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Author Topic: Mixoff Contest with Mike Senior - Win Mike's New Book!  (Read 134245 times)

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April 05, 2011, 10:26:32 AM

I do like the jangly tone you've opened the tune with, and it immediately demanded my attention. However, I wonder if it's just a little too bright, because it does make the drums and guitar sound a little underwhelming when they arrive, which would be self-defeating in the long-run.

Overall, this mix has some similarity with huntermusic's inasmuch as it has a good deal of super-low kick energy, but with something of a spectral 'gulf' between that and the low end of the bass/guitar conglomeration. First things first, I would personally be reluctant to put that much sub on a kick in a track as fast as this, simply because it will tend to lengthen the hits and blur the part's details. Depending on your monitoring situation, it's very possible that the sub levels could also impact on your ability to balance the rest of the track reliably, and it does seem to me as if the whole rest of the spectrum has been tilted treble-wards a certain amount to counterbalance the low end. I'd reset whatever low-end enhancement you've dialled in, and try investigating what the 80-90Hz zone has to offer instead. It might not cause your lava lamp to walk along the meterbridge anymore, but I suspect it'll give you more subjective bounce on big speakers, while translating more of the power of the drum onto smaller systems. (It's not that you can't hear the kick on small speakers at the moment, though, because the part's coming through very well in the higher midrange, it's just that it feels a bit lightweight in those circumstances.)

If you approach the kick-drum more along those lines, I think it'll quickly become more obvious that the low end of the bass and guitars need nudging up below 200Hz or so to warm them up. That said, the bass is really nicely controlled and it cuts through wonderfully on the small speakers, while the guitars are kept out of each other's way so that the texture remains pretty clear throughout, and nothing starts sand-papering my ear canals come the mid-section either. (That said, maybe the cymbals could be softened slightly in the 10kHz region during the outro, when the solo guitar hits.) I'd like a bit more of that secondary guitar part in the choruses still, though.

I like the way you've dealt with the lead vocals a lot. They feel chunky enough to command the track, but not so big that they upset the well-judged balances. There is a little too much sibilance for me, though, so it'd be worth putting a de-esser into action. I also like the way you've flown in the BVs in the reintro, and the harmonies in the chorus are interesting, even though they perhaps draw undue attention away from the lead in the grand scheme of things -- although that might just be me having heard the track hundreds of times now without them. The vocal tuning and timing does still need work.

By choosing to keep a fairly compact stereo picture, you've managed to maintain decent mono compatibility, which is great. However, although you do paint out to the edges of the picture in stereo, it does nonetheless feel a little bit too constricted for me, and I'd probably try to introduce more non-essential stereo widening tactics -- some wide stereo background hiss might be a worthwhile thing to try, for example, although be careful not to overemphasise the 10kHz cymbal danger zone.

Thanks for getting involved with the competition. This mix already works very well on an Auratone, which says a lot about your balancing skills, and you've made the long-term dynamics work pretty well too. Your job now is to try to retain those advantageous characteristics while fattening up the stereo presentation, I think.
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April 05, 2011, 10:28:25 AM
Hi guys

My name is Manuel and I just got here in this forum, saw this post and here is my mix. I hope you enjoy it and post some comments.   


Hi Manuel, I've not reviewed many mixes so I hope this helps you.

Bass sounds really nice, you managed to get a heavy sounding bass without it being too over powering and muddy. I thought the drums had a bit too much reverb for my taste at the start but sounded better when the main riff comes in.  The vocals come through nicely and the delay works really well.  Overall I think this is a good attempt. Keep it up.

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April 05, 2011, 10:37:42 AM
Here is my mix:

Is this link active? Soundcloud is giving me an error message.

Sorry not sure why this isnt working.  i've just got my mail now so this should work.

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April 05, 2011, 10:43:13 AM
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 have been some nice ones already on this thread, but you'll have to flick back through a few of the critiques to find them, because all these mixes are beginning to become one big blur to me now! As far as blending is concerned, I'd try to do this by first switching the snare on and off while the mix is playing. When it's not there, imagine what its tone should be, then pop it back in and see if the odd narrow EQ notch might make it sit more naturally. Then I'd look at the possibilities offered by short ambience reverb, but trying to match the acoustic signature of the ambience to the overheads if you can. It can sometimes take me 10 minutes or more to find the right raw reverb preset to start work from in situations like this, so don't hurry that bit of the process.

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.

It's always tricky to judge the bottom octaves, and engineers do differ quite a bit in their approaches here. I've personally prefered to err on the side of more rather than less, more in line with the Cog and Death Cab mixes, but it's always going to be a moot point. The advantage of less low end, of course, is that you can usually get more loudness out of the end result.

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

It might perhaps surprise you to hear that I actually agree with you, but it's not the presence of these things in the mix that bugs me, it's the balance. Tuck it into the mix a bit more and I'm all for it.

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.

The plug-in is probably responsible for a lot of the problem, but if you pan the multi-mics to opposite sides, then any phase mismatch between them can also compromise the mono-compatibility. Simple polarity inversion is unlikely to help, because its a timing-related phase mismatch that's at issue, so I'd investigate small timing shifts and/or phase-rotation devices. (You can find some affordable ones here.)

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 agree with you, but in my experience you can do a massive amount to correct and tighten vocal tuning without actually killing the emotion (if you're careful), and like it or not we do now live in an age where the listening public have grown accustomed to unnaturally tight tuning.

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

Is everyone listening...? ;)
« Last Edit: April 05, 2011, 10:59:20 AM by triviul »
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April 05, 2011, 10:45:13 AM
Sorry not sure why this isnt working.  i've just got my mail now so this should work.

Ah. I'm getting it now, but I still need the download option to be active to listen to it in the studio. It should be in the options somewhere.
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April 05, 2011, 11:31:37 AM

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April 05, 2011, 11:41:55 AM
Mike -
Here's my revised mix:

Thanks again for all your time & effort.


Wow! Great mix!

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April 05, 2011, 12:20:39 PM
woops download was disabled-__-

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April 05, 2011, 01:00:04 PM

This mix has nice atmospheric opening that sets the stage well for the overall level of effects usage. Nice transition effects into the first chorus and outro too, and I like the 'feel like a failure' fly-in as well -- you've correctly identified a potential lull in vocal proceedings and filled that gap imaginatively.

The kick here has similar issues as in mixerMB's version, but less severe on account of a greater relative 60-70Hz contribution. A fairly aggressive click to the sound gives it more than adequate small-speaker translation (I'd tone that down a bit, in fact -- perhaps move the current HF emphasis more into the midrange around 800Hz), but I did find myself hankering after more 80-100Hz in the sound. The bass feels, on the other hand, like it has a bit too much information in that area, and that its fundamental frequency could be pulled back a bit in the mix to allow you to feature more of the harmonics above it, especially in the light of the current balance change when switching to small speakers. I'd also try to give the guitars some more body in the lower midrange, simply because they're feeling slightly scratchy at the moment, and seem to be contributing to an excessive mid-scoop in the overall mix tonality. I'd also look at the relationship between the 1-2kHz, 2-4kHz, and 4-8kHz octaves, because it feels to me as if the second of these is a bit proud of the others, making things sound a touch nasal.

I like the snare sound a lot, and the cymbals appear to be fairly well balanced against it. I do wonder, however, whether there's a fraction too much going on in the overheads in the top couple of octaves by comparison with the other parts, so I'd probably shelve a couple of decibels of them, even if that means you end up lifting the high end of the whole mix to return to your original level of 'air' overall. The vocals feel a bit low in the 1kHz region, but otherwise very well controlled and without any trace of sibilance issues. I like the balance of these parts too, in relation to the rest of the arrangement.

Mono summing affects the balance quite a lot, given the hard-panned guitars, but you've sensibly (in my view) chosen to favour the mono balance over the stereo, which means that the dynamics still work just fine on an Auratone. The cymbals are still losing quite a bit of HF, though, and the vocal effects seem to add a degree of murkiness to the vocal tone when they're collapsed down to the single channel, so those might warrant some further attention.

In total, though, this is another great Auratone balance, which surely only needs a few tweaks to make the best of its qualities in full-range stereo. Thanks for submitting it!

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A complete mixing method based around the techniques of the world's most famous producers.
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April 05, 2011, 02:53:28 PM
Is there a good/better/best time for submitting our "final" contest mixes?

(I feel like I've engaged enough on this one, and am ready for the wedding date.)