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JohnTodd has a new album out and there are some great songs on it! He was kind enough to allow me to play with this track "I'll Be There" So below is the journey.

Kudo's John!


PLEASE NOTE: I'm doing this to engage us all, not to prove I am some mixing god etc. However, I also have some nice equipment so I thought it would be right on if I could help him out by trying to make it a little better. In the process, what a great way to engage people by sharing what I'm doing and to also welcome advice from our members too. I want to see this new forum "Track Talk" grow so I'm diving in ya all, all in the name of learning and having fun.

This is such a beautiful song, I think it would make a great mix contest. But for now, this thread is a continuation of more mix's

The Tracks:

There are 30 tracks. Only 1 stereo drum track, a few guitars, a few keys, and a lot of vocals.



Song completed, Who's Next?

This thread is discussing mixing process with one of John's song. Its also part of the continued discussion I am preparing for with a Mix Contest ( not necessarily with this song).
Most of the reference tracks in this thread have now been unfortunately removed to conserve Dropbox space, leaving way for future projects but my final mix prior to mastering is still online. I ended up using my own drum tracks and finished it off with a few analog goodies.

Enjoy whats left of this discussion.

Topic Tags


audiokid Sat, 03/17/2012 - 21:49


Do you have the snare and kick on separate tracks that I could get? Right now they are only in a stereo track with cymbals and hats included. If I could get them on their own tracks, and center them , ooh, so much better.
I have the SPL Transient Designer on the bus.

The acoustic in the beginning. I've pulled out some lower mids that had a boxy sound to them. It sits in the mix better but after listening more, I'm going to HPF a bit more so the bottom end isn't so heavy. The Bass guitar will like that more.

Vocals are thick in the lower mids so I pulled that out best I could and also HPF.

So far that's it. Still working on this intro.

djmukilteo Sat, 03/17/2012 - 22:44

I don't want to get nit picky because this isn't my song and it's sounding fabulous so far....but
at :25-:26 seconds on the vocal there's a delay echo of Johns voice?
and at :35-:36 seconds there is a tick/click sound hard left....
Just tell me to shut up...if that's out of line....but I am having fun listening to this stuff..duh
And I'm watching the Formula 1 2012 opener on the telly in HD from Australia so I have nothing better to do between the commercials!

audiokid Sat, 03/17/2012 - 23:00

Shut up

hehe, kidding... thumb

NOTED on edits! We'll keep track as we go and deal with them later. Your comments are welcome indeed!

I added some echo, but it needs to be tweaked there .. later on that.
I'll listen for the tick. There is a few shrill bell sounds from the cymbal, I wish I could remove it for sure. Might need spectral cleaning on that one.

Don, you are having too much fun! Thanks for the tip on the emai and some pointers.

I've tweaked a bit more, I'm really liking it now. Great song! Time to take a break after this and come back on it tomorrow. Thanks for listening. Later...

JohnTodd Sun, 03/18/2012 - 06:02

AWESOME audiokid! Very clean and 'forward'.

Check the dropbox folder, I put the MIDI file for the drums in there, and the individual audio renderings for each drum piece. Addictive Drums handles cymbals as overheads, so I wasn't able to sep out the different cymbals. On each track I turned off the EQ and compression settings.

I didnt hear any ticks in the vox, but your ears are better than mine. Some ticks may be where I comped takes together.

Oh boy! This is so much fun! I'm geeking out over here!.

JohnTodd Sun, 03/18/2012 - 06:04


There's a yearnin' in my heart for you dear.
Night don't go by that I don't shed a tear,
Day don't pass me by without a fear,
That I might lose you dear.

And so they say,
It gets harder every day,
But I’ll find a way to show my love to you.

And so they say,
The world will pass away,
But I'll find a way to always be with you.

I'll be there.
Through tomorrows that will come
I'll be there.
Till the future is at one
[with us my dear.]
If the sun don't shine,
The birds don't pine,
If the oceans dry,
And butterflies cry,
One thing I can promise is,
I'll be there.

There's a glimmer in my eye for you dear.
There's a flutter in my heart that you put there.
I don’t know what I would do without you,
'cause losing you, I couldn't bear.

JohnTodd Sun, 03/18/2012 - 06:40

That lead vox is with the Nady RSM4 ribbon, the bgvs are the MXL990 condenser.
The BGvs are autotuned up the wazoo and compressed like a brick to get a 'Top 40-pop' sound. The intro acoustic is also with the RSM4, whereas the rhythm acoustics are the 990. The electrics are DI into Amplitube. The acoustic solo is actually the piezo on my acoustic! I normally hate that sound, but it just worked for this song.

On my version, every track "without the word 'bass' in its name"* has 100Hz and below cut ruthlessly, then into a noise gate; drums excepted.

There is a fade in on this song, and the intro acoustic has a temp-sync delay on it at the beginning, but never anywhere else.

For the final MP3 release mix, all doctored up and 'mastered', check out this link:

I'll Be There by John Todd | OurStage

*ala Sir George Martin.

Thanks for all your kind words!

audiokid Sun, 03/18/2012 - 21:50

Just passing on some updates.

I removed a few vocal doubles and dup them instead. They were phasing a bit much to get them to sit right.
In your reference mix the vocodor is there. Do you want a vocodor in it John? I think I like it without one. Suits this song better. I can do the T Bain effect if you like as well. Thoughts

Feel free to comment on the harmony levels now. I'm going to start playing with them now. I worked on the first chorus most, well second one too lol. I like the lowest vocals up the most and the others just sightly below, like you have it. They have a unique sound. Before I start messing with the levels, thought it was a good time to ask some question and get some feedback :)

I'll load the drums in tomorrow, thanks!

I've done a few songs like this myself so it helped. Melodyne works wonders. Its not just a pitch correction, you can move volume levels and stretch words so easy. It works great on the low harmonies that are sometimes hard to nail or sing as loud.


I think you could get this song published. Keeping it clean is a good idea for that. During mixing I get a lot of ideas. This is a good thing IMO, and what artists are drawn too.


JohnTodd Mon, 03/19/2012 - 05:16

My thoughts on the vocoder were this: This song was to be slightly 'ethereal'. When one contemplates the lyrics, one finds a deep, timeless love. The bgvs were heavily doubled to add power and mass, and then those 'extra' vocals didn't have any place to sit in the mix. The vocoder was put there for two reasons, 1, to differentiate them physically so they could be heard while competing with the other bgvs, and 2, the vocoder makes it sound more timeless and spiritual. To my ears, anyway. So those vocals that say "with us my dear" need something special on them. I used a vocoder to help compensate for my lack of engineering skills - but you can probably think of something better than that.

As for all the vocals, I forgot to mention my use of the Waves Vocal Rider. I knew my engineering skills couldn't get the job done without assistance. :)

This is wonderful! I love the way your gear sounds on the overall mix. It has something 'deeper' to it. It is smoother - and 'bigger'.

Thank you for your kind words about the composition! If this were the old days, I'd issue it as a single with this as the B-side:

What You Say by John Todd | OurStage

Maybe we should remix this one, too! I always thought it needed more Bass Chicken! LMAO!

audiokid Mon, 03/19/2012 - 12:37

Okay, thanks for your explanation on the harmonies. I'll try some magic on those!

Can we talk about your gear and methods a bit while I'm working on your song?

I've never used a Vocal Rider. I looked it over at Waves, seems pretty cool. They have a Bass Rider as well. Please share the process of that plug-in? Do they effect the sound of the vocals?

I'd like to mention, I'm astonished on the sound you got from the [[url=http://[/URL]=""]Nady[/]=""]Nady[/] RSM4 ribbon! If I'm correct, that's an $80.00 mic! You have very done well with your gear and room. For a budget mic, I'd say that is a great choice because, lets assume you followed the norm and used a cheap LDC , it would have been pretty rash and boxy sounding compared.

I hear some low mid areas in your room that translated into the sound of things.
What do you have for acoustic treatment?


JohnTodd Mon, 03/19/2012 - 13:23

For acoustic treatment of the room I used bare sheetrock with a layer of paint on it. :frown: I took mic stands and hung up blankets to make a booth, and put pillows behind the mic. Best I could do. I shut off the A/C and close everything up tight.

The acoustic rhythm guitars were done with the MXL990. I think they are 1 1/2 feet from the guitar, with pillows behind the mic.

The acoustic 'intro' guitar is with the Nady also, same distance.

Everything else is DI or electronic. The Bass guitar is the V-Station bass VST plugin. I liked the round fat tone, but is it too fat? It's a MIDI track. I can upload the MIDI track if you would like to assign a new patch to it.

The electric guitars are DI and then Amplitube.

I quit using the MXL990 cheal LDC for lead vocals because of the raspiness. I sing leads hissy and spitty anyway for some reason; I got a ribbon mic because they are known for smoothing things out. So the ribbon mic is bringing my transients and esses down to normal, I think.

Other than that, I use the PreSonus FP10, with its XMAX preamps. I have to crank them up to noisy levels get a good level on the ribbon, so I record the ribbon on the low side to avoid preamp noise and then normalize to raise it up. Just a workaround I invented out of necessity.

The backing vocals were doen with the MXL990, because I wanted a bright, clear sound. I ended up EQing some of that back down!

The Vocal Rider is a life saver for me. I don't think it colors the sound at all. What it does is act like a Superhuman Engineer and rides the faders super quickly to keep the track at an optimum level. At first I thought it was just another compressor, but it isn't. I don't really know how it does it's magic, but I do know I can hear a major difference in consistency with and without it. The are a little CPU heavy, considering you can't really assign one to a group. So for my 15-something vox tracks, there's 15-something Vocal Riders at work.

I also ALWAYS put an EQ in the first VST slot set to HPF @ 100hz, then I ALWAYS go to a noise gate. This applies only to tracks recorded with a microphone. On the tracks you have from me, none of that is in there. I use the built in gate on the Amplitube channels, and then HPF100hz after that.

As for dimmer noise, I have no dimmers. Might be something else on the circuit? I dont remember which guitars I used for this, but my home-made Telecaster buzzes like all get out. There is only one spot I can stand in the studio and not get buzz, and I have to bend over sideways to reach it! Suffice to say I usually just put up with the buzz! :frown:

JohnTodd Mon, 03/19/2012 - 13:24

One other thing - I am a soft-spoken and thin-voiced lyric baritone singer, so I usually am pretty darn close to the mic to get good level and proximity effect. I use a double pop filter, and have been known to put the back mesh directly on the mic to get close enough.

Some of this may help explain the good sound quality and relative quiet on the vocal tracks.

My CPU is directly below the vocal mic. I tried to stick it in a cancellation node.

audiokid Mon, 03/19/2012 - 14:21

Others are welcome to chime in. I wish they would.

This is a good and bad thing. When you get that close on a mic, it tends to get really wooly and bass heavy. I have done this too, because it feels right while we're singing. We can hear the lows inside our head better and its seems easier to hit pitch while overdubbing , yes? But the result is a muddy vocal sound. Its working though :)

JohnTodd Mon, 03/19/2012 - 15:01

I've always had a thin, nasally, squeaky voice. Years of training have offset that a lot. In my case I think the close micing is working because I start with a deficit in the bass and the prox effect brings it up to "normal".

Thing is, I'm playing in a band now, and I can never hear myself in the monitors. My mic can be cranked to feedback and I still cant hear. Everybody else can. Not just this band, but any live stuff I've done has been that way. Other singers just have so much more power and frequency range.

More about my process - when I overdub the vocals, I never playback the previous takes. I set Cubase to loop it and record multiple takes on one track, then duplicate that track, taking out the top layer on the second track so that two distinct voices can be hear. That's for double tracking BGVs. For leads I always end up comping them. You may hear some edit splices in the lead vox track.

So for double tracking, I only hear my live take in the cans. I learn the parts to a "T" so I can do that. Otherwise, I psych myself out listening to the previous take, and always coming in late on the new take.

audiokid Mon, 03/19/2012 - 15:44

All your tracks that involved a mic have a certain sound in them that is around that freq / Comb Filtering. its in all the vocals. There are a few hot spots in your room. I can hear your walls.

Here is an example of whats going on in your harmonies:
[[url=http://[/URL]="…"]Hearing Comb Filtering - YouTube[/]="…"]Hearing Comb Filtering - YouTube[/]

audiokid Mon, 03/19/2012 - 15:48

You are not alone, Its why we treat our studios.

When you are doing this many vocals, its extremely hard to keep them tight. If you fixed this, your vocal sound would improve massively!

Also, it makes for a nightmare mixing in this environment. You are not only recording in it, but mixing in it as well. So you are hearing the room noise twice in everything you do. Make sense?

audiokid Mon, 03/19/2012 - 15:55

To deal with it, I use an eq, boost a notch filter and sweep across the track finding the hot spots. The ones that sound terrible pop out more than the others. Those are the ones you pull out to try and fix the track.

When you are singing, your room is producing those standing waves, thus, being added into the vocal track on top of your voice.
Then to add on top of this already, the reflections are causing a comb filtering effect. Like a 250 hz, to 800 hz slapback compunding it even more. make sense?

those area's are what gives a song body and we shouldn't have to cut them so much. It kills the punch when you start pulling them out. Eqing this much also starts effecting the highs because you are thinning the track to try and clean up the combfiltering and standing waves. It becomes a domino effect.

Resolution! BassTraps, absorption, ceiling and wall treatment.

To Add,

Singing really close into a dynamic mic will help. The last thing you want in a poor room is a LCD because it will pick up the room a lot more. Making more sense?

djmukilteo Mon, 03/19/2012 - 15:58

I liked both of your mixes....
John's online version has a lot of processing on those some places it blended really well and did create that "etheral" feel that John mentioned, which I liked.
IMHO it might have had a tad too much in places but in certain parts it gave the sound an interesting modern tone.
The chorus harmonies really gel together in places, but in others they individually stick out, which I think should be avoided.
I think Johns voice should have a different verb on it because the quiet spots where he stops would add a vocal tail that will blend nicely into the following parts coming would add to that etheral feel that I think John is wanting to hear. I think that sort of sucks you into the tune!
It's a nice song and audiokid's summing is really bringing it out. There's a lot of good material there and many things that could be done.
The hard part IMO is the long distance explanations and trying to convey the exact sound you want back and forth. Dropbox is pretty cool for that and it's really sounding pro.

audiokid Mon, 03/19/2012 - 23:58

Nothing wrong with your voice John, its unique and it cuts through. OMG, looping in spots while I'm working on them is a blast! All the harmonies are great. Very magical song. You did such a wonderful job on this.

Tomorrow, I'll have a new mix. Its getting closer now.

JohnTodd Wed, 03/21/2012 - 05:25

I like it!

One thing....notice when the LEAD vocal sings in the chorus "I'll be there......". My voice is shakey on that. It's right in the break in my voice so it lacks power and stability. In my mix, I downplay that one track a lot and let the bgvs carry it. It's the only thing in your mix that I dislike - and it's because of my performance, not your skills! Please mix it down so nobody can hear my lack of proficiency. :wink:

The bgvs on the chorus have a prominent delay to them on the group. It is synced to tempo, and it really adds a lushness to them. I'm going to put 2 renderings in the Dropbox, one of the vocals with and one without just as a sample.

This is going great! Thanks so much for all the work that is being put into this!

audiokid Wed, 03/21/2012 - 08:45


I have an echo rolling in the chorus but once too much is added it washes them all together to a point where you don't hear the layers as much. Same with the vocodor. Getting clarity is that part that has been taking me so long here. I think once I get it all sitting where I want it, I will start playing with the effects more. I added a 10 CC ( I'm Not In Love) effect to them last night, that's was really cool.

djmukilteo Thu, 03/22/2012 - 10:48

I hope neither of you mind my input, it's only my thoughts and please take it with a grain of salt!
I'm not a big fan of the delay...the vocals to me are a little too dry and the delay is a bit distracting.
I think a little reverb (plate?) on the main vocal and BGV would blend and mix nicer.
In the BGV chorus there is a distinct high part and a distinct low part and the low part jumps out at me.
They all need to be blended and balanced to get that harmony resonance and gel. They don't sound combined enough as one part.
Oh and I don't know if you just haven't gotten around to any of this yet, but I would like to hear a fade in on the intro.
All of this IMHO...carry on...the "sound" is so clear!


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