Published on September 11, 2014
Mixing Mixing Fundamentals And a Brief History of Multitrack Recording email@example.com www.stuartjones.org
Mixing Mixing Fundamentals And a Brief History of Multitrack Recording The Evolution of Mixing Bing Crosby Les Paul Listening Examples: The Beatles ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ The 6 Elements of a Mix 1. Balance 2. Frequency Range 3. Panorama 4. Dynamics 5. Dimension 6. Interest
Mixing The Evolution of Mixing View slide
Mixing The Evolution of Mixing A recording set up from the 1890 View slide
Mixing The Evolution of Mixing Bing Crosby was an early pioneer of magnetic tape recording in the USA
Mixing • Crosby was America's most successful recording act of the 1930s, and again in the 1940s. • He used his considerable professional and financial power to innovate new methods of reproducing audio of his performances. • Murdo MacKenzie of Bing Crosby Enterprises had seen a demonstration of the German Magnetophon in June 1947—the same device that Jack Mullin, a pioneer in the field of magnetic tape recording in the US, had brought back from Radio Frankfurt, along with 50 reels of tape, at the end of the war. The Evolution of Mixing
Mixing The Evolution of Mixing • Crosby hires Mullin to start recording his Philco Radio Time show on his German-made machine in August 1947. • Crosby invested US$50,000 in Ampex with an eye towards producing more machines. In 1948, the second season of Philco shows was taped with the new Ampex Model 200 tape recorder using the new Scotch 111 tape from the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M) company.
Mixing The Evolution of Mixing AMPEX Model 200A
Mixing The Evolution of Mixing Les Paul Session guitarist, Songwriter and Inventor
Mixing The Evolution of Mixing • Paul had never been happy with the way his records sounded. • During a post-recording session talk, Bing Crosby suggested Paul try building his own recording studio so he might be able to get the sound he wanted. • Paul reinvents the Ampex 200 from two track to three track so he could overdub. • Paul continued to develop this technology by commissioning Ampex to build the first 8-track (multitrack) tape recorder. • His design became known as "Sel-Sync" (Selective Synchronization), the core technology behind multitrack recording. Les Paul
Mixing The Evolution of Mixing Les Paul • Paul’s three track machine proved extremely useful in popular music recording (two tracks for backing track and one track for vocal overdub). • Early Motown records were recorded on three tracks. • However, four track soon became the standard in the mid-late 60’s
Mixing The Evolution of Mixing 4-track • The 4 track machine allowed for greater complexity. • Multiple tracks were recorded onto one 4-track machine and then mixed together and transferred to one track of a second 4-track machine. • it was possible to record literally dozens of separate tracks and combine them into finished recordings • Engineers at the time became became particularly adept at a technique called ‘bouncing down’ also known as a ‘reduction mix’. • Decisions as to volume levels, blending sounds, reverb settings etc would need to be made during the recording process (i.e mixing being part of the recording process).
Mixing Listening Example : The Beatles
Mixing With A Little Help From My Friends Taken From ‘St. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’ - The Beatles Track 1 - D.I Bass/Tambourine Track 2 - Drums/Keys/Rhythm Gtr/Cow Bell Track 3 - Backing Vocals/Lead Vocal Track 4 - Backing Vocals/Gtr Fill Recorded over three days from Wed 29th March - Friday 31st March 1967
Mixing With A Little Help From My Friends Taken From ‘St. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’ - The Beatles Track 2 - Drums/Keys/Rhythm Gtr/Cow Bell Paul played piano, George lead guitar, Ringo drums and John cowbell. Ten takes were made using this basic rhythm line-up, the tenth being best. This was then converted into take 11 by a reduction mix which saw all four tracks from the first tape merge into one.
Mixing With A Little Help From My Friends Taken From ‘St. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’ - The Beatles Track 3 -Lead Vocal/Intro Vocals ‘Billy Shears’ bit added at a later date
Mixing With A Little Help From My Friends Taken From ‘St. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’ - The Beatles Track 4 - Intro Organ/Backing Vocals/Gtr Fill
Mixing With A Little Help From My Friends Taken From ‘St. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’ - The Beatles Track 1 - Intro Drums/D.I Bass/Tambourine
Mixing With A Little Help From My Friends Taken From ‘St. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’ - The Beatles Track 1 - Intro Drums/D.I Bass/Tambourine Track 2 - Drums/Keys/Rhythm Gtr/Cow Bell Track 3 - Backing Vocals/Lead Vocal Track 4 - Intro Organ/Backing Vocals/Gtr Fill
Mixing From these beginnings, multitrack recording evolved in subsequent decades into a mainstream recording technique. ‘Ever since we have been able to record instruments onto their own tracks and overdub new material onto existing recordings, we have then had to re-balance them for the final piece of music’. Alan Parsons
Mixing Kick Sn Hats Tom Tom Over L Over R Bass Mic Bass D.I Rhy Gtr Rhy Gtr Lead Gtr Lead Gtr Lead Vox Lead Vox Chor Vox Chor Vox Cow Bell Today, we tend to mix after the recording is complete
Mixing Different engineers have their own procedures to follow when developing a mix.
Mixing The 6 Elements of a Mix
Mixing The 6 Elements of a Mix In his book, ‘The Mix Engineers Handbook’, Bob Owsinski describes the 6 elements of a mix as: 1. Balance - the volume level relationship between musical elements 2. Frequency Range - having all frequencies properly represented 3. Panorama - placing musical elements in the soundfield 4. Dynamics - controlling the volume envelopes of a track or instrument 5. Dimension - adding ambience to a musical element 6. Interest - making the mix special
Mixing 1. Balance
Mixing Balance Level Balance • If the arrangement has been structured with the final production in mind, the final mix will be much easier. • Good balance begins with a good arrangement. • The arrangement will fit together better if all the instruments sit in their own frequency range. • Too many instruments playing at once will make the mixing process much harder. • Correct recording levels are also important here as one sound might not get a fair chance in the mix if it has been recorded at a low level.
Mixing 2. Panorama
Mixing Panorama • Movement of a sound from between the stereo image during a mix can create an interesting dynamic. • Possibilities range from short, minuscule moves to wide, sweeping moves that span the entire stereo spectrum (Gibson: The Art of Mixing)
Mixing Stereo Image Balance Example - Typical Panning Left Centre Right Lead Vocal Bass Drum, Snare and Bass Guitar Lead Guitar Rhythm Guitar Drum Kit; Toms & Cymbals Keyboards Backing Vocals Main Reverb Panorama
Panorama Stereo Image Balance Example - Typical Panning • Any sound panned to the centre will become louder in mono while those panned hard left or Mixing right become quieter when the stereo mix is collapsed to mono. • A sound positioned exactly mid-left (or mid right) will not suffer from the mono/stereo translation problems. • Therefore, be careful when panning hard left/right.
Mixing Frequency Range The 10 Octaves of the Musical Spectrum
20480 Octave 10 : Extreme highs, air, hiss, sizzle. Little musical content. 10240 Octave 9 : Highs, treble, brightness, sibilance. 5120 Octave 8 : Presence. Primary recognition range for voice. Critical musical and vocal range. 2560 Octave 7 : Upper mid range. Major range of harmonic content. 1280 Octave 6 : Mid-range. Highest fundamental pitches. Beginning of upper harmonics. 640 Octave 5 : Lower mid range. Body and richness of sound. 320 Octave 4 : The so-called ‘mud range’. Transition octave between bass and mid range. 160 Octave 3 : Upper Bass. Bass and lower elements of drum kit fundamental here. 80 Octave 2 : Lower Bass. Low C octave. Bottom of musical pitches. 40 Octave 1 : Bottom End. Little Musical content. Some speakers will not play back these frequencies. 20 16kHz 8kHz 4kHz 2kHz (high C - 1040) 1kHz 500 (middle C - 260) 250 125 62 31 deep bass range of musical fundamentals range of musical harmonics (low C - 65) HF HMF LMF LF
• Our audible frequency range is 20 Hz to 20 kHz (20 000 Hz) • The most basic division of the frequency spectrum in mixing jargon entails four bands: lows, low-mids, high-mids and highs. This division originates from the common four-band equalisers found on many analog desks. • Primarily, EQ is used to try to improve the tone, richness, and general subjective appeal of each of the instruments in their production. • However, a much more crucial task is to achieve a stable balance across the frequency spectrum. • The most common problems with frequency balance involve the extremes. A mix is boomy if there is an excess of low-frequency content, and thin if there is a deficiency. A mix is dull if there are not enough highs, and brittle if there are too many. • low frequencies are usually the hardest to stabilise and it is always worth paying attention to this range when comparing a mix on different playback systems. • As a general rule of thumb, we cut if we are trying to make things sound better and boost when we are trying Mixing to make things sound different. Frequency Range
Mixing 4. Dynamics Compression and Gating
Mixing Dynamics Dynamic Control • Dynamics are controlled by the use of compression, limiting and gating. • All dynamics processors use a gain-controlling device to alter the dynamics of the input signal. • The gain controller (input signal) can also be controlled by a circuit which looks at the signal and decides how much to reduce its gain. This control circuit is known generically as the 'side-chain'.
Mixing 5. Dimension
Mixing Dimension Reverb and Effects Guidelines Bass Drum/Bass Guitar A good bass sound will cement the mix to the floor. However, the right reverb might help your mix to 'float'. Keep the reverb time short and filter high frequencies. Snare Drum Depending on what you are doing but, as a rule of thumb, the reverb tail on one snare hit should finish before the next. Overheads Overheads act as ambient mics and therefore should require no reverb. Guitar The electric guitar is often associated with a spring reverb but it's worth experimenting with different reverb types and delays. Organ Use distortion for a lo-fi effect. Use a Leslie or automated pan effect for stereo. Brass Slow attack on reverb to allow the natural attack of the instrument to come through (esp. on Sax) Vocals ADT (Artificial Double Tracking) - A common vocal effects that uses a short delay of around 30-60ms. Worth experimenting with both reverb and delay. Try a chorus effect on backing vocals Experimentation is the key.
Mixing 6. Interest
Mixing 6. Interest Making the Mix Special • Automation - Automation or gain riding can make a mix ‘move’ • Mute - The most underrated mix tool. If a sound is ‘fighting’ to be hear in the mix, try muting it or muting another sound in that frequency range • Momentum - Build the mix throughout the song • Master Fader - Automating the master fader up slightly during chorus’ can make the chorus sound bigger
Mixing References Books • Izhaki, Roey., ‘Mixing Audio Concepts, Practices and Tools’. Elsevier, 2008, US • Owsinski, Bobby., ‘The Mixing Engineers Handbook’. Mix Books, 1999, US • Senior, Mike., ‘Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio’. Elsevier, 2011, US Web • Ross Snyder interviewed by Howard Sanner about the history of Les Paul's eight track Ampex 300 and Sel-Sync, 11 Mar 2000 • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetophon • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multitrack_recording • http://recordist.com/ampex/docs/histapx/ampchrn.txt • Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions (First Hardback ed.). EMI. ISBN 978-0600612070 • http://www.aes.org/aeshc/docs/company.histories/ampex/ampex_history_project.html • Hearing: An Introduction to Psychological and Physiological Acoustics, Fourth Edition Stanley A. Gelfand • http://www.stuartjones.org/category/mixing/ • http://www.one-nil.com/Compressors.pdf
Mixing Mixing Fundamentals And a Brief History of Multitrack Recording This lecture is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ http://cci.glam.ac.uk
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