Mixing SOS

RFR

Well-known member
Personally I think your stuff is fine. Could it be better? Of course.
I think most of your mix dissatisfaction comes from your own desire to improve an excel.
However, as I said earlier, you have quite a body of work posted.

Reminds me of Frank Zappa in a way. Some people loved his stuff, some hated it, some were indifferent.
Frank ran out of fucks to give a long time ago.
He just kept on making music. He did like 50 some records?
I don’t know, but I’d be willing to bet he questioned himself also.

Keep on trucking on!
👍🏼
 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
..it's frigging frustrating! But I'm pretty determined to get the sound I want, that's for sure.
Yes. Frustrating. It is also fun to try. Recording is such a Rubik's Cube of skills. A balancing act.

I was going for that 80's cannon shot snare.
https://soundcloud.com/mark-c-746521042%2Fhow2talk2angels-007 soundcloud keeps turning it up.

Feel good. This is where I'm at. A bad place to be. Latency. Makes bad EZdrums. Its a little off if you ask me..
 
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Monkey Allen

Fork and spoon operator
Yes. Frustrating. It is also fun to try. Recording is such a Rubik's Cube of skills. A balancing act.

I was going for that 80's cannon shot snare.
https://soundcloud.com/mark-c-746521042%2Fhow2talk2angels-007 soundcloud keeps turning it up.

Feel good. This is where I'm at. A bad place to be. Latency. Makes bad EZdrums. Its a little off if you ask me..
I haven't heard that song for a long time. The electric guitar may have been a bit harsh? What do you reckon? I heard souncloud does stuff at 14lufs (whatever lufs is). Rubik's Cube of skills is exactly right!
Haha! Well, when I have no good mix advice, at least I can give a good pep talk !
(y)(y)
 

dobro

Well-known member
Hey Monkey,

Yeah, hey Monkey. I'll use HP's post for a framework.

You're sounding a bit despondent here but you really shouldn't be so hard on yourself. I've listened to all of your stuff on SoundCloud and from a song writing and musicianship point of view you have real talent.

^^^ This. I came back to this site after a long hiatus and popped into the Clinic to see what the place had to say for itself. I heard three of your tunes, two of Gonzo's and one of Stratmonkee's and went: 'Good listening here. Think I'll frequent the forum for a bit.'

Frequently less is more when mixing and trying to do too much is often how you then start to chase your tail, trying to fix problems that you've introduced yourself.

^^ This. You overthink.


You need to go back to basics and work on the fundamentals EQ, compression, reverb and delay.
^^ And this.

I saw you made a list and mentioned (among other things) using reference tracks more when mixing. I believe this is absolutely the way to go on every mix you start (I preach about this frequently to novice mixers).

^^ And this. Forget about novice mixers. I do the EQ, compression, delay and reverb and THEN listen to some references. I do it that way because I like to challenge myself (can I get it ballpark on my own?) and I like to surprise myself (hey, that wasn't so bad!) (alternately, fuck, what was I thinking?)

Try to stop putting yourself down
Or keep putting yourself down. Maybe it's part of what you are, and part of the process that makes the music you produce. 8-)


...you don't deserve it
Of course you don't.


...and I truly believe you are closer than you think to making your music sound the way you want it to.
I think that too. Those three tunes of yours that convinced me to hang around - Goose Stepping, Hold My Beer, and Building A Fire - are recent. That means your recent stuff is really good. I'd rather hear them than the kid in the bedroom you linked to any day. Also, we went in depth with HP on Building A Fire, and you learned. That means you know how to get better.

The songs are great after all and that's the most difficult part of the process and you've got that part nailed.
The song - the performance - the recording - the mix - how you move your hips when they interview you on late night TV. That's the order of importance. The reason you're generating six-page threads on Step #4 in the list is cuz you need to right now. Follow HP's advice. HP's smart and right.
 

Monkey Allen

Fork and spoon operator
Yeah, hey Monkey. I'll use HP's post for a framework.



^^^ This. I came back to this site after a long hiatus and popped into the Clinic to see what the place had to say for itself. I heard three of your tunes, two of Gonzo's and one of Stratmonkee's and went: 'Good listening here. Think I'll frequent the forum for a bit.'



^^ This. You overthink.



^^ And this.



^^ And this. Forget about novice mixers. I do the EQ, compression, delay and reverb and THEN listen to some references. I do it that way because I like to challenge myself (can I get it ballpark on my own?) and I like to surprise myself (hey, that wasn't so bad!) (alternately, fuck, what was I thinking?)


Or keep putting yourself down. Maybe it's part of what you are, and part of the process that makes the music you produce. 8-)



Of course you don't.



I think that too. Those three tunes of yours that convinced me to hang around - Goose Stepping, Hold My Beer, and Building A Fire - are recent. That means your recent stuff is really good. I'd rather hear them than the kid in the bedroom you linked to any day. Also, we went in depth with HP on Building A Fire, and you learned. That means you know how to get better.


The song - the performance - the recording - the mix - how you move your hips when they interview you on late night TV. That's the order of importance. The reason you're generating six-page threads on Step #4 in the list is cuz you need to right now. Follow HP's advice. HP's smart and right.
Thanks again dobro...absolutely Human Planet knew the score and told it to me straight from the get go. All those points you link to are on the money. Just got to implement the good advice I've been getting, as you said. :unsure: (y)
 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
I haven't heard that song for a long time.
Probably a good thing.
The electric guitar may have been a bit harsh? What do you reckon?
Absolutely smashed and squashed. The attack is so fast on the compressor it sounds like it is vibrating.

Not the way to do it. Its fun stabbing in the dark..Oh what does this do...yeah try that..feeling my way there. I never make it.
 

Monkey Allen

Fork and spoon operator
What happened to 'Sun is Shining', it's disappeared off your Soundcloud?
Hey HP...yeah it's not there. Not happy with it, Company Stranger or Country Mile really. I've got my home studio stripped at the moment. I'm reconfiguring. I took measurements and all that. I'm gonna build some panels and treatment including putting some on the ceiling. I've emptied the entire cupboard at the back of the room and have filled it with absorption. Not going to massive extremes. Just taking a bit more of an educated approach as opposed to just slapping stuff willy nilly. Might try to remix the last few I did once the room is squared away. We'll see what happens, ha.
 

HumanPlanet

* Gen Xer *
Hey HP...yeah it's not there. Not happy with it, Company Stranger or Country Mile really. I've got my home studio stripped at the moment. I'm reconfiguring. I took measurements and all that. I'm gonna build some panels and treatment including putting some on the ceiling. I've emptied the entire cupboard at the back of the room and have filled it with absorption. Not going to massive extremes. Just taking a bit more of an educated approach as opposed to just slapping stuff willy nilly. Might try to remix the last few I did once the room is squared away. We'll see what happens, ha.

Fair enough, I kind of liked it.

If you can, try pulling your desk away from the wall/window even by a couple of feet and see how that sounds.
 

Monkey Allen

Fork and spoon operator
Addendum/ revelation:

Dragging this thread back again...I've really been trying to work things out here and the conclusion seems to be this:

My raw tracks are quite poor. It's less to do with mixing issues and more to do with poor raw tracks. I took a long hard look at one of my songs (Building a Fire) totally stripped down and this is what I found, in no order:

- there was so congruence of volume between recorded tracks...the drums were a certain volume...the bass was 6db louder, the vocal was 12db quieter, the tambourine was 18db higher etc. Not bad in and of itself...you can always just adjust volumes. BUT...the discrepancies manifest in terms of tone. If you track something way too low or way too hot you've baked in that mic response.
- my selection of electric guitar tone (Amplitube) was just odd...really raspy around 2khz, lots of 100hz, 200hz, 500hz etc. Because I've spent the last decade and a half writing songs on a nylon string guitar strumming with my thumb...I have almost no clue about selecting and shaping electric guitar tone.
- bass guitar just a sea of ill defined low end...no character...just a wash of D.I. Really poor sound.
- the ezDrummer drums just sounded bad. Straight up bad. I dunno how I managed that...EZD basically already sounds good right off the bat. Somehow I mixed each kit piece down to audio and it sounded terrible.
- vocal sound was possibly ok...but anemic...small. Admittedly, I don't have a creamy, rich voice. I see a lot of people recording vocals much closer to the mic than I do. I'm usually a foot away or so. Might have something to do with it.
- keys/ organs mainly just a wash of 400-600hz...can sound ok if not much else is going on but gets lost in a busy mix
- lead guitar just screaming at 2khz. I was eq'ing out up to -18db @ 2khz.
- there's no acoustic guitar in Building a Fire...but acoustic guitar is always an absolute villain to record...very bad


Ok, so that's some of what I noticed. And I ask myself, shit...how could anyone mix this stuff? Believe me on this...all the raw tracks sounded pretty bad. They were either really dull and lifeless or really stabby and raspy...or really washy and ill-defined. I've heard people throw up faders on a completely raw set of tracks...and the good ones already have a pretty nice sounding song. I have a vortex of shit...already...before I do anything.

So...I've put this thread in the wrong part of the forum. It should be in the recording/ tracking section. I need to record better, smarter. I need to get better sounds before I start mixing. It's not really mixing's fault. Hell, I might be a pretty good mixer.

This all brings up a couple of massive issues:

1. Being able to dial in good sounds...this includes amp sims, mic placement, preamp settings, any eq/ compression (or not) on the way in etc
2. Being realistic about what kind of sounds I can get out of my cube shaped spare bedroom full of nulls, standing waves, boxiness, dullness etc

If I can't dial in good sounds it's over. You might as well forget about it. I've spent the last few weeks DIY'ing treatment in my room...so will see how that pans out tracking-wise. If it doesn't work I may have to record things like acoustic guitar and vocals out in the much bigger front room or something.

So, it's not mixing as such...although mixing is certainly a frustrating mess when you can't hear accurately what's going on. It's more to do with not having good tracks recorded. So, I need to spend MUCH more time focused on getting better sounds from the start. The version of Building a Fire I just mixed has compression, eq, reverb and limiting on the master...and the rest of the tracks are totally empty of plugins...except for about 20% of the tracks which have a single eq. So...what I ended up with is basically a better sounding mix (it's still really bad) than the earlier versions where I had tape sims, delays, reverb, compression, harmonic distortion plugs, distortion, channel strips etc.

Before I was sure that somehow the answer was in mixing...I'm doing it wrong...or I need more of this...or maybe this tape emulation will do the trick. But the answer isn't in mixing. Mixing is part of it. The real issue is the poor raw recorded tracks. I'm not really sure I talked about this at all in this big thread. I just assumed the tracks were ok. They are not ok.

If I can work out how to record nice sounding, rich, full tracks that sound just like what they are, without all the wool and the without the dullness and lameness...then I'll have half a chance at mixing.

And I won't have to start whining threads like this.
 

rhytard

New member
Addendum/ revelation:

Dragging this thread back again...I've really been trying to work things out here and the conclusion seems to be this:

My raw tracks are quite poor. It's less to do with mixing issues and more to do with poor raw tracks. I took a long hard look at one of my songs (Building a Fire) totally stripped down and this is what I found, in no order:

- there was so congruence of volume between recorded tracks...the drums were a certain volume...the bass was 6db louder, the vocal was 12db quieter, the tambourine was 18db higher etc. Not bad in and of itself...you can always just adjust volumes. BUT...the discrepancies manifest in terms of tone. If you track something way too low or way too hot you've baked in that mic response.
- my selection of electric guitar tone (Amplitube) was just odd...really raspy around 2khz, lots of 100hz, 200hz, 500hz etc. Because I've spent the last decade and a half writing songs on a nylon string guitar strumming with my thumb...I have almost no clue about selecting and shaping electric guitar tone.
- bass guitar just a sea of ill defined low end...no character...just a wash of D.I. Really poor sound.
- the ezDrummer drums just sounded bad. Straight up bad. I dunno how I managed that...EZD basically already sounds good right off the bat. Somehow I mixed each kit piece down to audio and it sounded terrible.
- vocal sound was possibly ok...but anemic...small. Admittedly, I don't have a creamy, rich voice. I see a lot of people recording vocals much closer to the mic than I do. I'm usually a foot away or so. Might have something to do with it.
- keys/ organs mainly just a wash of 400-600hz...can sound ok if not much else is going on but gets lost in a busy mix
- lead guitar just screaming at 2khz. I was eq'ing out up to -18db @ 2khz.
- there's no acoustic guitar in Building a Fire...but acoustic guitar is always an absolute villain to record...very bad


Ok, so that's some of what I noticed. And I ask myself, shit...how could anyone mix this stuff? Believe me on this...all the raw tracks sounded pretty bad. They were either really dull and lifeless or really stabby and raspy...or really washy and ill-defined. I've heard people throw up faders on a completely raw set of tracks...and the good ones already have a pretty nice sounding song. I have a vortex of shit...already...before I do anything.

So...I've put this thread in the wrong part of the forum. It should be in the recording/ tracking section. I need to record better, smarter. I need to get better sounds before I start mixing. It's not really mixing's fault. Hell, I might be a pretty good mixer.

This all brings up a couple of massive issues:

1. Being able to dial in good sounds...this includes amp sims, mic placement, preamp settings, any eq/ compression (or not) on the way in etc
2. Being realistic about what kind of sounds I can get out of my cube shaped spare bedroom full of nulls, standing waves, boxiness, dullness etc

If I can't dial in good sounds it's over. You might as well forget about it. I've spent the last few weeks DIY'ing treatment in my room...so will see how that pans out tracking-wise. If it doesn't work I may have to record things like acoustic guitar and vocals out in the much bigger front room or something.

So, it's not mixing as such...although mixing is certainly a frustrating mess when you can't hear accurately what's going on. It's more to do with not having good tracks recorded. So, I need to spend MUCH more time focused on getting better sounds from the start. The version of Building a Fire I just mixed has compression, eq, reverb and limiting on the master...and the rest of the tracks are totally empty of plugins...except for about 20% of the tracks which have a single eq. So...what I ended up with is basically a better sounding mix (it's still really bad) than the earlier versions where I had tape sims, delays, reverb, compression, harmonic distortion plugs, distortion, channel strips etc.

Before I was sure that somehow the answer was in mixing...I'm doing it wrong...or I need more of this...or maybe this tape emulation will do the trick. But the answer isn't in mixing. Mixing is part of it. The real issue is the poor raw recorded tracks. I'm not really sure I talked about this at all in this big thread. I just assumed the tracks were ok. They are not ok.

If I can work out how to record nice sounding, rich, full tracks that sound just like what they are, without all the wool and the without the dullness and lameness...then I'll have half a chance at mixing.

And I won't have to start whining threads like this.
i just saw this post but looking at your gear, you should be getting some decent sounds from your recordings. i'm curious as to how bad your source material might be? i find amplitude kinda sucks for electric guitar. addictive drums is pretty convincing, especially if you use their midi library. a di bass should be like 90% of your bass' low end and usually it comes in pretty clear (even with old strings, i find).
it could be useful for you if you sent a song's multitracks to me so i can see how terrible your source material is. i record a lot of stuff in bedrooms without treatment (not just my own) but i can still get a decent sound.
mixing can be tricky, and sometimes you HAVE to work with really shit recordings that you have to fix in the mix, but it's definitely possible.
 

Pinky

and The Brain...
Addendum/ revelation:

Dragging this thread back again...I've really been trying to work things out here and the conclusion seems to be this:

My raw tracks are quite poor. It's less to do with mixing issues and more to do with poor raw tracks. I took a long hard look at one of my songs (Building a Fire) totally stripped down and this is what I found, in no order:
...
And I won't have to start whining threads like this.
If by chance you live in the Vegas area, I'd be willing to help [free of charge]. It doesn't sound like you need a lot of guidance, maybe just someone to work through things once or twice, get stuff dialed in. For the most part, IMO, home recording is about finding solutions, then executing that setup exactly. Reinventing the wheel each time I hit record would suck the fun out of this overnight. So maybe seek out a local mixing engineer for an hour or two of their time to review a work in progress with you at your home. Discuss, find the settings/process needed, take notes for later, and make minor adjustments to your room/space to get the 'best' sound from it. As you said, you probably have a grasp of many of the basics but sometimes the challenge is bringing that all together into execution of a final product. I've known many guitarist and drummers who do a good job of recording their instruments, but fall on their face mixing. And people like me who struggled with recording/engineering but had a strong grasp (intuitively) for how to bring it all together at the mixing stage.
 
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Monkey Allen

Fork and spoon operator
i just saw this post but looking at your gear, you should be getting some decent sounds from your recordings. i'm curious as to how bad your source material might be? i find amplitude kinda sucks for electric guitar. addictive drums is pretty convincing, especially if you use their midi library. a di bass should be like 90% of your bass' low end and usually it comes in pretty clear (even with old strings, i find).
it could be useful for you if you sent a song's multitracks to me so i can see how terrible your source material is. i record a lot of stuff in bedrooms without treatment (not just my own) but i can still get a decent sound.
mixing can be tricky, and sometimes you HAVE to work with really shit recordings that you have to fix in the mix, but it's definitely possible.
Oh yeah I have great gear...seriously good stuff. But my home studio is pretty bad I'd say. I'll take some pics of the new set up and I'll include some REW images as well, just for the record.

The thing about Amplitube is it sounds awesome on youtube...and that's not just the manufacturer's vids...so may characters on youtube nail great sounds. I can't emphasize enough my lack of experience in electric guitar tone creation. For the song I mentioned, I remember just scrolling endlessly in the Amplitube presets just going nope...nope...nope. I ended up settling for, I think, the default Amplitube setting. Like the setting you get when you first launch Amplitube.

I have Addictive drums too...but a lot of the time I find their midi unhelpful when it comes to fills or variety etc. I dunno. See...drums is another thing. I dunno how big to make them. I dunno the tone I need. I CAN successfully make them sound bad. I've got that dialed in. I can get them really harsh and ugly sounding. I can get the kick slamming 12db too loud. Or the snare smashing relentlessly in your brain until you just wish it would stop.

The bass...holy hell...D.I...Fender P Bass...I successfully get just a wash of wool...like I plugged the bass into an electrified tin can with wire attached. Maybe I track it too loud or something. But...-12db on my DAW faders...that's where I aim the peaks to hit, no more. But it's just bad. I don't know what to do.

Now, rhytard, I'd love to send you my song's multitracks. And that's a very generous offer which, sure, I'll take you up on. And I hope you give it to me straight...if the raw tracks are a bloodbath...so be it. If you think the arrangement is poor, say so. If you think the drum track is too mechanical, the playing too sloppy etc...just 100% call it as you see it.

Hang on, I'll get back with the images.
 

Monkey Allen

Fork and spoon operator
If by chance you live in the Vegas area, I'd be willing to help [free of charge]. It doesn't sound like you need a lot of guidance, maybe just someone to work through things once or twice, get stuff dialed in. For the most part, IMO, home recording is about finding solutions, then executing that setup exactly. Reinventing the wheel each time I hit record would suck the fun out of this overnight. So maybe seek out a local mixing engineer for an hour or two of their time to review a work in progress with you at your home. Discuss, find the settings/process needed, take notes for later, and make minor adjustments to your room/space to get the 'best' sound from it. As you said, you probably have a grasp of many of the basics but sometimes the challenge is bringing that all together into execution of a final product. I've known many guitarist and drummers who do a good job of recording their instruments, but fall on their face mixing. And people like me who struggled with recording/engineering but had a strong grasp (intuitively) for how to bring it all together at the mixing stage.
I live in Australia. But you're right. I'd love to be able to one on one with someone more experienced than me. Unfortunately, I don't know a single person into music or recording. I'd have to hit up a stranger or bug some studio dude. I'm not really that gregarious I guess. I mean. I'm somewhat gregarious...but not that gregarious.
 

Monkey Allen

Fork and spoon operator
Haha :)

Spantini...the best laid plans of mice and men...

Anyway...here's some images for your viewing horror:

We've got the REW data...this shows basic frequency response in the listening position. (This is the new set up. I haven't recorded anything in here yet) As you can see, there's a huge spike around 45hz (nice that'll be handy for kick and bass mixing...I'm being sarcastic)...there's a huge null around 70hz...not to worry, nobody uses 70hz anyway...from 100 to 400hz the response is elevated. The response around 500 is dipped and there's a dip at 1.4khz approx. It's not great. But maybe it's workable. I have no idea what the response was like before I did all the new room treatment. But I do have a response graph for a basically empty room. It's attached too. I can't vouch for having made both measurements at the exact same volume...so there are discrepancies I guess. But, to me...I dunno if I can say one measurement/ response is better than the other, lol. (green graph is treated room, blue graph is untreated). I DO know that one graph represents a lot of $$$ spent and the other graph represents basically no $$$ spent. Ha, fricking ha. What a pigeon. I should point out the untreated data is not a completely empty room...I had the entire back cupboard which covers 50% of the length of the back wall, full of treatment.

As you can see, the corners on the front wall have treatment and then the sides. There's panels I made for the back corners and there's other treatment unseen in the pics. I put ceiling panels up too. What a fun job that was.

I should mention...my room is a cozy 11.8x8.8x8.5ft. It's a postage stamp.
 

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rhytard

New member
Oh yeah I have great gear...seriously good stuff. But my home studio is pretty bad I'd say. I'll take some pics of the new set up and I'll include some REW images as well, just for the record.

The thing about Amplitube is it sounds awesome on youtube...and that's not just the manufacturer's vids...so may characters on youtube nail great sounds. I can't emphasize enough my lack of experience in electric guitar tone creation. For the song I mentioned, I remember just scrolling endlessly in the Amplitube presets just going nope...nope...nope. I ended up settling for, I think, the default Amplitube setting. Like the setting you get when you first launch Amplitube.

I have Addictive drums too...but a lot of the time I find their midi unhelpful when it comes to fills or variety etc. I dunno. See...drums is another thing. I dunno how big to make them. I dunno the tone I need. I CAN successfully make them sound bad. I've got that dialed in. I can get them really harsh and ugly sounding. I can get the kick slamming 12db too loud. Or the snare smashing relentlessly in your brain until you just wish it would stop.

The bass...holy hell...D.I...Fender P Bass...I successfully get just a wash of wool...like I plugged the bass into an electrified tin can with wire attached. Maybe I track it too loud or something. But...-12db on my DAW faders...that's where I aim the peaks to hit, no more. But it's just bad. I don't know what to do.

Now, rhytard, I'd love to send you my song's multitracks. And that's a very generous offer which, sure, I'll take you up on. And I hope you give it to me straight...if the raw tracks are a bloodbath...so be it. If you think the arrangement is poor, say so. If you think the drum track is too mechanical, the playing too sloppy etc...just 100% call it as you see it.

Hang on, I'll get back with the images.
yeah, i found that too with amplitude. i find neural dsp's stuff usually works better for me, at least for a more balanced guitar tone rather than consisting of only mid.

with addictive drums i would use their midi stuff as a baseline, and then add/remove to it. you can also look at the velocities for hints towards whatever new hits you might add.

if your bass di sounds that bad, i would be worried that the pickups or wiring might be fucked?

anyway, private message me the tracks or however you wanna share them and i'll have a look and see what the story is with your source material.
 
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