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Author Topic: Mixoff Contest with Mike Senior - Win Mike's New Book!  (Read 123396 times)

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March 26, 2011, 03:47:44 AM
Here is my mix. I haven't completely finished automating things and I have a few small problems with this, but anyhow let me know what you think.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/324577/Young%20Griffo.mp3

First post here so I would just like to say I think I am going to love this place! Cheers!
« Last Edit: March 26, 2011, 03:50:28 AM by ALivingSight »
A Living Sight Productions

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March 26, 2011, 04:57:53 AM
Here's my MIX

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March 26, 2011, 05:55:39 AM
Thanks for the feedback! all very good points. You're note about editing the re-into I especially agree with, I tried playing around with it but couldn't get it shorter without taking away from it...

Although one thing is that I actually spent very little time monitoring loudly, but my mixing environment isn't exactly pristine  ;D lots of tweaks to do!

http://soundcloud.com/slater05/blood-to-bone

Happy to see someone try their hand at editing things here, but while shortening the first instrumental chorus is an idea which I can see some good reasoning for, by the same token isn't the reintro a bit to long too? I agree that it's tricky to come up with a coherent editing strategy for this song once you open up that can of worms, which makes me wonder whether editing isn't the whole solution to making the structure as a whole work.

In terms of balance, it feels like the guitars are too loud in the stereo balance (but probably a bit quiet in the mono balance, as discussed below!), but otherwise most things seem pretty well-judged. I like the body to the snare sound, which gives it a nice sense of weight to compete with the guitars, but it does then end up sounding a bit dull-toned compared to the cymbals. The bass fret squeaks poke my eye out at times, but it's nothing a little automation couldn't solve. The floor tom seems to have too powerful a fundamental, and risks eclipsing the kick in the fill in the middle of chorus 2, for example. As far as overall tonality is concerned, the bottom three octaves or so of the mix feel light overall, though, and I think this is more the fault of the bass than off the kick. I think you could afford to put in a good 3dB of extra low end without bloating it out. The upper octave 'air' band also feels underplayed, and could benefit from some livening up.

There's a lot of interesting effects stuff going on. I really like the delay spin you've got going on the verse lead vocal. Very effective, and actually longer than I'd have thought of going for -- good idea! I like your concept of thickening the chorus vocals to contrast with the verses, although it sounds like something's getting a bit scorched in the process. It's not a particularly pleasant distortion, so I'd try to troubleshoot the gain-staging there if possible. This effect certainly helps with that tricky transition into the start of the final choruses, but the downside is that things begin to feel a little cluttered in the choruses as a result, and I'd recommend reassessing the EQ on the guitars, backing vocals, and effects returns during that section to see if some well-targeted narrow-band cuts might clarify things and bring out the details more. The vocal effects also recess the singers well behind the drier guitars in the mix, which doesn't seem quite right.

Whatever effect you're using to widen the guitar parts is causing fairly serious mono-compatibility problems, which means that the balance changes a good deal between the stereo and mono mixes. Even if you disregard this issue, though, having such wide guitars in this particular stereo mix is also problematic on the basis that it emphasises the narrowness of the drums and their ambience.

My biggest criticism can be summed up in one word: blend. Although there's lots of good EQ and effects work going on here, the parts just don't feel like they hang together, especially in the verses. The width issues I've already mentioned have a part to play here, but short 'ambience'-style reverb or delay slapback would the first things I'd look to add to this mix, to try to make things gel together more convincingly. Again, the overall tonality and blend issues here make me suspicious that you might be monitoring too loud for too long.

I'm glad to see that a certain amount of multing and automation has already occurred, but I think there's quite a bit you could still do in terms of nailing down the lead vocal intelligibility. I also wonder if the final backing vocals could come more to the fore once the lead is out of the way, as they do have a nice little line of their own, and there's nothing else going on in the outro to keep people any better entertained.

Thanks for submitting this -- it brings a lot of great ideas to the table that haven't been explored by the other mixes so far, and also dares to reevaluate basic issues of structure and balance. And as every mix engineer knows, mixing is often a case of 'who dares wins'!
www.mikeslatermusic.com
Certified Pro Tools Operator
15" MBP, Apogee Duet, M-Audio BX5a's

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March 26, 2011, 09:07:31 AM
Although one thing is that I actually spent very little time monitoring loudly, but my mixing environment isn't exactly pristine

Ah, I see. I'm guessing then that maybe some LF resonances and HF splash might similarly affect the audibility of these overal tonality and blend issues. Always tricky to tell remotely! Glad the other comments were helpful, though!
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 26, 2011, 06:28:07 PM
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/14142004/YoungGriffo%20-%20Blood%20To%20Bone.mp3

Another good mix, and probably the clearest vocal presentation so far. Excellent! I really like the verse. Nice sense of width and space to the guitars, contrasted against the quite upfront drums, yet the blend nonetheless feels pretty good. The vocal effects are just my cup of tea too, and are well-suited to this context: enough delay to give a bit of atmosphere, but still keeping the vocal right out front. The harmonies help, of course, just because I like their line! ;D The drummer's stick clicks seem a touch too aggressive/upfront, so I'd maybe get busy with a bit of micro-automation there, and I also think that you could improve the kit's blend using stealth reverb/delay treatments without compromising the upfront 'no reverb' concept. Even when the kit is upfront, you still want it to sound like a cohesive kit, in my view. The toms are panned very wide too, and while this kind of '50-foot-wide kit' idea is popular with some engineers I've never really got on with it. In this case it's particularly odd because it makes the toms image a lot wider than the crash cymbals! That apart, though, the stereo width overall is pretty well-judged in this mix, and seems to translate quite well to mono too, which is another plus point.

Once the chorus gets going the snare feels a little too thin-sounding, and could do with some thickening and widening, as I've commented on with previous mixes. It's trying to compete with the strongest frequency areas of the guitars too much, so it'd probably be better to give it a touch more weight so that it can work around the guitar textures. I love the kick drum sound during the verses, but it doesn't really seem to be coming through well enough in the choruses on small speakers, so I might be tempted to mult it for extra high end at those points. The lyrics are good and clear in the chorus, which means that the singer's performance gives a good dose of energy to these sections, and helps with that make-or-break moment when the final choruses arrive. (The more prominent BVs make a difference there too.) This is slightly at the expense of the subjective size of the backing track, though, and this is always a very fine line to tread. Also, if you fade up the vocals this high, you really can't afford not to tune them. In general I've not noticed tremendous amounts of attention to timing or tuning issues in the mixes so far, and I know this kind of corrective work would certainly be on my list of things to do.

I like the general sparkle to the mix tone overall, but I wonder if the vocals are contributing a bit more low mid-range than they should compared to the guitars. It takes your mix closer to the vibe of the Death Cab For Cutie reference for me, but I think that might be taking the parallels between the two tracks a bit too far. I reckon that this mix probably wants the vocal to be upfront in the choruses, but with the guitars 'feeling' bigger, in the sense of carrying more of the chunky midrange frequencies. (You've done a good job of rivalling the DCFC bass sound, though, including that sneaky little dash of surreptitious stereo width. Maybe a bit more 1kHz would make it cut even better, and lend the tone more 'wire'. I'd almost certainly reach for Stillwell Audio's Vibe EQ for that application, because it's great at creating a harder tonal edge on sounds, rather than just adjusting the frequency balance, and its very affordable.)

Hope some of these suggestions help. Again, this is a good solid effort, and makes a good impression right from the outset. Thanks for submitting it!

I did not do any mastering but I can if it's a good idea.

No need. I loudness-match as a matter of course when comparing the different mixes/references. The main mastering issue that should concern most people with this particular mix is that if peak-limiting is used to increase the loudness, then a snare which is heavy on spike and light on sustain will tend to suffer unduly in the mix balance.

(Just one quick further point I forgot to mention -- the vocals in the choruses seem over-sibilant. Some simple de-essing should probably sort that out, though.)
« Last Edit: March 26, 2011, 07:09:13 PM by triviul »
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March 26, 2011, 07:47:08 PM
So heres my mix.

Another very assured mix vision here, and with quite a few new ideas to offer. The switched panning for the main guitar is a nice thought, creating an appealing call-and-response vibe which somehow keeps the guitar higher in the consciousness than in other mixes. In fact, I almost wonder whether it might be backfiring a bit, simply because it seems to drag a bit of attention away from the vocal. However, this might just be because I'm now so used to the vocal performance that it doesn't pack the same immediate emotional punch it once did. Only time can tell with decisions like that.

Given the wetter overall feel, it's perhaps not a surprise that, to my ears, the drums seem to gel together more successfully in this mix than in most of the others. However, it's not just the general wetness -- the toms feel sensibly panned; the kick sound has more room to it, so that it combines a lot better despite a fairly high level in the balance; and the snare appears to have some kind of dedicated ambience patch on it to widen it and glue it in with the overheads, the latter making a respectable stab at dealing with the 'snare spikiness' issue that's come up a lot already. That said, I think you could still afford to make more of the room and/or layer in some parallel compression so that the kit sound itself has more sustain even in its dry state. I think you're maybe relying on the artificial reverbs a little too much.

I don't know what you're using for your vocal chain, but I love what it's doing to the lead vocal character in the verse -- there's a real growl in there, which enhances the performance a good deal for me. You can really hear the sound rattling around in the back of his throat! The verse delay and reverb work nicely too, with what sounds like a proper helping of predelay between the dry signal and the reverb onset. Good call, because it keeps the vocal well upfront -- notwithstanding that the vocal's also pretty high in the balance. In fact, I reckon that the vocals are probably too high in the balance overall. Although they seem alright within the context of the drum peaks, the rest of the arrangement feels underpowered by comparison. Try muting out the drums completely and see if that makes this aspect of the balance easier to resolve. (This is also an issue that loudness processing won't help, because it'll tend to punch the drums back into the balance, thereby exacerbating the dominance of the vocal.)

The stereo picture isn't perhaps as wide-screen as some of the mixes we've had so far, but it's still well within the ballpark of some of the references, and inevitably offers the advantage of reasonable mono-compatibility. Overall tonality could probably do with a bit of a rethink, though, as both the low-end and high-end seem significantly recessed (I dialled in 4dB of each before I had something which felt more suitable, and there's an additional 3-4kHz emphasis that doesn't particularly flatter the middle-section guitar/cymbal workouts. However, even if I put a master EQ over the mix to tweak those things, the bass guitar still feels too low in the balance.

Irrespective of any of the above niggles, though, this mix probably gives the most convincing account of the final choruses entry of any of the mixes so far -- although fHumble fHingaz's original version is also strong in this suit. Definite kudos for that! That said, it sounds a little bit like you mixed the verses before you mixed the choruses, which makes the latter feel like they're pushed a bit too hard somehow.

Thanks for providing another fresh vision of this track -- a good contrast to some of the other representations which provides a lot of useful alternate perspectives.
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 26, 2011, 08:11:12 PM
I just wanted to say that I'm trying to deal with the mix critiques in the order the mixes were posted, so please post if I seem to have skipped over your mix in the running order. I almost overlooked broman's mix, in fact...  ::)
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 26, 2011, 10:30:13 PM
Here is my first mix on the forum. This was a great song with so many possible directions. I have picked my mix to death and have decided to stop with this version:

http://soundcloud.com/fishmed/blood-to-bone-mix-contest

Enjoy!   :D

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March 27, 2011, 12:27:34 AM
Here's mine.  More for the feedback than anything else... I'm trying to get better at rock.

http://theaudiocave.com/mixes/Blood2.mp3
« Last Edit: March 27, 2011, 12:35:38 AM by ExpressMix »