Mixing (phase 1) – Getting rid of unwanted sounds

Posted: 3rd August 2012 by Mezzanine Floor Studios in Mixing Techniques

I work on a fair amount of live recordings- where getting a quality product at the end is just as much about removing sound you don’t want as it is about sweetening the sound you do want. This has gotten me into the habit of splitting my mixing workflow into 3 phases. This works for studio albums as well, and assumes that edits, fades, etc have been done first.

Phase 1 – Getting rid of unwanted sounds

The first thing I do when I get a recording and am preparing to mix is to make a quick rough mix using just levels and panning, and listen for unwanted sounds. Is there noise on the acoustic guitar? Too much rumble in the vocal mics? Feedback? Frequencies in the piano that are accentuated too much by the microphone that was used?

For this task I use two tools all the time.

1.    High Pass/Low Pass Filters- Getting rid of anything that doesn’t need to be there. This often means removing low frequencies from everything that doesn’t need it. Obviously Kick, Bass Guitar, Djembe, etc. need it, but most other instruments or vocals don’t

2.    iZotope RX2- RX2 is very useful for removing noise, feedback, and any unwanted sound from tracks

Removing noise is particularly important when trying to really produce a live recording and make it sound closer to a modern studio album. This usually involves quite a bit of compression, which almost always means boosting the gain on the output and boosting the noise floor.

Stay tuned for phase 2 (focusing on how things sound)


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