David AllisonSt. Paul Recording Connection

Final Mix Assignment - Jazz Posted on 2016-08-30 by David Allison

For my final mixing assignment at the Recording Connection, I decided to pick a song that would challenge me. I love listening to and creating EDM, acoustic guitar music, indie-retro-punk-pop (if that's a thing), and recently hip-hop. Therefore, I picked the jazz song "Much Too Much" by Selwyn Jazz. By the end of the assignment, not only can I say how different jazz music truly is from anything I've ever worked with before in my life, but also that I now absolutely love jazz music! I put a ton of work into mixing this song, and I believe I got it to a point where I wouldn't change a thing (which is rare for me because I can be a huge perfectionist and almost always think I can improve my mixes). I am super proud of my work, and I hope this track makes my portfolio stand out in my work as a music producer.

My top priority in this mix was to have it produced as well as possible while maintaining it's "live" and natural sound. I wanted the listener to feel like they were sitting right in front of the performance with the vocalist singing directly to them. I wanted the mix to have energy with the brass instruments soaring to the sky and the piano and bass melodies to be playful and full of joy. Because less than half of the song contained vocals, I wanted the instrumental listening experience to capture the emotion of the lyrical message, as if no words were needed with the instruments taking their turns telling the dynamic love story. I wanted the song to be pure, natural, and ultimately magical.

I have to give a huge shout out to Wave's Platinum bundle. I used it's PuigTec equalizers on almost every track for color, as well as the Renaissance equalizer on a few for the more surgical and drastic frequency attenuations. The PuigTec equalizers were vital for my ability to make each recorded instrument sound beautiful and maintain each of their natural sound. When making the brass instruments soar, it was especially important that their were no offending frequencies so that I could make them take over the mix at the energetic parts. Although I did a lot to the brass, my key tactics were using the PuigTec to dip out 4kHz and Vitamin for multiband enhancement and stereo-widening.

Reverb was another huge part of my mix. I put sends at varying amounts on each instrument track that went to a medium reverb aux channel and a large reverb aux channel. Not only was this another key tactic of mine to make the brass instruments soar without being offensive, but also for making each instrument sound like it was in a room being performed live. The song came with a mono room mic recording, and the reverb aux channels complimented it perfectly, giving way more life to the mix.

The single recording that had to be worked with the most was definitely the vocal. I found myself constantly bypassing and replacing equalizer, compressor, and reverb inserts. What did the trick was a parallel reverb channel, lots of compression with the Wave's Renaissance RVox compressor, cutting out the 500-600Hz nasally frequencies, and a 10kHz boost on the mastering chain. Despite the many times I had to tear down my vocal mixing chain, I would say that the vocal turned out to be one of the most impressive elements in this track!

Mastering was also very important in making the mix come to life. My goal was to make it as loud as possible without taking away from the dynamics of a "live" performance. I chopped off every frequency below 32Hz, used the PuigTec equalizers to give the mix warmth and brightness, the V-Comp compressor with a low ratio and lots of analog saturation, the Renaissance RCompressor for additional low ratio compression with a very low threshold, another RCompressor with a very high ratio and threshold to round out the peak dynamics, and Wave's L2 Limiter to have the mix just barely touch the limiting ceiling. This chain definitely achieved my goal of getting the song adequately loud while maintaining its dynamics and natural feel.

Here's a link to my mix of "Much Too Much" by Selwyn Jazz: https://soundcloud.com/david-james-music/much-too-much-by-selwyn-jazz-mixed-by-david-james

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