Mixing Exercise

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by GeckoMusic, Jul 7, 2008.

  1. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    This weekend I did an interesting exercise with one of the songs that I am mixing, and learned a couple of things. I also am curios as to what other people think of this technique.

    This is going to sound crazy, but stay with me. In the end the results were good. I tried a different method to find a frequency range for each part to sit in the mix. I started off with just the lead vocal, and put a 24db/octave high and low pass filter on it. I narrowed the band down until I found a small range that conveyed the vocal. It sounded like it was coming out of a little old AM transistor radio, but the vocals were clear. I added one track at a time using bands that had no overlap until I had all the tracks in, and the whole frequency spectrum covered.

    The results were as follows:
    Bass 20-150
    Dobro 150-300
    Male Vocal 300-600
    Female Vocal 600-2k
    Guitar 2k-6k
    Mandolin 6k-20k

    Even with the hard EQing it didn't sound bad like this. To make it sound good I ended up using these frequency ranges for the instruments, but not as band passes.

    I gained a couple of things from this exercise:

    1. It reinforced that there is more than one good way to mix a set of tracks.
    2. There is a difference between EQing to accentuate parts of the track, and EQing to mix and fit the tracks together.
  2. fourone3

    fourone3 Active Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    Can you post the song, or a sample of the song?
  3. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    I wish I could post a sample, but can't. Mix is so subjective that this post may be hard to comment on. It's not a critique of this particular mix that I am interested in, more just on the approach to the mix.

    Has anyone else done it this way before?
    Are their pit falls that as a recording engineer you see with this method?

    If there is more interest, and I have time, I'll do it with one of my own works that I post to the internet.
  4. mhutch

    mhutch Guest

    I'm not interested in critiquing you, I'm just curious to hear how it sounds. No dice?
  5. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    This is a little snip of the chorus.

    Here we go:

    Be My Lamp Lord
  6. mhutch

    mhutch Guest

    That sounds a lot better than I expected. Maybe I'll mix one of my songs like that and see how it turns out. Thanks for sharing!

    PS: I kinda like ol' country gospel.
  7. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    Dec 4, 2007
    Toms River, NJ
    Thanks for the idea, I am going to try it on my own project shortly.

    The style is a cross between rock and funk, very similar to what the Red Hot Chili Peppers might do.

    The instrumentation is as follows:

    Latin Percussion (Shakers, Clave, Guiro, Djembe, Cowbell)
    Bass Guitar
    Acoustic Guitar
    Electric Guitar
    Old Electric Organ
    Lead Vocal
    Harmony Vocal
    Hip-hop Vocal (kind of rapping)
    Shout Vocal (not screaming at all, just short staccato accents)

    I know there are many more instruments in my example than yours, but here is my initial thoughts, before I try it out:

    Drums: No clue, wide range from bass drum to cymbals
    Percussion: Probably a higher frequency, at least above 1000
    Bass Guitar: between 50 to 150
    Acoustic Guitar: chunky meaty sound, so maybe 150-300, also higher
    Electric :i'll try yours at 2k-6k
    Old Electric Organ: somewhere maybe the 6-20ish range
    Lead Vocal: male, so i'll try yours at 300-600
    Harmony Vocal: male, but its higher so i'll try your female range
    Hip-hop Vocal: i want a really dry sound, maybe 1k-3k
    Shout Vocal: not sure anywhere from 500-3k

    my biggest problems are the range of the drums, how the guitars sit with the organ, and the variety of vocal tracks. Taking a look at what I have given you so far, are there any potential roadblocks ahead?

    do you think this concept can be applied to panning as well? i mean start with the vocals in the middle, and then work your way out, as instruments become less "important"?

    when I am done tracking, i will try and get something posted! thanks
  8. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    Thanks mhutch.


    There was a recent post from YellYo talking about using panning to separate things in your mix. (Dead Link Removed) There was some good stuff in there. The method you mentioned is what I do for the most part.

    Another thing to consider is that the background instruments need less frequency space. I think of it in fractions of octaves (like a graphic EQ) on a 24 band eq, the lead vocal may get 3 or 4 bands in the middle, but the dobro fills may only get one band.

    I have found that rolling off a little high and low frequency helps push them back, and keeping the front and center tracks pretty flat, and cutting the background instead of boosting the foreground helps.
  9. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    Dec 4, 2007
    Toms River, NJ
    Thanks for the link!
  10. DocRoc

    DocRoc Guest

    did anyone else ever try this exercise. Sounds interesting, especially now that I heard how "not-awefull" that mix sounded. Just wondering if anyone else tried this. Particularly with that rock/funk mix.
  11. Jaxon13

    Jaxon13 Active Member

    Dec 23, 2008
    Madcity, WI
    What an interesting idea! Can't wait to try it out on some of my stuff! Everytime I stop in, I learn something new from you folks--thanks!

    If you start charging me for these lessons.....hoo-boy... :shock:

  12. sammyg

    sammyg Active Member

    Dec 12, 2003
    im glad you posted this because a while back i accidently stumbled across something similar and you are cinfirming my thoughts in regards to my experience.

    I was working on a mix and I had to do the "telephone" effect in this one part for the main vox, I was messing around with one of the filter plugins in nuendo, I quickly dialed up a starting point and hit play. Funnily enough, hearing the transition from "telephone vox" to normal vox, I actualy prefered the filtered vox for the whole mix, there was something about it that just worked in the mix, yet on its own it didnt sound crash hot and I would never have done that as part of my vox processing. In actual fact, it made me realise that not everthing has to be BIG and FAT and HUGE all the time. A real eye opener.

    I heard you song through little ear buds, i think it sounds fine.



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