Mixing, cant see the forrest through the trees... advice?

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by ShoeBoxDude, Sep 1, 2005.

  1. ShoeBoxDude

    ShoeBoxDude Guest

    Hey guys,

    Heres the deal, ive been working on this project for about 4 or 5 months. Ive heard the songs thousands of times.

    The last couple of days I've been trying to mix them and I'm having tons of trouble. I can get a pretty good balance, which I'm happy with, but it doesn't always sound like other commercial cds. But then going through commercial cds a lot of them sound different in comparison.

    Should I just not care, get what i want and let the ME sort out the overall?

    The songs just seem like a blur now, I have no perspective or objectivity when Im mixing them.

    Im sure a couple of you have been in this situation, what do you usually do?

  2. Ah, been there quite a few times...
    If you got the time, don't listen to the track at all for a couple of weeks. I often get a much clearer view after that.

    Otherwise, ask some friend (who doesn't have to be a musician at all) to listen and comment. There might be some obvious things you've missed that "normal" people would hear.
  3. Step back for a bit. Do something that has nothing to do with music for a week or so. Then come back in with an open mind. Mix until mixed well. If it doesn't sound like commercial cd's in terms of loudness, that's very common. To get to a commercial level, your work will need to be mastered.

    Only get it to where you are happy with it. There's only a certain point where you can take it and then an ME will need to bring it to its final destination.
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    This is a commonly asked question ... "How do I get "that" sound .... ?"

    A lot of people like to focus on the mix to get things to fit together and basically they just rush through the tracking stages, not listening to how things fit in while they record. They don't seem to have a "plan" while they track. Instead they just go on recording "willy nilly", figuring they will make it all fit together at mix time. They often make the mistake of listening to the phone cue mix, instead of listening to the main stereo mix. I think that is a big mistake.

    While it's important to keep tabs on the talents mix I believe it's also critical to have a separate CR mix to listen to as well. This mix can have eq and dynamics elements included so you can get a handle on where you are headed. This is also why I advocate, unlike some others, using comps and eq to the recorder as you record ... it just gives you a better idea of where you will eventually wind up in the mix and lets you cull out the bad ideas and sounds. It allows you to spread your decisions out across the whole project, instead of deferring the whole mess until mix time, which makes the whole mix process much less daunting and intimidating.

    From what I have seen, most of the best engineers are "mixing" while they are tracking ... That way the know when they are recording something that won't fit in, or that is masking other important elements of the ensemble.

    Last, something to consider is what kind of gear are you using to track? The fastest way to professional sounding recordings is to use professional level gear. That does not include anything that says "Pro" in the product name, like "Pro Channel" or "Professional Mic Pre". The "tell" of any good craftsman in any of the trades be it carpenters, electricians, lumberjacks or audio geeks, is the tools they use. There is no substitute for great front end gear .. (mics, pres, compressors / limiters and eqs).
  5. ShoeBoxDude

    ShoeBoxDude Guest


    Hey guys,

    Thanx for the replys guys,

    I hope I have time to just not listen to it for a bit, that would be nice. I fairly happy with sound of everything, and months ago I remember taking in the rough mixes and being like 'wow, this is gunna turn out really sweet' I think now im bored and over doing things like eq and compression when really the sounds were relitively good to begin with.

    Kurt, For drums I used some Presonus MP20 pres for kick and snare, some Toft preamps for overheads, for everything else drums it was the digi002r, and a behringer ad8000. Guitars through a digimax, bass same. Vocal through the 'Pro Channel' lol. It is a pretty brutal metal record, and I want it to sound offensive. I want everything to be heard, but I want it to sound pissed!

    I tracked in pro-tools, and did a lot of editing and mixing there. When i was happy with everything I consolidated it and moved over to Nuendo. to mix. Ive heard the rough mixes so many times, somethings are just so programmed in my head. Im thinking 'does this sound akward because its bad, or just cause its not how it sounded on the rough mix'.

    To top it off Im mixing on yorkville ysm-1s :cry: in an open warehouse :oops: with a room bulit out of blankets and foam :shock:
  6. Clive Banks

    Clive Banks Guest

    hav you thought about listening to it in a different enviroment? at a completely different volume//?
    occasonally when i have the same problem i can listen to just jazz or coltrane for hours. it rrefreshes the hearing.
  7. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    Re: Thanx

    Uh oh :shock: , you're gonna set off his schpiel about how you can't record good levels with the MP20 because it uses +4dBu as its reference to 0 dB. :roll:
  8. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Dont worry about how or where you recorded it. Its too late now and doubt is what you're fighting at this time. In a perfect world.....blahblahblah....there is no such place. Like has been said, step away for a bit. It is the forest blocking the view of the trees. Listen to other music that is far removed from your project. Dont think about your project. As an added measure back up all your files and sounds. Sometimes this will help in alleviating worry. Just knowing you can get back to square one and doing the little 'make-work' tasks that while being a part of the process are really not the focus. Take out the trash, sweep up the studio area, rearrange the desk....anything that gets the mind off the mix. Come back fresh and dont worry about it. Create a NEW commercial sound! Good luck.
  9. ShoeBoxDude

    ShoeBoxDude Guest


    Reggie, despite the +4/0, the levels are fine.

    Davegod, I like the way you think. Im going to this cottage this weekend, on monday to hell with everybody.

  10. drumist69

    drumist69 Active Member

    Feb 26, 2005
    North Carolina, USA
    that's funny~

    He called you daveGOD...I bow down before the ironic truth of it!!!!
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Oh pleeeeez......! The only creature I'm 'god' to is the dog and its only because I have opposing thumbs to open the dog food bag and the door when he's gotta crap....
  12. idiophone

    idiophone Guest

    I agree about taking a step back - or two or three steps. While you're doing that, indulge yourself. Good food, maybe a weekend away with the wife, go watch that movie you've been wanting to see, etc. The trick is to break your normal routine completely for as long as you can afford to do it. Spending money on treating yourself right is sometimes more important than buying a new piece of gear. I wish I'd figured that out sooner, to tell you the truth.

    If I had the money and time to take a month off, I'd go to Scotland and ride trains around the countryside again, smoke my pipes, drink beer and read old books. Guaranteed I'd fly right through my mixes when I got back (if I cared at all about them by that point).

    Ah, 'tis to dream.
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