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Getting that "sheen" on your mixes
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Unknown soldier
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7th May 2003
Old 7th May 2003
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Getting that "sheen" on your mixes

This is one thing my mixes are lacking, that nice and warm sheen on top that makes them stand out. Is this where a pro mastering job comes in? A high end buss compressor? Magic pixie dust???
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Possibly all the things you mentioned. Also add experience and experimentation.

Have fun!
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Yes, often, rather than add super high frequency eq to indevidual channels folks instead prefer to have the "air' or super high frequencies lifted in a mastering situation..

Others strap a high quality EQ across the mix buss and crank the HF up so they can hear it while mixing..

There are many ways to deal with this, I would say 80% perfer to do it AFTER the mix.. Hey I might start a poll!

Look out for it!

Jules
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8th May 2003
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i really can't understand how a mixer can say"damn - this mix
is happenning" if they intend to shape the top end in mastering
and really get it the way they hope. a mix shouldn't leave your hands
unless you are spilling over yourself. plain & simple.
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Quote:
Originally posted by stealthbalance
i really can't understand how a mixer can say"damn - this mix
is happenning" if they intend to shape the top end in mastering
and really get it the way they hope. a mix shouldn't leave your hands
unless you are spilling over yourself. plain & simple.
Yes to the above, IF you have the ears/room/EQ that are on a comparable level to what you would find at most mastering houses. But I can understand if all you have is prosumer gear or plug-ins (and a problematical acoustic space) you might want to leave some (or all) of the 2-buss processing until the mastering stage.
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Re: Getting that "sheen" on your mixes

Quote:
Originally posted by Unknown soldier
This is one thing my mixes are lacking, that nice and warm sheen on top that makes them stand out. Is this where a pro mastering job comes in? A high end buss compressor? Magic pixie dust???
Sheen? Could you be a little more specific in your buzz words?
jon
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The "magic pixie dust" would probably be excellent engineering & gear from start to finish.

A band-aid solution (high-class EQ, multi-band comp, etc.) can't compete with a high-quality signal chain, great console/room/monitors, and experienced engineer.

I've seen a number of clever people here in town mix their latest record themselves at home on their MixPlus, then go blow $$$$$$ at Grundman or Weinberg or whatever trying to get that expensive sheen at the end because it still didn't sound like a record. Much time and dollars later, they were frankly disappointed with the overall result. Some of them didn't use the expensive mastering and ended up re-mixing their album in an SSL room with an engineer. So much for the DIY shortcut.

Moral of the story: Great mastering can't always make up for all the rest.

EQs you can rent in to try to DIY:

Tubetech SMC2B
Millenia dual topo stereo EQ
GML 8200
Massivo Passivo
A pair of Pultecs
Sonntec
Weiss digital

Don't forget great converters if you're working on a mix stored to digital.
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I find the HEDD supplies the magic pixie dust rather nicely.
I'm careful tracking and have nice instruments well tweaked in the physical domain, high quality simple short signal path, analog tape, and the HEDD is the only thing (other than the tape) exaggerating anything- no EQ, no compress. It's got all the magic pixie dust I need, all the sudden things sound "classy bigtime" (provided the HEDD is set JUST right!).
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jules

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9th May 2003
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I like to make the mix sound like its going to be pressed tommorow... IE like i want to hear it as if i put it in my cd player right now.

Mastering will just add the 'icing to the cake' from where i see things.

As a resuly i try and get it sounding as great as possible to whats in my fuct up head and EQ, compress and distort things to acheive my goals.. And yes i love to strap to compressors over the stereo bus and then strap a stereo EQ over the 2 buss.. but u gota be carefull and judicious with the amount of compression and eq.

I hate it when i hear ppl go.. 'i leave it to the mastering person cos they got better gear than me or ears'.. i think people should just give things a go and see what works for them and try and experiment to try and get the results they want fromt he gear that they got..

hmmm

PEACE
Wiggy
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I agree with Wiggy and that's exactly how I approach mixing.
As Reg Presley once said:
'sprinkle some ****in' fairy dust on it'
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I too try to get it to sound "done". However, I also have learned (the hard way) that it is best to not mess around too high or too low. IOW, adding a bunch of 22k or 20 Hz to stuff is usually not in my or the songs best interest. I leave that to the mastering.

However, I do pick out the elements of each mix that I think should be out there in the sonic badlands of extreme frequencies
(i.e. vox on top, bass gtr. or kick on bottom) and let them stretch out . I'm not scared to put a lot of way highs in a vox or way lows in a bass or kick if if it sounds good. This seems to give the mastering engineer something to sink their teeth into.

Charles


On another thought (maybe should be new thread) Do y'all see your mixes as you print? i.e. track back in and watch the waveform as you mix. Does what you see EVER change your mix decisions?
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9th May 2003
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Quote:
Originally posted by Wiggy Neve Slut


I hate it when i hear ppl go.. 'i leave it to the mastering person cos they got better gear than me or ears'.. i think people should just give things a go and see what works for them and try and experiment to try and get the results they want fromt he gear that they got..

Wiggy
Since I was the one who sort of said that, I'd like to clarify that in most cases I actually agree with Wiggy. Where i think the line should be drawn is in the cases where any reasonable evaluation of the room acoustics or available gear (or engineering skill) would suggest that 2-buss processing might do more harm than good, and only get in the way of the mastering engineer.

I remember Bob Ludwig remarking one time about how he's received some mixes from Bob Clearmountain that needed virtually no tweaking at the mastering stage at all. But I'm sure for every one of those, there are about one hundred cases where the mastering engineer really wished he could get a hold of an alternative mix that had a little less 2-buss processing,

Maybe the solution is, when in doubt, to make one processed mix for CD dubs, and a less processed one for the mastering engineer. Possibly sending a copy of the CD dubs as well for reference.
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10th May 2003
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I remember Bob Ludwig remarking one time about how he's received some mixes from Bob Clearmountain that needed virtually no tweaking at the mastering stage at all


Well that is Bob... unfortunaltely sometimes i think he can mix the essence out of a song, but it still sounds ****ing awesome. I love the work he did on Crowded House's last album 'together alone' where the natural and tribal elements of the environment where the album was recorded ( a beach house in New Zealand where the movie 'The Piano' was shot) met the pop smarts and sensibilities of Neil Finn on an equal plain.

From what i have learned of the 'black art' of mastering, is that the mastering is not to be anotother extension or 'remix' of the mix where things are added or subtracted in terms of emphasis of different elements of a mix .. rather a general tidy and packaging of the song and of course a lil bit of 'fairy dust'!

PEACE
Wiggy
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10th May 2003
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I've done some flat mixes in the past.

It's cool to get a 'gold star' from the mastering engineer...

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13th May 2003
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Oh, love that... last time Chris at Grundman said he added a tiny bit of the "sheen" you guys are talking about (no outboard EQ on my rig) and then "turned it up", because I was a good little mixer and left him some headroom.

Of course, I don't watch too close, and he may really be doing more than I know... (like I say to the vocalist: "nah, I didn't really have to AutoTune you at all!")

Later,
stick
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14th May 2003
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It seems with the HEDD that when you use the process to dial up just the right sheen and get everything glued, any processing after that musses up the finish.
I can dial up such a sweet thing here but I wonder if I could benefit from leaving the HEDD process to mastering, for that final polish. It's hard not to want to do that part myself, because it really seems like an integral part of mixing, and very crucial just where the process is set.
What have your results been like Jules? You mix to the HEDD with process sometimes? Does your final sheen survive mastering, or is it best to go for the "gold star"?
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14th May 2003
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first thing you have to decide is whether or not you ARE going to have your product mastered. If you are NOT going to have it mastered (lots of indie bands don't), then you better be trying to make your final mix as amazing as possible on it's own.

but if the band or project you are recording IS planning on having their product mastered, then it would be VERY wise to talk to the mastering engineer they/you are planning to use.

find out what he/she needs to do the best job that THEY can do.

from my experience, most mastering engineers find it easier to add high end and/or subtract low end than it is to add low end and/or subtract high end.

as well, nothing makes a mastering engineer's job more difficult than a project that arrives DOA because of massive overcompression. If you kill your mix, no one can save it.

best to talk to the mastering engineer ahead of time about what kind of levels he/she likes to work with.

sometimes, they will ask for several different versions of a mix with different levels for vocals, kick drum, etc. That way they can pick the one that they can work with best.
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Hmm re Hedd processing

I make masters at 96k

Its not the same mix with the process button out, so I "print" the sound to my Masterlink...

It HAS occured to me not to, but I do it.

I find the valve / tape simulations sound at their best at 96k...


There are many ways to skin a cat! You have me thinking now!
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15th May 2003
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Well that's interesting. I'll have to fiddle with the process at 96k. No it's not the same mix with process in bypass... you know what I mean.
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Don't underestimate arrangement and specific instrumentation in this equation. A really well recorded tambo, hi hat, acoustic guitar, shaker, etc, and of course vocal, give you so much more to work with in the quest for "sheen". The raw material you have to work with, that's living in that frequency range, makes a huge difference in the outcome. That's why on more than one occasion, I've taken the liberty of adding or replacing something in that freq range on a mixing gig. As a result, I play a pretty solid tambourine and shaker.

As far as one reference, I've always thought Mick Guzauski acheived superior "air" on many of his mixes. Really sweet and present airiness, but it never bites you. I do admire that. One of, if not the hardest things to do really well, IMO.

One other box I would add to the list of nice EQs in this area. The KSP8. No, I'm not trying to sound like a broken record about that box, but the sound of the hi freq EQ, in particular, is superior in many ways. For a digital domain EQ, it is very nice at 12KHz+.


Regards,
Brian T
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I agree with BrianT....the arrangement (choice of sounds) is key to the sheen issue...

...you can't paint the ceiling gold if you have no roof!
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Quote:
Originally posted by BrianT
[B

As far as one reference, I've always thought Mick Guzauski acheived superior "air" on many of his mixes. Really sweet and present airiness, but it never bites you. I do admire that. One of, if not the hardest things to do really well, IMO.

Regards,
Brian T [/B]
Mick G. also can get the vocals,acoustic guitars and strings to sound like no one else.

He is also one of my favorites.
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Hey Brian T,

I think we can add Humberto Gatica to the list also.

I love the depth and top end to his mixes also.
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A search on Mick G has just turned up the AES Daily Online http://www.aesdaily.com/friday/pg38.shtml it says he's just become a Sony (Booth 142) Oxford owner.

"When I first became aware of the Oxford, it wasn't entirely complete, yet even then it had the best A/D and D/A converters I'd ever heard," says Guzauski. "I've never heard a better sounding console, either analog or digital."


Interesting.
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Then I found this: from digidesign news, I couldn't find a date.

........

Pro Tools Vs Sony Oxford...
...listening tests demonstrate they sound the same.
In an attempt to resolve an argument from some prospective customers that "Pro Tools changes the sound", Digidesign engineering staff travelled to New York recently to perform listening tests at the studio of Mick Guzauski, one of the most popular and successful producer/mix engineers in our industry. Recent clients include Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Christina Aguilera, Paula Cole, LeAnn Rimes, Brandy, Monica, Back Street Boys, Jennifer Lopez, Eric Clapton, Will Smith, Kirk Franklin, Boyz II Men, etc. Mick is up for the Grammy award for audio engineering this year.

Identical 24-track mixes were created on his Sony Oxford console and within Pro Tools with faders at various positions, and also using extended Aux submixing within Pro Tools.

During over ten hours of blind listening tests, Mick, his assistant engineer and Digidesign staff could not reliably distinguish between his Oxford console and Pro Tools playing the same mix; everyone guessed wrong as often as they guessed right.

To reinforce this point, when the Pro Tools mix and the Oxford mix of the same material were combined and the polarity (phase) inverted, the signals completely audibly cancelled; even when the monitors were cranked to their maximum gain, no signal was heard. Complete technical details are posted on the Digidesign website user conference.

The bottom line is confidence in Pro Tools' ability to deliver excellent mixing capabilities and audio quality TODAY, and to get real-world projects done with incredible price/performance.
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Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius
...you can't paint the ceiling gold if you have no roof!
ehhh...
You can have a house with no roof... but still have a ceiling....
specially after a hurricane...
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ok, you can't paint the ceiling gold if you have no ceiling. How's that ?
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Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
Mick G. also can get the vocals,acoustic guitars and strings to sound like no one else.

He is also one of my favorites.
Mick is a master of reverb. He's a great mixer, but reverb is where he has awed me in the past. The Mariah Carey stuff he did was/is landmark in my book. However, am I the only person (here) that noticed the change in his sound when he got his Oxford? He also starting going down this path where his high end was hyped, but not open, and in some cases aliased. I remember pinpointing records that I wasn't impressed with that he did, and later found out he had gone to the Dark Side. Several years later, I was rating tracks on the last Blaque record, and FINALLY found some mixes he did that I was satified, no, expressed with that Mick did. Now a days I think Dexter Simmons is the/my 'new' Mick, even when he is on an Oxford. I still don't understand how he get's his verbs so ambient within such a tight mix. I also love the way his compression is non-audible, or at least doesn't sound like an effect which is expected a lot in these loudness wars.
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