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Full Version: My Mix of 'Alex The Adventurer'
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Since Jaws came out, I've always been impressed with John Williams and others who can add drama to a movie with music. This short piece was a challenge and required a change of approach from pop, jazz and rock.

First I downloaded and listened to the pro mix several times and then I imported the track PCM files. I played back the untouched tracks, saw I was 5.6dB over the threshold and selected everything to lower 4.5dB. Now its only 1.6dB over, but what needs to be refined? The horns and trumpets are glaring at me, but they're important parts of the crescendo in the middle. Another playback or three, and I realize the oboes, flutes and piccolos near the end are too soft, so start raising them. Where's the clarinets? Raise them up. The bass drum rumbles. Put some soft compression there - 2:1 ratio and re-adjust the level on that track. The snare isn't present enough, so put some EQ on that track and a little compression, 2.5:1 ratio and adjust the level accordingly.

I'm getting closer now to the reference track. Glockenspiel, xylophone and piano can all get raised a little bit. The triangles and chimes are way too low and get restored back to unity gain. The harp, piano and woodwinds are too soft, so I raised them all some more. Now I've still got some room to restore some level for the important horns and trumpets crescendo.

Now I'm very close to the reference track, so I take a close look at it with a spectrum analyzer and a level meter. It peaks at -3dB and LUFS-I is at 13.8dB. My adaptive limiter will only go to -2dB; fine that's where I'll set it. I tried 2 compressors on the output - the default Logic for orchestras, but wasn't satisfied, so I messed with the ratio and attack/release times. Better, but not good enough. I replaced the compressor with NI VariComp set at Tubewarmth, and loved the sound. Lastly, I hear reverb on the reference track. I set the aux track to Space Designer, large indoor spaces, "Auditorium" and set every track to -21.5. Ultimately, the reverb got raised to -17 to match what I was hearing on the reference track. Now I can start raising the gain on the limiter to match the LUFS-I of 13.8. The waveforms of the reference track and my PCM file are very similar - I think its the bells, xylophone and glockenspiel peaks that are the primary differences. I went back and lowered each of them only 0.5dB.

This is the result. How did I do?
Hi Dave

I'm not in any way familiar with mixing this genre .. I cant really give you anything constructive, except it sounds balanced, detailed and made me feel like I was at the movies.
I liked it!!


Thanks bunches, K. I was at a loss too. It took a lot of back and forth refinements; 4 hours worth for a 1 minute long tune. Its all useful learning experiences.