Hey there Andrew, being that I read and admire your comments on other posts, I expected nothing less from you this time around For start, thank you ever so much for listening and giving a so much in depth analysis, and ideas on the ways for improving the mix, coupled with your own preferences, it really means the world to me.
I can say I have spent 98% time mixing to achieve a desired balance, as well as pleasing yet big sounding instruments that complement each other. The other 2% went to "sweetening". I know this may sound a bit off, but for me a good overall balance is a must, it is a necessary backbone of the mix, on which upon rest all the other mixing elements and moves you as a mixing engineer make. I have heard creative Personality mixes, with lots of excellent ideas that unfortunately fall in the water, because the mix itself is lacking in overall balance, and is not translating well. The creative part should be a cherry on the already great tasting cake. That being said, I believe that execution of the sweetening elements on my part should have been more though out, and better implemented (if I had the time, I would have given it say an afternoons work as opposed to an hour I gave it) so I agree on you on this one completely.
The drums: when I receive raw tracks from a client I usually get a detailed info on the recording process, any editing that has been done (if any) and the direction the song should go. If I receive a raw mix too, that makes my day For this song I didn't read any info on any part of the production process, bands intentions and desires on how the final mix should sound. I did not know of any prior editing done to the drums. I took a listen to them as if they were raw recorded tracks. That being said the drums did not please me. Being a drummer myself, I found that his beats are off. The drumming falls into the tempo grid (and thats where I think the editing took place), but where it falls apart is in the beats between the measures. They were just way off to me, moving way ahead of time than any sense of groove would justify it. So I made a decision to quantize them, should the quantization process been done more loosely that's another story Apart from having to chop up the bass guitar so the kick/bass notes would be aligned, the interesting thing is that the rest of the tracks did not fall apart, so I left them as they were and no quantization was applied there. For many this way of working is too much slick, or polished, for others, me included, it is a necessity. And that is perfectly fine, no two mixing engineers hear or feel the song the same way, nor do two song consumers, and each one will have in mind different things on which to improve the song, which all basically comes down to personal taste, and some conditioning - we as music lovers have been accustomed to pitch corrected vocals, and perfect timing/tuning issues in the music that we hear every day, so if something is off, even to a slight degree, we find it hard to take it in (for me Alicia Keys vocals are always just a fraction flat, and it is really difficult for me to listen to). But over-quantized and corrected music is something that rids it of all of it's liveliness, and thats where you Andrew are perfectly correct. Therefore every step in correcting the timing issues must be thought out and done in a very controlled and skillful way. Should the quantizing process been done a bit more loose? Probably. Do I dislike the quantized drums I made? Not really. Again, for me it's just a taste thing
I agree for the reverb vocal part (although this time I opted not to use a lush reverb but a single repeating, filtered out echo instead, that really gives the illusion of a reverb unit being used without smearing the sound field and potentially masking other elements of the mix), I am a big fan of continuously changing the ambiences (if the drums were soloed, you would of heard three distinctive reverbs, all of which come in at different parts of the song), but for the vocals I thought of it as a base sound, a sound that would create the overall FEEL of the ambience it was sitting in and all the other delays and effects would be there for the interest sake. I just preferred the airy ambient vocal sound that would set the MOOD for the whole song, not just the single parts of it. (from the top of my head listen to Duke Dumont's Ocean Drive, a vocal ambience that really sets the mood of the song, and is continuously heard, yet remains interesting). But great idea on your behalf nonetheless.
Being a former drummer, you might be right, and I might be subconsciously pushing my mixes in the drums department a bit too heavily. I need to learn to tame the drummer beast inside of me
Thank you again for your insights, this kind of detailed info and knowledge shared is what this forum is really all about. You are a true teacher and please keep on doing this amazing work!
All the best,