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Hello everyone. Got an instrumental song and can't work out how to get drums sound 'inside the mix'. I'm guessing the reason is wrong reverb settings for the drum track. Also maybe the idea of how the drums go does not fit into the concept of the song.

Hoping for your help.

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DonnyThompson Wed, 04/08/2015 - 01:35

The drums don't sound bad - they just don't seem to fit. They seem "separated" from the rest of the mix, and, volume level aside, the reverb is a big part of it - it seems to be fighting the sonic "vibe" of the other instrumentation.

You've got the song starting with a synthy-organ thing, with a kind of ethereal sound to it, (hall reverb and delay?) and whether the reverb/delay that is there is built-in to the patch, or whether you added it afterwards, it's much more "hall" - like than the drums, which have a much more open and ambient room sound to them.

Working with different reverbs is tough, especially when they are different kinds of reverbs. It sounds like you have a room reverb on the horns, a room reverb on the drums, and then a hall reverb with delay on the other parts. Doing it this way will have a tendency to result in tracks that sound less cohesive, less "glued" together, because the sonics of the processing is so drastically different, and it draws your ear away from the song as a whole, and makes you focus in on just the drums.

You may want to try drying up the drums.... start with no reverb, and tuck them back into the mix, further than you think you should at first. Then, add a little compression to the drum bus - go easy at first - and slowly bring up the level of the drums so that you are mixing them into the compressor. Then, set up an aux with a reverb that you use for everything; whether this is a room, hall, chamber or plate, is a matter of taste - personally, I'd stay away from room-type reverbs on this song and look more towards a hall or chamber type verb, but whichever you choose, you should choose just one, instead of mixing different types together. You could decide at that point how much of this reverb to add to the drums, or, you might find that they work well without it.

But - if you do decide to add reverb, try a mix where all the instrumentation shares the same reverb. This could go a long way to help to make the song's instrumentation all fit together better.



pcrecord Wed, 04/08/2015 - 03:06

Songs created with samples and vsti, hardly fit in the recording section but, I'm with Donny, a part of the problem is the ambiance. If the instruments shared the same space, they would sound more natural. Also, the drums seems brighter than the rest of the track and it create again more separation.

DonnyThompson Wed, 04/08/2015 - 04:43

It really is very dependent on the instrumentation - as Marco mentioned, VSTi's can be a bit difficult to meld together - not that it's impossible, it's done every day in studios everywhere, but you have to sort of pick and choose your sonics so that they compliment each other, and don't force a separation between each other. That drum kit sound you have happening now, in that it sounds open and natural, would probably work well with a song that has real bass and guitars, but, it might not be the best choice for a song like this that is largely synth based. I say "might", because it's more of a production call than it is engineering - and it's not always only about getting even levels and balances between tracks. Sometimes, it's more about the type of instrumentation used.

And, it's not always easy to find instruments that "sit" well together into a cohesive and complimentary way.

Chris (audiokid), a seasoned engineer here, (and the RO's owner) once gave an example of hearing songs where the parts were so sonically different, that he likened it to landing a space ship into the middle of a colonial village LOL... now, this might be an extreme description for your situation, but the point he made, and one that I feel is accurate, is that you need to be choosy when it comes to combining certain instruments.

I can't think of a better way to put it, other than that the drum sound you have now sounds "too natural" for a track like this. You may want to look at altering that, so that it works better with the other parts.

But, that's just a suggestion. The problem with presenting a scenario like this to a forum full of engineers and producers is that you are likely to get many different answers - and none of them are even wrong, per say...just different, because we all have our own individual styles and ways of mixing.

You just need to find the best approach that works for you. In the end, it doesn't really matter what we think. What really matters is what you think. ;)

Chris Perra Fri, 04/10/2015 - 04:40

Coo tune...I'd start by grouping everything but the drums and turn them down. Right now the kick and snare are just barely poking through. Try turning down the hi hat a bit and getting a balance that if you turn your volume really low you can hear the kick and snare as well as the leads. Right now I hear lots of rhythm guitar and leads. Try and get the kick and snare sounding good at a regular listening volume. Then using that balance match the snare with the leads at a low volume. Also the synth sounds are huge sounding frequency wise so they eat up alot of the same freq space as the kick and snare. You can probably get the drums to sit using volume levels and a bit of compression but you might have to make some space with the synth freqs to make room.

dvdhawk Fri, 04/10/2015 - 10:04

DonnyThompson, post: 427775, member: 46114 wrote: The problem with presenting a scenario like this to a forum full of engineers and producers is that you are likely to get many different answers - and none of them are even wrong, per say...just different, because we all have our own individual styles and ways of mixing.

Donny's absolutely right, there's no accounting for taste especially from detached observers who don't know anything about what kind of vibe you're trying to convey.

I don't know what 'concept' you're going for obviously, but sonically speaking there's not much room in the spectrum left for drums and everything is already awash in reverb and delay. My taste would run towards turning the 'organ-like pad' off for the time being and pushing the drums up until they were closer to the level of the plucky arpeggiated guitar parts. To my ear, the organ pad that starts the song is dominating when it should be supporting after the first few measures. So I'd bypass all the reverbs and try to get the plucky part and the drums working together. When I had those two things playing nice, I'd try to find a reverb setting that take definition from the drums. Then I'd try to find where the bass part needs to sit. The bass line glides around, not giving it much of a pulse. The bass part has to glide like it does, because the same notes with a more defined bass sound would be distracting, so I think you've made the right call there. All the more reason why the drums will need to drive it. Then when I had this foundation built, I'd see if the horn parts sounded good enough to go up where the plucky part sits volume-wise. If you're trying to pass them off as real horns, you may need to find better horn samples. The plucky guitar, the horns, and the solo-synth all seem to take turns in the spotlight. If thats the case, they need to be equals. Then lastly I'd add enough of the organ pad to tie it all together once you get into the song.

But again, that's how I'd come at this, do with that what you will - or ignore completely.

Good luck.