Paint It White Mixing Tutorial!!

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Paint It White Mixing Tutorial!! Empty Paint It White Mixing Tutorial!!

Post  MBRSMIKE on Wed 23 Feb 2011, 4:16 am

Hey Guys! This will be the first post in the Rate your mix thread. Hopefully this will act as an example for when you guys post your mixes. SoundCloud is an awesome resource to post audio material on the forum. I’m going to include some screenshots to give a little more information. Hopefully we can all learn from each others mixes’ and gain some new tricks and tips.

Paint It White – Midnight Blues
Unmixed Paint it White
Paint It White Rough by MBRSOnline
Paint it White Mix #8
Paint it White Mix 8 by MBRSOnline
Final Mixed/Mastered Track
Paint It White FINAL by MBRSOnline

Recording Equipment:
Presonus Firepod
Presonus MP20 Preamp
Sonar 8

Tracking Information:

Bass Drum – Shure Beta 52
Snare – SM57
High Tom – SM57
Mid Tom – SM57
Floor Tom – Sennheiser MD421
Overheads – Shure SM81’s
Room – Neumann TLM103
Hi Hat – SM57
Ride – Blue Ball

For Paint it White I used my Ludwig accent custom series. I had a Remo pinstripe on the High Tom and Remo Ambassador coated on the mid and Floor Tom. Bass drum had an Aquarian Super Kick 2 on batter side and an Aquarian Regulator on the resonant head. The snare had an Evans Genera g2 and I believe an Evans Hazy bottom head. Cymbals were 16 and 18 inch Zildjian A Custom fast crashes. High Hats were K custom session and ride was a ZBT 20 inch ride. For the bass drum I made a kick tunnel out of a coffee table and a huge blanket. It really helped the low end come out in the beta 52 and give the final mix a little more thump. The room we recorded in wasn’t great but was live enough to give a great sound out of the room mic. I was very happy with the crashes and the overheads gave a great natural sound in the rough drum mix. I played to a metronome for this recording and it really helped out in the editing and tightness of the final result so I encourage everyone to record to a click…especially drummers. In the end mixing process I thought the hi hat and ride mic came in handy. It was very easy to pan them and get the whole drum set to cover the stereo field.

2 Shure SM57’s
Sennheiser MD421
Sennheiser e906

For Paint It White I took a different but more advanced approach to recording guitar. I’m usually set on using a couple SM57’s and the MD421. For this recording session I used a combination of four total microphones. I wasn’t exactly sure how the end results would turn out with that many mics and figured I would probably be muting some of them. In the end I actually kept all of them and it really functioned to capture the full spectrum of guitar frequencies. Our Amp of choice to record on was a Kustom 200 Head with a Marshall Cab. The Kustom head running the guitarist’s Epiphone Les Paul always gave a great smooth distortion and came through in the recording. On the cab the mic choice was two SM57’s, One MD421, and one Sennheiser e906. I’m not exactly sure where the mics were but I know I used one 57 close to the speaker cone for the bite and one 57 angled. I used the MD421 for the low end and the e906 is known for its ability to bring out the high end in the guitar. Overall the recording came out great. We did 4 tracks of rhythm guitar and two overdubs for lead octaves and cleans. We accomplished a really full sound and the combinations of everything worked out great.

Direct In

Bass on Paint it White was pretty straight forward on bass. Being at school I did not have the privilege to record with a bass amp. I ended up recording it on the Edirol FA-66 Firewire interface that has a direct box built in. I was using old strings too so the sound was not at its full potential. When I applied some plug-ins to the final result it blended amazing in the final mix, I was quite surprised. I will talk more about the plug-ins in the mixing session.


Neumann TLM103

For the vocals I used my TLM103 Large diaphragm condenser and ran that through my MP20 channel. The final sound was a bit harsh in my opinion but once mixed and mastered the vocals sounded quite warm and pleasing. For the gang vocals the singer overdubbed his voice multiple times in different voices. The end result really came out sounding huge. As with most of my projects I added auto tuning to enhance the overall sound. I’ll talk about that a little later.


My goal with this song was to really make it sound professionally done. On the tracking portion of this song we strived to nail everything to the tightest of our abilities. They say “Trash in, Trash out” and when it comes to tracking it’s the truth. Usually I spend countless hours in editing the performance to sound on time and precise but on Paint it Black I ended up spending a lot of time just tweaking minor details. Getting the plug-ins set up and finding the initial tones I wanted from the instruments took about 2 days. I spent about a week listening to it off and on and adjusting minor things like the snare drum and the high end of the distortion. I ended up with around 7 different mixes until I was finally happy. I’m going to include some screen shots as well as Sound Cloud clips to give you some good examples.


Drums usually take the most time in any mixing scenario. This was pretty much the case with Paint it White. For this mix I decided to sample the drums like I do on almost all of my projects these days. I ended up blending 3 kick samples and 3 snare samples. Blending all the kicks went pretty fast but the snare took a lot of small tweaking to get it to my liking. I wanted the drums to have a in your face punk sound. I sampled the mid and Floor tom but left the high tom alone because I thought it sounded amazing. One of the big problems with using the samples is making it sound like its not sampled and part of the original drum kit. The room mic solves this problem and comes in great use to glue the drum kit together, but remember to compress the crap outta it haha.



As far as panning, I like to put the overheads wide and keep the toms spread out in the stereo field, while the kick and snare are centered. I panned the room mic to the right 37% percent to give the mix a little more space. Drum panning isn’t set in stone and you can try endless combinations.


Out of all the instruments I think drums take the most care when you’re using plug-ins. It is far too easy to overdue it and compress/eq the life out of the drums. On every drum track I use an average of three effects which are Waves C1 Comp, Some type of EQ usual URS, and the PSP vintage warmer. I apply light compression and with eq, make the necessary high/low cuts and boost or reduce pleasing or annoying frequencies. I use the PSP as a saturator plug-in and it really helps bring the drums up in the mix, as well as guitar and bass.

Here’s an example of the signal chain on the overheads, Kick Drum, and Snare.


Finally, here is an example of the Drums mixed against the rest of the rough mix.
Paint It White Mixed Drums by MBRSOnline

Distorted Guitars:

Mixing the guitars for Paint it White was fairly easy. Every track has an URS eq and the PSP Vintage Warmer. I soled each one of the 4 mics per take to hear what sounded best and eq’ed to taste. A Saturation plug-in on guitars can do wonders to distortion, so I highly recommend it.


Panning guitars for a punk type sound is easy, widdee. I varied the 4 rhythm tracks between 100% and 92% left and right, while the octave leads were in closer around 80% and 75%.


Once you get the hang of mixing guitars it comes easier every time. I make the necessary low end roll offs around 50 hertz and for this session did a high end roll off around 12K. Upper in the high realms of the guitar sound is annoying fizzes and piercing frequencies, cutting them clears the mix right up. I like to boost a couple frequencies around 2K to 6K, which is where most of the bite is in the guitar tone. Boxy-ness can be solved by cutting around the 200-500Hz range.

Here is an example of the signal chain on the straight SM57 Guitar Distortion track.


Clean Guitars:

I applied the same three plug-ins to the clean guitars, but with the addition of a chorus and reverb, Furthermore, I sent the cleans to my friend to do some more effects processing, he added a slight delay and some high frequency synth sounds to give the clean guitars a spacious sound. I ended up blending his final track over what I had done to the cleans and the final result was outstanding.

Here's an example of one of the clean guitar’s signal chain.


This is a clip and mixed drums and guitar against the rest of the rough mix.

Paint It White Mixed Drums and Guitars by MBRSOnline

Neumann TLM103
Presonus MP20

Getting the vocals to sit right in this song was a bit tricky. At first I tried adding a delay to see what the results were, after a few days I took the delay out and dried up the vocal sound with less reverb and eventually got them to sit nicely in the mix. I also used a Waves de esser to get rid of the piercing sss’s. I also used my trusty friend the PSP vintage warmer which helped even out the vocals and bring them up front. Finding the right reverb is critical and try using less than how much you think you need. For the gang vocals compression and reverb helped me achieve the sound I wanted. I used Melodyne to auto tune, the singer pitch was pretty much perfect but the auto tune put it right in the pocket. A lot of people have bad things to say about auto tune but most of the time melodyne works so well its hard to tell and helps the sound shine. When mixing gang vocals panning is what makes or breaks them. The more you have the more you can vary the panning, with the right panning and verb you can make 5 or 6 takes sound massive. Automation is crucial to vocals, usually I can set the levels for the vocals after listening 3 or 4 times. Getting the right verse and chorus levels can really help the sound have some dynamics. Go try it out!

Here’s the Signal chain for the main vocal track.



I tried a new technique for the Paint it White bass track. I made a duplicate of the DI track so that I would have a total of 2 bass tracks. The first track I made was my low end track and made sure there was plenty of sound in the 90-200 Hz area. The second bass track I used for the high end grit and added a little distortion to give some bite. I always use the Ampeg SVT bass cab and head emulator. It does wonders and I highly recommend using it. I can also pan the 2nd bass track a tiny bit to give a little more clarity. Your goal should be to get the guitars and bass to sound like one mass. It's cool to make the bass stand out at times but mixing the bass so it adds a solid foundation to the guitar sound is one of my biggest goals.
Here is an example of the first low end bass track signal chain.


Bussing and Final Words

It was only a year or two ago that I discovered the wonders of bussing. Having each instrument on fader makes mixing the instrument levels a breeze. I also like to add a few plug-ins to each bus such as EQ and an SSL Stereo Comp. The SSL comp on the drums is incredible and really helps the whole drum sound glue. In some instances I added another layer of the PSP Vintage warmer to saturate the sounds a little more. I highly encourage trying out the bus functions in your D.A.W’s!


Hopefully this mixing tutorial gave you some new tips and ideas to try out. If anyone has any questions about anything feel free to post it. I would also like to get some critiques, so bring em on. I will eventually write another tutorial on the mastering of the song in the Rate Your Mastering thread. Please sign up for the forum, there’s plenty more where these came from and hope to get other people posting their mixes here ASAP. Good Luck and Keep Mixing!!

MBRS Mikecheers

Click here to go to the Mastering Tutorial for Paint it White!

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