She Said

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by drubu, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. drubu

    drubu Active Member

    Nov 18, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    Okay, here it goes...

    Please, any objective criticism you have to offer would be MUCH appreciated!!!

    (A Note about the recording process)
    3-piece band: A singing bassist, a guitarist, and a drummer. All set up in an 11x12 room. CAD hand-held condenser on vox, bass DI'ed, SM58 on guitar (where's my '57?!), and a samson mic package on the kit. All into a Tascam US1800 (don't laugh, it was cheap) on a quad PC running Vegas. No separation, no overdubs, a single-take live recording. Spill is our best friend!
    (The mix)
    Mixed in Vegas with no outboard gear.
    Drums: OH panned L&R, close mics left of center, Kick down the center, snare verb panned right.
    Bass guitar 20% left.
    Guitar 30% right.
    Vox down the middle.
    Some plate 'verb splashed throughout.
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Now, that's a well recorded song. I love that big beautiful fat low and you've got going. Made me think that anybody driving around in a car with one of those huge boom boom stereos, that it would blow their driver and passenger doors wide open LOL. Yeah! I like the compression on the vocal and its sound overall. But here is where I think you missed the mark?

    That snare drum, it's lost through a good chunk of the song. It should be a definite upbeat smack but it sounds like a drum with a wet washcloth on the head the way you have it right now. My advice. A little extra upper mid-band EQ boost. A bit of not too fast attack time limiting followed by a gate. Now that gate might cut off that leading edge of the smack. That's OK. The overheads are catching that. The limited snare with the gate will provide more meat, more girth, more smack. And you might want to try the same thing on the bass drum and then also invert the phase on the bass drum. That along with the overheads and the related phase cancellation that occurs, happens just in the right place to provide a greater and more powerful thud, to the bass drum. It's a cool trick that I've been using since the mid-1970s on base from. It's the only drum in your mix that has the microphone on the bottom side of that drumhead unlike the other drums. So while you actually think it's in phase and it is, it actually isn't. I figured that out in my later teenage years only to find out a couple years later, that's what George Massenburg also always did. Though I rather like it the other way for jazz. A little fatter and a little more flabby by not inverting the phase of the bass drum. But when you want a tight and you want it hard you flip and invert the phase. Don't do that to any of the other microphones on the drum set. Not unless you have a bottom snare drum microphone in addition to the top snare drum microphone. The bottom snare drum mic also always gets phase inverted.

    Now I think you'd also push that guitar solo when it happens? Or, you could stick a compressor on the guitar. Not too fast and attacked time but a slightly fast release time. This will increase the apparent loudness of the guitar solo without actually increasing its loudness. It makes it more dense that way. And then you could switch back after the solo to the way you had it before and its supporting role. One other thing you might want to investigate is to apply an ambient room to the guitar part. This is an extremely short decay style multi-tap reverb like process where the reverb is so short, it just sounds like it's in a small ambient room. This will spread the stereo effect of the guitar much more widely in the stereo sound field. Similar techniques can be added to drum tracks (not the overheads) to actually create an effect of the drums being in a larger ambience studio. This also generates a greater amount of random phase stereo information. But for those that like a really dry sound, like the Counting Crows like, you'd probably not want any of that extra stuff? Though a lot of people seem to like my more ambient version of their live performance than their completely dry versions on their CD. So not quite sure what that has to say? Intimate is fine. But there's something much more exciting sounding to a track that has some exciting ambience to it. It makes the brain process this perception so much differently. It allows your brain to process the hangover from previous notes and smacks. Otherwise it's their one moment and gone the next. So that ambience helps to glue and tie everything together much more sonically. And I think the brain processes this a little bit like subliminal advertising does? And subliminal advertising as you know (or may not know?) is actually, illegal to do. At least for household commercial products. But in a rock 'n roll song, the skies the limit. Remember how people talked about " Paul is dead " that they heard at the end of Strawberry Fields? When it was really a slowed down line of I believe John saying actually..." I'm very poor...". It wasn't Paul is dead. And it wasn't Paul is dead when played that words on that other cut either. I can't tell you how many times I listen to that song backwards? Thank God for half track stereo tape recorders LOL. Couldn't do that with your home Sony 1/4 inch reel to reel that's for sure. With 1/4 track stereo there is nothing on side two of the reel LOL. And certainly not a dead Paul.

    Did John Lennon have Pallbearers? If so, who's going to take Sir McCartney to the cemetery? John bearers? George bearers? Ringo bearer? That sounds all wrong?

    Not quite sure why you cranked that bass guitar 20% to the left?? That's screwy. No real reason to do that. Center is good. And the snare reverb panned to the right? What? Why? It should be stereo reverb. I think only Don Landee did that on the Doobie Brothers back in the early 1970s? Like on China Grove? It's not 1972 anymore.

    Yes I did hear a little bit of reverb splashed throughout but it wasn't bright and it wasn't really there sure the hell wasn't a plate. Of course that's how it's labeled I know. And I'll take just about anybody's plate reverb emulation even though it really doesn't sound like a real EMT plate used to sound. You know it's plate reverb when you hear that plate reverb sizzle. No sizzle? No plate. I frequently tweak my digital plate reverb's to have a little more sizzle in the fizzle. Some of that you can just plain get from giving yourself a high-end boost on whatever signal you are directing to the reverb. Plates actually had a high-end preemphasis boost in their driver amplifier to the plate. And I always had an equalizer in line, in my control room, feeding my EMT plates and frequently even on the returns. Just to get that reverb right where I wanted it to be. It wasn't just push a button and turn the knob. You tailor everything and anything. So, instead of just taking some reverb, print that reverb to another pair of tracks in the timeline. Then you can EQ that reverb return in addition to any EQ that was feeding the reverb unit/plug-in. And tailor it precisely. You don't want a lot of low-end reverb because it's all boom and mud. So be sure to add some high pass filtering.

    What do ya think about that?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Well-Known Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
    Cool track eh Remy! Ah, takes me back to the 70's and serious love.

    Guitar is taking up the mix IMO a bit too much. That's cool for solo but its hogging the space for the other parts of the song, like the snare for certain. That's why we call it "mixing" , your adding too much Tabasco to the broth.
    Bass should in dead center IMO, unless its the Beatles lol.

    Personally, I'd be putting the kick, snare, bass and Vox dead center. If you want to give it some stereo space, you can always double the guitar and vocals ( search for doubling or stereo effect). Then hard pan them and simply just turn down the sides until they blend nicely with the center in a very subtle way. To give it some shape, you jog the side a bit back and ahead in the timeline by a millisecond from the center track and this will create a cool stereo effect. But be careful to not go overboard. Just watch for phasing issues in mono. I use mono to check my mixes. You can add more verb to those tracks while keeping the center more up front.

    That's my two cents to start with. Get the balance better and let us hear it again.

    Love the track, nice performance.
  4. drubu

    drubu Active Member

    Nov 18, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    Wow Remy, that's an awesome tip about the kick phase! Makes perfect sense... I feel kinda sheepish for not thinking of that before! And the difference it made was quite noticeable.

    Yeah, I know it's screwy to pan the bass, but I kinda like it... You know us musicians lol.

    And in case you didn't figure it out, I'm the guitarist. Uh-oh! Did I make that guitar too loud again? Wait! Is it too soft? Wait just a minute! ...yeah, I try really hard to avoid the guitarist-mixing-the-band syndrome. That's a battle that's hard to win.

    Anyway, thanks for the great input, you guys are awesome! I'm going to work on it and re-post it soon...

  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    You've got a cool vibe going on this track, a'la Cream, Blind Faith.

    And Lord have mercy! A song that actually has dynamics!!!

    On a personal taste level...

    The snare sounds a bit lost in the mix, you might want to consider centering it up and adding a bit of "snap", maybe a bit around 1k or so, or, even using a HPF on it...

    The overheads sounded a bit too tight in the stereo spectrum to me, I'd like to hear those spread out a bit more, particularly on cymbals, give the drums a little more depth.

    The bass is distracting, at least to me, in it's placement in the field. If it were me I'd pan it dead center.

    From a performace aspect, because there's not a zillion tracks of instrumentation here, there's not much to hide behind, and the drums/bass relationship is pretty loose; this is a song which would really benefit from taking advantage of the pocket, getting the bass player and the drummer to be more conscious of their respective timings would help a lot... some of the fills lacked confidence, and when the drums/bass come back in the 1 after some of those fills, they're not always locked.

    Other than that, nice track!
  6. drubu

    drubu Active Member

    Nov 18, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    Cool, thanks for the feedback!

    So here's my punchlist when I do the rmx this weekend...
    Guitar- down
    Kick- invert phase
    Snare- already have a hpf and slight boost around 2.5k- I'll work on that some more
    Drum OH- L&R are already panned hard left and right, but buried in the mix because the cymbals are too out of control... I'll figure out what to do to widen the field
    Oh, and center the snare and bass guitar :)

    Thanks again guys, I really appreciate it!!!
  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    Remember now, you're only hearing the opinions of various cookers and what we would do personally. While the opinions here are certainly based in experience, skill and knowledge obtained through doing it for so many years, they are still just our opinions, albeit experienced ones.

    One of the best - and at the same time - one of the worst things you can do, is offer up your mix for critique by a room full of seasoned pros, because they will all approach it in their own way, based on personal tastes and experience. So yes, having an audio brain trust to work with can be very helpful. But at the same time, it can also leave you chasing your tail.


    "snare is too thin, needs body..."
    "snare has too much body, need to thin it out a bit.."
    "Bass needs to be centered..."
    "Man, I love how you offset the bass to the left..."
    "Vocal is shy. Bring it forward a bit..."
    "Vocal is too hot. Tuck it back..."
    "Not enough spread on the stereo overheads.."
    "I love the spread on the stereo overheads..."


    I'm not saying to not consider the opinions of seasoned engineers, most certainly, you should at least listen to what they have to say. But in the end, you need to do what you think is right, what sounds good to you.

    IMHO, of course.

    (whispering... I still think you need more spread on the overheads... ) LOL ;)

  8. youse

    youse Active Member

    Dec 28, 2012
    I don't have a lot here - this is way better than I can do. I like the tune and how you've done it, and when I find myself hearing the tune more than the mix, that's a good sign. When I listened for something to talk about, the only thing that caught my ear were two slight disjunctions. The vocal sounds less forward than the guitar, but the guitar's in a supporting role when there's singing, so maybe it ought to be the other way round - the vocal should sound more present/forward than the guitar. The other thing was when you came up with that awesome romping segment in the rhythm section - it's suddenly giant, but the guitar's not exactly in the same space. It's not a nit, cuz I like the song, but it drew my attention. I don't know what I'd try there. Maybe a slightly different sound on the guitar? Dunno. Way beyond me. Good stuff.
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