've accomplished it this time, because, as you mentioned, you weren't crazy about the song initially, and now, you hear it differently. None of the tracks changed performance - wise, so it was really a matter of getting them to glue together in a way that made it more listenable, and perhaps more attractive.

    I wrote the song about addiction... it's not a song about a guy missing a girl, it's more along the lines of a guy missing his fix... and while trying to clean up and get it together, can't help but continue to think about it and see opportunities for it everywhere he turns.

    I like this particular mix because I think it melded in a very nice was sonically. The Trident did add a sense of glue that I felt had been missing. It's subtle... I don't hear it as a dramatic difference, but sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest difference.

    To be fair, I did use some new plugs on this mix that I hadn't used on the previous mixes. Along with the Slate VCC, I recently purchased and used IK Multimedia's T-Racks processors, too... 1176's, LA2's, Neve and SSL channel strips, and I think it would be wrong of me to say that these weren't also a substantial part of the difference. In particular, you mentioned the lead vocal, and that was treated with a Neve 81 strip, which includes emulations of the preamp stage, as well as the EQ section, and I think it really made a difference on the lead vocals, bringing it forward... but not in way that was harsh or shallow. I actually found myself using less reverb on the vocal after using the Neve plugs on the track. I haven't yet figured out why, exactly - LOL - nor do I know if this will happen in future mixes... but it sure worked well for this one.

    Also, one thing I really have come to like with these T Racks plugs, is that they all support and allow manipulation of the signal in M/S mode, and as someone who mixes using M/S quite a bit, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the plugs allowed me to process the signal in this way.

    I really do appreciate you taking the time to listen and comment, Dogs. ;)
  5. Smashh

    Smashh Active Member

    Thats awesome Donny (y)
    I love both versions here in my headphones , IMHO I would like to hear more untreated acoustic and maybe overhead drum because
    it s glued together too well here .
    Great song mate :) , really nice playing !
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Thanks Ash. The drums were Superior, and while there is a mixer within the program that allows blending of "overheads", it's not the same as having a real pair of OH mics on a real kit.

    I tried an experiment with the software, where I printed all the individual drums to their own discreet tracks, and then also ran the entire kit through just the OH mixer function, thinking I might be able to achieve a sound more similar to the real thing, but when I played the OH tracks back with the discreet tracks, it was a phasey mess. Even moving the OH track in small increments and trying to line it up didn't work.

    I'm not all that crazy about Superior as a drum modeling program - I didn't buy it, it was given to me by a friend who went back to using strictly real drums on his stuff... so it's not like I can justifiably bitch all that much about it, having no investment in the program.

    The last drum modelling software I purchased was the original version of BFD, and while it sounded "okay" to me at the time, I'm not crazy about it these days, either.

    But, I think the direct drums from Superior sounded okay, and after I did some treatment using some T-Racks processing, I think I've got them sounding pretty decent.

    My plan for this spring is to relocate my recording area to a different part of my house, which will have sufficient space for me to set up my kit of Yamaha's... I miss having real drums.
  7. Smashh

    Smashh Active Member

    funny that ,any time Ive used a sampled drum track , It does my head in and I can't get to mixing because the drums bug me.
    I didnt realise until you told me it was superior drummer . So I listened again .
    The roll at 2.09 between verses and the kick at 3.37 are the only hints of programming away from a natural cadence from here . The rest is spot on for my ear ,
    I dont mean to be anal about it , but that song is damn good and thats my 5 cents after listening while being intoxicated .

    Thanks for sharing that Donny :)
  8. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    Pro tip for married guys - do not follow any compliments about how good your wife looks with the phrase "....but I've been drinking...." The bro code eludes them.
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

  10. Smashh

    Smashh Active Member

    To be honest ...lol , and Im not drunk now ( although I speak my mind ,with honesty when Im drunk ),
    and I listen to music with more freedom too . When I listen to a track that I have done after a few I usually dont like it , but the best thing is
    I will pin point exactly why and what needs doing . ( I always forget to take notes though ...lol

    Buy me another drink, your still ugly :p
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    LOL... sorry sailor... you're just not my type.
    Smashh likes this.
  12. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    An interesting thing happens with these modeled consoles. One thing I have personally found, even just putting one in the channel does change the sound, no setting as such done. The virtual circuitry comes into play, my personal access is to the Neve 88RS that came with my UAD plugins. Great song Donny btw :).
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    which is, at least to me, amazing.... as long as the difference is a good one. LOL. I've also experienced it going the other way, back when I was using cheap plugs. I'd insert a processor onto a track or bus, and immediately hear phase and tonal problems.

    When I was first starting out, late 70's/early 80's, I remember my instructor showing me that by simply inserting an LA2 into a track or bus, how you could pick up the nuances of the it, and that it wasn't uncommon for engineers to actually do this, without doing anything with the gain - just by putting signal through it at unity, you could pick up pleasing nuances. I find the fact that you can do the same with high quality plugs to be amazing, that they've come so far with modeling that this can occur.

    I'm a bit knocked out these days by some of these plugs... I used to be a real nay-sayer with most of them.

    But when I heard both the Waves and T-Racks Neve 73 and 81 strips actually modelling the gain and harmonic edge of the signal, just like the real Neve modules did, that was kind of a head blast for me. Technology is amazing. They can put incredible acoustic spaces into a box (Bricasti), they can provide pitch correction (Melodyne and Elastic Audio), and, not only model the EQ and dynamics of a classic channel strip, but can also model the harmonic distortion that occurs when those real pre amps and channel strips were pushed. My latest knockdown moment came when I heard a plug version of the Focusrite Red Opto Compressor. This used to be one of my favorite compressors, because it handled gain reduction in such a smooth and musical way, and now I can get the exact same response out of a plug processor? It was definitely one of those "Holy ***t! moments for me. LOL

    Oh, and thanks for listening to the song by the way. :)
  14. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    New project - an early mix from a song on Terry's album - no keeper lead vocals yet, the lead vocal that is there is strictly a cue track so that I could set up a mix using a scratch vocal as a reference, so I wouldn't "walk" on the eventual keeper lead vocal track; and I'm also waiting on a soprano sax part that is being recorded by a friend of ours at a his studio, hopefully today.

    The song is a cover version of Todd Rundgren's "Love Is The Answer".

    T-Racks, Waves and Slate VCC all used on this. Waves SSL for drums, T-Racks Neve for backing vox and guitars, Slate VCC for bass guitar (using the API setting). T-Racks Focusrite Red Opto Compressor on the 2-bus... nothing dramatic, just enough to glue things together; I was just "kissing" the master with very light compression.... 1:8:1, 8.6ms attack, 186 ms release, -14db thresh, +2 db MU.

    One thing that really helped me on this was that I mixed into the 2-bus compressor, as opposed to getting a mix first and then adding the compressor afterwards.

    Any and all thoughts/ questions welcome. :)

    Smashh likes this.

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