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What mistake can classify you mix as "cheap"
Old 20th October 2013
  #151
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
Nothing here is remotely close to moderation territory. No one is making personal insults, any comments have been at ideas expressed, not the person. Why should you feel insulted?

I had no idea you're non-native English speaking - apart from the misuse of established terms, your English grammar is probably better than mine!

I agree this shouldn't be the "Discuss Smoothvibe" thread....and I'm more guilty of that than most...so as far as that goes, a return to topic should happen!
Thanks a lot for your positive reply, I appreciate it!

Let's go back to topic. We were discussing the aspect of emotion, and I do believe that at least in certain genres such as contemporary country, pop, smooth jazz, R&B, being able to filter out as little emotion as possible and working towards increasing the emotional impact is also pushing a mix from being perceived as "cheap", more towards being perceived as "great". You asked me how I approach that and my response was:

::::::::::::::::::::::.
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey
But HOW do you stretch "emotion"?

That is a big topic and it covers a lot of pretty deep aspects. But as you can see from my stretch technique one way I approach it is by balancing mix properties, in other words I increase the emotion both with direct techniques straight on the frequencies and with indirect techniques such as with the mix property re-balancing/stretch technique above, based on my theory that certain mix properties share the same polarity while others are on the opposite polarity. Furthermore, I have a theory that the left ear is on a negative polarity and the right ear is on a positive polarity, hence much of the work with mix properties is about matching the mix property polarities with the polarities of the ears. In fact, I combine all of this intelligence in my work with audio and music in order to go where no one has gone before. Then, beyond the theories I also apply both commonly used- and custom versions of well known mixing techniques.

psycho_monkey, what are some of your techniques for achieving a more emotional impact of a mix?
::::::::::::::::::::::.

psycho_monkey, I am dying to know what are some of your techniques for achieving a less cheap sound by achieving a more emotional impact of a mix?
Old 20th October 2013
  #152
Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothVibe View Post
That is a big topic and it covers a lot of pretty deep aspects. But as you can see from my stretch technique one way I approach it is by balancing mix properties, in other words I increase the emotion both with direct techniques straight on the frequencies and with indirect techniques such as with the mix property re-balancing/stretch technique above, based on my theory that certain mix properties share the same polarity while others are on the opposite polarity. Furthermore, I have a theory that the left ear is on a negative polarity and the right ear is on a positive polarity, hence much of the work with mix properties is about matching the mix property polarities with the polarities of the ears. In fact, I combine all of this intelligence in my work with audio and music in order to go where no one has gone before. Then, beyond the theories I also apply both commonly used- and custom versions of well known mixing techniques.
I thought this was "returning to topic"?! All I can say is that now I think you're playing with us....if your ears really are out of phase, I pity you! I'm fairly certain mine aren't!

As for "going where no-one has gone before"....ok, would love to hear that when you finish a mix!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothVibe View Post
psycho_monkey, what are some of your techniques for achieving a more emotional impact of a mix?
::::::::::::::::::::::.

psycho_monkey, I am dying to know what are some of your techniques for achieving a less cheap sound by achieving a more emotional impact of a mix?
I'm not sure when you say "emotion" you actually mean what I (and the rest of the production world I'm fairly sure) mean by "emotion".

For me - emotion comes from a performance.

If I'm producing a track, it's my job to coax that emotion out of the performer if necessary. Often the singer is the main "source" of that emotion....although not exclusively (think Nirvana or Sonic Youth guitars, RATM or Muse bass playing, any number of blues guitarists etc). The arrangement should support the emotional aspect - for example, having a plinky pretty nylon string guitar solo in a song from "In Utero" would probably weaken the angst from Kurt! or a thrashy drum fill in a Paul simon song...you get the idea.

Come mix stage - the "emotion" should be on the recording. Likewise so should your other two "criteria", "energy" and "attitude" as well as every other performance aspect...timing, tuning, soul, flavour, whatever adjectives you like to use.

So as a mix engineer, my job is to preserve that "emotion" and present the song as well as I can. Hopefully I've got some references or guidance from the production team at this point - otherwise I make suggestions.

From here - you can kill the energy by over compressing or editing, you can tame the attitude by the same. You can ruin the emotion too with over processing - for example, smashing the vocal to death in an intimate song, or not smashing it enough in something more aggressive (would muse's "time is running out" have the same emotional impact without the vocal compression? Even though the emotion is in the performance, the hyper compression helps communicate that).

Anything that draws the casual listener out of the song and listening to the production details instead of the performance is something I'm aiming to avoid (obviously nerds like us listen to the production regardless). A dodgy vocal edit (or mouth clicks, which I personally hate); an inappropriate reverb (or crass delay, like a live sound guy I heard the other night, doing spin delays off the ends of vocal lines....they're a retro 4 piece, not Coldplay or Foals, a bit of slapback is all that's needed, tasteless fool!), poor automation, bad balance, or indeed dynamic distortion, all falls into this category.

I definitely don't get it right every time, and I'm not claiming to be the arbiter of good taste or perfect production. But I do deliver mixes (and deliver them, not endlessly rework them or make excuses for things I haven't addressed) to my clients that by and large are what they're looking for - and usually with minor revisions (and occasionally complete reworkings) they leave happy. So hopefully I'm doing something right most of the time, and as I've said, it's NOT usually involving mid side processing, multiple parallel processing, endless revisions or doing any maths more complicated than choosing 8ths or 16ths for a delay!

I don't claim to be going "where no-one has gone before"...but then I'm doing this as part of my living, not just as a hobby, and I'm lucky enough to be interacting with other professionals, not purely online. I've basically got to get a job done, not endlessly play with ideas and theories.

Smoothvibe, have you ever heard of "Occam's Razor"? If not...it's a very profound philosophy, I suggest you have a wiki about it some time.
Old 2nd November 2013
  #153
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lame pseudonym's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepingbag View Post
it is a bad thing if you have any intention of making music that has any sort of value to or impact on other people, yes.

if you don't have professional aspirations and are a hobbyist making music to suit your own whims, continue to do whatever you want, of course.
Twas ever thus.
You can have art or you can have commerce but you can't have both.
Old 2nd November 2013
  #154
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FireMoon's Avatar
It's often a matter of taste personally , I'm often surprised how many very expensively made tracks where, the stereo synth sounds are all panned hard L and R.
Old 2nd November 2013
  #155
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RedTuxedo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
I thought this was "returning to topic"?! All I can say is that now I think you're playing with us....if your ears really are out of phase, I pity you! I'm fairly certain mine aren't!

As for "going where no-one has gone before"....ok, would love to hear that when you finish a mix!



I'm not sure when you say "emotion" you actually mean what I (and the rest of the production world I'm fairly sure) mean by "emotion".

For me - emotion comes from a performance.

If I'm producing a track, it's my job to coax that emotion out of the performer if necessary. Often the singer is the main "source" of that emotion....although not exclusively (think Nirvana or Sonic Youth guitars, RATM or Muse bass playing, any number of blues guitarists etc). The arrangement should support the emotional aspect - for example, having a plinky pretty nylon string guitar solo in a song from "In Utero" would probably weaken the angst from Kurt! or a thrashy drum fill in a Paul simon song...you get the idea.

Come mix stage - the "emotion" should be on the recording. Likewise so should your other two "criteria", "energy" and "attitude" as well as every other performance aspect...timing, tuning, soul, flavour, whatever adjectives you like to use.

So as a mix engineer, my job is to preserve that "emotion" and present the song as well as I can. Hopefully I've got some references or guidance from the production team at this point - otherwise I make suggestions.

From here - you can kill the energy by over compressing or editing, you can tame the attitude by the same. You can ruin the emotion too with over processing - for example, smashing the vocal to death in an intimate song, or not smashing it enough in something more aggressive (would muse's "time is running out" have the same emotional impact without the vocal compression? Even though the emotion is in the performance, the hyper compression helps communicate that).

Anything that draws the casual listener out of the song and listening to the production details instead of the performance is something I'm aiming to avoid (obviously nerds like us listen to the production regardless). A dodgy vocal edit (or mouth clicks, which I personally hate); an inappropriate reverb (or crass delay, like a live sound guy I heard the other night, doing spin delays off the ends of vocal lines....they're a retro 4 piece, not Coldplay or Foals, a bit of slapback is all that's needed, tasteless fool!), poor automation, bad balance, or indeed dynamic distortion, all falls into this category.

I definitely don't get it right every time, and I'm not claiming to be the arbiter of good taste or perfect production. But I do deliver mixes (and deliver them, not endlessly rework them or make excuses for things I haven't addressed) to my clients that by and large are what they're looking for - and usually with minor revisions (and occasionally complete reworkings) they leave happy. So hopefully I'm doing something right most of the time, and as I've said, it's NOT usually involving mid side processing, multiple parallel processing, endless revisions or doing any maths more complicated than choosing 8ths or 16ths for a delay!

I don't claim to be going "where no-one has gone before"...but then I'm doing this as part of my living, not just as a hobby, and I'm lucky enough to be interacting with other professionals, not purely online. I've basically got to get a job done, not endlessly play with ideas and theories.

Smoothvibe, have you ever heard of "Occam's Razor"? If not...it's a very profound philosophy, I suggest you have a wiki about it some time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by FireMoon View Post
It's often a matter of taste personally , I'm often surprised how many very expensively made tracks where, the stereo synth sounds are all panned hard L and R.
Experience counts for so much. And it always will. There are so many ways to learn from it.

It's also impossible to teach.
Old 2nd November 2013
  #156
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedTuxedo View Post
Experience counts for so much. And it always will. There are so many ways to learn from it.

It's also impossible to teach.
Sorry, but your statement being true would mean that the basis of every educational institution in the world, from basic elementary school to college education, is wrong.

Education in itself is the basis of handing down of knowledge through the generations of hundreds of years of human experiences. It's what we share and pass on to the next generation so that they can learn from our experiences and can improve upon them. It's how we evolve ourselves as a human race, and also how we make mistakes and (hopefully) learn from them so that later generations won't have to.

So you can teach experience, it's done all the time. It's just that not everything gets through at first and that's ok. Gives rise to the adage "some things have to be experienced first hand" and that's true. But blanket, black and white statements like yours above are not really accurate if you think about it...
Old 2nd November 2013
  #157
You can't "teach" someone to play an instrument. You can show them things, but ultimately it takes practice. I think that's what he was getting at.
Old 2nd November 2013
  #158
Quote:
Originally Posted by drumdrum View Post
Sorry, but your statement being true would mean that the basis of every educational institution in the world, from basic elementary school to college education, is wrong.

Education in itself is the basis of handing down of knowledge through the generations of hundreds of years of human experiences. It's what we share and pass on to the next generation so that they can learn from our experiences and can improve upon them. It's how we evolve ourselves as a human race, and also how we make mistakes and (hopefully) learn from them so that later generations won't have to.

So you can teach experience, it's done all the time. It's just that not everything gets through at first and that's ok. Gives rise to the adage "some things have to be experienced first hand" and that's true. But blanket, black and white statements like yours above are not really accurate if you think about it...
He just means there are done things much easier to learn through doing. It's really hard to learn session etiquette in a classroom.
Old 2nd November 2013
  #159
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
He just means there are done things much easier to learn through doing. It's really hard to learn session etiquette in a classroom.
Thanks psycho_monkey. Personally I feel I have got the most progress from experience, I've got a lot of my mixing skills from experience, but the skill area I find I'm bumping against more and more, and where I am definitely very weak at this point, is the intelligence about connecting music to gear in an efficient way, getting enough perspective on how music should flow through gear and what gear it should flow/not flow through in order to end up great. What I can conclude at this point is that a 100% ITB mix with the ITB setup I currently have just won't make that music to gear connection in the way I want. My weakest link currently is definitely the gear, I know what tone I like, it's just that I don't seem to have it available in my current gear. I find it's like trying to beat a Lamborghini with a Toyota by being a good driver, it's just not going to work. The driver needs to build the skills of knowing what stuff to put under the hood.

I think I'm currently exhausting my mixes by driving them with the wrong engine. So I've decided to rest my production and mixing skills for a while, essentially view that as good enough for now, and instead focus on changing my whole gear setup so that the music to gear connection happens the way I want.

In other words, it's great to have a good understanding about producing, recording, mixing, mastering, you can learn some of that in school and by practicing, but at some point the focus is naturally going to shift from that over to building the intelligence about connecting music to gear in an efficient way, getting enough perspective on how music should flow through gear and what gear it should flow/not flow through in order to end up great.
Old 2nd November 2013
  #160
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Ah ok, I understand where you were coming from. Gotcha! ;-)
I agree actually, some things and mistakes are best learned first hand.
But I thought you were being general.
I get ya now... :-)
Old 2nd November 2013
  #161
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothVibe View Post
My weakest link currently is definitely the gear
Are you sure about that? I know buying gear is fun, but more gear doesn't always help
Old 3rd November 2013
  #162
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothVibe View Post
I think I'm currently exhausting my mixes by driving them with the wrong engine. So I've decided to rest my production and mixing skills for a while, essentially view that as good enough for now, and instead focus on changing my whole gear setup so that the music to gear connection happens the way I want..
I have, of course, been following this and the other SV discussions. I just keep shaking my head in wonder.

In the course of these discussions I have written, tracked and mixed two or even three songs.....think I just posted a fourth. It sometimes amazes me just how much time we all spend discussing the minutia of gear and production rather than just figuring it out by....doing it.

It's just music after all. If we let it....it will flow.
Old 3rd November 2013
  #163
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code green's Avatar
A thought on the original question: one characteristic of a cheap mix, IMO, is tentativeness.
Old 3rd November 2013
  #164
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
I have, of course, been following this and the other SV discussions. I just keep shaking my head in wonder.

In the course of these discussions I have written, tracked and mixed two or even three songs.....think I just posted a fourth. It sometimes amazes me just how much time we all spend discussing the minutia of gear and production rather than just figuring it out by....doing it.

It's just music after all. If we let it....it will flow.
I have also done so, I mean I haven't produced any less result, it's psycho_monkey's original idea that I'm not producing any results, but it's based on the assumption that I'm not, when in fact all I've done is to post some demos, extracted from all of the work I've done lately, so it's really just an assumption that is not based on fact, that you are now echoing. For copyright reasons I cannot post full scale productions as soon as I'm done with them... But back to my original comment, I was claiming that I am finding myself bumping against the lack of skills when it comes linking gear to music, I'm finding that I'm linking the wrong gear primarily, secondarily I might to some degree be linking the gear in the wrong way too, but that has to do with my mixing skills and I no longer believe that is my main bottleneck partly because of what I've heard among my own range of mixes and partly due to how they perform compared to the mixes of others...
Old 3rd November 2013
  #165
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothVibe View Post
it's really just an assumption that is not based on fact, that you are now echoing.
Ah......forgive me, my friend. My ponderings were not meant as an indictment on your personal production output, but more as a general observation as to what happens when these debates take on lives of their own.



Quote:
Originally Posted by code green View Post
A thought on the original question: one characteristic of a cheap mix, IMO, is tentativeness.
Definitely agree. Do something that makes a difference. Bold strokes make for a dynamic picture.
Old 20th November 2013
  #166
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lame pseudonym's Avatar
 

Oops

Last edited by lame pseudonym; 20th November 2013 at 02:30 AM.. Reason: redundant
Old 20th November 2013
  #167
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shortstory's Avatar
Mixing is a vocation not a career. It's like becoming a minister or priest maybe.

Sadly- there comes a point when gear makes all the difference in the world. I started with a Ramsa 8118 & six 58s; then a Tac Scorpion; then an Amek Angela; now an SSL AWS and a rack of Neves, API & outboard comps- and it makes a huge difference.

It took 23 years. And 20 years ago my mixes would have still sucked. But now- it makes a difference. Sadly, a huge difference.

Why? Because all this stuff is really expensive. And no one cares- until they hear their music thru it all. But most never will.
Old 20th November 2013
  #168
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shortstory's Avatar
And by the way- to answer the original question. There are so many things that make a mix sound cheap (or just bad).

Too much or too little:
Low end, high end, mid range, reverb, compression, bad balancing, so many. And I've done them all many times.
Old 20th November 2013
  #169
Gear Nut
 

Mr Smoothvibe, is there a released Production you did? Tracked and mixed? I would live to hear it...
I read lots about your mixing skills, but I would like to actually hear it

thanks
Old 20th November 2013
  #170
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I've only had my mix considered cheap when I was using traditional delivery specifications and not the over compressed delivery specification that is on the radio today.

but of course, the over compress specification does not conform to real analogue recording specs and therefore can not be used to cut vinyl records. Records need that 10 db of dynamic range because the DC component is removed at the cutter and the ac component is stored mechanically on the disc. On the digital side the DC component is store quantitatively and thus bias the reproduction circuits more when hyper-compressed (it makes it sound good on cheap consumer equipment, but sound flat with no depth in sound and at the worst case, blaring sound on audiophile equipment).
Old 23rd December 2013
  #171
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Mixerman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tedtan View Post
I've never thought of LCR mixes as being exclusively up the middle or at the extremes of the stereo field because, as you said, playing with the fader volumes of stereo tracks (as well as reverb, delay or stereo modulation returns and how they are panned within the FX unit) can fill in the space between those extremes. So yeah, if you mean everything straight up the middle or at the extremes, that probably would sound odd.
Not only doesn't it sound odd, it's a common treatment. I've mixed hundreds of records without using any internal pan positions (LCR). I've mixed hundreds of records in which I HAVE used internal pan positions.

There's nothing wrong with mixing LCR. There's nothing wrong with not mixing LCR. Why limit yourself from either option?

Enjoy

Mixerman
Old 24th December 2013
  #172
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brockorama's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shortstory View Post
Mixing is a vocation not a career. It's like becoming a minister or priest maybe.

Sadly- there comes a point when gear makes all the difference in the world. I started with a Ramsa 8118 & six 58s; then a Tac Scorpion; then an Amek Angela; now an SSL AWS and a rack of Neves, API & outboard comps- and it makes a huge difference.

It took 23 years. And 20 years ago my mixes would have still sucked. But now- it makes a difference. Sadly, a huge difference.

Why? Because all this stuff is really expensive. And no one cares- until they hear their music thru it all. But most never will.

Still, with all that said, and agreed with, I'd still rather hear a stellar song with a great arrangement done ITB with great plugs, than simply, a good song and performance through all that creamy circuitry.

It is a game of inches, and the best performance usually wins. Most will say, well, a good song and performance is a given. I agree. Just pointing out great results can be had itb with better arrangement and rehearsal time.
Old 24th December 2013
  #173
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

I don't know about 'cheap', but I know what makes things ineffective for me.

In no particular order:

- no movement

- no transient punch or compositional dynamics

- no organic transitions or dramatic turns

- hypercompressed vocal or undercompressed vocal

- overloud/overhyped hf's that wash everything out

- scooped mids

- blooming, blurry subs



Gregory Scott - ubk
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