David Tyo Contest Mix

This is a tough one to mix and quite a bit different than his first one. @blairhall1974 was brave enough to put his mix out there, here’s my go at it. Let the bashing begin! :beerbanger:

Final Revision 12.21:

I listened to this on my laptop speakers and then again with my earbuds on the same laptop. The only think that I’m noticing is that the kick drum needs something.

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Thanks Al. Hmmm. So, are you not hearing it well enough? Or is it jump too wimpy and not cutting through the mix? Or something else. I’m definitely distorting the drums more than usual. Maybe that’s it?

Everything is sounding good except the verses vocal. I think it needs to be a bit thinner (take out some mids) or something to help it to sit well with the instruments. I think that sending the piano/acoustic guitar/both and the vocals to a buss and compressing them hard and then mixing that in it might help it to be more cohesive.

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Thanks Eric, I’ll give that a try. After listening in my car, I actually added the verse vocals to my mix notes to try and address. I like your parallel compression idea. Am definitely going to give it a try. I spent so much time on the stupid chorus vocals I think I got lazy on the verses. :slight_smile:

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Ok just did a couple o’ listens… I haven’t read the other replies yet so apologies if I’m not treading new ground. I also haven’t listened to mine since I posted it so hopefully I forget what I did and it doesn’t cloud my comments.

  • first thing that jumps out at me is the drum distortion… for me, it’s a bit too much, at least in the verses. I’d also love for the snare to have more power/oomph… the drums don’t feel like they’re driving the track as much as I’d like. I think the kick can be lumped in with that too
  • really dig how you’ve worked in the vocal doubles, I have a tendency to tuck them in under the lead but I really like how you’ve treated them
  • I think you did an awesome job with the chorus vocals! Can you expand on how you approached them? Final chorus can probably have the vox brought up a hair tho, feels like it doesn’t have the same balance as the other choruses
  • feel like the verse vox can have some more high-end shine to them… maybe it’s a move for the whole mix? I think it’s tricky in the chorus because it runs the risk of that vocal going nuclear

Blah blah blah, still sounds really good man! Tweak time!

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That’s it. I thought I was hearing something static-y but thought it might just be cheap laptop speakers. lol

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Good stuff Blair and Al. I’ll definitely hit these items in my update. One thing I was thinking about is lowering the distorted drums for the verses, then hitting them harder for the chorus sections. Time is running out!
PS. Blair - I’ll try and post some screen shots and/or FX chains for the vocals when I can get back on my DAW. Thanks for being brave and posting yours first. This is one tricky mix!

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So many things to like in this mix. I especially like the way you build on the chorus. I like the telephone effect you did on the voice at 2:35 or so.

In the very beginning, the acoustic guitars are too thin. They’re missing their low end. It sounds like you might have rolled up the HPF too much. My “hunch” is that it’s probably something in that 150-250-ish range. They’re just missing body.

The other thing is the lead vocals on the verses. On the chorus they sound fine. Something funny on the verses though. I agree with Blair. Not sure what it is; I do agree they need some air. In addition, though, there’s a muddiness to them. I’m suspecting the low mids. There’s something else muddying them up somehow, though. I’m actually wondering if it’s the bass? How did you EQ the bass? The bass sounds really strong in the low mids to me. It almost sounds like its competing with the voc, plus the voc reverb, that’s making it muddy. Then with the absence of the high end shimmer on the voc, it makes it muddy.

I do like the sound of the snare. I’m curious, though: the snare hits at 2:00 have a “machine gun” kind of quality to them. I haven’t listened to the original tracks, so that might just be in the original. Sound like all the exact same velocity hits to me. Just a thought. Did you resample the drums?

The electrics coming in at 0:50 are really nice. Very clean. Blended nicely.

That’s all I got. Sounds really good to me. I’ve been really sick for about two weeks with this upper respiratory thing and haven’t been mixing at all since Thanksgiving. Listening to what you did here inspires me. Hoping I have time to do something with it before the contest is over.

Nice job, man!

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Thanks for the great comments. I definitely need to deal with that verse vocal! I’ll check into it for sure. I’m wondering if the muddiness may be coming from the delay I’ve got on there too. I am thinking I’ll dial it back a little more on the verse and see if that helps. Good ears on the acoustics! I high passed the crap out of 'em to keep from muddying things up when everything is going. But I guess I should automate that when they are the main instrument.

On the snare, I’m pretty sure what you’re hearing there is from the track itself. There are some funky edits and timings on these tracks. I am trying to do the drums without any samples, even though he said it’s OK to use some. I may try out a few before I’m done though.

I appreciate you rolling out of bed to give tis a listen. You always have good comments. I hope you fell better!

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Just listening on my cruddy work speakers…
Overall, it sounds good - I really like the attitude that the drums have. I’m not hearing any overt distortion on these speakers, but that isn’t saying much!

Overall, I think you’ve done really well here. I really enjoyed the effects tails on the vocals that fill the silences leading into the choruses. The others have made some really good points, and many of them are probably listening on much better systems than me at the moment.

That said, I think you still need tame that note in the chorus where he is really pushing his voice into distortion (vocal distortion, not audio distortion)- the “Ne” of “Never”. There is a proliferation of high-mid harmonics that happen on that note that just eviscerate the eardrums. Maybe some kind of dynamic eq, or even just plain 'ol automation would help…

I’ve listened to a few versions of this track (including the artists), and come to the conclusion that it would be very difficult to sound good, no matter how much processing you do… To my ear, there is a fundamental flaw in the arrangement that causes the choruses to sound really harsh (and a bit amateurish, tbh)…and that is the full voiced, distorted guitar chords.

If those chords were played as just low string power chords, the power and impact would still be there, but the wouldn’t create this crazy fog of distortion the builds up in the high mids with those super-intense vocals… If you could find a way to knock the high mids out of those distorted guitars and still make it sound like it was meant to sound that way, I think you might be on a winner.

All the best!

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I LOVE hearing that! Still tweaking them, but that’s what I’m going for. Thanks!

Haha! Be glad you’re just enduring one note! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Great idea though!

Seriously, thank you so much for the comments Andrew. I was literally just bringing it up to go through my mix notes, now I have a couple to add. I totally agree with your assessment on this song. I think this track falls short on production/arrangement exactly where you pointed out, and that is certainly the trickiest part of this mix too because of that.

Unfortunately, I’m at the point where I have to render some stems to save CPU cycles. My i3 craptop is on it’s knees just opening the project now. Hopefully I can get it done before the Blue Screen Of Death pays me a visit. Save early and often is my mantra. I don’t think I can add even one more plugin. It may be a long slow evening…

Great song. For me the only thing that stood out was the drums were overly distorted. I also like the telephone effect.

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Thanks for the listen Paul. I’m working on my revision mix and still considering the drums. That was a direction I intentionally took and am weighing whether or not it serves the song. As to the “telephone effect”, I’d like to take credit for the idea, but it was in the song writer’s original mix, and he mentioned it in his notes, so I figured that would be something he would want to keep.

I know a lot of the choices are personal in nature. It’s what I enjoy about this forum. I find all the different input helpful. I will check out the remix.

Yes, it is soooo helpful to get other ears on your mix. Especially after you’ve been down the rabbit hole for a few days hyper-focused on getting a stupid automation to work or the “right” reverb sound or similar… Plus, the folks on here are uber-talented musicians AND mixing engineers!

Here’s a revision based on you guys’ input - I also added it to the first post.

Things I did: automated the kick/snare input levels into Eventide’s Omnipressor to control the drive somewhat, added some beef to the kick ala a Barking Dog plugin :wink: , side-chained the bass/kick, I de-essed the whole electric guitar bus during the singing parts in the chorus to soften them, clipped gained chorus vocal as Andrew suggested, also added an API2500 to the mix bus for nothing but “color”… Probably more, but you know how it goes! :flushed:

Here’s a screen capture of my Chorus vocal chain. Not seen here is all the manual clip gain edits on the track. I do that first to get a general leveling so the plugins don’t need to work as hard.

Not sure if this is helpful or not, but the “Vox CHR” is the main chorus vocal. I did very little processing to the actual track other than the leveling plugins: MAutoVolume which I always use, and now the Sonic Anomaly VOLA (voice leveling amp) which was a very pleasant surprise and works surprisingly great. Oh yeah, and is FREE!

Then “LV6” is the stereo “distorted” vocal track. I treated it as a parallel track and basically darkened it up with the EQ84, but with a MID bump around 800 to bring that out, then did all sorts of weird crap to it including a bit of phasing and stereo widening. You can’t tell from the fader, but it’s just barely tucked up undr the main vocal to fill it out and take of some of the edge. (hopefully!)

The “LV8” is the high harmony or something. Those all dump into the “- LV LVL3-” bus, then that dumps into “[Vox-L]” bus which is the “Lead Vocal” group.

So the SPL DeEsser across all of the chorus tracks, then another VOLA to level all the summed tracks before hitting two compressors I’m trying out; the Elisia Alpha which has a wonderful warm saturation and finally the Millennia TCL-2 which is just as smooth as butter. Neither is doing too much, just a couple of dB and adding their flavor.

Hope this helps! If these chorus vocals sound “good”, it’s just a stupid happy accident, because I threw anything and everything at it and it was just trial and error until something sounded …OK.

Anyway, still waiting for your revision Blair. :wink:

Thanks Mike!! Very much appreciated.

I’m under the gun here, have until first thing Saturday morning before I’m gone from the studio until January… gonna try and make revs before I go so I can make the contest, but otherwise I might fix once I’m back home. It’s super annoying when life gets in the way of fun :rofl:


Hi Mike, I just got a chance to listen to the most recent mix on my studio system. The vocals are sounding great on this mix. You’ve definitely nailed that part of of the mix - top job with that!

One thing I’m hearing is a bit of a “transient mis-match” between the kick and snare drum. The kick has a really prominent leading transient attack, whereas the snare seems very soft in attack by comparison. Those are generally to sonic elements I notice that generally have matching attacks in most mixes I hear. If anything, usually the attack of the kick is a little softer than that of the snare, so it somehow feels a bit weird to have their roles swapped in this case.

Nice work!

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