Spark (Dusting off some rock mixing chops)

Dusting off some rock mixing with a Spark (loudness warning)

Did a quick mix. I had mixed this one once before. Revisiting.
Let me know how it is sounding, and what can be improved. Thanks!


Sounds great.
The vocals is so nice.
Professional recording.
I love that the vocals are floating above the mix.
I love the guitar solo on the background, and I wanted to hear more of it, the guitar solo can actually come up a bit in the mix.
Beautiful song, lovely vocals.

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cool vibe I know now my ears are really failing. I could not hear the vocal words in the first verse. Really a unique voice.
I was wondering if you think it would be easier for you to have all the tracks when you are asked to master???

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for mastering multi tracks are not needed :slight_smile: I can work with the mix as is. Are you asking for your mix?

No, I just don’t understand it I guess. It’s like, when mastering, you hear one guitat or vocal track too low or high, how can you adjust that? ha ha Don’t even answer because I wouldn’t understand it anyway,

Well it isnt any kind of dark art. It is about 80% EQ and 20% compression.
All frequencies are already there in the mix. You can sweep for those frequencies using a notch in the eq and boost them or cut them. Though, in an ideal world, most mastering engineers dont resculpt the sound, as they usually work with a mix engineer. But it is becoming more and more common these days…and Mixing and Mastering engineers are usually the same people. Mastering is slowly but steadily phasing away from the industry. Confirmed by some once really busy mastering engineers. Though some really really good mastering engineers are still thriving.

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Interesting song, is this a Cambridge Music Technology free download of multitracks, or from a mix contest, or something you did for a client?

My first impression was that the drums were really up-front and strong in the first part of the song. They sounded good, just seemed to dominate the mix a little bit. Listening again it seems my speakers are very volume dependent on how the mix sounds. They’re old computer speakers that I hadn’t used in a long time and started using again. I’ll try to listen to this later on studio monitors.

So far it seems like there are different volume levels on instruments in different sections of the song. Maybe my ears have gotten lazy, or the dynamics of the fast/loud parts and slower/soft parts are confusing my senses. (or these speakers)

It may be the song arrangement to some degree, but it seemed like the vocals got really quiet in places, and the end of the track seemed quieter than the first two minutes of the song. Take this with a grain of salt, as I’m only on the 2nd listen and am working with these speakers as I said. To try to be more specific, the snare in the earlier part of the song is relatively loud and crisp, and near the end of the song the tone of it seems softer and the volume lower in the mix.

It also seems like the sound of the song in the first two minutes versus that very last part (the most Rock sounding parts) are at different volumes and almost sound like different mixes. Is that in the tracks themselves, or was that something you did on purpose? This may be “squint mode” stuff (subtleties), or again may be my ears and perceptions at this time. Please elaborate on any of this that you may feel is erroneous. :slightly_smiling_face:

Also, I agree with Rene that the lead guitar at the end could get more prominence.

Last note - I notice that on this audio track, and also I believe that mastered track of Paul’s you uploaded, the length of the track is significantly longer than the song. Just pointing it out. This uploaded track is 4:49, but the song ends about 3:18 unless I missed something. I usually leave just a few seconds of silence after the end of a song when bouncing/rendering.

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yes I think it is. I had downloaded it a while back. It was also in one of the contests at amc.
It was a practice run. It is a good stem recording overall so I like to play around with different things in this mix. Trying to get my ears reset to rock again :laughing:

yup I have the drums cranked up. This is a drum forward version. I will post another version later at somepoint.

nope. I think it was intended to contrast overall. It could be subtleties like you say.

haha I tend to do that sometimes so tracks cant just be used somewhere (by non pros). I sometimes cut the lengths and sometimes extend it.

hmm I will have to check that out as well. Havent bother with translations on lofi speakers. Though they do struggle with loud mixes. Also check to see if there are any audio enhancements already inbuilt in your computer.

Thanks for listening :slight_smile:

Thanks Rene, that is a great observation. I will play around with the guitar stem a bit to see what I can do.

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Ah, kind of like a “watermark”, but not intrusive to the audio (unless you cut the music short).

No enhancements I’m aware of. “Spacial sound” is Off, and I don’t see anything else that would affect the sound. The speakers are Harman-Kardon HK195, a bit better than the average cheap computer speakers, but probably not by much. I have been using them again for about the last 2 weeks after a hiatus of 2+ years.

I don’t think we have talked about translations much on the forum for quite some time. Probably something good to revisit, though I don’t know if people are worrying about it as much as they used to. I remember burning rendered mixes to CD and running out to the car to listen. Ah, the good old days. :joy: I believe there’s now a plugin that will replicate multiple listening environments for you. I think once we realized the vast majority of people are probably listening on earbuds (or cheap computer speakers), we backed off of our fussy OCD. :nerd_face: :face_with_monocle:

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yes I use the slate vsx quite a bit. mix sounded fine in there, and the buds but I will check out whats happening on laptops. It likely needs some lowmid distortion added to translate better.

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This sounds really nice on my little cruddy work speakers (Ancient 2.1 “Auditek” computer speaker system).

A couple of points:
The vocal is a tad low in level. I personally don’t mind this, as I grew up on rock music where the vocals were always fairly indecipherable. From a listener perspective, this engenders the music with more power, which I think is important in this genre. That said, modern rock mixes tend to have the vocals a little louder than is the case here. I notice you mix a lot on cans and buds - lower vocals generally sound better on those devices as well.

I’m not sure if the source tracks were virtual or real drums. If it is real drums, it sounds like sample replacement/enhancement was used fairly heavily.

While I LOVE the actual drum sound choices themselves (especially that nice ringy snare), there is a real lack of dynamics within the drum performance itself. As a result the snare fills come of as very mechanical and “all maximum velocity” - “machine-gunny”. It is particularly noticeable where the snare fills start on an 16th note off beat (such as at 10 secs). Typically a drummer would be playing that almost as a fairly low velocity grace note, with the fullest velocity hit arriving on the downbeat… but here they all sound like 127 hits.

Cool track and mix - I’d like to check it out on my studio system.

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guilty as charged. I do have a gated snare verb layered in :upside_down_face:. Just enough to ring it. Other than that no sample replacements. Though I did think the drums were a bit mechanical. I wanted to add some dynamics but sort of slipped my mind.

Cool thanks. Just warming up here. If I free up by the end of sept, I might take a crack at Disconnected but no promises. I need a good couple of days on it. Rock mixes eat away my patience fast :rofl:

sounding good. I would say the vocals are slightly low in the first verse. the funny thing is that as the song goes on it becomes less of an issue. interesting how our mind adjusts things or maybe you turned it up as you went along. Love the drums and the bass working together, really solid. Good stereo spread from where i am sitting.

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Hi Eric.

Indeed. Psychoacoustics work in strange ways. I did indeed have the vocals low to make the classic “drowning” in a sea of guitars - power sound. Makes the guitars sound loud and big.

Though I may have overdone that bit just a tad.

Thank you for the listen!

Ok, I had a listen on my studio speakers… still great stuff! Let me just say at the outset, your mixing chops have improved exponentially since I last heard you do a rock mix. This is clean and powerful.

You’ve got a really interesting thing happening with compression… This is a case where I can actually here masses of compression, but I really like the sound of it. I typically hear this sound in some big pop mixes. It’s easy for me to hear (now) but hard to describe. Everything is nailed down super tight and “contained-sounding”, but the transients are extremely controlled so that the punch is retained. It is like the extreme smoothness of the non dynamic material emphasises the punch of the transients massively.

So here is what I think needs to happen to get this mix working “just so”….

Work on the long term dynamics - really dig in with “sectional” automation. Those drums are perfect in the choruses, but they are MASSIVELY too powerful in the verses. You are penalising the potential payoff the chorus could have by pretty much having the drums play linearly through the whole song. Pull them waaay back for the verses.

The guitars also need to be pushed more in the chorus. They sound too polite. Get them fighting the vocal a bit.

You’ve controlled everything so well - Now you need to inject some life back into it - go for it!

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thanks :slight_smile: though I have not personally done a lot of mixing (mostly composing) so I am not sure how much I have improved as a mixer, but I have definitely shifted my general mixing philosophy and improved overall “genre awareness”. As a physics major I understand the science behind everything happening, so that really helps.

Coming from an orchestral background, there is a stark difference in listening preferences, and hence mixing philosophies. Listeners of rock prefer punch and transience and it is valued more. This reflects in attack and release times on compressors.

Personally, I am not a big fan of explosive sounds in general so I never quite approached mixes from other genres with that mindset. Realizing that most listeners in that genre prefer punch. Their minds are focused on a select few things when listening casually.

In orchestral music, it is always a super fast attack and long release times as a general rule of thumb in cinematics. Though Hans Zimmer has often broken this rule. Mixing rock is definitely towards slow attack times on the most part. Combining the two genres, it is easier to isolate the punch by separating the mix into two busses of “philosophies”. One with a slow attack , and other with a fast attack. Which leads to the effect you described (but you already know that ).

That is the real elbow grease here.

Thanks for your feedback Andrew! :beerbanger:

“Spark”: Vocals are a little low in volume at times, but people often say I mix vocals too loud. Did you more than mix this? Song starts out kind of bizarre, but quickly gets better as it goes! Intro sounded better on the second listen for me. Very good singer. Other than vocal volume, the mix sounds very good to me! :slight_smile:

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