have you ever tried recreating pop songs to compare your mixes?
so, my setup is 100% itb and lately i've been trying to recreate pop songs from scratch to see if i can mix them to sound anything like the original. i purposely chose dry songs with overused instruments (808's, popular synths, etc) or samples, so the recreation part would be simple and accurate. this way i could focus more on the difference between mixes rather than sound sources.
well, it turns out it's pretty hard to get the recreated mixes to sound like the originals.
here's a few things that i noticed in all these attempts:
-i tried subtle combinations of eq, compression, saturations, reverb, tape, etc to the point where i feel like i got as close as i possibly could and any other tweak would just put me farther off. i felt like i was out of options.
-in a way, even other songs on the same album sounded more similar to the one i was trying to recreate. all their sounds were more "soft" than mine, so i thought i'd try cutting some of the high frequencies. this did make my version seem less harsh but at the same time it now sounded completely lifeless. i tried adding a harmonic exciter and adjusting the levels and frequencies of each of the harmonics, but it did very little before it started to sound harsh again. no matter what i tweaked, i couldn't get my recreation to have their combination of "soft" and "bright" instead it was always either too harsh or too dark/dull.
so i'm wondering now, am i just really bad at mixing? or does running your mix through expensive outboard gear really make that much of a difference?