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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

you realize that those pictures don't explain anything? I understand what they mean, but people new to mixing/mastering wont. It would help them if you explained why one is good and one is bad, not just post 2 seemingly random images.

The only thing I see is that the volume levels are way higher on the "bad mix" than on the "good mix".

Presumably the mix is overcompressed in the "bad mix" version?

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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.

Awesome. Period.

As far as a problem I have, I think it's more with inaccurate monitoring. I've got some bx5a's and having muddy mixes is kind of the nature of the beast with a 5" driver. Not enough bass/mid response from the speaker, I overcompensate in the mixing, and before ya know, mud is splattered all over the place. If I'm not lazy, I try and listen on different systems (car, headphones, etc).

Which brings me to the question: how the hell do headphones have enough of a bass response to be able to mix accurately with such a small driver? I know several people on here make it work (fantastically, I might add), but I'm just curious.

I'm taken by Zircon's advice when he has mentioned how you can get the best headphones for the the price of some lower end monitors. Add some hdphx to your master channel, and that takes care of the natural panning extremes of headphones.

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The pictures don't explain that, though. It would've been clearer if the mixer tracks had been showing the volume levels exceeding the 0 decibels in the second one.

Would've been actually meaningful. Otherwise, I couldn't get anything from those pictures. I keep my mixes around the same levels of your second pic and my mixing is fine. :P Say what you mean rather than dropping vague hints next time.

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The pictures don't explain that, though. It would've been clearer if the mixer tracks had been showing the volume levels exceeding the 0 decibels in the second one.

Would've been actually meaningful. Otherwise, I couldn't get anything from those pictures. I keep my mixes around the same levels of your second pic and my mixing is fine. :P Say what you mean rather than dropping vague hints next time.

:) i will next time explain ;)

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Awesome. Period.

As far as a problem I have, I think it's more with inaccurate monitoring. I've got some bx5a's and having muddy mixes is kind of the nature of the beast with a 5" driver. Not enough bass/mid response from the speaker, I overcompensate in the mixing, and before ya know, mud is splattered all over the place. If I'm not lazy, I try and listen on different systems (car, headphones, etc).

Which brings me to the question: how the hell do headphones have enough of a bass response to be able to mix accurately with such a small driver? I know several people on here make it work (fantastically, I might add), but I'm just curious.

I'm taken by Zircon's advice when he has mentioned how you can get the best headphones for the the price of some lower end monitors. Add some hdphx to your master channel, and that takes care of the natural panning extremes of headphones.

I remember you posting hdphx on another thread way back when and I've been using it ever since, me likes it =D.

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Question: Since I've seen this mentioned several times already: Is it better to put compression on specific "oomph-needy" tracks and have it mixed around medium

or to have a little "red" and then compression on the master mix? I want to know if it makes a profound difference because I typically only put insane amounts of compression on the drums, chordal synth, vocals, brass, and occasionally bass (so, practically everything except pads and shakers) but I've never thought about utilizing compression on The Master mix.

sorry, I'm in a library right now and a line is forming for the computers so this is the best example of what I could quickly find of my recent work [please take note of my compression question when listening]: http://ocrwip.fireslash.net/?action=single&f=Kanyes+Ballin+Dance+Party+wip.mp3

and the biggest problem I notice is with orchestral pieces. It's pretty obvious [to me] when remixers are using bare patches or authentic instruments. If you can't get a hold of some real instruments please at least put some soul into the playing to make it sound somewhat human (*cough* cheesy 90s piano sounds *cough*).

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Question: Since I've seen this mentioned several times already: Is it better to put compression on specific "oomph-needy" tracks and have it mixed around medium

or to have a little "red" and then compression on the master mix? I want to know if it makes a profound difference because I typically only put insane amounts of compression on the drums, chordal synth, vocals, brass, and occasionally bass (so, practically everything except pads and shakers) but I've never thought about utilizing compression on The Master mix.

sorry, I'm in a library right now and a line is forming for the computers so this is the best example of what I could quickly find of my recent work [please take note of my compression question when listening]: http://ocrwip.fireslash.net/?action=single&f=Kanyes+Ballin+Dance+Party+wip.mp3

and the biggest problem I notice is with orchestral pieces. It's pretty obvious [to me] when remixers are using bare patches or authentic instruments. If you can't get a hold of some real instruments please at least put some soul into the playing to make it sound somewhat human (*cough* cheesy 90s piano sounds *cough*).

The way I see it, and a general guideline that I follow:

You DO make things in a song punchy.

You DON'T make THE SONG punchy.

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You DO make things in a song punchy.

You DON'T make THE SONG punchy.

Yeah, I'm going to have to go ahead and disagree with you there.

okay, preference aside (I know that I'm personally used to individual effects, specifically compression and reverb and delay)

which is better situationally (I don't think it would make sense to just put Master Compression on EVERY type of song, and if so then I've been missing an easy secret for quite a long while).

I'm going to go ahead and experiment right now with the most dry beats I can make.

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I've never made a song in my life that I haven't used a compressor in mastering. At least since I've known what I was doing. Even ambient music uses compression so that the softer parts are audible. Not necessarily "punchy" in ambient music, but any other music that you want punchy instruments in, there's no reason the track can't be punchy.

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I'm going to go ahead and experiment right now with the most dry beats I can make.

Test 1 Raw (Just EQ and Delay, NO compressor at all):

http://ocrwip.fireslash.net/?action=single&f=COMPRESSOR+test+RAW.mp3

Test 2 Individual (Compressor on specific tracks):

http://ocrwip.fireslash.net/?action=single&f=COMPRESSOR+test+individual.mp3

Test 3 Master (compressor ONLY on the Master):

http://ocrwip.fireslash.net/?action=single&f=COMPRESSOR+test+MASTER+compressor+only.mp3

Test 4 Errythang (Combination of Test 2 and Test 3):

http://ocrwip.fireslash.net/?action=single&f=COMPRESSOR+test+Biggie.mp3

I've never made a song in my life that I haven't used a compressor in mastering. At least since I've known what I was doing. Even ambient music uses compression so that the softer parts are audible. Not necessarily "punchy" in ambient music, but any other music that you want punchy instruments in, there's no reason the track can't be punchy.

I hear an OBVIOUS difference. I'm not going to radically convert to using Master Compressor from now on but I think I will definitely utilize Test 4 more often. I usually record in the Test 2 method (individual) but Test 3 (Master Compressor ONLY) sounds cheesy to me (almost stupid).

I know that some radio stations run sound through compressors and it does sound good on some songs so I'll experiment more.

I've got to test it out with "softer" songs now.

Thanks a lot.

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I know that some radio stations run sound through compressors and it does sound good on some songs so I'll experiment more.

So the compressor is the magical sound-better-maker-izer that everyone's been looking for? :tomatoface:

Yes to experimentation, no to thinking stuff sounds better just because it's compressed. All the compressor does it make soft stuff louder, and louder stuff just seems to sound better (EQs have a gain knob that you can adjust to counter this when EQing). Hence the loudness wars.

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Yeah you're waking loudness war territory here, it's up to preference.

I only use a limiter on the master, but I rarely have anything go above the ceiling to get pushed down. I use it to accurately place volume stuff for maximum volume with minimum compression.

I was taught not to use a compressor on the master, and when I was still cranking out stuff at 13 years old on the WiP forums I realized why.

It never worked. :P

Gonna have to agree with Rozovian here, compression for better sound isn't always the best option. If you want to master your music, don't squish the dynamics with a compressor. If you do, don't do it much.

Dynamics make it flow.

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So the compressor is the magical sound-better-maker-izer that everyone's been looking for? :tomatoface:

Yes to experimentation, no to thinking stuff sounds better just because it's compressed. All the compressor does it make soft stuff louder, and louder stuff just seems to sound better (EQs have a gain knob that you can adjust to counter this when EQing). Hence the loudness wars.

So far I'm still leaning towards individual track compression, but would you recommend using some Master tweaking for more aggressive songs like metal or dubstep?

Yeah you're waking loudness war territory here, it's up to preference.

I only use a limiter on the master, but I rarely have anything go above the ceiling to get pushed down. I use it to accurately place volume stuff for maximum volume with minimum compression.

I was taught not to use a compressor on the master, and when I was still cranking out stuff at 13 years old on the WiP forums I realized why.

It never worked. :P

Gonna have to agree with Rozovian here, compression for better sound isn't always the best option. If you want to master your music, don't squish the dynamics with a compressor. If you do, don't do it much.

Dynamics make it flow.

Do you use the Limiter as an additive or necessity?

I've never made a song in my life that I haven't used a compressor in mastering. At least since I've known what I was doing. Even ambient music uses compression so that the softer parts are audible. Not necessarily "punchy" in ambient music, but any other music that you want punchy instruments in, there's no reason the track can't be punchy.

Well I've listened to your remixes and it's pretty clear that your drums are awesome and intense, but I have a question (and I'm anticipating an opinionated answer because this is in regards to what I've heard from your music):

I honestly don't know too much about using the limiter versus the thresh-hold and all that stuff because I usually just put the Attack and Gain really high so that the initial punches are fattened, but what do you do with your settings [especially for drums] and why?

(and anyone can answer this too, I'd just prefer that you state what kind of music you typically apply your compression preferences to).

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So far I'm still leaning towards individual track compression, but would you recommend using some Master tweaking for more aggressive songs like metal or dubstep?

Of course you need master tweaking, but most of the punch should come from sound design and mixing, tweaking the individual tracks, not from slapping a compressor over the whole thing. Aggressive styles need volume, not compression, but in order for your tracks to be of the same volume as others in these styles, you need to use a lot of compression. Just gotta use it right. ;)

I honestly don't know too much about using the limiter versus the thresh-hold and all that stuff because I usually just put the Attack and Gain really high so that the initial punches are fattened, but what do you do with your settings [especially for drums] and why?

I don't do enough aggressive tracks to give you as good pointers on this as some of the others, but at least I can explain compressors for you. Threshold is at what level the compressor reacts, attack is how quickly it reacts when the track reaches the threshold level, ratio is how aggressively it compresses, and gain is just a tool to adjust the input volume. I tend to use fairly slow attack times, threshold set so it doesn't catch every little noise in the drum track but enough to compress every drum or snare hit, ratio set fairly high. I've been experimenting with using an Overdrive boosting the drums by 2-6dB, tho I'm sure that won't work for all sounds and styles.

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