Signal Repair

For most our tracks in the ep, we had used different ways of repairing audio in our tracks to make them more coherent and clean any potential problems when mixing or mastering. Crossfades were mainly a technique we used to merge small succession of audio and even merge long audio clips that were inherently very noisy such as foley or low level guitar picks.

An example of this is the car door beeps that we had to quantise to be used as intro for our track sleepy. To match it up with the tempo of the song we had to individually cut every track at its transients and lock them to every beat of the grid whilst applying cross fades to avoid pops and clicks with signal polarity mismatches.

 

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We had also used a varying degree of signal repairing on some dialogues that we had recorded for our CIU project. In this we used basic dynamic processing techniques such as a de-esser and a de-breather.We shaved the HF by -11.5dBFS around 2.8kHz. We originally set the threshold at 5kHz since it was enough to clean the sibilances but 2.8kHz made sure to clean any potential problems since we had a lot of assets to fix. We used a low-cut filter to remove all the low frequency breath noises to clean the audio furthermore.

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Mastering Chain

For the mastering chain we had mainly used basic dynamic processing to adhere to most of the current standards that are set today in the mastering scene. Guy’s mastering classes were integral to most of what we applied whilst in this stage from both a technical and musical perspective. The key points he stated

We started the chain with some basic compressing that we only took an RMS of 2 db from the exported mixed track. This attack and release was very dependant on the track of the song and slower songs tend to have a slower attack whilst faster up tempo ones had a quick one. I found that the compression in 2db is enough to gel the track really well whilst also keeping a coherent dynamic range in the track.

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We had also applied very subtle sub-bass enhancement to round off the bottom frequencies more and to make certain sub frequencies more prominent. I chose to enhance frequencies between 50-200 because that is where most of the body of guitar sounds are and enchanting them adds a level of artificial depth to them.

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We had also used some frequency comb stereo widening mostly on the fried high ends to enhance stereo imaging. we wanted the more low and mid frequencies to stick mainly central in the mix whilst hi-hats, plucks and string noises to be wide.

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We had also used a linear phase EQ due to the low lag input it has over a normal EQ.  We mainly removed most of the muddy sub frequencies around 20hz to 50hz with a shelf EQ to

For Axiom, we removed 200hz and 1khz because in certain ports of the song, these frequencies were to jarring and these notch EQs’s tamed them down so that they were more uniform with the rest of the song.

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We used a multi-band compressor to round of the frequency bands more during the more dynamically loud parts of the music setting a threshold to shave around 2-3db off each band.

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We also used a direction mixer to make the track more coherent stereo wise and did some minor tweaks to make it correlate more for mono compatibility.

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We had then used an enveloper to shape the transients more to the point where they did not stick out from the mix too much. We had also toned down the release of the track to reduce mud and standing frequencies to achieve a tighter mix overall.

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As for the metering we made sure the track was well correlated and mono compatible. We had also made sure both the RMS on each stereo channel was round the same level for more uniform parts of the song to avoid more phasing issues.

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To round of the chain, we had also stuck an adaptive limiter to brick-wall the signal at -0.3dBFS. This made sure that no clear audible distortion could be heard compared to the ceiling being being raised to 0dBFS.

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However, guy did teach us about stem mastering and parallel limiting days after we had already mastered it and so we did not put the processes in there but we have noted it for future mastering processes from this day on. The purpose of the master was to hear potential problems when hearing it in a loud level environment and so these processes helped shaped the sound to be more coherent fixed any potential problems with transients.

TOKYO DRIVE CLUB – Project Analysis

 

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For our major project we had constructed a 5 track EP with the main theme of adventure and driving in mind. There were several points in the project that we had felt was executed to its fullest potential and at a satisfactory standard. One of our strengths was working within time pressure. Since we had a solid pre-production plan and a strong work ethic we completed much of the creative side nailed down. Technical aspects aside, our planning made it so that the technical side of the project was already prepared before hand or planned. This involved what microphones we were going to use, instruments, and musical ideas down before starting them so that we can have a kickstart on the project without wasting time. This had also mean that we had recorded a plethora of assets to use and even have the time to sift through certain audio assets that can be used.

One other aspect that we felt went right was our approach to work ethic. Most of the time whilst undertaking this project, we were dedicating and allocating most of our time and resources in the task that we had already planned weeks ahead. The strong team structure also meant that each individual member was performing different tasks such as foley,composition,editing and management. This had saves us heaps of time since we had dedicated these roles entirely due to everybodys weaknesses and strengths and by having this most of our workflow came naturally and efficiently.

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In the group i was the main composer for the overall EP and mainly the person to start ideas and finish them till completion. Sam was in charge of playing the instruments such as the guitar and keyboard and was the main musician for most the sessions we had. Josh was the main foley capturer as most of our tracks were very foley orientated. this included the main ambience and also the percussions that were used in the track. Jordan was in charge of file and logistics management.

For more information check this blog
https://dibsaudio.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/lo-13-14-lo-25/

Sleepy

The track has a central focus on foley which incorporates itself into the track. The track starts of with a car ride initiation . This track was particularly interesting due to the fact that we had to direct not only musical performances but also sound design performances as the track starts off with a scene where the listener is transported into the a car ride.

This was especially interesting because we had to setup a microphone to where the listener would be if they were in the car ride with us whilst also capturing and mixing different foley so that it sounded appropriate spatially. We also had to plan dialogue for the initial half of the song to set a scene of the song.

Musically we wanted to capture a more live jazz/bossa-nova feeling and so the acoustic guitar was integral to the melodic content of the song. Instrumentally, most the track was glued by the same instrumentations for continuity. The use of guitars is also very prominent in the EP and has the same playing techniques and processing in every track. We had also used the same guitar and vst’s to get the same sound in every track in the EP.

Holiday

This track came eventually after many trial and error of how we wanted our EP to sound like as this track set the underlying tone to what sort of percussive sounds we wanted and also different modelling synths we wanted to use. This was also where had used midi and soft synths to shape the ep more than our more acoustic first track.

The main melody came from a kalimba and was the main instrumentation for the song. musically the song was very simple as we did not want to overwhelm the audience to much from the previous track.

Dreaming

Dreaming was a track that spawned off the previous track and has the same instrumentations and emotional responses. Most of the track was composed in midi with more deep house influences than the previous track where it had a tropical mis-en-scene to it. Most of the guitars were recorded with electric and processed using pedalboard in logic and frequency automated using the pencil tool.

The song is a blend between more traditional synths and live instrumentation and is by far one of our more up-tempo tracks. Thematically, This is the part of the track where the journey is at its peak and so we wanted to motivate the listener with something more livelier as they are thematically halfway through the journey.

Late Night

This track was our second laid back track instrumentally and sets a place in the setlist as more of a stripped down version of the ep where it was at its bare-bone the main ideals of driving music.musically the song was very simple and was built around the prominent bass riff that drives the song. Progressively, the track was very minimalistic with more certain synths appearing late into the track. Percussion wise it was heavily layered with certain frequencies as the stock kicks by itself was very dry and did not gel the frequencies as much. We also included some vocal harmonies to transition between certain sections instead of using pads which we used vocal transformer and a chorus to harmonically thicken the sound up.

Axiom

One of the tracks Axiom is an orchestral track which was musically different than the other up-tempo tracks. For this we mainly used orchestral elements such as Timpani’s for the percussions and Strings to bolster the mid frequencies and act as a pad instead of the synths we had. This track was meant as a release to the journey as it set a triumphant tone in the song. However we still wanted to keep the overall electronic side of the ep and so we had used a basic saw-wave table to create the arpeggios for the track to bridge the more orchestral elements with the electronic one.

Tall Poppy Recording & Contracts

For the second part of the recording, we had recorded the other half of “The Caves” project in Tall Poppy Studios.

Firstly, we had to sign an NDA contract, in which we had to fully disclose the tracks that we were working on. This meant no screenshots on our blogs or even any mention on how the progress of the tracks were going. The contract was also made to maintain a professional relationship and agreement between the artist and SAE. This had also meant “The Cave” would give us access to the stems for mixing since we did record every aspect of her album. The tracks still had a 100% ownership from the “The Cave” but we had access to use it for educational purposes.

This was interesting for me as i have never signed a contract before and seeing the inner workings and agreements that would appear on a contract was interesting. This especially was prevalent as there was some drama regarding the projects being withheld from us due to the indecisive nature and trust breaking  issues that would appear even though we had signed a contract disclosing all the information from the outside world.

As for the recording process itself, the technical aspect went rather well with the musicians having issues with takes and uncertainty which bolstered our file sizes to gigantic amounts. There was also the problem of too much takes as most of the work and hours was focused on editing the recordings rather than recording new takes and for some students this was seen as a bad use of the studios since we only had two sesssions over there and not all the equipment was used to its fullest.

However, we did have an opportunity to hear and see more industry professionals work as they run a studio and the way sessions were setup in Tall Poppy. Their workflow was very organized and the way sessions were setup. The way equipment was manually placed such as where mic placements where and manually placing giant sound panels up to reduce specular reflections was interesting. Even checking most of the outboard gear out and them kindly explaining to me how the patching was setup and the uses of the gear was interesting and was more of the reason why i engaged in the sessions.

LO 13 & 14 & LO 25

For referencing we pulled up our list of bands that we wrote in our pre production plan and took notes of what types of processing and musical intentions we wanted from the tracks. The project pre-planning and brief can be read here and includes a list of instrumentation and aesthetic outcomes we wanted to achieve.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NwRh1u2_SqlBfyV52L58TI2ZkwHDcq2dSrycDOtkGz8/edit

For the blog on Aesthetic choices  (LO 16 & 19)

https://dibsaudio.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/lo-16-19/

One Producing technique we took that correlated with the aesthetics of the music we were making was the use of spatial processing. Since guitars were a staple in the EP we used several custom racks from Guitar Rig 5. One technique we used was the use of long releasing reverbs and 16th impulse delays on guitar plucks to create a washed out atmospheric sound. The music we played were also primarily in a minor key and so the sad and melancholic key of the tracks mainly came from the deposition that came with these genres.

We had also recorded different comps for the instrumental tracks such as the guitars to get different velocities and strumming patterns for our tracks. We had also created different melodies and musical phrases in midi and auditioned them with different instruments and soft synth to get more musical ideas to work with. For every track we made, we had used a heavily modified pad preset from the subtractive synth “Massive” which emulated the sound of the reverb guitars we had and which came with a built in arpeggio to emulate the impulse delays from the guitar plucks. Together with the guitars the synths acted as a glue for all the frequencies and served as a common ground for all the songs we had.

Some of the influences we took were from Last Dinosaurs and Tycho in which the use of these both the musical elements and the post processing are very prevalent and what sets the genre apart.

A technique we also did was an A-B comparison of both the mastered track with another track within the same genre and timbre. For this we visually and sonically compared the waveforms to each other. We had also played the tracks in different sound environments such as a studio, a car and through a phone to make sure the key elements were mono compatible and also stuck through the mix. The full mastering blog can be read at a later date.

 

 

LO 16 & 19

 

Some of the art and aesthetic choices for the project came from several sources including music that we had liked and also pictures from several image publishing websites such as “Imgur” and “Tumblr”. Some of the music we had referenced for artwork was taken from bands such as “Last Dinosaurs”,”Oh Wonder” and “Cold Fresh Pillows”. Most of these artwork features vibrant and colourful compositions and so we wanted to reflect that in our music with the use of bright synths and electric guitars.

We had also referenced several youtube channels such as “The Sound You Need” (https://www.youtube.com/user/thesoundyouneed1/videos) that primarily host music like ours and so we had taken several names and aesthetic ideas for our music from the songs hosted here.

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The main underlying theme of the project was quintessentially driving music so we wanted a journey of sound as the tracks progress from indie/slow-core to a sometimes a more driving piece.We had decided for a laid-back vibe when attaching a piece of artwork to the music we were about to make and so we had attached images of picturesque scenes such as mountains or long winding roads to relate to the music. Indie music is something that contains and evokes more emotion than mainstream music. The artists can focus more on what they feel is important rather than worry about a label.

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For our target market, we had compiled a list of demographics that would fir our genre and aesthetic. Since our music is generally a blend of indie and electronic music, we had taken two demographics and generalized them to have a better target audience and a compromise between the two of them. Overall, the ‘Electronic Music Fan’ is majority male, but split mostly 50/50 between them. A heavy portion of the listening population falls in between the age of 18 to 24 for both males and females and so it is fairly music aimed at the youth.

Since we had an idea of our target audience, this had changed our output on how we wanted to shape our sounds. Since most of the demographic for this music is mostly based on the USA and Europe the use of certain instruments such as guitars and synths were mainly used whilst thinking of sound design for the EP since they are mainly used today in pop music made in their following regions.

 

 

 

AUS230 “The Cave” Recording Session

For last weeks session we had recorded “The Cave’s” drum sessions as part of her five track EP. The sessions are divided into different weeks with each week tackling a certain instrumentation and so for week four we were assigned the task of recording bass and drums. However most of the two days were spent solely on drums and the idea of tracking bass is postponed until a further date.

The class were allocated job roles to ensure the session would be evenly distributed. I was assigned the task of bumping in and bumping out which involved the moving in of equipment and also providing and requesting feedback from musicians if everything went smoothly before and after the recording session. Since the equipment was a drum kit there was a lot of heavy lifting for both the drums and the amount of microphones we had to rent out for the session so the bump in crew came early and help hauled the gear in early for the other roles to help setup.

We used a combination of condensers and dynamics  microphones to record each piece of kit. We had primarily setup a list of all the microphones that were involved and labelled them with their respective usage. However after some time in the studio, we had ditched a couple of other microphones or even swapped

The full list can be read below :-

Instrument Mic
Kick In RE20
Kick Beater SM57
Kick Out AT2050
Snare Top 1 Rode M3 (Guy Gray)
Snare Top 1 Shure SM7B
Snare Bottom KM 184
Hi Hat C451
Rack Tom 1 MD421
Rack Tom 2 MD421
Floor Tom MD421
OH Left – Ride Royer 121
OH Right – Hi Hat Royer 121
Room M C414 / Neumann U87
Room S C414 / Neumann U87
Room L Crown PZM
Room R Crown PZM

For microphone placements, we used a variety of stereo and mono recording techniques to record both the ambient and direct sounds of the kit. Most of the directions on mic placements came from Guy as he supervised us all on the distance and also the angles in which he wanted the microphones to be placed.

I was not involved on the operation of the pro-tools session since i was bumping in and setting up the studios for the recording session with guy but the mic-list and mic placement pre-production was integral to get the ball rolling on the recording session. There were also A-B mixes of the percussions to get the right sounds and rhythmic nature of the drums as close to the reference as possible.

By far the most interesting usage of stereo miking was the use of the Blumlein recording technique to capture stereo width within the drum kit itself. The Blumlein was setup in an overhead way and rotated slightly to where the front address was facing the far reaches of the drum kit. We had also built a sound tunnel for the kick drum as Guy had wanted to isolate the kick drum to sound as dry as possible without outside bleed from the plethora of other sounds that would be active at that time. This added an extra thickness and punch to the kick from the other high frequency nature of the genre.

Toward the end of the session, Guy had shown us some post-processing techniques such as parallel compression using the distresor to make the kick and snare more punchier and powerful than the already precise setup we had. He had also talked about phasing and proper use of corelation within stereo mixes to make it mono compatible. Overall i felt both the setting up and the post processing was a great learning outcome for me personally but the process was rather long and tedious and could be more efficient if the sessions were organized before hand with more time for collateral and extra takes due to the indescive nature of the musican.

The Second part of the recording at Tall Poppy Studios

https://dibsaudio.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/tall-poppy-recording-contracts/

Horror Scape

For my Horrorscape i decided to recreate an eerie atmosphere of being in an asylum or an abandoned hospital. I wanted to create a dark atmosphere with a back story behind it through the use of both musical and sound design elements. I took a risk in choosing music theory as the main method to achieve this effect rather than a sound design orientated track. The main ambient guitar chords was the main tool i used to evoke an emotional response in the listener and is reminiscent of a lot of horror game soundtracks such as ‘The Last of Us’ or ‘Silent Hill’.

For last trimester we went to Boggo Road and recorded some foley such as rusty doors and metal clanging. I decided to use some of the more agressive transient hits and atmospheric noises and reversed them to build the tension up for certain sections. Ive also delayed and looped some short transients hits such as clicks and door creaks at really quickly rate to change the hits into a very harsh synth due to how many samples a re playing a second. Ive also used frequency and distortion automated to create an interesting transition into certain sections.

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The blog post can be found here

https://dibsaudio.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/boggo-road-goal-recording/

For the guitars ive recorded an electric guitar with a high gain which was slowly played using a bow. As i used ‘The Last of Us’ as my main influence I primarily used D minor diminished chords and octotonic scales to create an uneasy feeling to the track and was later pitched a whole octave down to recreate the lower chords. The signal was put into a delay unit and a heavy use of reverb with a large room size and a wet only signal to recreate the feeling of being in a large expansive building.

Some references on chords can be found here

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Ive also used massive to create a synth which was used to bolster the guitars high end frequencies. I layered a sine wave to create a sub bass and layered white noise to create the a very harsh sharp noise to the noise. Ive used as classic tube to add digital clipping to the synth and introduce a lot of pressure in the lower frequencies.

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For the laugh and the breath i primarily used vocal transformer to recreate the sound of a little girl laughing. Ive also reversed some breath noises and pitched them down with reverb to further add atmosphere within some sections of the track. Ive also included a playground foley which I’ve recorded last year and automated the pitch to decrease as the composition goes on to create a more sinister change from the creepy introduction.

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LO5- Critiquing Aesthetic and Technical Processes of Productions

Nine Inch Nails – The Hand That Feeds

Common musical elements of industrial rock consist of heavy distortion droning riffs and a brick-wall of sounds from noisy guitars. The use of heavy distorted guitars, violent vocals and large dense drum kits are very common within this genre, and are constructed to sound brute and harsh. The specific use of instruments such as guitars, drums and vocals means that they are limited in terms of musical experimentation but the extensive use of processing to these individual instruments provides the timbre and sonic characteristic to the genre.

For example the use of distortion and the introduction of bit-crush on the palm muted guitars, synths and the hi-hats introduces a layer of high frequency noise and also degrades the signal to the point where it pierces through the mix. Having more high end presence, evokes excitement and energy into the songs as the song slowly introduces high-passes its way in. The aesthetics of harsh noise and distorted signals can be said to contrasts that of mainstream music such as pop by being somewhat flawed but at the same time embracing those flaws to bring in more alternative crowds who do not.

The use of synthesizers are also common within this genre with the use of basic low frequency oscillators to thicken the sound up or piercing saw wave arpeggios to bolster the high end energy from the electric guitars. The use of a signal generated white noise is also used to give energy to the track and further add more abrasive characteristics such as the hi-hats.

 The use of a very brick-walled compression settings on the percussions also introduces a certain dynamic intent where the constant drive of the drums is similar to that of a war drum. The toms and kicks are tuned to be low and punchy and this sort of sound compliments the other heavy sounds from the guitars and the synths. The use of four to the floor playing evokes certain reactions into the audience such as danger, aggression, conflict, tension and can be similiar to the driving force of a marching beat.

Lyrically,”The Hand That Feeds” is a verbal attack on the United States Government, specifically the Bush Administration and its foreign policy, but can be interpreted as speaking out against abusive authority in general. Following the lyrical intent of the song, the use of harsh vocals and screaming are prominent in this genre since it reflects the anti establishment attitude of the song and also compliments the distorted guitars and large drum kit. The vocals in this song also feature delay and reverb to differentiate between the dry instrumentations in the background.

High And Dry – Radiohead

The definition of High and Dry simple equates to being left helpless in a situation because you aren’t given something you need or were promised. The sombre feeling of the song goes well with this message as the song primarily features a very minimalistic production style with clean guitars, washed out percussions and a sombre tone for the vocals.

However, most Radiohead songs have a surface meaning, and then a deeper hidden or even an almost unintentional meaning which seems to reflect the depressing and cruel state of society and the way it has moulded people. The contrast between the heavy distorted guitar and the clean acoustic guitar can be said to be a reflection of this message as the clean guitars have a very pure and honest sound to them while the distorted guitar can be a reflection on anger,hate or even anxiety. These distorted guitars only appear on the chorus of the track and can be said to contrasts between the more sombre tone of the verses while the chorus can be used as a release of all the built up tensions that this track has progressed into. These jumps in contrast calms the listener and signals whatever conflict or event that had just happened has subsided and the use of a reverb tail to indicate the end of the song can be said to indicate a resolution and hope.

High and Dry can also be interpreted as how a person can be shaped by what other people want them to be. With the best intentions, you “turn into something you are not”. For a while, if you’re good, you can appear to be everything expected. This blends well with the overall aesthetic of the track as the song as it utilizes a minor chord progression with a few major chords which creates a facade between of being a hopeful but at the same time a haunting and sad look into social and cultural norms.

The vocals mainly employ a very dry production technique as there is a minimal use of post processing such as reverb, delays and compression. This very dry use of processing gives the track a honest tone to his voice as if untouched by any sort of post processing and coloration done in most tracks of this genre with the use of washed out vocals and pitch correction.

Nick Tart Mixing Session

For Nick Tart’s mixing session, i referenced a lot of early 90s rock in the similar veins of ACDC or Iron Maiden. A major process that was used in most of my references was the heavy use of hall reverb to emulate the sound of a massive rock concert. These process were heavily used in almost every track from the guitars, and vocals all the way to percussion hits such as snares and kicks.

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Before mixing i cut the vocals up into smaller tracks which i applied different reverb settings to. So for that i did not use the global reverb setting that i applied for the other tracks but its own insert.

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Most of the tracks were processed in a similar way and in a similar order except for the guitars where an extra stereo widener was used to separate it further when during the mix. Another small addition was the use of a De-esser in the vocals to reduce the sibilance of certain vowels and was apparent due to the fact that a ribbon microphone was used.

  • Dynamic Processing

A compressor was used to glue the mix together and was integral to equalising the dynamics so that the sound was not overly loud or soft. Sometimes more dynamic processing was used after the chain to compress the wet sounds from the reverb that used at the end of the chain since i wanted the actual room space to be dynamically equal to the dry sounds.

  • EQ

EQ was then applied to cut frequencies that were unwanted or even boost certain frequencies that needed more presence. Most of the EQ applied was very minor only shaving or adding 2 to 5 dBFS of dynamic reduction.

For example, the bass track included a low pass filter that was used to cut every frequency above 7kHz since the actual recording was very plucky and included unwanted metallic noises which clashed with the vocals and the percussions.

An instance where i added frequencies was the vocals or hi hats where i used a shelf EQ to boost frequencies above 10kHz to add more brilliance or intelligibility to the sound and to make them stick through.

  • Reverb

Reverb was used to add bulk to the dry sounds and was used to sometimes artificially increase the loudness of the track instead of a typical dBFS boost. The way reverb was setup was using a send for the overall reverb of the tracks and a smaller room reverb for the vocals. Rather than washing all of the sound with the same setting, different more precise reverb control was used with different room sized and RT decay settings for more of the sounds that were panned in the centre.

  • Stereo Panning

Panning was necessary to separate the tracks into different stereo pockets in the mix. I went for a typical rock panoramic utilising wide guitars and percussions with the bass and vocals offset slightly from the centre. For the stereo recorded tracks such as guitars and overheads extra stereo wideners was used to separate and clean the mix even more and give the guitars its own place in regards to the other harmonic content such as vocals.

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  • Distortion

Distortion can be described as an alteration of a sound source that can add harmonic content or frequency distortion by adding amplitude to a signal. Adding harmonic content on the percussions can add overtones to a sound source which can thicken up percussions such as adding punch to a kick.

Ive also introduced digital clipping into the sound source as a byproduct of distortion. Clipping is a form of distortion that limits a signal once it exceeds a threshold.Hard clipping results in many high frequency harmonics which i found desirable when mixing certain percussions such as snares to add more punch and even introduce more energy in the higher frequencies to make certain percussions stick through the mix.

For this process i used dynamic distortion which is usually used in strong spikes, usually from percussion instruments to give a live music impact. Distortion was used in a very irregular way in that it was used as a way to add grit and noise to kicks and snares. By increasing the distortion in the percussions it brought the transients out which in turn bought more energy to the track especially in the chorus. A little extra low order harmonic distortion produces a pleasant fullness and depth that has an easy-on-the-ears quality

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Parallelhomeaudio.net,. (2015). Types of Audio Distortion. Retrieved 27 August 2015, from http://www.parallelhomeaudio.net/TypesAudioDistortion.html