Getting Better At Mixing – Part 1 (10 Hours)

Introduction

One of the areas that I feel that I require improvement is in my mixing recently I completed my recording project and accompanying report. I feel on this project I have had many breakthroughs with the quality of my mixing and engineering. The following two blog posts will be about this assignment this one will focus on the engineering techniques used in the project.

The Assignment

The assignment required us to research the musical conventions and production techniques of a specific style of music as well as prominent producers that work within the chosen genre. Then with the information gathered record and produce a piece of music that adheres to the production style of the chosen genre. Then evaluate the engineering techniques and processes used in the recording, mixing and mastering processes.

Research & Chosen Genre

The genre I picked for this project was heavy metal and the producers within the genre that I researched where Russ Russell, Andy Sneep, and Glen Fricker. The research was conducted by looking at interviews with the chosen producers that could be accessed on youtube and in journals like Sound on Sound. As well as the interviews Glen Fricker’s instructional videos for producing metal music were also used. Finally, some research was done by asking the chosen producers direct questions this was used particularly with Russ Russell.

Recording the Track

Recording the Drums

For the recording, a Tama starclassic bubinga kit with a Tama SLP dynamic bronze snare and meinl byzance vintage & extra dry cymbals was used. The drum kit was recorded using only 7 microphones, and interface used for the recorded was an 8 channel Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 firewire audio interface into a mac book pro running logic pro x.

A Shure Beta 52a was used for the kick drum because it has “a super cardioid pickup pattern limits interference from other sound sources. The beta 52a also has a 20Hz to 10kHz frequency response with a presence boost at 4kHz to let kick drums cut through the mix.” (shure.co.uk) The Shure Beta 52a was placed just inside the kick drum it would have been preferable to put the microphone directly inside the kick drum and place it as close to the beater as possible. Doing this would help to pick up more of the beater attack and less of the sub and thus it would have been easier to EQ the kick drum for a metal mix. Three Audix D2 mics used on the toms and the single Audix I5 used on the snare. These microphones were used because the Audix D2 D4 D6 and I7 have all been designed to work in tandem to replicate each drum accurately and independently. A matched pair of sE Electronics sE1a small diaphragm condensers were used for the overheads because. “The smaller mass of the condenser’s diaphragm helps it respond better to extreme high frequencies as with cymbals. Suppose you’re using overhead mics on a drum set. If you want those mics to pick up mainly the cymbals, use a pair of SDCs because they have less low end.

Recording the Guitars

The rhythm guitars were recorded using a Fender Stratocaster with single coil picks running into a Line 6 pod HD300. The Line 6 pod was used as a pre-amp the output of which was inputted a matrix 1000-watt power amp with a 1×12 Blackstar cabinet. The guitars were recorded using a duel mic technique called the Fredman technique. This technique was chosen because Russ Russell is widely known for using multiple mics on guitar cabs. The Fredman technique is achieved by placing “two dynamic mics in front of one speaker one of the mics is placed on-axis and the other one off-axis.” The on-axis mic delivers a bright sound while the off-axis mic delivers a dark sound. The combination of the two mics gives a much thicker guitar sound while “utilising phase cancellation to eliminate fizz.” (wilkinsonaudio.com 2015) The two microphones used to record the guitars where a Sennheiser e609 as the on-axis mic and a Shure SM57 as the off-axis mic.

Recording the Bass

The bass guitar was recorded using a fender precision bass and a rack-mount line 6 pod pro HD two signals where recorded from this unit the first signal was a gritty punchy distorted sound and the other was the direct output from the back of the unit.

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