I seek to capture THICC tone and a wide, expansive sound. Did I succeed?

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Xaios, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. Xaios

    Xaios Foolish Mortal Contributor

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    Yes, I still use Soundclick. Bite me.

    https://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=13851513

    Truth be told, I've never been particularly good at mixing and mastering. Even when I've been able to tell myself, "yeah, this mix is good!", it's always felt like there's some cognitive dissonance in which I can keep thinking it sound good... so long as I don't listen to anything else. :lol:

    Having said that, I really feel like I might have finally achieved a mix that is objectively good. It feels like it's got good separation, good coverage of the spectrum, nothing is causing harsh clipping. (I'll qualify this by stating that I'm shit at detecting high frequency clipping, but at least the spectrograph seems to agree, at least about the high end. I am pushing the bass frequencies a bit harder than I should, but at least they don't cause that awful, sibilant clipping that we all hate.) The guitar tones big but all slot in their place, and the soundstage, at least from what I hear, sounds a lot more expansive than anything I've previously achieved.

    So, here's a sample. Did I get it right for once?
     
  2. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    In term of most of the guitars and things layered, getting thickness, width, layers that separate and are audible on their own - I think you got it right.
    I'm not pro, and I'm listening on some pretty garbage headphones right now, but here's what I'd focus on next:

    - The drums are the one element that strike me as being a bit off. They sound like they're in a different space, which could be a matter of playing with reverb until it gels with everything else. During the into they're very quiet, then during the rest of the song they're a bit thin- mostly just the kick drum could use some meat to it - but then I'm a fan of a kick drum that's way over the top with subbass, etc., so take my feedback on that part with a grain of salt.
    - I think you could get away with more compression on your bass. I can hear some parts where I imagine your intention was to just let the instrument sustain through a note, but the decay happens a little earlier than I expected. IMO compression should be subtle most places - except on a bass. Smash the bajeezus out of the bass. :lol:

    I don't have a point of reference for how this compares to what you might have done before, but it sounds like you're headed in the right direction.

    You've given yourself your own good advice though:
    A process that's been helping me is to listen else to something for a while, until my ears get used to it - then switch to my own stuff and take note of whatever immediately stands out. Whatever the first thought you have when you do that is the thing to fix first. As soon as you get too used to your own mix again, go back and listen to something else for a while, or just take a break.

    I dig the general song idea as well, I dunno if that's yours - I could definitely hear some clean 'rock' vocals over this.
     
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  3. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd certainly uncertain Contributor

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    I would agree that the drums in this mix do happen to sound a thin or washed out. The melodic part of the mix does--to my ear--sound very wide and expansive, though. And the song idea sounds really cool too.
     
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  4. Xaios

    Xaios Foolish Mortal Contributor

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    Well, at least I got that part right. Thanks!
    Done. :fever:
    I've done my best to address this, and I think my newer mix is a big improvement, drum-wise. Admittedly I may have overdone it, but I think you can definitely hear those subbass kick frequencies now. It's not super apparent in the lighter section, but definitely when the crunch comes in. Made a whole host of changes which have improved the sound, the most significant of which are boosting the kick sound (and overall drum volume) and completely redoing the master EQ, which has made the whole track sound less hollow, which was one thing that was bugging but I couldn't figure out why until I did side-by-side comparisons between the old EQ and the new one.

    Changes:
    - Threw out original master EQ and did from scratch.
    - Boosting <50Hz frequencies on the drum kit.
    - Increased drum volume overall.
    - Increased drum reverb.
    - Downtuned snare drum slightly.
    - Reduced heavy rhythm guitar overall.
    - Reduced attenuation triggered by lead track on >2kHz frequencies of heavy rhythm and harmony tracks.
    - Added compressor to bass (but also slighty reduced its overall volume in the mix after redoing the master EQ).

    For your scrutiny:
    https://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=13852174

    (I left the original version in the OP up for comparison sake.)
    Thanks! Yeah, it is mine. It's actually a riff I've had kicking around for YEARS that I decided to finally try and do something with. Listen to this oldie and you'll see how far I've come in my journey to master... uh, mastering. :lol:

    BEWARE: My terrible mixing of yesteryear has a non-zero chance to make you break out in hives and develop a disorder where you have dreams about Varg Vikernes remastering Death Magnetic because it wasn't clippy enough.
    https://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11111340

    I still like that version of the riff, played faster and with a more unorthodox drum beat, but I can say conclusively after having not listened to it for years that, good GOD, the mix is absolutely fucking awful. I really had no idea what I was doing back then though, so I can live with it. But it really is only marginally better than intentionally bad sounding black metal demos.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  5. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Listened to the new version and I think it's getting closer.
    Some new feedback:

    - If there's a kick drum during the intro bit, it's more or less inaudible.
    - When the heavier part kicks in, I think I'm just not a fan of the kick sample. It's a bit cardboardy to my ears, but maybe eq could fix that.
    - I think you got the reverb right for the drums. I find I usually end up treating the snare differently, but I think it works here.
    - You can compress the bass EVEN MORE. (Not sure why, but as soon as I typed that, I imagined an evil villain laugh immediately after.)
    - You could compress the bass and kick together to glue them together a bit. I'm sure there's 100 ways to do that, I'm not expert on what's the right way.
    - Some of the drums are a really wide sounding. Lots of those layer sound good wide, but IMO too much width in a drum mix makes them distracting.

    I'm not sure if this is a "mix" comment or more of a mastering thing, but I find that after a while, the sort of "lower middle" area starts to just build up tons and tons of information after a while. I think a "good mixer" (not me, lol) would find a way to properly reduce this from the mix, but I often tend to scoop some out from the master, centered around maybe 500hz or so, and it just lets the whole thing breath a bit. That's assuming you have a balance you like or aren't able to isolate maybe one or two things that are contributing the most to that area (most likely guitars and bass together though, to be fair).
     
  6. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd certainly uncertain Contributor

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    Every time I listen to a new mix I get caught up in how pretty the song is and forget I'm supposed to be listening for something. But I agree again with some of the points Ted made. I can't hear a kick at all during the intro. The snare also sounds like it needs more body. I don't know how to describe it in frequencies, though.
     
  7. c7spheres

    c7spheres SS.org Regular

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    Sounds really good to me. Everything from here is just splitting hairs. The kick is hard to hear in the clean part, but not sure if that part really even needs more kick or not. It feels good. I'd say in the second part the highhat is a bit to high (like 1 or 2db or something) and if you used a mid/side technique then bring the mid down a db or something. It sounds really solid and doesn't really anything really. This is just if I were to be real picky.
     
  8. newamerikangospel

    newamerikangospel Tonight.......you

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    I would hazard to say some of the things are too wide, and leave it sounding empty up the middle. If you are planning on a bunch of dense vocal harmonies, that may be fine, but I feel like the stereo positioning of the mix may need to be looked at a bit, for my taste.
     
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  9. Xaios

    Xaios Foolish Mortal Contributor

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    @TedEH @Konfyouzd

    I bring tidings of a new version (yeah, no new actual playing, just endless tweaking). I recently bought a pair of *actual* reference headphones, and I think they're helping.

    New version: https://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=13858128 (once again, previous versions are still up for comparison sake)

    Thoughts?
     
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  10. Seybsnilksz

    Seybsnilksz SS.org Regular

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    When the second part starts there are a lot of abrasive upper mids that fatigue the ears quickly, mostly in the guitars and kick.
     
  11. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Initial reaction is that I still don't think I like the kick sample, but I'm glad I can hear it in the intro now. There snare has been pulled up some - it's a bit over-the-top now, but I kinda like it that way. I didn't want the previous comment to influence my thoughts much, but I kinda hear it too -> There's a lot of build up in the 2-3k area.

    I noticed too that your kick drum seems to peak pretty high above everything else when it hits, in the areas that only have the kick in it. If you throw a spectrum analyzer on there, you can see big jumps below 60hz every time the kick hits. I think what you could do -> is throw a compressor on there at a level that will cover both the kick and the bass at the same time and compress the two together so that your bass is smooth when there's no kick, but it ducks a bit when the kick drum hits instead of needing the kick to peak over everything, if that makes sense.

    For your consideration - out of curiosity, I recorded the soundclick thing into audacity and then threw a multiband on to squish all the low end together, then scooped some of the 2k-ish area out and this is the result, I suppose to sanity check that my own feedback makes any sense :lol: :
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1p8JS5vKnmbOfqYl1LqLuXlNILHFHZqDn

    This is with ReaXComp hitting only from ~160hz down with a really fast attack/release, but the RMS brought up a tiny bit, then ReaFir to reshape things.
     
  12. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd certainly uncertain Contributor

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    I'll give this a listen when I get home. I need to be as diligent as you are. Your earliest recordings in this thread already sound better than anything I can do...

    Maybe I'll learn something today! :idea:
     
  13. Xaios

    Xaios Foolish Mortal Contributor

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    I think I'll try another sample, I just have to rework the velocities because it's WAAAY louder than the current one (using SD2). I think part of it is the reverb. While I could use the reverb that's built into Reaper if I fiddle with it enough, I've actually been using PodFarm reverb because I prefer the tonality. However, it is too wet during the clean section, so I'll need to automate adjusting the wet level between sections.
    Yeah, I liked how the snare sounded through my new headphones (Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro), but when I was listening to it just through my computer speakers after uploading it, it was too loud, so I'll be bringing it down.
    I actually do have the bass set up with a sidechain compressor that's triggered by the kick, but I guess I'm pushing the kick too hard. I did actually boost the shit out of <50Hz frequencies on the kick because I just didn't feel it was giving enough thump, but I probably overdid it. Using the other sample I have in mind might help with that.
     
  14. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd certainly uncertain Contributor

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    I just got home and I am listening to this through my monitors. I think I can hear the build up Ted was talking about. Sounds like mild distortion on a lot of the kick drum hits and on the clean guitar parts.

    I really like the sound of the snare in the second half, though. The drums in the first half could use a bit more body the way they are in the second part.

    EDIT: Sidechaining the compression on the bass with the kick is a solid idea as well. Helps alot.
     

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