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Profile picture for user Mach13

Hi folks, totally new here. Have been playing around with song writing for the last 10 years. I don't mind writing but recording and mixing (to end up with what I have in my head) is the difficult bit aint it! Steep learning curve.

Anyhow this is a song I wrote recently after hearing someone (that works in a hospital) commenting upon how someone had given them some grief about how their treatment was going. They were obviously down about it. The next day these lyrics popped in my head around 5am... (that's how it happens for me) and so I thought I'd try to get it recorded. I'd like to share it with them when its done, but I keep noticing things to fix..

Most latterly been fiddling with the level between vox n piano... but now I need fresh ears...

Mixed then mastered using Sonar and Izotope.

I'm trying hard to get it playable on various devices from a full stereo system to a mobile phone, (most music seems to be listened on phones these days)

 

Its a simple song just vox n piano...

What do you think about levels, mix etc all thought appreciated

Attached files

Thank You All (Covid 19) V 4-4.mp3 (6.9 MB) 

Comments

Profile picture for user bouldersound

bouldersound Thu, 02/04/2021 - 10:47

First, I wouldn't worry too much about playability on a mobile phone. It's definitely a consideration, but usually, if you get the mix right for a good system, it will work out okay on a phone, and the listener will be used to their phone's deficiencies.

Before I could say much about the balance, I'd need to address some tonal issues. The vocal and piano have too much midrange energy. The piano seems to have nothing going on below about 300Hz. The vocal seems to be too strong around 800-1000Hz and lacking in clarity in the highs. A 2 octave 6dB cut at 850Hz and a 2 octave 6dB boost at 8kHz helped the vocals, and didn't hurt the piano, but it didn't address the lack of lows from the piano.

I suspect that once you address the tonal issues, the piano can come up a bit. You might need to automate the bridge section to keep the levels a bit more even.

Another thing to look at is the overall level. On my LUFS meter, your maximum True Peak level is -5.7dB. That means you could just bring the overall volume up 4.7dB without having to do any compression or limiting. Since the LUFS integrated level is 21.9, that would get you up to 17.2 LUFS. With a bit of judicious limiting, and perhaps that automation in the break, you should be able to get it up to a more standard 14 LUFS without much loss of dynamics.

 

Attached files

Profile picture for user DogsoverLava

DogsoverLava Thu, 02/04/2021 - 14:16

bouldersound, post: 467261, member: 38959 wrote:
Another thing to look at is the overall level. On my LUFS meter, your maximum True Peak level is -5.7dB. That means you could just bring the overall volume up 4.7dB without having to do any compression or limiting. Since the LUFS integrated level is 21.9, that would get you up to 17.2 LUFS. With a bit of judicious limiting, and perhaps that automation in the break, you should be able to get it up to a more standard 14 LUFS without much loss of dynamics.

True Peak being max signal level where an increase of 4.7 would have him -1 at max peak.....? I get that

Integrated LUFS --- at -21.9 means average signal - and assuming its linear then raising the ceiling to -1 by 4.7 you get -17.2 average signal -- then compressing or limiting the peaks he could boost the signal more till it averages out (though this boost with limiting and compression is not linear in the same way... am i understanding this correctly?

Profile picture for user bouldersound

bouldersound Thu, 02/04/2021 - 14:48

DogsoverLava, post: 467271, member: 48175 wrote:
True Peak being max signal level where an increase of 4.7 would have him -1 at max peak.....? I get that

Integrated LUFS --- at -21.9 means average signal - and assuming its linear then raising the ceiling to -1 by 4.7 you get -17.2 average signal -- then compressing or limiting the peaks he could boost the signal more till it averages out (though this boost with limiting and compression is not linear in the same way... am i understanding this correctly?

Yep. There's no sonic magic about 14 LUFS, but that's kind of the standard (with variations) for streaming platforms.

Profile picture for user Mach13

Mach13 Fri, 02/05/2021 - 11:07

Thanks guys for your comments....

Boldersounds - As I mentioned earlier very helpful to get some specifics on EQ and levels - hopefully you'll notice a difference - good ears to pick up those things.. impressed!

Dogsoverlava - Thanks for that... I'm just gonna say I'm not technically minded to be able to picked up on the math.. especially on LUFS especially integrated ones, but I do have a plugin which helps me get near to the 14LUFS target... appreciate your comments (its a work-on for me)

Audiokid - Thanks for that good to get that kinda feedback too I didn't pick up on your reverb comment till id been ready to print off n back to here.. I did mess with reverb but whether it needs more reduction i dunno .. but good to get you thoughts.. on it now

Davedog - Thanks again... picked up your point after id printed off for the day so might go back to that tomorrow - I think there's a piano damping option I can look at

So what I've done today..

Taken on board Boldersounds technical adjustments, I was able to hear the difference which has been very helpful...

  1. Went back to the mix - Found the dynamic EQ I used to avoid the VOX masking the piano (Just dipping certain freq) needed adjusting- released below 300Hz bass part of piano came back in (at least I think so)
  2. EQ Adjusting the 800-1000K and 8khz levels etc...made a massive difference to the Vox - so I went back to the mix and made my adjustments there too.
  3. Started looking at VOX transients and used some automation to in the mix to flatten them out
  4. Dropped the mix reverb back a tad - (Might need to revisit this)
  5. Brought the piano up a tad
  6. Mastering- Used Izotope Insight to help me get closer to that 14LUFS
  7. Went back n forward with all -bit of an iterative process the way I work but much happier with this version.. Still happy to get more feddback I've probs solved one problem and caused a few others
    class="xf-ul">
    Version 4.5

     

    Attached files

    Thank You All (Covid 19) Forum Fix V 4-5.mp3 (6.8 MB) 

Profile picture for user bouldersound

bouldersound Fri, 02/05/2021 - 13:01

I just discovered that my default channel configuration had the pan law set to -3dB, so all my numbers above are 3dB off. I had just changed the default a couple of days ago and it tripped me up.

I think this version is better. Maybe dial back on the vocal HF boost and mid cut a bit. In parts the piano seemed to step on the vocal.

The loudness numbers came out to 14.8 LUFS and -0.9 dB True Peak. That's probably close enough. Worst case, a streaming platform limits it down 0.9 dB or so. One of the reasons to leave some headroom is that converting to a lossy compressed format can raise the peaks slightly. So if you mastered it with -1 dB True Peak, going to mp3 might have shifted it up.

Profile picture for user Mach13

Mach13 Fri, 02/05/2021 - 13:46

Hey Thanks for the prompt feedback

Your a star...

Will take another look tomorrow.

Pleased it sounds better.. I tend to lose perspective after a while. I dont do enough mixing to have the ears you guys seem to have.

I have a few piano ballads on the go so am hoping will be able to use this one as a reference track for the rest so am happy to keep at it till its right..

I did master it at -1db, do you think I should leave more room... say -1.4db ?

Cheers

Profile picture for user bouldersound

bouldersound Fri, 02/05/2021 - 14:39

Mach13, post: 467278, member: 52472 wrote:
I did master it at -1db, do you think I should leave more room... say -1.4db ?

If the wave file is coming out at -1 dB True Peak, I wouldn't worry about it. Leaving that dB of headroom accommodates the slight increase you often get with compressed formats, which is probably what happened here. I think it all worked out just the way it's supposed to.

Profile picture for user Mach13

Mach13 Fri, 02/05/2021 - 23:28

Davedog, post: 467279, member: 4495 wrote:
Well now...Thats so much better separation. I'm still hearing a reverb clash. It's minor. Are you using a global verb on the mix or are you using separate verbs on the piano and the voice? Other than that its really good.

Ha erm well ☺️ agaim an impressed... thinking this is another thing im going to learn on here, ( feels like a genuine master class ) but i have to admit:
vox and indtrument each have their own verb, the mix track has one and there was a slight touch of one on the master erm... so i will be adressing that today too..

Is it better to have one global one on the mix?

What do you suggest?

KUDOS to you guys for your help, im learning loads ☺️

Profile picture for user bouldersound

bouldersound Sat, 02/06/2021 - 00:03

The traditional way to apply reverb is by way of a parallel effects bus (as opposed to a series mix bus). How you implement that varies with the software you're using, but it generally involves a post fader send from each track to a shared reverb which is set to 100% effect (no unaffected audio passing through). Then you can adjust the sends from tracks to have more or less reverb on each. It's less load on the CPU, which with only two tracks is probably not a major consideration. If you want different styles of reverb on different tracks, either put the reverb right on the track or make more effects buses.

Profile picture for user Davedog

Davedog Sat, 02/06/2021 - 02:39

bouldersound, post: 467285, member: 38959 wrote:
The traditional way to apply reverb is by way of a parallel effects bus (as opposed to a series mix bus). How you implement that varies with the software you're using, but it generally involves a post fader send from each track to a shared reverb which is set to 100% effect (no unaffected audio passing through). Then you can adjust the sends from tracks to have more or less reverb on each. It's less load on the CPU, which with only two tracks is probably not a major consideration. If you want different styles of reverb on different tracks, either put the reverb right on the track or make more effects buses.

Agree with this 110%.

Class 101-reverb.

Reverb is time. Adding time signatures at different points of a mix like you have done is a very tricky balancing act.
Reverb is space. Defining an area the recording has been captured in in order to give the instruments a sense of dimension inside a geometrical figure is the goal.
Reverb is seasoning. Just like the dry rub for the wings, too much IS too much. How much is too much? ThAt much.

The absolute hardest recordings to add the right touch of reverb to is solo instrument with vocal.

You may ask..."Why Uncle Davedog is this so?" And here's why.......
When you use a global single verb on this type of capture, you risk having the reverb tail being too long for the sustain being used on the instrument (in this case the damping pedal on piano and holding the notes) and creating an odd feeling of disconnect for the vocal to the instrumental. But you WANT a type of verb to create the SPACE that the recording sounds like it was made in as one complete performance. For this task you will want to look to Convolution types of reverbs to establish the size and depth of the overall space you want the recording to sit in. Careful. It won't take much and the time stamp being used is going to determine the side-chained individual verbs of the instrument and voice as described by 'bouldersound'.
Having a side bus control of these does two things specifically to the sound.
1. And this is true for any chain of effects on a track....driving a time-based device directly in-line on a track will affect its triggering for the effect due to the differing amounts of input from the instrument or vocal. This is a good rule to follow when choosing the order of your plug-ins in ANY case.
2. The separate bus allows the time-based effect to be entered into the mix at whatever point you choose. And it gives you much more finite control of how much and at what time it shows up. Experimentation with this will open a large garage door in your search.

So. In summary and from my experience with these sort of mixes....I feel like you DO need a global verb inserted before the master slider and controlled through a submaster sidechain. This should be the convolution type of verb that creates and defines a "space" for the entire mix.
You DO need a separate and defined verb for the piano. A nice plate with HPF and LPF, diffusion, and depth controls plus amount will work here.
You DO need something for the voice that is time based but is complimentary to the voice as an instrument yet isn't competing for space with the room verb or the plate on the piano. So a delay of some sort set in time to the meter of the song. And just used as a suggestion of size for the voice.

Have fun. You are in a laboratory. Break a few glass beakers.

Profile picture for user bouldersound

bouldersound Sat, 02/06/2021 - 11:00

I echo the encouragement to experiment, and I use special reverbs on occasion. But my approach is to resist adding complexity until I have a compelling reason. So I'll work with a single shared reverb as long as possible, then resort to special reverbs for specific tracks when that just doesn't work. Even then, I generally put the reverb on an effects bus rather than on the track directly, which allows things like eq and compression in series with the reverb.

Profile picture for user Mach13

Mach13 Sat, 02/06/2021 - 12:55

Ha that's been an 'interesting' day :X3: So glad I try to keep to a strict versioning process... Changed the verbs in the mix and it played havoc with whatever I thought I had. The mix completely got away from me... haha..

So the upshot is I'm gonna quit whilst I have a reasonable print and say that I when I start something new I'll rethink my verb strategy at that point. Barring starting from scratch (which is what I think id have to do, I'm gonna save this project as is and maybe come back to it one day sometime when I'm not so sick of listening to it any more :ROFLMAO:;)

Thanks for your help folks- You've all been incredibly helpful... I feel I learnt more in the past few days than weeks of bimbling about on my own would have ever produced... and at least I have a reference to work with that will help me in the future. (y) (y) (y) (y) :giggle: