Mixing engineers and producers have long used reference tracks to structure and understand what end result the client wants. These are compositions of other musicians who are professionally mixed and in which certain shades and character are indicated (for example, like how the drums or vocals sound). This method of work allows you to shape the achievement of the overall sound in a certain style.
IZotope provided 4 tracks to help solve balance problems with Tonal Balance Control during mixing and mastering, especially in non-ideal home spaces.
«The Rainbow» – Talk Talk
- Genre: Post-Rock / Jazz / Prog
- Selected by Jeff Manchester, Lead Product Specialist
- Producers: Mark Hollis, Tim Freeze Green
- Mixing and Mastering: Denis Blackham and Phill Brown
The list opens with the 1988 Spirit of Eden album, Talk Talk. Although the approach to sound quality was different at that time, this hit laid the seed for post-rock pioneers such as Slint, Godspeed You Black Emperor and Radiohead, and regularly plays among respected DJs such as Nicolas Jaar.
For young engineers, the track is a master class in organizing sound in space and time. To conduct the analysis, take the more open version, which was remastered in 1997.
«Mortal Man» – Kendrick Lamar
- Genre: Hip Hop
- Selected by John Simmons, IZotope Senior Marketing Specialist
- Producer: Sounwave
- Mixing and mastering: Derek Ali and Bernie Grundman
Mortal Man is the last track on the 2015 album released by Krendrick Lamar. This is a 12-minute story, divided into two parts. The first part is read over lush string sounds and a bass line, the second part contains a posthumous interview with 2Pac, which is emphasized by the jazz session and saxophonist Kamashi Washington.
“When we recorded the strings, we used two microphones. While the other four microphones captured the room,” recalls David Kim, one of the recording engineers at Mortal Man
If you are involved in mixing hip-hop, then you can safely use Kendrick Lamar as reference tracks. Today he is one of the leaders of this style.
«Mojo Pin» – Jeff Buckley
- Genre: Alternative Rock
- Mix: Andy Wallace
- Mastering: Howie Weinberg
Rarely, when rock music remains dynamic. Andy Wallace designed and released the song, which became the basis of the album Jeff Buckley. The track was recorded at Bearsville Studio (in 1993). Performing the “Mojo Pin” mix, Wallace was careful. The engineer kept the momentum and left room for vocals. In the drum beat, the music makes the listener feel surrounded by space.
«Mr. Brightside» – The Killers
- Genre: Rock
- Mixing: Mark Needham and Alan Molder
- Stereo mastering: Brian Gardner
“Mr. Brightside” is a huge inspiration for musicians and not only for amazing information. The song contrasted sharply against other budget rock bands of the time, with bloated low frequencies and roomy drums with vocals.
All the little things formed a truly monolithic sound. There are tons of touches that make it awesome. Unfortunately, the track sounds so loud that most of the details were spoiled, but this does not interfere with listening to the main points. If you are mixing a rock song that has synthesizers and layered guitars, then it will be an important reference.