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
Mixing badly recorded tracks
Old 14th July 2015
  #1
Lives for gear
 
edvdr76's Avatar
Mixing badly recorded tracks

Good morning my fellow Gearslutz. Here I am, having my morning cup of coffee and planning and strategizing how to tackle the job at hand. Here's the deal. I got a call from an artist to mix a song for him he had recorded elswhere. Since I've recorded him at my studio before, and he knows my work, I charged him accordingly. I received the tracks yesterday and man are they horrible sounding! I spent all day doing edits and prepping the tracks for when I bring them up across the board, but I still feel it needs some more beef, especially on the drums. What do you guys do when you're presented with a situation like mine??
Old 14th July 2015
  #2
You can't polish a turd.
Old 14th July 2015
  #3
Lives for gear
 
edvdr76's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SubliminalMssage View Post
You can't polish a turd.
Definitely true... and believe me I totally understand. I wish I had recorded this track myself to assure everything would sound good. Unfortunately in this case I'm handed the task of literally polishing a turd!
Old 14th July 2015
  #4
KEL
Lives for gear
 

charge more and make it clear that you cannot bring this project up to your regular standards. Cleaning is one thing. There's only so much "fixing" possible. make certain the credits read clearly so nobody gets an unclear impression of your studio work
Old 14th July 2015
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Oldone's Avatar
Saturation and FX are your friend. Along with a healthy dose of fx automation.
Old 14th July 2015
  #6
Lives for gear
 
studiostuff's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by edvdr76 View Post
Good morning my fellow Gearslutz. Here I am, having my morning cup of coffee and planning and strategizing how to tackle the job at hand. Here's the deal. I got a call from an artist to mix a song for him he had recorded elswhere. Since I've recorded him at my studio before, and he knows my work, I charged him accordingly. I received the tracks yesterday and man are they horrible sounding! I spent all day doing edits and prepping the tracks for when I bring them up across the board, but I still feel it needs some more beef, especially on the drums. What do you guys do when you're presented with a situation like mine??
1) Do your best

-or-

2) Politely refuse the gig
Old 14th July 2015
  #7
Lives for gear
 
edvdr76's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by KEL View Post
charge more and make it clear that you cannot bring this project up to your regular standards. Cleaning is one thing. There's only so much "fixing" possible. make certain the credits read clearly so nobody gets an unclear impression of your studio work
Actually I charged him good. That's not an issue. I've explained to him that results won't be like what he got at my place. He sent me the rough mixes and EEEEEEK!! I told him my mix would be far better sounding than the roughs, which I know they'll be.
Old 14th July 2015
  #8
Lives for gear
 
superwack's Avatar
Maybe replace the drums using samples taken from the project you recorded for him?
Old 14th July 2015
  #9
Mixing badly recorded tracks is the future. i'm working full-time as a mix engineer, and my nickname is "fix engineer".
melodyne, sample replacement, mangling - whatever it takes.

these days, mixing a well-recorded track is like a holiday. it happens!
Old 14th July 2015
  #10
ask him if he wants a hip lo-fi production. if he agrees flame ahead with distortion effects, tape compresion, trashy reverbs!
Old 15th July 2015
  #11
Lives for gear
Yep, as mentioned above, if the tracks are that bad I wouldn't try to
make it sound all pretty an' polished, go for a lo-fi vibe, get creative (read: mask
the bad stuff the best you can) with FX and fix what's fixable
Old 15th July 2015
  #12
When I've gotten really bad tracks I've always listened to their mixes. Usually no matter how bad I can beat their mix, pretty easily.
Old 15th July 2015
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Dr. Mordo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricey View Post
Mixing badly recorded tracks is the future. i'm working full-time as a mix engineer, and my nickname is "fix engineer".
melodyne, sample replacement, mangling - whatever it takes.

these days, mixing a well-recorded track is like a holiday. it happens!
This has been exactly my experience.

On drums, I'd definitely sample replace, but only if absolutely necessary. I might try layering samples first.

Everything else you should be able to fix with eq.

The only truly unfixable issues I've had were a live recording where the drums were recorded with no mics on the toms so the tom fills were completely inaudible, and a vocal where the guy recorded in a bathroom with an unbelievably bad resonance. The tom fills were just unfixable without recording new parts, and after editing the vocal part to bits and brutally eqing it was marginally usable. Fortunately it was a punk record so slightly lo-fi was acceptable.

And to the OP - I find your signature ironic in the context of this thread.
Old 15th July 2015
  #14
Lives for gear
 
SparkyCanada's Avatar
I would call the artist and invite him/her over to listen to the tracks submitted.

Point out what should be fixed - and let him/her decide what to do....

Sparky
Old 15th July 2015
  #15
One time I made the artist rerecord some guitars, and made his drummer bring his drums here record hits and use them to retrigger his drums
Old 15th July 2015
  #16
Lives for gear
 
razorboy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by edvdr76 View Post
Definitely true... and believe me I totally understand. I wish I had recorded this track myself to assure everything would sound good. Unfortunately in this case I'm handed the task of literally polishing a turd!
Well no, not literally. If you were, you'd have a mess on your hands.......... literally.
Old 15th July 2015
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Silent Sound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by superwack View Post
Maybe replace the drums using samples taken from the project you recorded for him?
Samples can go a long way for fixing bad drums! I also like a good surgical EQ with lots of bands and will even try time aligning if it helps.
Old 15th July 2015
  #18
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by SubliminalMssage View Post
You can't polish a turd.
You CAN roll it in glitter though
Old 15th July 2015
  #19
Lives for gear
 

I got a track awhile back tracked for free the at the Converse sneaker studio. It was easily the worst recording I've encountered since I tracked hardcore bands in high school!

Particularly, key mics like the OHs were squashed with compression. Cymbals hits lasted for days. The gtrs were awful and the only bass track had a delay printed on it on it (I kid you not).

I spent a very unpleasant 2 days trying to get something decent. I told the client there were severe issues with the tracking which they already kinda knew.

In the end I was paid for a mix and they shelved the tune since there was no way of salvaging the song and it was bumming everyone out.

So to answer the OP, now if something comes in needing triage and I know its going to be a nightmare with mediocre results at best, I pass on it.
Old 15th July 2015
  #20
Gear Head
 
crunch's Avatar
 

You know..

There are some extremely valid points and decent advice laid out here; as a consummate ex-turd polisher, I would just have a few questions which would determine my strategy:

1) Is the vocal good/useable?

2) Are the overheads on the kit ok? Because if they are, you're pretty much home free on the kit. Check for phase reversal (the most common error) on everything and correcting it will do wonders. Mix samples in with the real stuff and you'll likely be surprised how well you can get it sounding.

3) Did they perform the track to some sort of click? Because if they did, I'd bring in another drummer and recut if I had to..

4) Is there bleed on other tracks? Because that could render the whole thing useless.

Bass, guitars, etc.. that stuff is easy to fix/reamp/whatever, but without a compelling vocal and reasonable sounding overheads, BIG FAT WASTE OF TIME is pretty much what is left.

That being said, I'm so ****ing spoiled these days.. I haven't had a bad track to deal with in several years. The best feeling in the world is getting to use tools for enhancement and not repair.

So, in closing, if the overheads or vocals are trashed, it's 'lo-fi' or walk away. If they're ok, you still have a record and some solid samples mixed in will do wonders. If not, hopefully, if the guy is even remotely professional, they will see the folly of going down this road.

YMMV.
Old 15th July 2015
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by gollumsluvslave View Post
You CAN roll it in glitter though
Old 15th July 2015
  #22
Lives for gear
 
edvdr76's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by crunch View Post
You know..

There are some extremely valid points and decent advice laid out here; as a consummate ex-turd polisher, I would just have a few questions which would determine my strategy:

1) Is the vocal good/useable?

2) Are the overheads on the kit ok? Because if they are, you're pretty much home free on the kit. Check for phase reversal (the most common error) on everything and correcting it will do wonders. Mix samples in with the real stuff and you'll likely be surprised how well you can get it sounding.

3) Did they perform the track to some sort of click? Because if they did, I'd bring in another drummer and recut if I had to..

4) Is there bleed on other tracks? Because that could render the whole thing useless.

Bass, guitars, etc.. that stuff is easy to fix/reamp/whatever, but without a compelling vocal and reasonable sounding overheads, BIG FAT WASTE OF TIME is pretty much what is left.

That being said, I'm so ****ing spoiled these days.. I haven't had a bad track to deal with in several years. The best feeling in the world is getting to use tools for enhancement and not repair.

So, in closing, if the overheads or vocals are trashed, it's 'lo-fi' or walk away. If they're ok, you still have a record and some solid samples mixed in will do wonders. If not, hopefully, if the guy is even remotely professional, they will see the folly of going down this road.

YMMV.
Vocals were tracked pretty good. Other than some heavy melodyning on the harmony, tracking was very usable. Guitars and bass were meh sounding.... But I made it work. Drums were the ones that, man, just sounded like s#*t! The guy who recorded it did his version of "editing" and just jacked them up. There's all kinds of cuts and fades in wrong places. I did a lot of prep work on my tracks using plugins so that when I bring them up across the board I'll have better sounds. Most of it was just beefing up the drums and kinda softening and shaping them out. I rarely get tracks to mix that are less than decent sounding. I guess it's kinda cool to get sh!*ty tracks once in a while cause I feel it gets my creative juices flowing on overdrive!
Old 15th July 2015
  #23
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by crunch View Post
You know..

There are some extremely valid points and decent advice laid out here; as a consummate ex-turd polisher, I would just have a few questions which would determine my strategy:

1) Is the vocal good/useable?

2) Are the overheads on the kit ok? Because if they are, you're pretty much home free on the kit. Check for phase reversal (the most common error) on everything and correcting it will do wonders. Mix samples in with the real stuff and you'll likely be surprised how well you can get it sounding.

3) Did they perform the track to some sort of click? Because if they did, I'd bring in another drummer and recut if I had to..

4) Is there bleed on other tracks? Because that could render the whole thing useless.

Bass, guitars, etc.. that stuff is easy to fix/reamp/whatever, but without a compelling vocal and reasonable sounding overheads, BIG FAT WASTE OF TIME is pretty much what is left.

That being said, I'm so ****ing spoiled these days.. I haven't had a bad track to deal with in several years. The best feeling in the world is getting to use tools for enhancement and not repair.

So, in closing, if the overheads or vocals are trashed, it's 'lo-fi' or walk away. If they're ok, you still have a record and some solid samples mixed in will do wonders. If not, hopefully, if the guy is even remotely professional, they will see the folly of going down this road.

YMMV.
+1....Sounds like by the time you get something usable, you'd better off telling the artist to re-track ( at your studio) since you've recorded him( her,them) before.Especially if it's not a complicated song..Good luck..
Old 15th July 2015
  #24
Lives for gear
 
edvdr76's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by gollumsluvslave View Post
You CAN roll it in glitter though
True!
"Glittery turds" Cool band name!
Old 15th July 2015
  #25
I just throw down new drum tracks since I'm a drummer and my kit is set up to record takes immediately. ;-)
Old 16th July 2015
  #26
Gear Head
 
crunch's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by edvdr76 View Post
The guy who recorded it did his version of "editing" and just jacked them up. There's all kinds of cuts and fades in wrong places .
Ouch. I didn't really even see that in the realm of possibilities, but there you go..



It doesn't seem like your attitude is suffering in the least, so I suppose at that point you just grabbed other appropriate bars and grafted it in as seamlessly as possible - nothing wrong with that; sometimes you have choruses that are more smokin' than others and use 'em multiple times..

The 'daw as tape deck' concept is pretty wonderful, in the sense it's made me think about songs in a significantly more modular sense; one can experiment without touching the audio - sure, it's always nice when the song, performance and tech come together for the flawless take, but sometimes flawless and engaging needs a little assistance..

Old 16th July 2015
  #27
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by razorboy View Post
Well no, not literally. If you were, you'd have a mess on your hands.......... literally.
Old 17th July 2015
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by edvdr76 View Post
Vocals were tracked pretty good. Other than some heavy melodyning on the harmony, tracking was very usable. Guitars and bass were meh sounding.... But I made it work. Drums were the ones that, man, just sounded like s#*t! The guy who recorded it did his version of "editing" and just jacked them up. There's all kinds of cuts and fades in wrong places. I did a lot of prep work on my tracks using plugins so that when I bring them up across the board I'll have better sounds. Most of it was just beefing up the drums and kinda softening and shaping them out. I rarely get tracks to mix that are less than decent sounding. I guess it's kinda cool to get sh!*ty tracks once in a while cause I feel it gets my creative juices flowing on overdrive!
This happened to me on a mix that I'm not yet finished with. I made the artist learn how to use Flextime properly (he'd edited all the mics individually), and the end result was much better! the other option was he sent me the unedited tracks and I comped and tightened myself - on his dollar.

it's still an average drum recording, but now it's salvageable.

But yeah...if he couldn't have fixed that issue, I'd have passed on the mix.
Old 17th July 2015
  #29
Lives for gear
 

I took on a mix project from a guy who contacted me here on GS.
He was the pickiest person I have ever met.
I told him that I'd mix his stuff at a set price, but that was before he sent me the tapes and I heard the tracks...
The tracks were so bad on so many levels that I have to say that they were almost the worst I have heard recorded in my then 35 years of recording.

I pulled a mix on one song of the twenty.
I spent most of a day on a drums, bass, 2 GTR and vocal mix (pretty F'ing basic stuff.)
As a mistake I sent the guy an MP3 of the mix.
His response was so off the charts insulting and stupid that I immediately called him on the phone.
I told him that his work was so far below anything that I normally worked with that it was almost impossible for me to make his tracks sound respectable.
He was an "internet expert" and explained away all of his drum tracks that peaked at -20db on the multi-track machine.
He explained away the entire amateur production.

I humored him and made the imaginary corrections that he requested and sent him a mix.
His response was pretty much like he was listening to and talking about different tracks than what I sent him.
It defied all logic.
There was zero information that I could use in relation to his music.

I reeled his tape off of my machine, packed the other reels and mailed the mess back to him C.O.D.
He wasted days of my time.
Well, not wasted because he payed me.

All of my close friends in the industry were sure that someone was pulling a joke on me.
That's a possibility, but the joke had no pay off and was quite expensive for the person!

Never again.

Last edited by dbbubba; 17th July 2015 at 06:04 AM..
Old 17th July 2015
  #30
Lives for gear
 
BillSimpkins's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SubliminalMssage View Post
You can't polish a turd.
... but you can spray paint it gold!

I've gotten some really "interesting" source tracks to mix and there are lots of things like triggering, fixing time, re-amping etc...
Also, most importantly, muting all the worse stuff and putting the best stuff up front.

Sometimes however bad tracks sound best bad.
Topic:
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