Hola contestiers and judges. I humbly submit my mix for your consideration. I tried to bring out the “Rocking” aspect of what the band had done, though I chose a somewhat subdued kick tone rather than a clicky one. The acoustic guitars are very low in the mix. I hope you find it interesting and exciting. The song grew on me, and I really have an appreciation for it now, after spending 10+ intimate hours at its bedside.
Thanks @ManAbyss! I tried to make the backing vox equal with the lead vox, which will still mask the lead vox a bit, but I like that full harmony more than just a ‘supplement’ backing vox on this song.
I did put a DeEsser on the lead track, and set it for general reduction. I can see now your concerns with those 3 spots, as they could have been more aggressively reduced. I’m always wary of taking DeEss too far, as it can degrade the vocal IMO.
I think you were successful, this mix does rock.
I know others have mentioned that the background vocals are louder than the main vocals as a problem but I like that both vocals are audible, it gives it a more “punk” feel, like with a second singer on stage vs a singer doing double tracking in he studio. Though the background vocal is very uneven so some automation would still bee needed to get a consistent feel.
The vocals are a bit bright, but I’m listening through headphones so I´m not sure where that is coming from, I don´t hear a problem with sibilance though that could be an issue, I’m sorry, I just don’t have a good listening environment right now.
The one thing I would suggest as a critique is that you could probably have less compression on the overall track, it’s certainly modern sounding so take that as my personal preference but I would enjoy it more if it was a little less slammed.
Overall I liked the rocking energy of the track!
Thank you @BengtS! I did some DeEssing, but probably got used to the vocals during mixing and didn’t go further with it. I liked the vocal fairly dry, there is some room verb on the lead and backing vocals, but it’s sparse on purpose. Interesting suggestion though, I’ll take a look at it.
You’re the second one to say the backing vocal is louder than the lead. I thought they were equal, but I suppose that is subjective. My intent was to have them equal, for a strong effect on the emotion of the song. The lead singer, while emotive to some degree, doesn’t carry the song emotionally perhaps as much as I wanted, so the ‘chorus’ chiming in helped bring more of that emotion IMO.
Yes! I purposely wanted an almost ‘live’ feel there, lots of energy. The backing vocal track seemed pretty consistent to me, but I didn’t really look at it closely. I perhaps could have put some mega compression on it, or automation as you say to make things a bit smoother. I didn’t want the song to sound rough at all, but I did want a degree of raw energy and emotion, so I wasn’t going for highly polished.
Since it’s a competition, I wanted to make sure mine was at comparable levels, but this is about where I go with Rock stuff anyway. I don’t slam stuff as much as I used to, more now at the top end of DR and LUFS recommendations.
Hey Stan, this is a cool little song. Reminds me of a lighter NOFX. A couple things jump out to me, the main thing is this is a very birght mix which is fatiguing my ear after a few mins of listening. The cymbals and the snare could be low passed a bit or if that is too abrasive you could apply a multiband compressor that is sqeezing only the 5k and above area. The guitars have a nice distortion on them, but I feel these are too bright also, not as much as the cymbals, but just dulling them a bit would let them sit in the mix a bit better as well as help the vox to pop out. This might partially be becasue of the guitar level, taking it down 3 or 4 db might alleviate this issue without eq. The vox sound nice, eq’d well, and not overly compressed which is appropriate for this style IMO, however there are some questionable notes and harmonies that more time tuning or a few more takes to perfect could make a big difference. I don’t have an issue with your choice on the kick, I think it fits, it is not masked and cuts through enough to be effective. The bass guitar I think needs a little eq, I don’t hear much actual low end from it and I miss it. You may need to manufacture some rumble from it, not much but give the sense that you’re using more of that frequency range. All in all Stan it’s a good mix, the balance is there, just needs a little more control of the top end.
Nice mix, Stan. Good balance of frequencies across the spectrum. Well controlled low end. Good guitar and bass tones…
Levels-wise, the vocals are too loud for me. They sound good frequency and compression-wise, but they just sit too out front of the mix. IMO, that fights your stated purpose of a “rocking” mix, as they tend to sound “bigger” than the band - that’s usually more of a pop/country thing.
Much has been said about the backing vox - I agree - the backing vox don’t sound good - they needed blending a fair bit lower in the mix.
The other thing that caught my ear was the snare tone - It sounds “mushy” and “soft” to me, with no real attack. I like the sustain and the excitement that slightly “trashy” sound that brings to the mix, but a bolder, more hard-hitting attack portion to the snare tone would have would have hit the target of your “rocking” mix brief better.
Thanks Bob! I actually did a lot of work on the cymbals, OH’s and Room. The hi hat and ride cymbal bells were pretty shrill and piercing, and the open hi hat was quite loud, though essential to the mix IMO. If I hadn’t worked on them, it would have been a lot more noticeable and brash.
I’m surprised you think the mix is very bright, as my trend the last few years has been generally ‘darker’ mixes. However, this one is probably as bright as I’d ever go …
I used the ‘tuned’ version of the vocal track, and while the singer was not fantastic IMO, he did the song well and the tuned vocals were okay for me.
Something I was going for was almost a “rude” mix, if you will. In your face. I wasn’t worried about fitting a certain standard or genre per se, I just tried to find the energy and intent in the performance and bring my attitude to it. Yes, I pushed the vocals louder than I thought would be anticipated. Yes, I pushed the backing vocals louder than most would. Yes, I pushed the guitars pretty loud. Yes, I pushed the lead guitar pretty loud. And overall I think it worked pretty good.
That said, when I go back into the mix and look at applying these suggestions, I will examine your points in detail and see what I can learn from it.
Yes, this is coming up a lot and I knew it would. It was a purposeful choice, and perhaps I should be calling them choir vocals instead of backing. I agree, normally backing vocals would be lower. For this song, and the vocal style and presentation, it struck me to do it this way. I suppose more for excitement and energy than anything else. I thought it brought out the vocal character of the song in an unabashed way.
Thanks Andrew! As I replied to Bob, I almost took a “rude” and “in your face” approach to this song. For convenience sake I was calling that “Rocking”, though I’m not sure what genre or sub-genre this song would actually fit into. And it wasn’t really a goal for me to mix it in a Rocking style. I just mixed it as I felt called to bring out the fun and excitement in the song. When uploading my submission, I was kind of at a loss for words and Rocking is what I came up with.
Yes, vocals, backing (chorus) vocals, and guitars are loud. That became my stylistic approach. I wanted bold shifts and changes, and wanted the song to move me, and so this is what I came up with. Even though the singer wasn’t a great vocalist IMO, that seemed to be the driving force in the song to me.
I did struggle with that snare. I got it to a place I liked and probably didn’t get fancier with it. Since I was intending to feature vocals and guitar, I knew that there were only so many elements I could focus on and bring out. So my kick and snare probably aren’t that Rocking either, as I was going more for groove than punch, if that makes sense.
In revisions, I will play with vocal and snare changes and see what I can learn from your comments.
Nice good strong intro. Kick is thumping nicely and meshing well with the bass. I like that you have thick electric guitars without them stomping on the low end or vocals. One nitpick i have is the bgv’s seem to be the most important thing. They are jumping out too much. Some fader work or some effects on those would lock those in nicely. Otherwise right on. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Eric! Your comment about the BGV’s seems to be in the majority. I guess I feel that, at that level, they add life and sparkle to the lead vocal and help the lead vocal seem more melodic and harmonic. I know they may be louder than most people expect, but it seemed liked it worked for this song in particular.
Since you mentioned effects on them, is there one or more effects you can think of I could have tried - while keeping the level where it is - that would have made the BGV’s fit better or not be perceived as loudly as they seem to be? I just have some room reverb on the lead and BGV as it is.
Yeah I was thinking that you could add a little more distortion so that it cut more then lower the volume that way you have the same sense of presence with out it being as in your face. Another thing you can try it increasing the reverb on the BGV so that it sits back a bit further, or a delay for that matter. I personally prefer the delay these days but find it really hard to dial in. The big thing with these BGV’s is not the volume (although that can be one of the solutions) but the perceived volume. I get the impression as I listen of the bassist really leaning into the mic and belting out the BGV because after all he used to be and should still be (in his mind) the lead singer. That kind of situation always makes me feel a little awkward and takes away from the bands unity. Anyway not much good here but hopefully it helps you to ‘see’ what i am hearing.
Hey there Stan_Halen
Nice mix, I like the frequency balance, it’s unobtrusive, yet very detailed, a little too bright for my taste, but that’s just a personal thing. A lot has been said about the background vocals above so I won’t to dive much into them, you clearly stated that it was your intention for them to sound in front of the band the way they do and I’m ok with that, but imho they stand out just a bit too much. Lowering them a few dB would do the trick and blend them in nicely. I love the guitar sounds. The drums are ok, I love the top end, I can tell you put a lot of effort into the OH’s and the Room mics and it really paid off. The only two things that I would change if it was my mix, is I would make the snare a little more beefier, give it some body, punch at anywhere from around 120 - 250 Hz, I like its top end, but the body is missing. The second thing is the kick, it works very well in the low register, you made it cut through the mix, and work well with the bass guitar, so great work on that, the only thing that it’s missing to my ears is the high frequency click, it’s almost a prerequisite for this kind of music, to give it more energy. Again, these are just purely subjective opinions, your mix works very well as is
I tried distortion now and didn’t care for what I came up with. More reverb either. However, I do kind of like some delay, and pushing the BGV’s out in more stereo (with the delay) helps move them away from the lead vocal so they don’t compete as much. Continuing to try stuff.
Yes, I like that description. Maybe that’s what I meant by mixing this to be “rude” and “in your face”; some drama in the band, and a goofy video to go along with it. That just felt more fun to me.
Thanks Zsolt! I will try more beef on the snare. I have already worked with the snare ‘snap’ and punch in my revisions, I gave the compression a slower attack and that helped bring out the transient. I had squashed that a bit and got used to the sound. I will try more body and see how that works.
In retrospect, yes I think the kick could have a bit more click to round it out. In my mix translation checks across other devices I did not find the kick lacking so I didn’t make it a priority, but stylistically and perhaps for better translation on small speakers and earbuds I see your point.