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  • Paul Bissell
    Posts: 73
    Joined: Jan 8th, 2010, 08:32
    Re: request mixing advice for my song
    Loudness; I don't want to start a thread on that here, but after a decent amount of my own research, I put my mixes someplace around K14 or so. That level area (and its analog equivalent) was just fine for the vast majority of recordings that I like and use as references. If it had to be made louder, it could. It ain't modern, and I just don't care. Some of the upper midrange edge in the vocal is caused by the clipping of the audio file during recording. This is discussed later in the PDF. The exciter will sharpen the edge even more. I think the Logic presets are good (and I have used the Final Hip Hop actually), but when you don't really understand what is going on, it is hard to learn how processor X makes something sound, etc. It all becomes voodoo. When I'm on a completely in-the-box system, I use the Gain plug-in to make the mix mono or to flip polarity of a single channel, etc. This is why the compressor presets are so hit and miss, they expect a certain threshold level to be reached and if you don't hit that mark (or go over it more than the preset designers thought you would) the end result will be different. Then you are in a situation where a 2:1 ratio and a 20:1 ratio sound identical and that to a novice is very confusing. The GR meter on the Logic plug-in is the thing to 'look at' and try to get its look to match the sound that you hear. I start my students at 10dB of GR (or more) so that they can get an aural ID of what it is that they are hearing. Compression is hard to hear at first because EVERYTHING you hear broadcast or mixed has some (Even my voice overs on mPV!). Once you hear it, you can then start to parse through it and certain settings and styles will have a certain sound ID. My Backstory; What my equipment list was supposed to say was that I have a convenient way of listening to what is in the mix 80Hz and below - and it lets me mix WITHOUT 80hz and below which is amazingly clarifying. In fact, I routinely mix in mono [b]and[/b] without the 80Hz and below frequencies being heard. It forces me to clean things in the upper midrange more easily and quickly . One could use an EQ with a hi pass filter on the master bus in a similar way.
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  • Hasdrubal
    Posts: 28
    Joined: Mar 30th, 2013, 03:11
    Re: request mixing advice for my song
    [b]Track by Track listening and searching: [/b] [b]Drum Loop[/b] "[i]There is a Noise Gate on the loop with a Threshold of -100dBfs. There is no way that gate will ever close. Why is it inserted here? " [/i]The drum loop was chosen and 'effected' by me a year ago, and I just can't remember why a gate was put on. It wont be making the next try of course. [b]Vocal[/b] "[i]Probably a dynamic mic. Clipped audio! Recorded too hot. Awwww rats, I thought I might discover a raw track with a huge sound. It hits 5dB above full scale on a regular basis. Then again, the distortion isn’t the worst I have heard, and I bet there is a plug-in that models this anyway. It is what it is. This is the vocal. Move on. Vocal pitch is decent and the voice has a nice character (Knofler-esque) and that is super important. P-pops, and breathe noises are a plenty Noises in gaps between verses The voice is also out of time in ways that don’t seem like they are stylistic – more like insecure singing. Maybe could fix, maybe not wanting to – kick that one down the road for now. [/i]" It's a dynamic mic. Clipped (I didn't even know this!) so I will rerecord the vocal track. Another good reason to do so is that it was a very weak performance from me in my opinion. Christian is an old man and his voice is going. I will use Mr Sitters lessons from Core Logic to clean up noise between phrazing. Insecure singing very likely – I'm not sure exactly where Paul is noticing it. [b]Guitars[/b] "[i]Hmmm – the two recorded guitars are both recorded stereo. No they aren’t. They are mono recordings but placed on a track made to be stereo and then panned L and R. Why? Ok, whatever...but wait, they completely sum to mono during the “Bridge” – how is that possible - if they were recorded separately. I betcha that one of the guitars messed up during the bridge, then the “good” guitar part was copied over and inserted into the “bad” guitar’s place. That would cause them to collapse to mono regardless of the panning. Ok, how do they sound? Very lo-fi, “old country” sound. No lows, no “air” – a focused midrange. Sound of tapping (feet?) heard through out. Like pickin’ and grinnin’ on a porch swing. Does this add character or is it distracting? Could I even get rid of them if I wanted to? Probably not. I thought this heavy midrangy twang thing was an EQed effect, its not. It was recorded with that sound. Ok. Those squeaks on the position shifts are really intense. This is the “nails on the chalkboard” he was talking about. It must be. Compressor on guitar (both) not doing any compression – just adding 4dB of gain and then limiting when the added 4dB goes over. So, my main two elements have some pretty serious flavors recorded into them. There is no way – short of retracking – to give back the frequencies that these elements lack. It is what it is. This is the sound that will define the mix once there. Limitations are not bad, but they are forced decisions that make you play the game by different boundaries. [/i]" I think I have been told, at some point in the past, to record two separate takes of the same part and then pan them to each side for a nice stereo effect. I probably misunderstood. I'm not sure what happened in the bridge with the summing to mono – I may have copied one part to the other track out of laziness (didn't think I would get caught so quickly) but I really don't remember. Foot tapping was a surprise to me – I thought I had been so careful not to do it. As for the lo-fi sound – I think maybe I'm too close to the mic again, trying to get a strong signal. Could one unintended effect of that be that I'm losing half of my guitar(?) So, I need to record that acoustic guitar again without dual tracks. [b]String Ensemble[/b] "[i]Sounds fine. Wow – D major cadence at the guitar solo Hmmmm unexpected to my ear, I thought we were in minor - but I like it...and, it works to help offset the instrumental section. Maybe they need more notes in places? [/i]" Probably wouldn't hurt. [b]Bass Guitar[/b] "[i]EQ plug in with raised internal gain by 2.5dB. But the channel fader is down by -2.5dB. Arggh. Why the push me pull you? The EQ has a low shelf of 6dB with no filter below to catch any of the low end junk. This sample bass doesn’t have junk to rumble, but it is a bad idea as practice. If you low end shelf, you low end filter unless you know there isn’t some 10Hz-20Hz sonic anomaly happening for sure. Two distortion effects on the bass. Hmmmmm. I don’t get it. Gene Simmons had a bass that sounds like this. I don’t get it on this kind of song. Kiss meets Johnny Cash? Was he trying to make the bass stick out in the mix more? [/i]" Here I used the effect preset GlamRock Bass :) For the next try I'll not be using these presets anymore - they're getting me into trouble. [b]Guitar Solo[/b] "[i]The file never made the journey through cyber space. Ok – I got it now. The second bend is too flat for my tastes. Will fix for sure. [/i]" And yeah, Paul's solo here sounds much, much better – I need to re-record this track too. From Paul's track by track audit, I think I need to just give up on the presets and use the EQs and compressors as best I can. I don't see how I could go further wrong than the presets have done for me (I'm so bitter and disillusioned now). Also for vocals, acoustic guitar, new tracks should be made without clipping and hopefully with wider representation of frequencies(?) Play the solo again - be careful with the flatted fifth notes to get a proper wail going. Lots of homework! I expect to be weak with EQ for a while. I hear musical highs and lows quite well, but frequency highs and lows is a really new world to me . So, one more part to follow. That will come tomorrow.
    Reply
  • Paul Bissell
    Posts: 73
    Joined: Jan 8th, 2010, 08:32
    Re: request mixing advice for my song
    [b]Effects[/b] inserted that don't do anything are red flags. They obviously don't (usually) change anything sonically, but they are a give away that the knowledge for their isn't mastered yet. I mentioned presets in my last posting, but I'll add one more thing; I had a student who was mixing a rock song. The snare drum was low and beefy and the verb needed to be on the dark side. So I point him to the Medium spaces presets in Space Designer to find a dark verb (here the presets are organized in terms of RT60 time which is good). He auditions a couple that are bright and then finds the preset "Horn Chamber" or something like that - perfect, dark and meaty. He skips over it and chooses "Snare Hall" (or something). This was a bright, high end edgy verb. He looked at me and smiled, I looked at him and frowned. "Does that sound dark to you?" I asked. He said "Well it says 'snare' in the title.." While the only way to learn a sample set is by going through the presets, there is almost no way to learn anything about EQ or Compression by using presets. Yes, you can look at the settings and see if you can find generics "Oh wow, on all the poppy snares, I see that the attack is kind of slow..". Other than that they are useless for individual mixes. [b]Vocal[/b]: So here is the irony - the clipped vocal and mid-rangy guitar DEFINES the sound of the mix. Old records sound like old records due to the technical limitations of the system(s) used. But it gives a 'vibe'. Having a clipped vocal is very old-school. Instant vibe! Now realize that isn't the vibe that would be great on another song. But for this one, it works. Just listen to the chorus of Taylor Swift's "Trouble" and hear the distortion they added to that! (iTunes, 1:30 second previews rock for exactly this reason!) By the way, Christian has a voice with character. People listen to that kind of voice. [b]Guitars[/b]: Yes. Recording two guitars and panning them left and right is exactly what is recommended and usually very good. You did that. Awesome. The difference is: 1) You made the each channel stereo for some reason (which you didn't have to) and 2) You copied one of the takes to the other guitar at one point. When you do that, they will collapse to mono, which is what happens to yours. (Do you hear them move to the center of the mix?) That is why the guitars get louder (6dB) at that point as well. So, keep doing the guitar double, but keep the tracks mono and don't copy a chunk of audio from one to the other at the same point in time. [b]Strings[/b]: You can hear the notes I added to give some interest at the end of the guitar solo where it goes to playing power chords. I felt something needed to continue to 'move' in the mix. It was either the strings or make the bass line busier. Since the string cadence in D major started the solo section, it made sense that they would re-immerge and claim the ending gesture of the solo section.
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  • Hasdrubal
    Posts: 28
    Joined: Mar 30th, 2013, 03:11
    Re: request mixing advice for my song
    [b]Getting to work [/b] [i]"I want to make it more Johnny and less Ca$h. Simple, and straight ahead but with some color and flair."[/i] That sounds good to me and I think Paul made it happen. [i]"Rip out EVERYTHING on the master bus."[/i] Here, what was put back in in your final mix? [i]"Fix the squeaky guitars – deesser and volume automation"[/i] When I redo the guitar takes I'll try to use this de-esser and maybe EQ(?) to soften them. [i]"Try to flesh out the vocal – give it more depth or meat. Less brittle. Added some regenerated delay as a treatment to the vocal. Ducked the delays and the verbs to allow more clarity."[/i] [i]"Pulled the drum loop way down so I could hear the rest of the mix – that low end is too much for me. Tried to flip the kick with the bass for low end supremecy. Not enough low end in bass to make that work. Bass guitar is just not happening. Learn part originally played. Brought up a different bass part and replayed it with some minor variations as fills. Filtered out the drum loop; now the bass is on the bottom and the kick sits above it. I think that works better as a backdrop for the vocal and guitars."[/i] This is way over my level of hearing – I'll see what I can do [i]"Minor automation tweaks to duck loud vocals and to control the ac gtrs overall amplitude as the song progressed. Want to make the part after the grr solo a slight ‘drop’. "[/i] That was a cool thing - the drop after the solo! [i]"Gave the solo guitar some love too more space verb."[/i] [i]"Edited some of the string parts and added a section to take over when the gtr solo ends and it just plays chords."[/i] One of two places where I disagree with Paul's treatment. The end of the solo is meant to be a musical version of “Heres Johnny!”, clearing the sound stage for the 4th verse lyrics. It may well be that the solo is not having that effect or that the effect is not worth having, and the busier strings are helping, but I think it was doing OK and that the strings in the last three block chords are obscuring the issue. The other place is the adding a bar between the 1st and 2nd verses to even up the count, nixing my idea to 'wrongfoot' the listener with an extra odd bar just before the drums get going. Is my wrongfoot idea good? Maybe – maybe not. Probably doesn't matter that much. +++++++++++++++ So, 'fingernails on a chalkboard' – was my summing up of my original mix. It probably came from the mix being too loud, some of the EQ/ phaze/ stereo/ compression imbalances identified by Paul on this thread, as well as recording. It didn't sound comfortable in it's own skin – like a high blood-pressure patient. Though I don't know much about a lot of the things he mentions, I think I was hearing it's effect in my mix, which caused me to seek help here last week. I think he produced from my tracks a more confident sound which lets the listener relax and listen. Paul, again, I thank-you very much! I will work hard on this.
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  • GaryHiebner
    Posts: 1434
    Joined: May 6th, 2007, 12:54
    Re: request mixing advice for my song
    Great stuff Paul. I like you idea of mixing in mono. I have never tried this. I've always got some form of stereo tracks going on in my mixes. I'm keen to try this out with my next track. And it's true that you can't learn much through the presets for Compression and EQ, they are such a rough estimate. Each track will need a different form of compression depending on the audio source, and how it was recorded. use the presets as very rough guide, but also tweak the compression until u think it's right for the material. It is very difficult to understand how compression works in the beginning. But like Paul mentioned use the Gain Reduction meter. And apply some heavy ration and threshold settings to hear how the signal sounds over compressed. Then start backing off until it sits good in the mix. The only way to learn it to make mistakes with the plugins and the determine what changed the sound. After awhile you'll get a good idea of what works with particular material. So be patient, it'll pay off.
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  • Paul Bissell
    Posts: 73
    Joined: Jan 8th, 2010, 08:32
    Re: Re: request mixing advice for my song
    [b]Gary[/b]: Mixing in mono really sucks! ha ha ha If you already have the taste of two channels separated in your ears, the urge to stretch it back to stereo is very, very tempting. So I go into mono before I really know what it sounds like in stereo. Then I parse it with only two dimensions. If you can make the frequency strata work in mono, then when you push things outward (as you think they should be) and monitor in stereo for the first time it sounds SO AMAZING! The nice thing is that now you can "choose" how mono compatible you want to make it instead of the bad news being forced on you after the fact. I had this point driven home a few years ago. I was asked to write the music for the Univ of Texas marching band's introduction video right before they take the field. I used a lot of East West sampled sounds and they sounded amazing - HUGE! The composition and mix got the two thumbs up (all decisions made by a committee) and then - almost as an afterthought - I checked it in mono. OMG! It completely collapsed. Not only did the color shift from brilliants and glowing to some kind of brown mud, but some of the main melodic elements were almost gone completely. The East West sounds are stereo, and recorded with the hall reverbs. To test what my ears reported, I put a correlation meter on and played the first note of the horn section's main melodic passage; it slammed almost completely to the left (red). I wrote to them and asked for help. They replied that their sounds were in-phase. Sorry, that just isn't true. The ears and the meters prove otherwise. The reason this is such a big deal is that stadium sound systems are MONO summed in the system. I hurriedly stuck some mono, dry samples to beef it up but it was a real bandaid job to make the deadline. Lesson learned... [b]Christian[/b]: The only thing on the master bus is the linear phase EQ pulling out some 200Hz, and the UAD Precision Limiter set to no gain. It is used because it has a nice Dorrough-style meter (with a K-meter display). It caught a few transients that would have gone over in a couple of places, but it isn't supplying any gain to the mix. That is why my mix is quieter. As mentioned, the mix sits around -14dBfs RMS. You can easily use Logic's Level Meter, and set its display for RMS and Peak. The light blue band is the RMS reading. Thanks for the information about the "Here's Johnny" section. That makes sense. In that case, if the guitar was up in the mix like "Here's Johnny" would demand, I would have made sure the guitar filled up all the space between the downbeats. There are some silent moments as the chords change and that makes this lead element come in and out of focus. The stuff regarding the loop and bass is that you had the low end (50-60Hz) of your mix primarily with your loop kick and the bass guitar kind of placed on it going up to the next two octaves. I filtered the loop up to around 160-200Hz and let the bass have everything below that. Since your tune was in D, I had to make the choice of using the (drop tuned) low D - which is 36Hz, or the lowest D of a standard tuned bass (72Hz) for the root note of the main bass riff. I chose the later as that is more in-tune with the style. So, my bass guitar is lower than my kick (that is opposite from what you did). My bass isn't done yet as it is pretty uneven in terms of amplitude. There are a variety of ways to fix it, but this is where my time ran out and it was abandoned. Sorry if I straightened out your "wrong footing". I have no problem with 7 bar phrases or whatever, but there is usually a musical reason for the missing (or extra) bar / lack of symmetry. If you said "No. We need it to be 7 bars" then I would figure out how to make sure that it worked in that format. One final thing (and analogy) I want to emphasize that the limitations caused by the recorded guitars and vocal were a GOOD thing; clipping and all. Imagine you are playing poker and you get a hand of various low, mid, and face cards. Nothing. But then you note that 4 of them are diamonds. Well now. So now you make your play to draw a 5th diamond to make the flush. Could you trade in 3 to try to get a pair or two? Sure, but you would be working against the most obvious flow of the hand that you are dealt. The mix with the sound of the recorded main two elements was like that; it HAD to go in that direction. No way would it work to try to make the guitars sound three-dimensional. I mixed for the flush. I am adding a link to a PDF of the bass part that I played. The low Bb's you see are "noise" of muted strings. It helps to offset the rhythm of the real notes. You'll see that this was your original bass idea just reinterpreted. Finally (this time I mean it), go ahead and get frustrated and angry at your mix. It is a rite of passage. One that I go through on a weekly basis. The only way to get better (and I'm not convinced that my mix is better at all, it is just different) at what you want to get out of music is to work at it. Pain is a part of the process :) Paul [url]http://www.gofishmusic.com/Bass_score.pdf[/url]
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  • Hasdrubal
    Posts: 28
    Joined: Mar 30th, 2013, 03:11
    Re: request mixing advice for my song
    Paul, I downloaded the bass score - thank-you. I'm going to journal my new efforts here as I go over your advice and pointers to build another mix. If I have questions I'll make a new thread. cc
    Reply
  • Hasdrubal
    Posts: 28
    Joined: Mar 30th, 2013, 03:11
    Re: Re: request mixing advice for my song
    OK - rerecorded the two acoustic guitars. Carefully ensure that New Audio Tracks are both mono. Place mic about 8 inches from guitar. This results in a weaker signal but I think it's enough. Last time I had the mic about 2 inches from guitar for a strong signal, and I'm thinking that maybe this caused the frequency issues on the acoustic guitar tracks that Paul wrote about. I have an Eko archtop guitar from the 1960s - AFAIK they are pretty decent acoustics. Careful not to tap feets. Tried not to let the strings squeak so much on chord changes. Changed one of the parts at the bridge. Level metre reads Peak/RMS about -10/-25 on left part and -4/-20 on the right. Guess I should try to even that up a bit. Other than that, I think it's working OK - a better pair of tracks which hopefully will leave the mixer more free to make different decisions. this Level Metre is something I didn't know about. I will use it all the time now. Vocals - much trickier. I have to go to work now. Will document trials and tribulations and ongoing efforts later. Byeeee!
    Reply
  • Paul Bissell
    Posts: 73
    Joined: Jan 8th, 2010, 08:32
    Re: request mixing advice for my song
    Christian, just to make sure that in my 10,000 words that you understand the following: what is "right" is determined by you. If you try to record or mix thought another person's ideals you will always fail. You read the part about the 4 diamonds making the flush, right? Was that too much of a stretched analogy? If you move the mic back, it will sound different - not better. There is a difference. You didn't talk about the quality of sound that changed with this new placement. Is it less dense? More airy? Rounded? Tight? Purpler? The sound "on tape" that matches the sound in your head is the right one. Period. On a technical level, most dynamic mice made for close micing instruments or vocal usage have a severe lack of low end in their design. Because they are created to be used close to the sound source - which will create a low end boost called proximity effect - when you pull them away from the sound source they start to sound really thin and lack 'meat'. The 'evenness' between the two guitars is made by ear, not by a meter unless you are giving this information as a way of saying they didn't clip. They play different parts (from what I remember) or at least were played differently and that made the stereo-ness that much cooler as the parts interact to make one.
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  • Hasdrubal
    Posts: 28
    Joined: Mar 30th, 2013, 03:11
    Re: request mixing advice for my song
    I understand, Paul. The analogy was good :) You went with the flow of the tracks you were "dealt"? Regarding moving the mic back: I don't notice much of a difference in the tone of the guitars. Both pairs of tracks sound like nice acoustic guitars to me. Also, for the record, the EQ analyser on both pairs of tracks shows a strong spike around the 200-500Hz range. So, it seems that moving the mic back did not have the effect I was after. I did play more carefully at guitar neck position changes and cut down the squeaking strings quite a bit. Also, did not tap my foot. But since backing off did not even out the frequency range I assume I'm hearing the sound of my guitar as it was made, and I'll re-record with the mic closer again to get a stronger signal. I'm using the metre to ensure I'm not clipping. It's interesting that it also tells me that one is louder than the other. Actually the guitars are playing almost the same, and to me they sound even. Vocals is harder. However, my voice today (May 27th) is much better than the May 19th track. I sang the part 8 times yesterday with the Tascam US-200 input dialled back just a bit to get a reading that just peaked at 0, but I was unable to stop singing carefully, which doesn't sound good. Must keeping trying. Just in case anyone has no friends, AND there is nothing on television, the may 19 and the may 27 tracks can be pulled from my google drive folder "DOMM Files": https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-gX_y1MR54ud3E5VlNuRThYQWs&usp=sharing I shouldnt do that too much though - eat up all my Google space. I'm off now, Monday is a heavy day. cc
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