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How to mix an hardrock/metal song Multi-Ef­fects Plugins
Old 1st September 2011
Gear Addict
Sino's Avatar

How to mix an hardrock/metal song

Hi everyone...

First of all, sorry for my pretty bad english...
I'm a young engineer and I have little bit experience in mixing pop / hiphop and soft rock recordings...

I'm about to mix an hard rock song but I'm pretty worried because I don't know anything about that: I listen a lot of hard rock and heavy metal and have my favourites sounds and engineer (Andy Wallace) and also my basic ideas, but really don't know how to achieve that result (or at least something similar, especially for the definition of every single instrument)...

I'm going to mix this on a great studio with a good Neve VR so I basically have all the technical resources I need, but I miss some techniques or at least some basic tips..

The song features drums, bass, vox and obviously a lot of guitar, which were recorded with 5 microphones for every track: SM57, MD421, U87, 414 and a ribbon mic... they were recorded placing all mics in front of the amp and then looking for a great sound on the amplifier head, so I think I'll bring every mic in the mix at his original level.

That makes me completely crazy, I've already mixed things with lot of tracks but never songs like this, with dozens of heavy distorted guitars... I think I'll compress everything a lot to contain dynamics but I'm pretty worried about panning and EQ (for example I saw people mixing this kind of music with strong eq's on some guitars like cut everything above 10KhZ), especially because I don't have much time to do this (about 12 hours) and so not much time to try different solutions...

I know it's a hard question but please suggest your ideas or give me some basic tips (things that everyone does, etc...)
Old 1st September 2011
matt thomas's Avatar
Delete most of the guitar tracks.

Typically you'll want lots of click in the kick compared to what you are used to. You will often have the guitar parts doubled, or at least equal intensity parts, panned hard left and right.

Good luck

Old 2nd September 2011
Gear Addict
ckreon's Avatar

Originally Posted by matt thomas View Post
Delete most of the guitar tracks.

Alternatively, you could submix the parts. Having 5 tracks per take is too much, but I don't think it's a bad idea to play with a mixture of all those tracks to find a sound you like (which may very well involve muting some of the tracks), and then bouncing them to a single mono or stereo track.

That way each take is just one track for you to deal with. Takes some commitment to sounds, but even still you always have the option to go back and adjust your mixture of mics if you need to, then re-bounce and import that back into the session.
Old 2nd September 2011
Lives for gear

Kick + more click...good call, but obviously dont over do it. Personally I prefer some oomf to my kick drum but thats my preference.

As with guitars, unfortunately large cut eq-ing is often necessary to make room for other instruments. Distorted guitars have a dam annoying way of eating up loads of frequency content. Generally, high pass between 80-150hz for room for the bass. Low pass between 7k -10k hz with a moderate slope to leave room for the cymbals.

Cut some frequencies around 250hz to remover some mud and maybe somewhere between 400 - 800 also. Maybe cut around 6khz if its sounding fizzy.

For compression, andy sneep does a thing where he applies a multi band compressor below 250hz. Really helps tighten the low end.

As with every song, these are only rough guides / suggestions do if they don't work then ignore them.

Generally though, with eqing distorted guitar think cut rather than boost.
And always, always, always (or so I was told) mix them in context with the song. Never mix them in solo them except to check tuning and tightness between the playing of takes if/when double tracking.

Hope this helps and best of luck!
Old 2nd September 2011
A few things:

- first and foremost, lose as many of the guitar mics as possible. Find the ones that work best for a given part, and mute the rest. You'll avoid potential phase problems, and also organizational/logistical ones, too.

- use as little EQ on the guitars as possible. If a tone isn't working, try one of the other mics, or a combination of mics.

- low-pass is your friend on the guitars. Listen in context as you set it; you can often get away with setting it as low as 6k, which will free up LOTS of space for cymbals and vocals.

- for drums, try parallel compression, or subgroup the kit and compress that. You'll need the added sustain these techniques give you in order to cut through the wall of guitars

- for the bass, don't be shy about adding some distortion. It'll help the bass cut through on smaller stereos.
Old 5th September 2011
Gear Addict
Sino's Avatar

Thank you guys... great answers...

I think I'll need to to a lot of automations to get the song right... Any basic metal tips on that?

Also, the VR does not have automation controls, so I'm thinking:
A) Use the VR channel in ProTools insert?
B) Get good sound on single channels then re-record them into ProTools and then automate everything?
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