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Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Recording Acoustic Guitars

5. Mixing

As with so many mixing issues, it’s impossible to set hard and fast rules as so much depends on the desired end result. It’s generally true that too much processing can easily destroy the natural sound of an acoustic instrument, although that’s fine if it’s what you want to do of course! Some instruments are more easily ‘fixed in the mix’ than others, but with acoustic guitar it’s definitely better to take your time, play with your mics and their placement, and get the sound as good as possible in the first place. If treatment is required though, read on.

Light
Compression1) Process reducing the dynamic range of audio. 2) Process of reducing the size of a data file by removing superfluous data or representing it in more efficient, coded form.
compression
can help the guitar sit nicely in the mix – use a fairly slow
AttackThe beginning of a sound. Attack defines the time taken for the sound volume to go from silence to maximum level; a critical consideration when applying processing such as compression, gating, etc.
attack
so as to avoid squashing transients, and try a ratio of around 3:1 to start with. Additionally, EQ can be used to
CutTo make a break or split in a piece of audio. Traditionally this was done with a razor blade where magnetic tape was physically cut.
cut
down any resonant frequencies in the guitar or room. These will often be found in the 100-250Hz range - use a parametric EQ to find and then attenuate the problem frequency. Set the mid band to a high
BoostIn audio mixing this refers to increasing the gain or amplitude of an audio signal. Usually employed in equalisation.
boost
and narrow
BandwidthThe range of frequencies passed by a bandpass filter (the difference between the upper and lower cut-off frequencies).
bandwidth
(Q), and then sweep across the spectrum until you find a sound that really roars - this is the resonant frequency. Cutting this frequency slightly should result in a more evenly
BalancedTerm used to describe a system of audio connection that employs phase inversion noise cancellation. Using two signal wires and an earth, the audio is split and phase inverted in the second signal wire. On reaching the destination the second signal is re-inverted and combined with the first. Any electromagnetic interference is picked up equally by each signal cable and so will be cancelled out by the phase inversion. A balanced line requires balanced equipment at both ends.
balanced
sound. Be careful however - by its nature,
ResonanceA parameter for boosting the frequencies around the cut-off point of a filter. When shaped by an envelope so that it moves in frequency it creates the characteristic 'wow' sound of a subtractive synthesizer.
resonance
occurs in narrow bands, and using a wide band of EQ for this purpose can often result in a worse sound than you started with.

The guitar overlaps with the frequency range of the
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
guitar – in fact the latter only has the bottom octave to itself, and the two can often seem to be fighting for space within a mix. A gentle
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
roll-off starting at around 160Hz usually solves this problem. Again, subtlety is the
KeyAn additional input on a dynamics processor such as a compressor or noise gate, enabling the dynamics of one signal to control the level of another. This can be used for many functions, including ducking (compressing a music signal when a DJ or announcer speaks), synchronised gating, and (in conjunction with an equaliser) de-essing.
key
- too much EQ can easily make an acoustic guitar sound horrible. If the guitar is heard exposed for any part of the
Track1) The act of making a recording as distinct from mixing it. 2) An individual recorded song or other piece of music, as opposed to an album containing many such tracks. 3) The recording of an individual instrument or sound source within a multi-track recording.
track
, you may want to de-activate the roll-off for that section using
AutomationProcess by means of which fader movements and other parameter changes can be recorded and automatically recalled during audio mixdown.
automation
.

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