Mixing suggestions - Out Of The Blue

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by Larry Allen, Feb 21, 2015.

  1. Larry Allen

    Larry Allen Active Member

    Hello recordists! This is my first post, I appreciate having a place to get objective advice about audio.

    This song was written by the singer. I arranged and recorded everything, now I'm ready for the brutal honesty part of the process.

    Thanks for listening.

  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hi Larry, welcome to RO.

    Your song is really nice, nicely balanced , a bit thin sounding but "even" which is the main thing right now!

    Being said, the first thing I noticed is your main vocal is panned left and right. I would keep the main vocal in the center and (if you had harmonies) how you have your main vocal.
  3. pcrecord

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

    Nice song, thanks for posting.
    I think it has a nice Ambiance. The only think that doesn't work for me is the lead vocal. It should be in the center. You could keep the stereo effect if you want but and center sound should dominate. For now, I can perceive all the words because it's a bit burried with the stereo mix.
    The voice has a nice texture, and seems on pitch enough, so no need to hide it ;)

    For the instruments ; good job !
  4. Larry Allen

    Larry Allen Active Member

    Thanks Chris. I see what you mean about the vocals, I can fix that.

    I'm not sure what do to make it fuller. I could bring out the organ part a little more, or perhaps double the guitar. What do you think?
  5. Larry Allen

    Larry Allen Active Member

    Hello pcrecord, thanks for the suggestions. Chris made a similar observation about the vocals, this is really very helpful.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Its not one individual instrument, its the overall sound which is a bit thin, However, because the thinness is "ALL" consistent to the rest of the tracks, its okay. Other than the vocal issue, everything sounds balanced, just a bit thin like AM radio thin.
    It sounds like you have rolled off the bass a bit too much on everything but its better to be where you are now in comparison to a boomy muddy mix. Does that make sense?
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Fix the vocals and don't mess with the mix. Post it again and lets hear what it sounds like! :)
  8. Larry Allen

    Larry Allen Active Member

    I understand, thanks!
    Chris likes this.
  9. Larry Allen

    Larry Allen Active Member

    Out Of The Blue 0.2:

    * Panned lead vocals center
    * Added reverb to vocals
    * Added (less) reverb to guitars
    * Bumped up the 100 Hz region on the acoustic guitar.
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    much better but the vocals are still unnaturally distant from the doubling effect you have. Its 100% better, but I would like to hear the voice dead center without the reflective add-on.
  11. Larry Allen

    Larry Allen Active Member

    You guys are good, I can't sneak anything past you o_O. Watch this space tomorrow.

    Chris likes this.
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm thinking... do you have a doubling delay on the vocal track apposed to it on an Aux?

    this is of course just my opinion. Vocals sound much better when reverbs and delays are generally on a Aux or Bus opposed to individual tracks. Aux that have either a stereo verb or delay that is the same setting for all the tracks creates a more cohesive unified space rather than all sorts of separate rooms fighting each other. Make sense?

    The vocals don't sound natural to the performance.
  13. Larry Allen

    Larry Allen Active Member

    This is getting deep, I love it. Here's some background on the vocal tracks.

    I send the singer backing tracks, he sends me back a Sonar project with 2 or 3 takes of the vocals. I edit them down and keep 2 for double tracking. The lead vocals are on one bus, and I've got one of these vocal plugins in the fx bin of the bus.

    The plugin is adding parametric eq and de-essing. There's also a doubler effect, I think it's the one that's bothering you. I'll turn it off and post another mix.

    Thanks Chris, I feel like I should buy you lunch.
    pcrecord and Chris like this.
  14. pcrecord

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

    It's there, I'll wait for your next mix ;)
  15. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    It's a good song (very similar in structure to Damon Barnett's "Another lonely day") and nicely performed. The production is not quite there yet, as others have indicated.

    What would be good to hear is a mix that had only the one vocal track, centred with no plug-ins, effects or doubling.

    Another thing you might try is playing the current mix switched to mono just to hear how much disappears. That's a sure sign that there is too much artificial spread in some of the component tracks.
  16. Larry Allen

    Larry Allen Active Member

    Had another listen this morning, I think I found the problem. I did have a doubler on the vocals (it's gone now), but that wasn't the only problem. When I made the vocal bus I forgot to turn off the processing on the individual tracks.

    Thanks for the suggestion Boswell, I'll try that mono thing in a little while.
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    100% better. Now we can start discussing the mix a bit more.

    My next suggestion would be to add some soft compression on a variety of the bus's to help the sharp dynamics cutting through. I always group (drums, bass, keys, harmonies, guitars, cymbals etc) then only if necessary, I add some compression on those bus' . In your case, I would do this.

    As Bos suggests.(y) We are in the camp to always check mixes in mono around here.

    I would avoid those vocal riders like the plague but they may be a useful for auditioning how a track would sound if improved other ways before you get into it. I've never heard a vocal rider I thought was worth using. I suppose they are on hundreds of mixes but I'm certain there are better ways to skin it.

    You are being fun, thanks for sharing your work and posting results back. Kudo's!
  18. Larry Allen

    Larry Allen Active Member

    The pleasure is all mine

    I hear some over-exuberance from the rhythm guitarist (me) during the solo. Where else do you hear unpleasant peaks?

    Below is a screen shot of the buses in the project. I think everything is self-explanatory, except that 'Band' = keys, bass, & acoustic guitar.

    All of the sub-mixes feed the Automation bus, where I control the bus gain to fade out the song. The Automation bus feeds the Master where I control the overall level of the mix.

  19. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm sure others would like to chime in with their suggestions too, please do so as I don't want to dominate this thread. In the mean time, thanks for your kind words so here we go.

    I have a common approach which helps me avoid mistakes. I mix peoples work so I find a common way that seems to help clean up and get down to business pretty fast.
    I don't understand Sonar's layout like my DAW so I'll come at this from my DAW approach.

    NOTE: THIS "particular mix". Before I start messing with the individual tracks here, I once again suggests creating groups and putting a few key processors on them to see if it will tame the overall tones first. A small amount of compression on your drums, guitars, vocals , keys is a good start. And I wouldn't be heavy handed here. Your mix is really good. its just needs some careful touches right now. If the guitars or drums are still peaking out or not sitting in the pockets, you can go into the individual track later (after this step) and clinically approach problematic areas. We first need to gently tame the sharpness of the peaks or dynamics. Make sense? If you start going into the tracks, you will open up a Pandora box and we will loose where we are now.

    I am a firm believer to keep tracks raw on the channels ( we hopefully tracked well ) and use bus' and aux to glue things first. I like getting the balances lined up, then group transient common sections on their own bus's,
    I will also create common delay Aux and common reverb Aux, and approx 8 bus for the groups ( drums, vocals, guitars, keys, effects, etc) to go into.
    Once I get it all sorted, balanced (which you have most of this done now) , I will then approach individual tracks.

    I personally think we go about mixing wrong a lot of times where we spoil the source before its even gets a chance to be in the natural space of the performance. I refer to this as is mixing backwards. Or, mastering backwards.
    Get the console all in place, glue the groups together and then start chiseling or carving out the individual session until its all big and clear. I know this seems backwards, but we are actually doing that correctly because it has already been mixed. So we need to go backwards and fix it were you last left off.

    If you are still game,
    Do you have your tracks grouped?
  20. Larry Allen

    Larry Allen Active Member

    Yes, I'm game. This is my kind of school.

    And yes, my tracks are grouped into the buses I mentioned before. Breaking out the cymbals now ...
    Chris likes this.

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