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Author Topic: Mixoff Contest with Mike Senior - Win Mike's New Book!  (Read 123388 times)

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April 05, 2011, 02:05:36 AM
Thanks for the feedback  :)

It's been a great learning curve & i've learned alot from what you wrote.
The main curve is, i did this mix with the help of someone else & the two influences are clear in this mix & it ended up a mish mash, not what i wanted.

I'd say i should start again with this mix & give it more of a rock feel which is what i normally mix.

Thanks again for taking the time to listen & give feedback.  ;D

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April 05, 2011, 02:32:14 AM
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/21986881/Blood%20to%20Bonemp3.mp3

I'm afraid I missed that you'd posted a WAV, and critiqued from the MP3. Still, that didn't stop me liking your mix a lot -- it's a good solid balance which lots of good individual timbral decisions. Blend is excellent, and there's a nice sense of size too -- wetter than Daunt's balance, for example, but no less valid for that. Criticisms from a balance perspective are therefore pretty few and far between: the vocal is perhaps a bit muffled, and I'd probably look to add a little 2kHz to bring it forward; the hard-panned toms image doesn't really fit with the cymbals presentation in the overheads; and there seems to be a note clash on the final 'bone' of both vocal choruses (a slip of the Melodyne? :)) between the lead and double-track, plus there's some distracting flamming between the consonants. Really good work, though, in the main.

Beyond that, though, there are some elements of the long-term dynamics of the choruses which could do with a tweak. The problem is that at the moment the first two feel like a little bit of a let-down in the context of the verse material that precedes them. A big part of this is I think to do with the vocal levels, which are probably over-pushed in the verses, and a little under-balanced in the choruses. However, the guitar and bass levels might also benefit from rising slightly in those choruses too, and a little more buss compression might actually assist too, if my own experiments here are anything to go by. (Incidentally, I'd expected that buss compression might actually be counterproductive in this instance, but you never can tell anything for sure with audio processing until you try it out!)

That said, listening to the killer long-term dynamics moment at the beginning of the final choruses, I was surprised how well this worked, as it didn't initially seem that you'd added anything to the arrangement. However, listening more closely, it sounds like you've edited together a 'fake' double-track for the main guitar riff in the chorus, or used some kind of ADT, and this really makes a difference. The wide panning of these elements, though, does rather reduce the benefits in mono, so I'm not sure I'd be ready to proclaim this a complete solution just yet.

Overall mix tonality isn't bad at all -- in particular you've managed to navigated a good course between 'bright' and 'harsh' in the mid-sections where the guitars and cymbals start giving it some elbow grease. However, I'd scoop out a couple of decibels around 300Hz and give a little more emphasis to the 8kHz region myself. Much more of a concern is the mono compatibility, because this mix suffers quite badly when summed to a single channel. The high end of the cymbals in particular really dives, while the guitars also lose quite a lot of brightness and the vocals sacrifice some important 'air' frequencies. Looking at the top three octaves of the mix on a vectorscope, I'm wondering whether you've been applying some kind of high-frequency M&S-based stereo-widening effect, because the display 'blob' looks consistently flatter than I'd expect. I realise that some people are willing to take a tonal hit at the high end in mono in return for greater 'sparkly width' in stereo, but even if this is your aim I still think you've probably overdone it.

All in all, though, this is a very capable mix indeed, and while it's not perhaps as overtly inventive as some of those we've heard already, it does provide an excellent showcase of the band's material and shows that you clearly know what you're doing.

hey mike, thanks for the critique. i did find that it was pretty spot on. as far as the hf widening effect, i suppose i did apply a light flanger (metaflanger) to the overheads that pushed some the information (hf information?) out of phase. the vocal loosing some air is kind of baffling, though. i have been fooling around with slightly different mid and side eq settings on things like the lead vox buss, especially in the top end. basically, i've just been trying to figure out a way to have a wider image while maintaining a solid, "locked in" mid channel. might this be the culprit? thanks again.

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April 05, 2011, 04:23:24 AM
Here is my mix http://soundcloud.com/martin-olsson/blood-to-bone-martin

Not totally happy with ut, might to a revision before the 11th...

edit: after a rest, the first thing thats going to be corrected is the LOUD bass drum.... Sorry for that.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2011, 11:40:14 AM by Martin Olsson »

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April 05, 2011, 04:59:37 AM
Here is my mix http://soundcloud.com/martin-olsson/blood-to-bone-martin

Not totally happy with ut, might to a revision before the 11th...

Right folks. It looks like Martin Olsson's mix is the final one that'll get a critique. Congratulations to everyone for making this such a hot contest and for providing so many great angles on this track. On a practical level, though, I think we're already up to more than 60 mixes so far, and given that I've only critiqued 40 or so, I think we should probably push the competition submission deadline back by another week so that I have enough time to sort out the remaining critiques before then. Shall we say the midnight of the 18th John? To be honest, I only anticipated that we'd get maybe a couple of dozen entries ::), and while it's great that this has been more popular than I thought it might, it does mean that it's taking more time than I'd planned. (I could probably still get things sorted this week if I weren't headed for the Frankfurt Musicmesse tomorrow.)
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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April 05, 2011, 05:32:33 AM
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!

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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

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April 05, 2011, 05:54:41 AM
http://soundcloud.com/robinmarder/blood-to-bone-young-griffo

Please can you enable the download link so that I can get it onto my studio system? Thanks!
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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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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April 05, 2011, 07:52:40 AM
Been a subscriber and reader of SOS for around 20 yrs now - inspired by Mix Rescue I've spent the last 3 years or so trying to make better mixes for the musicians at our collaboration site.

Glad you've been getting something out of the Mix Rescue columns. It certainly sounds like you have from this mix! ;D

On the whole the drums are nicely balanced and blended, with a good sense of dimension to them. I think the cymbals probably have a touch too much 10kHz, because they get a little wearing at higher volumes and overshadow other parts in that region excessively for me. The sustain you've got out of the snare is fantastic, and it holds its place well in the track, but I'm not sure the sound you've chosen really fits the kit or song that well in a wider sense, and I have some misgivings about its blend within the kit. The kick is also a bit of a sticking point for me, because (for want of a better description) it isn't really serious-sounding enough for me. It's quite flappy and lacks low end compared to most of the renditions so far. The sound of the kick can have a huge impact on the way a track is perceived, and I think this choice is making things a little too upbeat, given the lyrical subject material. There's an impression of gated reverb on the snare too, which when combined with the lightweight kick and prominent bright chorusing/reverb effects conjures up a strong flavour of the late 80s for me. While this is a period of music that I have a lot of time for, Young Griffo don't seem to me to be the kind of band that benefit from a connection with the kind of artificial shininess that tends to infuse sounds of that era.

You've made the bass nice and tuneful in the track, without bloating out the low end (although I might pull out a decibel or two at 100Hz), which is great -- love it! It really helps drive the track along. Do deal with the fret squeaks, though, if you can. The guitars are also good, although again perhaps a little too watered down with effects for the style. Mono compatibility is a big problem as regards the main chorus guitar riff, the level of which suffers badly in mono. The bright vocal effects also become a bit phone-booth-y in mono, and the 'air' on the snare/cymbals loses some of its sheen too.

The chorus vocal tones are pretty good, although with some overprominent sibilant whistling still to be taken care of in the 10kHz region. The verse vocal, on the other hand, feels rather too thin and waspy for me, such that I'm finding it difficult to connect with it on an emotional level. Give it some more 900Hz or so and I think it'll already work a lot better. Vocal tuning is still on the 'to do' list as well, of course.

Despite these issues, I have to say that this is probably one of the most exciting versions I've listened to so far. The bass presentation, the liberal drum-buss compression, the fullness of the effects (although there's a risk of clutter during some fuller sections), and the nice transition stunts (the lead-in to the choruses, for example) are all clearly part of the recipe, but I also wonder whether the timing has been tweaked somehow too, because things seem to bounce along really well. What this mix has which so many of the mixes so far don't is a real forward momentum. The long-term dynamics are rather well-judged too, especially in resisting the temptation to rock out too far in the mid-sections so that the final chorus still has enough firepower to compete.

Thanks for sharing this with everyone. There's a lot to be learned from your overall methodology in this mix, even for those who don't agree with the aesthetics of any specific sounds/effects you've used.

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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April 05, 2011, 09:07:25 AM
Here's my mix: http://www.box.net/shared/xyy1fzue0m

"Walk away from the Scissors Tool with your hands in the air!" :) You're certainly not shy of editing things around, and I'm delighted to see someone really pushing this aspect of the production as far as this, because it constitutes a useful test of concept. Your reasoning seems pretty clear and defensible to me: the vocal is the star, so it should get in early and then remain in view as much as possible. It's particularly interesting to hear the song with vocals in the first chorus, because I'd almost certainly have done something with vocals there too, and I'm actually surprised that no-one's tried it before now. However, the outcome of your reasoning is that we end up with a short total duration of 2:20, as you've already mentioned in your post. Although this works for Blur's Song 2, and might indeed be made to work for this song as well, I'm not sure that it's actually playing to the song's strengths -- and might also rub most bands up the wrong way too! "Where's my guitar solo gone?!" :) While I agree that the raw multitracks do tread water to some extent at all the moments you've cut, I reckon there's only so far the editing solution will get you in practice.

So if you can't edit, what are the alternatives? Well, my instinct would be to try to make subsidiary hooks out of some of the non-vocal features that are already there, such as the guitar riff in the reintro and the outro solo. I'd also look at possibilities for making more of the backing vocals as a general concept, and get busy trying to re-use hook phrases and ideas from the lead vocal elsewhere in the mix wherever interest appears to dip. I'm not saying I wouldn't do *some* section edits in your position, but it's a question of degree.

Returning to a sonics, the first main thing which hits me is that the guitars all feel too slender, and lack a good deal more power below 1kHz. Remedying this, however, will probably involve reducing the kick energy in the 300-600Hz region to make way, so that things don't start getting too woolly. I like the snare sound you're getting here, although it does feel like the transient is pushed rather too high in the balance. Try rounding it off a bit with a limiter or saturator and see if it sits better that way. The cymbals need a good old helping of compression, in my view, as the low-level detail is getting lost, and the crashes are fading out too quickly. The bass tone has plenty of warmth, but I'd be tempted to give it more midrange to allow it to cut through better on small speakers. (The kick also has trouble competing with the snare on small speakers too, so adding some extra click in the fuller sections would probably be a good idea, even if you want to leave it rounder in the verses.)

Given the focus on the vocal for editing purposes, I was surprised you didn't allow the singer to have a fuller and more involving tone for the verses. Clearly the choruses don't have much room for this kind of sound, but that's no need for the verses to feel at all anaemic. A bit of boost around 2kHz, a more flattering compressor, a hint of stereo width, and some ambience reverb could work wonders in very little time, I reckon. You've maintained the vocal balance well maintained though, as it is, particularly in the choruses, where the lyric intelligibility is great.

Effects are an area which could probably do with a bit more work, I think, because the blend of the drum kit and the mix as a whole isn't terrific, and I suspect that adding more sustain and size-illusion would help further your vision for the track. Overall tonality is a bit thin, and more energy in the general region of 500Hz would help here, as would taming things a bit at 10kHz -- the cymbals in particular are rather sharp for me there. You lose quite a lot of 'air' from the cymbals and vocals in mono, but the guitars don't seem to fare that badly.

You mentioned that you were worried about the low end. This will have been very difficult to judge on the cans and Tapcos, and I'm not sure that typical hi-fi speakers are likely to be any more revealing here -- it's not uncommon for hi-fi equipment to hype the low end. As far as I'm concerned the bottom octaves feel about right to me, especially as there's often a fair bit of variation between different engineers in this respect.

Thanks for posting this mix. Your exploration of the possible edits is very instructive indeed, and although you could do more to inflate the sonics here, you've nonetheless done a good balancing job so far.
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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April 05, 2011, 09:54:06 AM
Glad you've been getting something out of the Mix Rescue columns. It certainly sounds like you have from this mix! ;D

It's often the first section I turn to when it lands on the doorstep each month....really useful read combined with the audio from the SOS site


 The sustain you've got out of the snare is fantastic, and it holds its place well in the track, but I'm not sure the sound you've chosen really fits the kit or song that well in a wider sense, and I have some misgivings about its blend within the kit.

Thanks, I was pretty happy with the snare and tried to make it sound quite deep with a big boost in the LMF. Initially when I hear the raw tracks my gut instinct was that it maybe wasn't recorded with the right snare and I'd be trying others during the session. Can you reference or describe a snare sound that you think would work better and explain how you would intergrate it further with the kit?

There's an impression of gated reverb on the snare too, which when combined with the lightweight kick and prominent bright chorusing/reverb effects conjures up a strong flavour of the late 80s for me. While this is a period of music that I have a lot of time for, Young Griffo don't seem to me to be the kind of band that benefit from a connection with the kind of artificial shininess that tends to infuse sounds of that era.

LOl  ;D  Can you guess a persons age from their mixes. 80's & 90's was very much my era..I thought all that was coming back  ::)

The kick is also a bit of a sticking point for me, because (for want of a better description) it isn't really serious-sounding enough for me. It's quite flappy and lacks low end compared to most of the renditions so far.

Well I had it beefier to start with , then I went and listened to a few of their references and came away with the impression ( rightly or wrongly ) that it wasn't that prominent in some of the songs they liked, so I tried to sit it above the bass and try to make the bass driver the track along instead. I also ended up rolling some bottom off the whole mix when I heard it the next morning just before I posted it.

Do deal with the fret squeaks, though, if you can.

Now this is one of my bone of contentions - I actually like to hear little things like fret squeeks and a little breath noise, I think it adds character...after all it's Rock N Roll not the Royal Philhamonic  ::) alot of my favourite recordings have little bits of noise on that could be taken out ( think Beatles/ Oasis etc )  but I think are best left in and not oversanitised :P   A good debating point for sure  :)

Mono compatibility is a big problem as regards the main chorus guitar riff, the level of which suffers badly in mono.

I think I know why that is now, I used Brainworx Shredspread set fairly wide to give the chorus guitars a lift and I I forgot to check the mix as a whole in mono until it was too late. I have the guitars opposite panned, so do I try inverting the phase of one of them or is there a more elegant solution ? Or is it just the plugin that needs it's mono gain turning up ? I will try it.

Vocal tuning is still on the 'to do' list as well, of course.

I actually did some just to nudge it into shape, again not a huge fan of overdoing it - I find the overuse/abuse of Autotune etc. really puts me off alot of modern songs - I don't remember people complaining in the 70's - 80's & 90's about poor pitch on vocals ( though I did have WTF moment the first time I heard " Don't you Want Me " by the Human League...with those female vocals ...now considered a classic :o ) so I'm on the fence about that one. To be honest I didn't really hear anything major in the vocals that made me want to dive into the pitch correction plugins, actually they're one of best vocal performances I've had the pleasure of mixing so maybe my viewpoint is skewed.


Despite these issues, I have to say that this is probably one of the most exciting versions I've listened to so far.


That's made my day because "exciting" was kind of what I was going for  :)  :)  :)  really chuffed with that, makes the countless hours reading about mixing in SOS worthwhile.

but I also wonder whether the timing has been tweaked somehow too, because things seem to bounce along really well.

No, I didn't tweak anything on that front at all...I try to avoid it unless things are obviously out and need rescuing, maybe it the 8th note delay buss which I rode into the mix at certain times that help.

What this mix has which so many of the mixes so far don't is a real forward momentum. The long-term dynamics are rather well-judged too, especially in resisting the temptation to rock out too far in the mid-sections so that the final chorus still has enough firepower to compete.

Thanks I always try to do that with my mixes, I usually start out with quite a low level on the DAW Output meters and turn the monitors up more ( Adam A7's )  but I find it gives me enough headroom when levels start creeping up without me feeling I'm not mixing loud enough.  Domestics mean I can't monitor that loudly anyway and with this one I ended up doing the last part on headphones which I loathe to do but I only had one night to meet the deadline.

 I usually end up with 10 or 12 subgroups that I do alot of automation on so on this one for instance when the chorus hits I rode up room mics, brought in a much more distorted bass track that I'd multed, rode up the kit global ambience return, the vocal FX send and the Shredspread fader and then pulled them some ( or all for the bass ) of the way back for the next verse.

I use a Presonus Faderport to do alot of the rides and then tidy them up afterwards. The automation lines in Sonar's buss view often end up looking like some crazy Undergound Tube Train Map but I remember reading somewhere once that if your faders are static your mix will be too and my original mixing experiences came from working live with my friends 10 piece band where riding the faders was part of the set almost. ( still have my well thumbed copy of Live Sound Mixing by Duncan Fry bought from the SOS mail order section  ;D )

Thanks for sharing this with everyone. There's a lot to be learned from your overall methodology in this mix, even for those who don't agree with the aesthetics of any specific sounds/effects you've used.


Haha , thankyou for doing this Mike it really is a mammoth undertaking - I should be alright as long as we don't play it anyone born after about 1990 I reckon  :D

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We never finish a mix - We simply abandon them.  Adam A7's , Focusrite Pro24 DSP, Focusrite LiquidMix, Presonus FaderPort, Sennheiser HD250 Linear II