You can find the multitrack files for this project in the 'Mixing Secrets' Free Multitrack Download Library
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Here's some more project info you might find useful:
- About The Raw Recording:
- The drums on this track are virtual-instrument bounces, albeit good-quality ones. You get a fairly realistic-sounding overheads balance (complete with bell-tree accents) as well as three further 'close mic' tracks: kick (no spill), snare (kick spill only), and hi-hat (no spill). There's also a track of tambourine accents, a single finger-cymbal hit, and two tracks of stereo cymbal rolls (the latter added during my remix of the track).
- The bass is lovely, tracked through a decent amp simulator.
- Five tracks of acoustic guitar are provided, all recorded through Fishman's Aura pickup system, and there are two tracks of stereo piano (one added during my remix).
- There are also five tracks of MIDI-triggered pad sounds (three of which I added during my remix).
- The single lead-vocal channel has been very carefully performed, comped, and edited.
- Challenges You're Likely To Face:
- Getting the drums tracks to blend with each other and form a smooth backing for a ballad like this isn't easy.
- The original pair of pad parts rather bland out the arrangement as they stand, because they play too much and don't adapt their sonics to suit their surroundings very much.
- Some of the acoustic guitars sound rather thin and two-dimensional because of the DI-based recording system.
- Although the lead vocal itself should present no mixing problems, clearing enough space for it to shine in the mix is one of the biggest goals for a mix like this.
- This kind of arrangement pretty much demands long delay and reverb effects, but at the same time you want to retain a sense intimacy at some moments, and avoid a bloated, washed-out production sound.
- Some Mixing Tips:
- Parallel compression, emulated tape saturation, and dedicated transient-shaping are very useful tools for dealing with these drums, and I'd also experiment with short reverb effects to try to tie the 'close mics' in with the virtual overheads signal.
- Try plate reverb for the guitars and piano to give them more sustain.
- Careful with your guitar compression so that you don't pull too much mechanical noise into the balance.
- Don't be content to just mix in the pad sounds. Make sure they're at the right level for each section, and that their frequency content also remains appropriate as the arrangement changes. As a rule of thumb, if you can hear the pad as a distinct instrument, then it's usually too loud!
- A good dose of stereo widening for the lead vocal makes a lot of sense in a track like this. I used the classic Harmonizer-style patch myself, in conjunction with a specialised 'spread reverb' treatment.
- For the effects, I'd suggest a layered approach, using several different global delay/reverb sends and feeding each one from those instruments that suit it best.
- Automation is vital for this mix, allowing you to micro-manage the balance where necessary without losing the naturalness of the dynamics or incurring unmusical compression side-effects. Don't forget to automate the effects sends/returns too, otherwise you'll never get the necessary contrast between the 'close and intimate' and 'full and lush' sections.
- I remixed this song for Sound On Sound's January 2010 'Mix Rescue' column, which not only shows how I approached mixing this production myself in practice, but also includes a selection of audio files demonstrating the effects of some of my processing, layering, and effects decisions.
If you have any other general questions about this multitrack, just reply to this post and I'll see what I can do.