Bash this mix. 1st time using ref track

used “Over the Mountain” as my reference track. More specifically I used the isolated drum and iso bass track as a guideline for mine. I couldnt find an iso guitar track so i used the full album track for the overall mix with guitars. I wasnt trying to match the exact tone of the instruments etc, I was just trying to get the balance etc in the ballpark

no vox

Hopefully this is a step in the right direction as far as overall balance and EQ etc

The solo section at 2:24 is a little quieter to leave room for a solo

THIS IS STILL A HEADPHONE MIX! Keep it in mind. My monitors havent arrived yet

intro chorus
verse 1a
interlude (:46)
release (1:19) (turnaround, interlude, whatever)
verse 2
chorus 2
solo (2:24)

mix 2 done very quickly.

rolled off more lows around 60ish hz and below
boosted 2.5k to 3.5ish k on kick
small narrow boost on 1.5k kick

pulled snare bus and Oh down slightly

turned dist off on main bass track
turned down 2 bass track that had dist bass
turned up bass bus

turned down overall guitar bus

Mix 3
mainly went thru and matched a lot of levels. I had clipping at various stages in the bass chain. Went thru and EQ’ed EVERY drum and bass track and checked every track with SPAN.

Added some verb to guitars.

Adjusted levels on everything

Sounds a lot cleaner to me, then again I thought that the last time and the time before that hehe

Mix 3

Mix 4. turned bass gtr way up in headphones

ref track


Argggh ! I wanted to compare your mix with the original but when I click the video it says “This video is not available”. :disappointed:

How come I can’t find Over The Mountain on youtube? All I find is cover versions or live versions.

But I did find the vinyl version of Flying High Again. You can hear the static from the record on it.

Good to see you put another tune up Jon ! It could end up being great or a total dud depending on what the vocal does, but there’s lots of good opportunity in the music to create a good vocal idea. I like that you broke it down in the middle, where all the music pauses for a few seconds and right before that I like the break down with the sus chords…That could be a good opportunity to have the peak of the song. The most climactic part…the chorus possibly. I definitely would like to hear what kind of vocal you create for this. There’s so many possibilities.

As far as the mix goes, I can only compare it with Flying High Again, the youtube link I posted.

Listening to both your song and the Ozzy video of Flying High Again on my headphones, it sounds like your bass is a lot muddier and has a lot more low end. I think if you took out some of the low frequencies and did a boost somewhere between 800 Hz to 1.5 Khz you might get more clarity and more balance. The kick seems unclear in my headphones too. The only way I know how to clean that up is with EQ. I would experiment at taking out some lower frequencies (maybe under 70 or 80 Hz…I’m not sure, you’d have to check how it all works within the context of the whole mix) and adding some dbs between 1.5 and 4.5 Khz. This is just a general guestimate.

It’s hard to compare your recording with Flying High Again because your bass, drums and guitar don’t sound the same as Ozzy’s band. Some people will think yours sounds worse and some people will think it sounds better but I think you’re on the right track. The vocal is going to make or break the song. The mix isn’t bad. I would focus on the vocal and if you get something that is good revisit the mix.

Thanks for confirming what I already suspected

I have an idea to save us all some time and effort… Instead of all the typing, we will use codes.

1 = muddy bass
2 = indistinct or muddy kick

or in my case just say “same as always”. Pretty much same thing every mix. Im starting to wonder if it is even possible with my current setup. EZ Drummer 2, Focusrite 2i4, D.I. Bass using a Schecter Raiden Special 4. Something in the equation just isnt adding up here.

I started with the isolated drums from the Ozzy song. I used Span and got my freq curve pretty much lined up with his. Kick had a peak at like 110 hz IIRC. There was more or less of a “smile” EQ shape across the drum kick, which I pretty much matched mine up to. Well of course I could hear that my recording didnt exactly sound like his lol, but I was hopeful that at least mine was reasonable.

But yeah, I can obviously hear that my kick isnt popping that much, there is only sort of a dull thud that one has to strain to hear. Its odd because the kick I used did have some 2,5k - 3.5k registering on the meter but I took most of it out because I didnt see the Ozzy kick showing anything there.

And to me it doesnt seem to be a matter of cutting this or boosting that. Ive done all that in spades. Like I said, my freq curve matched Ozzys more or less. Im thinking it must be something like cumulative compression or phase issues somehow (on both bass and kick)

for instance on this kit there is a kick in, kick out, and kick sub. I put those in their own bus which of course is in turn in a drum bus. So there is compression on the kick out, then on the kick bus, then on the drum bus, then on the master mix. Im assuming that somehow my issues r there. It CANT possibly be this hard to get a simple kick drum registering properly. Obviously im doing something fundamentally wrong here because it simply cant be this hard to do. (Edit: In checking I see that I actually just had compression on the overall drum bus and on the master bus)

Same with bass. Im going DI since I dont have a bass amp. I have a track for the DI and then that also goes to a track where I use the TSE BOD bass overdrive. I usually try for a mix of clean and distorted but on this one I had both tracks distorted to different degrees. Again, there are probably 3-4 levels of compression on different busses etc. Obviously something is fundamentally wrong because I dont see others having these difficulties.

When I was using the ref tracks I had them patched straight to my output, skipping the master track and thus my EQ/compressors etc. I think ill patch my bass and kick straight thru like that and see if they sound considerably better. If so it is telling me that my processing is just mucking things up.

Ive went from hopeful to confused to frustrated to angry…and now its just getting kind of comical. I have always considered myself as being semi intelligent but I guess im having my doubts now


Original drum track

Side note:

this guy has some nice isolated tracks

and especially this guy has tons of them

Peace, JJ

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Cool song. I liked how you marked out the different song sections and time stamps! :thumbsup:

I’m thinking that your low mids are bloated/boxy/muddy. It could be that the bass and kick are not distinct enough also, but you may not be able to hear any changes to that clearly until the muddy stuff is out of the way. I’d look in the 200-500Hz area for that, though it could be even lower. Do some EQ “sweeping” with both highQ and lowQ sweeps, first with boost to see if you can make it sound worse … and then as a cut in the boost area(s) that sounded worse. It might even be two separate cuts (i.e. 150Hz and 450Hz). Once that gets closer to the reference, you can drill down on the instrument sounds IMO.

yep, im struggling mightily to figure out how to get kick and bass even in the ballpark. When i was young I was abducted by aliens and they removed the part of my brain that relates to common sense when mixing

mix 2 done very quickly.

rolled off more lows around 60ish hz and below
boosted 2.5k to 3.5ish k on kick
small narrow boost on 1.5k kick

pulled snare bus and Oh down slightly

turned dist off on main bass track
turned down 2 bass track that had dist bass
turned up bass bus

turned down overall guitar bus

probably other things I forgot already lol

Mix 2

Compared to the reference, I’m hearing a lot more low mids floating around. I’d guess around 200hz down to 100 hz. Your snare and kick have a lot of low mid energy - especially the kick - that’s seeming to take up a lot of space to me. I think the amount of low mids in your bass guitar is what’s encouraging you to add too much to your kick and snare.

But it also just seems to be hanging in the air…

It might be worth looking at your ambience effects. Are you high-pass filtering your reverbs and delays? If not, add an EQ after those plugins (or use the EQs built into your reverb and delay plugins) and filter those things! Apparently, the default setting for the reverb EQ at Abbey Road was high-passing at 600hz. That’s a lot higher than I typically go but it’s also worth thinking about.

I typically high pass at 300hz as a starting point. If my drums are thin, I’ll back it down a little to keep a little weight in the reverb. Most of the time, though, the reverbs on my drums are high-passed at 300hz-ish and the reverbs and delays on my guitars are high-passed around 400hz-ish.

The biggest issue I’m hearing in relating your track to the reference, I think, is the low mids in the bass guitar. Try setting a low shelf EQ at 300hz on the bass and just start going downward. Then do the same sort of thing with your kick and snare - you’ll probably want to use a narrow-ish bell EQ at around 200hz on the kick and around 400hz on the snare instead of a shelf. You might find some success going that way.

A few things that always help me when I’m trying to do what you’re trying to do:

  1. Import the reference mix into my session.
  2. Make sure my reference and my track are playing back at equal apparent volumes. Don’t reference peak levels, reference RMS levels.
  3. Use a frequency analyzer on the master bus to look to see where I’m wildly different from the reference track. Voxengo SPAN is free and works well.
  4. Use filtering on the master bus (before the frequency analyzer) to compare different sections of each song’s frequency spectrum. For example, use a low-pass filter to focus only on stuff below 500hz on both songs. What are you hearing in your song vs. the reference. Overall loudness of your below-500hz stuff compared to the reference. What about which instruments you’re hearing? Take that filter down to 250hz and do the same observations.

Good luck! It’s hard to get a handle on the lows and low mids…especially when using headphones!

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you referring to mix1 or mix2 though?

I listened to the second mix. The track has some cool ideas - I like the drum part in particular.

I can hear some improvements on your previous mixes, but the frequency issues persist. I downloaded the both tracks (yours’ and the reference) and compared them. It sounds to me like the frequency response of you headphones may be skewing what you’re hearing. For example, if I apply this eq to the stereo mix, I get something a little bit closer to the reference:

It kind of tells me what your headphones might be doing. If you invert that frequency graph, I think you’ll find that would more-or-less be the frequency response of your cans.

All in all, @schmalzy has given excellent, detailed advice, which I can’t really add anything meaningful to, apart from this: Don’t forget to repay the favour by critiquing other people’s mixes. That is one of the best ways to develop and exercise your critical listening ear.


At this point im seriously questioning if I have some sort of hearing loss

I know its a cliche but Im struggling way too much myself at this point to think id be able to say anything meaningful to anyone else. It would be like a paralyzed midget trying to help someone move furniture

Hearing loss? I doubt it in that portion of the frequency spectrum.

What do I think is going on? It’s two-fold.

Number 1: Your headphones are doing exactly the opposite of what that EQ curve ColdRoomStudio posted - just like he said. And that makes sense. Headphones aren’t going to do a great job at 45hz, they’re going to inflate the low mid octaves to give you the sense of low end and weight they’re missing from the 45hz-ish region, they’re going to scoop the mids to make it sound more “smiley face,” and they’re going to cut a little “harsh” (or “up-front-ness”) to make things more soft sounding. That’s what I was hearing in the Ozzy song - more deep bass, less low mids, and more aggression-and-grab-you-by-the-ears up-front-ness. Lots of hyphens, I know.

Which headphones are you using?

I was going to suggest, if you’re using good headphones, to use crappy earbuds as a second set of “monitors.” They’ll do EVEN MORE of what your headphones are already doing and probably make you want to cut back on those low mids. If you’re using crappy earbuds or some random consumer headphones as your headphones now, then you might just have to wait it out or look for a different listening option. Which brings me to…

Number 2: You need to do something that radically changes how you hear this song. Brains start to accept something as “good” simply because they hear it a number of times. The easiest way to do that is to take some time away from this song. Seriously, take three days to a week and don’t listen to it. Work on something else. Listen to other music in your headphones. Then come back to your session, listen to the reference a few times then listen to your song directly afterwards and DO NOT STOP PLAYBACK…play it all the way through. You’ll hear the problems.

Another thing you can do to hear the problems is switch “monitors.” Use a different set of earbuds. Bounce the song to an MP3, throw that thing onto Google Drive, download it to your phone, and listen to it in your car.

Something that sometimes works for me is something as simple as just swapping the left and right channels of my playback system. I use a plugin to do it (there’s going to be something free out there to do exactly that task). it’s just enough of a shakeup to get my brain to listen differently. For example, I’ll be fine with a sharp keys lead in my left ear but, as soon as I swap the left and right channels, my right ear goes “Whoa! Too much!” Brains are dumb and adapt too quickly for this particular occupation.

Regarding you being a paralyzed midget trying to help someone move furniture: sometimes people so far up their own asses with the ability to carry a chair up the stairs don’t realize that the color of the chair won’t work anywhere on that floor and it should stay downstairs. Paralyzed midgets can see the chair and the room it’s supposed to go in, AND see that it’s not going to work. I’ll often find myself fighting with EQ or compression on a track when what I need to hear is “Dude, that part is awesome/bad. Turn it up/down.”

You’ll have a unique outlook and perspective on the songs posted in BTR. We’d love to hear it!

I need to be better about participating in BTR, too. I go in spurts. My life’s been crazy lately and hopefully I can start to be more consistent in my participation!

…and sorry for the long comments! I type WAY too much!


Sennheiser HD 439. Supposedly they have decent bass response etc.

I have no clue what the deal is. I think there are issues stemming from the fact that I literally havent listened to music through a proper speaker system in at LEAST 22 years. Thats how long ive been in this apt and I havent had a proper stereo setup. Its all been headphones or laptop speakers. So I am assuming my whole hearing perspective is screwed up.

In any case I have some Rokkit 8 G3 monitors arriving today or tomorrow. That will at least take away some mystery as to why I suck so bad. I wont be able to blame the headphones anymore

Another thing that could be an issue is that I work from templates in Reaper. So I have went thru at some point and set up templates so I dont have to start each recording from scratch. The downside is that at this point I guess I NEED to start over from scratch because im getting lost in the complexity of the template. In other words when the drums break out to the individual tracks, each of those tracks might have compression/EQ, which then are in busses. Like I might have a separate kick bus. That kick bus will then be in a drum bus, which is then in the master bus.

So just right there I might have 3-4 different places where EQ and compression might be getting applied.

Then, the way these EZ Drums work, each kit comes in a mixer. So for instance you might have an “ambient” track, then also an “ambient mono” or some other variation. Plus OH mics. There isnt always a ton of control…for instance sometimes it might be hard to get the kick totally out of the ambient track etc.

So it gets complex and its not always as easy as “roll off all the reverb under 300 HZ”. So I think I need to start from scratch and see how neutral I can keep everything since right now my problem seems to always be “too much” of this or that frequency

The whole musician thing has me really beat down right now. One minute you feel like a genius and the next minute you are a hopeless idiot.

Im picturing me in BTR when someone else is struggling with a mix. “Cheer up Frank, you dont suck nearly as bad as I do…and ive been a musician for 30 years!”

Awesome! It’s a step in the right direction!

As with anything, though, there’s good and bad news.

Good news: you’re going to be confused as hell about why things sound so weird on your monitors vs your headphones. Use those differences to your advantage. I check my low end by walking to the back of my room. I mix from the sweet spot for everything then I get up and go to the back of the room to check the bass vs kick vs toms vs reference levels. I use headphones to check my ambience. I used my speakers super quietly to check my vocal vs drums levels. I use my speakers loud to check guitar vs bass levels. I use a little tiny speaker that plugs into my headphone jack to check to make sure my kick and bass are audible even on bass-absent systems (that normally amounts to me adding some 700hz to the bass and some 500hz and 1khz to the kick).

Bad news: it’s going to be hard to adjust for a little while and room problems will only make that worse. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just know it’s going to be confusing at first. Spend some time finding the right spot in your room for your monitors. Acoustic treatment will help a ton, too! Google JESCO LOHAN and read the stuff he’s posted around the web. He’ll help you get there with placement and acoustic treatment! Most importantly, listen to a ton of great sounding music on your new monitors to get your ears adjusted to them.

Good luck!

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Mix 3
mainly went thru and matched a lot of levels. I had clipping at various stages in the bass chain. Went thru and EQ’ed EVERY drum and bass track and checked every track with SPAN.

Added some verb to guitars.

Adjusted levels on everything

Sounds a lot cleaner to me, then again I thought that the last time and the time before that hehe

Mix 3

EDIT, on 'phones it sounded great and I DO hear more kick popping thru on my laptop but I think I got the bass a little low now even though its really cleaned up a lot

Mix 4 lol

this is where I am experiencing difficulty using headphones/laptop

The last mix, mix 3, sounded great on phones but the bass totally disappeared on the lappy.

So this mix, #4, I just turned the bass up until it sounded stupid loud in the 'phones and now I do hear it thru the lappy speakers but I have no clue how it would translate thru some regular speakers

Yeah, the bass is a little loud, but it’s not ridiculous. I also think the snare’s a little too compressed. Maybe tone down the guitar 'verb a bit too.

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the bass on headphones though lol

Got my new KRK Rokkit 8 G3 monitors hooked up.


I havent listened to music thru real speakers in like 20 years. Its crazy. The bass seems overwhelming compared to what im used to.

Shows how much the mix can be affected because now mix 3 sounds like it has PLENTY of bass

I suggest you spend a LOT of time familiarizing yourself with how your favorite music sounds on them before trying to mix anything.

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yeah, jamming the Deep Purple/Rainbow right now. Probably throw on a VanHalen playlist as I go to bed. Its gonna make me flashback to being in my 20s because thats about the last time I listened to decent stereo stuff

Its already pretty interesting because I have the speakers down at the foot of my bed about 4 feet apart but the vox are coming from right between them lol. I keep waiting for a hologram of David Coverdale to pop up. Im not used to a stereo field

Its crazy, sitting here with huge grin, cracking up at how good this stuff sounds that ive heard a million times

All the bass lines are just popping out, even on this old stuff

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Hi The first time I listened I thought the bass was non existent. sounds so good now:) I was singing some lyrics and a melody line starting at 31 seconds. got my juices going for sure. :slight_smile: Didn’t read others yet.