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audio Would Love Feedback on this Mix: Sons of Anarchy Theme (Cover)

Discussion in 'Fix This MIX!' started by DogsoverLava, Jun 21, 2014.

  1. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    Hi Guys -- New member here. Relatively new to recording. Here's the latest mix of a project I've been working on and I'd love some feedback. It's a cover version of "This Life" the theme from the Sons of Anarchy theme show. It's a re-envisioning of the theme in a Northern Californian Acid Rock style. Here's the link:

    View: https://soundcloud.com/dogsoverlava/this-life-mix28-sons-of-anarchy-cover

    Many thanks for listening.
    Recorded and Mixed as Follows:
    DAW: Reaper
    Interface: M-Audio Profire 610
    Computer: Clevo M570ru
    Drums: Superior Drummer & Ez Drummer
    Amp Modeling/Sims for Bass & Guitar: GuitarRig 5 free version, & Amplitube 3 free version.
    Guitars: Fender Lead III, Hamer Californian USA, Fender P. Bass (USA)
    Mics: EV N/D357, SHure SM57
    Mixed w/: Apple iphone buds and cheap JVC HA EBR80 iphone headset and Sennheiser OCX 685i Adidas Sports In-Ear Headphones, plus Sansui 6060 w/ Altec Lansing Model Three Series II Speakers
    Recorded & mixed/mastered in my living room.
    **Mix Tweeks: Also blended into the main riff are two tracks of guitar using my Mesa Boogie MK IIC+ and a Shure SM57 for some depth.
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I love the track, the music is great. I'm not sure about your mix though. Do you have more material like this? Its excellent.
    I love the material but your mix is a bit digital sounding for a track like this. You've "balanced" it well, but it sounds sterile and thin. You belong in the analog world my friend. (y) So, study that sound and work towards it even more. You are getting there and deserve to be heard through better.

    I know a better monitoring environment on all counts (better monitors, acoustic treatment, room) will serve you WELL! It sounds like you aren't in a well treated room which is lying sonically to you. Research this.
    Usually rooms with poor acoustics or mixing via headphones suffer the lack of bass and separation in a mix. Your mix sounds bass deficient , like you were mixing on headphones and not hearing the low freq well.

    the phasing on the vocals is really cool but I'm not sure if its spot on there. But I really like the effect!

    Some here will say the sample drum kit can't do it, but I know different if you choose your kit well and are able to program like it calls for.. You have the tools to get it done, just not the sound and tonalities right for this yet. Thats not saying a pro studio and a rocking drummer wouldn't rock the $*^t out of this. Because this deserve that as well. But, just saying... this is good enough to inspire a band and studio to help you, I'm sure of that.

    Thanks for posting. Man, this is exactly my sound, the sound of the 70's that is coming back. Rock on!

    edit: I guess the is a cover eh?. Not familiar with the band.
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Some observations:

    There's a lot of verb on the drums... and it's not a natural sounding verb that you would get if the drums were miked up in a room or club....and it's wiping out the definition.

    The snare gets buried when you bring in the layered vocals.

    Several of your drum fills are out of time, and the bass and guitar isn't always locked in the pocket. This song is all pocket and groove. Tighten up that rhythm section - I don't care if they are fake drums or not... quantize, or manually shift them, do whatever you need to do to get them locked down in the pocket. Think of a 3 or 4 piece bluesy rock band made up of bad-ass groove players... then emulate that performance.

    What are the EQ settings on your main guitar track in the intro? It sounds low to low mid heavy to me, and is crowding out the bass guitar in frequency. You should consider a HPF for this track, off the top of my head, I'd say probably in the 160 to 200hz region.

    The phasing/flanging effect on the vocals is cool in a "retro" kind of way, but you're using way too much of it throughout the entire track, IMHO. Effects work better when you don't overuse them. Consider bringing this effect in on the chorus only, and only on the backing vocals...and leave the vocals up front and dry for the verses, or vice versa.

    Did you use any kind of stereo widener on this? It sounds far too spread, lacking focus in the center.

    IMHO of course.
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Chris, this is a cover of the theme song for the HBO series "Sons Of Anarchy" (FWIW I love this show...)

    View: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd9ULJf2jqU
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Ah. That explained that. Great song
    I don't watch HBO

    Sent from my iPhone
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Hey doggie! That was a great introduction of yourself. You were so excited to post your work, you forgot your name! I mean if you're going to be a performer you need to introduce yourself better than, hey y'all.

    Well you did a lovely cover. And you used good stuff with which to do it. The performance level was quite good. I don't need to hear everything in perfect lockstep. But ya really wet about the mixing, about 100%... no make that about 300% the wrong way. Earbuds earbuds earbuds, toy speakers. What's wrong with that equation? I'll tell ya... Time to get a real pair of powered monitors. Not computer speakers. Read my lips... no computer speakers.

    Since you have presented a cover song and Donny was nice enough to shoot us a link to the original (and I appreciate that Donny), I think you've done an admirable job. Sure I'd like to hear it differently. I would most definitely mix it differently. I would make it more bad at sounding. Bass drum snare drum. With a very clear bass guitar line. Right now you have bass guitar floods that has exceeded its banks LOL. It's all muddy! You don't want muddy. That's what ya get from earbuds and cheap computer speakers. Get smart... missed it by that much. You already obviously are displaying some good mixing chops. But you have shot yourself in the foot doing it the way you've done.

    Looking at all of those powered monitor speakers out there can be daunting. 2 Way, 3 way, 5 inch, 8 inch, 15 inch. What to do? Well you could just pick one. Anyone. Not computer speakers. I don't care who the brand name is on the computer speakers. Their Taiwanese imitation speakers of the brand name, are simply licensed to them for the brand name. I'm not saying the computer speakers don't sound great. They sound just the way they're supposed to sound for the average listener. They're not designed as reference monitors. Neither are earbuds. It doesn't matter how good the earbuds are. Which in cost and to the many thousands of dollars and be extremely accurate sounding. It's without the room. Without the space. Without the air molecules permeating your skin pores. Kind of like eating a hamburger, without the meat. A lovely Bun, with some pickles lettuce, tomato and mustard, ketchup and onion. Where's the beef? All you need is a pair of KRK's. You can get the small ones for around $150 a pair. Of course you might hear something " better. " I have some of those myself, in the control room, along with my JBL, double pair of 4311/4312's.

    But I don't do Recording.org, from my control room. Though I could. Instead, I do it from the bedroom, to relax with. Where also I have a pair of mini monitors. They look like something you might get from the computer store, Radio Shaft, Best Buy. They only have a single 4 inch speaker with a little 10 W built-in amplifier. With that description, it sounds like something that I just told you not to purchase or use like your Altec Lansing computer speakers? Well it really isn't. This little pair of monitors is what I use and call my " Truth Monitors ". Why, when my description makes them sound like your cheap speakers? They are professional and heavy broadcast grade, self powered monitor speakers. And they're $500 for the pair. $250 each. And they don't sound like your speakers LOL. And your low end was mud city, on 4 inch speakers. What's that tell ya?

    This is not unusual when trying to mix anything with earphones headphones earbuds. And then listening to your final mix on Taiwanese computer speakers. However... there are those of us professionals, who have had to sometimes make live recorded mixes, with only headphones. And it didn't take me long to figure out that anything mixed on headphones, of any sort, would sound like mud city on most any speaker, most anywhere. So what do you do as an audio engineer, when that happens? You learn that with your earbuds, earphones, headphones, that as soon as you turn up the bass guitar and can hear it the way it should be? In your earbuds, earphones, headphones. You then back down your fader of the bass guitar, to the point where you can't quite hear it in your earbuds, earphones, headphones. And then you'll get it right. Same goes for the vocal. Same goes for the bass drum. Same goes for everything that has any kind of low end, you can hear. But if you don't have a pair of actual studio reference monitors, even cheap ones, not computer speakers, you're not going to impress anyone. Because ya never get it right. It's nearly impossible. You just cannot perceive things the same way. It's like the difference between the toilet in your Bathroom at home. And the toilet on the airliner. I think the general consensus is, we like to call home our $*^t whole. And you're recording came from the bathroom on the airliner, thank you very much. So I'm still very much relieved since the music and your engineering provided some relief.

    But I really hate your toilet paper!
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I actually like the OP version a lot. Listening to it again today. I would first start over with your drums and get them centered and choose a better snare. The original snare in this track Donny posted is perfect. Yours is very tinny.
    I love the feel you get in your background harmonies. Very cool.

    Man, I was hoping you wrote this. I now recall hearing it before.
  8. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    audiokid & DonnyThompson & Remy -- Thank you all for your generous and enthusiastic comments. Ive been doing a lot of this stuff in isolation so informed feedback of any kind is invaluable.

    I'm a real novice with the tools right now so this whole process of mixing and recording is as much about developing workflow and learning technique as anything. Without question I'm working in a less than ideal room and my live mixing environment is almost exclusively headphones (I've been able to demo mixes in my car, and on my home system after-the-fact, but no live mixing w/o the headphones) and you guys were right - my headphones totally skew to the treble and highs, making the mix more muffled and muted. The vocals and the vocal effect (though somewhat appropriate to the acid rock style) is really just me covering up the timidity of the performance (cut these late at night in the condo. I like the idea of limiting it to the chorus - I'm going to have to try that and see how it fits. There's no EQ per say on the vocals, but there's some colour from GuitarRig (I think I used an airy vocal preset) and then the Oligarc Chorus & Phaser. There's some EQ on the BG vocals and the Chorus. I think most of the EQ issues with the vocal come from the fact that I tracked it holding the mic and with my lips touching the mic (old school live performance style). I tracked them pretty late at night in the condo and had to hold back a little volume wise -- I think the muffled sound of those comes from proximity effect.

    These drums reflect the limitations of my technical ability within EZdrummer & Superior Drummer right now -- I find them plodding and heavy and yes - absolutely lacking swing. In my mind I envisioned a Mitch Mitchel or John Densmore style of drummer for this cut, with lots of little snare fills and articulations - a lighter style with some great accents on the 2. There are little moments I like - little ghost notes and rolls that suggest what I was going for but they are fleeting... When I made the switch from EZ drummer to superior I used a superior preset that had all that verb in it. I'll play around with them and try to fix that as well as the kit --- ideally I think I'd like to get something that allows me to "play" these -- looking at something like Arturia Beatstep and wondering if I can construct drums by playing several midi tracks and joining them up....

    I tracked the bass several months ago - I'll retrack it as well now - I've been rehabbing my hands for playing - I have some nerve damage in my fretting hand that I'm working within and around - when I cut the track I was still at the stage where I was lucky to fret the note semi clean. Bass was definitely just keeping up - not anchoring the grove - if anything the groove was coming from the rhythm guitar tracks...

    ON that main intro guitar riff there's a few things going on -- there's a track of my playing through GuitarRig 5, and then two blended tracks of my duplicating the part playing through a mic'd amp with a SM57 --- I'm not necessarily happy with the sound either -- but I can play around with it (the blended tracks were just an experiment for the feasibility of tracking real amplified guitar). I was trying to get a bit of an engine sound (motorcycle sound) from it. Again headphones may be the culprit -- they skew treble for me.

    As far as speakers go --- don't let the mention of Altec Lansig make you think of computer speakers -- my home system uses vintage 70's Altec Lansig Series II Model 3's --- that said -- I have not used them to mix because of the previously mentioned condo issue.... I gotta watch my volume.

    So on my shopping list is the following --- A good pair of closed headphones -- $300 to $500 is my range -- where-ever the sweet spot is in that range for bang for buck I'll jump all over them. 2 Some powered speakers to mix with. My range for those will be $500 to $700. I know I need these but I'm really making do w/ what I have at hand as I make my way forward.

    Can I say again how appreciative of the feedback I am -- All three of you guys. I like the encouragement and also the kick in the ass. It's great to be able to get both from all of you. Thanks again and thanks for making me feel welcome to the forum.

    A little history on the song: Basically the wife and I watched the whole series (70 or so episodes) between Christmas and New Year -- literally almost straight through with just eating and sleeping getting in the way.... So after hearing the theme song about 140 times we were discussing the lyrics and I goofed about how the theme was cool but all wrong for what a NorCal Motorcycle gang would be -- said it should be Acid Rock not Southern Rock --- having just watched EZ rider and seeing how those two cultures didn't mash up very well.... So as we were looking at the lyrics we basically found most people on the net had transcribed them wrong. After a little more critical listening we were stuck on one word and on an impulse New Years day morning I emailed Curtis Stigers (the co-writer and performer of the original) and asked for clarification..... He responded in about 20 minutes with the correct vocal line, a little anecdote about who wrong what lyric, and wished me happy new year....

    It was pretty much a given that I HAD TO cut the track then. And so it went.

    So thanks again -- I'm going to keep working on this. I have some other stuff as well including some original work I can post in the future but for now I'm using projects to learn and build workflow and process. This forum has been a great resource and you guys were great with your advice. Cheers.


  9. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    So I went back into my project mixes and pulled out the Raw vocal tracks - And they had more stuff on them than I originally thought. So I'll start reworking those.

    First question: When I rendered the tracks early on (w/ FX) I rendered them to Stereo tracks as opposed to mono tracks. I did this as I was using a stereo Chrous/Phaser effect and thought that this was what I needed to do. In hindsite I'm not so sure if this was good bad or necessary. I assume the stereo effect gave me two slightly different tracks -- but if they are both being panned by a single control am I just essentially getting the following: st1 (stereo track 1) & st2, where st1 = t (common track elements) plus 1U (unique track elements) st2 = t plus 2U (unique track elements), therefore my rendered stereo tracks sonically equate to =2t+1U+2U --- effectively louder or fuller where t is the same, and then an overlay or U1 and U2. If these elements are imposed over one another is there still a benefit? How is this stereo? I suspect I'm not understanding stereo in this sense -- as what it seems to mean is that I'm getting 2 overlayed tracks in the body of a single track control? How is my ear discerning stereo here? Is it because of below? (see below)

    Further to this -- I don't understand how I can be playing guitar - as a single input into a single track, and if I use a chorus inside my DAW then click the stereo chorus button, that I hear a difference --- does the effect somehow over-ride or have independent control of the pan? or is there an effect level hierarchy of sending stereo datea to either L or R of the master 2 channel and that my track pan just allocates the weight of that sending? Is this more what's going on?

    I think my past experience in analog (using left and right channels of cassettes and VHS tapes to build up my own multitrack mixes) where without a mixer I had no way the blend or send blended data between my master L&R tracks (I did but it involved splicing wires and using IIRC potentiometers or rheostats) is causing my confusion..

  10. bouldersound

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

    Lots of good suggestions already so I'll keep it short. Start with kick, snare and vocals then fit the rest around them. Those three should stand on their own and not get lost when the guitars come in. Use tone, volume and arrangement to make that happen. I'm not saying don't change kick/snare/vocal as you add the others, just don't lose them. To me it sounds like your kick and snare are getting swamped by bass and guitar.

    [Edit] Listened on a better system. Bass is dominating the kick. The kick ends up sounding thin when the bass comes in. The effects in general seem not to match the song and it's distracting. What I hear definitely suggests monitoring environment issues along with the newness of having all those options in the DAW.

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