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Things sound exciting by themselves...but
Old 3rd August 2011
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Things sound exciting by themselves...but

Hey all,

I've played in bands for quite a few years now and have recorded in a few pro studios. I recently got the recording bug and have started to record and mix my band. We've been working on a few songs, and these are the first that I have ever recorded and mixed completely from scratch.

Anyways, I've found it interesting how things can sound amazing as you work them up, but in the context of the song it just doesn't work, or you don't hear it as intended. I first noticed this with drums. I parallel compressed them and loved the way they sounded; however as the rest of the mix came together, the drums sort of disappeared as there was too much squish on the parallel. Made some adjustments and they cut through better now. I also noticed this with effects; it seems I always applied too much and had to back off.

I feel like I now understand the importance of mixing in context of the song rather than trying to get the individual pieces to sound great alone. I see that there is a dynamic between what we hear with things soloed vs. in the mix.

Comments/experiences with this?
Old 3rd August 2011
  #2
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Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of mixing. You are definitely on the right path and observing the right things.

Another good one to listen for is 'masking", where two sounds are competing at the same frequency. You often have to carve one of them up with eq, which may sound weird when soloed, but sounds correct once it's back in the mix.

From what you are saying it sounds like you have good ears. Keep listening to them and trusting them, and good luck. We are all on the same journey.
Old 3rd August 2011
  #3
Mixing in solo is a common mistake made by producing n00bs.

Fear not!
Old 3rd August 2011
  #4
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Since you've figured out how this works in mixing I'll do you one better: Try the same thing in tracking. Don't worry about recording a sound that is killer. Worry about recording a sound that is killer in the context of every other sound. Unless you are recording the band live, this usually means creating scratch tracks for the entire song. Then as you perform each "keeper" overdub, you have the whole context of the song to compare with. Trust me, it is sooooooo much easier to do this "make it sound great in the context of the mix" work in tracking than it is in mixing.



...
I'll do you one better still: Apply this same idea to pre-production. As you are writing and arranging the song and ironing out parts and practicing, don't let the guitar player wander off and dial in his tone and pickup setting in isolation. Build the song from the ground-up with sounds that mix well together.
Old 3rd August 2011
  #5
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What I love about music is that music is simple. It's simple to play and it's simple to experience that playing. It's simple to play and to play that experience.

What I love about music is that music is emotional. It's emotional to play and it's emotional to experience that playing. It's emotional to play and to play those emotions.

What I love about music is that music is love. What I love about love is that it is a beautiful experience.
Old 3rd August 2011
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheebs Goat View Post
Since you've figured out how this works in mixing I'll do you one better: Try the same thing in tracking. Don't worry about recording a sound that is killer. Worry about recording a sound that is killer in the context of every other sound. Unless you are recording the band live, this usually means creating scratch tracks for the entire song. Then as you perform each "keeper" overdub, you have the whole context of the song to compare with. Trust me, it is sooooooo much easier to do this "make it sound great in the context of the mix" work in tracking than it is in mixing.
Yep, agreed. If the ultimate goal is to record stuff that sounds great, as apposed to trying to make stuff song good after the fact, and one would hope that even in this day and age that this is a goal of people who care, then it raises this issue for the self recorder. You can't hear what all the parts need to sound like until you've recorded all the parts, or nearly all of them.

One answer is that you just self-demo songs, making a rough version and then abuse all of the tools we have these days to get it sounding reasonable in terms of EQ and compression. Then go back and use that as the guide to record it right the second time. You may have to create some blank spots in the guide if you decide, oh I should have done a little pre-chorus build up or a nice little breakdown would be cool here.

And, as long as the self-demo is tight timing-wise, it can also be a great benefit in terms of getting more mojo and life into the song, since now instead of three or four of the most fundamental tracks having to be laid down in a vacuum or semi-vacuum, you have more of the feeling of tracking the song with a band as you do each part. It can make a real difference. As long as you don't get 'second version syndrome', get overly precious about it, and lose the vibe that a first version may have in a way that's hard to recover.

I will say that it's slowly, slowly getting to the point where I can foresee more of what is required. Still a long way to go, but when I really look back with a non-jaundiced eye I can see how far I've come. I've come to begin to hear a tone and know, that's really fat but it can be fat and that's OK. And other times you know, no way that's going to cut it. I'll spend all this time recording this great sound and I'd just end up EQ'ing half of it away once the other stuff is in place.

Eventually we'll all reach teh Mozart phase, where we can just hear it in our heads, press the button, and make it so. But, until then, these sorts of techniques are a good help.
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