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Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

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Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby mikeb » Tue Apr 30, 2013 5:45 pm

Hi Everybody:

I'm hoping to get some useful critiques of a sort of unusual alternative singer/songwriter mix I've been working on; this one mixes swampy tremolo guitar with vaguely hip-hop loopy bass/drums and a sample or two.

I would love to get any feedback/perspectives from anyone who would be so kind as to take the time to check it out.

This version has all the eq/compression/basic balances/reverb and delay processing about as good as I can get it; the only thing left is fine-tuning all the rides.

I'd appreciate pretty much any commentary that people have to offer, but would especially like to hear peoples' takes on the verb/delay and sense of space (not really my strong point).

Also, if anyone has commentary on the low end, and anything to offer on whether digititis is a problem, that'd be great as well.

Thanks for reading and listening - Here's the track!

Soundcloud - Spyboy [Rough Mix]
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby The Elf » Tue Apr 30, 2013 6:22 pm

It's sounding pretty good.

For me it's missing a bit of front/back depth. I'd maybe look at adding one long delay/reverb to suggest a distant backdrop for the mix and throw a few hints at it from time to time, especially from the vocal.

A bit of stereo smudging would be nice - maybe widen some of the delays and push some of the sounds into a wide stereo effect or two.

Maybe it's because you've seeded my thinking, but I do feel the vocal could benefit from a little more work. Yes, it could use a bit of depth/width, but I also sense it could be a little more forward - maybe some of that extreme HF-boost fairy dust. I like some of the distortion effects, but the early part had me leaning over to the right - it's a little odd there. I'd maybe hold the effect back for the section where it's about to cross over, or push it way back against the back of the stage to let it creep forward by drying it up towards the cross-over. This is an effect I recall from a few Peter Gabriel songs and it can work really well - take a listen to 'Rhythm of the Heat' as an example, and the vocal that moves from (reverb) "The spirit enters into me and I... submit... to trust" (dry).

You may be able to find a little more solid low end too. This is where I favour some parallel compression for the bass/kick and LPF it to get it down to a hint of constant rumble to bottom off the mix.

Great song and a good recording. Let me know when it's completed - I'd like to hear more!
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby Madman_Greg » Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:11 pm


I am not a pro, so take my comments for what they are, my own opinion.

I felt the mix does not gel together. Possibly the reverbs The Elf has suggested would help.

I either try a common reverb send for key tracks, or a reverb on the 2 buss, no tail, reflections only (studio/small room, not a hall/church), obviously (well I hope), dry something like 95%, wet 5% or less.
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby Airfix » Wed May 01, 2013 1:14 am

Hi mikeb , Are you the singer?
The vocal is the most important thing happening here. It's fantastic.
The voice has the energy and the life of this track - [ ****** ] radio effects on the voice - and needs a bigger production balance overall. More strenght behind the voice. What Elf said. And get as many real musicians together as you can. and do it right. Put some impact into this. Wonderful.
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby mikeb » Wed May 01, 2013 5:32 am

Wow - thanks so much for the responses, everyone! I appreciate the props; also, outside perspective is so hard to come by these days, and it's really important towards the end of the mix process. At least for me it is...

Elf & Madman_Greg - I'll give your ideas a try over the next few days and will report back, hopefully with a better mix in tow.

Airfix - yep, I'm the singer as well as the mixer, and again, I really appreciate your encouragement! This is kind of a weird track, in that I originally thought of it as a semi-robotic thing based on obvious loops, but it's morphed into a more organic production during the tracking/mixing. Maybe it's a bit between worlds right now, as I especially feel like an underlying drum loop and the synth bass are holdovers from version 1 that could probably be bettered by real players. Not sure if that's in the budget (maybe I'll just have to play bass guitar and real drums), but I'm definitely inspired to take a second look after your comments.

Thanks again, everyone - I'll check back in when I have an updated mix!
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby Sam Inglis » Wed May 01, 2013 8:48 am

Good song and a really nice vocal performance. I love the tremolo guitar as well.

For me, the whole thing needs to be dirtier and more organic-sounding. The drums in particular are too clean and too repetitive/mechanical. If there's no chance of getting a real drummer involved, then it feels to me like what's needed are some crusty vinyl samples, or something like that. The bass guitar could come up a fair bit too, perhaps with a more middly sound to prevent overloading the bottom end.

I wasn't keen on the various telephone vocal effects, I found them distracting, and I don't think the main vocal reverb quite works, I'd probably rather hear a simple slap echo.
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby mikeb » Wed May 01, 2013 5:42 pm

Hey Sam, thanks for the critique!

Yeah, as I mentioned in my previous post, I'm also feeling the need to make this thing more organic/natural. I think that at least, I'll take a crack at real bass/drums myself and see how it comes out. Good to get the perspective on the vocals as well - appreciate your taking a listen!
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby DC-Choppah » Fri May 03, 2013 12:02 am

I like the tune. I like the vocals and the effects on the vocals that are part of the arrangement. Cool.

Your mix is 2 dimensional and panned to extremes.

The sounds come from a flat surface.

You are not mixing with depth.

If I thought you did that on purpose that would be one thing, but it sounds accidental.
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby OneWorld » Fri May 03, 2013 5:40 pm

Am I missing something? What's 'alternative' about it?
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby Jonny DiBergi » Mon May 06, 2013 8:53 pm

be constructive chaps
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby mikeb » Wed Jun 05, 2013 5:04 am

Hey Everyone:

Thanks so much again for all your feedback a couple of weeks ago. I put this mix up on blocks, opened the hood and rearranged things inside - and the next version is basically ready, if you'd like to check it out. Here's the track:

Soundcloud - Spyboy - [Rough Excerpt] 6.4.13

I've replaced the drum loops and synth bass with real drums and real bass, and attempted to add more bottom, wider stereo, and a slightly greater sense of depth via a Valhalla Hall. Hopefully the whole thing now sounds a little more organic, and grooves a bit better.

As before, any feedback is welcome, and comments on depth/ambience, or whether the track is exhibiting any digital nastiness, are double welcome.

Thanks again!
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby mikeb » Sat Jun 08, 2013 3:01 am

Hmmm...did I screw it up that badly?

I thought I'd implemented some of the suggested fixes pretty well...maybe not?

Well, just goes to show how hard it can be to get perspective on your own projects sometimes, I guess.

Still open to any and all thoughts on the mix, especially those outlined above. Thanks again for listening!
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby Airfix » Sat Jun 08, 2013 5:03 am

man oh man - you have all the pepper.
As others have said 'dirt it up' with the drums' - no riding the fader - A good brush kit -i'[d say!! is one way - old hand on a snare - with a brush. Good mic good intentions!
Get it right and come back .... you know it's good. One crack and it's gone. as with all productions - one has to capitalize.
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby The Elf » Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:19 am

It sounds pretty good.

Here are my notes:

I miss the vocal distortion effects. Bring 'em back!
The drums and bass are much improved, but...
The snare pushed off to the left is a bit distracting - I would centre it.
I still feel you could get crunchier with the drums.
The bass is lost. This is a track that needs supporting with one of those basses with plenty of purry mids. Here is an example of the kind of thing I mean (ignore the rest of the song - I'm just using this as a reference for the bass).

HTH!
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby Ron Snijders » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:41 am

Hardly a professional opinion here, as I've only been in the whole production thing for less than a year now. But I'll give it a go
Overall, I really dig the track. But I have to admit that I liked the first version better. That had more of a unique feel to it. The second version still isn't generic by any definition in my book, but less unique.
But my biggest 'issue' with the second version is the distractingly dull snare sound. That could be a style choice, of course, but I think it doesn't fit with the overall sound of the rest of the track at all.

And add my name to the list of people who love the material, by the way
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby Madman_Greg » Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:03 am

My ears are really messed up at the moment (hayfever, everything is blocked up ). But I did listen.

For me the bottom end is very confused.

Maybe some notch filters can help things become clearer. Or maybe a high pass on the vox.

Really depends what you see as key to the track in this frequency area.
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby mikeb » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:59 pm

Hey, thanks again for the feedback, people - really appreciate it!

I definitely hear the general consensus that the track is a bit more generic than the previous version. I'd like to think that now it's got a stronger, more stylistically appropriate foundation with the real bass/drums, and that it'll regain some idiosyncrasies a little further down the line with the mix...that's the plan, anyway.

Haven't had too much chance to work on this lately, but I'll post again here when there's an updated version.
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby mikeb » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:17 pm

Okay, for anyone who might still be interested, I've taken another crack at mixing this song - you can check it out here:

Spyboy, on Soundcloud

I feel pretty good about how this is sounding right now, but as before, would love to get some outside perspective. If you have a few minutes to listen and then make any comments that might strike you, I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks again!
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby mikeb » Tue Aug 06, 2013 5:55 pm

Just in case some of the previous commenters find themselves wondering what happened with this track, here's the final mix.

Spyboy - Soundcloud

Again, thanks so much to everyone for their help. All your feedback made for a much better mix!
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby The Elf » Tue Aug 06, 2013 8:22 pm

Love this song...
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby mikeb » Tue Aug 06, 2013 8:26 pm

Cool - I'll put up a quick post here when I release the mastered version. Thanks again for your help, Elf. It was especially useful.
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby Scouser » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:35 pm

Nice track
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Re: Looking for Mix Critique - Alternative Singer/Songwriter Swamp Hop

Postby mikeb » Sat Aug 10, 2013 6:18 pm

Cool - thanks, Scouser!
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