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lewey

What's your biggest problem with mixing?

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Mine is very bad.

Sometimes I think there's certain frequency range that needs to be fixed. I fix it. Next day I listen to it and wonder if I was deaf when I mixed it - I totally screw up that frequency range. The worst thing is, the day before the mix sounded perfect to my ears.

So the next day I start mixing all over again, fixing everything back. I think the mix is perfect now.

The next day I listen to it and realize that I did it again, I screwed up another frequency range.

And so on and on.

Every day it's something different, and every single goddamn day I think I've done an excellent job and got it right.

It's an endless loop that I can't get out of.

It's been 5 months since I started mixing my album.

Still not quite close to the end. Every day I find something badly wrong with my songs.

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If it's taken you 5 months to try and mix an album and you're still not done, it's one of 2 things:

 

1. Your arrangements aren't working.

 

2. You need more experience engineering/mixing.

 

The best albums consist of compelling performances of great songs, recorded and mixed by great engineers. The further you get from any of those things, the more work you are going to have, and the less success.

 

At this point, you may want to see if someone can give you a hand, by giving you an honest opinion of what you've got and where you're at with it. Oftentimes, an experienced engineer has a whole set of tricks that can help get a clean mix out of tracks/songs that may have problems.

 

MG

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I am the same way.

 

I have one song that I have been working on for so long, and I can't get it just right.

 

And then I have another song, and I worked on it for an hour and its perfect.

 

I think I am just going to scrap the first one and re record it.

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Some people fall in a kind of trance, are nabulated by their own sounds and don't get out of that loop.

 

Impossible to make a good mix in that situation, because critical thinking and critical listening is not on.

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Anyways, my biggest problem; Drums.

 

I have such a hard time getting a good sounding bass drum, and then I find my overheads for cymbals are either too loud in the mix, or too soft. Its like I Can't get anywhere in the middle.

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Mine is very bad.


Sometimes I think there's certain frequency range that needs to be fixed. I fix it. Next day I listen to it and wonder if I was deaf when I mixed it - I totally screw up that frequency range. The worst thing is, the day before the mix sounded perfect to my ears.


So the next day I start mixing all over again, fixing everything back. I think the mix is perfect now.


The next day I listen to it and realize that I did it again, I screwed up another frequency range.


And so on and on.


Every day it's something different, and every single goddamn day I think I've done an excellent job and got it right.


It's an endless loop that I can't get out of.


It's been 5 months since I started mixing my album.


Still not quite close to the end. Every day I find something badly wrong with my songs.

You're probably going to get a lot of, "It's probably poor acoustic conditions in your monitoring environment."

 

Because that is the most likely and frequent cause of such complaints.

 

The bottom line is that the typical house-sized room with two or more parallel walls/surfaces (and most have six) is awash in overlapping standing waves. A 'standing wave' occurs at the frequency whose wavelength matches the distance between the parallel walls. Because these standing waves cancel each other out in some spots in the room and reinforce each other in others, the typical untreated monitoring area has multiple spots where resonant frequencies boom out -- and others where they can all but disappear. And sometimes those hot and null spots can be only inches away from each other.

 

So if you sit -- or even lean your head -- a few inches from where you had been, you may feel you hear a much different sound today than yesterday -- because you are -- even though the mix hasn't necessarily changed at all.

 

Now, when most less experienced recordists hear this unfortunate fact of small studio life, they say, well, that's your room. Mine sounds fine. I don't hear any hot or null spots. But that is largely a 'sonic illusion' imposed by the way the human auditory system works by default.

 

Believe it or not, the human auditory system did not evolve as any sort of organic test gear -- it evolved as a threat detection and environmental analysis system. And, oriented to that purpose, we find that the auditory perception system tends to 'average' out the raw data coming into it.

 

A crude example may be helpful: if we walk through a room with a table radio playing, we know, intellectually, that the sound reaching our ears will change radically in both volume and perceived timbre as we walk through the room. But our impression is that the sound from the radio remained more or less constant, simply becoming harder to hear as we leave the room. In actuality, what we hear can change very radically depending on position and angle of the head with relation to the sound source and the environment's reflective surfaces. But the brain, trying to make sense of it all, analyzes and balances the raw sensory data and 'packages' that data in such a way that it makes sense and gives continuity to what our auditory perception systems tell us about our immediate environment.

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When do not have a recording room with great ambience, then do not record the ambience, but record as dry as possible and use artificial reverberation in the mix, and all is fine.

 

Avoid small and large room ambiences which are not good for great sounding tracks - the average living room, kitchen, toilet is not usable for a great track.

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^^^ Are these real drums, samples, or drum machines?

 

I know my real drums sounded much better when I started using a sub kick mic like this.

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]345397[/ATTACH]

[ATTACH=CONFIG]345398[/ATTACH]

[ATTACH=CONFIG]345399[/ATTACH]

 

In my case I used a vintage 8" Altec speaker

that had good midrange definition. It sounded much better

than a woofer with a foam surround. A sub used with a regular mic

allows you to adjust one track for the kick slap and the sub track for

the punch. I usually have to adjust the phase of the two a little.

 

The sub makes all the difference in the workd making the kick match

a bass recorded direct. Otherwise you wind up having to dumb down the

Bass EQ to match the kick which makes the entire mix sound thin.

 

I made a post awhile back called wheres the Beef. I made a comment about how so many mixes that get posted here lack good bottom end. When many read about mixing

they take the advice of rolling off the low end to extremes. That advice is for subharmonics that are below the hearing level and the ability of gear to reporduce it.

Below 30~40hz for bass or kick is about as far up as you need to go.

 

Most playback systems do not reproduce actual long waves of bass frequencies.

Those frequencies require huge bass cabs to reproduce. Google up the vintage specs on old Altec cabs and you'll begin to understand how they got that realistic bass sound using low wattage drivers. The high powered drivers manufacturers use today allow

them to use 1/2, 1/4, or 1/8 of the waveform. This however requires more bass power to reproduce a realistic long wave from a multiple of the long wave.

 

Mixes that lack the fundamental bass frequences dont have a chance of reproducing a good solid bottom end if the fundamental bass frequencies are never captured or removed with too much high passing. The mixes may sound OK on a cheap speakeor ear buds but can sound horribly enimic on a good HiFi system.

 

The only advice I can give is this.

 

1. Dont use headphones to mix.

 

They can be used to balance stereo components

but suck for anything else. You cant adjust the depth of the sound using headphones and everything winds up sounding two dimensional. An analogy is a photograph with a

group of people and everyone fighting to be in the front row and noone can be seen in back of that front row so the photograph lacks depth. You have stick figures instead

of thre dimensional works of art. Your mix can only be as good as your monitors, buy good ones.

 

2. Copy commercial mixes.

 

Import a commercial track into the mix and A/B compare it to your mix.

If you cant copy a good mix, its unlikely you can do better without comparing.

The beat and key may not be the same but you can adjust Frequencies, compression and placement of your parts against a commercial mix. An even better way of learning

is to use the commercial track as a scratch track. Play the song and track each part to

the commercial track, then mix each part to match the commercial track as close as you

can possibly get it, then mute the commercial track and see what you got. If it isnt

dam close, then its the performance/tracking/gear/room etc that likely needs attention.

you learn wehat you cant and cant do through this process.

 

3. Use a frequency analizer to aid your ears and study parts.

Compare a commercial mix to your own complete mix. Then compare

the frequencies of your tracked instruments before and after EQing.

If the frequency wasnt visable without EQing the track, you cant boost

a frequency that doesnt exhist using an EQ. All you'll do is boost noise.

 

 

4. If its your own music, you are already handicapped with your own bias.

Mixing wont add to the performance, you can only remove obstructions and masking

thats preventing the parts from being heard. Best thing you can do is start recording

other bands and mixing them to get past your own bias and place your on work in its proper perspective.

 

5. Also dont expect each piece of work to get dramatically better. Realistic expectations consist of baby steps. If you do 200 recordings in a year and the last 50 are better than the first 50 than you have proof things are getting better. If you're only mixed 25 recordings so far, you're still in kindergarden learning the basics. You may be an exceptional kindergardener with the IQ of a High School student. You cant open up your mind and download experience and wisdom from that experience. You have to walk

to gain that experience and the tougher the walk the better. If you have to fight your way up using crappy gear gaining ever ounce of quality out of it, its even better.

 

There is no sunstitute for experience. It can take a solid 5 years to gbe able to focus properly on a single part and block out everything else in your mind but hearing only that instrument in a mix. If you dont have dicipline and put in the hours you may never be able to do it.

 

Lastly, Other than posting mixes here, you arent going to have allot of coaching or feedback in improving your mixing skill. If you are luckey enough to work in a studio and see how its done, it can be a short cut, but for most into home recording thats not going to happen.

 

You have to learn to judge your own work and develop improvements over time. Soon instead of 2 out of 25 sounding decent, you may wind up having 1 out of 15.

Eventually you can hear the first 5 seconds of a raw track and know is the raw tracks even have of sounding good mixed.

 

An experienced engineer can hear things in a raw mix amature ears cant. It may be the rythum, the beat, the passion, the technical skill of the performance something that goes beyond the notes and the frequencies. If it doesnt exhist, you can mix a song forever and its still going to sound like a dried up rasin. Music has to live. If you cant picture the performers performing in your minds eye as clearly as watching those performers live or on a video, its never going to sound great.

 

The passion and emotions must be there in the performance of the notes or you have robotic music. Canned drums have no time variations and are the first thing to be blocked out by the mind listening. Its all about how the imperfections add a human element to music. Its should not be confused with lack of talent. Accidental and intentional variations are two very different things. One is controlled and one is uncontrolled and the ears can hear the difference as surely as they can hear a

lack of the human element.

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Anyways, my biggest problem; Drums.


I have such a hard time getting a good sounding bass drum, and then I find my overheads for cymbals are either too loud in the mix, or too soft. Its like I Can't get anywhere in the middle.

 

Yep x 1000. Originally I mixed it in my shitty 10x10 room. Now I move to another app and put my studio in an open living room. It's about 23x20, with one corner occupied by a open kitchen (so there's a 10' wall in the middle. One wall of this living room is all windows, there's a corner fireplace, and carpet, so I hope this room, while not perfect, at least big and geometrically complex enough to prevent too much resonance. I noticed a VAST improvement in drums, but still it's so hard to get a kick drum and bass just right in all chords. I noticed, for example that if your song uses C and then F chords, you get too much bass difference between them. If you go lower F you loose too much bass, if you go upper F, you gain too much sub bass but it becomes inaudible (without subwoofer).

 

Anyway, I don't want to make this thread about ME, I want to listen to your guys mixing woes...

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I noticed, for example that if your song uses C and then F chords, you get too much bass difference between them. If you go lower F you loose too much bass, if you go upper F, you gain too much sub bass but it becomes inaudible (without subwoofer).

 

Sounds like you have some issues to fix with your bass if you're having notes that are

booming or barely being heard. Some of it may be the player but many others can be the instrument,

its setup choice of strings or whatever you're using to DI or mic it.

 

I mostly DI bass even if its a live recording. I built in speaker emulated line outs on my older tube heads

and the newer heads have built in line outs with gain controls.

 

I had allot of issues with uneven output notes when I used just a preamp for tracking or used

gear designed for vocals or guitar. Things "vastly" improved when I switched to units designed for bass.

I first tried one of these for $20 and it made for some much better recordings. Its just a clean limiter with a

bass targeted tone control that could add some string snap for slap bass if you want it.

http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-BLE100-Bass-Limiter-Enhancer/dp/B000KITQNY

 

Heres an example of recording bass direct with that box.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1682170/Out%20On%20A%20Limb%20%5BMaster%5D.wav

 

I got board of that one and moved on. I next tried this one which is a Sans Amp clone.

It lacks the limiting but your have much more controll over the bass tones and the mic axis

switches work very well. Very quiet box and it has a low Z output which is nice.

http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=248-6094&utm_source=googleps

 

An example of that box being used.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1682170/Highway%2069%20%5BMaster%5D%20(10).wav

 

 

Next I picked up one of these Korg boxes for $10. The special effects suck. I dont use them on bass anyway

so I just leave them shut off. The preamp, EQ Comp and and amp/cabinet emulation are very good for such a cheap box.

I especially like the SVT 8X10" cab setting with several of the amp head settings. The draw back to the box is it eats batteries fast.

It uses two AA batteries and requires a special adaptor for 3V which I still need to find. The sound quality fades after a few hours of

recording. If the batteries are fresh, it gives some great bass tones and the mild single knob compressor evens up the dynamics nicely.

http://ubik.crumpled.com/gearpage/Pedals/Ampworks.htm

 

Heres an example of how that one sounds.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1682170/Trance%20%5BMaster%5D.wav

 

 

I picked up one of these Digitec units a few weeks ago and really havent tapped into its potential yet.

I'm an old school guy who prefers knobs over banks of sounds. I only paid $10 for it so its not like I

was taking a big gamble on it. It too has cabinet miodeling, EQ and cab/amp emulation as well as

another 50 effects targeted for bass. Many like autowah, distortion, echo and reverb I'll probibly never use.

I do like its touch responce and so far Its given me some nice punchy bass parts just using the stock settings.

I have about 20 originals on my DAW waiting for bass parts so I'll be testing its limits over the coming weeks.

 

Heres the first song I tried with that one. This song was more difficult than most because of the drum

machines tamborine sound was overbearing for how I wanted the song mixed so I scooped the hell out of the

8K region. I added back some crispiness with a lexicon reverb plugin that comes with sonar that I like to use.

http://www.americanmusic.com/digitech-bp50-bass-multi-effects-pedal.html

 

Heres one of the first recordings with that box I've done.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1682170/Beat%20A%20Peach%20MP3.mp3

 

 

In all of these cases the bass notes have pretty even dynamics.

I dont have any of the hundreds I've recorded up in drop box that dont at the moment.

I used to really have to battel with the bass to make it sit in a mix right and have it punch with the kick.

I could use side chaining which would duck the bass and kick, but its not something I've spent allot of time

messing with.

 

By using bass boxes for enhancement, the most I may need to do mixing is give the bass a little bump in the 2~3K region.

If its too deep I'll roll off a little on the low end. I dont do that if I dont have to. When I master the songs, I have much better

controll of the low end using Multiband Limiting and Harbal which will tame any rogue bass peaks or dips. My goal mixing is to make

the bass and kick punch together without masking.

 

My tuffest mixes are usually live mixes of bands playing out at gigs. Most suck for reflected sound.

I learn more trying to make those mixes sound pro then any studio recording where I've taken

the time to tweak the sound.

 

Studio stuff is easire to make sound live than a live recording sound studio.

You dont have a whole lot of time for setup nor testing mic positions and most clubs

I use a combination of close micing, Direct signals, boundry and a stereo mic up front.

Theres allot of bleedover especially on drum mics. I've learned to use phasing plugins which help

to cancel out allot of the bleedover and reflective sound.

 

Its tedious work and if the band isnt playing too good it can be a real mess trying to make the music

sound really good. If you have a good sound man running the live sound it can be simpler but you have to

deal with his tweaking of gains if you're tapped into the main board. I got a few I'm pretty proud of and when you

got a good crowd applause and crank up those boundry mics to capture the applause you can get some real energy happening

in the mixes. Music without an audiance doesnt do much for anyone except the performer.

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I do software synths, I don't do any live recording, and I don't have any gear at all, and don't plan on buying one. I just use bass synths. It's a nature of notes. C will be around (just guess, I don't know exact frequencies) golden middle 70Hz or so and F will be either too low at 45-50 or too high at 100. The issue can be solved in the early stage of song writing if you remember NOT TO use these chord combos, but when everything is recorded... and in other chords the sounds don't sound right... it's too late.

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Complexity. Alot of my tracks utilise upwards of 45-50 individual tracks; 2-3 stereo bounces, and a final mixdown. So much musical info, with overlapping frequency ranges,

is difficult at best to gain proper clarity and definition from.

I try to capture as close as possible the original recorded sound on every track, when I start mixing for stereo bounces or final mixdown: it's like I have a finished mix in my head, as I do each of the performances. Recreating the sound of each performance across the entire mix allows me to take a "snapshot" of the mix each time I listen to the song. I can usually hear what a mix should sound like after all the performances are done. Even though I may listen to that song another 1000 times before I get it mixed down, the first impression or "snapshot" if you will is always the first, best and most accurate impression I can hear: it's as close to perfect as I can get with

my ears and my gear.

It's also known as using your gear to it's absolute hard limits.

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Yea thats a whole different thing. Both the sine wave generated and its EQ responce

are generated at the source. Basically musical arrangement and compression are

going to be key items to focus on. Have you used multiband compression on a mix?

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check out this book .it`s the best one i`ve read up to press. he talks about frequencys and why we become numb towards them and ways to refresh your ears back to how they should be hearing,apparantly we all suffer from it ,amongst lots of other stuff ,i wouldn`t worry about it. great book lots of fantastic advise.Check out this book

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^^^ I think Mike posts here on occasion. I remember when he finished that book and was posting

about it being available. I havent seen him post here in awhile though unless he's using an alias name.

he does write articles for Sound on Sound like Craig Anderton does, and excelent magazine for learning basics.

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^^^ I think Mike posts here on occasion. I remember when he finished that book and was posting

about it being available. I havent seen him post here in awhile though unless he's using an alias name.

he does write articles for Sound on Sound like Craig Anderton does, and excelent magazine for learning basics.

 

wow didn`t know that .it took me about three days to read, starts off a bit slow and he goes on about rooms and monitors the usual sort of stuff but then his actual proceedjure of mixing is realy good. change of direction is there anybody on this forum who can only write.

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i can't read, only write, my family was so poor we wouldn't afford both

 

sorry to hear about that:cry:

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Lewey - have a look at this thread in Phil's forum. It may help you to find a way of getting a better handle on your method. With a useful method, you can get yourself out of those trances that Einstein talks about above.

 

Also, you mention problems with specific frequencies, and then say that you 'guess' that the fundamental of a certain note is around 70hz. Take the guesswork out of it with a chart like the one below, and zone in on the specific frequencies that you have a problem with. So, you know the exact fundamental frequency of the notes that are problematic. You will find that a small cut over a fairly precise 1 or 2 octave band can work wonders for the types of 'C and F' problems that you describe, rather than trying to make cuts at one specific frequency, or just taking a stab in the dark.

 

In the main, it's all about method, and calibrating your work environment, and ears, as much as possible. Before starting a mixing session, it can be very helpful to listen to similar material which has sonic characteristics that you admire or want to emulate. Listen critically to how that material is arranged, both in the stereo field and across the frequency spectrum, and how things like reverbs and delays give the material depth and space, and try to create those sorts of spaces in your own material by simply mixing with the absolute minimum of plugins. I try to attend to the delicate balance of making it sound like music before reaching for this eq or that compressor in an attempt to sqaure things up too much.

 

Sometimes, you simply need to realise that you are where you are on your learning curve. Sometimes it's about saying 'well that's as good as I can do right now', and either being able to live with your own mix, or send it to someone with a proven track record to do the mixing for you.

 

Here's the frequency chart. You should be able to save this from here and print/enlarge on your own PC:-

 

carnegie_note.jpg

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check out this book .it`s the best one i`ve read up to press. he talks about frequencys and why we become numb towards them and ways to refresh your ears back to how they should be hearing,apparantly we all suffer from it ,amongst lots of other stuff ,i wouldn`t worry about it. great book lots of fantastic advise.
Check out this book

 

I agree with this. If you learn well via books this is the one to have. My copy is highlighted, dogeared, sticky note tabbed, etc. Read it front to back the first time at least because it definitely lays out a process. But there is so much good information that now I pick it up and reread sections when I have a few minutes. I always find something that I missed or forgot from the first couple of readings that helps me address some problem I am having. It's loaded with good practical advice like, "automated gain makeup seems like a bright idea on the face of it, because it leaves one hand free for beer, but in encourages...users to overcook the processing." Now, that's both art and science if you ask me.

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