E24 - Keys
Now my approach to mixing doesn’t really change based on instruments. I look for the things I like, and the things I don’t, then cut and boost where I see fit to serve the song. But piano is something I struggle with at times.
With the piano in graffiti I have used some fast attack compression to try and cut the transient down a touch and help with sustain. The eq on the piano has been used to help boost the low end fundamental pitch, and to enchance the clarity and presence of the piano with a upper mid boost. A small amount of mud has been taken away from the low mids, but again the processing is gentle due to being happy with my source sound.
With the organ, I was again happy with my core sound so only felt EQ was needed. With the EQ I have looked to cut a fair few resonances and whistles, tried to post the perceived width with a Side EQ boost, and increased the body and air of the instrument. Without the EQ the organ sounds super warm and lush, but this doesn’t cut through a dense mix as well as the post EQ version.
Synths for the most part, are kind of like guitars. Harmonically dense and almost distorted sounding. As a result I treat then similarly to guitars. I evened the lead synth out with a compressor that squashes the attack a touch. The eq is being used to boost the definition and cut any low rumble that may exist. Finally the decapitator is being used to heavily saturate the synth. To my ears synths almost always sound better with some saturation on them, I then mix this in to taste to preserve the original synth sound, whilst adding some fuzz to help it cut through a bit more.
Synth lead 2 receives almost identical processing, but with some top end cut away before the distortion as this fizz didn’t sound so nice on sustained notes.
Synth lead 3 is identical to synth lead 2, but with more saturation again. By progressively adding more saturation to identical patches, you can help them stand out from one another, and not just overlap creating a bit of a sonic mess.
Synth lead 4 has some more gentle processing, with no boosts to clarity, simply a small mud cut. The real fun with this part is the use of pan man to automate a sweeping continuous pan from left to right through verse two. This helps distort and upset the stereo field. This helps create some contrast to verse one, and makes the synth pop out without being too loud.
Finally we have the synth pad that sits behind the other keys, filling in space with a gentle wash. From this we have a small amount of compression to tame the note transitions, and some eq to cut some resonances and mud. We have also cut some clarity to help it blend into the background a bit better. Not everything can cut through the mix!
With the reverb and delay, I again look to treat the synths like a guitar, by having lead melody parts quite heavily delayed and reverberated. This helps them stand out a bit more, allowing them to support the guitars. If we look at lead 1 as an example. Without the reverb and delay the synth is pretty dull!