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Adding Color to a Master Track

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Adding Color to a Master Track

Postby Hunter A. » Sun Jan 24, 2021 7:11 pm

Hey All,

I have attempted to master some tracks, but I feel that the final products are lacking "color" or liveliness. My guess is that this is an issue with reverb, but I am wary of adding too much reverb to my mixes as I am scared the master tracks will sound too pushed back and washed out.

I am currently using presets (I am not that experienced with music production) found in cakewalk's Breverb vst plugin. When I am in the process of mixing, these presets seem fine, but I feel that in my final master tracks they are not giving me the color and depth I want.

What are your ideas on how to add color to a track? Does this characteristic lie solely in reverb or are there other methods of adding color? Should I continue to use the Breverb plugin or should I look into downloading an outside plugin in order to achieve more desirable results?
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Re: Adding Color to a Master Track

Postby desmond » Sun Jan 24, 2021 7:35 pm

I'm not sure to what you're referring to, as when I think of adding "colour" to a track, it's not generally anything to do with reverb.

You're talking about "master" track, but I assume you're not talking about mastering your songs, you saying that you are unsatisfied with the *mixes*, so you're trying to get a better sounding mix with more "colour"? (whatever that is).

Or maybe you are talking about mastering - I'm not really sure from your description.

Can you identify more specifically what the problem you are having in your mixes is? Or are they just missing "something", you're just not sure what that is?
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Re: Adding Color to a Master Track

Postby CS70 » Sun Jan 24, 2021 7:41 pm

Hmm.. "color" usually implies a certain change of timbre, usually brought by stuff like distortion (as in "change to the waveform") either by actual overdriving something or, or example, passing it thru a transformer or other devices which subtly affects the sound. To a smaller degree, "color" can also be due noise or crossover between different channels.

In other words, it's something imparted by a device just because the signals pass thru it (and it can be a hardware device or a good emulation): console channels/buses, tape, mic emulations etc.

As of reverb , in most cases it has just to be right in the mix (or have, since often you use more than one). While it's possible to have mixes "too dry" and add some at mastering stage, I've seldom seen it done. Usually it's the opposite -the reverb is overcooked and/or uncontrolled and therefore the mixing engineer is forced to keep it low, resulting in a too dry mix; or mastering (which often implies a little compression) brings out too much of it. What do you feel specifically is it wrong with your reverb application? Cakewalk's BReverb is a good reverb in itself.

EDIT: Desmond beat me to it - same question really. :)
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Re: Adding Color to a Master Track

Postby Hunter A. » Sun Jan 24, 2021 8:44 pm

So to answer Desmond's question, I had taken the final mix, converted it to a wav file, and imported it to a new project to do things such as small eq changes, adding a bit of tube warmth, some console emulation, and applying a limiter to bring the volume up.

Using the equipment I have (an interface with headphones and studio monitors), I felt that the mix sounded okay both in the original project and the project I used to master the track. Only when I uploaded the track to soundcloud did I notice that the track sounded dry in terms of overall tone and timbre in comparison to other tracks.

I think CS70 is maybe right about adding more to the console emulation and other added emulation to the signal.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is an issue within the mix that I cannot identify. I'll post the link to the example in this post so maybe you can get a better idea of what my issue is.

It's very possible I just need to add more warmth through methods of console emulation and tube saturation. I don't know, I'd like to hear your opinions.

Here is the link:
https://soundcloud.com/hunter-angstadt/ ... GcYPN3jexg
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Re: Adding Color to a Master Track

Postby RichardT » Sun Jan 24, 2021 8:58 pm

I don’t think you have a problem with reverb. The amount of reverb sounds fine to me.

I think you have problems with quality and / or frequency balance of your recordings. The guitars in particular sound very tinny and lacking in power. The drums are recessed and lacking in low frequencies. It sounds like the music is being reproduced through a midrange-only system.
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Re: Adding Color to a Master Track

Postby Murray B » Sun Jan 24, 2021 9:14 pm

I echo Richard's comments above. It's more of a mixing issue than a mastering one I think.

Do you have a reference track of someone else's music that you'd like it to sound like. I'd recommend doing some side by side comparisons on your headphones and monitors between that and your mix trying to get the parts to have the same kind of tone and balance.

It's not easy at first, I'm still learning how to do this myself, but it's been the best thing I've ever done in trying to make my music sound more like I'd like it too.
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Re: Adding Color to a Master Track

Postby The Elf » Sun Jan 24, 2021 9:23 pm

Ouch! That's a VERY harsh mix!! It's also mono, which makes everything sound small.

As others have said above - it's all about your mix (assuming you're happy with what you have otherwise).
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Re: Adding Color to a Master Track

Postby desmond » Sun Jan 24, 2021 9:37 pm

Had a quick listen.

I don't think adding more reverb will help.
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Re: Adding Color to a Master Track

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Jan 24, 2021 9:49 pm

Hi Hunter A!

Interesting track, with LOADS of attitude, but I agree with the others - the guitars sound very harsh, and overall there's far to much going on between 1kHz and 4kHz, while there's little bass by comparison below 100Hz.

Comparing with balance with a few reference tracks should help a great deal, but I do suspect your monitoring isn't very balanced (probably with a boomy bass end either due to the loudspeakers/room acoustics or your headphones) so you tend to mix with too little bass.

This opinion is reinforced by RichardT's comment above "It sounds like the music is being reproduced through a midrange-only system." In other words, your own playback monitoring is probably bass and top-end heavy, which is perhaps why your mix sounds more balanced to you.


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Re: Adding Color to a Master Track

Postby Hunter A. » Sun Jan 24, 2021 9:51 pm

I have been told about reference tracks before and will most likely get more into them in the future (I've just been too lazy in finding the wav files to upload into my DAW).

As I can see, the consensus seems to be issues with frequencies. Unfortunately, I do not believe there is much I can do to help with the drums as they are an E-Drum kit and I am not able to spend time working on eq for different parts of the drumset.

The guitar I can work on. I think in the future I am going to look into better methods of recording my guitar tracks and try to fix the problem before it starts.

Admittingly I did tweak the eq of the final mix bus to try to counteract some issues I had with the bass muddying up my mix. I may have overcompensated and sacrificed too much of the low end.

I'm probably going to go back and open up the eq a little and see if I can find a proper balance. I also completely forgot that the track would be mono, thank you to the elf for pointing that out as it completely went over my head.

Thanks for the overall input, the issues brought up were issues I would have never been able to identify.
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Re: Adding Color to a Master Track

Postby Hunter A. » Sun Jan 24, 2021 9:54 pm

Martin W also pointed another issue I might've had.

I just got these monitors over Christmas and had not spent time balance the sound on them. Pretty big overlook on my part, but this is all a learning process for me.

Thank you for pointing that out Martin, I feel like that will help me balance out EQ more in the future.
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Re: Adding Color to a Master Track

Postby BJG145 » Sun Jan 24, 2021 9:54 pm

As The Elf says, first impressions is that the mix sounds very harsh. The general melee reminded me of The Espers' version of Flaming Telepaths. Perhaps you could start by identifying some commercial tracks like this one that you like the sound of, then using that as a reference target to aim for in terms of balance, EQ etc.

*edit*

I see that Martin just covered the reference tracks idea... :thumbup:
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Re: Adding Color to a Master Track

Postby James Perrett » Sun Jan 24, 2021 10:02 pm

Hunter A. wrote:Unfortunately, I do not believe there is much I can do to help with the drums as they are an E-Drum kit and I am not able to spend time working on eq for different parts of the drumset.

Probably too late for this song but it is always a good idea to record the MIDI from an electronic kit as well as the audio. That way you can edit the parts, split them onto separate tracks and replace samples after recording.
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Re: Adding Color to a Master Track

Postby RichardT » Sun Jan 24, 2021 10:31 pm

Hunter A. wrote:I have been told about reference tracks before and will most likely get more into them in the future (I've just been too lazy in finding the wav files to upload into my DAW).

As I can see, the consensus seems to be issues with frequencies. Unfortunately, I do not believe there is much I can do to help with the drums as they are an E-Drum kit and I am not able to spend time working on eq for different parts of the drumset.

The guitar I can work on. I think in the future I am going to look into better methods of recording my guitar tracks and try to fix the problem before it starts.

Admittingly I did tweak the eq of the final mix bus to try to counteract some issues I had with the bass muddying up my mix. I may have overcompensated and sacrificed too much of the low end.

I'm probably going to go back and open up the eq a little and see if I can find a proper balance. I also completely forgot that the track would be mono, thank you to the elf for pointing that out as it completely went over my head.

Thanks for the overall input, the issues brought up were issues I would have never been able to identify.

I think it’s interesting music!

You should still be able to EQ the drums as a whole, even if you don’t have access to the individual elements separately. Also, if you’re using a DAW it may have built in audio to midi capability, and then you can use the midi to trigger drum samples.

Yes, look into how best to record your guitars in future, but it would still be worth looking at EQing what you have on this track to see what difference it makes.
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Re: Adding Color to a Master Track

Postby Hunter A. » Sun Jan 24, 2021 11:14 pm

Thanks James and Richard for the advice for E-Drums, I will have to look into that

As Richard pointed out, I am able to EQ the drums, I just don't have the precision I want. In the future, I really hope to have enough mics to mic up a live kit. As for right now, I am going to research more into MIDI options as you guys have mentioned, although at this point MIDI is still kind of confusing to me.

I also want to thank BJG145 for the reference track suggestion, I am definitely going to check that out.
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