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sggod89

Today's "Pro Tip"

11 posts in this topic

Simple,

I want to know:
What did you do to make your mix sound better than your last one

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Remembering the things I did the last time to make my mix sound better.

Something doesn't sound right, what can I do? 

Then it hits me.  Do the thing that always works again, because I forgot to do it for the millionth time.

Example:

This mix sounds very noisy and there isn't much acoustic free space.  Why is this?  Nothing I do seems to be working!  Right.  I need to EQ to reduce my mids.  And suddenly it fixed everything. 
Repeat this for basically every mix I do ever.
 

sggod89 likes this

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I discovered there's a mix knob on the compressor I use. That made parallel compression a lot easier. So I did subtle parallel compression into moderate multiband compression into more parallel compression, on the output/master channel.

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@Rozovian Would you be willing to tell me more about it, if not on here, maybe in a PM?  This sounds very useful.

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I'll do it here, so it'll be useful to more ppl.

Parallel compression is when you mix a signal with a compressed copy of it. You can do any kind of parallel processing, but if there are any phase shifts or delays, these will cause phase issues. Some effects are all about these phase issues (phaser being the obvious example), but they're usually not something you want.

A compressor without any filters or delays doesn't cause phase issues, so you can mix its output with the original signal without any problems. Unlike regular compression, this mixed result will not have that same squashed or pumping sound, even if you compress it really hard (depending on the mix ratio). you can use multiple compressors in sequence too.

This is often done on a bus that's mixed in with the main signal. But it's so much easier when you can just turn a single knob in an effect you're using anyway.

As for the rest of the signal chain, I'll probably have an EQ in there, and it'll end with a limiter and some monitoring, but the key element of the chain is probably the multiband compressor. It lets me control how much space the lows get to take up. It's like a dynamics-sensitive EQ. I usually don't put any of the other output effects on (except the limiter) until I have the sound design and most of the arrangement in place, because I don't want to use the end of the chain to correct things I should correct earlier. If I can easily solve something with a touch of level automation, I do that rather than make the multiband compressor work overtime. 

 

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Mixing a track over 4 days, checking the mix on headphones and speakers and making small tweaks to the initial mix.

Heavy compression of the bass and careful distortion to add high harmonics so that the sub bass could be heard on smaller speakers and headphones without making it too loud.

Compression/parallel compression on the drums, Rozovian has already gone into detail above.

Distortion on the high frequencies of drum loops to improve the perceived quality and then a de-esser to control the levels.

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I'm a firm believer that most "mixing" happens in the arrangement/orchestration stage. Sometimes the best thing I can do for a song is delete a part that doesn't need to be there. It's so easy to get carried away with layering, with today's technology essentially eliminating almost all technical limitations of recording and composing. But just because you can easily stack a hundred tracks on top of each other, doesn't mean you should. Restraint is an art form; the notes you don't play are every bit as important, if not more so, than the notes you do play.

More and more I'm learning that trying to fill every possible hole in the sonic spectrum just leads to mush, and ultimately, an endless "tail-chasing" cycle with EQ and compression and all that. The more empty space you have, the more powerful each note is within it.

When you've got dozens of synth plugins, and two hard drives full of sample libraries, sometimes the greatest challenge is refraining from cramming all that awesome stuff into every song. Tasteful, well-recorded sounds, when mixed with other well-recorded sounds, should ideally not need any EQ at all. In theory, anyway. If you're trying to carve holes to fit more stuff in there, maybe you've got too much stuff in there already.

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On 7/6/2017 at 9:30 AM, halfwalk said:

I'm a firm believer that most "mixing" happens in the arrangement/orchestration stage. Sometimes the best thing I can do for a song is delete a part that doesn't need to be there. It's so easy to get carried away with layering, with today's technology essentially eliminating almost all technical limitations of recording and composing. But just because you can easily stack a hundred tracks on top of each other, doesn't mean you should.

[...]

Tasteful, well-recorded sounds, when mixed with other well-recorded sounds, should ideally not need any EQ at all. In theory, anyway. If you're trying to carve holes to fit more stuff in there, maybe you've got too much stuff in there already.

Yep, this is exactly what I tell the people who ask me to master their ReMix: Take out any instruments you don't need, i.e. those that contribute nothing but mud to the soundscape. Reduce excess reverb until you can't hear a difference (as some headphones have more reverb response than others).

In addition to that, I also carefully pick my sound resources so that I have access to the cleanest sounds right out of the box (Omnisphere and Impact Soundworks are great examples). That's why these days, I barely EQ---the most I do are some basic extreme high/low passes, some cuts here and there on the accompaniment to free up the midrange for leads, some small cuts in the low-mids to clean up frequency overlap that is bound to happen so that the bass can punch through, etc.

In short, the people whose music sounds good didn't just use some sort of magic EQ tool; cleanly recorded samples take you a long way, and EQ doesn't have to play a major role.

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On 7/6/2017 at 10:30 AM, halfwalk said:

I'm a firm believer that most "mixing" happens in the arrangement/orchestration stage. Sometimes the best thing I can do for a song is delete a part that doesn't need to be there. It's so easy to get carried away with layering, with today's technology essentially eliminating almost all technical limitations of recording and composing. But just because you can easily stack a hundred tracks on top of each other, doesn't mean you should. Restraint is an art form; the notes you don't play are every bit as important, if not more so, than the notes you do play.

More and more I'm learning that trying to fill every possible hole in the sonic spectrum just leads to mush, and ultimately, an endless "tail-chasing" cycle with EQ and compression and all that. The more empty space you have, the more powerful each note is within it.

When you've got dozens of synth plugins, and two hard drives full of sample libraries, sometimes the greatest challenge is refraining from cramming all that awesome stuff into every song. Tasteful, well-recorded sounds, when mixed with other well-recorded sounds, should ideally not need any EQ at all. In theory, anyway. If you're trying to carve holes to fit more stuff in there, maybe you've got too much stuff in there already.

I learned this hard way and lost considerable time because of it, as I'm sure that perhaps most of us do in the computer age.

With my newest stuff, I'm pretty pleased with the "mix" and "production" so to speak and have got positive reception on it. No EQs or any "tricks" necessary most of the time. Now, I make a good effort to keep all of my lines in their own pitch ranges, avoid voice crossing, be careful with selecting timbres, etc. and it has paid off tremendously.

 

 

 

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Always a good idea to put individual tracks into coherent groups. (ie. Bass)

--

In my latest mixes I slam the basses through a limiter. Needs to be a high quality one (Ozone, Fabfilter, etc...) [saw it in a Deadmau5 video]

Once the bass hits the master channel those weird peaks in amplitude will not control the master compressor or limiter.

It will just create an overall louder mix. BUT, you have really use your ears and be careful you are not distorting your bass in an unpleasant way.

*** In general it can be fun to take a creative approach to mixing. Think, what can I cut that is not needed? (Volume, Panning, Frequencies)

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 2.11.29 PM.png

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