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Where have I been going wrong in my mixes?

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Where have I been going wrong in my mixes?

Postby Synthman4 » Tue Jun 02, 2020 7:40 pm

Over the last 7 years I've been having problems getting the perfect sound in the overall mix.
Do I turn down the switch half way in the drum sampler?
Do I make sure that the drums are quite low in the mix and that I should just use lots of eq on the drums and compression on the drums e en if they are quite low down in volume?
Should I make sure that the vocal is the loudest and most prominent track in the whole mix after eqing?
If I run all tracks into the mastering channel, should I still use Slate compression for the drums or should I just leave the compression for the Ozone mastering?!
Please help.
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Re: Where have I been going wrong in my mixes?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jun 02, 2020 11:25 pm

You're asking for a lifetime of mixing experience in a forum post! To be honest, this isn't a question that can be answered sensibly in a forum. What you need is some 1:1 tuition -- someone who can listen to your mixes, analyse their strengths and weaknesses, and the explain and demonstrate how to optimise them.

There are a number of people who advertise this kind of service in the magazine small-ads, as well as around the interweb.
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Re: Where have I been going wrong in my mixes?

Postby Synthman4 » Wed Jun 03, 2020 8:59 am

I wasn't asking for a lifetime's worth of advice, I was just asking about two main points of mixing such as eqing on the drums and what the general difference is between the drums and vocal in terms of eqing and volume in a dance mix.
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Re: Where have I been going wrong in my mixes?

Postby Synthman4 » Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:05 am

It's expensive enough having to pay for the software and equipment. I'm having to live on bread and water everyday to pay for the equipment I need.
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Re: Where have I been going wrong in my mixes?

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jun 03, 2020 10:35 pm

I'd suggest that if you're focusing on equipment over training at this stage you've probably got your emphasis the wrong way round. I've taken some 1:1 tuition and it made more difference than any amount I could have spent on software or equipment.
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Re: Where have I been going wrong in my mixes?

Postby Music Wolf » Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:56 am

I don't see a link anywhere to your current mix so it's very difficult to give an opinion as to how precisely it could be improved.

What exactly are you hoping to achieve? i.e. is this a labour of love or is the aim commercial success? If the former then you are never going to achieve perfection, at least by your own standards. Da Vinci is reputed to have worked on The Mona Lisa for around 10 years, never quite being satisfied. I'd guess that he still wasn't happy by the end of his life. At some point you need to 'accept it' and move on.

I'm assuming that you have a 'home set-up', if so then you could probably achieve better results by taking your material into a commercial studio and mixing there with better monitoring / acoustics rather than spending the money on owning equipment. Of course I recognise that may be not what you are trying to achieve (afterall, I don't follow my own advice).

On the other hand, if you think that a perfect mix is the route to commercial success, then you are wrong. We praise production / mix, we even hand out awards, but I doubt that in the whole history of recorded music that the quality of the mix ever sold a single record. That, I am afraid, is all down to the artist (and it's as much about charisma as it is talent), the writing and the performance.
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Re: Where have I been going wrong in my mixes?

Postby CS70 » Thu Jun 04, 2020 9:25 am

Synthman4 wrote:Over the last 7 years I've been having problems getting the perfect sound in the overall mix.
Do I turn down the switch half way in the drum sampler?

What switch in what drum sampler?

You already know what everybody will answer, since they have answered a gazillion times in past threads of yours. :-)

However, I get your need of general rules of thumb to organize ideas, so here we go.

Do I make sure that the drums are quite low in the mix

That depends on the mood you're after. In very general terms, higher drums = more energy, lower drums = more intimacy. Where higher and lower are with respect to the vocal level.

So, say a songwriter ballad will usually have clear vocals and more subdued drums, but a rock piece usually will work well with drums at the same overall level as the vocals.

and that I should just use lots of eq on the drums and compression on the drums e en if they are quite low down in volume?

If you're recording a good band in one go, usually your EQ moves will be limited. But I guess you're overdubbing.. in that case, you can often use EQ to bring drums (or anything really) forwards or backwards by using high shelves. Using a cutting high shelf from say 5K keeps the "body" of the sound intact but gives the listener the impression that the drums are a bit back. The opposite if you boost. Obviously if you boost everything you will have a crowded front and nothing in the back (and it will suck); same if you cut all the tracks - you'll end up with something sounding distant and dull.

So you have to be selective of what you boost / cut that way. But drums are a good candidate.

Should I make sure that the vocal is the loudest and most prominent track in the whole mix after eqing?

Once again, it really depends on the sound you're after.

A "modern" sound has vocals upfront, yes - having the vox recessed a little gives a vintage and moody feel.

Then it depends on the genre. Rock tend to have drums and often guitars as about the same level as vocals (the snare in particular). Hip hop has vocals in your face (also because often there's not much else going on than a beat and some keys). Pop is again vocals up front, but less dry than hip hop. And so on.

Also keep in mind other elements that may be in the spotlight when there are no vocals: a riff, a lead line, a bass lick - if they last more than a second, you probably want to gently push the level up to around the vocal level... until the vocals come back in.

If I run all tracks into the mastering channel, should I still use Slate compression for the drums or should I just leave the compression for the Ozone mastering?!

To answer your direct question - there's no problems in having several compressors in series. So in principle nothing wrong in compressing the drum bus and then compressing again at mastering.

Whether or not you "should", however, is a different point.

How much compression to use on drums is dictated by the track dynamics, personal choice, genre and what specific effect you want to achieve (down to quite a detail). In general terms, if you don't know why you are compressing, don't (set aside 10m to find out what compressing do to that track, but do not just random go compressing stuff in the mix, it's a recipe for a boring mix).

There are rules of thumb here as well, but it'd take a book to collect and write them all ! :D
Compression can be used to achieve a lot of different things, it's like a swiss army knife.

Please help.

The best help is to change your way of thinking: start with your objective, then look at the kit and the techniques to achieve it, not the other way around. If your objective is too foggy ("I want a good mix") split it down in parts that you can concretely address ("I want a more energetic mix" ==> "I need to find what I mean with energy" ==> "I listen to tracks which have the energy I want" ==> "I figure out it's the drum level!").

It's not really true that "there are no rules" - there are things that work to get you certain results, and I think that's what you're after - but there are no rules that can be applied without context.. and the context is always what you want to achieve, in far more detail than "I want a better mix".

Best of luck.
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Re: Where have I been going wrong in my mixes?

Postby Zukan » Thu Jun 04, 2020 9:28 am

Synthdude, if you want some constructive feedback we need a link to the track in question.
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Re: Where have I been going wrong in my mixes?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Thu Jun 04, 2020 10:00 am

Hi Richard, welcome back to the forum.
One suggestion I'd always make is to use reference tracks. So get a track you'd like your track to sound like and ruthlessly compare your mix to this reference throughout the mixing process. Import the song into your mix project so you can constantly flip back and forth.
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Re: Where have I been going wrong in my mixes?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Thu Jun 04, 2020 10:13 am

I doubt that in the whole history of recorded music that the quality of the mix ever sold a single record.

Hmmm, I'd have to disagree with this. So much about modern mixing is enhancing the performance, correcting tunings, timings, re-ordering parts and arrangements, adding ear candy with effects etc etc. Clearmountain isn't paid squillions for pushing all the faders up and hitting 'bounce'.
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Re: Where have I been going wrong in my mixes?

Postby CS70 » Thu Jun 04, 2020 10:49 am

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:
I doubt that in the whole history of recorded music that the quality of the mix ever sold a single record.

Hmmm, I'd have to disagree with this. So much about modern mixing is enhancing the performance, correcting tunings, timings, re-ordering parts and arrangements, adding ear candy with effects etc etc. Clearmountain isn't paid squillions for pushing all the faders up and hitting 'bounce'.

Enters Jack Welch.. perception matters.

Especially at squillions level, so much of what an individual is paid is due to the perception of what he/she adds more than the substance. Perception, and the overflowing wallets of people and organizations with more money than sense.

Not sayin' Clearmountain isn't good - he is - but his main advantage is that he's managed to build a brand with the right people, and he is Clearmountain.
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Re: Where have I been going wrong in my mixes?

Postby Synthman4 » Thu Jun 04, 2020 12:02 pm

I've always been looking for commercial success and have been looking for the perfect mix for seven years and still haven't got it. Over the last four years I've stopped my production as I've had big gambling problems trying to get all the equipment together and it has been unsuccessful.
But I'm getting back into the rhythm of things and know where I left off.
I think one of you were right as my mixes seemed very crowded in volume so I believe there are only a few things I need to sort out. I use Vengeance Phalanx as my drum sampler.
I've been working up towards this dream since 2003 when I first declared war against modern chart music on the Future Music/MusicRadar website and simply named it 'The Revolution' but because I kept on having continuous problems for many years trying to find a singer to do gigs with, I decided not to lose time and focus on doing my grades in theory and piano and improving my production. I believe if I can get the perfect mix, I can look at paying for professional online session singers to finalise the vocals so I can aim towards achieving my life long dream of commercial success using Radio Airplay/Jango and Tunecore/iTunes. I still believe that my dream is like a light on the end of a tunnel. I was just asking you all to help me reach it.
I definitely think that this 'Out to Sea 2016' is too overcrowded especially that I have no room to put the Vienna String arrangement in. I can't here the Blackpool Wurlitzer either.
I'm trying to get the vocals and drums produced in the same kind of way they sound in Clean Bandit's 'Rather Be', even though I hate the latter song.
I promise that if we can all sort this 'Revolution - War against pop' thing out and make it happen, I will pay every single one of you off with a good financial reward. So let's get on with the REVOLUTON and let's make it all happen together!!! HEIL STEEDIE!!!!!!!
Here is the link to my last mix... https://m.soundcloud.com/synthman1
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Re: Where have I been going wrong in my mixes?

Postby Music Wolf » Thu Jun 04, 2020 12:20 pm

I think that the link was broken (the '1' was missing from the end of the link)

Is this the correct track?

https://soundcloud.com/synthman1
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Re: Where have I been going wrong in my mixes?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Jun 04, 2020 5:30 pm

I've corrected the original link.... :wave:
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Re: Where have I been going wrong in my mixes?

Postby Music Wolf » Thu Jun 04, 2020 5:41 pm

OK, I've had a listen.

There's too much going on in my opinion. No shortage of musical ideas but it's as though they are all turning up for the party whilst no one is leaving resulting in overcrowding.

I would suggest that you try a 'one in, one out' policy whereby each time a new sound comes in then something has to mute (or be dropped right down). You can then bring things back in towards the end if you wish.

I definitely do not see a need for any new equipment in there.
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