The experience of making the best mixing & recording is magical. However, it is a very delicate art and requires a lot of keenness. Many things can go wrong if the mixing engineer has not mastered the skill required in this practice. The pitfalls range from a huge mic bleed to the intricacies of multitasking and in-the-moment communication amongst musicians. Indeed, there is a lot that one needs to be keen on to produce the best mixing & recording.
The unique thing about live recording is that it allows musicians to take advantage of the moment. To do so, the mixing engineer must be very keen to avoid the challenges shown above. A small mistake can cause untold headaches in an attempt to rectify it. Moreover, even after the attempt to correct the mistake is made, there is no guarantee that the mistake will be fully sorted.
It is still possible, though, to make the best mixing & recording in live concerts or elsewhere. Here are 5 key tips on how to go about it.
1. Lean into the Bleed A good mix may sometimes be spoilt by some bleed. You realize that no matter how much you try to get rid of it, it persists. Well, not to worry. Try to lean into the bleed instead of trying to clean it.
Take advantage of the sound and roll with it! For example, if the vocal mic sounds great, use it. If the guitar chords are rich and appealing in the snare, use the snare. Remember, your goal is to make a good mix in the end. Use your ingenuity to do so!
2. Use Volume Automation Take it easy on the compression. Trying to use the compressor to enhance the performance of an instrument can be counter-productive. It may cause the noise bleed to be more pronounced in a live recording.
You can go around this challenge by using automation. Automating the volume reduces the noise bleed and enhances the consistency of the recording. A Vocal Rider can come in handy to help you save time in this matter.
3. Use the Multiband Compression Sparingly Multiband is useful in attenuating a frequency. It is better than using too much EQ. The EQ enters the mix in excess, while the multiband reduces the range of a number of frequencies. In short, using the multiband enables you to get a better-quality recording.
Note that using too much of multiband can worsen the noise bleed. It, therefore, requires that you use it sparingly.
4. Choose subtractive EQ over additive EQ Many best mixing & recording artists are attracted to the allure of the additive EQ. It gives life to a studio by its power to command both highs and lows in a track. However, it is not the best choice for a live concert. The same reasons for which the additive EQ is much beloved are the very same ones that create a bleed. Since it boosts frequency on one channel, it causes a number of instruments to underperform because of the bleed.
The subtractive EQ produces better results in a live recording. It works very well with parametric EQs like the F6 Dynamic or in the SSL E Channel. It boosts the performance of each individual instrument by removing problem frequencies. As a corrective tool, the F6 is highly recommended. This is because it allows the EQ to engage when a frequency problem is noticed based on given settings. The F6 allows for the problem to be attacked, and the hold of the EQ is released right after this.
5. Create a Credible Stereo Image For the best mixing & recording, a good stereo imaging must be part of the equation. It is particularly important that it be incorporated in a live recording. This is more so if the recording does not have any elements of video imaging.
Imagine that you are recording a performance by a guitarist, a keyboardist, and a drummer. You place the drummer at the center, the keyboardist next to the floor tom and the guitarist close to the hi-hat. This can cause balance and phase problems. The guitar will produce a higher bleed in the hi-hat than in the floor tom. To prevent any potential problems when mixing, you can take a photo of the live session to use as a reference.
Apart from the above key tips, you could also use the following pointers to make your mixing and recording great:
i. Avoid using pitch correction or equalization
ii. Reverb and delay should be used cautiously.
iii. Phase coherence should be in tune with the drum tracks
iv. You can reshape the drum sounds
v. Mics should be properly tuned to minimize bleed
vi. DIs and re-amping should be used together whenever possible
The best mixing & recording brings out the real essence of a live performance. It heightens all the moments that make the music glow. You can enhance your skill in this area by following the above guide on how to come up with the best Mixing & Recording.