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Harshness and lack of clearness in a new engineer's first heavy rock mix
Old 11th May 2013
  #1
Gear Head
 
braztneme's Avatar
 

Harshness and lack of clearness in a new engineer's first heavy rock mix

Hello everyone.

I've been checking up this forum since 2012, when I first decide to really move on with my home studio project, but never posted, neither registered.

I'm very glad with all the info that I've had on every single post I read here, but this time I needed to hear a direct answer for my problem: my mix.

So, as a beginner I have a series of doubts that are making me insane about my harsh and distant mix. I ran a low cost studio (actually not so low considering Brazil's importing taxes policy) and I need to have some directions about my mistakes.

Can I do it way better with the gear I own? Can I mix it better to a nearly commercial status? Should've I used better recording techniques?

Just for the record, I really dont have the experience that most of the people here have, but I studied a lot before started to recording (even done a internship in a reputed local studio), so even though I'm open for every tip or lesson, consider that - theoretically - I know the basics of a recording and mixing session.

The gear I used was:

Drums:
Ludwig Vistalite 1970
Zildjan and sabian cymbals
(20' K ride and aax 19' crash)

Mics:

Kick: Akg D112
Snare top: Shure sm 57
Snare bottom: Shure sm 58
Hi hat (almost dead in this mix): mxl 991 - one of my first mistakes, really low spl taken by this mic and no -20dB pad
Rack ton: Akg P 4
Floor ton: Akg P 2
Overheads: Akg P 17
Room mic R: Akg P 420
Room mic L: Rode NT 1a

Guitar:

Gibson Les Paul Standard
Gibson Goldtrone combo amp
Mesa Boogie Nomad into a marshall 4x12 cabinet
Used a Shure SM 57 off axis and ocasionally a SM 58 a little more distant (only on the goldtrone - like 1 ft away)

Bass:

Fender Precision bass
Line input

Vocals:

Rode NT 1a
Shure Sm 57


For the pre's I used a Focusrite Octopre Mk2 Dynamic synced via ADAT to a Focusrite Saffire pro 40, using Nuendo as the daw and Waves and Plugin Alliance as main plugins.

Monitors: Yamaha Hs 80m pair

The mix maybe a little over compressed cause I ran an L2 hard limiting to get a certain loudness just to show a few people my mix without getting that "is kinda low leveled" feeling.

Thank you guys for the support and hope you like the song, it is from my band - named Hellbenders (https://soundcloud.com/hellbenders)

In any case, sorry for the bad english.
Attached Files

Mix 2.mp3 (9.53 MB, 276 views)

Old 11th May 2013
  #2
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KRStudio's Avatar
 

Just my thoughts here. Each sound is too big. Guitars go down in to the bass frequencies. Toms to big. Bass and kick need space from each other. Clear all that out and then add a little 3k to guitars. It sounds like the recording is good, just EQ to separate one sound from the next. I would also bring the OHs up a little to get some true highs in the mix. Cool tunes and you are on the right path, you'll get there.
Old 11th May 2013
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

I agree with krs......time to review each instrument and cut out the frequencies you dont need or want and let them all sit in their own respected domain.......and get some other speaker in there for reference too....those yamaha's are not doing you an favours mate....
Old 11th May 2013
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

Yep, limiting the bandwidth of instruments to allow space for one another is key. Besides that, for me the biggest issue seems to be excessive bus compression (or possibly a maximizer plugin) that the kick drum is playing havoc with. The kick drum needs taming a lot, despite the material. Personally, I think all D112s should be recycled and made into something useful, but that's just my preference. Bass sounds like there's a fair amount of 150Hz added - might benefit from less.
I like the riff in the verses.
Old 11th May 2013
  #5
Gear Head
 
braztneme's Avatar
 

Hey everyone, thank you guys for the feedback. I'll be remixing the song monday with a few tips in mind. About the guitars there is a problem that concerns me: it also worries me the muddy low freq but I'm afraid of boosting 2K+ and get another fight with the vocals. Would a low shelf around 200-400Hz would stop a little the fighting on the bass area?

Andy Thornton, yes, indeed I added a good amount of sub in the bass that in my thoughts were really skinny, but as I suspected it was too much.

KRStudio, any tip to create this space with the kick/bass problem? I tried a trick that as been taught me, that was boosting a certain frequency (for exemple 80 Hz) and cutting another (for example 160 Hz) on the bass and doing the opposit on the Kick, is it a good way around this problem?


I'll bring the OH's up, just was afraid of doing it because of the hi hats harshness that I couldnt avoid because the drummer hited it unnecessarily hard, but in the end I think it will make the whole mix sound brighter

My biggest problem by now really is this muddy/kinda dead guitars, taking all the others instruments places and ruining my mix hahahah

I'll make my best on the next mix and will post here (without the excessive bus compression this time)

Thanks for the support


Just one more doubt: I'm mixing at (I think it is) a high volume on the stereo bus, around -3, -4 dB max (without clipping). What benefit would I get by mixing with lower volumes (like -10dB, that has been told me it is a balanced point) ?
Old 11th May 2013
  #6
Lives for gear
 

Too much low midrange on all the instruments. Pick one to have low midrage, and cut it from the others. Could use more "snap" on the kick and "Sizzle" on the cymbals too.

Too much pumping compression applied to the whole mix as well.

Brendon O'brien was a master of this, cutting "holes" in sounds so you could hear everything clearly. I used to use this album for mixing reference back in the day:

Old 12th May 2013
  #7
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rog951's Avatar
The point has been made already but I agree that the biggest problem is the "wall of mids" thing, and it definitely seems like all the instruments are trampling each other. I'll leave detailed advice on how to fix it to the experts here.

Having said that, I really like the song a lot, and the sounds you got tracking too. I was surprised to read that the drums weren't samples. They sound very good...even the hi-hat IMO. The guitars sound good, the vocals sound good. Bass too. All the separate elements sound good. Once you get the mix down, it's gonna kick ass!
Old 12th May 2013
  #8
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csiking's Avatar
A/B your mix with a band that you like back and forth until the balance of the mix sounds similar. This will help give you better prospective. It's to easy to get lost in what you're trying to do and forget your sonic direction.

You don't mention your mixing environment but this is KEY. If your room is not treated properly you will be chasing your tail...always. See what you can do to make your mixing room better.
Old 12th May 2013
  #9
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Mr. Lau's Avatar
Hi braztneme, great song you have here! I put it through my analog chain, I liked it a lot! Check this!
Attached Files

mix 2 l.mp3 (2.99 MB, 221 views)

Old 12th May 2013
  #10
Gear Head
 
braztneme's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by csiking View Post
A/B your mix with a band that you like back and forth until the balance of the mix sounds similar. This will help give you better prospective. It's to easy to get lost in what you're trying to do and forget your sonic direction.

You don't mention your mixing environment but this is KEY. If your room is not treated properly you will be chasing your tail...always. See what you can do to make your mixing room better.

Hey Csiking, funny cause I just read on a cakewalk forum thread that many times a weak bottom end and well sculpted mids can be a poor mixing enviroment issue! Going for some basstraps and muffle for first reflection this week! It is a small room that I'm mixing...
Old 12th May 2013
  #11
Gear Head
 
braztneme's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Lau View Post
Hi braztneme, great song you have here! I put it through my analog chain, I liked it a lot! Check this!
Mr. Lau, this is just INCREDIBLE! It sounds like a brand new mix, and... a GOOD one! The guitars are so much brighter and on their own place, I can hear some percurssion that I put on the chorus (that I couldnt with my own mix ) the vocals fit in perfectly in the center, and the muddiness... IS PRACTICALLY GONE!

Now... a key answer... I just need to buy me a 5.000 dollars piece of gear or can I get close to it with my ITB mixing/poor mastering?

Heheheh, just for the recording I'm really, really glad that you guys are enjoying the tunes... after all thats why where all here, huh? To translate that feeling of a great song out of the artist's head and hands to the speakers all around the world!
Old 12th May 2013
  #12
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Mr. Lau's Avatar
Braztneme, the only thing you have to do is mix it better, follow the advice of fellow GS, and you don't need my gear. Well, it sounds nice indeed, but I just wanted to bring out the hidden power of your mix, and analog works great, since doing my processing to a mp3 with plain digital plugins would have sound very harsh IME (it is harsh but not too much heh )

So you still need to get rid of that muddiness, and dont be afraid to EQ your guitars in the high midrange!

Ok, your mix was too compressed and all the freq balance was shifted to the low area, lol this was difficult!

So I used reaper eq in extremis to tame it and shift the freqs to higher midrange. Surprisingly, all the spectral content was present there, I suspect your monitoring and room acoustics could be influencing your mixing decisions, but the tracking is good, I love the drums!

Then it went through EQP1A to smooth the reaeq extreme settings, then through the dbx165 to regain dynamics, printed the eqp1a and eqp1a+165 back to daw, mixed the processed tracks, sent to Bootsy epicVerb to smooth more and give a common acoustic environment, mid/side splitting, then both thru neve 542 to glue everything together, back to daw, bak to L/R, dlm clipstar clipper/limiter and listo! heh

Last edited by Mr. Lau; 13th May 2013 at 02:53 AM.. Reason: Added info
Old 12th May 2013
  #13
Lives for gear
 

I would suggest remixing the song and clean the mud during the mixing process, and send the uncompressed masters to Mr. Lau for mastering.
Old 13th May 2013
  #14
Gear Head
 
braztneme's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Lau View Post
Braztneme, the only thing you have to do is mix it better, follow the advice of fellow GS, and you don't need my gear. Well, it sounds nice indeed, but I just wanted to bring out the hidden power of your mix, and analog works great, since doing my processing to a mp3 with plain digital plugins would have sound very harsh IME (it is harsh but not too much heh )

So you still need to get rid of that muddiness, and dont be afraid to EQ your guitars in the high midrange!

Ok, your mix was too compressed and all the freq balance was shifted to the low area, lol this was difficult!

So I used reaper eq in extremis to tame it and shift the freqs to higher midrange. Surprisingly, all the spectral content was present there, I suspect your monitoring and room acoustics could be influencing your mixing decisions, but the tracking is good, I love the drums!

Then it went through EQP1A to smooth the reaeq extreme settings, then through the dbx165 to regain dynamics, printed the eqp1a and eqp1a+165 back to daw, mixed the processed tracks, sent to Bootsy epicVerb to smooth more and give a common acoustic environment, mid/side splitting, then both thru neve 542 to glue everything together, back to daw, bak to L/R, dlm clipstar clipper/limiter and listo! heh
Mr. Lau, got a new mix here!

I made it without seeing this post, but I already had seen some things in the forum that totally changed my way of thinking about EQ cuts and boosts.

Basically all I have done it was not being a fag about High Pass Filters, and not being afraid of cutting 180 - 230 on vocals and guitars, OH and a few less on tons and room mics.... WOW a so much better mix!!!
Also brought up a little bright on the over heads and sculpted a little 4 - 7k on guitars to better fit the vocals in (and also gave the vocals a little 6k boost). I think the drums this time sound a little bit behind comparing to what I would like it to be... But I'll wont give up soon!!! heheheheh

But as usual, I couldn't hold myself and did some multiband compression and limiting and a little EQ on the stereobus - but in my opinion a more moderated compression this time... (trying to get closer to your mastering, but not so well done with the little time that I had)

New tips from now on??

Thank you guys for all the support. It was very good just to know that I can and WILL do it way better with all the resouces that I have!

Attached Files

Mix 3.mp3 (9.46 MB, 159 views)


Last edited by braztneme; 13th May 2013 at 05:59 AM.. Reason: forgot to upload the song lol... and added info (last edit)
Old 13th May 2013
  #15
Gear Head
 
braztneme's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paradox View Post
I would suggest remixing the song and clean the mud during the mixing process, and send the uncompressed masters to Mr. Lau for mastering.
Seriously considering it! Mr. Lau just got a new client!!
Old 13th May 2013
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by braztneme View Post
Seriously considering it! Mr. Lau just got a new client!!
Global economy.
Old 13th May 2013
  #17
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Mr. Lau's Avatar
You have too much at 100-250 area, the bass is boomy there

Yes, the drums are buried in the mix

This version (3) is too squashed. That multiband compressor is not doing any good to it

This time I was not sure if I should upload my file, I had to use Distressor this time, and I didn't set it adequately, but since I already printed the track and it shows the EQ I used, to tame the bass, I did attach it here

You are getting closer to a good mix, braztneme. Just don't think about compression too much, this tune is dense, the dynamics have to be adjusted carefully.
Attached Files

hellbenders 3 L.mp3 (2.74 MB, 161 views)

Old 13th May 2013
  #18
Gear Head
 
braztneme's Avatar
 

Hey Mr Lau, going for a next mix with a lot of things in mind, by the end of it I'll post here. Next time just fairly limited to hide some peak eventually and no Multiband comp!

Thank you guys
Old 14th May 2013
  #19
Gear Head
 
braztneme's Avatar
 

Hey guys

I have here a new mix. This time without any stereobus EQ or compression (just a limiter set just to prevent an eventual clip). It still feels skinny and I miss that pumping defined low end like on the reference I'm using. Also missing that chubby but present guitar sound
(Mastodon - Black Tongue - New Single From "The Hunter" - YouTube)

I think it is better than the last mix but as I told you, still not satisfied with it. Any tips from now on?
Attached Files

Mix 4.mp3 (9.51 MB, 148 views)

Old 15th May 2013
  #20
Gear Head
 
braztneme's Avatar
 

Any feedback guys?
Old 16th May 2013
  #21
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Mr. Lau's Avatar
Yeah, get the low midrange for the snare softer, if you have bottom snare mic, put some bright there.

Bring up the kick, more the 'click' above 6 or 7 k

More work between kick and bass low end is required to make them separated

Vocals need less brights (harsh siblilance) and more mids or less hpf
Old 22nd May 2013
  #22
Gear Head
 
braztneme's Avatar
 

Hey guys, got a new mix here! I made it yesterday and already had some things in mind to change, but I wanted to hear what you guys have to say first.

(Still thinking that the vocals are a little harsh)

I also exported a version with a poor master with only limiting, kramer tape simulator, stereo enhance and eq

Waiting for feedback!

Thank you guys
Attached Files

Mix 7 - Mp3 (+ recente).mp3 (9.51 MB, 124 views)

Old 22nd May 2013
  #23
Gear Head
 
braztneme's Avatar
 

and here's the master
Attached Files

Master 7 (+ recente).mp3 (9.51 MB, 125 views)

Old 22nd May 2013
  #24
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Mr. Lau's Avatar
die beside me
Attached Files

mix 7.mp3 (672.0 KB, 229 views)

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