News:

Please begin sharing multitrack files as FLAC files. Read more here!

 

Author Topic: Too much bad sounding stuff out there - a root cause?  (Read 9910 times)

  • No avatar
  • **
September 17, 2011, 02:19:24 AM
Interesting! IMO there are at least three seperate issues: 1. Quality of recording equipment and tracking skills, 2. Technical mixing and 3. Getting a certain "sound". They're all somewhat related, too.

Nr.1: The multitrack. Put a vocalist in a good sounding room in front of a well-maintained U47 and a Neve preamp through an LA2A with a little GR into a quality converter and you'll get a signal that works great and requires little tweaking, but will take lot's of it no problem, too. Similar signal chains and environments are being used and have been used for recordings for many decades, but it's not what in today's reality is availible to most. You simply need a lot less of 2. and will have much less trouble going for 3. this way, too.

Nr. 2: The technical aspect. It's what you're aiming at mostly, I think. Most people have less than ideal monitoring, an untreated room with budget monitoring fed by budget converters make it almost impossible to achieve balance and even hear the details necessary.

Nr.3: The "sound". This is where the high end gear helps again, to create excitement, texture, punch, debt and whatnot. The mojo, vibe etc. It's also the mixing engineer doing part of the producer's job by creatively using all the tools at hand. So it's inspiration, creativity on the one hand and the right tools on the other. What is technically right might not be the best choice after all. Walking the thin line between "wrong" and what is "inspired" is especially challenging, and knowing how to get the sound you want can be very difficult, too, and requires much, much experience. And, again the raw material must allow for this and often expensive gear is required to pull something off convincingly.


So in the case of the mix contest we're dealing with far from great sounding raw tracks, very probably lot's of non-pro's with little experience in less than ideal mixing situations and without mojo gear. It shouldn't surprise anyone that we didn't end up with a ton of jaw-dropping sounding mixes, and that in fact most of the focus was on getting creative with what was availible to each mixer. E.g., it might be impossible to get the low end right, but clever automation of delay lines and making up extra harmonies is availible to anyone now. If you look at current pop music that's exactly where it all went, using the DAWs endless possibilities for gimmicks to gloss over all the shortfalls of modern low budget recording, and semi-pro composition, production, mixing. All the way to the best-selling artists. I've got the tracklist for a recent Pink song: Ten different kick drums, 20 snare, hihat, cymbal, tambourine and shaker tracks, around 20 each for guitar and vocals, and lot's for FX, synths, bass and other things. And detailed instructions for a myriad of sidechain compressors, automation, FX, all done within the DAW.

  • No avatar
  • ****
September 17, 2011, 02:35:26 AM
living sounds I agree with you - excellent points.  Some, while true, are disappointing comments on the current state of affairs. 

JohnSuitcase I understand that approach. Makes sense.  It's all in the chosen direction or genre. Curious if you recalibrate based on the way i went would it modify any of your opinions?
Equipment-Trends Micro amp w/ Paradigm Export speakers ports covered.  Use Fx EQ for  studio room issue fix.  Also use Klipsch S4 & Sennheiser HD-280 phones - home stereo= AMC 3030 tube amp, Triangle Celius 202 speakers & Behringer para EQ for room nodes-laptop=HP 8430 w/Digigram VXPocket & Reaper

September 17, 2011, 02:59:58 AM
:D

All I can say is that you defend yourself with too many facts assembled together hastily, that it would take me too long to try to undo your post.

Simply stated, let's just agree to disagree.

With all due respect you are dodging and making a strawman saying it it too complex and hasty (which I think are counter intuitive - and facts are facts  - the time they were conceived bears no effect on the degree to which they are facts or true)

On some things there are no opinions. On subjective matters people can disagree but on objective matters where there  is consensus by a preponderance of reasonable or trained individuals there is no allowance for objective disagreement. 

Let me give you a easy example.  (And i am pressing this point because i think your response is a large reason the problem exists). if I record you talking with a widely accepted quality voice microphone and then play it back to you over just a 12' woofer or just a tweeter the sound would objectively inferior to the playback of the voice of a widely accepted speaker that plays that freq range flat or close to flat.  Now my example is a bit exaggerated but not that much if you listen to some very poor recordings.  Another example. Record an acoustic bass in a treated room and in a non-treated square bedroom - all hard surfaces.  Ask someone to identify which one sounds more real. Most people even those who never heard one live will realize the one in the bedroom is so far off it can't be real, right or "good".

The subjectivity you refer to does come in to play in that wide range of good or what real might be after you get beyond what is obviously abhorrent or flawed. Like using different mics etc. Or in cases where one purposefully alters the original or good sound for effect etc.

Dude,

Let's agree to disagree. I've had too many of these "discussions" with non engineer "audiophile" types like yourself. And it never ends well.
You have your concept of what is "Good", which you presented in your earlier posts. I do not agree with your position.
The issue you have is that you are insistent that you are "right" where there is no "right" nor "wrong" even in your supposed "objective" examples.

If I sat here and told you what I consider a "Good" audio recording, a "Good" mix, and a "Good" playback system, we'd be here for months. And we'd still be nowhere near being in agreement.

I'd rather have a coffee, and play with Legos with my son.

Ok dude?

Have a great weekend...

  • *****
September 17, 2011, 03:14:14 AM
living sounds I agree with you - excellent points.  Some, while true, are disappointing comments on the current state of affairs. 

JohnSuitcase I understand that approach. Makes sense.  It's all in the chosen direction or genre. Curious if you recalibrate based on the way i went would it modify any of your opinions?

Not sure I know what you mean by 'recalibrate'? If you're asking if I could mix it as a pop/rock recording, I suppose I could, but I find it hard to re-imagine a track once I have it in my head. I did a project back in the 90's for a band, and I did it with the understanding that it would be an AmRep type noise-core thing. Then the record label came back and wanted it to be more or a 'death metal' kinda thing. We remixed it, and the band and label were happy, but I could never really let go of the vision I'd had, and I still think it would've been better the way we originally had it.  So I'm not sure..

  • No avatar
  • ****
September 17, 2011, 02:11:06 PM
living sounds I agree with you - excellent points.  Some, while true, are disappointing comments on the current state of affairs. 

JohnSuitcase I understand that approach. Makes sense.  It's all in the chosen direction or genre. Curious if you recalibrate based on the way i went would it modify any of your opinions?

Not sure I know what you mean by 'recalibrate'? If you're asking if I could mix it as a pop/rock recording, I suppose I could, but I find it hard to re-imagine a track once I have it in my head. I did a project back in the 90's for a band, and I did it with the understanding that it would be an AmRep type noise-core thing. Then the record label came back and wanted it to be more or a 'death metal' kinda thing. We remixed it, and the band and label were happy, but I could never really let go of the vision I'd had, and I still think it would've been better the way we originally had it.  So I'm not sure..

Sorry I meant if you thought about the approach/genre being the one I suggested would your comments of my mix be different in any way? If your expectations were different would you think differently about any of them? For example when I listened to the contest entrants I purposefully had not listened to the bands version yet. I was trying be unbiased - at least as much as possible given I have biases - and let the  entrants mix set my expectations.  At that point I try to decide if it is consistent to itself.  I made the comment about the tonality issue because regardless of style or genre (short of a massive whole song alteration for far reaching artistic purposes) I thought they didn't sound good against the own bar they were trying to set. As an example I don't prefer the bands mix but to itself it's very good.  Had for example they not applied a ton of FX to the kick drum and raised it up big time that mix would have been out of place with itself. Or had the entrants mix the song to sound like it was coming out of a big pipe then the tonality issues would not have been relevant and lopping off the highs and lows would work.
Equipment-Trends Micro amp w/ Paradigm Export speakers ports covered.  Use Fx EQ for  studio room issue fix.  Also use Klipsch S4 & Sennheiser HD-280 phones - home stereo= AMC 3030 tube amp, Triangle Celius 202 speakers & Behringer para EQ for room nodes-laptop=HP 8430 w/Digigram VXPocket & Reaper

  • *****
September 17, 2011, 02:51:27 PM
Hmmm. If I'd not heard any of the other mixes, would I have been more open to your approach to this song?

I don't think so. The song itself conveys the idea and suggests a sound to me. Of course, it's hard to go back and pretend not to know something we know.

Sometimes a genre mixmatch can work. If you think about Nirvana's 'Nevermind' it's kind of an example of that. Previously, bands doing that style of song, including Nirvana, had been producing rough, edgy, sort of lo-fi recordings. The genre was about indie labels, small studios, not caring about things being perfect, etc. But when Butch Vig got great tracks and performances, and Andy Wallace put a finished polish on the mixes, it became something that mainstream listeners could understand and enjoy. People who were really into the punk/indie aesthetic generally dismissed Nevermind as being overproduced, etc. So, the mix did sort of turn off people inside that genre's fanbase, but it also allowed the mix to convert tons and tons of people who would have just turned it off if it sounded like another Mudhoney album. That includes radio folks, and MTV.

I think your mix just lacks emotional power. It could be much more polished and still not connect for me. Not to say that it's impossible to mix it for the genre you mention, just that if you do, I think you need to rework the drums and guitars, and probably add some keyboard pads, rhythmic loops, or other ear-candy to reach a pop/rock kinda polish. It might work, who knows?

  • No avatar
  • ****
September 17, 2011, 03:05:08 PM
You could be right. I am pushing back because I want it to be good on it's own not changed. I went for more of a live we like the way most of this base recording sound kind of thing as opposed to a wholesale change.  I listened to the ambiance and think i double up?  I use an FX called Up Stereo then i play with reverb and delay.  I think the Up Stereo tool widens and adds some of those to increase ambiance and I am doubling up?  Anyway thanks for the comments. They are greatly appreciated.

(And please do not take my push back as being argumentative for the sake of arguing or my not thinking there is room for improvement.  I am passionate about these things and have to understand these things as opposed to just accept at face value.  I have to get it even if i don't agree with it. I am just trying to understand it all in the context of the feel I was going for vs what it could have all been. Both can be right I just want to do each well and as such need to make sure the comments really do fit each as opposed to trying to morph one way or the other. For example i do not prefer the original version but once accepted as what it is you can hear they did a great job.  If I didn't accept that my comments would be to change this and that and those changes would wind up changing the whole direction or approach of the song)
Equipment-Trends Micro amp w/ Paradigm Export speakers ports covered.  Use Fx EQ for  studio room issue fix.  Also use Klipsch S4 & Sennheiser HD-280 phones - home stereo= AMC 3030 tube amp, Triangle Celius 202 speakers & Behringer para EQ for room nodes-laptop=HP 8430 w/Digigram VXPocket & Reaper

  • No avatar
  • **
October 20, 2011, 12:19:53 AM
Well, I think most of us here, are here to learn how the be a better mixer. I´m a musician(bass) that also teach a lot. The point you´re making, is the same as if I would ask my students "It doesn´t sound that good when you play. Haven´t you heard a good bass player?". That kills the fun of it, I would believe.

The mixes I post here, are not what I consider done in anyway. Some songs are so badly recorded so it takes a long time to make them sound decent and I really don´t have them time, nor the skills to achive audiophile quality. But I learn a ton of trying different plugins in different ways, like expanders, gates, transient designers, de-essers etc, when solving problems. It took me many hours of trying to minimize hihat bleed on a snare track with different unsuccesful techniques, before I tried a expander. Next time I encounter this problem, it will take me no time at all to solve.

Everytime I do a mix here and post it, I here things that I would´t here if I just mix it and then forgot about it. When the mix is posted here, I almost imedialty here things that I should change, or should think about next time I mix. I would believe that this is the same for other guys around here. Some guys are maybe just starting out, other people are doing it or fun and some guys sucks and never going to be good in mixing, but hey, it´s just music. Let everyone do what they do at their level and try to help each other out with constructive critisism instead of just saying we all sucks and should get a treated room and audiophile speakers before we post anything here.

  • **
December 04, 2011, 12:14:21 AM
To the O.P. I posted an entery into the compitetion and...

I defend my right to be a novice engineer, AND I defend my right to submit crappy works in this competition forum for listening and no doubt casual judgement by the masses. I didn't win, so I dont get your issue (I actually do, but I dont get the corrilation between what you would consider commercially viable, and the enteries in the compition? Apples and Oranges!). You are of course entitled to your opinion however that doesn't mean you should always excersise that right vocaly.

I learnt a lot from the feedback given to me by Mike which is invaluble, unlike this thread that provides no real benifit to me. If your looking for an avenue to vent, try the Avid forum!



Cubase V5 with Yamaha N12

  • No avatar
  • ****
December 04, 2011, 12:55:13 AM
To the O.P. I posted an entery into the compitetion and...

I defend my right to be a novice engineer, AND I defend my right to submit crappy works in this competition forum for listening and no doubt casual judgement by the masses. I didn't win, so I dont get your issue (I actually do, but I dont get the corrilation between what you would consider commercially viable, and the enteries in the compition? Apples and Oranges!). You are of course entitled to your opinion however that doesn't mean you should always excersise that right vocaly.

I learnt a lot from the feedback given to me by Mike which is invaluble, unlike this thread that provides no real benifit to me. If your looking for an avenue to vent, try the Avid forum!


You are 110% correct.  My comment was only focused on those mixes I thought people thought were prime time enough to win the contest. And I lumped that in with my feeling on the state of popular music and it's sound degradation overall.

Of course people have to start off somewhere. I myself learned a whole bunch this week on some of my mixes.  I have no desire or interest in stifling anyone wanting to learn or participate. (I don't remember many stating they didn't think or know if their mix was ready for prime time and wanting opinions only to learn).

If my assumption of intent was incorrect in most of the cases then I was wrong.
Equipment-Trends Micro amp w/ Paradigm Export speakers ports covered.  Use Fx EQ for  studio room issue fix.  Also use Klipsch S4 & Sennheiser HD-280 phones - home stereo= AMC 3030 tube amp, Triangle Celius 202 speakers & Behringer para EQ for room nodes-laptop=HP 8430 w/Digigram VXPocket & Reaper