Mixing Tips: How to Use Reverb to Create Depth

Introduction

Mix engineers that have had their time behind a board can pick out the misuse of Reverb when they hear it. Just like with anything, applying the proper Reverb requires more time than just scrolling through the presets of the basic Hall, Room, and Plate algorithms.

Overview

Music tends to have a significant three-dimensional experience to it. This concept requires the understanding of width, height, and depth. The best way to understand this is to find a pair of large studio headphones and listen to some billboard topping hits that have dense and complex instrumentation. Grab a sheet of paper and draw two lines intersecting as well as one diagonally through the middle. Label them “Width”, “Height”, and “Depth”. Make a few copies of this sheet and as you listen to the music observe where the instruments sit in the mix. Mark the Toms, Snare, Kick, Vocals, Guitars, Keys, Backing Vocals, Bass, Strings etc. in their respective places on this XYZ plane. Once finished compare and contrast the different songs you listened to and you may notice how different each song turns out. Take one of your own mixes and do the same. You may learn something about your own techniques.

What does this little (more…)

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Mixing Video Series: How to use Compression with the CA2A in SONAR X3

Mixing with Compression is an essential part to shaping and creating a great sounding track. In this video series I take you through a track-by-track video that shows you how to use compression on various types of instruments in SONAR X3 with the CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier. You can use compression to control levels, enhance dynamics, and much more. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and check out this series today.

 

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Mixing Tips: Know Your Signal Flow in SONAR

Signal Flow is an important concept to understand, and it may be easier to think about when presented with a diagram of how audio is passes through SONAR.

Inputs and Outputs – Easier than you think!

The first concept to understand is the relationship between Inputs and Outputs. There isn’t anything complex about the subject unless you over-think it.  It is the underlying theme to just about anything within your Digital Audio Workstation. Always remember the following:

  • Outputs: Always feed Inputs
  • Inputs: Always fed by Outputs

Sometimes Outputs can be named “Outs or Sends” and sometimes Inputs are labelled “Ins or Returns.” If you’re a guitar player then you can associate this concept with the FX Loop that exists on the back of your amp. You use this to Send audio to your effects pedals and then back to your Amp’s Return.

First, let’s start where audio starts. Typically it begins with an instrument or audio file:

Upon opening SONAR many users will head straight to their Media Browser and (more…)

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Joerg Kohring: Former Guitarist of Lifehouse Finding Success with SONAR and a Solo Music Career

We recently got a chance to sit down with Joerg Kohring who is an LA-based singer/songwriter/producer working out of Los Angeles.  Originally from Germany, Joerg found his current musical path originally playing guitar in the award winning band Lifehouse.  Since then, he has found success with his own LA-based band Orbit Monkey as well as his production work with other artists.  Orbit Monkey’s debut record “Are We Alive” came out in 2011 and the band gained many fans from the recordings.  Since then, the band recently released a follow-up EP titled “Born to be Kings” and has released another single/video titled “On Fire” which was recorded and produced completely in SONAR X3.

(more…)

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Mixing with the Console Emulator

Mixing with the Console Emulator

Snake oil, or useful processor? Read on, and find out

by Craig Anderton

Console Emulator plug-ins are controversial. First, a lot of people are convinced they don’t really make a difference. Second, there’s the philosophical question of whether emulating a console is a good thing—after all, you’re emulating imperfections. And third, there’s the question of which console you want to emulate.

However, before you can judge whether a console emulator is going to be useful, you need to know how to use it correctly…so let’s investigate.

About Console Emulation

There are legitimate reasons why analog consoles can sound different compared to mixing “in the box,” and also, legitimate reasons why some might consider these differences desirable. Technically speaking, there are two main differences compared to digital summing.

First, analog circuitry has inherent non-linearities (or in less polite terms, distortion). As a signal goes through multiple analog stages, these non-linearities add up although the end result can still be extremely low-level. Because there are differences between the left and right channels, this tends to “widen” the image and create the appearance of a wider soundstage. If the distortion is relatively high, as can be the case with older consoles, distortion generates harmonics in the audio spectrum’s upper range. With increased highs, and given that highs are more directional, this can widen the sound even further.

Second, consoles often use audio transformers and it’s not an overstatement to say that transformers are some of the most complex signal processors ever introduced into a signal chain. What’s more, the transformer’s characteristics are dependent on the circuitry that surrounds it—such as the source impedance, capacitive loading, resistive loading, and the like. For example, the external circuitry may damp some of the “ringing” that occurs when passing square waves through audio transformers. Transformers also generate distortion (primarily odd-order) that’s highest at lower frequencies. While the effect of all of these variables is subtle, many people like the sonic characteristics transformers can impart to a signal. Overall, good transformer implementations provide a somewhat “fatter” low end, and can add “warmth.”

Inserting Cakewalk’s Console Emulator

As with any processor, there are no rules if you want to get creative—so take the following as personal preferences, not as “rules” that must be followed.

Prior to mixing, I’d recommend inserting a Console Emulator Channel plug-in (CEC for short) last in the ProChannel for every track, and a Console Emulator Bus plug-in (CEB for short) in the master bus. The easiest way to do this is with the Quick Grouping command: in the Console view, open a ProChannel in a non-selected track. Then while holding the Ctrl key, right-click within the ProChannel, select Insert Module, and choose Console Emulator Channel; this places the CEC last in every audio track. You’ll need to insert the CEB in the master bus manually, as Quick Group works only across similar track types.

To ensure that the CEC is last in the chain, place the ProChannel post-FX bin (right-click in a blank space or effect header in the ProChannel, then select Post FX Bin—see Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Placing the ProChannel post-FX bin, and inserting the Console Emulator plug-in as the last effect in the ProChannel, guarantees that all effects in the track will go through the Console Emulator.

(more…)

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Mixing Tips: Ten Nasty Mixing Mistakes

Not happy with your mixes? One of these reasons might be why

By Craig Anderton

Mixing is tough enough as is, but avoiding the following mistakes just might help the process go a little more smoothly—and give you audibly better results.

1. Mixing in a lousy monitoring environment

If you mix in a room with horrible acoustics or use inaccurate speakers that do tricks like hype the bass, your mix is doomed. You may think it sounds fine, and it might, because you’re compensating for the monitoring deficiencies. But as soon as you get the mix outside of your environment, it will likely sound dreadful.

To solve this problem, strive to use speakers that emphasize accuracy. They may not flatter your music that much, but that’s the point: If your mix sounds great over accurate speakers, it will at least sound decent over other speakers.

Proper acoustic treatment is ideal, but may not be possible. IK Multimedia’s ARC can help with fixing your acoustics (normally I see little value in “room tuning,” but IK’s system is quite effective). Also consider buying a really good set of circumaural headphones, and use them as a reality check compared to your speakers. Just remember that headphones give a particular “flavor” of reality that accentuates ambience and stereo separation; their main use in this case is evaluating the amount of bass because room acoustics aren’t a factor. However if you use something like Beatz, that won’t help—you want headphones designed for monitoring, not consumers.

2. Too much reverb or too little ambience

Some people seem to think that adding lots of reverb will compensate for a problematic part. Actually, all it does is give you a problematic part with too much reverb. Mitigating factor: If you’re doing a 60s revival/tribute recording, then make sure you do use too much reverb if you want to be authentic.

On the other hand, an overly dry sound doesn’t do you any favors either. We usually hear music in an acoustic environment of some kind, so adding in audio like room mics on drums (Fig. 1) can create a much more realistic and satisfying mix.

Fig. 1: Take advantage of the room mic option in Addictive Drums to give a more “real” feel.

Note that with recorded drums that already have some ambience, you can often make the existing ambience more prominent by putting the drums through the Concrete Limiter. By reducing the peaks (more…)

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SONAR X3 Clinic by Craig Anderton – Berklee Online

In case you missed the Berklee Online Webinar with Craig Anderton (March 31st, 2014) – here is the video in it’s entirety! Craig outlines some of his favorite topics including:

  • The MIDI advantage for songwriting
  • Using loops for both songwriting and EDM
  • Speeding up workflow to prevent “inspiration atrophy” (effects chains, track templates, browser techniques, etc.)
  • Creating your own mixer architecture
  • Using “spot” timing correction to tighten timing without destroying feel
  • How to make amp sims sound great (e.g. effects chains)
  • Mastering in SONAR

Learn more about SONAR X3

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Microphone Tips: What is a Polar Pattern?

The Polar Pattern of a microphone determines how the microphone perceives sound 360 degrees around the capsule and ultimately helps engineers decide on a microphone’s use and application. Some microphones have multiple polar patterns while others are designed for one specific pattern. Understanding the sound of any microphone is very important, especially when harnessing that knowledge on a session that has a multi-mic’d instrument.

How to read these patterns

These graphs are read from the top down. 0 degrees is the front of the microphone and (more…)

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TH2: Using Guitar Amp Software Live

Turning this powerful amp, cab, mic & pedal modeler into a MIDI-controlled effect for live use.

Original article posted on The Cakewalk Knowledgebase

TH2 is the guitar amp modeling software included in SONAR X3 and Music Creator 6 Touch, and while it deserves all the high praise it’s received as a guitar processor, one aspect that is often overlooked is its deep MIDI routing capability. More specifically, it’s possible to adjust the settings of TH2’s amps and effects pedals and even switch between separate banks, sounds and variations by using a hardware MIDI controller or a MIDI CC message in a track. With this setup, TH2 can become your full-time pedalboard and let you take the sounds of your studio recording to the stage.

Wait, what’s that sound? Oh, it’s all the groaning from the people who think that mixing “MIDI” with “stage” will only lead to wasted time and headaches. Fear not, TH2 is smarter than usual software and the flexibility you’ll gain—even if you don’t make TH2 your (more…)

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DAW Best Practices: Migrating SONAR to a New Computer

So you just brought home your shiny new dream machine computer with the most powerful CPU, loads of drive space and more RAM then you know what to do with. First thing you do is fire up SONAR to work on a project but wait – you can’t find any of your favorite plug-ins. It’s time to migrate all of your favorite settings, and this handy article will show you how.

Set-up
The first thing you will need is a way to move files from your old computer to your new one. The easiest method is with Gobbler(more…)

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