mix critique Mix Thoughts on new song: Is there enough cohesion here and is it full enough?

DogsoverLava

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Jun 21, 2014
Location
Vancouver
Wondering if this has knitted together well enough and if there's balance between the different harmonic elements without mud. Any thoughts on how I might improve this mix? Many thanks.
 

audiokid

Chris
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Mar 20, 2000
Location
Nanaimo BC, Canada
Happy New Year! I always like your stuff!
If I could suggest a tweak I'd do....
Your kick is on the snare which is making the snare too thick, undefined and muddy to me. I'd often do what you are doing for dance music but I find it overpowering for rock (or on this mix).

a few ways I'd adjust that.(might be interesting for you)
  1. Remove the kick on the 2 and 4 and simply just add a bit more low mid on the snare to give a tight more defined snare.
  2. Use a side chain on the kick whenever the snare hits
 

DogsoverLava

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Jun 21, 2014
Location
Vancouver
Hey --- Thanks so much Chris. I'm going to dig into the drums for sure - my original intent was to use a real drummer on this but found that one of my drummers had recently passed away from a sudden heart attack, and my other drummer friend I reached out to ended up shutting down his studio recording space during COVID.... I've never used side chain before so I'll experiment with that and share it here for further wisdom. Many thanks.

I'm still intentionally writing in an early 80's rock format (with lots of Canadian Rock influence here). Thinking April Wine/Aldo Nova/Prism/Chilliwack/Loverboy et al... with some Cars/Knack/ & 70's influence as well....
 

DogsoverLava

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Jun 21, 2014
Location
Vancouver
Here's a treatment with the following changes... side chain compression on the kick drum triggered by the snare with a couple small drum mix changes to better balance the drums. Some vocals pops and hard consonant sounds cleaned up by riding the volume fader, and some EQ and compression adjustments on some of the vocals to smooth them out a bit more and compensate for some slight timbre differences between the 1st verse and the 2nd &3rd verses which were recorded on different days.

Thanks to all who had a listen. Still moving this forward to officially release and am open to any thoughts or suggestions.

 

DogsoverLava

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Jun 21, 2014
Location
Vancouver
I would love toget a couple more ears on this. @audiokid How effective was the side chain compression on the kick for what you were looking for? It was my first time doing that so I hope it achieved the effect.
 

audiokid

Chris
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Mar 20, 2000
Location
Nanaimo BC, Canada
I like not hearing the kick so heavy on the snare, but... the drums don't sound dynamic, real, including, they sound like they are dragging.. If this came in as a project for me to mix, I would replace your drums with better samples and actually reprogram the drums. I'd use an MPC X which is a killer tool for just that. Your songs would sound much better with a more live sounding rock kit.
 

DogsoverLava

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Jun 21, 2014
Location
Vancouver
I like not hearing the kick so heavy on the snare, but... the drums don't sound dynamic, real, including, they sound like they are dragging.. If this came in as a project for me to mix, I would replace your drums with better samples and actually reprogram the drums. I'd use an MPC X which is a killer tool for just that. Your songs would sound much better with a more live sounding rock kit.
Cool --- this was supposed to have real drums - unfortunately I had a terrible shock when I reached out to my old drummer to play on this and found he'd passed away from a sudden heart attack a couple years ago --- just a shock -- and my second choice for drums had been forced to give up his studio this summer because of Covid and wasn't able to track at this time....

I feel and hear that dragging too - and I want to see if I can get this right - so I'll play around more with these tracks and maybe change the kit and see if I can get it any better, and I'll continue to look for and explore a real drummer alternative.

I appreciate the help though - very much so.
 

DogsoverLava

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Jun 21, 2014
Location
Vancouver
So sorry to hear about both drummers.
What are you using for drums (samples and how you program them?)
Thanks Chris - hearing about my friend (his name was Zoltan). I was using Superior Drummer 3.0 and a relatively dry Ayotte kit (in honour of my friend who passed that used to work with Attila at Ayotte in the late 80's). I added some plate verb to the kit to give it a bit more boom in the mix.... I've been using some of the stock grooves that come with the various midi kit packs and doing some cut and paste and some alterations -- drums are my weakness for sure.
 

DogsoverLava

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Jun 21, 2014
Location
Vancouver
Ok - so on this I eliminated the sidechain compression and also deleted those bass drum hits with the snare that were part of the verse sections, and pre-chorus sections. I left the chorus untouched because I thought that extra energy (combined with the fact the chorus is the least anthemic part of the song) still worked there.

I also changed kits and settings entirely - using a Bob Rock drum preset on SD3.0. These drums sound "better" in that they fit the general production sound of the song a bit better I think. I made a few subtle tweaks on a few hits to see if there was a net improvement on the dragging as well. @audiokid This fit a little better?
 

Davedog

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Joined
Dec 10, 2001
Location
Pacific NW
The drums are still way out of time with the track. The second hit right at the top tells the story.

The drum sounds on the last mix are better but NOTHING....not sidechaining triggers, or eq or compression is going to fix the out of time.

The vocal effect is cool! The guitars and the vocals are colliding with each other here and there. Both in time and in EQ.

The bass line is very nice. It reminds me of.....ME.... Seriously it's a good 80's rock sounding song. There's a few points where, as a producer, I would get a rewrite of instrumental sections...a tweak here and there.

I don't know what DAW or format you're recording on, but get those drums matched up with the instruments. Grid? Was the drum track a loop? Do you know how to move things to the grid and keep their natural feel? Yeah it's a skill.....
 

DogsoverLava

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Jun 21, 2014
Location
Vancouver
The drums are still way out of time with the track. The second hit right at the top tells the story.

The drum sounds on the last mix are better but NOTHING....not sidechaining triggers, or eq or compression is going to fix the out of time.

The vocal effect is cool! The guitars and the vocals are colliding with each other here and there. Both in time and in EQ.

The bass line is very nice. It reminds me of.....ME.... Seriously it's a good 80's rock sounding song. There's a few points where, as a producer, I would get a rewrite of instrumental sections...a tweak here and there.

I don't know what DAW or format you're recording on, but get those drums matched up with the instruments. Grid? Was the drum track a loop? Do you know how to move things to the grid and keep their natural feel? Yeah it's a skill.....
Thanks Dave - this is all good feedback. I can feel/hear the drums still as an issue though I think they sound better now. I'm going to woodshed a bit and see if I can come up with a solution that works better. I'm going to try to "play" the bass and snare parts, then populate the rest of the grid and see where that gets me.

EDIT TO ADD: First I'm going to line up the bass and snare hits with the guitar transients.
 

bouldersound

Real guitars are for old people.
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Jan 23, 2010
Location
Boulder, Colorado
Quick thoughts:

Mix 1: A lot is happening between 2kHz and 8kHz. There's some guitar action around 1kHz, then a gap between that and the LF stuff at 80Hz.

Mix 2: Drums seemed to be MIA on beats 1 and 3.

Mix 3: Generally pretty good. On a quick listen I didn't hear much that really stood out as unsatisfying.
 

DogsoverLava

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Jun 21, 2014
Location
Vancouver
OK -- so I rendered my drum track to better see how different hits were lining up to guitars and the rest of the track and what I found was I was waaaay behind the beat on drums..... this got me thinking about the timing and lagging drums maybe being an issue related to latency during recording and my Daw not handling it particularly well in compensation..... So for this render I took the same mix as last time and just pulled my drum tracks ahead, lining up the snare hits on a few obvious beats with the main guitar and I think it sounds better and more in time. I'm not saying this is the end of what I need to do but has this been one of the root issues with this track?
 

Davedog

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Dec 10, 2001
Location
Pacific NW
Better and you're getting what I've been talking about with the drums not lining up with the instruments.

Can you hear how much more impact the groove has now? And it's not even right yet!! Also how much clearer the drum sound is now that it is starting to get it's own space.

Keep working this concept. You're going in the right direction
 

DogsoverLava

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Jun 21, 2014
Location
Vancouver
So - a few changes - extended the verb on the snare to give it a longer decay and a bit more 80's crash.... Brought up the drums and increased balance between hats and room mics, and the rest of the kit. Continued to find the sweet spot for the drum tracks in terms of time - it's complicated because I'm still trying to work out some of the technical issues that are causing the time lag in relation to rendered tracks, and captured audio, plus audio processing in rendering.... It's way better than the original mixes...

And lastly I panned and leveled the guitar tracks in the pre-chorus differently which makes the mix way more exciting in those parts -- hopefully you get the interplay of all three guitar tracks there.

Guys - as always your help is so much appreciated. I need and want to be pushed out of my comfort zone - it's the only way to really learn - criticism has been amazing and spot on. Many thanks.

 

Davedog

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Joined
Dec 10, 2001
Location
Pacific NW
Much better. Talk about your latency problems you are experiencing. Most modern DAW's have some sort of delay compensation. Perhaps theres something that can be done to fix this problem.
 

DogsoverLava

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Jun 21, 2014
Location
Vancouver
Thanks @Davedog & @audiokid --- It's weird - I'm using Reaper - and it does compensate for latency -- and it also allows you to overide their compensation and input your own -- You can basically measure it. It may be that my computer has changed (gotten bogged down/slower?) since my last calibration (probably a year ago) so my latency might be really off from my settings. I may have to redo everything. I'll spend some time redoing this again (it's been so long I don't fully remember all the steps off the top of my head) and report back on it. Your feedback and encouragement has been invaluable - this track was frustrating the hell out of me and I couldn't figure out why.
 
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