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Mixing and Mastering Project Brief – KR McCall – Surrender

Sep 7, 2022 | Mixing and Mastering

The artist was referred to me through a mutual contact because the artist needed help cleaning up his mix to get it ready to be mastered. After some discussion with the artist, he enlisted our mixing services and I worked with him to get the stems. He removed all effects on all tracks and sent me the original dry recordings for each track.

Once I got all of the clean tracks, the mixing process started.

As with most band style mixes, I started with the drums. I made sure they had good EQ, and compression and sounded good on their own. Then I moved onto the bass guitar. In the original version the artist sent I noticed some intonation issues, that we found were being caused by the effect he was using. The dry bass guitar did not show these intonation issues. I ran the bass guitar through a vst bass amp to give it a deeper sound a pull down some of the pick sound. I rolled off some of the low end that could cause muddiness.

The guitar track sounded like it had a phaser type of effect on it, so I went back to the client to figure out where this was coming from. The client noted that he doubled the guitar and panned it left and right, but when he exported it it as a single track, it caused a phasing issue. This is common when a track is copy and pasted as is. I had the artist go back, center just ONE of the acoustic guitars and resend. This fixed the issue. to get the sound for the acoustic, I utilized the dry track, then added another track with the acoustic running through an vst guitar amp model. I then blended the tracks to make it sound like one guitar.

The lead guitar was originally an acoustic lead. When running through the vst guitar amp, i tried a distortion chain and it sounded really good with the mix and in the song, so I contacted the artist and after listening he approved the change. This would fall under the producer hat, but when I’m working with a song if I hear something that sounds really good, I will suggest a change. The artist always gets final say so. The artist requested that he play the lead on his electric guitar. I agreed and after sending the updated version, we listened and I gave him some feedback and suggestions. After hearing the updated version I felt that it was missing the emotion that the original track had. I also advised that towards the end of the track the guitar had more complicated runs that seemed to over run the vocals. With this information the client decided to keep the original track.

Once all of the music was mixed, I started working on the vocals. The artist had an amazing voice, so I ran him through a standard vocal chain, Subtractive EQ to remove one small issue with the room, serial compression (one digital and one tube style compressor), another EQ for body, and an exciter. This gave the artist a nice thick sound that fit with the mix but stood out. I also added a reverb bus.

After getting all of this together, I sent and updated mix to the artist for review. It was understood that this was not the “Final” mix. I informed the artist of things I needed to fix, that this was just an update of the progress. the artist was very happy with the progress.

The artist notified me that he had enlisted a back up vocalist and would be submitting additional tracks. It was noted that the vocalist would be recording her own vocals and submitting them to me. He requested permission for her to send me the tracks directly, which I agreed.

While waiting on the backup vocals, I listened to the track several times to make sure the mix was good prior to adding the backup vocals. When listening I was hearing an organ in my head and thought it might sound really good in the mix. I added this for fun and felt it really added to the song and helped distinguish the verses from the chorus better. I spoke with the client and asked him if he would be interested in hearing the addition and he agreed. Upon listening he was very pleased with the addition and requested we keep it.

The updated mix was sent to the client and to the backup vocalist.

After some issues with drop box, we were finally able to get the stems from the backup vocalist. The vocalist sent 3 additional stems, a high, mid and low harmony. I put them in the mix, and while working with them, the compression pulled out a very harsh feedback and I noticed some room noise. I also noted that the vocal track was very quiet. I tried normalizing the track but that made the issues worse. I contacted the client and told him about the issue and sent him and example of what I was hearing. I told the artist that I could still work with the vocals, however it could cause some issues when we went to master the track.

The artist touched base with the backup vocalist and she agreed to re-record the tracks. I requested that I be able to contact the back up vocalist directly so we could iron out any issues. The client agreed.

This round she submitted them to me re-recorded and completely dry. The updated vocals were perfect and fixed the feedback and room noise issue. I did have to re-create all of the backup vocal tracks as the ones I created with the previous vocals were not suitable for the updated stems. I used the same effects chain that I used on the main vocals, but adjusted the eq, compression, and exciter for each track to suite the vocalist.

While working with the backup vocals, I noticed some slight pitch issues, which I corrected. They were very minor and did not require approval from the artist. I did have to separate the vocals into different sections as the different sections were varied in volume and wasn’t something that could be fixed with just compression. So there was an intro section, first chorus section, third section, then the last section. This made mixing the vocals more consistent.

Once everything was mixed, I sent an end of the day mix to the client and he is very pleased with the mix. Now we move onto the mastering stage, which I will update when complete.

Information about the recording
The client recorded the project in Reaper. The background vocals were recorded in a different location using Reaper as well. (I have sent a request to client for more details on equipment used)

Mixing DAW
I used logic for this project with both built in and 3rd party vsts to achieve the final mix.

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