Some of the mix methodology we’re using for our latest project
The pic on the right is a thumbnail of a full 4K shot of the desktop during one of the mixes, a new song called Tomorrow is Today’s Dream. To see the full size 3840 * 2160 7.2MB version, click the thumbnail.
mixing the new album
“While I don’t want to give away today what’s in this new project, some of the files have been around for some time and the mixes have evolved over time. Some were written in different softaware and the audio and midi files had to be exported out and replaced into new Samplitude files, along with any of the relevant tempo changes and speed ramps. That wasn’t very easy.
I wanted something very consistent that sounded as if it had all been made in 2019. So for the long mix sessions during May-July 2019 I stuck to a very strict methodology. Firstly, all the tracks were mixed in Samplitude 4, which is just the best sounding DAW out there IMHO. I originally mixed Monjour in Sonar but for Analog Universe Cass insisted that I migrate over to Samplitude, and that was probably one fo the best decisions we ever made.
I generally only use a core set of plugins from 4 manufacturers: the native Magix plugins, UAD, Softube and PSP. I’ve been using plugins from some of these developers since before 2007 and I love the way they sound. There are some exceptions, of course. Occasionally I’ll reach for Soundtoys’ EchoBoy or Decapitator, and sometimes use Sonible’s Smart-Comp for spectral sidechaining a kick drum into the bass. Specialist stuff.
Consistent Master Bus Gain Staging and Tape Saturation
Because I wanted a big fat analog sound that was clear, punchy and warm, the Master Bus, which is the final layer in the mix chain, always contained the same plugins in the same order. These were the UAD emulations of the Studer A800 Multichannel Tape Recorder, Fairchild 670 and the Ampex ATR-102, with the gain staging set so the we just drive the Studer a bit with the mix and then the 670 and ATR have no settings other than tapespeed, noise on/off etc, as if I’m just doing straight to master tape. This forced me to ensure that the mix going into the master bus was always the same volume, which would ensure uniformity of tape saturation and compression.
My Favourite Compressor of the Mix Sessions
The primary compressor used on almost every track was the PSP FETPressor. As you probably know, I’m a big fan of PSP and this one is easy to use. Slap it on every track, leave it at default or pump up the volume a bit and listen to those distorted harmonics come in. Works great on kick drums, snares, guitars, keyboards, hammond organs, vocals, drum busses, vocal busses, omnibus and greyhounds, percussion and ouija boards. Doesn’t use much juice either. I also have all the UAD 1176 emulation plugins which sound great, but once you start putting them on every track you soon run out of bandwidth on the interface. Weuse an Apollo that we bought in 2012 so it’s starting to show its age.
There are a lot more guitars on this album than the previous. So for re-amping we used two emulations; the UAD ENGL 765, which sounds beautiful and well-rounded, punchy and clear; and the Scuffham Amps S-Gear, which is very easy to use and get the sound you want. It’s also native 64 and all the emulations come with it. You don’t have to sign up for a shop and pay to play for every new sound, an approach which I don’t like at all.
We’ll follow up on this article with more details in a few weeks.