Here’s my walk-through on how I made the mix for “When It’s Morning” by The Febs.
The song was intended to have a very loose ‘pub rock’ feel so I kept that in mind while working through editing and mixing the song.
The first thing I did was gain stage everything to make sure it was all hitting the light green on the meters before touching the faders.
Before I started on editing I already knew what I wanted to do. The first thing I did was edit out the bleed on the tom drums tracks because I wanted more control over what I wanted to mix – bleed in a song like this isn’t usually a big issue but I still like to reduce it wherever I can.
There was a part in the first verse, particularly where he sings the line “the line at the taxi’s gonna send me insane – hey there’s that guy from before, he’s still trying to tune that girl Jane”, between “insane” and “hey there’s that guy”, where the vocalist kinda sounded like he was talking over himself (just the way it was punched in during overdubs). The “me” and “in” syllables were too long so i stretched them and synced it up with the beat a bit more so it flowed naturally.
Another thing I did to give the mix a bit of personality was place a quiet cough at the start of the song. The cough was recorded during overdubs when we were recording vocals, and it was mainly just a happy little accident. But I like it there.
Next I put a whole heap of EQs on the tracks. Mainly just cleanups because I wanted to retain the ‘live’ feeling of it all, but there were some things that needed to be done.
- Boosted low mids and high mids on kick. Cut sub frequencies and the really high ones.
- Snare channels – boosted low mids and used low and high passes to cut any extreme frequencies – more boosting on snare top channel.
- Hi-hats – completely cut everything under 150Hz and slight boost of high mid frequencies from 3kHz-15kHz.
- Toms – same as kick but the low mids in question were a bit higher.
- Did not touch overheads with EQ – reverb submix was EQ’d though, boosting high mids and slightly low mids, cutting lows with a high pass.
- Double bass – cuts to high & high mid frequencies. Double bass channel had all frequencies above 2kHz completely cut, and egg mic channel’s eq looks like a dolphin facing the left.
- Acoustic L/R boosted highs and mids, cut lows.
- “guide” acoustic guitar track had a low and high pass on it and just retained the mid frequencies from 100kHz to 5kHz.
- Vocals – mainly boosted low mids and high mids on all channels. Room channels I boosted the lows a lot more than the highs.
- Electric guitar – boosted the mids about 5dB and the highs 1dB.
Overall I feel like the spectral balance of the track is pretty even – we have the drums bass and vocals hanging in the lows to low mids and the guitars cymbals in the mid to high range, which helps them “shine” in the mix a bit.
I used some compressors and expander gates here and there to control gain levels on things such as vocals and the overheads, and also to make a few things a little clearer by removing bleed and noise on channels such as the tom drums & double bass.
On the drums I basically panned everything as if I imagined myself sitting at the drums. except leaving the kick snare and hi-hats in the middle. Coming from an electronic music background I like to leave those things in mono. It doesn’t feel right to tune low frequency heavy stuff to me.
Acoustic guitar L and R were panned both ways 80% each, because I still wanted to have a tiny bit of the left on the right and vice versa. I don’t think we were supposed to, but I ended up using the guide acoustic guitar as a middle channel just to thicken up the acoustic guitars a little bit and also ensure there was a strong enough mono guitar signal for listeners with mono speakers.
I decided to use both electric guitar mic recordings but panned the 414 to the left and the 57 to the right. I think I might have misread them as left and right channels at first but I liked the result so I kept it and went with it.
The lead vocals I duplicated and moved the copy out of sync a little using Mod Delay III to give it a stereo ‘slapback’ effect, and both signals were panned 40% each way. The backup and harmony vocals were panned slightly to the right, because that’s just where I imagined them coming from. The backup room channel though was panned to the left as if the backup singer was singing from the right and facing left.
The drums, bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and vocals were all sent to stereo submix aux tracks, where I then panned the acoustic guitar and electric guitar further left and right respectively.
I used some reverb on the overheads by sending the two channels to a stereo aux track which had a D-Verb plugin on it with a slight decay time of about 500ms. That signal was then compressed and EQ’d. I used D-Verbs on the vocal room mics, you can hear it the best in the breakdown section where it’s just the singing and the kick drums.
Also used the Lo-Fi plugin for some fuzzy distortion on the double bass egg mic channel. Just in case radio listeners won’t be able to hear the sub frequencies, I saturated them a little.
Once I was happy with the levels of everything I printed the mix to a new stereo track and then saved the session. I then took the printed audio into FL Studio 11 where I proceeded to master the track using Maximus – a mastering plugin that can also be used as a multi-band compressor, limiter, gate and de-esser. I automated master volume fades at the start and end of the mix, to top and tail it, then used maximus to boost the high band +3dB, mid band +2dB & cut the low band -1dB, because I felt like the bass may have been a little too muddy therefore I backed it off in the mastering stage.
Overall I felt like I did a really nice job with this mix, and any feedback I receive for it would only make it better!