How to Enhance Shakers in a Mix

Transcript:

Hey, what’s up guys? David Glenn of davidglennrecording.com, theproaudiofiles.com, and the new themixacademy.com.

Today, I’m going to talk to you about shakers. The little shaker doesn’t get much attention in the forums or the tutorial world, but I’m going to talk about how you can enhance your shakers.

Time after time I go to mix a shaker, and I feel like by itself, it sounds great, but it’s a very dynamic and percussive instrument, and the initial “ch” of the shaker can get a little bit overpowering when you’re mixing it in. The subdivided rhythm in between each hit can get a little bit lost as well, so I’m going to show you how I’ve handled that in a recent mix I’ve done.

The song is called Historia De Amor. It’s a duet by my buddy Abner Supeda. His band is called Ministerio, Sons of God.

Let’s dive right in. So this is the shaker loop as it was sent to me right here.

[shaker]

So you can hear what I’m talking about. [mimics shaker] You can hear that nice and clean, but the [mimics quiet shaker parts] the subdivided 16th or 8th notes you can’t really hear that well.

I didn’t mind that at the verse section. Let’s play it in the track. I didn’t mind that here, but I did not like the EQ. It was a little bit bright for my taste in the verse. Here’s without my EQ.

[song]

[mimics shaker] You can almost feel a little bit of the subdivided rhythm going on, but not really. Not too much. And that’s okay for that part. I thought it was kind of cool, so what I did was I broke this track up. I duplicated it twice, and you’ll see this track right here and this track here are merely a duplicate of that.

What I did was I went in here and I used clip gain first. You can see the stuff in the middle – let me solo this track and turn off my processing for now.

Now listen to this loop.

[shaker]

Against what it was here.

[shaker plays]

Cool. So you can clearly hear that the stuff in between each quarter note is up in volume by using clip gain. Real quickly, all I did for that is I would go in, I would tab to transient and break it up and bring up the volume so I could even select here through there, then the keyboard shortcut for clip gain is hold Control+Shift+Up on Mac, and you can see the clip gain goes up. You could also break it and use the little slider here. There are all kinds of ways to do that.

But I’m going in and making it to where all this stuff in here is louder so that I get more of a consistent tone just from using clip gain.

Now, what I did after that is I went in and I pulled open the good ol’ SoundToys Devil-Loc, and I tried to get a more consistent volume out of it from just this guy.

Let’s hear just this track for now. This is before and after Devil-Loc

[shaker, disabling and enabling Devil-Loc]

So, now you can really hear those in betweens. Everything is a little bit more of a consistent volume, but by doing that, I lost some of the quarter note. I lost some of the transient and some of the attack from it.

This right here is just an EQ to cut out some of this and make it fit in a little bit better, with just a little bit of that sheen for it.

[shaker]

Cool. Then I duplicated it again and I got this guy, and what I did with this one is I still have the clip gain going on, but take a look at what I also have from this one.

[shaker playing]

I’ve got my quarter note back, right? This is pretty much the same thing, just EQ’d for that top, and then I just wanted a little more of that articulation so that it was kind of a meet-in-the-middle situation with these two.

Now I’m going to show you, we went from this right here, and then you’ll hear it play on and you’ll hear the new shaker.

[shaker playing]

Cool. Same shaker, just duplicated and treated. I hope that helps you. A lot of times, those in betweens can get a little bit lost in the track. Hopefully that gives you a couple ideas. Instead of using compression, we used this Devil-Loc. We blended a little of the transient back in. Let’s hear it in the mix, and then also something that’s worth noting. I like the vibe of the shaker here, but then when it got into the drums, I felt like “what’s just the one quarter note shaker going to do for me?”
I wanted to create a little bit more of that movement, so let’s hear it before and after in the context of the mix. I’ll leave you guys with that.

[music]

Right? Pretty sweet. So, show some love to your shakers. Pay attention to those subdivided rhythms, and don’t be afraid. Shoot me e-mails. David@davidglennrecording.com, theproaudiofiles.com, and then my new site, don’t forget, themixacademy.com, where you’ll learn all kinds of techniques like this. I’m starting a mix and ending a mix right in front of you, recording the entire thing from me hearing it the first time all the way through a finished, mastered product. You get three, four, five tutorials a month. You’re getting the session files so that you can practice and follow me along as I’m mixing it. Do it your way.

All kinds of great things. Check that out. Themixacademy.com. If you like these tutorials, feel free to share it and pass it on to a friend. We thank you for it, and that helps us to continue to bring you great stuff.

So have a great one. We’ll catch you on the next one!

David Glenn

David Glenn

David Glenn is a producer/engineer/musician based out of Orlando, FL. Credits include: Pablo Villatoro, Blanca Callahan (Group 1 Crew), Aimee Allen, and more. Learn more and get in touch at davidglennrecording.com.
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  • Shaun Brown

    Curious, would you not advise using compression on a shaker typically to bring the subtler velocity notes up a bit then? It seems as though clip gain is favored in this case over compression.

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