Mixing, EQ and Processing Questions

I believe this is the last of the questions from years back that I have left…again I don’t find anything I said blatently dumb, but it’s interesting to see this old point of view…


I am a single acoustic act. Guitar and vocals. I use a Takamine FD360SC which I play through a Trace Elliot TA100R. For vocals I use a Shure Beta 58. Both are connected to a Mackie 1402VLZ. The Beta via channel 1 XLR and the Trace via a DI socket (pre or post eq). The Trace has a 5 band graphic eq, which I am currently leaving flat, it also has several onboard effects such as reverb and delay which I am not using. Both are eq’d at the board via a 3 band parametric eq. It never seems to me as though I am getting the correct mix! I generally boost the mid and the high on the vocal while leaving the low flat. I then boost the mid on the guitar and leave the high and low flat. Any golden rules ? Hopefully you will bear with me for a couple more questions, if not…I appreciate your time on the first. The next questions deal with effects. I have used reverb for years (Alesis Midiverb which is a 1/2 rack unit which I generally leave set to factory preset 21 “Medium/Warm” 1.4 sec delay). I am now using an Alesis Nonoverb for delay (because I don’t like ANY of the reverbs). Input and output set 3/4 of the way up and mix set 1/2. I don’t feel as though I am getting the most out of these effects. Any suggestions ? (Please don’t say “buy a Lexicon!”). Finally, I am considering adding the following: Compressor Rack mount Eq Chorus Noise gate Is there any particular order in which I should daisy chain them ? I want to run two loops one for guitar and one for vocals. Which effects should I dedicate to vocals and which to guitar ? My plan was: Vocals: Reverb+Delay+Eq+Noise gate Guitar: Compressor+Reverb+Delay+req+Noise gate


the golden rule is really really tweak a LOT until it sounds right πŸ™‚ …vocals and guitars can clash, so you might try eqing them in opposite directions, like maybe CUT the mid on the guitar a little…usually to start with on vocals I cut the high a little, cut the low a little and boost the mid a little. Sometimes I totally cut the high and low and boost the mid all the way. I call that telephoning, although with that three band eq, you can’t really make the actual telephone effect exactly. but as a matter of fact, that extreme eq on the mackie sounds surprisingly normal on some mixes – unfortunately I doubt an accoustic guitar/vox mix would be one of those mixes πŸ™‚ Sounds like you need to take a little more time with the mixes, and tweak everything in every direction just a little more. Also, the mixes might actually be pretty good, but your ears are tired – get 2nd opinions – also, if you’re going for a sound that sounds like you’re used to hearing on records, you’re probably missing some ingredients (like reverb and compression)
Don’t buy a lexicon, I’m really against buying the biggest baddest stuff without first pushing what you’ve got to the total limit. Well first off, learn the ins and outs of editing the effects (again the golden rule is play more) instead of just using presets….uhm, use them in layers, use them in extremes, use them very subtly – basically just spend more time running the gamut and experimenting – uhm…I would set the mix all the way wet, then feed the reverb returns to a channel on the board and mix the effect with the dry signal that way (and also, you can use the eq on the channel if you need to on the effect) – also if you’ve got a natural type sound (ie: guitar and voice) maybe you don’t want to use electronic reverbs so much – maybe you should find a great hall and record in there (I know I know, good luck on finding a hall πŸ™‚ ) – then turn around and use your reverbs for some other kind of project – mostly though, just spend more time I think – every mix you do, go through every preset and see what’s the best, then if something isn’t PERFECT, start editing and tweaking – try everything under the sun

well some people other than me would probably know better and maybe tell you different, but here’s how I would chain them, assuming that this is to run an entire mix through: chorus, compressor, eq, noise gate although I wouldn’t run an entire mix through a chorus, and I wouldn’t neccesarily keep the setup the same for all projects – that’s another part of my little golden rule about playing – you should see how much repatching I do (I wish I had a magic digital auto-routing super patchbay πŸ™‚ )

I would add compressor to vocals and maybe take it off guitar. you almost always need compressor for vox and I’m not sure I’ve ever compressed accoustic guitar. like I said though, for the effects, I wouldn’t have them in an insert loop (that is the delay and reverb) – what I do when in a studio where I can do this is, I have compression on the vocals on an insert loop, and effects like delay and reverb triggered with aux sends and returned to an actual channel on the board.

So yeah there’s those – if you want more, just email me a question at aarontrumm @ nquit . com and I’ll give you my opinion, which is mostly what it it is when you talk about audio and art. πŸ™‚

Meanwhile, you can still grab free tracks over at my music download site. πŸ™‚

— Aaron

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