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The Reckoning - original song mix advice

Here's a new song of mine - came together pretty quick - interested in any mix critique and also strategies to tame the lead vocal - I'm not sure exactly what I'm trying to do - I don't think it's just volume envelope I'm after, but I don't know if I need some sort of compression or limiter or something to keep it out front but taming the idiosyncratic phrases or loud parts. I'm not sure how you guys accomplish that.

Many Thanks

The Reckoning Mix#2
http://recording.or…

EDIT TO ADD: There are some weird enunciation things I've got to fix on a couple of vocal lines -- particularly the line "for your mean" in the chorus. I made the mistake of trying to sing the American "R". should have sung it "fo' yo' mean"

Here's a mix with fixed articulations - Once I heard them I couldn't leave them.
The Reckoning MIX#3

http://recording.or…

The Reckoning Mix#4
I dropped the main vocal 2.5 db, and took out some mids on the master

http://recording.or…

Attached files

The Reckoning Mix2.mp3 (10.2 MB)  The Reckoning Mix3.mp3 (10.3 MB)  The Reckoning Mix4.mp3 (10.3 MB) 

Comments

pcrecord Sun, 07/03/2016 - 04:27

Nice song
I found the bass drum to be a bit thin and it could be louder.
I like the Mix3 better, if this get to mastering having the vocal a bit louder will help. Althought you could automate volume changes for parts that may be a bit too loud... but I feel it's less than 2.5db and you might leave it like that to send to mastering...

Many songs I hear have too many instruments and we end up with a messy mix. Yours is breath and have space, I like that. Maybe you could add some more element at the end of the song. Some lead vocal impro or a percussion and/or a low volume lead guitar.. (just a suggestion)

Other than Great job !! ;)

DogsoverLava Sun, 07/03/2016 - 11:54

Thanks PC - I think you are right about that kick - I gave it a little boost here plus I notched up the vocals a wee bit (and added a tiny bit of pitch correction on the vocals because I'm vain). I think you are also right about needing something on the end. There's no guitar solo here - I had to cut that section to try to tame the song length as it was running into 6 minutes at one point - but some punctuated guitar or vocal lines at the end would really ramp up the energy I think. I was hoping the slide guitar would accomplish that but it fits in more as a part. I'll work on that a bit and see if I can come up with anything that doesn't sound arbitrary.

You mentioned leaving the vocals louder for the purposes of mastering --- does that related to the video Audiokid posted here? Seeing how the mastering guy could isolate the vocals (centre) from the sides and treat them in the mastering process was really interesting to me.

As a producer my inexperience leads me to more simple and classic tones and textures so you'll see throwbacks to old school vocal harmonies, and relatively straight forward instrumentation (because that's what I have at hand) as I train my ear in knitting things together. This song was a challenge for me because I wanted to modernize the sound a wee bit but still keep sort of a classic Americana style rock song (with countryesque roots) with catchy hooks and some neat rhythmic interplay in the guitar parts.

[MEDIA=audio]http://recording.or…

Attached files

The Reckoning Mix5.mp3 (10.3 MB) 

DogsoverLava Tue, 07/05/2016 - 12:58

The more I listen the more I realize the vocal track just sucks so I will re-record it and really try to nail it.
I'm looking at this as more of a songwriting showcase - the idea being to sell someone on the idea of recording the song (I have several in this genre) so I'm trying to leave enough personality in the track to sell it but enough space for someone to imagine themselves singing/performing it. Here's the same mix with the vocals removed - I'm wondering if I can do better with EQ on the various parts. Is it too "same sounding". Anything stand out good or bad here that needs a readdress now the vocals are out? I'm getting better at engineering/actual recording --- first track with mic'd guitar (the main dirty guitar) mic'd acoustics, almost no overdubs at all - most tracks single full passes - getting better generally at mixing but need more practice for sure. Every project is it's own learning lab. Many thanks

[MEDIA=audio]http://recording.or…

Attached files

The Reckoning Mix5-novocals.mp3 (10.1 MB) 

DogsoverLava Tue, 07/05/2016 - 17:10

Thanks again PC -- I've decided to re-do the vocal track in it's entirety but thought it would be interesting to post the mix with the vocals excluded here for some feedback as well. Now in general I like what I hear - I've got a pretty clean mix with the various parts spread over the stereo spectrum but part of me thinks it's still relatively plain. Am I missing something obvious to punch this up? Is there something I could or should try-out technique wise? Is this a dated sound? Is there a sound or direction this is calling out for? The genre is a bit of a throwback - americana/rock - does it need modernization or does it live well enough where it's at?

EDIT TO ADD: I listen to this and I think April Wine "Roller" kind of production sound... a bit dated for sure.

[MEDIA=audio]http://recording.or…

Attached files

The Reckoning Mix5-novocals.mp3 (10.2 MB) 

DogsoverLava Wed, 07/06/2016 - 18:10

I'll return with a new vocal track (and possibly a surprise addition to the track) -- One question I have is about the acoustic guitar you hear in the right side There are 4 guitar tracks (plus the two slide parts) on this: Lefts side - main dirty guitar, Centre rhythm guitar, Slightly right Nashville tuned guitar, then full right acoustic ------ is the acoustic too much? Does it work there? I kept it to connect the overall sound mix to it's Americana roots but am open to the idea of redistributing these guitars if you think it doesn't work.

pcrecord Thu, 07/07/2016 - 04:14

The acoustic guitar doesn't disturb me. But you may want to experiment sending an electric at its place and put the acoustic in the center..
The only reason I'd suggest that is because of frequency contents which are different on the sides. So the Center one could go to the right and the acoustic to the center..
Give it a try, you might like it.. if not leave it as it is.. you have an instrument full left, it's logical to have one full right..
Well at least in my mind it makes sens ;)

DogsoverLava Wed, 11/16/2016 - 21:01

Posting a new mix of this which features a few dynamics, lvl, and EQ changes as well as some cleaning up of the vocals and some time alignment of the backup vocals (using Melodyne for the first time). I just picked one section (a problematic one) to do some very basic pitch correction on as I taught myself how to use the program without all the horrible artifacts that can occur. It's amazing how it can change how you feel about a song (a couple of bad vocal notes can kill your love for sure).

[MEDIA=audio]http://recording.or…

Attached files

The Reckoning Nov-2016v1.mp3 (8.8 MB) 

Brother Junk Thu, 11/17/2016 - 12:19

I'm not a bonafide musician. But if you are interested in an opinion....

I like it a lot. I listened to quite a few of the mixes too. In my opinion, the last one is the clear winner. If anything, I would give the kick a tiny bit more. Just slightly. I feel like I get the impact but a tiny bit shy under it. The rest of the drums sound amazing in my opinion. I get a lot of the low end from the bass instrument and the drum stays a little hidden. I think the bass in the instrumentation being a little heavy leads to the vocal. I'm being super picky, fyi. And what do I know. But I would try a little bump at 40-50 on the kick track. Very subtle.

Your vocal to me sounds a little thin, but it kind of progresses to that. In the beginning it's better than the end. It sounds like a little bump somewhere in the 200-350 hz area, and maybe shave a little off around 3k? Again, I'm being extremely picky. And my studio is not the same caliber as you people's, but I would go through the vocal and automate some of the volume. A couple spots it's a lil soft or loud (the falsetto parts get loud for me, but that may be my environment).

Your falsetto is amazing man, wow. I'd kill to have that tone in falsetto. I kind of hate you a little bit now.

Please tell me your ugly... so that I can believe there is some sense of balance in the universe ; )

But seriously, it's really good. The mix, I would say is 93/100. For me, 100/100 is Dire Straits (I think every cd) or Focal Labs material. So what I mean to say is, it's pretty damn good lol. You may not even hear what I did, so, take it for what it's worth.

DogsoverLava, post: 443533, member: 48175 wrote: I taught myself how to use the program without all the horrible artifacts that can occur.

I use it all the time, and don't notice any artifacting. I'll pay more attention. I know people who can make a terrible singer sound amazing with melodyne. But it takes a long time to get that good with it. But I've had the opportunity (a few times) to be there when the vocal was recorded, and then hear it after Melodyne, and it's pretty amazing.

I tend to think more like a purist. I'd rather get it right than use Melodyne, but sometimes, people want to pay you to make 'em sound like a singer. But it doesn't need to be used as a total overhaul tool. Like you said, if you know how to use it, it can fix something that would be a pain in the neck otherwise. It's one of the craziest plug ins I know of, no matter how many times I use it, I'm amazed it can do what it does.

Really good song man.

**Edit - I'm not any kind of musician lol.

DogsoverLava Fri, 11/18/2016 - 12:17

Thanks man - much appreciated on the feedback. This was a good track for me to work with and I'm still revisiting it. The vocal take was always supposed to be scratch as I've had a persistent lung issue and cough hounding me all year which has played hell on my vocal cords. I DL'd the trial version of Melodyne and thought I'd give it a go on a couple of phrases that stood out where my vocal was shaky. Melodyne definitely has issues with male vocals and you really need to develop a skill set with it to get the most out of it. It took me hours to do what I did on just a few lines. As part of the process I redid the corrections from scratch about 8 or 9 times - each time getting better and quicker with higher qiuality results. What it taught me was the need for more mindfulness when I am singing. I have not sung since about 1991. Although I've had professional vocal training as part of the musical degree program I was in, I am so far from the days when I could sing any specific interval on demand that I have lost a lot of that skill set. As I corrected pitches in Melodyne I sat at the computer looking at the waves -- that visual feedback of my pitches and how I was locking into them or sliding into them showed me how lazy my singing had become and really helped me understand where I needed to concentrate on my technique. I think it will be interesting when my voice is solid enough to retrack this vocal because I suspect I will be much more purposeful with each take. I think Melodyne might be a great producer's tool during sessions to help give feedback to vocalists while tracking. I can imagine by looking at the graphic files in Melodyne you could tell a vocalist in real-time "try to lock the pitch from that slide on this particular consonant and tighten up the depth of the vibrato on you end phrases - particularly the tails." Essentially using something like Melodyne as a real time feedback tool to facilitate better takes not correct them.

As for my falsetto -- that's called use what you got -- and my wife doesn't sing so I just got me!. Funny thing -- with all the background vocals - I didn't correct any pitches. Some of my pitches on this and other BG tracks have been so locked on I've been surprised. Probably because my BG vocal lines are more note specific as opposed to word specific performances. I did use Melodyne to correct align the time so I didn't have any vocal tails stick out.

I'll keep playing with this though - There are things I still want to do with drums (maybe see if I can open up the pocket on those a bit like I did with Stairway) and I still want to do what I think PC recommended - change the array of where the guitars are currently panned in the mix and see how that changes things. I'll work on taming those vocal levels and revisit the EQ there too - the high parts of the vocal are slightly jarring to me as well.

Brother Junk Fri, 11/18/2016 - 12:42

I did forget to mention something now that you said it.

One of the bass guitars or pedal tone I forget, but it was panned L, and after a few listens it started to become fatiguing. It was almost like the panning for it was too one sided.

DogsoverLava, post: 443602, member: 48175 wrote: that's called use what you got

I don't have one at all. Literally, cannot make that flip into falsetto, there is nothing there. But, my point was, yours is gorgeous.

DogsoverLava, post: 443602, member: 48175 wrote: Essentially using something like Melodyne as a real time feedback tool to facilitate better takes not correct them.

I've never thought to use it that fast, but, yeah, the visual is helpful. I sometimes take pics of the melodyne screen and send it to the singer. It's helpful for me....I never knew I sang so flat.

I'm not that flat in my head....but the mic don't lie. My copy of Melodyne must be faulty.

bouldersound Sat, 11/26/2016 - 19:13

I think I would push the vocal up one or two dB, at least in spots. I would start with judicious use of clip gain adjustments. There may be some low-mid that needs cutting, around 250 perhaps.

I want to say turn up the guitars but it may be that they just need a little space, like an early reflection effect. They sound small against the drums. The bass could use more definition, a boost somewhere between 500 and 3k and/or a cut between 100 and 250, and maybe it could come up a little.

DogsoverLava Sun, 11/27/2016 - 12:23

I rode that vocal fader through the whole mix and tamed it quite a bit for this mix. Made the suggested adjustments to the bass to give it more clarity and definition and tried to get rid of the mud in the mix where some of the elements were competing for sonic space. Getting that balance between clarity and warmth is tough. Really had to take care of all the clip gain. I did also give the guitars a little bit more of the early reflections you were talking about so that it felt with the drums more - they are sonically more together here I think. All in all some very good suggestions guys. This is really helping me get inside these mixes and go deeper as I advance my skills and understanding here.

[MEDIA=audio]http://recording.or…

Attached files

The Reckoning Nov-2016v3.mp3 (9 MB) 

CrazyLuke Mon, 11/28/2016 - 01:12

So you've got the distortion guitar on the left side, and the overdrive near the right. In the rock genre, as a listener, I want to be ensconced in guitars, while still hearing the lead singer - maybe you could experiment on one mix where you have the dist guitar hard L/R with the second copy about 30 to 50 ms pushed forward. Then do the same on the OD guit, but at 25%L, 75% R. This could add fullness to your mix, which is improving as of v3.

Brother Junk Mon, 11/28/2016 - 05:49

CrazyLuke, post: 444639, member: 48048 wrote: maybe you could experiment on one mix where you have the dist guitar hard L/R with the second copy about 30 to 50 ms pushed forward

I read your whole post, but I'm curious exactly what this above is supposed to do? Does it not create a little confusion?

And the OP is well aware of the L panned guitar being a little fatiguing after a bit.

It's not even fatiguing @DogsoverLava , man, I don't know how to describe it....but after a little bit, that distorted guitar sound that is panned L starts to ride on your brain. "Fatiguing" makes it sound like it sounds bad. It sounds great....maybe it's a volume problem, I dunno....but that is the only thing left that I hear that is off. But I don't know how to tell you what it is about it....

But that is some quality sound and writing there bud. A+

DogsoverLava Mon, 11/28/2016 - 11:56

Here's the isolated guitars from that same mix so you can hear better how they are arranged.

  1. Guitar 1 - main distorted riff, 80%L
  2. Guitar 2 - Rhythm G, centre
  3. Guitar 3 - Nashville tuned, staccato rhythm, 75%R
  4. Guitar 4 - Acoustic Rhythm, 94%R
    class="xf-ul"> Additional Guitars:
    1. Guitar - Big Slide Overdub - 32%R
    2. Guitar - End Slide Figures Overdub - 32%R
      class="xf-ul">
      [MEDIA=audio]http://recording.or…
      Attached files

      The Reckoning Nov-2016v3-isolatedguitars.mp3 (6.9 MB) 

DogsoverLava Mon, 11/28/2016 - 12:24

CrazyLuke, post: 444639, member: 48048 wrote: So you've got the distortion guitar on the left side, and the overdrive near the right. In the rock genre, as a listener, I want to be ensconced in guitars, while still hearing the lead singer - maybe you could experiment on one mix where you have the dist guitar hard L/R with the second copy about 30 to 50 ms pushed forward. Then do the same on the OD guit, but at 25%L, 75% R. This could add fullness to your mix, which is improving as of v3.

Hey Luke - here's the same isolated guitar mix with your suggestions implemented for quick review -- how does it compare to the original distribution of tracks? Here's how this one lays out.

  1. Guitar 1 - main distorted riff, 80%L -- about a 1.5 db reduction as well
  2. Guitar 2 - Rhythm G, 80%R
  3. Guitar 3 - Nashville tuned, staccato rhythm, 100%C
  4. Guitar 4 - Acoustic Rhythm,100%C
    class="xf-ul"> Additional Guitars (no changes):
    1. Guitar - Big Slide Overdub - 32%R
    2. Guitar - End Slide Figures Overdub - 32%R
      class="xf-ul">

      [MEDIA=audio]http://recording.or…

      [MEDIA=audio]http://recording.or…

      Attached files

      The Reckoning Nov-2016v3-FullMixCrazyLuke.mp3 (8.9 MB)  The Reckoning Nov-2016v3-isolatedguitarsCrazyLuke.mp3 (7.5 MB) 

CrazyLuke Mon, 11/28/2016 - 13:39

Brother Junk, post: 444721, member: 49944 wrote: I read your whole post, but I'm curious exactly what this above is supposed to do? Does it not create a little confusion?

It's called the Hass effect, and engineers use it to add fullness to instrumentation. You could look it up on wiki for more detail, but the short answer is.....
If I had a tracked 1 guitar part and copy and pasted it to another track, I could pan each part hard left and right, but not notice anything but a change in volume, and nothing is added to the stereo field (this effect is called "big mono). Now if I take that second guitar part and slide it forward a few milliseconds to taste, your ears perceive the time arrival differences, and, "wala" fullness via stereo placement.

CrazyLuke Mon, 11/28/2016 - 13:49

DogsoverLava, post: 444823, member: 48175 wrote: Hey Luke - here's the same isolated guitar mix with your suggestions implemented for quick review -- how does it compare to the original distribution of tracks? Here's how this one lays out.

  1. Guitar 1 - main distorted riff, 80%L -- about a 1.5 db reduction as well
  2. Guitar 2 - Rhythm G, 80%R
  3. Guitar 3 - Nashville tuned, staccato rhythm, 100%C
  4. Guitar 4 - Acoustic Rhythm,100%C
    class="xf-ul"> Additional Guitars (no changes):
    1. Guitar - Big Slide Overdub - 32%R
    2. Guitar - End Slide Figures Overdub - 32%R
      class="xf-ul">

      [MEDIA=audio]http://recording.or…

      [MEDIA=audio]http://recording.or…

Cool, but guitar 1 sounds "lonely." Have you ever experimented with any Haas effect plugins? With one, you could keep guitar 1 where it is, but put a bit of it at 80% R, ducked under any guitar parts on that side, of course. People have also used a delay unit for this end. Listen to some early Van Halen songs where Eddie starts off, and you'll here his lone guitar paned left, and it's reverb tail panned right. The new Haas plugins, however, give you a less muddy iteration of the above.

DogsoverLava Mon, 11/28/2016 - 17:59

CrazyLuke, post: 444839, member: 48048 wrote: Cool, but guitar 1 sounds "lonely." Have you ever experimented with any Haas effect plugins? With one, you could keep guitar 1 where it is, but put a bit of it at 80% R, ducked under any guitar parts on that side, of course. People have also used a delay unit for this end. Listen to some early Van Halen songs where Eddie starts off, and you'll here his lone guitar paned left, and it's reverb tail panned right. The new Haas plugins, however, give you a less muddy iteration of the above.

This is great Luke - very informative. I think I remember doing this with the hard panned acoustic guitar and recorders in Stairway. Here's the same new mix with the addition of two wet signal only delays panned opposite at the same % for both the main guitar riff & the main rhythm guitar. I've solo'd the guitars only and a full mix to make the effect clearer for those that might be following along. It does seem to me to bring the track together -- makes it warmer. I might have to go back in now and play with the levels a bit more for balance - and I'm reconsidering that acoustic guitar as well.

[MEDIA=audio]http://recording.or…

[MEDIA=audio]http://recording.or…

Attached files

The Reckoning Nov-2016-fullmixV2GLukev2.mp3 (8.9 MB)  The Reckoning Nov-2016-isolatedV2GLukev2.mp3 (7.6 MB) 

CrazyLuke Tue, 11/29/2016 - 01:43

DogsoverLava, post: 444899, member: 48175 wrote: This is great Luke - very informative. I think I remember doing this with the hard panned acoustic guitar and recorders in Stairway. Here's the same new mix with the addition of two wet signal only delays panned opposite at the same % for both the main guitar riff & the main rhythm guitar. I've solo'd the guitars only and a full mix to make the effect clearer for those that might be following along. It does seem to me to bring the track together -- makes it warmer. I might have to go back in now and play with the levels a bit more for balance - and I'm reconsidering that acoustic guitar as well.

[MEDIA=audio]http://recording.or…

[MEDIA=audio]http://recording.or…

Here is an example of your dist guitar part running through a free Haas plugin. You can here a bit of it now in the R. You could make the adjustment even more subtle than this. The beauty of this, is that makes that part fuller, has it sound like it was recorded with an additional room mic. and still places to the left in your stereo field.

[MEDIA=audio]http://recording.or…

Attached files

Reckoning Guitar w Haas Effect.mp3 (10.4 MB) 

DogsoverLava Tue, 11/29/2016 - 11:06

CrazyLuke, post: 444995, member: 48048 wrote:
Here is the plugin I used, I panned this track left, then set it at about a 20ms delay to the right.

Thanks again Luke. I did some reading up on the effect and I understand it for sure. I added it to this mix (and removed my own attempts to do the same with stock delay plugins and sends) and like the results. I also continued to work that main vocal track and rein in some of the outlier waveforms by programing the volume fader, and I also added (I think) some compression that actually served my intended purpose on the vocal. (the recent discussion on knee & ratio really helped me). I'm amazed at how much better the track sounds with those vocals tamed. I also stayed with your recommended mix arrangement with the two main guitars panned left & right, and the Nashville tuning guitar and acoustic in the middle. I also gave the acoustic some texture with a very light chorus (which served to "soften" it.)

[MEDIA=audio]http://recording.or…

Attached files

The Reckoning Nov-2016-fullmixLukev4.mp3 (8.9 MB) 

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