How Do You Mix Today?

Discussion in 'Mixing' started by Dave McNair, Oct 30, 2001.

  1. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    Bos,

    if the end target is 16/ 44.1 what difference would 24 bit converters make?wouldn't that defeat the objective? isn't the whole idea is to avoid SRC in the first place. seems to me mixing into a converter that is of the target rate is the whole idea with the benefit of a separate clock?
     
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Well-Known Member

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    Everyone on RO should own a Lavry AD11 Black. If I had a Billion$ I'd buy ya all one ;)
    But, good question.
    I mixdown via Prism 44.1 24. Dither on my DAW and upload that. I had this discussion with Bos a while ago, where I have also done 44.1 16 / no dither. At the end of the day, I don't hear a difference. But, I can't hear past 16k so who knows. Its all so beautiful sounding either way.
     
  3. Lord_Algae

    Lord_Algae Active Member

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    I like the way it sounds as compared to my other converters(which are 24/96khz capable). I find it to be less brittle, less harsh sounding. And maybe it's all in my head but there's something about actual tape rolling* that focuses you on the task at hand.

    *as opposed to the near infinite storage in a computer.
     
  4. DrGonz

    DrGonz Active Member

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    Perhaps degrading the audio is what makes it feel more organic again. I tend to think these days that the crystal clear world of digital is too tame. Sitting here right now with a sore ear degrades all the sounds I hear, but wearing headphones are too blame, not converters.
     
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Well-Known Member

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    14 years has passed since this thread was first posted. A lot has improved since then. Sound and room emulation has come a long way. The Bricasti wasn't invented and the ability to use spectra audio tools to remove the unwanted wasn't even a consideration.

    Aside from majors which is talent, production and the song, I've come full circle about analog hardware and hybrid mixing. Once ITB, stay ITB.
    The concept that hybrid mixing, adding extra analog gear through additional consoles or summing boxes after its been tracked is no longer part of my workflow. In fact, I'm certain ITB is far superior to hybrid mixing but I still believe mixing into a master and capturing the sum on a second device is much faster to the finish line.

    Degrading audio is another term for masking flaws imho. Analog character sounds great during the capturing but degrades a mix through hybrid process in a negative way. Once I discovered how to emulate my analog matrix, software is not only affordable but sonically less distractive and fatter.
    If its not what you wanted, we should go back to the tracking and fix it or replace it with sampling and sound replacement technology.

    Some major areas that come to my mind in every mix, if the bass sucks, the mix always sounds cheep or wrong.
    If the drums and vocals don't match the spacial effects throughout, your mix pretty much aways sound out of place, not "glued" or performed unnaturally.
    If the drums and percussion sounds are out of place, the mix always sounds goofy. If the vocals and drums share a common reverb of some kind, both those two groups seem to help the rest of the mix flow better.
    Sound replacement , reverb removal and a Bricasti or similar way to improving most studio walls goes a long way.

    If I get those area's right, the rest is pretty straight forward to me.
     
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    @audiokid @Boswell @Kurt Foster @pcrecord @kmetal @Makzimia @Smashh @Davedog @dvdhawk @pan60 @paulears @Paul999

    For as long as I've been doing this, I still continue to learn new things...and I like that I can.

    The progression of technology kinda dictates that; it seems as if there's always new rocks to turn over, with cool things to discover, and I like that, too.

    I think that one of the things that we all share, as recordists, mixers and musicians, is that it's difficult for us to be 100% completely satisfied.

    No matter how well I perform, record or mix, it seems like I'm always thinking "maybe I could have done that better..."

    It's the nature of the beast for us to obsess over the little things, because that's what we've trained our ears to do over the years.
    We've conditioned ourselves to hear things that the average listener either can't hear, or if they can, they don't care about; whereas we can listen to a hi hat track and think "that sounds too metallic to me", or focus in on a bass and think "man, there's too much mud on that..."

    The good news is that we have some fantastic tools at our disposal these days - far more than what was available to me when many of us were first starting out - to fix those things.
    This can be double edged-sword though, I think, because with all those tools available, it can now take us much longer to put mixes to bed - longer than it used to take when our platforms and tools were limited.

    Kurt has mentioned this several times in the past - and there are times when I really do understand what he is saying - that with the limitless tracks, processing tools, sounds/sample replacement, etc., we tend to be less decisive, and we can get bogged down by all the choices that we now have, and I often wonder if sometimes we aren't getting too distracted by the minutia in the mixes.

    Don't get me wrong, I love technology, but I do miss one thing in particular about the old days, and that is that you were forced to make decisions based on the limitations that you had, and I think that this often resulted in better performances (because there was no correction, you had to get it right while recording) along with more cohesive arrangements (because we didn't have 50 VSTi's and 256 tracks to work with).

    As long as we can continue to focus on talent, new technology is a great partner to have... just as long as we aren't depending on it to replace talent - or worse, to create it, particularly if there's no talent there to begin with.

    IMHO of course. ;)
     
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  7. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Well-Known Member

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    A mix is rarely done, its usually abandoned because we simply cannot keep working on it.

    I always say, this is how I hear it today. And yet again I am turning another chapter in my process because I am discovering how to emulate things I did not know yesterday.

    I get mixes all the time with doubles, triples of vox. guitars, drums, harmonies. Most of the time they are a complete sonic mess. Last year I did a mix for someone that had 24 tracks of dups to create that stereo sound. I removed everyone of them and kept the best. The mix went from thin to huge and ended up being around 16 tracks.

    Being said, I will often break up sections of a track and put them it into 6 or more tracks that end up having a few bars in the each. There is a big reason for that which has to do with removing a bad room, headphone bleed etc. I may also use those to trigger something but this is only because I am fixing other peoples problems.
    If I am using a DAW with midi, its not uncommon to have 24 channels for audio and 24 for midi and 24 bus outs. The midi channels are broken up because I want total control on the dynamics of vsti and there reverb settings. Its part of the emulations process.

    But, the best acoustic music to my ears is always simple and performed well. Depending on the style of music, its all subjective to whether we are a recordist working on our tracks or fixing someone that you have to clinically do that as a job. Which requires more ways to get to the finish line, more ways to keep track of the process of elimination .
     
  8. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    I try to be conscious of the risk of paralysis by analysis. Am I making the song better by putting it under the microscope? Or, is trying to making it more 'perfect' actually robbing it of something else for genuinely musical? Half the battle is knowing where the line is between done, and overdone.

    I'm with Kurt on the track count thing, and as a rule I am dead set against using more than 25-30 tracks for a typical band thing. 8-12 of which are probably going to be drums. If I were doing something that relied heavily on a bunch of MIDI parts I could see that going up some. Get the sound you want going to the recorder and you're so much farther ahead.
     
  9. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    My roughs are usually 90% there. I then spend 99% of the rest of the time detsroying, and exploring, beating it to death, and then get to where it's actually better than the rough, and not overmixed. Usually a lot of un mixing happens in these types.

    That said if I know it's on a budget or timeframe, then usually I miss the first time, and go back for another hour or two the fix the glaring things to me, limit it quickly, and done. I've used first mixes before, but I've never brought it home and said its done, on the first shot.

    The thing I've found helps is taking a week off or a prolonged break from living w the cd, if it's a drawn out mix.

    +3 on track counts. I've never done a mix that had more than 50 audio tracks, not counting midi, or buses. Usually 30-40 is what ends up.

    Arrangement is so huge, and truly a facinating part of the art Imo.

    I'll be honest, my most pro sounding mixes were done pretty fast, and tracked live, by some ace cover bands. Although artistically it's not super rewarding, I enjoy it, because it's the way o get to try out the ' good musicians and good songs make good recordings' adage. It's been true for me. It's not that I haven't made good recordings that I'm proud of other ways, but the easiest for me have been when the band plays live, reasonably well. From basements to studios this seems to be my prefered way to track, in general. Although, I'm not shy about indulging ideas with the nearly limitless track counts, which technology is great for. I wonder how many truly good ideas didn't materialize because of the limits on technology. It's like eventually if you throw enough different paints at the wall it'll turn a murky, nondescript color, so I try to be judicious.

    How do you guys deal with editing? I feel like I get way too over obsessed. It's almost like if I don't fix just the real couple clams, I end up editing the rythym sections note by note just about. Help please

    Edit-
    Also, something I do that a lot probably don't, is I'll have tony (boss/mentor) mix the first song, one of the better, or best ones, and then do the others, and maybe some tweaks to his mix. This gives me a direction to shoot for with the others (if it's supposed to be similar) and also it's interesting to hear how someone tweaks what you've put on tape. To hear your stuff thru someone else's ears, give me back a little of that 'listener' perspective I may have lost, plus there's always new stuff when you watch some else. Even little tiny time savers help. This isn't a requirement or anything, and I certainly mix alone, but I like it. When someone else mixes or masters, it kinda relieves the the feeling that it's never done, IMHO
     
  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    Poorly... LOL

    What I mean is that I have to be very careful with editing. It can be like a kind of floodgate opening for me. I start by doing a little clean up, some de-essing, and if I'm not careful, before I know it, I'm nit picking at every nit there is to pick at.

    Just because we have the technical ability to pick out and fix every last little thing, doesn't mean that we should. ;)
     
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  11. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    That's exactly right @DonnyThompson. A couple years ago I was working on a project, and the young lady doing the lead vocal had just delivered the "Wow!" take. After several VERY good takes, this was no doubt the One to use top to bottom. It was flawless in every way, but there were just a couple noticeably big gasps for air that jumped out at me in the playback. So when it's time to edit, I start cleaning up the big breaths with her vocal track solo'ed and next thing you know I've scrubbed out every breath throughout the entire song. I pushed Play and listened to it in context, and sure enough every breath was gone - but it sounded so unnatural. I'd way overdone it, and it lost some of it's organic charms. I got tunnel-vision once I started trimming things, and in 3 minutes I'd stolen part of the song's essence. Undo, undo, undo, undo ……… I ended up just lowering the volume of the two somewhat distracting gasps, instead of cutting them out completely, and left the rest in their natural state. Aaah, MUCH better.

    Editing should never detract.
     
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  12. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    Another thing that occurred to me after reading another current thread here, was this. If you're working with an artist (or on your own project), and the goal is to demo it for the purposes of shopping it around, you're not doing anyone any favors by editing the daylights out of it to try to create some perfect performance.

    At some point, they (you) are going to have to sing in front of the people who can advance their career, and they are NOT going to be impressed by how good you are at editing.

    Some touch-ups here and there are fine. But if you turn up and can't hold a candle to your own recording, you will not only be dismissed - you will be dismissed with 'extreme prejudice'.

    If you're just shopping the song to a publisher, not the performance / artist aspect of it, clean it up to make the song presentable. If someone else is going to perform/record the song, they want some room to put their mark on it.

    That'll be 2¢ please.
     
  13. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    Good call. i know a guy who did that on a fairly big budget label demo. The record company loved the 'demo', say the band at the showcase, fin. not much of what the band played even made it on that 'demo', it was mostly retracted and replayed by the studio guys after they went home.
     
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Well-Known Member

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    I think there are two types of "recording, mixing and mastering" product "Real and Virtual". Ironically, real crosses the line into virtual more than the other like a sore thumb. Neither is a bad thing when done well, the problem is, both can be done good or bad but its only when we notice something isn't right, do we form the opinion. Like everything, when something is done well, no one thinks about the process, they either like it or they don't.

    We all notice drastic change so the key is not to make drastic change that stands out , thus, making everything else in a mix look/ sound like its old or out of place. You don't paint a ceiling white and not do the walls too. Music is no different. If you are going to edit or replace something, your have to be doing it to improve the room (performance), not just the object so it sounds like it was dropped in like a alien from outer space. Its got to fit in the picture. The problem there is, not all of us are artists in this business. Mixing is an Art.
     
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  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    Contrast. It's all a matter of how things sound together. Would it be a mistake to use a ribbon mic for the vocal track of a high energy, contemporary sounding musical piece, made up of 100% VSTi's?

    I don't know. It depends on the amount of contrast that you are after. Perhaps that much contrast would result in a very interesting sounding production because the contrast is so drastic.

    I suppose that there were questions about these drastic contrasts the first time that rock bands started thinking about using orchestral instruments along side electric guitars and drums. Songs like Zep's Kashmir, or The Beatle's Sgt. Pepper... and on into the 70's with bands like ELO. Those vast instrumental contrasts made for some pretty cool and interesting music.
     
  16. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the likes, guys :)
    To add... I think contrast is good but I suppose one has to know whether dog food belongs in with organic produce section lol. I'm all for shocking or having something stand out but I do think Humans share similarities that somehow fit the "right or wrong section".
    Part of the Art of persuasion is understanding human behavior and building blocks that support structure that stimulates, not alienates interest.

    When I am painting a house, I could purposely choose a white that makes everything else look dirty but because I understand color and how color groups flow well together, I refrain from shocking at such great extremes and rather put the energy into creating a full and dynamic appearance that the entire paint job looks great for the home and decor inside it. Mixing and making music is no different to me. My detail is focused on highlighting one thing to make everything look better as we walk around the building. My brush work, smooth walls and find lines adds a rich sense that it was built well by someone experienced and meaningful. My work actually makes the builder of the home look good. The paint is actually making everyone else's work look good.

    Music is no different. Is it a story about aliens landing into a driveway or love and kinship from a childhood memory.
     
  17. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

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    I CAN edit. I'm just not very fast and it gets frustrating to remember or have to look up commands to get what I want. Some things I'm better at than others. I KNOW what I want edited....I KNOW when things start to coalesce....I KNOW when the song is starting to burn bright.....

    So I hire it. It's cool to sit with PT Pro's and Produce. The guys I use, I trust their ears as they trust mine and its really a joy.
     
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  18. Tom Camp

    Tom Camp Active Member

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    I work from Left to Right. I start by cleaning up sounds then adding subtle character. I build the mix depending on the arrangement and the focus of the song. I use a process of Gain Staging that is pretty systematic to start. After a general balance and gain staging of my master bus then it's time to fine tune and make the magic happen :)
     
  19. John Santos

    John Santos Active Member

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    Nowadays, I would take a day off after all the recording is finished. And I mean the entire song or album if it's an album.

    The very next day, with fresh ears, I listen to the raw material.

    I know many will find this strange but I allow the raw material to try and give itself an 'identity' of some sort without tampering with the sonic foundations of each track. I know it's a bit weird but it gives me direction when I mix. It also helps me avoid the unnecessary stress of having to have a criteria for the mix I'm about to create.

    Once I'm good with that, I try to remember the direction it needs to take. Which tracks need a bit of emphasis, which ones need balancing, which needs more punch or depth.

    Visualizing, or rather audio-visualizing, and giving raw material listening time actually helped me reduce the number of plug-ins I use in my mixes lately. It just increases when the client needs a specific mix for his or her or their music.
     
  20. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

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    Really ???....I'd like you to explain this...

    - It sounds like pure puffery disguised as some sort of tech-speak.

    I've seen this before by new members to forums who post similar types of statements to try to impress people and garner some sort of attention.

    How can "Visualising" "help me reduce the number of plug-ins I use in my mixes lately".......what, are you visualising how many plug-ins you DO NOT have on the track???

    How does "Visualising" have anything to do with a task that is an auditory process???...are you listening with your eyes, or are you seeing with your ears now???

    - I'm sorry, but I'm calling BS on this one.
     
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