Song:  Pray For The Rain 

Artist: Nerve 9  

I auditioned lots of songs from Cambridge MT and chose this one because I liked it.   The raw tracks were miles from being a mix.   It’s an AOR rock ballad. Clichéd perhaps…  This is an In-the-box mix, largely done using my equipment at home.  (PreSonus Studio One Pro 4, Studiospares Classic SN10 monitors driven by a Samson servo amp, Steinberg audio interface, Sony MDR7506 headphones and the most useful tool – PreSonus FaderPort.)

Track count and details: 

The Cambridge MT zip file contains 47 individual tracks, recorded at 44.1kHz.  Some of these tracks have only a few bars of the instrument/vox.  For example, the backing vocals are only on certain words in the chorus.

 

My Mix Process

  1. Unpack tracks and import them to PreSonus Studio One Pro 4
  2. Arrange them into conventional sequence (drums, bass, gtr, synth, vox, b-vox)
  3. Listen to all tracks together
  4. Perform a very rough mix to hear more clearly what’s going on in the song
  5. Solo all tracks sequentially and listen to them (Note down any notable features, using timeclock to locate them)
  6. Re-listen to complete song and drop in markers on DAW timeline to assist in finding specific points when mixing. (eg verse, chorus, gtr solo, etc)
  7. Plan what needs to be done
    1. Top, tail and fades for each track
    2. EQ and compression on kick drum
    3. EQ and compression on snare
    4. Pan cymbal shimmers hard L and hard R
    5. Pan toms (3 separate tracks)
    6. Create bus for lead vocal and apply reverb
    7. Create bus for backing vocal and apply reverb
    8. Consider panning b-vox to give impression of singers being around a mic.
    9. Create bus for lead guitar effects
    10. EQ for lead synth line
  8. Follow process and start making the mix.

 

Mix Details

The first thing I did was to perform a rough balance of the levels.  Some of the tracks were excessively high and others, notably the lead vocals were very low.  While auditioning and listening to individual tracks I topped, tailed and faded them.  That got the tracks into a condition where I could start to mix them.     

Drums

There are 10 tracks of drums. I used the ‘Folders’ function in S1 to group these. This lets me easily mute/solo all parts in the folder.  This could also be done with Groups but using Folders reduces the clutter of the Track view screen.  I find it helps me focus in on whichever part I’m working on.   

Track

 Instrument

Treatment/Plug In

1

Kick In

Compress.  FabfilterPro C2,  EQ – FabfilterPro Q2

2

Kick Out

Compress . FabfilterPro  C2, EQ Fabfilter Pro Q2

3

Snare

Compress Fabfilter Pro C2

4

Snare Sample

Comress Fabfilter Pro C2

5

Overheads

Not treated. Fine as they are.

6

Tom1 Sample

Pan L10

7

Tom2 Sample

Centre

8

Tom3 Sample

Pan R10

9

Cymbal roll 1

Pan hard L

10

Cymbal roll 2

Pan hard R

 

Bass

2 tracks.  A DI track and a bass amp track.  I did not treat these in any way, other than balancing them in the mix.

 

Electric Guitars

There are 10 tracks of electric guitars.  I used the ‘Folders’ function in S1 to group these. 

Track

Function in song

Treatment/Plug In

ElecGtr01

Intro and playout arpeggios. Clean picked notes.

 PanCake plug in. – autopanning to let it swirl from side to side.

ElecGtr02

Overdriven chords

Already has effect applied. No further treatment

ElecGtr03

Overdriven single notes and chuggy rhythm parts

Already has effect applied. No further treatment

ElecGtr04

Overdriven ringing chords during verse. Mirrors ElecGtr01 track, but dirty and not picked.

Already has effect applied. No further treatment

ElecGtr05

Clean-ish with tremolo already applied

Already has effect applied. No further treatment

ElecGtr06

Overdriven, octave up partial copy of bass line.

No treatment other than pan 46 L

ElecGtr07

Overdriven, octave up partial copy of bass line.

No treatment other than pan 46 R

ElecGtr08

Lead Guitar

Soft Compression and EQ applied. Sent to a bus to let me mix in a time sync’d stereo delay.  (a la David Gilmour)

ElecGtr09

Unison, one octave below part of ElecGrt08 first solo

Sent to same bus as ElecGtr08, to ensure it stayed in sync

ElecGtr10

Chorus’d picked arpeggios as into to final verse.

Already has effect applied. No further treatment

 

Lead Vocals

Treated with compression and EQ. and sent to a bus for reverb.  I used PreSonus “Fat Channel” plug-in to treat the lead vocals.  “Fat Channel” includes: Gate, Compression and EQ. The settings used are shown later in this report.  

 

Backing Vocals

There are 10 tracks of backing vocals. I used the ‘Folders’ function in S1 to group these.   

These only appear in the song briefly, during the final verse and chorus.  Some of them are only present for a single word.   I created a bus specifically for all the background vocals in order to apply an equal reverb to them all.   I then panned the dry tracks to give them width.  My intention was, other than spacing them out to enhance clarity, it was to give the impression of a group of vocalists gathered around a single microphone.   

 

Challenging Sections of this Song

There were two sections of the song which were challenging to mix.  At 2:27 when the first guitar solo starts there’s 3 tracks of synthesiser.  One of the synth tracks is occupying almost the same frequency space as the guitar , and this synth track has been recorded in stereo with auto-panning taking place.  My initial intention had been to apply a time sync’d stereo panning delay to the guitar. But that clashed with the synth line. To preserve the synth line the guitar was left relatively dry at this point.  I applied the time sync’d delay to the play out solo.  (the full-on Gilmour treatment!!)

 

The second challenging section comes at the choruses which is where all the backing vocal harmonies come in.  10 tracks of harmony, even if some are only for single words, meant careful placing in the stereo space.  I tried EQ ing each of them separately, as most of them sound like they were recorded by the lead singer.   Her timbre is, as they say, her timbre.  EQing them made them sound less natural so I removed it and left them with  the only  treatments being stereo placing and  sending to a dedicated bus for reverb.