Can't get mixes past 90% - where to invest?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by nizl, Sep 15, 2003.

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. nizl

    nizl Guest

    Howdy all,

    First off, great board, have learned a ton already.

    I am having a fundamental issue, though. That is, I can't seem to get my mixes past that 90% mark. They sound good, "rock", etc. But they're a bit congested, despite using EQ and compression on tracks to slot things into place.

    I'm trying to figure out where I should invest to improve things. Part of the problem is definitely the idiot running the rig, but he's learning. ;)

    Right now I'm running a Win2k DAW, Cubase SX + Echo Layla. Good mics and pre's; have some hookups so frequently get access to a TLM103 + Avalon for vox, ribbon mics, etc. So the input stage is good.

    But I have a couple weak spots:

    1. Monitors - using Event PS-6's I bought a few years back; good speakers but not great

    2.plug-ins- still using the default Cubase SX ones, including the compressor and reverb.

    3. Location - trying to mix in the corner of my home studio; had posted another thread about building out a separate "control room" in my house

    So... What I'm trying to figure out is where to put my efforts next? I want to eventually upgrade all these things. I strongly suspect that upgrading #2 to get some decent compressors, like the Waves C1/C4 or UAD-1, would give me some instant gratification. But then again maybe my monitors suck too much and that's the whole problem.

    I have a budget of about $1200 total. If I can get away cheaper, sweet. Input??
  2. drbam

    drbam Guest

    I'd start with moving your mixing station out of any corner. Then start experimenting with sound treatment for your space. There's a great deal of info on both of these issues in these forums and others. After you attend to the above, then you *may* want to look at better monitors.

  3. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    If you have enough hardware and software to get the job done and since you think your 90% there, then there is no excuse to not focus on your monitoring enviorment. A bad enviorment can do more harm and prevent you from ever getting it right as your always having to fight and try to adjust because of it. No hardware or software is ever gonna fix that. Having great monitors or at least monitors you believe and can trust are just as important if not more than any hardware or software.

    What specific details is it that your mix lacks that you think it needs to get to the next level?
    If you think plugs are a source of your problem, don't use them. Try other recording and mixing techniques. Thousands of great recordings have been made without more than a few mic's, several tracks, and mabe a little echo or delay.
  4. Clueless

    Clueless Guest

    I was in the same boat last year. I bought Huber's
    "Modern Recording Techniques" which opened my eyes up the the importance of the room.

    My room is 15' by 17' with oak floors and drywall walls and a 9' ceiling. When I clapped, I heard "pbzbpt!!". First stop: Auralex. That made a huge difference. Now a sharp clap reflects naturally, without the resonance.

    Mixes were translating better, but I couldn't seem to get distinct sounds in the mix for love nor money. I knew about "carving EQ", but couldn't seem to figure out how to get it from my MOTU-based DAW. More research suggested that I should get an outboard analog deck, which I did: a Midas Venice. Wow!

    Now, I still have a lot to learn, but for the first time I feel like the room and equipment are ready to go, and now its time for me to learn them. Before, I was just fighting everything all the time.
  5. nizl

    nizl Guest

    I think you're right on the nose with this. I have wanted to improve my monitoring environment for some time. The room sounds awesome for tracking (floating hardwood floors, treated w/ foam/traps but still a bit lively for drums), but it's really not the right sound for mixing. I will have to find another room.

    I have one problem: bass guitar. Everything else is good to go. So I guess I should feel good. But unfortunately that's the whole basis of pop/rock music.

    I am getting better, but I can't get the bass at the right level/tonality without clobbering the midrange w/ mud. The only thing that leads me down the plugin path somewhat is I have read other posters claiming that the UAD-1 EQ helps alot in this one regard.

    To clarify, I am not a techno-junkie. I like simple and uncluttered. That's why I still have the default plugs. And I should say, all I want is a nice compressor and EQ. I don't drench my stuff in effects. I should have been more specific.

    So... I do agree with what you guys are saying. So it sounds like I need to do #1 & #3 next. I was afraid you were gonna say that. It's alot more work than just buying some software! ;)

    Just to finish out the train of thought: What are your votes on the best compressor/EQ plugs? I want to stay internal/digital. The RNC is sweet for tracking, but I'm talking about something suitable for snare/bass/vox in mixdown. I really do need better compressors than the default Cubase ones, which suck IMO.
  6. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    There ya go.... A perfect example of why you need to focus on your monitoring enviornment and mabe monitors / monitor placement as well.
  7. Pez

    Pez Active Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    I'm with AudioGaff all the way here. Your probably having a hard time hearing the bass mix accurately in that room. Do that first and then ditch the plugs that come with SX and get yourself a UAD-1 for your compressors and EQs.
  8. jdier

    jdier Active Member

    Mar 20, 2003
    Home Page:

    One suggestion I think you should consider is taking your raw tracks on a removable disk to a pro studio and sitting with an engineer who has all of these tools you are thinking about buying and trying them out.

    Darn, you might spend $300-500 bucks, but it will give you great feedback about what you need.
  9. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Distinguished Member

    Jun 8, 2003
    Central Village, CT
    Home Page:
    I agree with this in principle, but it still will not "fix" his problem if the room acoustics are not correct. Hearing his mix in a pro studio is not going to translate to the sound in his room.

    It will not fix the problem if his monitors are not giving him a truly uncolored presentation of his actual mix.

    It sounds to me like he has a problem in his room which requires either a move to a new room or bass trapping to correct.

    1st make the room right...... 2nd get monitors that reflect your sound accurately (you might even find the monitors you have are fine for your needs once the room acoustics are fixed), 3rd..... remix and see where you are...... once you know the sound you hear in the room is true - then you can try to figure out what new toys you might want to purchase. :D :D :D

    Happy Hunting

  10. invisibl

    invisibl Guest

    Give us a more accurate description of your room.
    How far are the monitors from the walls.
    Where do you sit relative to the Monitors
    You say " In the corner" . In the corner facing the middle of the room? Along one wall?

    You mention specifically that you are having trouble with bass.

    To me this suggests that you are sitting in an unsympathetic position which is giving you an inaccurate idea of how much bass is IN THE MIX as it plays to you IN THE ROOM.

    Do a google search for John Sayers + Acoustics.
    Both John and a gentleman you have no doubt seen posting here and other places called Ethan Winer <sp>? Have put up a huge amount of info that will probably help you more than new gear at this stage

  11. Ethan Winer

    Ethan Winer Active Member

    Mar 19, 2001
    New Milford, CT USA
    Home Page:

    > Both John and a gentleman you have no doubt seen posting here and other places called Ethan Winer <

    Thanks for the plug. In case you're not aware, Rod Gervais and I have an Acoustics forum right here on

  12. nizl

    nizl Guest

    Hey all, sorry for disappearing for a few days. Here's what I've done since last posting...

    I listened to every monitor I could find. My conclusions are that (a) my Event's suck but (b) many others suck way worse. At least my monitors don't make me want to gouge my eye out with a spatula.

    I agree with your analysis that my room sucked, so I made that priority one. I moved my mixing setup out into my loft. I still need to treat it properly, so will do some searching in the acoustics forum and maybe post.

    In addition, I decided to purchase the Muckie 824's on Guitar Center's 30-day return program. I paid $1100 for the pair which is pretty "cheap". The only other monitors that I like are the Dynaudio BM6A's, but they don't quite push enough air and are also $1700/pair.

    So anyways, I'm thinking my plan of attack is this:

    - Finish setting up my new monitoring location, compare the 824's to my PS6's in my new location, and see if there's an improvement to my ears

    - If not, return 824's and use the cash on plugs or outboard compressors

    - Either way the new mixing location is muy better

    jdier: like the idea about the pro studio "tutorial". I will definitely check into that. If anyone has good studio recommendations in San Diego that would be a big help. Alot of them suck.
  13. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Make good use of your 30-days and listen to them as much you can in the new space. Remember that it will take some time to get use to the new space as well as the new monitors before you able to fairly judge if they are right for you and your new space. I predict down the road that you will likely need to upgrade your monitors again though.

    [ September 21, 2003, 10:55 PM: Message edited by: AudioGaff ]
  14. invisibl

    invisibl Guest


    NO WAY can you gouge out an eye with a spatula

    A teaspoon is FAR more effective


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