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Author Topic: Mixoff Contest with Mike Senior - Win Mike's New Book!  (Read 202304 times)

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April 14, 2011, 01:57:31 PM
http://soundcloud.com/robinmarder/blood-to-bone-young-griffo

The overall tonality of this mix feels a little hilly to me in the 300Hz and 12kHz regions, while the 1-2kHz midrange frequencies seem recessed. A little more low end below 100Hz would also make sense too, I think, although you should also get busy .......... Another interesting mix this, and already pretty accomplished as it is, certainly from an overall balance perspective. It's mainly EQ and phase-matching that you should concentrate more on to really snap it into focus, I reckon. Thanks for posting!
 
Thanks Mike for taking the time.
After reading your critique I am seriously considering in urgently consulting my otorhinolaryngologist. I must be deaf, or my ProTools rig must have a serious problem, or my Klein & Hummel O300 or my NS10 are covered in honey or my room treatment is utter crap.

Hmmm...
  • phase issues (specially the multimiked guitars) - checked
  • low end rumble mumble - checked (nearly every channel has a highpass filter on it)
  • eq no emphasize only frequency cuts - checked

I am surprised that you did not mention that the overall guitar volume IMHO is fairly to low (I noticed that AFTER posting … bummer).
I tried to mix, the given material the band provided, to land in the 'Tool', 'Queens Of The Stonage', 'Deathcap For Cuty', 'Thrice' and 'Cog' - ballpark but I seem to have missed that target ...
cheers
Robin

There are as many tastes as human beings.

« Last Edit: April 14, 2011, 05:55:31 PM by Robin »

  • ***
April 14, 2011, 06:17:20 PM
After reading your critique I am seriously considering in urgently consulting my otorhinolaryngologist. I must be deaf, or my ProTools rig must have a serious problem, or my Klein & Hummel O300 or my NS10 are covered in honey or my room treatment is utter crap.

Blimey -- I wouldn't go quite that far! :o Let's put things in perspective. You've clearly got good monitors, and the fact that you mention room treatment at all means you're probably ahead of most small-studio operators on that front... ;D So if I'm hearing something a bit different than you are, then you're entitled to a different opinion. (Especially as you're probably coming to this project considerably fresher than I am! ::))

Quote
low end rumble mumble - checked (nearly every channel has a highpass filter on it)

My suspicions are with the bass guitar -- is that also high-pass filtered?

Quote
eq no emphasize only frequency cuts

If you're already favouring EQ cuts over boosts, then clearly that's not the issue here. I can only speculate on the causes of some of the things I'm hearing, unfortunately.

Quote
I am surprised that you did not mention that the overall guitar volume IMHO is fairly to low (I noticed that AFTER posting … bummer).

That's always the way, isn't it! :D I'd agree with you about the guitars, though. It was just that I was hearing those in relation more to the overheads and vocals, where there isn't as much of a level mismatch as between the guitars and bass/snare.

Quote
I tried to mix the given material the band provided to land in the 'Tool', 'Queens Of The Stonage', 'Deathcap For Cuty', 'Thrice' and 'Cog' - ballpark but I seem to have missed that target ...

Mix referencing is by no means an exact science -- all the tracks referenced by the band actually sound quite different from each other, so the conclusions you draw as to which aspects of each one to favour can make a big impact on the outcome. And of course, as you say, there are as many tastes as human beings, something that's amply demonstrated by the wide variety of different mix interpretations we've heard on this thread, despite the fact that everyone was working from the exact same starting point.
Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio
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Free Mixing Resources On-line!

  • ***
April 14, 2011, 06:27:42 PM
Here is my mix http://soundcloud.com/martin-olsson/blood-to-bone-martin

A very nice balance this, with a lovely natural open sound and a decent sense of both size and long-term dynamics. Up there with the best on this thread I'd say, in those terms, and possibly the slickest-sounding mix I've heard so far in terms of straight sonics. A lovely thing to listen to, and also pretty well in line with the reference sonics -- although I might add a speck at 800Hz and take out a sliver at 3.5kHz. The clarity is great, as is the blend, and there are just enough more expansive effects to enlarge the field of battle nicely without washing anything out or adding clutter.

In a situation like this where the sounds have been so carefully woven together, I find that the interaction of the different timbres makes all the tonal choices seem logical, irrespective of whether they match my own tonal preferences. So, for example, if I really concentrate :-\, then I can come up with a number of little things that I'd tweak personally. I might want the opening bass tone to have a bit more 1kHz solidity, for example, or the kick to have slightly less click in the verses -- perhaps that's what you meant by the kick being too loud?. The snare could have a little less transient and a fraction more 'boosh' (to use the technical term :D) or the toms might be blended slightly more with the entire kit. The bass might have a touch more weight and warmth below 500Hz... But, to be honest, in the grand scheme of things there's such a cohesive overall vision here that it's hard not to just get swept along by it and forget about any minor niggles. A big factor in this, I think, is automation, because it seems to me that things just ease themselves forward in the mix slightly whenever they want to be heard, directing my attention and making it very easy to take everything in without having to work too hard as a listener. This reminds me very much of Andy Wallace's mixing technique, where he uses extensive rides so that he doesn't have to rely on EQ or other processing as much.

As with Daunt's entry, though, your version sticks fairly strictly within the parameters of the supplied tracks, which means that despite a sterling 'pure mixing' job, the musical 'light and shade' isn't as dramatic as I think it might be, and the long-term dynamics don't quite deliver the spine-tingling pay-offs I'm hoping for in the final chorus and outro. The mono-compatibility could do with some additional consideration, as well, because the cymbals are really suffering in mono, and the hard-panning you've used for the guitar and backing-vocal parts leaves the backing feeling slightly skeletal and mid-less against the drums/vocals on a single speaker. You're sounding great in stereo, admittedly, but I'd be more inclined to go for slightly more of a compromise position. (Bear in mind, though, that opinions do vary quite a bit amongst engineers on mono/stereo balance issues, even if there is something of a more general concensus on the issue of left/right phase-match.)

You've left a good deal of natural dynamics in your submission, and while that's commendable, I do wonder if a bit more attitude in the buss compression might not help to add some worthwhile extra excitement here. The thing is, though, that adding this in will inevitably change things like the lead-vocal balance and intelligibility (which are good, despite the remaining tuning/timing issues), so it would make sense to mix with the compressor in place rather than leaving this until mastering.

All in all, you probably deserve some kind of medal for making the band and the recording engineer look so good! This is a really great mix, and it's been a pleasure listening to it -- thanks!
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 14, 2011, 09:16:15 PM
http://www.polydreammusic.com/Young%20Griffo_16.441.01.mp3

Interesting intro, and a good way to get to the vocals quicker. Given that you've opened the can labelled 'filter effects', though, I wonder whether you could actually reuse this idea in some way so that it seems a little less arbitrary.

The chorus kick and snare seem to balance well on my full-range system, but the smaller speakers are suggesting to me that perhaps the kick's midrange attack is a bit too high up the spectrum, because it's coming across as rather clicky, in a way that doesn't quite seem to sit with the snare's timbre. Perhaps you could try shifting that EQ boost down an octave or so and see whether you feel it might give a better match on those systems. It might also just be that the kick makes very little attempt to blend with the rest of the kit in terms of ambience. While this isn't 'wrong' in any absolute sense, because the idea of a dry kick within an ambient kit sound has an enormous number of commercial precedents, it does make the tone of the kick more critical if you want the drum to feel like it belongs in the track. (I'd also tone down the verse kick a little in the HF region too, simply because I think you could get better contrast between the song sections that way.)

The toms seem wider than they ought to be compared with the overheads, so I'd be tempted to toe those in a bit, although I reckon the tone fits in pretty well with the snare. The cymbals are quite strong in the 6kHz region, which reduces the breath-like qualities of the ride (which I rather like) and replaces them with more of a sizzly sound which I found a bit wearing by the time we got to the outro section. A bit more information in the overheads/room below about 2kHz or so would help with this if you share my preferences, and in general would also give the cymbals more weight and gravitas, which I kind of feel they need in this kind of music. (Maybe that's just me, though! ::))

The bass seems to do a sensible job, even though you've gone for a more understated tone that I'd have instinctively chosen, and small-speaker audibility still seems reasonable. I wonder if the balance of this line could be made a bit more consistent throughout the song by multing (if you haven't already), particularly in the mid-sections -- in mid-section 1 it feels rather lightweight, while in mid-section 2 it woofs a little too much for me, which causes problems with achieving a real impact for the final chorus entry.

As far as guitar sounds go, you've kept the 3-4kHz zone mostly in reserve for the mid-sections, and there's no denying that unleashing it there does make quite an impact. The downside of this approach, however, is that you make the job of delivering the final-chorus pay-off almost impossibly hard for yourself, simply because of the drop-off in this aggressive-sounding frequency region. In general, I've found that the people who've managed that particular section transition most successfully have tended to suggest aggression in the mid-section in a more illusory manner using the 5-6kHz region, thereby keeping 3-4kHz in reserve so that it helps bolster the chorus guitars instead. It's a kind of reverse psychology, I know, and it didn't initially occur to me either until I first heard a mix on this thread actually put it into practice!

While my personal preferences for the verse vocal tend to err on the side of dry/intimate sounds, I did rather like what you've done here in making it rather unnerving and diffuse. Another one of those things that I'd probably have never done in a month of Sundays, but which seems to me to be an equally feasible alternative to the vision I have in my own head. (Always glad to have my horizons broadened!) All I'd suggest in addition to what you've already done is maybe to give it a touch more 1kHz to bring it a little closer, simply because otherwise I think there might be a risk of the guitar stealing too much of the limelight. On a more technical note, the lip noise is also coming too much to the fore in the reintro and second verse, and could usefully be edited/automated out.

When you hit the choruses, I think you could also push the fader up a decibel or so to give the lyrics a bit more projection. However, there's clearly only so far you can go down that road before you start detracting from the perceived size of the backing, and I think it would also be sensible to look at whether you could carve away at a few of the other parts with EQ around 3-4kHz, because the vocals feel quite heavily masked in this area of the spectrum. Careful of the sibilance too, which feels out of balance to me, and perhaps consider tightening up the tuning/timing too, especially since you're using the double-track at a reasonable level. Did you decide against the BVs? It sounds like there'd still be space for them, but maybe they don't appeal as much to you as they do to me.

Your effects use appears to be well-handled for the most part. The only real criticism on that front would be that the lead vocals in the chorus feel a little bit suffocated by their effects, and a bit of predelay could go a long way there, not least because increasing the predelay often allows you to use a lower return level for the same degree of wetness. The overall mix tone seems to favour the 200-500Hz region a bit much, and could also do with a couple of decibels help around 1-2kHz. More of a concern, though, is the mono-compatibility, because your nice expansive stereo panorama is getting wrapped in a blanket in mono. It sounds like there are several phase-cancellation and balance effects operating simultaneously here, so I'm afraid it might take a bit of detective work to sort out, but I reckon it'd be worth the effort.

Overall there's a lot of food for thought in this mix (for me at least!) because you've shown the potential for several lateral tone decisions. Thanks for submitting!
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 14, 2011, 09:22:56 PM
Hurray!
I think that's the last of the critiques posted!

If there's anyone I've inadvertently left out, do please let me know, but otherwise I'll get ready to start putting together a shortlist of competition entries for the band once that deadline's past. Good luck to everyone!

If anyone asks for me before then, I'll be in a darkened room with my head in an ice-bucket.  ;D
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 14, 2011, 09:41:32 PM
Hey great job Mike! thanks for doing this!. I sure got a lot out of this to take with me. For that I want to say thanks!  8)

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  • **
April 14, 2011, 09:46:20 PM
http://www.polydreammusic.com/Young%20Griffo_16.441.01.mp3

Interesting intro, and a good way to get to the vocals quicker. Given that you've opened the can labelled 'filter effects', though, I wonder whether you could actually reuse this idea in some way so that it seems a little less arbitrary.

The chorus kick and snare seem to balance well on my full-range system, but the smaller speakers are suggesting to me that perhaps the kick's midrange attack is a bit too high up the spectrum, because it's coming across as rather clicky, in a way that doesn't quite seem to sit with the snare's timbre. Perhaps you could try shifting that EQ boost down an octave or so and see whether you feel it might give a better match on those systems. It might also just be that the kick makes very little attempt to blend with the rest of the kit in terms of ambience. While this isn't 'wrong' in any absolute sense, because the idea of a dry kick within an ambient kit sound has an enormous number of commercial precedents, it does make the tone of the kick more critical if you want the drum to feel like it belongs in the track. (I'd also tone down the verse kick a little in the HF region too, simply because I think you could get better contrast between the song sections that way.)

The toms seem wider than they ought to be compared with the overheads, so I'd be tempted to toe those in a bit, although I reckon the tone fits in pretty well with the snare. The cymbals are quite strong in the 6kHz region, which reduces the breath-like qualities of the ride (which I rather like) and replaces them with more of a sizzly sound which I found a bit wearing by the time we got to the outro section. A bit more information in the overheads/room below about 2kHz or so would help with this if you share my preferences, and in general would also give the cymbals more weight and gravitas, which I kind of feel they need in this kind of music. (Maybe that's just me, though! ::))

The bass seems to do a sensible job, even though you've gone for a more understated tone that I'd have instinctively chosen, and small-speaker audibility still seems reasonable. I wonder if the balance of this line could be made a bit more consistent throughout the song by multing (if you haven't already), particularly in the mid-sections -- in mid-section 1 it feels rather lightweight, while in mid-section 2 it woofs a little too much for me, which causes problems with achieving a real impact for the final chorus entry.

As far as guitar sounds go, you've kept the 3-4kHz zone mostly in reserve for the mid-sections, and there's no denying that unleashing it there does make quite an impact. The downside of this approach, however, is that you make the job of delivering the final-chorus pay-off almost impossibly hard for yourself, simply because of the drop-off in this aggressive-sounding frequency region. In general, I've found that the people who've managed that particular section transition most successfully have tended to suggest aggression in the mid-section in a more illusory manner using the 5-6kHz region, thereby keeping 3-4kHz in reserve so that it helps bolster the chorus guitars instead. It's a kind of reverse psychology, I know, and it didn't initially occur to me either until I first heard a mix on this thread actually put it into practice!

While my personal preferences for the verse vocal tend to err on the side of dry/intimate sounds, I did rather like what you've done here in making it rather unnerving and diffuse. Another one of those things that I'd probably have never done in a month of Sundays, but which seems to me to be an equally feasible alternative to the vision I have in my own head. (Always glad to have my horizons broadened!) All I'd suggest in addition to what you've already done is maybe to give it a touch more 1kHz to bring it a little closer, simply because otherwise I think there might be a risk of the guitar stealing too much of the limelight. On a more technical note, the lip noise is also coming too much to the fore in the reintro and second verse, and could usefully be edited/automated out.

When you hit the choruses, I think you could also push the fader up a decibel or so to give the lyrics a bit more projection. However, there's clearly only so far you can go down that road before you start detracting from the perceived size of the backing, and I think it would also be sensible to look at whether you could carve away at a few of the other parts with EQ around 3-4kHz, because the vocals feel quite heavily masked in this area of the spectrum. Careful of the sibilance too, which feels out of balance to me, and perhaps consider tightening up the tuning/timing too, especially since you're using the double-track at a reasonable level. Did you decide against the BVs? It sounds like there'd still be space for them, but maybe they don't appeal as much to you as they do to me.

Your effects use appears to be well-handled for the most part. The only real criticism on that front would be that the lead vocals in the chorus feel a little bit suffocated by their effects, and a bit of predelay could go a long way there, not least because increasing the predelay often allows you to use a lower return level for the same degree of wetness. The overall mix tone seems to favour the 200-500Hz region a bit much, and could also do with a couple of decibels help around 1-2kHz. More of a concern, though, is the mono-compatibility, because your nice expansive stereo panorama is getting wrapped in a blanket in mono. It sounds like there are several phase-cancellation and balance effects operating simultaneously here, so I'm afraid it might take a bit of detective work to sort out, but I reckon it'd be worth the effort.

Overall there's a lot of food for thought in this mix (for me at least!) because you've shown the potential for several lateral tone decisions. Thanks for submitting!


thanks for the critique, you are pretty spot on with most things.  I didn't do much comparing to commercial releases while mixing, so that's probably why the overall frequency response of the mix as a whole is off a bit.  I knew the mono compatibility was horrible, but who listens in mono anymore?!!?  ;D
There are numerous things I would do differently if I had a reason to spend more time on it, just been kind of using this site as a break from my other work.
I would probably try to duplicate and reuse certain guitar parts from the middle of the song and put them towards the end, as the tone in the middle solo is way better then the riffing towards the end. IMO
I didn't even use the 'effected' bass track and I thought the background vocals lacked purpose.  They felt lazy and not very thought out, plus I didn't tune any of the vocals.  Obviously one would manual tune all the vocals if going for a more commercial sounding mix, or more than likely try to re-record the lead vox. I tend to pan toms pretty hard just because I like to hear them stand out more in most rock mixes.
I would have also referenced the mix on other systems if I would have been contracted for this particular song, but I just mixed it on headphones.

Thanks again for the critique, it amazes me the amount of time you have available to give such thorough reviews on everyone's mixes.

Cheers

  • ***
April 14, 2011, 10:06:12 PM
Hurray!
I think that's the last of the critiques posted!

If there's anyone I've inadvertently left out, do please let me know, but otherwise I'll get ready to start putting together a shortlist of competition entries for the band once that deadline's past. Good luck to everyone!

If anyone asks for me before then, I'll be in a darkened room with my head in an ice-bucket.  ;D

Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing this. You went above and beyond the call of duty if you ask me. I'll bet you didn't expect this many entries (I know I didn't) and you managed to give everyone a very well informed critique. Truly amazing. As said before: reading your feedback on everyone's mix and trying to hear what you heard in the mixes has been one of the best learning experiences I've had in a long time.

Thanks.
I'm cleaning up my server, but you can find some of the mixes I did on this forum here: http://soundcloud.com/stefhartog

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  • *
April 14, 2011, 10:32:04 PM

If anyone asks for me before then, I'll be in a darkened room with my head in an ice-bucket.  ;D

Understandably so!
Perhaps we should all chip in for a weekend mountain retreat for Mike to clear his mind (and his ears!)

Above & beyond what anyone could have expected!

Cheers
Malcolm

  • **
April 14, 2011, 11:21:12 PM
Hurray!
I think that's the last of the critiques posted!


You deserve some kind of medal !

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