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Help on mixing a fake 80s song
Old 13th April 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Help on mixing a fake 80s song

My mixing/mastering skills used to be rather limited, my mixes sounded dull or uninteresting. Recently I've made some progress, perhaps mostly because I found out about side chains. Still, I have lots of questions about what is a good mix and what is a bad one. You can listen to my work in progress on soundcloud:

Music For The Clouds by digorydoo | Digory Doo | Free Listening on SoundCloud

What I'm trying to achieve is a mix that is both very loud and at the same time somewhat similar how Depeche Mode used to sound like in the 80s and 90s. Here are a few questions:

Do you think the side chains are too extreme? Is the song too bouncy for your taste?

I used a lot of reverb to make the mix sound thicker. Do you think I overdid it?

Does the song sound interesting to you? If you have suggestions about the composition, I'd like to hear that as well.

There are other artists on soundcloud that produce fake 80s songs (Mitch Murder, Carpenter Brut, et al.) that gain a lot of attention (likes, plays). My songs still gain almost zero attention. Do you think the problem is the mix, the composition, the sounds? What is your overall impression?

I also have a few questions about Cubase, which is my DAW:
  • The limiter seems to just limit. Is there some trick to also make it go into saturation when the limit is reached? I tried using a combination of DaTube and a limiter, but the results were poor.
  • What's the purpose of the Analysis knob in the compressor? In general, I found the compressor becomes a lot less responsive when Analysis is on the default position, so I always turn it down to zero.
  • Do you ever use the "Auto" button for the compressor's release time? I always set the release time manually, the Auto setting never seems to be much good.
  • Is there an easy way to side-chain a reverb? I mean: I want a certain track to sound completely dry as long as it plays, but as soon as it stops playing, the reverb comes in. I achieved this with a complicated setup that involves routing the track to another bus, putting the reverb effect there and add a side chain to the original track. This is very clumsy if you want to do this for multiple tracks, there must be an easier way!

Any other suggestions? Thanks!
Old 16th April 2019
  #2
Gear Nut
 

your track sounds pretty good for me and peculiar.
Old 16th April 2019
  #3
Lives for gear
I have Cubase. I like the platform, but... The stock compressors, limiters, reverbs and EFX are basic and utilitarian. To get beyond a “hobby level” quality for those elements, I’ve subscribed to the Slate package and some FabFilter plugs. The newer Slate emulations do the things you want. They saturate, compress, limit, etc like the hardware boxes they emulate. That is an opinion based on my prior ownership of some of the modeled hardware. Besides the savings, I can now have more than one Distressor or Neve EQ at work on various channels. I can also create chains that would break almost any studio’s bank if done with hardware.
As to sidechaining in Cubase, let me know if you have it figured out. The Cubase manual has been beyond my comprehension abilities on that subject.
Old 16th April 2019
  #4
Here for the gear
 

@ neurodrive : Thanks! Any suggestions how to make it sound more 80s like, or to find a broader audience?

@ Bushman : Side-chaining in Cubase is pretty straight-forward. Say you have a synth pad and you want to make it bounce with the kick. Put a compressor onto the synth pad channel. Open the compressor settings, click the side-chain button at the top of the window. Pull the threshold down, set ratio to 1:8, gain to 1.0, attack to minimum, hold to 1, release to 200. Now go to the kick channel, and add a send. The compressor should appear in the list of buses, it's the side-chain you've just activated. Select the compressor, then don't forget to activate the send. Now your synth pad should bounce quite a bit. Use the compressor's release time to control the timing, and the threshold to control how much the pad should bounce.
Old 16th April 2019
  #5
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by digorydoo View Post
@ Bushman : Side-chaining in Cubase is pretty straight-forward. Say you have a synth pad and you want to make it bounce with the kick. Put a compressor onto the synth pad channel. Open the compressor settings, click the side-chain button at the top of the window..
Thanks. I’ll try that.
Old 19th April 2019
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Moving on to a new song:

Vil Zphil Collins by digorydoo | Digory Doo | Free Listening on SoundCloud

This time I tried making it sound like the 80s by using lots of gated reverb. Tell me what you think in terms of mixing and composition. Maybe it turned out a little too silly.
Old 19th April 2019
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by digorydoo View Post
The limiter seems to just limit. Is there some trick to also make it go into saturation when the limit is reached? I tried using a combination of DaTube and a limiter, but the results were poor.
AFAIK it's a clean limiter working correctly, if you want saturation you need to use something else (f.i. preamps, tape), depending on the kind of saturation you want.

Quote:
Originally Posted by digorydoo View Post
What's the purpose of the Analysis knob in the compressor? In general, I found the compressor becomes a lot less responsive when Analysis is on the default position, so I always turn it down to zero.
It determines wheter the input signal is analyzed according to peak or RMS. 0 is pure peak, 100 is pure RMS (you can find more info on the manual).

Quote:
Originally Posted by digorydoo View Post
Do you ever use the "Auto" button for the compressor's release time? I always set the release time manually, the Auto setting never seems to be much good.
Most of the times I set it manually.

Quote:
Originally Posted by digorydoo View Post
Is there an easy way to side-chain a reverb? I mean: I want a certain track to sound completely dry as long as it plays, but as soon as it stops playing, the reverb comes in. I achieved this with a complicated setup that involves routing the track to another bus, putting the reverb effect there and add a side chain to the original track. This is very clumsy if you want to do this for multiple tracks, there must be an easier way!
Set up an FX channel with your reverb and add a compressor, activate the side-chain on the compressor and send the original signal to both the FX channel and the compressor's side-chain.
Old 21st April 2019
  #8
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
AFAIK it's a clean limiter working correctly, if you want saturation you need to use something else (f.i. preamps, tape), depending on the kind of saturation you want.
OK. Have you successfully used one of Cubase's standard plugins, or do you use third-party plugins for saturation?

Quote:
Set up an FX channel with your reverb and add a compressor, activate the side-chain on the compressor and send the original signal to both the FX channel and the compressor's side-chain.
That's more or less what I do. But it's kind of clumsy, especially if you want to do this for multiple channels.
Old 21st April 2019
  #9
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by digorydoo View Post
@ neurodrive : Thanks! Any suggestions how to make it sound more 80s like, or to find a broader audience?
what is your personal reference for 80's?
track name maybe.

i just have no idea what you need from 80's vibes.
Old 21st April 2019
  #10
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by neurodrive View Post
what is your personal reference for 80's?
track name maybe.

i just have no idea what you need from 80's vibes.
Agree... for example, consider all the open space between between Karen Carpenter and Motley Crue.
Old 21st April 2019
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by digorydoo View Post
OK. Have you successfully used one of Cubase's standard plugins, or do you use third-party plugins for saturation?
It happens I use Magneto II but I also use third-party plugins. It all depends on how much saturation you want and which kind of saturation you want. For a very slight but effective saturation you could consider Satson (console emulation, I never used the channel strip, therefore I can't advise on that one) on all channels (you have to set up the gain stage correctly but it doesn't take so long).

Quote:
Originally Posted by digorydoo View Post
That's more or less what I do. But it's kind of clumsy, especially if you want to do this for multiple channels.
I apologize, I misunderstood your way of working on that. Eventually you can create a Group Channel and send the signal to the FX channel and to the side-chain from there. That's not a great improvement but it's maybe a tad quicker.

Last edited by JEK3; 21st April 2019 at 05:43 PM.. Reason: typo
Old 21st April 2019
  #12
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by neurodrive View Post
what is your personal reference for 80's
It's true, some 80s bands have their own style. 80s Pink Floyd, for instance, sounds a lot different than 80s Sting. But on the other hand, there is a kind of style that's very typical to the 80s, and that's what I'm trying to emulate. Cliché 80s. Good examples are "I'm not scared" by Eighth Wonder, "She drives me crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals, "Land of confusion" by Genesis, "Shattered dreams" by Johnny Hates Jazz, or "The way you love me" by Paula Abdul.
Old 22nd April 2019
  #13
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by digorydoo View Post
Good examples are "I'm not scared" by Eighth Wonder, "She drives me crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals, "Land of confusion" by Genesis, "Shattered dreams" by Johnny Hates Jazz, or "The way you love me" by Paula Abdul.
Thank you. You are interested in a certain 80s sound that doesn’t happen to overlap with my studio experience of that decade, so it’s unlikely I can give you useful input. No doubt someone else can.
Oops! Unintentional pun on “no doubt”.
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