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Mix "Glue" and Balance (Metal Music)
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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Nightmare Circus's Avatar
Mix "Glue" and Balance (Metal Music)

I've spent a lot of time working on getting the best sources possible and finding vsts that deliver the sounds I want (I'm all in the box with DI Guitar/Bass and an E-Kit) I finally have it but not I find myself struggling with two basic things.

Balance and Glue

Of course I use references, mix into the buss compressor, and raise the elements in order of importance and all that other jazz you will read everywhere on the internet by googling mix glue. I know balance is highly subjective but are there any tricks that seem to get you good results or buss compression settings / target GR that just "always work" for you for gluing it all together?

Right now I feel like I can get a good balance between two elements like the drums and guitar, the drums and bass, or the guitar and bass but when I go to add the 3rd element in there I just can't get it to gel together. I don't honestly do much to my tracks in terms of processing because as I mentioned I focus on getting the best sources possible. Typically its mostly just slight EQing with LP/HP filters and removing resonances or pocketing the low end and some slight compression on some things (like the andy sneap technique) to control palm mutes. Since I use things like EZDrummer 2 Metal Machine/Metal!, Parallax, and TSE x50 V2 w/ Ownhammer IRs everything already sounds pretty "processed" to begin with anyway and I have no issues with the way any of it sounds until I try to get all 3 to play nice.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Quote:
Balance and Glue
when I go to add the 3rd element in there I just can't get it to gel together.
It can be hundreds of little things or it can be 3 major things that you need to do. If you have been mixing for less than 2 years, its common to be in this situation. It can take awhile to understand how different instruments interact with other instruments in the mix. So learn all you can about the art of mixing.

When mixing, you have to look at the big picture and already have a sound, mood and vibe in mind. At least that what i do.

What i would start with:
1.) Just guessing, i would tell you to learn 'Complimentary EQ Techniques' so every instrument subsides in its own frequency, like the kick drum and bass guitar.
For those 2 instruments subside in the same frequency range, so you should never boost the same frequencies in the bass and kick drum. In fact, if you boost 250hZ for the bass, you should cut 250hZ in the kick. You do this for all your instruments that lay in the same frequency fields, like Vocals and guitar, they lay in the similar frequency fields as well

2.) Then learn about 'Stereo Imaging', so each instrument subsides in its own 3D space in the mix, like the vocal Front and center, and the floor tom, back left and the kick middle center, and bass back center and guitars front left and front right. Now these are just simple examples, by no means follow this as every mix will be different

3.) Compression, especially parallel compression. This can help glue things together. Learn what the attack, release, ratio and knee does and how it effects the signal. Then dial in the setting to how you hear it. No presets! They were not made for your music and can kill the soul
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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Nightmare Circus's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
If you have been mixing for less than 2 years, its common to be in this situation.
What if you have been mixing for longer than that and have a degree in AE (not that a degree is honestly impressive, but they do teach you basic things like how a compressor works and soundscaping for example)? While I'm sure I still have improvement to make on all 3 topics you listed I'm still very familiar with them.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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decocco's Avatar
 

Maybe you haven’t found your ideal mix bus compressor yet. Maybe your mix isn’t quite balanced enough. Got any audio examples?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Quote:
What if you have been mixing for longer than that and have a degree in AE (not that a degree is honestly impressive, but they do teach you basic things like how a compressor works and soundscaping for example)?
Then you probably wouldn't have this problem. But everyone is different..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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Nightmare Circus's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
Then you probably wouldn't have this problem. But everyone is different..
This issue mainly exists when mixing metal music,everything else I can get to sound pretty cohesive. My college instructors were basically terrified of mixing metal and most of them were from the country/pop scene. After all this time I can see why, this stuff can be a pain in the ass.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
If its only 3 instruments, there should be nothing taking away from the other instruments, except for the snare and guitar and the kick and the bass guitar, but those are taken care of with complimentary EQ edits.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
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You should go on a continuing education field trip...

Hire a mixer you respect to mix your metal for you and attend the mix session. You can then observe how he/she achieves the glue. You can even ask questions.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
SRS
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Post an example of a recent mix that we can "hear" what is going on. I am in the studio now and can give it a critical listen. EQ comes to mind based on what you said in adding that 3rd element then things start to get odd.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
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Nightmare Circus's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
If its only 3 instruments, there should be nothing taking away from the other instruments, except for the snare and guitar and the kick and the bass guitar, but those are taken care of with complimentary EQ edits.
Then it must be something in my master buss chain or perhaps I'm doing too much pocketing on the eq. I'll experiment with my buss compression settings. It could be I'm simply not buss compressing hard enough, most of my tracks are only getting about -2db GR on the SSL. I'm doing no compression outside of the master right now because as I said these drum programs already sound fairly compressed so theres no reason to compress it any further and parallax is working wonders on the bass overall. The main reason i moved away from the naughty seal drums is because they were just overbearingly processed sounding even at the lowest FX settings. I feel like im pretty close to my references already in terms of balance but my tracks seem a bit more separated and loose at times compared to them.

There's a lot of pros to all these digital solutions but the cons are there too.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by decocco View Post
You should go on a continuing education field trip...

Hire a mixer you respect to mix your metal for you and attend the mix session. You can then observe how he/she achieves the glue. You can even ask questions.
This is a great idea but impractical for me to pull off. Even if i could get Andy Sneap or Machine to agree to that i would never be able to afford the trip.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
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Nightmare Circus's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SRS View Post
Post an example of a recent mix that we can "hear" what is going on. I am in the studio now and can give it a critical listen. EQ comes to mind based on what you said in adding that 3rd element then things start to get odd.
All of my recent mixes I used a drum vst called Perfect Drums and they are just insanely over the top processed sounding but I will link them. I plan on doing some recording this weekend with the new gear, I just recorded a quick little minute of a material to pay around with it.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZYM...ew?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Ep...ObIrLPZneWQYVH

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BMx...ew?usp=sharing
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
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decocco's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightmare Circus View Post
This is a great idea but impractical for me to pull off. Even if i could get Andy Sneap or Machine to agree to that i would never be able to afford the trip.
You may wish to upload a sample so people can hear the problems you are having. You can’t spell gearslutz without ears...

Last edited by decocco; 4 weeks ago at 08:21 PM.. Reason: Brain
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
SRS
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Just gave a quick listen. The 2nd linked file sounds the best, as it is clearer and more distinct on the top end. I think you are closer than you feel you are and maybe have fallen prey to some loss of objectivity as you've probably heard these a bunch of times and don't really know objectively what you really have. That being said, I don't hear too much wrong in these mixes overall. What I do hear across all 3 mixes is the low-mids are a bit gelled together too much, losing some distinctness in that freq range. For lack of a better word "punch" and I don't like the common words like that but punch fits across all 3 mixes. The drums are clearly canned drums and that is the obvious weak-link in the songs, but overall, you are very close. Keep the upper clarity of the 2nd link song mix and work on the low-mid separation and that will probably get these at a commercial mix level. The low-mids might just be those drums interacting with the bass and guitars clouding up that range some. Nice work and thanks for posting them, as it helps get an idea of what you hear and what others hear.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
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Nightmare Circus's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SRS View Post
The drums are clearly canned drums and that is the obvious weak-link in the songs, but overall, you are very close. Keep the upper clarity of the 2nd link song mix and work on the low-mid separation and that will probably get these at a commercial mix level. The low-mids might just be those drums interacting with the bass and guitars clouding up that range some. Nice work and thanks for posting them, as it helps get an idea of what you hear and what others hear.
Yeah like I said that drum VST is just extremely over the top. Aside from some high passing and some cuts here and there on a few elements thats literally what they sound like. Over processed as hell, I mean it sounds great when I'm just jamming on my ekit with no music but its one of the reasons I moved over to using EZ Drummer. Granted EZ Drummer still sounds processed but its not that extreme which is why I may redo those mixes at some point with the new drum program. This was also before Parallax so the bass is just a hardware sansamp crushed to death by a distressor.

I appreciate the feedback. I still dont think the balance is the best on those but balance is pretty subjective anyway. If those tracks sound fairly glued then perhaps the new drums do need a little bit of compression help to get it closer to naughty seal but not as unbearable.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
SRS
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No worries. Don't over-think it. Get the proper instruments or whatever you are using on the song then I think you will be right where you need to be mix-wise. I think they are very listenable as is.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
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It sounds pretty good. My only critique is I feel you are lacking some overall low end, which if it were there, might help trigger the bus compressor and provide a little glue. But that is my totally subjective opinion; I feel you have done a good job.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
Gear Head
 

At first listen, sounds overall very metal. I'd say you could definitely use some beefier low end, both on the guitar a bit but also just a meaner deeper bass guitar tone. Then EQ wise you could perhaps fit the drum shells around the guitar a bit more in the mids. Then try a little more squash on your ssl comp to get some more movement between the guitars and drums.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithburg View Post
also just a meaner deeper bass guitar tone
I recently bought Parallax and it works wonders for this. I'm enjoying it a lot better than my sansamp
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SRS View Post
No worries. Don't over-think it. Get the proper instruments or whatever you are using on the song then I think you will be right where you need to be mix-wise. I think they are very listenable as is.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mmH...ew?usp=sharing

Edit: I forgot google drive hates it when like 10 people access a file in 24 hours so if that link refuses to work I reuploaded it to clypit

https://clyp.it/fx1yamjg
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightmare Circus View Post
Of course I use references, mix into the buss compressor, and raise the elements in order of importance and all that other jazz you will read everywhere on the internet by googling mix glue. I know balance is highly subjective but are there any tricks that seem to get you good results or buss compression settings / target GR that just "always work" for you for gluing it all together?
How forensically are you using references? If I'm trying to do a fairly genre specific mix, I'll have several references from that genre that, to my ears, epitomise what I'm trying to achieve. That will often include things like: balance between kick and bass; relationship between guitar and bass; relationship between vocal and track.

Personally, I feel that there's a lot of mileage from starting with faders down, then bringing up your kick and bass, and A/B-ing carefully between that and your chosen reference mix(es) that have the kick/bass balance you're looking for. Sure, on the one hand, it's a bit paint-by-numbers. But there will have been a lot of artistic choice that, presumably, went into the selection and shaping of your kick and bass tone, and honestly, my inner-compass just isn't finely honed enough to know for sure whether the bass should be half a dB up or half a dB down, so having a reference mix for that kind of true-north orientation is helpful - and helps ensure that I won't make a series of balance choices that are all 1 or 2dB off (which is easily done), that wind up with a mix that's just a little bit all over the place, but no obvious place where I "went wrong".
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen L T View Post
How forensically are you using references? If I'm trying to do a fairly genre specific mix, I'll have several references from that genre that, to my ears, epitomise what I'm trying to achieve. That will often include things like: balance between kick and bass; relationship between guitar and bass; relationship between vocal and track.

Personally, I feel that there's a lot of mileage from starting with faders down, then bringing up your kick and bass, and A/B-ing carefully between that and your chosen reference mix(es) that have the kick/bass balance you're looking for. Sure, on the one hand, it's a bit paint-by-numbers. But there will have been a lot of artistic choice that, presumably, went into the selection and shaping of your kick and bass tone, and honestly, my inner-compass just isn't finely honed enough to know for sure whether the bass should be half a dB up or half a dB down, so having a reference mix for that kind of true-north orientation is helpful - and helps ensure that I won't make a series of balance choices that are all 1 or 2dB off (which is easily done), that wind up with a mix that's just a little bit all over the place, but no obvious place where I "went wrong".
I mostly pay attention to the relationship between the kick, snare, guitar, and bass and try to get those elements close to what im referencing. After that I fill in the rest of the drums while listening to everything together rather than just solo balancing the drums
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