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Mix Advice Appreciated

Postby SevereSequence » Wed Aug 28, 2019 11:11 pm

Hi,
If anyone could give me advice on this mix, that'd be great.

https://soundcloud.com/reduceright/withstand-2019-08-22

The things that I know are needed:
  • Louder snare
  • Choruses need more S

As well as the studio monitors, I've tested the mix on my three cheap, everyday wear headphones. My main concern is that while on my Sony MDR-G45 headphones the chorus guitars sound just right (lots of power), on my Sennheiser HD 201 headphones and my other pair, the chorus guitars way quieter and weaker.

I don't have this problem when listening to my reference tracks. (Or any professional metal tracks I've tried).

I realise that mastering is supposed to make things sound better across sound systems, however I can't believe it's going to make enough of a difference, and obviously I want to hand the mastering engineer as good a mix as possible.

How could the guitars be made to sound more consistent across these headphones?

It's a pretty mid-range focused tone, so we tried EQ scooping the guitars a little to see if that makes the perceived volume more equal across the three headphones, but it doesn't seem to help.

I'm assuming that if I get a fair amount of consistency between these headphones (which all have pretty different characteristics) then the chorus guitars will likely sound good across a whole bunch of systems.

Thanks for any thoughts
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Re: Mix Advice Appreciated

Postby CS70 » Thu Aug 29, 2019 12:12 am

Can't listen to the track yet, but if your headphones don't sound right, and it doesnt happen with references, work on the mix, don't leave it to mastering.

My experience in these cases is that a little eq in the area you feel you're missing from the "weaker" headphones can help. Go easy - often just a 1-1.5dB boost makes it.. the idea is to really not make the sound change (subjectively) in the "ok" cans but boost just that little bit so that it gets the same effect in the others. Guitars (like vocals) are super midrange and that's where our hearing and perception is best - we can perceive very small change within a certain level band, while when you go over it the changes are no longer perceived so strongly... I think, at least :)
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Re: Mix Advice Appreciated

Postby Dave B » Thu Aug 29, 2019 11:52 am

Just had a listen on earbuds and FWIW, I'd leave the snare level alone - sounds fine as it is.

The whole thing is quite dry. If that's the sound you are going for then that's great. But I'd be tempted to give things a little more space
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Re: Mix Advice Appreciated

Postby The Elf » Thu Aug 29, 2019 12:49 pm

Yep, it's a very dry mix - you need some space in there to push parts backwards and forwards.

If your mix is not as you think it should be then keep working on it - 'mastering', however you perceive it, is not the place to fix problems you know you have.

I don't wish to be cruel, but for me it's all about those vocals, and... I'm not believing them. It sounds 'forced' - which I know it is(!), but here it simply sounds like someone mimicking that angry metal vocal style, yet not really feeling it. A bit of distortion might help, as would giving them some epic ambience to push them back and make them bounce off the mountains in the background, but I can't help feeling that they really need performing with a bit more conviction.

The drums are a bit 'knocky'. I'd get busy with some heavy scooping, especially on the toms.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Mix Advice Appreciated

Postby SevereSequence » Thu Aug 29, 2019 4:42 pm

Thanks for your thoughts.

CS70 wrote:My experience in these cases is that a little eq in the area you feel you're missing from the "weaker" headphones can help. Go easy - often just a 1-1.5dB boost makes it.. the idea is to really not make the sound change (subjectively) in the "ok" cans but boost just that little bit so that it gets the same effect in the others.

Is there an easy way I can establish which frequency area(s) need the boost?
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Re: Mix Advice Appreciated

Postby SevereSequence » Thu Aug 29, 2019 4:48 pm

Dave B wrote:Just had a listen on earbuds and FWIW, I'd leave the snare level alone - sounds fine as it is.

The whole thing is quite dry. If that's the sound you are going for then that's great. But I'd be tempted to give things a little more space

Ah okay, thanks for snare point.

Sorry could you elaborate on the point about dryness and more space? (I'm a newb) Does dry basically mean lacking in effects?
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Re: Mix Advice Appreciated

Postby SevereSequence » Thu Aug 29, 2019 4:59 pm

The Elf wrote:I don't wish to be cruel, but for me it's all about those vocals, and... I'm not believing them. It sounds 'forced' - which I know it is(!), but here it simply sounds like someone mimicking that angry metal vocal style, yet not really feeling it. A bit of distortion might help, as would giving them some epic ambience to push them back and make them bounce off the mountains in the background, but I can't help feeling that they really need performing with a bit more conviction.

The drums are a bit 'knocky'. I'd get busy with some heavy scooping, especially on the toms.

Thanks for listening. I know what you mean about the vocals. (I've nowhere to practise so it's a massive handicap). Should give it another go but severely running out of studio time. I'll ask for ambience though -see if it helps.

Ah okay, EQ scooping the toms sounds good to try.

If you could elaborate on the creating space point, that'd be great. (I'm rather clueless on this stuff).
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Re: Mix Advice Appreciated

Postby The Elf » Thu Aug 29, 2019 6:00 pm

ReduceRightDave wrote:If you could elaborate on the creating space point, that'd be great. (I'm rather clueless on this stuff).
We are opening a HUGE subject there! With the best will in the world, if you genuinely are as 'clueless' as you say I don't see how I could give you everything you need in a forum post. Getting front-to-back depth is the robin on the icing on the marzipan on a carefully made cake...

Consider reverb, delay, pre-delay, multiple delays/reverbs levels, width and tone. All of these need to be juggled to create a wide, deep mix with convincing 3D 'layers'.
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Re: Mix Advice Appreciated

Postby CS70 » Thu Aug 29, 2019 6:23 pm

ReduceRightDave wrote:Thanks for your thoughts.

CS70 wrote:My experience in these cases is that a little eq in the area you feel you're missing from the "weaker" headphones can help. Go easy - often just a 1-1.5dB boost makes it.. the idea is to really not make the sound change (subjectively) in the "ok" cans but boost just that little bit so that it gets the same effect in the others.

Is there an easy way I can establish which frequency area(s) need the boost?

Yes, you can do with a regular EQ but it's even easier with an EQ (like FabFilter Pro-Q for example) which allows you to listen only to the band you have under the mouse.

Using the "weak" headphones, set the levels at a comfortable but not overly loud level. Solo the guitar track and insert a parametric EQ. Create a bell, bring it up a lot (10-12dB) and increase the Q so that your band covers is 50-100Hz wide and the bell looks like a narrowish peak. This allows you to hear much better the contribution of that band. Then slowly sweep the center frequency from around 150Hz to around 8-10K.. you'll soon recognize the timbre you're looking for.

Once you've found the band which contributes the sound, you reduce the gain to a more reasonable amount (starting from 1-2dB) using the "weak" headphones so that the sound is right. Then you check with the "ok" headphones, if the band sticks out too much, it's too much gain, if it doesn't, you're set.

You may want also to play with the Q, decreasing it some (i.e widening the bell) as boosts are more natural with a low Q.

Don't be overly concerned with numbers and gain levels, close your eyes and rotate knobs and sweep until it sounds right: you don't look at an EQ, you listen to it.

It can also be that the difference between the two headphones is due to higher freq content, so first thing you can try is a simple hi shelf. Same technique, but start alreaedy with a gentle Q (a little more than 1) and sweep from 2K on to see if that's what's missing from the "weak" cans.

Once you've done so, check again with monitors. You may need to do the roundabout two or three times to find the right balance.

Playing the track at different volumes can also give you hints, if the difference is more pronounced at higher volumes, it's more likely to be a HF issue rather than a midrange issue.
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Re: Mix Advice Appreciated

Postby SevereSequence » Thu Aug 29, 2019 7:19 pm

The Elf wrote:
ReduceRightDave wrote:If you could elaborate on the creating space point, that'd be great. (I'm rather clueless on this stuff).
We are opening a HUGE subject there! With the best will in the world, if you genuinely are as 'clueless' as you say I don't see how I could give you everything you need in a forum post. Getting front-to-back depth is the robin on the icing on the marzipan on a carefully made cake...

Consider reverb, delay, pre-delay, multiple delays/reverbs levels, width and tone. All of these need to be juggled to create a wide, deep mix with convincing 3D 'layers'.

Yep, not my speciality -perhaps one day.
Just some pointers to the areas to look at is fine -thanks
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Re: Mix Advice Appreciated

Postby SevereSequence » Thu Aug 29, 2019 7:30 pm

CS70 wrote:Yes, you can do with a regular EQ but it's even easier with an EQ (like FabFilter Pro-Q for example) which allows you to listen only to the band you have under the mouse.

Using the "weak" headphones, set the levels at a comfortable but not overly loud level. Solo the guitar track and insert a parametric EQ. Create a bell, bring it up a lot (10-12dB) and increase the Q so that your band covers is 50-100Hz wide and the bell looks like a narrowish peak. This allows you to hear much better the contribution of that band. Then slowly sweep the center frequency from around 150Hz to around 8-10K.. you'll soon recognize the timbre you're looking for.

Once you've found the band which contributes the sound, you reduce the gain to a more reasonable amount (starting from 1-2dB) using the "weak" headphones so that the sound is right. Then you check with the "ok" headphones, if the band sticks out too much, it's too much gain, if it doesn't, you're set.

You may want also to play with the Q, decreasing it some (i.e widening the bell) as boosts are more natural with a low Q.

Don't be overly concerned with numbers and gain levels, close your eyes and rotate knobs and sweep until it sounds right: you don't look at an EQ, you listen to it.

It can also be that the difference between the two headphones is due to higher freq content, so first thing you can try is a simple hi shelf. Same technique, but start alreaedy with a gentle Q (a little more than 1) and sweep from 2K on to see if that's what's missing from the "weak" cans.

Once you've done so, check again with monitors. You may need to do the roundabout two or three times to find the right balance.

Playing the track at different volumes can also give you hints, if the difference is more pronounced at higher volumes, it's more likely to be a HF issue rather than a midrange issue.

That is amazing, thank you.
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Re: Mix Advice Appreciated

Postby blinddrew » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:34 pm

If you're starting off I'd give a hearty recommendation to Mike Senior's book 'Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio'. Really useful book that you'll come back to again and again. :thumbup:
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