Thursday, December 4, 2014

FP Update: 12.4.2014

Hello Race Fans...

I just wanted to give a quick progress report on the 'Rabbit Hole' mixdown.

Guitars, bass, and drums are 95% mixed and ready to go. I have a few odds-and-ends to wrap up and adjust, but seriously those last bits/details are the last 5%. Details, details, details. The devil is in those details. Mainly it's about getting the various tracks to blend...and not just in a loud/soft or left/right sense but also in how 'forward' or 'pushed back' some things are. Nothing worse than a lop-sided soundfield, especially in headphones or high-end systems. And I'm a bonafide 'headphoner' so it's important to me...otherwise I won't sleep at night whenever I think about 'what I didn't do' to make the mix 'right'. But honestly as things are currently mixed (even at the 95% mark) everything is sounding pretty awesome.

All things being equal I'll tinker with that last 5% of guitars/bass/drums details off and on as I start adding in the vocal tracks. And I still need to sift through and select some of Jake's backing vocals that he sang a couple weeks ago. We needed another couple layers of voices so he stepped up and delivered. Also there are several other backing vocal layers that our good friend Jeff Nardoni sang for us as well as some sinister whispers that Jeff gave us...

And now to take everyone down into the proverbial 'technological rabbit hole' (which has nothing to do with the song's meaning/lyrics/etc)...

This round of mixing has been a personal study of sorts for me regarding compressors. It's funny how compressors are such a staple in recordings (and I've been using them for years) yet it seems like with this 'Rabbit Hole' mixdown I've really been able to dig in much deeper with the finer parts of compressor usage. And ironically, even though I've got plenty of third-party commercial compressor plug-ins on hand, the compressor that I've grown most fond of is the basic 'Compressor' plug-in that comes free with Logic Pro X. (See pic below.) And I'm getting to the point where I'd almost rather reach for a compressor to fix issues on a track (or even add character/coloration to a track) than say use an EQ. And then there's the whole debate of "Should your compressor be pre-EQ or post-EQ?" Or..."Should you stack multiple compressors on the same track?" As always there are no 'one-size-fits-all' answers to anything in a mixdown but my compressor ninja skills have definitely grown strong with this latest mix.    :-)




And then there are other pressing issues to grapple with: Phase Coherence among similar sounding parts. Mono Compatibility (if a mix sounds great in mono then it will sound amazing in stereo...but not necessarily the other way around). How 'low do you go' on low frequency extension (I usually add a gradual high-pass filter to an entire mix at around 45-55Hz-ish to tighten a mix up and make it punchier). Multi-band Compression on an entire mix (oh yes...the whole compressor plot thickens). Baxandall EQ versus Parametric EQ. How much ambiance to dial in to glue everything together, etc. 

These are the things I dream about when I'm not obsessing over guitars and amps and guitar pedals. It's all fascinating to me...But I digress...

So there's all that. Excuse my tech-speak excursion there (insert maniacal laughter here). I've been spending most of my non-job waking hours in my studio making decision after decision after decision about all of the above (and much more). It's good to come up for air now and then. My brain is in 'engineer' mode right now and my primary mental diet for the last couple of weeks has been EQ's and Compressors...

Time to take a break for the weekend before my gears start grinding...

Will post more updates soon...

~ Todd     

Monday, November 17, 2014

FP Quickie Update: 11.17.2014

Howdy Howdy...

Mixing of 'Rabbit Hole' has officially begun. Also, Jake came over last week and flew in some more backing vocals...but past that everything has been tracked and recorded so now it's just a matter of the mixdown and mastering. Albeit there is a rather massive track count with this one (mainly the multi-mic'd guitar tracks) and so there's lots of details to keep track of...and as they say the 'devil is in the details'. Fortunately we've done a much better (and more consistent) job of recording the various tracks (we keep getting better and better at this stuff) and so the mixdown should be easier and quicker than our previous efforts.


'Rabbit Hole Intro Fuzz' Settings
(This is what you're gonna hear first...)


So far my initial 'rough mixes' have been putting smiles on the guys' faces. Jake described what he heard as being 'more vibey...more organic' than what we've done before. And I'd have to agree with him. Like I said...we're getting better and better at this stuff. The learning curve has been stupid steep as always, but I love the ascent and the proverbial growing pains. I'm pretty sure people will dig the new song...

Will be in touch...

~ Todd

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

FP Quickie Update: 10.21.2014

FP Quickie Update: 10.21.2014:

Another round of main vocals on 'Rabbit Hole' are finished and ready for mixdown. I sang them yesterday and then 'graded' them today and made my selections. These parts were especially fun as they're a loud falsetto thing...a blast to sing.

Here's a quick low-down on the mics and gear used:

1) Joly-Mod Oktava MK219  >>  Antelope Audio Zen Studio Mic Pre

2) Shure SM57  >>  Cloudlifter CL-Z (for impedance mismatching)  >>  Vintech Dual72

3) Shure SM58  >>  Cloudlifter CL-1  >>  TC Helicon VoiceLive 2 (for tone shaping only...No cheating via pitch correction...Don't get me started on a rant against 'auto-tuning'...)




Oh yeah...and a pop-filter. 

Moving forward...

Good times!

~ Todd