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pichuscute
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#1
21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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Mixing tips/A good way to go about mixing?

So, I'm a Drum and Bass producer, and I have been producing (in FL Studio) for something like 5 years now. However, I still run into pretty major mixing problems quite often, and I'm not sure what I'm doing "wrong". I seem to know most techniques used during mixing and mastering and I have a decent way to monitor. My mastered files just don't sound clean or crisp like professional artists' songs.

So, I'm wondering if I can get any good advice from guys who are pretty experienced about how exactly to go about mixing. Maybe, how much EQ to use, compression, limiting, effects, etc. (basically workflow) And how to best go about panning and get a good stereo image.

Anyway, thanks to anyone who responds. I know these are big questions.
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21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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i think you need to articulate more clearly (for yourself) what exact deficits your mixes have. being less 'clean or crisp' than artist x is too ambiguous to use as a basis for knowing what you need to work on or change.

formulas and other people's workflow are meaningless and won't get you any closer to achieving more cleanliness or crispness.

you have to know what EXACTLY about your mixing isn't satisfying to you. when you have a good grasp of that, you'll then have a good idea of what you need to do differently.
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21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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It's not that I don't know my problems with my mixes, its just that I'm curious to see what others do. I feel like most of my problems come from using too many effects, but I want to see if this is really true or not. I've also heard some people use a lot more compression than I normally would, so I'm curious about that as well. Finally, I've been playing around with ways to get a nice stereo image, but I haven't gotten the best results yet, so I'm looking for more information on that. But, I'm less looking to change what I do too much, and more just curious about what others' do.
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21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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Make the biggest improvement as soon as possible, like "what one thing could do to most improve this" or "what does this really need/want?"

Would it be possible to hear a recording?

Probably the most important things you could do in order are set volumes, panning, EQ, compression/other dynamic effects like transient shaping. Channel strips on high-end desks are consistent with this conjecture.

Some kind of process guideline could be
1) volumes
2) panning and stereo width
3) EQ*
4) dynamics (Comp, mb comp, transient shaping, can be in parallel, volume atomation)
5) Harmonics (excitement, saturation, overdrive, distortion, bitcruching etc)
6) EQ refinements (tweak pre-comp EQ, add post-comp EQ)
7) sends (reverb)
8) Bus things together, repeat
9) Bounce to master, do any pre-master editing, repeat (aka mastering)

The whole time, re-adjust the volumes as needed.

*When EQing, start by filtering, then use a narrow band to find problem frequencies, then do progressively more broad colour EQing.

EDIT: Effect the channel while listening to the context.
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#5
21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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If you can't post an audio example of your work or you have no idea what the problem is than its going to be hard for anyone to help you.
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21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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Ahh, that's a very simple way to do it. I like that. What I tend to do is something that is probably not a very effective thing to do. I'll basically just mix as I go, in whatever ever order I decide to make a song. So, I EQ Drums when I make them, leads when I make them, etc. all while adding effects when I make them too. Generally I go back to check EQ, but sometimes, especially with bigger files, I miss things.

If you meant you want to hear something I've done, here's something I just finished. Re-Collect - WIP (no name) by Re-Collect on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free
I did master it (and performed a miracle doing so).

EDIT: Woah. I'm sorry mate! I'm not trying to not be cooperative. Btw, thanks everyone for the help!
#7
21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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A few things I noticed from that tune:

-very uncompressed(not a terrible thing imo)
-very few sounds going on which is making the track seem simple and repetitive
-your Eq is actually not bad, nothing seems to be clashing in that department.

I don't produce DnB(though I do listen to it) so im not exactly an expert in that field but I feel the main difference between that track and most dnb out there would be how much compression is being done. If you want your productions to sound closer to other mastered tracks your going to need to compress it quite a bit more.

EDIT: I would also try and layer some more percussion in there to thicken things up a bit.
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21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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Your stereo image is just fine IMHO.

Creating a 3D effect is much harder.
You have to be very careful with compression, and the most important thing is using LP filters.
With LP filters you can create much more depth and let the elements sit in their own place.
The elements in your track are overlapping to much in the high frequencies, but that can be a matter of taste.
I'm not into the really bright modern mixes, it can sound fatiguing after a while.
I use this a lot to LP: dsp.sonimus.com :: Music is our language It has the sweetest filters in the plugin world IMO.
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21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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back in the day i released a handful of dnb 12's but im a little rusty but here goes

you mainly need to focus on your actual mix , the placement of the individual sounds in the mix , a few things are a little off , the snare is too low , some of your mid range sounds are too loud and cluttered

dont worry too much about fancy tricks and post mix multiband processing . those things can help , but your main task is to get the instruments that make up your track in their correct place and space .

also the track itself is a little sparce and unfinished , as stated more elements and more layering . layering is the key to drum and bass . spend the long hours to really polish the ideas . a well written track with good production will always sound much better than an average track with good production

your not far off though id give it a solid 7 out of 10 , just needs some more work to push it over the top
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21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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Thanks guys! I will say, the idea for this track was to be more minimal (as with most of my stuff), which is why there is less layering then what I'd usually do, I'm surprised to hear you guys think there aren't very many elements, though. That's a good thing to know, because I thought I had that covered.

@Augsy
Do you mean compression on single instruments or in the mastering stage?
And if single instruments, should I be compressing nearly everything? (because I have compression on the drums, the stabs, slightly, and the bass already)
And thanks for the reply

@backplay
Thanks ^^ Maybe hat I'm after is a 3D effect? I dunno, lol.
And I do use LP filters very often, I just was thinking minimal with this song. But I may check that filter out, so thanks
Also, I re-mastered it and boosted the lower mids a bit, because I had noticed a similar problem. I had just not boosted the lower frequencies as much as the rest during mastering.

@tvsky
I think these things may slip through from either me listening for long periods of time and getting used to it, or just from less than ideal monitors. A lot of people have said that the snare is off, and I had noticed something weird about the mid-range, but couldn't pin-point the problem. Finally, even though this is minimal, I think you are right and I should be adding more elements to the tracks I make, haha. Anyway, Thanks for the reply And I'm glad you still would give it a 7/10.
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22nd September 2012
Old 22nd September 2012
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the first thing that sticks out to me is the actual rhythm—for d&b this is generally the core focus of the track, and though i think your sound selection is fine, i think the rhythmic patterns are really banal and uninteresting. that's where i would start—elaborate on your drum programming a lot more and add some variance and flourishes.

and i'd agree that in general the track is way too sparse compositionally and arrangement-wise; there isn't anything happening that keeps it interesting or holds one's attention—no standout bassline or melodic progression, etc. so after revamping the drum patterns/programming, i'd move on to start building up those facets of the track
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#12
22nd September 2012
Old 22nd September 2012
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Oh wow. Hadn't really thought about that. I should look into some music theory then, too, probably. Thanks
#13
22nd September 2012
Old 22nd September 2012
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Music theory is definitely worth studying even if it's just to get some of the basics down. Regarding the mixing/mastering If you compare your track to a finished dnb track you'll notice most tunes are pinned pretty close to 0db most of the time, meaning there is less overall dynamic range than your track. A good exercise would be loading up some finished tracks(in your daw) from producers that inspire you and study there production's. I.e. see how dynamic there mixes are, how loud there basses are, etc. and compare it to your own work.
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22nd September 2012
Old 22nd September 2012
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What would be the best way to go about fixing the dynamics during mastering then? Limiting or compression (multiband?)?
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22nd September 2012
Old 22nd September 2012
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Im not an expert but if you have control of every step of the process(arranging/mixing/mastering) I find its best to stay away from multiband compressors and try to fix your tracks individually with EQ/compression.

Personally I will do most of my compression and limiting on sub busses. So that would be drums, bass, vocals, synths etc. I find this method gives me the most control over what is compressing what rather than just having every channel going to the master and trying to compress and limit it all there.

On each channel I will do some light dynamic shaping/compression maybe some saturation or a bit of limiting essentially whatever I feel that track needs. I then route a number of channel's to one of the buses where I sort of glue similar sounds together/fit them into a smaller dynamic range. For example if I was doing a synth bus I might have a pluck synth sound go to the synth bus doing a few db of compression, and then later on in the arrangement have a second synth sound routed there causing the compressor/limiter to squash the 1st synth even more. There's no right or wrong answer with how to bus things but I find keeping similar elements in similar frequency ranges together makes the compression less obvious(heavily compressing a high hat with a bassline might not sound so good).

Once my busses are nicely mixed I will route them all to the master for some subtle compression/limiting, nothing to extreme though as most of the dynamic processing was taken care in the bus stage. I find I have much better results when the mix sounds nice and full before it hits the 2bus, as opposed to relying on mastering to fix what should have been done earlier on.
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#16
22nd September 2012
Old 22nd September 2012
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Wow, so, yeah, I definitely am not doing anywhere near that much compression, haha. But that sounds like something I definitely want to try. Especially grouping similar synths to certain buses for compression. Thank you. That was very helpful.
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22nd September 2012
Old 22nd September 2012
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Also don't be afraid to use volume automation in conjunction with bus compression, sometimes using a bit of both yields a better result.
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22nd September 2012
Old 22nd September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atma View Post
the first thing that sticks out to me is the actual rhythm—for d&b this is generally the core focus of the track, and though i think your sound selection is fine, i think the rhythmic patterns are really banal and uninteresting. that's where i would start—elaborate on your drum programming a lot more and add some variance and flourishes.

and i'd agree that in general the track is way too sparse compositionally and arrangement-wise; there isn't anything happening that keeps it interesting or holds one's attention—no standout bassline or melodic progression, etc. so after revamping the drum patterns/programming, i'd move on to start building up those facets of the track
I cant access the track, says oops something is wrong.

However sounds like to me this is not an issue with mixing but more with the production.

You can't fix a track during the mixing stage if it the production is not on point.

On the other hand if it is a banging track and not mixed correctly then we have a different story. Would like to hear the track?
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23rd September 2012
Old 23rd September 2012
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23rd September 2012
Old 23rd September 2012
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#21
24th September 2012
Old 24th September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pichuscute View Post
So, I'm a Drum and Bass producer, and I have been producing (in FL Studio) for something like 5 years now. However, I still run into pretty major mixing problems quite often, and I'm not sure what I'm doing "wrong". I seem to know most techniques used during mixing and mastering and I have a decent way to monitor. My mastered files just don't sound clean or crisp like professional artists' songs.

So, I'm wondering if I can get any good advice from guys who are pretty experienced about how exactly to go about mixing. Maybe, how much EQ to use, compression, limiting, effects, etc. (basically workflow) And how to best go about panning and get a good stereo image.

Anyway, thanks to anyone who responds. I know these are big questions.
i would say just make it sound good and dont overload your channels.. even when most plugs and daw work with massive headroom theese days you cant take that for granted..

beside that learning by doing.. you learn that with your ears and not with books..but its ok to check out mix tricks.. like parralel compression or having a drum bus using ghost tracks to feed the fx chains aso.. best to invent your own ones.. plenty of things to try out in this million plug in world..

one thing..decide for a set of plugs that suit you.. and stick for them for a while instead having an endless plug in testrun...
#22
24th September 2012
Old 24th September 2012
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It's interesting that you say "learn by doing" than give theoretical advice.

In order to apply something, you must first know and understand it. Concretely, DO read a book on mixing, then apply/test those skills in your DAW.

Here's a video:

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24th September 2012
Old 24th September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ninja_Edit View Post
It's interesting that you say "learn by doing" than give theoretical advice.

In order to apply something, you must first know and understand it. Concretely, DO read a book on mixing, then apply/test those skills in your DAW.

Here's a video:

theoretical advice is not forbidden when you do learning by doing.. just to be all about books in general is nothing that makes you know something.. maybe helps to understand somthing but knowing comes from practical experience
#24
24th September 2012
Old 24th September 2012
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Knowledge also comes from books.
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24th September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ninja_Edit View Post
Knowledge also comes from books.
thats what after the book people like to believe.. but theire 99% tendency to fail when things get complicated tells otherwise.
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24th September 2012
Old 24th September 2012
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So you are actually asserting that books do not communicate knowledge?

Here's Bloom's Taxonomy.

Experience is expensive.

Remember, you're on the internet discussing music production.
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24th September 2012
Old 24th September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ninja_Edit View Post
So you are actually asserting that books do not communicate knowledge?

Here's Bloom's Taxonomy.

Experience is expensive.

Remember, you're on the internet discussing music production.
experience is expensive? no..just takes time..

Books dont communicate knowledge..the only communicate information about it.
Blind trust in that given information is not knowledge..

Aslong the given info is correct and you are able to interprete it correctly it might appear as some, but when its wrong or you only understand it half its easy to appear rather moronic than experienced...

knowledge contains the word know.. you only know something for certain when it has been proven to you, everything else is believing..
prove is created by applying the info in practical application.. After that personal obtained prove you can call it knowledge.

And even than you still might be wrong and learn better another day...
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#28
24th September 2012
Old 24th September 2012
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I should check out some more books on the subject sometime. Also, that video didn't loud up for me for some reason, it's just a white square. :\
#29
24th September 2012
Old 24th September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audioconsult View Post
experience is expensive? no..just takes time..

Books dont communicate knowledge..the only communicate information about it.
Blind trust in that given information is not knowledge..

Aslong the given info is correct and you are able to interprete it correctly it might appear as some, but when its wrong or you only understand it half its easy to appear rather moronic than experienced...

knowledge contains the word know.. you only know something for certain when it has been proven to you, everything else is believing..
prove is created by applying the info in practical application.. After that personal obtained prove you can call it knowledge.

And even than you still might be wrong and learn better another day...
Sure just like anything, that knowledge must later be applied to become evident that what you learnt through the book is indeed correct or false.

The later is the tricky part, I could read all day about EQ. But doing and reading are 2 separate things entirely.

This is not to say the art of mixing or producing can't be taught through books, but I think the later is more important then the reading.
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