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Pros: Help us get a grip on practical mixing technique using available multi-track Studio Monitors
Old 12th April 2018
  #61
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Quetz's Avatar
Hi Owen, thank you for the feedback!

Damn, I put more guitar back in You're right on both counts. Obviously haven't put enough. I can hear now you've pointed it out I've still got some room left to add more. I do like the jangle, though.
I just listened to Mike's mix for the first time. I wanted to wait until I was fairly satisfied with mine so I wasn't influenced by it.
I find it fascinating after reading the article as well that we both did the same thing with the kick for the same reason over the 'heartbeat' lyric.
It was pretty obvious though

I might come across as opinionated here, but I don't like how the guitars sound in his mix either.
That's not his mix, I just don't like the guitars. They're woolly. And I couldn't fix them with eq. But I have still taken too much out.

I've taken away a lot of tips from his methodology, like doing more automated passes for eq, I didn't do any of those.

I did miss the cello in his mix, for me that's the best part, and the mando flourishes.
edit: I'm uploading a version with more guitar put back in. Here's a screenshot of what it was, I rolled the high pass back to 100 and reduced that LM cut by 6dB, to get what you're hearing now.
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Old 18th April 2018
  #62
Gear Maniac
 
Animesh Raval's Avatar
Thoughts on mixing "On the line"

Hi @Quetz

Well, I had some downtime over the weekend, and seeing as these files are public I thought I'd take a look at the raw files and see if that way I could comment on your mix with a little more understanding of the challenges you may have had with this track. I initially just thought I'd set a rough balance, then a bit of panning, before I knew it I was mixing and pretty much came to a draft mix I feel I'd be happy(ish) to send to the artist for initial feedback.

Caveats: Due to time constraints I haven't gone to the "polishing" stage of applying detailed automation on the vocal and arrangement elements. So this would still be work in progress - i.e. the vocal does pop in and out in places, which I would tidy up in my automation run.

Ok here it is:

Dropbox - James May "On The Line" AnimeshDraftMix_006.wav

I'll take down this link after a week or so as it's just a draft (but if anyone comes by this thread at some point in the future and is curious just PM me).

EDIT (1st May 2018) - this link has now been taken down.

Acoustic Guitars:
I can understand why you have been having trouble with the acoustic guitar!

There were two ACG files: a DI'd file that had some convolution applied to it to give it some stereo spread, and a stereo recording of the guitar.

The DI'd file sounded woody and a bit scratchy as you might expect from a DI, but the stereo recording sadly lacked body and sustain so neither could be used on their own. Fortunately, combining both of the files gave a much better impression of the guitar so I balanced the DI version to give warmth, and the stereo recording for the strings. Saying that there was quite a bit of "smack" from the palm mutes/hits, so I used some multi band compression to bring this under control. I also used parallel comp to pull up the sustain of the strings and blended this back in.

Drums
I personally really liked the drum files. The overheads captured a great roomy picture of the kit. The kick mic had a lot of "boom" and "rumble" but I wanted a little more presence and bite, so I blended in a kick "room mic" sample that gave me back some top end but blended really nicely with the spaciousness of the overheads.

Overall I felt the kit sounded great, so I've opted to make it more of a feature rather than pushing it back. I also wanted to use the kick to drive things forward...but maybe I've overdone it - still I like it!

I did feel though that it was a little too march-y - left/right/left/right kind of feel. So I decided to use a compressor to create a feel that mirrored the acoustic guitar more: dukka-duh-kaaaaaaa-du-dukka I created a key/trigger on separate track and used this to feed the side chain of the drum bus compressor to affect the feel and add more movement.

Cellos and Mandolins
I felt these were really nicely recorded, lovely tone in the cellos, but needed to deal with some resonances. There was some "hiss" in the cello recordings, so I cleaned this up with Izotope RX, but this made the cellos sound muffled and dull, so I added some 10k shelf boost to open up the top again and balance them out. I panned the cellos slightly either side of centre, and the mandolins further off centre. But come choruses, I multed the mandolins onto new tracks and hard panned them L&R so the mix opened up in the choruses.

The main issue with these tracks is more of an arrangement thing. Once they started playing, they played the whole way through so at times you had pretty much everything contributing rhythmically all on top of each other. So the biggest challenge for me was going through and picking out the interesting licks and phrases etc and then creating a patchwork arrangement that allowed things to breathe a little and pop up where they could be of most use.

Vocals
Not a huge amount to say here. I felt the raw track lacked a bit of body/warmth, so I used some parallel processing to add some weight and size. There were a lot of mouth pops, click etc, so I edited these out by hand.

Whole Mix
I also made use of the "rear bus" technique (sending most of the mix to a compressor and then blending this back in) to create a little more movement and interplay between parts. Then just some mix bus compression to help with some gluing and groove, but also to help tucked in the snare later on. I also decided to automate the threshold of the bus compressor so it's pretty much working a little all the way through.

Then generally it was a case of trying to sit things front to back. I used a few global reverbs (a room for pushing things back off the speakers, a plate to add some depth). I used reverbs on the buses of the cellos and mandolins to sit these back into the room (bending the dry/wet ratio to taste). And some sweetening delays/verbs for the vox.

Final thoughts
My taste is slightly more towards the modern rock/pop/indie, so I've kinda mixed things that way. Doing this for real I'd talk to the artist about their vision, get an understanding of the genre and listen to references to make sure I was serving them properly. So I'd completely understand if someone came back saying this mix was totally wrong for the style of music.

Be nice!
Anyway, there we go! I'd welcome comments from all -- I'm really keen to learn too, and certainly don't consider myself to be at the same level as others who have commented on this thread -- so any thoughts/guidance on what you felt works well/not so well would be gratefully received.

But @Quetz, I hope this is somewhat useful?

Best wishes
Animesh

Last edited by Animesh Raval; 1st May 2018 at 03:10 PM.. Reason: removed link to draft mix
Old 19th April 2018
  #63
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Quetz's Avatar
Firstly, thank you very much for taking the time to do that.

There are a lot of valuable takeaways here.
Multi-band compressors have always scared me in the past and I never touch them, but can see here why they're so useful.
I was using only eq to try and tame those percussive attacks on the guitar but wasn't working.

I went back and put a multi-band on them after reading this - much better result.

Also, I was using only the mic guitar track, and couldn't get anything I wanted out of it.
Have also blended the two layers now with one low and one high passed.

I've redone the mix using some of these tips, so thank you very much for sharing. I can see it's going to take a lot of practice.
I've also tried to use a more logical reverb system - reverb is one big experiment to me at the moment.
It has opened up a bit, but I'm still lacking the kind of depth I want.
I'm having a hard time as well keeping the drums nice and crisp and present, but at the same time kind of sitting back with lots of space around them.
I know that's a bit of a contradiction but hopefully you'll know what I mean.

I've left the vocal out of this version, so it's easier to hear what I'm doing wrong with just the instruments. I've chopped off the intro as well, so you don't have to wade through that every time.

Any further feedback very welcome
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Old 19th April 2018
  #64
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@Animesh Raval , if I had not read your notes, I would have never known it did not come off of a commercial CD. Impressive.
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Old 19th April 2018
  #65
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Animesh Raval's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dana_T. View Post
@Animesh Raval , if I had not read your notes, I would have never known it did not come off of a commercial CD. Impressive.
Hi @Dana_T. thanks so much for your kind words I really appreciate it

Though reading back through this thread I can see there was a whole sound on sound mix rescue article on this very same song, so I'm not sure after all that how much more value I added! Ah well, it was a fun exercise.
Old 19th April 2018
  #66
Gear Maniac
 
Animesh Raval's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quetz View Post
Firstly, thank you very much for taking the time to do that.

There are a lot of valuable takeaways here.
Multi-band compressors have always scared me in the past and I never touch them, but can see here why they're so useful.
I was using only eq to try and tame those percussive attacks on the guitar but wasn't working.

I went back and put a multi-band on them after reading this - much better result.
I think it's simply a case that time and experience will slowly but surely help you understand which tool to use for the job in hand. Rather than using a multi-band compressor to bring the low-end smack under control, I could have also copied the track to a new track, found that low-end smack with a fairly narrow band pass filter and boosted massively (but lower the volume of the track to 0 so you don't hear it) and used this as a trigger to the side-chain of a compressor on the original track - so it ducks the volume only on the percussive hits (you can do a similar thing to de-ess). There are many ways to tackle most issues, so you just have to find solutions that give you the best (and sometimes quickest!) result. Or I could have used automation to draw down the volume on each hit - but of course this is super slow!! But there's 3 solutions right there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quetz View Post
Also, I was using only the mic guitar track, and couldn't get anything I wanted out of it.
Have also blended the two layers now with one low and one high passed.
Hmmm, that's cool, but in your new mix the guitars still sound a little thin I'm sorry to say. There is still mostly high-end in that guitar track so it sits on my head rather than occupying a bigger space in front of me.

Did you try just listening to both tracks together with no filtering and simply try and find a good sound by balancing one against the other with no hi/lo pass filtering?

I just balanced one against the other as my starting point trying to get the best of both tracks working together and then sent them to a bus, and then treated the bus as the guitar track doing my processing there.
Old 19th April 2018
  #67
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Quetz's Avatar
I did all the editing on the vocal by hand in terms of lowering the level of sibilants and evening out the whole performance, very easy to do on a mono vocal track.
I wouldn't want to do that with the guitar part!
So I'm glad the multi-band worked so well.

With the guitars, I'm actually going to throw my hat in the ring and say that after a lot of experimenting, it's pretty much where I want it, and of course that's an aesthetic decision.

My thinking was, I have one guitar track with loads of nice character and a nice bright top end but no body, and the other one with an awful tone, no character but does have some of the body that the other is missing.

There are phase issues on the tracks due to poor mic placement, and I was kind of tempted to automate an IBP on the guitars throughout the song, but that's a lot of work to get right, and I have to draw a line on some of these elements as it's a years old song

The guitar part, aside from tone, is also quite monotonous in places, and doesn't add anything, in fact it detracts from the movement in the song the way it drones on, so I've decided to bury it wherever necessary.
For me it is only a main component in one or two sections.
My decision was to have the guitars as a textural bed rather than a big in your face rhythmic element.
To be honest I would have done that even if the guitars sounded great, because for me that's where they should be, in the background.
I wanted the cello to steal the show, so my whole mix and re-arrange is based on that premise.
I have no doubt you are right that I can get more body into the guitars, but would it help this specific mix aesthetic?
I just listened to this on iMac speakers at work, and if anything, I think I need to bring back some of the top end I've rolled off over the mix, although I do need to make sure the guitars don't get any brighter (because you're right, they're right on the edge of the jangle spectrum, but honestly, I like them sounding that way for this mix).

That may be just taste, but if there is still a fundamental error in the guitars as opposed to just preference over tone for the mix direction, then I would obviously like to know

ps @Animesh Raval- Yes there was a mix rescue article, but unfortunately the soundfile for Mike Senior's mix is so low quality and full of artifacts (deliberately I assume, for the artist's protection) that it's basically useless for any type of serious examination, which is a shame.
Old 19th April 2018
  #68
Gear Maniac
 
Animesh Raval's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quetz View Post
With the guitars, I'm actually going to throw my hat in the ring and say that after a lot of experimenting, it's pretty much where I want it, and of course that's an aesthetic decision.
Cool man, that's entirely up to you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quetz View Post
There are phase issues on the tracks due to poor mic placement, and I was kind of tempted to automate an IBP on the guitars throughout the song, but that's a lot of work to get right, and I have to draw a line on some of these elements as it's a years old song
Are you talking about the two guitar tracks? They were in phase buddy - I did check this when I was mixing it. I wonder if you actually introduced phase issues by high and low passing the two tracks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quetz View Post
The guitar part, aside from tone, is also quite monotonous in places, and doesn't add anything, in fact it detracts from the movement in the song the way it drones on, so I've decided to bury it wherever necessary.
For me it is only a main component in one or two sections.
My decision was to have the guitars as a textural bed rather than a big in your face rhythmic element.
To be honest I would have done that even if the guitars sounded great, because for me that's where they should be, in the background.
I wanted the cello to steal the show, so my whole mix and re-arrange is based on that premise.
I have no doubt you are right that I can get more body into the guitars, but would it help this specific mix aesthetic?
Ok it's your call. Something to consider - James is a guitar-playing singer-songwriter, not a cello playing singer-songwriter. From his bio:

"James May picked up a guitar in 1964 and has been playing ever since. In his early twenties he worked as a professional guitarist and recording engineer. After that came a brief 25 year hiatus to raise a family, during which time the acoustic guitar was never far from reach."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quetz View Post
That may be just taste, but if there is still a fundamental error in the guitars as opposed to just preference over tone for the mix direction, then I would obviously like to know
As James is a guitarist, and we're trying to serve the artist, we shouldn't let our taste get in the way of their vision for the song. So yes I do feel there has been a mis-judgement to both your points of preference of tone, and mix direction. It's of course just my opinion, but here's a quote from the mix rescue article from James that I believe gives me good cause to think so:

James May: "The first thing that struck me about Mike's remix was the clarity and tonal quality of the acoustic guitar. It's a smooth yet driving sound which I am really pleased with."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quetz View Post
ps @Animesh Raval- Yes there was a mix rescue article, but unfortunately the soundfile for Mike Senior's mix is so low quality and full of artifacts (deliberately I assume, for the artist's protection) that it's basically useless for any type of serious examination, which is a shame.
Just checking that you know SOS publish the full res files to accompany the article. They provide a link so you could download all the WAVs: raw vs processed to your DAW as well as the final full res mix. So actually loads and loads of resources for serious examination!
Old 19th April 2018
  #69
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quetz View Post
Yes there was a mix rescue article, but unfortunately the soundfile for Mike Senior's mix is so low quality and full of artifacts (deliberately I assume, for the artist's protection) that it's basically useless for any type of serious examination, which is a shame.
Um, I'm not sure which soundfile you're talking about, but I certainly didn't post low-res files intentionally. As far as I'm aware, all the audio examples I provided with that article are available (as usual with my articles) in both 192kpbs MP3 and 24-bit/44.1kHz WAV formats here:
Mix Rescue | Media |

In case you hadn't already seen it, the full Reaper DAW project for my mix is also downloadable from here:
Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio (Cambridge Music Technology)

You can open it with the freely downloadable (and fully functional) demo version of Reaper. In case you don't have the same plug-ins as me, my Reaper-project ZIP download also includes screenshots of all the third-party plug-ins I used.

Let me know if you have any more problems with any of that.

Cheers,

Mike Senior
Old 19th April 2018
  #70
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Quetz's Avatar
Oh crumbs, Mike is here now

I'd like to address Mike's soundfile first, and get that sorted.
Firstly, I must have missed the link for the full res file, obviously wasn't looking hard enough - sorry.

I hit play on the embedded file at the end of the article, which is defo not the full res one, so thank you Mike for pointing me in the right direction.

I just assumed that because the artist would probably not want a commercial quality file there for public download (at the time, I know this was a few years ago now), that there was no full res one available.
I read my post again and saw it could possibly come off as me dissing the file overall, which is certainly not the case! Please accept my apologies if that comment came off as off-hand - definitely not intentional!

Ok, so let's get down to the nitty gritty:

Animesh: I can't argue against your case for the artist. You are right.
If I was working commercially and this was a current tune for a paying client, then yes, I accept I would have had to do everything possible to make their vision a reality.
That is the job, after all.

So let's talk guitars. These guitars have already defined my first steps as a mix engineer
Animesh, when I mentioned phase, I meant it within the context of the supplied stereo files, individually.

So even with one stereo guitar track loaded, there are phase issues (or what I would describe as phase issues, with probably a too-limited vocab), because the guitars were recorded as a stereo file using a 2-mic setup, right?
And if that bit isn't correct, then I already need major guidance

So there are times when the guitar within one of the single stereo files gets really phasey/flangey, so whatever eq you do, needs to be changed a few places throughout the song in order to keep the guitar tone consistent.

This is really noticeable a few bars in (I think from the beginning). It just really clouds up and you can hear the sound changing quite dramatically.

I have to stop and say here, that there are some that might look at this as criticism of the artist.
Absolutely no way.
I'm just saying my truth, completely objectively, and I am happy to accept knockbacks and to consider everyone else's hence the length of this reply

I'm only concerned about sound here, because that's the stage I'm at - getting good sounds.
In a few years, when I feel comfortable charging, then it's a whole different ballgame to taking some files and mixing them however I see fit, I do get that.

This track goes back to I think 2012? Maybe 2014. So I'm pretty confident that Mr May is not going to come after me at this stage for championing the cellos

But back on point, Animesh is correct in that me loving cellos has got sweet FA to do with how James wants his song to sound, and both Mike Senior and Animesh have produced mixes that would make James far happier than mine.

It's also fascinating though to see how subjective a piece of music is in just 3 pairs of hands.
I think this is one of the most wonderful (literally) things about mixing/production, is how different 3 perspectives can be, but also on my part anyway, how much you can learn from the perspectives that are different from yours.
How life should be in general right?

Ok, back to guitars..
I feel bad because in essence I'm slagging off guitar recordings made by a musician whose song I like so much I have no issues going back to it time and again in order to learn how to improve my mix.
Is it how the artist would prefer it? More than likely not.
If I were 20, perhaps I would question my vision, but actually, I really like my mix.
Not technically, unfortunately.
But I enjoy listening to it more than Animesh's or Mike's even though theirs are technically superior, simply because I love Cellos.

And that's what is so cool about mixing. Even the same person mixing a song a couple of years or maybe even months apart would do it differently based on how they felt at that time.
And that's the whole reason I made mine like it is. I wanted to hear those cello parts as much as possible. Simple as that. Once I went down that road, then I was committed to relegating the guitars to the back row pretty much.

That song would have just as much impact with the mandolins doing a bit of strumming where it actually helps, but with the guitar picking up in the more interesting and dynamic sections. IMHO.
For me the song is the vocal, the cellos, mandolins and drums.
All the magic is there. There is no magic in the guitar parts.

That is my completely objective, amateur opinion

Again, James, if you ever read this, please don't take that the wrong way
It's a beautiful song.
Old 21st April 2018
  #71
Gear Maniac
 
Animesh Raval's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quetz View Post
So let's talk guitars. These guitars have already defined my first steps as a mix engineer
Animesh, when I mentioned phase, I meant it within the context of the supplied stereo files, individually.

So even with one stereo guitar track loaded, there are phase issues (or what I would describe as phase issues, with probably a too-limited vocab), because the guitars were recorded as a stereo file using a 2-mic setup, right?
And if that bit isn't correct, then I already need major guidance
Cool man - The stereo recording of the guitar was made with the mics in an XY configuration, so in the recordings themselves, there wouldn't have been weird phase issues.

I think what you might be experiencing is the odd clunky edit. I also don't know if there was any time editing applied to the tracks. If there was, sometimes if an attempt as been made to quantise audio it can go a bit weird. But quite honestly, I don't really know whether they did this.

I hope that makes sense?

If I encountered any weird bits in the recording, I just looked for other bars that were free of such things and copied and pasted it in. I had to be careful in the intro section to make sure any copy/paste jobs were invisible, but once the rest of the band kicked in I was happy enough that anything that did seem out of sorts was buried in the mix.

Also, my comments on arrangement were more towards thinking from the listeners perspective: how can we engage the listener and keep them engaged. I really love the cellos too, but thought keeping them more a nice surprise to bring out when the mix might be in danger of getting a bit same-y (and similar thinking with the mandolins) would keep the mix ticking along.

Last edited by Animesh Raval; 23rd April 2018 at 06:37 PM.. Reason: Talking about different things - whoops!
Old 21st April 2018
  #72
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Owen L T's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quetz View Post
Hi Owen, thank you for the feedback!

edit: I'm uploading a version with more guitar put back in. Here's a screenshot of what it was, I rolled the high pass back to 100 and reduced that LM cut by 6dB, to get what you're hearing now.
That sounds much better to me. Definitely (or, at least, almost) brings the guitar - both tonally, and volume-wise - back into the arena where someone might say "I'd like it to be fuller" (as, indeed someone has) but out of the previous arena which was: there's definitely something wrong with the guitar.

I would say, however, that I firmly agree with Animesh's treatment of the guitar; it is fuller, more natural, and exactly where it should be for this kind of singer-songwriter track. It's kind of night-and-day.

Same with the vocals. It's an understandable, unforgivable, and not uncommon error: your mix sounds as though you've learned and understood enough to hear that 200 Hz can be a problem, but have then got addicted to pulling out more and more of it, until the problem is that the main instruments (vocal and guitar) have both been thinned out too much.

For future projects, it's worth having a bit of a think about the different roles played by hi-pass filters, and low shelves. Typically, a HPF is used to clean up any low-frequency rumble, or unhelpful sub. In a kick, which will hit in the same frequency over and over, a HPF is kind of a no-brainer. On something like an acoustic, though, the fundamental of the lowest note will vary - and sometimes it will vary considerably. With a guitar, the open E string is at 82Hz, and the A at 110Hz. Given that HPFs typically begin rolling off about an octave above the corner frequency (last time I systematically went through the ones I have, they mostly seemed to be at -3dB at the corner frequency) that means that a HPF at 100Hz will progressively roll off more of the low notes' fundamental, the lower they get. End result: E is quieter than F which is quieter than G which is quieter than A. Which ... isn't necessarily what you want.

An alternative approach, which IMO allows for better low-end treatment of a guitar, is a conservative HPF set around 50-60, which is legitimately just treating any low rumble you might have, and then a low-shelf set anywhere from 100 to 200, and adjusted to taste. Maybe -3bB is all you need.

Or, if there's a deal of variability in the playing, with lots of big open chords, then something like Tokyo Dawns (free) dynamic EQ could be brought in to compress the low-mid band, which might kick in fairly heavily on an open E chord, but not be thinning out the sound too much on an open D.

Worth playing around with and understanding those 3 main tools for controlling the lows of an inherently dynamic instrument like the guitar.
Old 21st April 2018
  #73
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Quetz's Avatar
Loads of good points here.

Animesh!

I think, that there could be an issue, a major issue with my listening position, because yourself and others seem to have crossed wires about the guitars that shouldn't be there, because I'm on board with everything else.
I can hear quite major problems with it, which I'm happy to concede aren't there, but then I need to work out what the hell I'm hearing!

What I'll do is post a snippet of the guitars only up here in a bit, where the differences can be heard (at my end anyway), and then you guys can put this to bed for me.
My room is not properly treated yet and so I'm going to have issues, maybe they're just more serious than I thought.

As for my work, I'm not happy or satisfied with the sound.
I agree with you that in a real situation, it's the artist's vision I would be looking to realise, not my own (well, I would try and influence the direction if I thought it would help the song, obvs).
So I get your point there, I do.
But while I do have this freedom, I'm going to enjoy it

It's a 6-year old song. I have no contact with the artist. This was purely a selfish venture for my own benefit, and so I made it sound the way it would if I had written it, if that makes sense.
That bit I am happy with. I like the transitions better, I like the arrangement better, I like the prominence of the cellos more than the guitar.

This part of the equation is purely subjective. I don't mind us not agreeing on what kind of arrangement sounds better
But I do want to resolve this guitar issue.

Owen: Boy did you hit the nail on the head with HP vs Shelf.
It's so painfully obvious I'm actually cringing.

So yeah, I high-pass everything, never use a shelf.
That's about to change.
And guilty again, of scooping around 200 and 300 which I realise now is a cardinal sin really.

I'm going to blame this on all the newb publications that make you paranoid about mud!
But I should have been using my ears more.

Another good point is being aware of the key of the song before you even start mixing, and make more informed EQ decisions based on pitch frequencies. I shouldn't need to be told that but there you go.

Thanks again for your considerable and appreciated input guys.
Old 22nd April 2018
  #74
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Quetz's Avatar
Ok so here are the guitar files.

I wasn't going mad. There is a problem here, but I don't know why it's there.

I'm pretty sure this is a guitar track that's been multed together from different takes, so is it possible that in the process of pasting things together there could have been artifacts introduced? I really don't know.
If that is just the sound of the guitar, I'd be amazed.

Two files below:-

Unprocessed guitar file (Guitars No Proc), it's just the stereo microphone track on it's own.
(listen between the 6th and 7th seconds, but there are loads of instances of this throughout the song. It's not the whole track, it's pieces here and there.)

It's not a nice recording on the whole is it though. It's woody, woolly and dark all at the same time. If that assessment is not correct or fair, and I should have lower expectations of recorded material in general (and remember I haven't dealt with much of it), then I do need to know that.

The second file is how I have it without the DI file added. I can't get any more body out of this alone. I've implemented the suggestions on this, and the high pass has been taken down to 90 something rather than 200 odd, and I've got two EQP-1As on the bugger - one boosting low end and one adding air.
The third file is how both mic and DI files sound together the way I have them, and the final file is how they sound together with cellos and bass, so you can hear all the low end.

Edit: Just replaced the Instr. Mix file with one that actually has the bass amp engaged
Attached Files
Old 23rd April 2018
  #75
Well look what I've stumbled on here

Excellent thread here. Thanks to Quetz for asking the obvious questions a lot of people feel they shouldn't ask.

HPF vs Shelf indeed! It makes so much sense and it's so simple...but something most (I guess) novices don't consider.

Lots of valuable info here



By the way...Animesh...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Animesh Raval View Post
Hi @Quetz


Vocals
Not a huge amount to say here. I felt the raw track lacked a bit of body/warmth, so I used some parallel processing to add some weight and size. There were a lot of mouth pops, click etc, so I edited these out by hand.
Mind if I ask what you did to add the weight and size to the vocal? Is that a matter of using eq to boost certain low frequencies? Or adding some kind of distortion plug to add fullness at a certain frequency? A multiband maybe to hone in on a frequency and accentuate it?
Old 23rd April 2018
  #76
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Animesh Raval's Avatar
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Originally Posted by hello people View Post
By the way...Animesh...

Mind if I ask what you did to add the weight and size to the vocal? Is that a matter of using eq to boost certain low frequencies? Or adding some kind of distortion plug to add fullness at a certain frequency? A multiband maybe to hone in on a frequency and accentuate it?
Haha, just when I thought I had left the building...

Sure no problem at all!

I multed the vocal to two tracks: one for the verse vocal, and one for the chorus vocal so I could treat each differently.

The main thing for both vocals was the initial clean-up:
- de-ess (using Elosis E2D)
- Remove a little boxiness around 435Hz, and some honkiness/nose-i-ness around 1.4K
- I did use a multi-band compressor in a sense to smooth out the top end - I used Soothe (with the most aggressive band being around 4K). I focussed the settings/action for Soothe on the thinner belt range part of the vocal so it wasn't working so hard in the mid-rangey parts.

Then in terms of size:
- I used a pultec to boost a little at 300Hz (c. 2dB I don't have a reason for choosing this frequency other than with my eyes closed cycling through the various bands this felt like it gave me the weight I was after without the cloudiness/muddying up of the vocal) and 12k (for some top end sparkle and "height", I initially hand it on 16K, but it didn't seem to quite open up the vocal enough so I dropped it to 12. The 10k was a bit too much and started to bring some harshness back). Note that because this was all being sent to my parallel comp and FX, I played around with these settings to hear the cumulative effect on the vocal before settling on the above.
- I also used parallel compression (waves LA2A and 1176). Fading this in underneath to add a little more energy/bite from the 1176 and warmth from the LA2A.
- You're absolutely right that I did also use saturation on the vocal to further warm it up.

Perhaps though the biggest transformation came after this point with the use of effects:
- I sent a little of the vocal to the same room reverb as the drums to put some space around it and push it a little backwards off the speakers.
- I also sent a little of the vocal to my "depth" reverb which also added some height and size around the vocal (plus hopefully a little more front to back depth).
- And then for width I used a short delay panned hard R&L.
- In the choruses I added a bigger plate reverb, as well as changing slightly the EQ settings described earlier, as well at the blend of the parallel comp - namely to make the vocal slightly brighter/have more edge to cut through the slightly denser arrangement some more.

Once all this processing was done, the esses needed a little more reigning in, so I used another instance of the de-esser, but far gentler this time sitting at the end of the chain.

I hope this helps?
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Old 23rd April 2018
  #77
Of course it helps! Thanks for not leaving the building right away

I was reading about the use of multiple reverbs a week or so ago and in my mind I was thinking, geez, wouldn't things get quite tubby or ill-defined with multiple reverbs? But I guess it's well within reason to eq the reverb or eq the signal that's sent to the reverb to make sure things don't kind of lose themselves in the darkness of too many spaces, so to speak.

Thanks for your insights.

Old 23rd April 2018
  #78
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Animesh Raval's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by hello people View Post
Of course it helps! Thanks for not leaving the building right away

I was reading about the use of multiple reverbs a week or so ago and in my mind I was thinking, geez, wouldn't things get quite tubby or ill-defined with multiple reverbs? But I guess it's well within reason to eq the reverb or eq the signal that's sent to the reverb to make sure things don't kind of lose themselves in the darkness of too many spaces, so to speak.

Thanks for your insights.

My pleasure!

Absolutely, if you think of a specific use for the reverb, it becomes a bit easier to think how to use them: do I want size, do I want space, do I want height, do I want width, tone, sustain, depth, etc...etc. Maybe you can achieve everything you want with one, or perhaps you need to use several, or maybe a delay is a better/cleaner option

But for instance if you use a reverb for space and width, then why not use a mid-side EQ to clear up the centre of the image to ensure it doesn't muddy up your carefully crafted kick and bass? If your size reverb is causing exaggeration of sibilance, why not de-ess it? If you don't like how the dynamics of the vocal makes the reverb pop out on certain notes, why not compress the signal before the reverb so the reverb itself is more stable?

I'm just spouting some thoughts, but I would process before or after (or both) the effect to get it sitting in the mix. I would treat it like another instrument and process to get the impact of what I'm trying to create without the muddiness, loss of clarity etc.

P.s. I'm not saying I've mastered this at all, just describing the ideal and what I'm striving for.
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Old 23rd April 2018
  #79
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Originally Posted by Quetz View Post
Ok so here are the guitar files.

I wasn't going mad. There is a problem here, but I don't know why it's there.

I'm pretty sure this is a guitar track that's been multed together from different takes, so is it possible that in the process of pasting things together there could have been artifacts introduced? I really don't know.
If that is just the sound of the guitar, I'd be amazed.

Two files below:-

Unprocessed guitar file (Guitars No Proc), it's just the stereo microphone track on it's own.
(listen between the 6th and 7th seconds, but there are loads of instances of this throughout the song. It's not the whole track, it's pieces here and there.)

It's not a nice recording on the whole is it though. It's woody, woolly and dark all at the same time. If that assessment is not correct or fair, and I should have lower expectations of recorded material in general (and remember I haven't dealt with much of it), then I do need to know that.

The second file is how I have it without the DI file added. I can't get any more body out of this alone. I've implemented the suggestions on this, and the high pass has been taken down to 90 something rather than 200 odd, and I've got two EQP-1As on the bugger - one boosting low end and one adding air.
The third file is how both mic and DI files sound together the way I have them, and the final file is how they sound together with cellos and bass, so you can hear all the low end.

Edit: Just replaced the Instr. Mix file with one that actually has the bass amp engaged
Ok I can see what you're talking about - it's definitely the clunky edits you're hearing. It's around 9/10 secs into the unprocessed track isn't it?

I think that yes they've comped between two takes but perhaps not done the join transparently. This is sometimes the case with sustaining instruments.

As mentioned before, to correct this kind of thing, I would look to see if that passage is repeated elsewhere and then just cut and paste that section in (hopefully with invisible edits). Or if it's buried under say a kick or snare hit then I probably would just leave it. So I only replaced maybe two strums that sounded a bit off, and didn’t notice anything else - if there were they were buried in the mix.

All I was trying to say was that I think it was possible to use these tracks, warts and all, to get a decent sounding guitar part. But I take your point that these tracks weren't quite ideal!

Last edited by Animesh Raval; 24th April 2018 at 07:07 AM..
Old 23rd April 2018
  #80
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
Edit: And I've actually been in positions where I was hired as a professional, and after having done a job was asked to write a clear and easy to follow "idiots guide" to that job so that a less expensive engineer could do the job. I found that to be somewhat offensive to be honest. Sufficed to say my 'guide' was probably not entirely easy to follow in the end....
Those guides for the less expensive engineers are easy to write... Here is what I usually write in those situations

Step 1 - when you get to the point where you don't know what to do, Pick up the phone
Step 2 - Call Me
Step 3 - Hire Me to do the job, inform your boss that i am coming in to do your job
Step 4 - Inform your boss my hourly rate has now just gone up 250% because he/she is trying to be cheap by hiring you in the first place.

Old 23rd April 2018
  #81
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lol
Old 23rd April 2018
  #82
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
Those guides for the less expensive engineers are easy to write... Here is what I usually write in those situations

Step 1 - when you get to the point where you don't know what to do, Pick up the phone
Step 2 - Call Me
Step 3 - Hire Me to do the job, inform your boss that i am coming in to do your job
Step 4 - Inform your boss my hourly rate has now just gone up 250% because he/she is trying to be cheap by hiring you in the first place.

There is a flip side to that coin. Some pros will take the time to explain where they went wrong, knowing that they will never get another job from the client, UNTIL, that client has a great chance to go beyond their capabilities.

This is a highly debated subject in this community. Just ask yourself this one simple question: "Is this person going to put me out of business because I told them how to do it right"? 9 times out of 10, they will return to you, when it matters most. Just my 2 cents.
Old 23rd April 2018
  #83
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Originally Posted by Dana_T. View Post
There is a flip side to that coin. Some pros will take the time to explain where they went wrong, knowing that they will never get another job from the client, UNTIL, that client has a great chance to go beyond their capabilities.

This is a highly debated subject in this community. Just ask yourself this one simple question: "Is this person going to put me out of business because I told them how to do it right"? 9 times out of 10, they will return to you, when it matters most. Just my 2 cents.
Dave Pensado once said something to the effect of “I can teach someone how to get a good snare sound with a particular snare, but I can’t twach someone what a good snare sound is.”

This topic falls into the same concept. Assuming you can reduce what we do down into a simple list of steps is to seriously underestimate what it is we do.

I’ve had composers/producers hire me to mix a bunch of music for them on their systems... and they asked for a super big discount from me but said they had a bunch more work coming in the next few years for me, so I gave them a discount. What I noticed they were doing, they were saving everything I did as presets. “DJ orch snare”, “DJ Cello Stacc”, “DJ heavy dist GTR”, etc...

The funny thing was... all the stuff I mixed for them they placed and made a lot of money from, all the new stuff they tried to mix in their own afterward using my settings sounded like crap. They tried for several years to mix on their own (all the work they promised for the discount was a lie, they were trying to do it all themselves) and nothing was getting picked up... so they eventually came back to me after several years asking to fix all the stuff they tried to do... but decided not to use me because I was no longer willing to give them a deal.

Last I checked they still hadn’t been able to place anything.

The moral of the story. What we do has value and it takes a lot of training and experience to get good at it. It’s about training your ears to hear what needs to be done. That is not something you can just spell out in steps on a sheet because it is literally different every time.

I am helping my clients more by not giving them some false sense of hope that they can get something that will make a lot of money without having to spend any money to make it.

There are no shortcuts and you get what you pay for.
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Old 23rd April 2018
  #84
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
The moral of the story. What we do has value and it takes a lot of training and experience to get good at it. It’s about training your ears to hear what needs to be done. That is not something you can just spell out in steps on a sheet because it is literally different every time.
I agree 100% but it has nothing to do with giving professional advice.

Quote:
I am helping my clients more by not giving them some false sense of hope that they can get something that will make a lot of money without having to spend any money to make it.

There are no shortcuts and you get what you pay for.
You do it your way and I will do it mine. It will all boil down to "Self Satisfaction".
Old 23rd April 2018
  #85
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Owen L T's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quetz View Post
And guilty again, of scooping around 200 and 300 which I realise now is a cardinal sin really.
As with ice-cream, it's really the size of the scoop that determines the sinfulness of the action!

The steps to enlightenment for 200 Hz are:

(i) Blissful ignorance
(ii) 200 is the devil, why does my stock EQ only allow me to reduce it by 24dB?!
(iii) Okay, a gentle dip at 200 will fix this.

I suspect that being mired at (ii) is fairly common; it's easy to look/hope for Big Wins and night-and-day techniques, rather than the slow build of 200 subtle moves that together make a night-and-day difference in a mix.
Old 24th April 2018
  #86
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Quetz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Animesh Raval View Post
Ok I can see what you're talking about - it's definitely the clunky edits you're hearing. It's around 9/10 secs into the unprocessed track isn't it?

I think that yes they've comped between two takes but perhaps not done the join transparently. This is sometimes the case with sustaining instruments.

As mentioned before, to correct this kind of thing, I would look to see if that passage is repeated elsewhere and then just cut and paste that section in (hopefully with invisible edits). Or if it's buried under say a kick or snare hit then I probably would just leave it. So I only replaced maybe two strums that sounded a bit off, and didn’t notice anything else - if there were they were buried in the mix.

All I was trying to say was that I think it was possible to use these tracks, warts and all, to get a decent sounding guitar part. But I take your point that these tracks weren't quite ideal!
I should actually have made sure I used the correct terminology as well, which would probably have avoided this mess
I kept referring to 'phase' when I was describing that strange flanging sound, and it took a while to dawn on me that the sounds I was hearing were edits.
I didn't go through each track individually with a fine tooth comb before mixing and so didn't piece everything together properly.

It could have even been stitched together from different takes and from different channels too. Either way, as soon as you start adding effects, it gets amplified.
Animesh, your solution is by far the easiest and one I somehow managed to miss, which was simply to copy a part where it isn't screwed and paste in to the dodgy bit.
Then there would have been far fewer reasons to complain, and yes would have been easier to get something consistent (and therefore better) all the way through.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
Dave Pensado once said something to the effect of “I can teach someone how to get a good snare sound with a particular snare, but I can’t twach someone what a good snare sound is.”

The moral of the story. What we do has value and it takes a lot of training and experience to get good at it. It’s about training your ears to hear what needs to be done. That is not something you can just spell out in steps on a sheet because it is literally different every time.
With all due respect, I think you've completely missed the point of Dave Pensado's quote there.
What he's saying is exactly in line with what this thread has been about.
Which is not generic advice, or a 'list of steps'.
It's about getting advice on this one song, with these same instrument tracks.
It's as specific as it gets.
I don't want or need generic advice, I've read/heard more of that than I can remember.
All the pertinent stuff sinks in and does surface when you need it, mostly.

The whole guitar issue is a perfect example.
Every situation is different, and every instrument recording will present different challenges in the mix.
Every time we get good specific advice, the lessons from that can be extrapolated ourselves, and applied again when needed.

So this is not about 'how do I get a 'good snare sound', or how do I get a 'good guitar sound'; it's really about 'how do I get this snare and these guitars to sound good in this interpretation of this song.

That is what Dave Pensado meant.
It's about learning how to deal with a single set of challenges that someone else with more experience has faced/mixed, and to take the lessons from that and move forward.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen L T View Post
As with ice-cream, it's really the size of the scoop that determines the sinfulness of the action!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen L T View Post
The steps to enlightenment for 200 Hz are:

(i) Blissful ignorance
(ii) 200 is the devil, why does my stock EQ only allow me to reduce it by 24dB?!
(iii) Okay, a gentle dip at 200 will fix this.

I suspect that being mired at (ii) is fairly common; it's easy to look/hope for Big Wins and night-and-day techniques, rather than the slow build of 200 subtle moves that together make a night-and-day difference in a mix.
Nail. Head.
Old 25th April 2018
  #87
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
if you genuinely want to learn how to track and mix, i suggest you Front Up at your local Pro Studio, give them a smile and offer to assist for free.

just by being there you will learn stuff. tons of stuff. many studios get people approachng all the time, and some will let enthusiastic people come and sit in for a while.

one of the young guys who was especially keen and showed great potential, started his enginerng career in my studo, when i let hm loose on a few young bands,and he eventually turned into a professional full time engineer/producer.

from memory his last year recent credits include Pink, Eddie Vetter, Rod Stewart.......

enough said.

Buddha
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Old 27th April 2018
  #88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quetz View Post
that you could take a freely available simple multi-track, and mix it so that we could compare our own mixes and see how to attain a better end result...

It would be amazing if one or more professionals could do a mix using these tracks to show us what we're doing wrong/right, and what can be achieved when you really know what you're doing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quetz View Post
With all due respect, I think you've completely missed the point of Dave Pensado's quote there.
What he's saying is exactly in line with what this thread has been about.
Which is not generic advice, or a 'list of steps'.
It's about getting advice on this one song, with these same instrument tracks.
It's as specific as it gets.
I don't want or need generic advice, I've read/heard more of that than I can remember.
All the pertinent stuff sinks in and does surface when you need it, mostly.

The whole guitar issue is a perfect example.
Every situation is different, and every instrument recording will present different challenges in the mix.
Every time we get good specific advice, the lessons from that can be extrapolated ourselves, and applied again when needed.

So this is not about 'how do I get a 'good snare sound', or how do I get a 'good guitar sound'; it's really about 'how do I get this snare and these guitars to sound good in this interpretation of this song.

That is what Dave Pensado meant.
It's about learning how to deal with a single set of challenges that someone else with more experience has faced/mixed, and to take the lessons from that and move forward.
I'm assuming it is from your lack of experience that you don't quite understand this.... you do realize that you will never be able to understand what a good guitar sound or snare sound IS from one multi track, right? The only thing you'll get out of the one multi track is what someone did for that specific song.

you would need to post hundreds of multi-tracks and have the same person mix them all for you, for you to start training your EAR to hear what a good snare drum or guitar sound IS.

That is Pensado's point. That is why Pensado said and continues to say it is useless to mix "a song" to show someone how to mix. Which was the context from which he said that comment about snare drum sounds.

If you have trained your ears well enough, then you can HEAR what is wrong and what needs to be done. Ear training is the most important thing. Not looking at other people's mixes.

If you can't HEAR what needed to be done in the first place, then looking at what was done is meaningless. You just become a technician at that point..."well I saw a Dave Pensado pro tools session once and he boosted 3KHz on the snare drum to get it to sound good, so now I always boost 3KHz on the snare drum for everything I mix..." That is the kind of thing you get from LOOKING at the mix.

But just listening to finished product is what helps train your ears because you get accustomed to what sounds good/current/stylistically correct/etc. Also taking audio ear training classes like Dave Moulton's Golden Ears can help a lot as well. And then understanding the tools you have at your disposal and how to use them correctly.
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Old 27th April 2018
  #89
OK, so using this James May multi-track as an example. It has Cello in it.

How many people here have listened to enough cello to know what a cello is really supposed to sound like?

If so can you identify the problem in the recording of the cello? Do you know how to remedy it? I'll give you a hint there is one huge glaring problem sonically with the cello. What is it and what do you do to fix it?

Now if you listen to the cello track and you just say "hmmm... cool, sound like cello." Then looking at what I do to "fix" the cello is meaningless because you don't even know there is a problem. If you can identify the problem on your own first using your ears, THEN and only THEN, could seeing how I personally remedy the problem mean anything useful to you. But it will only mean something to you AFTER you've already recognized the problem and tried to fix it yourself.

Do you see what I mean now? How do you know what a good cello is supposed to sound like if you haven't listened to enough cello to know what a cello is really supposed to sound like? And once you know what it is supposed to sound like can you identify what is "different" with this recording compared to the hundreds of hours of cello recordings you've stored in your brain? And do you really think just listening this one instance of cello before and after is miraculously going to teach you what a good cello should sound like? No, it won't.

Same thing with the mandolin. How many people here have listened to enough mandolin to know what a mandolin is supposed to sound like?

While the mandolin isn't as bad as the cello in this recording there is at least one minor thing wrong with it and how it was recorded.

Listen to the track and tell me what that was. If you just listen to it and go "huh, sounds like mandolin"... and you cannot identify the problem using your ears... then looking at anything anyone has done to it while mixing is useless... it's just numbers or a preset for you at that point.
Old 27th April 2018
  #90
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Quetz's Avatar
Hi there,

thanks for putting more time into this.

I totally see where you're coming from.
But there is a tendency on here to kind of assume that those of us new to audio engineering, are also completely new to music and sound, in general.

I know what good snares, guitars, cellos, drums etc sound like, both recorded and live.
I wouldn't be striving to get good at this if I didn't get turned on by good sounds.

That doesn't necessarily mean that I can immediately identify how to fix problems I hear.

I'm not asking professionals here to teach me how to listen to music, or work out what a good sound is

I wanted someone to do this (and some have) in order to show me how they dealt with the same problems I faced when mixing this song.

That is all.

Because there are lessons that can be taken from mixing one song and then applied to another.
If that weren't true, nobody would ever really progress, and there would be no such thing as generic advice, which constitutes a huge part of this forum.

Also, when we talk about what things are 'supposed' to sound like, that can be a very abstract topic.
Are cellos 'supposed' to sound like they've been put through a distortion pedal?
Are flutes 'supposed' to be looped endlessly and chopped up rhythmically?

Who cares, so long as that is the sound you wanted.
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