Mix this: An original called "Second Best"

Michael Ward

New member
Here's an original called "Second Best".

It's about at least doing something, even if you can't do everything.


Demo mix:

Tracks/Stems:


Info:
I don't want to preload too much about it; I'd just like to see where you want to take it. Except...

The 2 vocal tracks are meant to be layered/doubled. But in a few places I only had one good take so that snippet ended up on both tracks. When played together those bits tend to jump out at you, so to help disguise it in the demo mix I inverted the phase on one of the tracks and delayed it by 10 ms. You may know a better way to approach this though. Don't feel you have to use both vocal tracks.

The 2 bass guitar tracks are really just meant to play as one.


Otherwise, have a listen and a mix. Feel free to post work in progress if you'd like feedback as you work.

Thanks, -Mike
 

CrowsofFritz

Flamingo!
I’ll do this. It sounds like it’ll be fun. Just from a quick listen, it sounds like the levels are already pretty decent except for the vocals.
 

Michael Ward

New member
I like how it's going so far, and I think you might be headed in the right direction.... The balance is good... I can hear all the tracks even on dodgy headphones.

Just 2 things about the drums:
I don't know if it was intentional, but the timing on the recurring toms fill seems off (see the reference mix). Was it altered intentionally? If it was, I'm willing to go with it, but maybe pull it back quite a bit? It's just that the drums don't sound like a drumset yet, just individual drum tracks. On the other hand, I like the tonality you gave the toms, a lot.

Also, in the quieter parts the peak of the bass drum is coming across a little distorted on my cheap headphones and laptop speakers. Any ideas?

One other question... is there some kind of (bass drum?) flutter going on at 1:43 ("I'd like to be the one to change the world..."). Maybe a bad delay timing?

Otherwise, I like where it's going... Keep it coming.
 

CrowsofFritz

Flamingo!
I like how it's going so far, and I think you might be headed in the right direction.... The balance is good... I can hear all the tracks even on dodgy headphones.

Just 2 things about the drums:
I don't know if it was intentional, but the timing on the recurring toms fill seems off (see the reference mix). Was it altered intentionally? If it was, I'm willing to go with it, but maybe pull it back quite a bit? It's just that the drums don't sound like a drumset yet, just individual drum tracks. On the other hand, I like the tonality you gave the toms, a lot.

Also, in the quieter parts the peak of the bass drum is coming across a little distorted on my cheap headphones and laptop speakers. Any ideas?

One other question... is there some kind of (bass drum?) flutter going on at 1:43 ("I'd like to be the one to change the world..."). Maybe a bad delay timing?

Otherwise, I like where it's going... Keep it coming.
Yeah, I’m definitely going to remix the whole thing. I’m satisfied with everything but the drums. What happened is that I used a trigger for a different bass drum sound. That caused a delay of like 100 ms. Easy to align when there’s overhead drum tracks to use as a reference but when it doesn’t happen, you’re shooting in the dark. I guess I just won’t trigger the kick. Since the attempted alignment, the timing of everything was thrown out of whack.
 

CrowsofFritz

Flamingo!
You could use the “fifths” track. I think they’re quantized dead on, but if not, I’m happy to add a high hat click track just for the purposes of timing, as long as it’s not in the mix.
Just telling me the bpm would be enough. Then I can snap it all to the grid.
 

easlern

Boredom artist
Here's a version, I really dig this song. Reminds me of Aqueduct and They Might Be Giants.
 

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  • michael ward - second best 2.mp3
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Michael Ward

New member
So here's my thoughts so far and a big thanks to everyone who has pitched in.

What did you think of the mix?
I thought you did a really good job with the vocals.
Car mix sounds good
On my headphones (semi-open), the "Fifths" track comes across as too loud.
Can you do anything more with the clarity of the "Subby Bass B" track? (The one with the upper octave)
You seem to be missing the "Synth-est" track. Was that intentional?



Feel much better about this mix. It's a shame I can't use triggers, though.
Vocals: good job working with the doubling but it sounds a bit like it's in a box.

If you want to try replacement, that's fine, but I wasn't so into the particular snare you chose for the chorus. It's too flat - needs more exaggerated dynamics, like the drummer is really hitting it hard. Maybe try triggering it at a higher velocity?

Good job on the toms, they sound much better than I ever got them to. Are they the originals or replaced?

Drums and overall mix: More work on gelling together?


Here's a version, I really dig this song. Reminds me of Aqueduct and They Might Be Giants.

Good overall mix, and balance.

I hear you used only one vocal track. I'm wondering why you decided to go that route? Despite what I said in the first post, now that I hear it, I think it does need the doubling to cover the singing um... quality. Then again, when it comes to my vocals, even if you put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig. :P

Overall the mix hangs together well though.



And here is my Mix, feedback welcome !

I really like this mix. It's somehow very Lively.
You did a really good job of bringing out the bass line, especially the clarity of the higher end.
And I really appreciate how you brought out the synth-est track. That synth line has survived since I wrote the first version of this song about 15 years ago, so I guess I'm a bit attached to it. :-)

The mix as a whole gels together well too.

A few things that need fixing:
At the very end of the song the synth-est track needs silencing just before the final note on the piano and bass, otherwise the remaining echo/delay taps ring through and sound out of tune, if that makes sense.

Vocals: You have the 2 vocal tracks panned wide, which gives an interesting effect. But in a few places, where I only had one good take and had to paste in into both tracks (completely my fault), the stereo field collapses for a few words or syllables. In some places it's good, but in some it's really jarring (like the beginning of verse 2 at 1:26 - "I am deciding..."). How would you feel about playing with delaying one of the tracks about 20ms, and/or reversing the phase so it doesn't collapse so badly, or any other mixing tricks you can come up with to make it stay separated that may work even better.

If that doesn't make sense, feel free to ask.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


So guys... would you like to have another go? And please let me know if there's anything that needs tweaking on my end... happy to update and re-export where needed.

And could you all tell me the top 3 techniques you used that worked well?
 

CrowsofFritz

Flamingo!
Vocals: good job working with the doubling but it sounds a bit like it's in a box.

If you want to try replacement, that's fine, but I wasn't so into the particular snare you chose for the chorus. It's too flat - needs more exaggerated dynamics, like the drummer is really hitting it hard. Maybe try triggering it at a higher velocity?

Good job on the toms, they sound much better than I ever got them to. Are they the originals or replaced?

Drums and overall mix: More work on gelling together?


So guys... would you like to have another go? And please let me know if there's anything that needs tweaking on my end... happy to update and re-export where needed.

And could you all tell me the top 3 techniques you used that worked well?
The drums samples in the second mix are all yours. I might have used too much compression on the snare.

As for the toms, they are originals. I used saturation and multiband compression on them; I find that really brings toms to life. And ever since trying that on a song, I’ve never not done it.
 
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