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Post Most Common mixing/music problems/mistakes you see


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I know this is an old topic, but I want to post what I do and give my $1. And when I say compressor, I mean a dedicated compressor, not a limiter. Also, this is again, just how I would do things. I'm

I think one of the main issues I see from newbs is too much of a good thing. That first time you use a phaser, you're going to think its the most awesome thing in the world - PUT PHASER ON EVERYTHING.

By phasing issues, I'm referring to how phase cancellation happens more audibly when you are mixing in mono. If you take two identical sine waves and overlay them spot on (in phase), they will turn ou

The space in the sonic spectrum that every layer in your track fills is essential to not only mastering, but mixing and even arranging.

If you have two leads playing different parts, in the same frequency range, in mono, they'll walk all over each other. In the stereo spectrum, you can consider the possibility of panning. This is especially true with harmony instruments. Mixing a jazz track with the piano and guitar both centered leaves you with a large possibility that both will not fit in the mix. In stereo, panning one each way leaves them both filling different spaces. In my own metal mixes, there would be no way to have the snare and the rhythm guitars working together if I didn't hard pan the rhythm guitars, leaving space in the middle of the sonic spectrum for the snare to come through.

Not to mention mixing. When you're mixing, spatial placement of each instrument is essential, which is impossible in a mono signal. How are you going to judge the width of the guitar's reverb without hearing the delay between two stereo speakers? Not to mention that any panning effects or panning delays are completely out of the question for getting right, along with your reverbs.

Seriously terrible, terrible advice. It's like telling someone to mold a sculpture, but you can only look at it from one angle.

Edit:

Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

(at 1:10)

There are two main bass synths. The wobble, and the bounce, we'll call them. The wobble is VERY stereo, and the bounce is very centered. Mixing and arranging in mono, this section would NOT work, as these two basses would conflict all over the place. Having the panning during the mixing process allows this section to work. Not only that, but the contrast between the stereo and mono parts are basically what MAKES this whole section interesting.

I don't know if Ghetto Lee considers all processing stages "mastering," which is absolutely wrong, but even if he did, having panning options available even during the arrangement process is essential. And just to clear that up - mastering deals ONLY with global (dealing with the entire song, not individual instruments) effects. If you hire a mastering studio to work on your song, you give them one single audio file per song, the finalized mixes. All the instrument processing has already been done by the mixing studio.

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Use stereo for final mastering, not for mixing. Mixing/arranging should be in MONO.

How, Mr. Genius Producer, would you suggest that I mix in, say, a sound effect that pans from left to right if I have no frame of reference in regards to the stereo field?

i have the feeling only ibbiaz knows his shit, so much dumb in this thread for the rest

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Thinking that one device will (or is supposed to) solve everything. There's a reason they talk about an "effects chain" - it means that there are multiple parts working together to achieving a certain sound or effect.

Thinking that having 2 (or worse, more) DAWs next to eachother will enable them to make music that's twice as good (this does not count if you rewire Reason into another DAW unless you're still clueless in both pieces of software).

Thinking that switching from one sequencer (that hosts plugins of a sort) to another (that also hosts plugins of a sort) is going to make everything sound more professional.

Thinking that having 200 free plugins installed is a good thing. Use your DAW's own effects; focus on learning a few decent plugins - and you know what to do with the others. More importantly, you've learned to appreciate what you can and cannot do with what you have, and any other compressor or EQ is not going to sound a zillion times more awesome than the built-in one if you still don't know how to use it.

Turn down the volume of each channel. Seriously, throwing a multiband compressor on the master does not solve the problem of having every channel in the red. If you ever asked yourself why you can't get your drums loud: IF EVERYTHING ELSE IS LOUD TOO, NOTHING IS. Kind of like WRITING EVERYTHING IN CAPS - NOTHING STICKS OUT ANYMORE.

Don't pick up one-liners as god-given advice because Famous Dude on Some Message Board said Something That Sounded Neat.

One-liners like "cut, don't boost" have 3-4 pages of explanation behind 'm. It doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. It doesn't mean you should do it. It means that you have to understand why this is said and why it works as a guideline so you get the full worth out of the quote. If you slavishly follow it, you're not thinking for yourself. Don't go fishing for one-liners. Asking for "tricks" is like asking for the outcome of each combination of "a + b = c" in math class. Just learn what addition means; the outcome of a single sum is meaningless.

QFE...

I also want to say something about traditional wisdom and recording technique. Things like "headphones aren't good", or "mix in mono", or "save mixing/mastering for last" - in my opinion, that's all bunk. In this day and age, you don't NEED an engineer. The fact that they were needed before was simply a byproduct of recording equipment being extraordinarily expensive. Anybody can develop an ear for "mixing and mastering" if they work at it. Much like how the distinction between lyricist and songwriter is dissolving, I believe the existence of a specialized mixing/mastering process is essentially obsolete, so the sooner you can really learn how to do it yourself, the better.

I've judged over 500 ReMixes and so I can say pretty conclusively that most people don't have a problem with mixing and mastering, but with actually producing music in general. The final SOUND of your remix or song or whatever is determined NOT just by volume faders and EQ but also what notes/chords you write and what instruments you select. I can't emphasize that enough. You can't just write whatever you want with whatever instruments you want, then expect that mixing and mastering will somehow fix it.

I've personally never done mixing and mastering separately. When I write music or create a remix, all that stuff is done as I go along. You need to be able to hear how the track will sound in the end as you're selecting instruments and writing notes. Adding a 6th pad instrument and thinking mixing/mastering will make it fit is a bad idea, so why wait until the end to realize you've made mistakes in instrument selection? Why not fit things in properly as they come up?

Again, all of this is just my opinion, but my supposedly unorthodox way of working has done pretty well for me so far, and I don't attribute that to any natural 'talent' or ear for production.

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I don't use ANY post processing. I don't use EQs, I don't use compressors, none of that junk.

It kinda shows, but I still get good sounds just straight-up recording.

OK, if you didn't use any of that on Malevolent Mansion, then there's something wrong with my DAW.

My samples, whether FL default or not, always sound gray, muddy, and they seem to have reverb automatically applied when I first bring them out. I don't mean to blame my equipment but seriously? No EQ on Malevolent mansion??

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OK, if you didn't use any of that on Malevolent Mansion, then there's something wrong with my DAW.

My samples, whether FL default or not, always sound gray, muddy, and they seem to have reverb automatically applied when I first bring them out. I don't mean to blame my equipment but seriously? No EQ on Malevolent mansion??

Everything in Malevolent Mansion was audix/sole signal. I just recorded the guitar and he did the mixing.

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How do I make the Master channel mono in FL?

I didn't know this, but it makes a lot of sense.

Put FL stereo enhancer on the master channel. Turn the knob all the way to the right (to the minus side). This will convert the entire mix to mono. You can turn off stereo enhancer when you're done mixing.

Let me just clarify "mastering" as a final process and not as something you do to the "master channel". Specifically, you don't use panning until after you've eq'd things properly to solve conflict and listened for phasing issues, etc. It's really very simple. It's standard practice, and there's really nothing to argue over.

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Put FL stereo enhancer on the master channel. Turn the knob all the way to the right (to the minus side). This will convert the entire mix to mono. You can turn off stereo enhancer when you're done mixing.

Thanks, but you might wanna address the posters who have disagreed with you. They seem pretty against the whole Mono idea.

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If you have two leads playing different parts, in the same frequency range, in mono, they'll walk all over each other.

That's exactly the point. That is a classic case of a bad arrangement. If you have leads playing in the same frequency range, then they're competing for attention, which is distracting to the listener. Stereo doesn't fix a bad arrangement. Sorry.

If you want a pianist in the same jazz band as a guitarist, then don't have them both playing in the same frequency spectrum at the same time, and give them each their own space on the eq. I've never seen or heard a jazz band where the guitarist and pianist are running into each other constantly.

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That's the whole point. Panning should come BEFORE EQ because it's a way to add clarity to your mix without mangling the tone of single instruments. I can pretty much guarantee that if you listen to basically any metal/hardrock song in mono, the normally hard-panned rhythm guitars will crap all over the vocals/drums.

Explain to me why the fuck it should bother me that my mixes don't sound good in mono, but great in stereo?

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That's the whole point. Panning should come BEFORE EQ because it's a way to add clarity to your mix without mangling the tone of single instruments. I can pretty much guarantee that if you listen to basically any metal/hardrock song in mono, the normally hard-panned rhythm guitars will crap all over the vocals/drums.

Explain to me why the fuck it should bother me that my mixes don't sound good in mono, but great in stereo?

I don't know what indie bands you're listening to, but try playing Rammstein in mono. I can guarantee you that everything has its own place in the mix. Maybe the reason guitars are hard panned is because the band can't afford professional engineers. I know I get irritated when I listen to songs that have hard panned instruments.

I haven't listened to your mixes personally, but we all tend to be biased towards our own music. I know I am.

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Basics:

Arrangement: the way the notes and stuff are set up

Mixing: mixing them together

Panning: bias of left and right

Stereo: two channels

Mono: one channel

Mono isn't a pure mandate, but it's the EASIEST way to see if your arrangement goes together. Why? It's because it's in one place. So, before you separate it, see if it makes sense together. Don't try to separate incoherent sounds; delete them!

If it doesn't coordinate, then annihilate.

I disagree. Panning is a good way to enhance your mixing. It adds neat effects when used the right way, too.

Panning /= mixing, panning = panning. Panning is cool, and only can it enhance your mix.

Wait... but there are synths and effects that pan on their own, and I hear them doing so which means my channels are not mono by default. Mono means a single channel and both ears would hear the exact same thing, right?

Synths/fx that pan on their own... pan on their own. That's called 'someone made this synth/fx preset that pans by itself'. Mono does mean "single channel", and you can hear everything in one channel to see if it all matches.

That's what mixing is; putting different things together.

I'm kinda confused. Does that mean you should use multiple compressors? Or do you mean find better samples out there with more transients?

He means 'find better instruments'. That way, you won't have to over-compress them.

Hahaha, this is the worst advice I've ever heard.

So, telling people that putting many sounds together to see if it's coherent is bad advice? Telling people to separate shitty sounds to make it sound less shitty is good advice? Take my advice: don't polish a turd. If it's bad, throw it out.

Any advice for a guy who doesn't want to spend too much money?

1. Don't underestimate the power of FL Studio

2. Get quality orchestral and drum sounds

If you have two leads playing different parts, in the same frequency range, in mono, they'll walk all over each other.

Right! Which means that your sounds do not coordinate, so make them coordinate!

Not to mention mixing. When you're mixing, spatial placement of each instrument is essential, which is impossible in a mono signal. How are you going to judge the width of the guitar's reverb without hearing the delay between two stereo speakers? Not to mention that any panning effects or panning delays are completely out of the question for getting right, along with your reverbs.

Before you do all of that, make sure the arrangement is coherent. In other words, before doing extra things to the song, make sure the song makes sense in its driest state. THEN you can mess with reverb in stereo! Simplicity before complexity, my friend.

Seriously terrible, terrible advice. It's like telling someone to mold a sculpture, but you can only look at it from one angle.

No, it's like telling a person to take the six sides of a cube and lay them down in 2-D sequence (only one side) to see if they match. If you separate mismatching sounds, you're trying to hide the conflict. It's still there because the mix, in stereo, mono, or surround, is supposed to coordinate. If it doesn't coordinate in the same space, then it doesn't coordinate AT ALL.

Wobbling bass

That's because the effect itself, the bass, is centered monaurally. Then it distorts and sends "wobbles" through left and right in stereo. And?

Questioning whether GLL knows what mastering is.

GLL knows that mastering is the final process.

How, Mr. Genius Producer, would you suggest that I mix in, say, a sound effect that pans from left to right if I have no frame of reference in regards to the stereo field?

Uh... you don't. You start off with normal sounds in a monaural mix. Once you're done with simpler sounds in a monaural mix, then you enhance them to say, that sound effect that pans from right to left. You don't just throw in a left-to-right effect into the song because you'll spend more time working on it to make it coherent!

i have the feeling only ibbiaz knows his shit, so much dumb in this thread for the rest

Exposed, now post like a man, not like the women in your signature, dipshit. :-P

(Ahem) anyway!

Problems with music production.

This.

I've personally never done mixing and mastering separately.

Edited, tbh: you can mix and master at the same time. Yes, you can, but it's best to do one thing at a time. Edit 2: you have my respect, Zirconium, but some of your stuff (arrangement or mixing-wise) makes me look at my stereo like :whatevaa:

That's the whole point. Panning should come BEFORE EQ because it's a way to add clarity to your mix without mangling the tone of single instruments.

That means that it conflicts. It will continue to conflict, except that it sounds tolerable because the sounds aren't in the same place. That's like wearing a red glove and a green glove with a green outfit. Pointless.

I can pretty much guarantee that if you listen to basically any metal/hardrock song in mono, the normally hard-panned rhythm guitars will crap all over the vocals/drums.

rammstein.jpg

Explain to me why the fuck it should bother me that my mixes don't sound good in mono, but great in stereo?

You mean that they don't sound as bad?

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Maybe the reason guitars are hard panned is because the band can't afford professional engineers. I know I get irritated when I listen to songs that have hard panned instruments.

Hard-panned multi-tracked rhythm guitars are the absolute fucking basics for any kind of modern rock mix, but nice to see you know apparently fuck-all about music production.

That means that it conflicts. It will continue to conflict, except that it sounds tolerable because the sounds aren't in the same place. That's like wearing a red glove and a green glove with a green outfit. Pointless.

Oh sweet, another guy who apparently has trouble grasping basic logic. Let's do a little thought experiment here. Suppose I have my mix. And it sounds great in stereo. Now, 99% of the people who will hear this song will hear it on a stereo setup. Still with me? That wasn't too hard to keep up with, right?

Does it matter at all if this mix DOESN'T sound good in mono at this point? Do I care? Should I care? Why should I care if it's only ever going to be listened to in stereo anyway?

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Hard-panned multi-tracked rhythm guitars are the absolute fucking basics for any kind of modern rock mix, but nice to see you know apparently fuck-all about music production.

That's because do it yourself bands have gotten into the mainstream industry without even understanding the basics, due to the availability of cheap software.

Why don't you post examples instead of using over-generalizations about the entire industry.

Now, 99% of the people who will hear this song will hear it on a stereo setup. Still with me? That wasn't too hard to keep up with, right?

Does it matter at all if this mix DOESN'T sound good in mono at this point? Do I care? Should I care? Why should I care if it's only ever going to be listened to in stereo anyway?

You don't understand that if it sounds bad in mono, it's probably going to sound bad in stereo also. Clipping and distortion aren't the only things that can kill a song. It doesn't matter if people listen to the song in stereo, because it will never sound good if it's arranged or mixed poorly. I've already explained why. There's really nothing to argue over.

But it doesn't matter how many times I explain it. If you can't even grasp the basics, you're never going to learn how to make good music. I only care that someone reading this thread will learn the correct way to mix rather than develop bad habits. Better yet, don't take my word for it, but go read an actual book about mixing engineering.

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Oh boy, I sure love bringing up examples that literally apply to everything. Let's take a look at your beloved Rammstein.

First youtube search result for Rammstein:

HOLY CRAP THOSE GUITARS ARE LIKE...ALL THE WAY ON THE RIGHT AND LEFT, AND MULTITRACKED. THATS CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZY.

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D'oh! How'd you know it was me!?

Seriously, movie quotes aside, I always thought of this as the lesser of two evils, with the greater evil being leaving the poor sample/synths/instruments to fend for themselves.

Any advice for a guy who doesn't want to spend too much money?

There are a lot of places where you can get high quality samples and VSTs for free (Demo versions, of course).

Check out Native Instruments from time to time. They release special sound packs for free every once in a while, and offer some pretty nice deals.

You can dig around on Hammersound.net for some decent sounding soundfonts, but its a pain because some of the download links don't work sometimes.

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Sorry Mr Ghetto, but no professional studio mixing engineer has ever advised me to mix solely in mono.

They have told me to occaisionally switch to mono to check for any phasing issues, as a lot of cheaper radio playback ends up in mono. Likewise, all the movie mixing engineers I speak to constantly switch between 5.1, stereo foldowns and mono for the aforementioned reasons when the movie in screened instereo theaters or at home/on tv.

However, saying it is industry standard to mix only in mono is just plain wrong. It just isn't. I'm sure theres there odd eccentric engineer who has been doing this his whole life and refuses to do it any other way, but it mixing the whole time in mono is dumb.

You mix in your intended release format, and as a secondary goal you make sure it works in mono (or stereo if you're mixing in 5.1).

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When I originally made the post about mixing in mono and mastering in stereo, I didn't intend any controversy. However, it seems like various people are not interpreting what I said the way it was intended.

What I meant was that the mix should be listened to in mono in order to resolve a lot of issues that are difficult to detect with a stereo recording. Certain professionals in the industry are so experienced that they may spend more time mixing in surround/stereo than in mono. That doesn't mean they never use mono at all to find certain issues.

When I refer to mixing/mastering, there's really not much difference between the two, except that mixing comes first. That's all. If you consider panning and stereo mixing to be part of the mixing process that's fine, just as long as you're aware some issues are more easily detected while listening in mono.

There's nothing wrong with hard panning guitars for particular situations. What I meant in another post was that instruments hard panned to ONLY one side are annoying. Guitars are normally panned in order to sound wider and bigger. However, if they are panned to resolve frequency conflict, this is a bad thing. Rammstein does in fact use wide panning, but only to make things sound bigger, not to make room for the vocals. If you convert Sonne to mono you're not going to hear conflict. That was my point. I didn't say that their music doesn't have a lot of panning in it.

If I knew that people on OCR were so confident in their own abilities that they were completely opposed to any type of criticism (even when that criticm isn't even directed at them specifically) I wouldn't have even mentioned the whole thing about stereo/mono mixing/mastering.

The title of this thread itself is controversial because there's bound to be some artist or other on OCR who has developed at least one bad habit when it comes to music production. I know I must have at least a few bad habits of my own.

I know that stereo mixing/mastering deserves a topic of this own, and I have grossly oversimplified the matter. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I was merely responding to the original subject of the thread. My apologies to anyone I offended, but I was simply trying to make a point.

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Thank you, friend.

Post

Do what you want. Use mono to solve conflict. If you hear no conflict, power to you. And yes, it is ok to pan guitars. Wide-stereo is ok; disproportionate or unresolved hard-panning is not ok.

I came in peace, and now I leave in peace.

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When I originally made the post about mixing in mono and mastering in stereo, I didn't intend any controversy. However, it seems like various people are not interpreting what I said the way it was intended.

What I meant was that the mix should be listened to in mono in order to resolve a lot of issues that are difficult to detect with a stereo recording. Certain professionals in the industry are so experienced that they may spend more time mixing in surround/stereo than in mono. That doesn't mean they never use mono at all to find certain issues.

When I refer to mixing/mastering, there's really not much difference between the two, except that mixing comes first. That's all. If you consider panning and stereo mixing to be part of the mixing process that's fine, just as long as you're aware some issues are more easily detected while listening in mono.

There's nothing wrong with hard panning guitars for particular situations. What I meant in another post was that instruments hard panned to ONLY one side are annoying. Guitars are normally panned in order to sound wider and bigger. However, if they are panned to resolve frequency conflict, this is a bad thing. Rammstein does in fact use wide panning, but only to make things sound bigger, not to make room for the vocals. If you convert Sonne to mono you're not going to hear conflict. That was my point. I didn't say that their music doesn't have a lot of panning in it.

If I knew that people on OCR were so confident in their own abilities that they were completely opposed to any type of criticism (even when that criticm isn't even directed at them specifically) I wouldn't have even mentioned the whole thing about stereo/mono mixing/mastering.

The title of this thread itself is controversial because there's bound to be some artist or other on OCR who has developed at least one bad habit when it comes to music production. I know I must have at least a few bad habits of my own.

I know that stereo mixing/mastering deserves a topic of this own, and I have grossly oversimplified the matter. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I was merely responding to the original subject of the thread. My apologies to anyone I offended, but I was simply trying to make a point.

I learned alot from you(some stuff I also heard from books too) and bit of everyone, and everyones opinions and facts are welcomed.

But i did not expect this much commotion/crazyness in this thread also with the use of unscrupulous language, so please people

Keep this thread friendly and clean.

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The last page I just kind of skimmed because it's pretty bullshit, and this is starting to give me diarrhea, but I will address this post:

That's exactly the point. That is a classic case of a bad arrangement. If you have leads playing in the same frequency range, then they're competing for attention, which is distracting to the listener. Stereo doesn't fix a bad arrangement. Sorry.

If you want a pianist in the same jazz band as a guitarist, then don't have them both playing in the same frequency spectrum at the same time, and give them each their own space on the eq. I've never seen or heard a jazz band where the guitarist and pianist are running into each other constantly.

This is what I mean - panning has a lot to do with arrangement - If all guitars are mono, then they WILL walk on the snare and vocals. Tensei is absolutely 100% right when he says this and that almost ALL metal has hard-panned rhythm guitars. Haha - you say that this has to do with 'modern mainstream metal producers getting the ability to mix their own stuff.' Listen to Angel of Death by Slayer. One of the most-renowned classic metal songs of all time and it starts off with the most obvious hard-panned guitars, which last through the entire song... and the entire album... and their entire discography... and pretty much the entire genre.

It's only bad arrangement if you plan on releasing the song in mono. If you open up the stereo spectrum, then there is plenty of room in the imaginary 3-dimensional spectrum to move things around and find space for things. EQ isn't the only way to make tracks work together. EQ is the vertical axis in the spectrum, panning is the horizontal, and volume is the length. This is basically mixing 101, here.

99% about every metal band out there, mainstream or not, classic or modern, even if they have one guitarist, will record at least two rhythm guitar tracks and hard-pan them.

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