Mixing: When It’s Morning by The Febs

When It’s Morning by The Febs is a rock country song of 4 minutes and 37 seconds duration. The recording was very slow to take off, however once we had a good system going we got everything done in good time. We also had a second session where we did overdubs of the guitars. And the mixing begins! First of all I organised all the instruments into groups and colour coordinated the instruments as well:

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 12.27.48 PM.png

I really saw this mix as quite a raw, live-sounding bar song, which is why with many of the track the effects aren’t very dramatic. When I first opened the track, my first thought was that the electric guitars really take over the mix. I love what they brought to the mix, however they were way too prominent. To fix this without turning their volume dramatically down, I used Dyn3 Compressor/Limiters side-chain compression on them, where I sent all the vocals to a bus, and that bus was the side-chain, so that whenever any of the vocals played, the guitars would be subtley compressed:Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 12.29.45 PM

The vocal bus also helped to have more control over the volume of the vocals without having to duplicate each separate vocal track individually to boost the loudness. There was one place I thought the electric guitars could be uncompressed, which was at bar 117 (3 mins and 7 secs), where the vocalists sing a chorussed bridge with only the  electric guitar in the background, where it needed to cut through the vocals, so I automated the compression plug-in to turn off at that point:

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 12.33.00 PM

As far as EQ on the electric guitars, I did a subtle high-pass filter around 40Hz with a gentle slope of 6dB/Octave to cut out unnecessary low-end. The high-end on the guitars also seemed to cut through a lot and at times became a bit overbearing, so to meld more with the rich tone of the vocals I made a low-pass filter around 9kHz and also reduced the frequencies in the mid and high-mid frequency areas:

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 12.34.21 PMThe acoustic guitars I really saw as more of rhythm-keeping instrument, which is why I didn’t do a lot of dramatic changes on them. They were already sitting pretty nicely in the middle of the mix, so I made a slight boost at 1.5dB and cut the unnecessary bottom frequencies:

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 12.52.22 PM

I really wanted to make the bass cut through a little bit more as well to balance the higher frequencies of the acoustic and electric guitars, so I boosted the low-mid frequencies and completely cut the high frequencies from around 2.5kHz and up: Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 1.06.50 PM

The vocals in general were recorded very well. I really liked having the room mic there on both the lead and harmony because it gave a really natural reverb that I was easily able to control. Sometimes I found that they seem to cut through more than other times, perhaps the vocalist was moving his head around or facing a different direction at times. It was not a big issue though. There was quite a bit of air, obviously especially in the room vocals, so I cut the high frequencies at 13kHz to make it a bit tighter, and for the same reason added a more dramatic low-pass filter to the room vocals:

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 12.41.06 PM.pngEven though it’s a little unorthodox, I didn’t change anything else in the lead vocals, just put in low- and high-pass filters, because I really liked the rough rich tone of the vocals. However with the chorus vocals I wanted to make them brighter, so I boosted about 2dB up at around 1K and 6K.

As far as EQ goes as a whole, I made a high-pass filter on most of the instruments around 50-70Hz, to remove any unnecessary frequencies/room noise that may have been present. I also used the EQ3 7-Band to put a slight EQ on the master fader, a cut of 1.5dB at 150Hz and a boost of 1.5dB at 2kHz to make it a little less muddy:

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 12.43.20 PM

In the bridge at 3 minutes 40 seconds, the casual ‘When It’s Morning’ by the lead vocalist sounded a little more out of time than it should, so I moved it back a little to be slightly more in time.

Last but not least: drums! The kick and snare were both gated with the Dyn3 Compressor/Limiter to cut out bleed, and I actually took out the snare bottom track altogether because it was very buzzy and I felt that it wasn’t necessary, as the snare top sounded just fine on it’s own:

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 12.45.10 PM.png

I also with the drums mostly left the EQ alone, apart from cutting some lows and a boost for both the kick and snare around 200Hz. Because the kick and snare were both dramatically gated I didn’t find it necessary to cut out the higher frequencies, as the gate should already have cut out the bleed that would otherwise be there:

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 12.47.12 PM.png With the panning, I made the acoustic guitar more left, while the electric guitars were more right, in order to create a more live sort of feeling. For the same reason I made the chorus vocals stereo, and left the lead vocals and drum kit in the middle.

This was a great song to mix, if you want to hear the finished product please see “Grace Rowe_When It’s Morning_The Febs” here.

Thanks for reading!

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