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I Need HARSH Criticism - Please Help
Old 15th January 2007
Gear Head

I Need HARSH Criticism - Please Help

I'm a 21-year-old who is ALWAYS looking to improve my mixes and better myself overall in recording. This song is one that I produced, engineered, and mixed. But, I need some more ears to help me out before I release the final product. I would like for whoever critiques this to be as harsh as possible. And please don't worry about hurting my feelings. I'd like to know everything that is good and everything that sucks. I really appreciate anyone who takes time to critically listen to this.

If it will help, or if you're just interested, the gear used was:

Snare: SM57 through Great River ME1NV
Kick (Inside): D112 through Chandler TG2
Kick (Outside): AT4033 through Mindprint Envoice
Overheads: Rode NT5's through Summit TPA200A
HiHat: SM57 through M-Audio Tampa
HiTom: SM7B through M-Audio DMP3
LowTom: AT3035 through M-Audio DMP3
Room Mic: BLUE Cactus through Chandler TG2
Bass: Direct through Chandler TG2
Guitars: SM57's through either TG2 or ME1NV
Vocals: SM7B through ME1NV

All was recorded directly into Sonar 6 through an M-Audio Delta 1010. All effects were obtained via plugins (mainly the Waves SSL Series). And it was tracked and mixed on Fostex PM1 Monitors.

Thanks so much! I can't wait to get some feedback.


Last edited by ndycus1; 21st January 2007 at 07:51 AM.. Reason: Updated Mix
Old 15th January 2007
Gear Addict
Lunatic's Avatar

Very, very well recorded. Great work!

A couple of things as I sit here and listen via my laptop on Sony MDR-V600 heradphones...

- You mixed the drums from an audience perspective (hat on right, floor tom on left, etc). This isn't a problem just not what I prefer to hear.
- The vocals are just 'buried'. I'd like to hear them 'sit' on the mix a bit better. This goes for the backing vox as well.
- It sounds as though you panned the guitars pretty hard L and R. Maybe a bit too much.
- At 2:28 "You can see inside my heart..." you start that snare on the far, far left and acoustic guitar on the far, far right and then the snare pans back to center. I hear what you are trying to do and it's a cool idea. I, personally, don't like it.

Those are the things that jump out to me. These are obviously *opinions* so take them with a grain of salt and remember... you get what you pay for heh

Seriously though, I thought the content was recorded very well. The song structure changed enough to keep it interesting. I liked the tune!

Great work.

Old 15th January 2007
Gear Head

great mix and i agree the vocals need some boost! They sound prety small for the style. beef the vocals up and it would be killer.
Old 15th January 2007
Lives for gear
ersheff's Avatar

I agree with the vox comments.
It's not necessarily that they're too quiet, but rather just that they're not sitting on top of the mix.
Personally, I would put a little more "crack" in the snare. It has a good sound overall, but he's hitting mostly rimshots, and I'd like to hear the sound of the wood of the stick hitting the rim a little more, as well as perhaps a little more of the sound of the snares.
You MIGHT be able to get some of this by tweaking your compression on the snare.
Open up the attack a little bit and don't crush it too much. When you really squash it, you get more of the tone of the shell itself, which isn't necessarily bad, but I think more crack would be cool.
Overall though, it sounds better than the last mix I did. heh
And I'm a few years older than you.
Good job!
Old 15th January 2007
Gear Head

Thank you all so much for listening and for your suggestions.

- I mix from audience perspective because, when I started mixing a few years ago, that's the perspective my favorite bands (most notably Incubus and The Used) were using.
- I agree that the vocals are a little buried. The bad thing is that the actual singer thinks that, the vocals are too loud, if anything (and we all know it's hard to please everybody). I think I'm going to try to give them a little more fullness and maybe bring them up a hair.
- Which particular guitars are you talking about being too wide?
- I actually REALLY like the whole "snare in the left, acoustic in the right" thing during the bridge. I think that really helps to give that part more space, and more movement. I do appreciate you noticing it though.

- Thanks for the comment. I'm going to work on making the vocals a bit bigger as soon as I get back to the studio.

- Now I hear what you're talking about with the snare. I'll also working on giving it some more attack. Not sure if it's a problem with compression, EQ, or whatever...but I'll try to figure it out.

Thanks a lot guys. I really appreciate the compliments, and especially the advice and suggestions. Please keep them coming.
Old 15th January 2007
Gear Maniac
prismtheory's Avatar

Nice Job dude. The only thing I hear is 1.holes in the "space" of the mix. 2.The vocals aren't as big as the drums.

There's nothing wrong with this mix's all a matter of opinion.
Old 15th January 2007
Gear Head

Thanks for the response prismtheory. Can you elaborate on what you mean by "holes in the 'space' of the mix"?
Old 15th January 2007
Lives for gear
jdjustice's Avatar
i am impressed. keep up the good work!

Old 15th January 2007
Lives for gear
bcgood's Avatar

Sounds pretty good to me overall. The only thing that I would change would be to bring the high hat in towards the left more and maybe take a little off, (subtractive eq) the lower frequencies out of the snare. I would also add a little plate reverb to the vocal way in the background so you don't even conscientiously notice it. I like that you can understand the words he's singing. I would also try to add some punch to the bass guitar. Maybe run it through a 166 or 1176 and take a little off the lower freqs out of the guitar... Good job, it helps that the bands performance is pretty tight.

Old 16th January 2007
Gear Head


Thank you so much for all of your listens, comments, compliments, and suggestions. After all of your considerations into account, I did a slight remix. Please take a listen to the new version and let me know what you think. I'm also putting the link to the old version for comparison's sake.

NEWEST version:
***UPDATED MIX (Jan. 21, 2007)

NEW version:

OLD version:

Please let me know if you still hear problems with this mix and let me know what else I can do to fix them. Or, let me know if you think it's ready for me to send off to mastering. Just any comments at all would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all so much.
Old 16th January 2007
Lives for gear
djui5's Avatar

I hear you got some HH bleed into the snare Hate it when that happens.

Problem is you cut some high end off the snare to deal with it, and thus have made the snare sound kinda dull.

Other than that, I think the vox could still come up 2db in the second verse and the bridge (or the ramp, the first little change section)...
Old 16th January 2007
Lives for gear
bcgood's Avatar

I like the new mix better. I still wish you would bring that high hat to the left some.

Old 16th January 2007
Gear Addict
emreyazgin's Avatar
Giving critic on mixes is always tricky. Everybody can have different taste!

You already know what is good about your track..Tracking is really nice.

However, to me, drums sound "too live" if that makes sense...

I liked the guitars a lot!..Automation worked quite well..

Overall, I guess your mix could benefit from a bigger space..Probably pushing the snare, toms more back, maybe delay on vocals, more automation between parts would help a lot..

good luck, keep it up buddy

Old 17th January 2007
Gear Head
incongru's Avatar

Hi there!
I've just listened to the two versions.
First of all: congratulations!
I wish I had done something that sounds nearly as good as that!
and I'm your age so I'll take it that there's a long way to go
now for the comments:

I prefer the sound of the snare in the first version. cutting the high end in second version took away some attack and some of that natural feeling it had in mix 1.

The other thing that surprised me in both mixes was the hihat. I think it's panned right too hard. It's almost as if it wasn't part of the drumset. Just my opinion:I would have it slightly panned but almost at the center, and maybe a tiny bit quieter.

The part where the snare is panned left and the acoustic guitare on the right:
I think the snare is too loud (it's a great idea that automation you made and definitely gives that part a special feeling). I like this idea of things getting all quiet before bursting back again and I think that it would be accentuated with a snare that would be as quiet as the acoustic guitar.

Other than that the mix is awesome and very natural sounding. The fist comment that popped in my head when I heard it was "f**k me! this is well recorded!"

Keep it going like that!!!

Last edited by incongru; 17th January 2007 at 09:04 AM.. Reason: being dislexic
Old 17th January 2007
Gear Head
incongru's Avatar

...and the others are right. The voice could be a little louder even in version 2.
funny because in headphones I don't feel the need for that (HD 650) but on speakers it sounds a bit weak.
Old 21st January 2007
Gear Head


Here is ANOTHER update:

I definitely think that this is the best mix yet (I better not be getting worse). I worked on giving the snare more balls. But, mainly, I did a lot of A/B-ing with various professional mixes...mainly some Brendan O'Brien Incubus mixes. Please let me know what you think...pros and cons.

You all have already been SUCH a big don't even realize it. Thanks so much. Please let me know what else I can do to improve this mix and myself as a mixer and engineer.

Check out the newest version:
Old 21st January 2007
Lives for gear
jdg's Avatar
good job mæng.

personally i would try to glue the mix together abit.

the "holes" are from sounding like everythign is way too seperated.

my some bus compresson of some sort.
Old 21st January 2007
Lives for gear

I agree with the glue comment.

I don't think there is enough snare to the snare, mostly just head.

I dig the way your toms sound in particular fills, but maybe could be up in the rest of the mix.

The kick doesn't have enough snap in it for me.

Hm... I believe the hats are too far to the right as well...

Really, I think this is a good mix. Just my opinions... and we all have them... you know how that goes.
Old 24th January 2007
Gear Head

Is it just me or do the snares in the beginning sound a bit lazy? I think it might have more impact if you could align those a bit.

I didn't think the radio effect in the second verse was given enough drive/compression, and the slap part stood out a touch.

Overall realy good. Sounds like you've tried to brighten everything in the last mix. Mix fatigue?

Well done either waythumbsup
Old 24th January 2007
Gear Head

i'm a drummer, and i love incubus. if you're looking for that aggressive incubus rock sound for this mix, the snare and bass drum needs some work. the snare sounds too poppy, not gritty enough. i dunno if you've heard of drumagog; it's a plug-in that lets you layer snare samples onto the current snare, at varying levels. so you could throw a ringier, more cutting snare under the current snare sound and blend the two together. then you can tune the sample to match this snare sound. i haven't used it, but i've heard great reviews of it, and i've read the reviews in modern drummer magazine. just thought that might give your snare that extra edge. in terms of the bass drum, it sounds too rounded for my liking. i like how it sounds full, but it doesn't have enough "click". that also kind of takes away from the aggressive rock style this song seems to demand.

keep up the great work! i hope my comments were harsh enough
Old 25th January 2007
Gear Maniac
jaysunice's Avatar

Hey -- Welcome to the 21 year old amateur engineer club!

To my ears...definitely layer/replace the snare -- sounds too clean...too crisp...I'd personally love to hear it snap & crackle with a nice plate verb on it.

Everything sounds very well recorded, as others have mentioned (not to mention me being very jealous of some the gear you own given we're the same age) and I just feel the mix could become more "alive" -- if you're financially stricken, like myself, and work mainly with software plugs, I cannot recommed enough the UAD-1 PCI card plugins -- they'd definitely help with adding some much needed color and impact to the "too clean for my ears" vox sound you got going.

I really like the fullness of the guitars, but liked to have them hit me a little harder -- especially the opening -- just let them slam right away at the beginning and then automate them back down once the drums come in...
Old 25th January 2007
Gear Head
incongru's Avatar

Originally Posted by Ed1234 View Post

I didn't think the radio effect in the second verse was given enough drive/compression
agreed! come on DRIVE THE SH*T OUT OF IT!!!!!!! eheheh
but definitely a GREAT mix as it is now!!!
great improvements made!
And it's true that it wouldn't hurt if the snare was dirtier...
Old 25th January 2007
Lives for gear
strings's Avatar
I'm just a novice, but I think you've done an outstanding job! Great song!
Obviously some great advice here, but I hope it doesn't get pulled in too many directions (ex. I like the clean snare). Hang on to what you like.
Old 24th February 2007
I'm only a few years older than you (25) and I must say when I was 21 I would have killed to be able to produce a mix as well done as this is. I'm very impressed! Sorry, no harsh criticism here except I agree with the above posts regarding driving the "radio effect" to make it a bit more edgy and pronounced. But I'm a big fan of industrial so I like that driven vox sound. Listening on M-Audio BX5a w/ SBX sub setup. Keep it up!
Old 25th February 2007
Gear Head
condivi's Avatar

Hello. Well first off the mix has good balance. and its a well strutted track.

You have a done a great job with getting the guitar nice and wide, and the panning for all the elements is panned well. However my personal feeling is the hi hats should be over the left side as well. however that’s my personal preference.

The 2 main problems to my ears with the mix are most of the sounds are 2 dry. and there is a bit of mud in the lower end of the guitar.

that’s why someone said that the drums sound a little life. the high hats are nearly there but all the other drum elements are to dry, the need some reverb or delly or what ever effects to add movement and sparkle.

vocal need to be brought out some more. Not heaps like a pop song. Bass sounds pretty damm good, maby a little more verb for it. And get a bit of mud out of those guitars and give them some more chorus or reverb.

Its a good track though that’s the main thing. I recon once you get it as good as you can send it to some big labels.

Well done
Old 25th February 2007
Gear Nut

Once every 1000 years you find a bassguitar player that isn't ******** !

You sir have found one! Very nice playing of the bass guitarwith the kick drum.

Altough , I find the bassguitar to be a bit too loud, and the guitars would be relatively louder in the mix if the bass guitar would be a tad more quiet.
Thus killing 2 birds with one stone.
Edit: I agree on the snare drum , maybe samples = the solution?

Very nice producing - recording - mixing skillz m8
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