The First Mix, Crystal’s New Technique!

Yes, the blog entry title is a Sailor Moon-esk episode name format because I have been watching it like crazy lately XD

It’s 1:24 AM over here on a Wednesday )well Tuesday but you know how that goes) and I have just spent the past three hours mixing. Why is this mixing session any different than all of my others? Well, because I was mixing an original song I wrote! I’ve mentioned this before, but yar I’ve been working on original works lately. For a few days I had to step away from this particular one, and start laying out the melodies and lyrics for the others before returning to polishing this one up. I listened back to my rough draft of this and figured out what I needed to layer and add to make it sound the way I wanted it to. After I recorded the new tracks, onto the mixing phase!

It was more difficult going into this song’s mixing, for sure: With other songs, I have a base mix to go off of. A lot of the times, I listen to the original for a basis to go off of and try to emulate that mix the best I can, or go off of how the instrumentation of the backtrack sounds and play off of that to process my vocals a certain way. With this track, however, not only did I not have a backtrack to work off of, but I was mixing my vocals, and my vocals only! I only added some very scarce percussion sections, and the rest of the layers were my voice.

I knew going into this was going to be difficult: After all, I had mixed some other a cappella covers before, and had never gotten the fullness and richness of tone that I hear in so many a cappella covers. I wanted it to sound like there was a full choir of Crystal’s in the background, and wanted it to not be obvious that there were separate layers, and spaces where I was breathing etc etc. I had yet to accomplish this, and from the get go I said “It’s not going to be how I want it to be, but I’ll try my best!”.

My awesome going-to-school-for-audio-engineering friend gives me tons of pointers on mixing, so I asked her how exactly to get that fuller vocal/choir sound. She said to tinker with reverb, and in my head I was like “Pshaw I have never had reverb be thaaat effective, but ok I’ll mess with it”. I usually just use a preset for my reverb on my tracks, because I don’t quite get the terms and things in the program, but tonight I figured hey, this is original, so I will tinker with an original not-preset reverb.

I was shocked! From the get-go, I had the sound that I wanted for my background layers! I had to tinker with things in drastic increments just to see what was affecting what, but after that point I really just set it to what I wanted, and bam! Nice, full, choral sound. With only four backing layers too!

I do the exact same thing with delay: slap on a preset and goooo. I didn’t do that this time, as well, because I wanted a specific sound. After messing with parameters on the default (everything set at a basic, not very effective setting) I got the sound I wanted for another subset of vocal layering, whoazah!

What I realized just messing with these plug ins tonight is something I should have realized a while ago. I needed to be messing with these things without presets sooner! The possibilities are so endless if you just tinker, and your creativity really flows when you’re not feeling like you’re restricted to a set of 10 or so pre-determined effects for your mix. I’m already planning some things for my other originals, and fan made works mix-wise via tinkering, and doing trial and error with these effects! This got me sooo excited, I just had to write about this before my excitement died via…falling asleep and not on the high of “Oh yeeeah, I did this and it didn’t come out crappy!” XD It needs a bit more tweaking probably, but I couldn’t be happier about learning the sky is the limit with these effects, and probably many more! I can’t wait to read up on reverb and delay more tomorrow!


Author: Crystal

A California based musician who is as passionate about music as she is video games,, Crystal (or ValkyrieCeles around the interwebs) loves to gush about her various nerdtastic loves, rant about anything currently catching her fancy, and generally just express herself in any creative outlet she can get her hands on. An avid reader, writer, and dreamer, Crystal has been leaving pieces of herself around the internet since 2006.

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