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2 August 2022

"I go through the mix and give the vocals a fader ride. And I literally go through it with my eyes closed and write the fader and ask myself, is this vocal really doing what it's meant to do?" - Jan 'Yarn' Muths

About the 


With over 2 decades of recording, mixing and music production experience, Muths interviews musicians, producers and engineers from the Australian East Coast and the world. Always curious about production workflows, gear, software, techniques, and strategies. The Production Talk podcast is a must-listen for anyone interested in music production from the Northern Rivers and far beyond.

The Production Talk Podcast - The modern way of producing music

In this episode:

  • Mix-Down special

  • Mixing Rock / Metal

  • The rough mix

  • The instrument groups

  • The processing stage

  • Adding the icing on the cake


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Contact the podcast host Jan 'Yarn' Muths at

Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.


Jan 'Yarn' Muths or, in the studio


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Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome to the Production Talk podcast with me, Yarn, of In this podcast series, we celebrate the modern way of producing music. We want to talk about all things related to songwriting, recording at home and music production. So, if you produce your music at home, this is the place to be. Please subscribe and recommend this podcast to all your friends. This is the Production Talk Podcast episode 54. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome back to another episode of the production talk podcast. I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the country that I'm recording this, uh, episode on today, the Arakwal people of the Bundjulung nation. And I would like to express my thanks and gratitude and respect to all elders past, present and emerging. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: In today's episode, I would like to address something that a friend asked me earlier today. The question was, um, can I, can I hire you for a mix and can I get the pro session to then learn how you did it? And you know what? I actually, personally don't mind that at all, because you know, I'm here to share information with everybody, including you at the listener right now, sharing. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Uh, what I know is at the absolute core of, of what I do. But the thing is a lot of the things that you would see, uh, may not make sense because in all honesty, my, uh, sessions when I mix, um, are somewhat structured, I guess, uh, but in a very own and unique way. And to somebody else, this would look, I guess, um, let's say creatively, messy, and a lot of the stuff wouldn't make sense. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And in addition, of course, um, I have a large selection of plugins and there's a very good chance that I'm using heaps that you may not have. So I guess that's not really useful, but, um, Then I thought about a better way to just, uh, help people, um, understanding what, what, uh, what people do and what we do in mixing. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Um, so I thought about the episode about Sapphire song, breakaway, that a published a couple of episodes ago, the link will be in the show, of course, where broke down is song basically from the recording stage to the mix. And, uh, I'd like to do the same thing again, uh, this time for you, Richard, I, I know that your preferred genre is, uh, not necessarily reg , but, uh, probably more rock. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So I picked up a rock song and gave it a shot and, uh, started mixing it. And I wanna talk you through, uh, my thoughts and what's on my mind and my, my general, uh, workflow today. So before we start, let me just explain who I'm going to mix today. So if you Google and search for free, multi-tracks. A lot of different websites pop up. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And today I would like to showcase or acknowledge or, um, say thanks to the Cambridge Mt. Dot com website. They have the mixing secrets free multitrack download library available with dozens or hundreds. I'm not quite sure, but with, with many songs, uh, that you can download and, and mix for yourself. So I went through those and picked a song that I felt like, uh, was probably down your alley rigid. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It's it's a rock song. And the song I'm choosing here today is maybe by a European band unicorn rodeo. And yeah, so just before I get started, I just wanna clarify that the songs on that website are subject to terms and conditions and fair use. So I'm now on the fair usage or frequently asked question, uh, usage a webpage. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And they said clearly that if you use those songs to make your own portfolio to pro promote your own mixing and mastering, uh, that is not permitted. So let me be perfectly clear. This is not what I'm trying to do here. This is not my portfolio. If you wanna listen to my portfolio, go to mix dot a use slash slash listen instead. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Um, this is the, uh, audio equivalent of a video tutorial that I'm doing here today. And I just would like to go onto the record quickly on the Cambridge dash Mt. Dot com website under usage. Conditions. It states that, and I'm quoting on the basis that such usage is educational, which I believe my podcast is this should not be a problem. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: As long as the tutorial is entirely non for profit little disclaimer, my podcast doesn't cost a cent for anybody and never will, and I'm not going to charge for this episode in the future. So I believe that this grants made the condition to use this song today. Good. So, um, The song that I'm mixing today is called maybe by unicorn rodeo and the multitrack is 54 tracks all up. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And, uh, in most cases, uh, a mix like this, uh, yeah, takes about a day. So, um, let's get started. I have a session prepared and, uh, I would like to just show you quickly how everything sounds if dropped into an empty, uh, DW session. And I'm just gonna hit start from the top and we'll run the level for you. So you get a bit of an idea of the sound, the genre, the vibe of the song let's hit it. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay, let me just pull it here. Uh, you probably noticed that this is anything but a finish makes, so let me just share a couple of thoughts. Uh, drum's kicking at the beginning and just like instantly, wow. The drummer has got energy. I, I need to find that I need to bring this to the foreground. It's it's, uh, really good. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: He's playing, um, in a very unique style. He's got his own very unique, uh, groove. Uh, he plays a lot of notes and, and I need to find a space to fit this in. And then, uh, the moment the instruments start, uh, the first thing that comes to mind and. I'm sure you agree here is that the keyboard synthesize us and strength synthesize us. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: They're just killing it. Now. They're just dominating everything right away. And I can't hear a thing beyond the keyboards anymore. So what that tells me right now is that, um, the, uh, recording engineer gained up signals focusing on peak values, mainly which would explain that the drum SNA ended up being very quiet and the synthesizers ended up so loud. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Um, this is not exactly how I would do it, but that's not a problem. So looking at it from an engineer's perspective when starting a mix, if I had an analog mixing console, the first thing I would do is now go to the top of the channel and adjust the trim. Which basically, uh, balances out these level differences and gets signals into the same boy park so that I can then later use my fats, uh, for, for the fine adjustment. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's of course, one way to do it. You know, uh, if you have a DW that does that, uh, Harrison mix mass comes to mind, uh, that are used a lot, most other DWS, such as logic, such as pro tools and so on use something that we know as clip gain. So all this is another possibility to balance out, uh, dramatic level differences like this. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Um, in my case, I decided to, to work slightly differently. So I'm now using something that is known as subgroups. And, uh, if this is new to you, a subgroup basically means that I take a range of signals. Let's say all my drums. And, uh, route all of these, uh, outputs, uh, via a bus to a new destination. And in, in my case, this, uh, now travels via a group track or subgroup track. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Uh, however you wanna call that. So all of the drums are then sum together, travel through one more fade on the way Toto spa. Um, so that I have a fader that controls the overall drum volume. And then of course, uh, I have the same thing for, um, the bass and the guitars and so on. And I, I really like to work to subgroups because it helps me to balance out the overall level very quickly. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: In other words, I can quickly adjust the level of all the guitars and of all the synthesizer. So, uh, what I'm going to do next is go back to the top and I would change the view in my DAW so that I don't see the 53 channels anymore. 54, I think, correct me if I'm wrong, 54, if I'm not mistaken, and I'm going to show only the subgroup channels, uh, which means, uh, instead of 54 channels, I now have one channel for all the drums. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I have another channel for the bass and, uh, all its effect, which in some ways, you know, people could argue that there's a bit of a waste. It's not enough signals toy Subru, but I personally like it. So please let me get away with that. And then of course we have the guitars of which we have plenty, uh, they all go into their own group, um, then have another group for, um, the synthesizers and all keyboard signals and then another one for the vocals. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So if we have a quick look, Um, in front of me, I can now see drum group base group guitar, group synthesizer group vocal group, as well as my, uh, mixed bus master failure. And that's it. So that allows me to very quickly adjust the overall level. So let's go to the top again, and I now play back and, um, just a rough mix as we go. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. So I made a mistake the year. I just realized I wroted my vocals into the wrong bus. Let me quickly have a Doover over there, please. Sorry about that. I just rewind a couple of bars and go back in Jan 'Yarn' Muths: mm-hmm Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. And I just found another signal inside the vocal group that caused trouble. So inside the vocal group, um, is a synthesized male and female voice. And I only need to make a decision whether I leave this in the group, uh, just had to pull it because it was just way too loud for my liking. But, um, this, uh, second I'm just hitting solo, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: um, sound wise. This is meant to be a vocal. However, to me it has a very synthesized sound and I'm very much considering to move this across into my keyboard group, uh, because I think it might be better of being there. All right. But, um, um, yeah, now that I've got the rough mix sorted, let me just go back to the top and I would like to, uh, work on the drums. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So there are a few things that, um, I would like to share with you now about the sound of the drums. So I'm just going to, uh, sole the subgroup for the drums and let's have a listen from the top. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Good. Let me just share a couple of, uh, thoughts with you straight away. Look, first and foremost, these are really well played drums and they're also rather well recorded. So I don't always end up mixing, um, uh, recordings that are so clean and so free of mistakes. Um, however, the, there are still a few things that come to my mind that need adjusting. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So the first thing is that the balance between kick and snare, the energy is not, not there yet. That's my job in the mixing stage. They don't need to be super loud to be powerful. They need to be energetic. They need to be, yeah, they need to carry this song forward. And right now they sound a little bit on the fluffy side for my person liking. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And the other thing is that the Hyatt is too close. So the Hyatt sounds like it's really close. Like my ear is right next to. And, uh, that's in general, not a problem. I can definitely deal with this, but those are the first things that come to my mind. So based on this, I'm now going to open up my drum group so that I now have all the drum signals right in front of me, drum group selected open. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: There it is. Uh, and I do the same thing again, and I'm going to start, um, balancing the signals within the drum group, and I'm probably gonna play with kick and snare and definitely will attend to the high hat. Let's do that again from the top. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. So now swallowing the overheads and I'm actually just looking for, uh, the high hat microphone. Nope, that's a right microphone. Interestingly, it says hat and right. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Let's go back to the top where the, the height is actually played. So this is now the overhead channel, and I can hear that the high hats come through the overhead really loud and very close. So that's interesting because that doesn't sound to me. Um, like Hyatts would usually sound, um, with standard overhead technique. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I'm not entirely sure what went on there. One possibility is that they might have had an extra hired microphone, which they blended into the overhead channel in the recording path. That's a possibility what could also be the way they aimed the microphone. So keeping the Hyatt in check is maybe a little bit of a problem for me, because I probably want the overt louder, but the Hyatt's quieter. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's not necessarily something that I can do. Lemme just think about this for a moment and see what else I can do. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm-hmm . This is interesting. That's the room sound. I like that. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay, good. So I'm starting to like it a little bit better. Let's now investigate the next group. So, um, from the drums, let's move on to my next group, which is the base group. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay, so now it depends on your play system. If you listen on, uh, on a mobile phone, chances are, you couldn't hear much at all. It probably would've been a little bit quiet anyway, but, uh, I have two signals to work with. I have what is called the bass dark, and I need, need to bring this a ride up so you can hear it. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And then a base thin. So let's go through them one by one. Here's the base dark. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Nice. Everybody love loves a nice chunky base. Let's check the base thin. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. So, um, this now has a lot more grit or, uh, definition as I would call it string sound. And, uh, I turn both on and I'm now going to move the Fatus against one another. So one up the other one down and vice versa to see how they behave when I start blending them. What I'm listening out for now is any calm effects. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. So the good news is nothing negative popped up in my mind here, which is really good. So, um, comforting, if, um, this doesn't mean anything to you yet, uh, you probably heard about the phrase phase or phasing dealing with phase in mixing or recording. Uh, face is pretty much impossible to hear by itself. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So I display, if I displayed, let's say SNM in solo and played with a face button or polarity as it should be called. Um, in all honesty, I wouldn't be able to hear the difference. However, if it rubs against something else, if there was another microphone and then you play with the distance of the microphone, which alternates the face angle, or the polarity button, then negative sound effects may be audible. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And that's what I was just listening out for. They manifest themselves as what we know as comforting. So, uh, none of this was audible to me. So that's a good thing. So let's throw it together. Drum group and base group. Let's see how they balance against one another. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Now we just fast forward to a place where the base player plays a bit more. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay, that sounds pretty good already. So, um, when I just make decisions on how much of the dark base signal I want and how much of the thin signal I want, I really listen to what the bass player plays and, and how the, um, the performance now was laid down and what the bass player is trying to achieve here. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And what, what I hear is that the bass players is actually playing melodic elements. It's not just carrying the song quietly in the background without being noticed. The bass player is actually playing some interesting notes that I want to hear in the mix. And for that, I definitely need, uh, the definition that I get from the thinner signal, um, which is now just a touch louder than the Basey of. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Good. Okay. This is drums and bass. Let me move on and add the guitar. So for now I'm just soloing the guitars and I have a total off. I'm not even sure how much this is, but I think this is probably about a dozen, uh, guitar channels or something. Uh, let's listen in solo here, come the guitars. Mm-hmm some clean guitars at the top here. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Some nice picking, a lovely melody on top. Mm. That Melody's important to me. I memorize this. Let me just fast forward into the next section. So there are definitely some distorted guitars coming up soon. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay, good. Those guitars need to be really powerful and chunky. So it is worth investigating a little bit more. So I'm now going through the guitars one by one. Here's a single microphone that I received as guitar. Number three. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Nice. Let's check the next one. Okay. So this goes along. So what we have is two signals that both belong to the same take. So here's the close microphone and here is a microphone at a greater distance, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: and that's how they sound together. Let me just start playing with the level. So I just push the room up a bit too far. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And that's when they just stopped playing. So lemme just dive in there one more time, makes the guitar sound very roomy and distant. And I bring the other one up. Now this is the close microphone, brings it right into my face. And I'm now looking for a nice balance. I wanna hear a bit of that room, not too much. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I want the guitars to be chunky in my face, but at the same time, it needs a little bit of that space. And if I can get a nice sound in room microphone, I definitely prefer that over any, um, plugins that I might have on my computer. Let's go onto the next guitar, which is labeled guitar four mm-hmm . That is on my right hand side. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And the same thing. I have a guitar that is, um, coming. Yeah, that sounds like it's close to the cabinet. And in addition, next one I believe is a room. Yep. So same thing again, I've got the close microphone here, the room microphone there. Can blend between the two mm-hmm and there's a nice definition there. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: The upper mids, the clarity, you know, the, the stringy slightly aggressive sound, uh, that we really want from, from, um, this order guitars. The next one over here. Aha. This comes down the center again, this is a close microphone. However, the guitar takes sounds more like a lead guitar to me. Um, that's why it's appended into the center. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And again, that comes with a room microphone Jan 'Yarn' Muths: and this was the close microphone. So I have, uh, quite a few signals to play with. So, uh, that is now three different takes of the distort guitars, uh, with two microphones each and then for the clean guitars. Um, lemme just go through this one more time. The cleans guitars. Over here. There's all of them together. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Also two takes here's the first one, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: which also comes with its own room microphone and that's them together. And here's the other take and the other takes room microphone. So that means I have two cleaner sounding guitars, each one with a room microphone and three distorted guitars, each one with a room microphone as well. Um, then it keeps on going. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: There's even more, there's even more. So, um, later down in the middle of the song, there is another guitar let's just dive into this. I'm playing both room and, um, direct microphone of guitar six. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: mm-hmm and there's yet another one further at the end, in the last third. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm. A solo, uh, look, the moment I, I hear a solo like this, the first thing that comes to my mind is, wow. I need to find a really nice space, uh, in the mix for, for that late solo. That needs to be in the foreground. Uh, can see visually that the singer has a break there. So that's great. From an arrangement point of view. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well done, uh, unicorn rodeo, you left some space for one another. That's how a good song should be. So the singer keeps has a break, uh, and the lead guitar player gets some space. So that means I'm going to bring that signal up touch. I would probably add just a pinch too much. Uh, fact I love my delays and a bit of Rever on, uh, guitar SOS, of course. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And then there's even more guitars. There's an effect channel. Uh, let me just see what I find there. Oh, cool. Okay. That's gonna be a nice effect that I wanna place into the background somewhere. Okay. So let's put all of this together. I've got my drum group, my guitar group, and my bass group now all playing together from the top. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, yeah. So I'm starting to have some fun here. It's all coming together. So that's really good. What I, what I usually look out for in the early stages of a mix is, you know, um, signals that cause trouble. Uh, and so far I haven't found a single one, so that's really good. The high up needs a bit of attention. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I need to keep this in the back of our mind and find good solutions here, but, uh, that's not what I would call EA problem. So problems could be vocals that are completely out of tune, uh, distortion, excessive noise, um, audible clicks and edits from, from bad editing. You know, things like this. Those are roadblocks in my mixing. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And so far, none over here. So well done unicorn rodeo, and I don't know who the engineer was. So if anybody knows, please let me know. I'll put it in the show notes because I love giving credit to people who deserve it. The next step, let's go into the synthesizes and let's see what we've got going on there. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Yeah. Look, let me just, uh, try to make some sense out of this. So when it comes to the keyboards, um, I can hear what you're trying to achieve here. The sound of the keyboard is a little bit eighties for my personal liking, the rest of the production. Doesn't really give me that eighties feel. So there's this little bit of a mismatch for my personal liking and I would've preferred to have yeah, less mid sounding strings here, but let's see what we can do. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So here is the first one in solo. No, this is a shallow, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I'll bring this up a touch. That's not that bad. That actually sounds really nice by itself. That was, it was a bit buried in the mix between the other one among the others. So maybe, uh, this is something that I could feature as, as you know, one of the signals that drive the synth group a little bit, the next track is a labeled strings. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Let's find out what this is. Mm. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Ooh, okay. Yeah, I guess this is what bugged me there. That doesn't really sound like strings to me. Um, okay. I wish we had the many notes now and we could then go in and find some better sounding strings, but of course that's not possible. So, um, my job is to make, do with what I have and do the very best possible. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And of course I will try to do that. Ah, that's. This is called the high synthesizer, and then there's a drown as well. Oh, oh, lemme bring this up a touch. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm. Okay. Texture. I, I like that one. This is really interesting. It sounds a drowsy to me. It is slightly pitchy, but in a good way, it sounds a little bit outlandish. Uh, all of those things are things I can definitely deal with. So the first thing that comes to my mind is there's, there's one signal that I don't like that much at all. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And that was the strength synthesizer here. It is one more time. And I will, that one also sounds distorted to me. So I'm going to use it of course, because it was supplied. And every note that I receive from a client ends up in the mix. Uh, that's just my policy. Um, however, I will have to keep this a bit quieter and try to not give this too much dominance in the mix. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So let me just see if it can come up with a nice balance of that synthesizes, let's get into it. So here's the cello. That sounds nice. And let's keep that bad sounding string a little bit quieter, spring up the high yield, touch more nice. And the drown let's see of how we can push this, uh, that's way too much, but about here. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm. I even want to touch much shallow here. Okay. So that's good. That's good. This is the starting point. Um, that's definitely not the finished mix yet, but let's see how this interacts with the drums bass, guitars and synthesizer. So I'm turning on all of them together and find, um, a little balance between those four groups. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, I think, I think this is all starting to make sense now. Good. And of course, uh, now let's focus on the absolute, most important signal of all that's of course the vocal. So let's get straight into that. And, uh, let me introduce you to the mind singer or. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, and that's when some additional vocals kicked in here real loud. But, uh, lemme just talk about the main vocal first. Um, the most important thing for me is kind of connect to the vocal performance. Is there something that speaks to me and well done? I don't know your name, uh, but respect, you nailed this, the stake. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: There's a lot of emotion in there. I can hear a story emerging. I can hear what you mean when you sing. So that's really good. Also, um, pitch wise, you know, I've, I've had some really difficult, challenging singers, none of that here. Um, looking at the genre, it's not uncommon to at pinch, just a tiny little bit of pitch correction, whether I want to do this or not, I don't feel it needs much. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And if it does maybe just a tiny little bit to satisfy the need for, you know, the typical sound for the genre, but not because the performance really needs it. I reckon. So it sounds clean. The microphone is definitely suitable for your voice and it's well recorded. So no problems here, uh, can also say that this is probably coming from a microphone through a Preem straight to, to the recorder. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Um, there's a fair bit of dynamic left, so I don't think this vocal has been compressed, um, uh, on the way in this is something that I pretty much do every single time I record vocals personally. Um, I, I, I love to commit to my compressors, but I absolutely respect if people don't feel confident to do so, or just wanna keep the options open. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's perfectly fine. Of course I can do this in the mix. No problem at what? So it's better to play it safe than to, to mess it up. Um, however, if you're C. Go for it, I would say. And then just now, uh, where I stop play bank, um, yeah, something else ha kicked in. So there are some backing vocals, um, ad lips and so on, but I also heard some more Sy sounding voices. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So I would like to go through them one by one and figure out what's what, so the first channel is called back rings. There's this? Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Uh, lovely, lovely. So I can hear more than one voice here. And that sounds like the same singer to me also singing backgrounds and they come through nice and stereo. That's a signal that's gonna mix itself. Love it. Mm-hmm and this is what we call the ad lips. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. So these vocal lines go together with the other vocal, uh, signals. Of course. So if we put 'em all together, here's three different versions. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, you go girl. That's awesome. I love it already. I can't wait to really get into mixing this. This is fantastic. Or coming out of the same singer. Well done. Uh, I love it. Okay, good. So that's a lot of fun. That's a lot of fun. Of course. Um, this said of course having many takes of the same vocal means they are a little bit trickier to mix because they all sound the same. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And my job will be to sort of separate them from each other a little bit, if you have different singers. And that naturally is a little bit easier because they sound like different singers. Of course, in this case, it's all the same person, which means I need to just carefully make sure that a queue would write and you know, that each voice finds its own place and separates from the others. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's my problem. And I'm happy to take this on. Um, then there's another signal, uh, called synth vocals. Male. Let's have a listen to that. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yep. Again, this sounds like it's coming from a can, this is definitely a synthesizer. Uh, maybe even the same keyboard that we had for the, um, uh, for the keyboards. Um, not sure. And then there's the female one that I actually played at the beginning. Hmm. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm. Okay. Good. They sound like synth to me more than VO vocals, uh, in context. Uh, but I think I'm going to leave them in the vocal group for now, just so that we, um, don't need to start everything from the beginning again. So let's just listen to everything that we've got so far and how to put it together. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay, let me just fast forward. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. So I think this is one of the highlight moments of this song. That's in the back of her mind, again, this needs this moment. I'm gonna yeah. Mix with a bit of extra attention to make sure the song really peaks there. So let me just zoom into the main vocal. One more time. I thought I just heard a Bri of distortion just now in the voice. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Uh, let me just zoom in and, uh, invest. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm. Yeah, there's a pinch, just a tiny pinch of distortion distortion on that loud, uh, long note in the middle. Um, that's something that I can deal with. That's not the biggest problem, but it's, uh, really important for me to be aware of those things. Of course, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: that's all good. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Good. All right. So basically, um, lemme just sum up where we're at at this point. So I've gone through all the signals. I've arranged them. I organized them for myself. I balanced them against one another, and this is what I would call the rough mix. Um, if I was to mix the song by myself, this is something that I would probably knock out in five to 10 minutes, max. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I try to be as quick as I can with these things so that I don't wear myself out worrying too much over, over details that are actually not that important at this stage. So I try to work really fast when I, when I do these things. And, uh, that's when the song yeah, takes the first direction. And at the end of the rough makes, you know, everything sits in the general pocket. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It's not really perfectly balanced yet, but I can hear everything. Nothing is jumping out of the mix. So everything is sort of. And that's a good place to, to get started. So the next step, the next phase that I'm entering is processing to look into what Polish, what tone do we need to give the signals to, to push the song into the right direction? Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And we could keep it really minimalistic and live as authentic as possible, which is a good thing to do for some genres and, and mix it in a very raw, organic way. But I, I think I'd like to paint this song a little bit more modern, a little bit more polished, a little bit more punchy, a bit more radio ready while if we, you know, kept the processing to the minimum, we would, you know, get more of an authentic, let's say seventies vibe, which is, uh, also something really beautiful. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Um, but in this case, I'm just feeling something that I want to be a bit more. More modern, more in your face, a bit more polished, um, and snappy. So let me just play back one more time. Uh, so you get an idea of how it sounds, and then I'm going to open up a different mix session where some, a larger proportion of the processing was already completed. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So you can hopefully hear the contrast. So this is the mix rough mix completed well completed. That's the wrong word? The rough mix is done. No processes, not a single plugin in the mix yet. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay, let me just, uh, stop right here. And I'm now closing down the session. So we are now going into the mix at a relatively, uh, late stage of the mix. So I'm just going to turn off my automation for now. And I'm just going to turn off some of the effect processes, but this is how it sounds. Um, let me say about probably an hour and a half to two hours, maybe three hours into the mix. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. So let me just, um, talk you through and explain a few things, um, that were going on here. So, um, just to be perfectly clear, this is, uh, a mix that I would call about 95 ish percent finish. There's still a couple of things that came to my mind and that I need to address, but, um, lemme just talk about my vision for this song. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So I, I gave the drums, um, a more punchier in your face, snappier sound and, uh, used a couple of tricks there. Um, a cue mainly, uh, compression of course. Um, A big, um, element to snappy modern sound is, is, you know, setting the attack and release time, right. For, for the genre. Uh, but there's also noise skates going on, noise skates, close down, or turn the sound off when the Toms and kicks and snares are not played. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So let just, uh, solar the drums and show you how they sound by themselves. Just as I listened. I also noticed that I, I can hear the compressor on the snare doing a little bit too much for my personal liking. So I might need to wind this back, just a touch, but okay. Uh, just for now, let me just show you how the drum sound, um, by themselves. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Here's the drum bus again with processes on. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay, let just talk you through what I'm doing here. So on the kick and the snare, I have basically have a compressor and an expander or noise gate and any Q on there. And, uh, if I just open this up to have a look what's going on there, there's a bit of leveling going on. Um, and when it comes to compression, I think I'm, um, yeah, I have about two, three DBS of, of gain reduction on each. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It's actually not particularly much. So in my opinion, I often get a better sounding compression effect for, from less gain reduction. So yeah, a tip on. Compressors, the more they work, the smaller the sound gets, uh, this sounds counterintuitive, but trust me on this, it gets smaller tinier and squashier, and wimpier in my personal observation. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So too much compression can really kill a powerful drum sound. But if I just have a quick look on, um, the kick, for example, I'm compressing the kick with a 1.5 ratio and, uh, 25 millisecond attack. But look, those numbers take them with a point of saw 25 on this compressor might be something completely different than 25 on the next, but there's about three DBS of gain reduction on this cake. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: There's a second kick the attack one, uh, which has a noise gate on soft expander. Actually. Now it's got a bit of a push in the top end and, uh, then again, a 1.5 ratio. Um, compression then on the snare, um, I just pulled out some of the lows, gave it a little bit of, of low end in the, uh, you know, low, low mids, I mean, in the low mids and then a fair bit at the four kilohertz range, which, uh, gives it a lot of definition. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Um, then yeah, snare down is not important. It's mixed pretty quietly. Uh, however, the Tom's got a little bit of work, so there's definitely some noise gates, uh, going on and they got a bit of a scoop in the lower mids. Uh, know where the honer sounding resonance are. Sit. That's about it, uh, on the drums. Is there anything else? Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Uh, did I miss anything fancy? I did. Let me just go to the Hans. I actually pulled the high spec, just ever so slightly, uh, about two DBS in this case, there's a touch of compression. Again, looks like, um, I was not very creative here. I used 1.5, uh, compression ratio again. So none of this is really strong. Uh, however, uh, then across the drum group, there's yet another compressor. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So in other words, there's one compressor that works on each kick hit or SNA hit individually only seeing that one signal and not reacting to what the other drums play. And once they go through my fades and travel into the subro, then there's another compressor waiting for them, which in this case, um, yeah, gets another bit of, uh, second, you know, um, compressor, uh, working on top of it. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So. That allows me to get away with less gain reduction and less action on each compressor, if that makes sense. And to my ears, that sounds cleaner, more transparent. Snappier. Let's have a look, what I did to the base. So here's the base. Let me just fast forward, uh, to where the base actually started. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's about over here. Oh, some chorus of chorus. That's a standard effect on the base. So, uh, when it comes to chorus, um, or almost all the time, if I have, um, a darker and a brighter base, uh, I will feed the chorus of the thinner or brighter sounding base and not of the darkest sounding one, just because, um, if the chorus sits too far in the low end, it can get a little bit of wobbly in the base range. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I prefer the chorusy sound in the upper mid, so let me just play a faster section of the bass guitar. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It's got a fair bit of metallic sound in there. And when I hear it in sword, it almost sounds too stringy, too metallic, but I guess there was a reason. So once we put this together with the drums and the guitars, um, that's what it really needs to cut through. So let's listen to that together. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Let's throw some guitars at it. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay, so lemme talk you through the guitars. What happened there? Uh, on the guitars? Uh, lemme just go to this one over here. There was a touch of brightness, just about a DB. That's about it in the real top end and a cut filter, um, at the bottom to pull out all the lows, um, below what was that? 45 first. So really just the frequencies that are pretty much an audible. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And again is touch of compression. In this case, I used a 1.7 ratio and a fairly long attack and release time. No, actually the attack is a bit longer and the release is a little bit on the shorter ish side. Shorter release times allow the compressor to act faster from note to note and stabilize notes against one another. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And I use the same trick again, uh, all of the guitars together, travel through the subgroup where I get. Well, I hit him again with a compressor for a second time. If, for the reason that I don't want to, um, process too much on each, just a little bit. So, uh, on the guitar subgroup, I've got a, a brighter sounding compressor. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: One of the clean sounding that sounds really open. And at clarity to my understanding, there is a touch of brightness about 3.7 DBS at, you know, six kilohertz. And that's about it. Just a little scoop in the lower midst just to provide clarity. So very subtle cue all up. Good. Let's go into the synthesizers. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So let's open this up as well and add those into the mix. So we go back to the top and start just before the C start Jan 'Yarn' Muths: there. They are subtle, subtle, just a texture. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Uh, here's the vocal. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. So, um, when I stop the vocals, it's, um, might be audible for you. You can hear the effect tail. So on the vocal, of course I added some Rever. Um, this is standard and again, it's not rocket signs. It's just a standard Rever plugin that I added via sent at return routing. And I guess the key parameters for me is, you know, the algorithm. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So which imaginary room do I place the singer in which in my case is a. I used the pre delay of about 25 seconds. And, uh, then I changed the Rever time to about just under two, two seconds, 1.8 in this case, however, I sometimes play with the pre delay. Uh, and I often like to do this throughout the song. So it's not unheard of that. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I have two rev reverts for vocal with identical settings, except for pre delay, like a smaller pre delay in the verse and slightly excessive one for, for the chorus that can be done with, with automation, of course, as. Good. So what else is happening on the vocal? Let me just find my processes over here. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Just to talk you through, um, how I treated them the 38. There it is. So, um, I've got a ratio on the compressor 2.6, so I'm hitting it slightly harder. Um, but the compressor doesn't too much gain reduction. It's again about two DBS. And I gave, uh, the singer a little bit of support in, in the lower mids because now she's got a thinner voice, uh, female voice and what that needed in the mix to compete against the guitars was a bit of the warmth, the, the bottom end. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Um, so it's in the 300 hearts range where I added a couple of DBS and that's pretty much all that was done on the vocal. And of course then, yeah, no, that's all good. That's done already. And then all the vocals, including their Rever travel yet again through subgroup where they get. Treated by a touch, more compression. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Let me just see how hard I was hitting it there or with the compressors of the cues of nothing is on there. So just a touch of, of drive, um, with a ne bus simulation, just a pinch, not much barely audible. So that's, that's the vocal. That's pretty much it. Um, and then I also should probably talk about the processing, uh, across my master bus. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I know this is a hot topic. Some people preach never to do that. Who cares if it sounds better is my take on this. So across the master, I have, um, an equalizer that actually opens up the top end and I think that's actually relatively significant. Let me just play with the EQ on, off in, in playback. No, that's not what I wanted to play. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Let me play everything. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: This is currently EQ on Jan 'Yarn' Muths: and now off Jan 'Yarn' Muths: on, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: off Jan 'Yarn' Muths: on. Okay. So I hope you can hear that. Um, this EQ actually does solves a lot of problems for me. Uh, and if I remember correctly, I actually did this particular setting really early on in the processing stage. So, um, I open up the top end of the mix, uh, with a master queue, which basically then adds top end to everything. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Um, whenever I do that, I'm very careful, uh, I. Test the waters. I push it a little bit, but the moment one of the signal starts to misbehave. I usually stop there and wind it back a little. And you know, if other signals want more, I go elsewhere and do some more work there. But in this case, that IQ actually achieves quite a lot of clarity here. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. So, um, So once I get out of the processing stage, um, that's when the cake is done and now we put the icing on. So if you just cook a cake and that's it, and you serve it, look, you won't get applause for this. It's the icing on the top, uh, the cream on top, the cherry on top. Now the, the colorful things that really draw attention and that people want. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And when with the regards to mixing, this is for me the core part of what I like to do in mixing. This is when I start to balance things really delicately against one another. And one example that I would like to point out are the clean guitars in the intro were two guitars, two different things. And, um, at first they were not, not necessarily all audible, some of these details needed to be balanced against one another to come out into the foreground. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Let me just show you what I mean. So here, uh, are these two guitars. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay, so what's going on there? Um, effectively, there's lots of beautiful notes played and I'm going to edit in section back in from earlier where I played the first rough mix, but the same section. And there's a very good chance that many of the notes you just heard aren't audible. So let me edit this in right now. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. And back, uh, to the current state of the mix. So let me just play the entire mix again, and let's see if you can hear those notes now. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So, okay. That made a big difference to my ears. I hope you could relate to this. There was definitely a lot going on and, uh, yeah, in my opinion, you know, it's, it's coming through much better and, uh, the way I solve this is by literally switching the, uh, mixer into automation mode. And then I just put my finger on the fader and close my eyes and play the faders against each other so that each guitar comes through nicely. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So that's what I call the icing on the cake. Now I go through the mix and give the vocals a fader ride. And I literally go through it with my eyes closed and write the fader and ask myself, okay, is this vocal really doing what it's meant to do? Could it be any better? Is there a note that I don't like that much, then I just pull it just over so slightly in volume or is there, or is there a note that I find particularly sweet then I just bring it up a little bit louder. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And, uh, when, when I'm done with that, it sort of stabilizes the entire vocal through the entire song. And it sounds more it's in the pocket, uh, by doing these automation, Fata rides. I also know that I will get away with less compression and that's always sounds more transparent to me. Okay. So I think we are pretty much there. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Let me just check if I have a finished version of this mix somewhere that I could play to you now, quick, look over here. Close that folder. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay, let me just pull this for now. So, uh, this was almost the entire song and I think, uh, yeah, no, I'm about, uh, well, what is this about four or five hours into the mix? And this is probably at a stage where it pretty soon needs some, um, feedback from the artist. I still have a few things in my mind that, uh, I could do, but, uh, at this stage, I think it's really important to know what the musicians think and hopefully I'm heading into the right direction. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Uh, that's not always the case. I've definitely had some feedback where they said, no, it's too old school, make it more modern or it's too modern, make it more old school that can happen. And I definitely don't want to be days into a mix and then find out that I'm on the wrong track here. But, uh, just to share some thoughts from my end, I know it's a crowd pleaser. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: The vocal sits high up in the mix. It's probably about in the right boil park, but maybe just slightly too high. But besides this, I really like the drums, the kick and the snare cut through the busy guitars. Uh, the way I want it, the base has enough growl. It really supports the guitars from underneath the guitars, get small when they're and clean and, and delicate when know the clean guitars play and they get really big and chunky when they distort a guitars, come in, um, the synthesizers, um, play a minor role as you could hear in this mix. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So I kept them in there. If you take 'em out, you miss them. But when I, uh, add 'em back in there, not necessarily jumping in front of the mix, um, that's because I shared my thoughts about these synthesizers with you earlier. To me, that's not the part of the mix that I really wanted to high. But then of course the main vocalist got a lot of love and, um, constantly kept in the foreground and, uh, the guitar so was nice and wet and had a bit of, you know, lovely effect on it. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So, and it's nicely balanced and, um, I always try to achieve the best sound I can with a minimum amount of processing. And, um, that means that often, um, also steer back. So I throw plugins across and rather than adding more and more and more, I sometimes just go through it and say, wait a minute, slow down for a second. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Which ones can I remove? And then I just go through it and just weed it out and, um, get away with the absolute bare minimum. So just scrolling sideways on my mixer. Most channels have one plugin about that's pretty much often except for one or two channels, have one plugin, maybe a third has two plugins, and I can see there's the vocal that has 1, 2, 3 plugins. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And, uh, the base got a couple more as well, one to three, one to three on the other signal as well. That's it? So three plugins is the maximum that I have on a channel. Most of them have only one or about a third has two plugins. So less is better if it's used just the right way. So it doesn't get better by adding eight plugins is what I'm trying to say here. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: good. Okay. So yeah. Um, again, this is definitely not a finish mix. Um, definitely a few things that I would want. Uh, receive feedback on, but obviously today is not a remixing session. It's just me taking this song maybe from the band, uh, unicorn rodeo of the free multitrack website and talking you through, uh, my thoughts when mixing. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So yeah, I hope that you got some out of it, uh, something for yourself, hopefully that helps you to understand how mixing is done. I also hope that in some ways, when you record yourself that knowing what mix engineers think and how they think might even help you to make good decisions there. Um, if you have any questions about any of that, please reach out to me. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And my website of course, is a mixed, where you can connect with me and talk about your projects. And if you wanna talk about, uh, this episode and discuss, uh, this podcast, then of course you can do so on Facebook, in the production talk podcast, community Facebook page. All right. I hope you enjoyed yourself. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: A big, big, big thumbs up for the band. Unicorn. Audio love you guys. Uh, keep rocking. I'm going to put the link to their website into the show notes. So please visit their website by their records. If you see them play live, please go to their shows, support the local music scene. And just another thought before I finish up this episode, if you enjoyed this mixing special today, why don't you reach out to me and maybe talk about featuring one of your songs as a mixing special on the production talk podcast one day. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Think about it. Reach out to me, could be fun and that's all for today. You all have a great week. I shall speak to you again next week. Bye for now.
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