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Mixing Technique 1: Getting A Concept For Your Mix
Old 6th November 2002
  #31
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Please pardon the newbie for chiming in here, but...

I've found that getting the rhythm guitars/keyboards out of the center does wonders for letting the vocal tracks live a new life.

So, I will duplicate a rhythm guitar/keyboard track, nudge it back by 1000 samples, and then pan those two tracks out to about 60% or so in either direction.

So, you get a nice stereo widening effect, and get the instrument out of the way of the vocal at the same time.

YMMV.
Old 6th November 2002
  #32
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groundcontrol's Avatar
 

Why don't you use a single repeat full bandwith delay instead of wasting a track? (More so since you only got 32 in LE!) yuktyy
Old 6th November 2002
  #33
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Quote:
posted by groundcontrol:
Why don't you use a single repeat full bandwith delay instead of wasting a track?
Can you elaborate?

Thanks in advance.
Old 6th November 2002
  #34
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groundcontrol's Avatar
 

The only thing you're doing by copying a track and nudgeing it later is creating a delayed version of the original. That's what a delay is doing. Just pan your track to the side like you do and also send it with an aux assigned to a buss to an auxiliary track that get's its input from that buss. Insert a short delay plug-in on that track with the mix set to 100% wet and the delay time you want. Put no feedback and don't filter it. Pan that track to the other side.
Old 6th November 2002
  #35
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Charles
Again, thanx for your input! I would love to get a thread going on the whole gain structuring in digital issue. I am still trying to formulate a stratedgy for this.
I also agree that it's generally a mistake to pan much of the kit or bass out of the centre.
One of the funny things about this mix is that I've done all my mixing so far without the scatch vocal up at all. I've been treating the tracks as instrumentals and having fun with them creating grunge type tracks and surf type tracks out of these supposedly "new country" songs.
My plan is to get the mixes polished and give the vocalist this mix when we cut the vocals. The scratch vocals were done sitting at the board with a hand held 58, simply because the singer had such a wicked cold we didn't bother to really even try to get something usable. They are so low and muted that they are really no use as a guide of where the emotion in the track is.
So my plan now is to give the singer these up front balls to the wall tracks and let him sing over them and create some additional space if needed by almost ducking the track when the vocal needs to create extra energy or emotion. It's been fun to work this way and the whole plan may crash and burn when we track the vocals next week, but it's been a useful experiment anyway. Take care Logan
Old 6th November 2002
  #36
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Kris's Avatar
If I'm involved in the tracking (for me almost always) I'm developing ideas for the mix at that time...
In my studio, I don't have much processing power (PT24+2 old farms)... so I really focus on developing ideas and sounds and experimenting during tracking...

When it's time to mix, I just throw up the tracks and start experimenting... I probably haven't been at it quite long enough to have a clear/complete idea in my head of the final mix, before I begin... I'm sure that will come with more time/experience/and years. Something I'm working on intensely.

I also like to mix in short bursts... like an hour per song max... bounce it and see where it stands in the car... then come back at least a day later and tweak some more... though with each completed mix, I find I need less of this routine as well... And sometimes it is a disadvantage... when I find myself agonizing over minute level changes... not important in the big picture!tut
Old 6th November 2002
  #37
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Charles Dye's Avatar
 

Logan,

"My plan is to get the mixes polished and give the vocalist this mix when we cut the vocals."

That's always a great idea. I try to do that as well, to have the best sounding rough as possible to help motivate the singer. Please tell us how it goes.
Old 6th November 2002
  #38
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kushan_ku's Avatar
 

Mixing is by far my favorite part.

The concept for my mixes usually comes out of listening to the rough tracks a bunch of times (which inevitably happening during tracking if you are doing that end too) . My goal is to absorb the song, then develop in my mind what I hear it sounding like 'finished'.

I pay particular attention to intros and the transitional points of the song, going from verse to chorus, to bridge, etc. Usually I cut to the grid, so I will meticulously add about 100 markers throughout the song and name them (4b4 chrs, 8 beat out, 2 bar jam, etc) so I can jump around and tweek those areas.

I also play over and over in my mind those transitionall parts and start inventing cool stuff to happen there, like effects, filters, removing the kick/bass, whatever...to give the song a huge punch as it goes into the next part. I will even verbally sound out the parts and such and then try to replicate them thru keyboards, drum machines, or effects.

Alot of times I will just use audio suite and slam the track done instead of using plugs. I keep/mute/remove from the mixer the original tracks usually instead of playlisting so I can see them there on the left.

If there are cool things or even mistakes that occured , sometimes I'll copy those around to different parts of the song. I'm always looking for something different to make it really interesting. I want people to walk away saying "great song" and "great production" hand in hand.

I'll try to build the song to a frenzy by the end by doing reprises of earlier cool things thrown into the last chorus or the jam out.

And I'm always trying things. Way more than 1/2 the things I try I never end up using. I try to throw alot of spagetti against the wall and see what works / sticks for the song.

Well Charles (and all), I kind of went off topic but I can elaborate more on part 2 and part 3 rollz rollz rollz rollz so don't shoot me for babbling I just love talking about mixing!

_________
j_ho
Old 6th November 2002
  #39
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Charles Dye's Avatar
 

As a follow up, here's some of my thinking at the beginning of a mix regarding its concept (revised from September's Hard Disk Life):
Quote:
To establish the mix's point of view I ask myself six questions about the sound of the mix I want to create.
  1. What will be the mix's basic concept? (Aggressive vs. Delicate? / Big vs. Intimate?)
  2. What is the mix's basic style? (Usually the musical genre of the recording.)
  3. What influenced the creators when they made their contribution? (The writer, artist, musicians, producer, + engineer.)
  4. What will be the mix's influences? (Much like music, mixes are influenced by other mixes.)
  5. Are we going for a modern sound, or more of a retro/vintage one, or a combination of the two?
  6. Who is the intended audience for this mix? (The first rule of public performance is: "Always know your audience.")
I then use the answers to these questions to help me shape the sound of the mix.
Whether you are more of a "concept first" mixer, or a "just start + let it flow" mixer, some or all of these questions are ones you probably ask yourself consciously or unconsciously at some point in the process.

So, what I'd like to know is:
  • Do you ask yourself these questions? Which ones? And is it consciously or unconsciously?
  • Do you have different/additional questions you ask to help guide yourself through a mix?
Thanks.
Old 6th November 2002
  #40
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Charles Dye's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk
you mention taking it 50 different ways... interesting thing to think about. picking the one way to take it that is.
Okay. Maybe I exaggerated. It's usually only 3 or 4 dozen.
Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk
i didnt mean 'you' towards any particular person... i guess i should of used 'me' and 'i'. i was just stating that i never have a plan.... and when i do, i always end up going a different direction.
I'm sorry if I was sounding defensive, that was not my intention. I was actually agreeing with you. I totally understand your approach, and I use it as well sometimes.

And using what you said as a jumping off point, some advice for younger engineers would be (from July's HDL. Pardon my pomposity, I promise to not continually quote myself):

"When you first listen to a mix, how do you decide which way to go? Well, when I listen to a song I've learned to follow my instincts. If you are mixing a song in a genre that you're very familiar with, ideas will probably immediately start popping into your head, sounds that you'd like to create. These first instincts are often excellent choices. They're natural and are born from years of listening to the music you love.

And if you can't figure out what direction to go, don't let it stop you. Sometimes you don't find out where you're going to take a mix until you are halfway through it. You just have to start. Pick a direction and run with it. Things will begin to make sense as you move through the song, and ideas will come to you while you're working. Just pay attention to inspiration when it speaks, and follow those ideas. If you bring up a fader on a naked unprocessed part, and a sound instantly pops into your head, go with that. As I said, first instincts are often great choices. Another trick when tweaking a sound is to pay close attention to the tension in your shoulders. When they relax, I know I've gotten a good one."
Old 6th November 2002
  #41
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Hey Charles, hey gang,

Charles, you mentioned you were interested in people's takes
on starting a mix with vocals.

I too have been using this technique and it has given me a fresh
approach.
I got the idea from Bob Clearmountain.
He recommended starting your mix with vocals and then build the
song around them.

I just put up the lead vocal by itself, dry and let it speak to me.
I then enhance that vocal and make it sound wondeful on it's
own. Then I build the song around that vocal.

As the mix comes together, sometimes it's necessary to go back
and change some things I originally dialed in on the vocal, but
often not!

This approach has been working well for me.

Pete
www.halftheworld.cc
Old 6th November 2002
  #42
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Charles Dye's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Pete Weaver
I just put up the lead vocal by itself, dry and let it speak to me.
I then enhance that vocal and make it sound wondeful on it's
own. Then I build the song around that vocal.
All right then, I'm just going to try it on my next mix and see how it goes.
Old 6th November 2002
  #43
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alphajerk's Avatar
 

maybe im assuming you get more things to mix rather than track... but a LOT [if not all] of these things i deal with while tracking. better yet, BEFORE tracking... usually upon meeting with the band, seeing them play [pre-pro], hearing their songs... their ideas for the song.

i would have to say almost everything in the approach to the song is discussed before hand... the rest is while tracking. so mixing basically leaves the balancing act of all ideas.
Old 7th November 2002
  #44
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Quote:
posted by Charles:
To establish the mix's point of view I ask myself six questions about the sound of the mix I want to create.

1. What will be the mix's basic concept? (Aggressive vs. Delicate? / Big vs. Intimate?)
2. What is the mix's basic style? (Usually the musical genre of the recording.)
3. What influenced the creators when they made their contribution? (The writer, artist, musicians, producer, + engineer.)
4. What will be the mix's influences? (Much like music, mixes are influenced by other mixes.)
5. Are we going for a modern sound, or more of a retro/vintage one, or a combination of the two?
6. Who is the intended audience for this mix? (The first rule of public performance is: "Always know your audience.")

I then use the answers to these questions to help me shape the sound of the mix.
Out of all the "How To Mix" lists I've seen on audio forums, and I've seen many, this one by far strikes me as the most succinct and effective...powerful in it's simplicity. I liked it so much, I just printed it out and taped it to the wall of my studio.

Quote:
So, what I'd like to know is:

* Do you ask yourself these questions? Which ones? And is it consciously or unconsciously?
Yes, looking at that list, I have either consciously or unconsciously thought about some or all of those things while mixing various tracks.

But I also realize I've been strong on some of those points and weak on others. For example, I've sometimes been very weak on #2: What Is the Basic Style, because in a strive for originality I sometimes create something that sounds vague and unfocussed...which gets me into trouble with #6: Know Your Audience. Some things to work on.

Quote:
* Do you have different/additional questions you ask to help guide yourself through a mix?
Yes!

1) Is there "10 seconds of heat" in the very beginning of the track? Because we all know today that the tune has gots to grab peeps right away, or it's game over baby...
2) Does the chorus "jump out" - like a bomb going off? Or a plane taking off? Or like an orgasm during sex?
3) Does it groove so hard that it "makes you move" to it, uncontrollably?

For me and the music I'm producing, those are the "big three" considerations.
Old 7th November 2002
  #45
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Jamie Tate's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
I mix on the average between 3-4 songs a week
I mix 5 to 7 songs a day six or seven days a week. That's how we do it in Nashvegas. We're a damn song factory. Just make sure you can hear all the instruments at all times and make sure to ride the fills up. Oh yeah, turn the vocal up so the label people won't bitch. It ain't art but the future holds plenty of fully booked months for me.

Some of my 45 min demo mixes have made their way to albums and then to radio. One got all the way to number 1 in Billboard earlier this year.
Old 7th November 2002
  #46
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Quote:
I mix 5 to 7 songs a day six or seven days a week
Which averages out to over thirteen thousand songs per year.

Quote:
One got all the way to number 1 in Billboard earlier this year.
Persistence pays. Or as John Madden would say, you have that thing called "Stick-to-it-ive-ness."

Any way you slice it, that's dedication.
Old 7th November 2002
  #47
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Jamie Tate's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Curve Dominant
Which averages out to over thirteen thousand songs per year.
Kind of depressing. That's a lot of country music.

I need a vacation.rollz
Old 7th November 2002
  #48
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Charles Dye's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Curve Dominant
1) Is there "10 seconds of heat" in the very beginning of the track? Because we all know today that the tune has gots to grab peeps right away, or it's game over baby...
2) Does the chorus "jump out" - like a bomb going off? Or a plane taking off? Or like an orgasm during sex?
3) Does it groove so hard that it "makes you move" to it, uncontrollably?
Excellent questions. I really like #1.

And thanks for the compliment Eric.
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