Editing/Mixing For All That Have Fallen
"For All That Have Fallen" has been my most challenging production thus far. A great amount of attention to detail and care went into the arrangement so that the listener could be immersed in the song from start to finish. I didn't settle for "Good Enough" when it came to tracking, which helped reduce the amount of editing time overall and with the takes that I had, there was the opportunity to "Cherry Pick" the best sections during the comping stage for each element of the mix.
What really helped with achieving these optimal takes... programmed drums! This Session utilised a drum sampler that was programmed originally to the grid and then 'humanised' to give a tight, but realistic playthrough performance. To allow for a greater amount of processing control during mixing, each element of the kit was printed into their respective mono tracks and a rough drum mix was created to help with the the tracking stage.
When it came to tracking bass, each part of the arrangement was broken down and tracked individually to help with tuning stability/intonation between sections. a total of 6 strong performances were captured for each section and a performance was comped together. Once comped, any dead noise or unnecessary string noise was removed; fades were applied, each part was roughly aligned to the kick and snare, and the performance was consolidated. The final steps for editing the bass involved using the warp feature and "VariAudio" within Cubase to perfectly align the bass to the kick and snare so that the three elements lock together (VariAudio was used for any micro tuning problems).
Guitars were tracked and edited in a similar fashion to the bass where each section was broken down, a total of 8 strong performances for each track was captured and the best takes were comped together for a consistent performance from start to finish. Any dead noise or string noise was also removed and the DI tracks were consolidated for later Re-amping during the mixing stage.
When tracking vocals, I wanted to achieve the best results that I could so each vocal track was broken down, line by line, to achieve overall consistency throughout the track. For each Line a total of 8 strong takes were obtained, comped, aligned and tuned (clean vocals only) before consolidating.
The synth parts were all tracked through the use of a midi controller and each part was quantised and aligned to taste to fit in with the arrangement.
Once everything was edited, all track faders were set to 0dB, all pan positions were set to "Centre", all unnecessary processing was removed and all tracks were exported into a folder for mix preparation.
A new session was created and all groups and relevant routing was set up. The multitracks were then imported into session and organised as illustrated above and routed to their respective groups. An instance of Fab Filters Q3 was set up on the first insert (pre fader) of each track and the respective filtering was carried out on each track to clear out any unnecessary frequency content.
After filtering, the next step of the mix process was to set rough levels, panning positions and the phase polarity of each track so that we had a desk mix that was relatively balanced. The session was then saved and returned to the next day so that I had a fresh perspective when carrying out the mix.
returning the next day, I listened to the track once to check if I'd missed anything the day before and then set all instrumental and vocal group tracks to minus infinity gain, to build the track from the ground up.
starting with drums, I raised the kick fader, applied EQ (Fab Filter Q3), Compression (CLA76) and a clipper (JST clip) to create a modern hard rock kick with a good amount of punch that cuts through the mix. The snare group fader was then raised until the kick and snare locked in with each other and EQ, Compression and a clipper was used to create a snare tone with a good amount of body and attack. The Toms Group was raised so that it locked in with the kick and snare and EQ and saturation was used to remove unwanted frequency content and give the toms more definition in the upper midrange. After achieving consistency in the shells, the other elements of the kit were introduced and processed accordingly.
When it came to mixing the bass DI the track was duplicated with one track filtered and heavily limited between 40Hz to 270Hz to control the low end and the other filtered and compressed between 320Hz and 9KHz to control the movement in the upper midrange. The two tracks were blended together and routed to the bass group. within the bass group there is some compression to glue the two sources together and some EQ to control any problem areas. The bass tone was achieved by using the "TSE BOD" plugin which is a Sans Amp Pre Amp Simulator.
The Guitar DI's were Re-amped using a combination of amp sims (Neural DSP Fortin Cali and JST Misha Mansoor) and blended together into their respective guitar groups. Group Fader levels were set and EQ was used to tame a lot of the harsh upper mid frequencies that comes with distorted guitars.
When it came to mixing the vocals, EQ was used to remove any muddiness and add presence to the tracks. all vocal tracks were compressed and distortion (Soundtoys Decapitator) was used on the scream vocals to add more aggression.
The synths were blended into the rest of the mix and EQ was used to remove some midrange to allow for space in the vocals, drums and guitars.
Post Production FX were discretely used in this mix as well to help add movement and impact to the mix.
Reverb and Delay FX Sends were used on vocals and drums to fill up sonic space and add additional depth to the mix.
Finally Automation was used on the vocal groups to help bring some clarity to the lyrics. Although it's metal, people still want to hear what's being said...
Once, I was happy with the mix I saved the session and Exported the Mix into a folder, ready for mastering.