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Mixing Horns
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Thread Starter
Mixing Horns

I've just had some horn parts (trumpets and trombones) recorded for one of my songs and I'm looking for any suggestions or tips for getting the most out of them in a mix.

Thanks.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Gear Addict
I can only speak from mixing horns live, which I've done many times. I often find trumpets especially need taming in the upper mids, they can get a bit sharp. And nearly all horns I like to boost the warm lower mids a little, as this gives them their body and character, as they don't seem to muddy up as much as other elements of a mix. These are just my ideas though - your results will depend entirely on the recordings you have obviously.

After individual treatment I would experiment with bussing them to one stereo channel (or mono if you don't pan at all) and add a touch of compression there to glue for coherance, and also EQ there to give a bit of air if required and cut the low end where required.

Reverb etc would be to taste depending on the material.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dontsimon View Post
I often find trumpets especially need taming in the upper mids, they can get a bit sharp.
In the studio, I've been recording the trumpet a lot lately with a schoeps mk22 and seriously all it needs is to push up the fader.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 

The one thing I like to keep in mind when mixing horns: In real life the brass will nearly always drown out the saxes. Yet most recordings you hear of classic rock/funk/R&B horn sections will sound wonderfully balanced. So you'll want to goose the tenor & alto sax just enough so that they blend with the trumpet & 'bone; that rasp of the reed should be the glue that holds the whole thing together. You don't want to turn them up so they're unnatural...just so that they're "hyper-real".
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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BillSimpkins's Avatar
I mix, record and arrange a lot of horns. Things I find I do a lot:

1. Make sure the tracks are in phase.
2. Ride each track so that magic blend is always present.
3. Tuning can really help make the blend pop. Sometimes I put on autotune with a very mild setting so it doesn't mess up any mic bleed.
4. If the song wants things extra tight, I use vocalign to line up any sloppy players with groovy players.
5. Try a nice plate reverb and take extra care with the predelay.
6. A fast slap delay can help add to the groove.
7. Reed instruments and mouthpiece instruments can articulate very differently, sometimes you gotta play with the levels in difficult passage to make them sound tight.

Good luck!
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by E-money View Post
I've just had some horn parts (trumpets and trombones) recorded for one of my songs and I'm looking for any suggestions or tips for getting the most out of them in a mix.

Thanks.
Wait, so this is for one of your songs?

And you want to know how to get the most out of the horns you "had... recorded" for your song?

Well, I'd recommend either the fader, or the EQ, maybe some compression, possibly some gating, definitely the mute, and almost certainly some reverb. Oh, and make sure you check the phase.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DPower View Post
Wait, so this is for one of your songs?

And you want to know how to get the most out of the horns you "had... recorded" for your song?

Well, I'd recommend either the fader, or the EQ, maybe some compression, possibly some gating, definitely the mute, and almost certainly some reverb. Oh, and make sure you check the phase.

Lol. This ^^^ has to be one of the most unhelpful posts I've read on this forum in several years. Heh!

OP...listen to @BillSimpkins now that was a great primer on horns. That auto tune tip - nice! Never even heard that one before. Must try! Thanks Bill. :0)
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillSimpkins View Post
I mix, record and arrange a lot of horns. Things I find I do a lot:

1. Make sure the tracks are in phase.
2. Ride each track so that magic blend is always present.
3. Tuning can really help make the blend pop. Sometimes I put on autotune with a very mild setting so it doesn't mess up any mic bleed.
4. If the song wants things extra tight, I use vocalign to line up any sloppy players with groovy players.
5. Try a nice plate reverb and take extra care with the predelay.
6. A fast slap delay can help add to the groove.
7. Reed instruments and mouthpiece instruments can articulate very differently, sometimes you gotta play with the levels in difficult passage to make them sound tight.

Good luck!

Hey, do you record your horns in complete isolation or as a "section" albeit each instrument individually miked? And if you record as a section does the Vocalign work well with the bleed?
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Hey, do you record your horns in complete isolation or as a "section" albeit each instrument individually miked? And if you record as a section does the Vocalign work well with the bleed?
That's exactly my question!

I was taught that brass should be recorded as ensemble, for it to sound natural/right (because of the sound interactions and interferences between the instruments), so that one caught me off guard.

Gotta admit those were great tips, gonna write them down! Not being a music producer, I am always amazed at the amount of tricks/techniques that are pulled of during music recording/mixing.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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BillSimpkins's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Hey, do you record your horns in complete isolation or as a "section" albeit each instrument individually miked? And if you record as a section does the Vocalign work well with the bleed?
Mostly individually micd in the same room playing together. Sometimes on very difficult sections I'll have each player do a pass because it's hard to get all of them to do it well together.

Vocalign works well most of the time. If it doesn't I usually just swap who the guide is.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillSimpkins View Post
Mostly individually micd in the same room playing together. Sometimes on very difficult sections I'll have each player do a pass because it's hard to get all of them to do it well together.

Vocalign works well most of the time. If it doesn't I usually just swap who the guide is.

Right on. Thanks. Going to try the auto tune and Vocalign tips next horn session I come across (if needed of course).
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillSimpkins View Post
I mix, record and arrange a lot of horns. Things I find I do a lot:

1. Make sure the tracks are in phase.
2. Ride each track so that magic blend is always present.
3. Tuning can really help make the blend pop. Sometimes I put on autotune with a very mild setting so it doesn't mess up any mic bleed.
4. If the song wants things extra tight, I use vocalign to line up any sloppy players with groovy players.
5. Try a nice plate reverb and take extra care with the predelay.
6. A fast slap delay can help add to the groove.
7. Reed instruments and mouthpiece instruments can articulate very differently, sometimes you gotta play with the levels in difficult passage to make them sound tight.

Good luck!
This is a great post; very helpful!

How do you tend to pan horns? Do you keep them all together as a section, or maybe pan 1st trumpet left and second trumpet right, etc?
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Dot
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E-money, without some more info, this is as general a question as Mixing Guitars.

What type of sound and vibe are you going for? Are the horns playing counter melodies, or laying in more of a pad sound? More legato or staccato parts? Is this supposed to sound modern or from another era? Which era? How many horn parts did you record? Did you double any of the tracks?

Can you throw us a few bones about what kind of bands, players, and sound you're wanting.

Could you post a ruff mix of what you have so far?

Cheers...
Old 1 week ago
  #14
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Lol. This ^^^ has to be one of the most unhelpful posts I've read on this forum in several years. Heh!

OP...listen to @BillSimpkins now that was a great primer on horns. That auto tune tip - nice! Never even heard that one before. Must try! Thanks Bill. :0)
Well, it was meant tongue in cheek. OP didn't give us much to go on...
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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BillSimpkins's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by E-money View Post
This is a great post; very helpful!

How do you tend to pan horns? Do you keep them all together as a section, or maybe pan 1st trumpet left and second trumpet right, etc?
Depends on the song and how tight they are.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by E-money View Post
I've just had some horn parts (trumpets and trombones) recorded for one of my songs and I'm looking for any suggestions or tips for getting the most out of them in a mix.

Thanks.
put them at the level where they sound best in the mix, then add 1 dB for every fifty dollars you paid for the horns.

J/K - but in addition to all the good ideas presented above, I would only like to add that word of caution. Having some new, unusual, or expensive element in your mix can lead you to lose your objectivity about how 'important' it is in the song as a whole, and how much it should be 'featured' from the point of view of a naive listener.

What I am trying to say is, if you had horns in ALL your songs, your idea of 'getting the most' out them might be different.
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