ManAbyss - Personality

Hi all,
I’m George.

This was my first time mixing real drums and I have to say, I definitely prefer drum samples! :slight_smile: No phase issues, no editing, no bleed, no problems…:sweat_smile:
At some parts of the song I messed subtly with the arrangment.
I didn’t use any of the DI guitars.
In the end this was fun and a veeery good exercise for me.
Looking forward to hearing everybody’s comments on how I could improve!
Good luck to everyone!


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0 voters

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First thoughts: very nice! I like what you did with the arrangement it’s very inventive and totally works for the song. It definitely perked my ears up.

What would I do differently?
I fear the breath at the begging of your mix doesn’t really add anything, you could safely cut it from the mix.
There’s a bit too much compression in the drums, you could get more power by letting them breathe a bit more, and the cymbals get lost for the most part, bring them up along with a bit more of the room mics. But that’s about it I really think this mix has a lot more going for it than against it, great work.

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Thx for the feedback tachin1.
Good call on the drums compression.
As I mention in my post I struggled a lot with them.
About the breath: I just used it as a joke for all the “gasping for air” breaths I had to cut out!:innocent:

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Nice take on the song ManAbyss :wink:
The overall balance is pretty good, except for some small honky buildup of frequencies at 800-ish kHz, guitar and back vocals contributing to this the most. Not bad drum mixing, but I think that the song at this stage would definitely benefit from the use of some drum samples to augment the original sound (if the drum processing has led you this far, and tweaking the settings would only degrade the sound even further). The kick drum is too “clicky”, and lacks the low end definition and size. Adding and blending some good low end heavy kick drum sample would do the trick. As for the upper midrange attack, it is a good thing that we can hear it and identify it, it brings up the kick drum, my only concern is that it is the wrong kind of frequency thats being accented (for this song), I would lower the EQ frequency, or again, just try to blend a good sounding kick drum attack sample. For my taste the snare could benefit from more room sound as it is a bit dry.
Bass guitar lacks a bit more definition, maybe try to high pass it and add distortion on a parallel send.
Other than that you did a great job, keep it up :slight_smile:


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Thx for the suggestions Zsolt!
I am sorry for the question but I have no experience in using drum samples along with the original signal.
What is the best way to use drum samples?
I guess, you insert for example a kick sample at all the points where the original kick hits?
How do you ensure that the both hit the exact same point and not have any “double hits”?
Is this done manually, sample by sample, or is there a quicker way? Some application at the DAW maybe?
I use Cubase 5.

Very good! Only snare bothers me a bit, but just a little. As if the kick and snare aren’t perfect match together. Otherwise I have nothing to complain.

Glad you asked :slight_smile:
There are a few ways you can go about this, I personally use Pro tools, but some of the methods are applicable to all the other DAWs.

  • First is the old fashioned way: you chose a sample that you like, import it into your project, on a track bellow your main track, and then manually drag the sample to each and every hit. Yes you guessed it, this is soo time consuming, it would take you half a day just to replace all the kicks, toms, and then come the snares with all those ghost notes…too much trouble, but at my beginnings, I used to do it this way. Hell, if you’re not passionate enough to spend 6 hours on manually replacing the drums then you shouldn’t be a mixer n the first place :slight_smile: haha kidding aside, there are better methods of doing the same thing.
  • Using drum triggering plugins: back in the days, I remember when Toontracks Drumtracker appeared I thought all my drum replacing nightmares would be over. These kind of plugins enable you to either capture the trigger points (these are the transient spots of each hit) and export them as MIDI file, or play back in real-time any sample you load into them, or both. Te problem was that you could easily catch all the transients from say a mic bleed (you analyze the kick drum, but the software also picks up the snare bleed from the same mic). Thats why these plugins have various filters and threshold settings so you could “tell” the plugin at what exactly to capture. The ones you should definitely check out are Slate Digital Trigger, XLN Audio Addictive Trigger, and if money is an issue (it always is) there is a cool vst that does the job pretty good without breaking the bank: ApTrigga3 from apulSoft. You just load any sample you want, put it on a say kick drum track and it will play back in real time. Now the downside to this (apTrigga) is you only have one sample so, it could very quickly turn into a machine gun type of sound, especially on fast consecutive hits.
  • My workaround for this is a third method I use, you either analyze the track, by Melodyne and export the information as MIDI file, or I just go manually and enable Tab to transients in Pro Tools (I’m sure Cubase has something similar). So each tie I hit Tab on my keyboard, my cursor jumps to the next transient in an audio file. I open up a midi or an instrument track, place it bellow the audio track, and just draw a single short note. I cut it (ctrl x on a PC cmd x on a Mac) and wherever the transient is I just paste (ctrl/cmd V) the MIDI note. You can automate this process by using an application such as QuicKeys on a Mac, or any similar program on a PC (there are free ones too). Then all you have to do is load up a drum library (I use Kontakt as a vsti host, and there are numerous drum libraries out there to choose from), and so every time a MIDI note is detected it will play back an audio file, but being that most drum libraries for Kontakt are Round robin and recorded at different velocities, no consecutive hits will be the same sounding.
    One thing you should always check when drum replacing: PHASE. Zoom in on your original say kick drum audio file and the sampled one, the phase should always be as close to each other as possible, meaning if on one track the waveform is going up, then going down, the same should be happening on your sample. If they are out of phase you should just select all your drum samples and move them ever so slightly to phase align them to the original.
    I just hope I didn’t confuse you even further rather than helping you out. Once you get the hang of it, and choose the method that fits you the most, you will be drum replacin’ in no time :slight_smile: For anything you may have not understood or need a detailed explanation how it works just send me a message and I’ll get back to you :wink:



I’d like to thank the guy who gave me a vote of “1”…!
I guess he didn’t make any suggestions for my improvement as a mixer, because he didn’t know where to begin since he hated my mix so much…
I wish him good luck at the competition.

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Geroge, nice mix , other what has been said I really enjoy the vibe of your track and I thak you for the comments you made on mine good luck top job!!!

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Hey man…well done vocal is solid and so is bass…just not sold on snare and guitars a bit too thing but good luck dude.

LOVE the arrangement and ideas!

I feel the drums are liiittle brighter than the rest of the arrangement. Maybe a deesser on a master drum buss could help with that just to smooth them out a little.

Outside of the sound of the mix I did observe the verses after the first chorus instrumental bridge and before “personality” on the second chorus’ ending caming out slightly harsh. I think the guitars might have been cut off a little early. I would recommend maybe letting them ring 1/4 note more so they would cut on the tempo’s up or downbeat to give it a little of a polish.

Besides that, I truly love what you did with this song. Great creativity and ideas!

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WOW! i love your mix.
Great ideas!

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Thx for your kind words my friend.

Hey George, pretty good sounding mix you have here. Nice frequency spread and good sounds in general. Lots of creativity in the arrangement.

Where I can hear room for improvement is in the way the vocals sit in the mix. In the commercial mixes I generally reference, they seem to find a place for the vocal where it sits right in among the instruments, while still being loud and clear. Your vocal tends to sit on top of the mix. I think it is a combination of 2 things - the reverb and the eq.

The reverb is quite thick in the low mids, and that tends to make it more noticeable and almost puts the vocal in a different “space” to the other elements.

The vocals also have quite a bit of low end on them, and that has the effect of making them sound quite “large” in comparison to the other elements with low end, like the drums and bass. Just high passing the vocals more aggressively would help them sit better IMO.

Nice work!

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Very creative arrangement and use of effects! I like some of the things you did differently to distinguish your mix from others, but the one of stopping all instruments and leaving silence before one of the vocals in the chorus was a bit jarring to me. Cool effect, but the silence seemed too long after that first one. The breath in the beginning was interesting too, but it doesn’t seem to fit the context. I can understand that ‘breath’ thing on the vocals though, I had to work on that for sure.

Something I had to work on was that ‘stick’ sound from the drum overheads. I’m hearing quite a bit in your mix and I think the song benefits from having that addressed more (reduced in prominence). I just find it distracting.

The lead vocal does seem to be quite prominent. I went strong on that too, but I think yours dominates the mix. The vocal reverb seems to add to that too; there’s a lot of reverb, and while I like the sound of the space you achieved, the reverb level is quite strong.

Definitely the most creative contest mix I have heard so far though!

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Nice work on the mix.