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chew_rocket



Joined: 21/10/09
Posts: 452
getting frustrated with my mixes. new
      #928439 - 19/07/11 11:21 PM
Iv been producing/mixing for the past 3 years (at least 40 hours a week) and am starting to get frustrated with how my recordings are turning out.

I'v read LOTS of books and really know everything I think I need to know but putting it into practice is really hard. What advice could you give to someone who is getting extremely frustrated at there mixes except "keep practicing". I practice a LOT and my mixes don't seem to be getting ANY better.


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desmond



Joined: 10/01/06
Posts: 9063
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928441 - 19/07/11 11:28 PM
What is it that you feel is lacking?

(Don't say "everything", pick one or two key areas and work on those.)

For instance, you might feel that a big problem is, say, a sense of depth. Or you might say the mixes are too bland and safe, or it might be they are too static and not dynamic enough, or you might hate your guitar sounds etc etc, or feel your mixes are too busy and so on...

Pick one or two definite goals to work on, get some suggestions on those, try stuff out and play with things.

Being frustrated is actually probably quite a good place to get to - it means you are demanding more out of your work, and have perhaps hit a little block as to how to progress. Work on some key elements you feel are lacking, and once you burst through those blocks you should find your mixes improve.

Also it helps to post some examples of your work to get some suggestions...


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ProximityProduction



Joined: 14/07/09
Posts: 187
Loc: Liverpool
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928444 - 19/07/11 11:36 PM
Ok so I'm not the most experienced person in the world (understatement of the year...) BUT I suffer the same problem. One thing I've found that helps if I'm getting frustrated with a mix is a good tidy up and not being scared of the delete button. So I might have spent ages putting 132 mics around a drum kit but do I really need ALL off em? nope. So delete all the tracks that just complicate things. Then I often look at what plugins and stuff I've used... if I have 5 or 6 inserts I get rid of em and see if I can do the same thing with 1 or 2. I often over complicate things so going through and getting rid of most things often freshens up the mix I find.
Also frequently referencing the mix to a something you like the sound of can help.
You've probably tried everything above but I thought I'd share what I do cause I have the same problem.

What exactly is it you're not happy with?


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chew_rocket



Joined: 21/10/09
Posts: 452
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928445 - 19/07/11 11:42 PM
My biggest weakness is getting the depth/space right and making the track really 'shine'. It always sounds SO raw (and not in the nirvana kind of way!)


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Dynamic Mike



Joined: 31/12/06
Posts: 2007
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928450 - 20/07/11 12:01 AM
I've started using iZotope ozone 4 on the mix bus & improved more in the 10 days trial, than the last 10 years. Download the unrestricted trial version & the manual and see if it's for you. It's put the smile back on my face

--------------------
Disclaimer: The views or opinions expressed above do not necessarily reflect those of the poster by the time you read this.


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narcoman
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Posts: 8516
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928456 - 20/07/11 12:19 AM
20 years down the line and I STILL think my mixes suck..... and you guys keep buying 'em!!

You're getting better - but it takes time, good monitoring, great rooms and great source recordings. A game of shove ha'penny down the M1 ..... small steps for a long time.


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SecretSam
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Joined: 29/10/02
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Loc: Officially, I do not exist.
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928485 - 20/07/11 08:14 AM
Two suggestions (which you may already have implemented):

1. Hearing more precisely what's going on is pretty handy

After fiddling around with Mike Senior's test files, a load of old gear and the positioning of my speaker stands, I now have a rig based on the unlikely combination of a NAD hi-fi amp and some old unported AR speakers. The result is very much more precise that my old Alesis monitors (to the extent that it almost gives the same information as a pair of BeyerDynamic DT770s but with a little less bottom end and without the fatigue and hype of headphones), and I think I have a better chance of getting somewhere. Amazing what was down there in the mud that I couldn't hear properly.

2. Don't try too hard

I used to try to make everything in a mix stand out. Of course only one thing can stand out at a time. Obvious I know, but it took me a while to get it.

Oh, well. What do I know ? Good luck !

--------------------
Instant gratification is actually pretty good. It's fast as well.


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ZukanModerator
Zukan


Joined: 12/09/03
Posts: 9302
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928490 - 20/07/11 08:24 AM
I think it always helps to have a 'professional' listen and give feedback and maybe help guide you in resolving what you feel are your weak areas. Alternatively, friends can be a great resource for feedback even if their view on your mixes will not be technical.

--------------------
Samplecraze
Stretch That Note


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Darclinc



Joined: 04/08/03
Posts: 1942
Loc: Earth
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928492 - 20/07/11 08:30 AM
Hi,

Do you write the same kind of music, i.e. genre ? If yes, why not try something a little different ?

For instance, put on a genre or track that you really like and see whether you can duplicate some of the techniques that define that sound or genre. I find that this is a good way to expand your mixing skills and learn new things about your tools, you know, by getting you out of your comfort zone or normal frame of reference. It also forces you to make something other than habitual decisions, which we often do if we write stuff in the same genre over and over again.

Regards,

D.

--------------------
www.thirdfloormusic.com


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turbodave



Joined: 25/04/08
Posts: 2366
Loc: derbyshire uk
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928494 - 20/07/11 08:32 AM
Hi, May I suggest that tracking is the first place to look. Make sure your fundamentals are good ie bass and drums and usually with careful mic placement or eq in mixdown, it is much easier to find a sonic space for the rest. What reverbs do you use and can you eq the actual verb as that is another overlooked area. Dave

--------------------
My head hurts!


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The Elf
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Loc: Sheffield, UK
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928496 - 20/07/11 08:37 AM
All too often I wrestle with a mix for hours, desperately trying to get it to sound like something I’d want to hear. Frequently I only reach a point of ‘good as it’s going to get for the budget’ (I primarily work with artists on extremely tight budgets) and have to let it go out into the world with all its flaws. I’ve heard it said that mixes are ‘never finished, merely abandoned’ and it is so true. I can’t think of one mix I’ve ever done that I wouldn’t have gone back to improve, given the option.

These same mixes, when I listen back 6 months later, actually sound polished, finished and actually pretty good! Heck - how did that happen?! Somehow I realise that nothing I could have done at the time would have made such a big difference. Of course, as a perfectionist I know I can always do better, but there really is a point where you can end up re-painting the same rose too many times.

I once had an inflated idea of what I, as a mix engineer/producer, should impose upon a song. This can lead you to beating yourself up for, for example, a guitar sound that doesn’t work in the song. Once you begin to recognise these problems as you’re tracking, and you can work tactfully with the artist to get things right at source, then you’re really beginning to cook. Every 10 minutes spent getting the best sound at source can save you hours of frustration in mixing.

One problem I’ve experienced frequently over the last few years is the band that want to sound ‘raw’, but then don’t like what they hear. The ‘roomy’ drum sound, in particular, seems to appeal to many drummers as a concept, but I’m often then called upon to dry the whole thing up for the mix. I’ve learned to give myself options with close mic’s!

You seem to have realised that there’s no magic box (usually involving the phrase ‘valve warmth’) that you can strap across your mix buss, no world-changing plug-in, or closely guarded ‘trick’ that will transform your mixes from where you are to where you want to be. This realisation will save you a lot of pain (and, likely, money). The real answer is simply to practice, allow yourself the space to get things wrong and learn from each experience. Also don’t be afraid to tear a mix up and take another wildly different run at it - you may be surprised that a completely different approach will often take you close to your previous result, because it is more about how your ears and brain are taking the production than which toys you’re using to get there. If it’s not to your liking then you may need to ask different questions of yourself.

Then again, you may think *my* mixes suck too!

Hope some of this helps!

--------------------
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


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christianmurphy



Joined: 25/01/08
Posts: 321
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928498 - 20/07/11 08:45 AM
+1 for sharing your tracks with as many people as possible if that is an option. Get people to be really brutal.

Do you reference a track usually? I always found it helped me to pick one or two things about different songs I really liked, and try to imitate the sound. Kinda destroys the object of having a single reference track where all the parts are mixed in a way to balance properly, but I found by replicating one track, you're just trying to make it balance, not actually seeing why it's not balancing. So I'd recommend find a track with a guitar sound you like, different track with a drum sound etc, try to imitate them, and then see why it's not balancing, and tweak it till you end up with something that's all your own. That's one way I done it anyway.

Also sometimes I add some mastering-ish effects to the output channel if I'm not hearing the sound properly, bit of light EQ and some compression and/or limiting. Mix a bit more, then take it all off, and for some reason, it sounds like crap but my ears seem to notice everything and I start mixing so much better!? I guess it's a bit similar to taking a break/listening to a different song. Just provides me with a different perspective that I find works.


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Wiseau



Joined: 25/08/04
Posts: 251
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928524 - 20/07/11 09:52 AM
I haven't read all posts, so I might be repeating.

Make sure you are working with well recorded material to begin with. Each stage can be helped if the previous one has been done well, that doesn't mean you can just move faders up and down and not come across challenges from time to time.

Edit your track, then come back to it another time, then you are ready to just mix, not having to remove all the pops and coughs etc.

Don't mix tired, hungry, all these things do make a difference, take ear breaks.

Don't have too high expectations. Some albums are mixed in studios where the design has cost your house by pro engineers, some of whom have publicists (seriously) - not that money is everything -Try your best basically.

--------------------
'You know it's a bad role when Nic Cage passes on it.'


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chew_rocket



Joined: 21/10/09
Posts: 452
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928535 - 20/07/11 10:15 AM
http://soundcloud.com/suff-studio/the-strange-daddies-daughter/s-Hb66C
(warning - song includes strong expletives!)

Here is a recording of the latest band I recorded with. I really worked hard when recording this to try to get everything right at source but when it came to mixdown I realised I dont really like the snare sound very much... its a bit 'tippytappy'.

I'm also struggling to get the reverb right as the band mentioned they want it to sound fairly roomy. There are a few room mics in there but the dry/wet ratio is proving very difficult.

I also wished I had better monitors. My HS50s suck pretty bad!

Edit: Might be worth mentioning... I like the guitar tone but not the space, and the 'woody' bass sound is fairly intentional also... he was using some 60s hollow-body bass. The bass intonation goes out in places which I plan on correcting with melodyne.

Edited by chew_rocket (20/07/11 10:18 AM)


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AllyB
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Joined: 07/03/04
Posts: 1030
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928622 - 20/07/11 12:52 PM
It doesn't really sound like a mix problem to me rather than your source sounds.. I really feel like your missing a lot of room, get some room in there! mix isn't that bad.. sounds much better on the louder sections

Recently we've been spending loads more time effort and money on tracking and when I get back to the studio load up the files and do a quick balance it sounds good already!

--------------------
Producer etc


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The Elf
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Loc: Sheffield, UK
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928632 - 20/07/11 01:16 PM

Quote chew_rocket:

I'm also struggling to get the reverb right as the band mentioned they want it to sound fairly roomy. There are a few room mics in there but the dry/wet ratio is proving very difficult.



There’s the one I was alluding to!

Clearly it depends on the experience of the band, but there’s often a world of difference between what a band THINKS it wants and what it wants in reality. They’ll often come in with all kinds of ideas of what they believe would be ‘cool’, but the reality is that they want to sound like a record.

When they realise that that using a stereo pair on the drums and mic’ing the bass cab from the opposite end of the room isn’t achieving a ‘record-like’ sound there’s usually a rapid re-alignment of priorities. I often blame myself while the band are around so they can gang up on me and stay tight as a unit – I can live with that if it lets them give of their best.

--------------------
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


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chew_rocket



Joined: 21/10/09
Posts: 452
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928646 - 20/07/11 02:00 PM
After posting the link does anybody have any ideas on what I could do to improve the mix?

I don't think the vocals sit very well but don't really know where I'm going wrong there. There is a short slap delay on the main vocal with a LITTLE bit sent to the room verb. The vocal is double tracked most of the time at a low volume and panned hard right sent to the room verb hard left.


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Chaconne



Joined: 21/02/05
Posts: 1347
Loc: Oxford
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928754 - 20/07/11 08:41 PM

"and you guys keep buying 'em!!"

Yeah, I just cant get enough of, er, whats that track again -remind me?

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narcoman
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Joined: 14/08/01
Posts: 8516
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: Chaconne]
      #928766 - 20/07/11 10:14 PM
Quote Chaconne:


"and you guys keep buying 'em!!"

Yeah, I just cant get enough of, er, whats that track again -remind me?




How would you like me to respond to that ol' chum? A name dropping cringe list?



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Chaconne



Joined: 21/02/05
Posts: 1347
Loc: Oxford
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928769 - 20/07/11 10:26 PM
Nah no need - I'm just having a laugh mate - the assumption that you think I have paid good money for your ropey mixes - the gall!!!

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narcoman
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Joined: 14/08/01
Posts: 8516
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928772 - 20/07/11 10:33 PM
cheeky blighter!!! (some of them ARE a little cringey though)

As a Oxford fellow - we really ought to get together for a tea!!


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Chaconne



Joined: 21/02/05
Posts: 1347
Loc: Oxford
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928777 - 20/07/11 10:51 PM
(There is some talk of Curry and beer in Botley on another forum, but the chink of china in the City of Dreaming Spires...is so much more...well... civilised dontcha know.)

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narcoman
active member


Joined: 14/08/01
Posts: 8516
Re: getting frustrated with my mixes. new [Re: chew_rocket]
      #928781 - 20/07/11 10:56 PM
.... that's my scene ! hehe


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