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Attack of the mids..anyone deal with this?
Old 7th July 2008
  #1
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Attack of the mids..anyone deal with this?

I am remixing a song I produced a few months back. I got the drums sounding really good for once and I am happy with them (rare).

The track is a basic one - Female Vocal/gtrs (tele through vox and Gibson through Fender twin)/bass (jazz bass direct into tech 21)/organ and some overdubs (tele through memory man).

My reference mix is "Soul to Squeeze" by RHCP. Ok, maybe a little unfair on myself, but honestly I have really well engineered drums and the kick is very similar to Chad's.

The biggest difference I notice is the clarity of the RHCP mix. It is so damn clean sounding. I have the same organ tone as they do, and they high passed the dog**** out of it, so I did likewise.

What I notice from listening and then looking at an analyzer is that my track has a lot more action in the mid range. And it is not a good thing.

I believe my vocal mic is to blame (AT 3035) for this sin, but it's too late now. So I am finding myself scooping mids on the vocals. I know I will not attain the sound of the RHCP song, because their chain was superior to mine (and their engineer is a god), but I am learning about my mixes from doing this.

I learned that I make balanced mixes for the most part, but they do not sound as polished because for some reason the mids are building up in my songs, mainly between 300-800. Has anyone else has this issue? I am thinking that I am just not EQing properly, but I take mids out of bass/kick and the usual suspects. Do I need to do it to my FX sends also?

Any ideas on getting your mixes midrange under control and not too barky?
Old 7th July 2008
  #2
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danbronson's Avatar
It's an experience thing. Sounds like you're learning. We all are of course. With this in mind you can make sure your tracks aren't too midrangey at the recording phase next time and you'll be that much closer to the 'right' mix. thumbsup
Old 7th July 2008
  #3
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drakewire's Avatar
 

Thats normal to have buildup in that range for with girls, you could offset it by boosting other ranges take for example 1.5 K and 4.5K. What would really help is if you posted a small snippet of what you are talking about, that way we could hear it and further advise. None of the instruments you listed should be stacking very much. Rick, is a tremendous mixer, but Soul to Squeeze is a pretty standard mix.
Like I said put a small mp3 snippet and Im sure you will get a bunch of advice...
Cheers
Old 7th July 2008
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Methlab View Post
I am remixing a song I produced a few months back. I got the drums sounding really good for once and I am happy with them (rare).

The track is a basic one - Female Vocal/gtrs (tele through vox and Gibson through Fender twin)/bass (jazz bass direct into tech 21)/organ and some overdubs (tele through memory man).

My reference mix is "Soul to Squeeze" by RHCP. Ok, maybe a little unfair on myself, but honestly I have really well engineered drums and the kick is very similar to Chad's.

The biggest difference I notice is the clarity of the RHCP mix. It is so damn clean sounding. I have the same organ tone as they do, and they high passed the dog**** out of it, so I did likewise.

What I notice from listening and then looking at an analyzer is that my track has a lot more action in the mid range. And it is not a good thing.

I believe my vocal mic is to blame (AT 3035) for this sin, but it's too late now. So I am finding myself scooping mids on the vocals. I know I will not attain the sound of the RHCP song, because their chain was superior to mine (and their engineer is a god), but I am learning about my mixes from doing this.

I learned that I make balanced mixes for the most part, but they do not sound as polished because for some reason the mids are building up in my songs, mainly between 300-800. Has anyone else has this issue? I am thinking that I am just not EQing properly, but I take mids out of bass/kick and the usual suspects. Do I need to do it to my FX sends also?

Any ideas on getting your mixes midrange under control and not too barky?
I would challenge you to think a bit more about why the frequencies are there, what track(s) do you need to mute to remove most of it. The pad element is a typical mid clearity robber, an organ chord and an electric guitar chord playing at the same time on the same octave can be enough to remove a lot of mid clearity, depending on the key of the song. Small adjustments in the arrangement can make the frequency consumption very different and when you compare two songs playing in totally different keys the frequencies are not comparable.

So, analyse the pad element a bit more. Does the mix contain pad element instruments playing chords at the same time? In that case it will have a huge impact on the mid clearity. Boost the highs on one of these instruments (electric guitar) to make them more different from one another. Then pan them apart to clear up the center.

To better make each instrument sit in its own frequency range you can label the tracks like this (by using a spectrum analyser):

Bottom, Low, Mid, High, Top

You can add the following details in the label as well:

Foundation, Pad, Rhythm, Lead, Fills

By doing so you enable yourself to approach the mix in terms of frequency distribution, which is a key to a clear and balanced mix.

In a lot of cases you can clear up a mix simply by muting a pad element instrument. Instantly you will notice how everything in the center sounds much clearer. It's a matter of choosing where the attention should be. If you play an electric guitar solo it might be OK with both a piano and an organ backing up the solo because the attention should not only be on the solo but also on the band as a whole, but immediately when vocals and background vocals enter the mix in the chorus you need to remove the attention from at least one of these pad element instruments dramatically to let the listener be attached to the singer. One way is to mute it which usually works great in the beginning of a verse, another way is to transform it into another element, for instance make it part of the Fills element.

A muddy arrangement is difficult to work with. You will constantly struggle with frequency fighting, you will try out different approaches, but once you hit the mute button you don't actually miss anything, in fact you want to leave it muted. If you still need to have those elements in the mix, try to use the delay effect with different delay times on each instrument to dinstinguish them from one another and make sure you add some additional focus on the bottom and the top. In this way they are in the mix, but the attention on the other elements will make it easier to perceive the mix.

It's easy to underestimate how much a professional producer and professional session players contribute to a high quality mix. But together they create things that work, harmonies that blend well, complementing rhythms and an underlying message that gets through. Frequency masking is not then a problem, because each instrument lives in its own domain with its own job for the mix. And even when frequency masking happens it only happens occasionally, so it never becomes a real problem. Semi-pro session players tend to focus on their individual playing, professional session musicians know that great sound comes from synergism, so they constantly look for beautiful context patterns/textures in terms of rhythm and harmony and the producer will immediately react when two instruments fight in the mix.

A good way of practising arrangement is to define instrument dialogs, for instance the electric guitar could communicate with the percussion, the organ could communicate with vocal harmonies, the snare could communicate with the bass guitar etc and change dialogs during different song parts. How they communicate can be defined by the type of element they exist in. In that way you learn to think differently about what to play when and it can be a great way of becoming better at building up an arrangement from the beginning to the end. The melody can communicate with itself by asking questions and answering them. In this way you make the song breathe through tension and release. When you have developed basic arrangement skills you can take this concept further and let instruments creatively express and respond freely based on the moods of different sections of the song. So you end up with a dramatic and beautiful story that the listener likes to interpret. When you start this process it helps to have a rhythm texture at hands as a baseline throughout the whole song. So you could start off by programming the percussion on top of the kick drum. It's easier to find the right space for the communication when you have hits you can relate to. Having said this, these dialogs can be very simple and they can contain a lot of space. Often you want to slightly intensify the communication when you enter the chorus. Professional arrangements are usually formed, they don't just happen. Instrument dialogs automatically happen during the recording process between different session players and the producer reacts on these, gets an idea and the part is re-recorded. So in this way the session musicians constantly indirectly communicates with the producer that acts as the communication regulator who regulates the communication based on what moods he wants to create and the ideas he has about the song that is being recorded.
Old 7th July 2008
  #5
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I will post a mix snippet. I am going to try out some things and then let you guys check it out either tonight or tomorrow.

For the record, I track in peaking at around -10 at the loudest and I mix low..I peak kick and snare at -10 and build around that.

I agree that Soul to Squeeze is a pretty standard mix. That is why I like it so much as a reference. It has excellent seperation and is somewhat attainable.

As for the Pad and the guitar chords, I will analyze this more. There may be some energy there that is building up.


Maybe this issue lies here:

I recorded 4 guitar takes. I used the gibson's bridge pickup into the twin and had the volume pretty loud on the amp to break it up a little. So the gibson tracks are definitely barking a little, but I dialed the mids down on the amp and can reamp also. They are both hard panned left right.

The tele tracks were done through a vox set up to shimmer more and be clean. I tracked one on the lipstick pickup and the other on the bridge. I also hard panned them.

The resulting 4 tracks together sound full with a bit of dirt from the gibsons.

I wonder if I need to EQ out mids in the guitars. I am giving 8k to the teles right now.

I know that the drums are working well, and they do not have excessive mids at all. I am just being anal because I want to get better and make my mixes sound like a record.
Old 7th July 2008
  #6
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drakewire's Avatar
 

Fair enough, Rainbow posted some great ideas. As far as your Tele's at 8K Im not quite sure where you are going with that as the bulk of guitar sounds aren't really in that frequency range.
The bulk of the mixes I do are Country and Pop, so I am very experienced in "clean". I would really need to hear where your mix is at to see if your mix is properly balanced. Nothing you said thus far is inherently wrong, so anal or not, Im not quite sure of what Mud you are talking about. The mids to me are like the middle to the scale. Some Mixers start with this area first to balance a mix, however most often it is better to start with the lower frequencies first. So you get the kick and bass punchy and beefy to your liking or what the mix requires, then you bring in the other parts of the drum like tom's and snare, preferably snare first as that could really affect your mid's depending on the style of snare being used as it can be a real 800k hog. Panning on the snare is necessary, but not too far. The Guitars most always need to be panned far left and far right to scoop out a vocal section, the other instruments should be panned anyway you like them, just so long as the only things that are center in the mix are Vocals, kick and bass. This will create a more balanced clean sound. As far as levels, thats where most likely youre running into problems either that or you have instruments hogging up the center of the mix.
Often I read about Mixers on this board talk about Mud when the real fact was that the levels and or panning weren't quite right. EQ, is necessary on most tracks, but I always leave eq for the last section of my mixes so that I can get a good "glue" sound without having to resort to massive compression of a track. Which is another thing that can create massive "mud" in a mix.
Like I said Ill track this thread and hear what you got in your snippet, then most likely we all will be able to really help you clean up that mix
Old 7th July 2008
  #7
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DJamesGoody's Avatar
I think it's worth mentioning that a lot of modern records have severely scooped mids, in that range. I won't say it's better or worse, but the way to homogenize a mix, is to scoop that area. That's partly why older records have a bit more character.
Old 7th July 2008
  #8
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drakewire's Avatar
 

Yes, Most modern Rock Mixes have scooped mid's, but thats not the rule, thats the exception. Pop and Country and Folk have build up in that range not scoop... Classical music if you use a S.A, you will see a huge spike in the ranges from 600K to 900K
Old 7th July 2008
  #9
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Ok guys. I will get a snippet up as soon as I can so you can have an audio example.
Old 7th July 2008
  #10
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andychamp's Avatar
The mids (at least for me) are definitely where it's hardest to find the right/perfect amount.
I find it much easier to tell when there are too many/ too few highs or lows in a mix.

But I also found that the best sounding records are those where they avoided frequency cluttering/accumulation beforehand: at the writing and arranging stages.
Old 7th July 2008
  #11
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andychamp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drakewire View Post
(...)Classical music if you use a S.A, you will see a huge spike in the ranges from 600K to 900K
That high, yes?
Old 7th July 2008
  #12
6293
Guest
what andre you dont know about the 600k-900k boost available on the new mercenary edition eq? heh

bat country.

Last edited by 6293; 7th July 2008 at 05:23 PM.. Reason: gonna pick on someone quote them correctly. all love drakewire!
Old 7th July 2008
  #13
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mmcfarlane's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RainbowStorm View Post
I would challenge you to think a bit more about why the frequencies are there, what track(s) do you need to mute to remove most of it. The pad element is a typical mid clearity robber, an organ chord and an electric guitar chord playing at the same time on the same octave can be enough to remove a lot of mid clearity, ...
This was a great post RainbowStorm. I wish it was available 4 years ago when I first started recording (although it's still a helpful reminder). Thanks for taking the time to share a clear point.
Old 7th July 2008
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Methlab View Post
Do I need to do it to my FX sends also??
Sometimes yes either the sends or returns of reverbs and chorusing/harmonization build up.


Also especially if you have any keys or strings. If you play any notes in the left hand below A 440 that yeah there can be a build up there as well so care has to be taken in the arrangement.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Methlab View Post
Any ideas on getting your mixes midrange under control and not too barky?
If the midrange is barky that is something else. Barky too me is more 1Khz-5khz. The freqs you mention i would say are more of the murky variety.

Barky usually says to me DAW mixing.

The sound of rock mixes done on a DAW plus the build up of the plug ins.

Unless you are mixing on an old SSL with the mixbuss compressor which is distorting all over the place and you thow a smiley face EQ on top. Than you have analog barky.

The easiset way to fix this is to make the vocal sound exceptional and passionate at the same time without it ripping your face off.

I know easier said than done, but its possible.
Old 7th July 2008
  #15
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six_wax's Avatar
 

How's your room? Small & square-ish? Monitors in a corner or against a wall? Big flat desk between you & the monitors?

If your tracks or mix have a problem in this range, you shouldn't need an analyzer to tell you. You should hear it. If you can't, then you might have some issues with your mix environment...
Old 8th July 2008
  #16
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Eganmedia's Avatar
It's either (or all) the arrangement, the monitors, or the rooms (both recording and monitoring). Once I got my Dynaudios in a room I could trust, the thick mids made me work on clarifyng things. Obviously, close miked, quadruple tracked Les Pauls though Mesa Dual Rectifiers will build up a huge amount of gunk that only the most destructive EQ can dig out. But if the arrangement stands on its own, you need to look at the rooms and the monitors as culprits.
Old 8th July 2008
  #17
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Well it's a wealth of good info in here and I have read every post.

So what I did last night is address what Thrill said about the vocal. I learned a few things from that, in fact I actually made some strides in my mixing. I think I used to buy a plugin every now and then because it was the latest and greatest thing. I got the URS EQs because the Fultec was great at vocals or whatever, and was mixing too much by rules and not what I was hearing, but what I thought I was supposed to be hearing.

So I went back to the basics last night and used the Sonnox and Ren Eqs on the vocals. I used the Sonnox to cut out the low mids that were muddying the vocal and I boosted the ren EQ by sweeping around and finding that a nice dose of 2.5k and some air shelved at 10k really made a difference. It was not an annoying harsh clarity, but one that just made the vocal easy to listen too.

Long story short, I realized it was the arrangement of the guitars. I now listen to this mix with no guitars, just bass, organ, drums and vocals, and I am way happier with how things sound.

So now I have to sit back and rewrite my guitar parts. The ones I had were relying on an open G to an open C based chord sound, and I think I have to tighten these parts up and play them higher on the neck or something...anyway, hence no snippet yet.
Old 8th July 2008
  #18
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andychamp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Methlab View Post
(...)Long story short, I realized it was the arrangement of the guitars. I now listen to this mix with no guitars, just bass, organ, drums and vocals, and I am way happier with how things sound.
So now I have to sit back and rewrite my guitar parts. The ones I had were relying on an open G to an open C based chord sound, and I think I have to tighten these parts up and play them higher on the neck or something...anyway, hence no snippet yet.
Congratulations!
You are now officially Making Music!
That's when the real fun starts: when you're free to do what the music needs; as opposed to doing what you think you should do, for reasons that have more to do with self-image than with music.
The easier it gets to put oneself in that mindset, the better the music becomes.
thumbsup
Old 9th July 2008
  #19
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andychamp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Methlab View Post
(...)I think I have to tighten these parts up and play them higher on the neck or something...anyway, hence no snippet yet.
You could also give "Nashville Tunig" a try. Basically that means using the octave strings of a 12-string set on a 6-string: you can still play full chords, but it's a less cluttered sound in the low-mids, leaves more space for other instruments (including the voice).
Old 9th July 2008
  #20
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Yeah, thats not a bad idea. I think I am going to use all Tele's today when I try out new ideas. Tele through Twin and then for dubs, Tele through memory man and Vox.

I was playing the full open Chords before, and I think it was too much. I am going to just play the notes on the GBE strings instead and let the organ and bass handle the root note movement.

If it all goes well, I'll be able to post a mix up.
Old 9th July 2008
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmcfarlane View Post
This was a great post RainbowStorm. I wish it was available 4 years ago when I first started recording (although it's still a helpful reminder). Thanks for taking the time to share a clear point.
Thanks, I'm glad you found my post useful!
Old 9th July 2008
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RainbowStorm View Post
Thanks, I'm glad you found my post useful!

I forgot to thank you for the post also. I am pretty strong at the linear arrangements of songs, and also composing, but the way you described stacking and arranging parts gave me some ideas.

I think the guitar overdubs could reinforce the melody through harmonization and probably sound a lot better. Sometimes I write too much "swirling melody" stuff. Anyway, reading what you said helped me think outside of where I was at.
Old 9th July 2008
  #23
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u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Methlab View Post
Long story short, I realized it was the arrangement of the guitars. I now listen to this mix with no guitars, just bass, organ, drums and vocals, and I am way happier with how things sound.

sweet jeebus, you've discovered the secret to mixing: arrangement.

more guys would do well to discover the power of the mute button, and getting ruthlessly clear on what every sound is bringing to the party.

don't stop rewriting those guitars until they sit in the mix with minimal processing. try to write parts that preserve space (i.e., silence) and that sit in their own frequency zone.

this is the kind of thread that reinforces my faith in what this community is about.


gregoire
del
ubk
.
Old 10th July 2008
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
this is the kind of thread that reinforces my faith in what this community is about.
You said it, brother.

Ed
Old 10th July 2008
  #25
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amishsixstringe's Avatar
 

I don't know about you guys, but I want to hear this trick with and without the guitars! This is the most informative thread I've had the joy of reading in awhile.


Neil
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