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Author Topic: Mixoff Contest with Mike Senior - Win Mike's New Book!  (Read 123259 times)

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March 28, 2011, 05:20:11 AM
Hey all,

Here's is yet another mix.

http://soundcloud.com/user6197371/bloodtobone3

Major props to all involved in the contest!  

It's great to hear all the these mixes.  Facinating really.  I learn something everytime I listen to one and then I learn something again when I read the critique!  Thanks again.

Kman
« Last Edit: March 28, 2011, 05:40:24 AM by Kman »

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March 28, 2011, 07:29:32 AM
I think it would be interesting after the competition is over to have a discussion on mixing this track?

I'm sure there'll be no shortage of discussion even before the competition is over! ;D However, my current plan is to post a general summing up once I've finished off all the critiques, recapping the main issues and highlighting anything that's typically being neglected by most people. Once the competition is complete, I'm also planning to create a page on my site, hosting as many of the mixes as people are happy for me to host, and including links to each track's critique post on this forum. Detailed critiques of multiple different versions of the same mix aren't exactly thick on the ground, so I'm hoping we can create a unique resource for mixing students -- good for ear training if nothing else. (It's certainly keeping me on my toes! ::))
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March 28, 2011, 06:31:15 PM
Once the competition is complete, I'm also planning to create a page on my site, hosting as many of the mixes as people are happy for me to host, and including links to each track's critique post on this forum. Detailed critiques of multiple different versions of the same mix aren't exactly thick on the ground, so I'm hoping we can create a unique resource for mixing students -- good for ear training if nothing else. (It's certainly keeping me on my toes! ::))

Good idea, as you say there are lots of differeing mix's of the same referance track, each with a critique that is specific, and of real value. That potentially gives people an opertunity to read, hear and tangabilly  understand myriad aspects of the art of mixing. This would be of huge benifit to students trying to develop a good ear.
Cubase V5 with Yamaha N12

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March 28, 2011, 08:51:33 PM
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/324577/Young%20Griffo.mp3

The biggest thing that this mix lacks for me is clarity. There's a lot of masking going on between the parts, and also a measure of low-midrange frequency build-up which is muddying the mix tone as a whole. This makes me suspicious that you're not giving enough consideration to this aspect of EQ. Assuming a decent recording, most mix EQ is actually about balance, not about tone -- you can't have a mix where everything sounds as fantastic as everything else, because you'll just crowd yourself out. Particularly in the choruses, you've got the bass, guitars, vocals, snare, and toms all competing for space around 300Hz or so, and there can't really be five winners in a battle like that! Pull things apart a bit, and look for areas of character in each instrument that don't overlap as much, and I think the veil will begin to lift a bit. To take another example: does the opening bass sound really need all that high end? I can understand giving it some midrange to cut through on small speakers, but there's a lot of hiss in there too which is doing nothing useful -- on the contrary, it will probably be masking things like vocal details. Low-pass filter that out, I'd say.

In terms of the subjective nature of individual sounds, there's little to criticise. I like the nice delay patch on the guitar at the start -- a little bit of a stereo 'bump' in there to tickle the ear! The kit blends rather nicely with itself, and also with the rest of the arrangement -- a highlight of your mix version for me, and very similar to how I would probably do it myself. The longer reverb/delay patches are also well-managed for the most part, although I think I'd like a bit more reverb width surrounding the instruments, especially when the chorus kicks off. In fact, the stereo field in general feels underused, and the one place where you widen it out using the guitar overdubs is in the middle sections, undermining the 'size' impact of the significantly narrower final choruses.

The bass feels a bit underpowered in the low end, and although I can understand the thinking behind that given that the low-midrange is already so packed with contributition from other parts, I'd try to give the bass more room in the mix so that you can bring its low end further forward. The kick is great -- just enough bite to cut through the merrier sections, but not too slappy for the verse. Very well judged that. The snare is a little bit of sticking point, although it has some nice midrange weight to it, because of the high-frequency density/sustain issues most people have already come up against.

I think there's some stray vocal lip noise in the re-intro before the second verse, and the lip-noise is perhaps a little pronounced for my liking overall. Automation or editing is often the only way to deal with this, I'm afraid.

Beyond the issues I've already mentioned with masking/muddiness, the overall tonality of this mix also feels a little stifled in the air department, so a couple of decibles lift of the upper octave wouldn't be a bad bet, especially if you can fill out the low end of the bass guitar to balance that, expanding the reach of the mix's spectrum.

Thanks for that submission -- the blend is particularly impressive, and is worth having a listen to for anyone still thinking of entering/updating your own mix.
Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio
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March 28, 2011, 09:30:22 PM
Here's my MIX

Hah! I wondered how long it would take for someone to have a go a drying up the lead vocal as a drop into the chorus, and here it is at last! This dodge came to mind almost as soon as I heard the song, and I'd certainly have given something like that a go myself. (Ah... It's like an old friend... :)) The difficulty pulling it off in this particular song, though, is the funny snare upbeat that starts the chorus -- which also caused problems for the reverse transition effect in a.r's mix previously. Exactly how and when you turn off the effects, and how the decay tails of the different instruments interact with that can make a huge difference to how well it works. In this case I'd experiment with editing down the tails of the bass and guitar sustains under that last vocal word. Shortening one of both of them would be my first experiment, I think, although I might alternatively choose to extend them more into the chorus itself.

There are several other great little effects spins here. Good thinking with the feedback repeats midway through the chorus -- there's a little lull in the melodic interest at that point in the proceedings which you're filling beautifully. You could make it even better by fading it down when the guitar moves up for its little fill, and then fading up the fill a bit too. It's this kind of 'listener direction' with automation that can really breath life into a mix.

The snare is a definite talking-point in this mix too, because it seems to me to represent one of the better attempts to give the instrument that extra high-frequency sustain I'm hearing in my head. However, like karumba's barn-storming show-opener on this thread, a little more low mid-range feels necessary in this particular mix for me, so that the snare doesn't have to be as loud in the upper frequencies as this. Despite the advantages of the snare sound, though, the overall kit feels a bit skeletal and lacking in body. This is partly that there doesn't seem to be much buss compression going on (either on the drum buss or the whole mix) -- this is definitely a style in which I'd expect to hear a fair amount of compression, because if it's handled correctly it can lend a sense of urgency and thickness to the sound. If you're worried about dulling the drum attack, by all means use parallel compression, but I for one have an almost unconscious expectation that the cymbal tails will have a certain touch of wobble -- if not straight-out suck-and-breath pumping! I think you're trying to compensate for this at the moment by using a little too much longer reverb, which only really distances the drums, and also makes them feel less 'authentic' somehow. Blend isn't bad though, with the exception of the snare, which feels a touch too upfront and disconnected during the verses.

You've kept a tight rein on the low midrange of the vocals, and while that does aid the clarity of the mix as a whole, I think you might have gone a bit too far with it, especially during the choruses, where the singer just feels a bit like he's pushing too hard too early. I'd save that character for the choruses, where it's most needed, otherwise you'll always find it tricky to make the choruses seem harder-edged. Some good corrective tuning work on the vocal too, although it sounds to me as if the doubletrack might still need to be tightened a little more in this respect. (I'm surprised how few people have attended to the tuning: it looks like fHumble fHingaz and Lastrite are the only others so far who've had a proper stab at it. The choruses are never going to blend properly in this production unless they're in tune.)

There are two main points where the long-term dynamics need particular attention, the first of which is our old friend the start of the final choruses, of course, for reasons I've gone into before. The other is the beginning of the outro, and this could be because you've chosen really quite a high level for the lead vocal in the balance -- higher that I'd probably go for. The moment the lead vocal goes, your track loses quite a bit chunk of level and performance energy. The backing vocals are quite well-judged in relation to the lead, though, and feel nicely nailed into place, but somehow their tone seems a bit too upfront for me. Maybe they just need more blending effects, in addition to their added sustain tail. Hearing you ride those BVs up during the outro confirms me in my opinion that this is a good tactic for making sense of that section, and I'd almost certainly follow a similar approach myself. I'd probably also make more of the guitar solo, though, too, as the potential of that seems a little wasted at the moment.

Lots of good ideas there, everyone, and plenty we've not heard before either. Just goes to show that mixing's never obvious!
Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio
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March 28, 2011, 09:32:37 PM
http://soundcloud.com/vvv-4/blood-to-the-bone-vvv-mix

Eek. Just realised I've skipped your mix by mistake. Never fear, though -- I'll put it to the top of the list tomorrow. Sorry! :-[
Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio
A complete mixing method based around the techniques of the world's most famous producers.
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March 28, 2011, 09:36:44 PM
http://soundcloud.com/fishmed/blood-to-bone-mix-contest

An unusual choice of delay spin on the verse vocal, simply because its un-sync'ed nature risks undermining the rhythm. But on balance I think that you've pulled it off -- always good to hear someone living a bit dangerously and getting away with it!

I'm not convinced by the specific reverb you've chosen for the toms in particular. It sounds a little too close to the 80s for most bands these days, and given that I don't think Young Griffo are casting any knowing glances back to that era I'd rethink that particular effect. If you need more blend, then try a more subtle and frequency-tailored ambience. If you want more 'boosh', then maybe try lifting the overheads or compressed room with automation -- or simply compress things harder!

The 100-200Hz region feels a bit overcooked, particularly on the bass and toms. Maybe pull those back a bit and allow some more of the guitar low end through. The guitars seem too wiry at the moment, even though that does keep the overall mix fairly clear in the midrange. This becomes a particular issue during the middle-sections, of course, where my eardrums are getting lightly sand-papered currently! If you can give the bass more character above the 100-200Hz range, that would probably help you, as well as bringing the roots of the chords out more clearly on small speakers. The 2-5kHz region also seems to be emphasised a little too much, which is making the middle sections feel rather hollowed out and buzzy.

There's a lot of good stuff in the drums department here, with some efforts clearly being taken to bring out that snare in the high frequencies. While this does have some success, I think that drum still needs some real midrange power too, so that it can push against a buss compressor and surreptitiously ride the whole mix. I particularly like the way the cymbals and room are coming across -- the whispery sustain of the ride and hat in particular. Another very well-judged kick-drum too, which fits both the verse and the chorus quite well to my ears.

As in Mattski's mix, the vocals feel as if they've been pulled too high in the mix, and it's unsettling the overall balance as well as the long-term dynamics. As I've mentioned once before, I reckon that you'd gain a lot from listening to your mix balance without the drums (and maybe the bass too) to get a really good handle on the internal balance with fewer distractions. It's amazing how effective this dodge is. (Besides, if it's good enough for Geoff Emerick and Alan Parsons, then it's good enough for me!)
Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio
A complete mixing method based around the techniques of the world's most famous producers.
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March 28, 2011, 09:41:36 PM
http://soundcloud.com/vvv-4/blood-to-the-bone-vvv-mix

Eek. Just realised I've skipped your mix by mistake. Never fear, though -- I'll put it to the top of the list tomorrow. Sorry! :-[
And mine too...

LOL...

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March 28, 2011, 09:41:49 PM
http://theaudiocave.com/mixes/Blood2.mp3

Another very different interpretation here -- although not in quite as distant an orbit as Broman! The soft fluffy bass tone is a strong opening statement, as it overturns the driving rhythmic element within that part, and makes things feel more in suspended animation. Despite my instinctive apprehensions about losing this rhythmic element, in practice I'm pleasantly surprised how well you've made it work out.

The chorus texture is equally inventive, although here I'm not as easily won over. Probably the biggest stumbling block for me is the hyper-clicky drum tone, which weaves in a rather incongrous speed-metal thread, while the snare is very rattling and garagy -- it's got plenty of HF density to cut through the guitars, but at the cost of a rather disconcerting unnaturalness to the overall kit sound. The overheads appear to have been used primarily as cymbal mics, rather than allowing them to blend the rest of the kit much, and the toms are way in the distance.

On the plus side, though, I like the way you've brought out more of the character of the second chorus guitar line -- most people have majored on the main line, rather to the detriment of the secondary one, which I think's a bit of a shame. In fact, I wonder if there might be some arrangement variation available in this song from highighting the secondary part for a moment here and there.

The vocal tone sounds a bit like it's been over-EQ'd with narrow-band boosts, which makes it feel a bit scratchy. Also -- Help! Police! Someone's stolen the singer's dentures! :) Seriously, though, there's some pretty severe lisping on 'you see a devil in me', and there's no need for that with any modern de-essing tool. The severity of the processing makes me suspicious that it might be part of some kind of 'rock vocal' channel preset or something, rather than something intentional. (Presets for frequency-selective processing in particular are a complete non-starter for almost all mixing purposes, because these effects are so dependent on a sound's unique context at mixdown.) The lip noise is overbearing in the second verse too. Glad to see another serious stab at pitch-correction, though! (There appears to be some kind of glitch between 'coming around' and 'I am a failure indeed'. I figure this probably isn't desirable, so you might want to do some troubleshooting to ascertain the cause.)

You've got a fair bit of width to the mix, which gives an impressive spread in stereo, but it suffers some balance upsets in mono -- the BVs and guitars in particular take a pretty big level dive on a single speaker. The guitars also lose out from the mid-scooped overall mix tonality -- the two-octave range centred on 500Hz seems roughly 6dB down compared to the references mentioned. This mix seems to make much more sense once that's tackled with a bit of buss EQ, so I'm suspicious that monitoring problems may be holding you back.

Irrespective, I'm impressed by the boldness and creativity being demonstrated here, both of which characteristics are usually present in all the best mixes. Thanks for letting us hear what you've done!
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!

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March 28, 2011, 09:43:31 PM
http://soundcloud.com/vvv-4/blood-to-the-bone-vvv-mix
Eek. Just realised I've skipped your mix by mistake. Never fear, though -- I'll put it to the top of the list tomorrow. Sorry! :-[
And mine too...
LOL...

Isn't it post number 74?
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!