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audio UK Indie Rock - Help required!

Discussion in 'Fix This MIX!' started by Voiceofallanger, Nov 3, 2015.

  1. Voiceofallanger

    Voiceofallanger Active Member

    Hey guys,

    Once again I seek your feedback on a mix I'm working on. I did 'finals' for this but I tend to run them past you guys. To me, something about it doesn't sound quite right. To be honest with you they asked me to make it sound live and imperfect and not go overboard but ... The playing was pretty much that anyway, the drummer and rhythm guitarist aren't the tightest performers though I do think they write a mean song. I was wondering what your opinion is on this mix for example. I don't know whether I'm being under confident as it's been a while since I mixed anything so if you spot anything or just generally have an opinion then let me know. Something just doesn't sound quite right to me... I donno. Fortunately for me UK indie rock is apparently meant to be enjoyed 'sloppy' anyway. Arctic Monkeys would be the immediate comparison I'd make. Swish.

    Sidenotes -

    The drum kit sounded like crap before processing and there wasn't anything I could do. Bad heads. I managed with most of it but the snare... Let's just say it's not my favourite.

    The rhythm guitarist insisted on clean/crunch and nothing more so I couldn't really saturate him to tighten up his sloppiness.

    Anything else.. fire away. Really interested to see what you all think I could do to improve it. Link is below, it's a dropbox share.

    Best wishes all!

    - Dan!

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/p52a4gw290bblpj/SYBNYC French Kissin .wav?dl=0
  2. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    I heard something missing in the low mids, a lack of "beefiness", and something a bit strident in the upper mids just below the vocal definition range. Looking at the spectrum analysis I see a low spot centered at about 400Hz and a peak centered at about 2.3kHz. The balance of the instruments and vocals in each frequency range seems about right so I would consider simply applying corrective eq to the whole mix.

    Most likely it's caused by something in your monitoring setup, like a resonance in your room at 400 and a softness in your monitors at 2.3k. Regarding the 2.3k, I wonder if you have your speakers angled in a way that degrades the alignment of the tweeter and woofer at the crossover frequency or if the speakers just have a problem in the crossover range. You don't have them positioned horizontally, do you? Are they placed with the midpoint between the drivers at ear level?
  3. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Artistically speaking, the mix is pretty much there. I might adjust the reverb to bring the vocal forward and set the band just behind it. As it is now it sounds like the band is right in your face and the singer is 20 feet back.
  4. pcrecord

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

    I think that's something I said about your other mix, I just feel it sound thin. Kind of low-fi. Like if it was a recorded with the same cheap mic.. No insult intented.. I just have this feeling..
    I just don't quite know how to put it.. I feel like I was listening from the other side of a bar and not close to the stage.. Frequencies are missing dynamics and dimensions are gone.. Over mixed maybe ?
    Another analogy; it sounds like the mic was in a box to record the band..

    Ok, I'd like to help here.. Would you accept to poste a few raw tracks to try to identify if it's the mix or the recording that gives that result. Or maybe a clean mix (just the raw tracks, volumes and pan but nothing else)
    Voiceofallanger likes this.
  5. pcrecord

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

    I've been listening to your song. is it possible that you are mixing at very loud volume ? I also think that you may overuse EQ and HiPass filters..
    Oh and that hi-hat is too loud.. ;)
    Voiceofallanger likes this.
  6. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    I fooled around with some eq and it turns out that the high strident stuff is around 4.2kHz. The curve below made the whole thing sound better to me. I could stand to hear more definition to the kick.

    enemy eq.jpg
    Voiceofallanger likes this.
  7. Chris Perra

    Chris Perra Active Member

    I like your song.cool stuff. The main thing that makes me want to turn it down immediately is the density in the mids its really fatiguing. It's not like instruments are fighting for the same spot and it's clouded there.... good clarity overall but it's too built up in the mids to hi mids.
    Voiceofallanger likes this.
  8. Voiceofallanger

    Voiceofallanger Active Member

    Thank you so much for all of your responses guys. Unfortunately I can't post raw tracks. They're under some copyright nonsense. PCrecord. No insult taken sir. That's fine. It's not like I'm going to learn anything without having my ass kicked from time to time. Boulder I couldn't agree with you more and I'm glad you've said that. The whole thing with the singer is something they specifically requested which I wasn't happy about. Apparently it's a preference of theirs... I really don't like it. They kept referring to this band called 'Shoegaze'. Turns out they drench just about everything in reverb. It's really not my thing. Ok. This information is all fantastic. If you spot anything else then keep going! Hi-hat is too loud! Yes! I knew there was something blaringly obviously I was missing hahaha. It's funny how sometimes someone can say something and you want to kick yourself for not realising. Brilliant! Ok cool. So we're thinking a little bit harsh and boxy and perhaps the vocal is a little too ... far set ? Oh and boulder.. believe me when I say my setup is not ideal. If you saw it you'd definitely go 'ah... i see the problem' hahahaha! Unfortunately I'm not really in any position to fix it at present. They're not horizontal though. They're at recommended spacing and recommended angle. It's the room that's the issue. The treatment is lacking and the shape of it is less than ideal. It's wider than it is long for a start!

    Just as a note for PC record specifically -

    I've high passed the guitars at around 120. Low passed at 10k ish.
    Bass is high passed a touch at 30. Low passed around 5k (I used a really angry bass tone).
    Vocals are high passed around 100.

    Hope that gives more indication.
  9. pcrecord

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

    Mixing with specifications that are far from our taste is hard.. But if YOU don't like the vocal reverb, a thing that you can do is parallele processing, double the track, make one very wet in reverb/delay and keep the other one dry. Then blend both to taste.

    You know the things I said were only to help.. Maybe the mix technic is fine but the lake of fullness I hear goes from the instruments them self. We all know we can't mix what isn't there in the tracks.

    I think the balance in our mix is excellent, a part from the HH maybe, everything was well leveled. The only thing that is missing is a way to make the song sound BIG and multidimentionnal...
    Sounds abstract doesn't it..

    What reverb do you use ?
    To make the listener believe that it's a band playing in front of him/her, I sometime use 1 single reverb on the whole session, it helps to glue tracks together and add some dimentions.. what I do is blend it from zero db and when I hear the reverb tail, I back down a bit.

    A lot of customers ask for more reverb on the vocals while what they need is actually delays.. A timed quater note delay well blended can sound great.
    And sometime, they ask for reverb because they are insecure about the vocal quality and your job is to reassure them ;)
  10. Voiceofallanger

    Voiceofallanger Active Member

    Yeah I agree with what you've said. I hate the vocal verb. They wanted a really wet sounding one. I did try to parallel process it but they were like 'Oh no it sounds too dry.. I want the whole thing to sound like it's in a cave like the pixies and shoegaze'. My response to that was that the pixies and shoegaze are far less energetic in mood but they gave me the whole oh it'll be unique thing. Really hard to get around. I'll sort that high hat out when I go back to it. As for the verb its just a studio one stock plate. There is an Ozone 5 master verb on at 14% mix too. I might have a play with some delays. Maybe to get the sound to be wider i could bus the mono $*^t to a stereo aux and return it with a stereo verb on and a high pass at 150 or something then blend. I donno. I'll have a play with a few things. I am concerned about the boxy sound that's being mentioned. I hate boxy but I must admit I'm not hearing much box sound on my monitors except the snare sounding kinda crap. I think I might need to sort my control room out and invest in something other than KRK 8s. They're the speakers of lies by all accounts. That and... I guess I need more practice!
    pcrecord likes this.
  11. pcrecord

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

    You could have them if the signer needs a suit to dress up like a cave man as well.. ;)

    Before you change for better, take the time to listen to commercial CDs before you mix and A/B your mix with CDs often. You'll get a sens how it should sound on your speakers.. ;)
  12. Voiceofallanger

    Voiceofallanger Active Member

    Yeah that is something I do a lot and to anyone who doesn't I can't stress the importance of referencing enough. I didn't used to do it and it was such a huge mistake. Even spectrum analyzing them is hugely helpful on top of just plain listening!
    pcrecord likes this.
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    The thing about more modern reverbs on vocals isn't necessarily the types that have changed, it just that the amount of it has been lessened gradually over time.

    I'll still put a hall verb on a lead vocal, but I'll separate it by using timed pre-delays, and pulling it waaaay back into the mix... the trick for me, is that I'm tucking it in not so much that I can hear it, but that I can hear a difference without it.

    Unless it's for really something "artsy" in particular, or retro, like if you were doing something 80's sounding intentionally, back in the days when guys wore mullets and the Lexicon PCM's ruled the mixes; the days of the 3 second in-your-face ballad reverb a'la Barry Manilow, Celine Dion and Michael Bolton are no more - thankfully.

    But who knows... ? ...what comes around goes around. Lots of guys sold off plenty of analog gear when digital hit, thinking that they wouldn't need those Pultecs, LA2's and 76's anymore...now they're priced at up to 10 times their original cost when they were new.

    So I suppose it's possible that heavy reverb on vocals could make a comeback... but at least for right now, it's really not the thing, and it has a tendency to immediately date the sound of a song more than it helps it.

    The guys you are recording need to trust you, as long as you're hip to the style of music they're recording. Reverb is one of those "wow factor" things, ( like stereo enhancers) especially for newbies... at first it sounds great to them because they're not used to hearing it, except that it also wipes out definition, punch and clarity. Plus, it's forgiving with vocals that aren't so great, and that's another thing that guys who aren't secure in their talent like it for, because it can cover up the warts.

    As Marco mentioned - take a listen to modern mixes; break them down, find out what makes those mixes tick. Listen in the style of what the band plays, then let them hear examples of those current styles, professionally mixed, so that they can hear that what they are asking you to do is maybe ( probably) not the best thing for their sound. ;)

  14. Voiceofallanger

    Voiceofallanger Active Member

    That's what I did Donny. In fact that's exactly what I did. Problem is. They just plain don't care about the modern market. I suppose that could be a gift or a curse. I think it makes things sound dated too. I mean if I think reverb I immediately think Phil Collins etc. Doh. Musicians eh ?
  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Okay... so, honestly, is this your mix? Or is this the band's mix? Meaning that you're doing what they tell you to do...

    I'd like to hear the vocal dried up and brought forward, bringing the band more forward, too; right now it sounds kinda like the singer is in another room away from the band - which is too far back (and muddy and thin); and the amount of reverb on the vocal isn't adding beneficial depth or space, it's just separating the vocal from the music even more, but not in a way that makes the mix work cohesively... it's just washing things out.

    The mix also sounds a bit "peaky" to me at around 2k -3k, it's an edgy frequency but not really a pleasing edge... and it's a little "whoompy", which might suggest too much energy around 300-400Hz (?) or so, but at the same time lacking in the bottom end where the "solid foundation" lives... best guess without running it through an analyzer would be between 100-200, somewhere in there.

    I'd like to hear more definition on the kick... the toms bother me as well, they sound very "dead"; as if the heads were old, or maybe had some kind of deadening material on them?
    If it were me, I'd be looking at sample replacement on the toms, maybe the kick, too.

    The mix isn't terrible, it just needs some tweaking, but if the band is controlling what you do to the extent that your hands are tied, then what can you do?

    If you want, you could mix a version without the band being there, and then play your mix next to theirs, and let them A/B the two. If they still choose their own, then there's nothing you can do, you're not gonna win this one...

    And, if they are so bound and determined to have it their way, then all you can do is to mix it the way they want, get paid, and if it bothers you to the extent that you aren't proud of being associated with it, you could always use a pseudonym on the album/single as the listed engineer, or, you can refuse to be listed at all, and the album credits the band as being responsible for mixing the song(s).

    You wouldn't be the first engineer to use a fake name or ask to be not credited on something you're not happy in being associated with. Trust me. ;)
  16. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Why not present the band with an alternate mix based on the feedback above, If it sounds better, and they are ignorant of that, well your not losing out on anything.
    You never know, it may actually change their perception of their sound ;)

    Edit - Sorry
    @Donny Thompson, I should have fully read your post above, But I empahsise what Donny has basically said before me (y)
  17. Voiceofallanger

    Voiceofallanger Active Member

    Not bad suggestions Donny/Sean. I may well go ahead and do both of those things... It is annoying when a band don't trust you to mix it a certain way but I guess I don't want them to hate the record. Their reverb tweaks were based on a much drier mix I did but that was in fact, unfinished and a test ballpark mix. I doubt they will budge on this. I can try your suggestions though. For sure!
  18. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Truthfully, after listening to this mix, I can say that yeah, I've heard far better ... but I've also heard worse - a lot worse.

    It's been in my personal experience that changing the minds of those who are firmly entrenched in what they want, or what they believe, will rarely happen.

    If the band has it planted firmly in their heads that what they want is what they want, you're probably not going to change their minds. If they have their own artistic vision for their project, then all you can do as an engineer is to make suggestions, and present some alternatives to their approach, but past that, there's little you can do. You're not the producer of this project - you're the engineer, and there's a big difference. If you are the producer, then you have the final say in... well, in pretty much everything, really, which most certainly includes having final control of how the mixes sound. But, if you are acting as an engineer only, then the band is the producer, and you pretty much have to do what they say... that's the way it works, and what you're being paid for.

    There are options other than just letting all this slide and doing the gig; you could always bow out of the project - and being honest as to why; or, you can do the gig, get paid, and request that you not be credited - also being honest as to why.

    All of us here can differentiate between a good mix of a bad band and a bad mix of a good band, but, we're not like other people... we have the ability to hear thru those things, and to make the distinction(s) between them.
    But most of your average listeners cannot. If they hear something bad, they're gonna blame somebody; and it's either going to be the band, or it's going to be the studio/engineer/producer.

    It's up to you to determine if any of this matters, and to what degree. If you don't think it will matter, then no big deal, do what they want, get paid.
    But, if you think there's a chance that having your name connected to this project could possibly hurt you - in terms of getting future business from other clients - then you have to do what you feel is necessary to protect yourself.

    I've backed out of a few projects over the years, when I thought that having my name connected to something could hurt my reputation, or cause me to not get future gigs, or employment at other studios.
    And, a few times along the way, I've used an alias as well.
    I've also resigned from projects - on those occasions when working with a particular client or band becomes more of a headache than what it's worth.

    I use what I call "The Donny BSF "... which is my "B*ll Sh*t Factor". This is a complex, scientifically based scale, from 1-10, developed for me by a team of crack mathematicians at MIT... ( ;) ) which in its most basic terms, weighs out the money you make vs the amount of crap you have to take to make that amount, and which also determines the risk of having your name and reputation connected to something that you'd just as soon rather not.

    If the sessions are laid back, smooth, and the guys are easy to work with, then it's really just a matter of artistic differences, and you default to what the client wants, at which point you're simply acting as a button-pusher for the band. No biggie.. lots of engineers do this. I've done it more times than I can even count. This is around #4 on the scale.
    ( Number One on the scale is that fantasy session where you get to record A-List musicians, who provide great performances for you to capture. The sonic visions of the band is the same as your own. Sessions are fun, but often challenging, but things are really cooking, attitudes are great, and positive energy is high... And it rarely happens. ).

    Numbers 8-10 on the scale ( which are unfortunately, far more common than #1 ) would be if the money is low, sessions are tense, and they are making you do things that no engineer would ever do even on their worst day; and just before every session, you get the inescapable urge to hang yourself - and consider doing so as a pleasing alternative to doing the session - at which point you need to determine if making that " X amount" of money is worth the cost of losing your sanity, or perhaps even harming your reputation and future income.

    You are the only one who can determine if all the hassles and headaches and risks - a #10 on the BSF - will be worth it. ;)

  19. pcrecord

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

    One easy trick to do; do 2 mixes theirs and yours and make the band compare them. if you play yours louder, they may prefer it !
    Just kidding :ROFLMAO:
  20. Voiceofallanger

    Voiceofallanger Active Member

    All good info. And again I agree. I tell you what. If there's one thing I can say that I've learnt in my time engineering so far it's this. Shitty drums ruin everything. Hahaha! I hate samples so so much though... What would you say is the most troublesome thing to address first.

    1) The harshness at the top.
    2) The boxy sound.
    3) The width and dimensions of the mix.

    What do you think is the biggest problem currently of those ? I know this question is a touch ambiguous in context.
    pcrecord likes this.

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