Orange Maplewood – Just Another Fairytale – Part 2 – Mixing
On 9 may 2014, Just Another Fairytale was released, the first full length album of Orange Maplewood. The album was recorded and mixed in the White Noise Studio, formerly known as the MrMunchkin Recording Studio.
This is the second part of the blogs about the recording and mix of this album. This one’s about the mixing process.
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The first blog, about the recording, can be found here: http://www.whitenoisestudio.com/orange-maplewood-just-another-fairytale-recording/
Orange Maplewood – Just Another Fairytale Mixing Mindset
The mixes should sound kickass, fat, in your face. Polished but with a raw feel.
So how did I went to work with this mindset?
First of all, in the editing part of the mixing process.
You can edit every note perfectly in time and loose every bit of feel while doing it, or doing it with some sensibility 😉
For vocals, a fair bit was edited. The Orange Maplewood songs feature a lot of many voiced vocals parts.
One rule: the first, main lead vocal is always right with timing. It was barely touched in editing, give or take a very few parts.
So, the leadvocal was the correct one to which the rest of the vocal tracks were edited to.
The leadvocal was always double recorded. In the extra parts, consonants like ”t” and ”s”es were removed or lowered in volume to avoid annoying stuttering or very hard T’s and S’s.
The extra backingvocals were edited in the same way, with some slight tuning wherever I felt it improved the overal choir.
Note: perfect in tune doesn’t mean it will sound the best. So reserved tuning, only when really needed.
The guitars and bass were barely touched in editing, most editing involved the start or ending of the song.
Most ”edits” were done while recording, if a part didn’t feel right, we re-recorded it.
For drums, more editing was involved. One of the reasons is that overdubbing parts for drums is harder since there are more recorded elements involved and stuff like cymbal fades are hard to rerecorded exactly the same. So for the most part, we recorded a few takes of the drums untill we felt we had the right one. When needed we edited different parts together of several takes. Was not often needed. In editing, the focus was on feel again. Slightly rushed or late bassdrum and snare drum hits were edited, some drumfills swapped.
Orange Maplewood – Just Another Fairytale Mixing
After recording and editing and doing some balancing and test eq-ing, I felt the snaredrum was lacking a bit in tone. Because of this, all snaredrums were layerd with extra samples form my Mapex Black panther snare, miced from the side. This gives a blend of top and bottom head and more shell tone. Perfect to fill the gap in the snare sound.
Before actually starting the real mix, I made use of the DBX 160A compressor.
All vocals, snare and bassdrum and a overhead went through it.
The settings for vocals were a ratio of 1.5:1 with a low threshold to increase the body of the vocals. or increase the average level of the vocals, make them more constant to cut through the walls of guitar. The overhead and snare both got a ratio of 4:1 and a medium treshold to get them slamming bit not limiting. The Subkick got a very low threshold and high ratio to reduce the peaks, the close kick mic got a ratio of 6:1 and medium threshold to bring out the attacks.
In the screenshots you can see these tracks with DBX in their name. The original tracks are still in there , but muted.
With 7 tracks to choose from, it was a matter of balancing. Every speaker and mic gave a different tone. For the bulk of the mixing the SM57 track and MD421 were used the most, with the other mics either muted or mixed in a bit for different character. The subkick track had an extra waves c4 multiband compressor to even out the low end.
Every guitar was send to it’s own guitar group with a Waves Renaissance Axx plugin for dynamics and all those groups were then send to a master guitar bus. On that bus another waves C4 was used to compress from 89 to 200 Hz, to even out the overall low end of the guitar. A Sonalskis EQ with boosts around 600hz and 1.2 Khz finished off the sound for guitar.
The bass sound consisted of 3 tracks: A subkicktrack for the very low end, a md441 track for the body of the sound and a preamp DI out which was mostly used for high end.
The bass was dipped arround 119 Hz in most cases, went through a c4 to control the low end, a Waves Renaissance Axx for overall dynamics. It was then send thorugh a Brainworkx
BX_Xl mastering limiting plugin, mainly to sidechain compress the low end below 135 hz by kickdrum. As finishing touch an Sonalskis EQ boosted almost the same frequencies – 600 hz and a bit more around 1.2 Khz. When the bigmuff was used in recording, an additional waves eq was used to boost everything form 400hz to 1 khz. The bigmuff has a very large dip in that area.
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The drumsound depended heavily on the roommics. These 2 mics were send to a groupbus with the following plugins: TP Bassline to make the low end mono, a DDMF EQ with high and low pass enabled and a compressor with a ratio of 8:1 and lower threshold to really slam the drums. This was mainly for the body of the drumsound – big and fat.
The overheads were compressed heavily and had some extra compression around the mid high frequencies for the cymbals.
The snaredrum was a blend of the top- and bottommic and sample which were send through the dbx compressor. A dip around 488 hz against boxiness with an extra boost around 6kz for the snares.
The subkick dbx-ed track and the close kick track were send to a kickdrumbus which was eq-ed to bring out the low end around 50hz and some mid around 2.2 khz. No extra compression was used.
Every part of the drumkit went through the drumbus. A sonalksis Satsonbuss provided an analogue-esque flavour with an eq around 3,3 khz to bring out the mids and putting the drums more upfront in the mix. A send effect, reverb, was used for snare and toms.
Like said before, every vocal was send trough the dbx 160a. Before sending thorugh the dbx, vocals went through a waves c4 to control sibliance.
After compressing with the dbx, no eq was used on individual tracks. What I did use was compressing with 1 compressor instance to further control overall dynamics with a slow attack and a limiter to stop a few very loud attacks.
The XY mics used for recording the room sound of the vocals were used as a ping pong delay by delaying one track by a 8th note and the other by 3/4 of a note, depending of the track.
This gave a very natural, smooth delay which enhanced the leadvocal beautifully. Love that technique.
All vocals went through the same vocal bus which had an eq to enhance the air part of the vocals above 8khz, bring out some mid around 3khz and went through Audio Damage’s Fluid. That’s a analogue emulation chorus effect which, when used sparsely, can add a very nice shimmer and spaceyness around vocal
No reverb plugins were used in these mix session for the main vocal sound.
This! – Mastering
I didn’t master this session, but the entire session was mixed by me as if it was the final master, except for end dynamics.
I used a bus compressor and limiting for the ”check mp3’s” I send the band to check the mix and suggest alterations which were removed before sending it to the mastering.
So naturally, I’m happy to tell that the mastering actually sounded exactly like my check mp3’s I send to the band. Means the mix was spot on. Awesome :-