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Author Topic: Mixoff Contest with Mike Senior - Win Mike's New Book!  (Read 202294 times)

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April 02, 2011, 07:32:09 AM
For those who have noticed the back and forth between Mike and I, as well as the original frequency spectrum analysis I posted between a Chris Lord Alge mix and my own (to iterate the extreme similarity, and confusion about his “lack of lows” comments), I think it's only fair to give a detailed response to Mike's analysis. Actually, I think it's wise for everyone to do so, that way he can properly understand how the original mix was created and thus have an even deeper understanding of the psychology that goes on in all our heads behind the scenes. This would be a huge help to everyone else, as well.

Thanks for posting at such length huntermusic! It's the psychology and decision-making that is often the most seemingly obscure part of the mixing process, so, as you say, it's great to get the discussion going. It's also a well-placed reminder that everything in mixing is relative -- two mixes with different frames of reference can be equally valid while sounding utterly different. Hey, even mixes with identical frames of reference can sound very different, as we've already seen on this thread!
« Last Edit: April 02, 2011, 07:34:39 AM by triviul »
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April 02, 2011, 07:33:04 AM
If you haven't already reviewed my mix, here's a revision.  I went back and tweaked some things.  I'd rather you review this one, but if you've already done the other one, no big.

Will do. I've not got round to yours yet, and may not now until the beginning of next week. Stay tuned!
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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 02, 2011, 01:23:20 PM
Hi Guys

My first post here...a friend of mine (Vincent) from the online world of music collaboration point me this way after you critiqued his mix.

Been a subscriber and reader of SOS for around 20 yrs now - inspired by Mix Rescue I've spent the last 3 years or so trying to make better mixes for the musicians at our collaboration site.

I only found out about this yesterday and I'm out tomorrow with the family so I didn't have the luxury of the usual amount of time I'd put into a mix...and really I only got about 2/3d's into the song but I wanted a critique from Mike !

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We never finish a mix - We simply abandon them.  Adam A7's , Focusrite Pro24 DSP, Focusrite LiquidMix, Presonus FaderPort, Sennheiser HD250 Linear II

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April 02, 2011, 03:34:36 PM
This is a great idea and thanks to Mike for giving up his time to critique so many mixes and the band for releasing the multitracks in the first place.

Here's my mix: http://www.box.net/shared/xyy1fzue0m

I've possibly been a bit over-zealous with the pruning shears with the result that the track is now pretty short, but I felt that a single version should have maximum impact and for me the instrumental sections were too long (including intro and outro) and the catchy chorus took too long to appear. If I'd had more time I would have overdubbed some harmony vocals for the verses as in the example mix. I would have liked to make the verse kick a bit less roomy and clicky - this is coming from the overheads channel with the kick channel in the verses only providing low end. Sidechain compression of the overheads would have ended up with the cymbals being ducked too obviously.

I mixed using Reaper and some extra freeware plugins on Tapco S5 monitors and AKG K271 phones.

Cheers,
Greg.

EDIT: Listening on some hi-fi speakers it sounds like I might have over-egged the bottom couple of octaves. Sounded alright on the S5s and headphones though so I'd be interested to know what it's like on some proper monitors...
« Last Edit: April 05, 2011, 08:12:43 AM by gregrs »

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April 02, 2011, 06:12:35 PM
Hi All -

Here is my contribution to the cacophony!  Looking forward to hearing you thoughts, Mike.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/22196972/BloodToBone_mixerJB.wav

Cheers!

jb

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April 02, 2011, 08:32:12 PM
http://www.box.net/shared/static/x76d1uf75j.mp3

On the whole this is probably one of my favourite drum sounds so far, I think. True, it does feel like it needs 4-5dB of 'air', and its sense of size/sustain is perhaps not as well-developed as some others, but I really like the snare tone, which strikes a good balance between power and brightness, and the kick, toms, and cymbals seem to get on with the job in hand without fuss. There's a nice understated sense of blend, and I don't get that slight impression I've had with some previous mixes that the kit's been overdubbed one instrument at a time. I'd perhaps still tame the kick's click a little for the verses, and add perhaps a fraction more snare sustain and blend, but the bottom line is that this feels like a solid raw sound upon which to base any fine-tuning. As regards increasing sustain, you could do with some drum-buss compression, and probably master-buss compression too. For size, it's room reverb of some type I'd go for, but not anything too long -- you want the acoustic 'frame' around your sound, but not any enormous tail.

It occurs to me that something has been bothering me about this set of multitracks for a while now, and although it affects most of the mixes here, I've only just put my finger on it this minute, so I'll talk about it now and hope that people will also take it as a more general point. As huntermusic commented in his response to my critique of his mix, the bass guitar part here is a bit unusual in that the amount of low end it contributes to different parts of the track, and the frequency range in which it makes its low-end contributions, vary a good deal from section to section. As a result, most of the mixes so far aren't really very consistent in terms of the low-end of the combined bass/guitar sound. If I were doing a mix of this track myself, I would almost instinctively mult the bass across several different tracks to tackle this, but I suspect that most people haven't been doing so, and are therefore struggling with a well-nigh-impossible task of finding a bass-processing chain which works equally well throughout all the song sections. The place I notice the inconsistency most is in the middle sections, where the first middle section almost always feels a bit bass-light compared to either the preceding or following sections.

I love the guitar sound in the verses, but it's eclipsing the vocal, which I figure is probably counterproductive. However, the fault here is with the vocal timbre, I reckon, which sounds to me like it's suffering some kind of unintentional phase-cancellation -- it's strangely hollow and crispy in that characteristic way. Have you tried to parallel-process this vocal and inadvertently defeated your software's plug-in delay compensation, or something like that? Irrespective of what the root cause is, though, I'd go back to the drawing board on it, because I think it's letting the side down currently. It doesn't bug me nearly as much in the choruses, though, except on the more exposed 'feel like a failure' end tag. (Incidentally, I really like that delay spin, which is great for the momentum into the middle-section!) There is, however, an unpleasantly prominent 12kHz peak in the sibilance which needs dealing with. The BVs are also unfortunately not quite working for me either, because although they're commendably wide-screen, the cluttering side-effects of their long echo tail mean that on balance it's not good value for money.

The secondary guitar in the choruses is disappearing almost completely in mono, and I suspect that it's on account of some kind of polarity-based stereo-widening effect. Now while I'm fine with using a super-wide 'outside the speakers' sound  for peripheral parts which are inessential to the mono presentation, I personally feel that the secondary guitar is more important to the song than that. The mono-compatibility issues don't stop there, though, because the mid-section guitars, the snare, and the backing vocals all dull considerably on their way to mono, and the cymbals (especially the ride) seem to lose a good deal of power and air -- check out the outro section in particular to hear the kinds of things I'm talking about. The general mix tonality is pretty good (the general lack of 'air' notwithstanding), but things do nonetheless get overly abrasive with the thicker guitar texture in the mid-sections, I think, and some EQ tweaks there would be welcome.

You've clearly put quite a lot of effort into expanding the sonics with effects, and with a certain degree of success it has to be said. However, my opinion is that you're pushing this angle a little too hard. I don't think the kind of size illusion you're looking for can actually be created by send effects alone, and by trying to take things that far you're beginning to muddle and distance the mix as a whole. Instead, take the effects as far as you can without their side-effects becoming problematic, and then look to make up any shortfall in other ways -- compression, overdubs, double-tracks, or whatever. You need as many strings as possible to your bow if you want to dramatically pump up a texture like this.

Anyway, thanks for submitting this mix -- and for finally alerting me to the bass issue that had been lurking on the brink of my consciousness for so long!
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!

  • *
April 02, 2011, 09:13:17 PM
Your comment about the bass made me smile. In my last mix of the song I found I couldn't resist powering up the Taurus pedals for that troublesome mid-section...  ;D

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April 02, 2011, 10:53:26 PM
Quote
If I were doing a mix of this track myself, I would almost instinctively mult the bass across several different tracks to tackle this, but I suspect that most people haven't been doing so, and are therefore struggling with a well-nigh-impossible task of finding a bass-processing chain which works equally well throughout all the song sections.

This is exactly the approach I took with my mix.

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  • ****
April 03, 2011, 12:12:46 AM
http://www.box.net/shared/static/x76d1uf75j.mp3

On the whole this is probably one of my favourite drum sounds so far, I think. True, it does feel like it needs 4-5dB of 'air', and its sense of size/sustain is perhaps not as well-developed as some others, but I really like the snare tone, which strikes a good balance between power and brightness, and the kick, toms, and cymbals seem to get on with the job in hand without fuss. There's a nice understated sense of blend, and I don't get that slight impression I've had with some previous mixes that the kit's been overdubbed one instrument at a time. I'd perhaps still tame the kick's click a little for the verses, and add perhaps a fraction more snare sustain and blend, but the bottom line is that this feels like a solid raw sound upon which to base any fine-tuning. As regards increasing sustain, you could do with some drum-buss compression, and probably master-buss compression too. For size, it's room reverb of some type I'd go for, but not anything too long -- you want the acoustic 'frame' around your sound, but not any enormous tail.

It occurs to me that something has been bothering me about this set of multitracks for a while now, and although it affects most of the mixes here, I've only just put my finger on it this minute, so I'll talk about it now and hope that people will also take it as a more general point. As huntermusic commented in his response to my critique of his mix, the bass guitar part here is a bit unusual in that the amount of low end it contributes to different parts of the track, and the frequency range in which it makes its low-end contributions, vary a good deal from section to section. As a result, most of the mixes so far aren't really very consistent in terms of the low-end of the combined bass/guitar sound. If I were doing a mix of this track myself, I would almost instinctively mult the bass across several different tracks to tackle this, but I suspect that most people haven't been doing so, and are therefore struggling with a well-nigh-impossible task of finding a bass-processing chain which works equally well throughout all the song sections. The place I notice the inconsistency most is in the middle sections, where the first middle section almost always feels a bit bass-light compared to either the preceding or following sections.

I love the guitar sound in the verses, but it's eclipsing the vocal, which I figure is probably counterproductive. However, the fault here is with the vocal timbre, I reckon, which sounds to me like it's suffering some kind of unintentional phase-cancellation -- it's strangely hollow and crispy in that characteristic way. Have you tried to parallel-process this vocal and inadvertently defeated your software's plug-in delay compensation, or something like that? Irrespective of what the root cause is, though, I'd go back to the drawing board on it, because I think it's letting the side down currently. It doesn't bug me nearly as much in the choruses, though, except on the more exposed 'feel like a failure' end tag. (Incidentally, I really like that delay spin, which is great for the momentum into the middle-section!) There is, however, an unpleasantly prominent 12kHz peak in the sibilance which needs dealing with. The BVs are also unfortunately not quite working for me either, because although they're commendably wide-screen, the cluttering side-effects of their long echo tail mean that on balance it's not good value for money.

The secondary guitar in the choruses is disappearing almost completely in mono, and I suspect that it's on account of some kind of polarity-based stereo-widening effect. Now while I'm fine with using a super-wide 'outside the speakers' sound  for peripheral parts which are inessential to the mono presentation, I personally feel that the secondary guitar is more important to the song than that. The mono-compatibility issues don't stop there, though, because the mid-section guitars, the snare, and the backing vocals all dull considerably on their way to mono, and the cymbals (especially the ride) seem to lose a good deal of power and air -- check out the outro section in particular to hear the kinds of things I'm talking about. The general mix tonality is pretty good (the general lack of 'air' notwithstanding), but things do nonetheless get overly abrasive with the thicker guitar texture in the mid-sections, I think, and some EQ tweaks there would be welcome.

You've clearly put quite a lot of effort into expanding the sonics with effects, and with a certain degree of success it has to be said. However, my opinion is that you're pushing this angle a little too hard. I don't think the kind of size illusion you're looking for can actually be created by send effects alone, and by trying to take things that far you're beginning to muddle and distance the mix as a whole. Instead, take the effects as far as you can without their side-effects becoming problematic, and then look to make up any shortfall in other ways -- compression, overdubs, double-tracks, or whatever. You need as many strings as possible to your bow if you want to dramatically pump up a texture like this.

Anyway, thanks for submitting this mix -- and for finally alerting me to the bass issue that had been lurking on the brink of my consciousness for so long!
Mike,

Thanks for the detailed critique.  It gives me a great framework for further work to be done.  As far as the vocals, there is no parallel processing going on, just compression and EQ which I will revisit.

Your comment about the bass is spot on.  I struggled mightily to get some kind of bass balance on this song.  I'm glad I'm not the only one.

I do not use stereo wideners at all, so I'm not sure what the issue is with the guitars.  They were only panned to fill out the sound field.  I suppose the tracks panned left and right are sufficiently similar to cause some phase cancellation.  Maybe that's the issue. 

I do have a question regarding your comment about the cymbals.  Not sure why they would disappear in mono, when there is only one overhead track.  How would you prevent that from happening with only one overhead track?  Same with snare.  All mono tracks panned straight down the middle.  Not sure why switching to mono would affect that at all.  By the way, I did notice that the two snare tracks provided are exactly 180 degrees out of phase.

Again, thanks for taking on this monumental task.  Great learning experience.

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April 03, 2011, 02:19:07 AM
The top and bottom snare will always be out of phase if the mic's are at the same distances from the heads and there was no phase-flipping in the recording process. That's because when the top-head moves away from the mic (when hit), the top head will automatically move towards it's mic at the same time (airpressure from the hit). At least that is how I remember the theory :)
I'm cleaning up my server, but you can find some of the mixes I did on this forum here: http://soundcloud.com/stefhartog