Pro Mixing Tricks!!

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by John A, Jan 2, 2002.

  1. John A

    John A Guest

    When I was a kid in this business, (not too long ago!), one of the coolest things was to be able to watch a big shot mixer do some cool trick on a mix and then later try it out myself. Having said that, I thought I'd start a thread about mixing TRICKS that are cool. I'll start.

    Here is one that is rumored to be a Tom Lord Alge trick. Regardless of that, it works great!: Mult off the bass to another track. Take out all the low end, like everything under 400Hz. Now put a stereo chorus on it and mix it to taste with the original bass track. Within the mix it shouldn't sound "chorused" like an effect, it should just make the bass sound bigger and thicker. This can be cool on vox too. The reason you roll the low end off the chorused track is so that it doesn't get muddy.

    One more: mult your snare track off to another channel on your console. Send it out to a compressor like an 1176 and distort it (push the input gain up a lot). I usually like to then eq a lot of upper mid crack on this distorted track. Tuck it under the real snare drum track for some added crack and balls.

    Another: This works great for heavy rock stuff: Put a compressor on your bass track and sidechain in a copy of the kick drum track so that the bass track ducks a db or so when the kick hits.

    I'm sure plenty of you guys know these tricks but a lot don't. Lets here more! What do you got?
  2. Masternfool

    Masternfool Active Member

    Dec 3, 2001
    OK, this is not for the standard radio ballad REVERB. Track your main vocal, then mute it and have singer sing the whole track again slightly different,obviously this will happen. When you mix mute one vocal and use the reverb send from that vocal.(pre fader) Very strange reverbs happening out of nowhere. some vocalists worse than others..
  3. tubedude

    tubedude Active Member

    Jun 20, 2001
    "Very strange reverbs happening out of nowhere. some vocalists worse than others.."
    Now thats pretty interesting, I may try that, it could be good for some spooky effects, too. I dig that kinda $*^t.
    I do the multing thing alot, only I'll do it on damn near everything in the mix, and I'll pitch shift one up or down a few cents. High cholesterol fatness.
    Heres one, for the bass track idea, similar to above, only roll off the bottom, leave only the upper mids and highs, anddistort the hell out of it with a amp-sim program, and feed it in behind the bass. Works well on snare, too. Compress the dog $*^t out of it, though.
  4. sign

    sign Guest

    Mult the lead vocal to another channel of the board and give it some heavy compression and add it in the mix to the uncompressed lead vocal.

    If you don't like it mult it to a second extra channel and give this one some light compression.
  5. digital_vox

    digital_vox Guest

    thanks! i'll try that later
  6. schahley

    schahley Guest

    Okay, here's one for sorting out weedy snare sounds - this was suggested by a drummer when we realized the snare sound was unsuitable at the mix stage (too thin and not enough snare rattle), and I didn't think it would work......... but it worked bloody great!!!!!

    First, we sent the snare signal from the multitrack out one of the tie lines and into a bass amp. We put the speaker cab on it's back (speaker facing up) and placed the snare upside down (batter side to the speaker) on top of the cab. We used the EQ on the amp to remove all the high and mids, and boosted low end. Turned the amp up until the gushes of air from the bass cab (with each snare hit from tape) were triggering the snare to play as though it were being hit!!!

    We then tuned the snare and fiddled with mic positioning (close to the snare bottom) until we were happy with the sound (remember to try reversing the phase of this signal when you combine it with the original snare track).

    I couldn't believe it, new life in a badly recorded snare track, and it follows all the original dynamics and fills the drummer played to a T!!!!

    It saved the mix!!!! This is a cool thread - let's keep it going!

    Steve Chahley
  7. Dave McNair

    Dave McNair Active Member

    Mar 6, 2001
    That snare remike thing is an oldie but goodie.
    Here is a good mix trick. Once in a blue moon, you might be mixing a slow tune and find that the drummer played the kick drum very well, but a little light. On top of that, the snare was hit kind of loud and when you eq the bass drum to sound good, it sucks up too many weird frequencies from the snare, and makes the backbeats sound too brittle. You've tried gating the kick but the snare hit is louder and still opens with the leakage. Try setting the gate to duck, and feed the snare to the external sidechain. Presto, no snare leakage in the bass drum and no loss of edge from trying to gate a soft signal.
  8. sign

    sign Guest

    Hey hey! great tricks with snare and kick!

    You can have good results on gating the kick when using a gate with EQ on the trigger side, so it opens only on the low end of the kick sound.
  9. iluvansg

    iluvansg Guest

    Great Thread! Here's another for fixing badly recorded sounds. Next time you have a bass track with too much pick noise try running it through a de-esser. This trick also works on acoustic guitar with too much finger squeak (but not as well). I often find myself trying to fix recordings of badly tuned drum sets. Any suggestions besides triggering?
  10. osmuir

    osmuir Active Member

    Apr 3, 2001
    fat vox: copy lead 2 times. pitch shift 1 3% up, other 2% down [though i did an octave down recently and it kicked ass]. put reverb LIGHT on the main vocal if need. than hard pan the two fx tracks, and put a delay on each one, in time with track [something longish, high feedback] one is longer than other [just divide by 2 on the orig time...or, if you want something ^#$%ed up royaly, do triplets...]

    than you hard pan these delay returns to the opposing side from the fx tracks
    thus you have

    1. main vox, light verb
    2. fx L, delay R
    3. fx R, delay L

    you can even initialy push the fx tracks one 25 ms forwad or so, and the other back.

    mix them in really low, but feel free to go to town with the automation foe fx maddness.

  11. tubedude

    tubedude Active Member

    Jun 20, 2001
    I still have to say my favorite "pro" trick of all time, and its been a secret for years, is this:
    Get great musicians with excellent equipment. Using excellent mics properly placed into excellent cable and excellent preamps into excellent converters and or tape equipment.
    Mix down with excellent hardware and software with excellent monitors.
    Works like a charm everytime. Keep this between us though. Shhhhh, dont tell anyone.
  12. Scott Gould

    Scott Gould Active Member

    Oct 22, 2001
    Pt. Charlotte FL
    Tubedude - You forgot:
    "Someone behind the board who has a thorough knowledge of music, electronics, acoustics & psychology - and who is intimately familiar with the material being recorded, equipment used to record it, and the work habits & playing styles of the musicians involved."

  13. Lethargy01

    Lethargy01 Guest

    I can't believe nobody has mentioned the mandatory 6 pack of beer at 10am before you start work. Don't you know all the "pros" are doing it? Everything sounds good through a 6 pack. :) *grin*

  14. pan

    pan Guest

    Don't you know all the "pros" are
    doing it? Everything sounds good through a 6 pack. *grin*

    You mean "pros" can drive the desk drunk, because they know, what they're doing :cool:

    and is definitely not one of the Pro Mixing Tricks!! :w:
  15. Lethargy01

    Lethargy01 Guest

    Here's to hoping you caught the sarcasm in my first post Pan. :) Cheers. *grin* And I am surprised nobody has mentioned busing out your kick and snare track to a comp, squashing the heck out of it, and then mixing it in with the original tracks according to taste to get those pumping, slamming backbeats. That tip requires no consumption of alcoholic beverages. :)

  16. pan

    pan Guest

    I did, indeed :D

    What about this tissue-trick with the NS10's tweeter - anyone remembers the tissue company to go for? :roll:

    And a real tip: Listen at low SPLs! Great for checking the balance between instruments.

  17. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    C'Mon guy's, we're not talking about givin up the keys to your safe deposit box, keep em coming!

  18. erockerboy

    erockerboy Active Member

    Mar 16, 2001
    Dunno if this qualifies as a "trick"... but, one of the most eye-opening (ear-opening?) things I've ever done, is to A/B my mixdown in progress against a well-mixed, well-mastered "big label" CD in the same genre. To get the levels and "pump factor" in the same ballpark, I will usually patch a monitor chain off of my 2-bus thru a compressor or maybe an L2, just to get my average mix level kinda close to the mastered CD. Then adjust volumes to taste when A/B'ing between my mix and the CD.

    Personally I find this to be about the most revealing thing I can do while mixing. While my goal is never to be identical to any particular CD, it sure helps a LOT to know if my relative kick & bass levels are "in the ballpark", or to know if my lead vocal track will need more HF sizzle to sound like "Band X on the radio". It's almost like crawling inside the head of another mix engineer's head for a minute, and "borrowing" their ears and expertise to apply to your mix.

    I know there are probably some "purists" groaning out there right now, about not wanting to be 'influenced' by other people's work etc. But let's face it, the public absolutely WILL be comparing the latest Blink 182 record to your precious, virgin, unique snowflake of a mix. So get used to it. :) :) :)

    Try it, you'll like it! I promise.
  19. bette

    bette Guest

    (another one) I don´t know whether this is new or "kicking ass": I like to send my brass tracks into the reverb and a delay (250 - 450 ms) and add the output of the delay slightly to the input of the reverb (not into the mix!). Opens the sound a new space. Works also on voices or solo instruments in ballads or so.
  20. Jon Atack

    Jon Atack Active Member

    May 29, 2001
    I do the CD compare thing all the time.

    The real trick is to be sure you're listening to your mix after it has been dithered down to 16 bits and D/Aed using the same converters and clock as the CD you're comparing it to.

    It amazes me how many high-end studios aren't set up for that when you walk in the room, and how many folks make mix decisions listening to a CD with one set of clock and converters and comparing it to their mix either straight analog off the board or after A/D + UV22HR + D/A using a different clock and converter from the CD.

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