Polishing the mix.

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by ajazzie, Aug 23, 2003.

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. ajazzie

    ajazzie Active Member

    Aug 23, 2003
    Hi all,
    I consider that most of my mixes come out pretty much as I want them to, yet at times I just cant get it righ, no matter how hard I try the mix sounds too reverby even when I dont use any verb??

    I have troubles gettig the pro sound , the flat type response with a real airy type effect, with nothing jumping out too far, Know where I am comming from?

    Sometimes I can get it while other times I struggle and get frustrated.
    I have been mixing for a number of years, though I do get good sounding results I feel I still need help with approaching the mix, getting the pro sound so to speak.

    I would love to get some comments and opinions of what people find usefull and techniques they use to polish and create thier mixes,

    Any suggestions,???

  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Without hearing your finished mix it is hard to tell but from what you describe it appears that you need to take your mix to the next level which is usually considered mastering. This requires a far different set of skills as well as the right tools.

    If your up to the challange you might attempt to upgrade your mixed material by doing some audio sweetening or what is often called budget mastering. Sometimes all it takes is a little corrective eq and/or mild compression on the 2-bus to make a huge difference. Having the very best in audio tools to do this kind of work will get you the best results.

    [ August 24, 2003, 06:08 AM: Message edited by: AudioGaff ]
  3. ajazzie

    ajazzie Active Member

    Aug 23, 2003
    Thanks for the input.
    I find the hardest thing is getting the compression right on masters. So many people I know, including mastering engineers dont let on the secrets they use. Even the guys I work with are information stooges which isnt that uncommon in this industry.

    I believe my craft is getting better, isnt it strange hoe the various forums offer more help than the people you work with!

    May I ask you of your ball park compression ratios, compressors you use and some basics you apply at mix down to mastering?

    We have most of the tools at our disposal, as well as all the latest plugs, well the important ones anyhow.

    I am mixing at home mainly on protools, the master fader is normally set up with AC1 or 2, external compression and eq, duy wide and waves L1.
    Generally I keep the mix cool and leave headroom for the mastering stage, as well as keeping any effects on the master fader to a bare minimum.
    Low compression ratios generally and gentle eq.

    I love the sound of the AC1 and the duy wide gives a bit to the overall sound.

    Thats about it, drums are submixed as are keyboards and guitars.
    Drums are carefully compressed as the big thing here is always the choice of compression in the mix as which drum triggers the compressor. I stay very gentle here and apply a different bus for different drums.

    Anyhow , if you have any suggestions I would love to hear them.


  4. white swan

    white swan Guest


    I'm a bit puzzled by how professional mastering is going to significantly fix tracks that sound too "reverby", in spite of the fact that no reverb was used on the project. Seems like problem would have to be occurring earlier in the process, don't you agree?

    Not being a real expert, I would use a "common sense" approach to playing reverb detective:

    1) Are you using synth or sampled sounds that have built in reverb? Can that reverb be defeated before tracking? (Usually there is a way to do this).

    2) Is your recording space overly reverberant? Go to the spot where you usually mic things and clap your hands sharply, and/or yell something like "BAP". What kind of echoes and/or reflections do you hear? This may be a clue that you need to pile some absorbant material around the room.

    3) Are you recording a lot of things in a really tiny space like a vocal booth? Try tracking in another (bigger) room.

    4) Make sure there are no feedback loops in the recording chain which are adding a delayed signal to the dry signal.

    OK - if a dummy like me can come up with a few ideas, I'm sure the real pros will jump right in and add a bunch more! :h:

    [ August 24, 2003, 08:11 PM: Message edited by: white swan ]
  5. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Hi folk!
    Which is your daw, gear?
    I´ve got some nice pre-sets if you wish, butlet us know what exactly is going down there
  6. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    See that's just it. It is so music, song, style, and feel dependant that without knowing all that as well as hearing what it is that your specific mix needs, lacks, or has too much of, that what I would tell you is not really meaningful. And for mastering, compression and limiting is very much different than it is for mixing. Using compression and/or limiting can and usually takes many years to master as a skill. And using digital vs analog is very much different, at least for me.

    For mixing and mastering I pretty much always use hardware, and from the hardware I own mostly because I know it real well. For analog, I pick from Focusrite Red-3, dbx 160S and 160SL, Manley Var-Mu, Tube-Tech CL2A and for digital, TC DBmax or Eventide DSP4500/DSP7000. These can be used in various combos. I will say what is normal for me is to start with low ratios and high thresholds and see how that works. I keep asking myself questions about what it is I'm doing. What does this mix need? What is in control and what is out of control? Is it to harsh or to mellow? Does it need more punch or less? And so on...

    Watch out that your drum comp is not fighting and overworking the 2-bus comp. You may not even need a drum comp if your using a 2-bus comp. Try it and see if it helps. You may need to use the comp sidechain to fine tune the comp.

    And I'm quite sure that if you pay for a good mastering engineer that he/she will take as much time as needed to show you how and which tools they use. While this won't likely be cheap, it will be valueable and educational.
  7. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Mabe, mabe not. AJ said,
    This implies to me that based on his current skills and experience that he needs, is missing or is ready for the next logical step which is mastering or at least audio sweetening be professional or otherwise.

    What AJ describes as too reverby might be something very different that he doesn't understand or can not articulate. It might be some PT thing he is using or doing that affects the space and sucks the life out the mix like I have often heard from PT mixes. I don't know and can't be sure because I have not heard his mix. But he does know it needs something and he wants to learn how to use mastering methods and tools. So all the power to him. He may find that no amount of mastering or even audio sweetening by him or any pro is going to satisfy him and he will then need to re-focus on his recording and/or mixing skills.
  8. ajazzie

    ajazzie Active Member

    Aug 23, 2003
  9. by

    by Guest

    have you tried applying the newyork compression trick?
  10. UncleBob58

    UncleBob58 Active Member

    Apr 9, 2003
    Fairfield County, CT
    Home Page:
    When I was learning how to mix (and we all are still learning if we are any good at it, you can NEVER stop learning) I had similar problems. A couple of good engineers gave me a lot of great advice.


    1. Check your mix with headphones on occasion, as well as alternate speakers. (Besides my Tannoys I check my mixes on my TOA minicubes, Radio Shack bookshelf speakers and a boom box. I will also use AKG K240DF headphones as well as some Sony consumer cans and Walkman style headphones.)

    2. Check each instrument/track individually for noise and artifacts.

    3. Repeat #2 for all sub mixes and FX/Dynamics buses.

    4. When beginning to mix, mix in mono (to listen for phase cancellation) and keep it DRY, DRY, DRY!!! No EQ!!! Try to get the mix as perfect as you can without any "help" from processing and EQ.

    5. Having completed #4 take a ten minute ear break. Get out of the studio, get something to drink, take a leak, got for a walk. When you come back you will here all kinds of things that you missed before.

    6. With clean ears listen to the rough mix all the way through. Takes notes (or use markers if you are using a DAW).

    From here on in you are on your own. Just don't get stuck into a rut by doing things the same way all the time. Instead of adding low end to the bass, try making it louder and sucking some of the mids out. Can't decide of a part is loud enough? Listen to the mix with the part muted and see how much you miss it. You're using PT, so build alternate mixes.

    I like to build the drums first, add the bass and then the Vox and then flesh out the mix with the other parts. But like I said, don't get into a rut. So I will build the entire mix backwards (Gtrs & keys, vox, bass, drums) or inside out (vox, bass, gtrs & keys, drums) and other variations. I will always do a number of alternate mixes using crazy FX, alternate pannings, dropping or adding instruments, changing keyboard sounds if they are MIDI, etc.

    Anyway, the first four steps are the ones you should pay most attention to if you are having that "reverby" problem.


    Uncle Bob

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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