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Knox: About That Midrange...
Old 23rd November 2002
  #1
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Knox: About That Midrange...

You posted this, and it stuck in the back of my subconscience over the past few days:
Quote:
Dave ALWAYS had a real good understanding of mid range. That is an art . . . . where I need help. I used to listen to his mixes next to something I did and I would think I had warm low end, and highs . . . . Dave would have that mid range punch that just worked. I think it is easy to get the low end and the highs . . . but the mid section is crucial, and Dave is one of the best at it.
The midrange has always been my Achilles Heel. It was always the first thing to get lost in my mixes. And that was the sole reason I always believed I would need to hire someone else to mix my stuff.

...Until you posted that, and the wheels started turning. "How hard can it be??" I thought. "Where there is a will (and there is most definitely a will), there is a way."

And there is always a f&cking way.

Let's backtrack first. You said,
Quote:
it is easy to get the low end and the highs
Exactly. THAT was the first clue in the puzzle. It is TOO easy to get the lows and highs. That's naturally what we want to do: Crank the lows to get the bottom, and crank the highs to get the crispness. Easy. So that's what we do.

But then the mids disappear. We might notice that, and hope someone else down the line will fix it. Or worse, we won't notice.

OR...

...we can simply turn down the drums and the bass in the mix. Because, if I'm not mistaken, that's where we do most of our recording and/or boosting of the lows and highs.

We want the kick drum to thump, and the bass to boom (as they should).

We want the snare to crack and the cymbals to sizzle (as they should).

OK, I've always done all of that, and been happy with the thumping boom and the cracking sizzle I get. But it's all lows and highs there, no midrange.

So yesterday and today, I went through all of my mixes, searching for the midrange. It was there, right there, in every mix. It was in the guitars, the keyboards, the string and brass and woodwind orchestrations, in the vocal tracks.

Just pull the drums and bass faders down, slowly...and...there...it is...

...That sweet and de-luvely midrange. Aaaahhh!!!

A/B'd that track with Dave's...aahhh, there it is. That sweet balance.

Whatya think Knox?
Old 23rd November 2002
  #2
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Knox's Avatar
 

right now it's 9:55 AM and I am NOT thinking. I will reply when my brain begins to function after my double expresso
Old 23rd November 2002
  #3
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Knox's Avatar
 

I doubt anyone here really gives a **** what I think and I look forward to the different ways we ALL get to the mids in mixes, so I look forward to all of your input . . . . . .

OK . . . . I haven't had my expresso yet but I am in the "internet mode" while the phone is ringing, so . . . . . . . my brain cannot think too technical YET, so let me comment in Dumb Ass-ese (my favorite language)

Here is the delima that I have sometimes. . . . (when I made the comment about the lows and highs being easy for me)

If I get into a car that has a graphic eq . . . . the curve that I find most appealing is to yank some of the mids and end up with the "Smiley Face Curve". Though . . . as I said, the punch is in the mids in many tracks (especially the type stuff Dave would do in hip hop) and I find myself fighting the "Smiley Face Curve" when I am mixing sometimes because it is natural to me to want to go to it.

It's the same as . . . . have you ever heard a pair of truly flat monitors? They sound like **** to me!

I like a nice bottom end and the nice pretty, airy stuff up top. Now . . .when I produce an act, yes I find the mid in certain areas, like guitars etc . . . . but mid range lives in many things . . . . bass, vocals . . etc.. I try to make sure we have the full spectrum covered.

My natural tendency is to dump the boxiness out of certain sounds as I don't find it appealing. Though I know I can't do that at times.

The great engineers, to me, are the ones that have a full spectrum of equalization across the mix. It seems to me (and I know this is going to catch hell) but some years back when SSLs were coming to fruition, they seemed to emphasize the mids and NOT concentrate on the nice low end and the airy top.

I STILL, to this day, even though I hear they are MUCH better . . . don't want to work on SSLs for this reason. It's based on past experiences I had fighting with SSLs trying to get a more Neve-ish or more open sound.

I hate the fact that, today . . . . many got so used to the SSL sound years ago, that they now GO for that sound, even on consoles that will give the more open sound. I have NEVER heard snare drums sound in a room, the way SSLs made them sound. Make any sense? I remember working on an SSL years ago doing a rough mix for Clive Davis on an artist I produced (so it was important to me) trying to figure out why the snare sounded like a paper bag being hit when it didn't sound that way when I tracked it on an old D & R at my old studio. I spent hours trying to get the D & R sound on the SSL (lol)

I ended up liking the mix (and so did others) that was done on the small D & R over the SSL and that was the mix that went to Clive over the agonizing HOURS spent on the SSL! It was an artist that was warm and classy and THAT boxy mid range sound was RUINING the production . . to me.

Geez . . what is the point (?) and I am getting off subject for you. My point, I guess is . . . . . I tend to like some things mix wise that I have to fight . . . where Dave was just naturally right there with the mid range from the get go. He just seemed to understand and like it more then I. When I mix these days . . I run an analyzer (sometimes) to make sure I am getting the frequencies I need to make the mix punchy . . . . though in the end, I don't pay much attention to it and mix by ear.
Old 23rd November 2002
  #4
Mid is a big deal in guitar band production.
Old 23rd November 2002
  #5
Gear Head
 
John Sayers's Avatar
 

I must admit I have been mulling over Knox's statement regarding getting the mids correct also.

Very true statement mate

cheers
John
Old 23rd November 2002
  #6
Jax
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Hey, I don't know how Dave (Pensado?) works so comfortably with mids, either. I know it's not just about finding the freqs. that bark loudest when sweeping eq. If it was, I think mid-sculpting would be easier for a lot of us, myself included. There's an innate ability that achieves the magical mid balance, and I'm not sure whether you're born with it, or it comes with experience.

For now, I can only go with what I hear that works, until I step onto the next plateau, however that happens. Part of venturing in that direction includes examining threads like these, I believe.

FWIW, the areas "around", sometimes exactly at - 270, 400, 800 hz and the lower 1.x khz are where I find myself boosting mids. I'm finding that increased intelligibility of guitar notes, words sung, and general upper mid punch seem to inhabit that area of the woods.

Wouldn't it be cool if we could ask Dave and have him reply here? Probably won't happen, but maybe somebody knows him well enough. Probably maybe. lol (just got up a 1/2 hr ago).
Old 23rd November 2002
  #7
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Knox's Avatar
 

Well . . I can say this. Dave loves to talk about this stuff. I believe Dave always loved doing what he does. As so many of us do. I have a memory of Dave and I in the studio . . . . till waaaaay too late . . . . Dave eating potato chips . . . talking about this ****. I haven't talked to him in a while. Maybe he will stop by one day. I KNOW he would get a kick out of all this talk about him . . . . lol
Old 23rd November 2002
  #8
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Wow, great replies so far, thanks Knox!

OK, let me ask yous all this:

Do you sometimes find you've inadvertantly taken midrange character OUT of the mix? I'm asking cuz I discovered that was one of the mistakes I was making.

Just One Example:

Tweaking a rhythm guitar's EQ so it sounds "clearer and crisper" by using a low shelf to cut 700hz & below by a few dB's...then later realizing, "Hey, that was some of my midrange I removed back when I did that!"

Also, it seems like if you boost the bottom of something like a kick or a bass, you have to turn it down and then you're removing the midrange character that element had in the mix. Same deal with boosting highs on something.

Understand, I'm still new to this stuff, but let me tell you what I DON'T like at all: using EQ to boost midrange frequencies. On anything. It doesn't sound right to me, like it's just adding distortion. Maybe I need better EQs, but I've never found the answer there.

After experimenting over the last few days, I've found two solutions so far:

1) Take those instruments that I boosted highs/lows EQs on, and bringing their level faders down to reveal the midrange instruments, and
2) Removing those EQ settings.

Or a combination of both.

Any thoughts?
Old 23rd November 2002
  #9
no ssl yet
Guest
How about trying for Dave Pensado as a guest moderator Jules?
If only for a week or two it would still be special. I've only been in the studio with him once but he seemed pretty open about how he does things. He offered me the opportunity of watching some sessions, but I live in New Orleans and though it would no doubt be a better experience than any recording school, I simply couldn't afford to be in LA that long (Hollywood is expensive as phukk)
Old 23rd November 2002
  #10
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Knox's Avatar
 

You want me to contact him Jules? I will have to search for his email address as I had a crash a month or so ago and lost a lot of addresses.
Old 24th November 2002
  #11
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e-cue's Avatar
 

I just saw Dave last week over at the Enterprise... Dude is sick. He hooked up a radio transmitter to one of his FB sends so clients can listen to mixes in their freaking car in the parking lot. Now THAT my friends, is a king gear slut.
Old 24th November 2002
  #12
Gear Head
 
John Sayers's Avatar
 

looks like I'll have to start adding garge doors to my control rooms.

cheers
John
Old 24th November 2002
  #13
Re Dave Pesando / Gearslutz..

Knox, sure invite him to hang here and check the place out.

The FM radio thang instantly makes him a top flight gearslut!

To give you some insight, I am a tad wary of offering guest mod slots to folks not really used to posting on web audio boards, in case they let GS folk down with no-shows or infrequent posting...

He might dig the joint, then again he might prefer non audio related time out!

Old 24th November 2002
  #14
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Knox's Avatar
 

Believe me, Dave is a ham . . he would love it! *smile*

Sounds like E-Cue is the one to invite him . . not me. I haven't talked to Dave in a good while. Actually . . E-Cue . . .if you have his email address . . send it to me through email and let me tell him what's happening here. Maybe he would like stopping by.

Being around a bunch of gear junkies like you guys can't be the worst thing in the world for anyone. You have all helped me out.

Some of you have helped me by showing what NOT to do! . . . . . .
like "2" Tape Sucks"

*smile*
Old 25th November 2002
  #15
Jax
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Just remember it was MY idea to invite Dave over here! LOL

I didn't think it would happen.

(patting myself on the back, tooting my own horn, hoisting my own pittard) heh



I want to ask him about his Mix interview.
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