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getting "mud"-glue in the mix Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 15th December 2010
  #1
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
getting "mud"-glue in the mix

Lately I have found out that my mixes are not that great as I thought.
That does not mean I haven't learned something in the past but I found out that it is a very hard game to make the impression every element has something in common with the rest of the elements.

Making sounding everything at its own spot seems easy to me- and the track sounds like mush in the end!!

For example if I listen to mixes by Tony Shepperd I can hear the base guitar and the kick drum rolling together...
The rest of the elements have something in common with the root note of the low end- everything fits together in one piece of music from bottom to top end.

So my biggest worry is not gear my biggest worry at the moment is how to make it fit together.

The song I am mixing for Friend at the moment is not bad arranged and he sings GREAT.

But I am pissed with the balance I get.

First try was for the trash.
Second try got a little better but far away form what I want to hear.

All sounds are out of the motif 6; except the voice sure.

Do I still listen to hard to single elements instead of the whole song?

What is your experience?
How hard you have to work to get that everything sounds like my above description!!!
Old 15th December 2010
  #2
Deleted User
Guest
Hi Mr. Holmes,

I used to face similar problems mixing in PT LE; single tracks sounded great but the mix itself sounded like mud/blur. I began to believe I was no good as an engineer until I tried summing OTB.

Instantly things glued so much more naturally and each track had it's own space. No longer were millions of 0's and1's fighting for headroom in a 24bit ceiling room.

Chances are you are a great engineer with a great set of ears who is just feeling discouraged by today's DAW shortcomings. But, of course this requires money. Even so there are some fairly inexpensive analogue summing solutions out there which, in any case, would be a step in the right direction.

But if you are in fact already mixing OTB.. I will eat my words and recommend you look into a mix bus comp?
Old 15th December 2010
  #3
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A nice approach is to force LCR mixing (or in my case L LC C RC R - translation 100 50 0 50 100) mixing. It forces you to keep the mix wide, open and separate. Plus you dont waste time on panning with your brain and numbers- instead of your ears.

Also put a nice chorus on a send and send mono tracks to it- glues and adds space.

I dont like low pass filters so I use EQ shelves on most everything other than kick, bass and vocals.

Synth songs usually have too much spectrum on each sound- eq helps quite a bit. No micing technique can cure direct recording.

But 5 pan mixing and a great chorus for SPACE not for chorus (hit it lightly) will open things up. Then the EQing will clear out the bottom for the low end to gel.

Also don't put reverb on everything- pick whats important and leave some tracks dry.

And lastly, Ive had 4 control rooms. The one I have now sounds so much better its stupid... And for once, no matter where I take my mixes, they sound great.

I would bet money your room is part of the problem... When its really REALLY right, everything translates because you hear whats really going on. If it sounds good there and nowhere else, its the room...
Old 15th December 2010
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
dfahb44's Avatar
 

We can't help you if you don't post a clip!
Old 15th December 2010
  #5
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
getting "mud"-glue in the mix
well everybody is looking for 'glue' but they are also all trying to get rid of 'mud'

you need a lot of mud to stick things together, but only a little bit of glue will do the same job
Old 15th December 2010
  #6
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BradM's Avatar
Some mixes to listen to would be great!

I'm going to guess that Tony Shepperd only posts mixes that have been mastered. Just a hunch. Perhaps you should have your mixes professionally mastered before comparing them to the rest of the world.

I recently discovered another reason I like mixing to tape so much besides the "glue" that it often adds to a mix. Neither myself or the band can agonize over how the mix sounds until we get it back from the mastering engineer.

Other things to consider:

- The ambient information from the recording space will always color your tracks no matter how loud the source or how close the mic was. Crappy sounding rooms generally make for tracks that are hard to mix.
- A band that plays live together is often easier to mix because of the way the little bits of bleed on each track create depth in the mix. A collection of overdubs can often sound disjointed in comparison. I see that you mentioned that all your sounds are electronically generated...so these first two thoughts might not be relevant unless you start reamping.
- The record is made during tracking, and not mixing. You might have been handed sounds that just don't fit well together.

If it were me and I was handed a pile of synth tracks and a vocal I would start getting out some guitar amps and miking things up in the live room to turn it into something a little less...electronic.

Brad
Old 15th December 2010
  #7
Deleted #157546
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by WinstonTone View Post
Hi Mr. Holmes,

I used to face similar problems mixing in PT LE; single tracks sounded great but the mix itself sounded like mud/blur. I began to believe I was no good as an engineer until I tried summing OTB.

Instantly things glued so much more naturally and each track had it's own space. No longer were millions of 0's and1's fighting for headroom in a 24bit ceiling room.

Chances are you are a great engineer with a great set of ears who is just feeling discouraged by today's DAW shortcomings. But, of course this requires money. Even so there are some fairly inexpensive analogue summing solutions out there which, in any case, would be a step in the right direction.

But if you are in fact already mixing OTB.. I will eat my words and recommend you look into a mix bus comp?

False...24bit recording gives you WAY more headroom than analog summing.

Do some research before you drop money on a console. I'm a big analog fan, but sure it's what you NEED and not what you WANT.
Old 15th December 2010
  #8
Deleted #157546
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.HOLMES View Post
Lately I have found out that my mixes are not that great as I thought.
That does not mean I haven't learned something in the past but I found out that it is a very hard game to make the impression every element has something in common with the rest of the elements.

Making sounding everything at its own spot seems easy to me- and the track sounds like mush in the end!!

For example if I listen to mixes by Tony Shepperd I can hear the base guitar and the kick drum rolling together...
The rest of the elements have something in common with the root note of the low end- everything fits together in one piece of music from bottom to top end.

So my biggest worry is not gear my biggest worry at the moment is how to make it fit together.

The song I am mixing for Friend at the moment is not bad arranged and he sings GREAT.

But I am pissed with the balance I get.

First try was for the trash.
Second try got a little better but far away form what I want to hear.

All sounds are out of the motif 6; except the voice sure.

Do I still listen to hard to single elements instead of the whole song?

What is your experience?
How hard you have to work to get that everything sounds like my above description!!!
There a lot of plugins that emulate tape compression. A lot of users seem to like what it adds to their mix also giving them that "glue" sound.

A big help for me was the Crane Song Phoenix. (TDM only though)

Try a demo first.
Old 15th December 2010
  #9
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latestflavor's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.HOLMES View Post
For example if I listen to mixes by Tony Shepperd.....

All sounds are out of the motif 6; except the voice sure.....

!
sure, if you get the same tracks as him you can compare your mixes.

i think you are severely underestimating production. all the sounds from one single module? that's pretty tough bro... and harder to mix than you think.

urban guys shape sounds from odd starting places, its a skill i think a lot of guys in the rock world can really appreciate. to produce and mix your own stuff at that high of a level - much harder. and all from one sound module? probably not day after day.
Old 15th December 2010
  #10
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Ron Vogel's Avatar
 

When I run into serious mud problems like yours I find cutting the bass to all the effects usually fixes it.

Yeah, they sound weird solo'd, but you add 10 verbs that cut off at 100hz, and you have a bunch of 100hz floating around taking up space. I cutoff my sends 400 to 500hz, and cutoff any bass in backrounds.
Old 15th December 2010
  #11
Deleted User
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayvo86 View Post
False...24bit recording gives you WAY more headroom than analog summing.
Analogue is not bound by bit depth. The sound of running a console to the red is dramatically different to the sound of a DAW crunching numbers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jayvo86 View Post
Do some research before you drop money on a console. I'm a big analog fan, but sure it's what you NEED and not what you WANT.
There is no need for a console to benefit from this kind of natural 'glue' that Mr. Holmes desires. Analogue summers are plentifully available these days and at a price to suit every budget.

A much better investment than say, a Tape Emulation plugin.
Old 15th December 2010
  #12
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Just to specify the problem.

I am 100% sure it has not to with the sounds or with analogue summing or with mastering.
A bad mix will stay a bad mix even in mastering, a good master starts with a great mix.
The experience of Tony Shepperd is outstanding- in tracking and mixing.

And I know a master wouldn't change my mix a lot to the better.

And some people got me wrong, not separation is the problem the opposite of it.
In my mixes everything is separated so much that you get the feeling everybody is playing on its own.

I can hear that it has to do with how Mr. Shepperd builds the mix from bottom-end to top-end.
Well balanced and glued together-

I will show you some awful mixes tonight and than post the link to Tony sound example website.
You fast can hear that he is able to balance things and that I am just able to put things together in a not so great balance.

I think this topic can be interesting if we leave gear outside and concentrate on the skills/hearing ....what we listen too.
Because one thing is sure a experienced engineer also would make great mix just pure ITB -
and as lon as I use some Outboard and go outside of logic it is not the analogue summing its me.thumbsup
Old 15th December 2010
  #13
Deleted #157546
Guest
getting "mud"-glue in the mix

Quote:
Originally Posted by WinstonTone

Analogue is not bound by bit depth. The sound of running a console to the red is dramatically different to the sound of a DAW crunching numbers.

Quote:
Do some research before you drop money on a console. I'm a big analog fan, but sure it's what you NEED and not what you WANT.
There is no need for a console to benefit from this kind of natural 'glue' that Mr. Holmes desires. Analogue summers are plentifully available these days and at a price to suit every budget.

A much better investment than say, a Tape Emulation plugin.
So now your changing what you said. Do you even know what headroom is?

Also, it bothers me that your suggesting analog is the only way to make it sound best.
Old 15th December 2010
  #14
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayvo86 View Post
So now your changing what you said. Do you even know what headroom is?

Also, it bothers me that your suggesting analog is the only way to make it sound best.
I can help with this.
There is analogue gear in the game so I am pretty sure it is not the fact which gear I use.heh

Its the way how things blend together.
And that was called balancing in the older days... and that word nails it for me.
Old 15th December 2010
  #15
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audiomichael's Avatar
 

Hey Mr. Holmes,

Try this. It's kinda a mixing excercise but can also yeild good results. Try a brand new mix, but in this mix, don't use ANY eq or compression. See how good you can get it sounding.

This is the best way to hear excactly how you are balancing things. There's no faking the funk here. If the mix isn't happening at this point, then you should be able to here right away what it the biggest problem; vocal levels too dynamic, or the drums are muddy, or whatever. Only go back and fix that. Then take a listen again.

Like a said, it's an excercise, so try to use restraint, and really listen to what your processes are doing to the mix. When mixing, with EQ and compression on every channel, and tons of tracks, it's easy to lose perspective and do more damage than good... because it's FUN to EQ and compress things!!! heh

Good luck!
Old 15th December 2010
  #16
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Tony Shepperd's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
Some mixes to listen to would be great!

I'm going to guess that Tony Shepperd only posts mixes that have been mastered. Just a hunch. Perhaps you should have your mixes professionally mastered before comparing them to the rest of the world.

I recently discovered another reason I like mixing to tape so much besides the "glue" that it often adds to a mix. Neither myself or the band can agonize over how the mix sounds until we get it back from the mastering engineer.

Other things to consider:

- The ambient information from the recording space will always color your tracks no matter how loud the source or how close the mic was. Crappy sounding rooms generally make for tracks that are hard to mix.
- A band that plays live together is often easier to mix because of the way the little bits of bleed on each track create depth in the mix. A collection of overdubs can often sound disjointed in comparison. I see that you mentioned that all your sounds are electronically generated...so these first two thoughts might not be relevant unless you start reamping.
- The record is made during tracking, and not mixing. You might have been handed sounds that just don't fit well together.

If it were me and I was handed a pile of synth tracks and a vocal I would start getting out some guitar amps and miking things up in the live room to turn it into something a little less...electronic.

Brad


Hey ya'll, while I like having tape on some genres for "glue", it doesn't work on all all styles of music.

As for the posting of mixes. Here are two files that I mixed, but did not track:
Here is the Unmastered mix: https://files.me.com/tonysound/z2ktm8.mp3
Here is the Mastered mix: https://files.me.com/tonysound/enfway
The artist is John Stoddart

I don't know that the unmastered one is missing the glue because it hasn't been mastered yet. I don't think you can wait for mastering to put that "glue" on the mix. I tend to refer to mastering as the polish, not the glue. But maybe I'm wrong, you all tell me is there more "glue" with mastering or just louder?
Old 15th December 2010
  #17
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BradM's Avatar
Hey Tony,

Thanks for sharing! It's really insightful to be able to hear the before and after mix...especially from a pro.

I'm curious to hear what Mr. Holmes is working on. Then it will be easier for us to figure out if he really has a glue issue or perhaps a polish issue. Or perhaps a lack of real instrumentation issue. I personally suck at mixing samples/synths. Real instruments miked up in a room are always easier to fit together perhaps because I track them to fit together.

Brad
Old 15th December 2010
  #18
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.HOLMES View Post
And some people got me wrong, not separation is the problem the opposite of it.
In my mixes everything is separated so much that you get the feeling everybody is playing on its own.
Don't be afraid of some masking. We all learn to arrange for separation and to 'carve' with the EQ, and but you can go far in anything, separation included. A lot of 'power' comes from tutti playing. It's ok if a track disappears as long as it pops out again later.

Instead of high-passing everything, try some shelves and leave a little low end in. Don't carve so deeply. Let some instruments muscle in front of others and even swallow them up.
Old 15th December 2010
  #19
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
Hey Tony,

I'm curious to hear what Mr. Holmes is working on. Then it will be easier for us to figure out if he really has a glue issue or perhaps a polish issue. Or perhaps a lack of real instrumentation issue. I personally suck at mixing samples/synths. Real instruments miked up in a room are always easier to fit together perhaps because I track them to fit together.

Brad
Brad could be both because I am not responsible for the arrangement.

But I am 100% sure its not the sounds it is me...I am doing something really WRONG!!!

OK here is a worth case scenario the first shot on it- nothing sits well ... base-range feels wrong everything sounds separate at its own- nothing glues the balance is whack.

Old 15th December 2010
  #20
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

I'd be looking real hard at the musical arrangement and the phrasing of the parts and vocals first.
Old 15th December 2010
  #21
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FreshSkweez's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.HOLMES View Post
Brad could be both because I am not responsible for the arrangement.

But I am 100% sure its not the sounds it is me...I am doing something really WRONG!!!

OK here is a worth case scenario the first shot on it- nothing sits well ... base-range feels wrong everything sounds separate at its own- nothing glues the balance is whack.

I may be way off with this and if so I apologize. But I think I know what you're talking about. I get the same kind of problem every once on a while and from what I understand at least in my case it comes from over-equing. Unnecessary lo-mid cuts, boosting top end too much, getting surgical way too soon - that kind of thing. It's ironic 'cause most of those things I do out of habit i.e. it comes with experience ;-)

Whenever I feel like the mix is moving in that direction I stop and start from scratch using a very limited number of tools and very broad strokes relying mostly on faders to get things to sit well together. A little goes a long way bla-bla-bla...

Also you seem to feel very strongly about this. Try to distance yourself from the natural desire to make things as close to perfect as possible. Your emotional involvement can backfire from time to time (I have to remind myself about this a lot!). Just keep a cool head and LISTEN.
Old 15th December 2010
  #22
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
I'd be looking real hard at the musical arrangement and the phrasing of the parts and vocals first.
Bob I wish I could but this one is LOW END production by single person no cash in the pockets....so my job is to make it sound right like it is.
Old 15th December 2010
  #23
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latestflavor's Avatar
 

technically you are doing "nothing wrong". it sounds like a motif. yamaha hired some guys to make samples for their keyboard, which means that random sounds rarely work with each other. they are usually direct and dry sounding. and they take quite some work, for example, with the patches you are using.

the sound you have in your head - what song would you like the mix to sound like? R Kelly?
Old 15th December 2010
  #24
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springer's Avatar
 

Tracks are nice and clean... decent recording...
Something you might try is emphasizing the good little bits here and there that the mind normally is attracted to and normally filters all else out to focus on. Right now it seems to be all the same dynamics on all parts = FLAT... Could be just a .5 second drum fill, could be a 3 note phrase from bass, etc... These are the things that make mixes exciting to listen to.
Specific things I would like to hear:
Bring vocal forward 2-3 db
:20 - clavinet fill
:45 - 1 note Conga fill
1:26 - fill
1:27 - backgrounds

My 2 cents - account for inflation
Old 15th December 2010
  #25
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Meanwhile I found out something.

For the low end limiting it very hard in parallel with UAD Precision limiter gets the low end together.

May this shows me that those synth sounds have to much energy in itself and it gets hard to control this energy.
Old 15th December 2010
  #26
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KRStudio's Avatar
 

Try this, I know it helped my mixes a lot. Solo out each sound and use a high pass and low pass on each track. Bring up the high pass filter until you just start hearing it work, then back it off a db or 2. Now the low pass, do the same thing. Do this for all tracks before you do any other EQ'ing or compression. This helps get rid of any unneeded energy out of your mix. Your sounds will be better defined. Try it at least once.

Jeff
Old 15th December 2010
  #27
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brockorama's Avatar
 

I like that style and its not that bad IMO. In my first half hour with that track I would get a kik and a bass happening. If thats not there, there's nothing to dictate where the rest of your sounds should be. I'm not a big fan of clicky kiks, so in SD2 I'd find a kik from allaire or avatar and tune it to the track. Then get my bass and dial it on top or under the kik, whichever rocks a better groove. YMMV, of course. Nice track and nice sounding vocals I'd like to hear more upfront. cheers
Old 15th December 2010
  #28
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I'm going to specifically comment on the tony sheppard mix vs yours and not on anything related to performance.

Things that stand out to me:

your low end is much thinner. Tony's has some more harmonic distortion in the low range and the bass and drums work really well together. Yours sounds clinically fine but your kick is fake, and snare is fake. It doesn't have a lot of life or variation to it. Everything has more 'beef' in tony's sound. Thin sounds tend to be very clear but don't gel very well.

He's got a touch more harmonic distortion overall but its very smooth. Most importantly, i hear a bit of room around most of his sounds. yes they are close, but they sound recorded in a real space, a well tuned dry room, or a well tuned less dry room with closer mics. In either case the air is moving and it gives it more depth. The warmer quality of the track in the low end keeps things from sounding so seperated, and they were probably all recorded in the same room, and a good one at that, so there is some continuity there.

So biggest thing really is a better sounding space with real recorded sounds that are recorded to sound beefier.

Russell
Old 15th December 2010
  #29
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BradM's Avatar
The biggest difference between Tony's mix and the OP's is that Tony is using real musicians playing real instruments in a real room. I think that's where the root of the problem lies. Someone eles hit the nail on the head: the synth sounds are rarely captured to fit well with one another. They are simply captured to sound good by themselves.

My advice is to reamp some of those tracks and get some space, air, and distortion into the mix.

Brad
Old 15th December 2010
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.HOLMES View Post
Meanwhile I found out something.

For the low end limiting it very hard in parallel with UAD Precision limiter gets the low end together.

May this shows me that those synth sounds have to much energy in itself and it gets hard to control this energy.
I don't want to come across as over simplistic here.. however, I'll risk it.
When you're tracking this, are you putting the different synth parts on different tracks?
1. I think one good quality outboard reverb with different level sends to that will add to the percussion and synth sounds no end.
2. I'd also look at KRSTudio's suggestion... but a little further, isolate each sound.. audition it and ask youself what it's adding to the track, and
3. Brad's re-amping suggestion is a good one .. some of those sounds are very clean. However, only if you a) have the time and b) a nice space and channel to track in/on.

Finally, I thought the level of the vocal was pretty good. You could add a bit more depth to the track by putting some of those percussion hits back in the mix and maybe a little lower. Drop the volume of the keys a frag.

4. Simplify the track. Strip out the keyboard sample and bring it up slowly until it's in it's supportive role...

my tuppence.
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