I just realized why my mixes sound funky!

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by therecordingart, Jun 6, 2005.

  1. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    Bear with me hear......

    On my last session I used the Brick on kick drum, acoustic guitar, bass, and vocals, and everything other than those tracks sound almost irritating, thin, and hollow! I went back to my older sessions with the Brick and noticed the same thing.....everything that didn't go through the Brick sounds hollow.

    Mixing has been a nightmare because everything that goes through the Brick sounds nice and makes the rest of the mix sound whacked out of balance because there is such a difference! My mixes are left with some elements sounding awesome, and the others really thin and lack luster. I've been making the good tracks sound bad so the mix sounds a little more together...even though its crap...if that makes sense. I've been pulling my hair out until I finally came to this conclusion.

    So.....has anyone experienced a hollow or scooped sound of low-mid pres compared to higher end pres? My tascam pres are lifeless compared to the Brick and now that I think I pin-pointed the problem...it's going to bug the hell out of me until I fix it!

    Also....I've noticed that when using the Brick...a vocalist can be more dynamic and get louder before clipping and quieter without getting lost in the mix. I'm using a lot less compression on vocals!
  2. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    Jul 21, 2002
    Can't say for sure...but I think the scooped mids thing is one of those psycho-acoustic tricks played on us by nearly everyone...

    Look at the EQs for most FOH systems...big smile...same for many recording applications...and yes, I'm just as guilty when mixing live (or even my guitar rig, for that matter...

    I believe this to be based in the notion that people generally hear mids louder that his or lows...therefore, turning the mids down automatically results in the highs/lows being relatively louder...then the whole thing can get turned up to increase apparent volume....and you know that as a rule, people seem to thing that louder is better (evidenced by ANY pop 40 song released in the past 5-8 years....)

    Whether or not this was a design intention of mid grade equipment or not may never be answered, but I think you are right: intended or not, there's something to it, and its quite noticable.
  3. dynomike

    dynomike Guest

    Whoa, you scoop your guitar? Gross! Electric guitar is ALL about mids! Take that graphic eq out of the circuit and forget you ever had it. :wink: (disclaimer: only you know what sound you want though... just venting my opinion!)

    Relating to the question, though, I'd say that you can make this work to your advantage. Surely you don't want all the tracks in your mix to sound the same.. right? Thats why you have different microphones.. right? If all the tracks needed to have the same general sound for a mix to gel, then we'd all use 1 mic into 1 preamp for all the different tracks. I haven't used your Tascam pres but I'll just put a general suggestion out there based on what you said of them:

    Maybe you could try limiting your use of the brick to instruments which are central to the song, are very mid-dependent, and are going to be panned down the middle. In other words: kick, snare, bass, vocals.. and maybe electric guitar. Surely the "thinning" effect of your tascam preamps work constrastively to open up your mix when applied to other instruments: acoustic, keyboards, background vocals, percussion, etc. In a good mix, not everything has to sound great. It just has to sound great together.

  4. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    May 25, 2005
    Home Page:
    "In a good mix, not everything has to sound great. It just has to sound great together. " DynoMike

    I couldn't agree more Mike. I don't hardly ever solo an instrument anymore when mixing, EQ'ing or panning. You can spend an hour polishing up an incredible guitar track only to find out it sounds like crap when you add the other instruments to the mix.

    Multiple pre's, multiple mic's...use all the tools at your disposal. Sometimes I find amazing sounds in stereo mic'ing sessions where the stereo mics run through different pre's. Maybe the mic on the L channel captures all the lows of a guitar perfectly well through an old RTR preamp and the highs are catured strong, sweet and tight through a modern hybrid mic pre for the R channel. Blend the 2 sources together and it's Nirvana.

    Use everything at your disposal. Heck, sometimes inserting an old Tascam Porta 01 in the signal path is just what the instrument was screaming for in that session. Different electronics = different colors.

    It's also normal these days to scoop the mids out of electric guitars but then the guitar automatically goes to the back of the mix and the subtleties of the wood, strings, technique, pickups, etc. just get lost and all you hear really is the amplifier. Mids with electric guitar have a tendency to contain the information about the guitar itself and how it truly sounds and how You truly sound as a guitarist. I have to admit though that the mids on a lot of modern amps just don't sound very good. But no one in their right mind would scoop the mids out of...say...a '68 Plexi.
  5. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    Jul 21, 2002
    Me? Hell no, I don't scoop...if anything, I punch them up a bit. (Tele/Strat guy...single 12...prefer warm and clean)

    But look at the EQs on some of today's "players"... Graphic, passive resistive (ala Fender, Marshall, Boogie, etc), or parametric...not so much in country, but in metal, alternative rock, grunge (is that still around?), etc...

    Back to topic...wanted to clear that up...been playing guitar for 35+ years now...just trying to relate how psychoacoustics can play tricks as to volume and mix cohesions...
  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    I know why most of the mixes that I've turned out that sound like crap sound that way. It comes down to one single fault in almost every occassion --

  7. Costy

    Costy Guest

    Just alcohol ?
  8. Rider

    Rider Guest

    weird, most of my guitar lays in the 2.5k-3.5k and trails up into 5k. if i do any EQing its usually a deep cut around 250hz to clear the guitar up (and sit in mix easier) and a little boost centered around 3k to accent my guitars tone. 500-2k is all part of the guitar, just not that much with distortion.

    i can tell the unique characteristics of my guitar and where they lie. ive fed my guitar through a variety of setups when recording with various EQ and compression settings, including scooping anywhere from 200s up to 1k. my guitar has always been distinguishable from others.

    now i usually play with almost no eq, and cut most of the mid on the amp, and a lot of the characteristics really shine through with a 2.5-5k boost and some compression.

    unless you really cut your guitar (-6dB or more) you wont lose that much with a good amp.
  9. JBsound

    JBsound Guest

    I usually cut some of that 250ish area out also. Especially if there are drums and bass in there...it can get crowded and muddy in a hurry!

    There is an article either in Mix or in TapeOp this month about how important the mids are in music. It's true...our ear is designed to hear the mids most efficiently (speech, etc.). The article says (and I agree) that if you don't get the mids right that everything else won't really work either.

    It's kind of like sports athletes...doesn't matter how strong their legs/arms are, if they don't have a strong core to connect it then they vastly underperform.

    Like I like to say about my abs - I've got a six pack, but it's still in the case! I wonder if my music is like this? :oops:

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