Stables Story of mixing in the Sink!…

An ode to IR reverbs and other things pulling together an album:

“I write this sitting in the sink” (Dodie Smith)

A few seasons back, Edinburgh based trio “Sink” recorded the first half of their album at Stables Studio. On Violin, Soprano Sax and Accordion they laid down their through-composed compositions in this relatively dry acoustic, digitally onto Logic.

They then recorded the second half of their album with Doug MacDonald at the Edinburgh Recording Company in their Church, onto tape!…Having already mixed the 1st session, Sink then approached me to mix the 2nd session and “draw the two sessions into some kind of cohesive album”. Below is what happened next…

Sink Church1Sink Church5sinkchurch3sinkchurch4

One album, two sessions. One digitally with a dry acoustic, the other a big acoustic, totally analogue onto tape. They were always going to be two different sessions but there were ways to bring the two closer together in sound and feel. After levels was adding occasional tape noise balanced with a little denoising elsewhere. Even with some very nice reverbs and similar panning it was still very challenging to get even a vaguely similar stereo image of where the instruments sit or how the space feels.

So we went back to Church!…to capture the acoustic of Doug’s beautifully analogue church into the Dark Matter of the digital realm! Much, perhaps inevitable sparring ensued between the analogue devas and the digital digits, but after much crashing and malfunction, they eventually made friends and allowed us to complete the task in hand….Or maybe is was just very cold! We did this two ways and it was the combination of these two methods which gave the most pleasing result (at least to my ears).

My monitors went to the church, positioned similarly to how the Sink musicians were in the church session. The same AKG414 matched pair was used, in the same position as the Room mics were positioned for the church session. Firstly we recorded my mixes (without any reverb) through this set-up, creating a similar stereo room mic pair as the 2nd session in the Church. Secondly, we recorded impulse responses and sweep responses through both the same set-up and then also in various mono configurations (just to cover the bases!). Once fed into Waves IR-1 reverb, it was the recording of the sweep played in stereo into the same stereo pair that worked best.

Balancing the very perplexing algorithms / magic of the IR reverb with a stereo room pair after the recording seems to have helped pull it together. But to judge for yourselves, keep an eye on Sink at Release on Vinyl, CD and digital this summer.