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Author Topic: Mixoff Contest with Mike Senior - Win Mike's New Book!  (Read 184831 times)

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April 09, 2011, 04:46:15 PM
http://www.box.net/shared/95votqk69f

This is another mix with a lot going for it. There's generally a very good sense of balance, and the mix tone is also pretty well-judged, albeit with an overall tilt towards the low end -- the high end feels roughly 3-4dB down by comparison, I'd say.

I like the stringiness of the bass guitar tone, which keeps the instrument well up front in the verses, and makes sure it doesn't get lost in the thicker chorus/mid-section textures. The bass is also pretty well balanced throughout too. Perhaps I might not ride it up as much you have in the second half of the first mid-section, but it certainly draws the ear that way. The guitars are well controlled and not over-harsh when you hit the mid-sections, which is good, but I do hanker for a bit more 'poke' at around 900Hz for many of then, particularly the main chorus riff. I'm not sure I'd go quite that far with the vibrato-style effect on the main verse guitar, not because I don't like the widening effect in principle, but just because it makes the tuning appear to droop for me.

The drums are all nicely balanced, I think, and there's enough overheads in there to give it a bit of excitement and splash. The kick's particularly good, coming through well in stripped-back and full-on sections alike, although I wouldn't mind a little more mid-range cut-through for the small speakers when things really get going. The snare is the part I'd be most inclined to adjust, because it seems like you're adding something like distortion around 4-5kHz which makes it quite abrasive, especially during the verses. I'm not against distortion for snare processing in rock mixes (it's quite a common recourse of mine, in fact), but I'd personally suggest EQ'ing the resultant spectrum to tuck this area into the balance a bit more. That being said, this sound does have a great ability to cut through the texture in the choruses, and mid-sections because of its thick sustain, so try not to remove that ingredient of the recipe at the same time. Maybe automating the level of those frequencies for different sections might have some merit?

The vocals maintain a respectable level in the mix most of the time, but I wonder whether they could just come forward wholesale throughout the mix -- maybe up a decibel, with a couple of decibels less reverb. At the moment they seem a bit too blended into the mix, which means they're being sucked back into the texture more than I'd hope. Your tuning work helps a great deal with the chorus blend, but I'd probably still get the editing tools out and try to deal with the consonant flams there too if you can, because intelligibility is getting a bit blurred, and I'd like to be clearer about the words if possible. Again, a little more overall level may help here, although I imagine that some careful automation may be required as well.

I like how you've contrasted the LVs and BVs here, and the tone of the BVs stays well out of the way too, which is great. The jury's still out on whether the extra harmonies are in keeping with the track as a whole -- I kind of like them myself, but they do seem to add a hint of euphoria that doesn't appear to sit that well with the lyric. The little vocal fly-ins in the outro are nicely restrained -- great little production touch, that, without being too flashy.

You've already made some attempts to support the long-term dynamics, but I reckon you could probably go significantly further with this, particularly in terms of being a little more sparing with the verse effects, so that you have more subjective room for manoeuvre when you want to increase the scale of things later. The final chorus entry does seem to take quite a big step down in energy too, as has been an issue with many of the mixes we've heard so far.

Mono compatibility is good on this mix overall, although at the expense of some stereo width in the guitars which is a little bit of a shame, especially because the greater width of the overheads and toms then feels a little strange by comparison.

All in all, this is a great effort -- a nice combination of solid balancing with tastefully creative sound-design and editing. Good job!
Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio
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  • *
April 09, 2011, 04:58:50 PM
Hi Mike. Did you miss my second bite at the mix (having found the missing low octaves!) in post #157? I can't see any response to it, but it might just be me doing something dumb!

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April 09, 2011, 06:34:24 PM
Hi Mike. Did you miss my second bite at the mix (having found the missing low octaves!) in post #157? I can't see any response to it, but it might just be me doing something dumb!

I'd not got round to having a listen yet, I'm afraid -- I'm having to prioritise first-round critiques at the moment. When those are done, though, I'll try to have quick skate through the revised mixes as well.
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 09, 2011, 08:28:16 PM
Here is my mix: http://soundcloud.com/studioimp/studioimp-younggriff
I haven't done any mixing for a while and found this very enjoyable.  I would appreciate any feedback anyone has for me.

Just realised I've skipped over you and critiqued Berk13's mix first -- I got confused with all the download links and everything. Sorry! I'll get to you first thing on Monday.
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 09, 2011, 08:35:34 PM
http://soundcloud.com/manuelbernal   

This is one of the wetter mixes we've had so far, but the balance in general is nonetheless very nicely managed on the whole, and there's also a nice sense of dynamics, both in the short term and in the longer term. In particular I think this may be the best mix-only solution to the final chorus entry I've heard so far, which you've pulled of by a clever sleight of hand: by recessing the meatier midrange guitar frequencies during the mid-sections and keeping a firm lid on the bass (it's normally inclined to eat the rest of the mix for breakfast in the second mid-section if left to its own devices), you've then given the main chorus guitar riff much more impact by making sure it's rich in the very midrange energy that the mid-sections were lacking, and the bass doesn't feel a let-down either. An impressive solution to the problem without recourse to overdubs. (And I thought it wasn't possible -- oh ye of little faith! :))

The bits of this mix that convince me the most are the larger-scale sections, where the richer effects landscape really comes into its own to make the production full and epic-sounding. The snare is a highlight for me, because it manages to make its presence felt strongly, without being either very bright or very spiky -- it's got that elusive midrange sustain that I've already mentioned so often, achieved comparatively conventionally in this case with judicious compression and reverb, it sounds like. For my own tonal preference I'd prefer it to have more high end to bring it more in line with the brightness of the cymbals, but it already functions perfectly from a balance perspective as it is. The kick, toms and cymbals fit together beautifully too, with the possible exception of the low tom, which does seem to boom a little on occasion. I also wonder whether the cymbals might be a bit rich in the 5kHz region, especially in the middle section and outro when the guitar tones get more strident. Switching to small speakers does reveal that the kick doesn't survive too well there, however, so I'd be tempted to give that a bit more high end for the choruses at least.

I've already alluded to the quality of the bass-guitar processing, but it really is exemplary -- rock solid control and a lovely rich sound, but without overloading the low midrange such that the guitars have no room for their own warmth frequencies. It also comes through beautifully on small speakers.

So far so good. However, there are a number of areas where I think improvements could be made. The first main point I'd make is that while the heavier use of reverbs has its benefits in terms of making the very biggest sections of this mix impressive-sounding, I think that the effects are perhaps making the whole production sound a little too smooth and lush. It's not that I don't like 'smooth and lush', but this is a rock band carrying a bucketful of angst, and it seems like it's getting slightly sugar-coated. Back off the returns by a couple of decibels and give the mix a little more overall compression, however, and I think you'll find yourself back on the right side of the line there. More of an issue, is that I think that there's not enough contrast in the effects use from section to section, which waters down the verse/chorus dynamics for me. Get the automation going and pull back some of the more epic treatments for the verses in particular -- it's surprising how effective this can be at breathing extra life into an arrangement.

In addition, I think you could maybe have a bit more front-back depth going on by varying the send levels a little more between different tracks, especially in terms of the vocals, which feel like they could take a good couple of steps forward in the balance. However, I don't think it's only the reverb levels which are holding the vocals back, so I'd probably bring their fader up at least a decibel across the board into the bargain. The vocal tuning could be tighter too, in the choruses especially, and the consonant flams between the lead and double-track are still a bit distracting for me. The sibilance feels a bit out of control on the choruses too, so it's probably time to get busy with a de-esser. The chorus BVs are quite nicely done in terms of having a greater sense of distance than the leads, but I'd weed out a bit of their low mids to avoid clogging up that area of the mix. You've made an interesting choice by panning them to one side only, but it does rather imbalance the stereo picture for me -- there's nothing on the other side of the image performing a similar duty. I suppose you could say that they're balancing the riff guitar, but it doesn't really feel that way to these ears.

Overall tonality might benefit from some tweaks: I found myself adding a couple of decibels at 900Hz and 8kHz, and dipping out a little 3kHz too, to get closer to the Thrice reference, for instance. I'd also have a close look at the phase relationship between the overhead mics in particular, because the mix feels like it's losing a lot of 'height' in mono.

Criticisms aside, though, this is a really nice-sounding mix in a lot of respects, so thanks for sending it in. You've pushed the sense of size about as far as anyone has so far, and it's great for everyone to hear a good example of the possibilities available there.
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 09, 2011, 11:32:29 PM
Hi Mike. Did you miss my second bite at the mix (having found the missing low octaves!) in post #157? I can't see any response to it, but it might just be me doing something dumb!

I'd not got round to having a listen yet, I'm afraid -- I'm having to prioritise first-round critiques at the moment. When those are done, though, I'll try to have quick skate through the revised mixes as well.
No problem. Just thought I'd better check. I've left the original mix in my Dropbox for anyone who wants to make the comparison. I'm still scratching my head as to how the bass ended up so lacking in the first version TBH. Very, very odd...

  • No avatar
  • *
April 10, 2011, 01:33:43 AM
http://www.box.net/shared/95votqk69f

This is another mix with a lot going for it. There's generally a very good sense of balance, and the mix tone is also pretty well-judged, albeit with an overall tilt towards the low end -- the high end feels roughly 3-4dB down by comparison, I'd say.

I like the stringiness of the bass guitar tone, which keeps the instrument well up front in the verses, and makes sure it doesn't get lost in the thicker chorus/mid-section textures. The bass is also pretty well balanced throughout too. Perhaps I might not ride it up as much you have in the second half of the first mid-section, but it certainly draws the ear that way. The guitars are well controlled and not over-harsh when you hit the mid-sections, which is good, but I do hanker for a bit more 'poke' at around 900Hz for many of then, particularly the main chorus riff. I'm not sure I'd go quite that far with the vibrato-style effect on the main verse guitar, not because I don't like the widening effect in principle, but just because it makes the tuning appear to droop for me.

The drums are all nicely balanced, I think, and there's enough overheads in there to give it a bit of excitement and splash. The kick's particularly good, coming through well in stripped-back and full-on sections alike, although I wouldn't mind a little more mid-range cut-through for the small speakers when things really get going. The snare is the part I'd be most inclined to adjust, because it seems like you're adding something like distortion around 4-5kHz which makes it quite abrasive, especially during the verses. I'm not against distortion for snare processing in rock mixes (it's quite a common recourse of mine, in fact), but I'd personally suggest EQ'ing the resultant spectrum to tuck this area into the balance a bit more. That being said, this sound does have a great ability to cut through the texture in the choruses, and mid-sections because of its thick sustain, so try not to remove that ingredient of the recipe at the same time. Maybe automating the level of those frequencies for different sections might have some merit?

The vocals maintain a respectable level in the mix most of the time, but I wonder whether they could just come forward wholesale throughout the mix -- maybe up a decibel, with a couple of decibels less reverb. At the moment they seem a bit too blended into the mix, which means they're being sucked back into the texture more than I'd hope. Your tuning work helps a great deal with the chorus blend, but I'd probably still get the editing tools out and try to deal with the consonant flams there too if you can, because intelligibility is getting a bit blurred, and I'd like to be clearer about the words if possible. Again, a little more overall level may help here, although I imagine that some careful automation may be required as well.

I like how you've contrasted the LVs and BVs here, and the tone of the BVs stays well out of the way too, which is great. The jury's still out on whether the extra harmonies are in keeping with the track as a whole -- I kind of like them myself, but they do seem to add a hint of euphoria that doesn't appear to sit that well with the lyric. The little vocal fly-ins in the outro are nicely restrained -- great little production touch, that, without being too flashy.

You've already made some attempts to support the long-term dynamics, but I reckon you could probably go significantly further with this, particularly in terms of being a little more sparing with the verse effects, so that you have more subjective room for manoeuvre when you want to increase the scale of things later. The final chorus entry does seem to take quite a big step down in energy too, as has been an issue with many of the mixes we've heard so far.

Mono compatibility is good on this mix overall, although at the expense of some stereo width in the guitars which is a little bit of a shame, especially because the greater width of the overheads and toms then feels a little strange by comparison.

All in all, this is a great effort -- a nice combination of solid balancing with tastefully creative sound-design and editing. Good job!

Thanks.  :)  This was a strange song for me to mix, I felt it needed additional things but I didn't want to add them cuz I felt that was more a role for a producer than a mix engineer.  Wasn't familiar with your column before this (don't read SoS), but I enjoy very much doing what you're doing, rescuing mixes.  Thanks for putting in all the work, I bet you'll never want to hear this song again after the contest.  ;D

  • **
April 10, 2011, 10:36:30 AM
Hey...ARRG! Bringin'.it.Back.OldSchoolStyle. I love the LE/HD! "Now this is a brother that knows how to PRO-duce!" -Monkey

"Sense Of Balance!" -Mike Senior (S.O.S) on Mixoff.org

One Man Mix Team...
« Last Edit: April 10, 2011, 11:18:58 AM by Audio Monkey »
Mix It!

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April 10, 2011, 11:17:45 AM
"Open up your eyes!" ("Song and Dance Man") - Warrant. "Cherry Pie". PRO-duced by Bob Rock. 1992')

"I know somethings that you don't, I know somethings that you won't." ("Life is Beautiful" - Sixx Am. "The Herion Diaries". PRO-duced by James Michel. 2008')

-Monkey
Mix It!

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April 10, 2011, 11:25:45 AM
Here is my mix: http://soundcloud.com/studioimp/studioimp-younggriff
I haven't done any mixing for a while and found this very enjoyable.  I would appreciate any feedback anyone has for me.

Just realised I've skipped over you and critiqued Berk13's mix first -- I got confused with all the download links and everything. Sorry! I'll get to you first thing on Monday.


Don't worry about it, I'm still happy that you'll be listening to it after the problems I had with the settings on soundcloud.