What is wrong with this mix?

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by wurlitzer200a, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. wurlitzer200a

    wurlitzer200a Active Member

    Hi everyone,

    I recently recorded a band, and the mix doesn't seem to be coming together for me. Here is a chorus/instrumental from the song.

    Setup was as follows:

    SM57 above the snare
    Shure PG56's on the toms
    Shure PG52 inside the bass drum
    A pair of RODE NT3's as overheads

    Bass was just a line from the amp to the interface.
    Guitars - amps miced with 57's
    Pad was also a line from the synth to the interface
    Vocals - RODE NT1-a

    Not much in the way of effects - just some mild compression on the drums and some reverb on the vocals.

    In terms of EQ, I think this is where I'm going wrong. The RODE NT3's tend to sound very bright to my ears, and actually picked up a LOT of snare. The result is a very papery snare sound :S I've tried boosting the low mids on the snare track, but I can't boost the lows on the overheads without detracting from the cymbals.

    I've subsequently tried micing under the snare as well, but all I get is unflattering ringing and more papery snare rattle.

    Any suggestions for EQ/effects/mic placement/room would be appreciated!
  2. bouldersound

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

    Boulder, Colorado
    The whole mix seems cymbal/snare dominated. Maybe the snare is simply tuned too high or is the wrong snare for the song. There's little you can do with eq to fix drum tuning issues.

    Vocal is low and rises and falls in the mix, and guitars, bass, toms and kick are just buried. Well, the kick is there but it's all mud and no definition. Try cutting a little 150Hz and boosting some 2kHz.

    I would start over and mix the whole thing without the overheads, and then add them sparingly at the end. Compress the vocal and probably the bass (though I can't hear it enough to be sure.

    Perhaps there's a phase problem on the snare between the close mic and the overheads. Try nudging the snare 2 or 3ms to the right and/or inverting polarity.
  3. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    My first impression is that your room is inverted as far as frequency response. Probably a bedroom with lots of foam and no bass trapping.

    The whole thing is just inverted. Too many highs, no lows and muddy mids.

    Start by mixing everything with the faders at 0db, no eq, no compression, no effects and listen to it somewhere other than where you mix. Make notes of what is too hot and start by pulling those faders back... bounce the mix out, listen... lather, rinse and repeat until you get a decent balance.

    Only then would I start adding eq, compression or fx.

    The end result may take some time, but at least you'll start to hear what is wrong with your room.

    Another aid would be to listen to reference mixes of music that you really do know what it sounds like... and then get your game on and make it sound like what those mixes sound like.
  4. wurlitzer200a

    wurlitzer200a Active Member

    Great tips, thank you both. The room is a fairly small bedroom with carpet and bare walls which, from my limited knowledge of acoustics, probably isn't the best starting point :smile:
  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Pacific NW
    Yep I agree. Theres not much going on that you can really hear the detail of other than the snare.

    Start over. Use ONLY the kick drum mic and the overheads. Brick wall the EQ on the overheads starting at 5K. Nothing higher. Mix the bass in when you have the kit sounding something like it does in the room. Keep the kick and the bass separate. If you can. EQ each to its own 'center' frequency. You can find this by solo'ng them up and boosting a 4 band parametric EQ in the low band and then 'sweeping' the frequencies. You will hear when its the 'center' Then back everything off and add only what you need for clarity.

    When things are starting to sound 'full' with ONLY the drums and bass, then move on to the guitar. repeat this entire trial and error search with all the guitar parts. When you have a solid rhythm section THEN and only then start adding vocals and the last thing is the key pad.

    As you add things you will find yourself taking things out that you thought were right. Thats what should be happening. So just do it.

    Mixing is about balance and tone.

    So far you have neither.
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    There was certainly an element to the stylistic type of quality you displayed in your mix.

    Everyone else's comments I too am on board with. Some of the things I might have tried differently would be to high pass filter (low-frequency cut) on your overheads. This way any low-frequency aberrations created in your tiny room could be canceling bass frequencies off of the drum kit.

    Putting a microphone under the snare drum requires that you invert the phase of the bottom microphone but not the top one. Doing this will make it much fatter. If the bottom microphone is in phase with the top microphone, it turns into a plate made out of Corning glass being hit with a teaspoon hard. And that's what you are describing there. One of the other things I frequently do is to gate both the snare drum and bass drum. While the gates can respond extremely fast, that first transient is generally not as pronounced. This allows your overheads to respond to that initial transient a while until the gate opens up. That way, you'll get more of the meat of the tone of the drum. And Don't use a gate in software that has any kind of look ahead since it's that delay in the gate opening that you want. And this can be a bit tricky to do in software but I can assure you, I do it all the time with the basic included dynamics processing in Adobe Audition, Sound Forage. In their standard package dynamics section, you can actually draw your gate. Some of those programs even include gate presets that I have found to be slightly too radical as I prefer something more like a quick downward expander than a pure gate . But pure gates are also doable on those two instruments. And then you can push that bass drum more. I might also suggest you invert the phase of the bass drum track only while adding some compression to it as well. Perhaps a little limiting on the snare drum would also be welcomed.

    And while you have a lovely vocal track, you should take that lovely vocal track and put a nice compressor on it. Render that track out. Slide it into your timeline in parallel it with the uncompressed original track. Balance the two and you'll have a vocal with both dynamics with something you can actually place within the mix where it will sit properly. And that way you can also increase that level slightly.

    Yeah, way too much overhead for sure. Get all the drums sounding great without the overheads and then you just nudge it up. Now while you might be considering doing this in a soloed manner, you should really do up with the entire mix rolling with it. I also believe that your equalization was slightly over the top with quite a bit of this. Unfortunately that is somewhat quite fatiguing to listen to. Less is always more while you keep it simple.

    And really depending upon the genre, I'm one of those engineers that really doesn't give a crap about the acoustic environment. That's because I've had to specialize in so much live recording in so many different places. Sometimes I'll use crappy acoustics and actually accentuate them. And I like the bleed and interaction between instruments in creating more of an organic sound. Whatever the hell that means.

    Also, if you're looking for warmth then you don't necessarily want to accentuate clarity. This is where sometimes I definitely prefer a certain mush factor, generally unobtainable through equalization. Equalization can actually detract from a mix when used too judiciously. That's because, they're not just raising or lowering frequencies but actually changing the speed at which different frequencies are traveling through the circuitry. Changing these speeds through equalization can create peculiar phase anomalies between competing instrumentation. So in many ways, less equalization can equate to a better focus of sound. The ultimate pleasantries are then realized in your balance of everything. Of course, the instruments themselves and how they are tuned have an enormous amount to do with all recorded sound.

    Personally, I generally hate the sound of cheap snare drums. Those snare drums that are $350 and up are really are the only ones that sound truly acceptable. Whereas I can make do with most toms & bass drums. Quite frequently, I find those piccolo snare drums to be problematic with certain musical genres. And please just give me a good old-fashioned Remo Ambassador Whether King standard head on the snare drum. So you're already close.

    Nicely cut
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  7. wurlitzer200a

    wurlitzer200a Active Member

    Great advice from all, what a great community! I'll post my second attempt when it's finished.
  8. Red Mastering

    Red Mastering Active Member

    South London
    Home Page:
    great advise!
    get back to roots, switch off all f/x and other processors and try to get the mix with only faders and pan pots
    I can hear some phase issues and generally wrong proportions with instruments,
    too loud drums and guitar bass - almost non existing,
    you also can always use drum replace plug and put there nice snare in tune with song
  9. HSS

    HSS Active Member

    East Europe
    So I hope this will useful to improve the balance and dynamic range of each individual instrument ,especialy of drums
    good luck :)

    demo master
  10. bouldersound

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

    Boulder, Colorado
    How is your wave file going to help the OP? Let's see: first post, from "East Europe", random wave file with no explanation. Odds are it's malware or a virus.
  11. HSS

    HSS Active Member

    East Europe
    just trying to make freq balance close to how it use to be and to give my 2c, sometimes the words is not enought to be helpful for sure ......btw did you have something wrong with " East Europe " or my first post mr. Bouldersound ?
  12. bouldersound

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

    Boulder, Colorado
    If you're a real person interested in recording then I have no problem. Sometimes we get spam posts that look like yours, a first post with questionable relevance and a suspicious link, often from Eastern Europe. But spammers don't return to defend themselves like you did. I still don't quite get your post but that's probably just the difference in language.

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