I should work on new material but have spent a couple of days refining my mixing/mastering skills, reading manuals and especially making all kinds of mini-assignments for solving. Tonight’s test was to create the FM guitar shimmering sound, used in pop music such as XTC, the Knack, Bourgeois Tagg and so forth.
It was an interesting experiment. I loaded a home made guitar loop that was clean and created a Fender amp simulation with Line6 PodFarm. The drums were done with Superior Drummer 2.0 which I just love. And the bass I recorded quickly in and run it also through a Line6 PodFarm bass amp simulation.
I eq:ued each track heavily, the guitar track I took out the bottom end and made the mid-range somewhat more present. The bass I used the 100Hz as the main range to be heard. The drums were very much Superior Drummer with more ambient reverb added.
As for the actual mastering. First I boosted the mid-range with VintageWarmer. After that I loaded in Izotope’s Ozone — been reading those manuals a lot recently as Ozone has so many interesting gems here and there. I went through some of the presets, including the nice ones other Ozone users have uploaded to the Ozone site and found one that had nice exciter settings for the pop-feeling as well as the multi-band compressor worked fine for the low end. So it always makes sense to go through presets and figure out new avenues.
I also used reverb quite a lot, the plate versions. For guitars I used Logic’s Space Designer with plate impulse reverb settings. Both guitars had a common bus for this. The guitars are the same but with two tracks, pan:ed out in stereo and a -7/+7 delay so they are somewhat out of sync. 7 is a nice number, but you could try out any millisecond delay differences. I also added Ozone’s Plate reverb to the final mix to get more ‘shimmer’ to the total sum of all the audio. Not much, one could easily get overboard with reverb.
Finally, to get the matching FM sound, I took Bourgeois Taggs’ Waiting For The Worm to Turn, loaded it into a separate audio track, took the matching EQ values from this using Ozone’s Matching EQ feature — Logic also has a similar EQ plug-in. The Ozone and Logic documentation has all the details so it’s not worth repeating it here.
I keyed in about 40% matching from the original, you can’t go 100% as the eq curves are very fine granular and it will just make it all sound metallic so you need to slowly get towards the original EQ setting. You could even fine-tune it more to your liking.
Here is the result: .
I spent 2.5 hours on this and I’m sure it could be done better but now I have the recipe if I ever need to produce similar guitar-centric power-pop in future.