Tagged: mixing

Another free SoundToys plugin

Little MicroShiftFollowing up on their release of the excellent Little Radiator (exactly a year ago), SoundToys once again are pre-releasing a free version of what will soon be a paid plugin. The Little MicroShift promises to add “massive width, enormous depth, and huge thickness” to whatever you put it on. Basically, it makes mono stuff stereo, using three different algorithms emulating two classic pieces of kit.

I have yet to try this baby out, but I’ve gotten my free copy, and you can get yours here until March 29th (that’s this coming Friday). Go get some free stereo!

Quick Tip: Setting a Compressor

Here’s a quick tip on setting a compressor properly so you’re not overcompressing the signal. I got it from reading through the excellent posts like this one on Production Advice (mentioned in an earlier post). I’ve been using compressors for years and I can’t believe I never knew this bit of wisdom! Here it is:

In normal use (i.e. not for a special effect), set your compressor’s threshold so the gain reduction goes back to zero a few times each measure.

That’s it! That way you know you’re only compressing the loudest parts of the signal and not crushing the whole thing. It also ensures that the release time isn’t too long and the compressor has a chance to “let go” of the signal before the next loud bit. Continue reading

Production Advice

Photo by Thomas Helbig

Just found this great blog on recording, mixing and mastering: Ian Shepherd’s Production Advice. Shepherd covers all aspects of achieving great-sounding mixes, from getting the best sounds at source, mixing them effectively, and making the end result loud and punchy so it competes with commercial mixes. I stumbled onto the site a mere 24 hours ago and I already feel like I’ve spent a month in engineering school (in a good way).

Being a professional mastering engineer, Shepherd tends to focus on that end of the chain. But I also feel like that’s more misunderstood than recording and mixing anyway, so it’s a welcome addition to my trove of resources. Witness his discussion of dithering, an esoteric and confusing subject if ever there was one. Shepherd maintains that one should dither whenever you bounce, whether it be to 16 or 24 bit. This goes against conventional wisdom, at least the conventional wisdom I’ve read, but it does make sense when he explains it. Continue reading

Quick Tip: Scoring Around Dialog

Photo by Julia Freeman-Woolpert, courtesy of sxc.hu

Writing music for a dialog-heavy scene is one of the trickier aspects of film scoring. It’s not too difficult if you’re just writing a simple pad or drone, but often the music needs to be more detailed than that.

As we all know, in a movie dialog is king. Rightfully so, since that’s where most of the story lies. It may be a pain, but as film composers it’s our job to stay out of the way. Writing a melody on top of dialog usually means your music will be mixed so low you can barely hear it. Keeping the music in the gaps between lines is still the safest approach, but here’s a little trick for those times when that’s impossible:

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Free Stuff for the New Year

Native Instruments has just released Skanner, a new wave-scanning synthesizer for Reaktor and Reaktor Player. It’s a pretty incredible little sound-mangling tool, especially considering it’s FREE. Skanner seems more suited to sound-mangling than anything else, making it a sound-designer’s dream, but it is possible to get it to make pretty music if you’re careful. One of the coolest features is the ability to morph between two presets, and even modulate the morphing with an LFO. If you don’t own Reaktor. you can still use Skanner with the free Reaktor Player.

In that spirit, here are a few other freebies out there on the Interwebs. Enjoy, share, etc., and if you like them, be sure to buy some actual products from the generous vendors:

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Software we love: ValhallaRoom

Reverb is an indispensable effect for anyone doing their own mixing (and don’t we all do our own mixing from time to time?). Finding the right reverb for the job can sometimes be tricky though. I can’t imagine ever having just one reverb that fills all my needs, but it’s great to have a few go-to units on hand as first-responders. ValhallaRoom is just such a plugin.

Created by Seattle’s own Sean Costello, ValhallaRoom is an algorithmic reverb with a clean, simple interface. Teakers will appreciate the wealth of controls, and the tweak-averse will find plenty of presets to play with. The Decay slider can be cranked up to an enormous 100 seconds, allowing for some massive-sounding effects. And the unique Depth slider lets you easily crossfade between early and late reflections, effectively moving the imaginary mic closer or further away.

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