Help Me Mix This Song Better (Please)

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Konfyouzd, May 26, 2019.

  1. Seybsnilksz

    Seybsnilksz SS.org Regular

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    It's very common to use both compression on the individual drum channels together with parallel compression.

    I compress kick and snare with slow (30ms or so) attack and fast-ish release (100-150ms), 4:1 ratio. That gets some attack out of them.

    Usually I don't compress toms, especially not programmed ones.

    Overheads I compress with fast attack and release, but with a mix knob at about 50% (that's one kind of parallel compression). That tames some of the snare pokeyness and increases cymbal sustain, but the original signal is blended in so it doesn't pump too much. Room mics I do pretty much the same as OH but more agressive, which makes the room decay sound bigger and longer.

    Then I use two parallel compression busses. One for sustain, with fast attack/release, high ratio, working very hard and preferrably distorting a little bit if it's an analogue style plugin. I send mostly kick/snare/toms to it, but also a bit of rooms and a tiny bit of OH. I blend it in to add fatness and "glue" to the kit, which helps it stand out in a dense mix.

    Then one for attack. Similar settings as the kick/snare, but higher ratio and maybe some distortion. I send kick, snare, and toms to it. This makes it easier to quickly adjust the amount of attack depending on the section in the song.

    There are many other ways to go about it.
     
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  2. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd has left the building Contributor

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    Oh wow. My drums need LOTS of work. :lol:
     
  3. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd has left the building Contributor

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    Okay... So we're still not "there" and I haven't implemented all of the advice given just yet. Taking baby steps so my feeble mind doesn't burn out.

    Before jumping into the minutia of what I've tweaked, I want to thank everyone again. This has been really really helpful!

    I attempted to address the following concerns:
    1. Guitars too damn middy and not enough gain
    2. Guitars are too loud
    3. Mono drum wackness
    4. Awkward bass tone

    So here's a link to the latest: https://soundcloud.com/konfyouzd/oh-my-god-can-a-gorilla-swim

    (Please excuse my sloppy playing. I think I rushed the tempo in a couple of places.)

    Here's what I've done:
    1. I'm playing my new bass (Fender Active Deluxe J Bass -- passive mode)
    2. I turned down the bass on my bass amp and upped the mids and treble a bit
    3. Guitar amp settings
    Resonance: Damn near off
    Presence: 5
    Treble: 7
    Mid: 6
    Bass: 4
    Gain: Just past 3
    Noise Gate: 7
    4. I completely removed my master bus and am just using stereo out. TedEh pointed out that my master bus was more or less redundant.
    5. I am now using a Celestion Creamback 4x12 IR with only an SM57 mic. I didn't previously mention that I was using the G12T-75 cab with an SM57 and whatever a 121 and 421 are (they're abbreviated in the file name as 57, 121 and 421; I'm dumb and don't know what anything but the 57 is). I bought a few IR packs from Celestion a while back and they just have so many different options for the same exact cab, I've been trying a bunch and seeing which ones I like.
    6. I have 2 sends on each of my drum inputs and all three are blended in stereo out
    a. One to a drum compression bus
    b. One to a drum reverb bus
    7. Removed the limiter from my stereo out since it just seems to be creating more headache at the moment than anything while the mix is less than ideal.

    My bass kind of sound weird now in some places but it mixes fairly well in places where there are distorted guitars. I think I just need to do some automation to fix that up and maybe add a bit more gain on my amp. I am using as little gain as possible on the bass amp and I feel like maybe on the new bass we just need a bit more umph from the amp side of things.

    Bass settings:
    1. Both pickups on
    2. Active circuit disengaged
    3. Tone fully open

    Next round I'm going to try to implement some of the compressor magic that @Seybsnilksz mentioned and hopefully address some more of the bass weirdness. I'm still learning this bass and maybe I'd benefit from giving the active circuit a go.

    I can't tell if my drums are too loud now or not, but the hi-hat is slightly annoying now...
     
  4. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd has left the building Contributor

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    I realized I could get away with a bit more gain and changed my amp settings a tad

    Treble: 6
    Mid: 5
    Bass: 3
    Gain: ~4.9 (basically right in front of 5)

    It sounds better in my headphones than through my monitors, but I'm not in a treated room and my room seems to favor treble quite a bit.
     
  5. Seybsnilksz

    Seybsnilksz SS.org Regular

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    You could definitely raise the precence knob a bit.

    Drums are still mono (except the ride cymbal in the beginning?)

    Bass has a lot of low mids around the 100-250 area.
     
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  6. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I'm hearing improvements, but now there are new things that stand out to me.
    - The drums being mono (or close to it) doesn't bother me - I don't think drums have to be really wide pre-se
    - There's still something weird about the guitar sound. It's like the gain is staged in a weird way so that mutes kind of make a dry plucky noise instead of the note blooming from under the initial attack. Could just be whatever amp sim you're using. For non-muted sections it sounds fine.
    - I'm not sure if it's automation gone weird, or an artifact of going way too hard on the compression, but the bass stands WAY out when it's alone, but ducks hard under everything when the guitars come back.

    The project strikes me, so far, as an attempt to "do all the right things", but not necessarily do what the project needs. Lots of talk of busses and compression and routing etc., but those are just tools to get you where you need to go. If you're willing to do it, it might be worth stripping back the project to something more simple, and then addressing the mix in terms of what it needs. Deal with the source sounds - the individual tracks - first. If you get too far ahead of the mix without making the sources sound good to begin with, then you're fighting an uphill battle. Take all the compression and stuff out of the loop and make sure you're happy with the guitar sound on its own. Same with the drums. Same with the bass. Then level everything out and ask yourself "what does this need?" The first thing is probably going to be that the bass is very dynamic, so start compressing that. Next you might say "it's hard to hear the bass and guitar at the same time", so start chopping some low end out of the guitars. Then everything sounds kinda good, but a bit dry and disconnected, so then you can start with things like a glue compression over everything, and reverb. Then what's next? Who knows? The mix and the song will make it clear to you what it needs when it needs it.
     
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  7. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd has left the building Contributor

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    @Seybsnilksz I think I'm going to try to take Ted's advice and just remove ALL bussing and see if I can get things to sit nicer ahead of time now that some of these tips you guys have given so far seem to have made definite improvements in the sound--seemingly WITHOUT messing with compression / reverb, etc. I think I just need to spend a little more time turning [physical] knobs (on my amps / guitars).

    @TedEH That's a good call. I have been noticing the same thing you have about the guitars. No matter what I can't quite get them to sound anywhere near as good as they sound in the room and I'm using TERRIBLE speakers in my 4x12.

    Another thing I've heard people say about guitars is that they mix in a clean signal along with the distorted one. Is that a thing?

    As far as the bass... When I had it stand alone I did automate it to be a bit louder, but I think I over did it. Reason I did that was because before automating the volume up a bit, it was EXTREMELY quiet by itself in that section so since there wasn't much going on it I wanted it to fill a bit more space. It may also be worthwhile to try out active mode. I dunno why I have it in my head that I only want to play it passive. :nuts:

    I had added some reverb to the guitars at one point and it sounded pretty good but it also seemed like that kind of made them fill ALL the space and I wasn't too into that because it seemed to drown out a lot of stuff no matter how low I tried to cut them unless they were basically inaudible.

    I will try to go at it from scratch tonight--no effect or anything and see if I can make any more improvements.
     
  8. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Any time I've done that (usually accidentally) it sounded pretty terrible. But mixing a clean-ER sound into a more saturated one can definitely work. I've done that before where I'd have two amps on the same track -> One with lower gain to get some nice percussive chugs, and another with a ton of saturation to keep the thickness up.
     
  9. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd has left the building Contributor

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    Is it a big deal if the left and right are EQ'd differently? I've seen that called out in someone's mixing thread before and folks seemed to not like it.

    I also have a second amp and was considering using different amp / IR on either side to simulate actually having two different guitar players, but I felt I might be overcomplicating things while I still don't know what I'm doing.
     
  10. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Different guitar players, different amps, and different EQ are all very different things, IMO. It's not about having identical settings on either side - keeping in mind that differences on each side is what gives a sense of "width" - but it's more about keeping the two sides balanced. If the left is really bright, and the right is really dark, it's going to be distracting when listening with headphones on.
     
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  11. Seybsnilksz

    Seybsnilksz SS.org Regular

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    I am addicted to symmetry, so I prefer the same tone on both sides. A good tone will still sound really wide.

    And yeah I agree that it's good to not throw in all the magic tricks and stuff before you got your source tones right. My post was just an answer to your earlier post where you mentioned compression, and it's just an example of one way to do it. Mind you, I had no idea what to do with compressors until at least a couple of years into mixing. And it didn't become this advanced until the recent year or so.
     
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  12. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Assuming it's still a different performance on either side. If both sides are literally identical, it won't be wide in any sense. Width comes from differences.
     
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  13. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd has left the building Contributor

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  14. Seybsnilksz

    Seybsnilksz SS.org Regular

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    I'm away from my studio computer for a week, and I have a cold which made my ears temporarily terrible. I'm also listening with a bit brighter headphones, so I don't think I can judge the guitar tone accurately atm. With that in mind, it sounds like the gain is more adequate this time.

    I can also hear that the drums are stereo. The cymbals don't seem to be panned much, but I can hear the room sound spreading out nicely.

    Bass sounds a bit strange. Not much grind or high end.
     
  15. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I'm hearing more improvements for sure. Dynamics aren't all over the place like they were previously, each piece is clearer than it was before. I think at this point, the biggest improvement IMO would be in addressing the source sounds and trying to get them to sound like they're in the same space.

    Take the snare sound for example -> A lot of metal drummers will hit rim shots pretty consistently to try to get a really good crack sound every time, but this same doesn't sound like a rim shot at all, which contrasts in a strange way against the kick sample.
     
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  16. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd has left the building Contributor

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    That's an interesting tip. I'll play around with my snare sound next I suppose.

    What I did in this one was literally just remove all the compressors and adjust levels to see if I could get things to sit with each other better. So... I was taking more of your previous advice. :)
     
  17. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied Arium Addict

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  18. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd has left the building Contributor

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    Would you mind giving me the "For Dummies" version of your explanation? :rofl:
     
  19. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied Arium Addict

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    i basically did what I told you in my first response lol.
    mix has too much low end, not enough top end which makes it sound dull and far away. I put on an aggressive low shelf around 65-80hz @ -8db, boosted around 300hz to I thnk + 2db to make mix sound a bit more up front, cut a bit of 800hz added a high shelf around 6khz at about +6db or so, had a bell curve around 3.6khz boosting to bring the guitars a bit more forward and also cut around 12.5khz because some weird stuff was happening. But also this is editting a compressed mp3 and then compressing again to mp3 so theres going to be weird artifacts but you get the gist of it.

    You're getting a lot of informaton here and i think the main thing you got to focus on is balancing the instruments properly before going gun-ho with compression.
     
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  20. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    Have you re checked all your settings? It almost sounds like the guitars are set pre or post and need to be flipped and suddenly everything is gonna pop. Almost like when all your hearing is the wet channel on a processor. Maybe it's a simple setting like that like it's set pre fader compressor when it should be post. Maybe something like that was just overlooked? It sounds fine, just like something routed wrong. The voice is really loud too compared to everything else.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
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