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Author Topic: Mixoff Contest with Mike Senior - Win Mike's New Book!  (Read 188968 times)

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April 10, 2011, 11:21:12 PM
So with the contest being extended until the 18th, does that mean resubmissions are allowed until then? Or are the results just being delayed until the 18th due to the volume of responses? Sorry if that's a silly question.

Thanks again Mike for taking some of your undoubtedly busy day to review our mixes. Truly a fantastic opportunity.

- Gizz

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April 11, 2011, 04:20:56 AM
Hi Mike..
My name is MUGO..
I am from INDONESIA..
Here is my Final Result..You can download it @ http://www.sendspace.com/file/naq9db
I wait for your comment..
Thx.


Cheers,

MUGO

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April 11, 2011, 04:46:02 AM
So with the contest being extended until the 18th, does that mean resubmissions are allowed until then? Or are the results just being delayed until the 18th due to the volume of responses? Sorry if that's a silly question.

Thanks again Mike for taking some of your undoubtedly busy day to review our mixes. Truly a fantastic opportunity.

- Gizz

You can submit final tweaks, etc until the 18th, but Mike won't be commenting on anything submitted after the 4th. He wanted to be sure everyone had a chance to get his comments, then adjust their mix if they choose to before the final submission deadline.

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April 11, 2011, 08:15:57 AM
Here is my mix: http://soundcloud.com/studioimp/studioimp-younggriff

Love the kick-drum sound in the verses -- velvety, but powerfully insistent. It probably needs some high-end boost during the louder sections of the mix to bring it out better on smaller speakers, though. The cymbals sound fine too, although they might perhaps be smoothed out a little with some cut at 5-6kHz. I love the sense of sustain you've achieved with the snare. It's not the longer tail that some people have gone for, but more of a brief burst of energy focused around the attack so that it doesn't become just a 'bip' even when the guitars are at their most aggressive. (I'd be interested to know what you used to achieve this, in fact.) Could it have a fraction more low midrange? I can't quite make up my mind on that. :) The toms feel a little indistinct, though. It's like I'm not quite sure where they're coming from, even though they seem balanced fairly sensibly.

The bass tone is well-judged, well-controlled, and translates pretty faithfully to small speakers, which is all good. At times, though, I wonder if the bass could balance with the kick a bit more equally in the sub-100Hz region. The guitars are in general rather low in the balance, even if I drive the mix hard into a loudness processor (thereby ducking the drum peaks), and I think they could afford to fill out the texture more across the board. While the tone of the chorus guitars seems fairly sensible, and there's decent separation of the two lines, the mid-section guitars feel like they're rather lacking in the low midrange, which leaves the bass alone to provide the power in this department. Even in Berk13's mix, which scoops out a good deal of midrange to assist with the long-term dynamics, there's still a suggestion of low-end weight in there that prevents the bass guitar feeling too disconnected. I'd also like to hear more stereo width in these parts if possible, because their image is rather narrow at the moment. (That said, the mono-compatibility of this mix is very good currently, so be careful not to compromise that if you can.)

The vocal also seems a little on the thin side, although that's partly on account of the tonal character of the mix as a whole, which feels a couple of decibels shy in the 2kHz area, as well as a touch too crispy at 9kHz. Still, even taking this into account, I think the breathy upper frequencies are perhaps overplayed. Sibilance is also a problem throughout -- whether you stick with this tone or not, some de-essing would be advisable. I like the verse spot effects, which provide some welcome ear-candy, but using that heavy chorus-like treatment carries with it a danger of dating the sound, so I'd probably choose delays myself out of preference. I like the way the LV and double-track are blended together in the choruses, and also the BV tone and effects, but the latter are mixed too low for me, especially in the outro section, and I remain to be convinced about their unbalanced stereo spread.

The main comment I have about this mix, though, is that I would want it to sound subjectively 'bigger' in a general sense. That's partly a question of just turning up and spreading out the guitars, but you could also perhaps use a bit more compression on the drums and the mix as a whole, as well as considering adding in things like additional overdubbed layers or faked double-tracks. However, don't be tempted to turn up the reverb, because I think that's already been taken as far as it can at the moment, and you'll risk washing things out if you go any further. Delays, on the other hand, are probably worth further investigation, because of the way they can add sustain without many of the less-desirable side-effects of reverb.

Thanks for submitting this mix. You've got the workings of a very good balance going there, especially in terms of the way the drums and bass fit together. (Thanks too for bearing with me while I caught up! :))
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April 11, 2011, 08:54:26 AM
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.



Hi Mike

First of all Thanks for taking the time to review my mix and everyone else.

I discovered this forum the last Saturday before the deadline so this track was a 1 day work.

The first thing that concerned me about this song was the long term dynamics because I wanted to have a cresscendo sensation with a big explotion in the outro so I worked very hard to make that illusion but without doing any overdubs because I wanted to have the original guitar tracks that were recorded to retain the same tone of the instrument in all the song.  

I havent listen to the Thrice reference so this mix is just my approach without any external influence. Now I´m going to concretrate to have a mix most close to the references.

About the FX , in the first place I wanted to have an epic kind of mix with a lot of things going on but like you said in your comments maybe is better to have a raw sound with more power between sections and playing with the sound of the instrument rather than the effects.

Thanks again for listen to my track and I´m going to do the changes that you mention and improve my mix.


Manuel



« Last Edit: April 11, 2011, 10:20:46 AM by Berk13 »

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April 11, 2011, 09:22:59 AM
http://soundcloud.com/gizzmo0815/blood-to-the-bone-gizzmo

The bass guitar delivers a lot of energy in the 150Hz region, and while this does keep the low end of the mix sounding warm, pushing the instrument into a much more prominent position than in some of the other mixes, it also lends it almost a slightly dubby timbre which doesn't seem to quite fit in with the stylistic context, as well as skewing the overall mix tonality undesirably towards woolliness. The other difficulty with this particular mix choice is that you've left no room for the guitars to provide power in their lower frequency ranges, so they tend to come across as being slightly thin-sounding. A couple of decibels boost of the whole mix at around 800Hz and a slight dip at 5kHz helps with this issue a certain amount, but a simple master EQ is too blunt a tool to bring about a complete solution -- especially in the mid-sections, which feel altogether too tinny.

The cymbal timbre is nice and smooth, which I like, but you could probably process it a bit further to pull down some of the stick noise, which pokes out of the balance at times. The kick and snare both appear to be relying too heavily on their lower frequencies: the former therefore has trouble cutting through on small speakers during the choruses, while the latter just ends up sounding rather muffled against the guitars. While a lot of people on this thread have over-emphasised the snare HF, in my opinion, I reckon your choice of tone has taken things too far in the other direction. The toms seem a touch too loud and also don't seem to blend quite as well as the snare does with the rest of the kit, so maybe you just need to apply a bit of whatever treatment the snare has to those mics as well.

The essential channel processing of your guitar sounds seems fairly sensible, and I like the stereo flanger/phaser widening a lot, even if it's possibly drawing a fraction too much attention to itself in the mix overall. The delay/reverb 'tail' effects, however, feel rather like they're wrapping the guitars up in a blanket, and while this doesn't sound unpleasant by any means I figure it's probably not the best decision stylistically again. It's somehow a bit too epic and not tough enough, so that the details of the parts themselves don't come through well and they're distanced in a way that waters down the emotional aggression of the louder sections. There's scope for these kinds of effect sounds to an extent in the verses, but even there you'll need to exercise some care in terms of managing the transitions to and from the louder sections to make it work convincingly. (If you're after a bit more sustain, you could do worse that going a bit heavier on the buss compression, both on the master channel and on the drums buss.) The way you've created stereo width in the choruses using effects rather than panning is a canny solution to the potential for stereo imbalance in this song, and I like the way it's turned out in practice too.

Is the phaser/flanger on the verse vocal too? Whatever it is you've got on it, it seems like you're sitting on the fence, in that the effect's active enough to imbue the vocal with a not entirely attractive tonal boxiness, but not extreme enough to act as a featured special effect! My advice would be to let the vocal speak more directly from an emotional perspective in the verses, and leave that treatment for more extreme spot effects. I do like your vocal delay effects a lot, though, and the way the chorus expands the vocal sound into stereo is also great.

The choice of a more central riff guitar in the choruses, widened with effects, means that this part translates very well into mono against the lead vocals in particular, but there are other aspects of the balance that don't fare so well, in particular the BV levels and the high end of the cymbals. Taken as a whole, though, this mix is already very proficiently handled, and the idea of using a more overt stereo-widening patch to tackle the stereo guitar picture is an excellent bit of lateral thinking. If you can just shift your mixing emphasis slightly more towards dynamics rather than effects, then I reckon most of my niggles will clear themselves up pretty swiftly. Thanks for sending this in!
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April 11, 2011, 10:46:24 AM
http://soundcloud.com/telegraf/manwithhat-bloodtobone-mix

You've produced a pretty successful balance overall here, with clear sounds and good separation of the individual parts. I like the delay spins you've used a lot, and the long-term dynamics make a lot of sense from a musical perspective. There are a few straightforward balance issues which I'd want to look at, though: the kick and bass both feel like they're struggling to come through on small speakers at the moment, so might benefit from more mid-frequency definition; I reckon the BVs have been ridden up too far in the outro (although I love the way you've differentiated them from the leads so they don't get in the way), and the guitar solo could probably afford to take up more slack instead; the low tom is booming unduly at the low end, with relation to the kick level. The overall mix tonality could probably do with a bit of tweaking too, as it's light on the 700Hz zone and gets a bit harsh at 4kHz when things really get going. Plus the vocal tuning feels too unstable to support such a prominent place in the balance come chorus time.

These simpler issues aside, the bulk of my remaining concerns all relate to one thing: blend. At the moment the track only really hangs together if you really crank it up, in which case it's means it's having to rely the ear's built-in safety compression and the listening-room acoustics. This is an area that I reckon you could do a lot to improve here, but in doing so you may find that you have to pretty much rebuild your mix from the ground up -- such is the way of mixing a lot of the time, I'm afraid!

The drums are probably the biggest contributing factor. It sounds to me as if you've hard-gated the overhead and room mics, because I can clearly hear two different layers of drum ambience cutting out after the first cymbal hit of the track, and also after the end of the first chorus. In the first instance, it sounds like one of the gates (the one on the room mic?) is also chattering as it closes. While the audibility of this processing could be decreased by giving the gate a longer release, I don't really think you need much in the way of gating on these tracks at all, and the fact that you've applied it here makes me suspect that all the close mics are gated too. Although gating if very useful in live situations to avoid feedback problems, I usually recommend applying it with caution for studio recordings, because removing lots of inter-mic spill on in individual drum tracks tends to suck a lot of the life out of the combined sound, and stops the instruments gluing together into a cohesive kit. In this case this blend issue is exacerbated by the transient-rich snare tone too, which has a high-frequency spike that seems out of character with cymbals, but that's really only a secondary issue for me.

So my suggestion would be to try remixing the kit from a different perspective, trying to treat the spill much more as an asset rather than as a nuisance. If you can bring in more of this natural ambience, then the sound should fill out nicely with a bit of drum-buss compression, and the overall feeling of blend should improve, even without any effects at all. Some of the close mics may still need some short reverb to gel them with the overheads, but this needn't sound like anything obviously artificial if you prefer to gravitate towards more 'raw and authentic' kinds of sounds as a rule. Tying the rest of the tracks into the balance alongside a more cohesive drum sound should be more straightforward, with just a bit of short delay/reverb -- if you've already got the book, then check out sections 16.3 and 17.1 in particular for help with this. You've already got some subtle longer delay/reverb effects in there which work fine, but those kinds of treatments won't create enough of a blending effect on their own.

Thanks for letting us hear your mix. Your instinct for balance already seems well-developed, so I reckon you'll notice the whole mix making a lot more sense once you get more of a handle on the blend angle.
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April 11, 2011, 06:16:31 PM
Here's my Mix http://dl.dropbox.com/u/25109726/Griffo%20Mix.wav

The drums present a respectable overall sound and blend nicely. Adding a little high end above about 6kHz to the whole mix seems to match the references a bit more closely, and also lifts the cymbals in the balance, which is no bad thing, and I think you should probably take this further using the overhead and room faders too. The kick has good cut-though on small speakers, but feels a bit bloated on a full-range system in the 50-60Hz region, such that the hits lengthen unduly and the rhythm becomes a bit laboured. The snare feels a bit too pointy, so if heavy-handed loudness processing of the mix ever smashes the transient back into the balance the instrument as a whole will end up feeling a bit underpowered. I'd look to compression to provide some extra sustain in your case (given the reasonable sense of blend you've already managed), perhaps via a parallel channel to give you more control.

I like the wide, bell-like lead guitar during the verses, although I might just reduce the modulation depth a fraction, because at the moment it's making the tuning feel a bit vague. The bass in the verses, though, lacks a certain amount of definition, which is a shame, I think, as this robs the sections of some valuable rhythmic drive and forward momentum. Once you hit the chorus, however, the bass and guitars really lock together, showing a kind of united front and avoiding the midrange hole that many of the mixes on this thread have exhibited. The bass comes through fine on the small speakers, despite being not as bright as some, so well done there. The overall tonality of the bass/guitars combination does feel a bit heavy at around 400Hz, however, and also perhaps a little too strident at 3kHz.

The lead vocals throughout feel 3-4dB too aggressive in the 3-4kHz region, and I would have liked a bit of extra body to the sound lower down the spectrum to give things more intimacy, maybe around 800Hz or so. Come the choruses, this tonal contour inevitably exacerbates sibilance, and de-essing should be a high priority within this particular mix. Nonetheless, I do rather like the way you've balanced and effected the vocals to give them thickness and blend, sitting them at a level where intelligibility is decent yet without running a risk of making the backing seem small. Another finely-honed balance decision.

The BVs have an interesting sound which contrasts well with the lead vocals, but I think it could be better controlled in terms of dynamics -- the top note of the BV phrase sticks out much further than the rest, and the last note of each phrase feels like too much of a let-down. Such a clear Harmonizer-style sound is also a gamble, just from the perspective of introducing a whiff of the band Chicago -- which I'm guessing wouldn't go down too well with Young Griffo! :)

There's a strong stereo panorama to this mix, but mono-compatibility is a little lack-lustre, with both the cymbals and guitars losing out particularly in the higher frequencies. The main question-mark which hangs over this mix for me, though, is why it sounds somehow rather 'flat' dynamically. I'm not talking long-term dynamics here, which aren't bad (and enhanced by some nice transition effects); it's the short-term dynamic range which feels like it's had too much life squeezed out of it. It's tricky to diagnose the reason for this kind of sound without seeing the project file, but there are several possibilities that immediately come to mind. It's possible that you've been compressing too heavily track by track, using over-fast attack and release times; or you might have applied over-fast buss compression over instrument groups or the fill mix; or you've got some kind of multi-band compression algorithm over the master buss. Whatever it is, I think it's sacrificing too much energy, so I'd try to back it off and then investigate the slower, more obvious full-band buss compression which tends to be more typical for a style like this. (It's possible that your reverb/delay effects processing may also be a factor in what I'm hearing, so do check that you're not overextending decay times, and that you're EQ'ing effect returns to focus them on their most useful frequencies.)

Overall, though, I like what you've done in a lot of respects with this mix, and I'd just encourage you to give your sound a little bit more room to breath.
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April 11, 2011, 06:50:11 PM
I am a bit late to the party, but here's my submission:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2134101/mixoff.org/YoungGriffo-BloodToBone%28RiF%2C2011-04-11%29.mp3

I appreciate any comments from anybody.

I struggled the most with glueing everything together without compressing the snot out of the 2bus...

Because of the guitar-rock vibe of this song, I kept special fx to a minimum to keep it earthy and raw. Just a little thing here and there to keep the attention of the listener.
Too many options kill creativity

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April 11, 2011, 07:14:12 PM
http://soundcloud.com/telegraf/manwithhat-bloodtobone-mix

You've produced a pretty successful balance overall here, with clear sounds and good separation of the individual parts. I like the delay spins you've used a lot, and the long-term dynamics make a lot of sense from a musical perspective. There are a few straightforward balance issues which I'd want to look at, though: the kick and bass both feel like they're struggling to come through on small speakers at the moment, so might benefit from more mid-frequency definition; I reckon the BVs have been ridden up too far in the outro (although I love the way you've differentiated them from the leads so they don't get in the way), and the guitar solo could probably afford to take up more slack instead; the low tom is booming unduly at the low end, with relation to the kick level. The overall mix tonality could probably do with a bit of tweaking too, as it's light on the 700Hz zone and gets a bit harsh at 4kHz when things really get going. Plus the vocal tuning feels too unstable to support such a prominent place in the balance come chorus time.

These simpler issues aside, the bulk of my remaining concerns all relate to one thing: blend. At the moment the track only really hangs together if you really crank it up, in which case it's means it's having to rely the ear's built-in safety compression and the listening-room acoustics. This is an area that I reckon you could do a lot to improve here, but in doing so you may find that you have to pretty much rebuild your mix from the ground up -- such is the way of mixing a lot of the time, I'm afraid!

The drums are probably the biggest contributing factor. It sounds to me as if you've hard-gated the overhead and room mics, because I can clearly hear two different layers of drum ambience cutting out after the first cymbal hit of the track, and also after the end of the first chorus. In the first instance, it sounds like one of the gates (the one on the room mic?) is also chattering as it closes. While the audibility of this processing could be decreased by giving the gate a longer release, I don't really think you need much in the way of gating on these tracks at all, and the fact that you've applied it here makes me suspect that all the close mics are gated too. Although gating if very useful in live situations to avoid feedback problems, I usually recommend applying it with caution for studio recordings, because removing lots of inter-mic spill on in individual drum tracks tends to suck a lot of the life out of the combined sound, and stops the instruments gluing together into a cohesive kit. In this case this blend issue is exacerbated by the transient-rich snare tone too, which has a high-frequency spike that seems out of character with cymbals, but that's really only a secondary issue for me.

So my suggestion would be to try remixing the kit from a different perspective, trying to treat the spill much more as an asset rather than as a nuisance. If you can bring in more of this natural ambience, then the sound should fill out nicely with a bit of drum-buss compression, and the overall feeling of blend should improve, even without any effects at all. Some of the close mics may still need some short reverb to gel them with the overheads, but this needn't sound like anything obviously artificial if you prefer to gravitate towards more 'raw and authentic' kinds of sounds as a rule. Tying the rest of the tracks into the balance alongside a more cohesive drum sound should be more straightforward, with just a bit of short delay/reverb -- if you've already got the book, then check out sections 16.3 and 17.1 in particular for help with this. You've already got some subtle longer delay/reverb effects in there which work fine, but those kinds of treatments won't create enough of a blending effect on their own.

Thanks for letting us hear your mix. Your instinct for balance already seems well-developed, so I reckon you'll notice the whole mix making a lot more sense once you get more of a handle on the blend angle.

Thank you so much for such an informative critique, Mike.
Truth is, like so many here, I have been mixing mostly my own material for some years now.
I don't usually get a chance to work with a mic'd drum kit, so that angle is new to me, coming mostly from a sampled drums background.
It can be quite daunting to try to get a nice cohesive sound and a pro sheen when it comes to live drums, especially when you are new to it, it's almost like you don't know where to begin and often find yourself unsure of what exactly it is you like or don't like about a particular mic's sound (oh vs. room vs. close, etc.), the bleed and how to use it to your advantage instead of fearing it. True, I did over-gate the cr@p out of the kit, lol, but it's cool, I will get better at it.

Your book had some good insight on how to generally approach these things, which was, in itself, a great little section. There's so much good stuff in there that I had to go get a yellow hi-lite pen specifically for it, lol, haven't bought one of those in nearly 20 years!