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Mixing Horns and make it sound fat!
Old 20th December 2010
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Mixing Horns and make it sound fat!

Hi I´m mixing horns, in this case a trumpet and trombone
do you guys have any suggestions on how to mix and make it sound
like a big and convincing horn setion!!
Thanx
Old 20th December 2010
  #2
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonorus View Post
Hi I´m mixing horns, in this case a trumpet and trombone
do you guys have any suggestions on how to mix and make it sound
like a big and convincing horn setion!!
Thanx
Put it in a flattering space....easier said than done though!
Old 20th December 2010
  #3
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pasarski's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonorus View Post
Hi I´m mixing horns, in this case a trumpet and trombone
do you guys have any suggestions on how to mix and make it sound
like a big and convincing horn setion!!
Thanx
Trumpet and trombone don't make a convincing horn section sorry. Add a tenor (and maybe an alto if needed) to get close. Maybe even use samples if real ones are not available.
Old 20th December 2010
  #4
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goz211's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pasarski View Post
Maybe even use samples if real ones are not available.
+1 if it's single line riff stuff.

Native Instruments do a Sax and Brass soundpack that I use and like. Get a keyboard player (or maybe you play yourself) to play along as closely as possible.
Old 20th December 2010
  #5
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This might sound a little crazy but try running things through a distortion pedal in parallel with the clean signal. You'd be amazed how much horn sounds can change when you add a littler fur.
I've used a Sans Amp on trumpet/trombone tracks with great results.
Old 20th December 2010
  #6
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Its because it´s a salsa theme, and they don´t have a tenor to record
so I´ll have to handle it with what I have!
I´ll try your suggestions
thanx
Old 20th December 2010
  #7
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goz211's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by junkshop View Post
This might sound a little crazy but try running things through a distortion pedal in parallel with the clean signal. You'd be amazed how much horn sounds can change when you add a littler fur.
I've used a Sans Amp on trumpet/trombone tracks with great results.
+1 yes to this to. I played at a session where they did this and it sounded good - forgotten about it until I read your post junkshop.
Old 20th December 2010
  #8
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a horn section is at least a trumpet, a trombone and a alt sax for me. The more the better is often the case. One of the best horn sections i know over here is 6 players (trumpet, cornet, trombone, tenor sax, alt sax & bariton sax) and they got a full sound from themselves. I've recorded this section once with one stereo B&O ribbon (don't remember the model) with the section setup arround (sax and trombone in front row, cornet and trumpet behind). In the mix i just had to pan and eq it in the total song and done... 99% of the sound also comes from tracking right. I mostly like ribbons like the coles or an AEA R44 on it, mixed with a good room mic (mostly a neutral condensor) in a good room.

But if wrong tracking isn't the issue, or you can't retrack, try parallel compression (or even subtile distortion like mentioned) and paralell chorus effects (certainly no direct) and a bit of plate reverb on it. But with any of those, you need to do it very subtile to not to loose the performance of the players.
Old 20th December 2010
  #9
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RMJAZZ's Avatar
 

I hate to put in a plug here, but...

I play tenor sax and have a studio. If they want a bigger "section" sound ask them to contact me. I can turn songs around pretty quickly at the moment.

They can send me the files via You Send It or another online FTP site.

Peace,
Rob
[email protected]
Old 20th December 2010
  #10
Gear Head
 

Well, as you can see from my name here, I am a trombonist, and an engineer!

I'll condeed a sax does help fill the inner harmonics a bit and "glue" things together, but whoever says bone and trumpet alone can't cut it.... ppffsshhh, whatever...fuuck j/k...kinda.

I'd suggest have them overdub themselves. At least twice. In octaves if possible as well.

In mixing once you pop some light compression, a tiny bit of delay and reverb on the track it fattens it up nicely.
Old 20th December 2010
  #11
Gear Head
 

...but also as anything else, depends on the performance. If they have a weak thin sound to begin with and/or poor intonation, you'll already be putting up a major fight.

Good luck!
Old 20th December 2010
  #12
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pasarski's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneRocker76 View Post
Well, as you can see from my name here, I am a trombonist, and an engineer!

I'll condeed a sax does help fill the inner harmonics a bit and "glue" things together, but whoever says bone and trumpet alone can't cut it.... ppffsshhh, whatever...fuuck j/k...kinda.

I'd suggest have them overdub themselves. At least twice. In octaves if possible as well.

In mixing once you pop some light compression, a tiny bit of delay and reverb on the track it fattens it up nicely.
Yeah, them sax's are overrated...ehhhh, no they're not. I mean, yes even a trombone section can sound bigbut it'll sound like a big trombone section.
Old 20th December 2010
  #13
I guess you guys never worked on Salsa music. It's actually common for horns to be trumpet and bone, with no sax, although they do like flute. I will disagree with Bruce Swedien and say absolutely compress them, but not too hard and eq them if they need it, add some verb and you are done in this style of music provided the horns were arranged, played, and recorded decently. Definitely stay away from distortion on horns in this style of music
Old 21st December 2010
  #14
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pasarski View Post
Yeah, them sax's are overrated...ehhhh, no they're not. I mean, yes even a trombone section can sound bigbut it'll sound like a big trombone section.
I didn't say they're overrated. I even said they do help fill the sound. My problem was with you saying a Trombone and Trumpet (2 brass horns) doesn't qualify as a decent section.

A VERY common horn set up has been Tenor sax and Trumpet... again only 2 horns, and a tenor is very similar in timbre to the trombone... but I guess that doesn't create a convincing horn section as well?
Old 21st December 2010
  #15
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pasarski's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneRocker76 View Post
I didn't say they're overrated. I even said they do help fill the sound. My problem was with you saying a Trombone and Trumpet (2 brass horns) doesn't qualify as a decent section.
I didn't mean that. I notice I misquoted the OP. I ment to say they don't make a BIG and convincing section ( but maybe a small and convincing).
Old 21st December 2010
  #16
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waxx's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pasarski View Post
I didn't mean that. I notice I misquoted the OP. I ment to say they don't make a BIG and convincing section ( but maybe a small and convincing).
i agree

and in salsa and so, it's not a horn section sound, it's more a dual lead sound with trumpet and trombone, wich is also good.

But if you want a classical pop horn section sound, a sax is needed (even more than trumpet or trombone) to make the full big sound for me.

and about the compression debate. The trick is parallel compression, never on the original signal.
Old 21st December 2010
  #17
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Schneider's Avatar
 

regardless of what counts as a horn section or not;

on the few occasions ive mixed brass instruments i tend to give them a similar treatment to bass, i like to have them pinned down and supporting the mix rather than standing out too much.

ill send each track individually to my 160x, really slam each instrument and then mix it back in parallel, which seems to be the popular choice!

then when im finishing and 'itb' ill group them all into a bus with a decapitator for some tasteful distortion and a short plate reverb (or whatever is best for the song)
Old 21st December 2010
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonorus View Post
Its because it´s a salsa theme, and they don´t have a tenor to record
so I´ll have to handle it with what I have!
I´ll try your suggestions
thanx
Multiple passes.

If you have already cut the session, stack the takes if possible.

Two horns are gonna sound just like that- two horns!
Old 21st December 2010
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by waxx View Post
i agree

and in salsa and so, it's not a horn section sound, it's more a dual lead sound with trumpet and trombone, wich is also good.

But if you want a classical pop horn section sound, a sax is needed (even more than trumpet or trombone) to make the full big sound for me.

and about the compression debate. The trick is parallel compression, never on the original signal.
sorry it's not a horn section as YOU define it, but it's very common in salsa as I said. And as far as compression, patching compressors right on them works just fine, parallel compression it's own sound. The music is VERY different from
anything pop or rock
Old 21st December 2010
  #20
I would boost the low-mids with a wide-ish Q and find where to horns sound warm and mellow and not biting your ears off, but not muddy and dull. EQ in the mix, not solo.
Old 28th May 2011
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneRocker76 View Post
I didn't say they're overrated. I even said they do help fill the sound. My problem was with you saying a Trombone and Trumpet (2 brass horns) doesn't qualify as a decent section.

A VERY common horn set up has been Tenor sax and Trumpet... again only 2 horns, and a tenor is very similar in timbre to the trombone... but I guess that doesn't create a convincing horn section as well?
how are tenor and trombone similar in timbre? brass and woodwind have inherent differences in timbre. the range of a tenor sax and a trombone are similar, but very little about their timbre is...

that said, a bone and trumpet can certainly fill the role of horn section. it creates a certain aesthetic that can be preferable for certain styles (latin amongst these)

sorry to revive an old thread, but felt that this is an important distinction

peace
Old 14th July 2011
  #22
Gear Maniac
 
Jon Harter's Avatar
Tacking on another vote for a little overdrive. You can make your horn section a good deal fatter, as well as increase the air around them without brightening the signal and making it harsh.

In the analog realm I like pushing a Zener (in thd mode), Altec mixers, or a Culture Vulture. Play with blending it back up underneath the dry signal.

If you're working itb, try Decapitator. It's a pretty tasty plugin. Use this blend knob to tweak it.

Keep in mind that you're not looking for fuzz. You're reaching for harmonic richness. If you hear fuzz than you're pushing too hard.

Last tip: don't fear the low pass filter!
Old 15th July 2011
  #23
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by junkshop View Post
You'd be amazed how much horn sounds can change when you add a littler fur.

A tip I picked up from some ancient Patrick Gleason article was to put some of that severely gated reverb from a Yamaha SPX-90 behind your horn parts. It doesn't sound like 'verb per se, rather it just kind of fills in the space between the horns with additional horn residue. Fur, like junkshop says.
Old 15th July 2011
  #24
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The best ways to fatten up a horn section have already been mentioned. Delays do wonders for all sorts of woodwind and brass instruments. Alto sax LOVES delay/verb.
Old 15th July 2011
  #25
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you'll miss the reedy sound, but sure trombone and trumpet is a horn section... we have had success for many years with just a 2 piece horn section. sure it's not a latin horn section per say... but trombone and trumpet has A sound.

it's all up to the players the lines and harmonies... if they're used to playing together i'm sure you'll have a great deal success.

never found LG diaphram condensers to be very fat - more bright.

fattest sound we got was with Royer 121s close, and an 87 8' back, and 14' high in the room.

never liked sansamp or even culture vulture on horns, changes them too much for me, but a little EQ getting rid of those shrill frequencies (especially in the trumpet, bone often likes them!)

and the bone's where you'll get your fat out of these two!!!

enjoy!
Old 15th July 2011
  #26
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infact what this guy said - yes!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musiclab View Post
I guess you guys never worked on Salsa music. It's actually common for horns to be trumpet and bone, with no sax, although they do like flute. I will disagree with Bruce Swedien and say absolutely compress them, but not too hard and eq them if they need it, add some verb and you are done in this style of music provided the horns were arranged, played, and recorded decently. Definitely stay away from distortion on horns in this style of music
Old 15th July 2011
  #27
Here for the gear
 

Horn parts are all about the players playing as a section. 2 (or more) players playing the same line will never be as big as just 2 players attacking the same way, releasing the same way, phrasing and being dynamic the same way. Good players do this without thinking about it. It makes the part exponentially bigger. And yes, compress and eq the the group; a little 3k will cut through a mix, but get ugly very quickly. I use ribbons when I can.
Old 15th July 2011
  #28
As a horn player ima have to say that you can def have a legit horn section with those 2 horns. Done it before at gigs, wouldn't hesitate to in a studio.

A horn section without a sax is..... well, a horn section without a sax. Saying that you need one is like saying every band needs a guitar. Ask Fitz and the T's about that one.

I'm kinda surprised at peoples response to this one; to think that a section couldn't work without 1 instrument, and that ADDING A SAMPLED SAX would be the solution, that's just crazy. For starters, the HORN SECTION has to be played AS A SECTION. Same inflection, same dynamics, same attacks and releases. Good luck getting a keyboard player with a volume pedal. to match what brass players do naturally.

I suppose this is a non-musician engineer attitude, as anyone whose ever worked with a HORN SECTION would know this!!!!

You are WAY better off using just the 2, cause it's a sweet sound. Here's how you make it fat.

1) record PHAT players, playing PHAT licks in a PHAT room. Unisons are cool, but you gotta mix it up with some harmonies and octaves at times to make it sound bigger.

2) mic it up right. Get the close sounds, and GET THE ROOM SOUNDS. That's where the fat ensemble-sound comes from is that room blending. This makes things much nicer.

3) Double that ****! Not necessary, but it can really fatten something up if mixed in at the right level. You can make 2 people sound like 4, or 6, or 200, or just a badass PHAT 2-man horn section.

4) If you want it to be phat on the mix, you gotta avoid the temptation to cut and boost with your EQ. Keep it natural!

5) You can compress if you want to, but alot of what makes a horn sound great is all the little dynamics things they can do together, which can get lost even with subtle compression. Most GOOD horn players, as a function of how they learn to play (especially brass players) will have a consistent volume, especially when playing with a full backing track. Instead of compressing, see if you can get the guys to follow the dynamic changes in the track if their volume isn't matching what's happening, or automate volume in those spots.

Seriously though, just get the players to act like total badasses while they are jamming and you'll be cool. You gotta have a phat sound to start with if that's where you want to end up.
Old 15th July 2011
  #29
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amanitas's Avatar
Agree with what king2070lplaya just said.

Never, ever ever ever add a sampled horn into a real horn section. I have done work where people ask me to replace just the trumpet part of a keyboard horn section and then leave in the fake sax and trombone. It ALWAYS sounds horrible as samples have unnaturally perfect intonation and unrealistic attacks and releases, not to mention trying to match the dynamic subtleties with volume rides just isn't going to happen.

If you don't have a real sax player, leave the sax out! 3 trumpets stacked on top of each other will sound better than 1 trumpet and 1 fake trombone and 1 fake sax, unless the trumpet player is horrible, in which case you shouldn't be recording horns to begin with.

Generally speaking I'd avoid compression as well - definitely don't want to squash the transients - this is where the most cutting and rhythmically active parts of the sound are, the more you squash the smaller the sound gets.

Think about Earth Wind and Fire - you are mainly hearing the transients as they cut through the dense texture of guitar/bass/keys/drums/vox/etc. and kick everyone in the ass. If you squash the horns, it's like kicking the band in the ass with flip flops instead of pointy steel toed boots. Phoenix horns/Jerry Hey/etc. are definitely some steel toed boots wearing mother****ers.

Also this lessens the effect of sfortzandos, which is kind of the whole point of having a real horn section as no other instruments in a typical pop/rock/soul band setup are capable of doing such a thing. As has already been stated, keyboard or guitar with a volume pedal ain't gonna cut it, the mechanics simply don't translate.

If you want the real horns to sound more like fake horns then by all means squash the **** out of 'em. Otherwise my advice would be to use compression for color only.

That said as a coloration device, Soundtoys Decapitator is pretty rad. Can definitely make the sound dirtier and grittier which can help it fit into a mix, esp. if you are going for a vintage kind of vibe.

Stacking is your friend - if you think about a classic horn section, it's really coming out of the big band tradition, which is in it's ideal form 5 trumpets, 5 trombones and 5 saxes. So if you really want it to sound huge (ie Count Basie orchestra huge) you need to get on those quintuples.

Often for stabs and hits and such the brass would be doing this as punctuation while the saxes play something more melodic and completely different, hence if you don't have sax but are going for stabs and punchy kind of stuff you aren't necessarily screwed.

Trumpet and trombone can definitely work as a horn section, especially if you arrange the parts nicely. If your players are game, I'd aim for a minimum of 3 trumpets and 3 trombones throughout the arrangement, 5 or more for maximum fatness. For whatever reason 2 trumpets almost always sound worse than 3 - something with the intonation and chorusing - so I would aim to triple rather than double whatever parts you have at a minimum. One caveat - never stack a solo unless you want it to sound like Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. But that's why it's called a solo, isn't it?

All of that said, if you have 2 great players in a great room and the rest of the mix isn't super dense (ie a small live band setup vs. double tracked guitars/synth layers/etc.), you will probably be good with close and room mics and no stacking. Ribbon on the trumpet, damn near anything on the trombone for close mic, condenser for the room mic, and you should be good to go...

One more thing, I'd consider sending the horns to a mono bus. Sometimes when you spread them out through the stereo spectrum, especially if you aren't dealing with a large amount of horn tracks, you lose some of the punch.
Old 15th July 2011
  #30
Gear Maniac
 

Q. how do you play a rumba?

double track. and your best st comp / Limiter
heh

A. the rumba plays itself.
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