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Re: Critique my mix

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:30 pm

The drums fills on your track are quantised to the click, the drums on the Incubus versions* are not. Drummers pull and push the timing around the click to add feel, playing ahead adds excitement, behind gives a lazy, laid back feel to the groove.

The guitar on the Incubus recording the guitar is a clean electric, your's, in the first half, sounds like an acoustic? And, in the beginning of second part, the electric guitar is way too loud and much more distorted than the Incubus recording. Yours also lacks the percussive attack to the notes (heavy compression) and modulation in there, possibly discrete pedals.

Without a vocal the track doesn't have any context which makes it difficult to engage with it.

So, from me it's a good start to learning to mix but you would undoubtedly benefit from developing your listening skills and finding a real drummer to program the drums for you.

* I'm enjoying the "Live on Letterman" version and Incubus are not a band I would have bothered to seek out TBH
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby Rich Hanson » Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:53 pm

I'll echo what Sam said about distorted guitars, as this was something I learned in my early days. As a guitarist, it's tempting to crank up the distortion because it feels powerful to play, but when you record it it can often sound quite limp.

I found that if I backed off the distortion, in particularly for rhythm parts, it could often make a much more powerful sound. I presume that this is likely because you're allowing more dynamics to come through from your playing, which would otherwise be flattened by extreme distortion.
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby CS70 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:01 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:and finding a real drummer to program the drums for you

Sign of the times.. :D :D
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:51 pm

:bouncy: :bouncy: :bouncy: TBF the OP has said he can't record real drums or afford to pay a drummer to record them for him.
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby AJScott755 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 3:00 pm

So when talking about guitars, what's wrong with the distortion? It's actually really quite low in distortion, less than 12'oclock on the amp. Which particular parts of the song have too much distortion and is that just a comparison to the original song? I'm not trying to replicate the Incubus tone, I didn't think that was a good idea, I don't think much could be learnt by just trying to replicate another song/tone.

Or are the guitar tracks simply too loud?
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 15, 2020 3:07 pm

It's not my genre TBH though I've played everything from folk and Gypsy Jazz to Heavy Rock over the years. You can't use the visual position of a knob to ascertain how much distortion is present, you need to use your ears. However, if it was a conscious decision to significantly change the guitar sound then that's fine*. In which case, yes it is too loud relative to other parts, another thing that will become easier to judge as your listening skills improve.

* Actually I really like that guitar sound and use something very similar myself, but I would not, personally, have used it there.
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby AJScott755 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 3:54 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:It's not my genre TBH though I've played everything from folk and Gypsy Jazz to Heavy Rock over the years. You can't use the visual position of a knob to ascertain how much distortion is present, you need to use your ears. However, if it was a conscious decision to significantly change the guitar sound then that's fine*. In which case, yes it is too loud relative to other parts, another thing that will become easier to judge as your listening skills improve.

* Actually I really like that guitar sound and use something very similar myself, but I would not, personally, have used it there.

Thanks, that's much more informative.

Regarding the quantized drum programming, a real drummer did actually program them. However yes they could use some humanization, I think every drum hit is at max velocity perfectly quantized. No reason I couldn't go through it and manual adjust each one or use the humanise function in Reaper.
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby AJScott755 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 3:56 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:* I'm enjoying the "Live on Letterman" version and Incubus are not a band I would have bothered to seek out TBH


I really commend them for playing that song on Letterman, I get the impression this song is the kind of music they really want to make. It's quite different from their mainstream heavier songs and it suits them better.
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:31 pm

I have found quite often that I hear a song I really like and, on going to listen to the rest of that band's output I find much of it disappointingly 'mainstream' (read predictable). That song is almost Prog which I usually do like though.
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:34 pm

AJScott755 wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:It's not my genre TBH though I've played everything from folk and Gypsy Jazz to Heavy Rock over the years. You can't use the visual position of a knob to ascertain how much distortion is present, you need to use your ears. However, if it was a conscious decision to significantly change the guitar sound then that's fine*. In which case, yes it is too loud relative to other parts, another thing that will become easier to judge as your listening skills improve.

* Actually I really like that guitar sound and use something very similar myself, but I would not, personally, have used it there.

Thanks, that's much more informative.

Regarding the quantized drum programming, a real drummer did actually program them. However yes they could use some humanization, I think every drum hit is at max velocity perfectly quantized. No reason I couldn't go through it and manual adjust each one or use the humanise function in Reaper.

A real drummer might not know how to program the slight variations, or might not even realise he's doing it himself as it's often instinctive. Hard quantized and max velocity is definitely at the root of the problem though.
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby The Elf » Wed Jan 15, 2020 6:19 pm

IME 'Humanize' processes are usually anything but. Adding purely random elements to your drums will not make them sound more 'human'. Humans are not random - they react to what they're hearing around them. Drummers will add intensity when the volume goes up in the chorus and may speed up slightly, or relax back on the beat when a verse returns, for example.

Instead, go through every beat of your drums and think about what a drummer would be doing. Is he hitting with left or right hand? Left hand hits will often be softer; fast repeated hits will be softer; hits going into a chorus will likely be heavier. Ruffs and ghost hits are critical to getting drums sounding subjectively 'real'.

And then there's the timing. I will allow a slight bit of randomisation to happen there, but I will also steer it ahead or behind the beat to get the feel I'm after.

It's painstaking stuff (I will often spend several hours programming convincing drums for a song), but if you want to get it sounding right there's really no short cut.
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby The Bunk » Wed Jan 15, 2020 7:57 pm

AJScott755 wrote: I'm not trying to replicate the Incubus tone, I didn't think that was a good idea, I don't think much could be learnt by just trying to replicate another song/tone.


That's a good way to work on something, absolutely, although earlier you say in relation to the drum fills:

"What's wrong with the drum fills? I believe they're almost identical to the original song."

So if you're not worried about just trying to replicate another song, I'd not worry about getting the fills 100% either. My approach to doing covers is absolutely NOT to try absolute total like-for-like accuracy because there can be times when the more you try, the more people will listen to it and either consciously or sub-consciously be comparing it to the original and not listening to it for a what it is - in this case, YOUR version.

Personally I've always found the EZD1 fills - along with other drum machine/programme fills - very formulaic anyway and very very rarely use them as they are. And will people who are going to listen to this say "Yep all good stuff but you got that fill at 2:07 wrong"? So maybe tweak them or create your own - which it sounds like you may have done in some cases?

Another technique I use with EZD is, whilst keeping the same drum pattern, change the hi-hat pattern over it which again reduces the "monotony" of a programmed drum. And it also sounds like you have done that in paces as well...; so honestly, it's a good start.

Do also bear in mind that we're still listening to this without a vocal; so our attention and listening focus has nowhere to go to other than guitar, bass and drums which is not how the song was meant to be listened to. AND...it's long at over 7 minutes. All that can lead to a slightly unbalanced judgement which you could argue is "harsh but fair"?

I'm not saying that what's been suggested by others above is wrong but, as someone whose memories of staring out on this road, as you are now, are still very fresh, I would get to the point of not tweaking any further until I'd got everything I want in there. I still think (and I said so earlier) that the basis of what's there is good as well.

BTW how much time are you spending on this? Maybe give the ears a break for a bit; you might hear things differently if you leave it for a week and then re-visit?
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby The Bunk » Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:01 pm

The Elf wrote:
It's painstaking stuff (I will often spend several hours programming convincing drums for a song), but if you want to get it sounding right there's really no short cut.

...and just before I go and start the dinner....+1.
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby AJScott755 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:42 pm

The Bunk wrote:
AJScott755 wrote: I'm not trying to replicate the Incubus tone, I didn't think that was a good idea, I don't think much could be learnt by just trying to replicate another song/tone.


That's a good way to work on something, absolutely, although earlier you say in relation to the drum fills:

"What's wrong with the drum fills? I believe they're almost identical to the original song."

So if you're not worried about just trying to replicate another song, I'd not worry about getting the fills 100% either. My approach to doing covers is absolutely NOT to try absolute total like-for-like accuracy because there can be times when the more you try, the more people will listen to it and either consciously or sub-consciously be comparing it to the original and not listening to it for a what it is - in this case, YOUR version.

Personally I've always found the EZD1 fills - along with other drum machine/programme fills - very formulaic anyway and very very rarely use them as they are. And will people who are going to listen to this say "Yep all good stuff but you got that fill at 2:07 wrong"? So maybe tweak them or create your own - which it sounds like you may have done in some cases?

Another technique I use with EZD is, whilst keeping the same drum pattern, change the hi-hat pattern over it which again reduces the "monotony" of a programmed drum. And it also sounds like you have done that in paces as well...; so honestly, it's a good start.

Do also bear in mind that we're still listening to this without a vocal; so our attention and listening focus has nowhere to go to other than guitar, bass and drums which is not how the song was meant to be listened to. AND...it's long at over 7 minutes. All that can lead to a slightly unbalanced judgement which you could argue is "harsh but fair"?

I'm not saying that what's been suggested by others above is wrong but, as someone whose memories of staring out on this road, as you are now, are still very fresh, I would get to the point of not tweaking any further until I'd got everything I want in there. I still think (and I said so earlier) that the basis of what's there is good as well.

BTW how much time are you spending on this? Maybe give the ears a break for a bit; you might hear things differently if you leave it for a week and then re-visit?

Thanks for the feedback man.

Regarding time....well I spent probably a day learning the song on guitar and getting it good enough to record with. I've then done 2 mix sessions in it, the version 1 I spent quite a lot of time on probably about 6 hours. The second version which is probably the one you've all heard now took me a lot less time. I mixed everything with a lot more headroom, probably about 4 hours mix time? Hard to say exactly
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby The Bunk » Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:54 pm

:thumbup:
The time point didn't need to be exact, more a matter of principle really...have you just got to the stage where you can't see the wood for the trees etc etc? It can happen without realising it and there isn't a right or wrong, "too little" / "too much" answer. It's just a thought really....maybe work on something else for a bit and go back to it. There's been stuff I've done that I never wanted to hear again after completing it!
Onwards and Upwards !
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:56 pm

Having had a quick listen again, my feeling is that you should take the quantising off the drums and allow them to push and pull - just as the guitars and bass are doing already. Any timing corrections that are needed should be done by hand and with reference to the guitar rather than with reference to the sequencer's timeline. Can you get hold of a version of the drum track with the velocities as they were originally played? This would help to make them sound more natural.
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:03 pm

So if you're not worried about just trying to replicate another song, I'd not worry about getting the fills 100% either. My approach to doing covers is absolutely NOT to try absolute total like-for-like accuracy because there can be times when the more you try, the more people will listen to it and either consciously or sub-consciously be comparing it to the original and not listening to it for a what it is - in this case, YOUR version.

I'm a live guy, I play live, I do live PA and I want to record things that sound like a great live performance. Partly it's 'cos I don't have the skill or patience to record and mix 100+ tracks (like a young mate of mine did, but he refused to do any acoustic treatment in his room :headbang: ) and partly 'cos those are the recordings that I like to listen to so please take my comments with an appropriate pinch of sodium chloride.

But, while I don't have 'golden ears' I have realised that I can hear the differences between what I play and what Eric played and have decided that I'm not good enough to do an exact copy. So, I play it my way, it may be close to it may be racially different (mostly the extent of my creativity) but the audience either fill in the gaps (Santana's version of Black Magic Woman played by a power trio) or appreciate the new take on it (Basket Case in DADGAD on an acoustic). I've even been complimented on my tone by the local 'tone hound' after playing Sultans of Swing on a Les Paul with a pick.... proof positive that it's all in the fingers...).

The point being that, while you don't have to slavishly copy, it does take practice to get something which sounds good and respects* the original.

* or possibly parodies.
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby CS70 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:57 pm

AJScott755 wrote:Or are the guitar tracks simply too loud?

Speaking as a guitarist, when I first got into recording I was very surprised on how low guitars need be in most mixes. In many cases, short of the occasional automation which brings up a specific lick or interesting part, they mostly provide the kind of tapestry that makes other stuff work.

It's not so dissimilar what happens live...
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Re: Critique my mix

Postby The Bunk » Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:44 am

Sam Spoons wrote:But, while I don't have 'golden ears' I have realised that I can hear the differences between what I play and what Eric played and have decided that I'm not good enough to do an exact copy.

...and actually in my case that is the absolute first reason!
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