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"Blended" Sound

Hello. I have been recording and mixing for seven years via various digital set ups. I have been recording with the following set up for the past year or two:

Athlon xp 2.0 ghz
200 gig hard drive
Cubase Sx
Audio technica 4040 mic

I am recording rap/hip hop music. My problem is i cannot seem to get the nice professional "blended" sound with my recordings? I record a stereo track of my drums, then 1 mono track for a synth, then another mono track for another synth. Then I usually record two "lead" vocals mono. I have left the drum tracks and synths CENTERED in panning and panned the lead vocals to the left and right about 80 percent. A DJ at a radio station agreed with me when he said you have good music, but you just don't have that blended sound where the vocals and the music blend together. It sounds like my vocals are always on top of the beat or like all the tracks are competing with each other? :(

Any Help would be appreciated ! Thanks!


gdoubleyou Sat, 04/15/2006 - 14:41
I can do well with plugins, but for commercial releases I use professional mastering.

The process he uses is that he takes the stereo master, loads it into PT|HD sends the digital output to some custom european gear that seperates the audio into six frequency bands, he adds a little eq, and compression if needed, makes sure that the levels betwwen the different songs are consistan, then digitally records the result onto a mastering CD burner, in realtime on Matsui Gold CDs.

I'm not poor but the equipment he owns is beyond my means, plus he has a totolly sound isolated room with acoustic treatment. basically a room inside of a room.

He gives me a break as a repeat offender, but it costs me about $1000 per project, but it's well worth it. Takes the mix to the next level.

Check out the demos from an old skool RnB project I produced.
link removed


saemskin Fri, 03/31/2006 - 17:10
its going to take longer than a year or two. I have been recording electronic (no, not techno dammit!) since about 2002/2003 and each day I feel I've learned how to be better than I was yesterday and I know in my heart that I have a LONG way to go.
In the last year and a half I have read everything I could, thread, article, or otherwise and tried and experimented with every technique I understood at the time. If you are trying to be better it will show in your work.

Now, on to what you've written about how you setup. What you are saying is all well and good, but it means nothing if you dont have a file for us to hear. Post something and you'll get much better feedback, because mono/stereo in general means not so much inside of a DAW, imo. Your vocals dont have to be mono, nor do your synths. In my experience, its only "better" to have lower frequencies recorded in mono mainly because when they are spread out they lose their punch.
Like I said, no one is going to be able to judge what you are doing without an example of your work. I doubt anyone here will poke fun at your work if you're concerned about that. :-?

Pro Audio Guest Fri, 03/31/2006 - 19:18
Actually if its not too much trouble...visit our website: Click on Artists, click on the artist K-Live. Click on discography and listen to the song "Jumpback". I produced, mixed, recorded and arranged this song, but I feel it has that "not so blended" sound. I also produced recorded and mixed all of the rest of the music on the site. Please give listen and let me know what you think. Again, I am trying to improve my recording/engineering skills. Thanks.

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 04/03/2006 - 05:33
Your music could probably benefit from one thing: Mastering. If it's not mastered, it's not going to sound polished and it's not going to sound cohesive. Mixing is important as well, but your issue is likely that you either need to learn the basics of mastering yourself (if only for demo purposes) or find someone you trust to pay to do it for you (if for pro purposes).

If you want to give it a crack yourself, I'd recommend:

1) Har-Bal - $100 tool for balancing EQ spectrum visually. Very efficient and worth every cent.

2) A basic single band compressor. Software like the Waves C1 or RComp will do. Run your tracks through with attack maybe 100 ms, release 200 ms, ratio 1.5-2:1.

3) A basic single band limiter. The Waves L2 is great.

Stick to single band. Multiband= :evil: for anyone but a pro.