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Fix It In The Mix

Lesson 8 of 17

Room Mic Techniques

Kurt Ballou

Fix It In The Mix

Kurt Ballou

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Lesson Info

8. Room Mic Techniques

Lesson Info

Room Mic Techniques

So I'm not one hundred percent certain about this but I think that jason who recorded and filmed this told me that they recorded that the rooms with like a completely separate system I think he said it was a zoom recorder so the um you know, the room mike was like another track that was then kind of brought into and lined up with the the tracks that he recorded on on his, um his initial recorder so uh that that being the case on dh hey didn't really explain to me where it was positioned but it sounds like from actually let's listen to it before you before you too too much you can leave this up I'm just gonna play the um just gonna play the original room track real quick. Where are you? You are you know, so it sounds like what I expect of room mike in a small club that sound like it's not particularly bhumi. Um there's not like a ton of audience in it. There seems to be a lot of pia so I'm going to guess that it was kind of in the back of the room facing the band because I can I can act...

ually hear quite a bit of tom's in there which is going to be beneficial for us and the kick is extremely spikey in the room mike so going back to these kind of uh o okay so first thing we're gonna dio is um is take a look at this this room track and to see if if it really was this new mcwhorter like I suspect it wass if the person who added it into our session and line it up with the other tracks did a good job lining it up or not so let's switch back to pro tools now and let's look for some like spiky stuff um looks like there's a get some strong kick hits there um so it looks like here's our here's our kick close mike and here's where our kick appears in the room track um so it looks like it's about two milliseconds or so um the room tracks about two milliseconds or so behind the kick which is that I know from experience in my studio that that's really close um like in my studio typically a kick versus room mike um delay would be about fifteen milliseconds um and that's on ly traveling a distance of about twenty feet or so you know we could do speed of sound calculations and figure out exactly what what it needs to be but you know anyway that seems like it's too close to me for um you know for alive a live recording so we might want to look at delaying the laying that room like a little bit so let's go down let's go back to our are edited session and uh take a look at the room track have I done anything? Well, if I did, I did it before like a lot of times I'll go and see what I do here actually oh, yeah I already edited off beginning uh or maybe maybe I can tell from the end of the track if there's a little offset there I can't remember if I already moved this thing or not yeah, it looks like I did so it looks like I moved this thing back bye by about ten milliseconds so the total offset is going to be like twelve or so? So I didn't I didn't push it very, very far but I did push it back a little bit just to just to kind of get out of the way the close mikes and give it a bit more space um turn off all the plug ins that I have on the room mike and the reverb and then just kind of check that out. All right? So you notice in this first beat passage that the, uh, kicks are extremely allowed in the overhead and we might get when we start kind of trying combine excuse me about the room, mike we start trying combine this room like with the close mikes we might have some problems just because that kick in the room my csis so spikey so and also the symbols are still pretty harsh. Um, and cheap sounding in this room, mike and oh, I forgot to mention the other reason why I suspect this thing was that zoom recorder is because even though it's a stereo track it's not very wide sounding, um, you know, even even even hard pans, it seems kind of narrow. And I think that those those those recorders are all, like blue line style microphone positioning, which is a pretty which is very phase coherent, but not like the kind of the widest sound imaginable. So I'm going to make sure we keep this thing hard, pan, just because we want as much stereos we can out of it, and then okay, let's, let's, try let's. Try a few different things to try to coaxum some life out of this room might make it a bit more flattering and also set it up to combine well with the close mikes. And I think the first thing I'd like to try is just a di essere to try toe without its instead of using like an e q to dull the top end and remove symbols, we can use a di essere to soften that, but to soften it in a dynamic way, so that when, um you know the things that need to be with things that need to kind of poke through and be bright that air that have some trans in response can still poke through but the the sort of prolonged the harshness of the symbols can be could be suppressed a bit so check that mostly what that's doing is bringing the guitar into focus it's it's turning down a bit of the hi hat and um and also kind of taken down just a hair the top of those like really spiky kicks and bringing the guitar into focus let's hear it again so it's subtle but it's ah it's useful and I think you know, one of one of one of the takeaways from this thing this whole course should be doing a lot of subtle things and the cumulative effect of all those subtle things as toe where it can take you all right, so um now we're gonna try an instance of broke you two on this room track and as I mentioned before it's for steri attack it's pretty it's pretty narrow sounding so I've actually engaged the mid side mode of pro que tu es and now as I'm as I'm making moves it's the equalizer is processing the the centre channel of the single independently of the left channel of the signal it's a bit hard to like kind of wrap your head around the math as to what meet side is, but basically what it is is, um, a way in which stereo channels can be processed with the information that center pants can be processed independently of the of the information that isthe side pant. However, the things that are side hand the processing done to those those two sides are locked together toe with mid side, you can't process the left independently of the right, but you can cross process the middle independently of both sides. So one of the ways that I'm gonna add a bit of spread and also try toe cut down a bit of it like that annoying kick drum stuff in this is to process this with a mid side equalizer. So let's, let's, hear what that's doing so it's pretty subtle, but but here's here's what I'm doing, just let me explain what I'm doing, so I'm using low shelf on the sides because, um, we don't need a whole lot of base and the stuff on the outer reaches we want we want tohave are low in coming from the center and be focused in the middle. I'm also, um, carving out a bit of the annoying kick frequencies with two different, very, very subtle mid bells mid mid range frequency bells, teo, remove some kick and then also on the sides, I'm adding a bit of air and this is mostly just to compensate for removing some of the air with this dsr going to restore a bit of the air with pro que tu on the sides so hopefully that yes, sir is still kind of d s in the centre channel and it's it's leveling the the amount of high frequency content in the sides, and then that that leveled high frequency content is being raised by adding a bit of air with this high shelving q on the sides with broke you two so let's hear that one more time, you know, I wantto pull a little bit more of this. Kick out someone a solo, the band and try to really find where the kick is. All right, let's remove mohr game there too, and probably bit narrower it's still there, but it's it's a little bit less spiky and hopefully will allow biltmore the close mike to come through um, all right next up. Going to get weird with the hoffa e q. Now this, um, the gooey on this thing is not quite as graceful as the gooey on pro que tu but it's super powerful and one of the reasons why I like the hot chick who is that you can toggle individual bands in and out of dynamic mode so it's you know typically functions as a normal equalizer but if you if you want you can use it as a dynamic equalizer so it's not quite a compressor but it works on similar sort of envelope detection where um where the gain of a particular band of e q is not fixed that gain is controlled by a threshold a vault volume threshold with within that band and enables you to either exaggerate or or suppress certain certain hugh bands in a dynamic fashion so let's check out what I'm doing without him amusing I'm only I only have dynamic man's engaged in hyeon hye mid area that I'm doing a bit of kind of conventional steri queuing down in the low meds so check it we're doing with that thing e could be a bit more heavy handed with the dynamic hugh stuff that I'm doing to kind of squash the kick in the annoying kicks in the room. Mike so let's ah let's sell up these two high bands and see what I'm doing specifically in those regions ah, I forgot you can't actually adjust anything while you're soloing inhofe but you can use it to kind of dial in certain frequencies so let's just make sure I'm at the right frequency yeah, that sounds like that kick but I think I found some more of it at a different frequency and maybe like an octave up or so there's also some junkie sounding high hat stuff up there somebody we can squash it with the kicking and the hot and the annoying hat at the same time yes, doing a pretty good job about about removing some of the annoying symbols and tucking in the kick a little bit so that's that's helpful and then back to our trusty uh pro multi band kind of doing some or the same kind of stuff where we're we're adding air but also squashing the high so that the highs are more consistent and trying to add a bit of a bit of punched the loam ids um and and some control to the base so that our low frequency stuff coming from the kick drums the toms and bass guitar get art stepping on what's having the room mike's so let's get this thing ah, looks like I'm also using this this plug in teo to compensate for a little bit of a volume discrepancy between the left and right channels of the room mike so as asm bypassing it we're hearing a bit of a stereo shift but yes, and in addition to what I described earlier, this is also yet a further step with this high made band of of kicks bike control so what's here just that solo and this is actually may be a bit more flattering to the music in bypass but um from my experience like you know you don't necessarily want a lot of like especially a lot of bottom in coming from your ambient mike's because when you have low and coming from too many sources that can get it can get pretty muddy so we're kind of trying reduce the bottom end here so that it's coming you know mostly from only only a few sources of the places that really need it so one more quick little listen I'm able to get a bit more meat out of the sneer on this way as well all right s o now some or decapitate I love this thing basically doing the same kind of stuff that I was doing um to the overheads to the room mike uh bring bring the bottom end into focus and at and having that weight in the bottom and be maurine the high based low mid region rather than the sub base region and then using the hype the high cut filter teo class at the top and make make it sound like a more expensive microphone and um and also just breaking up a little bit and using the drive control the kind of even things out so uh let's let's check this out and instead of using bypassed this time, I think I'm just going to use the wet dry control so we can kind of blend between unprocessed and processed so one thing I'm doing with this I'm using quite a bit more drive on this than I used on the overheads and that's that's for two reasons it's again that kick just is so loud in the p a that I'm trying to get rid of that this brings up sort of the average level of the track which which helps reduce the kick but also I'm using the drive control kind of as a compressor and that helps the room feel ah bit larger because the kind of the the ratio between like the peak transient type stuff and the room decay is reduced so I'm here and mohr I'm hearing more of the decay and less of the less of the close attack so I'm just I'm trying to like wash it out really on dh make it not seem quite as direct so let's hear that bit more bearing that stuff in mind we really got a lot more body out of the drums and mohr sort of presence out of the guitar in particular you know due in part to this drive control but also just the filter when they were doing get rid of ah like the extreme high and low frequencies that we don't really want uh so we got that and then also to kind of spread it out spread it out a bit and put it in the correct space we're gonna add a bit of river bas well so just as a bit of a reach realism kind of a sense of sense of being there so um it's next all right so that's it for for drums for now let's go before we move on but some let's just listen to the drums as a hole for a second see and admire our work and talk and feel good about ourselves for for having done something on dh something I'm I'm going solo sell up the kick overhead and room tracks from the recording as delivered and then also compare it to the tracks we've been we've been working on so here's the way it used to sound and sorry you're not going to see it changing in pro tools I'm actually switching it at this little consul here so uh right now I'm gonna play the red tracks which is how it was delivered so one of things I kind of think about that as I got to make that overhead super loud just to be able to hear any snare so that left hand crashes just made a loud all the time um so now let's hear what I've what I've done so far and see if it's a bit more pleasing I just screwed myself um sorry just adjusted some drums I didn't mean to um anyway s oh yeah you can hear it it's sending the bit class here and ah bit mohr kind of kind of organic and uh I only just listen just a little bit more, because I kind of screwed up my balances and get rebounds in a bit. All right, so anyway, uh, it's, not mix, isn't exactly perfect now, but, you know, again, kind of. Let me let me play the original one more one more time, just a little comparison, and then and then my version. So it's still not like a studio quality recording, but I think it's, a bit class. You're standing in a bit better balance with s'more kind overall, overall control of each instrument.

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. 



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.