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Advice needed on 'professional' mix

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Advice needed on 'professional' mix

Postby D_Man500 » Thu Jan 09, 2020 5:49 pm

I've had this song mixed and mastered by an engineer offering their services online. Broadly speaking, I'm happy with it, and it's much better than what I was able to do. However, when listening to it side by side with commercial releases the track still lacks the kind of rich and full sound I would ideally like.

My suspicion is its an issue with the quality of my gear. Obviously there is a reason studios have expensive equipment etc. so I guess my question would be, is this mix about as good as you can hope to get given the setup I have?

Set up is: Rode NT 01A mic for acoustic guitar and vocals; minimal acoustic treatment in my room; drums are from Logic autodrummer; bass and electric guitars were recorded DI with a software amp; software instruments from Logic.

Song link is here:

https://youtu.be/QgZ--2_ywO4

I've spent a few years trying to do it all myself, and eventually got to the point where I felt I would be better off handing over the mixing and mastering to someone who knew what they were doing. I believe I'm getting my money's worth with the engineer I'm using, its about $200 to do a song (mix and master) but if there is something more I could do to improve the sound I would be grateful for some feedback (other than pay to go to a good studio as I cant afford it) such as how much difference would a better microphone make and are there any recommendations that would be a step-up from the Rode without being significantly more expensive?

Thanks for any advice given
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Re: Advice needed on 'professional' mix

Postby Luke W » Thu Jan 09, 2020 7:05 pm

I'm out and about at the moment so not able to listen to the track, but at a guess I'd say that the room will be much more important to the sound than the mic, especially with instruments like an acoustic guitar.

Nice mics (and all sorts of other gear) are always tempting, but without some changes to the space you're using them in then you'll usually end up capturing the same sound that you're not keen on but with a bit more detail. :thumbup:
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Re: Advice needed on 'professional' mix

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jan 09, 2020 7:37 pm

I did have a quick listen and I though it sounded pretty good, but TBF I'm not renowned for my recording prowess, or for having golden ears so I'll leave the detail to those more qualified.

However I liked the track and, from personal experience can vouch for the difference good acoustic treatment can make to your recordings and mixes so would endorse Luke's advice.
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Re: Advice needed on 'professional' mix

Postby CS70 » Thu Jan 09, 2020 11:27 pm

Not sure exactly what you're comparing with - and as Sam says it doesnt sound half bad at all. NIce song btw!!

I wasn't listening very loud but maybe I get a little bit what you mean if I think of similar kind of tracks.. it might lack a little of the vibrancy which really makes that style.

Take it with a grain of salt as it's purely an opinion, but my first impression it's that it's about performance, separation and reverbs.

Separation means that at any given time you really want to hear every instrument, not muffled and well detailed. The vocals are and the drums are nice and clear but the guitar is a little muffled and far imho.

It'd be interesting to hear the raw guitar track, to understand if it's the sound of the room reverb that it's printed, or something done at mixdown.

About the performance, that kind of song is all about the vocal delivery and the mood you manage to transmit to the listener. There may be a slight contrast between the type of song and the delivery you use. It's a fast-ish tempo, with a bit of an epic feel to the guitar strumming and reinforced by the huge drums.. and the vocals are well delivered, but in a kinda plain manner. And also the balance - I get putting the vocals up and front - but again the feel of the song would suggest me to get the guitars a little up, and maybe add power with a little bolder bass sound.

To get more vivid you might push a little more. get a little rawer, interpret the vocals a bit more.. it's really easy to do live and hard in a studio, and super-hard if you are recording yourself. And for the same purpose I'd experiment with slightly different reverb and delays to get the epic feel even more.
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Re: Advice needed on 'professional' mix

Postby James Perrett » Thu Jan 09, 2020 11:28 pm

I hope I don't come over as too harsh here but my thoughts are that you are trying to do too much yourself. The vocals and guitars sound good but to my ears the bass and drums on here are the sort of parts that you'd put down as a sketch and then redo properly later. The bass line seems to just follow the root notes and the drums just kind of plod along. You need some real players (or an experienced programmer) to take it up to the next level. It doesn't help that the drums have obviously been mixed at too high a level and then the whole mix has been compressed to bring the drums back down again. If I was mastering this I'd be instantly going for an expander of some kind to see if I could lessen the effect of the over compression.

I would also say that it is a bit too long - it seems to get to one level and pretty much stay there (though I only listened to the first 3 minutes or so as it didn't seem to be going anywhere else). If you want to keep it that long I'd suggest maybe more of a build-up and perhaps only introducing the bass and drums on the second verse.

As I say, I don't want to discourage you as there is something good here trying to get out.
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Re: Advice needed on 'professional' mix

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:05 am

James says the bass follows the root notes but I don't think it does. I hear the rhythm guitars playing a basic Am, G, D chord progression, but the bass at first plays basically E, G, F# . For me right at the start it sounds harmonically confused.

The bass doesnt have to always play the root notes but the root notes are the "home" position from which one can occasionally venture, only to return to them to, as it were, restate the theme.

In my view as a bass player, the bass player should leave no doubt in anyone's mind that even though he mightn't always play the root notes, he knows what they are.
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Re: Advice needed on 'professional' mix

Postby Sam Inglis » Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:41 pm

I agree with others that any problems here are primarily to do with the writing and the arrangement. The mix is pretty good and I have no problem with the level of compression. There are some nice guitar sounds and the vocal recording seems fine to me. The main issue is that there isn't enough depth or variety in the song and its arrangement to sustain the listener's interest for four and a half minutes. I also agree with Tim that E is an odd choice of note for the bass to rest on at the start. It turns the Am chord into a second inversion which is something that would usually be avoided except in very specific circumstances.
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Re: Advice needed on 'professional' mix

Postby D_Man500 » Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:18 pm

Hi everyone,

thanks for all your responses, all helpful in different ways. I guess the upshot from this is that the mix is probably as good as it gets with my skills as a player and using software instruments instead of live players recorded in a treated room.

In terms of arrangement, I basically agree. It was never a great song of mine and was conscious that it was probably too long. Something I need to work on more, so don't worry if any of you thought you were being too harsh. I want honest feedback. The drums I am kind of stuck with. I use the autodrummer in Logic which is great for a basic pattern, but hard to turn into a dynamic track that anticipates the song and I don't have the money to hire a programmer or get a drummer into a studio.

The bass I take your points on. I can try and get someone in to lay down a bass line who actually plays bass and is more creative and skilled than me, so reckon that would be a good thing to take away from this.

Good to hear that the stuff I recorded with a mic at least sounded alright, and maybe a bit more treatment should be the priority rather than another mic. Performance as a vocalist I again am aware of. Think I end up being too conscious of trying to hit the beat and keep in tune and lose some of the raw emotion in the delivery. The guitar was one of the comments I had with the engineer. I let it go in the end, but felt it was a bit low and didn't have a full sound, so will look out more for that in the next one.

Thanks again to all of you who replied. It's good to get some objective comments rather than go round and round in a subjective cycle of my own...
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Re: Advice needed on 'professional' mix

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:07 pm

D_Man500 wrote: I don't have the money to hire a programmer or get a drummer into a studio.

There is probably a way to collaborate online with a drummer/programmer.

Good to hear that the stuff I recorded with a mic at least sounded alright, and maybe a bit more treatment should be the priority rather than another mic.

Yes, definitely

The guitar was one of the comments I had with the engineer. I let it go in the end, but felt it was a bit low and didn't have a full sound, so will look out more for that in the next one.

That is the job of the mix engineer not the mastering guy.
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Re: Advice needed on 'professional' mix

Postby Matt Houghton » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:23 pm

Yeah, I'd echo what's been said above. I think they key to improving this particular track is probably in the arrangement and performances. And broadly, I reckon it's always a good idea to get more people involved in a project.

But that said, I'd also suggest that you might make some improvements to this particular mix by muting parts here and there to increase the push and pull, to give a bit more contrast between different song sections — the constant strumming and delays on the guitars can feel a bit relentless, and if you strip them out from time to time you'll turn the listener's attention to the lyrics more — and maybe to process the vocal for a closer, more intimate feel, given the performance style. Balance-wise the drums and vocal might retreat a little, and the guitars come up etc, but it's not so bad.

Anyway, don't lose heart. You're doing alright. You just have to learn from each song/mix and move on to the next one and get better over time... :headbang:
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Re: Advice needed on 'professional' mix

Postby mammy » Fri Jan 10, 2020 9:46 pm

I think that mix is a bit narrow and dark.If ı were you I made it more clear and wide than yours.If you wanna see what can ı do you can send your multitracks to me . ı make your music punchy ,wide and clear .


my mail adress: muhammetcevik@outlook.com



I play with rules and change them radically !!!
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