BMTH Doomed mix contest

Super complicated mix. Soooo many moving parts lol

my mix

ref MP3

Wow, another very challenging mix…

Hope this critique won’t result in suicidal thoughts or inordinate amounts of self-pity and hand-wringing :grimacing::wink: Having the ref track to compare with is really helpful btw… Anhoo, here goes

The extreme low end of the mix sounds “within spec” with nothing sounding overly out of place there to my ears - that’s a good start.

Another good point is that the verse vocal tone sounds quite good… however…

Dynamics is the area that needs more attention here. Notice how your lead vocal sits “on top of” the mix rather than “inside it”? That is a result inadequate dynamic control, either via compression and/or automation.

For example, compare the first verse vocal in your mix and the ref. (One of the issues is that the ref material is very compressed - not only the entire mix, but also the individual mix elements, so make sure you do the comparison after equalizing the volume differences between the two mixes)… from the part where he says: “Cut off my wings… etc” . Notice that in the ref. the musical elements are comparatively louder than yours’ yet every single syllable vocal still sounds perfectly audible. In your mix, the end of each phrase “…wings and…”, “…me up…” etc dip noticeably in volume.

I find that multiple levels of compression (sometimes combined with clip-gain prior to compression) are often required to get that degree of dynamic control. Often, using multiple compressors stops any one compressor working too hard. Each stage of compression “conditions” the signal to hit the next compressor, so it can work on the signal in a more subtle way.

Where the gap between the mixes becomes really noticeable is when the chorus hits. Your mix sounds “skinny” in the low mids, and somewhat harsh and biting in the highs and high mids compared to the ref.

This is partially due to the lack of dynamic control on the lead vocal. The screaming vocals become very “peaky” and piercing in that crucial 4 - 6 k area when he hits those distorted high notes, whereas the ref is beautifully even and smooth. The feeling of the vocal “sitting on top of” rather than “inside” the mix persists in the chorus, and contributes to that sense of abrasiveness. Assertive compression will help here, possibly even using some multiband compression to “tuck in” those peaky high mid frequencies when he hits those high notes.

The chorus is also where the warmth in the low mids of the bass becomes particularly noticeable. You have a fairly pronounced dip in your mix centred around 140hz, which is contributing toward the sense abrasiveness in the highs & high mids due to the lack of balance between the low and high frequencies.

These last two issues (in addition to the overall sonic signature other mixes you have posted here) point to what I suspect may be a monitoring issue. I’m thinking your monitors may have a slightly subdued high mid and high end region, combined with a “warmth bump” around the 150hz mark. This would result in the signature sound I’m hearing in your mixes, where you cut the low mids too much and push the highs and high mids.

I remember auditioning monitors at the store where I bought mine, and the reason I chose my current monitors was because I noticed that many of the other monitors in my (lower budget) price-range exhibited this same “pushed low mids/subdued high mids/highs” signature, whereas the monitors I eventually chose were less “smooth” and “flattering” to the reference songs I was auditioning, but ultimately slightly more even sounding across the spectrum.

That said, pretty much any monitor can be made to work, it’s just that you may need to audition your mixes (and your reference material) on a few other systems to get a good “average” to aim at on your monitors.

…now please, take this in good faith. My goal isn’t to destroy your confidence here - only to offer some pointers as to where to go next. You’re making good progress - keep at it.


Holy shit. I think that reference sounds awful! What the hell??? Is that normal for this style??? I almost never mix this type of stuff though…do correct me if I’m wrong.

Jon, was that reference uploaded directly to the site? Or did you have it in your session as a reference track, bounce it, and forget to turn off your 2 bus processing?

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It’s hard to compare the two because the levels are so different. I keep having to adjust my volume.

The biggest things I notice is that your mix sounds more “crispy,” and that your mix has less overall definition than the reference one. A good example is the bridge, where in the reference mix I can hear the drum beats more clearly whereas in your mix they get more masked by the vocal.

What do you think is wrong with the reference mix? I don’t listen to this kind of music either, but I enjoyed it.

Why are those synths and guitars louder than the vocal? And they seem like they’re overpowering the snare too. Right around :40 - 1:00 to me, this thing sounds like pure clutter. The toms are really dark. I don’t get it. I was surprised at how the vocal was forced to compete with everything else eating up the 4-8k range. I guess my overall complaint was it felt incredibly cluttered and uneven.

Hey Jon, who mixed that reference?

Cristina…its probably a style and taste thing…It seemed a little counter-intuitive the way the levels were set, but if you guys like it, I’m certainly not going to tell you the mix is ‘wrong’…just seemed a little strange to me.

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thats directly loaded to the site, MP3 from Amazon lol

here it is again. this might just be the way it sounds lol.

266k MP3

Mixed by Dan Lancaster, mastered by Ted Jensen

ok, for further reference value. The “my mix” I submitted above was treated to an Equivocate matching curve after I basically got it to where I got it to lol. I matched it to the reference mP3 of the original song

The curve it came up with wasnt THAT radical compared to for instance me comparing one of my home recorded originals up against Chevelle or BLS or whatever

here is the curve…mostly it ended up adding some high end:

IMO of course it made the mix sound better, but for reference sake here is the song WITHOUT the EQ matching. I had to turn it down about .8db to keep it from hitting 0 db

Mix 1 NO EQ matching curve

Mix 1 as posted above WITH EQ matching curve

first off…any chance the lead vocal is simply turned up too loud?

secondly, I notice there is no desser(s) ANYWHERE lol.

Ok, ill document the vocal processing a bit:

EQ is flat except for high pass and a 4db high shelf cut way up at over 10khz

The lead singer has about 5 tracks where he has some doubles, some low vocals and some of it is back and forth answering.

Each of those tracks has a CLA76 on it with ratio 4, attack 3.5, release 7 (fastest). So either way thats a pretty fast attack since at its slowest its still only 1 millisecond

On that lead vocal, in the first verse, the GR never goes above .5 db

On the first chorus the GR is still not heavy but hits 3db a few times and 4 on the word “NOT worth saving”

all of the lead singers tracks then go into his own bus which has a CLA-2A. It is way more active than the cla76’s…bouncing up and down between 0 and 4db GR on the verse. On the chorus it mostly stays below 2db but does go up to 5db on a few words like the sibilant “shove”

The only other compression (unless you count some Slate tape machines here and there) is the API 2500 on the 2 bus (sub master). Ratio 2, medium attack. On the chorus it is generally only going up to .5db and maybe hits 1db a couple times on snare hits. The Equivocate curve would have been going into that compressor

Then on the master bus I have an L3LL ultra maximizer with “out ceiling” at -.3 and thresh at -2.3. On the chorus I dont even see it registering any attenuation

The drum bus and other busses such as ‘strings’, ‘percussion’ etc all had their own compressors but again everything was set pretty light. So there was some overall compression of course before stuff was hitting the API 2 bus

So im not sure what any of that tells us.

Am I correct in understanding that this mix is very lightly compressed? undercompressed? Especially compared to some of my way overcompressed mixes?

Wait a minute…is the 266k MP3 thing theirs?

And Mix 1 WITH EQ matching curve is yours? HA!! That’s fucking funny. Yours is better!! OMG!!! HAaaaaa!

yeah, 266 is straight from amazon lol

Well…I mean take that as a grain of salt though, because I think their mix is downright awful. I respectfully (AND I MEAN RESPECTFULLY) disagree with Cristina…but I think theirs is just shit.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against those guys (Dan and Ted), and I think its great what they’re out there doing.

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no skin off my back. I never heard of any of them or the band B4 lol

I think it is just somewhat typical of modern rock stuff from what I gather. Its VERY layered with many elements that arent really going to stand out but they are there. Strings sections, MANY synth parts, many percussion parts.

Then you have ebow guitar basically duplicating the strings and many extra guitar parts

The actual old timey bass guitar drops out of about half the song since there is all of this synth stuff going on anyway.

Then tons of vocal tracks etc

very dense.

What do u think of this mix? When i joined NTM this was the current song but I joined near the end of that month so i didnt bother DLing this or working on it. Id say its pretty similar in the modern style. Very complicated, very dense.

Its light years ahead of that piece of shit they posted this month. Are you SURE that wasn’t a rough mix??

Sound like neither of them have any experience mixing sound effects but that’s understandable if they’re both mainly music guys. I chucked a bit at 2:30 when that car drove by and when that Mustang rear ends the other car at 2:58 lol. That was all wrong, but no biggie. Cool of them to include a track that had that some attempt at SFX in the reel!

well they included a “rough mix” but I havent posted it lol. Theyd probably get pissed if I did. in any case it sounded like a rough mix


Mix 2. Different compression settings etc

better, worse?

Mix 2

Well, this is all pretty puzzling to me, as I too felt the reference mix was decent.

…So logically my critique was pretty much based on that premise…Obviously I’m missing something…

In any case - I think I’ll refrain from commenting any further, for fear of muddying the waters to a greater degree and offering contradictory advice that will probably confound and confuse.

FWIW, here is a SOS article on Dan Lancaster mixing another song from the same album, that may (or may not) be helpful:

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Wait…Andrew, please don’t jump to that conclusion…I may be the one missing something here. I seem to be the minority that liked Jon-Jons mix better than Dan Lancaster’s…

You probably have a lot more experience than I do in this neck of the woods. Keep in mind that I make a living mixing everything BUT this type of stuff.

…and rest assured that you’re opinion (and Cristina’s) is highly valued and neither JonJon and I would simply overlook either of your views on this!

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I think Mix 1 was better.

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