The Process of Mixing and Mastering my song was the part I was dreading but also looking forward to the most as I hadn’t mixed or mastered any thing before. The last lecture before submission we were given a crash course on how to mix and master in protools that opened my eyes to what can be done at the touch of a button; The idea of what can be done by one click was daunting but at the same time made me realise how simple it can be if I concentrate and just listen.
I went into the mixing process with and open mind but I knew exactly what I wanted my song to sound like so I kept it minimal but made sure every little change was developing the sound.
The first thing I did was sort out the harmonies; I recorded 4 harmony tracks so that I had many options to explore and this also meant I could layer voices to give the track more depth. During the whole process sticky note became my best friend…
I listened through every harmony track and wrote down what parts I wanted to use and which sounded nice and then began chopping up each one to fit the sound I wanted.
Once the structure and each track was all sorted I could finally go onto mixing my track.
The first thing I mixed was the vocals, I started off by EQ’ing them, I played around with the ‘Mid Frequency’ and I ended up bringing this up into the middle of the top half of the graph and directly in the middle horizontally, this is where it sounded the least distorted and spaced out and bogged down, copied this process throughout the harmonies bar the last set as they were in a higher range in my register.
I then went on to setting the Eq for the piano and followed that with compression. I didn’t have to do a lot to the piano sound really, I just played around until it sounded in the middle of the track allowing the vocals to cut through.
Back to the vocals, I added compression as at the start of the track my main vocal line is really soft and quiet which drastically changes when it gets to the last chorus of the song. Through out mixing I found I just had to find the right compression balance between the piano and vocals as they were constantly battling each other; It wasn’t until the day before submission I was shown I could alter one specific sections volume which completely solved my problems and this changed the whole dynamic of the track.
Reverb was the last addition to my track, this being added to my all my vocals and it gave the track the boost it needed; The reverb added depth and layer to the vocals and made them stand up and be noticed more but not in a sharp punchy way which was exactly what I was going for.
Reverb set up – Small Hall, Dry/Wet level – 51
This particular amount of reverb gave my track texture but still kept the authenticity and the rawness of the vocals.
1st Mix –
2nd Mix –
Not drastic changes made but I altered the compression on the piano and brought up the vocals as they were to faded into the track.
Less is more. This is the phrase I had in my head throughout the process so this is exactly what I did when it came to mastering. I did some overall EQ, and used a pro tools in built mixer to alter levels. Everything was mixed based on hearing with one must in mind this being:
Ceiling level – 1.0, which is the legal requirement for the audio.