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Microphone Month

Synth Tricks: R-Mix

It’s official: we now live in “the future.” For years, I’ve told my college students that we just don’t have the technology to isolate an individual instrument or an event from a stereo mix. Sure, we’ve had vocal-cancel and center-cancel boxes for decades, but the end result was never very enjoyable to listen to. More often than not, the vocal-cancel box would either remove too much of the rest of the music or leave too much of the vocal part to be of any use. But Roland’s R-MIX is a whole new bag of magic. It can remove parts, it can boost parts (great for learning), and it can even change the key or tempo independently. And it looks trippy cool while you’re using it!

But the single most important feature is its ease of use. I opened the R-MIX box, installed the software, launched it, and isolated a sound effect I’ve wanted for years — on my first try! Those of you who are into sound design will find countless ways to mangle your audio. Even non-musicians will have a gas creating mash-ups with isolated parts of different songs. And it’s a godsend if you need to remove an annoying sound from an otherwise great live recording.

What Is R-MIX?
R-MIX is a Mac/PC application that uses Roland’s proprietary V-Remastering technology and VariPhrase technology to apply a variety of signal processing to music.
R-MIX imports stereo-mixed music, analyzes it into the three parameters (frequency, panning, and volume), and then graphically displays the sound of the instruments that make up the music.

You can also remix the music by selecting and then muting, preserving, or applying an effect to the sound of each instrument. In addition, the playback speed and pitch of the audio signal can be controlled independently. By taking advantage of these functions, you can enjoy a variety of applications. For example, you can create minus-one songs by adjusting the volume of the vocal portion of an existing song. You can also produce remixes by varying the volume of the instruments or applying effects. Or you can extract the sound of a specific instrument to make it easier to learn a song by ear.

And it’s a staggeringly useful tool for band rehearsals, as you can take a WAV or an AIFF of a song your band is learning and create a unique training CD for each band members — with his or her individual part louder than the rest of the music. You can make slowed-down versions of the song to help them with the tricky parts, and you can even change keys if your vocalist needs the song to be higher or lower.

Now, to be fair, I can’t promise that this application will work perfectly in every possible situation. If the song is in mono, for example, it’s much harder to separate the instruments, as panning is one of the crucial identification markers used to isolate a sound. Similarly, if you have two sounds that live in the same frequency range and have similar spatial characteristics, it’s going to be tough to separate them. But I’ve had more successes than disappointments so far, and the best of these results could not have been created any other way.

For more details on this groundbreaking new application, just call your Sweetwater Sales Engineer.

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