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audio Looking for opinion on levels

Discussion in 'Fix This MIX!' started by DonnyThompson, Jul 30, 2015.

  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Hi guys...

    I'm close to putting this one in the can - I'm looking for thoughts on the levels of two things... the first is the lead vocal... is it sitting where you would place it if you were mixing the track, and second thing is the ending guitar solo - I haven't edited the performance yet, I'll need to take a blade to it at some point and make sure it's not walking on the vocals - but... is the overall level of the guitar track okay, or does it need to come forward or be pushed back a bit?

    Please listen to most recent updated mix in post #7 below. :)


    Attached Files:

  2. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    I'll listen later, wife is still asleep :D. It's only 4:44am LOL.
  3. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    @DonnyThompson OK, got time to just listen now. Good tune, beginning is very deceiving LOL. The piano at the beginning sounded like it need to be more centered, however once the song got going properly, it made sense. Overall I think the balance is pretty much there. There are some places the vocals receded, but, not often, and I would need to write down exactly where, and it was very minor. At about 3:50 I think it is, from memory, there is a huge vocal choir type thing, WAY too loud at the moment, stands out of the mix in a wrong way (just my opinion). At the end, the guitar sits just nice, again, just my opinion.


  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Donny - I'll take a listen when I'm back in the studio later today.
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    LOL... WHOOPS!! That choir track was supposed to have been fully muted there. So you are absolutely right, it's far too loud - because it isn't even supposed to be there at all.

    Obviously I overlooked that when I hit "export". ;)

    Nice catch.

    Thanks, Tony.
  6. DM60

    DM60 Active Member

    Listening reference, home system, JBL floor standing, sub-woofer, Yamaha receiver. Room semi treated.

    At the start (0:44-2:09, then again around 2:40), the vocal sounded a little high, during the high energy section, vocals settle in at a real nice level.

    3:49 does the chorus come up a little higher than intended?

    Nice piano work. I would like to hear that punch through a little more.

    Guitar at the end is a hard call. I could see it sitting a little further back, but it isn't too loud. I think that is a taste call. I could see either way.

    Really excellent mix. Very pro level and one can really hear the difference.
  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Thanks, DM. I'm not quite sure about those things you mentioned yet - you're right that the chorus does come up at 3:49, it was intentionally mixed that way - but I'm not totally sold on it yet.

    I've brought both the lead guitar and vocals slightly forward.

    Okay, here's an updated mix:



    Attached Files:

  8. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    @DonnyThompson OK, different listening environment this time, but... Vocals don't sit in now in most places, imho. Also, the choir at 3:50, nope, doesn't work for me. Also noticed something, that I may have imagined, but, bass seems to go more boomy following the choir part too. Guitar is neither here nor there to me, I was personally OK with version 1.


  9. DM60

    DM60 Active Member

    I like the chorus rise, I just think it goes a tad too loud at the top end. Vocal still a bit too forward, but that is a more personal taste.

    That is all I have.
  10. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I don't know how to say it Donny, I hear a bunch of tracks like they were produced over a long period of time, not a band.
    I often said it, it maybe a taste thing but to me this song has too much seperation between the instruments. Different ambiance, different dynamics. The drum seems overprocessed, the vocal overly clean and a bit nasal, the back vocals too far from the lead vocal and the guitar is missing some presence.. again my taste ;)

    I think that if you could put them all in the same place.. it would be a fantastic start..
    audiokid likes this.
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm with Marco 100%. But its a damn good track, Pal!. To me this should sound like its all happening together in a church when it sounds like it was pieced together, which is a great start but it could definitely get better with the right approach.
    What that is, could be a Bricasti or any verb for that matter on the Master bus, mix the song into a church space. I think its just a matter of building it into a more cohesive space.

    When its a pieced together project,
    I mix the tracks into a common space, it helps glue it together. Maybe you did this already, just not quite right yet?

    Also, this may turn some heads but is this is a classic example of excellent work with an array of processing that really isn't serving the finish well? Damn plug-ins of too many textures make everything sound too apart (too bit unfriendly). Is that a term I just made up lol!
    Just trying to understand your processing to help unwind it somewhat and get back to less is more. Then come back at it more raw but still with that 80's sound. ...

    Its why I like a common tracking setup, clean big rail or what ever you got pre's, and don't mix it all until its all done. That way it all comes together at once.

    I think what I'm trying to say is,
    did you mix this as you build it?

    My motto:
    If there are real instruments, (you use mics) ( real music :love:) don't mix as you build a song.
    also, I find one of the best solutions to make a mix more real sounding is to think like its all live. Create a live feel and it will in turn, become more "live sounding". Less is more in one common space.

    Its a great track and once again, your work is really good..:love:

    I don't envy you right now... you are in the trench! :eek:
  12. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I did mix it as I built it. It was as if the mix was the composition. I'll go back and strip it all down. Thanks guys.
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm really looking forward to hearing the difference.
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Food for thought which may or may not apply.

    Mastering by the same person who mixed it can also share the same setbacks as, mixing by the same person who created it because the creator tries to put everything they built, heard equally. Sometimes its better to not mix something you created because you are trying to put everything up front, which makes it really hard to mix whats best for the song.

    I'm not saying you need to do this or it would change things but I am saying, when you break it down this time, try and come at it like your are mixing it for the label instead of for you.

    Does that make sense?
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm sure I don't need to say this but just in case, don't loose this version just in case.
    For others chiming in that are following my two DAW approach I use, this is where I would have this version captured on the second DAW. I would now remix this as suggested and capture it on another track (same session) of DAW2. So you now have this version and the next side by side.
    Then , line them both up to the bit, study them both using your mute track to switch between them as they are playing.
    And so it goes.

    I have sometimes remixed a song 40 times studying everything from how a piece of hardware effects a mix to different reverbs, comps and so on. Its an awesome way to learn. Nothing beats this for self improvement.

    I just listened again. Its really a great song.
    What are you putting on on the Vox for processing?
  16. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I had a small hall setting on the Lead Vox, ( actually on everything but bass, kick and intro vocals) - The only other processing I used on vocals was on the backing vocal harmony stack at the break, where I subbed all the harmonies to 2 stereo tracks... one was a track that was dry, the other a bus where the EQ was narrowed (futzed) similar to a phone sound, and during automation, I slowly decreased the EQ'd track's volume level, while slowly increasing the level of the track with the unaffected EQ vocals, so it went from drastic EQ to no EQ on the vocal stack at the break.

    I had everything else - with the exception of bass guitar, kick and intro vocals and intro piano (because I wanted them to start out dry and intimate) - sent to an aux with the same verb ( small hall), using Samplitude's VariVerb.

    There was some delay added here and there on some of the lead guitar work at the end. Any delay on the vox you are hearing isn't actual processed delay, it's a clone track, off-set in time from the original (occasionally on lead vox, harmonies, etc.)
  17. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    This is a special effect, keep it there if you like it. But I like the strip down idea take a day or two off of it and come back with a fresh brain...
    Think of it as if those musician were recording each in their homes and you need to convince us it was all done live in a studio...
    Also I hear a lot of tracks in there.. make sure they all have a purpose and are needed to uplift the song.
    Less is more (tracks and mixing) !

    I'm looking foward to other versions ;)
  18. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    @audiokid @pcrecord

    I understand that a lot of very talented engineers are looking for a sound that represents a natural sense of space and time, an organic vibe, where all the instruments are either played and recorded in one space at one time, or are made to sound like that in the mix, with that type of sonic continuity.

    But... I don't always want to mix that way. Think about some famous songs of the past, say for example, "A Day In The Life" from Sgt. Pepper... Now, I'm not saying that I'm George Martin, or The Beatles, because of course I'm nowhere even close... but if you listen to that song, it doesn't sound anything like a group of musicians all playing in the same space, or even at the same time.... but it still works, it's still enjoyable to listen to. And, maybe your preferences are based on more current releases and mixing styles, and I can totally understand that, too... but there are some recent mixes I've heard that don't sound like what you are talking about, either. Recently, I posted a youtube video for a song by Ingrid Michaelson ( Girls Chase Boys) and that mix didn't sound anything like a band in one space, at one time... at least not to me.

    While Pink Floyd's Money sounded like 4 guys ( 5 if you include the sax) playing at once in the same space, Us And Them, from the same album, did not. In fact, the entire DSOTM album was all over the place sonically. The Stones pretty much always sounded like they were playing and recording at once... and so did Lynrd Skynyrd, and Bad Company.... but, Queen didn't always sound like that, nor did Asia, nor did Genesis, or later period Yes.

    I guess I'm trying to point out that not all great recordings sound "natural", and there are times when that super-natural sound can be cool, too. When I see a movie like Superman, I know that Chris Reeves isn't really flying, and everyone else knows it too... but there are times when we push aside reality for the entertainment value that those unreal sights and sounds can provide. I don't think that music is really any different, and I don't think that using the studio to create an "other-worldly" vibe from time to time is a bad thing, either.

    I think what we have is a basic style / preference differential. Both you and Chris tend to like things that sound more realistic, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. And sometimes I like that vibe, too. But, there are other times where I like to push the envelope of what is considered to be "natural". It's art, which means that some will like it - and some won't. There's no right or wrong, there's no better or worse. There's simply a personal taste for certain things and a personal dislike for others.

    I can totally appreciate the way that cats like you and Chris think... but I like to hear things from other angles, too... ;)

    Makzimia likes this.
  19. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Peter Gabriel x Michael McDonald is what I hear. I hear the lead lead vox a bit too upfront, or separated, maybe too loud by 2db? My ears or system aren't good enough to tell, but it's only a little bit. At that point not even an error per say, just a matter of choice.

    I don't hear how it's gonna sound much more natural unless, you actually did track a live band and a wooden piano. Im not convinced it's necessary, as this has a very 80--90s contemporary commercial sound.
  20. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i think it sounds fine Donny. i have a hard time criticizing any of your work. (glass houses, blah, blah, blah, .... what have you done lately, blah, blah, blah, ... ) :notworthy:

    i believe what the others are hearing is the extreme isolation of the individual instruments/ lack of ambiance in the VST's , coupled with overly dry vocals. intimate is fine, but absolutely no acoustic signature can be ...... :sleep:

    in the 80's separation was the big thing. but most of these separated sounds you site were recorded with mics in rooms that while "dead" still imparted some sense of space, or in booths that while treated were still diffuse. Bruce Swedien's work with MJ comes to mind. he recorded vocals with Blumlein arrays in a space surrounded by ASC traps .....

    i know that the current trends lean towards smallish dead spaces but even in smallish dead rooms, diffusion can improve things immensely. i do not subscribe to the theory that diffusion is unnecessary in small rooms.

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