While in the process of recording our new album, I just finished skimming through "The Art of Mixing (2nd. Ed.)", by David Gibson, and I thought I'd talk a little about about our process by way of sharing and asking for comments. We're a three-piece original, "alternative" (hate that term, but...) rock band. Everything is being recorded more or less individually tracked (some scratch tracks just to keep it all together) into a Power Mac G5 running Logic Pro 7. The interface is an M-Audio Delta 1010 running at 24 bits/96 KHz fronted by an M-Audio Octane multichannel preamp. The majority of the engineering is being handled by myself (the bassist/vocalist), and the room is about a 10' x 10' room at the guitarist's house, drywall with carpeting. For now, all listening is being done in a pair of Sennheiser HD280's, because bringing the desk and M-Audio Studiophile BX8 monitors is just too much for that little room. We've been mainly tracking the drum parts at first. The drums are close-mic'd, with a Shure Beta 52A on the kick, Beta 57A's on the snare top and two toms, and two M-Audio Solaris large-diaphragm condensors run as a Mid-Side pair (using the decoder in the Octane) as overheads set about 5 feet away from the kit at standing head height (best I could do in such a small room). Bass is being run DI through a Countryman Type 85, phase-reversed at the Octane. If I had more inputs and more mics, I'd like to have a hi-hat mic and a snare bottom, but that might just over-complicate things, anyway. No processing is being used on any of the record inputs. All instruments are normally peaking in the -3 to -4 dBFS range, with the occasional hard hit going to 0 to -2 dBFS (without clipping, that is). I've been working during breaks on putting together the beginnings of the mix, and here's what I'm doing... No noise gates have been used, yet. We're being really quiet during tracking, with any unnecessary devices in the whole house switched off. So far, I haven't noticed any odd noises. I'm starting by compressing instruments to get the dynamic signature I want, which mainly entails making everything a bit more "punchy" (various preset compressors from Logic) on the kick, snare, and bass guitar, some softer compression on the toms (though I may go a bit harder), and none on the overheads. Make-up gain is being used to bring the pre-fader peaks just under 0 dBFS. Next comes EQ, first to fix problems in the response of the mics, second to separate instruments in the mix. The kick drum is bringing up the bottom end, with the bass guitar sitting just above it, though for one track, I went slightly brighter on the bass because it seemed to make the bass a bit more aggressive, which was appropriate for that song. Everything else only gets "fixing" EQ, if it needs it. None of the EQ is all that extreme, so everything still sounds relatively "natural". Once again, after EQ, the make-up gain is going back to a hair under 0 dBFS. The EQ's so far are all presets from Logic's "Channel EQ", with a few slight refinements where necessary to keep things apart. Then I'm panning things around a bit. The kick drum is going just a hair to the left, the snare just a hair to the right. Toms are going slightly left, more or less as they are placed on the kit. Overheads are obviously hard left and right. Bass guitar is going slightly right. Now for levels. The snare drum is being left at 0 dB, and is pretty much the loudest instrument. That's what I'm using as the basis for all the rest of the levels. From there, I place the kick, followed by the toms and the overheads, so that the drum kit comes together as a coherent whole. Then I place the level of the bass guitar so it doesn't overwhelm the kick, while still remaining distinctive. Final mixdown will be referenced to 83 dB SPL @ -20 dbFS, but I'll probably kick the monitor levels down 6dB to make for a slightly "louder" mix. This is following the advice over at Digital Domain's website. The rough mixes I've bounced are using a slight reverb (-45 dB? may be even less) on the stereo output buss, followed by a multiband compressor (another Logic preset, again with make-up gain as above to a little under 0 dBFS). This is sounding so good right now, that I may not even bother with any individual drum reverbs--with the overheads sounding like they're in a much larger, more "live" room, I don't think we need it. Overall, I think the dynamic range is quite good, and I don't want to end up with one of these extremely loud, no dynamic range albums. Now for questions... Does anybody see anything strange in my practices? I'm not the most experienced recording engineer, but I'm the only one in my band that has any amount of training at all in this stuff. We've traditionally mixed the vocals rather low, but this time I want them to stand out a bit more (as in, actually be intelligible). We haven't actually cut any final vocal or guitar tracks yet, so I'm not sure where the levels will end up for either of them, but the guitars will be fairly "large" sounding. Should I think about pulling back from the snare at 0 dB on the fader as my reference? As far as the panning is concerned, I'm thinking of maybe opening up the field a little bit more. My theory is this will make the mix sound as if it's a bit closer, as in a smaller club, rather than farther away. I would think that a wider image on the drum kit and bass would make it sound as if you are closer to the instruments. Does that sound like it might work? Right now, everything is in the cans, so I'm possibly being a little over sensitive to the stereo balance. Any other thoughts? Right now, I can't think of anything else I want to ask...and the whole works is an hour or so away at the guitarist's house, so my fiddling with it is done for at least a few more days.