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ITB rnb mix walkthrough
Old 1st July 2005
Gear Addict
🎧 15 years
ITB rnb mix walkthrough

OK I've written, produced and recorded an album with a very good young UK singer. and now its time to mix it. I've been mixing and producing dance music (hiphop, drum'n'bass, broken beats etc) for a good few years but mixing proper mainstream rnb is fairly new territory. I listen to it a lot though. Good sounding examples of how I'd like this album to sound sonically, mix wise, are Brandy - Afrodesiac, Janet Jackson - Damita Jo, Faith Evans - First Lady.
I know they have been recorded and mixed in million dollar studios with very experienced people and ITB mixing to get a sound approaching that is going to be a mission but I am willing to bust my balls for it.

We might end up mixing these in another studio with outboard, but I want to get really tight ITB mixes for now. I know there are some very talented and experienced cats on here so I thought id ask for some advice and see what happens!

All the vocals are tracked to logic with an u87 through an avalon 737sp with little or no compression and EQ. All the beats are sampler work. Other instruments we've recorded are rhodes, grand piano, various synths, guitar and bass and percussion.

The arrangements are quite multi tracked, with vocals alone 4 tracks per harmony.
the total track count amounts to about 50 per track.

Now my main gripes are to get the vocals sounding BIG (they sound good at the source), and getting the drums and bass to sound big and tight.


Vocal arrangement is usually the following:

verse - 1 lead take
verse - doubles on certain words (3 part harmony, 4 tracks per voice)
chorus - 4 track lead, 3 part harmony, 4 tracks per voice

Routing: verse lead on its own channel, all the doubles routed to one bus with EQ and compression

Panning: So far the verse lead is obviously dead centre. all doubles, including the 4 track lead in the chorus are panned hard left and right for a wide sound. Is this something youd do?

FX: For the reverb bus i'm using pristine space light (convolution reverb) with EMT140 or lexicon plate impulses. what kind of reverb(s) would you use, and would you go with an impulse reverb or an algorithmic reverb tailored to the mix?
I've used just one bus reverb, about 2 second plate. Would you use more/different reverbs?

Sometimes i'm using a little chorus (voxengo) on the lead and the doubles to make things widen up a bit. Is this something you'd do?

Sometimes i've also used a small amount logic's stereo delay or tape delay as channel inserts, both on the lead and the doubles. Feedback about 20%, wet/dry about 4% and repeats synced to 8th or 16th. I have left them panned centre and have not eq'd them. any more ideas for using delay?

For EQ i'm using the URS everything bundle. So far mainly the N series. What I do usually is high pass at 100-200, possibly boost 10-12k a little bit for sheen, and if there are any shreaky upper mid areas i've cut them a bit.

I compress AFTER the EQ using voxengo crunchessor or logic compressor in RMS mode. After the compressor I might limit the peaks slightly with logic's ad-limiter.

What are some good software compressors/compressor settings for making the vocals sound loud and clear and jump out of the speakers, but not kill the dynamics and dull the sound?

When I listen to the choruses on Brandy or Janet tracks they sound HUGE, very wide, sparkly and even. I think 4 tracks per harmony/unison voice is enough to give me the largeness, but what are some good compressor ideas for bussed vocals? also what fx if any would you use?


beats. EQ and Compression

I've usually EQ'd the drums separately. Sometimes I layer up to 5 different drum sounds, sometimes there's just 1 or two. I've been digging for breaks since the mid 90's so theres a lot of chopped up breaks there but also using newer sounds for tighter bass, punchier snares and crisper high end.

General suggestions for EQing and compressing these? I've EQ'd everything separately, sometimes individual compression, sometimes drum bus compression. Should i use mult buses? for different kinds of EQ and Compression.


is mainly live bass and 808. It generally lies underneath the kick. Got any
tips for getting it sound big and punchy but play well with drums? I've got no idea whether to compress it separately or with drums. I've been boosting the low end with URS N series eq, sometimes waves RBass and most recently I've used voxengo LFpunch for bass and kick drum, which is wonderfully tunable. Where should the bass sit, levels wise with vocals and drums? which areas should I EQ and how do i get in the pocket with the kick drum?

Please give your criticism, ideas, especially those of you with much experience in mixing music like this, it will be very very much appreciated. In particular I'd like to hear your ideas about routing and multing vocals, drums and bass with ITB

I will post mp3's regularly of this as the work progresses so you can all hear wha gwan, hear your advice in action and hopefully other young blood can learn from all this too!

Old 1st July 2005
Gear Head
gsarbo's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Man, this is cool! I'm going to hang around and listen and learn
on this one! Thanks..
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