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MnP 72: Star Ocean - Cutting Edge of Notion & F-Zero - Mute City

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18 hours ago, Dextastic said:

Thanks for the detailed response! Yeah I understand masking and notching/boosting in theory, but I need a lot more practice learning the proper frequency ranges to do it for each instrument. I'm going to revisit this mix and work on it some more. One problem I've had is the same as Trism: My mix sounds really good on my headphones but not as good on my speakers or other systems. I recently learned that my headphones frequency response isn't as flat as I thought, and have added some corrective eq. I've also started playing with a binaural room impulse response vst so I can hear the phantom center correctly in my headphones. I know mixing is best done on monitors in an acoustically treated room, but that's just not in the cards for me right now.

Let me make sure I understand what you said at the beginning: You are recommending starting with all instruments at 0 and bringing them into the mix one at a time, using only volume knobs/gainers, until everything is heard well enough, and then apply EQ/compression from there, right?

Also, as far as "stage placement," do you think adding some additional reverb to the piano would help it stand out more by making it sound like I've moved it back on the stage? Is that a thing that commonly works? Right now it has the exact same reverb as all the guitars so it's in the same line as them.

I promise I got more out of your post than I am asking here-I just need a little guidance to make sure I'm moving in the right direction.

As for the starting of the mix, yeah pretty much. It is how I start every single mix I do. You're going for an initial impression over all else. You want to nail the vibe of the track before you start trying to corrective or artistic with processing. 

So, for me personally what I'd try is something a bit more drastic than that. What I'd actually do is narrow your drums down, place your guitars probably around 60-80% out then place the piano hard left or right BUT then run it through reverb hard panned the other way. You may have to do some finessing with EQ and such, but the idea here is brain trickery. You might need to let a little bit of the piano and reverb leak back into the other channel, but I've done this a few times in a few different mixes. Basically, it sounds like piano is out past the guitars. Again creating a layer of complexity to the mix. 

Traditionally on reverb you'd do some kind of glue reverb that ties everything into the same kind of space. It can be the same reverb that gets a little bit of a feed from everything or it can be separate ones with similar qualities, but they're slightly different for the different instruments. Then you'd use different kinds of reverbs for artistic reasons to get the desired reverb characteristics for that particular sound. Another classic thing to do is actually layering different reverbs and manipulating their width. So, you'd have the reverb that gives the instrument its sense of space and then you'd do stereo manipulation to make the really effecty reverb sound wider than the instrument. When the mix collapses to mono it still sounds like the instrument has some space to it. Yet another classic thing is to EQ the sends or returns from your reverbs to precisely control exactly what it is that is needed from the reverb. Simple HPF and LPF is all you need to accomplish that. Personally, I tend to like to do this on the send. The last thing I do a lot is inverting the stereo field of the reverbs. Like if a sound is panned off to the right, I just like the sound of the reverb more in the left than with it in the right. Just a few things for food for thought. 

If you're mixing on headphones then it is still possible to do a good mix, you just have to be cautious of certain things. For example you have to take into account the proximity effect. You have to take into account that your stereo image is compromised for numerous reasons. The biggest factors though are a lack of bleeding, the HRTF, and the time differences it takes for frequencies to move around the head which is kind of related to the HRTF. I've done quite a few mixes on headphones and I still use mine from time to time to help with locating certain things that I have trouble getting with my monitors. With that being said you should also definitely be referencing the mix on different systems to see what it sounds like. Cars, home stereos, cheap bluetooth speakers, cheap ear buds, etc.., each tells you something different. If you don't have a system you can trust then this kind of has to be done to ensure that your mix sounds like you want. Another useful thing is to actually contact a Mastering Engineer. I know this is kind of looked upon with a certain disdain in a lot of ways, but most of these cats have extremely accurate monitoring in a very acoustically neutral environment and have a very good listening skills. They can offer quite a bit of advice on things you can try in a mix to make it sound better. I'll certainly say that every time I've been kind of turned off on a master from one and they say what the issue their encountering is and I just do it in the mix the end result is always better. And no it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg to get a single track mastered by someone who knows what they're doing. 

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