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Recurring mixing problems

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Recurring mixing problems

Postby onto center » Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:21 am

So I have been tinkering with music for a while now, but I feel like I have never really gone anywhere with my mixing abilities on my songs. I always end up with that 'mud' that clouds my songs and makes them sound really unprofessional to me. I have looked around for tips, and this seems like the best place to ask. So, I'm going to be using my current project as an example (just the beginning of the song to the end of the first chorus) of how muddy my songs can be, as this one has been among the worst: https://soundcloud.com/onto-center/sos-example/s-l4vaf Basically, my main issue on this song is that my bass needs force to amp up the chorus, but that force comes at the cost of a much higher frequency (from 300 htz all the way into the ~8k range), and this overshadows all other parts of the song. To be honest, this problem might come from both a mixing issue as well as a composition issue, but any tips for how to fix this may give me some footing to learn how to make clearer tracks in the future. Any help is much appreciated!
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Re: Recurring mixing problems

Postby The Elf » Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:35 pm

From a quick once-through...

The first thing that occurs to me is that you really have no low bass in the track. The big, heavy part is all about lower-mid boom and upper-mid grit, but the whole 'cellar' of the bass end is not there, leaving the higher parts out of context. The bass part you've chosen really doesn't have any beefy low end to speak of. This leaves the whole mix sounding lower-mid heavy.

I also notice that the drums are very low in the mix. I wonder if you may be cranking some low end onto the kick drum and then having to hold the drums back to compensate.

Try this approach...

Reset all of your EQ.
Double the bass part with a second 'purr' bass an octave below what you have now. Keep it to just the purr - no mids or highs.

Add a high-pass filter to the original bass part and clean it of anything below 150Hz. Let the new lower bass take this role.

Bring the drums up so that the kick is peaking around -10dBFS. Bring up the purr bass to sit comfortably with the kick and provide the sustain to the kick's punch (remember that this is all without any EQ). Now bring up the original bass to provide character without dominating the mix.

Use EQ cuts (no boosts) to remove the boxy mids from the drums. I think you'll be cutting in the 350-550 Hz region, but you probably need to use the 'boost and sweep' trick to find the most boxy resonances.

Add the other parts to suit. Use a high-pass filter on pretty much everything apart from kick and purr bass to clean up any stray low end. Set the cut-off frequencies as high as you can without it being obvious.

Hopefully by now your mix will be sounding better - just adding that deep bass should put the rest of the mix in a better context.

Use more EQ cuts to tame anything boxy and/or muddy.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Recurring mixing problems

Postby mashedmitten » Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:49 pm

I'd add this thought. What sounds good standalone doesn't always fit in a mix. In my experience, most times not. For guitar, I have stripped down clean and distortion settings to make rough sketches, same for bass and drums. It's easier to add nuance than remove cacophony.
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Re: Recurring mixing problems

Postby onto center » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:45 pm

Thanks for the tips! Ill try those out asap and see what I can do.
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Re: Recurring mixing problems

Postby onto center » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:58 am

The Elf wrote:From a quick once-through...

The first thing that occurs to me is that you really have no low bass in the track. The big, heavy part is all about lower-mid boom and upper-mid grit, but the whole 'cellar' of the bass end is not there, leaving the higher parts out of context. The bass part you've chosen really doesn't have any beefy low end to speak of. This leaves the whole mix sounding lower-mid heavy.

I also notice that the drums are very low in the mix. I wonder if you may be cranking some low end onto the kick drum and then having to hold the drums back to compensate.

Try this approach...

Reset all of your EQ.
Double the bass part with a second 'purr' bass an octave below what you have now. Keep it to just the purr - no mids or highs.

Add a high-pass filter to the original bass part and clean it of anything below 150Hz. Let the new lower bass take this role.

Bring the drums up so that the kick is peaking around -10dBFS. Bring up the purr bass to sit comfortably with the kick and provide the sustain to the kick's punch (remember that this is all without any EQ). Now bring up the original bass to provide character without dominating the mix.

Use EQ cuts (no boosts) to remove the boxy mids from the drums. I think you'll be cutting in the 350-550 Hz region, but you probably need to use the 'boost and sweep' trick to find the most boxy resonances.

Add the other parts to suit. Use a high-pass filter on pretty much everything apart from kick and purr bass to clean up any stray low end. Set the cut-off frequencies as high as you can without it being obvious.

Hopefully by now your mix will be sounding better - just adding that deep bass should put the rest of the mix in a better context.

Use more EQ cuts to tame anything boxy and/or muddy.

Hope this helps.
So I tried out every method you recommended and most worked really well for the song. The volume came down to a nice -6db average, as well as opening room for the melody and the accents of the song to show through. Even though all of that went well, the bass still remains as the primary issue, with it now sounding quite dull and static, which takes a lot out of the piece as a whole in my opinion. I know this is probably an issue with the instrument itself, but I was wondering if a salvage job would be possible on the bass, or even if that high-intensity bass were possible given the frequency restrictions imposed by the melodies. Here is the mix after doing my best job following the previous recommendations: https://soundcloud.com/onto-center/sos-example-2/s-BO9FH. Either way, I have learned quite a bit from the suggestions given already, so thanks!
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Re: Recurring mixing problems

Postby The Elf » Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:34 pm

Yep, the balance between the purr bass and your original needs work. Let's turn things around from my previous suggestion. Try getting a balance between the kick and the original bass, then sneak the purr bass underneath until you hear that 'cellar' open up underneath the mix. That might work better for you.

And it's time to crank a bit of top boost on the snare. Try a shelf around 8kHz and start with 6dB of boost. See how that works, then play around with it to refine it - add some sizzle and air. A little bright reverb may help too.

BTW, your URL needs fixing. fixed it - Andy
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Re: Recurring mixing problems

Postby onto center » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:16 pm

So the bass is coming into focus now - especially when the chorus kicks in which makes for a great effect, and I feel like the balance is coming together really well.

One problem I seem to keep having is with Soundcloud uploads compressing my snare into oblivion (as well as the melody, but that is not as noticeable) until it sounds very grainy if any high-end frequencies are present, which is why I cut them out in the last mix. I don't know if this is a part of the method Soundcloud uses to compress audio, or if they have a cutoff or some other filter at about 16k and above, because that is when the distortion seems to start.

Mix with revised balance for bass, as well as a boost to both snare samples at 8k and above: https://soundcloud.com/onto-center/sos-example-3/s-ElyPS
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Re: Recurring mixing problems

Postby The Elf » Wed Jun 21, 2017 9:15 am

Sounds like you're on your way. Start easing back on those mids and let the extreme highs and lows come through - I think your future mixes will benefit from this approach.
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