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Indie Rock Mix approach 500 Series EQ\'s
Old 28th December 2010
  #1
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Indie Rock Mix approach

first mix-off for me. so please be gentle!

I'm pretty confident in my drum mixing/tracking......unless you guys totally rip it apart.
i'm just not sure about my approach of mixing bass and vocals with the rest of the band.

I tracked this band at their practice space. it's all live except for the vocals (Heil PR-40).

one guitarist (who also sings), bass, drums that's it. no instrument overdubs.

just the tiniest hint in the right direction would be super nice!
this is actually my seventh mix of the song and it feels like i'm at a dead end.
i have a whole album worth of mixing ahead of me.

Old 29th December 2010
  #2
The playing sounds good on this - I like whole concept of what you're trying to achieve...

Quote:
I'm pretty confident in my drum mixing/tracking......unless you guys totally rip it apart.
Don't worry, I'm not going to rip you apart, & I can see you're trying to achieve really "roomy" sounding drums, but I think you still need to back of the room mic & emphasise the close mics more... The compression on the room mic is flattening all the dynamics out of the drum sound - rather than being taut & punch, they sound flabby & loose. You've also got some mix "pump" happening because of over-compression, especially at the beginning with the kick drum. I'd also suggest more HP filtering on the individual elements to clean up some of the mud in the mix... Indie doesn't mean muddy!

Quote:
this is actually my seventh mix of the song and it feels like i'm at a dead end.
Before you go any further, get the vocals on the mix!... Mixing a song 7 times without the vocals is just a waste of time IMO... When you get the vocals on, the whole context of the mix will change, & you'll have to adjust your existing sounds anyway.
Old 29th December 2010
  #3
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hey, thanks for the reply.

yes, i am aiming for a roomy yet powerful drum sound...but i don't actually have that many room mics on this mix..OH by that? there is an sm58 room mic buried deeeeeep in the mix. the rest are two OHs (oktavas), snare (m201), toms (senns), kick (pr-40).
maybe i should use a tad less plate on the snare/kick. and less room (lexicon) on the drum bus.

as for the vocals....the song is done....listen to it the whole way through. the vocals are there....they're just REALLY sparse.

I'm just mixing the **** out of this one because it's the only one that is completely tracked. the rest of the vocal sessions will be next year.
Old 29th December 2010
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by useme2305 View Post
hey, thanks for the reply.

yes, i am aiming for a roomy yet powerful drum sound...but i don't actually have that many room mics on this mix..OH by that? there is an sm58 room mic buried deeeeeep in the mix. the rest are two OHs (oktavas), snare (m201), toms (senns), kick (pr-40).
maybe i should use a tad less plate on the snare/kick. and less room (lexicon) on the drum bus.

as for the vocals....the song is done....listen to it the whole way through. the vocals are there....they're just REALLY sparse.

I'm just mixing the **** out of this one because it's the only one that is completely tracked. the rest of the vocal sessions will be next year.
Sorry... I just picked up the vocals this time! Man, they take a l-o-n-g time to come in, & if you blink you'll miss 'em! - you caught me out not listening all the way through! How embarrassing! They sound really good though... The only thing is, they don't sound like they belong in the room with the rest of the instruments. They are almost... pristine - a little too refined for the rest of the mix. Yeah definitely cut down the Lexicon "room" verb on the drums, but add a little under the vox to put everything in the same space. I think too, that the drums are too wide - you need to narrow their stereo field to give them some realism.... in fact, when I heard your mix, it reminded me of the production on a Dallas Crane album I have - it's really raw & roomy, but still punchy - check it out: YouTube - Dallas Crane "Dirty Hearts" - maybe it will help as a bit of a reference for your mix
Old 29th December 2010
  #5
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alright, here's my latest version.

less reverb on the drums.
less hi-shelf boost on the vocals and more plate. less volume too.
narrowed the stereo field of the drums drastically.
less drum-bus compression


Old 30th December 2010
  #6
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The link to soundcloud doesn't work.
Old 31st December 2010
  #7
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it does for me. i checked on multiple computers.

soundcloud must have been down when you tried. it should be fine now?
Old 5th January 2011
  #8
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anyone?
Old 5th January 2011
  #9
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Gary Ladd's Avatar
Link workee for me...liked the second mix better

Definately sounds like a live recording of a 3 piece indy band, yep!

Old 5th January 2011
  #10
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i take it....the mix is not really "wrong" but also nothing special.

but let's face it: the snare is too dark and the guitars need more hi-pass filtering. fuuck

anyone else?

i really can't put my finger on why i can't sit the bass guit in this mix.
Old 7th January 2011
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by useme2305 View Post
i really can't put my finger on why i can't sit the bass guit in this mix.
try to put side chain compression on it using your kick as the guideline. put it on a stereo buss and use a limiter before the side chain comp to "lock in" the punch of them both. will help tremendously in getting both to sit right
Old 7th January 2011
  #12
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great....thanks. there is side chain compression going on triggered by the kick on the bass guitar track already. maybe i should try your version.

could you elaborate a little more detailed on the limiter thing? i'm not sure what exactly you mean by putting what on a stereo buss? the kick and the bass...limit both then sidechain comp?

also what kind of numbers of gain reduction am i looking for on the side chain comp?
Old 7th January 2011
  #13
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anything past 6db is just almost unbearably distracting for a rock busing a mix. It sounds like you're hitting between 6-12 most of the time though. Correct me if I'm wrong (new mix sounds a lot better), It sounds like the release might be a bit too slow though. I would compress the drums, guitars, and vocals on separate busses and then compress less on the master. Like the song a lot
Old 8th January 2011
  #14
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so here's my latest effort: it's a tad brighter.

i cut back on the guitar and drum buss compression and parallel comped the kick+snare massively and blended that in very low in the mix.

i also lowered some "dirt frequencies" on the OH buss that made the Hi-Hat wobble very unpleasantly (at around 500Hz) with a linear phase eq plugin. it didn't seem to affect the overall drum sound in a bad way.

the guitar buss hi-pass filter is now at 267Hz as opposed to 230Hz. this makes the mix sound much tighter if you ask me. the guitar buss compressors gain reduction now clocks in at around -2.5db during the soft parts and up the -5db during the very loud parts. i softened the knee of said buss comp a tad and well, it sounds much better to my ears.

as a bonus i chose another room reverb for the drums and lo-passed it generously.

last but not least i re-checked my approach of ducking the bass guitar...there wasn't any gain reduction going on more than -3db but i decided to tame it anyhow and the kick now ducks the bass by -2db max. i also sloved some minor overcompressing issues on the bass to add a little more sustain.




@fHumble fHingaz: you requested the stems to try your hand at this song...unfortunately the band doesn't want me to hand out stems for their stuff. i have to respect that. thanks alot for your help so far anyways!
Old 8th January 2011
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by useme2305 View Post
alright, here's my latest version.


about mix 11

I'm on laptop with sennheiser px 100 headphones but it's on purpose - think of my critique being made from a consumer level listening point of view, where the mix HAS to translate nice HERE (I'm not writing this from a a nice treated room, which does not reflect the real world at all)

my ears still want more clarity and definition overall.

I think the snare is a tad too high level wise... Also think it eats up too much low-mid info from the kick/bass....

kick is still fighing it's way out : I would push it's mids up to get some more click out of it...

maybe applying a tad more HF on OH could help make the guitars sizzle out better...?

maybe carve out the mud range around 300-400 on the master buss could bring more definition to all the rest too....


- the band sounds good, but some pre-prod work needs to happen arrangement wise ....

I would ditch material from start to 1:45 altogether ... it does not serve the song that much. maybe the contrary. ears want to zap the song sort of soon despite a very nice performance...

vocals :

- where does the singer vanish at 2:35 ?
- 3:05 : verse 2 please ? a reintro here just kills the build up/dynamics of the arrangement... we had enough of that already in the 1st minute

etc...


summary:
nice recording
mix is getting there big time
the band is very tight!
pre-prod: cut some fat, shorten the whole thing, cut the BS down 2mns to come closer to the ephemeral rock/punkish format, which is all about that live fast die young immediacy thing imho... if the singer has something to say, then say it and speak fast : intro,v1,v2, ch1,v3,v4,ch2,outro - once done, they can break all the gear and leave the stage. push stop on the recorder. :D
Old 8th January 2011
  #16
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hey thanks alot for the reply....you're spot on with most of what you said and i'll look into everything for the next mix.
the parallel comped kick+snare are probably the culprits for most of the snare vs kick issues.

right now i'm using the api 550a plug on the mix-buss with -2db of cutting the 800Hz area on the mid band and adding a hi-shelf of 2db at 10Khz.
the 800Hz cut really does the mix well i think. i'll try the mud area cut you mentioned, too though. i just don't want the mix become hollow (mid less)....so i'll be very carefull.

yeah, the band has their ways of making songs stroll around for a while and not get to the point too soon or at all. on purpose...as they'd probably put it.
personally i'm not nearly confident and close enough to those guys to be able to push them in a certain direction.

they do have their pop songs that are much more immediately accecible and full of vocals and what not while still maintaining a certain twist. maybe i'll post a mix later. i'm actually working on the whole album right now mixing 3 songs at a time.

ps.: i love the px-100s
Old 8th January 2011
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by useme2305 View Post
hey thanks alot for the reply....you're spot on with most of what you said and i'll look into everything for the next mix.

my pleasure thumbsup

care to tell us more about your mobile recording gear/setup ?

what type of room was that recorded in : a practice space? house? basement?

Cheers
Patrick
Old 8th January 2011
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by useme2305 View Post
so here's my latest effort: it's a tad brighter.

i cut back on the guitar and drum buss compression and parallel comped the kick+snare massively and blended that in very low in the mix.

i also lowered some "dirt frequencies" on the OH buss that made the Hi-Hat wobble very unpleasantly (at around 500Hz) with a linear phase eq plugin. it didn't seem to affect the overall drum sound in a bad way.

the guitar buss hi-pass filter is now at 267Hz as opposed to 230Hz. this makes the mix sound much tighter if you ask me. the guitar buss compressors gain reduction now clocks in at around -2.5db during the soft parts and up the -5db during the very loud parts. i softened the knee of said buss comp a tad and well, it sounds much better to my ears.

as a bonus i chose another room reverb for the drums and lo-passed it generously.

last but not least i re-checked my approach of ducking the bass guitar...there wasn't any gain reduction going on more than -3db but i decided to tame it anyhow and the kick now ducks the bass by -2db max. i also sloved some minor overcompressing issues on the bass to add a little more sustain.




@fHumble fHingaz: you requested the stems to try your hand at this song...unfortunately the band doesn't want me to hand out stems for their stuff. i have to respect that. thanks alot for your help so far anyways!
good job, its really coming together now. I am glad to see some of my typical EQing decisions supported here (regarding the hipass on guitar/cymbals). I would compress the guitars more in the 7-13 decibel range for this kind of music. I would not compress the drums differently to free up the kick...that is a level problem, bring up the kick more, cut out some mids, maybe even boost 60hz a tad... If you are to hipass the snare I would only do it up to 250, past that is a dangerous game for me. Regarding someones comments on cutting the 500hz region on mix bus, I think that is more relevant to single parameters only, if you want the bass definition there, then cut some out of the guitars (that would be most common). I think you have it down though, not at all muddy and it seems like you know what you wan't and have the control to do so...its all pretty subjective as what it is you should do from here mixwise. I would prefer an even darker mix although I am listening on HD280 headphones (which are generally a bit brighter than speakers I've noticed, so maybe that is something to take into consideration)
Old 8th January 2011
  #19
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Automation...

Last edited by Bending_Bus; 18th May 2011 at 12:26 AM.. Reason: brevity
Old 9th January 2011
  #20
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thanks for the rather lengthy post....i love those.

certainly a different direction from what everyone has told me so far and i'm thankful for that.

about riding the fader:
there is a truck load of fader riding going on already in the mix...it's very subtle but it's there on the kick, vocals, guitars, bass as well as the plate and delay sends of almost every single track/bus. i was going for more of a steady sound to create an almost kraut rock kind of feel.....it fits the structure of the song i think. with the sparse vocals and stuff.

i'll see what else i can make of your statements tomorrow....just got home from a night out at the bar. i'm pretty drunk so i wont even bother to even listen to snippets of anything i've done so far.....this habit has already ruined many of my previous mixes.
Old 9th January 2011
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pat38 View Post
care to tell us more about your mobile recording gear/setup ?

what type of room was that recorded in : a practice space? house? basement?
i don't really have a mobile rig. i sold all of my stuff last year because i want to start from scratch and get into the whole lunchbox business. still haven't saved up nearly enough for even a fw interface though.

so for this "job" i just used what the band had (crappy alesis fw 8ch mixer) and a few of their mics plus my mics an my macbook pro with logic.
i also patched in my little soundcraft notepad 4ch mixer which allowed me to run three more preamp channels into the fw mixer for an 11 channels super lo-fi live rig.

mics are as follows:
kick - pr-40
snare - m201
lo tom - e904
hi tom - some super cheap old senn
OH - oktava 012 (stock)
room - sm58
guitars - e904+beta57 on a hot rod deluxe, 441 on a 8" vox tube amp.
bass - d6 on a 15" with a super nice music man hd-150 tube amp from the early 80s.
vocals - pr40/441 depending on the song.

the space was a tiny basement with high ceilings (luckily) and brick walls. the place is stuffed with bass traps and absorbers. i removed one huge absorber near the drums from the wall and used it as a room seperator. the bare brickwall really helped the drums breath a little, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bending_Bus View Post
Random ideas while sucking down coffee:
* 1.16 grab the fader on that Big Muff sounding nasty guitar and crank it up LOUD. Invite your friends over and play the mix, if nobody complains kick them out of your house, put the fader louder, invite them back, repeat. Eventually someone will be quite offended, that guitar is TOO LOUD MAN! It should also offend 75% the engineers here, that is when you know you nailed it.
* 1.34 now ride drums up, guitar down, make the kick punch the chest.
* 1.46 drums drop back to normal, vocal comes in.
* 2.04 drums ride back up (flick room mics on?)
* 2.12 drums down, vocal in
* 2.26 drums up guitar up, fade in guitar feedback right before 2.40
* 2.40 everything up! Bam.
* 2.55 everything down!
* 3.06 chillin' back at normal levels before starting another progression of fader jammin'....
it's definitely a stiff sounding mix and your ideas do make sense. i'll take what you said into consideration for my next mix. i have all the time in the world for this and really want to learn from this "job" as much as i can before buying any hi-end gear later this year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by suicidebomber View Post
I would prefer an even darker mix although I am listening on HD280 headphones (which are generally a bit brighter than speakers I've noticed, so maybe that is something to take into consideration)
i wish waves would make a 550a mastering edition plug with small number db steps. this would allow me to make the mix breath a little more without making it overly bright or harsh...i just love the sound of the 550a plug on the mix bus tho....can't live without it.

finally, here's another song from the session.


there are some last minute guitar overdubs on this one that i managed to talk the singer into during our last vocal session....it really needed some punch during the loud parts.
Old 9th January 2011
  #22
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pics can never hurt.
Attached Thumbnails
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Indie Rock Mix approach-154100_470683076946_175806741946_5922814_2874504_n.jpg   Indie Rock Mix approach-154999_472618791946_175806741946_5949042_1580520_n.jpg   Indie Rock Mix approach-155216_472619106946_175806741946_5949052_6500195_n.jpg   Indie Rock Mix approach-155338_470683246946_175806741946_5922818_6334815_n.jpg   Indie Rock Mix approach-156706_470683351946_175806741946_5922820_1321048_n.jpg  

Old 10th January 2011
  #23
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well, i just ordered a BCF2000 to get a little deeper into the whole fader riding business.

up until now i've always done all my automation with a mouse...this has always been pretty unintuitive and resulted in quickly getting tired of properly automating busses and stuff.
Old 11th January 2011
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by useme2305 View Post
pics can never hurt.
I like the placement of the beer next to the guitar amp.
Old 11th January 2011
  #25
Haven't checked in on this one for a while - big improvement!

Quote:
@fHumble fHingaz: you requested the stems to try your hand at this song...unfortunately the band doesn't want me to hand out stems for their stuff. i have to respect that. thanks alot for your help so far anyways!
No problem, you gotta do what the band wants!
Old 12th January 2011
  #26
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Nate Will's Avatar
I'm no expert engineer, just a producer..but it seems like the mix could benefit from lowering the bass guitar lol..then your kick would breath and that guitar wouldn't sound so offensive (its a rough sound initially, coupled with that hip hop level bass doesn't help).
Old 12th January 2011
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by useme2305 View Post
great....thanks. there is side chain compression going on triggered by the kick on the bass guitar track already. maybe i should try your version.

could you elaborate a little more detailed on the limiter thing? i'm not sure what exactly you mean by putting what on a stereo buss? the kick and the bass...limit both then sidechain comp?

also what kind of numbers of gain reduction am i looking for on the side chain comp?
Send the bass & the kick to a stereo group buss. Put the bass on one side (left or right) and the kick on the other, that way the SC Comp can distinguish what is what and will know what to comp to.

I put a Waves L2 limiter on the buss group track that has the bass & kick both sent to it before the side chain compressor to have them both "locked in" and punching good together, helps hold em both .
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