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Production on latest Sleepmakeswaves album
Old 2nd August 2011
  #1
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Production on latest Sleepmakeswaves album

Hey guys,
I originally posted this on Andy Sneap's forum, but it seems a lot of people are showing interest so I thought re-posting and continuing the thread here at Gearslutz would be a good as more people could benefit from it.
It's about an album I produced and mixed for Sydney band sleepmakeswaves.

It's interesting from a technical point of view since there was no drum replacement and not one physical guitar amp used on this record. Incidentally, this album was recorded in a little cabin in the forest. I went there and setup the studio that would be our home for 8 days. Lots of fun

http://sleepmakeswaves.bandcamp.com
(For the impatient ones, tracks 4 and 8 might be the best for you.)

The amp sims I used were LeXTAC, NRR-1, Vandal (for bass), Legion, LE456 and probably a few others.
Mokafix pedal sims were an essential part of the sounds too, used on almost every channel of guitars.
IRs were mostly Alu's legendary Framus and Diezel V30 SM57 (Soldano HR Poweramp) for distorted and some clean/OD tracks with 'vox intern normal_m930 on axis1' and doubtlessly a few others.
Kudos to Poulin, Mokafix & Alu!

Hope you find it interesting.

If you have any questions, please post them in this thread instead of PM'ing me - that way I'll have the opportunity to answer them publicly and everyone can benefit.

All the best,
Old 2nd August 2011
  #2
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For the sake of completeness, here are the questions and answers from the original thread.

Noobonic - "Any info on the reverbs and delays would be really appreciated. Thanks!"
OneTruth - "what reverb did you use on the kit if you don't mind me asking? did you use some room mic's when tracking drums for natural ambience aswell?"

Dax
- "I used a lot of different reverbs (some tracks have up to 12 aux busses) SignalDust Tila, 2C-Audio Aether, Audio Damage EOS, QuikQuak Fusion Field, Poor Plate, Rhythm Lab Mo Verb and even a bit of Redline Reverb and VariVerbPro. Not all of these were used in every song, of course.
I'm a fan of algorithmic reverbs. Just bought EAReverb, not used on this album, but is being used on the Beaufields album.
Delays are mostly SoundToys EchoBoy, Rhythm Lab Twin Delay and Bootsy's NastyDLA.

There are times where I used something than what's listed, but these would be the most commonly used ones.

I did record a room mic, which was actually placed in the metal-clad shower/bathroom in the adjoining room. The sliding door was kept open about an inch. Mic was Crown PZM plate (boundary mic) running into Amek 9098 preamp, but it was only used in a few places on the record. From memory, one part is the furious tom roll part in track 6 before the guitars crash in."


OneTruth - "which of the mokafix pedal sims did you find useful on this record?"

Dax - "Mokafix pedal sims used were (again, from memory) D-Plus, EZ-Driver, Lamp Driver, Goldie-OD, Kung Fuzz, Muffin Rider, D-380, Sen'tor and The Bat."


EternallyGutted - "if i ask you for some guitar or bass parts, could you share info about them?"

Dax - "First of all, good players. Great gear is a good thing, but in the right hands...

To DI the guitars, I used Atlas Pro Audio Juggernaut Twin (by Buzz Audio, NZ). It has switchable input and output trafos, I think I mostly tracked with Nickel input, Nickel or Iron output. Iron in & out on the Les Paul for a super-warm, thick sound. (The nickel trafos give a really clean and smooth sound.) This went into the Cranesong HEDD 192 A/D with a little Triode, a bit more Pentode and about the same Tape processing.

There were quite a few guitars used on this record. Between Kid and Otto, there was a lovely little collection, of which my favourite is probably the custom built 2012 baritone. (TwentyTwelve Guitars is an Australian brand)
As you can hear, that thing has such amazingly crushing, yet tight lows. I think the shining moment for this guitar on the album would be the last track.

The default chain for the standard distorted sounds was Mokafix D-Plus into Poulin LeXTAC (clean channel, poweramp ~90%) into Alu's Framus or 'Diezel V30 SM57 (Soldano HR Poweramp)' IR.
This definitely got tweaked a lot across the record, but it was a good starting point. I think if you can't get a good sound with this chain, then there's something wrong upstream (A/D, preamp, DI, guitar, ...player)

Along with my staple EQ (FabFilter's Pro-Q), Bootsy's BootEQmkII was frequently used on the guitar tracks, as was Vladg/sound's Molot (on many clean and overdrive guitar tones).

For 3 reasons, it is a damn shame that Mokafix are not currently operating; 1) IMHO, they are easily the best pedals sims ever made, I've never heard anything that comes close to the range of amazing sounds possible with them, 2) SynthEdit is a crummy platform which makes plugins that chew RAM like crazy, 3) It's unlikely they will ever make their way to Mac, which is where I see myself in a year or so."


EternallyGutted - "today i was listening better and better the album and i really like some guitar tones.
if i say to you what tones i like, could you share info about them?
thanks again and i´d appreciate a lot your answer,"

Dax - "Sure thing, EternallyGutted. Fire away!"
Old 2nd August 2011
  #3
Gear interested
 

This is really great.
The mix is awesome.
How much did you bring to the table when it came to producing the band?
Did they come prepared with all of the electronics and atmosphere ideas or were the electronics ideas your own?
Old 2nd August 2011
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kTHEhRIPPER View Post
This is really great.
The mix is awesome.
How much did you bring to the table when it came to producing the band?
Did they come prepared with all of the electronics and atmosphere ideas or were the electronics ideas your own?
I have permission from the band to post one of the pre-production demos so you can compare the two.
I'm in the process of uploading them to SoundCloud and I'll post links when it's done.

EDIT: see 2 posts down

Cheers!
Dax.
Old 2nd August 2011
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daxliniere View Post

To DI the guitars, I used Atlas Pro Audio Juggernaut Twin (by Buzz Audio, NZ). It has switchable input and output trafos, I think I mostly tracked with Nickel input, Nickel or Iron output. Iron in & out on the Les Paul for a super-warm, thick sound. (The nickel trafos give a really clean and smooth sound.)
. Where are you located?
Old 2nd August 2011
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
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Hey Nathan,
Why, do you want to send me another Juggernaut? Gratis this time? heh
Seriously though, thanks for the reminder to set my user info. I used to have it in my signature and forgot to add it when the policy on signatures was revised.
Info updated!

Cheers,
D.
Old 2nd August 2011
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
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Hey everyone,

Here are the so-called "before and after" versions of the first track from the album.

Demo version:


The playing on the demos wasn't perfect, nor did it have to be since they were just intended to allow the band and I to really learn the songs, from the inside out.
Very little editing was needed on the recorded tracks so thumbs up to the guys for making my life easier.

Album version:
Old 3rd August 2011
  #8
Gear Head
 

finally i listened times and times the sleep makes waves album and i made a note with my favorites tones and mainly they´re clean tones.hehe.great production.
i asked you some days ago if you could give me info about some tones and these are:

1. mainly clean tones:
- "now we rise..." - 2.46 i love that tone...
- "(hello) cloud..." - 0.28 - awesome clean tone
- "in limbs..." - 0.14, i love those crunch chords.

2. distortion. i think you use similar distortion settings for all the song. the distortion tone is great in "a gaze blank..." at 9.24.

could you share some info about those tones???? for example screenshoots?

i´d love to test them with my new guitars...

again, awesome band and amazing producer.

thanks, and i´d appreciate your answer and info.
Old 4th August 2011
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
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Thread Starter
Thanks for the compliments, EternallyGutted!

I'll post those chains soon. I think you will be pleased to know these are mostly LeXTAC's clean channel, a nice IR and compressor - no special tricks!

Screenshots coming soon.
Old 4th August 2011
  #10
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by daxliniere View Post
Thanks for the compliments, EternallyGutted!

I'll post those chains soon. I think you will be pleased to know these are mostly LeXTAC's clean channel, a nice IR and compressor - no special tricks!

Screenshots coming soon.
really thanks for the answer daxliniere!! i appreciate it a lot. now i´m listening the album, hehe, i really love it. great synth stuff too.

stoked to see the screenshoots for those chains!
Old 4th August 2011
  #11
Gear Head
 

and i feel some delay and reverb in some of those clean tones.
Old 4th August 2011
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
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Thread Starter
Here are screenshots of the mixer for a few of the songs, plus the specific guitar amp sim chains requested.

For Gaze, the distortion sound is made from 2 double tracked guitars (2 from each guitarist)


Happy tone-making!

Dax.
Attached Thumbnails
Production on latest Sleepmakeswaves album-mixer-now-we-rise.gif   Production on latest Sleepmakeswaves album-chain-kid-clean-now-we-rise.gif   Production on latest Sleepmakeswaves album-mixer-hello-cloud-mountain.gif   Production on latest Sleepmakeswaves album-chain-otto-clean-hello-cloud-mountain.gif   Production on latest Sleepmakeswaves album-chain-otto-od-limbs.gif  

Production on latest Sleepmakeswaves album-mixer-gaze-blank-pitiless-sun.gif   Production on latest Sleepmakeswaves album-chain-kid-otto-distortion-gaze-blank-pitiless-sun.gif  
Old 4th August 2011
  #13
Gear Head
 

THANKS daxliniere.
some question, that reverberate plugin is a simple impulse loader like SIR2 or Lecab2?
i need to test those settings because i never get a good result with those two impulses (diezel and framus). :(

what guitars were used to record? i have an ESP eclipse II w/emg81.

thanks again,
Old 4th August 2011
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
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Thread Starter
Yep, it's just a standard IR loader (with a really nice IR browser and zero latency). Make sure it's set to 100% wet. I know that EMGs are high output pickups, so if you still can't get it to sound good, maybe maybe insert a plugin to lower the level going into the amp or pedal sim.
Another trick I use if I'm having trouble with getting a guitar to sound good with an ampsim chain that I know works well normally, is to put TAL-USE (free) as the first plugin and either dull or brighten the signal. Sometimes it helps.

Cheers!
Dax.
Old 5th August 2011
  #15
bee
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bee's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by daxliniere View Post
Here are screenshots of the mixer for a few of the songs, plus the specific guitar amp sim chains requested.

For Gaze, the distortion sound is made from 2 double tracked guitars (2 from each guitarist)


Happy tone-making!

Dax.
Sweet! Thanks for sharing!
Old 5th August 2011
  #16
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by daxliniere View Post
Yep, it's just a standard IR loader (with a really nice IR browser and zero latency). Make sure it's set to 100% wet. I know that EMGs are high output pickups, so if you still can't get it to sound good, maybe maybe insert a plugin to lower the level going into the amp or pedal sim.
Another trick I use if I'm having trouble with getting a guitar to sound good with an ampsim chain that I know works well normally, is to put TAL-USE (free) as the first plugin and either dull or brighten the signal. Sometimes it helps.

Cheers!
Dax.
thanks a lot again man. i must to test those tips with my guitar. maybe i show my results if i get something good.haha
Old 5th August 2011
  #17
Gear Maniac
 
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by eternally_gutted View Post
what guitars were used to record? i have an ESP eclipse II w/emg81.
Here's the reply from Kid:

Could you reply for me and direct him to http://kidmakeswaves.wordpress.com/2...rything-album/
I posted a list up there.

Kid

Quote:
Originally Posted by bee View Post
Sweet! Thanks for sharing!
My pleasure, Bee!


Dax.

Last edited by daxliniere; 5th August 2011 at 07:47 AM.. Reason: link changed for direct link to post
Old 10th August 2011
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
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Is that really it? No more questions?
Old 15th August 2011
  #19
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by daxliniere View Post
Is that really it? No more questions?
haha. it´s incredible no more people posting comments in this thread. the production and band are GREAT!!!!

and yes, i have more questions, but...i don´t want to bother you asking for more settings...:(
Old 15th August 2011
  #20
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Thread Starter
Well, go on then
Old 19th August 2011
  #21
Gear interested
 

While the guitars sound excellent and seem to be the focus of discussion so far,
can you share any insight into the drum tracking and mixing? The snare and toms
in particular sound great.

I suppose a fair bit of level automation was used to emphasize certain hits and
fills? With all of the guitars and keys layered in the midrange, how did you
approach getting the drums to sit properly, while still sounding thick?

Finally, how did you approach arrangement with the band for some of the longer
songs (especially the final track)? I'm quite impressed when I hear a 12-minute
song that almost feels too short, and demands a replay or two.

..and thanks for taking the time to share with everyone.
Best,
Brian
Old 20th August 2011
  #22
Gear Maniac
 
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Thread Starter
Hi Brian,

I'm away on sessions at the moment, but I promise I'll answer this thoroughly when I get back.
Cheers and thanks for your patience.

All the best,
Dax.
Old 21st August 2011
  #23
Gear Head
 

Great. i like the fact that the mix draws attention to itself. mix transparency is not always best.


The music is great, i am guessing it helped inspire lots of the sounds in your head.

How come you are moving to mac? Are you waiting for samplitude to port to mac? I think samplitude was helpful in achieving that sound.


Alex
Old 27th August 2011
  #24
Gear Maniac
 
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Thread Starter
Hey guys, sorry it's taken me so long to reply to this. I've been away on sessions and I didn't want to write one-liner replies, so it takes some time to write a proper reply.


Hi Brian,

Quote:
Originally Posted by belgin View Post
While the guitars sound excellent and seem to be the focus of discussion so far,
can you share any insight into the drum tracking and mixing?
First of all, thanks! The drums were recorded in a room 3x3 metres in a holiday house the band hired and I converted into our production environment (read: studio :p ). Here's a video: sleepmakeswaves 2011 Studio Update - Pt. 2 - YouTube


The source:
My Australian-made Brady 'Fiberglass' drum kit - It sounds absolutely massive. As with all drumkits, you have to tune them properly to get the best sound out of them, next comes a great drummer, of course.
Skinned with Evans EC2 Coated heads, twin ply heads on kick.
If you join the Puzzle Factory Sound Studio Facebook page, you can see photos of the whole recording.

Capturing the source:
Kick inside: AKG D112 into Atlas Juggernaut Twin
Kick outside: Audio-Technica AT4047 into Great River MP-2NV
Snare top: Beyer M69* into Atlas Juggernaut Twin
Snare under: Audix ADX90 into Great River MP-2NV
Hats: Audio-Technica ATM450 into SSL VHD Pre
Toms 1 & 2: Audio-Technica ATM450 into SSL VHD Pre
Overheads (kinda 'spaced XY'): 2x Audio-Technica AT4050 into Pendulum MDP-1
Room mic: Crown plate PZM into SSL VHD Pre (used very sparingly in the mixes)

*I bought an Audix i5 and used it on some sessions the other day. This will be my snare mic of choice for now. It's got so much attack, way more than other dynamics mics, but not too much like you'd get with a condenser.

Processing the source:
Just EQ, compression and reverb. No sample-replacement, no tricks.


Quote:
Originally Posted by belgin View Post
I suppose a fair bit of level automation was used to emphasize certain hits and fills? With all of the guitars and keys layered in the midrange, how did you approach getting the drums to sit properly, while still sounding thick?
Fills yes, individual hits, not really. Maybe 2 or 3 throughout the album.
I don't compress individual tracks too much and I choose some nice (and sometimes nasty ) parallel compression that suits the track.


Quote:
Originally Posted by belgin View Post
Finally, how did you approach arrangement with the band for some of the longer songs (especially the final track)? I'm quite impressed when I hear a 12-minute song that almost feels too short, and demands a replay or two.
Ha, it's funny you say that, sometimes when I listen to the last track I also feel like it's too short! But all good things must come to an end, right? I guess it's continuously evolving and interesting, I don't know many bands that can write a 12+ minute song that can hold the listener's interest the whole time.

So, to answer your question, the band's writing is very strong. All the band members have diverse tastes in music and solid (though sometimes informal) musical backgrounds.
There were some songs that needed changes to tempo or the length of a section, some new guitar or synth parts added here and there; little things that help to bring it all together.
Every album with every artist is different, some have more of me in them than others.


Quote:
Originally Posted by belgin View Post
..and thanks for taking the time to share with everyone.
My pleasure, thanks for saying thanks.


Hi Alex,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phase Shift View Post
Great. i like the fact that the mix draws attention to itself. mix transparency is not always best.
Is your attention drawn to the mix or is it that the mix draws your attention to each instrument/part at just the right time?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phase Shift View Post
The music is great, i am guessing it helped inspire lots of the sounds in your head.
Having worked with the band before and having listened to the work-in-progress pre-production recordings, I had a pretty strong idea how I wanted the record to sound. Fresh and open, but also punchy, strong and full-bodied. I find it always helps to hear the way you want a production to sound (on both the song- and album-level) in your head before you start recording. It makes choosing sounds much easier, too.
But, above all, never be afraid to try something different, something unexpected. You never know where the moment will take you. Sometimes to a place better than you imagined.

There are things I think of which don't end up on a record, either because after executing them and hearing how they sound, I don't feel they are the right direction or the band simply doesn't like 'em.

To use another example, the first single from the album I'm producing and mixing for Beaufields (Battle Of The Sky) didn't have the entire end section (from 3:27) or any guitars for that matter, but when I first heard it, I knew that's what it needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phase Shift View Post
How come you are moving to mac?
I am sick to death of Windows' slow and buggy operation on top of the many annoying things about the way it handles (UI).
I had hoped Win7x64 would be the solution, but alas..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phase Shift View Post
I think samplitude was helpful in achieving that sound.
I disagree. There are other DAWS in which I could have quite easily mixed it.
Samplitude is just a tool.

Having said that some tools are better than others. Here are 3 ways;
1) Some actually produce a better final product than others (imagine a circular saw with a cheap bearings. They have shudder and so the cut will not be as even and straight as one with good bearings). If the summing engine is not solid, your results will be less than perfect.
2) Some tools produce the exact same quality as another, but allow you to do it with less effort.
3) Some tools have bells and whistles that other don't have. (Can you say Mix knob on every plugin? ) Sure, you might not use them all the time, but when you do, it's nice to not have to rely on a third-party addon to get the job done.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Phase Shift View Post
Are you waiting for samplitude to port to mac?
I've actually been on the beta team for Samplitude for the past 3 years and while I won't comment on why, I will say that as of a few weeks ago I moved over to REAPER and couldn't be happier. It's such a joy to mix in REAPER! (And the automation is off the planet!)


I hope I've answered everyone's questions as they'd hoped.


All the best,
Dax.
Old 31st August 2011
  #25
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Is your attention drawn to the mix or is it that the mix draws your attention to each instrument/part at just the right time?
well, i guess its a bit of both. as a listener, the part or instrument is exciting when it should be, therefore making me like it more. as a mixer, i can honestly "see you" making those moves, making me like it in a different way altogether. stuff i would probably do as well, and a really nice surprise when i first heard the album.

Quote:
Having worked with the band before and having listened to the work-in-progress pre-production recordings, I had a pretty strong idea how I wanted the record to sound. Fresh and open, but also punchy, strong and full-bodied. I find it always helps to hear the way you want a production to sound (on both the song- and album-level) in your head before you start recording. It makes choosing sounds much easier, too.
But, above all, never be afraid to try something different, something unexpected. You never know where the moment will take you. Sometimes to a place better than you imagined.

There are things I think of which don't end up on a record, either because after executing them and hearing how they sound, I don't feel they are the right direction or the band simply doesn't like 'em.
heh, i know what you mean. tommorow i'm starting a mix of a band that bears some similarities to sleepmakeswaves ( although now more experimental, more electronic parts instead of trippy guitars) and i have a blurred vision of what it should sound like. i hope its gonna clear up by next week. not so straightforward musicwise as sleepmakeswaves, therefore all bets are off.

Quote:
I am sick to death of Windows' slow and buggy operation on top of the many annoying things about the way it handles (UI).
I had hoped Win7x64 would be the solution, but alas..
actually i really like windows 7. very fluid n fast.
Quote:

I disagree. There are other DAWS in which I could have quite easily mixed it.
Samplitude is just a tool.

Having said that some tools are better than others. Here are 3 ways;
1) Some actually produce a better final product than others (imagine a circular saw with a cheap bearings. They have shudder and so the cut will not be as even and straight as one with good bearings). If the summing engine is not solid, your results will be less than perfect.
2) Some tools produce the exact same quality as another, but allow you to do it with less effort.
3) Some tools have bells and whistles that other don't have. (Can you say Mix knob on every plugin? ) Sure, you might not use them all the time, but when you do, it's nice to not have to rely on a third-party addon to get the job done.
in principle i agree. everything is just a tool.some tools are better than others though, as you pointed out. or just help you be better. i am sure you could have mixed it in another environment. Perhaps the end result would be a bit different though. tools usually push us in unpredicted directions. That said, i mix analog, so i don't used samplitude in the same way you use it.

Quote:

I've actually been on the beta team for Samplitude for the past 3 years and while I won't comment on why, I will say that as of a few weeks ago I moved over to REAPER and couldn't be happier. It's such a joy to mix in REAPER! (And the automation is off the planet!)
Holy crap, you are Monster Dax! now it all makes sense! heh I used to think you are a really effcient bug tracking bot! heh You live?! I've been keeping my eye on reaper. its growing, it could take over the world. the principles upon which it was founded are every daw user's dream. Something still doesn't feel right with it.. we'll see.

alex

Last edited by Phase Shift; 31st August 2011 at 04:35 AM.. Reason: typo
Old 31st August 2011
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phase Shift View Post
...not so straightforward musicwise as sleepmakeswaves, therefore all bets are off.
Heh, you should hear some of the 3 albums I produced for avant-guard artist The John Moran CorpEration. I just googled and it seems there's very little on him at the moment. The second or third albums are probably his best-formed works, albums titled "8th of May" and "Fly".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phase Shift View Post
Holy crap, you are Monster Dax! now it all makes sense! heh I used to think you are a really effcient bug tracking bot!
Yes, I am he. Beta tester to the stars. lol

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phase Shift View Post
Something still doesn't feel right with [REAPER].. we'll see.
Do you remember the first time you used Samplitude and it confused the **** out of you? Well, there was no-one to teach you and the 6,000,000 page manual was surely not going to help, but we did it, right?
Jump on Groove3.com and buy Kenny Gioia's 'Reaper Explained' videos. The latest edition (for REAPER 4) is over 7 hours long and is still only $30. You couldn't find a tutor that cheap.
Watch a few of those and you should feel comfortable using REAPER. That's what I did and I've been using it in sessions ever since.

The other thing I really like about REAPER is the userbase/forum. Everyone seems to be very helpful and the troll population represents only a small percentage.

Take care, Alex,
Dax.
Old 1st September 2011
  #27
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Red Black's Avatar
Heya Dax!

Great to see this up here! I'm good friends with the SMW boys and haven't even heard the album properly yet :[ I look forward to having a good read through this while I listen!

Cheers! RB
Old 1st September 2011
  #28
Gear Maniac
 
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Thread Starter
Cheers RB, thanks a lot.
Your showreel is pretty impressive too!
Old 2nd September 2011
  #29
DSK
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Great stuff!

If you have a good band recorded well it's amazing where you can take it using only good ears and some appropriate plugins!


These guys remind me a little of Tool maybe combined with Tortoise and a bit of Opeth in the mix heh..

Anyway congratulations!

Very open sounding on some parts.How did you get this wide sound?

Did you used reverbs on the sends and substracted the mid channel and emphasized the side?
Old 2nd September 2011
  #30
Gear Maniac
 
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSK View Post
Very open sounding on some parts.How did you get this wide sound?
Did you used reverbs on the sends and substracted the mid channel and emphasized the side?
Hi DSK,
I like the M/S idea, but I didn't use it. Can you give me songs with time references to the parts you like, then I'll let you know.


All the best,
Dax.
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