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Fix It In The Mix

Lesson 2 of 17

General Techniques

Kurt Ballou

Fix It In The Mix

Kurt Ballou

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Lesson Info

2. General Techniques

Lesson Info

General Techniques

We're going to look at two songs today on beer to spend most of our time on a song called goblin driver by van frost home, and we'll be going through all of the tracks in this song, and this was recorded I don't know all the details of the recording, but it was recorded by a guy named jason grand bald and it's it's from a live performance of the band, so the energy is great and the the band are super tight and, you know, killer, like kind of black and thrash band on dh I should I should mention that if you are not interested in aggressive music, the stuff that's, the stuff that I'm covering, hopefully is applicability all genres of music, but I think that most people know my work through the kind of metal are core punk stuff that I've done, so I tried to choose materials for this course that would be typical of the type of stuff that I usually would be working on. Um, so don't let the screen we scare you if that's not what you're into, um, anyway, so this this song was was recorded at ...

a live show, and jason, the guy who recorded it, he's, primarily a videographer, so he was filming the band and needed audio to accompany the video that use making so you know, I think he you know, hell he'd tell you himself that like video is his forte and audio is just something kind of does, you know, just as a requirement on time he didn't really go into too much detail in how it was tracked, but I believe that there was some limitations as to how many inputs he had to his recorder on dh well, sort of explore that a bit as as well as we look into, but one of the really cool things about video is or one of us one of the kind of stressful things about video is that you need to be aware of what the video looks like because you know that whoever's listening to this material is going to be watching the video at the same time so you wantto kind of you want to do a lot of your mixing while you're watching the video to make sure that the final product feels like an immersive experience like, you know, simple example like tom panning, you know if you're watching the band from an audience perspective and the guy doesn't, you know huge drum roll like I like I like panty things from the drummer perspective air drums so like, you know, azem rolling through the times I like for the times to go left and right, but if you're watching the band, the guy rolls through the toms you're watching him, they're going rightto left so, you know, you should mix things right to left. So unless it's, a lefty drummer, um, so, you know, we're gonna watch a bit of the video and try to, like, pick up on some cues from the video and hopefully, things we learn in the video will inform some of our engineering choices so let's ah, let's, switch over to pro tools, and we're gonna watch a bit of their video. And, uh oh, I should also mention that, uh, the way that I have my pro tools sessions set up is I'm kind of running, um, sort of lying to session's, almost like two sessions in parallel here. The red tracks are the tracks as they were delivered to me and there's, just like a basic level set mix, which is the red tracks, and then the green tracks or what I ended up deciding to do to the tracks in the middle kind of walk you guys through my decision making process and should sort of show you what I what I did. And then I've got this little little, um, console over here, where I can kinda toggle between the tracks has delivered, and my version the mix, so what we're going to do now is listen to we'll be listening to the tracks with none of my processing and watching the video, and every time I see something in the video that kind of catches my eye that I think could be something that we want to pay attention to, we're mixing, I'll stop and we'll talk about it, so here we go way. All right, so we've learned a few things already, okay? The drummer has an enormous drum set to bass drums, which can joey and I were talking about this earlier actually can be it can be challenging, but it's really hard to get to bass drums tuned same and sounding the same and mike to the same. However you do have some additional control because they're on separate tracks you have, like, you know, dynamic level and and even editing control of the left and right kicks independently of each other, which can be nice and sometimes worth a total trade offs. So he's got a ton of kits toms and looks like everything's mike uh, and the singer is singing handheld, which is a, um, which, you know, has its ups and downs because because because he's singing handheld, you know, his mic is moving around all over the place, so things like symbols and guitar whatever's bleeding into the vocal mike when he's not singing will be its phase relationship to its close mike is going to be ever changing which is going to give us kind of like a you know, a faizi modulating phase kind of sound so we want to be aware of that uh it looks like a looks like an angle guitar amp so you know modern modern hiding kind of guitar amp all right, let's keep listening. Yeah, all right, so looks like the bass player's playing with his fingers and has uh on orange tiny or terror base maybe and is doing doing the backing vocal lt's so you know, we know we now know that like if we want to create a a pan from audience perspective that guitar is primarily gonna be on the left, the bases primarily gonna be on the right and the backing vocal the bassists backing vocal will be pan to the right and finger style base for this kind of music can be cool, but I find that it's it's a bit less consistent in tone and volume than then picked base and also has a bit less attack. So we wantto well, just you know, think about that as we're approaching the base we might want to do some some extra compression techniques to kind of level out the base maybe some multi band compression to reduce the claque coming from the strings slapping it's the threats so it looks like the guitar player had a backing vocal mike there too I'm not sure if he's going to use it yet ah so also it looks like the room is fairly small like you know the crowd's not not huge and it's kind of a small room so um whatever room mike and audience tracks we have like it's not going to be like a real cavernous sounding sounding thing it'll still be kind of kind of tight and intimate so we don't wantto use any giant river bs to make this feel like it was you know recorded it at the symphony you know it's just like a small rock club wait so there's some funny tuning in in there like the guitar he could probably use a heavier gage string on the bottom it's kind of pitching up when he hits hard and uh I don't know if I agree with all of those bass note choices but you know we're just trying to capture this performance and make it sound as good as we can so we're not going to modify any of their notes or try to reach you on the guitar stuff and the other thing that I'm seeing here is um it looks like it was a five tom's um that are all might yet um so what we have for drum tracks or what we were given for drum tracks is kick left kick right overhead and room there's no other drum tracks so um apparently the recorder that was used for this didn't have enough inputs to record the toms in the snare so that's goingto pose a big challenge later and it looks like they're all so it looks like there's only uh mano overhead so really we're gonna have to find a way to get all of our snare and tom sound out of just the mono overhead and the stereo room track so that'll be challenging but you know I think the first you know, sixty years or so of recorded music they weren't close miking drums so you know, led zeppelin records sound good and there's not close mikes on those so hopefully like I mean I'm no glyn johns but hopefully I can make something happen you know, the production style for this kind of man is also obviously different requirements than a led zeppelin or um or something even earlier than that so we want to tryto find a wayto get snare and tom's that feel bit more modern than that and and can cut through the wall of guitars but uh you know we should be able to make it happen we'll figure out a way let's keep watching we're almost at the end of the song wait the hell I was gonna see if this is this guy like holding up oh this guy's holding up his starbucks ice coffee that's pretty that's pretty metal yeah wait, I missed something. I'm gonna go back for a second here. Some backing vocals came in, so let's, just take a look at what's going on with those. Yeah, I, uh, can't really see, you know, there's. Not like a shot of anybody singing the backing vocal, but I feel like I've studied this quite a bit and and decided it was the bass player, because the the guitar players, mike, is kind of aimed the ceiling. So all right, we're almost at the end, let's. Just keep listening, right? All right, cool. So all right, cool. So that's tune. I'm just going to turn off video for now, just so we can see what's going on approach will screen and but we'll refer back to that periodically.

Class Description

The best way to get a great recording is to start with great source material, but that’s not always possible. Occasionally you are stuck with a less-than-perfect recording and the only thing you can do is to try and clean it up. 

Lucky for you, there are reliable techniques for restoring poorly recorded audio, and Kurt Ballou will teach you everything you need to know in Fix it in the Mix. 

While replacing drums with samples and reamping guitars are often effective ways to rebuild a sub-par recording, they are time-consuming and can diminish the uniqueness of the original recording. 

Fix it in the Mix will explore organic approaches to recovering and enhancing the natural tones from the original performances. Kurt will use recordings from real-world scenarios and walk you through, in detail, the audio restoration process. 

In Fix it in the Mix, Kurt will show you how to think outside of the box to come up with creative solutions to audio restoration problems every engineer has faced. 

Ratings and Reviews

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An absolutely fantastic course for anyone who is new (or even experienced) on how to use very innovative techniques to help bring some life to an otherwise poorly recorded demo. Thank you Kurt!


another fantastic course in the creative live audio section, kurt kills it,!! thank you!

Ashton Thebault

Definitely some handy tips in here that are useful for mixing live music, poorly recorded tracks and anything else that couldn't be rectified during recording. Kurt gave some tips I had never thought of and there were some valuable insights that came out from his discussions with people in the room. Very valuable if you deal with any sub-standard recordings and if you just want to get some tips.