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My First Submission for critique

Diving in.

This was recorded, mixed, and mastered all in a Tascam DP32 recorder. No DAW

I hope to drop my tracks into a DAW someday.

Just me on all tracks vocals and instruments

I struggle getting warmth to my mixes. Wondering if a good preamp would help my cause

Especially on the mandolin.

Thanks

Ben

Ps. Song cover of Mandolin Orange

https://recording.o…

Attached files HEY Stranger Mix 2.mp3 (3.2 MB) 

Comments

Boswell Fri, 07/07/2017 - 08:09

I liked the song and the performance, and well done in the multi-tracking. However, I felt there were some problems in the mixing/production, particularly the instruments pumping with the compression triggered by the vocals. Was compression applied at the 2-bus mix as well as (or instead of) at the vocal bus? I also got the feeling that the instruments were not all "in the same room" in terms of their acoustic and any effects applied.

Nice track, though.

Ben Davis Fri, 07/07/2017 - 14:39

Boswell, post: 451235, member: 29034 wrote: I liked the song and the performance, and well done in the multi-tracking. However, I felt there were some problems in the mixing/production, particularly the instruments pumping with the compression triggered by the vocals. Was compression applied at the 2-bus mix as well as (or instead of) at the vocal bus? I also got the feeling that the instruments were not all "in the same room" in terms of their acoustic and any effects applied.

Nice track, though.

Thanks all for comments

Boswell: your comment on instruments being in the same room is a good one for me to shoot for

Regarding compression. This is still a mystery to me recording acoustically. I mainly add compression during the mastering in the final mixed master track

I may have I had a tad bit on the vocals going in during the recording take in this song also. Can't remember.@

But I think I may be over using compression. And that might be what mistaking for the mix lacking warmth. Instruments can sound too "digital" to my ear

I will try to learn more about using compression and when not to!

Thanks again

I ordered a new Miktek Mpa-201 preamp to work with. Hope to share work with that when I get the time

Cheers

Ben

pcrecord Sat, 07/08/2017 - 06:26

I got time to listen to your song in my studio.

First thing I heard, the lead vocal isn't in the center (it's a bit on the left). Without being a problem, it isn't common. Most people are more confortable and interpelled when the lead voice is centered.
Actually most solos or important melodies have more impact when being dead center. (guitar solo etc..)

So yes, I would rethink the pannings. at some point you have more energy on the right channel and other places it switch to the left. It's a bit disturbing.
You can hard pan rithme instruments but try to keep the same level of energy and frequencies on both sides. If you put an instrument with alot of HF on one side and nothing to back it up on the other side. it will draw a lot of attention to it.
And you main melody will suffer.

Just my humble opinion, of course ;)

As for compression. it could breath more. The loudness war is fading.. for acoustic music like that you can compress a lot less.

Ben Davis, post: 451249, member: 50672 wrote: Regarding compression. This is still a mystery to me recording acoustically. I mainly add compression during the mastering in the final mixed master track

The main use of compression is to reduce dynamics. Unless an instrument jumps at you on some notes, you don't need compression. If volume is the issue, you can use volume automation. (most DAW have it)
The thing with compression is that, it reacts more to the low frequencies. So the bass can make the rest of the instruments dock if the compressor isn't set properly.
These days, more and more compressor plugins have embeded side chain fonctions that will let you set a highpass filter affecting the detection.. This is very handy !

Ben Davis Sat, 07/08/2017 - 09:25

Fantastic feedback. Thanks to all. I will certainly work on this more

"Allowing the breath more". That is exactly the description my songs need. I'm certain I'm over compressing

I don't use a DAW software. It's all done start to finish on the one recorder. The compression I'm putting on my TAscam DP32 Porta studio during the mastering stage must be the culprit

Cheers

Ben

pcrecord Sun, 07/09/2017 - 05:30

Ben Davis, post: 451257, member: 50672 wrote: It's all done start to finish on the one recorder. The compression I'm putting on my TAscam DP32 Porta studio

Interesting ! Nonetheless you got it working well so far ..
I hope you realise that mixing and mastering are two different step of a production.
Simply put, mixing aim for making the tracks work together and mastering aim for making the songs work together and with the commercial music of the same genre. (hard to tell the level of newcomers.. sorry if you know all that)

It used to be rare that the same person would mix and master an album and it was almost never done with the same equipment and in the same room.
But with today's home studio, we try to do everything with budget equipement and it's harder to be accurate. When we start learning the craft, doing everything often meens failling at everything...

Thing is evendo I sometime need to do everything on an album, I still use different tools for mixing and mastering. Same base software (Sonar) but different plugins.
What I also try to do if possible with the customer is to let time between the 2 phases to be more detatched from it.
It's very easy to get used to something wrong from the tracking to mixing to mastering phase.
Having a mastering engineer you can trust doing the final touch is great if you can afford it.

Note for anyone finding this thread : to this date, online automatic mastering sites are just a waste and should be avoided !

DonnyThompson Mon, 07/10/2017 - 22:10

Over compression can result in thinner sounding tracks, along with the "pumping" that Boswell (Boswell) mentioned. Perhaps this is part of what is causing you to think that your tracks lack "warmth".
As Marco (pcrecord ) mentioned, the "loudness wars" are fading. Allow your mixes to have a pleasing dynamic range. Especially with acoustic tracks, there's no need to "master" your mixes as hot as what has been done in the past. Setting your GR (gain reduction) (compressor, limiter) to have your audio at a -6db RMS/LUFS with peaks at -0.5 is going to adversely effect your dynamics, and dynamics (softer passages, louder passages) are an inherent part of well mixed and mastered songs, especially when you're doing acoustic based styles. Dynamics make music pleasing to listen to, and over compression can result in thin and even harsh-sounding sonics.
You don't always need to have the compression obviously audible for it to be doing its job, either.
As mentioned above, Consider using volume envelopes to smooth out those parts that really jump out, and then start light with compression to smooth things out a bit, and also, go light at first when limiting your "mastered" 2 mix.
Dynamic ranges are returning; with perhaps the exception of EDM or HipHop styles, there's just no need to crush the crap out of the dynamic range anymore.
Understand ... I'm not saying to not use gain reduction on your individual tracks and/or master mix bus ... these can be very useful tools ... I'm suggesting to go easy with it to start. Find the balance that gives you a nice "gel" on your mix but that doesn't overdo it. Each song is its own animal, so you might want to stay away from "presets" on your various gain reduction processors. What works for one mix may - or may not - work well on another. Take each song and mix and process it in context with that song.
When it comes time to put together a collection of songs (album release, etc), then you can add another stage of GR to give the whole project a flow and continuity.
I would be remiss if I didn't also suggest the option of using a real mastering engineer when it comes time to put your songs together in a collection. Mastering is a skill, a craft of its own, with acoustically well-balanced rooms a s top notch monitoring...and along with getting that mastering engineer's talent, you are also getting a pair of fresh ears to be objective about the mixes.
FWIW
-d

Ben Davis Wed, 08/02/2017 - 09:19

OK...back from vacation...had a day to redo that tune.

I re-recorded it all... did this entire thing all in three hours so my "performance" may be lacking...but I'm more interested in the change (or lack there off.)...in my sound

I used a different mic: Miktek C7e Large Diaphram for all tracks.

I also used the newly purchased Miktek MP-201 2 channel PreAmp.

I did not use any compression at all on the lines in nor during mixdown. Compression Free.

I did a little EQ ing.....especially rolled a lot of bass off the acoustic guitar...that Miktek C7 grabs it all!

I have only listened on headphones during mixdown (and crapy computer speakers right now...)

Anyhow...I don't hear any "pumping" ...seems to "breath" more.

Thoughts welcome...

Ben

[MEDIA=audio]https://recording.o…

Attached files Hey Stranger v3.mp3 (3.2 MB) 

pcrecord Wed, 08/02/2017 - 11:05

I'm using very bad headphones at work but here's my first reaction :
First thing I noticed is noise. Did you record some tracks with low levels and had to boost them up ? Were you far from the mic ?
Gain staging is so important. Tracks should register around -18db average in your DAW.
It also helps the plugins performances because most of them have been designed to receive this kind of level.
Try to pinpoint which track, change the mic placement and preamp gain until you get less noises.
Also your preamp has impedance adjustment, you can try to switch it 300, 600, or 1,200-ohm
Do you still use the same recorder ? make sure you put the input to line and lower the volume on it and let the Miktek preamp do is thing.

Now I might be fooled by my poor headphones.
I'll try to listen to it at my studio tonight ;)

Ben Davis Wed, 08/02/2017 - 11:18

Noise must be from the new Pre amp...and me not having it set up correctly. I had the empedance set at 1200 ohm....and the preamp gains on my Tascam Recorder set at zero.

I'll admit...I struggled getting the hiss out of the Preamp. And did not record at -18db... it was closer to -10-8ish...

Wow..that seems low...but with digital I suppose that's the way to go to not "print" noise....then boost up later at mix time

Also: that noise could be my new mic grabing my refrigerator compressor coming down thru the wall from upstairs to my basement......if hiss then it was preamp.......if a low hummm...then maybe the damn fridge came thru!

Thanks,

Ben

Boswell Wed, 08/02/2017 - 15:28

Well that sounds like a different song! Yes, there was some noise, but it was not ruining the overall effect. I think some care with the level adjustments should be able to get it down to an unnoticeable level (I didn't say "inaudible").

That said, two things worry me about this second take.

One is the electric guitar that comes in around 01:50. At least, the first picked notes are around then, but the old telephone line it was recorded down cuts in a few seconds ahead of that. Sorry that I'm being rude about it, but the tone and ambience of that instrument is so far from that of the other tracks that it's hard to believe it belongs in the same song. Could you give some details about how that track was recorded?

The other thing is that your new mic and pre-amp are lovely, but they are everywhere! They shine particularly on the vocals (that combo even brings out that you were quite tired by the time you did that take), but the secret of a good mix is that is is a combination of different characters as well as different instruments, and a large part of the character comes from the mic/pre-amp combination. I did actually yearn for one of the prominent tracks to have been recorded with your older microphone or through your older pre-amp so that it had a difference that was re-assuring. Some people borrow a term from cookery and call it "flavour". It's one of those things that has to be done at time of tracking - it can't be applied afterwards. On a like-minded tack, it's often beneficial to track each instrument in a different place in the room so the microphone is not picking up the same reflection times for every track.

Maybe I'm being over-judgemental - it's a great song. Well done.

Ben Davis Wed, 08/02/2017 - 15:38

Boswell, post: 451777, member: 29034 wrote: Well that sounds like a different song! Yes, there was some noise, but it was not ruining the overall effect. I think some care with the level adjustments should be able to get it down to an unnoticeable level (I didn't say "inaudible").

That said, two things worry me about this second take.

One is the electric guitar that comes in around 01:50. At least, the first picked notes are around then, but the old telephone line it was recorded down cuts in a few seconds ahead of that. Sorry that I'm being rude about it, but the tone and ambience of that instrument is so far from that of the other tracks that it's hard to believe it belongs in the same song. Could you give some details about how that track was recorded?

The other thing is that your new mic and pre-amp are lovely, but they are everywhere! They shine particularly on the vocals (that combo even brings out that you were quite tired by the time you did that take), but the secret of a good mix is that is is a combination of different characters as well as different instruments, and a large part of the character comes from the mic/pre-amp combination. I did actually yearn for one of the prominent tracks to have been recorded with your older microphone or through your older pre-amp so that it had a difference that was re-assuring. Some people borrow a term from cookery and call it "flavour". It's one of those things that has to be done at time of tracking - it can't be applied afterwards. On a like-minded tack, it's often beneficial to track each instrument in a different place in the room so the microphone is not picking up the same reflection times for every track.

Maybe I'm being over-judgemental - it's a great song. Well done.

Wow...this feedback is really incredible and really motivating...I hope to learn enough down the road to repay.

All your comments are spot on: The electric guitar effect was tossed on for a laugh really...that is actually my 30 year old Martin D35 run thru an amp simulator on that track after playing it just raw into my new preamp via a 1/4" guitar cable. My Martin is equipted with a very nice sounding LR Baggs dual pickup. I think I will re record with my resonator axe.

Again: using different mics and preamps and room location makes so much sense to give depth and character...will work on that in the future.

Thanks again!

Ben

pcrecord Thu, 08/03/2017 - 02:45

Ben Davis, post: 451773, member: 50672 wrote: the preamp gains on my Tascam Recorder set at zero.

That might be it. If there isn't a clean path to converter on the tascam, you are doing a preamp in a preamp.
I guess the best thing is to set one input to line and put it to 1/4 at a starting point. This will force you to put down the gain on you external preamp and maybe get rid of that noise.
But this sadly indicate that you are not recording the new preamp clean but through the tascam preamp's circuit which may alter the sound. To what extend ??

On a better listening environement than before, I can say the song sound good. A bit too sparkle on the top end but not bad.
The noise is still there and may not disturb others (just me who is picky about it) ;)

I agree with Bos, having the same mic and pre on everything doesn't help seperation and we get build ups rapidly.

Keep doing it, I enjoy your work !

Ben Davis Wed, 08/16/2017 - 07:15

Ok Gentlemen..

Recorded this with taking some of your combined inputs from last submission

1. Vocal and Guitar on one take with two different large diaphragm mics three feet away and three feet apart with me singing at the other point of that triangle
2. Used different mics for overdubbed instruments without the preamp
3. Used the Miktek preamp for vocals and Bass. It really makes the bass fat and crisp now.

This of course is a James Taylor cover

[MEDIA=audio]https://recording.o…

Attached files Gorilla v1.mp3 (3 MB) 

kmetal Wed, 08/16/2017 - 10:50

Excellent all around. Sounds as good as any other mixes comercial or otherwise here on my phone / Bluetooth.

Being crazy picky, I like the dynamics throughout, but I would automate the line 'thousand miles from here' as it gets a little edgey. It sounds like digital edge vs pre amp or mic or hardware compressor clipping. It could also be a gain stage in the virtual signal chain as well. About a minute after that line there's one more that does it. Otherwise I'd call this perfect. I wouldn't touch anything but hose two things. If it is a gain staging thing, I'd duplicate the track and adjust for just those lines. The rest is quite good.

Again I'm being hyper super critical and it could be my listening setups limitations as well. It's quite a good track. Great work.

Ben Davis Wed, 08/16/2017 - 12:01

kmetal, post: 452133, member: 37533 wrote: Excellent all around. Sounds as good as any other mixes comercial or otherwise here on my phone / Bluetooth.

Being crazy picky, I like the dynamics throughout, but I would automate the line 'thousand miles from here' as it gets a little edgey. It sounds like digital edge vs pre amp or mic or hardware compressor clipping. It could also be a gain stage in the virtual signal chain as well. About a minute after that line there's one more that does it. Otherwise I'd call this perfect. I wouldn't touch anything but hose two things. If it is a gain staging thing, I'd duplicate the track and adjust for just those lines. The rest is quite good.

Again I'm being hyper super critical and it could be my listening setups limitations as well. It's quite a good track. Great work.

Thanks Kyle! Really appreciate the comments. I will listen again to hone in on your points

Ben

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