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Hi guys,
My band recently went back in my small studio for the first time in a year. It turns out that having babies takes out quite a chunk of you spare time...

This one is a straightforward rock/hard rock song. 2 guitars, bass, drums, female vocal. Called More Than Rock n Roll, and featuring banal and narcissitic lyrics.

Preamps are the preamps in my Yamaha MG10-2 mixer
Guitars are recorded with a SM-57 close and a GA-1 condenser far. Bass likewise, though I recorded it directly as well.
Vocals are using the same GA-1 mic.
Drums are recoded with a MIDI set - sounds are from Addictive Drums.

Let me hear what you think - do not be gentle :) I want to become better at this.

Mp3 320:

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EDIT: The version uploaded here features horrible compression of the drums. I made some adjustments to them, and wanted to turn them up quite a bit afterwards. I made the mistake of turning up the master fader in the Addictive Drums plugin instead of the fader in the Cubase mixer. This meant that I hit the compressor very hard. This should have been immidiately obvious, but my tired ears did not pick it up. I have left the version here as a prime example of how bad ear fatigue can get. See below for a better version.

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anonymous Tue, 03/18/2014 - 06:26

Lots of undefined low end there.... very "boomy" sounding. Vocals are decent, not harsh or sibilant, but they are lacking emotion and "performance". They are on pitch, but are also fairly bland sounding.

It sounds like you have a lot of compression/limiting on the 2-bus. It's pretty squashed. I understand that the drums are samples but they need to "open up" a bit. The toms on the intro lack punch and clarity.

Guitars and Bass are mushing together to the point where it's hard to define one from the other. You may want to try some panning on the guitars, and roll off your low end below 160 Hz or so to create a bit more separation and definition. Also, and I know you were only looking for critique on the mix, but anytime you have the bass guitar playing the same parts as the guitars are, you'll run into the problem of lack of definition.
If the bass player is following the guitar line, or vice versa, then there's no distinguishable part to separate the performances.

You didn't mention your room/mixing/listening environment. This will contribute quite a bit to how you mix.

oynaz Tue, 03/18/2014 - 15:30

Hi DonnyThompson, thanks for the reply.

My mixing environment is not the best. I mix in my living room. I have arranged it with an ear towards acoustics, so it is not terrible. I am currently rebuilding my basement, and will include a mixing room there :)
Honestly, my monitors are a bigger problem. They are rather poor, and I have had problems with the low middle before. Hmm, I still think like a poor student, don't I?

There! New and better monitors ordered :)

I agree about the vocals. They are a little bland. I will ask her to do another take this monday.

I got a little too cute about compressing bass and guitar on a seperate track. I wanted punch, but got mud. I have turned that one off, and it helped. The guitars were already panned wide and low cut.

I switched to another tom in the intro. The power of samples. Better now, IMO.

You are right about the arrangement making the bass and the guitar difficult to distinguish, but that is a choice we made. When one guitar is doing palmmuted 1/8ths in drop d for the entire song, the bass takes a back seat. Philip (the bass player) can show off in some of our other songs :)

I have uploaded a new version. Your take on that would be cool.

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anonymous Wed, 03/19/2014 - 05:19

An improvement. Backing off on the gain reduction made a difference. The rhythm guitar still seems muddy to me, though.

You may want to try rolling off more lows/low mids on your room/ambient mic. I can't say for certain but it sounds as if that mic may be picking up low end issues in the room.

And while I'm mostly a strong proponent for using real amps as opposed to amp sim plugs, you may want to consider re-amping the direct mic - the 57 - through an amp sim (or even back through the amp you used initially) to see what tones you may be able to get. Also, when doing so, pull that room mic out of the mix and focus more on the direct mic.... or at least, don't re-amp the room mic, and be very conservative about how much of it you use in the final mix.

Another thing you may want to consider is to use more hi-pass filtering on your tracks. If you find yourself adding low end frequencies to tracks like vocals, guitars, cymbals, etc., then all you are doing is adding useless low end energy that will clutter a mix... for example, if you have 80 hz added to a guitar track, or 90-100hz added to female vox or cymbals, you are adding frequencies to instruments that can't reproduce those frequencies in their natural state to begin with, and all you are doing is adding low end energy for no benefit - to the contrary, it's actually detrimental.

You don't need to pan dramatically to separate or define tracks. Sometimes just a little bit will do the job. I noticed that you threw those guitars pretty wide. My suggestion regarding panning was to give you a direction to look at. Yes, you want separation and definition, but you don't want it to the point where it's too separated, because at that point the mix starts to sound "unnatural". Take these suggestions in small steps to begin with.

The only other thing you can do is to improve the sonics of your mixing/listening environment. This is the most overlooked aspect of the "home studio". And, you need to determine what kind(s) of treatment you need. Simply attaching several 1" auralex foam tiles to the wall is not really considered to be "treatment". It also won't do a thing for low end problems, contrary to popular - yet inaccurate - opinion.

Perhaps new monitors are in order, but to add these without treating the room as well is a bit pointless. Depending on the size of your room, I'd suggest that you stick with monitors that have a 5" - 6" speaker. I wouldn't go much bigger than that at this point, or at least not until you find out where you are going to end up and to what degree of improvement that space will need.

Don't take just my word for it. There are many posts here on this forum about room treatment. I'd suggest you go through them and see what you can learn.
There are people here who have far more knowledge than I do on the subject.

kmetal Thu, 03/20/2014 - 03:11

Sounds like some bass trapping would be a good idea, along w the filtering eq that D mentioned. I have no prob hi pas filtering hats as high as 300hz and then even adding some 10k or so. Part of that is my taste I guess, I just don't like any whoosh, or cchhhsshhhhh is my hats, just tsssssss, is that makes sense. I would even reconsider the hat part to a fully closed tick, w perhaps a slight subtle rythmic accent, like a triplet or something every 2 or 4 bars.

Cymbals are a focus of my attention these days as a lot of recorded cymbals get on my nerves by being harsh, too loud, or sloshy. I like sweet subtle cymbals, maybe some work on them would help them sound a bit less boxy? Which is usually the sign of a smaller, untreated room, and/or not great cymbal set. Lol sorry to make you a victim of my current engineering obsession which is cymbals, and why some of them are recorded awesome, and others not so much:) Not sure what drum replacement program your using but drummagog 5 has some special feature for hi hats, I for get exactly what it is but it's on the site, is think it's supposed. To more accurately track how open or closed that hats are more accurately.

Also maybe a bit more top on the kick? It's not existent on my iPad, which obviously is limited bandwidth and really not even qualified for this type of listening, but most of the pro recordings I hear on it, the kick pattern is detectable, not the lows, but the attack.

anonymous Thu, 03/20/2014 - 09:23

"...but most of the pro recordings I hear on it, the kick pattern is detectable, not the lows, but the attack."

Yeah, as you already mentioned, that's going to rely on what you are listening through. You can get that 'click" of the beater striking the head on nearly every speaker, but getting that warm, low, "thud" requires speakers that can reproduce the frequencies where those tonal properties exist.

LOL...I certainly don't get that pleasing low-end "oomph" of a kick drum on my iPhone / iPad speakers.

oynaz Mon, 03/24/2014 - 13:56

Thanks for the replies. It really helps a lot.

Regarding treating the room: I actually know quite a bit about acoustic treatment of rooms. That is why my current room, the living room, is merely poor instead of terrible :) I will definitely ask a lot in here when I get around to making my mixing room. I definitely need new monitors though. The ones I got really are el cheapo.

I changed quite a lot in this version.

I normally always put a hi-pass filter on the hihat and cymbals. Actually, I do that on everything, except possibly bass and kick drum. I had actully forgotten to do this on hihats and cymbals this time. This is done now. It did not make too much of a difference - the samples I use are quite quiet in the low end already. I use Addictive Drums BTW.
You are right about the kick drum lacking punch. I fiddled around with it, before going back to basics. I yanked all compressors affecting the kick, Added 15 velocity, rebalanced the entire kit, and that made quite a difference. I made an FX track for the kick as well. Here, I used an Q to sweep until I had only the sound of the beater hitting the skin. I brought this into the mix, until the kick was clearly defined. The drums are better now, but I did I overdo the kick?

Palm-muted Drop-D Fender:
I turned off everything but the SM57. Also, I got more aggressive with an EQ, and made a steep cut around 200 Hz. And DonnyThompson was right about the sound of it. It lacked something. I raided the Cubase EQ presets, and came across one called Metal Master or something. This scooped the low mids and slightly boosted bass end high mids+treble. I liked it, and liked it even better when I removed the bass boost. So no reamping for now.
Additionally, I changed the pan to 30 instead of 100.
Guitar 2:
Changed panning to 30. Some slight balancing between the parts.

Bass: Here I turned off everything but the SM57 as well. Also, aggressive EQ cuts, again around 200 Hz. This got rid of a lot of the mud. The bass lacked definition, so I made a narrow boost around 200 Hz, where the attack was.

I am more pleased with the sound now. It still feels a little boxed in, though. I am unsure if this is something I should fix in the mix, of if it is more of a mastering thing?

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kmetal Tue, 03/25/2014 - 01:18

on ipad again lol, id still put like some 10k on the kick. i do it all the time for rock and metal. even tho the beater realistically lives around 3-5k, 10k boost will bring out the slap of the skin and help cut thru a dense mix, it doesn't have to be a huge boost, but t can be substantial if you need it. ii like it cuz it adds presence w out being boomy or taking up vocal/guitar frequencies. so it adds presence and attack, but stays kinda out of the way. its basically just cymbal, and vocal air up there. i read that in guitar world a fee years ago in an article about metal mixing, an ive been using it on almost every kick ruum i mix/record since, unless is like blues or something, but anything dense lik rock/pop/metal even hip hop, i love it...

realistically id have to listen on some of myy speakers to make significant judgements, but im just going of comparisons of other songs i listen to on the pad

RemyRAD Tue, 03/25/2014 - 01:29

I rather like the song. Your guys appear to play it quite well. The vocalist sounds good. You don't need to rerecord her. You just need to mix it right. But that can be a problem if your monitoring system is a compromise? Believe me, nothing is ever perfect sounding in any control rooms unless you have spent beaucoup dineros on creating a dead box basement studio.

So you've ordered yourself a pair of decent, low-cost monitors? Good. That's a start in the right direction. But who knows what they're going to sound like in your room? Only time will tell. Now without changing the acoustic signature of your environment, what sounded great in the store, might be a far departure from what you're going to get? It happens. I've purchased monitor speakers only to turn around and immediately return them because they sounded like crap in my control room. They sounded great in other control rooms I've worked with them in. But like crap in mine. In the end, I seem to keep going back to monitors I've been using since the 1970s. Except for my KRK's which I got in the 1990s LOL. Sure there are other speakers that sound better. How much money you got?

Here's what I think you should do? I think you should upload your multi-track files to Dropbox. I'll mix it on the FOSTEX, 6301, 4 inch powered monitor speakers. And all ITB with old software. So let's have at it? Don't give me any MIDI files. Give me tracks. Let's see what I can do with software from the 1990s? I promise, I won't even use any plug-ins outside of the program. It'll take me about one half hour. Then it'll rock your socks off. Not like this wimpy snarky stuff you are trying to pass on to us LOL. You're playing with too much damned fast attack, fast release, dynamics processing and questionable EQ. It's simple. This is good rock 'n roll you recorded.

Extracurricular activities are good.
Mx. Remy Ann David

audiokid Tue, 03/25/2014 - 02:12

Check out QuarterFlash from the 80's. Its a similar sound here. It will help tune your mix in.

The recording is decent, some volumes tweaks would do it wonders! Vocals need to come up 3 to 5db. A good trick is turn your monitors down until you can hardly hear anything. Listen for what is popping out.

Doing this on my monitors, the guitar is most dominant. Vocals are smothered.






oynaz Tue, 03/25/2014 - 14:56

Thanks for the kind words.

Boost kick drum at 10 Khz? I have not considered that. Will give it a shot.

The audio files are here:
Give it a shot if you want. I have not done an export this way before. Forgive me if I screwed up, and let me know how.
24bit 48Khz wave files, by the way.

(The file is currently uploading, give it an hour or so from the time of this post. I am off to bed).