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Discover the industry secrets to recording crisp, rich instrument tracks and vocals in any type of recording environment. Join renowned audio engineer Bobby Owsinski as he walks through the process of miking and tracking a complete song by Underground Sun recording artist Iyeoka and A-list session musicians in a top-of-the-line studio—in a way that is applicable to any recording space and musical genre. Learn how to select the correct microphone and polar pattern for each instrument, with hundreds of revealing listening examples for drums, acoustic and electric guitar, piano, keyboards, and more. These professional techniques offer critical insights for those just getting started in the recording process, and a trustworthy reference guide for more seasoned engineers. Bobby also demonstrates how to monitor and sculpt EQ settings, why and when to process your input signal, and how to choose the right outboard gear for the track. This course employs 360-degree, 3D visualizations that provide an unprecedented perspective of the equipment, players, and microphone placements discussed. Plus, with the raw audio files provided, you can critically listen to every recorded example at home with your DAW of choice at full 24-bit resolution.
Here is how we build the rough mix for the song that we have recorded. Keep in mind that a rough is usually done quickly and may not have any of the EQ, Automation, or Effects tweaks that the final mix might have. So the first I am going to do is get the drum mix together, and I'm going to start with the kick drum. I am going to bring it up to about zero. (music playing) Next thing I will do is I will bring the snare top mic up. Now there are two mics on the snare drum, there is one on the top and one on the bottom. So the top one will sound somewhat dull, and the bottom one will add a little bit of snap.
Let's listen to the top one first. (music playing) Now watch when I bring the bottom one up. I will only bring it up so I can just about hear it, and that's usually the right amount. (music playing) You can hear the snap coming in. Next thing I will do is bring the overheads up, so I can hear the cymbals and the overall sound of the drum kit. (music playing) Well, let's pan those up. (music playing) Now you can hear the cymbals where you couldn't before.
And you can hear how the sound of the hi-hat actually came up and the sound of the snare drum changed a little bit. Speaking of the hi-hat, let's bring that up. Even though you know you can hear it now, we are going to bring it up so there's more definition. Let's pan that out. (music playing) The next thing we want to do is bring the toms up.
And the best way to do that is to go to a place in the song where the toms are featured, that's some sort of a fill. And in this case, it's the beginning of the song, where it actually enters with the drum fill. So let's bring those up. We will just start at zero here and see what it sounds like with the rest of the drums. (music playing) Now you can hear they are kind of quiet, so let's bring them up a bit more. You can hear more of the floor toms and the rack tom, so let's even that out a little bit.
A little more rack. (music playing) So that sounds about the right balance. The next thing we want to do is to add a little bit of space around the drums, and the way we do that is add some reverb. So what we are going to do is add the reverb that we had already set up in the previous movie about effects. We will start with the snare drum. Let's play it and have a listen to what it sounds like. (music playing) That's without it. (music playing) We don't want to add too much, because then it will swim in ambience, and that's not the way we usually hear anything in a room environment, just about the time we can hear it is usually enough.
And then once the other instruments go in, we have to tweak it a little bit. But that's not the place to start, where we are here at right now. The other thing we want to do is add a little bit of that same reverb on the toms as well. So let's do that. Let's bring it up to -5 on each of these and just see what it sounds like. That's a little much, so let's bring that down a little bit on each of them. (music playing) Good! That sounds pretty good! We can tweak it later if we have to once we get the other instruments in the mix, but that's a good place to start.
Let's now bring the bass in. There are two different bass tracks, one is the direct and second one is with the bass amp that's miked. So let's start with the DI first, then we will bring in the bass Amp to about the same level as the kick and snare. (music playing) Let's solo that for a minute. (music playing) Put both of them together, and you have a little bit of the attack and aggressiveness that you get from the DI and a little bit of the warmth that the amplifier gives you, and sometimes it goes just the opposite where you get more of the aggression from the Amp, more of the roundness from the DI.
Anyway, let's listen in the track. (music playing) The next thing I am going to bring in is the rhythm instrument, and in this case it's the rhythm guitar. And what I like to do is pan it opposite from the hi-hat. So in this case, the hi-hat is on the right-hand side, which it usually is. If you're watching the drummer, his hi-hat is usually on the right. So we would like to put it that way just so we get the audience perspective.
And whatever is playing the rhythm part, and it could be a keyboard, or it could be use some hand percussion or something, I am going to put that opposite so there is a balance in the rhythm. Let's do that now. (music playing) Now that sounds just a little dry, so once again, let's add some reverb, and we have already inserted a Send.
Let's just hear what it sounds like when we solo it up. (music playing) Let's listen with the track. Now it's in some sort of a space. (music playing) Here's with the effect muted. (music playing) And with it in. (music playing) Once again, you don't need much to really make it work.
If you add too much, you will wash the mix out. And once you have all the own instruments in, you might want to add little more or take some away, but just about the time you can hear it is when you will stop, at least at this stage of the mix. The next thing we will start with is the pad, and let's bring that in now and hear what it sounds like. This is in stereo, and what we are going to do--usually with pads we want to put them hard left and hard right. So let's do that right now and play it and hear it come in. (music playing) Now with the pad, usually it's just a glue, and many times you don't even hear it in the mix.
If it's not there, you notice the fact that it's not there, but if it is there, it just adds a little something extra and makes the mix feel better. So again if it's too loud, it's not going to work. Just about the time you hear it is pretty much right. So the other thing we are going to do is add a second pad instrument, in this cases it's sort of a road sound, and it's a pulsating road sound. And we will also pan that hard left and hard right. Maybe we won't go quite as hard as the other synth pad. And let's bring that in and hear what it sounds like.
(music playing) Next thing we have is the piano. Now the piano is also miked in stereo, and that there's a high mic and a low mic for the high strings and one for the low strings. And it does sound good, if we pan it hard left and hard right in certain circumstances.
But it doesn't mean just because it's recorded in stereo that you actually have to always put it in stereo, or at least wide stereo. And in this case, what we're going to do is we are going to put it a little bit opposite of the rhythm guitar. So what we are going to do is pan it just a little over this way, like so, and let's bring it and hear what it sounds like. (music playing) By panning it to the right, it gives us just a little bit of contrast against the guitar that's on the left, and that's kind of what we want.
If we pan everything hard left and hard right, we get something that I call big mono, with everything panned hard left or hard right and actually it doesn't sound good anymore, and it just kind of sounds very bland, instead of stereo, which is exciting. So that's why we are better off just lowering our sound field, and it will sound better. If we listen to the piano soloed, once again, this sounds very, very dry, and we would like to put it in the space, and just listen for a second. (music playing) So we already inserted a Reverb Send, and what we are going to do is just add a little bit and hear what it sounds like, once we put it in space.
(music playing) And we have the same amount on our low end as well, and let's have a listen. Let's listen with the track. (music playing) We also have an organ, and the organ is also recorded in two tracks.
It's not necessarily stereo, though, because what we have is a low frequency speaker and a high frequency speaker on the Organ Leslie. So if we pan them hard left and hard right or even any kind of panning at all, it sounds kind of funny, because you have the low end on one side and a high end on another. So you can consider these pretty much just a single space in the sound field, and in this case we are going to put it sort of up the middle. And let's put it a little bit to the left and hear what it sounds like.
(music playing) Let's listen to what it sounds like soloed. (music playing) So we've already added some reverb on that.
Once again, what we are trying to do here is put each of instruments into a space. When we do the final mix, it may not be all in the same space. We may want to put each one in a slightly different one to make it a little bit more layered. In this case we basically have two layers. We have one Effects layer for the drums, and we have another one for the rest of the instruments. And that worked really well for just our quick rough mix. Now let's go to lead vocal and put that in. In this case, we have lead vocal and lead vocal double and a harmony.
And usually what we want to do is add the lead vocal first and bring the lead vocal double in later, after we get the lead vocal primary sounding pretty good. So let's bring that up and have a listen. But first, we want to go to where the vocal is. And I have already set markers for each individual song section. So let's bring the Memory locations up. And I did that by hitting Command+5 or Apple+5 that brings it up. And in this case we want to--we are going to start with the second verse, because second verse has the harmony, and it also has the double on it.
So let's have a listen. (music playing) Now once again, we want to put that into a space. So let's have a quick listen one more time just the lead vocal solo. (music playing) Now we can put some reverb on it, but a lot of times what I like to do is add a Delay, because it adds a different type of space to it. And it's kind of nice.
Once again, if you begin to hear it, then it's almost too much. So just about the time we begin to feel it and hear it is about the right amount. Let's bring that in now and have a listen. (music playing) Now you can hear I was muting the effect, and I was bringing it back in, I was muting and bringing it back in just so you can hear the difference of what it sounds like when the lead vocal has a little bit of effect on it and when it's muted it is very dry and very in your face.
There are times when you want to dry it in your face, and that's appropriate for certain types of music and certain types of mixes with certain types of arrangements. In this case, we do want it to have a little bit an environment around it and a little bit of reverb does that pretty well. So now let's go to the harmony vocal, and we will have a listen to that along with the lead. (music playing) Now in this case, what we're going to is we are going to add exactly the same effect, the easy way to do that is you hit the Option key and click and drag the Send from the lead vocal channel, bring it over and have a listen.
(music playing) Now let's go to the second chorus when there is a lead vocal double that comes in. Let's listen as I bring it in. (music playing) Now usually with a double, you could have two different approaches to it.
The first approach is when you want to actually change the sound of the vocal, or you have some tuning problems, in which case you want both vocals, the primary vocal and the double, you want them at exactly the same level. Now there are certain times when that doesn't really apply, it's not appropriate for the song. So in fact, what you want to do is use the double as just some sort of support to change the sound a little bit or make it a little bit fuller. In this case that's what we are going to do. So, if you take notice, you could hear it, you could feel it, but you don't really notice it as a double so much. Let's listen.
(music playing) And let's listen again. This time I'm going to mute the double, listen to what it sounds like, and then I am going to unmute it as well. (music playing) It's very subtle, but it does reinforce the part.
The other thing it also does is it changes the sound of the vocal from the verses to the chorus. When you have a double, it happens only on the chorus, it makes the sound a little bit fuller, and that's the production trick that's been used for a really, really long time. The next thing we are going to do is listen to some background vocals. And in this case we did two different passes on each vocal, so it's double again. But there is a little bit of a difference in that they each sound slightly different because of the ambience. In one case they were closer to the mic than the second case.
And it gives a little bit fuller sound. So what we are going to do is we are going to pan these out just a little bit and bring them in and have a listen. (music playing) Wrong track. (music playing) Now you can see that the track on the right is a little bit louder, so what we are going to do is we are going to just turn it down a little bit.
Let's have a listen. (music playing) A little bit more. (music playing) Once again, let's put it into a space so we could either add Reverb, or we can add a Delay. In this case, I think we are going to try some Reverb and hear what it sounds like.
So we are going to go to our Main Reverb, our Plate Reverb, and try it there. So what we will do is we will bring this up. Have a listen. (music playing) You can hear a little of it there. What I am going to do is I am going to copy that, moving it over to the second vocal and here's what they both sound like. (music playing) Let's go to the Bridge there.
The Bridge actually has some more background vocals and they are a little bit different, because yes, they are double, but the parts are inverted. So in other words, it's three-part harmony, but the way they're stacked are a little bit different. There's a higher version on the right-hand side than from the left. So first thing we will do is we will pan them a little, and in this case I am going to pan them a little bit wider, and let's have a listen. (music playing) And you can hear the part on the left is a little bit lower and registered than the right.
But again, we got to put them in a space. Now I am going to go back to the Delay, this is our Bus 21 here. Let's have a listen. (music playing) And again, I am going to copy it over to the second vocal track, and let's listen. (music playing) A little bit loud and a little bit too much on the Delay, let's bring that down in both cases.
Now you can see what happened there, I have the background vocals grouped together, and that's over here, I think this background group number 3. So if I want to actually change the level individually, I would just click over here, and if it's not highlighted, then you can see I can bring the level up and down without anything happen. If I come over here, and I highlight the group, then they both attenuate or increase together. Same thing works also on the Sends as well.
If I bring the Send down on one track, it also brings it down on the other. So let's have a listen. (music playing) Now we are at the solo, and now we have a solo guitar, and let's bring that guitar lead up, have a listen.
(music playing) Now once again, it's very dry and very in your face. So what we really like to do is put that in some sort of an environment, and we will add the Delay again. Delay really works well on solo instruments, so let's bring a little bit of that up. Solo it and have a listen. (music playing) You can hear it. We are in an environment now. Let's listen to it dry and with the delay on it.
(music playing) So now you can hear what it sounds like with the delay on the lead guitar as well. Now what we are going to do is let's go to the Outro and add the strings and horns.
So we are going to go to the Out Chorus, and let's bring that in. (music playing) Now what has happened here, we have just a violin and the cello, and we have doubled them. And what we are going to do is spread these out a little bit, we are going to go to left and right, both the violin and the cello, we are not going to go exactly the same on both of them, so just put them in a little bit different space and sounds a bit different, now let's listen.
(music playing) Now strings really, really benefit from Reverb, and usually they like a lot of it. So what we are going to do is insert our Plate Reverb. I will bring that up, and we are going to start out at -5, and again, I am going to copy it over onto all the other tracks. Let's have a listen. (music playing) Let's add a little more. (music playing) So let's listen in the track. (music playing) One more time, listen from the top of that section.
(music playing) And you can hear in this case, the strings really like a lot of Reverb, and in fact, you can go a little bit heavier on any kind of string section than you usually can on anything else, because that's the way we would like to hear the strings, we usually hear them in the hall, and a hall has a lot of reverb, so it sounds natural to us.
And let's go and let's listen to the horns as well. (music playing) These are just horns tabs, let's go over from the top. (music playing) Now in this case we have a bari on one side, and we have a trumpet and trombone on the second track. We can spread them out just a little so they sound bigger, and we will do that. And once again, we want to put them in an environment, it might sound better to put them in something different, so in this case we are going to add a tad of delay just so it sounds different from the strings.
And once again, we will do the same thing, we will copy it over to the other track. And let's bring that up about here and have a listen. Little much. (music playing) Let's bring it down a bit, start from the beginning. (music playing) Okay, let's have a listen with everything in. (music playing) Now, right in this section we have some more vocals, and what this is is background vocals on two more tracks and they are singing a different part.
And what we are going to do is go to the Outro. I am going to open my Memory Locations window and choose the Ending, this is what I called the last Outro section. And listen to the background vocals there, let's have a listen. (music playing) Once again, what happens here is we want to put them in environment.
The easiest way is the first background tracks that we had, we've already put some Reverb on, so we'll just do the same thing, we will copy the Send over to those tracks and have a listen. (music playing) Now there we go, we have the mix pretty much together.
There is one other thing we are going to do, if we take notice, our mix is peaking into the red here. We are getting some overload lights. Just take a listen and watch where the peak meters are sitting. (music playing) We can help this by adding a compressor. So here is a couple of tricks. The first thing I will do is I will add a compressor, and we will go up to dynamics. And I like the regular Pro Tools Compressor. So let's put that in.
And I like the settings that we have here. These will kind of work. Now just watch what we'll do. We will make sure we don't add too much, just a tad, and it will make a difference now how it sounds. That's way too much. (music playing) We want to add just a little bit, and that evens everything out.
I am going to do one more thing. I am going to add another set of dynamics. In this case, it's going to be Maxim, which is Pro Tools version of a Limiter. And we are going to set this, so it's down here at about -1dB. (music playing) What happens is this will never go into clipping, this is always going to stay at -1dB, and we can check that by clicking on our overload lights so they go off. And have a listen.
(music playing) Now you can see that we have actually clipped again, even though it's not supposed to on a limiter like this. There are some limiters, they are absolutely brick walled, where are you say stop at -.1, -1, whatever you choose, and it stops there and never goes above. In this case it's leaking through a little bit, but that's okay, what we'll just have to do is turn our overload LEDs off, and we will have to back off of the master level, and there is nothing wrong with that.
(music playing) So let's have a quick listen from the beginning and just tweak our balances a little bit. We are going to go to the top of where the rhythm section comes in with the rest of the band.
(music playing) Sounds pretty good! Let's go on to the next verse and have a listen, because that's where some harmonies come in.
(music playing) And one thing I noticed in listening here is that the pad seems a little low. Let's bring that up just a little bit. (music playing) And let's go out to the second chorus and listen to the background vocals.
(music playing) Last thing we want to do is listen to the Outro with the strings and horns.
(music playing) Now one other thing we want to do that we haven't done yet is the Intro on the front, which is just the pad and the dobro. So let's do that now. And once again, I have a Memory location for it, so I clicked on that. Let's bring it up.
Now once again, let's spread this out and bring up the dobro. (music playing) And the dobro here sounds very, very, very close to you, and it's probably not the right sound for this song. So what we are going to do is put it in an environment again, and the way we do that is let's add our Plate Reverb and add the same thing on both channels.
Let's bring it up and have a listen. (music playing) That's just a little loud compared to the rest of the track, so let's bring these down a little bit, have a listen. (music playing) So there you go. That's a pretty good rough mix, didn't take too long to get there.
If you take notice, we didn't add any EQ, we didn't add any compression. If we wanted take another half hour, we can tweak things up even better. But you can see, even without any of that, you can still make it sound really good. Keep in mind that the Master Mix Bus Level will get louder and louder with every instrument entrance, that's why it's best to begin your mix with the mix bus meter, reading at about -10dB, regardless of what instrument you start off with. In the next movie you will get a chance to hear what the final mix really sounds like.
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