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Staffy
post Dec 5 2009, 01:39 AM
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As some of You may know I recently bought a combined mixer/soundcard from Presonus (reviewed in the WIKI).
As a test I took it out yesterday to record some friends of mine as well as run their live sound.
The music itself was solely jazz (which some may not like, but thats not the point here) and is performed by
some of the top musicians in my area of Sweden.

Well, I got the idea to share this recording here in the forum along with the improvements, mixing and the final product and
I invite all interested taking part in the progress with comments, advices, ideas etc. Im not a recording pro, even though I had
a studio back in the eighties with analog stuff, but I think I know how the stuff works (or shall work at least)... tongue.gif

But before I actually start to describe the process so far, I want to show a pic of the whole rig (all equipment except the musicians own instruments) lying in the trunk of my car. As You can see its ultra-portable, but for small clubs it works excellent and gives a nice sound
if You dont play too loud.



The gear I actually used is:

Presonus Studiolive 16/4/2
Dynachord 2*600 W Power Amp
EV 200 speaker boxes
ASUS-G2 running Vista 64 with Presonus own program for recording "Capture" (even though Cubase or any DAW would have work)
and an external harddrive for storing the sound.
Some SM-57's for micing guitar
Stands for the speakers, mics etc.
Cables, of course

The singer had an own mic, the new Shure with phantom power. The bass player uses a DPA-mic (an active condenser mic) + a fishman mic. I decided to record both since the more channels and sources You have the better - then You can choose or blend them into each other. Same procedure was made with the guitar, we had one SM-57 close up to the guitar speaker (amp was Peavey Classic 30, guitar Gibson SG) and used the effect loop on the amp to record a line-signal.

So in total there is only 5 tracks to play with, but that can be challenging enough, especially in this kind of music where the sound shall be
as "natural" as possible.

The track list is as following:

1: Upright bass with DPA-mic
2: Upright bass with fishman-mic
3: Guitar, close miced with SM-57
4: Guitar, line out
5: Vocals

It's pretty easy easy to set up a mix that works live for such skilled musicians as these one's, since they are pretty much
adjusting their own levels and adjusting the dynamics in their playing by themselves rather than rely on a mixer guy.
A good rule of thumb when mixing acoustic music is to walk back and forth from the stage and different areas at the location, trying
to duplicate the instruments sound on stage in the P.A-system rather than "colour" it since this will sound most natural.
Also, its a good idea to keep the ears open for "bass-traps" and try to filter them out since these really ruins the sound when
the bass player plays certain tones. Another good tips here is to really focus on the vocals (if there are any vocals present).
I've been on SO many gigs that would have been really great if You just have heard what the vocalist is singing......
Another trick to do (if possible because of the guests) is to run the soundcheck a little bit louder and then back of the volume
when the gig begins. Then its easier to judge how the speakers/rig/EQ sounds at the location.

Anyway, the band played two sets and the microphones was recorded without any EQ or effects since this shall be done later.
I didn't use a microphone for the audience. If this was supposed to be a record, I would have though, since its nice to have
the sound of the audience that You can fade in/out in the beginning/ending of each song. The Presonus console streams audio
via Firewire straight to my computer and the external disk, and the recording went out with any problems except that the
bass player actually played harder on the bass than on the soundcheck. So I had to adjust that in the second song or so.
This is VERY important, since digital equipment cannot be pushed above 0 db level-wise, it will simply ruin everything. So make sure
that there is enough headroom for strong signals and back off the gain a little..... Of course a recording like this can be made
with any multi-channel soundcard hooked up to a mixer that have direct outputs on each channel, but watch out for the levels!!!

So now I'm sitting here with all the material and will soon begin to mix it, I will do it in two versions:
1: One version using just the Presonus console with built-in effects,EQ etc.
2: Transfer the audio channels to my "real" DAW (Cubase 5) and use other hardware/software to manipulate the sound.

Im posting the "raw" file here so You can get a grasp of what it sound like without no processing at all, eg. just the sound from the
mics itself. I will continue this thread in the next day's as I progress and any comments, thoughts & questions are welcome!!!

//Staffay

Here's the file:
Raw version of Route66


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JVM
post Dec 5 2009, 02:13 AM
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I love this stuff, great playing and the singer is GREAT! She can't possibly be Swedish, her accent is perfect.


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Staffy
post Dec 5 2009, 02:50 AM
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QUOTE (JVM @ Dec 5 2009, 02:13 AM) *
I love this stuff, great playing and the singer is GREAT! She can't possibly be Swedish, her accent is perfect.


She is exactly as Swedish as the meatballs..... laugh.gif I dont wanna publish their names here since they are recording artists, and that might be a violation in some way... and also it's not the purpose with this thread....

//Staffay


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Guitars: Ibanez AM-200, Ibanez GB-10, Fender Stratocaster Classic Player, Warmouth Custom Built, Suhr Classic Strat, Gibson Les Paul Standard 2003, Ibanez steel-string
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JVM
post Dec 5 2009, 02:55 AM
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Understood. I have those meatballs every year on my birthday by the way, my mom makes the best wink.gif


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Adrian Figallo
post Dec 5 2009, 03:37 AM
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woa man, i'm loving this thread already, i would love to get some equipment like that soon, i think the next step after the mix will be recording a bigger band, maybe a drum (pain the a** already), or some more armonic instruments, maybe a piano, or brasses.

congrats on the sound already, very good recording to my ear, no just get those basses deep and those highs sparkling, you got already the most important part done, good record and specially good takes!


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kahall
post Dec 5 2009, 07:36 AM
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sounds like a good time to me. The recording is good as well.


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Staffy
post Dec 5 2009, 10:32 AM
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QUOTE (Adrian Figallo @ Dec 5 2009, 03:37 AM) *
woa man, i'm loving this thread already, i would love to get some equipment like that soon, i think the next step after the mix will be recording a bigger band, maybe a drum (pain the a** already), or some more armonic instruments, maybe a piano, or brasses.

congrats on the sound already, very good recording to my ear, no just get those basses deep and those highs sparkling, you got already the most important part done, good record and specially good takes!


Yeah, You've right! I will be recording a rock/fusion band or something like that next time. Maybe even my own band if I ever get so far... tongue.gif
The drums are the most challenging instrument for an engineer to record so when I did this first one, I did it without drums just because of that. Drums seems to "colour" the overall sound a lot, and if we discusses good/bad drummers and their strange ideas about sound, we just scratched the surface on the problems with drum recordings... *lol*
Anyway, with a good drummer, some decent drums and especially some good mics, this is not an impossible task.
Recording brass is pretty straight forward, piano is harder since You need a good instrument on location (talking bout an acoustic one) and a lot of different techniques can be involved here.

I agree with You, the most important part is already done - even that no EQ or processing has been done yet, when doin a recording in general, the hardest part is to make the instruments sound great BEFORE they even goes into the recording gear. With that in mind its actually simple to put some good mics in front of the musicians and capture the sound as it is....... (even that some micing techniques applies)

//Staffay

QUOTE (JVM @ Dec 5 2009, 02:55 AM) *
Understood. I have those meatballs every year on my birthday by the way, my mom makes the best wink.gif


Yeah... mine too..... ;-)


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Guitars: Ibanez AM-200, Ibanez GB-10, Fender Stratocaster Classic Player, Warmouth Custom Built, Suhr Classic Strat, Gibson Les Paul Standard 2003, Ibanez steel-string
Amps: Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, Marshall JMP 2103, AER 60
Effects: BOSS DD-20, Danelectro Trans. Overdrive, TC-Electronics G-Major, Dunlop Wah-wah, Original SansAmp, BOSS DD-2
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Fingerspasm
post Dec 5 2009, 03:02 PM
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Good stuff Staffy. The recording sounds great. I had to smile while listening to the recording because I live on Route 66 which is not a real big deal but I found if surreal that you guys are singing about Route 66. The world just keeps getting smaller and smaller. smile.gif



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Staffy
post Dec 6 2009, 10:42 AM
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Hi Ya all!

Today its time to make the first mix, using only the Presonus console as mentioned before. The second mix will be done in Cubase as said, but first I want to share some recording philosophy that I have through my experience recording numerous local bands/artists back in the old days. (the 80's *lol*) First, Its impossible to make everyone happy. Eg. if You mix the drums to the drummers liking, the guitar to the guitarists liking, the bass to his liking etc. it will just be a mess in the end, since everyone usually wants to hear their own instrument as "fat" as possible. A better approach than listening along with each musician is to speak with them and try to find out what their ideal sound is like. Then You can listen back to some recordings by their favourite artists, and You will have a reference point.

The reference point in making recordings is imo. extremely important, cause if You're not a demon producer doin' just Your own thing, the musicians most likely want their recording to sound like something already made. So a good library with recordings that SOUNDS really good is essential to a producer, especially since the ears tends to "get used to" the music You are currently listening to, eg. if You listen to heavy-metal for some weeks and then tries to mix an acoustic ballad, the result will be a heavy metal acoustic ballad......

There are some great reference recordings out there by different companies made just for this purpose, but I suggest to compile some CD's by Yourself instead with the music of Your liking. One problem here when comparing Your own mix to a reference point is that the reference always sounds "fatter" and more "clear" and is more "up in Your face" than Your own mix. This is really a matter of the mastering process, so the comparison at the first stages of mixing would ever fit. I use the reference point to listen for the instruments timbre and EQ rather than the complete overall sound. The mastering will add compression and some final eq, and maybe some other effects anyway, so the big deal here is to make the instruments to sound as good as possible without over-doing any effect/EQ.

Some other things also applies here:

1) The golden rule of thumb: What goes in comes out. Eg. if the playing or sound is bad from the beginning, You can turn the knobs to death and it still gonna sound like crap! But this also applies to You as an engineer, since if You spoil the recording at one event in the mixing process, the final result will be bad. Therefore I constantly backing up and making new projects in my DAW when entering a new phase in the mixing process.

2) Listening system. In my studio in the 80's we had 4 pairs of speakers, ranging from top-notch speakers to car stereo one's just for comparing how the mix will sound in different speakers. This is however to put it to the extreme, a pair of good earphones and Your favourite speakers will do (if they are decent enough). The most important thing here is that You are used to the sound coming out of the speakers, instead of mixing in speakers You never heard before. Anyone been in a studio listen back to the mix and it sounded SO great, but when You then got home and listens in Your own speakers it sounds like crap????

3: Dont let anyone else tell You what to do. Eg. the musicians are musician and You are the engineer. End of story.

That was some points of interest I have right now. I will now continue to prepare for the mix and will continueeing this thread later today.

See Ya!

//Staffay


--------------------


Guitars: Ibanez AM-200, Ibanez GB-10, Fender Stratocaster Classic Player, Warmouth Custom Built, Suhr Classic Strat, Gibson Les Paul Standard 2003, Ibanez steel-string
Amps: Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, Marshall JMP 2103, AER 60
Effects: BOSS DD-20, Danelectro Trans. Overdrive, TC-Electronics G-Major, Dunlop Wah-wah, Original SansAmp, BOSS DD-2
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sted
post Dec 6 2009, 12:14 PM
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Tremendous thread staffy mate! Loved the recording, i would be happy with that first take myself! Looking forward to next instalment!
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Staffy
post Dec 6 2009, 01:23 PM
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QUOTE (sted @ Dec 6 2009, 12:14 PM) *
Tremendous thread staffy mate! Loved the recording, i would be happy with that first take myself! Looking forward to next instalment!


Thanks Sted! I will pick instrument by instrument and do the adjustments and post the files here, so You guy's can compare the difference and then eventually send me a bomb!!! laugh.gif More coming up later today!

//Staffay


--------------------


Guitars: Ibanez AM-200, Ibanez GB-10, Fender Stratocaster Classic Player, Warmouth Custom Built, Suhr Classic Strat, Gibson Les Paul Standard 2003, Ibanez steel-string
Amps: Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, Marshall JMP 2103, AER 60
Effects: BOSS DD-20, Danelectro Trans. Overdrive, TC-Electronics G-Major, Dunlop Wah-wah, Original SansAmp, BOSS DD-2
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Staffy
post Dec 7 2009, 02:07 AM
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UPDATE!

For those who's to lazy to read the beginning of this thread tongue.gif , it is a log of a recording I made a couple of day's ago, and I have described the process so far and will continue. After spending some 4 hours today, I finally reach my first goal that is to make a mix with the Presonus Studiolive exclusively without any other hardware/software. I will make a cubase version with much more advanced editing/use of plugins/effects later the coming week, but here is what I did today:

First I listening back to each instrument and made the settings appropiate to each of them basically, even that I've changed and fine-tuned along the way. I will descibe each of them below.

Bass:
Since I know that my long-term friend is a huge fan of Ray Brown (and strives for that sound) , I listened back to some of his recordings to determine what makes his sound that great. I realized that except a fat bottom there was some frequencies in the upper mid-range that adds colour to his sound. Also Ray Brown plays very smooth and has a warm bass sound, that I will try to emulate more in detail when I will do the Cubase-mix. (allows for some tube plug-ins etc.)

Here's what the bass sounds raw without any EQ, there are two tracks as mentioned before, one with a condenser DPA-mic and one with a Fishman-mic.

Bass with Condenser DPA-mic

Bass with Fishman-mic

As You can hear there is a substantial "leakage" of the DPA-mic, even though its supposed to be a close-up condenser-mic. That is because they stand so close to each other. In a bigger venue, this wouldn't be a problem though. Personally, I would have preferred to use just the fishman mic with some radical EQ, since this one has a bad midrange in my ears, also its not as dynamic as a condenser mic, but that can be fixed by use of an expander. Anyway, I decided to mix them with the DPA-mic as the main mic and to get that Ray Brown mid-range as well as add some "fake" stereo-effect I heavily filtered the Fishman and put it far right in the mix.

On both the bass channels a compression of 2.5/1 was used, and a threshold that just cuts the tops - making it work more like a limiter.
The EQ is as following:

DPA mic: Boost 4 DB at 80 Hz, Cut at 550 with 4 db to get rid of some low mid that doesn't sounded good, Boost at 2.4 kHz to get´a clear upper midrange and finally a little boost at 5 kHz.

Fishman: Here I was looking for "the sweet spot" for Ray Browns lower mid and found it at 450 Hz, where I boosted it with 12 db, the bass frequencies were taken away and I added some sparkle at 10 kHz.

I also played around with letting the bass have the same room (reverb) as the vocals, which I do not prefer, not this time either. I found a preset with just an ambience reverb and used 0.8 seconds as delay time. This just makes the sound a little bit bigger and "roomier" without directly sounding like a reverb is attached. Now, here is what the bass sounds like with both channels panned a litlle to the left.

Bass Mix

Guitar:
Since I've been listening back to some of the guitar player's records before, I had a pretty good idea of what kind of sound he likes. Midrange is really an electric guitars domain, and it's really a matter of hitting that spot that sounds good. In modern jazz music the guitar sound is usually focused on a low midrange in contrast to the "older" sound with a lot of bass and maybe a little treble.
Here's what the guitar sounds like raw:

Guitar1, miced with SM57

Guitar2, lined out

As You can hear on these, the miced version sounds a lot warmer, even that its not THAT big difference in sound imo. I decided to go for the same approach as the bass - eg. have the line out panned far right and lower level wise, just to add a "fake"-stereo effect and sparkle.
The most work I put on the miced track and then simply copied the settings to the line-out channel and added some treble at 12 kHz at that one. Also I added some of the same ambience as the bass, but more less and some reverb which was later on changed to suit the vocals, since the vocals is the most important when present.

Guitar: Compression 4:1 and a soft limiter to make the playing sound "smoother", High pass filter at 130 Hz for filtering out the bass frequencies (the bass shall really be left alone in the lower bass, since other instruments just making the lower end sounds muddy), I boosted 320 Hz 4 db, 480 Hz 8 db and 800 Hz 6 db as well as cutting some treble at 8 kHz to get rid of some string noise and unpleasant treble. Now here is what the guitar is like with both channels slightly panned right.

GuitarMix

Vocals:
Since I think the singer has a very good voice and used a good mic, this was probably the easiest part. Nothing much is really has to be done, but one problem exists though. Since this is a live-recording, You cant expect the singer to keep the same distance as in a studio, and even that You may not recognize the problem on the "RAW" recording it becomes present in the final. Im talking of course bout the "s"-sounds. At the very moment You are adding some room to the vocals they pop up like ghosts in a nightmare. There is no really good solution to this even if You have an de-esser available, its always gonna be a compromise. Of course You can roll of the treble on the reverb to zero and minimize the treble on the vocal track - but then You will get lost of the sparkle..... So here must a decent compromise be made. Also this is really a sound-engineers issue since people in general doesn't seem to care so much of this. Female vocals is by nature strong in the upper midrange and the treble register, and I will go that far and say that everything below 400 Hz or even more can be filtered out completely. In the case of this mix its good since then we can let the bass dominate the lower frequencies, the guitar the middle and the vocals the upper, making it an even mix!

Vocal settings: Here I used a gate since there is a lot of pauses in this track (with high threshold making the mic shut up just during the solos). Also I used 4:1 compression to limit the levels as well as a soft limiter to even make it smoother. I used high-pass at 400, cut some frequencies at 2.4 Kz with 4 db to get some nasal sounds away and also cut 4 db at 10 kHz because of the "s" -problem. Here is the files:

Vocals Raw

Vocals Mix

So finally:
To make the final mix, I ran some of the levels manually to emphasize some parts as well as making a "fake" mastering by using a little compression on the final mix as well as adding a little of low bass to make the total sound even rounder. (Tony, dont ya wanna hop in on mastering here??? smile.gif )

So here is the two files I have so far, one totally RAW (as posted before) and the one I described here. All comments and thoughts are most welcome as well as criticism !!!!

Route66 raw

Route66 Presonus mix


Conclusion:
I think its fully possible to make a good recording with just this desk, but edit it in Cubase will give room for even some more improvements. So far Im very happy with the result, even though the recording may lack some analog warmth.... but since we are in the digital domain that might be asking for too much.

//Staffay


--------------------


Guitars: Ibanez AM-200, Ibanez GB-10, Fender Stratocaster Classic Player, Warmouth Custom Built, Suhr Classic Strat, Gibson Les Paul Standard 2003, Ibanez steel-string
Amps: Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, Marshall JMP 2103, AER 60
Effects: BOSS DD-20, Danelectro Trans. Overdrive, TC-Electronics G-Major, Dunlop Wah-wah, Original SansAmp, BOSS DD-2
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 9 2009, 02:35 AM
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Great detailed work Staffay, you sure did a professional job here.

I listened the first raw mix and the presonus mix (the last one posted), and I think the overall balance is better in the raw one. Space is sweet, but I think bass is too loud in the Presonus mix.


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Staffy
post Dec 9 2009, 02:38 AM
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QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Dec 9 2009, 02:35 AM) *
Great detailed work Staffay, you sure did a professional job here.

I listened the first raw mix and the presonus mix (the last one posted), and I think the overall balance is better in the raw one. Space is sweet, but I think bass is too loud in the Presonus mix.


Yeah, You've right. I listened to it the day after, and I put too much low end in the mix..... but it was really a fast one.... I will change it and make a new upload, but the most interesting will come when I move to Cubase.

//Staffay


--------------------


Guitars: Ibanez AM-200, Ibanez GB-10, Fender Stratocaster Classic Player, Warmouth Custom Built, Suhr Classic Strat, Gibson Les Paul Standard 2003, Ibanez steel-string
Amps: Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, Marshall JMP 2103, AER 60
Effects: BOSS DD-20, Danelectro Trans. Overdrive, TC-Electronics G-Major, Dunlop Wah-wah, Original SansAmp, BOSS DD-2
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 9 2009, 02:42 AM
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Regardless of that, the production of the whole mix was on a very high level. Excellent job man.


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Dec 9 2009, 10:58 AM
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QUOTE (Staffy @ Dec 7 2009, 02:07 AM) *
UPDATE!

For those who's to lazy to read the beginning of this thread tongue.gif , it is a log of a recording I made a couple of day's ago, and I have described the process so far and will continue...

...Tony, dont ya wanna hop in on mastering here???

...
//Staffay


Generally I don't comment on part complete stuff that's at pre-master Staffy. I usually wait until the engineer is happy that they're finished so that my comments don't affect how they mix and also listening to early mixes sometimes skews how you start to relate to the recording. One reason why it's always good to use a mastering engineer who was not part of the recording/production team is that the ME will come with a fresh viewpoint.

On your recording log - nice, always good to log things so that you can repeat the set up should you have to. Agree totally btw about spending time getting the tracking right. More time spent here = less issues to try to correct later. Good that you've kept all dynamics etc off the master smile.gif. As you're eq'ing quite a bit (3dB or more) and are probably using a minimal phase eq you may need to check that you've retained the stereo width of your original and not affected the phase.

Sure you've done this but for others as its a stereo mix - collapse to mono check is a good idea, a lot of people don't do this now and it can cause issues.

Low bass end energy (as per Ivan's comment) - true of many mixes mainly as most recording studio monitors are a bit bass light.


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Staffy
post Dec 9 2009, 11:19 AM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Dec 9 2009, 10:58 AM) *
Generally I don't comment on part complete stuff that's at pre-master Staffy. I usually wait until the engineer is happy that they're finished so that my comments don't affect how they mix and also listening to early mixes sometimes skews how you start to relate to the recording. One reason why it's always good to use a mastering engineer who was not part of the recording/production team is that the ME will come with a fresh viewpoint.

On your recording log - nice, always good to log things so that you can repeat the set up should you have to. Agree totally btw about spending time getting the tracking right. More time spent here = less issues to try to correct later. Good that you've kept all dynamics etc off the master smile.gif. As you're eq'ing quite a bit (3dB or more) and are probably using a minimal phase eq you may need to check that you've retained the stereo width of your original and not affected the phase.

Sure you've done this but for others as its a stereo mix - collapse to mono check is a good idea, a lot of people don't do this now and it can cause issues.

Low bass end energy (as per Ivan's comment) - true of many mixes mainly as most recording studio monitors are a bit bass light.


Yeeaaah, there You are my man !!! smile.gif No, I dont suppose You to comment, what I was meaning by "hopping in" was that when I reach the stage to make a master after mixing this in Cubase, You sure can come with som great advices/tips since Im not really good at mastering..... As this thread was written to take some mystery out of the art of recording (for people who hasn't dealed so much with it before) and of course for fun, it would have just been great with some tips from You. Of course I have no access to high-end gear, but I have at least Samplitude and some great plugs.... as well as Soundcard that can operate on high sampling levels if necessary.....

//Staffay


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 10 2009, 04:17 PM
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What's the next step in the process Staffy?


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Staffy
post Dec 10 2009, 05:02 PM
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QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Dec 10 2009, 04:17 PM) *
What's the next step in the process Staffy?


Now I'm going to take the RAW wav-files and export them to Cubase 5 and process the mix from there instead, using some good plugs as well as my Powercore and the final stage will be a "real" mastering attempt (which I dont really have so much experience from, but I'll guess I have to ask Tony for some things and do some reading....) I will explain further as the project is progressing.....

//Staffay


--------------------


Guitars: Ibanez AM-200, Ibanez GB-10, Fender Stratocaster Classic Player, Warmouth Custom Built, Suhr Classic Strat, Gibson Les Paul Standard 2003, Ibanez steel-string
Amps: Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, Marshall JMP 2103, AER 60
Effects: BOSS DD-20, Danelectro Trans. Overdrive, TC-Electronics G-Major, Dunlop Wah-wah, Original SansAmp, BOSS DD-2
Music by Staffy can be found at: Staffay at MySpace
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 10 2009, 08:39 PM
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Be sure to include several versions at once, so we can compare them! smile.gif


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