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Lab Project 3 Notes: “Nobody Knows” (Audio Production II, October 2012)


(Written for BECA 330, Audio Production II, at San Francisco State University, Oct. 2012)

The a capella vocal track is routed through two stereo aux tracks, one for reverb and one for delay. Both aux tracks are hard-panned left and right for each channel to make maximum use of the stereo nature of the effects.

On Mix #1:

Reverb track uses D-Verb stereo with “Short Room 2” preset; after testing a variety of small reverbs this one sounded nicest.

Delay track uses “Slap Delay II” with “Groove Exciter” preset. The default delay is 98.14 ms on this preset, a little shorter than what the last lecture referred to as “slapback”(100-175 ms), but even though it’s very short, it still registers very much as a slapback and not as a doubling. I enhanced the effect by varying the mix settings on the two stereo channels. On the left channel I left it at the default of 30%, but on the right channel I raised the mix to 58%, which made for a pleasing effect.

I also added a master fader so that I could monitor the overall volume level. The vocal has a considerable amount of dynamic range, and since compression is not yet allowed at this point in the semester my only alternative was to find the peaks in the song and work around them. The loudest point in the whole song is when the singer sings “Till the DAY is done”. I decided to add some EQ. I placed the EQ 3 4-band on the audio track and once again experimented with presets, settling on “Smooth Vocal”. Then I noticed that the delay seemed to be emphasizing the sibilance in her voice, so I added a second EQ 3 on the delay aux track with a “cut sibilance” preset. That way, I had a tone I liked as a whole, and the dip in the sibilance frequency only affected the slapback echoes. The EQ plug-in on the audio track added enough volume to drive the master fader into the red, so I lowered the audio track to -2 dB while leaving the aux tracks at the levels I had already set (9 dB for the reverb and 3 dB for the delay).

On Mix #2:

I left the volume levels and EQs the same, except for lowering the reverb track to 6 dB. I kept the D-Verb but changed the preset to “Medium Hall”. The big change was the delay. I wanted a long delay that could be somewhat rhythmic, even though the rhythm of the vocal is very free. I used the Air Multi-Delay plug-in and started with the “Simple Quarters” preset, tweaking the delay rate by ear just slightly from 4 to 4.48, which gave the track a sort of gentle waltz feel. When I was ready to bounce this mix, I highlighted seven extra seconds after the end of the audio track so that you could have more gradually decaying delay for your listening pleasure. I liked the results enough to listen to it over and over for the next half hour.