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Author Topic: Mixoff Contest with Mike Senior - Win Mike's New Book!  (Read 183954 times)

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April 01, 2011, 11:24:18 AM
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/24873953/YoungGriffo_BloodToBone_stickfigure%20mix.mp3

Vocals in the verses are nice and airy, but perhaps too obviously widened, which seems to detract a bit from the authenticity of the lyrical sentiments. Love the way you've flown the vocals around a bit to other sections of the song, and generated artificial harmonies to fill out the vocal arrangement. (I'd double-check the tuning of the latter, though, as they gave me the odd twinge.) It's possible that you've overcooked these additions during the outro, though, so that it begins to become slightly gimmicky -- that seems to me to undermine the central angst of the message in this song. Careful of the 10kHz frequencies of the vocal sibilance during the choruses.

The verse bass line's widening effect is putting out-of-phase components into the low end of the spectrum, which won't help the consistency (as I've mentioned in previous posts). Maybe high-pass the effect's return at 200Hz or so to head off any problems. The bass in the chorus feels a bit underplayed, though. I like the alternating panning you've got on that guitar riff in the verse, but although it's an elegant solution to a potential stereo-imbalance pitfall in this section, I do find that the cut-out on each side (as it switches to the other) gives the game away too much. I'd probably try to create some apparent overlap using surreptitious copying/time-stretching of the note tails to try to smooth this a bit. 

The kick drum works much better for the verse than the chorus, where it almost completely disappears on an Auratone. The overheads hold their own in the mix nicely, but their 3kHz region feels like its hashing the mix out once the guitars really get going in the mid-section, and the whole tonality starts to feel too thrashy. The snare is again balanced sensibly, but would nonetheless benefit from more HF sustain to avoid its timbre clouding over unduly during the heavier-sounding sections. You've blended and widened it very nicely, though. The lower tom sounds rather bloated during the fills, but a little notching of its powerful fundamental should easily sort that out.

Overall the spectrum isn't badly judged, although it could do with more energy in the top octave or two, and maybe a little dip at 2kHz or so. The stereo's got a decent enough width to it, but mono-compatibility could certainly be better on the guitars and cymbals in the more full-on sections. Carefully investigate your multimics and effects returns to find the worst culprits, then look to see whether some phase realignment might help improve things.

The final thing to mention is that this is probably the most extreme buss processing we've had so far, and it really makes its presence felt when the big guns start firing. While I think that no-one up until now has really pushed the possibilities of buss compression as far as I think you could do on this particular mix, it does need to be done carefully if you're to avoid disturbing the balance and long-term dynamics, and unfortunately this mix falls down a bit in those areas. It feels like the guitars and bass are getting pushed down into the mix at the very moment when they need to open up, while the drums are losing presence and definition, and folding in on themselves. The result is that the mix is tending to feel smaller the harder it hits the compressor, which is kind of the opposite of what you want! :) I'd recommend taking the buss compression off briefly and trying to rebalance the mix roughly without it, before returning to the buss compression settings and keeping your ear out as much for the side-effects as for the benefits.

Another thought-proviking mix, which opens up a number of lines of inquiry which others might also do well to explore.
Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio
A complete mixing method based around the techniques of the world's most famous producers.
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April 01, 2011, 11:50:30 AM
Im done. Looking forward to the critique.
http://www.acousticalfabricsolutions.com/younggriffobloodtobone.wav

hey mike, just a heads up: i don't think the player supports wavs.....mp3 only. found this out the hard way too.  :'(

It supports them.

oh....for some reason wavs won't play through the player on my computer.....hmmmmm

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April 01, 2011, 12:55:46 PM
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/23347971/Blood%20to%20Bone-deej%27s%20mix.wav

We've reached another milestone: deejsirois has come up with first really inventive solution to the long-term dynamics problem facing the final choruses entry. And it's an absolute pearl in my opinion, not least because I'd probably have never thought of it myself in a million years! The fade-out pulls the rug from under the middle-section's rock-out, the delayed chorus downbeat wrong-foots you, then the transition drops you like a rollercoaster into the real entry, at which point the master fader pushes everything up a notch. In a word, brilliant.

Still, being the picky so-and-so that I am, I'd nonetheless say it could still be made quite a lot stronger. Arresting as the fade-out is, I'm thinking that it's a bit too great a hiatus at this point in the track, and will be reduced in effectiveness anyway by any subsequent loudness processing. I think you could probably get away without it, hitting those three snare hits full-throttle and then relying more on the pause to drop the level in anticipation of the chorus entry. Whatever you decide, though, I think that you might be able to make things even more effective by leaving the entry just a split-second later (irrespective of how that lines up with your software's metric grid). It just sounds slightly hurried to me. The listener's perception of time will inevitably go a bit haywire whenever you drop out the rhythm completely like this. Your other edits are well-thought-out, but I'm not quite convinced with the six-bar reintro. Sometimes changing the phrase length works, but it confuses me a bit here.

In general I like most of the balance decisions here, and everything seems to come through well on small speakers, so there's not much to say on that side of things. The snare and cymbals both feel a bit too strident at 3-4kHz, which robs the snare of some power and nudges the mix towards harshness during the more heavily overdriven later sections. The tom fills have gotten a bit lost somewhere, and could do with a bit more level. The vocals feel well controlled in terms of dynamics, but I wonder if you might be able to get away with a tiny bit more body in the low midrange to make them feel a little more solid, and maybe have a touch less 3-4kHz too.

I like what you've done so far with your effects, which have already broadened the basic tracks a great deal. However, it sounds to me like you're relying too much on reverb (and comparatively bright reverb) to do this job, where a more even mix of dynamics, modulation effects, delays, and/or overdubs would almost certainly achieve greater fullness while compromising the clarity and immediacy of the whole mix less. Try to carve away every bit of reverb that isn't essential using EQ, and then fill the shortfall with other techniques.

The overall tonality of this mix feels a touch cool for me, so maybe dial in a little more sub-150Hz to just widen the spectrum a little and balance out against the well-extended highs. The stereo picture is fairly engaging, and while the cymbals seem to survive quite well into mono, the guitars do take rather a level hit on account of some of the hard panning, and the opening bass widening has the usual low-end phase issues. The vocals also seem to get less clear during the choruses, presumably because of phase-cancellation in some of their stereo widening effects -- always something to be on the lookout for.

Again, congratulations on an inspired long-term dynamics stunt. I almost hugged my speakers when I heard it!
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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April 01, 2011, 01:36:30 PM
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/24800827/Test.wav
Mikes review..

Hi Mike,

Are you sure we're listening to the same file here?  ???


Dave


Edit: my file does have a mastering job on it. Should mention this (for sake of Max LR levels as seen by the orange line in the image)
« Last Edit: April 01, 2011, 11:45:39 PM by huntermusic »
David Hunter - @davidjlhunter (twitter)

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April 01, 2011, 01:37:46 PM
Ahh! Just saw your edit. Not sure if that applies to my particular mix though or just the general order.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2011, 01:46:16 PM by huntermusic »
David Hunter - @davidjlhunter (twitter)

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April 01, 2011, 01:50:03 PM
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/24155709/Blood%20To%20Bone%20%28Mix%29.mp3

The first thing that strikes me about this mix is that the kick's pretty much missing in action. Not sure what the thinking is here, but I'd expect it to at least rival the snare for mastery of the rhythm track and it's almost non-existent in the balance at the moment. The good news, though, is that the rest of the kit blends really nicely and otherwise seems to balance sensibly. The snare has a nice mid-range tone, but could do with some more power and length in the upper frequencies as well, because it's coming across as a bit dull/boxy tonally. It's maybe a little too wet too -- I'd prefer it  a bit closer up I think. A bit more compression on the drum buss might not go amiss to try to thicken the cymbals and sustains more. Just be careful not to emphasise the cymbal sticks any more, as they already seem on the verge of overbearing on occasion.

I like a lot of the guitar sounds, which are full and detailed without harshness, although a hint of something slightly metallic seems to be happening during the middle-section which I'm not quite as fond of. Are you reamping at all in there? If so, then it might be a phase mismatch somewhere causing comb-filtering. The bass feels low in the balance, and could do with both additional low-end warmth and some extra presence higher up in the midrange to bring the riffs through the guitars better.

You're clearly not afraid to push important parts out front, and there's a lot to be said for that in terms of commandeering the listener's attention. However, some of the lead instruments do feel a bit too high in the balance, which weakens the momentum and power of the rhythm section to an extent. The moments that most stick out to me are the second and third choruses, where the vocals undermine the long-term dynamics by towering over the backing. For the vocals in particular a 450Hz peak in the overall mix tonality isn't helping this issue, because the vocal is probably too strong in this region even without that, so will tend to feel bigger in the mix than it should.

I like the effects in this mix, which fill things out without getting too heavy-handed most of the time -- the main exception being perhaps the lead vocals, where I get the impression that the reverb has been edged up to try to blend a vocal that is essentially just too loud. Even if blend were all it needed, the longer reverb you're using here isn't really the best tool for that particular job. A shorter, more modest-sounding ambience would work better.

Given the bass/kick issues I've already mentioned, it's a little tricky to judge the overall tonality of the mix, but I suspect that a little more air in the top octave would be a sensible tweak, and a small dip at 2kHz might also smooth out a little nasality there. The stereo field is fairly well managed, although the guitar/cymbal mono-compatibility issues do cause some tone and balance problems on a single speaker. In particular, I'd try to centre and narrow that guitar solo at the end, because at the moment it's bombing quite badly in mono.

A bold mix, that one, with some tasteful effects enhancements. Thanks for letting us all have a listen!
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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April 01, 2011, 01:52:35 PM
Are you sure we're listening to the same file here?  ???

It's not inconceivable that I've done something stupid like switch some files over. ::) I'll tell you what. I'll remove that post for the moment, redownload and double-check the file, and then repost. Should be able to do that in a few hours' time.
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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April 01, 2011, 01:56:41 PM
Are you sure we're listening to the same file here?  ???

It's not inconceivable that I've done something stupid like switch some files over. ::) I'll tell you what. I'll remove that post for the moment, redownload and double-check the file, and then repost. Should be able to do that in a few hours' time.

Great, thanks.
David Hunter - @davidjlhunter (twitter)

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April 01, 2011, 02:15:53 PM

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April 01, 2011, 03:56:10 PM
Mike, thank you for taking the time to give a detailed critique.  This is a fantastic opportunity to get feedback from experienced ears.  I'm not sure about others experience level in the contest, but as an amateur I have never had the chance to receive such an informative opinion. 

Thanks again!!!