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Definition, Clarity, & MUSH!!!!

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by DPAKid, Jan 12, 2002.

  1. DPAKid

    DPAKid Guest

    Here's the problem: When I mix my instruments together, they lose their individuality. Everything seems to run together and turn into a pile of mush with no clarity or space for each instrument. They all seem to blur together and lose definition.
    If I were working with lots of tracks and dense mixes, maybe I could understand. But all I've got is usually:

    2 Oheads
    1 Kick
    1 Snare
    1 Room Mic (maybe)
    2-4 elctric gtrs. (sometimes smooth & warm, sometimes heavy & distrted.
    1 acoustic (sometimes mono, sometimes stereo)
    3-4 vocal tracks
    maybe a synth pad (stereo)

    I usually don't have more than about 16 - 20 tracks, so why am I losing so much definition?

    Do my converters suck?
    Am I getting pre-amp buildup?
    Is it because I'm mixing in Nuendo?

    What gives? Certainly many of you guys have dealt with sometime in your newbie years. Help a brother out.



  2. nick_d

    nick_d Guest

    well first off you could try switching in HPFs below the fundamentals of the guitars. also gating the kick +snr might help if you are not already. if things are sounding mushy, then then it could be that there is too much energy in the 200-700 Hz range which is not surprising if you have 4 gtrs. so try cutting a few dBs on some tracks on this area. use different EQ settings on each track, e.g. if you have 2 gtr tracks, you could cut 3 dbs at x Hz on one track and then boost 3 dbs @ z Hz on the other. one way to think about this is to consider what the fundamental pitch of the note is (eg A=440hz) and then maybe boost one of the harmonics and cut the other.

    in terms of creating 'space' you should definetly read this:


  3. DPAKid

    DPAKid Guest

    Let me see if I understand you. By engage the HPF you mean to roll off all of the frequencies below the fundamental of the guitar? I think I understand that, but I don't exactly know what the "fundamentals" are??!! My instruments are all tunes to A 440, so what would the fundamentals be?

    Also, thank you very much for the link to MixerMan, very good info.
  4. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Please list

    A/D Converter
    Pre amp (s) used
    Are you running at 24 or 16 bit?

    All of the above determine the signals "survival" in a DAW mixdown situation.

  5. planet red

    planet red Active Member

    I used to have a lot of the same problems when i graduated up to a digi001. Tracks always sounded really good on my monitors but anywhere else they were muddy and had no definition. I think there were about 5 reasons I was having those problems.

    Mic pres, using one bad mic pre on one track isnt too bad, but using it on all 20 tracks builds up a lot of crap.
    Converters, I got to mix something on my system where everything except drums were recorded thru a rosetta, waaaaay cleaner and more definition.
    My room, had a really bad buildup around 300hz, which is not pretty.
    Mix bus, I bounced 8 of my tracks down to ADAT and mixed thru a friends soundcraft just for fun, and it sounded way more soothing to my ears.
    and finally..
    Me mixing, bad EQing, bad use of compression, making everything sound full. I was doing a bunch of crap that sounded great to me in the room, but didnt translate at all. One thing thats helped me out soooo much is to A/B my mixes all the time. Another problem was EQing with a track soloed. It sure sounded nice to add a couple db of low end to the bass guitar, the kick drum, the rythmn guitars when they were all soloed but once i burned a cd and took it home..... it sounded awful. If i listen to my guitar tracks now soloed I laugh because they sound so thin (normally HPF 70hz and down), but in the mix im getting really clean, defined sound and letting the bass guitar handle the low end duties.

    Hope any of this helps, i by no means no what im talking about, but am i just now getting over your same problems.
  6. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

    Yes- roll off the bottom you're not using. Matter of fact, you should probably experiment with rolling off some bottom you *are* using. Don't worry about the actual numbers of the fundamentals (about 80 hz for low E, btw)- engage a highpass filter and sweep it up *while listening to the whole mix* until you get some clarity on the bottom. Planet Red alluded to this, but its worth reiterating- what the tracks sound like solo'd has _no bearing_ on whether they are going to work in a mix. Figure out where the bass wants to live in the bottom and low mids, make it work in a complimentary way with the kick, and then get the bottom of the guitars the hell out of the way. You may also have better luck picking what each guitar track is good at, and cutting everything else. If you've got one track that's really thick and big in the mids, then cool- roll off some top. Then pick that clear, bright, screaming guitar and roll off the bottom of it, anywhere from 200 hz to 1K or higher. Be merciless, at least while you're experimenting- if it's not a really important frequency range in the tone of an instrument, lose it completely and see what it does!

    Originally posted by DPAKid:
    Let me see if I understand you. By engage the HPF you mean to roll off all of the frequencies below the fundamental of the guitar? I think I understand that, but I don't exactly know what the "fundamentals" are??!! My instruments are all tunes to A 440, so what would the fundamentals be?

    Also, thank you very much for the link to MixerMan, very good info.
  7. osmuir

    osmuir Member

    i HP almost everything except bass and kick. and i end up rolling off low bass sometimes anyway.

    most sub 80hz freqs on every other instrument are crap anyway.get something [maybe mic pre] with a GOOD lo cut filter.

    i start my mixes with kick and bass, then gradualy add in the rest of the kit and only then do i add the rest of the tracks.

    basicly, i want to make sure i hear the groove, then make everything else sound hell-a loud from there.
  8. nick_d

    nick_d Guest

    If i listen to my guitar tracks now soloed I laugh because they sound so thin (normally HPF 70hz and down)

    to use HPFs you dont need to cut off the bottom of the fundamental to get a clear mix, just use solo and roll it up stopping just below where you can hear the filter starting to interfere with the signal.
    you don't need to know the frequency, just listen. this will get rid of all the crap that is inevitably present at low frequencies.

    Mix bus, I bounced 8 of my tracks down to ADAT and mixed thru a friends soundcraft just for fun, and it sounded way more soothing to my ears.

    alot of people complain about this summing / mix bus on PT, i don't mix on it but i'd say definetly use this method if you can, even the summing amp on a cheap desk will probably sound better IMO than pro tools' master fader.

    if you liked the '5 planes of space' stuff, here are '10 rules of mixing' :

    1. Mixing is an attitude
    2. If the song sucks, the mix is irrelevant.
    3. Working the room, keeping people entertained, happy, and relaxed is half of mixing successfully.
    4. Putting everything proportional in a mix is going to make a shitty mix.
    5. Gear are tools in a mix that make life either easier or more difficult,
    they are not what makes a mix good or bad.
    6. A mix can be GREAT and not have great sound.
    7. If nothing about the mix annoys someone in the room, the mix is often times not done.
    8. Mixing can not be taught, it can only be learned.
    9. The overall vibe of the track is much more important than any individual element.
    10. Just because it was recorded, doesn't mean it needs to be in the mix.
    11. Be aggressive.

  9. DPAKid

    DPAKid Guest

    Sounds like a HPF might be the answer to a mess of my troubles. I'll try it judiciously.

    Also, I use:

    Delta 1010 (No stand-alone AD converters)
    Trident Sig Two
    Mackie 1202 VLZ
    Presonus BlueTube

    Presonus BlueMax
    Behringer Multicomp
    (I usually don't use compression to track. When mixing I use the Waves)

    Rode NT2
    AKG C1000s
    ATM 25

    I do all mixing in Nuendo with Wavesplug-ins
    I definately think that my room has a lot to do with some of this build-up of crud. The room is 10 x 10 with 8' ceilings. No accoustic treatment.

    I track my drums & guitars in this shitty space. I do have a 12 x 16 with vaulted ceilings. You think I should track drums & guitars in there?

    I have no idea how to accoustically treat a room of this puny size. I do, however, mix in the corner, but my monitors are 3' apart and almost touching the walls.

    I know, I know, you will say that I should just give up after what I've told you. I am indefatigueable. I will do whatever it takes!

    Listen to "Two-Selves," or "Toni Balogna"
  10. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    I see your converter does 96k!

    Do you record at that sample rate?

    I also see it does not have a digital input, so an external converter is out of the question..

    HOWEVER! You do have a word clock input!

    That is good news as a great w/c can greatly improve a) conversion b) the sound of your whole system!


    Have a look there, I would say try to get one of the two w/c devices at the top of the page..

    This will aid 'audio capture' preservation & overall system sound.


    I would also pick up 4 x RPG bass traps and stuff em in the corners....
  11. atticus

    atticus Guest

    Actually I believe that the Delta 1010 does have a stereo S/PDIF input on the card itself. So you would get good use out of a stand alone A/D for both conversion and wordclock
  12. DPAKid

    DPAKid Guest

    Yes, as atticus said, the Delta does have S/PDIF in and out on the PCI card.

    Jules: I never have recorded at 96k. I have followed a lot of discussion on the sonic implications of stepping up to 96k, and I'm not entirely convinced of its efficacity. Also, that's a buncha fuckin' space on my hard drive!

    I usually record at 48k.

    I would like to get an external AD converter, but I want one with more channels than two. I was thinking of the Swissonic 8 channel 24/48k version.

    What do you think of this idea? :confused:
  13. planet red

    planet red Active Member

    The main thing to remember is that its 95% in the person recording/mixing. I used to think that my main problems were in lack of gear, but as time progressed i got better at using the stuff i owned and now im uprading equipment and the sounds are only getting fractions better. I spent way too much time whining about my stuff and not learning how to use it all to its limits.
  14. osmuir

    osmuir Member

    track in the bigger room!

    break up the bass in yr room however you can...

    do you have the mix reference CD? get it, start pumping wavelengths out. if ones pop out, that is yr node. start moving insulation around till it's gone.

    f. dalton everest's "the master handbook of acoustics"

    weighty, but important.
  15. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    In addition to EQ, don't forget panning as a mud-reduction tool as well.
  16. Rog

    Rog Member

    If you're burning to CD, recording at 48 is a waste of time. Try 44.1 or 88.2.
  17. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    So you are mixing 'in the DAW' right?

    You should be at 441. really,

    Unless your mix is made on the Mackie by patching all the outs from the Delta 1010

    How do you make a CD at the moment?

  18. DPAKid

    DPAKid Guest

    Owen, How can a get a copy of that MIx cd for reference?

    Also, why should I not record at 48K? Why 44.1 or 88.2? I had always heard that its "the higher the better," but I was determined not to go too high, as I don't want to eat up all that space.

    Jules, I am mixing in Nuendo, so I do audio mixdown to 16bit 44.1 wav., then burn to cdr.
  19. Rog

    Rog Member

    The simple reason for not recording @ 48 is that 48 does not go into 44.1 easily. 88.2 (or multiples thereof) do.

    In Nuendo, try recording @ 24 bit if you can and then convert all files to 32 bit float. You'll find that plugins sound better with those extra 8 bits to play with. Use the Nuendo dither on the output bus.

    Try mixes within Nuendo burnt directly to CDR vs. sending individual tracks to an analog desk and see which works best for you.
  20. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Yes 44.1K 24 bit is the best way to go. You need to set that in Nuendo AND on the Delta 1010 before you start a new session.

    Then to get 'down' to 16 bit (44.1K) all you need to do is ad a 'dither' plug in on the master fader (dither must be the last plug in if you are using others)

    This avoids SRC Sample Rate Conversion (48-44.1) just one more thing to make your sound bad....

    Logic is - if making 44.1K CD's, then record at 44.1K to keep it simple. 48k = complication and needs to be converted = bad idea.

    24 bit is the modern standard, ok it uses up a lot of space but sounds MUCH better than 16bit.

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