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Old 06-10-2011, 07:13 AM
rhancox rhancox is offline
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Default Some mixing criticism

I was wondering if some of you more experienced recording types would check out this recording of mine. I posted it here in Show & Tell, if you care to have a listen.

It's my first project using Reaper, for one, and it has more tracks than I've ever used. Two of them are MIDI tracks, one for bass and one for drums (using a Rock Band drum kit).

I added a little reverb and EQ to the guitar tracks. One of the guitar tracks (12-string rhythm) was recorded, mono, using the pickups in the guitar, and the rest of them were recorded, stereo, with two mics. There is a 12-string rhythm, with mics, and then two different 6-string tracks with mics. One is the lead and the other is a bit of a fill during the instrumentals, emulating a synthesizer from the original recording.

I'm just wondering if you all think it's a little too busy or maybe the levels aren't right. Or maybe it's total crap. Either way, I'd really like some constructive criticism as to how I could improve upon an effort like this. Even if the best way to improve is to stop trying altogether.

Thanks.
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My modest collection:
Hohner HGK-512 (no strings; lifted bridge)
Yamaha FG720S-12, w/ p'ups
Alvarez AJ60S, w/ p'ups
Ibanez AEB5 acoustic bass

Pickups: JBB-Electronics Prestige 330 (SBT) - finest quality at half the price

Recording gear:
Focusrite Saffire 6
MXL 990 and 991 condensor mics
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Old 06-10-2011, 12:09 PM
K-vegas K-vegas is offline
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Very intricate track - sounds fine on work PC speakers. I'll try to remember to revisit when I get home and post back anything I can offer - although I'm a novice myself.

Seeing that this is a reaper project, I would suggest that you post this in the reaper forum and ask for mix advice there as well.
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Old 06-10-2011, 02:28 PM
rhancox rhancox is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K-vegas View Post
Very intricate track - sounds fine on work PC speakers. I'll try to remember to revisit when I get home and post back anything I can offer - although I'm a novice myself.

Seeing that this is a reaper project, I would suggest that you post this in the reaper forum and ask for mix advice there as well.
I was thinking about that but I haven't seen too many threads of folks posting their recordings for critiquing.

Thanks for listening. I look forward to your further review.
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- Rob

YouTube (GuiTuber)
SoundCloud

My modest collection:
Hohner HGK-512 (no strings; lifted bridge)
Yamaha FG720S-12, w/ p'ups
Alvarez AJ60S, w/ p'ups
Ibanez AEB5 acoustic bass

Pickups: JBB-Electronics Prestige 330 (SBT) - finest quality at half the price

Recording gear:
Focusrite Saffire 6
MXL 990 and 991 condensor mics
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  #4  
Old 06-10-2011, 05:28 PM
moon moon is offline
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Can I download a wav from soundcloud to hear it better? I think I've done that before but I can't remember how.
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  #5  
Old 06-10-2011, 08:21 PM
K-vegas K-vegas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhancox View Post
I was thinking about that but I haven't seen too many threads of folks posting their recordings for critiquing.
I dunno. I've seen lots of interest when folks ask for feedback on reaper mixes there. Spin down thru the link I posted and you should see some of that.

Anyways.. I not the one maybe to give advice on how to improve things but here are some of the things I've noticed after a few listens.

What did you use most to mix this with, headphones or monitors?

Vocals: You do really well singing on this. However, I'm not as keen on the vocal effect you're using. I feel this area would make for the most improvement on the whole track. Not sure if you are using reverb on vocal (vocal is really up front in mix) but if not I would try a touch to see if it adds some sparkle to an otherwise good vocal track.

Guitars: The intro "grungeized" track is to far back in mix for me. It works, but it just sounds like it's in next room compared to the rest.

The acoustic guitars also sound fine to me. I'm not a pup fan, some of it's a little gritty, but not in a bad way. Well done and interesting tho. In the opening at 0:44 your intonation was off a little on one note.

I thought maybe the guitars could be panned/positioned better for separation and clarity. Pan the guitar effects as well or things will blend together there. Sounds ok in headphones but a bit cluttered in monitors.

Drum track is just a bit distant on this as well. Definitely not on same stage with acoustics.

Bass midi track is really sub sonic. It makes for a tad muddy sound depending on what you are listening to this with.

I'd use volume envelopes to edit the last few seconds to remove all the studio noise, but actually it's kinda cool to hear sometimes.

Thats enough nits for me. Don't know if you're new at this or not but I will offer this. Never take one person's opinion on your own material to heart, unless it connects with something you feel same way about. In the end you have to decide how it sounds to your ears and go from there.
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Old 06-11-2011, 05:28 AM
rhancox rhancox is offline
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Responses in red:

Quote:
Originally Posted by K-vegas View Post
I dunno. I've seen lots of interest when folks ask for feedback on reaper mixes there. Spin down thru the link I posted and you should see some of that.

Anyways.. I not the one maybe to give advice on how to improve things but here are some of the things I've noticed after a few listens.

What did you use most to mix this with, headphones or monitors?

Headphones. I don't have any monitors, just PC speakers that have a sub-woofer, so it's way too bass-heavy.

Vocals: You do really well singing on this. However, I'm not as keen on the vocal effect you're using. I feel this area would make for the most improvement on the whole track. Not sure if you are using reverb on vocal (vocal is really up front in mix) but if not I would try a touch to see if it adds some sparkle to an otherwise good vocal track.

There is some reverb. I believe I used a preset for vocals. So, are you saying the stereo effect is a good thing or would it be better to just be mono, in the middle?

Guitars: The intro "grungeized" track is to far back in mix for me. It works, but it just sounds like it's in next room compared to the rest.

I had a feeling you'd say that. As I've listened to it more, it is a little quiet.

The acoustic guitars also sound fine to me. I'm not a pup fan, some of it's a little gritty, but not in a bad way. Well done and interesting tho. In the opening at 0:44 your intonation was off a little on one note.

The one rhythm track with the pickups was turned down so it wouldn't dominate. I wanted the more natural sound with the mic track to be heard the most. The other track was for fill, I guess. I'll have to listen again to hear the intonation issue.

I thought maybe the guitars could be panned/positioned better for separation and clarity. Pan the guitar effects as well or things will blend together there. Sounds ok in headphones but a bit cluttered in monitors.

Since the one rhythm track was mono, and turned down, I didn't think giving them separation was necessary. Now that you know more about how they were recorded, would you give the same advice?

I've never heard of panning the effects. What do you mean? As I've listened to the recording more and more, it seems too busy, as if I overdid it.


Drum track is just a bit distant on this as well. Definitely not on same stage with acoustics.

Bass midi track is really sub sonic. It makes for a tad muddy sound depending on what you are listening to this with.

I didn't do anything to either MIDI track. I figured they were already "colored", especially the drums, since they are samples.

I'd use volume envelopes to edit the last few seconds to remove all the studio noise, but actually it's kinda cool to hear sometimes.

The last track I recorded, the lead, is what you're hearing at the end. I forgot to trim it back to the end of the rest of the tracks.

Thats enough nits for me. Don't know if you're new at this or not but I will offer this. Never take one person's opinion on your own material to heart, unless it connects with something you feel same way about. In the end you have to decide how it sounds to your ears and go from there.

I'm sort of new to it. I had a very rudimentary setup before I bought my Saffire and the mics. In the year I've had the new gear, I've done several recordings, but nothing on this scale. All the other tracks on my Soundcloud page were done with the new gear.

I understand what you mean about one person's opinion. I'd like to hear from more people so I can put it all together and learn. I know it's all subjective, but that can be a good thing in this case.
I appreciate you taking the time to listen and to comment. You seemed to have put some effort into it, not just listen once and say whatever came to mind. For that, I am grateful.
__________________
- Rob

YouTube (GuiTuber)
SoundCloud

My modest collection:
Hohner HGK-512 (no strings; lifted bridge)
Yamaha FG720S-12, w/ p'ups
Alvarez AJ60S, w/ p'ups
Ibanez AEB5 acoustic bass

Pickups: JBB-Electronics Prestige 330 (SBT) - finest quality at half the price

Recording gear:
Focusrite Saffire 6
MXL 990 and 991 condensor mics
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  #7  
Old 06-11-2011, 05:30 AM
rhancox rhancox is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moon View Post
Can I download a wav from soundcloud to hear it better? I think I've done that before but I can't remember how.
I uploaded it as an MP3 but I didn't allow for a download.

I'm on my way out the door for a weekend in Houston so I if you're still interested, I can provide a wav Sunday night/Monday morning.

Thanks for your interest.
__________________
- Rob

YouTube (GuiTuber)
SoundCloud

My modest collection:
Hohner HGK-512 (no strings; lifted bridge)
Yamaha FG720S-12, w/ p'ups
Alvarez AJ60S, w/ p'ups
Ibanez AEB5 acoustic bass

Pickups: JBB-Electronics Prestige 330 (SBT) - finest quality at half the price

Recording gear:
Focusrite Saffire 6
MXL 990 and 991 condensor mics
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  #8  
Old 06-11-2011, 06:21 AM
moon moon is offline
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Actually, I'd quite like to try a mix of my own if it would be possible to download wavs of the raw tracks. I think a little bit of panning, EQ, and fader automation might make some small improvements but it would be easier to show that with a new mix.
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  #9  
Old 06-11-2011, 08:35 AM
KevWind KevWind is offline
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Perhaps the title of your thread should be 'Mixing critique" not criticism

Some good posts so far

First and foremost learning to mix is progressive lifelong process. Even the most successful engineers continue to learn with every mix. So don't get discouraged It is a big learning curve but IMO a very cool and enjoyable process

For suggestions: I listened in both headphones and on my laptop spks's
#1 Without monitors, even though it takes up a a lot of time, you might want to also do this constantly throughout the mixing process. Particularly every time you instantiate an effect or make a change in volume, and or panning . Get the plugin or change set up, get something you like then switch back and forth from the Head phones to your PC spk's . to see if what your doing in the HP's translates to Spk's

Because I agree with K vegas that there is a significant difference between listening on HP and on spks . For example the vocal seems ok in HPs but almost becomes (to my personal taste) distractingly, spread in the speakers. At least on my laptop. There are ultimately no hard and fast rules but just for reference, most lead vocals are panned in the middle. As are drums.

Couple of thoughts on general mixing theory and techniques.
The low end is where the most significant problems with mud occur.
This increases with each additional track, so while it may not a big deal with say a two track stereo guitar solo. It's a huge deal on the 100 plus tracks in a modern Pop song.
This problem can be addressed with subtractive EQ with both High pass filters and or cutting certain problem frequencies.

A couple of general rules of thumb (again not hard fast rules) are :

#1 first get the levels of each track balanced, with itself then balanced in the context of the mix. If your daw has a way to automate volume, this is a good use.( if not then ride the fader ) For example I dont know if the intro guitar part is the same track as that same ditty part later in the song, but its seems too low in volume compared to the rest of the guitar parts.
Again, it's a good general idea to get the volume and panning balanced first, on individual tracks and the mix as a whole, before adding effects.

You may later after adding effects tweek and change either or both (pan and volume) but for simplicity its a good place to start. Balance then go in and eq,comp, reverb , delay etc.


#2 cut the low end ( anywhere from say 250 hz or 160 hz on down) on guitars and vocals to leave more room and less mud for the bass and kick drum.

Also another common technique to clear away mud, is to do a narrow band cut on problem frq's from around 250 hz on up particularly around 500 hz on each track individually.
For this you have to have an EQ that is multi band and has an adjustment for the Q (the width of the frequency range being affected) so that you can make it very narrow and just affect the problem freq. area.

Hope this helps, But remember just keep making music and having fun. With time and effort your mixes will get better. Kev
__________________
" Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." Albert Einstein
Enjoy the Journey.... Kev...


KevWind at Soundcloud

Last edited by KevWind; 06-12-2011 at 06:21 PM.
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  #10  
Old 06-13-2011, 07:33 AM
rhancox rhancox is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moon View Post
Actually, I'd quite like to try a mix of my own if it would be possible to download wavs of the raw tracks. I think a little bit of panning, EQ, and fader automation might make some small improvements but it would be easier to show that with a new mix.
I could package up all the tracks if you'd like to give it a go.
__________________
- Rob

YouTube (GuiTuber)
SoundCloud

My modest collection:
Hohner HGK-512 (no strings; lifted bridge)
Yamaha FG720S-12, w/ p'ups
Alvarez AJ60S, w/ p'ups
Ibanez AEB5 acoustic bass

Pickups: JBB-Electronics Prestige 330 (SBT) - finest quality at half the price

Recording gear:
Focusrite Saffire 6
MXL 990 and 991 condensor mics
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  #11  
Old 06-13-2011, 07:35 AM
rhancox rhancox is offline
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Location: San Antonio, TX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
Perhaps the title of your thread should be 'Mixing critique" not criticism

Some good posts so far

First and foremost learning to mix is progressive lifelong process. Even the most successful engineers continue to learn with every mix. So don't get discouraged It is a big learning curve but IMO a very cool and enjoyable process

For suggestions: I listened in both headphones and on my laptop spks's
#1 Without monitors, even though it takes up a a lot of time, you might want to also do this constantly throughout the mixing process. Particularly every time you instantiate an effect or make a change in volume, and or panning . Get the plugin or change set up, get something you like then switch back and forth from the Head phones to your PC spk's . to see if what your doing in the HP's translates to Spk's

Because I agree with K vegas that there is a significant difference between listening on HP and on spks . For example the vocal seems ok in HPs but almost becomes (to my personal taste) distractingly, spread in the speakers. At least on my laptop. There are ultimately no hard and fast rules but just for reference, most lead vocals are panned in the middle. As are drums.

Couple of thoughts on general mixing theory and techniques.
The low end is where the most significant problems with mud occur.
This increases with each additional track, so while it may not a big deal with say a two track stereo guitar solo. It's a huge deal on the 100 plus tracks in a modern Pop song.
This problem can be addressed with subtractive EQ with both High pass filters and or cutting certain problem frequencies.

A couple of general rules of thumb (again not hard fast rules) are :

#1 first get the levels of each track balanced, with itself then balanced in the context of the mix. If your daw has a way to automate volume, this is a good use.( if not then ride the fader ) For example I dont know if the intro guitar part is the same track as that same ditty part later in the song, but its seems too low in volume compared to the rest of the guitar parts.
Again, it's a good general idea to get the volume and panning balanced first, on individual tracks and the mix as a whole, before adding effects.

You may later after adding effects tweek and change either or both (pan and volume) but for simplicity its a good place to start. Balance then go in and eq,comp, reverb , delay etc.


#2 cut the low end ( anywhere from say 250 hz or 160 hz on down) on guitars and vocals to leave more room and less mud for the bass and kick drum.

Also another common technique to clear away mud, is to do a narrow band cut on problem frq's from around 250 hz on up particularly around 500 hz on each track individually.
For this you have to have an EQ that is multi band and has an adjustment for the Q (the width of the frequency range being affected) so that you can make it very narrow and just affect the problem freq. area.

Hope this helps, But remember just keep making music and having fun. With time and effort your mixes will get better. Kev
Thanks, Kev, for the taking the time for such a thoughtful response. I've printed it and will review it later today in more detail and will likely have some questions, if you don't mind.
__________________
- Rob

YouTube (GuiTuber)
SoundCloud

My modest collection:
Hohner HGK-512 (no strings; lifted bridge)
Yamaha FG720S-12, w/ p'ups
Alvarez AJ60S, w/ p'ups
Ibanez AEB5 acoustic bass

Pickups: JBB-Electronics Prestige 330 (SBT) - finest quality at half the price

Recording gear:
Focusrite Saffire 6
MXL 990 and 991 condensor mics
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  #12  
Old 06-13-2011, 04:35 PM
KevWind KevWind is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhancox View Post
Thanks, Kev, for the taking the time for such a thoughtful response. I've printed it and will review it later today in more detail and will likely have some questions, if you don't mind.
Not at all
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" Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." Albert Einstein
Enjoy the Journey.... Kev...


KevWind at Soundcloud
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  #13  
Old 06-13-2011, 05:51 PM
moon moon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhancox View Post
I could package up all the tracks if you'd like to give it a go.
Great

I've just been told. I can't post "great". Must have at least ten characters in a message so here's a picture of a kitten.
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