I have been doing another mixing project and thought i’d write a wee blog about it. The track is a reggae song by a band called Arise. With this track I focused alot more on the stylistic components suited to the genre of music and tryed to enhance the atmosphere of the song. Have a wee listen.
Due to it being a reggae track I went down the route of honing the tones and building the instruments with consideration of the genre. While this is done as part of mixing for all music, I felt this track would benefit greatly if I focused alot more on this aspect. With reggae, much like Hip Hop, the beat and the vocals are the focal point as Roey Izhaki highlights in his mixing concepts book.
“As typical to many hip hop mixes, the beat and the vocals are the life and soul of the production, with all other elements tailored behind them.” Roey Izhaki – Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices and Tools.
I am not going to go into too much detail on the whole track, instead I am going to focus on some key features. To begin with I focused on the ryhthm section, getting them to sit right within the groove and in their own pocket. The most important feature I felt was getting the right balance between kick and bass guitar. Since the tracks were well recorded this was not too much of an issue. I high passed the bass guitar withe a brainworks fillter then with EQ I boosted the bottom of the kick (around 70hrz) to sit in the space that I carved out of the bass guitar which I then EQ’ed around the kick with an SSL EQ. This helped to really lock the bass and drums together enhancing the groove of the track, which Bobby Owsinski highlights as the pulse of the song.
“ALL good music, regardless of whether it’s Rock, Jazz, Classical, Rap or some new space music that we haven’t heard yet, has a strong groove. The groove is the pulse of the song and how the instruments dynamically breath with it” Bobby Owsinski, The Mixing Engineers Handbook.
The next thing I’d like to look at is the organ part. For this part I wanted to take the focus away from the organ and use it more of a suplementing feature for the groove. For this I experimented with various compression and side-chaining techniques but I found that I still was not getting the balance right. It would either be too close in the mix or too far away and reverb washed out too much and lost the definition. To get around this I thought of a mid-side approach to try and clear the middle out. The first thing I tryed, and luckily liked, was the AIR stereo width plugin. I loaded up the preset sides only which pretty drastically clears the middle out giving some really wide organ stabs that left space in the middle for the vocals to sit. With the bass track for the organ I passed it through a distotion plugin to to dirty it up and sat it behind the bass guitar adding a subtle colouration.
The last thing I wish to talk about is the vocal tracks. The signal processing applied was very run of the mill EQ and compression to get the vocals sitting perfectly. The backing vocal might seem a little low in the mix but the intention for these was just to add atmosphere using a delay to help it wash out behind the lead vocal. However, with the reveb aux I treated quite a bit. Firstly, using a long plate reverb, I EQ’ed with a bass cut and a high boost to help the vocal stand out in the mix. I then inserted an AIR Distortion plugin to add some character to the reverb. I think this has worked well and the reverb sound on the vocal just has that extra bit of yum.
Thanks for taking the time to read and if there are any specific things in the mix that you would like me to expand on, let me know. I’d be happy to explain further.