For my third 1hr mix exercise of the trimester I chose to mix The Royal Artillery’s song I Don’t Need to Know Your Name. You can check my mix out below.
My style of mixing that I planned to achieve on this mix was heavily inspired by Wolfmother, Soundgarden, and some heavier Led Zeppelin material as I thought this best represented the loudness and grunginess of the band’s performance and attitude in the studio. As such, I focused on making the drums a substantially noticeable element in the mix, with the electric guitars being a secondary driving force. This played a vital role in deciding which sections to mix in which order. I started with drums and other percussion elements, then guitars, then made sure they didn’t intrude with the clarity of the vocal, and finally moved on to the keys section. This part of the mix was largely just balancing, and once I reached the vocals I started to equalise to create space in the mix for everything to breathe without sacrificing volume.
All the above equalisation choices are fairly standard practice, barring the vocal EQ which I felt was more of a stylistic choice I made to do with that singer’s particular voice. The high-pass and low-pass filters help in general with un-muddying the mix and clear space for tracks that better utilise that frequency range. The notch at 90hz on the kick is fairly standard to emphasise the punch of a kick drum, while the bass got a low-frequency shelf to reinforce its strengths. During my research for post-production I found that dialogue usually exists between the 400-500hz range which helped inform my decision to boost that range, however the high-frequency shelf was the stylistic choice I made given the roughness in the high end that was exhibited by The Royal Artillery’s singer, and it helped mix the grittiness of his voice in with the power of the guitars. The only other processing I did was phase inverting one of the ribbon microphone recordings for the room mics as one was clearly cancelling the other out.
Once I established that my mix would sound good enough in mono, I proceeded to panning. This is where I made sure my overheads were hard-panned, my toms were panned a little to the right, my hihats were panned a little to the left, and my guitars had appropriate stereo imaging (45% L and R for the main guitars and 20% L and R for the guitars that only feature in parts of the song). While a lot of heavy music will pan guitars 100% in either direction if they are intended to feel atmospheric (such as in power metal), I felt this mix would lose the power I intended for it if I did so. This led to my decision to keep the guitars mixed fairly narrow, with the guitars that featured occasionally panned closer to the centre so as to bring more attention to them.
Things that went well
I feel like my balance during mixing is getting a lot better. I implemented Adrian’s advice of using a comparator in this mix, by borrowing another student’s pair of headphones in the last 15 minutes of the hour to check levels, and sure enough my overheads and bass guitar were a little loud, so I brought them down. My vocals were quite clear, and I achieved the heavy aesthetic that I set out for. My workflow is also getting a lot more efficient.
Things that didn’t go so well
I kind of regret not trying some compression on the tom drums, as they were not prevailing in the mix as much as I would have liked. This also goes for applying compression on the vocals, as I feel like the dynamic range is a little too extreme, and when the singer is quieter, it doesn’t deliver quite the right impact despite you still being able to hear the words he’s singing. I mainly didn’t touch compression due to it being a 1hr restriction and I am not the most confident with this technical aspect, though I realise it is something that would help. My limiting on the mix bus is getting better as well, though I think I went overboard on the threshold as the guitars were brought up more than I intended during this phase of the mix. I am happier that I am improving in this regard though.
A solid mix, and a lot more balanced than my mix of Lea Thomas, as well as the fact that I limited it, however it has obvious areas of improvement which I know how to implement but I need to work on my execution.
You can check out more of The Royal Artillery on their youtube channel