Mixing SOS

Monkey Allen

Fork and spoon operator
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.
Ok, thanks very much. I'll pm you in a bit. I've got to take care of a fish tank and some other stuff first. Then I'll get the tracks sorted and get them ready to upload somewhere. Appreciate your generosity. I'll be real interested to hear your assessment of the raw tracks. Yeah, the bass...I just dunno what's going on. The actual playing might be a large factor...I'm not experienced there. Which seems to be a general thread all round really...limited experience.
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
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.
You are right - you have to record decent sounds first. "You can't polish a turd' is an old recording axiom.
I don't know why you are having issues with EZDrummer - other than setting the 'hit' levels (in the MIDI piano roll), it's pretty much all ready to go. Note: I do not use the EZD 'room' sound at all in my mixes, I use the same reverb IR as other instruments.
Why are you adding "compression, eq, reverb and limiting on the master"? What are you trying to accomplish? Reverb should be on a bus that instruments/vocals are sent to, not on the master - you don't want the same level of reverb on everything, that will create a mess.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I'm wondering like the others, I think, if your recording are as bad as you think? What doe web recorded commercial music sound like when played in your room? Are you hearing those nulls and peaks?
 

Monkey Allen

Fork and spoon operator
You are right - you have to record decent sounds first. "You can't polish a turd' is an old recording axiom.
I don't know why you are having issues with EZDrummer - other than setting the 'hit' levels (in the MIDI piano roll), it's pretty much all ready to go. Note: I do not use the EZD 'room' sound at all in my mixes, I use the same reverb IR as other instruments.
Why are you adding "compression, eq, reverb and limiting on the master"? What are you trying to accomplish? Reverb should be on a bus that instruments/vocals are sent to, not on the master - you don't want the same level of reverb on everything, that will create a mess.
I'm not 100% sure what's happening with EZD apart from the kick and the snare always seeming to be so hugely present in the OH's...meaning the individual snare and kick tracks are almost useless in terms of tone control for the snare and kick...since they are so present in the OH's. I think I talked about that somewhere in this thread...the inability to shape the snare (in particular I guess) tone...when most of the snare is in the OH. If you know what I mean. Again...just limited experience with drum mixing doesn't help. I really don't know what I'm doing. But as you said...EZD already sounds mixed. So I just dunno. I've started not using the 'Room' and sometimes the Ambient sounds in EZD as well. I think for the song Building a Fire all I mixed down to audio was Kick, snare, Hihat, OH.

Ok, the compression, eq, reverb and limiting on the master is not something I do as a rule. I only did it this time as an experiment in using as few plugins in the mix as possible. I'd done umpteen mixes of this song...with plugins on every track...all manner of tape sim, harmonic distortion, eq, compression, delay, reverb etc. I was like...this is shit every time. Every mix is bad. What happens if I just try to mix this whole thing with only panning and volume? So I tried that. The only plugin I used was the stock Studio One eq...on about 15 or 20% of the tracks. Nothing else was used in the mix apart from panning and volume adjustments. Absolutely nothing else. On the master bus I just mixed in about 4% reverb, did about 3 eq adjustments, used a glue kind of compression and then a limiter at the end to bring the overall volume up. So, the mix was almost vanilla really...you look at the tracks and there's almost no plugins. Just the odd eq. And what's funny is the mix turned out probably better than all the many mixes I had done before where I was mixing the hell out of everything with all sorts of plugs and scores and scores of eq adjustments. So it was just an experiment to throw on that reverb in the way I did across everything. Just experimental.
 

Monkey Allen

Fork and spoon operator
I'm wondering like the others, I think, if your recording are as bad as you think? What doe web recorded commercial music sound like when played in your room? Are you hearing those nulls and peaks?
Pro stuff in my room sounds really good. It's not like I throw on The Beatles or something and they're drowning in overly represented low end or they're sounding hollow. Pro stuff just sounds excellent. I've listened to a lot of great mixes...from Abbey Road to Vulfpeck to Dark Side of the Moon to Steely Dan...whatever. Just search for "greatest mixed albums of all time" or something. They all sound brilliant in my room. Everything sounds good. I'm not hearing problems. Stuff sounds balanced and good.
 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
I don't know why you are having issues with EZDrummer - other than setting the 'hit' levels (in the MIDI piano roll), it's pretty much all ready to go.
Is it? The folks at Brainworx have shown in demo videos using numerous pluggins to create the drum track.

Audiothing also has a demo lofi'ing Ezdrmmer with some VST. It seems pretty common.
 

R D Smith

Member
When I use EZ drummer, I use the built in mixer to adjust the levels. That makes it much easier to get the individual drum kit piece levels right without (me) screwing up the sound using external processing. I also turn the overheads down. Since they are catching everything, they make it hard to balance the separate pieces using their faders. I've been pretty happy with the results.
 

Pinky

and The Brain...
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.
I wasn't suggesting befriending someone to get them over to your place. Google for local sound engineers (music studios also a good potential search criteria) and offer them money to stop over for a training session. Create a list of things to address and stick to it to maximize their time. It's going to potentially save you a lot of your own time and heartache. Studio engineers already know you're not interested in using them as a one man band, so it's money they aren't ever otherwise going to make off you.
 

Pinky

and The Brain...
When I use EZ drummer, I use the built in mixer to adjust the levels. That makes it much easier to get the individual drum kit piece levels right without (me) screwing up the sound using external processing. I also turn the overheads down. Since they are catching everything, they make it hard to balance the separate pieces using their faders. I've been pretty happy with the results.
In Superior Drummer (the slightly more robust version of the same product) I have to use the overheads because of the cymbals. Are you saying there's another way to capture the cymbals?
 

Pinky

and The Brain...
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've identified some well known guitarist tones I like, and Adam Jones from Tool's "Lateralus" era guitar tone has been a solid starting point for my primary heavier guitar sounds for a number of years. There's databases online of various Amplitube presets created by users, it does require however you have the amps/sims needed for that particular sound (I have the largest Amplitube package so I have most everything the product has to offer and rarely encounter any presets that don't function fully). I'd recommend maybe getting a few presets of the 'sound' you're looking for, then adjust from there. Again, starting from scratch or the presets included within Amplitube is going to be limiting and requires some knowledge about effects, cabinets, and tone shaping (as well as virtual mic placement within Amplitube once you've graduated to that level of granularity).
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
I don't know what you guys ^^^ are doing with EZD. In the mixer section of the GUI, there is a 'mic bleed' section (I think that some of the EZD 'kits' may NOT have this, but the ones I use do). One knob for snare bleed, the other for OH bleed. I keep the OH bleed off, so only the cymbals are on that track.
The snare has bottom and top mics - I put them into the same Reaper track, by mixing them in the EZD mixer first. You can adjust the pitch of any of the drums or cymbals with a slider in the kit window (same place you choose which drums/cymbals to use)
 

Monkey Allen

Fork and spoon operator
When I use EZ drummer, I use the built in mixer to adjust the levels. That makes it much easier to get the individual drum kit piece levels right without (me) screwing up the sound using external processing. I also turn the overheads down. Since they are catching everything, they make it hard to balance the separate pieces using their faders. I've been pretty happy with the results.
I need to do this more...or need to pay more attention to it. You turn the OH's down...like off...or just turn 'em down to a level you're happy with?
I wasn't suggesting befriending someone to get them over to your place. Google for local sound engineers (music studios also a good potential search criteria) and offer them money to stop over for a training session. Create a list of things to address and stick to it to maximize their time. It's going to potentially save you a lot of your own time and heartache. Studio engineers already know you're not interested in using them as a one man band, so it's money they aren't ever otherwise going to make off you.
Yeah Pinky, great idea. I would seriously consider this.
I've identified some well known guitarist tones I like, and Adam Jones from Tool's "Lateralus" era guitar tone has been a solid starting point for my primary heavier guitar sounds for a number of years. There's databases online of various Amplitube presets created by users, it does require however you have the amps/sims needed for that particular sound (I have the largest Amplitube package so I have most everything the product has to offer and rarely encounter any presets that don't function fully). I'd recommend maybe getting a few presets of the 'sound' you're looking for, then adjust from there. Again, starting from scratch or the presets included within Amplitube is going to be limiting and requires some knowledge about effects, cabinets, and tone shaping (as well as virtual mic placement within Amplitube once you've graduated to that level of granularity).
Ok, good idea again. I'll need to look into that. Starting completely from scratch with no amp tone dialing skills is not fun.
I don't know what you guys ^^^ are doing with EZD. In the mixer section of the GUI, there is a 'mic bleed' section (I think that some of the EZD 'kits' may NOT have this, but the ones I use do). One knob for snare bleed, the other for OH bleed. I keep the OH bleed off, so only the cymbals are on that track.
The snare has bottom and top mics - I put them into the same Reaper track, by mixing them in the EZD mixer first. You can adjust the pitch of any of the drums or cymbals with a slider in the kit window (same place you choose which drums/cymbals to use)
Yep...another thing I need to pay more attention to...the mic bleed. And yeah, some of the stuff in EZD doesn't have the bleed option but much of it does.
 

R D Smith

Member
I don't know what you guys ^^^ are doing with EZD. In the mixer section of the GUI, there is a 'mic bleed' section (I think that some of the EZD 'kits' may NOT have this, but the ones I use do). One knob for snare bleed, the other for OH bleed. I keep the OH bleed off, so only the cymbals are on that track.
The snare has bottom and top mics - I put them into the same Reaper track, by mixing them in the EZD mixer first. You can adjust the pitch of any of the drums or cymbals with a slider in the kit window (same place you choose which drums/cymbals to use)
This ^. I forgot about the mic bleed. EZD has the same thing.
 

Pinky

and The Brain...
I don't know what you guys ^^^ are doing with EZD. In the mixer section of the GUI, there is a 'mic bleed' section (I think that some of the EZD 'kits' may NOT have this, but the ones I use do). One knob for snare bleed, the other for OH bleed. I keep the OH bleed off, so only the cymbals are on that track.
The snare has bottom and top mics - I put them into the same Reaper track, by mixing them in the EZD mixer first. You can adjust the pitch of any of the drums or cymbals with a slider in the kit window (same place you choose which drums/cymbals to use)
Exactly, 99% of the needed controls are baked into the drumming software.
 

Monkey Allen

Fork and spoon operator
EDIT: I recently spent 2 weeks trying to mix one song of mine. It was a bloodbath. I mixed it numerous times. It never worked. It always sounded bad, really bad. No words can describe the 2 weeks trying to mix this thing. Literally turned my brain inside out trying to make it work. I finally gave up. The only thing left that I had to reason with were:

a) the song wasn't quite good enough
b) the arrangement of the song was poor
c) the recorded tracks were weak and poorly recorded
d) I chose THE worst sounding ezdrummer kit and midi known to man (Vintage Kit Original Mix for anyone who wants to check that out)

Since I had tried everything I knew mixing, the only thing left was to admit that the tracks and the song and the arrangement were poor. I had tried to be open minded. I had always considered the fact that they might be poor...but was also convinced I could mix them all and it would be ok. But they weren't.

So this is a lesson for novice mixers...when you don't even KNOW that what you're dealing with is not good enough, you are apt to just bludgeon forward...into hell. A better mixer would be able to:

a) call a spade a spade and simply declare the tracks/ song/ arrangement unfit
b) if he had no other choice...use all his powers (which the novice mixer just doesn't have) to work low grade miracles

So I gave up on the song. I gave myself a few days then stripped down another song that I'd mixed a couple of months ago which I always thought was a decent song, recording and arrangement but a mix that wasn't doing justice. I stripped it down and started a new mix. Took me no time at all. I had a mix that was a huge improvement on the original and a huge improvement on my general level of mixing.

So the lesson is, know when the song you're mixing just aint quite right.

That was a tough lesson, learned the hard way.

EDIT: I might add...the new mix still sucked. Don't get me wrong. It was an improvement. But it was still awful.
 
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