I may not be using the right term.
if you have different type of reverb on different tracks, its possible that the high frequencies also have reverb applied to it that adds up in the final mix and gets amplified if the decay time is too long on each track. I think your noise (distortion) is also getting some reverb applied to it because it is in the recorded tracks of the piano and guitar individually.
You could try reducing the decay time on the reverb or… like you mentioned cut some highs in the reverb signal (if the reverb is a separate FX track), not necessarily an LPF.
Usually the range of the instrument itself. If it is high violins I assume 10k would be a good place as usually the high harmonics of the violins are present in that range. You could also go as low as 5k if you just want a distant string sound. Play it by the ear in 5k to 10k range.
Your recordings have a crackle and a hiss, which is usually a good thing but if the noise level is too high it will make the mix sound unclean. Most analog crackles are fast, depending on the frequency of the signal. They accent a fast paced rock song very well but if its a ballad like song or a medium paced song, the crackle and hiss will dominate the empty parts and be apparent in a not a very good way. I would consider using a noise reducer on the most noisy track to bring the noise floor down a bit. You can also use a noise reducer on your fx track.
That is feeling way more tighter. I struggle with my low end as well so I am not a good one to respond on that area. There are really nice elements in this mix. I like the way that the elements are coming in and out with strings and synths. I especially like that bubbly synth. Nicely done. On first listen nothing is jumping out at me. I will try and have another listen when i have more time.
This song interested me because I use midi guitars, and rarely do I have real guitars to add. Version 2, the one midway in the thread, is the new version, right? I don’t notice any unnaturalness to them, perhaps the real guitars just overshadow the midi now. At any rate, it sounds great now!
I really found this production steps description to be really honest and worth remembering, especially as most of us here, even though it is a “recording” site, probably adhere to the two-step method. In fact, what I think we are doing here is striving for a better step two process because we don’t have the resources to do it the pro studio way. Indeed, we might have a three-step process, with BTR being the extra step. This may be more like a 1- Songwriting, 2- Simultaneously recording/mixing/producing, 3- Feedback, 4- More recording/mixing/producing, 5- More feedback, and then repeat. More the Prell lather/rinse/repeat method.
So what is the final product? It is when you have tried your best to get it to sound as best as it can and have run out of resources to do more, or when you have decided to accept it in some flawed form as good enough for government work, so to speak, and the world will just have to do the same.
For this song, it starts out very good as a song and a performance. Its inherent concept is to be this easy listening, folksy love song, and it is with the millions of other similar songs it must compete. So as good and improved as your version is, how memorable it will be is not assured no matter how perfect the production (excluding songwriting). Having said that, in the two-step Prell world we live in, you’re getting the hang of the technical side.
Yeah, in this version I did away with the MIDI guitar in both of these versions (actually, I might have left a few little lines in, but I don’t think you can really hear them). To clarify, this is nothing like the really cool MIDI guitar you get from UJAM. This is played in on a keyboard, so it sounds not like a guitar, but a keyboard playing guitar samples. Your MIDI guitar has very realistic samples of guitar strums. That sounds awesome. So what you’re hearing here is real guitar: two guitar parts, each recorded in stereo (with a large diaphragm Studio Projects C1 and a Shure SM81).
Interesting. Very fair. That actually is probably a good description for much of what goes on here. But a lot of what happens here is mixing practice, bashing, fixing, but it’s not original stuff. It’s other people’s stuff. I think that was @Lophophora’s point here, is that there were some not very nice things in the raw material that I didn’t have control over. So, I guess you could say I took on some production tasks by redoing the drums, recording two new guitar parts, etc.
Thanks, Steve. I really appreciate that! And I love the Prell metaphor! Hmm. Maybe a byline for our website! "Indie Recording Depot: Lather, Rinse, Repeat.
Thanks for sharing this song and the work you did on this.
Lot of great information here about production and toughts you have on this.
Your first mix sounded odd to me: as @Lophophora mentionned, there are parts that disappear suddendly. In the mix process, I would say it could be somp compressors pumping for some reasons but it didn’t sound that way.
I also found the song (at that stage) felt a bit lost with no obvious goal to fill: parts come and go away, instruments aren’t connected as playing the same song (does this mean something???) and somehow a producer would have a vision for turning all those needles in the same direction.
The second mix works better to me, it sounds more as a song, not bunch of tracks played together.
But it seems (as I read the threat) you spent too much time on this song and you’re beginning to dismantle what you did earlier…
Again, thanks for sharing steps you did for that work!
You are so right, @ncls . I spent WAY too much on this song. I think it’s going in the right direction, but I’d feel a lot better if I were able to get it sounding this way in two hours, like it seems most of you are able to do.
hopefully I’m “getting there,” but it’s a learning process and a labor of love at this point. I’m trusting I’m learning things and that I’ll become more efficient over time.
I am most certainly not lol… I have myself sat on mixes for days even weeks. What I realized I was doing wrong was my listening environment and choice of reference tracks. You mix is only as good as your listening environment. Investing in superior quality headphones is step 1. Investing in some treatment is step 2. A treated room is always superior to an untreated room. I understand that most mixers stop at Step 1 (I used to be one of them until I decided to take the next plunge and found that it was worth it). Stopping at headphones is still fine if you can project the mix from headphones to live environment using your knowledge and experience.
Step 3: You need good quality reverb, compression and EQ units. Analog or Digital plugins is only a matter of preference and taste. Learn those equipments and plugins really good. Learn how to do eq sweeps effectively.
Step 4: Use 2 good reference points. You wont know what is good unless you have heard it and compared it. In the music industry good and bad changes constantly, but what is consistent is your ear. Whether you use your favorite tracks from the classic days, pit them against some newer tracks and you suddenly feel like your favorite was largely inferior to the newer track, you are not alone. However, choose two starting points. Even if it is as simple as a choice of static white, pink or brown noise. Start there and work your way up by pitting your track against a musical sonic reference.
Step5: Choose a stopping point. Definitely utilize friends and contacts with good ears. Bounce it off a good mastering engineer for some more input. Eventually it dawns on you. Whole process that is definitely not 2 hour long but you can choose to stop at anytime when you feel.
I work mainly out of headphones (Sennheiser HD600’s). I actually don’t usually listen to them for recreational listening – I use my Grados, which are brighter. But maybe a corollary to what your saying, it dawns on me, is that I need to listen through my Sennheisers more. I do when I reference, but I need to use them when I don’t reference more. I need to train my ears. Need to listen to music with the same cans I’ll be using for referencing.
My room isn’t treated yet. I have a bunch of insulation panels sitting in the garage, and it’s “on the list.” Hoping sometime this summer to get it done.
I feel like I have great tools, and am learning to stop switching to a different EQ every time I mix!
Knowing when to stop. Crap, you are so right about that. I can spend hours tweaking and fiddling, then take a few days off and go back and find it was better before I started fiddling. Mixing brings out the OCD in me.
The other piece I’d add to the list is the bashing. I learn so much from people who are willing to tell me I’ve got broccoli in my teeth! The raw candor that is the culture on this site is healthy and refreshing and invaluable.
Thanks for this.
I’m feeling pretty comfortable with my vocals and guitars, pianos, “most of the stuff” that goes into a mix. No question, my next steps are learning how to do drums and getting better at my low end. Man, that’s hard.
I feel like I’m “getting there,” but those are the two pieces that seem to set apart good mixes from great mixes. I’m workin’ on it, but not there yet. But I know where I’m goin’!
Here’s my long overdue bash. I doubt if I have many new insights, there’s a lot of people with much more experience than me on this site! Anyway for what it’s worth:
The acoustic guitar sounds to me over compressed or otherwise distorted. Sometimes that’s a great sound, but here a more clear and simple sound would have been more effective. You told me on my thread (DNA Mama) that you record your guitar in a similar way I do with two different condenser mics on the 12th fret and the back end of your soundboard.To me it seems in particular the low mids are distorted (probably the mic on your soundboard) so you could check your input levels or any sort of compression you added later.
What I also noticed that piano and guitar seem to be fighting with the vocals for space in the low mids (somewhere between 400 Hz and 1,2 Khz is my guess). I had a similar problem with DNA Mama. I got rid of it using my trusty old Nova dynamic EQ in parallel mode with the vocal ducking all the instruments (which I usually sum to an all instrument buss) by about 2 Db. You could do this per instrument as well (mainly piano and guitar getting in the way). I felt the vocal was buried just a tad too much in the instruments. I like the bass and drums in the song, but maybe they’re a bit too much of a good thing. When they kick in, the vocals get drowned too much.
Finally the vox. It is a good voice, I agree with others. But it does have a resonance which can turn nasty. Not sure at which frequency, my guess is somewhere between 2 to 4 Mhz. Again my old friend Nova (or any other dynamic EQ) could do wonders to lessen the impact of these resonant peaks. Another thing: this nasty resonance seems to compete with a dominant frequency in the strings, and both add up to a not so nice dominancy in the mid range. Besides eq’ing, what could help is placing the strings way out on the left and right, freeing the middle spectrum for the vocals.
As I said I’m no pro, not by a long shot. So if there are any more experienced producers/ mixers out there, please bash my bash ;).