How Analog Affects A Mix
Welcome back to part 2 of how The Audio Hunt can make the world your studio and even bring new and exciting collaborations your way.
In part one Mastering In Logic I went through some of the drum and bass elements and analog processing that went into the mix for the very talented artist that is Jason Fichera. His song Just For A While was recorded from Las Vegas to Australia and finally came to me here in the UK for mixing.
Let’s remind ourselves of the song and then dive into how I achieved the vocal sound by making use of the Audio Hunt’s vast library of studio gear that you can gain access to remotely all through the click of your mouse, trackpad, ipad, mobile device what ever your using.
Watch Part 2 Right Here!
When I received the files for mixing it was quite straight forward the lead vocal was well comp’d, there were some backing vocals, both harmony parts, tracked parts and a choir of vocals which sang like pad in the chorus.
For the lead vocal I used a combination of EQ, compression and harmonic distortion to achieve the final result.
OK so let’s take a look at how I achieved the final vocal sound.
The Oxford EQ was used to roll off the bottom end of the vocal which combined a 150Hz bump of around a dB, which added a touch of warmth. Cutting the lows but adding a slight boost in the low mids can often warm a vocal part nicely.
That was followed by the UAD API channel strip, I love this plugin it adds bite to a track when pushing the gain slightly and the compressor just catches the peaks. The EQ is removing more low end and boosting the top at 1.5 and 15k brings the vocal forward in the mix.
The only other EQ I used was on Logic’s Track Stack group. The UAD Neve 1073, which is amazing is doing one thing and that’s boosting very gently at 7.2kHz mark. The 1-3kHz range can be quite grating on the ear, depending on the part, but often a great trick is to boost outside that region in my case 7.5 really helped to pull Jason’s vocal out in the mix.
If you are working with vocals try boosting outside of the usual area, 2-3k and you might find you hit a sweet spot that really brings out the vocal part in the mix.
For the main compression I compared UAD’s 1176 and the LA2A both are classic vocal units. I really wanted to add some analog warmth to this vocal part so after establishing which UAD compressor worked best it was back to the Audio Hunt to find a real life LA2A.
Fortunately for me through the Audio Hunt my original collaboration with David in LA had an LA2A that he described as “sounds glorious” so I had to give a try.
I made a new booking with him and sent off the part with my reference notes, reference tracks, a screen shot of my UAD LA2A settings and waited for LA to send back the processed vocal part. I gave him license to adjust the settings slightly and with the reference tracks I sent he could hear the sound I was aiming for. All I had to do wait for LA to send back my new LA2A vocal part.
The real thing really did add something extra special to the vocal, the hardware unit added harmonics and depth that wasn’t quite there with the plug. Don’t get me wrong the UAD LA2A plugin sound great and I use it all the time it’s just the hardware shaped the vocal in a different that I liked on this occasion more.
Like with the bass treatment as discussed in part one I still used the original vocal part. I compressed it heavily distorted it and blended the part back into the mix. This gave some great parallel processing, which allowed me to thicken the vocal part even more. Using the Audio Hunt didn’t just give me a glorious vocal sound it gave me the ability to parallel process the vocal enhancing it further.
Like the bass guitar treatment it wasn’t just the one individual track that went into creating the final sound it was a combination of elements. Like I say in my Mastering In Logic course “it’s the sum of every action you take that creates the final sound/mix or master”.
The final element to this mix is the buss processing, I usually run entire mixes though my Neve 8803 EQ and Alan Smart C1 compressor.
The Neve is doing a lot of the heavy lifting on this track, like the drum parts I’m boosting the lows with a shelf around 80Hz and increasing the mids and high-mids from about 800Hz up. I’m not boosting a great deal here but it’s enough to pull the top end forward and the lows on this EQ add a great deal of richness without the sound becoming too muddy.
In your own mixes try boosting the stereo mix in Logic Pro X anywhere from 800Hz up. I sometimes find I need to bring the entire mix forward by boosting around 1.5k but on other mixes I might boost lower than that which adds more mid range presence and provides a bit more punch and warmth. The UAD Manley Massive Passive often is a great choice for bring out the upper-mids.
The compressor I own is modelled on the famous SSL buss compressor, after all it was designed by the same guy. Alan Smart’s C1 is a fast VCA based compressor and is really set to help give more punch and dynamic movement to the music, it’s a cliche but it really does glue the track together.
The buss processing really changes the tonal quality of the mix whether it’s in-the-box or through outboard. It’s something you should work on mastering because it can really make or break a mix.
Final Thoughts about analog processing
Adding analog isn’t about trying to create something better than purely digital it’s simply another choice or colour that you can add to your mixes. It’s not the only way to work or the right or wrong it just gives you more options. The great thing about the Audio Hunt is it allows you shape your sound and add the analog world to your sessions and productions, if you want to without having to spend thousands of dollars on your own hardware.
It’s a great way to work and collaborate with other musicians from around the world and you can easily bring gear or even other musicians into your own workflow.
For me personally The Audio Hunt has provided new connections that will likely go on professionally in the future, so it’s not just a place where you can remotely hire gear the world truly is your studio.
If you’d like to learn more about producing music in Logic Pro why not check out my mastering course where you can learn all about the art of mastering.
Thanks and Happy Mixing and Mastering