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What does Foo Fighters got that I ain't got??? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 26th January 2007
  #1
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What does Foo Fighters got that I ain't got???

I was mixing a song the other day, of the rock persuasion, and I thought I had a pretty good, wide, mix on my hands. I opened Itunes right after listening to mine and referenced everlong by foo. BAM!! Confidence gone. Everything is wrapped so far around your head. The toms were so deep and spacious and the guitars were so full while distant. The comparison to mine and there's was as if my mix was mono, there's stereo. I did everything I could think of w/ reverb, delays, and was using the piss outta the S1 stereo imager. To give myself credit, mine was completly mixed in the box and I am not that naive to think I can get mine up to there level. I just know theres gotta be some way to push those sounds out there and get that depth I want while still mixing in the box. If anybody wants to lend their "tricks" or advice, it's much appreciated....
Old 26th January 2007
  #2
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DontLetMeDrown's Avatar
 

It helps to drag a copy of the target song into your session and use the solo/mute buttons to jump back and forth quickly between the two mixes. I'm sure the Foo album was recorded using top-notch ****, but you should be able to dial in the instrument levels somewhat close.
Old 26th January 2007
  #3
Gear Nut
I would steer clear of the S1 to start with. All it does is f..k with your phase and make things blurry.
Old 26th January 2007
  #4
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go natural

Try going natural with your sound sources. I too often try to force the instruments to sound different and over-hyped than what they are naturally, then when they are combined, it comes out as mush. Even though FOo is a killer/egdy explosive sound, I believe it is due to amazing and natural sound sources that are well recorded. I don't wanna downplay the quality of the mix and mixer, But I'll bet these songs are pretty intuitive to mix. Probably not a lot of pulling teeth to get sounds.
Adjust EQ/ compression when listening to everything at the same time, not just when solo'd. I've also heard and found that you can achieve a bigger mix when each of the tracks sound smaller by them selves. I don't know if I'm putting that right. There's not enough room in your mix for each track to sound huge on it's own.
Also when ITB, keep your track volumes down so you don't load up the stereo bus, this is where I've noticed a lot of choking going on in my mixes. Let the stereo bus comp/limit give you the level and slam you want...
When working on your mix, have whatever eq, or comp. you want to put on the mix, turned on while you balance and mix, and listen because you will adjust things differently with the processing on, then if you just add it on at the end. Your processing will fit the mix better. Less of an afterthought...

Also, I don't know what school of thought you're from, but pulling mics away from your sources, using better mic placement, less processing with EQ/comp can lead to a more natural, easier to work with sound.

I hope all of this isn't a complete bore for you, please forgive me if I'm just telling you what you know. But for me this is a big issue, and for my money, The center of becoming a better mixer/engineer, and I'd like to have more threads on this...

Peace out
Old 26th January 2007
  #5
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I completly understand what you are saying Dave. I am finally starting to realize how drastic I am eq'ing some of these tracks. I can wrap my head around the depth part of their process and see how they are makin it happen. I still don't see how they're so damn wide though. I will a/b my mix w/ theirs and mine(even with guitars, background vox panned hard) sounds almost mono when put next to theirs. Same w/ STP! I will sit in front of the monitors and their gtrs seem to sit about a foot farther then the speaker on each side. I know they are using some quality tools in their studios, and i wanna know if their is anything to replicate it on the poor man's scale?? Thanks for all the response guys!
Old 27th January 2007
  #6
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djui5's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by manu258 View Post
I just know theres gotta be some way to push those sounds out there and get that depth I want while still mixing in the box.

That's from that mastering M/S thing.
Old 27th January 2007
  #7
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max cooper's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by manu258 View Post
I know they are using some quality tools in their studios, and i wanna know if their is anything to replicate it on the poor man's scale?? Thanks for all the response guys!
Dude, I know the standard forum line is that you gotta have a Massive Passive and an L2 and what not, but this comes mainly down to:

1. Arrangement; super, super key to getting a huge mix

2. Musicianship; (or, in the case of the Beastie Boys, etc, lack of but in either case, playing "big". It's like a certain confidence the player imbues the track with. Check Muddy Waters if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

3. The Sound of the Recording Space

4. Sources/Mics

And no, that's not all there is to it, but it's a lot.

BTW, which Foo are you referencing?

I find that the debut album is nice sounding, Colour and the Shape is beginning to be a 2x4 and after that it's a hootenany.
Old 27th January 2007
  #8
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I'm actually talking about colour and shape...everlong actually. To me that mix is so big and full. While we're on the subject "lust of the mix"....whoever mixes Rob Zombie's stuff (especially more human than human and demon speeding) are my hero(es). I am in awe about how heavy and punchy those mixes are without being too muddy.
Old 27th January 2007
  #9
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Jeff19's Avatar
big mix

well i'm no professional mixer, but i found that you can't really make a mix "bigger" by adding reverb. it just tends to make it mushier, especially if there is a full sound going on like a chorus. If selected correctly, a reverb can make thing more full. there are many things you can do to make a "bigger" mix as suggested above, but have you tried to add more tracks? background vocals, keyboards, overdubbed guitars... ?
Old 27th January 2007
  #10
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I did actually. There are mulitple gtrs, bkgrnd vox, etc. I actually ended up adding a few synths under the guitars to try and beef it up. Worked to an extent, just didn't gimme that "BIG" feeling I get when I listen to tracks like Rob's as mentioned above.
Old 27th January 2007
  #11
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Jaguar Dreams's Avatar
 

foo tips

Interesting - I've been listening to this song a lot lately. I took a closer listen just now to see if I can offer any advice. Hopefully some of this will help.

1) Listen carefully to how many guitars are going on. It's one up the middle, and then a double-tracked guitar on each side. Those side guitars are pushed all the way to the side. They are playing slightly different patterns, they are not just a copy and paste. Also the double tracking seems to start once the drums come in. So that's one reason why it sounds so wide.

2) On the verses, it sounds like they have the drum overheads muted. Sounds like just kick, snare, and hi hat close mic'd. With the high hat slightly off to the side so it stays out of the way of the guitar. When the chorus hits, boom, overheads are in. But they're actually not pushed all the way to the side, they are more like maybe 55 degress off center. Listen carefully to that first verse, Taylor Hawkins hits a cymbal in the middle and it sounds *nothing*like the cymbal hits during the chorus. It sounds like it got picked up through the hit hat mic - just a clue that the overheads are muted during the verse. BTW, Incubus did a lot of this approach on Make Yourself.

3) Also notice that those drum overheads have a lot of reverb on them, while the snare just has a little bit of plate on it. Which can work well on rock songs. Listen to the intro of Hells Bells by ACDC - the overheads sound like they're in a different friggin room. The kick of course has none. Also, that is a beefy snare, with a lot of low end, but also a lot of crack to it.

5) That kick. Yum. I don't know what they used, but I can tell you that a DW kick with an Audix D6 will get you that sound almost exactly.

6) There is some plate reverb on Dave's voice, plus some doubling especially on the chorus. Sounds like copy and paste on the computer or from an outboard unit.

At the end of day, Taylor Hawkins is probably the best rock drummer alive today, so that's always gonna be good. And, those guitar amps are clearly just awesome. I don't think that's mixing magic. If you were in the room when they recorded, it probably sounded just that good. So, in that case, it's probably more like a 57 through a really good mic pre.
Old 27th January 2007
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by DontLetMeDrown View Post
It helps to drag a copy of the target song into your session and use the solo/mute buttons to jump back and forth quickly between the two mixes.
Be sure to not run the Foo's through any mix bus eq & compression you are using on your mix! (as that will mess up the mix comparisons)

Their track Monkey Wrench is VERY VERY VERY LOUD!

for mix crush tools.... I found waves L2 could not match it (even when pushed to the 8 ball up each nostril, whack on the nose with a baseball bat level...) Perhaps L3 can..? Sony Limiter can match it and so can the TC Finalizer..

But in the end you are competing with:

Amazing drumming
Amazing songs
Amazing arrangement / production
Amazing vocal tone & pitching
Pretty damn fine guitars

Etc etc etc the list goes on....

if you have all that, I want to shake your hand.
Old 27th January 2007
  #13
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djui5's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by manu258 View Post
ITo me that mix is so big and full.

Arrangement and proper performance of instruments are key here More human than human sounds f'n amazing, I agree. I've always been awed by that mix. It's hard work to get a song to play like that.
Old 27th January 2007
  #14
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Eide's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaguar Dreams View Post
2) On the verses, it sounds like they have the drum overheads muted. Sounds like just kick, snare, and hi hat close mic'd. With the high hat slightly off to the side so it stays out of the way of the guitar. When the chorus hits, boom, overheads are in. But they're actually not pushed all the way to the side, they are more like maybe 55 degress off center. Listen carefully to that first verse, Taylor Hawkins hits a cymbal in the middle and it sounds *nothing*like the cymbal hits during the chorus. It sounds like it got picked up through the hit hat mic - just a clue that the overheads are muted during the verse. BTW, Incubus did a lot of this approach on Make Yourself.

3) Also notice that those drum overheads have a lot of reverb on them, while the snare just has a little bit of plate on it. Which can work well on rock songs. Listen to the intro of Hells Bells by ACDC - the overheads sound like they're in a different friggin room. The kick of course has none. Also, that is a beefy snare, with a lot of low end, but also a lot of crack to it.

I would almost bet money on that the cymbals are recorded separately from the drums on Everlong. Not on any of the other tracks on that album, but this one sounds like that to me. It also sounds like Dave Grohl is drumming on that track.


.
Old 27th January 2007
  #15
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old school tactics

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff19 View Post
there are many things you can do to make a "bigger" mix as suggested above, but have you tried to add more tracks? background vocals, keyboards, overdubbed guitars... ?
I've found this to works only in specific genres. R&B/ ACpop/ cross over type of styles. I think with the FOO type of "modern rock" sound, tons of tracks aren't the way to go. Double tracked guitars and vocals are a great way to change up the arrangement, and beef up the sound. I do like starting of with a single take and then exploding to a hard-panned stereo voice.

But I think "single voiced" (as opposed to double tracked) is a much more contemporary, and in your face approach. Might just be my personal taste though...

Let's put it this way, multiple tracks are a great way to cover a not so great performance. Good thread...
Old 27th January 2007
  #16
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I agree w/ u dave! I think a whole lot of the time simple is better and perhaps bigger! Did any of you guys download the thrice stems from digi from the song "Image of the Invisible"? When you solo the guitars, they sound so plain and dull. But...along w/ those drums in the chorus, the mix is HUGE! They also sorta do the trick Jaguar was talkin bout. It sounds like drums are just a room mic through the verses, then when the chorus kicks in, they bring the full mix. Pretty e'ffin bad though, and all their sounds are relatively simple.
Old 27th January 2007
  #17
Gear Head
 

Taylor didn't do any of the drumming on C&S - their first drummer (slips my mind) tracked it, and then Grohl went back and redid it all. He did the playing on Everlong.
He has also said in interviews that C&S was his "studio masterpiece" where they would go through to make sure every part and every tone was perfect. Tough to compete with that.
A thought - most of the "heavy" guitar tones aren't heavily distorted, just overdubbed several times. That helps give the big sound without mudding up the mix.
Old 27th January 2007
  #18
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Summing?

Another idea I'd like to throw out there.
Regardless of how Foo fighters was done, I think outboard-analog summing can make a pretty decent impact on opening up a mix, getting that bigger sound.

My band just mixed with a local mix Guru and he sent tracks out individually through a FOLCRUM passive summing box, an Alan smart comp, API preamp/EQ, then reconverted with a Cranesong HEDD unit. Very big improvement over PT summing.
I love comparing his mixes to mine-mine sound paper thin and raspy, and they tear apart when peaks come up (like a bridge).
Old 27th January 2007
  #19
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Tibbon's Avatar
I think the main component you are missing is Dave Grohl. He really can do it all. He's got his studio in VA, which isn't set up in a poor way. He's a killer drummer, and that sense of tightness translates over to everything from his vocals to his guitar playing.

Also, keep in mind, that while I have NO idea what gear you are working with, that stuff like THIS is a part of the long term benefit of having some kickass gear. Why spend that extra $400 on that mic preamp, outboard compressor, eq, etc...? Sometimes I'll have to admit it's hard to tell what is "better" instantly, but in the end such things are REALLY cumlative. You'd think that such qualities of high end equipment would be lost in a mix of so many tracks, but it actually stands out that much more because then you still have definition to each of those tracks.

another tthing is that you are listening to a mastered copy of the mix (unless you got something special that i don't...). It's going to sound different (hopefully) than what comes out of your mixer's stereo bus no matter what. Ok, if your name is George Massenburg maybe you can kick out a mix that sounds almost the same before mastering as after, but.... well that's certainly not me.

Oh, and someone mentioned a DW kick drum. Dave Grohl uses Tama drums I believe. No DW at all. DW is nice, but not the Grohl sound. Oh, and Dave generally smacks the living **** out of his drums. I can't imagine that a set of sticks lasts him more than a song or so. Saying he hits hard is an understatement. Just saying this, because remember the music starts with the players. Unless they play LIKE a certain band, then you can't expect them to sound like a certain band.
Old 27th January 2007
  #20
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answer: 20+ years in bands that tour almost nonstop focusing on their musicianship and mastering their songwriting skills and tone
Old 27th January 2007
  #21
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Another album mixed by Chris Sheldon is “Still Burning” by Mike Scott from 1998. His dream team studio-band listed Jim Keltner, Pino Palladino & Chris Bruce. I wonder why this album sounds so good as well…
Old 27th January 2007
  #22
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cpdrivere's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by manu258 View Post
I was mixing a song the other day, of the rock persuasion, and I thought I had a pretty good, wide, mix on my hands. I opened Itunes right after listening to mine and referenced everlong by foo. BAM!! Confidence gone. Everything is wrapped so far around your head. The toms were so deep and spacious and the guitars were so full while distant. The comparison to mine and there's was as if my mix was mono, there's stereo. I did everything I could think of w/ reverb, delays, and was using the piss outta the S1 stereo imager. To give myself credit, mine was completly mixed in the box and I am not that naive to think I can get mine up to there level. I just know theres gotta be some way to push those sounds out there and get that depth I want while still mixing in the box. If anybody wants to lend their "tricks" or advice, it's much appreciated....
Another thing to remember about comparing your work to the "Colour and the Shape" is that while this album is probably "pro tooled" to a large degree, it was most certainly cut to tape and mixed through a good analog console. For this type of rock, If you are working and mixing in the box you probably ain't gonna get there. As pointed out by others, there is also the musicianship and songwriting elements that go into this factor. Then there is Gil Norton......enough said.
Old 27th January 2007
  #23
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max cooper's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PatBlair View Post
Taylor didn't do any of the drumming on C&S - their first drummer (slips my mind) tracked it, and then Grohl went back and redid it all. He did the playing on Everlong.
He has also said in interviews that C&S was his "studio masterpiece" where they would go through to make sure every part and every tone was perfect. Tough to compete with that.
A thought - most of the "heavy" guitar tones aren't heavily distorted, just overdubbed several times. That helps give the big sound without mudding up the mix.
Dave didn't play on two songs, but it's instantly obvious. I don't remember which two they are, but they're not hits or anything.

"February Stars" is the masterpiece of that record.
Old 27th January 2007
  #24
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Colour and the Shape is one of my all time favorite albums. I kinda feel like it was all downhill after that. The CD was released in 1997-- was Pro Tools already being used then? I kinda assumed this was recorded to tape. Is Gil Norton a gearslut? I'd love to hear some detailed info about the recording process. I like ALL the songs on this album.

I'm listening to it now but its been years since I've heard these songs. In fact, I don't think I've listened to it since I stated getting into recording.

Some things I notice about the recording:

-I don't really notice many multiple tracks of the same part. It sounds like there are a lot of different guitar voicings rather than the same part stacked a bunch of times.
-There isn't a thousand processed vocal layers like there are on a lot of the more current radio hits you hear.
-To my ears it sounds like a very conservative, well thought out mix. I'm not really hearing any "cowboy" tactics. Seems like they tried to keep it relatively simple and rely on the talent of the musicians rather than resorting to studio trickery.

I really love the dynamics on songs like "Up in Arms" and "New Way Home".
Old 27th January 2007
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpdrivere View Post
Another thing to remember about comparing your work to the "Colour and the Shape" is that while this album is probably "pro tooled" to a large degree, it was most certainly cut to tape and mixed through a good analog console. For this type of rock, If you are working and mixing in the box you probably ain't gonna get there. As pointed out by others, there is also the musicianship and songwriting elements that go into this factor. Then there is Gil Norton......enough said.
Why does it always have to go to this bull****. You can get a big sound out of digital. If you're telling him that unless he has 100's of thousands worth of analog boards and tape he'll never get a big sound, you're screwing him over. People make great sounding records everyday without the use of huge analogue boards and studers every freakin day. God, am I sick of that answer.
Old 27th January 2007
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daveyDAVE View Post
Another idea I'd like to throw out there.
Regardless of how Foo fighters was done, I think outboard-analog summing can make a pretty decent impact on opening up a mix, getting that bigger sound.

My band just mixed with a local mix Guru and he sent tracks out individually through a FOLCRUM passive summing box, an Alan smart comp, API preamp/EQ, then reconverted with a Cranesong HEDD unit. Very big improvement over PT summing.
I love comparing his mixes to mine-mine sound paper thin and raspy, and they tear apart when peaks come up (like a bridge).
Did he do an ITB mix so you could compare? If not, how do you know it's the analog summing that makes his mixes sound better than yours?
Old 27th January 2007
  #27
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max cooper's Avatar
 

I remember talking to Brad Cook about doing a project around that time.

Seemed like he was working on making the transition from engineer to producer, since he was way more stoked to talk about The Dwarves than anything else.
Old 28th January 2007
  #28
Gear Nut
 
Jaguar Dreams's Avatar
 

useful interview

This interview came out after "Nothing Left To Lose", but he does reference "The Colour and the Shape".
http://www.fooarchive.com/features/guitarplayer99.htm
Old 28th January 2007
  #29
Gear Guru
 
RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post
But in the end you are competing with:

Amazing drumming
Amazing songs
Amazing arrangement / production
Amazing vocal tone & pitching
Pretty damn fine guitars

Etc etc etc the list goes on....


Yep ..like tracking through great Neve 80 series console to analog tape[and a Great engineer] .then mixing through a console with all outboard back to tape..[agian w/ a great mix engineer]
Makes a universe of difference from the "in a computer with plug ins mode"..
thats just the way it is..
For the big rock,unfortuneately ITB/all digital just aint there yet.
Old 28th January 2007
  #30
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Sirocco's Avatar
 

hrmmmm
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