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  • Mixing for Mastering?

    Hi,
    I have to admit.. Mixing is always the death of me in a song. I feel like I always start with something good and then the song just gets lost in a mix with no life to it. My question is (besides why do I suck?) is how much is done in mixing vs mastering?
    I've heard the mixing side of the argument where 'less is more' and therefore don't understand why my 24 bit 48khz tracks recorded with virtual instruments just don't seem to have any sparkle and clarity? I don't know where this clarity would be lost in a virtual environment. Is this 'extra clarity' boost mostly done in the mastering process? I've never had my songs mastered so I guess I'm asking if that is where the life really comes into the mix.
    I know it would helpful to post a sample of a mix here but I'm at work now (shhh). Thanks for your help and I'll put up a sample later.

    Reason 3
    Sonar 4

  • #2
    Could you post a sample?

    Nuh seriously,....I wanna give it a listen. For some odd reason some folks like my mixes.
    I haven't got the slightest clue what I'm doing but it works.
    <div class="signaturecontainer">Don't Eat The Yellow Snow.<div align="center">Don't Eat The Yellow Snow.</div></div>

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    • #3
      <<I haven't got the slightest clue what I'm doing but it works.>>

      You probably don't think about it too much. That often helps!
      _____________________________________________
      There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Anderton
        <<I haven't got the slightest clue what I'm doing but it works.>>

        You probably don't think about it too much. That often helps!


        Well there's this guy around here who told me just to use my ears.
        Maybe you know him
        <div class="signaturecontainer">Don't Eat The Yellow Snow.<div align="center">Don't Eat The Yellow Snow.</div></div>

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        • #5
          Originally posted by echoshock
          Hi,
          My question is (besides why do I suck?) is how much is done in mixing vs mastering?
          I've heard the mixing side of the argument where 'less is more' and therefore don't understand why my 24 bit 48khz tracks recorded with virtual instruments just don't seem to have any sparkle and clarity? I don't know where this clarity would be lost in a virtual environment. Is this 'extra clarity' boost mostly done in the mastering process?


          There's a lot of ways to reply to this, and a lot of it would be valid.

          First of all, do the instruments sound good by themselves? I guess you are doing nothing but virtual instruments?

          The other thing that you can ask yourself is whether your arrangements are good. The reason why I say this is that if you have a really good arrangement, the song sort of mixes itself. An extreme example of this would be an orchestra. If an arrangement is really cluttered, has a lot of overlapping frequencies, has clashing notes or notes that don't ring together well, it presents a huge challenge to mix. Ideally, you want to try and create a mix that doesn't require EQ as much as is possible, and this can be done by selection of instruments and sounds and by clever arrangements.

          Then, when we finally get to the point of talking about the actual act of mixing, there are a lot of advice here.

          Try doing something else before automatically reaching for EQ. Check your arrangements again. Check other stuff. As much as possible, you are trying to create a mix that doesn't require you to use EQ to "fix" anything. Get it right first.

          Then, if you are going to use EQ for mixing, it would ideally be for *aesthetic* purposes, and not for "fixing things.

          Try and use subtractive EQ rather than additive.

          Check your mix in mono periodically. Does it sound good in mono?

          If something occupies too much "space", carve away what is unnecessary with EQ without adversely affecting the instruments sound within the mix. Use a high-pass filter to get rid of rumble.

          Try and use EQ as if you are painting a picture. Each instrument should ideally have its own space, just like a color has its space.

          REVERBS: These can muddy up a mix in a hurry. Be careful of adding too much. Use predelay to offset it from the original source sound when mixing. You can also consider EQing the reverb (rolling off the bottom or top end, for example, or cutting into the low mids if it is too "muddy" sounding).

          Pan things to separate. But check in mono. Why is it important to check in mono? All sorts of reasons. For one thing, it gives you additional perspective on how your instruments are blending together. For another, almost everything is "mono" if you step back far enough away from it - like, for example, if you listen to your music from another room, it's essentially mono to you (sort of - but you know what I mean!! ).

          Declare war on the low-mids. This is more true perhaps if you are micing things, but even with virtual instruments, there is often a tendency for instruments to have this build-up in the low mids. Try and see if you can cut, cut, cut the low mids without adversely affecting the warmth of the mix and seeing how far you get. Chances are that you can cut the low mids in several different instruments and clear up the sound a little while still having warmth.

          There's a lot more that one can say, but I'll stop here because I'm running out of time!!
          Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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          • #6
            Originally posted by boosh
            I haven't got the slightest clue...


            Me either, but of that a lot !!!

            .

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            • #7
              Thanks everyone, and Ustad. I'm definitely still trying to learn about eq.. especially on my war against low mids. Well here is a sample of the song I'm working on. I'm having a battle with my singer regarding the low end. I just think there is way too much especially in the verse with that powerful bass drum sound. But she feels when I take it away too much that you loose the energy of the song. Any suggestions on the mix? I really appreciate it.
              Mix Sample

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              • #8
                can't tell if the singer has too much low end, i ALWAYS cut them at 100-120 HZ with a high pass, but she is for my taste not bright enough and maybee a tiny bit louder...

                .

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Angelo Clematide
                  can't tell if the singer has too much low end, i ALWAYS cut them at 100-120 HZ with a high pass, but she is for my taste not bright enough and maybee a tiny bit louder...

                  .

                  So what range do you normally boost to increase vocal brightness?

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                  • #10
                    normally is nothing, all is kind of different each time...

                    I would't use EQ in this case, i would take the vox track to a wave editor and adjust the sound till it's super with a spectralizer and the energizer as available in Logic and render that in, this all without listening to the band at all, just her solo. The spectralizer i would use use is the Steinberg one. The low end i would cut in the mix with a plugin, not render in.

                    Further i would select certain words and adjust the gain so they don't go under in the power sound, to achieve that i may have to go back and fort a couple of times till it sits perfectly with the band. This way you don't have to use the compressor on her, which i never do anyhow on vocals, the level adjusting is quasi all hand made with change gain in.

                    I think then she is on top of it all and you can push the band up too to the new super vocals. To push the band i would never use the same plugin again or twice as i used on the vocals.

                    .

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                    • #11
                      midrange hump gotta go. try eq'ing stuff: Roll off the guitars, keys and everything that doesn't say Bass to comtrol the midrange. the subs are mudy too. Try using subtle roll-off's to control the sub-range instruments.

                      compression can take away from the brightness. Esp on vocal tracks. but you need it to make them present. I use the eq on my tube preamp to get the vocals present. followed by compression. You definitely need a good combination of the two to get things standing out appropro. bump the hi's a bit before you compress the vox

                      ambience reverb is nice - you need more high's in general

                      once the mud is cleaned up you probably want to crank up the vocals, as pop is all about the vocalist

                      The bass needs some punch. try changing the attack of the notes to give them a little more in-your-faceness, or find a subtractor patch that is a little punchier. A bass instrument is not necessarily ALL bass, give it some top too.

                      Dynamics need their place too. if you make everything loud, nothing sticks out. try bringing everything down to where you have some headroom, and bring the things you want to stand out in the mix up when they need to be there.

                      Turn everything down. This mix has bus compression written all over it. make it so you don't get any peaks on your master fader.

                      compression in mastering brings the band up to the vocalist so you may want to seperate the two a bit more by turning boomy things down a bit. Add a compresson plugin on your master fader just to see what mastering will do to it. before you print to master, be sure to give your ME full resolution files without any master channel effects applied.

                      Oh lastly, theres nothing wrong with a good loud mix as long as it doesnt clip too much. BUT a Mastering guy can do more with your stuff if you give him some space to work.

                      Keny
                      <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="http://www.myspace.com/eastcoastbands" target="_blank">http://www.myspace.com/eastcoastbands</a> me personal page<br />
                      <a href="http://www.myspace.com/gunk" target="_blank">http://www.myspace.com/gunk</a> halloween tune Abra Cadaver! Check it<br />
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by echoshock
                        Thanks everyone, and Ustad. I'm definitely still trying to learn about eq.. especially on my war against low mids. Well here is a sample of the song I'm working on. I'm having a battle with my singer regarding the low end. I just think there is way too much especially in the verse with that powerful bass drum sound. But she feels when I take it away too much that you loose the energy of the song. Any suggestions on the mix? I really appreciate it.
                        Mix Sample


                        I can't listen to this right now - long story...

                        Low mids. Cardboard. Mud. Crud.

                        Here's a couple of things you can do:

                        - Cut one, two or more instruments (depending on how many you have). Cut thte EQ and try sweeping around, oh, say, 250-300Hz or so with your EQ, and see if anything sounds better if you are cutting.

                        - Here's something else you can do. It's the opposite of the above. Try *boosting* and sweeping around 250-500Hz. When you find a place that sounds awful and ugly and cardboardy and muddy or especially hideous, then dip that spot (cut with your EQ). You're sweeping around to find the place(s) of conflict, the ugliness that resides in the audio, and then lessening it. Make sense?

                        I also always cut vocals around 120Hz. Why? Nothing useful below that typically, mostly rumble and crud that just takes up space and doesn't do a mix any good.

                        Boosting highs: Sweep around and listen to what sounds good. On one singer, that might be 9kHz. Another singer, maybe 16kHz. Who knows? Maybe boosting the highs don't sound good at all.

                        Here's another way to make vocals sound "brighter" - cut lows. It'll psychologically sound brighter just doing that. Sometimes cutting midrange in vocals can make it sound warmer and brighter because it's *somewhat* like boosting the lows and highs, only "easier" on the ears.

                        Yes, I'm simplifying the explanation, largely in an effort to get you to think of the EQ relationships that you affect when you dip or boost EQ.

                        That should hold you for now . I've got cats to feed, a girlfriend to talk to, food to eat, a house to clean up, and a Lakers game to watch!
                        Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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                        • #13
                          ahh great stuff gentlemen. I'm going to be very busy tonight.. when you sweep an eq, how narrow of a Q do you typically use.

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                          • #14
                            When cutting mids, is there a general rule you use to maintain volume on that track? Or do you just use your ears? (god forbid).
                            When I A/B a track with or without the EQ cut, obviously the louder one sounds bigger and therefore usually better. How do I do eq changes and maintain levels?
                            THANKS!
                            P.S. Ustad (sorry I don't know your name) I thought it was interesting the order you chose for the things you had to do tonight. Does the girlfriend know that the cats get fed before you talk to her?

                            Keith

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                            • #15
                              forget about volume and make it sound good. let the mastering guy handle the volume. Sounds like a start from scratch may help out here. also a couple days to forget about it always purges the ears.
                              <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="http://www.myspace.com/eastcoastbands" target="_blank">http://www.myspace.com/eastcoastbands</a> me personal page<br />
                              <a href="http://www.myspace.com/gunk" target="_blank">http://www.myspace.com/gunk</a> halloween tune Abra Cadaver! Check it<br />
                              <a href="http://www.eastcoastbands.com" target="_blank">http://www.eastcoastbands.com</a> me studio</div>

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