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Author Topic: Mixoff Contest with Mike Senior - Win Mike's New Book!  (Read 208368 times)

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April 22, 2011, 02:35:48 AM
Mr Tuesday,

When I heard your revised mix, which included "the drop", I was like, he just punked my idea. The truth, howver, is that you made my "stunt" look silly in comparison. So props to you for that. When I heard it, I was like, "Damn, I can't beat that"...yet!! I will have my revenge lol

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April 22, 2011, 06:43:55 AM
I was curious about the direction of some of the recent posts, so I finally took some time to listen carefully to the five final mixes.  I'm left with some observations.  Honestly, not meant as sour grapes, but more as a general query to Michael

1) if a band brought me these tracks and asked me to mix them, I could hardly expect to be taken seriously without tuning the horribly out of tune vocals, yet it appears that four of the five finalists didn't bother.  Maybe in todays music the out of tune vocal adds to the angst of a guy who has tried so hard, yet still feels like a failure, but personally, I don't get it.  So many really well done mixes submitted with tuned vocals that would be in my top five... just sayin'.  So apparently skipping the vocal tuning and moving straight to the special effects and decisions about arrangement carries more weight in this "mixing contest".  I think I understand some of the frustration now.

2) Michael seemed to pound home the importance of phase in many of his critiques, for which I'm thankful, because it made me try harder to get it right.  Yet when I listen to a couple of these mixes and switch back and forth from stereo to mono, I hear entire parts drop out.  Hmmmmmm.  Better keep them off of AM radio stations.  So is phase important or not?  This is a serious question.  Does everyone pay close attention to it when mixing or not?  Are there mix gurus who do not care about phase issues when mixing?  

3) Is the object of a mixing contest to master as well?  When I prepare a mix for the M.E. I leave headroom, and I lay off the limiting and 2 buss compression.  IMO the M.E. is better at it, has a better ear, and has more kick ass gear than I do.  Let him bring it up to production level.  So how do we compare mixes that have obviously been mastered with ones that have not?

4) Where did I leave my bottle of Jack?

Having posed these questions, which I think are fair, I would like to say that I am extremely grateful to you, Michael, for the incredible amount of time and effort you put into some seriously good critiques.  Worth it's weight in gold, for me personally.  I listened to most if not all mixes and read your feedback, and in most cases it was spot on good stuff.  Very well thought out.

I'm a completely self taught noob at mixing, and never had any delusions about winning this thing, and frankly that is not the point of the whole process.  I planned to buy your book from the beginning.  I wish we had more of these, because for me, it's the only way I can better at mixing drums, or the "wall of guitars" mix that can get so dense.

So now that it comes down to voting, I feel exactly like I do every four years in November as I go to cast my vote for president.  All my favorite candidates have already been eliminated by the press.

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April 22, 2011, 09:25:55 AM
It's no surprise to me that this shortlist doesn't match my own favourites at all. I knew after reading the first few critiques that Mike listened to the mixes in a very different way then me. And that's a good thing, because I wouldn't learn anything from someone who thinks exactly like me...

Now that the contest is almost over I want to say one thing though: I'm sure a better mixer would get a better result from these tracks. But I truly think that most could be gained by actually re-recording/re-producingediting it. 'Mixing' this felt more like 'fixing'. I'm not saying that to bash who-ever recorded it (I have no idea who that might be). Just want to say to the band that they could achieve much more in terms of end-result in future projects by putting more weight on those earlier stages. I hope this is taken as positive as it is intended!

I am surprised to see the mix with the vocals tuned to the wrong note in there though ;)

Thanks again Mike for your insights, John for the creating forum and Young Griffo for the tracks!




Lastrite,

Just so you know, I liked your mix best, sonically, from the get go. You definately challenged me to up my game. And for that I thank you, even if you didin't "make the list"..as though that matters at all when it's all said and done. Are you entirely ITB?



Thanks. And you're right, the learning in this was getting inside a professional's head and hear what he's hearing. It was an awesome experience! I'm entirely ITB yes.
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 22, 2011, 04:37:57 PM
I was curious about the direction of some of the recent posts, so I finally took some time to listen carefully to the five final mixes.  I'm left with some observations.  Honestly, not meant as sour grapes, but more as a general query to Michael

1) if a band brought me these tracks and asked me to mix them, I could hardly expect to be taken seriously without tuning the horribly out of tune vocals, yet it appears that four of the five finalists didn't bother.  Maybe in todays music the out of tune vocal adds to the angst of a guy who has tried so hard, yet still feels like a failure, but personally, I don't get it.  So many really well done mixes submitted with tuned vocals that would be in my top five... just sayin'.  So apparently skipping the vocal tuning and moving straight to the special effects and decisions about arrangement carries more weight in this "mixing contest".  I think I understand some of the frustration now.

2) Michael seemed to pound home the importance of phase in many of his critiques, for which I'm thankful, because it made me try harder to get it right.  Yet when I listen to a couple of these mixes and switch back and forth from stereo to mono, I hear entire parts drop out.  Hmmmmmm.  Better keep them off of AM radio stations.  So is phase important or not?  This is a serious question.  Does everyone pay close attention to it when mixing or not?  Are there mix gurus who do not care about phase issues when mixing? 



Guitar Zero, Mike, and the rest,

After listening to the top five, I had the exact same observations as Guitar Zero, which left me utterly confused. No disrespect to those who made the top five, but as a listener I was shocked to hear the vocals not tuned correctly in most of them. There are a lot of great aspects to every one of those mixes that are great, so hear me on that.

I am....confused, I don't know how else to say it, not because I am not in the top, but because of the things that were stressed as important to make this song radio ready. In the process of learning, my expectation is that the bar gets raised...vocals tuned, great use of effects, tall/deep/wide/, mono compatible, timing issues worked out etc...

From my perspective, the one thing that all these mixes have is BALANCE, in stereo especially. So if balance is number one on the importance scale, then this makes a lot more sense to me. If not, then I remain confused.

It makes it very easy for me to choose the winner out of the top five for the reasons listed above. I was hoping that it wouldn't be that easy.


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April 22, 2011, 05:35:20 PM
Just wanted to chime in on the subject of production versus strictly mixing...

I do a fair bit of recording, which I mix, and I get a lot of projects that have been recorded by musicians in their home studios. In both situations, I take on the role of 'producer' to some degree, suggesting ideas, giving my perspective on things, etc. I think that getting outside input on a project is one thing that home-recordists are missing, and it's one reason so many self-produced projects are kind of flat sounding, kind of one-dimensional. Sometimes a band vetoes my more experimental ideas, but I think it always opens their eyes a little to what is possible. So far, I haven't worked with too many bands that are aiming for commercial radio (mostly punk, indie, etc, though I'm sure they would love to have some mainstream success!) but I always try to get a result that their fans will connect with, that makes a bridge between the band and the fan with as little interference as possible.

I think Mike took on a Herculean task here, and deserves major thanks from all of us. Selecting the finalists from a field of entrants is always going to be controversial, of course. I think if the band chooses a favorite, we all have to accept that, since it's their music! But Mike's selections are important, as he has the perspective of a pro, and his choices reflect that.

We all have things to learn, and this contest has been a great opportunity to see that, not only on our own critiques, but on the aggregate critiques. The tracks themselves had some shortcomings, but nothing out of the ordinary, if my experience is typical. And trying to satisfy several judges is nothing unusual, even when working with just the band (no label, etc.) It's not uncommon to have one or two members loving the crazy edit, while the others nix it.

I hope to have some more contests in the near future, though I don't know that we'll get another judge with the dedication of Mike!


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April 22, 2011, 10:57:15 PM
Congrats to all that are still in it, I think this is a great idea right from the start and hope to see more of it.

I think Mike has been right on with alot of his comments, and has done a great job in offering constructive critism as well as solutions to the issues with some of the problems with the submissions. I think He should also be commended for taking his time and dedicating it to something like this, and the way that He was able to deal with us in a very professional manner, even though alot of us are just hobbiest or relitively unknown in the field. I'm usually not one for taking instruction or learning things from a book as I like to learn things by doing them myself, but Mike was so dead on with issues that He described in mixes and was able to describe them in such detail, that I just can't resist buying his book.

I also think that John Suitcase should be recongnized for his efforts with this site, and this contest. I think He is doing an incredible job.

One issue that has been bouncing around in the last few posts involves fixing the pitch of the vocals. Unless I was asked specifically to do so, I don't think that this is something that should be messed with. I think the track sounds good as it was recorded, if it breaks some rule of Music theory, then so be it - if it sounds good it's good. A very large percentage of the listening audience will never even notice if the pitch is off a bit. I think fixing issues like this is somewhat dishonest and makes things sound homoganized and sterile. I think a little dissonance can make things more interesting.

April 22, 2011, 11:37:18 PM

The way this contest is ending could be a learning lesson...perhaps it would of been better if the band just picked the winner and then maybe mention one or two mixes that came close...top 3 or something.



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April 22, 2011, 11:55:26 PM
Congrats to all that are still in it, I think this is a great idea right from the start and hope to see more of it.

I think Mike has been right on with alot of his comments, and has done a great job in offering constructive critism as well as solutions to the issues with some of the problems with the submissions. I think He should also be commended for taking his time and dedicating it to something like this, and the way that He was able to deal with us in a very professional manner, even though alot of us are just hobbiest or relitively unknown in the field. I'm usually not one for taking instruction or learning things from a book as I like to learn things by doing them myself, but Mike was so dead on with issues that He described in mixes and was able to describe them in such detail, that I just can't resist buying his book.

I also think that John Suitcase should be recongnized for his efforts with this site, and this contest. I think He is doing an incredible job.

One issue that has been bouncing around in the last few posts involves fixing the pitch of the vocals. Unless I was asked specifically to do so, I don't think that this is something that should be messed with. I think the track sounds good as it was recorded, if it breaks some rule of Music theory, then so be it - if it sounds good it's good. A very large percentage of the listening audience will never even notice if the pitch is off a bit. I think fixing issues like this is somewhat dishonest and makes things sound homoganized and sterile. I think a little dissonance can make things more interesting.
Good post, but I think your last paragraph is open to discussion.  I would say a fair number of people felt like the vocals didn't sound good as is, since a fair number of mixers did tune them, myself included.  Since the vocals are the centerpiece of pretty much any song, it needs to sound good.  Nothing dishonest about tuning vocals any more than re-amping a guitar take, adding reverb, or EQing the overheads.  Mixing is about making the tracks presented sound as good as possible, vocal or instrumental.

I was actually a little un-inhibited when I made my last post, and I was about to remove it today, but noticed that my +karma went from 2 to 5 within a few hours, so I figured maybe it resonated with some people.  Good topic for further discussion.

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April 23, 2011, 01:48:55 AM
The use of pitchcorrection on vocals is debatable of course. However, using pitchcorrecting software to tune vocals to the wrong note is simply an error. That was what I was talking about personally, I was surprised to see that such an error was not seen as critical :)

The shortlist is perfectly fine with me. It shows me that I'm (still) undervaluing certain parts of my mixing techniques that others weigh heavier in their opinion, so it's a great lesson as far as I'm concerned!
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 23, 2011, 11:13:56 AM
The way I heard these guys they were halfway to punk anyway. To me it seemed disrespectful to take their performance and tune it/time align it. I did however feel that the arrangement was hugely lacking. No multi tracked guitars, nothing to build the sense of epicness that I sensed the guys wanting. And that lead part in the chorus robbed the song of the opportunity for a really strong hook. Plus some of the ideas clashed. The clean rhythm part in the chorus distracted from the bass, it would've been better just to layer some chords in and leave the bass it's own rhythmic space.

I guess in my experience people either come to me to produce or they come to me for a mix, but I don't really have much experience trying to do heavy production/arrangement work AFTER the song has been recorded. Chopping out a few bars is one thing, rewriting a song in the mix is another. In fact the last time that came up, I said to the artist "I think you should retrack some stuff" and took them into the studio.