Tips For Big Band Mix

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by jazzbass12, Dec 31, 2004.

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  1. jazzbass12

    jazzbass12 Active Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Taunton MA
    Home Page:
    Hi I am mixing myJazz band (newbie):

    Drums (recorded with 2 over heads)

    Any mix suggestions ie: panning-EQ-Verb???

    Here is what I did: Sound fair but sort of empty.

    Drums (recorded with 2 over heads) Hard Left Hard Right
    Piano 65% left (Stereo)
    Bass (Center)
    Sax 25% Left
    Trombone 65% Right
    Trumpet 35% Right
    Vocal Center

    Rich O
  2. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    Depending on how this was recorded (in a DAW, on tape, etc.) will dictate how this is done, but here's something to try...

    Duplicate the drum mix to a mono track.

    Roll off all the highs down to probably around 800Hz to 1kHz, which will leave you with a muffled sounding drum mix.

    Find the "tubby" area and dip the EQ a little (300-500Hz) to "flatten" out the sound a little.

    Compress this track fairly hard - Look for 6-8dB of reduction, medium attack (50ms) or so, long release (4-8 seconds, if you can go that high) and a ratio bordering on limiting (5, 6, maybe 8:1).

    Get the rest of the mix going.

    Mix this in under the rest of the mix. Not too loud - This is just something to add "beef and substance" to the mix, which is probably a bit on the "sparse and open" side.

    Of course, on this particular mix, it might work, it might not. Basically, it's a quick and simple mono multi-band parallel compression thing. In a pinch, it adds a lot of "density" to a mix that lacks "weight."

    You can also try it as an aux send, BTW, if you have plugin compensation...
  3. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Feb 12, 2001
    Los Angeles, CA
    Home Page:
    Pan as you'd see your group on stage, that is always a good place to start. I personally hate the sound of wide panned drums in jazz (does the kit go all the way across the sound field when you play live?).

    Piano I'd go from Left to 11:00
    Drums 10:30 to 1:30
    Bass Center
    Vocals Center
    Sax 2:00
    Trumpet 4:00
    Trombone Hard Right

    Or something to that effect. Now, if you group is set up as a more typical combo (rather than big band), I'd go:

    Piano L-1:30
    Bass C
    Drums 10:30-R
    Vocals Centered
    Sax 10:00
    Bone C
    Tpt 2:00

    As for EQ and compression- I'd avoid it unless you really think you need it. You may want a touch of limiting on your bass and some on some of your horns if they have really wide dynamic ranges, but otherwise, leave it natural- it is acoustic music.

  4. davedarling

    davedarling Guest

    When I mix a big band ,I almost always pan conductors perspective
    sax's left,bones center, and trumps right. drums center, and as fifth c said "not too wide" bass slightly off to right, and piano (or guitar ) slightly off to left.
    That being said, what you've got sounds more like the classic 70's funk rock kinda thing.

    I would try keeping the horns mono and in the same place ( say 2:00) and playing against the piano ( say 7:00 and 1:00 )

    a little short room on the horns to fill out the stereo field ( or not )

    spreading out the horns can take away some of the punch.

    hope this helps - good luck ....dave darling
  5. Hack

    Hack Active Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Little Rock, AR
    make sure to get some ideas from the band. There are thousands of ways to pan jazz records. Ask them what some of their fav recordings are and check out what they do. Some jazz cats like to be real old school which can get into really weird panning.... like everything but the bass on one side and bass on the other. Thats just one example from an oscar peterson record. Mostly an image where the band is in front of you, like mentioned above, is what most jazz bands like. But... some want the cool stereo thing too. The thing I hear the most when talking about what type of sound a jazz group wants is "we want it to sound like we are all in the same room". This sometimes takes some tricks that the band is better off not knowing about cause they will also swear off digital reverbs and eq when talking about it. Room mics when recording are a must for me.
  6. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    Jazzbass, I don't know if this is rude to ask, but would you mind "sharing" your tracks? I like trying my hand at mixing songs that weren't recorded by me and especially if it is something I don't have any experience with. I'd obviously be doing it just for shits and giggles.

    I don't mind if the answer is no, but I thought I'd ask.
  7. jazzbass12

    jazzbass12 Active Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Taunton MA
    Home Page:
    Thanks for the replies

    Thanks all for your input. It was a great help.
    The biggest help was on the drum and piano panning. This opened up my mix.
    Rich O
  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Rich (Jazzbass12):

    Maybe I missed it, but I don't know if you mentioned what type of jazz ensemble this is. (Big band, combo, rock/jazz, showband, etc.) If I had to guess, I would say big band. And in that case, I would go in a different direction than many of the suggestions here.

    First, since big bands are usually set up with saxes in the front row, bones in the middle row, and t'pets in the back row with rhythm instruments flanking the body of the band, I would stick with that type of set-up. Unless you are restricted by recording a live event, you may be able to provide a little extra space between the clearly divided sections (L,C,R) and put up a pair of over heads and then some spot mics. However, my advice on this is to put an overhead pair ( XY or ORTF) over your winds (panned left and right), DI or spot mic the bass (personally, I pan the bass just slightly off center to the right or left, depending upon where he/she stands), DI or spot mic the piano (upright piano - single spot, baby grand/grand - stereo, but don't spread too far, digital - DI - always panned where it is naturally in the environment) Spot mic over trap set (sometimes multiple mics, but always try to keep to a minimum - it ain't rock - again, panned where it naturally falls in the setup - don't try wide panning - it just sounds wierd).

    Of course, you will want a single vocal mic and a soloist (instrumental) mic. Pan vocals dead center - unless you want some kind of artsy thing, then you can play around with this. As for the instrumental soloist, I like to pan them soft left or right - again, dependent upon where they stood when they played the solo.

    I'll try to post some examples of a recent big band recording that I did if I can remember - I am getting kind of old :evil:


    Davedog/Kurt - could you guys move this topic to the Acoustic Music forum? It seems to fit there better.
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    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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