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
"What's more important? The lyrics or the melody?"
Personally I'm a melody man. A song's melody is very important to me, but the vocal melody is what I really listen to - and hum. Others, like my wife, will know every lyric to every song she hears upon her first listen. I, on the other hand, will probably only get the lyrics to the chorus until I've heard the song about 5 times. Even then I'll probably only know the lyrics to the first verse.
Anyway, Robin gives us his insight and has a questions for the audience at the end of his piece. Enjoy!
If you missed it, on our recent SXSW preview show, I revealed one of the secret ingredients you can add to a song to get Bob Boilen to love it: speak singing.
He's a total sucker for it. If an artist rattles off his or her lyrics in more of a spoken monotone than a sung melody (like Lou Reed), you can reel Bob in, hook, line and sinker.
Conversely, I can't think of anything that turns me off from a song faster. I don't want to mention any names, but let's just say albums by Leonard Cohen or the Joy Division or The Hold Steady aren't exactly the first records I reach for (all brilliant artists, just not my thing).
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.
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.
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.
This is huge for the LA based group of "five friends who wanted to transcend the disconnected and nonsensical nature of life in the city to create something consequential, the band embarked with hollow-body guitars, well-tuned drums, and a glockenspiel."
If you're doing vocal overdubs, and doing them right, it's going to take some time. If you have an inexperienced singer the best place to start is by making them feel at ease in the studio.
Setting the environment
A good place to begin is to make the environment comfortable by dimming the overhead lights. Bright lights can make even the hippest studios feel clinical. Candles also work well in this situation, but don't make it so dim that they can't read the lyric sheet. A light on the music stand could help create the best of both worlds.
Takes. Lots and lots of takes
Next, if you know they are going to be doing a lot of takes of the same parts make sure to leave a good amount of space before and after the punch (that's a drop-in for you Brits). They need to know that they have enough room to feel comfortable before the punch so they can get into the vibe of the song. Better yet, don't let them know where you're punching in or out. Just have them to sing along and you punch what needs to be replaced. The less thinking the vocalist needs to do the more natural the take will be.