Mixing for others

mjbphotos

What?!?
Its important to understand what your client (or friend!) likes and doesn't like. We've learned. over the years what WE like in a mix.

Two songs I've been working on... both start out with just an acoustic guitar (finger-strummed) and a female vocal.
One, she liked, the other she didn't. They were recorded at different sessions, but same set-up.
Both had identical vocal treatment (just an 1175-type compressor) and the same amount of plate reverb).
The difference on the guitar (both recorded with 2 LDCs, one 18" from the 12th fret, the other 18" from the lower bout).
Track 1 (she liked): guitar had EQ boosting some highs from 7K up and scooping some low mids; the mics were panned 5% either side. I had the reverb set for each mic sent separately to the reverb buss, and each one was panned to the opposite side about 10%
Track 2 (she didn't like): no EQ, mic panned 27% each side. Reverb was slightly lower and sent from the group (rather than each individual track).

So I copied all the settings and EQ from track 1, and the different reverb sends, and brought the panning in to about 11%.
She loved it! The reverb still gives it some space, rather than a flat mono sound.

Of course now she sent me some more tracks she wants to work on, and the guitar track on each song is just a single track (no 2-mic set up). Suggestions on a way to give a single guitar some stereo space? Maybe send it to 2 slightly different reverbs panned each side?
 

Gtoboy

Active member
I would see if she liked the sound of the send to a stereo delay with different delay times on each side then output to your cross reverb.
 

Chili

Site Moderator
I use a UAD reverb plug that gives a nice subtle stereo widening effect. Do you have anything like that in your arsenal?

Can you add an additional guitar yourself? Or maybe the old standby: copy n nudge. lol.
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
I have a 'stereo widener' plug-in (JS?) that I have used before. I'm trying to avoid anything like the 'copy and nudge' method which can sound bad when summed to mono.
 

JonTheMixEng

New member
I'm trying to avoid anything like the 'copy and nudge' method which can sound bad when summed to mono.

Amen to that. I've been working with some great artists lately who are working on their own mixes and i've noticed that most of the freebie widener plugins are of this type and completely collapse under mono.
Ive always had luck with short reverbs and quick delays to widen things up on mono instruments.

Maybe even take it a step further and move the mids/lows of the acoustic to the center while moving the uppermids and up somewhere else in the stereo field and then doing a complementary panned short reverb.
 

bouldersoundguy

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I use the "early reflections" part of a reverb I have. The main difference between that and "copy and nudge" is that there are multiple delays at a lower level than the original, so the phase interactions are deemphasized. The main problem with copy and nudge is that the copy is often at the same level.
 

Gtoboy

Active member
Amen to that. I've been working with some great artists lately who are working on their own mixes and i've noticed that most of the freebie widener plugins are of this type and completely collapse under mono.
Ive always had luck with short reverbs and quick delays to widen things up on mono instruments.

Maybe even take it a step further and move the mids/lows of the acoustic to the center while moving the uppermids and up somewhere else in the stereo field and then doing a complementary panned short reverb.

You can get a sort of fake "two mic" sound by eq'ing the top off of one side and the bottom of the other, which I tend to do with guitar tracks anyway, even when there is more than one to start with.
Add eq-ing to millisecond delays, say 9 and 13 respectively(I prefer odd numbers, there is a difference to my ears) and cross reverb et voila, big guitar that doesn't collapse in mono.
 

JonTheMixEng

New member
You can get a sort of fake "two mic" sound by eq'ing the top off of one side and the bottom of the other, which I tend to do with guitar tracks anyway, even when there is more than one to start with.
Add eq-ing to millisecond delays, say 9 and 13 respectively(I prefer odd numbers, there is a difference to my ears) and cross reverb et voila, big guitar that doesn't collapse in mono.

You've got the plan!
 

Massive Master

www.massivemastering.com
In the grand scheme, a music producer can be likened to a film director. He's presented with a project and has the "finished mixes" in his head. Then he chooses the studios and engineers, usually has some say on the core sounds, possibly instrumentation and arrangement, whatever it takes to get the mix in his head on tape (or in digits), generally up to and including the mastering engineer.

With full bands, it might just be guiding a tune in a particular direction (think Bob Rock with Metallica). With songwriters and solo artists, it can be as complex as turning a single-instrument "demo" into a full-blown production (hence, "producer'). Think - geez - Everything else. I'm trying to think of a good example that actually has examp -- WAIT A MINUTE --

[A MINUTE]

Okay - I found both versions - Sarah MacLachlan -- "Possession" -- Written by Joni Mitchell. Sarah presented it as a song she wanted to do on an upcoming album. Now I know that I'm more known as a rock & metal guy, but I remember the first time I heard it and I have to admit, I thought she absolutely killed it (in a good way). Here is a much better recording of that "demo" version (it was a hidden track on Fumbling Towards Ecstasy).


So that's the "raw" tune -- It was the job of the producer (Pierre Marchand in this case) to turn that tune into a marketable hit for the pop market. And boy, did he ever - You couldn't get away from this tune when it was big.

Here's the album version --


Now the problem in this case on my end -- I thought the "demo" version was amazing. The album version I couldn't get myself to care about in the least. But that song - singularly - launched her to superstardom overnight. WIthout Pierre's work, it'd be an occasional Joni Mitchell cover that no one ever heard of, performed in those underground coffee shops on a 4x8' platform in front of a floodlight.

And that, Charlie Brown, is what a producer does. [/Peanuts reference] And side-noting in this case - Pierre is one of those rare "DIY" guys - He wrote parts, played an instrument or two on this if I recall, did some of the engineering, etc. Not typical - But it's hard to argue the guy's talent -- although I still like the song better before he got his mitts on it, I probably never would have heard it otherwise. I just wish I hadn't heard that demo version first.

[EDIT - DISCLAIMER] ** Except in rap and some related genres - a "producer" is a guy who makes beats. A.k.a "Electronic Percussion" or "Drum Sequencer" (which is what every other genre calls it).
 
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