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Mix vs Mix: The Reckoning

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Mix vs Mix: The Reckoning

Postby erinasaboy » Thu Mar 26, 2020 3:33 am

Hey all,

I posted a few weeks back for feedback on a mix and got some great notes. Since then I've had another couple of mixes done. So basically I've worked with 3 different mixers on 1 song, my aim being to pick my fave and do a few more songs with that mixer. But, I'm torn, as I like elements of each of the 3. (Also, I'm more a writer/instrumentalist than a producer, so I may be missing obvious things that others may catch.)

Would love to hear thoughts from everyone on which mix they like best, and/or pros and cons of each mix.

Looking for thoughts on mix/master more so than the songwriting/performance.

I have my own preferences, which I'll post way below so as not to bias anyone.

Also, I promise not to clog up the board with posts on this song any further after this hehe.

Mix 1 https://www.dropbox.com/s/48vpmie7zvqrv23/Mix%201%20Hello%20EL.wav?dl=0

Mix 2 https://www.dropbox.com/s/zaowlpegyh1ysz3/Mix%202%20Hello%20EL.wav?dl=0

Mix 3 https://www.dropbox.com/s/r2yrcvo46148j3f/Mix%203%20Hello%20EL.wav?dl=0














My Thoughts-
Mix 1 -
Pros - Love the kick and bass tone (could see those being the standard tone for further work), good overall balance, big, bright, and wide overall.
Cons - Toms are kinda thin, something about the lead and bg vocs seems a bit shrill to me at times. Maybe an EQ issue or maybe too compressed. Can't put my finger on it, but almost fatiguing to listen to.
**Excuse the lead vocal reverb here. I accidentally gave this mixer a track with bad comp/verb printed to it. Planning to correct that. So please don't discount this mix solely on that.

Mix 2 -
Pros - Really warm and natural sounding, overall balance is great, toms and snare sound perfect, and vocals/layers sound good to me. To me this is the clearest mix, but...
Cons - I don't love the kick or bass tone. This one lacks strength on the bottom to me, and overall may be a bit dry, and smaller sounding than the others.

Mix 3 -
Pros - Good overall balance, bg vocs have some kind of effect on them that I like quite a bit--almost choir-like, solid outro section, good clarity overall.
Cons - I tend to like more attack on bass, and in general more of a natural 'live' sound for drums and bass. This one is solid, but further from my original vision.

I keep leaning one way then the other. Obviously it comes down to taste, but would love some outside input.

Thanks in advance for anyone willing to take the time!
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Re: Mix vs Mix: The Reckoning

Postby blinddrew » Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:28 pm

Not in the studio tonight but will give them a proper listen over the weekend. :thumbup:
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Re: Mix vs Mix: The Reckoning

Postby Sam Inglis » Tue Mar 31, 2020 8:46 am

Anyone had a chance to listen to these yet?
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Re: Mix vs Mix: The Reckoning

Postby CS70 » Tue Mar 31, 2020 9:58 am

erinasaboy wrote:Would love to hear thoughts from everyone on which mix they like best, and/or pros and cons of each mix.

Just a thought- you could give the job to ten mixing engineers and get ten slightly different results, and like small bits of each.

The point is that a mix is never finished, it's just you saying "stop". Otherwise you (or, by proxy, the person you hire) can go on for years agonizing on fine details.

So how you decide when to say "stop"? There's a few ways.

First, is attitude - why are you doing it? Mixing is like the icing of the cake - necessary and adds that little taste, but the important bits happen much before. If tiny details in the mix are so important to make you wonder if you should release, it's an indication that the music by itself may be not so strong. I find that when a track has something to say, the broad brushes are way more important than the tiny bits. Would "Daddy Cool" be as groovy if it had a slightly different bass tone? Most likely. While the bass tone is spot on, there's lots of tones that would work - it's really the music and the arrangement that makes (almost) anything there shine. The reason you're doing a mix is to put together these elements and convey an emotion. Is the emotion conveyed? If yes, the mix is done.

Second, my own method is simple: do I get annoyed by something? If I do, I need to fix it. It's hard to be objective here, so I usually let go of the mix for a day or two if I can and re-listen to it. Is there something that pops out and is annoying? If so, it's absolutely worth fixing. If not, the mix is done.

Since you went to all that effort, in practice I'd take the mix that annoys me the least (i.e. the least amount of "wrong" things), and ask the engineer who made it to change the bits I want changed.
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Re: Mix vs Mix: The Reckoning

Postby James Perrett » Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:12 pm

Had a quick listen to a minute or so of each (up to the verse) and preferred mix 2 although it felt a bit dull compared to the first so, if I was mastering it, I'd probably add some high end. I also liked the more prominent picking harmony on mix 3 but overall I'd say mix 2.
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Re: Mix vs Mix: The Reckoning

Postby blinddrew » Tue Mar 31, 2020 1:14 pm

Doh! Sorry, completely forgot. Will hopefully get on tonight.
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Re: Mix vs Mix: The Reckoning

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:25 pm

HI,

Just had a long listen to all three, jumping backwards and forwards, and here are my personal conclusions:

Mix 1: harsh and strident vocals right from the start, and this feeling didn't let up at all. The entire mix is tiring. Couldn't wait to stop listening.

Mix 2: Much more relaxed and natural sound. It's a homogenized mix that sits together well, although most of the sounds occupy a similar mid-distance.

Mix 3: This is my favourite. Great balance, and as you say the bg vocals are featured in more detail. To my ears there's also more separation between the various mix elements, so it sounds as if there's 'more going on', which holds your interest. However, in some ways I can see why you say that it diverges from your original goal, as this level of detail doesn't let up at all - my ears could have done with a few rests along the way, particularly beginning at 3:41 with the chimes, which are a little too hard in timbre for my liking. THis would have been my perfect moment for more contrast.

However, if I had to choose one only, it would have to be Mix 3, by a long chalk.

Great track by the way, beautifully put together.


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Re: Mix vs Mix: The Reckoning

Postby Sam Inglis » Thu Apr 02, 2020 1:15 pm

OK, so one-all for 2 and 3 so far! Any more takers?
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Re: Mix vs Mix: The Reckoning

Postby blinddrew » Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:14 pm

Doh!

Tonight I promise! :headbang:
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Re: Mix vs Mix: The Reckoning

Postby erinasaboy » Thu Apr 02, 2020 4:54 pm

CS70 wrote:
erinasaboy wrote:Would love to hear thoughts from everyone on which mix they like best, and/or pros and cons of each mix.

Just a thought- you could give the job to ten mixing engineers and get ten slightly different results, and like small bits of each.

The point is that a mix is never finished, it's just you saying "stop". Otherwise you (or, by proxy, the person you hire) can go on for years agonizing on fine details.

So how you decide when to say "stop"? There's a few ways.

First, is attitude - why are you doing it? Mixing is like the icing of the cake - necessary and adds that little taste, but the important bits happen much before. If tiny details in the mix are so important to make you wonder if you should release, it's an indication that the music by itself may be not so strong. I find that when a track has something to say, the broad brushes are way more important than the tiny bits. Would "Daddy Cool" be as groovy if it had a slightly different bass tone? Most likely. While the bass tone is spot on, there's lots of tones that would work - it's really the music and the arrangement that makes (almost) anything there shine. The reason you're doing a mix is to put together these elements and convey an emotion. Is the emotion conveyed? If yes, the mix is done.

Second, my own method is simple: do I get annoyed by something? If I do, I need to fix it. It's hard to be objective here, so I usually let go of the mix for a day or two if I can and re-listen to it. Is there something that pops out and is annoying? If so, it's absolutely worth fixing. If not, the mix is done.

Since you went to all that effort, in practice I'd take the mix that annoys me the least (i.e. the least amount of "wrong" things), and ask the engineer who made it to change the bits I want changed.

Haha, yeah, it wasn't my intention to do 47 mixes and drown in a sea of options. Was really just gonna do 2 and choose from there--1 I've worked with in the past, and a 2nd just to get a different take/see what's out there. A 3rd option popped up unexpectedly.

And I agree that so long as the emotion/idea are conveyed all is good. But I also tend to have a blind spot on the mixing side of things, so I like to get a few opinions. Some of my favorite artists/albums, according to mixing nerds, are "terribly mixed" and I've never noticed.

Second, good point, I think the only thing that really annoys me across these 3 mixes is the occasional shrillness of vocals on mix 1. Or as someone above called them, strident. Great word for it. Still not sure if that's bad EQ'ing or some kind of filter or what.

I'll likely go with the overall combo of results+process+ease of working with the person and all.

The other option is to somehow extract favorite bits from each mix and Frankenstein them together into a complete monstrosity......

Thanks for the feedback though, and the reminder that I'm probably overthinking this.
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Re: Mix vs Mix: The Reckoning

Postby erinasaboy » Thu Apr 02, 2020 4:55 pm

James Perrett wrote:Had a quick listen to a minute or so of each (up to the verse) and preferred mix 2 although it felt a bit dull compared to the first so, if I was mastering it, I'd probably add some high end. I also liked the more prominent picking harmony on mix 3 but overall I'd say mix 2.

Yeah I had worried mix 2 was a bit duller or softer sounding than the others, but do feel it's overall warm and really well balanced.

Thanks for the input!
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Re: Mix vs Mix: The Reckoning

Postby erinasaboy » Thu Apr 02, 2020 5:10 pm

Martin Walker wrote:HI,

Just had a long listen to all three, jumping backwards and forwards, and here are my personal conclusions:

Mix 1: harsh and strident vocals right from the start, and this feeling didn't let up at all. The entire mix is tiring. Couldn't wait to stop listening.

Yup. My exact thoughts on the vocals. I like the mix otherwise, but couldn't put my finger on the problem with the vocs (Eq, or comp, or etc?) but it's like they are really sharp and harsh on certain notes. And overall makes the mix tiring/fatiguing as you said.

Mix 2: Much more relaxed and natural sound. It's a homogenized mix that sits together well, although most of the sounds occupy a similar mid-distance.

I did like that natural sound here, especially on the drums, and the overall warmth. All the layers seem crisp and distinct to me too, which is a plus.

Mix 3: This is my favourite. Great balance, and as you say the bg vocals are featured in more detail. To my ears there's also more separation between the various mix elements, so it sounds as if there's 'more going on', which holds your interest. However, in some ways I can see why you say that it diverges from your original goal, as this level of detail doesn't let up at all - my ears could have done with a few rests along the way, particularly beginning at 3:41 with the chimes, which are a little too hard in timbre for my liking. THis would have been my perfect moment for more contrast.

Good points. I had thought the most separation was in mix 2, but maybe I'll give this a couple of relistens.

Great track by the way, beautifully put together.

Thanks! Much appreciated.

And thanks a lot for the detailed feedback!
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Re: Mix vs Mix: The Reckoning

Postby blinddrew » Thu Apr 02, 2020 5:35 pm

Mix 1 - sounds too bright to me. Cymbals are very splashy to my ears and it's fighting a bit with some of the distortion effects.

Mix 2 - much nicer on the top end gives the guitars some room because the cymbals aren't washing them out.

Mix 3 - Yep, I'm with the others, I think this is the clearest but I think this is a louder mix so i've dropped the volume to compare. I do think this could do with a bit more low-end punch though.


Really like the song, makes me thing of some weird Housemartins / They Might Be Giants hybrid. :)
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Re: Mix vs Mix: The Reckoning

Postby Mike Senior » Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:53 pm

Love this kind of listening session -- it always highlights how much people's tastes vary! With the tracks loudness-matched, funnily enough I preferred Mix 1 all the way. All grist to the mill, I suppose. I agree that it gets pretty fierce from time to time in the upper spectrum, but that's actually quite feasible to reduce with a bit of dynamic EQ, along these lines:

Mix 1 with upper-spectrum dynamic EQ

Once that's more under control, it just feels more exciting (love the compression movement) and fully-textured than the others for me. Both the others feel weak at the low end by comparison; the drums feel very narrow on Mix 2; and the vocal sound seems quite muffled and distanced on Mix 3. Fundamentally, I get kick, snare, and lead vocals loud and clear on Mix 1, together with a fully extended spectrum, so that ticks the most boxes for me. The vocals could be a bit warmer in Mix 1, certainly, and I'd prefer the drums blended more (they sound very heavy on the close-mics), but I'm not actually that turned off by the vocal reverb. Quite like it, actually, so maybe that's biasing me towards it as well!
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