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July 4, 2017

Mixing Alive and Alone - Day 1

Wow! So that went better than expected - got a first mix of all ten tracks in one day! I put this down to the consistency of the recordings, the use of a mix template, and the simplicity of the arrangements. Even so, a few challenges popped up along the way ...

As suggested last night, I had a template set up, into which I imported the tracks for "Forever Mine". Not sure why I started with that one - I did everything else in alphabetical order - sort of. Maybe because I wanted to get the stomp box sound on the heartbeat right.

Of course, straight away that was a problem, because I had recorded that with bare feet in an attempt to get a more thuddy, deeper sound. Guess what? The bare foot made a clickier sound than the Dr Martens boots did, and also made a scrape sound as the skin lifted off the pine in the stomp box! Aaarrrggghghghhh!!

Adding a noise gate removed the scrape in between beats, and some really intense EQ cut tops and boosted the bottom end, which improved the results, but proved the old saying that you can't "fix it in the mix". Don't like the results on that one, but ... still, that's why this project exists ...

So, I basically set up the template by mixing the first song. That took about three and a half hours. I fiddled with everything, added effects, took them off, put too much of them on, took it off, panned things into crazy positions, put them back ... tried a heap of stuff. But the most time-consuming part was playing with the subtleties of the combination of Chorus, Delay, and Reverb to make something that I think sounded a fair bit like the reference mixes. I haven't listened back to the results closely and don't want to fatigue my ears, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good things sounded to me ... and how close they were to the references. I also got rather impatient at the end and spent less time checking back, so I might have strayed further from the goal as the day wore on ...

Anyhoo, "Forever Mine" first - set up the template. From there I just deleted every audio file from the template and then imported the next one, renamed, saved ... each song individually, but starting from what I knew was a pretty decent sound. from there, consistent recordings and consistent effects settings made mixing each song a matter of tweaking subtleties rather than beginning from scratch. Not sure if that's the best result, but it was a faster process ...

That said, every song required individual attention. As I finished the first one, for example, I noticed that the vocal wasn't quite how I wanted it. It sounded odd - but I really didn't pay any attention as I was so excited to have it done. When I heard the second song, "I Need Your Soul", with vocals that sounded odd, I checked a few settings and noticed that I have put the chorus times left and right at different settings - probably while I was playing with things in crazy ways. This created a wierd phase kind of effect, which was fixed straight away and I was very pleased with myself. Fixed the template as well .... good thing I picked that up early in the process!!

Got a much nicer sound out of the stomp with Dr Martens boots on it - needed a fresh EQ and so on. Guitar needed to sound slightly different, but not lots. Tweaked lots of things very slightly. Save - export - next song. Bashed out most of them in about half an hour each in this order:

  1. Forever Mine
  2. I Need Your Soul
  3. Angels
  4. Red Hot
  5. She Don't Want Your Love
  6. Somebody Else's Skin
  7. Whiskey and History
  8. When It's Over
  9. Simplicity - this one was different because of the changes in level during the song. Spent a while on it.
  10. Home Free - this one had a click in the vocals from a lazy edit. Spent forever trying to fix it but it's still there - see if you can spot it ...

I also noticed a weird sound on the guitars in the opening bars of "Home Free". It's sort of a finger-on-strings thing, but with a phase effect as well. Not wanted and I have no idea how to get rid of it - if I can at all. Please let me know in the comments if you can figure out what it is and what I can do about it ...

Tomorrow I will crack them all open and listen afresh before attempting to Master them into a coherent album. Hope I like the results ...

Posted by Hughie at July 4, 2017 7:02 PM
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