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  #1  
Old 02-03-2018, 10:06 PM
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Default Mix Critique Please...

I recently replaced my old Mac. With the replacement came the requisite file transfer from the old machine to the new one.

During the transfer exercise, I came across a bunch of old stuff I had originally recorded in Cakewalk/SONAR 10-15 years ago, but never got to seriously mixing down. Being the weather in midwest is cold and snowy this weekend, I decided to spend a little time resurrecting a song that was originally written and recorded in 2008.

Would love to get your feedback and suggestions on this one -- "Seaside Soliloquy"...

Here's a link to the MP3 Uploaded to DropBox:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/2yojwacou3...oquoy.mp3?dl=0

Thanks in advance!
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Old 02-04-2018, 08:24 AM
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Nice recording, nice song, nice mix! It has a really neat clean feel to it.

Bob
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Old 02-04-2018, 12:36 PM
DukeX DukeX is offline
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Very, very tasty. High quality performance, recording and mix. Something for all of us to aspire to.
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Old 02-04-2018, 02:38 PM
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Thanks for the feedback, folks!

I've struggled in the past to get the drums and bass to play well with others in the mix, and I think this one hits the mark okay. The original 12 string recording was not mic'd particularly well, so getting an acceptable EQ was a bit of a challenge. Vocal recordings were pretty good, and all the other instruments except an egg shaker (including Drums - DoD loops) were DI'd in, which made it easier.

I'm still learning how cut "pockets" for each of the instruments to sit comfortably without fighting with others in the mix, but that's as much about arrangement as it is the mix itself.

Btw, for the techies in the group: Originally recorded on SONAR Pro (whatever the first version after they changed the name from Cakewalk Pro Audio). Recording interface was a MOTU 2408. Current gear used for mix: Presonus Studio One v3.5 DAW software. Audio interface is a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 and monitors are my old reliable Mackie HR824s (15 years and still chuggin' along...).
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Old 02-05-2018, 05:28 AM
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Cutting out the pockets was something I learned from producer Ted Templeman who produced the Doobie Brothers. He mentioned it in an interview so I went back and studied his mixes. If you listen on What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits through Stampede you can really hear how he did it - no instrument occupied any unnecessary frequency overlap with any other - "A place for everything and everything its place."

Bob
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Old 02-05-2018, 07:22 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions, Bob! I'll give those albums a listen. Love DB's music...
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Old 02-05-2018, 03:10 PM
Hurricane Ramon Hurricane Ramon is offline
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Details on this fine recording please .

EZ :

HR
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Old 02-05-2018, 06:45 PM
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Quote:
Details on this fine recording please .
First off, thanks for the kind words, HR. Appreciate it!!!

As for details - I'll do my best, but the original tracks were recorded about 10 years ago and the exact details are a bit fuzzy...

Instruments:

Acoust. 12 String -- Taylor K65ce
Electric Rhythm (Chorus, Pre-Chorus, Harmonics) -- Taylor T5 (According to track labels)
Electric Solo, counterpoint and V2 "chug" -- Fender Strat (Guessing based on tone, not certain)
Bass -- Fender Jazz Bass (an old & trusted friend...)
Guitar Effects -- Boss GT-6 or GT-10 (Don't remember which, but I'm leaning towards the GT-10)

Synth Pad -- Korg X50
Synth Harmonica -- Either Korg X50 or Roland JV-1010 (Not sure which)

Drums -- Drums on Demand Loops
Shaker -- Some generic egg shaker

Ac. Guitar Mic -- MXL 603s Small Diameter Condensor (not positive, but I tend to go that route)
Vocal Mic -- Audio Technica AT-2050 (Again, guessing but the clarity tells me it is...)

Recording Notes:

1. All tracks are recorded flat -- No EQ or compression. Not sure if this is proper technique but, IMO, gives me the cleanest pallet to work with during the mix.

2. Except for acoustic guitar, vox and shaker, all instruments were recorded direct into audio interface. I may have used a Baggs PADI on the bass, but I don't think I started doing that until a few years ago.

3. I tend to record the acoustic guitar in mono. After, I will duplicate the track, nudge the timing by several milliseconds, then pan the two tracks left & right to gain some width. I then group the two tracks and send to a sub buss for EQ and effects.

4. Vocals - I'm recording in a home studio without the best isolation so, after getting the best take, I'll go through and cut out the "Silent" parts of the track to minimize outside noise and big breaths. A few years ago, I picked up one of those vocal isolation shields. I find it helps a lot. Here's a link to an example...

Mixing Notes:

NOTE: I am an untrained mixing hack, but do my best to pick up tips & tricks from books, websites and advice from pros online. In the end, I try to make it sound like what I hear in my head. That rarely, if ever, happens....

EQ:
1. Since most of the tracks are DI'd in, I start with getting a good general sound from the acoustic guitar. On this one, I set the high pass at 105 Hz and the low pass at 10kHz or so. I then took a chunk out (~ 4dB) of the mids between 500Hz and 1.2k. After adding in vocals, I found I need to clean up where my voice sits in the bottom of mids (around 280Hz). That also cleans the last bit of mud. I used a multiband compressor to handle peaks and final level adjustment.

If this were a solo acoustic piece or simple acoustic + vocals, I wouldn't have gone this dramatic. Often, you can solo an instrument in a mix and it sounds lousy. However, once you bring in the rest of the tracks, it fits much better in the mix. Think big picture...

2. Next, I mute the acoustic and work on bass and drums. For this track, I used a new plug in I picked up -- Waves Audio's "JJ Puig/Bass". It's a combo EQ/Compressor thing that works pretty well (To be honest, I'm not very impressed with the others the suite, but the bass works okay). Lots of tweaking (and a parametric EQ dip at 325Hz) got what I wanted.

The drum loops got a little bump at 48Hz, a little dip at 333Hz, a narrow cut at 3KHz, and some gain above 5KHz for sparkle. No compressor as the track was very even with no big tom or snare hits to control.

3. Vocals. I use a spectrum analyzer to see where the fundamentals of my voice are, and use this as a guide when tweaking the other instruments. Because I tend to use the same mic for recording vocals, I've saved a preset in the EQ to get me in the ballpark, then tweak from there. No compression on this track.

Note: The Spectrum Analyzer is a great visual aid when determining where any track dominates frequency wise, and can be a good starting point when trying to isolate problems or make it fit. However, in the end - Trust your ears. You know what sounds good to you.

4. After I've got the foundation established, I bring those tracks up to a general level and start adding the other tracks one at a time, tweaking the EQ, seeing where they sit in the mix and positioning them on the soundstage. When I think I have the setting right in my monitors, I switch to the internal speakers on my Mac and listen there. I'll also put my headphones on for a critical listen. Sounds good? Move on to the next instrument and repeat.

5. After I think I have everything about right, then I start adding effects, typically reverb and a little delay on solo instruments. It really depends what I think sounds good. Lots of experimentation here. I've learned over the years that when it comes to reverb (and other effects, for that matter...), a little goes a long way. Be judicious in your application.

Another trick I learned in the past couple years is the use of EQ on your reverb and delay buss. Start by placing your EQ after your effect in the buss. By rolling off everything below 500Hz or so and everything above 3KHz or so, and adding a little dip around 1KHz, the effect is a lot more controllable and doesn't wash out the mix. I use the high pass and low pass on my eq with a 12dB/octave rolloff. These numbers aren't set in stone, but it's a good starting point. Play around with it a bit!

6. Final Polish -- When I think I have everything finished, I listen a couple more times at a good volume, switching between the studio monitors, computer speakers, and headphones. Then I save it and walk away for the night. The next day, I'll give it another listen and, invariably, make a couple more tweaks. At that point, I have to stop myself from overworking it. It sounds good. Trust your ears! On this track, the final polish is with a multiband compressor to get the overall level I want and polish up/level out the mix a bit. I then added a little Izotope "Ozone Imager" to add a little width to the stereo field.

And there's the story behind the mixing of the song. I'm sure I missed some things and glossed over others, but it gives you an idea of the thought process. If anyone has other tips or ideas, I'd love to hear them. As I said, I am nowhere near a professional and would love to learn more about this mad art/science of recording and mixing.

Hope this helps!!!
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- Plato

| '02 814c Custom (Cocobolo/Sitka) | '03 912ce Custom (Coco/Engelmann)| '06 K65ce | '11 916ce | '17 J45 Std. | Lots of electrics...
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  #9  
Old 02-05-2018, 07:00 PM
DukeX DukeX is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gutch View Post
I'm still learning how cut "pockets" for each of the instruments to sit comfortably without fighting with others in the mix...
David Gibson's The Art of Mixing (A Visual Guide) is a helpful guide IMO.
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Old 02-05-2018, 07:27 PM
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Gutch Gutch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DukeX View Post
David Gibson's The Art of Mixing (A Visual Guide) is a helpful guide IMO.
Thanks for the suggestion -- I'll look it up!
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| '02 814c Custom (Cocobolo/Sitka) | '03 912ce Custom (Coco/Engelmann)| '06 K65ce | '11 916ce | '17 J45 Std. | Lots of electrics...
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