The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Why do my recordings sound unexciting? Listen here. Modular Synthesizers
Old 30th December 2010
  #1
Why do my recordings sound unexciting? Listen here.

Hello,

I'm trying to get my recordings to sound professionally produced. Can anyone give me an evaluation of my recording? What am I doing wrong here? I'm just not getting the sound I want. Not sure if the problem is my gear, my acoustic space, me, my playing, my ears.......... All of the above????

Main Instruments Recorded:
Guzheng
Acoustic Guitar (bowed)

Space:
Narrow room. 4 decent Sound Panels mounted to the walls. Absorbs some highs. Additionally, 2 moving blankets hanging from the ceiling to section off the room (makes a perfect square).

Signal Chain:
A) Acoustic Guitar (bowed, not strummed) > Mojave MA200 > Millennia TD1 > Apogee Rosetta 200 (via SPDIF) > Prosonus FP10 > Logic 8.

B) Guzheng (chinese instrument) > Mojave MA200 > Millennia TD1 > Apogee Rosetta 200 (via SPDIF) > Prosonus FP10 > Logic 8. (also had a second mic (Audio Technica) with same signal chain accept the micpre was a Prosonus Mixpre)

C) 2 soft plugs: Minimoog and Kontakt strings (mixed very low).

To me, this track could be so much better if I just knew how to use my gear better. What do you think? Below are images of the Logic session. Any comments appreciated. I am expecting some negative ones, so that's okay too. Just to get it out there; I'm not a professional sound engineer.



http://www.independentmusicproductio...Snow%20Falling

1) fullscreen







2)plugins on the Master Track


Old 30th December 2010
  #2
Gear Addict
 

A quick glance of your mix:

1) All the tracks have reverb sends. Reverb creates front-to-back distance (and also can smear when used too much) so on all these tracks, the sounds are basically being pushed to the back. It's better not to bathe everything in reverb.

2) The EQ on the master track is boosting the lows and the highs, with a dip in the mids. Instead, if you are wanting to cut (or boost) bass, or the highs, you may have better luck dealing on a per track basis. In general, it's usually better to cut than to boost, and if you must boost, do small increments.

3) All the EQs on the tracks have more or less the same settings. So all the tracks are exhibiting / being limited in the same frequency bands. This gives no variety because all the instruments are being cut in basically the same frequencies (unless every instrument has something nasty in that frequency??). You want to represent a full spectrum, which is the beauty of each instrument having its own voice in the mix.

4) The Guzheng has two tracks. Are they playing the same thing? They both share the same EQ setting, and are both panned to the left side. They may present a phase issue, dunno.

5) Depending on the situation, you may not want to have the EQ come before the compressor. Your tracks don't look to be recorded very loud so I'm wondering if you are trying to make up for that with the compressor and limiter?

It looks like you have good equipment. As I'm sure you know, mixing is a skill that takes a lot of practice and the more you mix and study up on it, the more you will be able to achieve what you want.
Old 30th December 2010
  #3
Gear Addict
 

Are you a producer/mixer or a songwriter or are you trying to be a jack of all trades? This sounds fine for what it is. If you are writing songs just record with proper gain staging and worry about mixing later. If you are just starting to record it is easy to get caught up in the "make my first attempt sound professional" rabbit hole. If this is recorded properly (by your standards) and you really want to hear it "professionally mixed" then find a professional to mix it for you with you in attendance and you will find out how to mix it. Think of the money you will spend as an education.
Old 30th December 2010
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by macmuse View Post
A quick glance of your mix:

4) The Guzheng has two tracks. Are they playing the same thing? They both share the same EQ setting, and are both panned to the left side. They may present a phase issue, dunno.



5) Depending on the situation, you may not want to have the EQ come before the compressor. Your tracks don't look to be recorded very loud so I'm wondering if you are trying to make up for that with the compressor and limiter?


It looks like you have good equipment. As I'm sure you know, mixing is a skill that takes a lot of practice and the more you mix and study up on it, the more you will be able to achieve what you want.

-The Guzheng has 2 parts/takes. Each part had 2 mics/channels, and are color coordinated. So yeah, 2 tracks are playing one part, and the remaining 2 are playing the other part. I think there could be some phasing because when I pan hard left and right, is sounds better, or maybe it's just a better image. To be honest, it's hard for me to notice phasing.

-Yes. I am trying to make up for the volume, by adding gain on the master compressor.


-Yeah. Mixing is certainly not easy and is an art that not everyone possesses. Thanks for the reply. You certainly brought up good points.
Old 30th December 2010
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heimel View Post
Are you a producer/mixer or a songwriter or are you trying to be a jack of all trades? This sounds fine for what it is. If you are writing songs just record with proper gain staging and worry about mixing later. If you are just starting to record it is easy to get caught up in the "make my first attempt sound professional" rabbit hole. If this is recorded properly (by your standards) and you really want to hear it "professionally mixed" then find a professional to mix it for you with you in attendance and you will find out how to mix it. Think of the money you will spend as an education.
I guess I'm more of a songwriter, but I don't always make many distinctions. Either way, I'd like to be able to get something I think sounds great, then I would pass it on too a professional and experienced mixer.

To begin with; I think when I attempt to mix, the main reason is because I'm immediately dissatisfied with the sound of the raw tracks. I guess I start playing with the EQ, Verb, and Compressor because I think it will improve the recording. But, that's rarely the case.

I'd be happier if I could get my initial raw tracks to sound fuller and cleaner. I'm more interested in the mic capturing the sound as it is, without having to mess with effects (a little warm reverb would be the one exception).
Old 30th December 2010
  #6
Gear Addict
 

Post a sample of your raw tracks with no processing at unity and we can tell you if your raw tracks are in the ball park.
Old 30th December 2010
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Beyersound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkfloyder View Post


-Yeah. Mixing is certainly not easy and is an art that not everyone possesses.
+1000! Actually mixing is an art/skill that few truly possess! It is something that is not mentioned around here anywhere near enough. By percentage it is incredibly low. It also takes years to be really good, not months. If some of the people here spent more time mixing and learning, and less time posting opinions, they could get lots better!
Old 30th December 2010
  #8
Gear Addict
 

listening on macbook speakers

i feel the fingerpicked instrument playing the same pattern in a loop should be EQed to go in the back a little bit. i'd do a dip around the highest note (A?)

i liked that this instrumental wasn't techno or rock
Old 30th December 2010
  #9
Gear Guru
 

I would bring the guzheng into the center,

pan the bowed stuff out L and R push them back into the reverb

you could set up a second row of sends for a second complementary reverb - a small and a large, or a medium and large, or a plate and a room.

and a third (and fourth!) set of sends for rhythmic delays. A long one that repeats but displaces the whole phrase, a short one that doubles the pulse.

I would try the rhythmic delays on the guzheng. they can be really low in the mix and still have a powerful effect.

Slower parts generally would get the deeper verbs. I wouldn't keep it static. I'd slowly increase the amounts of these effects as the song goes on.

there are some plucky sounds (violins?) that IMO, could be made pluckier - automate the attacks, or parallel gate them? Transient designer? or maybe just some small room

I would make the bass much louder - maybe with some automation so that it rises and falls

I would seek out unique EQ emphasis for each of the different parts.

all of this is just my taste, I would not expect that you would necessarily agree on any of it, but the general advice I would give is to try and create movement and contrast with your mixing tools. Some of it is "creating drama" but also don't be afraid to be subtle, to do little things that you know are improvements, but you think nobody will notice.

Everybody notices everything. They just aren't always aware of it.
Old 30th December 2010
  #10
Lives for gear
 
ryst's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heimel View Post
Post a sample of your raw tracks with no processing at unity and we can tell you if your raw tracks are in the ball park.
+1000.
Old 30th December 2010
  #11
The one thing I notice listening through some headphones is there's a lot of congestion within lower mids and bass, lots of sound trying to occupy that little bandwidth.

+1 on what the others have said about mixing. I wish I could mix myself, it's a serious skill. The only thing I can really say with certainty from experience is that the better tracked the instruments, the easier it'll all fall together and naturally sound good. If you start out with badly tracked instruments it's going to be a never ending uphill struggle, erase any concept you have of "fixing it in post" hell, even the idea of producing and mixing ITB. Your aim is to have n tracks with absolutely no post effects or EQ on them at all and for it to sound great and full at that stage. Then you can fiddle with an added layer of polish.
Old 30th December 2010
  #12
Gear Nut
 

I think it has to do with arrangement, also... I like your track, but I think the "un-excitement" is largely due to "not-much-happening"/static instrumentation and arrangement in the track. The ambient atmosphere, as good as it is, is not a ground for excitement.

You could try volume-riding the parts as well as dynamic panning to make the track more alive. I would steer clear of static compression and such with a track like yours, and instead try to make it as varying and dynamic instead. Also, try to find the parts that need to be pushed back (thick, wide reverb jumps to mind), as well as the parts that need to be highlighted (more upfront, less or no reverb) to make the track more "3D".

My 2c.

BTW, I also like that our track is not rock / electro...
Old 30th December 2010
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Jerrick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kalle74 View Post
I think it has to do with arrangement, also... I like your track, but I think the "un-excitement" is largely due to "not-much-happening"/static instrumentation and arrangement in the track. The ambient atmosphere, as good as it is, is not a ground for excitement.

.

I basically had the same thought. I think the sounds are capable of being exciting, just that are played and are in an arrangement that is not exciting. I can easily hear it building up and taking off to a very exciting section though.

Otherwise its just getting better at mixing and getting a little creative. Dont be afraid to experiment, or just copy your project file, and restart it, then go back to your first mix of it, see what you lie or didnt like between the versions and do a 3rd with the best of both of them.
Old 30th December 2010
  #14
Gear Addict
 

I would say that the main problem is the arrangement (this is not supposed to be an assault on your songwriting, arranging is a different game). A good arrangement will sound good no matter what the recording is like in my opinion. However, no-one generally elaborates on the arrangement so I will do my best:

Take a bit of paper and draw a piano roll or something similar on the left hand side. Next draw in where your instruments are sitting in the musical range, you will probably notice that it is all very congested in one area and sparse/non-existent in others. Think about ways in which you can spread your instrumentation over the octaves better.

Next think about the timbre of your instruments. Do the timbres clash? What ways can you change this? You can change the range of the instrument, change the way that you play it and maybe even think about ways to mic it (ambient/close).

Rhythm. Is everything playing a similar rhythm? If so does this improve or take away from the overall performance? Slight variations on rhythmic grouping can really change the feel of a piece.

Finally, think about dynamics. Is your piece dynamically exciting? Does it need to be? What ways can you alter the dynamics without detracting from the piece as a whole? This might even be playing one instrument very quietly which in turn will alter it's timbre.

Have a listen to 'Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us' by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. This, in my opinion, is a masterclass in interesting and effective arranging (T. Bone Burnett).

Hope this has helped a little.
Old 30th December 2010
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heimel View Post
Post a sample of your raw tracks with no processing at unity and we can tell you if your raw tracks are in the ball park.
Many good points from everyone. Thank you so much. I'm providing two more versions to check out.


1) Raw tracks, no effects, but mixed levels and pans.

http://www.independentmusicproductio...0Falling%20raw





2) Raw tracks, no effects, still panned but all track at unity.

http://www.independentmusicproductio...%20raw%20unity

Old 30th December 2010
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
I would bring the guzheng into the center,

pan the bowed stuff out L and R push them back into the reverb

you could set up a second row of sends for a second complementary reverb - a small and a large, or a medium and large, or a plate and a room.

and a third (and fourth!) set of sends for rhythmic delays. A long one that repeats but displaces the whole phrase, a short one that doubles the pulse.

I would try the rhythmic delays on the guzheng. they can be really low in the mix and still have a powerful effect.

Slower parts generally would get the deeper verbs. I wouldn't keep it static. I'd slowly increase the amounts of these effects as the song goes on.

there are some plucky sounds (violins?) that IMO, could be made pluckier - automate the attacks, or parallel gate them? Transient designer? or maybe just some small room

I would make the bass much louder - maybe with some automation so that it rises and falls

I would seek out unique EQ emphasis for each of the different parts.

all of this is just my taste, I would not expect that you would necessarily agree on any of it, but the general advice I would give is to try and create movement and contrast with your mixing tools. Some of it is "creating drama" but also don't be afraid to be subtle, to do little things that you know are improvements, but you think nobody will notice.

Everybody notices everything. They just aren't always aware of it.


- Great. I may try this. I will post a mix and photo of it.
Old 30th December 2010
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by roadsweeper View Post

Next think about the timbre of your instruments. Do the timbres clash? What ways can you change this? You can change the range of the instrument, change the way that you play it and maybe even think about ways to mic it (ambient/close).

Finally, think about dynamics. Is your piece dynamically exciting? Does it need to be? What ways can you alter the dynamics without detracting from the piece as a whole? This might even be playing one instrument very quietly which in turn will alter it's timbre.

- Thanks for brining that to my attention. This is true, and something which was not thought about while recording this track. Do you think if I re-wrote parts in different harmonic arrangements, it would open up the sound of the entire piece? That would make sense. So, I guess one lesson learned is to really think about the arrangement harmonically.
Old 30th December 2010
  #18
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkfloyder View Post
- Thanks for brining that to my attention. This is true, and something which was not thought about while recording this track. Do you think if I re-wrote parts in different harmonic arrangements, it would open up the sound of the entire piece? That would make sense. So, I guess one lesson learned is to really think about the arrangement harmonically.
To an extent however I don't mean that you need to re-write the harmonic progression or anything like that. One way of creating more space by using the same chords and structure is to use different voicings within the arrangement. For example, when writing for something like a brass section you will outline different extensions of the chord with each instrument using 4 close harmony, drop 2, drop 2+4 etc. Similarly, when playing chords on the guitar and keyboard you have many ways of playing each chord. By looking at where the notes fall and working out whether a 'spread' chord will work best or a more close chord you will be able to open up areas of the arrangement. For instance, a keyboard may be playing a C chord in a spread root position whilst a guitar plays the same C chord but in first inversion an octave higher. This will utilise more of the musical range and create more space in your arrangement resulting (hopefully) in less battling with eq in the mix stage and less 'muddy' sources in a certain range.

I'm sorry if I'm getting a bit technical here but they are areas that might help with your arrangements if you are interested. Of course, you don't have to know these aspects in order to write a good, well arranged piece but I find that it helps.

Good luck!
Old 30th December 2010
  #19
Normalize your tracks and they will sound like they came in more "hot."

This track is not exciting because it does not have much percussion and it has an average or slow tempo.

Though I do think this track is relaxing.
Old 30th December 2010
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by roadsweeper View Post
To an extent however I don't mean that you need to re-write the harmonic progression or anything like that. One way of creating more space by using the same chords and structure is to use different voicings within the arrangement. For example, when writing for something like a brass section you will outline different extensions of the chord with each instrument using 4 close harmony, drop 2, drop 2+4 etc. Similarly, when playing chords on the guitar and keyboard you have many ways of playing each chord. By looking at where the notes fall and working out whether a 'spread' chord will work best or a more close chord you will be able to open up areas of the arrangement. For instance, a keyboard may be playing a C chord in a spread root position whilst a guitar plays the same C chord but in first inversion an octave higher. This will utilise more of the musical range and create more space in your arrangement resulting (hopefully) in less battling with eq in the mix stage and less 'muddy' sources in a certain range.

I'm sorry if I'm getting a bit technical here but they are areas that might help with your arrangements if you are interested. Of course, you don't have to know these aspects in order to write a good, well arranged piece but I find that it helps.

Good luck!
- I get it. Makes sense. It is certainly important to know how to use voicings/inversions, for composing. In the studio, pleasing chord harmonies will allow us to 'hear everything' in the mix. Bass, tenor, alto, soprano.......

So, I think my issue may be a little of each: arrangement, muddy effects, pre-meditated mic placement (at least know how it will sit in the mix). I guess also, I'm not using my equipment properly.

thanks again! learning from all of this.thumbsup
Old 30th December 2010
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
pianomog's Avatar
 

my thoughts

It helps me to pick a focus for my songs and build off of that. When i heard this song, i wanted to put the picked guitar in the middle and build around that. to me it just seems a little unfocused, theres almost to much happening on the right side or something. I think panning and levels could help this a lot. it's all subjective and i like the song, would love to hear it when you have that aha moment when you remix!! good luck. One more thing is to let this type of song breath it seemed to loud in my headphones half way up, that might be because of comp and limiting.
Old 30th December 2010
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by BuildaFriend View Post
Normalize your tracks and they will sound like they came in more "hot."

This track is not exciting because it does not have much percussion and it has an average or slow tempo.

Though I do think this track is relaxing.
No..... Normalizing isn't really what I'm going for.

I want the track to feel alive and professional. Listen to this droney piece by Max Richter: I'm going for something ambient, clean and clear, nice lows, effects coming in clearly.

YouTube - [Soundtrack] Waltz with Bashir - 02. Iconography - Max Richter
Old 30th December 2010
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Energie's Avatar
 

Pretty nice!

I like the track alot! I agree that there isn't a whole lot going on to be exciting, but works well for what you are doing. but overall it sounds like some of the sounds are missing some lows, and almost sound like they are muffled just a bit on top. I see you hollowed out the low mids a bit. Not sure if that is necessary. Perhaps better micing placement might help. Would bring up the metallic sounds just a bit, perhaps with some verb on them might add to some jangle. Really I think you are just missing a little jangle, and some low end on your instruments.

Never tried bowing an acoustic, might just have to give it a try!
Old 30th December 2010
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by pianomog View Post
It helps me to pick a focus for my songs and build off of that. When i heard this song, i wanted to put the picked guitar in the middle and build around that. to me it just seems a little unfocused, theres almost to much happening on the right side or something. I think panning and levels could help this a lot. it's all subjective and i like the song, would love to hear it when you have that aha moment when you remix!! good luck. One more thing is to let this type of song breath it seemed to loud in my headphones half way up, that might be because of comp and limiting.
-Right. It is unfocused but not because it lacks a main voice or an ostinato, I think it's because it's hard to distinguish/hear the instruments clearly. The mix/recording - to me - is the major unfocused part (i think).
Old 30th December 2010
  #25
you have a vision, that is good. i have been told by people who make a good living doing this that having a vision before you start is one of the keys.

MOVE YOUR MICS AROUND ON THE WAY IN.. LISTEN. that is one thing that paid engineers don't emphasize enough to people like you and I who are learning. If it does not sound right going in... youre going to have a hell of a time trying to get it to sound right after. you CAN polish a turd, but why bother. ( if you dont believe me watch this myth busters episode YouTube - Mythbusters Polishing a Turd

Do you have separate rooms?

What gear are you using? From microphones to your AD and DA conversion.

Are you using an EQ or Compressors on the way in ( as in are you using outboard gear ).

I've heard some strange things about the bounce engine for logic. Look into it.
Old 30th December 2010
  #26
scratch that, i see your post up top.

you have good stuff.

just adjust things man. keep turning knobs.
Old 30th December 2010
  #27
Lives for gear
 
Play's Avatar
 

I'd lose the Averb or change to a subtle and less consuming setting.

The raw mix sounds very nice indeed.
Old 30th December 2010
  #28
Gear Addict
 
vierge99's Avatar
 

I know EXACTLY why.

No vocals

No drums

It's a genre thing. As quality as that recording/mix could be, it's the song itself. Hate to be the one to break it to you.
Old 31st December 2010
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by vierge99 View Post
I know EXACTLY why.

No vocals

No drums

It's a genre thing. As quality as that recording/mix could be, it's the song itself. Hate to be the one to break it to you.

"One thing that puzzle's me, is the make-up of your audience seems to be predominantly young boys." - Rob Reiner Spinal Tap
Old 31st December 2010
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Beyersound's Avatar
I just gave the tune a good listen. Very nice tune and instrumentation, has potential. I would say joeq in post #9 had the best ideas, although I would pan the guzheng close to the center, but a bit off to either side. You could try multi tap delays in time, as well as different reverbs. For a good reference, try listening to Enya "Memory Of Trees", it was a great mix done by the lovely and talented Jimbo Barton of Queensryche and Rush fame. It is full of good ideas, I would take the reverbs down a good bit from what he did (it was the early 90s you know!). I actually did a recent mix full of piano and alternative instruments with a vocal that might help as well. If you want more help feel free to PM me. I am a Norcal native as well, have relatives in Sonoma County. Cheers
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
manu_flecky / Gear Shoot-Outs / Sound File Comparisons / Audio Tests
7
PureAudiouk / So much gear, so little time
6
walterh / Work In Progress / Advice Requested / Show and Tell / Artist Showcase / Mix-Offs
1
Robobo1 / Remote Possibilities in Acoustic Music and Location Recording
16

Forum Jump
Forum Jump