Need Mixing Help

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by hannanathan564, Jun 7, 2012.

  1. hannanathan564

    hannanathan564 Active Member

    Alright so I've recently began doing home recordings and well I'm not much of an engineer. I'm more like the guy who pays $100/hr for someone else to record me. But... I'm wanting to change that. Let me know your thoughts on this mix. Yes... I know... It's weak... The drums have no guts (but thats because the drums themselves are actually really bad. I'm thinking of getting EZdrummer, good or bad idea?) and thats my biggest problem. But I'm sure you will find more, and I hope you do!

    Nathan Hanna Demos
    I apologize for the link being on last FM. But the song is the one titled "The Kid Next Door". Its the free download one.

  2. waveheavy

    waveheavy Active Member

    The Kid Next Door - more balanced of the 4 tracks, even though it's more of an acoustic flavor. Still, compare it to the thinness of the other 3 tracks. A De-esser is a handy tool to use on drum cymbals to help get the right amount of balance. It's common to use a professionally recorded example of music you want your track to sound close to, and do short, quick A/B listening comparisons with your track.
  3. hannanathan564

    hannanathan564 Active Member

    De-esser, I'll research. Thanks. I do use tracks to compare to, that was always something I saw engineers do when I'd do stuff for actual studios. I think my biggest issue with drums is just having a bad input in the first place. Any advice on the vocal track? or the guitars?
  4. waveheavy

    waveheavy Active Member

    First of all, I don't claim to be a pro, though I used to have an all analog demo setup in my basement back in the early 80's. Still a lot about the digital DAW side of things I'm still learning also. I'll take a bit of time to reveal some of my mix approach, which you might can weed things from that instead of me trying to give you specific fixes.

    1. I set monitor level - 85dB using SPL meter.
    2. track cleaning (noise), aligning, pitch corrections, volume level automation (if needed).
    3. I then set all tracks to equal output (-18dBFS) using DAW trim controls (can use a trim-plugin).
    4. set panning for instruments, finding best spacing for song.
    5. I usually start with the kick, then bass guitar, then vocals, then everything else for the following: EQ cuts of each tracks unwanted frequencies, low-cuts of unneeded ranges depending on instrument type, carving for each instrument's own space and then creative boosts.
    6. compression - at the same time when doing EQ, I'll add compression only on the tracks that need it. I pay close attention to how the comp affects the musical timing and transients. Mix is built with adding consecutive tracks to what is already balanced with EQ and comp with continuous soloing and unsoloing of only processed tracks as I add each one into the mix. If the next track added doesn't support the previously done tracks, I either change it until it does fit, or look for the next best supporting track, and go on to it next. I usually try to keep the mix level between -4 to -10dBFS on the master output level throughout this process, leaving headroom for later mastering.
    7. reverb - DAW project usually setup with the effects buses I use depending on song style. I sometimes send pink noise hitting the reverbs to set their initial levels around -7dBFS so they're all the same levels. I often use very little reverb, but instead maybe a bit of delay or a plate.
    8. set overall mix balance again, do final automations (effects, EQ, comp, volume, etc.). I like to ride the sliders during each section of the song for each instrument, and then do fine corrections in the automation if needed.
    9. Master Bus - most of the time I don't need much more than a simple comp or effect for mix glue, like an EL Fatso, etc. (depending on song style). My ideal is to leave final EQ and dynamic balancing to the mastering phase. A good mix shouldn't need a whole lot of mastering. If I don't control the dynamics at the mix stage, the mastering phase will, and lot of the time it can ruin the mix.
  5. hannanathan564

    hannanathan564 Active Member

    Thanks man! A lot of this is stuff I already do but some of the things give me a new idea of approaching it. I'm 16 man, so I have very little to work with when I hit the record button and that makes the later mixing pretty annoying sometimes when I don't have the best environment to track in.

    What kind of compression would you normally add to the voice? I think this one is like 3:1 with the thresh-hold down to about 18, attack a little over half way, and release barely up off the 0.
  6. waveheavy

    waveheavy Active Member

    Hint; don't try to compress the lead vocal with just one comp., unless that involves a certain sound you're going for. IMHO, for something like Pop, it's better to use more than one comp, usually an optical type comp going into an FET type as the classic approach. Use the first one for a good amount of leveling, then the next one to take care of the peaks. For a more aggressive vocal, you don't hit the first comp leveling as hard, but safe the brunt of the work for the next comp. A friend of mine uses volume automation to control the vocal dynamics first, and then uses a comp for effect, then adds dynamics back to the vocal with automation.

    So, there's more than one way to do it, and no law that says it's got to be done a certain way. Experiment; learn your gear. By that I mean, set a comp up with its highest ratio on something like a snare, and play with the attack and release. Overdo it on purpose so you can clearly hear how the comp creates unnatural effects. When you know what 'terrible' sounds like by playing with the settings, then you'll know how not... to use it.

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