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Mixing basics for sax, please help.....Sonar 2.2

Discussion in 'Sonar' started by Smoothsax, Jan 28, 2005.

  1. Smoothsax

    Smoothsax Guest

    I'm starting to get good results from recording my sax. Now the question is, how do I make it sound good in the mix? I'm looking for a very big warm sound.....I want the sax to be upfront and not a lot of reverb, but still sound ambient and full...

    I've had a little luck with using delay, but it sometimes gets lost in the mix a little. I would like to acheive the results of a Michael Lington sound, there are too many variables to figure where to start.

    I'm using Sonar 2.2 with the standard verbs and delay plug-ins. Maybe I really need to have some outboard processors.

    I guess I really need to know if it's even possible to get high quality mixes in a home studio, without a bunch of outboard mixers.

    If you can recommend a book that would be great..


    Ray Iaea
  2. eFe

    eFe Active Member

    Jul 26, 2003
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Well, room usually has a lot to do with the souhnd of acustical instruments. If you are taking the right distance on the instrument and using a good mic (may I ask how are you doing this?) you should start hearing your recording room. Try to make it dryer if it is a common house room, use anything you have on hand:
    Blankets and open wardrobes are great for this, also shelves full of books are great for difussion and Of Course! try puting your instrument and mic at different positions in the room!( Usually, the further you get from walls, the better with the exception of really reflective walls). A good pair of headphones should help to monitor the room effect before starting record.
    How tall is the roof?.
    I`ve done lots of home recording and mixing and I have had some good experiences on it. Keep doing things yourself as much as possible until you can get more pro equipment and optimize your recording room.

    Good Luck.
  3. DaveRunyan

    DaveRunyan Active Member

    Dec 13, 2004
    We had a trumpet one time that just wouldn't stand out very well without sounding harsh. I cloned the track in sonar and panned the two trumpet tracks hard left and righ then I moved the right track "back" a bit until it sounded good. I know this is an old trick used on vocals from time to time but it worked. It gave the instrument kind of a noticable presence with out having to over EQ. I also EQ'd the tracks slightly different as well. If you do this check for phase problems in mono just to be safe.
  4. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2003
    Got a room with a cathedral ceiling? Try tracking there. Horns need some air around them to sound full and, as you mentioned, ambient. Use a large diaphram condensor to help capture the low end info. Do you typcally add EQ when you track? I try to avoid it and capture the sounds I want with mic choice & placement. The phase issues that Dave Runyan mentioned can also stack up when you pile several layers of EQ on a track between recording and mixing, and lows and low mids are most susceptible to this and will contribute to things getting "lost" in the mix. You'll need to find unique EQ positions for the instruments in the same frequency range as your sax, ie: guitars, keys, vocals, not to mention reverb profiles. All these have a lot of low mid energy and are competing for the same space. Good luck.
  5. affuman

    affuman Guest

    Are you using compression at all when you record and/or mix? I started doing that and my sax got a lot more prominent.

    I'm a sax man myself, and I know how hard it is to get advice for micing and mixing horns...it seems like not a lot of people do it, or there is not a whole lot of literature out there for it.

    I also use SONAR 2.2, but have moved away from the standard plug-ins in favor of the DSP ones on my Yamaha SW1000-XG card. Not the best, but IMO a step up in terms of compressor, verb and delay. If you've got the cash, try obtaining either an outboard or plug-in compressor. There are tons of recommendations on this and other forums.

    Basically, I'll compress the recorded signal, then add a tiny delay and a little reverb...season to taste with EQ. I've also done the trick Dave mentioned: cloning the track and panning hard left and right. Result: brighter, fuller, better sounding sax that you can take home to Mother.

    Also, as mentioned a lot in this forum, your signal chain going in is very important. Try listening to how the horn sounds in the room. I know this is very difficult if you're the one playing (your skull resonates when you play, so what YOU hear is not how it really sounds to everyone else. You hear a warmer, fuller tone.). Get a trusted friend to hear you play and move around the room to find a "sweet spot" and record there. Better yet, if you have a friend who also plays (and doesn't have cooties), let him/her play and move around the room while you listen for the sound you want. That will help your final sound immensely.

    Finally, mic and mic pre selection are very important...I'm starting to get better results with a Seinheiser MD421 instead of the SM-57. Right now, I'm using a Gaines Audio preamp, or the one used with a TC Helicon Voice Works (go figure! but ya use what ya got). Both of those work better than the standard mic pres on my mixer. In fact, the Voice Works is rather surprising...since it has programmable compression and EQ built in, its kind of like the (really) poor man's Avalon. I use a small amount of compression and EQ on the VW while recording...and am getting better results. What do you use in your signal chain?

    As soon as I get home from Afghanistan (I'm military currently deployed there), I'm buying a more professional pre-amp, and the UAD-1 dsp card, which is supposed to be 'da bomb' for effects. I'll let you know how that works.

    Here's to having Great Sax!

  6. vladlv

    vladlv Guest


    DaveRunyan, this techniique is called Haas effect.
    it is very usefull:
    the important vaues here ae not only delay (somthing about 5-30ms)
    but also level of secocnd source (i.e. delayed)
    it should be adjusted from minimal, up to delay will be noticeble.
    just before this will be maximal haas effect. (image broadening, spaceness), together with pitch shifter effect is even more remarable (+2 cents, not more from unison)
    this is de-facto standard for vocals, etc.

    in reality Haas effect possible from 0.5ms to 100ms, but it is best for 10ms delay, or similar.

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