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audio Mix Feedback Request

Discussion in 'Fix This MIX!' started by apstrong, May 25, 2014.

  1. apstrong

    apstrong Active Member

    Hey everyone. So my band is currently recording a CD. This band has a style I would describe as a Great Wall of Noise, and I always struggle with mixing our stuff. Two vocalists (one male, one female), bass, drums of course, and two guitarists who love their distortion. A lot.

    We're 6 months away from finishing all the tracking, but I just got my hands on the stems from a recording session we did 20 years ago. I wasn't in the band at that time, but the general sound hasn't changed much: it was a wall of noise then and it's a wall of noise now. I thought this would be good practice and an opportunity to learn from the experts around here so I can do a better job on the new CD later this year. I struggle with clarity, especially in the low end, but in general with getting the various instruments to stand out instead of just smearing together into one great wash of distortion.

    Can't tell you much about how it was tracked, since I wasn't there, except that it was 100% analog. I imported those stems into my DAW (Cubase 6.5) and did all the mixing/effects, etc., totally ITB. I didn't put anything on the master bus. I'm monitoring through Dynaudio BM6A's in a partially treated room. I do have some options for experimenting with hybrid mixing, but I thought I would try that later, one thing at a time for now.

    No point giving feedback on the arrangement or the performances, we're not going to redo any of it, but anything else is welcome. Thanks in advance!

    View: https://soundcloud.com/the-stronghold/jd-v1/s-7my7L
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Okay...I have to preface my comments by saying that this style really isn't my thing, AP...

    ...so when I suggest that the vocals need to come forward more, or that they also need a bit of ssssibilance attenuation, or that I would look at adding some ambiance to the drum track (toms, snare, tight room), or a bit more "click" to the kick, or that the first lead guitar solo needs some "body" to it because I find it to be a little thin ( and somewhat harsh) tone-wise...

    ....Then please, take what I say with a grain of salt. ;)

    I could, however, hear your low-end definition, I don't believe it's as bad as you think. Have you listened to this 2-mix on any other playback systems? Dynaudios are mighty nice monitors, but if your room is lying to you... well, you get the idea.

    You might also want to try mono-izing the entire low end from around 125hz (or so) and down, to add more center "oomph", but that's just a suggestion and not a deal breaker, at least to to me, anyway.

    Performance wise I'm not hearing any issues...the vocalist is in pitch (Halleluiah!) the rhythm section is locked nice and tight, drum fills are tasty and dead on in the pocket. (I'm a drummer... so I tend to get somewhat nit-picky about that stuff).

    Oh... one final thing... I know that this genre tends to lean towards uber-limiting, but you need to be careful of how much limiting you use on this one though - this song is balls to the wall to begin with, so you don't wanna squash it too hard, or that wall of noise will turn into a wall of mush pretty quickly. ;)

    All this being said, there are others who are far more in tune to this style, so everything I said above could be completely wrong. LOL

    IMHO of course.


  3. Josh Conley

    Josh Conley Active Member

    i heard it right away. your guitars are fighting for space in the mid/hi and hi end.
    imo, one of the secrets to "walls of noise" is using eq to carve a hole in one sound and bandpassing with resonance ...or something else that can create a focused drive like a multiband distortion... to fill in that hole

    difficult to say with confidence listening on this iphone.
  4. apstrong

    apstrong Active Member

    Thanks guys. I'm holding off on making any changes until all the feedback filters in, if there will be more...I'll re-upload then.

    Josh, what do you mean by "bandpassing with resonance"? I have never heard of multiband distortion before, but it makes sense - how do you do it if the raw guitar input is already heavily distorted? For that matter, how would you do it if the guitar was clean, reamping differently eq'd versions?

    Donny, I remember a thread here a while back about mono-ing the low end, I will revisit that idea, and I agree, the vox could cut through better, I'll try a little selective eq instead of volume changes, I think. I won't put a limiter on anything so no worries there, the guitars are already compressed by nature, but the drums are pretty consistent, and I usually ride the virtual fader to deal with volume issues anyway. Takes more time, but I like the results better.

    Thanks again!
  5. Josh Conley

    Josh Conley Active Member

    let dave explain ;)
    and ill recommend fabfilter simplon for all your resonant filtering needs.


    buy a splitter pedal. theyre 25$ and let you splice into the guitarists chain to get a clean di capture of the performance to reamp or process with your favorite plugin.
    the guys im working with right now have this nice marshall amp, so im snagging a clean signal, the direct off the back of the amp, and a 57 off the cone a ways sounded nice.
    imo, when dealing with heavy processing of any sort, its best to split and capture a clean signal along side, and if the singer walks in with a megaphone... youre fu**d :)
  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Honestly that sounds pretty good. The thing about tape is it really wasn't good at that clear modern uber defined low end. I bet that's what your hearing as the lack of clairity, I add gobs of his to the kick, specially w tape. So maybe just a bit more top on the kick and snare?

    That's good though overall IMHO, and for something that old, and not likely huge budgeted, rock on, it came out good. I love the 90s lol

    Much more than minor tweaks in any direction, and you might start endlessly chasing your tale, on something that's just for practice. There's only so good recordings can get.
    bigtree likes this.
  7. apstrong

    apstrong Active Member

    Thanks guys, I'll do a little tweaking based on your suggestions and then repost. You're right kmetal, I don't want to chase my tail for weeks on this. I've got 8 more tracks from that session to play with anyway :)

    It was all recorded in the house the band was renting and living in at the time, would have been 1992-93. The engineer was a friend who crashed on the couch in the living room for a month, they rented the recording gear they needed, converted a couple of bedrooms into pretty much untreated recording spaces and did all the tracking in the evenings after they got home from work and school. They tell me it was a blast, I wish I had been there!
    kmetal likes this.
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Coming late to this party, I'm with Donny ( haven't read other comments below, sorry, on the run as usual and just chiming in for a sec... . )
    The Vocals are buried and the mix is lacking presence. I feel like reaching for mid/or low mids. The mix makes me really hungry for more. Which is a good thing. Ya just need to find it now. You have a great sound happening.
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I found this song to be rather interesting. What wasn't interesting was the engineering. Mind you, it wasn't what I would call, horrible. But it wasn't something I would generally want to listen to. No. Not that I didn't like the song or the genre. I did. But what did you do in the software to make this thing sound like a terrible traffic jam? Where's the excitement? Where is the snap? The punch? Where's the forward thrust? It sort of sounds like the sewer lines under your basement has backed up? You're playing with too much nonsense in the software. It should sound much better than this having been analog, 20 years ago. You clobbered it for some reason? Why?

    Actually it sounds to me like you mixed this, monitoring too loudly. And it just lies there like a tire stuck in the mud. This could be so much more. It sounds to me like the tracks were recorded well. But you really need to rethink this mix. It appears to be nothing more than a rough concept? Though the vocals, when you can hear them, sound mighty fine. When you can hear them. If you can hear them? They're at the back of the line. They took off their shoes and are standing in a puddle with their socks on. Or at least that's how they sound.

    You don't need to re-record anything. What's there is good. Turn down your monitors. Now pull your plug-ins out. Turn off your EQ. Let's try this again? Take 2. This time... no dynamics processing. Just mix it. Try that. Then if needed, put some dynamics processing on the lead vocal. I hate the sound of lookahead limiters. And it sounds like that's all you used? You need those transients to punch through. Not to be stopped at the door. And when I'm using dynamics processing, it's no lookahead and frequently slow attack times. Then it will spring back to life. Look ahead is sort of like cutting off your head before you get to the guillotine. It won't be exciting. There won't be enough blood left. So to get a head, no lookahead, slow attack time, adjust release time, to taste.

    Now if you want to get really fancy and tighten things up? You'd put some compressors on the snare drum, bass drum, tom-tom's. EQ out the boxy frequencies. And then follow all of those drums with noise gates. But not the overheads. You might even want to try to invert phase on the bass drum?

    The stuff about making everything mono below 125-150 Hz is a bunch of bunk. It was valid when cutting disks for vinyl. There is just no reason to do that anymore, in the digital 21st century. It doesn't fix lousy mixing and engineering. Done well, no one should need that. That's what a tight mix is all about. That's getting rid of the spaces you don't need. It's amazing what a bunch of properly tweaked gates and downward expansion can do. Not enough folks even frequently attempt that. No one wants to work at it long enough to get it good. Which really shouldn't take but a few minutes to dial in. And you don't set everything to fast. The mix does not happen automatically even with dynamics processing. You have to pull some faders or add some mix automation for a dynamic mix. Which does not necessarily have much to do with dynamic range. Everything just sits there like scum on a pond. Yet... this tune rocks. Dialed in, correctly? This would be an awesome song. Right now it sounds like a used-car you wouldn't necessarily want to purchase. And because it sounds like it needs work.

    This needs as much refining as crude oil needs to become kerosene. You've already got the crude oil. You just have to cook it differently. You don't want to scorch the milk. And it's scorched.

    I can tell you how I would mix it? But then... I'd have to kill ya.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Well, considering your propensity for gates on every drum... as a drummer... I'd have to kill you. ;) You're not coming anywhere near my drums with those gates, dear... and you can just put down that roll of duct tape as well while you're at it.

    When you use gates, you're killing the life of the drums. Properly tuned drums in a good sounding room don't need a gate...and, we don't listen to a drum kit one drum at a time. We listen to the kit as a whole ensemble... so unless you want those drums to sound like every other run of the mill sampled drum kit out there right now, then turn the gates off, use a little compression to tame the transients, make sure the kit is a good one, and well tuned. Experiment with the sounds of different heads - instead of pin stripes, try coated ambassadors... Oh... and having a great drummer doesn't hurt, either.

    But maybe you're still stuck in '78? When gates were used on every single kit piece except the OH's? Come into the 21st Century, Remy. It's really not such a bad place to be. Just leave your noise gates back in '78, when drums had the un-distinctive sound of duct taped, well-tuned, cardboard boxes. ;)

    And while you are correct that there is no technical reason to mono freq's below 100 hz in this digital age, there is absolutely a reason to do so if it sounds better. This process is song-dependant. Artists like Peter Gabriel, ( along with some cool jazz fusion artists), have a lot of very cool stereo information happening in the low end. But then again, there are times with a more straight-ahead rock sound, that mono-ing the low end below a certain point results in a noticeable tighter and more defined low end. So you can say it's "bunk" all you want, and you're entitled to your opinion. But, I can personally attest to the fact that there are certain songs that benefit from this process.
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    With Donny once again. (y)

    To add, I hate gates on drums, but would use them live only if the band I was working with was loud crap and the mics where all goofy and the room sucked or I was trying to get that goofy late 70/ early 80's wannabe modern Rock sample sound like dead ringers and the cheezy gated reverb sound. You are way better off using samples over gates. In fact, that's what I would do if you gave me a track with gated drums. I would replace the whole works with samples and a Bricasti any day of the week.

    Same with compression, I use compression but not like all the API 2500 laptopper of the last decade do. In fact, its about the best way to force a live mix into small and cramped ITB sounding, just the opposite of what Remy likes/suggests. However, compressed samples work great for electronic music and why we have so much cross contamination today.

    I bet if you listened to the difference between a plug-in comp active/inactive, and I pointed out what to listen to, some would hear the negative effect right away. At first you would think that's what you want, but after a bit of A/B in prospective, you would go, ooh and a light bulb would go on.
    Comps mislead us into thinking they are helping audio get louder and punchier. If you find the pocket for each track, so their unique freq have their own place in the mix, (less crammed with other parts of a song), compression is actually a detriment because, the compressed track looses its punch and becomes a "more of a wall of sound", thus, needing a broader stoke to "get that pocket back" and simply put, a royal PITA trying to improve.
  12. Josh Conley

    Josh Conley Active Member

    off topic, but why the heck would you want to gate a drum?
    to control bleed?
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Personally, I don't see all that much use for expanders on any instrument or track anymore in a digital recording situation. Perhaps live, but I'm not seeing them as a crucial part of the processing hierarchy in a studio environment.

    Not anymore, anyway.

    Very few are tracking to tape anymore, so it's not as if you're dealing with the noise floor that tape and noisy gear used to present.

    With all the automated mute functions available, not to mention the programmable volume envelope adjustments and slip editing/trimming of files at your disposal with the mere touch/click of a mouse, available on most any DAW, it's pretty much become one of those bygone processors that those still using them are doing so simply out of habit, or because they were used to using them as part of their individual tracking/mixing process that they'd grown accustomed to over the years.. and, there's nothing wrong with that, we all have our own individual way of doing things, our own paths which eventually lead to the same destination.

    Except these days, I'm trying to limit the amount of VST processing I use on projects. I don't need to add gates to do what I can do just as easily, and probably even more effectively, through the use of editing, automated muting and nodal volume envelope sculpting. All I would be doing is adding another potential problem, not to mention a needless taxing of the computer's processor.

    Come to think of it, I can't even remember the last time I used a gate in a digital recording or mix scenario, unless it was used as part of an effect...


  14. Josh Conley

    Josh Conley Active Member

    chain more than one distortion pedal and rawewwwrrrrr... the gate feature on the 88rs plug is pretty sweet at these times. matter of fact, the 88rs is pretty sweet all the time
  15. audiosphinx

    audiosphinx Active Member

    Hi, here is what I heard. The mix is not wide enough..it actually sounds very narrow...hard pan those guitars...lol Filter everything below 150 or higher without affecting the essence of the sound. To do this solo each guitar track, start with a highpass filter of sorts and raise the frequency until you start to noticeably hear the gtrs getting thin, then back it down a hair. Do the same for ANY source except the kick and bass..solo these two together and try and get them to play nice with each other FIRST, by boosting and cutting frequencies so they interact like a puzzle...If you boost 100 on one, take away 100Hz from the other..you get the idea. This is what one poster mentioned about making sure frequency wise, all sources interlock. Can't place too many same frequency sources together in the sonic space...you gotta carve them out.

    Raise the kick up, use the bass to generally support the low end that you are taking away from the guitars, and don't be afraid to add some mids to the bass for clarity.

    Also, I'd like to mention that the use of reverbs and delays are key to creating a nice open space for all the instruments to live in. If you only have one reverb, and you are using it on everything, it will sound like a mess. However, having said that, not all tracks need reverb.

    I also heard the track too dark. What I have found that works for me at times, is to place the competing sources panned center (mono), and work the EQ carving like this...if you can get some separation in mono, you will have nice separation in stereo.

    Lastly, I don't detect much automation or dynamics at all from beginning to end, the mix is the same level. By the end of the mix, it should be driving a bit more, and the levels should be a bit higher..this give the sense of a live performance as a typical band would do by the end of a song.

    Hope any of this helps..
  16. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    well i think it just sounds ducky. i am not going to have any advice on this ...the vocals can be heard, i can understand the lyrics, i can define the guitars just fine. i can hear the bass and kick drums and i think the snare and toms are fine. i say print it and move on.

    as to your concerns, some hints. for low end definition on a bass guitar look to 220 cycles. boost the bass and notch the kick. a dB or 2 on the kick at 80 will fatten a mix right up. panning is nice .. look up cardinal rules of panning.
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Kurt, you and I usually don't disagree so far apart, do we? I think you are way off on this. Well, in regards to actual accuracy. I hear everything to but yikes, its pretty damn crammed and the vocals are too far back for my taste. But, the OP has got his chops down.
  18. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    is it how i would mix it? no. but it doesn't sound horrible. i can hear the vocals and unlike a lot of stuff here i can understand the lyrics. think Rolling Stones. this kind of mix the intentions are to have the guitars waaaaay up front. not my favorite sound. i like the drums and bass in front. as far as it being crammed, well that's itb mixing .... still i can define all the different elements. i can't be critical any further than that considering the source. is there enough "air"? probably not.

    no one is ever going to post a song that everyone agrees on. i'm trying to put myself in the ops shoes. obviously this is what he thinks it needs to sound like. i'm sure people thought Phil was nuts with his first few records ......
  19. apstrong

    apstrong Active Member

    Lots of great feedback and an interesting discussion. Plus Remy didn't tell me to sell everything and get a new hobby, so I'm taking that as a small victory. :)

    In general, yes, it's intended to be very guitar-focused, and yet those two guitar tracks are fighting too much and not cooperating. Sure, they were angry young men at the time, but that's no excuse.

    I also find it lacking presence overall and the vox aren't quite cutting though enough. I tried to do something about that. I'm afraid I may have made it worse. I added a little de-essing to the lead vox, but by the time got the s's under control, the vocal track was so dull it was terrible. So I backed it off a bit and live with the consequences.

    Panned the guitars a little more, added a little more tap to the kick and more verb to the kit overall. I feel it may be too much, it's starting to sound even more crammed than it was before to me. Anyone got a spare Bricasti lying around?

    Overall dynamics are also pretty limited to begin with - the original tracks may have been compressed on the way in because I've only got a little light compression on the drum submix as a whole and that's it. Nothing on the 2-bus.

    At any rate, I appreciate all the comments, so thanks again. Kmetal is right: I could keep playing with it forever. It's time to either start over as Remy suggested or just move on to a new one and apply what I've learned. My friend the artist says the hardest part about painting is knowing when to stop, so I've decided that Kurt is right, it's "not horrible" lol and it's time to stop...onwards and upwards!

    In the meantime, let's hear your verdict: better or worse?

    View: https://soundcloud.com/the-stronghold/jd-v2/s-Bckov
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    choice song but the vox is still too low. I don't care what genre anything is, Vox trumps.

    Baby steps now... If I was mixing this, I would add a small room verb just on the vox so it gets wider (just until you notice it ). Then lift low mids (200 to 500) by a db ( just until you notice it) It would do wonders. Try it.

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