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Archive for Audio Mixing

Mixing is where all the musical spices of the music recipe come together. As in cooking, if the balance is just right the results are a sonic delicacy. I don’t know why I’m using cooking references here, but my point is that, to me, mixing is where the track really comes to life. Inside Audio Mixing we have lots of articles to help you get the most out of your mixes.

Surround Sound Mixing – Part 3 of 5

This is a guest post by mix engineer, Unne Lilijeblad over at www.mix-engineer.com. This is the third article in a five part series about his experience with mixing in this still under utilized medium for listening to music. In the last article Unne talked about the being disappointed with DVD audio discs. This week he talks about recording and mixing in stereo.

Unne Lilijeblad - Mix Engineer

Unne Lilijeblad - Mix Engineer

 

Recording and Mixing in Stereo
There are many different ways of creating a stereo mix. For example, when mixing multiple mono sources, such as recordings of an electric guitar, an electric bass, a saxophone and a vocalist, done with one microphone each, they can be panned across the stereo image through the use of the pan knobs found on all mixing consoles and in all DAW:s. The pan knob divides the signal between the two speakers. Turn the knob to the left and it will send more of the signal to the left speaker and less to the right, resulting in our ears interpreting the sound as if it originated somewhere to the left of center.

Another way to achieve a similar result is through the use of delay. With a real acoustic sound, such as someone clapping their hands in front of you, but a little to the left, the sound waves reach your left ear slightly before they reach your right since the distance from the source to the right ear is greater than the distance to the left. To achieve a similar effect while mixing in stereo, you can delay the signal being sent to the right speaker slightly, and the result will be that the listener “hears” the sound coming more from the left. There are limits to how much delay can be used though, because at a certain point, we start distinguishing the two signals as separate signals instead. This technique also always causes phase issues to some degree

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Surround Sound Mixing – Part 2 of 5

This is a guest post by mix engineer, Unne Lilijeblad over at www.mix-engineer.com. This is the second article in a five part series about his experience with mixing in this still under utilized medium for listening to music. In the last article Unne talked about the basics of surround formats and standards. This week he talks about some of the disappointments with DVD Audio discs.

Unne Lilijeblad - Mix Engineer

Unne Lilijeblad - Mix Engineer

 

Disappointment
Before I purchased my own surround system, I’d hardly ever heard surround sound outside of movie theaters, so when I finally got my system all setup, I had a blast watching, and especially listening to, all three Lord Of The Ring DVD’s and many other big blockbuster action movies. Well mixed surround sound really is an amazing enhancement of the movie watching experience, and that elevated my already high expectations for surround music even further.

But after purchasing my first couple of DVD-Audio discs and dealing with the hours and hours of headache it took to figure out how to even play them back on my Mac, (To this day I can only playback Dolby Digital and DTS streams through VLC and have to resort to obscure command-line DVD-A utilities running in Windows under VMWare Fusion to rip the CPPM protected Meridian Lossless Streams to hard disk) I was kind of disappointed about the whole experience. To put it simply, it basically seemed to me that most mixes could be put into one of two groups. Either they were very conservative or they were way too gimmicky.

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What’s your DAW de-essing technique?

I'm a member of a few music production groups on LinkedIn and found that the information being shared over there is really, really good. The title of this article came from a discussion happening in the Small Recording Studio Network. It's a group of highly passionate professional sharing their experiences with recording gear and techniques. This discussion was started by Songwriter and Producer, Mark Moore who was was smart enough to add a poll.

As you can clearly see most production work is being done in-the-box.

What's your DAW de-essing technique?

68% of production in happening in-the-box.

 

As I mentioned the information being shared on LinkedIn is really good. So good that I found this gem of a technique from Producer/Engineer/Mixer, Robert L. Smith.

Multiple de-essers set minimally at specific frequencies, as opposed to one de-esser really digging in. Found this to be the best method. Sometimes this could be up to 5 different de-essers. Some of those new 'bright' microphones can be kind of harsh... Robert L. Smith.

I've never heard nor seen this done before but it makes perfect sense and I'm very excited to try out. If this sounds like something you'd like to contribute to please join us over in the Small Recording Studio Network on LinkedIn or leave a comment below.

Surround Sound Mixing – Part 1 of 5

This is a guest post by mix engineer, Unne Lilijeblad over at www.mix-engineer.com. This is the first article in a five part series about his experience with mixing in this still under utilized medium for listening to music.

Unne Lilijeblad - Mix Engineer

Unne Lilijeblad - Mix Engineer

It’s been seven years now since I took the plunge and invested in a complete Dynaudio Air 5.1 surround sound monitor system. At the time, I thought that Surround Sound on DVD-Audio and SACD discs was going to take off among music consumers. That didn’t really happen. At  the time, I could walk into a Tower Records Store or the Virgin Mega store in Union Square and find DVD-A discs from the likes of Seal or John Hiatt, but the last time I visited Virgin, I had to talk to a whole bunch of store people before I found someone who even knew what a DVD-Audio disc was, and how they differed from regular DVD-Video discs with music content on them. “Hmm, yeah, I think I do remember those. No one ever bought them.” Now Tower Records is no more, and the Virgin Mega store in Union Square that I used to visit has been closed for a few years. These discs are still available on Amazon of course, but I doubt they sell in any large numbers.

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Branding vs Positioning

Guest post by Cliff Zellman

Cliff Zellman

Cliff Zellman

This is a guest post by engineer extraordinaire and my audio engineering mentor, Cliff Zellman. Starting out as his assistant quite a few years ago, Cliff and I worked together making records for internationally renowned recording artists, as well as, local musicians in the LA area. Since then he's become the go-to guy for voice over performing, original music compositions and script writing at RadioVision in Dallas, Texas.

Having been in the production industry for over 30+ years, Cliff has pretty much recorded, produced, directed and edited just about anything & everything audio. Below is a very insightful piece he wrote on the differences between Branding and Positioning.

Take it away, Cliff!

Lately, there has been an over abundance of self-injected philosophies on Branding. It seems to be an easy subject to sell for coaches and mentors offering voice performance related services. Some come in the way of a “webinar” (insert unnecessary definition of webinar here), blogs, social media postings and face-to-face classes and seminars. What they mostly offer is a list of “example brands”, nationals such as Campbell’s Soup, Levi’s, CNN, Chevy, and Kleenex or tagged to an individual like Cher, Lady Gaga, Don LaFontaine, Oprah, or Elton. They follow by saying, “These are brands. You need to have a brand. You need to stick out from the crowd. Be noticed.” OK, I just signed up, paid my money and invested my time to be in your audience– how do I do it? Most likely you will hear that same line repeated and I will spare you that. Just go back a few sentences and read it again if you must.

What I rarely hear being discussed is Positioning. Why? Maybe it’s not as sexy as branding. BRANDING! Wow that’s a cool word, so instant and so final at the same time. It sounds so powerful. This is MINE!

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You are not your audience.

concert-crowd

Make music for you fans, not yourself.

Apologies up front because this is a rant...

Stop concerning yourself with the minutia in the mix and start thinking about what's important. What might that be you ask? It's the song.

Your fans don't care if the hi-hat is a tad too low in the last bar of the third verse. They don't care that the last note of an arpeggiated guitar run during the outro is a little too loud. Nobody hears this except for you, the artist. Let me, the mix engineer, make these calls. This is what I do. I MIX music so that it translates the best it can to all formats and to all audiences.

Some of the best advice I have ever received came from my mentor and engineer extraordinaire, Cliff "Cliffy" Zellman. During many, many mixing sessions when producers or artists were obsessing over the most finite of things he would turn to me and say "Lopes, it doesn't really matter and nobody cares." Meaning that your fans are not listening to those elements in the track. They are listening to two things, the melody and groove - that's about it.

I understand that this is your art and that you want it to be perfect, but who are you making it for? Yourself or your fans? If you're making it for yourself you may want to ask yourself one simple question. How many copies are YOU going to buy? My guess is that your answer is zero.

Do vinyl records really sound better than digital?

 

Vinyl-records.-Photo-credit-Knipsermann-CC-BY-2.0-Wikimedia-Commons

Knipsermann's photo of classic vinyl.

Over the past few years there has been a surge in musicians releasing their material on vinyl. I love this! Mostly for nostalgia and the fact that they want to try something outside of the norm - digital downloads. They want to experiment, play around, get into it. Tweaking and fussing is what musicians do naturally. Eddie Van Halen refers to himself as a tone chaser.

Whether it be tone, harmony, melody or whatever we're all chasing some form of audio bliss. I live for this. I'm at my best while in the zone mixing.

When the track starts to come together and it resonates deep inside me I literally start to dance in my chair. There are very few similar feelings. Anyway, I digress. The subject of this article is, "Do vinyl records really sound better than digital?" So. Does it?

I'm going out on a limb here and say no. At least not as a modern music distribution method. The reason why people think vinyl sounds better than digital is most likely because they've listened to vinyl recordings from the 60's, 70's and 80's - the height of vinyl production - and thought "Wow! Why does that sound so much warmer than today's music?". I think I know and can tell you in one word... Analog.

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