Join Larry Crane for an in-depth discussion in this video Corralling harshness with bx_refinement plugin, part of Music Production Secrets.
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- One of the new plug-ins that's come out recently is one called bx_refinement, or simply, refinement. It's developed by a mastering engineer, and, what it is, is essentially, an excellent way to reduce harshness in sounds. If you think about it, we've always had plug-ins, or standalone devices for reducing sibilance, de-essers, they use on vocal tracks. And also, we've had multiband compressors over the years that can attenuate or compress different frequencies and blend them back in to the original signal.
In this case, this plug-in has been developed to really work on harsh mid-range material. And I find, that with a lot of tracks that I get sent to mix, one of the problems is using a lower quality microphones, possibly, or pre-amps, and samples and things that sometimes come with kind of a harsh tone. I want to make things feel like they're a little bit higher fidelity, or, make them work together better in the mix without starting to sound shrill, like when we stack a lot of, say, inexpensive microphone tracks all on top of each other.
They can start to be a little bit too much. So, this is the plug-in right here, brainworx bx_refinement. I've got a drum loop track, here. I'm going to show you just a simple setting for that. There's a bunch of presets that I always start with. This is a pretty deep plug-in, and you can see that he's trimmed the controls back still, but, I like to just start with a preset, and then see where I can go from there. One of my favorites is a very, very overt one called Hard De-harsh. I just turned it on there. You can see this thing in here glows, it's spooky looking, and, I'll show you what it does, here.
(drum music) Here it is by-passed. (drum music) And then (drum music) I'm going to make it a little wider range. You can make the mix more, check that out, that's more of the refined. Totally shifts the tone. (drum music) Do you see, the high hat gets quieter? I mean, it changes.
I'm not saying that it's doing the right thing all the time, with that sort of thing, but you can see the modifications you can do to a track, that aren't just simply the same results of just simple EQ. (drum music) Really cool what you can do with that. Let me close this, we'll move over to another track. We have a bunch of layered snares, here, for this Hip Hop track. So, let's try one of these guys, this'll be really fun.
They all have really different elements. Obviously, one of the things these days with Hip Hip mixing and stuff, which I've done a little bit of, is layering the instruments. Layering kicks and snares, and, this one has a real funky little, (drum beats) heh-heh, (drum beats) kind of a reverb-y gunshot or something. So, going back to the Hard De-harsh preset. (drum beats) Let's just change the mix. (drum beats) Now check that out, you can really..
(drum beats) You can take that sharp, mid-range edge right out of it, and then maybe blend it back in when you're using the other snares, and come up with a combination that works really well. A lot of times, you don't want every snare hitting right on the edge of the beat, you want to do something a little more subtle. Let's go and check this other snare out, this has got a crazy sound, too. (snare drums beat) Once again, let's try Deep Warmth.
Hear that? (snare drums beat) Change the mix. (snare drums beat) Very, very different tone. It's cool, I love this thing because it really is different than, say, just applying EQ, or applying compression, or even both, it really acts in some different ways. It's opened up some doors for me, a lot of times, with mixing. (snare drums beat) It's a more traditional snare tone. Let's go to the Hard De-harsh.
(snare drums beat) Listen to how different. (snare drums beat) Of course, you might not want that, but it can take away a lot of the edge of the snare. Going over here, we've got some EBow tracks that I laid down on a different song. This'll be fun. The EBow can be real midrange-y. (EBow music) Hard De-harsh.
(EBow music) Bypassing. Let's hear those again.
(EBow music) Bypass. Drastically different, it's really pulling some of that stuff out of the mids, but keeping the texture and the feel of those intact. Really cool, really cool effect. We have some synthesizer strings on here as well, so let's check those guys out.
I love jumping around and playing different plug-ins on different stuff, and just seeing what happens in some of these things. Sometimes, mentally, you'll think it's going to do a certain thing, or what have you, and the reality of the sounds you get, the results, is quite different. So, it's really good to have these experiences, and, try it out. (synthesizer music) Bypass. (synthesizer music) I'm going to set this. (synthesizer music) Very different.
(synthesizer music) It's taking that top, little, spot out of it. Try a different.. (synthesizer music) Subtle. The Warmth one, I find really cool (mumbles). Look at that. (synthesizer music) Soft. Not soft. (synthesizer music) Once again, I really feel that a lot of these results are quite different than if you were to simply put an EQ in there and try to knock something out.
We have the vocal from the Hip Hop track, here, as well. We're going to go over here and check out some of that. Alright. Where does it start? ♫ My feet onto the floor I'm steppin' out I wake up ♫ Smilin' at the sun enjoyin' Mother Nature's makeup ♫ Take a walk across the way to go and get a slurp - (laughs) Getting a slurp. Let's hear that again. A B, this'll be on. The Hard De-harsh preset. ♫ My feet onto the floor I'm steppin' out I wake up ♫ Smilin' at the sun enjoyin' Mother Nature's makeup Bypass.
♫ My feet onto the floor I'm steppin' out I wake up ♫ Smilin' at the sun enjoyin' Mother Nature's makeup It just feels a little less pokey, there's a little less stuff jumping at you. I think its a little overt for a final mix, but you could see, just backing it off a little bit, making the mix lighter, maybe changing the range ♫ My feet onto the floor ♫ I'm steppin' out I wake up ♫ Smilin' at the sun enjoyin' Mother Nature's makeup ♫ Take a walk across the way to go and get a slurp You can definitely see how you could change that up. I've done miracles to tracks with these. I had a whole album that was tracked by some cool, young brothers that used the most inexpensive mics they could get their hands on, and a very, very modest recording interface, and recorded an album of some really beautiful songs.
And everything had a little bit of an edge to it. And after I put the bx_refinement on a lot of their tracks, like Drum Overheads, and Kick and Snare, we were really able to tailor it in with some analog EQs, and mixing board, and everything, and just make a much warmer, more inviting mix for this project. So, it was really fun to be able to have that tool at my disposal. So, try it out. brainworx bx_refinement, it can really help your tracks in a different way than just simple EQ or compression. It's a lot easier than setting a multiband compressor, as well.
These tutorials work with any DAW, in almost every recording scenario, and are based on Larry's 20+ years of experience recording, producing, and mixing some of the world's best musicians, including Sleater-Kinney, The Decemberists, Elliott Smith, She & Him, Jolie Holland, and Stephen Malkmus. Tune in every week for another tip.