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  • Question about the old ProTools 'small' sounding mix problem

    Running PTLE 7.4 on an old Mac.



    First off, I know I'm pretty low on the curve as an engineer compared to most. But this is not a 'blame the tools' thread. Just something I've been scratching my head over.



    Lately I mixed some material in which all of the elements were sonically well above average. From the perspective of harmonic content and dynamics, the mix stands up well in comparison to commercial material.



    But, it doesn't compare well with commercial material in terms of stereo width, and low-level/high frequency fidelity (as best as I can explain it), making the whole thing sound 'small'. Also, the rough demos (with little or no processing) that I had been exchanging with a collaborator who uses a different DAW (also with little or no processing) don't compare well either. The PT versions were much fuzzier around the edges.



    I know at least one other forumite here agrees that PT systems are prone to this problem, and I know a well-respected producer here in Ireland who has abandoned PTLE altogether, in favour of Logic, for exactly the same reason.



    Also, I've heard murmurings on these very forums that the mix buss architecture in PT leaves a lot to be desired, in comparison to that of other 'pro' platforms.



    So, my questions are these:-



    To those of you who have had a similar experience with PT, is this just an issue with PTLE, or is it also a problem on HD systems?



    Has this issue been fixed/modified at all on later PTLE releases? It's up to version 10 now, right?



    Is there a workaround for this problem in the older versions of PT?
    flip the phase

  • #2
    Any chance we could hear the mix in question?
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    • #3






      Quote Originally Posted by Phil O'Keefe
      View Post

      Any chance we could hear the mix in question?




      Sure - here's the instrumental. I've been A/Bing it with stuff like the new XX album, some dance music, and Ry Cooder records..



      http://soundcloud.com/gubu/highway-found-instrumental
      flip the phase

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      • #4
        The only thing I would say is that the guitar sounds very tonally rich and open, but the drums sound a bit dry. I usually try to tie a mix together by giving each instrument the same type of environment, like they were recorded in the same space. I would try a little reverb on the drums, not much. Maybe try and carve out some EQ space on the synth to give the guitar a little more room. I would tend to put a little more hi mid on the bass guitar, myself.
        Capital letters were always the best way of dealing with things you didn't have a good answer to. - Douglas AdamsViolinist in a guitar worldIf you need some real live strings on your next song, send me a PM. Check out some of my demo clips here: SoundCloud

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        • #5






          Quote Originally Posted by aZnrockstar
          View Post

          The only thing I would say is that the guitar sounds very tonally rich and open, but the drums sound a bit dry. I usually try to tie a mix together by giving each instrument the same type of environment, like they were recorded in the same space. I would try a little reverb on the drums, not much. Maybe try and carve out some EQ space on the synth to give the guitar a little more room. I would tend to put a little more hi mid on the bass guitar, myself.




          Thanks for listening!



          The thing is, there is a TON of reverb on the drums. And, it's the same reverb send/return on everything, except the bass and synths, which are dry. Like yourself, i usually aim to put everything into the same 'room'.



          I agree about the synths, it's a submix of 5 different pads, and they need to be remixed - there's too much synth around the meat of the guitar tone, the synth submix needs to be more airy.
          flip the phase

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          • #6
            are you using a predelay on the reverb?
            Capital letters were always the best way of dealing with things you didn't have a good answer to. - Douglas AdamsViolinist in a guitar worldIf you need some real live strings on your next song, send me a PM. Check out some of my demo clips here: SoundCloud

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            • #7






              Quote Originally Posted by aZnrockstar
              View Post

              are you using a predelay on the reverb?




              It's a plate in Altverb, so I may have to use a different reverb, and set a better sounding predelay, or at least send the drum buss to a different reverb.



              Good call
              flip the phase

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              • #8
                Try playing with some different verbs. I never use the same reverb for anything, usually use a bigger room like a med hall for my overhead and cymbal mics, a tighter smaller drum room for the snare top and a larger drum room for my toms and snare bottom. Pan the snare to one side slightly and then pan the reverb send from it to the other side. That'll open up the snare and widen it a bit.

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                • #9
                  I'm not in a place where I can listen right now, but I'm another one who has noticed this problem with PT for years, including with HD. I use Reaper now and am much happier with the sound, as well as with a lot of other things.



                  Not to say that there may not be things you can to to improve your technique, but I still think this is an issue which will be there no matter how good you are at mixing. And reverb tails do get swallowed up, whether it's natural reverb or an effect. For instance if you patch an outboard reverb into a PT mix vs. the same tracks on an analog console, you have to turn up the verb a lot more for it to have the same effective volume, and even then it doesn't have the "spread" of the analog mix. And the difference is pretty apparent when comparing basic mixes of the same tracks between PT and other DAWs (not just Reaper but Nuendo, Sonar, etc.) This point is beyond argument to me by now. Other DAWs have improved their engines greatly over the past few years. PT doesn't seem to have.



                  All that said, I haven't tried PT since it went native. The latest version may be better. I just haven't had any reason to try it.
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                  • #10
                    Yes Lee, I'll never be finished trying to improve my mixing technique! Upgrading to a different DAW/machine isn't an option for me right now, so I'll have to try and get the best out of what I have.



                    On the reverb tails disappearing - I've been working on a different way of balancing the mix so that the reverbs don't get masked and have had some success. I think it's getting closer to a more 'open' and 'wide' sound (that was easily achievable even on a cheap DAW like GTPro 10 years ago). But it will be a little while before I bounce down any results - we've been reworking the arrangement and re-recording since I posted this thread.
                    flip the phase

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                    • #11
                      Just curious why switching isn't an option? You wouldn't have to get a new computer or interface.



                      But yes it is irritating trying to get mixes as good as you did 10+ years ago. Best of luck to you.
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                      • #12
                        Well, a DAW upgrade will require some serious expense in my case. It's an old 1G eMac running PTLE 7.4, and it's really not worth my while trying another DAW on it.



                        I'd need to be thinking about just buying a new machine. And when you consider the cost of upgrading/replacing my old Waves 5 bundle etc., it's just $$$ that I don't have right now.



                        In any event, I'm convinced that when you're good enough, you get the better tools
                        flip the phase

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                        • #13






                          Quote Originally Posted by gubu
                          View Post

                          Well, a DAW upgrade will require some serious expense in my case. It's an old 1G eMac running PTLE 7.4, and it's really not worth my while trying another DAW on it.




                          You might just give Reaper a try. One of its huge advantages is that it has a very small footprint compared to any other DAW. It installs in under a minute and it tends to run well on older/less powerful computers. And it's free to try, $60 if you decide to keep it. Your Waves plugs should work fine with it too. Kinda hard to go wrong - it's not like PT won't still be installed if you need it.
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                          • #14






                            Quote Originally Posted by Lee Flier
                            View Post

                            You might just give Reaper a try. One of its huge advantages is that it has a very small footprint compared to any other DAW. It installs in under a minute and it tends to run well on older/less powerful computers. And it's free to try, $60 if you decide to keep it. Your Waves plugs should work fine with it too. Kinda hard to go wrong - it's not like PT won't still be installed if you need it.




                            Will that old Waves bundle work with Reaper? I'd have to dig out the discs and re-install the bundle as VST/AU (what format does Reaper use for plugins?), no?
                            flip the phase

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                            • #15
                              Yes it should work fine. Reaper does do VST and AU. If you only installed the RTAS versions of the plugs, then yeah you'd have to re-install.
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