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The more I time I try to make it perfect, the worse it gets Modular Synthesizers
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Lives for gear
Question The more I time I try to make it perfect, the worse it gets

Why is that?

It seems that the mix starts out pretty awesome in the first day of mixing, but the more time I spend fixing the annoying details, the worse the mix becomes.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Here for the gear
 
WhiteDoor's Avatar
We've all been there and sometimes I'm still am. What I do in those times is to have some references tracks at hand, not soloing too much and let the mix rest for a day or two. It's easy to make mistakes with tired ears.
Now, when you say "annoying details" it sounds to me that the recording you are working with it's not the best and this will affect your mix. If you take out a lot of information from every track, due to annoying details, you may end up with thin and lifeless tracks, which would explain why the mix is getting worse.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goom View Post
Why is that?

It seems that the mix starts out pretty awesome in the first day of mixing, but the more time I spend fixing the annoying details, the worse the mix becomes.
if you fry an egg 8 times in a row it becomes carbon.
Use good reference tracks to know what's your final goal and don't try to make things "too special", just worry to make things balanced and pleasant as the reference. Usually when you start with creative things like "I want a very special kick that no one has" then your mix could then become terrible in the balance of all other instruments...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Make deliberate moves, plan ahead, etc.

Figure out what the mix needs first.

90% planning, 10% execution.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
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drsaamah's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DomiBabi View Post
Make deliberate moves, plan ahead, etc.

Figure out what the mix needs first.

90% planning, 10% execution.
^This^

It sounds like you're going into a mix blind and just working on the fly. Before you do anything, listen to the track as it is tracked and decide what you are going for. Make your mixing decisions towards those specific goals.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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I rotate my work to avoid developing tin ears.

Example. I may spend an Hour recording new tracks playing guitars to a drum machine. Last week I recorded some guitar drum tracks that need bass, so I'll spend an hour on adding the bass parts. Next I'll have some tracks dating back two weeks that have bass and need vocals so I may spend an hour doing that. If not I'll have some that already have vocals and need lead solos or keyboard or something else added.

At any one time I may have 20~30 songs in various stages of development and I'll dig in and do some work on them depending on my mood.

The ones that are done being recorded will be mixed in a similar manor. By the time they are ready to mix, I've likely had them put aside for several weeks so they all sound new and fresh to my ears. I may open up several and do some menial work that doesn't require any listening at all, trimming intro's/exists, adding envelopes. Then I may even up the track gain levels and get them within a few decibels of each other.

Once I have a half dozen I can listen through and have them sound pretty good dry, then I'll dip into the Effects Bag-O-Tricks and start getting creative.
I usually focus on building a solid foundation first, get the drums and bass solid enough to rattle my teeth before I worry abut my midrange instruments.
Drums need to extend pretty much the entire frequency spectrum from highest highs to the thumper at the bottom. In between you'll have holes where you'll simply plug in your other instruments.

If those instruments don't fit and its more like forcing a round peg in a square hole, dollars for donuts you screwed the pooch and had the wrong tones dialed up when you were tracking. Too much gain on guitars is a really bad one too. I have a bad habit of setting the sound so the instrument is easy to play and I fail to focus on how the music fits into the mix. I may know what I want in the back of my mind but the more I track the less I actually hear what's being played and become numb to what the recording Needs.

Once the bass and drums are solid its pretty much impossible to go wrong on the rest. You just have to use some common sense. If someone is singing you obviously cant have any other instruments at the same volume or higher. You cant have two tracks occupy the same frequencies and be heard either. To avoid masking you can pull out a frequency analyzer to check and see how broad the frequency spectrums are. Sometimes the issue isn't the instrument you think it is. If the instrument doesn't fit in the mix it may be the frequencies are already being used. It can also be the instrument isn't needed in the song.

Knowing your musical composition should be as clear in you mind as the music is when you hear it. As others said, you should already have a strategy worked out how you want the parts to appear in the mix before you even listen to the recording. There will be surprises and changes as you get deeper into it of course but that's where the fun comes in.

If its become a downward spiral then you've obviously beaten the thing to death fiddling around.
I suggest you get used to saving backup copies of your work so an older copy of your work is always available.
each session I work on a song I give it a new revision. If I record a session of 5 songs (writing the music as I play it) I may not have name for it yet so I may simply call them ABC001, ABC002, ABC003 etc. If I open ABC001 and do some work on it I'll add a revision to it and call it ABC001a. Then if I do some more mixing I'll call it ABC001b and so on.

Chances are I'll use the latest number but I cant count the number of times where I painted myself into a corner and the older version wound up sounding better.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Head
I've found myself starting over completely several times. Usually end up with a better result, doing less.

I like the response of not working on one track too much, and swapping between tracks to keep fresh ears. I have a bad OCD habit of working on one song for 6+hrs. Often counterproductive.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by slidez View Post
I've found myself starting over completely several times. Usually end up with a better result, doing less.

I like the response of not working on one track too much, and swapping between tracks to keep fresh ears. I have a bad OCD habit of working on one song for 6+hrs. Often counterproductive.
I been doing this quite a bit lately. Deleting all of the effects and resetting everything. Starting over.

It becomes a massive blackhole of time suckage.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by goom View Post
Why is that?

It seems that the mix starts out pretty awesome in the first day of mixing, but the more time I spend fixing the annoying details, the worse the mix becomes.
To paraphrase someone (Jimi I think): it's like holding a little bird - hold it too tight and you crush it, hold it too loose and it flies away.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by goom View Post
I been doing this quite a bit lately. Deleting all of the effects and resetting everything. Starting over.

It becomes a massive blackhole of time suckage.
But, this is not a bad thing; that's the way you'll get better.
There's no magic strategy or shortcut; just doing it a lot and often.
You suck till you stop sucking.

I do subscribe the comments of the other posters about LISTENING to the track before doing anything and know what you want to achieve with any knob you want to turn or any plugin you want to insert.

However, you cannot teach yourself to listen critically; you can only TRAIN your critical listening skills by doing it often.
Listen, then try to identify what you're hearing (liking or disliking), think how you'd like to address it and execute...than RINSE AND REPEAT.
After doing this for a while (and SUCKING most of that time), you'll notice that you start hearing, indetifying and addressing things better and better.

I had the fortune of starting my carreer doing live/PA work and cheap demos, so constantly mixing and moving on (no DAWs, recall, or any of that stuff back then).

If I can give you one advice, it would be this:
Take the next 6 months to do nothing but ONE mix every day (can be the same track).
At the end of that day, just reset everything, finished or not (don't bother to save/print anything) and start fresh the following day.
Try this for six months and you'll see....

Success.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Here’s another “gem”:

Prioritize and group track elements.

Figure out which elements will take up what space and what frequencies before touching anything.

Figure out what elements are competing, and make them play nice together by creating contrast.

Always mix a track in context with the song, or you will be fighting yourself the whole process.

Filter out what you don’t need, be aware of your floor and ceiling.

Don’t be afraid to carve it out. It may sound wrong solo’d but it will sit perfect in the mix.

In the beginning, don’t use compression or effects until after the mix already sounds good. You can learn a lot about mixing with just faders and EQ.

Label and name everything, take notes, and use markers. Map out the song before you even start. Listen to the track 10-20 times and keep writing down your thoughts about what needs to be done.
Afterwards, go through the list and commit only to the changes you know will make the song better. Usually, the rest of the mix will “reveal itself” to you.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Lives for gear
 
didlisquat's Avatar
The last thing I would ever want to be is perfect.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by goom View Post
Why is that?

It seems that the mix starts out pretty awesome in the first day of mixing, but the more time I spend fixing the annoying details, the worse the mix becomes.
I don't know for sure in your case, but for me when things start to go bad its because I'm adding more and more plugins in a vain and misguided effort to solve problems that can only be solved by:

- re-recording
- basic eq adjustments
- volume adjustment

Or I just add plugins because they 'are there'. In terms of mixing I'm finding myself really becoming more and more a minimalist.

Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by goom View Post
Why is that?

It seems that the mix starts out pretty awesome in the first day of mixing, but the more time I spend fixing the annoying details, the worse the mix becomes.
that's because while mixing includes "details" it is not really about the "details". It's about the song. The mix is the forest, not the trees.

When I am stuck, it is often because I am trying too hard to give everything equal prominence. Sometimes I rip it all out, and take it back down to lead vocal, guitar, bass and drums - assuming its a rock song. -Anyway, some kind of basic 3 or 4 instrument "rhythm track". Get that hitting, and then try to 'sneak' those other instruments back in.

But only if they fit, only if the add to the overall thing. Sometimes this 'getting worse' feeling is the song talking to you. One thing it might be telling you is that you have too much stuff. Too many 'details'. This can often be an issue if it is your own music.

When I am mixing someone else's songs, I have no sentimental attachment to the Second Mandolin part, I'll just ruthlessly delete it. But the person who wrote it, played it, recorded it, maybe has a different feeling.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
Lives for gear
Aww, My singer always takes a song way from me before I ruin it.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wrgkmc View Post
I You cant have two tracks occupy the same frequencies and be heard either. To avoid masking you can pull out a frequency analyzer to check and see how broad the frequency spectrums are. Sometimes the issue isn't the instrument you think it is. If the instrument doesn't fit in the mix it
As a newbie, your post was very valuable to me. Could you please expand on the above point? I think I'm reading it to literally. For example, let's say you have a kick and a bass note. They're both going to occupy the same frequencies, but surely I'm not supposed to isolate the kick to 112hz and the bass to 120hz.

So don't you need some overlap?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romdave View Post
As a newbie, your post was very valuable to me. Could you please expand on the above point? I think I'm reading it to literally. For example, let's say you have a kick and a bass note. They're both going to occupy the same frequencies, but surely I'm not supposed to isolate the kick to 112hz and the bass to 120hz.

So don't you need some overlap?
Sure, you can't avoid it. But e.g. a kick usually has a very defined and narrow fundamental pitch, somewhere between 60 and 100 Hz. Try to find that, either via EQ sweeping or by checking on an analyzer. Try to cut the bass a little on that same frequency. And don't be afraid to use a highpass on basses, even up to 70Hz. Can work wonders. As you often cut low mids from the kick, the bass has room there. For a great bass tone the area you really wanna do something is in the mids.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JSchlomo View Post
But e.g. a kick usually has a very defined and narrow fundamental pitch, somewhere between 60 and 100 Hz.
So when I'm initially looking at the kick on an EQ, it's a very wide range. Are you saying for clarity purposes it's essential to narrow in on the fundamentals and cut the rest? If so, what would a good maximum range to start with? 10hz? 20hz? I mean, let's say I think the fundamental is about 70hz. Should I allow between 60-80 at first, then play around? Or even tighter than that initially?

Would you say there's a fundamental pitch for everything?

RD
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romdave View Post
So when I'm initially looking at the kick on an EQ, it's a very wide range. Are you saying for clarity purposes it's essential to narrow in on the fundamentals and cut the rest? If so, what would a good maximum range to start with? 10hz? 20hz? I mean, let's say I think the fundamental is about 70hz. Should I allow between 60-80 at first, then play around? Or even tighter than that initially?

Would you say there's a fundamental pitch for everything?

RD
No no no, don't cut away anything. Sure the kick has a very wide range. At least that's the way it should be. You'll need all the highs midrange if you're after a rock sound. What I'm saying is: Grab a parametric EQ, set it to a narrow, rather extreme boost and sweep through the bottom end. Somewhere between 60 and 100 Hz you'll hear the kick's fundamental. If you're not (yet) able to hear that, there's a alot of listening to be done. You recognize it when you hear the kick come alive, so that it's not just generating arbitrary low end boom, but a real chest hitting thump.

Basically yes, there's a fundamental pitch to everything, but the only place this is really helpful is drums and percussion because the fundamental pitch stays consistent. With basses, guitars, keyboards, voices, the fundamental always changes depending on the note played or sung.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by goom View Post
Why is that?

It seems that the mix starts out pretty awesome in the first day of mixing, but the more time I spend fixing the annoying details, the worse the mix becomes.
A more common phenomenon than you think. You say "in the first day" of mixing. Sometimes there are tracks that really need a long time, but instead of "the first day" try to focus on the first hour! What you do within the first hour is rather intuitive and driven by emotion and feeling. What you do at the end of a day spent mixing is thinking too much and reversing all the intuitive decisions you made - unless you're very experienced.
I'm not saying you have to get the mix done in an hour. What I'm suggesting is: Set a timer, mix an hour and let it flow, be happy, save. Come back the next day, start with a listen of a suitable reference track, then listen to your one hour mix from yesterday. Don't forget to level match! You should immediately hear what's good and what needs to be fixed. Do exactly that. Sweeten to taste. Done. Hopefully.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by goom View Post
Why is that?

It seems that the mix starts out pretty awesome in the first day of mixing, but the more time I spend fixing the annoying details, the worse the mix becomes.
After many years I started to figure something out... What does the listener what to hear? Put yourself in they're shoes. Do they really need perfection in the mix? Not so much. 99% of it is the soloist. How often will you hear a listener say, "Hey, that's a great song, what a singer!... but that guitar middle peak range sounds terrible!" Isn't gonna happen. That makes mixing a little easier. :-)
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gamelan View Post
but that guitar middle peak range sounds terrible!" Isn't gonna happen. That makes mixing a little easier. :-)
99% of "nerdy" guitarists also would think that is due to a kind of particular wood of guitar or to some exotic OD pedal and they would sell their cars to achieve that particular sound (that maybe is only an exagerate post-eq applied in the mix)
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
When I am stuck, it is often because I am trying too hard to give everything equal prominence.
I started out recording crap demos for rock-band democracies and had to do democracy-mixing every time. Rarely good. Then I went (in a hurry) to recording and mixing jingles, where they wanted to create a big impression with the fewest players possible. The key word being "impression." The impression idea has stuck with me, and I think it's a good thing to bear in mind.

Last edited by Brent Hahn; 4 weeks ago at 05:07 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
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Some past albums had deliberately very "wrong" mix for actual standard or for their genre/era...
...but instead became famous for their different sound.

One of this is And Justice For All by Metallica. An album with deliberately zero-ed bass guitar... still one of the Metallica best selling albums.
While Load and Reload with a stellar production were labelled as flop because of the different musical style.

So maybe a "wrong mix" theorically doesn't exist. (Theorically eh...)
Old 3 weeks ago
  #26
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JSchlomo View Post
Grab a parametric EQ, set it to a narrow, rather extreme boost and sweep through the bottom end. Somewhere between 60 and 100 Hz you'll hear the kick's fundamental.
Ah ok, so when you say that instruments cannot occupy the same frequencies, in practical application this means searching for the fundamentals (using an EQ sweep) and boosting the fundamental to give clarity?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romdave View Post
Ah ok, so when you say that instruments cannot occupy the same frequencies, in practical application this means searching for the fundamentals (using an EQ sweep) and boosting the fundamental to give clarity?
I never said instruments cannot occupy the same frequencies. Practically any instrument apart from tambourine or Glockenspiel or whatever is pretty much full range, so they all will share a lot of frequency range. Nothing to do about it.
It's just important to avoid them all having their most energy in the same spot and cutting away stuff that's not needed in the context of the mix.
Clarity comes from separation. This can be achieved by the method above. But often, clarity isn't what you want. A lot of indie mixes are supposed to sound "soupy" and a little indistinct.
And you shouldn't always boost the fundamental. With many instruments the overtones are even more important, boosting those tricks your ear into hearing the fundamental louder. Common on bass guitars: If you just put more bass frequencies in, you lose headroom, get boomy and still that bass won't be any more audible on smaller speakers. If you let the bass frequencies alone and add a lot of midrange tone to emphasize the sound of the strings, the bass will be more audible on smaller speakers and your ear will hear it as fatter, although you didn't touch the low end. But this is getting too off-topic... Do what sounds good and never think too much!
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