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Messages - mrtuesday

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1
Congrats to you Martin (damn you Olsson! ;D)
oh well - can't complain about silver!

I put pretty much every idea I had into this mix - partially as the brief invited us to do whatever we wanted & also due to Mike's repeated comments in his critiques urging us to make it interesting & make it build to a big last chorus pay off.
I would never have expected the band to necessarily go with all my ideas - more a "throw everything in & see what you like" theory.
It seems however that I may have alienated the band a bit too much with all my changes & additions:
Perhaps I should have held a few things back & made sure I was still creating a "band friendly" mix - a lesson for me perhaps?

There has certainly been many useful lessons, thoughts & tips come up here that I'm already trying to work into my mixing techniques.
Now if only I had Mike to critique every mix I did - +1 for a paid Mike Senior critique service.
Till then I'll just have to imagine his voice in my head -
"make it blend, check mono, automate, dynamics!, more automation"

Cheers
Malcolm

ps, YG - if you ever need some mixing done & Martin isn't available just give me a call  ;)

2
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

woops - it does look a bit like that doesn't it...
I hadn't actually listened to your mix (honestly) but obviously we had (almost exactly) the same idea about what that moment in the song needed!

MatG - great response & explanation to the mixing/fixing debate that's developed here.
Personally I've found the recent arguments a bit strange & have been tossing up whether to chime in or not.
I don't want to re-ignite things too much so I'll just make a couple of points:

a) if the song had been recorded perfectly, everything spot on timing & tuning, amazing sounding drums, awesome arrangement etc - it wouldn't have worked nearly as well for a mixing competition. Surely part of the idea was to see what people would do with less than perfect tracks?

b) in the brief for this competition it stated "you're completely free to use any means you wish to create your mix. So if you want to remove tracks, edit things around, do replacements/overdubs, or anything else, that's fine -- whatever it takes to deliver the most exciting mix you can and blow the band's socks off!". The band has said it's open to any and all ideas. If you don't like the ideas other mixes had or didn't want to add any yourself fine. But to say you shouldn't have to add/change anything when the brief clearly says you can seems a bit pointless.

c) on the mixing/fixing thing - I've never (yet) been in a position where there's a separate recording engineer, producer & mixer each with their own clearly defined roles. In my (limited) experience lines have always been blurred. As a mixer I can't help but get invested in the material & if I hear things that need fixing, or added, or chopped I would always suggest or try them. Obviously the client has the final say but I think in general people are open to ideas in the studio at any stage in the process - the whole fresh ears thing. Plus some ideas (or "gimmicks" as some have called them) could only happen at the mixing stage (no one's going to think of a reverse reverb re-entry in the rehearsal room for instance). I guess I'm just saying - if it sounds good it sound good, regardless of whose & when the idea came up.

Finally big thanks again to Mike - I don't think I can imagine what listening to & critiquing 70 mixes of the same song would be like! I think I listened to about 10 (plus Mike's "final five").
Plus thanks to the band - very generous & I think in the end quite brave to let everyone muck about with their song (I don't think I'd like 70 people commenting on my vocal performance & pitching!)

ok - i'm done

Cheers
Malcolm

3

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

4
Quote from: mrtuesday on Today at 01:44:03 AM
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/24660599/blood_to_bone_MIX_040411.mp3


What a drop! I just wish I hadn't been taking a sip of my tea at the end of mid-section 2. It wasn't pretty. 


Quote
Thanks again for all your time & effort.


My pleasure. More than worth it for a drop like that. I had to listen to it again three times straight away. That's a serious stunt you've pulled there. Love it!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
brilliant mix i'm loving some of the effects added! how did you manage to create that drop effect by the way it sounds really slick! :-)

I copied a bigger drum "hit" from another section of the song & applied a short "tape stop" effect to make it sound like it's being sort of "sucked in".
Then added some reverse reverb (that i eq'd heavily) & aligned to match when everything comes back in (so it feels like everything jumps out again).
Plus lots of edits & automation of tracks & sends etc.

Wasn't sure how it would translate from my head to reality but pretty happy with how it came out.

Mike - hope the tea wasn't too hot  :)
you said it needed something to highlight the last chorus.

Cheers
Malcolm

5
Mike -
Here's my revised mix:
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/24660599/blood_to_bone_MIX_040411.mp3

Thanks again for all your time & effort.

Cheers
Malcolm

6
Thanks for the very kind words Mike (and the many many suggestions for improvement :) )

After repeated listens I'd already planned the following:
* Guitar Left bring up a bit, Guitar R bring down a bit.
* Automate Guitars (hadn't really gotten to that yet) & tweek eqs for different sections).
* Tweek the delay on lead vocal.
* Backing Vox: bring down a bit plus thin out & compress more. btw effect is not a reverb but more like a 20x doubler - I was trying to make it sound like more voices.
* "super-wide guitar chops" were meant to stick out - I was actually planning on make them stick out more but have less of them. This idea came from some "chunks" that were on one of the guitar tracks in another section (that I didn't actually use).
* Had a couple of thoughts about the final chorus but didn't think it was working too badly as it is.
* Mono-compatibility issues - I had the "width" function engaged (subtly) on my Neve 8816 - would that account for top end loss in mono? No "vitalizer" type plugins used - just compression (plus parallel compression) & eq.

One thing I wasn't sure about was the bass in the intro / 1st verse - but this is the one thing you didn't mention?
Must be ok then!  :-\

Thanks again Mike - I'll try & get a revised mix in before the deadline.

Cheers
Malcolm

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/24660599/blood_to_bone%2024%2048%20MIX_290311.mp3

Right -- attention everyone! This contest has just moved up a gear!

(Step forward and take a bow mrtuesday. :))

Seriously, this is now the 20th version of this mix I've listened to, but it's the first one that's had me bopping around my living room. The drums sound full and cohesive; the vocal tuning is much tighter; the guitar textures have been subtly filled out with additional overdubs without overshadowing the band's own musical lines; the low end is both powerful and controlled, without muddiness; the clarity of all the individual parts is excellent; the small-speaker translation is splendid; the overall tonality and stereo spread are on the whole very well-judged; it sounds like there has already been a good deal of automation work to keep a close handle on the balance as the texture changes; and there are a dozen little production touches besides which keep tickling your ear to stop you zoning out. There's so much I like here that I'll be more concise if I concentrate my critique on the few remaining niggles, but make no mistake: for my money, this is currently the mix to beat.

So what could still be improved? Well, the first thing I'd suggest would be to have a closer look at the timing. I wonder whether you've already done some timing tweaks, because it feels like it skips along better than most of the other mixes, but it's possible that this is an illusion created by the balance itself. Whatever the case, there are still numerous points in this mix where the timing stumbles subtly, reducing the forward momentum of the track -- probably most starkly the two verses, but there are moments in the mid-sections and outro as well which I'd think of attending to if I were in your position. It's particularly the timing relationship between the drums and the massed bass/guitars rhythm that's my concern. There's also the odd section of tuning in the choruses that I might revisit if the vocal's going to be that high in the balance.

While I like the drums a lot, the tom fills feel thin-sounding and are rather low in the balance for my liking. I'd also be tempted to push the snare up another decibel at least. That might seem initially to imbalance the snare against the kick, but the moment you try to increase the loudness of this mix the snare transient that's currently slicing cleanly through the texture will lose some of that edge it's relying on. The snare might also benefit from some more high end just during the choruses, but I'm not sure. We're getting into 'suck it and see' territory here. And maybe you could have a slightly larger 'virtual drum room'? It's not wrong as it is, exactly, but it just feels a little like I'm sitting and watching a great live drummer in my living room, rather than in a live venue. Who knows, you might be able to achieve the effect simply by delaying the room mic a bit.

There's little to fault the guitar sounds, as far as I'm concerned, with the exception of one balance issue: the main high riff in the choruses feels a bit understated, where it's actually something of a hook. This is particularly apparent in mono, because that part is panned well to the left and therefore loses roughly 3dB in the balance against the vocals. I'd also like to hear a bit more riding of the melodic details of the chorus guitar parts, particularly where they plug the gaps in the vocal phrases.

The lead vocals sound great to me in the verses: tall and wide, with nice throaty things going on. However, in the choruses they're not quite as successful. For a start, I think they're a bit high in the balance, and you could make more of the effects and doubletrack in terms of matching the vocals to the more expansive chorus backing. At the moment, the vocal feels a little stranded out the front, and is undermining the otherwise excellent illusion of size generated by the rest of the arrangement. While I like the general direction that's been taken with the backing vocals, they're competing with the vocal in the midrange in a way that I'm not sure is ideal. I'd be tempted to give them less 2-3kHz and a bit more 'air'. Their reverb effect is a bit stodgy too, from a tonal perspective. You don't have much space in the mix for these backing vocals, so they have to be carefully carved to fit. You could bring them up higher in the outro too, I think, or even make a new SFX feature of some kind out of them.

I'd like to hear even more automation riding, pulling up melodic corners and fills in the backing parts, and really taking the initiative in directing the listener's attention towards the most interesting elements of the music from moment to moment. The lead vocals still aren't quite as stable as I'd like, either, and automation could help there too -- although you'll probably only be able to improve significantly on what's already there if you spend quality time with a single-point mono monitoring system. Automation might also provide some help with the first verse, which doesn't seem quite to sustain the intensity between the vocal phrases, now that the guitar has been ditched in aid of the long-term dynamics. (If rides don't go far enough, then other sampled effects might be introduced, or else some kind of interesting 'spot modulation' of the existing ones.)

And speaking of long-term dynamics, there's still more that could be done to provide that crucial final-chorus-entry pay-off. Given that this mix has already pushed the supplied multitrack material about as far as it can go, it seems pretty clear to me that people are really going to have to think outside the box to make significant further headway on this issue. It's probably the biggest single challenge of this job.

Although the stereo picture isn't too wide, by any means, there are still some mono-compatibility issues, in that I'm losing quite a bit of top end off the guitars and cymbals in mono. I wonder if a Vitalizer-style buss process might have been applied to the high end, in fact, which would help account for it. If it's not that, then maybe a little additional phase-alignment between the two sides of any stereo signals in the mix might improve matters. As a smaller point, the super-wide guitar chops in mid-section 2 feel a bit too far off-centre, so that they seem to stick out unduly. You could say that this is a nice bit of variety (as they're not essential to the texture), but I'm not sure I quite buy it in practice.

The overall mix tonality is within a gnat's whisker of the Thrice track, and generally very suitable for the style. Personally I might cut a decibel or so around 250Hz to combat a hint of tubbiness, and also maybe boost a decibel at 1.5kHz to slightly harden the overall tone. That said, mid-section 1 is already sounding just a hint harsh/hollow at the moment, so a bit of EQ tweaking or rearrangement may be required for that section independently of this.

There's a new line in the sand... :)

7
Hi Mike - here's my take on it.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/24660599/blood_to_bone%2024%2048%20MIX_290311.mp3

Many thanks for the time & thought you're putting in to this for all of us.

Cheers
Malcolm

8
Just tried to unzip the folder which downloaded overnight, got an error saying 'not a valid download file'...???
I'll go back to the link and try again I guess...

me too - stopped just short of complete?
did it work the 2nd time for you?

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