Mix Advice

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by audiokid, Apr 11, 2015.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Looking for Mix Advice? - Welcome to our Problem Based Learning Forums where members share and debate recording gear and workflows to a better mix.
    • Registered members can upload their track via the Upload option located below your
    • Mixing engineers will chime in an discuss how they would improve your mix.
    File Format
    • mp3 320 bitrate or less.
    Does this sound like fun?

    Its all about fun and sharing workflow. Don't take it too serious and this should be fun.
    It may not always leave you smiling, but it will definitely leave you thinking.

    Show your love "Like" this thread and maybe even upload a song.
     
  2. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

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    A great way for all of us to share and learn! Thanks Chris!
    ~Jeff
     
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  3. freightgod

    freightgod Active Member

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    I think I love you. In a very manly way, of course. I better hurry.
     
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  4. simman

    simman Active Member

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    Great idea!!!
     
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    @audiokid @Kurt Foster @Boswell @kmetal @pcrecord @paulears @Paul999 @Davedog @dvdhawk @thatjeffguy
    (and anyone else I forgot to mention)

    Sure! I'll play :)

    Here's one that my friend (and client) Terry and I have been working on for the past few days - there are lyrics to it, we just haven't gotten around to tracking any vox yet.... there will be lead vocals, and eventually, a fairly big backing vocal section, in a sort of R&B Gospel kind of style.
    Also, guitar, which will be tracked some time this week. We're just not sure what kind of guitar work we want yet.

    It's a "jazzy - kinda - funky" thing, "You Ought To Be In Heaven", slated for this album of his that we are currently working on. I figured I'd get the ball rolling now on critiques for the instrumental backing we have so far...

    Disclaimers...
    I played the B3 part, and as you will hear, I am NOT "a B3 player". Put in the most basic terms - cats like Greg Rolie, Matthew Fisher - and any of the other real B3 guys won't be losing sleep anytime soon. LOL

    Terry played the other keys, I did bass and drums, and a little Rhodes. Terry and I both scored the brass.

    Also, I mixed this pretty soft ( because I did it at 2 a.m. and didn't want to wake my girlfriend), so, it's possible that the low end may be too hot. (I listened through a pair of cans, but they are new, so I don't know yet if I can trust them).

    Any and all critiques welcome! :)

    OUGHT TO BE HEAVEN MAY 11 2015.mp3

     

    Attached Files:

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  6. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    I agree the low end could be more controled and more presence would make it sound more alive.
    The whole drum is kind of missing attacks. Like you would have compressed it with a too fast attack and killed a bit too much of the transients. Of course it could be the tuning of the drum itself or how it was played...

    I like the groove every instruments seem well performed. I can't wait to hear the evolution of this one ! ;)
     
  7. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

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    Sydney, Australia
    Here is a mix that I'm working on for a mix contest that shall remain nameless (unless you are familiar with this song or a particular brand of plug-in that shall remain nameless so it may give it away)...
    I've only mixed it in cans at present (its 4:15am in the morning here in Oz, so I didn't want to wake the whole house up)

    I would appreciate members feedback, its totally ITB and still a work in progress at this stage, but will assist with the learning curve to hear anyones thoughts.

     

    Attached Files:

  8. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    http://recording.org/threads/critique-this-mix.58871/#post-431571
     
  9. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

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    Sydney, Australia
    Here is a collaboration I have been working on with a collegue in the US
    Its a cover of Floyds' Speak To Me / Breathe / On The Run
    I would appreciate any feedback / thoughts from members
    You may notice a little artistic license with this one, it is only a first draft and as its 1:38am in the morning here Sydney time I have only used cans so not to wake the household up

     

    Attached Files:

  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    Let's face it, Sean - you didn't exactly pick the easiest of classic rock medleys to cover... LOL

    It sounds like you have a little too much energy going on in the lower mid range; what we would refer to as "weight"...

    The vocals could come forward more ... also the snare, which while not in your face and front and center on the original, is still pretty buried on your version.. The bass guitar seems a bit too hot... but then again, you've got a nice overall "warmth" going on, and there's no doubt that the DSOTM album was a very warm-sounding album; you've done a nice job - considering that you didn't have an EMI TG Desk, Studer A-80 tape machine, or the rack of envied gear that Abbey Road had (including pieces like the coveted Fairchild 660's and 670's, LOL) .

    You did a very respectable job on the lead guitar - considering that on the original, a Fender double-neck pedal steel was used for the "lead solo" at 1:30, and, it was set up for an open D G D G B E tuning, so on your version, where you played it using a guitar, you have an interval/note missing on the intro harmony /slide lead part ( at 1:41),... still, you did a really good job with the performance...

    I do think you're missing one crucial component, which is B3 ... there was so much of it all over that record...( I was really hoping you'd have that B3 swell, right before "Run, rabbit run"... )

    As far as mixing, it's my suspicion that using headphones is probably not the best way to mix this. Have you tried mixing this with monitors instead? Headphones are ususally so skewed and hyped in certain frequencies and dimension (intentionally) so unless you have a set that are reference grade - which ain't cheap - it's probably a crap shoot when mixing thru them, and ultimately, I think you'd be better off using monitors.

    But ...I say all of the above in reference to the original version, and while I understand there's almost always some artistic license involved when doing covers, especially of songs of this nature that are this classic, monumental, innovative and respected, I don't know how much of this was due to your recording situation/limitation, and how much of it was you wanting to make it your own version versus how true to the original you'd ultimately like to be. ;)

    If you can, try remixing this through monitors and repost. :)

    IMHO of course.

    d.
     
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  11. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

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    Dan (Kogwonton), who has joined us today on RO did those great guitar parts also.
    Thanks for the feedback Donny, we are in the process of remixing and hope to post an ammended track shortly.
     
  12. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

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    Here is a remix...
    It is Breathe as opposed to the medley...once all 3 are finished & together they shall be posted again as one.

     

    Attached Files:

  13. Kogwonton

    Kogwonton Active Member

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    Great sounding bass.
     
  14. Kogwonton

    Kogwonton Active Member

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    I don't have a lap steel, so I had to make do with my MIM strat.
     
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  15. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

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    Heres' all three together again

     

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  16. mastercutter

    mastercutter Active Member

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    Generally great starts shared. For the final mix, I wonder how many here mix as industry pros do. You know, once all tracking and overdubbing and editing is finished, they start (in a new studio) with all faders at minus infinity, and bring up, say, the kick (or 808 boom), only - whatever is the lowest freq. and loudest percussion instrument channel (since that, and the rest of the kit, eats up a lot of the mix's 'real estate') and fine-tune that while the (mostly-muted) track loops for about an hour before bringing up the snare (or clap sample, if Rap)? After the whole kit is up, it's time to take 5. Then bring up the lead vocal and fine-tune / tweak it for an hour or so before bringing up the main background vox... Etc.

    The reason I ask is that, if you spent from, say, noon until midnight (or midnight until noon!) working on just the one mix - with loudspeakers cranked - you wouldn't need to ask anyone's opinion on the crafting - it would be unambiguously well-mixed, and you'd be worried about the sound possibly changing during mastering.
     
  17. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    Honestly, if I mix a song for 12 hours on cranked speakers, it would be a mess because after an hour my ears would get tired (and dammaged)
    I usually mix a song within an hour or so and get back to it later if I'm not done. I work at low volume with small period of high volume to assess the low end.
    I think mixing at high volume makes music that sound good only at high volume. (another debate I guess)
    Experienced mixing engineers anticipate what will happen when their mix will be mastered. For those not so experienced like me, putting a limiter and/or other mastering tool on the masterbuss as tests while mixing is a good approach. You just need to remove them before sending it to a real ME.

    On the other end, there are some ME that don't take time to discuss with the customer and slam the mix out of the genre with unadequate mastering style.
    It happened to one of my customer ; it was a folk band doing some organic music which breathed nicely but the ME made it over compressed and sucked up all the life and nuances the band worked hard to perform. They came back to me and used my mastering test (well I didn't have the expertise to call it mastering then) because even if it wasn't perfect it was closer to what they wanted.

    People ask advice on their mix because they don't have the knowledge or the confidence to put it out to the world after cooking it in their bedroom.
    I find that a perfect aproach and it even takes maturity and courage to do so. Not everyone is ready to expose their possibile mistakes and fails.
    RO is a great place to share because judgement is rarely part of the game. We try to pinpoint at what level the person is and pushing them to grow to the next step without discouraging them...

    But hey, that's just my humble opinion ;)
     
  18. mastercutter

    mastercutter Active Member

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    Please don't play your stereo back too loud. I don't mean your loudspeakers should blare. By 'cranked', I mean that your monitor gain knob will need to be deflected to a louder setting than you might have it for auditioning mastered records (i.e., industry releases on CDs, or even MfiT AACs), since they play back much louder than a 24 bit mix (before mastering) should play back. The loudspeaker (setting), therefore, is 'cranked' so that you can hear what you're mixing!



    How can you be done mixing a song in an hour if it takes Joe Ciccarelli 8 hours? (If it takes most pros 12 hours to mix a Grammy, how can a DIY mix compete that was done in an hour?)

    Again, not 'high volume' - rather, 'cranked gain knob' so that your 'volume' isn't too quiet while mixing with high crest factor and while avoiding overloading the playback chain...

    I find it important to work on songs at the loudness of playback that corresponds with the flattest portion of our hearing, which is when the music is sensibly 'cranked'. I use ~ 70 dB SPL (Slow C-weight setting).

    The best mastering will be done from the best sounding mix. The mastering processors should be transparent, ideally. There's nothing to anticipate while mixing. Simply make it sound great. You have the power since you can adjust the travel of so many individual sounds with the faders. In mastering, each move helps and hurts because the elements are already mixed (together). We must find where necessary harm is forgivable in the pursuit of the musical cure. If the insult escapes detection, so much the better.

    The music is the 'master' - not the other way around. So, just make it sound great without being concerned about the absolute loudness of the mix. That is best done in mastering.

    Bob Ohlsson explains that mixing while peaking close to 0 causes one's monitoring chain to be part of the sound while mixing. The way that the monitoring chain used while mixing overloads will impart a subtle distortion that is affecting how one perceives the mix but when you turn off your limiter, the sound you were going for doesn't travel with the mix when it's played back elsewhere, such as the mastering studio, unless you used the same limiter and the same settings. And limiters don't make anything sound better - not look-ahead brick wall limiters. They're necessary evils for the make up gain that they make possible. The sound may be evil but the way that it got evil should be pure! 0; By leaving some headroom (say, 3 - 12 dB) above the highest peak of the mix, you ensure that what travels to mastering will sound, there, as good as it sounded at yours.


    Right on!
     
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  19. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    Sorry for not knowing the right words of the 'Pros'. For me cranked is way up and loud ;)

    Because I'm mixing 100% ITB and I'm an amateur doing amateur's mix (amateurs mostly being poor musicians).. My projects don't hit more than 40 tracks instead of 128tracks like some big boys do.
    I guess I would take more time if I was to mix a Celine Dion album...

    I know that a perfect mix would probably make the ME do nothing to it. If it sounds good, there is no point to change it. But I usually send mixes to mastering without any compression on the masterbuss. I hope you will agree that compression done to put the volume to industry standards will often make some instruments standout in a mix. Guitar parts may take more space than they did when the mix wasn't compress. That's the king of anticipation I'm talking about.
    Normally if I have a customer with me when mixing, 90% of the time they will feel the volumes and sound isn't to their taste while mixing with no compression but when it's mastered they finally understand and like the results. To avoid this kind of deception with them, I started to put a limiter on the masterbuss and show them what it will become from time to time. It's also a good reference for me.
    I have no shame to say I'm still learning. So I'm grabbing every bits I can from those who have more experience in the craft !

    This is something I'm not sure about. I don't know if all DAWs will do this (adding distortions when the output is close to 0db). If I remember, Sonar would do it because they kinda designed it to behave like an analog mixer. But with Samplitude Pro, I think you can playback way pass the internal 0db and get no distortion. (I'm willing to test this to be sure)
    But I'm sure you were talking about an analog output chain.
    In my case, my physical output chain is RME Fireface 800 to amplified monitors (Yamaha HS8 + HS8S sub). I'm not sure I'd appreciate putting the volume up in my interface and having to stand up and change the volumes on my monitors one by one...

    I'm sorry if I didn't get the meaning of everything you said (being a french canadian) ;)
    Feel free to correct me if I'm lost ...
     
  20. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    How long it takes to mix a song depends a lot on the song. If it's acoustic guitar and two vocals it might take twenty minutes. If it's five channels of drums, a stereo keyboard, bass and one vocal it still might take twenty minutes if it's tracked well. Same number of tracks and same instruments might take three sessions if it needs more work (automation, remediation, editing).
     
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