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Author Topic: Mixoff Contest with Mike Senior - Win Mike's New Book!  (Read 189218 times)

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March 31, 2011, 08:19:32 AM
Thanks to Mike and John, as well Fhumble Fhingas for putting this on.  Great fun.  Here's my mix:

Just posted a revision.  If you already downloaded the original, that's OK, but if not, I'd rather have you review this one.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2011, 12:09:25 AM by Guitar Zero »

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March 31, 2011, 08:47:09 AM

First things first: the mix tonality is rather off-kiltre at the moment -- the 300Hz-1.5kHz region seems to be missing in action, and there's a significant 3-10kHz emphasis too. Without compensating for those everything seems out of balance, so I applied some master EQ to compensate before getting down to the proper critiquing. The vocal, drum, and guitar sounds all suddenly made much more sense once that had been done. If this mix tonality sounds right in your room, then I reckon you need to have a look at your monitoring situation, reference more often, take more frequent breaks -- or all of the above!

Anyway, on to the details. The reverse effect into the first verse is perfectly judged. It can be tricky to makes these things work, but you've pulled it off really nicely here. The edit is also very canny from a commercial perspective, as it brings the vocal into view a good 12 seconds earlier, and means that you hit the first iteration of the chorus material by around 0:40. This is no small consideration in a track like this, which is unusual in introducing its first vocal chorus rather late in the game.

Even with the buss EQ in place, the verse vocal feels like it has maybe a touch too much 4kHz, and this impression increases in the choruses. I'd probably add a little 500Hz in the verse too to thicken the tone a bit and help the listener really identify with it. You've made interesting use of an obvious artificial reverb on it too -- it makes a good contrast with the slightly claustrophobic bass and kick vibe you've got going. The chorus vocal presentation doesn't quite work for me, though. It sounds rather too isolated without the double-track, and the rich reverb seems out of place in this style for me. You could make more of those BVs, too, especially as you've captured rather an effective tone/effects combination for those.

Speaking of reverb, I think maybe you're relying on it too much in general. At the moment, the clarity of the parts just seems slightly veiled and homogenised, so maybe try turning down the reverb returns/lengths overall to see if this helps. Some careful EQ'ing of the returns would also probably be worthwhile.

The kick feels slightly over-clicky, and the lower tom feels like it could be reined in a bit at the low end, because it booms a bit too much in the chorus fills for me. The rest of the drums, though, sound good, and the snare cuts nicely without feeling too slender, which is always a bit of balancing act. I do wonder, though, whether you've carved a little too much midrange out of the overheads, because the cymbals feel slightly thin, and it'd be nice for them to have a fraction more body when the drummer really starts flailing around.

I like the wiry guitar sound in the verses, and it cuts through really well in the first chorus too. Initially I wondered whether it had enough gravitas to carry that first chorus, but I think it's fine -- it's bigger than the first verse, yet leaves more room for the second chorus to impress. The extra guitar drive in the second chorus is a good idea in principle, and certainly helps the transition into the final choruses, but the downside of it is that it emphasises the 4kHz region that is already at risk of harshness on account of the vocal, so you probably need to do some further EQ tweaking there.

Tuning is pretty good again, and it sounds like you've also done some timing work too, because the verses seem less lumpy in this respect than on some of the other mixes. The stereo image feels a bit 'W'-shaped, in that there's not too much going on between the extremes and the centre most of the time. Some people engineers actively prefer this kind of presentation, but I'm not as keen, and it usually affects the sense of blend adversely for me, as well as presenting difficulties with balance changes in mono. That said, your mono-compatibility is good in terms of tone, even though the wide-panned guitars do inevitably drop quite a lot in the balance.

This is a good solid mix (albeit tricky to get into initially given the skewed tonality) and offers some important new input as far as dealing with the final choruses entry is concerned. Thanks for posting -- and, of course, thanks too for hosting the contest!
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March 31, 2011, 12:24:15 PM
If I must say, do all mixes have that female backing vox?  Because really, in my opinion, I wouldn't put it in.  I did just because well, I felt bad about cutting it out lol.  I really don't think it fits.  I don't want to talk too much about it though, I'll wait till after this is "over".


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March 31, 2011, 01:01:38 PM
Here's my mix.

Nice song but not a very typical genre for me to mix :)

Ok, the final version:
« Last Edit: April 15, 2011, 05:25:39 AM by Daunt »

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March 31, 2011, 01:30:35 PM
If I must say, do all mixes have that female backing vox?

Are you referring to the main 'aah' BV line in the choruses?
Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio
A complete mixing method based around the techniques of the world's most famous producers.
Free Mixing Resources On-line!

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March 31, 2011, 01:37:46 PM

Wow! There's a lot of inventive stuff going on here. (And I had a good giggle at myself when I turned rounding thinking someone was knocking on the door at 1:06...  ;D) Full marks to you for grabbing the material with both hands and bending it to your will! The dubby delays are particularly interesting, and I reckon those might inspire a lot of the other mixers here to incorporate something like that, especially in the verses. You've carried out a bold section edit too (ditching half of the first vocal verse), which gets us into the depths of the song quicker -- a justifiable trade-off potentially. The fade-out ending is also an interesting idea, and I can't quite decide whether I like it or not. Maybe that's a good thing! Keep the audience guessing...

I like the way you've drafted in plenty of effects to broaden out the texture in the choruses and mid-sections, although your implementation could do with a bit of additional work to get the best results, I think. Firstly, I reckon that you could pull back the returns by probably 3dB at least, and then use buss compression to bring up the drier details a bit more instead. At the moment, the reverbs in particular are making the sound a little 'soupy' as the finer points of the sounds struggle to really make their character felt. In addition, I think you also might reduce the decay times of some of these effects for similar reasons. Some EQ coutouring might also pay dividends, reducing the audibility and 'artificialness' of the sound at the high end, and leaving more room for the bass, kick, and toms at the low end.

The stereo image is fairly full-sounding, but doesn't transfer particularly well into mono -- partly a question of phase-relationships between the multi-mics and partly on account of some of the very uncorrellated bright stereo effects you're using. In terms of overall tonality, there's a definite lightness to the low end, in particular as far as the kick's concerned -- it's not nearly audible enough for me in the balance, even on big speakers. I suspect that you could also cut a little from the mix around 600Hz as well, as it feels slightly boxy at the moment.

Aside from the kick-drum issue, the tone and balance decisions are fairly reasonable for the most part. The lead vocals are quite high in the balance during the choruses, though, and detract a certain amount from the apparent size of the backing. The BVs are also really jumping out of the balance on the third note of each of their phrases -- not sure why that should be, but maybe they just need to be more carefully controlled with dynamics. The tom fills also feel rather bloated at the moment, both in terms of level and EQ. I'd probably turn down the snare a bit too -- it currently feels like it's dominating over the cymbals most of the time.

Overall lots of fearless mix decisions being made, which I'm all definitely in favour of! Thanks for contributing all those ideas -- certainly opens up all sorts of new possibilities.
Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio
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Free Mixing Resources On-line!

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March 31, 2011, 02:05:24 PM
I wasn't planning on doing a revision to be honest, but seeing the amazing amount of time invested by Mike, it seemed only fair to do more then the regular 'quicky' mix-off-mix myself. Reading the critiques on everyone's mixes is the biggest learning experience I've had in a while. I'm anxiously awaiting the post-contest discussion, should be fun!

Anyway, here's my final submission:

* Automation...
* Backing Vox...
* Some editing...
* Some minor balance and tone tweaks...

ps. The small 'fade-in' in the first version was a fluke. Somehow the compressor on the bass starts off in a state of full gain reduction (even though there is no actual signal), so the fade in is actually the GR being released... I heard the fade in while mixing, but I assumed it was REAPER's automatic fade-in on playback :) I guess I should have payed more attention when I checked the mp3...
« Last Edit: March 31, 2011, 02:12:13 PM by Lastrite »
I'm cleaning up my server, but you can find some of the mixes I did on this forum here:

March 31, 2011, 04:02:51 PM

Thanks for the critique.


Overall Im happy with the creative aspect of the mix.

The mix needs some tweaking.

Backups...I think I may have forgot to automate some effects or volume on them...Im not really happy with how they sound in the mix...was hoping for them to have more of an impact overall.

I think the backups could have more impact if a few more backup tracks were recorded...perhaps 4-6 backup vocal takes...Also a wisper backup track could possibly add more air to the overall sound of them as well.

Just a thought.


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March 31, 2011, 04:58:49 PM
Awesome Song! Great Band! I did the best I could for the Client.


Mix It!

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March 31, 2011, 06:13:08 PM
Thanks for the critique, Mike!

You're dead on about the overall eq situation. I just set up my 'mix room' in a new part of the house, as well as trying a new analogue summing box I built, which uses my Neve 1084 clones for makeup gain. I had the eq in on those, and thought it sounded good. I made the cardinal mistake of not spending any real time referencing familiar tracks before mixing, though! I thought, "Hey, I know these monitors, I can hear fine!"

After I submitted the mix, I listened to some other stuff and thought, "Wow, everything sounds kinda dull and boxy!" Which means mine is scooped and hyped! I tweaked it a bit, but didn't want to re-upload, to avoid confusion. You heard it right away, and right on the money!

The reverbs I used, and the 'ping-pong delay into a 100% wet plate' effect is something I've been messing with lately, it probably wasn't the right call for the chorus!

Thanks again, I'm going to continue working on my monitoring, and reading your book (It's great so far!)