The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
mindset entering a mix for a novice Metering & Analysis Plugins
Old 14th September 2011
  #1
Gear Head
 

mindset entering a mix for a novice

So I have reading about and practicing mixing audio tracks for years but im still confused about something because I have heard 2 different approaches to facing a mix.

When it comes to subtractive EQ do you......

Dip out ONLY frequencies that are clashing with another instrument?
or subtract all the frequencies that an instrument is not primarily using?

I have tried both and the 1st has resulted in a fuller mix and the 2nd has been very thin and open. Also when I read "remove bass from all non bass instruments" does that refer to just sub bass like a 80hz low cut or do they mean the lows and low mids all the way up to like 500hz? for example a string sound hits around the middle 1k area, would you get rid of everything its not occupying or only where its masking other instruments?

And I hear soloing isnt good but is it okay if I solo 2 instruments im trying to hear better to seperate. Like trying to seperate a kick and bass is it cool to solo those 2 to concentrate or is that a bad habit to get into?

Im sure the correct answer is "it depends on the song at hand" but I would like some kind of guidance to start. In utah there are little oppertunities to get hands on expierience with a pro so ive been just going off books there will always be questions they dont address. thank you

another thing i will mention is what im mixing on has no spectral analyzer so its all by what I hear which has made things more confusing a little, and there is only a 3 band eq (sweepable midband)
Old 14th September 2011
  #2
Lives for gear
 

ok this is what i do...

Quote:
When it comes to subtractive EQ do you......

Dip out ONLY frequencies that are clashing with another instrument?
or subtract all the frequencies that an instrument is not primarily using?
definitely not the second one...


Quote:
Also when I read "remove bass from all non bass instruments" does that refer to just sub bass like a 80hz low cut or do they mean the lows and low mids all the way up to like 500hz? for example a string sound hits around the middle 1k area, would you get rid of everything its not occupying or only where its masking other instruments?
i'll sometimes bus all my music, percussion and bass excluded, and hi-pass that, from possibly 50-150 or so, give or take depending, but not always of course...


Quote:
And I hear soloing isnt good but is it okay if I solo 2 instruments im trying to hear better to seperate. Like trying to seperate a kick and bass is it cool to solo those 2 to concentrate or is that a bad habit to get into?
i rarely solo anything, only when there is a specific problem i'm trying to hone in on and need to really hear it... ill often start a mix with the percussion and the bass just to get the levels set though... but i find too much soloing takes it out of context of the song...

Quote:
another thing i will mention is what im mixing on has no spectral analyzer so its all by what I hear which has made things more confusing a little, and there is only a 3 band eq (sweepable midband)
Blue Cat has a free spectral analyzer... Freeware - Freeware Audio Plugins for PC and Mac (VST, AU, RTAS, DX)
Old 14th September 2011
  #3
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by 808boyz View Post
I have tried both and the 1st has resulted in a fuller mix and the 2nd has been very thin and open.
If one sounds good, one sounds bad, maybe go with the good?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 808boyz View Post
And I hear soloing isnt good but is it okay if I solo 2 instruments im trying to hear better to seperate. Like trying to seperate a kick and bass is it cool to solo those 2 to concentrate or is that a bad habit to get into?
If your talking about EQing then solo away. There are situations you shouldn't be soloing tracks to work on them, but when messing with how a track sounds ill flip solo/unsolo.

Thats just what I think though.
Old 14th September 2011
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
Gans Ja's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 808boyz View Post
So I have reading about and practicing mixing audio tracks for years but im still confused about something because I have heard 2 different approaches to facing a mix.

When it comes to subtractive EQ do you......

Dip out ONLY frequencies that are clashing with another instrument?
or subtract all the frequencies that an instrument is not primarily using?
Don't dip out too much. Only certain types of sounds (synths mainly) need large amounts of freqs to cut. Cut freqs that you don't like and that you hear clashing with another instr.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 808boyz View Post
I have tried both and the 1st has resulted in a fuller mix and the 2nd has been very thin and open. Also when I read "remove bass from all non bass instruments" does that refer to just sub bass like a 80hz low cut or do they mean the lows and low mids all the way up to like 500hz? for example a string sound hits around the middle 1k area, would you get rid of everything its not occupying or only where its masking other instruments?
Try to hear picture that you want in your head 1st. Then cut and little boost.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 808boyz View Post
And I hear soloing isnt good but is it okay if I solo 2 instruments im trying to hear better to seperate. Like trying to seperate a kick and bass is it cool to solo those 2 to concentrate or is that a bad habit to get into?
For me is a good habit sometimes, at least not bad at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 808boyz View Post
Im sure the correct answer is "it depends on the song at hand" but I would like some kind of guidance to start. In utah there are little oppertunities to get hands on expierience with a pro so ive been just going off books there will always be questions they dont address. thank you
It all depends on genre mostly. Some styles of music like mud and drive others dont.) 1 thing for sure - don't be affraid be bold! Be you! It's like painting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 808boyz View Post
another thing i will mention is what im mixing on has no spectral analyzer so its all by what I hear which has made things more confusing a little, and there is only a 3 band eq (sweepable midband)
I use same approach that Bruce Swedien always use: no analyzers, ears =
Old 14th September 2011
  #5
Here for the gear
 
Mandingo Beats's Avatar
 

As far as frequency analyziers go I'd recommend Voxengo SPAN. Has done wonders for me to quickly solo and instrument and see in clear detail where the fundamental frequency is (great for my kicks and bass) and where the "MEAT" of the instrument is so I have a rough idea of where the frequency clashes are.

Like some others said, EARS are best but have a graphical representation of where to look/start I find is an invaluable tool.

Last edited by Mandingo Beats; 14th September 2011 at 05:18 PM.. Reason: testing signature
Old 14th September 2011
  #6
Gear Guru
 
rickrock305's Avatar
 

Regarding your thread title and ignoring the specifics, I think it's worth mentioning that as a mixer your mindset should be "how am I goin to enhance and further convey the emotion of the song?" it's not about making everything sound good or up front or whatever. Sometimes what's needed is completely trashing a sound, or eqing it in a way that may make the particular track sound like **** when soloed but it fits in the context of the song.

At the end of the day mixing isn't about showing off all your cool engineering tricks, it's about using appropriate tricks to enhance the song.

Just thought that was worth mentioning.
Old 14th September 2011
  #7
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rickrock305 View Post
Regarding your thread title and ignoring the specifics, I think it's worth mentioning that as a mixer your mindset should be "how am I goin to enhance and further convey the emotion of the song?" it's not about making everything sound good or up front or whatever. Sometimes what's needed is completely trashing a sound, or eqing it in a way that may make the particular track sound like **** when soloed but it fits in the context of the song.

At the end of the day mixing isn't about showing off all your cool engineering tricks, it's about using appropriate tricks to enhance the song.

Just thought that was worth mentioning.
And since this message is so easy to let slip by as something undeciphered....I'll double up on it and suggest to read rickrock's message again and think about it until those words actually make sense as a thought, not just disappear.......leaving only your thoughts of frequencies ......it's about making it FEEL in a certain way, not at all about ordering frequencies. That's just something you end up doing some of to make it feel a certain way......and very few feelings worth pursuing would involve cutting the balls of all the sounds in your music....

All this 'don't solo' **** is a bit silly too, don't worry about it. Everyone solos......But you want to do it in a mind frame where you do it for a reason. Like you're having two sounds fighting, could be useful to solo them together....etc. Mainly when soloing try to keep a mental picture of the mix imprinted in your mind and then press the button, so when you tweak something in solo you go in and out, basically not really leaving the context of the mix for tweaking decisions anyway, only getting a 'naked peek' as well. Just don't base eq or other decisions on the sound on it's own.
Old 14th September 2011
  #8
Lives for gear
 

mindset entering a mix for a novice

+1 Karloff and Rick.

To piggy back the misconception of not using solo mode, many people also tell you that subtractive eq is the "right" way to do it. Um, then why is the knob built to turn both ways?

That mind set is dated (it grew from early days of plugs where it was a way to minimize the artifacts from poorly programed cross overs) there are several plugs where boosting can get you some real mojo: the softube pultec has a killer 60hz, the v series eq4 has an awesome 15k!

Subtractive is important. Surgical eqs have a place to be sure. But don't approach each track like it's contaminated and has to be whittled down. Learn both. Use both.

And one extra tip: I have found it better to boost wide and cut narrow. That's a great rule to know and explore. Then, once you fully undestand that rule. Break it too!
Old 14th September 2011
  #9
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Ray View Post

And one extra tip: I have found it better to boost wide and cut narrow. That's a great rule to know and explore. Then, once you fully undestand that rule. Break it too!
Definitely break it too.... boost fairly narrow notes into things like drums, to make them ring with the music, and reverb returns, couple of peaks in the verb on notes and some feedback, voila, harmonic wash in tune with the music.....etc.....its basically, make sense of the parameters, develop a 'language' in your grey bits to deal with it, and then paint. The first two take a while to grow, so just keep painting anyway as they do.....heh
Old 14th September 2011
  #10
Search for Pensado's Place on iTunes podcasts or here on GS. Then watch the Jack Joseph Puig episode. Listen to what he says about 'how to listen to a mix' and how to eq. Best free advice... Heck; best advice you can get that will help you with eq-ing.
Old 15th September 2011
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Well.. for me, the frequency spectrum is like a bedroom.

First, I tidy it a lil bit.. I put each elements in its own place. But then it might look dull. So I decide to put up some more posters etc.. (but not too many) to make it more lively.



The art of cleaning and decorating your room will come after a while... I don't even think about how wide my q is when i eq... I just do till it sounds fine to me... I guess that's where it should come to. But at first, you will probably have to think about it. The only thing is maybe that different tools will do different thing so you have to make an arbritage according to what you want to reach..
The picture to keep in head is how you want your room to look like in the end, translate : what your mix should sound like in the end. You might end up crafting a mix completely different because of some cool stuff you added in the process, but an overall direction is always good to keep imho. That's easier for the decision making.

To answer you eqing questions : sometimes, in your bedroom, you would stack some stuff on top of each other and it would be okay to do so... sometimes, you put stuff on top of each other but it will make the whole look messy (a pile of socks)... Same in your mix... It depends.
Old 15th September 2011
  #12
Lives for gear
 

mindset entering a mix for a novice

I really like that analogy, base!
Old 15th September 2011
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Storyville's Avatar
I specifically solo the kick and the bass together when treating them. I reassess my treatment in the context of the full mix - but the foundation of the low end is formed with just the low end elements playing out of my speakers. Few basic tips on the low end: http://theproaudiofiles.com/mixing-low-end/

The solo button, dim button, and mono buttons are all very good friends. Don't neglect your friends.

The GOAL however, is the full mix all at once - that is the most revealing way to listen.
Old 15th September 2011
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Ken Lewis's Avatar
my best short advice, mix the song, not the sounds. keep in the forefront of your mind at all times, "what is this song supposed to sound like? what is this song supposed to convey"
Old 15th September 2011
  #15
Lives for gear
 

^ Excellent advice, but while mixing is still very surgical and sound-specific compared to say mastering, it's still about the entire song.

The first and last rule of mixing is go with what sounds good. Your ears are the final judge. All other rules are exempt. You may find that sometimes, you have to cut all the frequencies that are barely noticeable in a particular instrument, while other instruments only need correction on clashing frequencies. Dense songs with many instruments playing different parts, usually at the same time requires the most work, and some times, you have to subtract all the frequencies that are inaudible and then some. Again, the ONLY rule is, don't listen with your ears, listen to your ears.

The great thing about mixing is, and especially in this digital age, is that you can experiment. If cut freqs and listen to what sounds best. Solo the kick and bass, tweak as desired, then listen to it in the full mix again.

You're doing a lot of reading and research and I commend you on that, but the best thing you can do with that knowledge is put it to use. Practice, experiment and you'll come upon ideas and methods that you've found yourself for getting specific results. Experiment my friend, listen to your ears, give your ears some rest, then listen to them some more. All the best!
Old 15th September 2011
  #16
Lives for gear
 
clivek's Avatar
Mindset entering a mix for a novice - The word confidence comes to mind :

Yes the song and how to convey it for the best in your opinion, is most important !!

But to do this you need to know the technical stuff/engineering !

Which starts with ( Said a million times lol )

Good rooms acouctics, quality monitors !

Here's comes the confidence part because you can now hear everything hopefully correctly. So you can now be confident in adjusting/hearing eq, compression, delays, reverb, stereo field !!!
Old 15th September 2011
  #17
Lives for gear
I don't really just automatically EQ out frequencies a sound isn't using. If there's nothing in the sound below 300Hz then I don't really see the point of reducing nothing. If there's a bunch of much and hiss, well then there's something to get rid off. But by and large, I am NOT of the school of thought that some are where you HPF everything except kick/bass at 150Hz. I just think that's silly and removes a lot of emotion from the record.

As for EQing out frequencies that clash with other instruments.... I also tend not to do that too much. I would prefer to find other ways to get the masked instrument to stick out rather than make the masking instrument sound worse. There are times when the masking instrument sounds better cutting something out, but generally speaking I probalby would have done it even if it wasn't clashing in that case. I don't subscribe to the view that many have where you cut one instrument 2dB at 459Hz and then boost the other 2dB at 459Hz. That just doesn't work IMO.

But really, to be honest, at the end of the day I don't really focus on individual sounds and how they interact with eachother too much. I'm not concerned with trying to isolate everything and make everything stick out necessarily. I'm really just more interested in the emotion of the song and conveying that. It's an imortant distinction because if you view things technically as a collection of instruments and voices, you will EQ things one way. But if you view things as a collection of emotions and messages, you will EQ things an entirely different way. I don't really know how to explain it other than that. I guess one way of looking at it is when I bring up a sound and start leveling/panning/EQing/compressing/etc. I'm not really listen so much to how it's interacting with other instruments as I'm checking to see what kind of emotional response I get. I'm really a very emotional guy when I mix, I feel a lot of things. I'm not really the mixing machine that some guys are; sometimes I wish I were, but I'm not. I have to feel it, breath, monitor my senses and my emotions. I mean, there are some things that are obvious, like making sure the attack of the kick isn't buried by the bass and blah blah, but really that is elementary school stuff that you need to be able to do without thinking about it.
Old 15th September 2011
  #18
Lives for gear
 
3rd Degree's Avatar
 

I am still far from where I want to be but I have made big leaps this year. The two things I learned on my own which I wish I learned earlier have been stated.

To go off of what B.A.S.E said:
It's often far easier to try to get a clean mix that may be dull or flat sounding and give it some life later than to make something sound big and full, and try to clean it up. I don't necessarily have to make it as flat sounding as I used to before I start bring in "life" but if I am having trouble, I just make the cleanest, flattest mix, take a break, and start using various techniques to add some life to it.

The second goes off of David Ray:
I find it much easier to get the sound I want by boosting wider frequencies and cutting narrower. Again, something I learned off my own after trying to be diligent for way to long trying to only cut. It makes sense. Usually when you are trying to work with a large frequency range, you are trying to bring it out, enhance it, make it stand out. With a narrow range, you are usually trying to minimize something, even cut something out.



My last piece of advice would be to practice using minimal plug ins for fun, especially insert effects. It really makes you focus on the entire song. When using insert effects heavily, you may tend to focus on each track to heavily. I went as far as mixing on my little console where I only had 8 channels (I/O limitations), 1 stereo compressor (2 channels mono), and a cheap digital effects unit with 2 effects at the same time max for my aux sends. I also had a typical 3 band eq. That taught me quite a bit.

That's not to say that lack of plug ins lead to a better mix, it may or may not, but any exercise in limitation seems to allow me to learn to do more with what I have. It also helps me develop a better understanding of what things do in practice (vs. theory).

For example, I think EQ is the easiest thing to understand in theory (maybe wrong word choice). It either boosts or cuts 1 or more specified frequency. In practice, sure it does the same, but so much more. It can shape a sound, it can brighten a sound, it can darken a sound, it can add some life, it can deaden a sound, it can remove unwanted noise, it can be automated for a variety of effects, etc, etc, etc. Even the most simple effects can have so many approaches or uses that you may use exclusively from one another, or in combination.
Old 16th September 2011
  #19
Gear Head
 

wow, thank you all who responded. There is tons of help in these answers, which are the exact answers I was looking for and I will apply. cant express my appreciation enough

I also thought chris carters response was interesting regarding not cutting freqencies too much, I was wondering how "i surrender" sounded so thick and rich, really tho I learned something from every post here
Old 16th September 2011
  #20
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 808boyz View Post

I also thought chris carters response was interesting regarding not cutting freqencies too much, I was wondering how "i surrender" sounded so thick and rich, really tho I learned something from every post here
Listen too him! Too many gutted mixes flying around.......no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.....
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump