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Mixing with badly recorded tracks Modular Synthesizers
Old 3rd July 2013
Here for the gear

Mixing with badly recorded tracks

Hi Guys,

I'm working on mixing a couple songs for a friend of mine and having a lot of problems due to what I consider to be a bad tracking job. I'm seriously surprised at how awful all the raw audio sounds to my ears. The kick mic sounds really thin and papery. The snare is so ringy, it basically sounds like a steel drum. And the bass has no attack to it, plus its way too busy. It kind of has no business in a bar rock song like this. Someone please tell me I'm just spoiled by proper recording techniques and that I'm not losing my mind.

I'm worried about this because I'm trying to get back into mixing after a long absence and I'm feeling like I've lost my mojo.

I've attached the kick, snare and bass from one of the songs. There are also OH mics, room mics, etc, but none of it sounds very good.

Anyone got any tips on dealing with this?

Attached Files

kick_06-04.wav (434.9 KB, 837 views)

snare_06-04.wav (450.9 KB, 767 views)

taxiBass.1-11.L.wav (434.9 KB, 813 views)

Old 3rd July 2013
Gear Head

I took the kick and did a pretty massive cut in the 300-2000 region, boosted a small amount around 100, and shelved everything below that. I cut off everything above 10k, and applied some gating, and got something that might be usable. I paired it with the snare, which I just rolled off the low end under about 200. Sounds like crap, but its usable in context maybe. That bass is garbage though. It was just bad playing in my opinion.
Old 3rd July 2013
Lives for gear
Sample replace everything that isn't a cymbal, edit the bass to lock in better with the drums, try adding some distortion to it (I'm fond of soundtoys' decapitator for this purpose), or, failing that, some transient shaping plugins, orrrrr, failing that, use Melodyne on the bass, convert pitch to midi, and use something like Trillian(or whatever bass sampler you prefer) on it to get it sounding right.
Old 3rd July 2013
Gear Nut
JL.'s Avatar

Originally Posted by Runnytofu View Post
Sample replace everything that isn't a cymbal, edit the bass to lock in better with the drums, try adding some distortion to it (I'm fond of soundtoys' decapitator for this purpose), or, failing that, some transient shaping plugins, orrrrr, failing that, use Melodyne on the bass, convert pitch to midi, and use something like Trillian(or whatever bass sampler you prefer) on it to get it sounding right.
This is probably your best bet. Pretty much what I was thinking, a whole lot of stuff that's not there, but can be.
Old 3rd July 2013
Lives for gear
Yeah I've worked with a little worse than that. Tofu's post is spot on!

I hope the overheads and vocals sound decent because those are where the real problems can crop up.
Old 4th July 2013
Lives for gear
popmann's Avatar
The kick and snare sound perfectly fine.

Have you actually mixed real drums before? Don't sample replace crap. To start with, post the overheads. That's actually more determinate of the possible sound of a recorded kit, IME, than dry kick/snare--both of those sound as good as anything I've ever mixed. Give or take.

Depending on the overhead sound, you should be able to make those drums sound any way you need...

The bass, too, sound "fine"...terrible playing isn't the fault of an engineer. It is that, too. pick AND uneven. That, unfortunately, due to the performance is going to be the bigger challenge of these tracks, IMO--due to the playing, not the sound. Though, I guess having one phrase is a bit presumptuous that the rest of the track is that bad, but...

When I produce (not just mix) for songwriters, I insist on playing the bass. Good bass is a prereq for ANYTHING to come together, IME. Sonically, what's there is a boring--sounds liek a passive bass DI'd into an interface and recorded too hot, but...
Old 4th July 2013
Lives for gear
I should mention that I haven't listened to any of the files, my advice was more of a "worst-case" scenario. Rarely do I do a full replacement of drums.... But then again, I'm usually mixing stuff that I tracked, and I do drums pretty well.
Old 4th July 2013
Lives for gear
everybody's taste is different but I'm pretty close to agreement with 'popmann' The samples of a bit brief and not really presented in context of arrangement. But while, within context of arrangement, I'd expect to execute some extensive editing on kck & snare what's here is less awful then a bunch of tracks on which I've worked.

It's not the sound (probably) for which I would be reaching if I had tracked but that's not entirely the issue with the question.

The suggestion to review OHs for foundation of any trap part is where i'd start. And if, within context of arrangement and client's expectation the OH is what they want to hear then assuming the timing's OK it's possible, from documentation here, to work with the stuff. some EQ (t' balance all the voices not just idea of EQ'ng a single voice (i.e. kick in a 'solo' context), some compression (off the cuff I'd don't see a need (from the brief samples) to be sure that gates would be of any real assistance (dynamics as gates are still something, if I use, I tend to use on the way in as a means of getting some clutter sorted out in an ensemble recording . . . again if you or client way 'gated sound' as fx that's different story . . . I just don't see a prophylactic effect from the short samples)

If the bass part gets in way of arrangement compression (and judicious EQ (again EQ to 'mix' not just to cut for sake of cutting)) can go a long way towards changing emphasis. If the Bass was DI'd it does not seem to have been DI'd with settings that are primary reason I add a DI'd to bass voice. Which is to 'document' cleanly the transient attack. While, to reiterate that if I heard more and with in context of arrangement opinions would be expect to change, I found the bass (pretty much for any context) to be 'flabby' . . . I'd tend to replace part (with an actual human physical instrument overdub if at all possible) only with enthusiastic agreement of the client.

A more general comment is purely that (tastes to vary dramatically) doing a favor for a friend is typically a thankless task & easy way to loose a friend. To reasonably be able to make reasonable decisions you have to be 'working' for somebody. In favor for friends case that frequently means you're 'working' for you, with your aesthetic judgment being primary . . . if friend was OK to more then OK with tracked sound, just in a misguided way wanted a little studio magic sweetening you're basically f&c'k'd in any case

Again: while none of the 'sounds' are what I'd hope to achieve from live ensemble recording if parts are no worse, and if timing is at least 'OK' within context, this is raw material that can be improved in editing
Old 5th July 2013
Lives for gear
popmann's Avatar
Post like 8 bars of all the drum tracks. Shoot me a PM in case I don't drop by...I can make'em sound pretty well any way they want in minutes.

The only "editing" I do is on toms with too much ring and bleed because I can get a more natural tonal decay than I can through straight old school expansion. Depending on what they want and what all MICS are there...

Job number ONE: get any phase issues ironed out. You do NOTHING until that is handled. Freeware continuous phase adjustment...sliding in time...make sure the snare is hitting both overheads at the same time. If not, shift half the overheads. Unless room MICS are from a great room, I collapse to mono...or chuck them.

If you try to start EQing and adding reverbs and compressors and crap before ironing out phase issues, you'll be playing whack a mole and wasting time.
Old 5th July 2013
Gear Addict
dcwave's Avatar

I agree with popmann... the raw sounds are okay. Without context and hearing them relation to the OHs, it's hard to tell what needs to happen. At most (depending on the song) I might layer a snare sample with the original for more crack or beef.
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