i'm going crazy ...maybe something's wrong with my ears!

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by intomuzik, May 30, 2006.

  1. intomuzik

    intomuzik Guest

    hello guys!

    it's me again :)

    well, i can't finalize my mixes. I can't mix the vocal and instrument in harmony. Somehow the vocal sounds louder than the instruments or vice versa...

    ahhh...i'm going crazy now...maybe something's wrong with my ears.

    I'm using a pair of Tannoy Passive Monitors and AKG K44 Stereo Headphones.

    Help me please!

    Many thanks in advance
  2. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    This sounds more like a mixing problem.

    Suggest having someone else listen to your mixes. Sometimes you can get too close to the project and loose objectivity. Another set of ears that you trust would confirm or not what you are hearing.

    It happens to everyone at one time or another. You work on a project for a long time and suddenly everything sounds crappy and no matter what you do or don't do you can't shake the feeling that it still has problems.

    Best of luck!
    audiokid likes this.
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    The problem you're describing I find particularly applicable to popular contemporary music with vocals. You're describing the reason why many of us like to use some nice compression/limiting on vocals. I find it makes them sit better in the mix since vocals have a greater perceivable dynamic range than most of the rock-and-roll instrumentation generally delivers. Otherwise you either find the vocal getting lost in the mix or becoming too predominant? And that's what you're describing. So try crunching your lead vocal somewhat and see if that doesn't help?

    I have expanded after being overly compressed all my life. Maybe I should lose some weight?
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  4. alimoniack

    alimoniack Guest

    Sounds like time to sleep on it or grab a cup o' coffee...

    Remy's advice will make almost any vocal sit better in a mix for sure.

    Are you mastering this or mixing it?

    It does sound like the question relates to mix levels being set with a view to how it will "scrub up" in mastering. If you're sending the mixes off you could always ask the ME. But then you kind of are asking ME's (of which I ain't one, but...) for a from-the-hip opinion, right? You could always post an example...

    Anyway, I dunno what style you're mixing, and these are just some personal observations, but I do a lotta rock stuff and I find its good to get a relationship going between the vocal and snare. For mastering purposes I've found things come out better if these are pretty loud in the mix. Kick a bit "behind" the snare and guitar fairly quiet, 'cos when the mix gets compressed those guitars will come back LOUDDD, as will cymbals if they're in any way penetrating in the mixdown. You probably know what I'm talking about already...

    Most clients don't realise just how loud they want the vox to be, it usually needs to be louder in the mix than seems reasonable, but then I'm focused on LOUD rock mainly so mixes have got to sound a wee bit wonky at first if you see what I mean. Hope u find a happy medium,
  5. intomuzik

    intomuzik Guest

    guys! thanks for the advices.

    well, i think i was so stressed because i didn't have a lot of time.
    i recorded it, mixed it and then mastered it, all by myself. I should have had it done by a ME or someone who's professional. Anyway, it's frustrating but fun :), at least i now have some experience.

    I think i'm going to do it again in the future and i'll cry for help :)
  6. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    In addition to Remy's tips on compression/limiting, I find that all too often in today's modern stuff, the vocals get recorded in a very different environment/world than the rest of the tracks.

    This is partially why, back in the olde days of tubes, tapes, analog consoles, etc., things sounded "Better". People had to play instruments for real, often (gasp!) in the same room together, at the same time. Very often a limited selection of mics were used for all of the recording tasks, so lots of times the vocalist sounded like they "belonged" in the mix; they were cut in the same room, with the same (albiet limited) tools of the day, from mixers, limiters, board inputs, etc. (Long before all these wonderful exotic pre's became available.)

    Nowadays (and this is NOT a knock at your skills or today's technology), it's all too easy to create a vocal track that has no earthly connection whatsover to the rest of your instruments. Sometimes this works, sometimes not, usually depending on the genre and desired results.

    Getting things a little warmer sometimes helps (ditto for Remy's tips), and sometimes creating (even with plugins) a more natural/organic environment sometimes helps the blend. Choosing similar or complementary reverbs and delays helps; creating a room simulation/convolution reverb is always good, and try having several OTHER instruments share this space, not just the vocal alone. If you can create a believable, living, breathing "Space" for your tracks/instruments, the vocals may sit with them all just a bit better.

    Bouncing out to tape sometimes warms things up too, and again, maybe you can do this with several instruments as well as the voice.

    When all else fails, leave it alone for a couple of days (or weeks) and come back to it fresh. You may be surprised at what was there in front of you, all along, waiting to be discovered.
    audiokid likes this.
  7. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Ditto to everything that JoeH said.

    I have recently done some mastering on some material where the vocalist literally sounded like he was in another room and the microphone was in the room were the instruments were being recorded. It sounded like he was shouting though the closed door. The client wanted the vocals to sound up close and personal and it was an impossible task. I find that many clients that want a "warmer sound" are trying to get back to the days of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell or Ella Fitzgerald and they think that by running the vocals though some plug ins or some vocal processor they will be getting the "sounds" of the past. Sorry but it does not work that way.

    The vocalist they are trying to emulate were very good singers to begin with, had good microphone techniques (usually used ribbon microphones) and could "sell a song" with their vocal inflections and with the way they phrased the song. Just singing (sometimes off key) in to a 58 microphone and then trying to reprocess the voice to make it sound good is a lesson in futility.

    I just did a mastering session that I had earlier recorded. The vocalist was very good, had good microphone techniques and the mixing (which I did not do) was done very well and the singer came off sounding wonderful with a very warm intimate sound that had a lot of dynamic range. There were no "tricks" involved just good people doing their best.

    Today many people want to start with less than stellar performances and with lots of manipulation make it sound good. The use pitch changing software, lots of plug ins, lots of vocal processors and then they wonder why it does not have a classic sound to it. Go figure!

    audiokid likes this.
  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

Share This Page