Croz's best sounding record since the 70s
When Fab got the call to come record one of America's musical legends he brought his sense of thoughtful and deliberate sonic shaping to the tracking sessions. He knew that this record was going to be special and wanted listeners to feel as if Croz was sitting in the room with them but with a magical sounding backdrop that surrounds him and sets the tone and space for each song on the record to deliver it's emotional message.
To create such an intimate, rich and lush mix with such sparse arrangements is not as easy as it sounds. In this 2 hour long tutorial, Fab walks you through step-by-step how he took the raw, super clean, tracks from great sounding rough mixes to an incredible sounding record.
Learn how to:
- Treat a lead vocal with both subtle and extreme sonic decisions
- Create width and dimension to a single guitar using just one mic and a DI
- Set up and manage an entire album's sonic palette using templates and referencing
- Use plugins and gear for the perfect amount of color without over saturating the sound
- Interface with analog reverbs to create an unique and vintage tone but also easily switch to plugins as needed
- Remove the walls from a vocal sound without defaulting drastic EQ
- Process stacks on stacks of vocal harmonies and backgrounds in a way that supports and enhances Croz's lead vocal in a special way
- Automate and refine a mix so that every moment is something special
Watch how the entire mix comes together and then download the raw stems to practice mixing it for yourself
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Once logged in, you will be able to click on those chapter titles and jump around in the video.
- 00:00 - Start
- 00:0 - Start
- 00:31 - Session Setup
- 01:42 - Rough Mix
- 03:21 - Recording Process
- 06:48 - Import The Template
- 13:04 - Vintage and Modern Reverbs
- 16:19 - Track Routing
- 19:46 - De-Noising Analog Reverb
- 22:48 - Audition Reverbs
- 16:30 - Lead Vocal
- 29:15 - Vocal Reverb
- 00:00 - Start
- 00:0 - The Guitar
- 24:22 - Back To The Vocal
- 28:16 - Compare Mixes
- 35:42 - Electric Guitar
- 38:00 - 12 String Guitar
- 00:00 - Start
- 00:0 - Bass Guitar
- 06:12 - Background Vocals
- 19:24 - Revisit the Electric Guitar
- 25:17 - Adding Space to Guitar
- 26:22 - Automation
- 30:15 - Dynamic Reverb on Guitar
- 36:35 - More Automation
- 37:14 - Final Adjustments
- 42:15 - 2-Bus+ Processing
- 46:00 - Print Final Mix
|Part 1||Part 2||Part 3|
Good morning children! Today we are going to mix David Crosby's first single from the Lighthouse album.
Just like that. It's no joke, so no joke. Let's go.
I had two options for this video. I could... One...
Document the existing mix from the actual record.
Two, use the stems you all got and try and mix it in real-time in front of you which was option 2 because that's the kind of people we are.
I'm going to import the stems using....
Pro Tools' amazing workspace environment.
I'm gonna import all those stems straight into my session this way.
Boom! I have to make sure that they go to and output that we can actually hear.
And in this system the output is D 15-16.
It's the rightmost last output of the whole rig.
This is a slightly unusual setup.
Basically, the way it works is I have a HDX card, I don't use the DSP plug-ins that much.
I use the HDX card for the real-time tracking if I need to overdub something, that's why I have a HDX in this rig.
Then it goes to a pair of Lynx Aurora 16s.
I use the digital outputs of the Aurora 16s to hit a pair of Convert 8s by Dangerous Music, which are my favorite DA right now.
And then, the output of that goes into Dangerous 2-Bus+.
And then I go into my trusty Universal Audio 2192 which is my AD.
The final monitoring, that's after D 15-16, goes to a Dangerous Music Convert 2.
Which is my monitoring DA.
And I listen to everything through that converter.
Let's listen to the raw tracks.
What you just heard is every mic raw in mono, no processing.
This was recorded at Groove Masters which is a studio that is now defunct in Santa Monica.
It's Jackson Brown's studio. Good place, lots of good gear.
It was tracked with...
Kind of odd combination of things.
Because I was not familiar with the place I brought some of my gear, so I have a little blankie so I don't get too scared.
So I brought a pair of Focal Solo 6s.
So at least I know what I'm listening to.
And then I brought my Eden microphone, a couple of Atlantis.
And then I brought.
A Dangerous Compressor, a Dangerous Bax EQ.
A Dangerous Source to monitor to make sure that what I hear is what I get.
And so I was able to combine this kind of shipped in gear from my personal stash with the insane collection...
Well, first there were like two Neve consoles in the control room.
One eighties 78 I think and then one BCM 10.
All 1073s and 1032s.
I was sitting on a rack and there were two Fairchilds in the rack! So I got up and went to a chair instead.
It was that kind of a place, a time-machine of a place.
And so I was able to combine vintage equipment, some of the Neve preamps, some of the...
I don't compress much but...
Some of the colored pieces, maybe a Pultec here and there with these super clean new gear, to create this very neutral sound.
And so now at the mix I have the choice of being able to do whatever I want.
Michael League who is the main producer on this record and who incidentally co-wrote most of the songs with David Crosby, originally invited me on this record I think, because he wanted someone to reflect upon the sonic direction of this record as much as he reflected upon the musical direction of this record.
My idea and what I wanted to achieve is to have all the good stuff from the vintage records and none of the bad stuff.
What would that be? Good question.
Sixties and seventies records benefit from a lot of extra sauce, meaning...
They allowed themselves a lot of reverb There were a lot of transformers, there was tape going on, there was a lot of softening going on.
It wasn't really documentary like, it was very very much pastel Hollywood like.
That's cool, but...
To me it's always created...
On most of, not all those records, but on a lot of those records, A little bit of a distance.
I didn't feel the connection with the performer as much as I do on some modern records the way I like.
And so I told myself...
It would be awesome to be able to have something very present, very very clean, but still have some sauce.
That what I'm gonna try to do.
'Things we do for love' was not the first song I mixed for this record.
The first song I mixed was probably 'Paint you a picture' because it's just guitar and vocal, and because there were no distractions, just David and his guitar so I could create the space and create the environment for the whole record and then I used the same reverbs and the same processing system across the whole record.
So that I could have a common denominator and a common sound for the whole record, created...
One album as opposed to just a bunch of different songs.
At least that was the intention.
What I'm gonna do now is import those reverb tracks and Stem Busses and the Sum bus and...
The Print track so that I have the framework in which I mixed the original record to start with.
So I'm gonna import that probably from the original track.
It's good, when you mix a record, to actually always go back to the original track.
The temptation is, since all your mixes get better and better over time, the temptation is: "Ok, I'm gonna mix Song 1 and that's cool. Then when I mix Song 2 I'm gonna import the processing, the reverbs the Sum Busses and all that stuff from Song 1".
Awesome! So now on your second song you're getting a stride, song 2 is gonna sound better.
So when you start song 3 you might wanna import the stems from Song 2.
That's the logical idea.
What I've found over time is that if you want an unified tone for the whole record, that's a really bad idea.
Because the drift between Song 1 and Song 2 is significant.
And the drift between Song 2 and Song 3 is significant.
It won't jump to your ears but it is significant.
When you get to Song 6, which you referenced from Song 5 which you referenced... etc... etc...
Between 6 and 1 there's a canyon of difference.
And so I found that when mixing records, where it matters to me that there's an unified sound I always refer to the first song.
And then, even though every song gets better, at the end of the mix I recall the first song and bring it into the fold of the rest of the mix.
That's what I usually find works best.
What I'm gonna do is...
Choose the last mix by date and import the things I want.
BX20, EMT, BX10, 250.
A Spread, Bricasti and then the percussion stem, bass stem, guitar stem, lead stem, back stem.
Sum and 'Picture for you'.
Here, in my settings I'm gonna import playlists and the reason why I'm doing that is because.
This is an Aux with reverb, reverb, reverb, reverb and this is the song. And the only track that has audio on it is my Print track.
And I want that because I'm gonna be able to use 'Picture for you' as a reference and I'll be able to AB and make sure I'm making the same record, not another song on a different record.
Here we go.
It's restoring tracks.
I'm gonna mute everybody on the left, the context stems so there's no interference and I'm gonna show you and explain to you what I just imported.
On the right side is the print track.
Right now, on this Print track, there is 'Picture for you', the last mix of 'Picture for you' which will be our reference, it sounds a little bit like this.
So this is gonna be my level and tone reference.
I know this is good because it was approved by David, and by Michael and by myself over four revisions.
So we know this is a good point and a good amount of reverb and good amount of and brightness and bottom and bass and stuff like that.
So this is gonna be my template, if you will, my ABing, my referencing.
Just so you know you don't get confused.
When this 'I' button here is grayed that means I'm listening to what's on the track.
And when it's on 'Input' I'm listening to what's going on in my mix live, right now.
So that's easy to compare.
On my Sum Bus which is my final return from the 2 Bus, I have a bunch of plug-ins.
And usually when I start a new song, I make sure there's nothing outrageous on the settings.
Nothing that was designed to compensate for some mistake on another mix.
So this is a tape standard.
There's nothing crazy.
There's nothing going on the Pultec, except a little bit of a bump at 200, and a little bit of a bump at 30, that's fair.
There's no high-end tweaking.
On the Fairchild you noticed that the threshold is pretty high.
This is basically nothing, so this is not that much.
And the reason for that is that I'm using the Fairchild probably more as and EQ than a compressor.
Because I like the way UA modeled the transformer on input and output and the inter-stage tube stuff.
I like it.
I really like this thing. That is a bit of a saturation, a bit of a crunch thing, and yes, I said that I wanted the record to be clean but I also want the record to sound modern.
Modern and vintage at the same time. Go figure.
So this is key to that. You'll here that in a while.
And the limiter is there to make sure that, you know...
my converter doesn't cry and also it's a final kind of offset in case, you know.
Let's just say that maybe sometimes, the gain stage is not 100% perfect.
Like 99% perfect... ish.
So this helps, I'll show you.
To the left of that are my stems.
So everything in this session is gonna go through the stems.
And the reason why I do that is two fold: For tone and for organization.
It's nice to be able to have a little bit of limiting, I like the way the Oxford Limiter sounds, it's fat sounding even if you don't limit.
It adds a certain color which I like.
And also, sometimes, when you are in difficulty...
you can kind of tame things.
Or, if you're making a pop record, and everything has to sound like pancake, this is a good way to do it without it sounding like a pancake.
Here, on the Lead Stem I have, a Tape Machine and a Supresser.
I'm gonna bypass those because those are probably specific way to fix a problem on a different mix.
And I may not have the problem on this mix.
And I don't wanna start the mix with leftovers.
I only want the positive side of importing the template not the negative side, and to do so, I always review what's on the template, and I always try and figure out why did I do that.
So here, the Oxide, which is a UA Tape Machine, on the Back Stem, is a softener. That I think, I can leave on.
To the left of that is the reverbs.
I'm using a slightly different system for those reverbs because I had decided, as a way to get the vintage vibe, to use originally, all analog vintage reverbs.
So we have a BX 20 which is right back there.
We have an EMT 140, which is in the shop over there.
We have a BX 10 which is right back there.
And then, I don't own a 250, but sometimes, you need a 250.
And then, the Spread thing that's just because I like things to be wide and I'm using a plug-in for that.
And then, I have a Briscati here, which is in the rack over there.
The reason why I added a Briscati and that's kind of broke my pledge to use all vintage analog reverbs, is because I kind of felt that I need a Chamber and the Chambers on the Bricasti are badass.
And if that's a problem, send me a postcard.
These are the reverbs that are common to the whole record, Am I gonna use all of these? I don't know, maybe yes, maybe no.
All those reverbs are routed to the FX Stem right here, And the FX stem is going to the 2-Bus back in through the whole thing.
The way I am feeding these reverbs is slightly unusual, I'd like to show you because it's pretty cool.
Instead of having an Aux here, for example, and sending.
To BX 20 and that goes straight to BX 20, What I'm doing is I'm calling a bus the name of the reverb, a physical I/O insert on that track.
Why am I doing that? For several reasons.
Instead of using the direct send, using an insert guarantees that your reverb is delay compensated.
So say, if your reverb is a delay, in time delay, now instead of going straight to the box the physical box, you're going to an Aux, which we named the same name as the box so that your brain know you're going to that box, because your brain needs to be taken care of.
And the insert here, the I/O, the Pro Tools I/O insert, takes care of all the latency for you because it delay compensates the whole thing, which is pretty awesome.
The other advantage is, say you open this mix on your laptop or say your BX 20 dies, because they do.
You could replace this insert, which is essentially kind of a plug-in abstraction of the physical unit, you could replace that by an actual plug-in.
So now I could go the UA and put the BX 20 in it.
And now I just replaced my physical BX 20, by a virtual BX 20.
With just one click. How nice is that? If I didn't have the insert, I would have to go through a lot of steps to try and match this.
Where's this is one step.
So I'm gonna return this to my I/O Setup, which is B 1-2.
So for this to work, obviously, I have to patch the reverbs on B 1-2, B 3-4 for the EMT Plate, B 5-6 for the BX 10 and B 7-8 for the Briscati.
Which I should do now, so let's.
My next step would be to organize my tracks.
I have an upright bass here.
I'm gonna feed all that to a mono Aux input.
And I'm gonna call it Bass...
Sub. There you go.
And I want that to go into the Bass Stem obviously.
And then, the first thing I'm gonna do is...
Solo safe the Sub so that I can listen to all the different microphones separately.
But I may reverse that later, I'll show you.
This is super important, this is the Crosby guitar.
I have a microphone, which was an Atlantis, and then I have a DI.
I'm gonna send this directly to the Guitar Stem.
Then, these are harmonies. There's a...
Croz harmony, I'm gonna color them orange, And then that's Crosby's Lead vox.
So I'm gonna make that red and send that to the Lead Stem.
And the way I like to do background vocals is I like to submix them so I can have control over several little submixed background vocals. Here I'm gonna call them the same as the tracks, Croz.
CH Harm Sub.
And I tend to leave the bus black.
Because that allows me to know that it's a bus, at glance.
And I color the tracks the same way I've always done it.
These are two electric guitars, I'm gonna move them with the other guitars and put them in the guitar stem.
And then, probably while I'm here, do a little bit of panning, just because, you know...
I pan, therefore I am.
Let's make a sub for that.
Call it: Extra Falsetto Sub.
And that's gonna go to the Back Stem.
Etc, Etc. I'm gonna do the whole thing and then I'll summarize quickly. OK? In the process of organizing all these background vocals I actually found a pair of 12 string guitars which I moved promptly to the left, in my Guitar Stem environment.
And then we have, one lead vocal, which sings on the verses.
And then we have 3 Croz Lead Vocals, a single and then the double and the triple.
We have, Croz's chorus harmonies, so that's David singing harmony with himself.
I'll put that there into the background vocals.
This extra Falsetto is just one little thing at the end so I'm gonna move it down.
We have, Falsetto harmony.
And then we have high voice doubles of sorts and then we have, Aaah, 1, 2, 3, 4.
Which that's how it's gonna be and then we have and extra falsetto.
It's rather simple. Isn't that wonderful? We've spared you the noise since the beginning because we are that kind of people.
Let's turn it back on.
That is the sound of vintage gear.
So, my BX 20 is very noisy.
Let's listen to the reverbs and see a little bit what we can do with them.
What best to listen to the reverbs than to listen to David's voice since most of the reverbs were designed to give a wrap around David's voice.
OK, so this is raw.
Let's try and assign the busses in order of appearance here so we have BX 20, EMT, BX 10, Tail, Spread, Bricasti.
Let's listen to the BX 20.
With the BX 20.
A little less.
Pretty awesome right, but very noisy.
So what does one do in these situations? One has two options: not use the BX 20, option A.
But listen to this! That's not a good option.
One decides to use the plug-in but then one has self-esteem issues with that.
One decides to de-noise the reverb.
Let's try this one.
I like to use the Izotope stuff for this.
It's rather simple, it kind of works by itself.
You turn it on and the noise goes down.
What does it do to the sound? It nukes it, but you can learn the noise. If you hit learn...
The plug-in will learn what you considered to be noise.
And then you can decide how much of this noise you're willing to allow.
Say about, this much.
Magical! You could also not be a hooligan.
You could hit a little harder.
And then lower the return so you lower the noise further without having to use as much of the de-noiser.
Of course, this is what it was without the de-noiser.
This is nice! So that was a side-note so that we don't go insane listening to that reverb noise all the time.
Since we're here, let's listen to the rest of the reverbs.
The next one is the EMT plate.
How cool is that? Very different, right? BX 20.
The next one is the BX 10.
Completely different, which is what we're looking for, we want options.
We have the 250 tail, that is a super clean, plug-in based, 250.
I probably added this later in the process of mixing that other song because I needed a little bit of a cleaner tail with less character.
That sounds just lovely.
The next one is the Spread I believe. Yes.
Also an add-on.
You've heard this sound.
Maybe not that loud but you've heard that sound.
Let's add the sends because you can't have too many sends.
And after that is our good friend the Bricasti.
I love that Chamber.
Pretty awesome. OK. Great, so that happened.
Now we have choices.
But if you noticed, this reverb, the Bricasti...
Is pretty right heavy.
I noticed that I had an imager here.
The reason for this is it's and old piece of gear.
So we're gonna change the rotation or the symmetry to try and get a feel for the reverb being centered.
I like that.
So smooth. OK, great. I'll take that.
The noise is still bothering me.
There you go.
OK. Let's listen to that.
I like it.
So we have these 800 reverbs but none of them matters if the tone of the vocal is not what we want.
I like the tone of the vocal by itself.
After a couple of days of doing vocals I told myself: OK, this sounds great but I'd like it to be more dreamy and more A located, meaning no location to me.
And so to that I wanted to remove the walls and to remove the walls I had to move David out of the vocal booth into a big area so you don't hear the walls.
But this song was already recorded and the performance is great.
So we're not gonna ask him to re-sing the song just because I changed my mind.
That's not how the world works. So, I'm gonna try and remove the walls using EQ.
The first thing I would do is high-pass this.
You can hear the room influencing the bottom of the vocal.
So I would just try and find a place where the problem is, probably 200 because let's not forget that 200 is the devil.
Can't go too far. It's a small devil.
I'm liking this. We started here.
There's a little bit of a mask here because of the room.
Let's check that nothing is going crazy in our 2-bus processing.
Remember, we imported a template. I don't know what the gain staging is.
I wanna make sure that my gain staging is right, here.
See, remember there was 2 dB of gain here for some reason.
Let's see if that is still valid.
That's cool. The vocal hits at about...
-18 which is 0 dB VU.
Let me show you as VU meter in Pro Tools.
Not bad, nobody is gonna die.
This does absolutely nothing gain wise, but if I mute it.
A lot lighter, right? Check it out.
Transformer texture. Nice, I like it.
OK, cool. Let's not agonize over this, it will change.
I'm gonna create a little bit of space around it.
I like the BX 20.
A little bit of the Spread.
And then, the super smooth EMT.
If you look at the reverb returns, I have and EQ on them.
They're high-passed and they are made brighter.
It's hybrid of analog reverbs and digital processing on the way back.
Especially with the de-noiser and the imager.
But it's working. I like it.
How did the EMT behave stereo wise? Let's see.
Extremely badly and left heavy.
Bad, bad EMT.
Yeah, that's good enough for jazz.
Here we go.
Smooth. A little bit of BX 10. Let's see if I like it.
The combination of all those different colors creates this kind of cushion that I really like.
I don't think I need the tail on this, let's see.
That's too much. I'm gonna not have this right now.
We'll see what happens later when we grow up.
Once logged in, you will be able to read all the transcripts jump around in the video.
- Sonnox Oxford EQ and Filters
- Sonnox Oxford Limiter
- Sonnox Oxford Dynamics
- Sonnox Oxford Suppresser
- Sonnox Oxford Reverb
- Softube FET Compressor
- FabFilter Pro-DS
- FabFilter Pro-MB
- Sound Toys Echoboy
- Sound Toys Microshift
- UA Studer A800
- UA Fairchild 670
- UA Pultec Pro-Legacy
- UA Precision Maximizer
- UA EMT 250
- IZotope De-Noise
- Waves S1 Imager
- Studio Reverb
- Avid DYN3 Expander/Gate
- XILS DeeS
- Avid MOD Delay III
- Dangerous Music 2Bus+
- Dangerous Music Convert-8
- AKG BX10
- AKG BX20
- EMT Plate
- Bricasti M7
Fab Dupont is a Grammy winning NYC based record producer, mixing/mastering engineer and co-founder of pureMix.net.
Fab has been playing, writing, producing and mixing music both live and in studios all over the world. He's worked in cities like Paris, Boston, Brussels, Stockholm, London and New York just to name a few.
He has his own studio called FLUX Studios in the East Village of New York City.
Fab has been nominated for Grammys 6 times, including two Latin Grammys and has received many other accolades around the world, including Victoires de la Musique, South African Music awards, Pan African Music Awards and US independent music awards.
Toots And The Maytals
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