30 Plus Year Veteran Newb Needs Help

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Steven Wagenheim, Mar 29, 2012.

  1. Steven Wagenheim

    Steven Wagenheim Member

    Mar 29, 2012
    New Jersey
    I will try to keep this short, though I seem to have a problem doing that most of the time.

    I started recording my own songs back in 1979. I used a Teac A3440.

    Today I use a Boss 900CD. It's isn't great but it's certainly an improvement in number of tracks (8 opposed to 4) and sound (digital versus analog)

    My problem is simple.

    After all these years, I can't get a mix to sound good.

    I think the problem is in 2 areas.

    1. My ears. Ultimately when it comes down to it, you can't hear what you can't hear. And then when the finished product is done and you've missed all the little problems along the way, the finished product has a lot of little problems and sounds like crap.

    2. Track limitation. Because I only have 8 tracks and compose these masterpieces using umpteen instruments and overdubs on vocals, I end up doing a lot of bouncing, meaning I have to do several pre mixes before the final mix.

    Those 2 things combine for some pretty bad sounding music according to the people listening to it.

    I realize, based on what I have read here, that I am not going to get a professional recording studio sound out of my home, but I still think it is possible to get a recording that sounds good enough to send to a publisher to listen to. I'm a songwriter, not an engineer.

    I realize that the first thing I have to do is get a recorder with more track capability. You can't get 10 pounds of ham into a 5 pound bag.

    I also realize that I need some format training in recording and mixing. I've order 2 books from Amazon that come highly recommended. Hopefully, they will help.

    But my ears...how do you train your ears to hear things correctly? That's the part I haven't figured out yet. Things that sound "good" to me, when I play them for others, they cringe.

    Anyway, I'm open to any advice that anyone can give in regard to:

    1. Gear that will give me the best chance to get a decent sound if not pro studio quality for under $2,000.

    2. Tips for recording and mixing or where to go for instruction.

    3. How to train my ears, if that's even possible.

    Music is my life and up until now, I've made a mess of it. The music, not my life. I run my own business (nothing to do with music) and am successful with it. But my dream is simply to make a good enough demo to send to a song publisher so that MAYBE I can land a song contract.

    Any help that anybody can give me will be greatly appreciated.

    I have samples of my songs and dreadful mixes on YouTube if anybody wants to hear them. I won't post a link as I don't know if that violates any forum rules.

    Thank you in advance for any assistance you can give me.
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
    Try some tutorials, keep reading and asking questions.

  3. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    Vashon Island, Washington
    Home Page:
    It's all about making the mistakes, and learning how to correct them. It took me years of frustration & bad mixes before things started to gel. Study up on compression, EQ, panning & frequency 'masking'. Keep experimenting! One thoroughly comprehensive book on the art of mixing is "Mixing Audio" by Roey Izhaki. I highly recommend it. It includes a CD of sound samples that allow you to hear what the author is talking about.
    Don't give up! Learning to mix is no different than learning to play an instrument. You have to produce a lot of unpleasant sounds before your skills will allow otherwise.

  4. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2003
    Kirkland WA
    Home Page:
    Investigate room treatment, so that you CAN trust your ears.
  5. aj113

    aj113 Active Member

    Mar 31, 2011
    Hull, UK
    Out of all these issues, the ears is the biggest one. You don't need better equipment - not yet anyway. I used to record on a 1" Otari 8-track through the 80' and 90's, we bounced mixes like crazy, but the mixes didn't suffer for that fact.

    If you can't get the mixes right, start to use reference tracks. Choose a commercial production that you really like, that you think sounds great, and is preferably of the same genre as the music you are recording. When you are recording, mixing, tweaking, whatever, get into the habit of toggling between the reference track and your own project. What are the differences you hear? What do you need to do in order to get your stuff sounding a bit nearer to the good stuff? I can tell you now, 70% of it will be levels. Get your levels right and then you can worry about processing afterwards. Listen to each instrument one by one. Where is it in the mix when you hear the reference track? Does your instrument need to go up or down? Move that fader! On to the next instrument...and so on. Keep on referencing all the way, right down to your final mix.

    This is not a cure-all, but it's at least going to put you in the ballpark.

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