#1
Searched and nothing came up. My question simply is, where do i start? Where can i find a good tutorial to start completely from scratch. From my understanding, I think that mixing/post production is incredibly broad and somewhat vague, so the applications for different genres are quite different.

What i want to achieve is a good sounding metal/rock mix, but i think most of my problem lies within mixing/post production, let me show you an example. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eF2VsbFTj_o in this video, it first shows the raw guitar tone and then the tone placed in a mix with post production work. The raw tone at first sounds pretty awful, but the final result sounds really good, so how do i achieve a good mix like this though mixing/post production rather than changing my raw tones, or more directly where can i learn about this process? I am already familiar with dual/quad tracking.

Thanks in advance
#2
The way I learned was to just record a song. Do guitars (obviously) bass and drums, and vocals if they apply.

Do it, and play around with mixing.

Next work on all your instruments individually. Every time you improve something, say the drums, then you will probably find your guitars lacking, and you'll work to improve those. Then the bass will fall short and so on.

Just keep working and working with the same project to get the most professional sound possible, and at each step try and isolate exactly what the problem is:

i.e. "My snare will not come out in the mix"

To which I would respond, "Gate and compress it, and perhaps boost 2.5 kHz a few dB"

etc.

As you go you will learn more and more. Really a rock mix differs from a metal mix quite a bit as rock can be pretty dynamic - as in changing volume - and metal in general is pretty tight dynamically. There isn't a lot of space between quiet and loud.

Metal is also more dense. Distortion eats up more space in the spectrum of sound so it's harder to mix.

I would say rock is easier to start with, especially a three-piece. If you have just guitar-bass-drums, then that's an easy mix. As soon as you have two guitars, a sax, keyboards, etc., then you need to start employing more advanced techniques to make everything work.

Generally speaking, though, less is more.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

#3
Thanks for your reply. So what your saying is trial and error will work fine? Also, where can i find some good free vst's for a gate, compressor and eq?
#4
Yes, you can learn all you need to know by focusing on one track at a time. "My distorted guitar just isn't MEAN enough. What do I do?"

Do your research, find out what others have done to achieve what you're going for.

I recently recorded myself doing death vocals, both lows and highs. I ended up recording both with two mics, a Sennheiser 421 dynamic and an MXL 1006 large diaphragm condenser.

Both were compressed at 6:1, and the mixed track was compressed again.

Came out evil as hell: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/17643004/A%20Demonic%20Demo%202.mp3

I'm embarrassed about the way it sounded the first go-around!

Just learn as you go, and repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Your first song will take FOR-EVER!!!!! The second one will take half as long. Third, half as long as that.

By the fourth or fifth song you'll be knockin' them out in an hour.

Start with quality first. Speed will come! Good luck, bro.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

#5
Quote by Bubonic Chronic

By the fourth or fifth song you'll be knockin' them out in an hour.



If you're knockin' a mix out in an hour, you're cutting WAY too many corners.

Even the pro's these days don't mix that fast. A fast mixer will get 2-3 songs done in a day.

My opinion on learn how to mix is start with at least some basic guidelines. It's similar to music theory, you have to learn the rules before you can know when to break them. It's better to read up and be taught different mixing/tracking strategies and get those down so you have a basic understanding of everything, and then go find your own way of doing those things. You could be experimenting for years and still not figure out one little technique or trick that could have been found in a 10 second Google search.

Now I'm NOT saying do everything exactly the way Google says. All I'm saying is getting a decent foundation before running off and experimenting and finding your own way is often much more beneficial.

OP, I'd love to give you any tips you want, but right now you're asking an incredibly broad question. The best I can do now is give you a very broad answer. Keep asking more specific questions as they come up, but in the mean time, this is how I start my mixes...

Once everything is tracked (doing rough mixes as you go), start on the drums. Kick first, do whatever needs to be done there (eq, comp, any editing...) and then move on to the snare. Once drums are done, move on to bass. The kick/bass relationship is very important and is good to get that right before adding guitars. After bass, move on to guitars and any other instruments you have. Then vocals are generally last for me. When I start a new instrument, I solo it first and do whatever needs to be done to it to make it sound as much like that instrument sounds in real life as possible. Any EQ to fit it into the mix can be done later, but you have to have a good sound to start with.

Once that's all done, we move on to mastering which is a whole different story...
#6
Sandy21758orsomething

Can I have your autograph?


TS - Start small. Record some simpler songs with a couple of guitars, or just a guitar and voice and get good at it. Get more and more complex with each effort and challenge yourself.

Look into how different engineers achieved sounds you like. Experiment with those techniques and find your sound. That will take time.

Find your own way. Study the theory behind it all and read on your own time. An excellent resource is "Sound Reinforcement Handbook" by Davis and Jones.

Why do I like it? Because it's set up around theory.

If you understand theory then you can make up your own mind and do it the way you feel suits your needs. Don't do anything the way any of these bozos tell you to, or any bozo, including myself.

Learn, study, and figure it out. People say, "Use this certain mic" or "NEVER do this or that." Why?

If it isn't based in theory then it's simply their opinion, which is cool. Take it as exactly that.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

Last edited by Bubonic Chronic at Jul 21, 2011,
#7
My advice is read, read, read. Oh and experimentation. I was stuck at a very meh recording quality (very average not bad, not great) for the longest time. What did I do? Read like a madman, and my sound quality improved a ton. EQing is one thing you need to know how to do. If you don't believe me goes listen to the original recordings section on this site and see what I mean when I can say people on here suck at EQing a lot of the time.

The 2nd best way to learn it though is to do it. I was recording/mixing about 40 hours a week in the Spring. I learned so many things from just trying stuff out. Its one of those things that you don't get good at unless you practice.

As for guitar if you are DIing...Record clean and just monitor it with distortion. And place the distortion on the clean track on the mixer, so you can still play with you amp after getting everything recorded. (Also post production EQing has a big effect on guitar tone). The clean DI is my perfered way just cause I am constantly in control (and yes I do know how to mic amps well, and have recorded marshall and mesa amps and gotten good results).
Last edited by FireHawk at Jul 22, 2011,
#8
Quote by FireHawk
My advice is read, read, read.

Yes!

And what Sandman, others, say is true, but what are you trying to do?

I'm a hobbyist who writes music between the times my infant son craps in his drawers! That's not a professional situation by any means.

Do I get a good sound? Yes, considering my limitations.

Will a professional, like actually getting paid, like $100 an hour type of mix take several hours?

Yes, but is that what you're doing?

It doesn't sound like it.

There's a difference between making a nice, romantic dinner for your girlfriend and going to work as a 5-star chef.

How do you work as a 5-star chef? I don't know, but I'll make ya a mean dinner!

"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

#9
Thanks everyone for your advice, really helpful stuff. I recently came across a free e-book called killer home recording, so going to dive into some reading very shortly!

Bubonic, what I'm doing is recording as a hobby, and most of my results end up here. Sometimes i get lucky and get a half decent sounding mix, but in different circumstances they sometimes come out overly muddy or fuzzy.
#10
Are you mixing on proper monitors? If you're not, you are working against yourself no matter what you do - whether you call it mastering, mixing, recording, or whatever.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#11
Quote by axemanchris
Are you mixing on proper monitors? If you're not, you are working against yourself no matter what you do - whether you call it mastering, mixing, recording, or whatever.

CT

Are you driving a proper Cadillac? If not you are driving against yourself no matter what you do.

It's called a lack of funds. And answer me this:

Why should anyone mix anything on "proper monitors" when chances are it's going to be listened to with earbuds through an iPhone (or similar - maybe an Android)?

I actually mix through a stereo system, a pair of "proper" (that is to say professional-grade) over-ear headphones, and regular pedestrian earphones.

I have a $20 set of headphones I use to jam music and study. I use the same set to make mixing decisions based on the fact that they are exactly the same quality and type that my listener will likely be using.

I sure hope Daddy gives me a proper set of monitors, though.

IT'S SO UNFAIR!!
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

#12
The reason you make decisions based on studio monitors is you can make decision with out a bias of a certain type of head phones. Iphone earbuds, a sony stereo, a panasonic stereo, a bose stereo, sony headphones, skull candy headphones, iphone speaker. They all have there own influence on the sound you hear. The most obvious is bass response (and treble). I have bought cheap headphones to walk around on campus and thought wow where the hell is the bass. I also bought a pair of the same price a month or two later and though wow these things have some nice bass, but wtf is going on in the mids.

So its pretty simple/common sense on why you would mix on monitors...If you mix on something that is lacking on bass, you are gonna be like holy shit this has a ton of bass if you put it on something that influences bass. So you want to mix on something that has little influence on the sound to get an "even" sound as possible on a variety of listening devices.

Its not about your daddy buying you monitors. Its about getting a job. I have worked since I was 14 to buy university education.
Last edited by FireHawk at Jul 24, 2011,
#14
Quote by Bubonic Chronic

I have a $20 set of headphones I use to jam music and study. I use the same set to make mixing decisions based on the fact that they are exactly the same quality and type that my listener will likely be using.


Your listener(s?) all use the exact same headphones? Wow. That's impressive. Well if that really is the case then by all means, mix on those headphones. If your audience is a little more diverse than that, finding the common ground (monitors) between their preferred speakers/headphones is generally a good idea.

And I'm with Firehawk, I also worked my butt off and waited a whole lot longer than I wanted before I could shell out my own money to buy my own monitors (also been working since I was 14 and have payed for all my gear and most of my education). Quality is important to me, so I didn't grab the first pair of speakers from Wal-Mart that I could afford. I did my research, found a pair I liked and made that my goal to work towards and made do until I reached it.

I say all that but I will say this. Make do with what you have now while you're working towards that goal. I/we do not recommend mixing on stereo speakers or headphones, but if that's all you have there's no reason you shouldn't start. Just understand that there are some serious limitations there and it's harder to get a good mix. If you're serious about getting a good mix (even a good hobby mix) we promote working towards something better. Once there, we'll be able to help more since we'll all be standing on common ground, and mixing will become more of something to look forward to and less of a chore.
#16
Quote by sandyman323
Your listener(s?) all use the exact same headphones?

No. But overall my observations of my demographic (being 15-25 year-olds, and many college kids as I am currently enrolled in a graduate program) do indeed use low-cost headphones and/or listen through the speaker on the iPhone.

Given the pervasiveness of the Apple market and the fact that virtually (60-80% of my target market) everyone is using that hardware with iTunes as the primary software driver, then yes it is safe to assume that the vast proportion of my target audience is using lower-end products available at the iStore.

What do I use to mix?

I use a variety of equipment, and each is beneficial and instructive. One of the WORST is iTunes, and in fact I think it is probably the lowest quality player out there. I do, however use it ALWAYS on every mix. Why? That's how I plan to market my music, and it is where my stuff is going to end up.

If I can penetrate to 80% of my market and it sounds good on iTunes then that's not bad.

As I am in a grad program and my goals are not to go out and buy a bunch of man-toys (or attempt to work professionally in the industry), then yes monitors are not a practical purchase for me.

I'm not telling either of you that you are wrong in any way. I simply have a different perspective, which is someone who bases his mixing, recording, but more importantly EQUIPMENT INVESTMENT decisions upon the money available. In 2011 I was given $100 for my birthday, which gave me the buying power to purchase a USB interface so that I could record vocals in my car...

Why? My son is 6-months old. I don't want to wake him up or scare him to death.

I'm sure someone will have brilliant ideas for me, too, like, "Why don't you just build a vocal booth?"

Hmm.. let me see. Could be it would cost about $20,000. And, actually a Honda Civic makes a pretty damned fine vocal booth, acoustically speaking. That's my point in all of this: according to the laws of Physics a compact car is actually fairly similar to a professional vocal booth. A set of stereo speakers is reasonably close to a set of studio monitors (give or take a few bumps in the frequency response.)

Google this: "Law of diminishing returns"

To be 10% better than my setup I'd need to spend about twice as much. 15% better? Three times as much. 50% better? Oh, about two mortgages (plus a divorce would probably be in my future...)

Get the picture?

An ideal studio tricked out with ProTools and monitors and etc., etc., which I know I "should" have is not a wise purchase for me. If I were independently wealthy then maybe it would be fun.

It might be fun to have a motorbike, too, and a freakin' Ferrari.

And TS - if you are able to afford monitors, then by all means buy some! I would if I could. I guess technically I could, but then I'd be depriving my family of food and defaulting on my mortgage, so I guess you could call it a matter of priorities.

"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

Last edited by Bubonic Chronic at Jul 24, 2011,
#17
Lol, not even getting involved in this one...

Everyone has opinions, opinions make the world go round, lets all dance around and be happy... happy, happy people...
Hey, look. Sigs are back.
#18
Quote by Bubonic Chronic
Are you driving a proper Cadillac? If not you are driving against yourself no matter what you do.

It's called a lack of funds. And answer me this:

Why should anyone mix anything on "proper monitors" when chances are it's going to be listened to with earbuds through an iPhone (or similar - maybe an Android)?

I actually mix through a stereo system, a pair of "proper" (that is to say professional-grade) over-ear headphones, and regular pedestrian earphones.

I have a $20 set of headphones I use to jam music and study. I use the same set to make mixing decisions based on the fact that they are exactly the same quality and type that my listener will likely be using.

I sure hope Daddy gives me a proper set of monitors, though.

IT'S SO UNFAIR!!

I'm not sure you get the point of monitors. The flatter they are, the better your mixes will translate to other systems. Let's say you've got some mid-heavy speakers that you're monitoring with. Chances are, you'll cut quite a lot of the mids to get it to sound better on those speakers. Now that's all fine and dandy until you listen to your mix on, say a hi-fi system with a smile EQ. It'll sound thin and weak. Same goes for any other EQ problems. I'm tired and slightly lightheaded from the heat, so this may or may not have made sense.

And for the record, I do drive a proper Cadillac
#19
^^ I'm not even disagreeing with these guys, just saying I'm on a budget.

That said, here's how to set up a sound system for mixing/monitoring:

1) Find a DEDICATED circuit!

- the importance of this cannot be overstated. I have learned the hard way as believe it or not I actually did this for a living (sound contracting and system design)

My story - I actually designed and installed a system for a church and got set up to test it out. I turned it on. What did I hear?

HUMMMMM

Well? What's that?

It turns out a dimmer switch was on the circuit. Okay, no big deal. How I resolved it:

Me: "Father, do you use that dimmer switch?"
Priest: "We have a dimmer switch?"
Me: "Do you mind if I change it out with a modern switch? It's old and no longer up to fire code anyway."
Priest: "Of course!"

So I went to Wal-Mart and bought a light switch for $1.50. No more noise!

2) Set the system up in an acoustically neutral position. Speaker location is important! Corners will boost bass. Architectural features will give you reflections.

...both of these can be used to your advantage in the real world, but for recording you want NONE OF THE ABOVE!!

Get the speakers off the ground and isolate them from vibrations. Ideally you'd mount them from the wall, but setting them on a cloth on a stable table top works. Cloth is cheap, and it's easier than drilling holes in masonry!!

3) Make sure the system works

If you have a tone generator, then great. Start at zero and steadily increase the volume. Is it clean?

4) Do further testing - white noise, pink noise, TEF analysis, etc. This may or may not be an option for you, so call it semi-optional. If you're a professional it is not optional. If you're a hobbyist, well? Optional...

Not everyone has access to these tools and knows how to use them properly. It's worth learning!

5) Reference and adjust.

Pick a recording that you are very familiar with and play it back at a loud, tolerable volume and walk around. Make mental notes:

"Too bassy"
"Twangy"
"Sounds odd in this corner"

...so on.

6) Take steps to mitigate or (if possible) eliminate these problems. This is where absorption and other treatments come in.

Chairs, and yes even people count as absorption!

An empty room is not as well behaved as a room with people in it, so you are hearing it at its worst! (An advantage for you!)

7) EQ

I always drop all the EQ faders to the bottom and start with the bass. I then work one at a time until everything sounds even.

Spend the most time in the bass region, and again walk the room to check for resonances. If you have resonances happening then the best set of monitors on the face of the planet won't help you!!

The proper way to fix it is architecturally and through the addition of Helmholtz (not sure of spelling anymore) Resonators - that's expensive.

For the hobbyist, or for say a bar or restaurant application, then a multi-band EQ can tackle it. Simply cut the resonant frequencies a few dB on the EQ.

Work your way up the frequencies being careful to make everything sound as flat as possible.

There is FLAT and there is SEXY. Sexy is the sound at the movies: "BOOM!!" with extra bass to make everything explode at you.

Don't do that.

Make everything flat.

I recommend an older recording as similar to the style of choice as possible. If Rock, try Zeppelin II, or Dark Side of the Moon.

I actually use Metallica Black not because it's my favorite album in the world (it's NOT) but because I have heard it 16 million times, it's well produced, and I know it very, very well.

Great for a rock set-up.

...This is a start. Doing this kind of set-up (and more detailed articles would be better!) will compensate for the room you are in and the amp, wiring, and speakers you have.

The idea is to make this SYSTEM sound as good as possible. Once you do this properly I promise you can mix in that room.

Monitors would be better, but they may not be available. Taking the time to optimize YOUR system and YOUR room will take you a lot further than simply:

Blowing $1000+ on a set of monitors and
Setting them up in your less than ideal room and expecting everything to work properly.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

#20
Guitars by themselves sound pretty lame, a raw guitar track usually never sounds all that great by itself for a few reasons.

One, guitar is a mid range instrument, so by itself, you're mainly just getting the midrange, to make it have that low end to it, you have to add a bass guitar. Two, heavily distorted guitars never sound good by themselves, they always need to be accompanied by a full band, otherwise it's just lame.

This is how I like to record, so listen carefully.

I use a SM-58 mic without the ball end, point it straight on at the speaker where the cone meets the cap about 1 inch away. I run that mic into a Mic amp, EQ it in the mic amp, and run line out of the mic amp into my soundcard (cheap but the best I can do atm).

In my DAW(Reaper) I low pass(cuts high frequencies) at 10,000 hz to eliminate the fizz from the mic(which there usually is with high gain guitars), then I boost the mids at around 3000 or 4000 hz by like 4 decibles to make the midrange stand out more, since you just lost alot of sonic information by cutting it at 10,000 hz, it also allows for the track to sound louder, without actually being louder. Then I high pass(cuts the lows) at 25 hz to allow the bass guitar to fill in the bottom end of the guitar. Double track and pan one track 100% left, and the other 100% right with exact same EQ'ing.

I record a bass track line out of my Trace Elliot RAH350SMX, clean it up with a cab loader and bass cab impulses. Throw a compressor on it with a quick attack, and a medium release. Then I adjust the volume to a good level, where it's not overpowering the mix, but it can still be heard, just enough to support the entire mix.

Drum track, I try to make it sound as good as possible before I put it in the DAW, if it needs EQ'ing then I SLIGHTLY EQ it.

Last thing I do is boost the highs in the master mix (10,000 hz and above) cause the LAME converter for Reaper tends to cut those a bit.

Bass and drums are more important to your overall mixes quality than the actual guitar tone. The guitar tone can be kinda dodgy, but if your drums and bass sound excellent, it'll usually help clean up the guitar some.

The most important factor to getting that metal guitar tone is the bass guitar, the quality of your bass track will dictate how good your mix is gonna sound, bass is what glues the entire mix together, and makes it sound huge and thick.


EDIT: Here's a quick track I threw together to show you what I mean, I break down this song into parts, and then put it all together at the end to show you how it all works together, it's short and stuff, but oh well, you'll get it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N62PJzZHce4
Last edited by ethan_hanus at Jul 24, 2011,
#21
Quote by Alex Vik
I'm not sure you get the point of monitors. The flatter they are, the better your mixes will translate to other systems.

I get the point of monitors. They're supposed to be flat.

Well who says they're flat? The manufacturer? Maybe your monitors are flat. Maybe you bought snake oil.

The only way to know for sure is to test it yourself, and the only instrument you can rely on is your ears. Sure you can buy testing mics and noise generators and so on and so forth, but who says they are flat?

These are all just tools, and buying one tool (say monitors) is not the magic mix bullet.

The most important piece of the puzzle is your ears, and your ears connect to your brain. You can't fix your ears - which, by the way, aren't flat either.

And your ears aren't bumpy in the same places my ears are bumpy. In fact, your right ear is different than your left ear!

You don't have a matched pair of mic in your own head!

But you do have access to resources. You can read and study and learn the theory (Physics) behind it, and you can listen. Listen to a lot of recordings, and learn what a recording is supposed to sound like.

If you can make your SYSTEM reproduce a great recording, say Miles Davis - Kind of Blue, faithfully then it is flat enough. Variability exists and you can't do a thing about it.

The "flatness" of your system varies with the humidity - because the air absorption in the room depends on the amount of water in the atmosphere.

It all varies, constantly. So unless you've done a thorough setup and adjustment of every piece of your system TODAY, then it is not flat.

Sorry.

And SPF 20 sunblock is no better than SPF 15, either. And "organic" doesn't mean shit at the supermarket.

"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

#22
If you have a good, accurate guide, then you will produce good, accurate mixes. *THAT* is how you know whether or not you have good monitors. Your mixes will sound good on virtually *any* system - not just iPods and stuff. If you have an inaccurate guide, you will produce inaccurate mixes that won't translate well to other systems. You know all those threads that people post about "my recordings sounded kick-@ss when I mixed them, but when I play them in my friend's car, they sound like crap!!" It's almost always because they tried to mix on inappropriate monitors.

Here's what happens with stereo speakers. The consumer has demanded that coloration of sound is a desirable trait for listening to music. As a result, you have all these 'tuned' speakers that provide "sparkling highs" and "Xtreme bass response" etc.

Let's liken this to not looking at the world through clear glasses, but through yellow tinted lenses. Sure is pretty and funky, ain't it? Now, take those glasses, go outside with an easel and some paints and paint a picture. Looks good, eh? Now take off the glasses. That's what your mixes look like! Oh, sure, you can sit there and say, "I realize that my yellow lenses distort what I'm really seeing, so I can compensate while I paint, so I can take that into acccount." But really.... how effective do think that approach really is?

If you paint with clear lenses, there is no second guessing!

As far as budget goes, I totally hear ya. I have three kids myself. It took me a while to save up for a decent set of monitors. My studio has taken me ten years to build up, and even at that, is a pretty modest setup. Some people have Les Pauls and Marshall JCM800 stacks. I have recording gear and "secondary name" guitar gear.

But if you are even semi-serious about recording, a set of monitors is about as important as a decent amp is to a serious guitarist.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#23
Quote by axemanchris
If you have a good, accurate guide, then you will produce good, accurate mixes. *THAT* is how you know whether or not you have good monitors. Your mixes will sound good on virtually *any* system - not just iPods and stuff. If you have an inaccurate guide, you will produce inaccurate mixes that won't translate well to other systems. You know all those threads that people post about "my recordings sounded kick-@ss when I mixed them, but when I play them in my friend's car, they sound like crap!!" It's almost always because they tried to mix on inappropriate monitors.

Here's what happens with stereo speakers. The consumer has demanded that coloration of sound is a desirable trait for listening to music. As a result, you have all these 'tuned' speakers that provide "sparkling highs" and "Xtreme bass response" etc.

Let's liken this to not looking at the world through clear glasses, but through yellow tinted lenses. Sure is pretty and funky, ain't it? Now, take those glasses, go outside with an easel and some paints and paint a picture. Looks good, eh? Now take off the glasses. That's what your mixes look like! Oh, sure, you can sit there and say, "I realize that my yellow lenses distort what I'm really seeing, so I can compensate while I paint, so I can take that into acccount." But really.... how effective do think that approach really is?

If you paint with clear lenses, there is no second guessing!

CT

I swear I've seen you use your tinted glasses on three separate occasions now... really hits home just how many people think they can mix accurately on stereo speakers/headphones and don't understand why monitors exist. I mean, I'm willing to bet that if you gave a really great engineer some stereo speakers, they could still knock out a pretty solid mix after playing a few reference recordings covering all the bases they could, but I don't know many people who would make a conscious decision to take that risk when they know the risks!


What I can't understand is how BC (Bubonic Chronic, as I'll now abbreviate too) seemingly knows so much about acoustics (more than me, it would even appear, if you worked as an acoustician to a degree!) and yet fail to acknowledge that your analogy is flawed based on the fact that the monitors are the medium producing the sound waves... thus the flatter they are, the more accurate waveform is that is first released into the acoustic environment, meaning you can learn the room easier as you are aware of how it responds to many characteristic 'trouble zones' (room modes, standing waves, build-up frequencies)... I'm not saying you're missing the point, just that I think you know a lot about acoustics but are failing to put monitors into the correct context. They're not just another thing that affects the accuracy of the sound, but the very instrument creating that sound in the first place, and you want that to be as accurate to what your computer tells it to be as possible, or else you can't even begin to study and correct/treat the room or even learn it properly.


But I did say I'm staying out of this, so I'll let Chris et al continue to duke this one out amongst yourselves!
Hey, look. Sigs are back.
#24
How about you guys stop arguing about monitors and whatever else ya'll having a pissing contest over and help the TS with his question. I've already put in my input, I hate to see a good question like TS's get downed out by ya'lls bickering.
#25
Quote by ethan_hanus
How about you guys stop arguing about monitors and whatever else ya'll having a pissing contest over and help the TS with his question. I've already put in my input, I hate to see a good question like TS's get downed out by ya'lls bickering.


Not a pissing contest. My question about monitors was entirely relevant to his question.

Quote by TechIndustrial
I think that mixing/post production is incredibly broad


Yes. Very.

Quote by TechIndustrial

... i think most of my problem lies within mixing/post production,...

how do i achieve a good mix like this though mixing/post production rather than changing my raw tones,

Thanks in advance


Here is the core of your problem. Mastering engineers (and mix engineers) are often paid big bucks because they can polish turds into things that are really quite remarkable - sometimes.

However, there is an adage that is universal throughout the recording industry that basically says, "sh!t in, sh!t out." In other words, you can't polish a turd and expect anything other than a shiny turd. That said, miracles do happen.

Anyone in audio will tell you that it is absolutely critical to get the best sound captured the best way you can right from the get-go. If you do that, your tracks will basically mix themselves, and the mastering engineer can take a great recording and make it shine with a minimum of effort - which means a minimum of time, which means a minimum of cost.

Focus on getting that best tone you can right from the get-go. Work on your "Saint Mix-a-lot miracle technique" later.

Of course, without proper monitors, don't expect to be able to work any miracles anyways.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#26
Specific to the video, it should be pointed out that a great mix does not mean that each part sounds great on its own. Often times, a guitar tone that gets solo'ed in the mix sounds very thin, and not what you think of when you are listening for a great guitar tone. A great mix allows the parts to work together where the sum is greater than the parts. The bass adds the meat to an otherwise thin guitar tone, in that particular case... as a for instance...

Of course.... you won't get there without proper monitors...

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#27


Well then, aside from the very polarised debate on monitors, I've learned a good share of valuable things from this thread, the UG community has proven to be quite the resource, thank you. In response to the monitors suggestion, well at this point I'd still have to say I'm still very much so a beginner, I've still got a lot of learning to do before It would be up to its potential in usefulness, but it's definitely something I'm going to look into, and get more opinions for. Until then, my first priority in recording will be working on the raw quality of my tracks and reading as much as I can about mixing tricks.
#28
I use monitors: http://www.akg.com/site/products/powerslave,id,1063,pid,1063,nodeid,2,_language,EN.html

This is what I mix with.

They cost about $100 new when I bought them. They are "flat" as far as studio monitors go, and in fact they cut out the complications of the room, and even the amp as I route the signal directly from my mixing console, thus bypassing the entire power circuit.

I would suggest getting a set of these. The primary decisions you make in terms of EQ, compression, and other processing will be made here.

The reason I use my stereo is it gives me a real-world/audiophile perspective. Granted I don't have a true "high fidelity" system, but it is calibrated for the room, and set up to make classic recorded material in several genres sound as real as possible.

I have listened to Classical, Romantic, Jazz, Rock, Metal, Reggae, Country (old country, I don't like the new ****), Blues, and Electronic music on this system.

I've also crossed it over at 70Hz so that if I want it to ROCK, I turn on my sub-bass and get that extra octave or so at the bottom. If I want it relatively flat and accurate I keep the sub-bass off as there isn't much in the <70Hz range in Classical music anyway (instruments like that were terribly large and expensive back then.)

I work each instrument with another instrument and process it as it relates to whatever it is closest to in the "musical jungle."

Think of music as a Rain Forest. In the Rain Forest you have insects, birds, lizards, plants, mammals, marsupials... and each has its own habitat.

As it turns out they each have their own AUDIO habitat, too! I'm not kidding. This is real science.

Every animal occupies a niche in the frequency and spacial environment, and some animals that make a more percussive noise (like crickets or toads) occupy space in a rhythmic environment.

You can't have a Jaguar and a Tiger living in the same place!

Likewise your vocals and your lead guitar can't live together, either. It's a mess, or as my wife puts it, "A train wreck." Thanks, honey!

But your vocals and the rhythm guitars do coexist, so it's wise to listen to the guitars and the vocals together to help determine how you're going to process each. Your bass and your kick drum can fight each other, OR they can work together to glue your mix together.

Your job is to create an environment in which everybody (all your tracks) have a niche.

As for mixing I actually do the lion's-share of mixing on my calibrated, acoustically tuned ordinary home stereo system (because the wife agrees we need a stereo, but she's not exactly chomping at the bit for me to outfit a multi-thousand-dollar mixing room!)

This gets me in the ballpark. Granted the mix sucks. I will not argue with Sandman or anyone that doing a mix on a home stereo like this is not going to fly... and it doesn't!

It does, however, get me 80-90% of the way to my destination.

The next task for me, post making a quick mix on the home stereo, is to make an MP3 and go listen to it on a variety of players.

THE VERY BEST is my car. Not only is a car an excellent vocal booth (depending on where you park!) but it is also a decent place to listen critically to your music.

ALWAYS, every single time I do this there is something obviously wrong with my mix. Often it is that the lead guitar is too quiet. I make a mental note of it. I make notes of everything that could use a little tweaking, and then I move on...

Next I listen to the mix on my laptop, running the horridly awful, piss-poor media player called iTunes.

FOR THE RECORD, Quicktime is a much better player, but for some reason (mostly because they are money-grubbing jackwads) Apple favors their lame alternative, iTunes. Probably because they can keep track of what you listen to AND SELL YOUR INFORMATION TO CHINA!!!!

..don't get me started.

So I listen on iTunes, and again more is revealed. Bass is too quiet, vocals are too loud, etc, etc.

This is where my headphones (my 'monitors') come in:

After a 24-hour (I take a day off) ear break I play the mix back into my AKG Studio headphones - again, just as "flat" as any monitor, if not flatter! - and get to work on the issues I discovered using my pedestrian, consumer equipment (the car and my cheapo Mac laptop.)

HERE'S THE KEY! - since that lead guitar was NOT too loud on the stereo speakers or my headphones, and the bass was not too quiet, and so on I need to find a different solution besides "turn this up" or "turn that down." Often, the answer is compression!
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

#29
COMPRESSION -

Compression is sort of cheap. It's a short-cut. Okay, okay, it's a legitimate tool, but really the more of it you do the less your mix will be taken seriously. This was the case with Metallica's Death Magnetic album...

Critics called it, "Flat." And it was. It is squashed into a pancake, and that is exactly what will happen if you just grab the compressor knob and start smooshing everything together.

To use it properly, though, you must compress in stages.

Start with an initial compression, either on the input itself, or pre-processing of the WAV file to even out the performance. Inevitably as you work your way to that climactic run in the solo it gets louder. That triumphant bit in the last verse where you cry out in pain for your lost lover? Louder.

The initial compression is meant to tame these broad variations resulting from the performance. The trick is to maintain the dynamic response of the instrument while evening out the volume.

A TRICK!

Cut each section of the performance up, making a cut anywhere there is a pause for breath, or you stop playing for a measure or two. If you get louder, then turn that little bit DOWN in the DAW by grabbing a line at the top of the clip and moving it down.

This is not compression, it is simply turning the volume down. This takes time, but it is SO worth it!

(In a thrash metal song I did recently I cut two good takes - one in which I sing, Judas Priest/Iron Maiden style, and one in which I scream Megadeth style. I liked the singing one better, BUT I took a few lines from the screaming take to accentuate a few words in the overall track, like when I say, 'Won't you tell me who's your [GOD]?' the 'GOD' is screamed. It was also much, much louder. Turning that clip down 10dB made it all flow and it sounds like one take - a moment of screamed anger amidst a nice, cleanly sung track.)

That's where editing helps you. While you're at it tighten up the rhythm of your vox! Since I cut them to pieces anyway I move the vox track adjacent to the drum track and place the plosive portion of the clip exactly over a snare hit, so "GOD!" is accentuated by a strong snare hit, and followed by a thundering drum fill, like Thor himself rumbling his anger from the heavens.

Okay, that's cheesy as Hell, but it is good editing, imo. And it is appropriate for the (admittedly cheesy) genre I'm.

So avoid compression if you can, but you will, most often, use it.

Compression, after all, makes your mix work on your headphones, your home stereo, the car, the Space Shutt... oh never mind, a Boom Box, wherever.

That's why Compression was invented - it was developed by the radio industry to make one song sound roughly the same volume as another song, and also to maximize the amplitude of the radio signal to maximize the coverage distance of the signal (an economic decision - a $400 compressor might save you $15,000 worth of antenna!)

But BEFORE YOU COMPRESS, make sure to edit your tracks to a reasonably flat volume. They have already been compressed once, on the way in. This prevents clipping (which you don't want to do on that epic improvised solo you will NEVER play again!!), and tames a wild track down for mixing purposes.

The initial comp doesn't actually "compress" the signal, though, in a processing sense. It should be INAUDIBLE, meaning you should see it, but not hear it. Your wav file should look like rolling foothills, not the Himalayas!!

Ultimately these rolling foothills will become gentle ups and downs, but this comes with time, and at least THREE compression steps:

Initial (already done when you tracked)
Pre-processing - to work with other instruments in the mix
Post-processing/Pre-Mastering - to slightly compress your ENTIRE MIX so that it all evens out again just a wee bit.

Step One (Initial) should be about 6-7:1, which is pretty extreme compression. However you want your THRESHOLD to be set to a point just above your average peak. This way only the above average to extremely loud peaks will be compressed, and the overall signal will be pretty much as-is.

This is the difference between a live sound and a recorded sound. Dynamic mics are great because the diaphragm has some weight to it. It takes a little bit of "oomph" to get it moving, so you get a bit of natural compression, and if a big old, nasty sound wave comes along it becomes a smaller, less nasty signal in your recording.

This is called mechanical compression.

Condenser mics have negligible mass and thus you can't rely on them to even out your signal at all - plus they reproduce the signal faithfully. My philosophy is BETTER TO RECORD MORE THAN YOU NEED AND GET RID OF IT THAN AXE IT ON THE GET-GO AND WISH YOU HAD IT LATER.

Hence the advantage of condenser mics.

Then again if you are just throwing a mic at something with unknown dynamic range on-the-fly and you want to make sure it comes through without clipping or distortion, a dynamic mic is your safe bet.

..thus better suited to, "hey this riff rocks, let's record it!" because chances are it's not your final take anyway.

It's good to know your tools and what they're for. I tend to use dynamics on the snare because they cut down on bleed. The hi-hat has to work pretty hard to get that diaphragm moving! A condenser says, "Here's your hi-hat!" and it's hard to eliminate the hat without lousing up your snare sound.

...that's just my experience, though. Many engineers have had success with SDC's on snares, but I haven't.



You can always do what I tend to do and use BOTH, and decide later.

See above about "better to have more than you need." If one of the two mics sucks, then delete that track.

Sticking with this philosophy of "getting rid of what you don't need," I apply what I call "Subtractive Mixing" to the mix once I have found which instruments need work.

If I am working a lead guitar to make it stand out in the mix I first compress it a bit. I start with a 3:1 compression with a threshold that reaches about halfway down the wave form. I then boost the signal back to where it sounds even on my AKG headphones (monitors).

That might do it! If so, then leave it alone.

I don't suggest using EQ as these problems can be prevented with PROPER MIC PLACEMENT. If you are having issues with the guitar not standing out in the mix, then boost the highs on your guitar amp!

Boosting 3kHz in the mix works, too, but at that point you are putting a Band-Aid on a problem. Why involve yourself with a problem in the first place?

Alternately you could have placed the mic closer to the speaker or closer to the center of the speaker or BOTH!

There are situations where you will have to EQ, but EQ distorts your signal. I say record it right to begin with:

Choose a guitar tone that sounds a bit twangy to your ears, even harsh. As stated above you can always get RID of those high frequencies, but reaching into your WAV data to pull them out with the EQ knob is just not best practice.

..but if you must, boost 3kHz.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

#30
EFFECTS - There are fundamentally two effects: compression (dynamic effect) and delay (temporal - or time effect).

Reverb is a series of delays. Chorus is a delay that is so short that the two signals interfere with each other and you get cancellation. EQ is a delay (of sorts)!

So before you go reaching for that REVERB knob, know what you are doing.

Again you can avoid having to process your sound by thinking differently about your tracking process. Why not pick a room that has a good sound to begin with and record the close-up signal from your source as well as the sound of the source in the room.

I guarantee you, no matter what a real room >>>> ANY reverb plug-in. PERIOD!!

In my case I bought a house. It is to live in. It is a place for my child to play. It is also a reverb chamber!

If you are serious about recording, then either purchase or rent a place where you will be able to take advantage of natural acoustics. Older homes and apartments are GREAT for this - newer homes, I'm afraid, are less great.

It's about building materials.

Sadly we have cleared most of the hardwood forests that used to cover our beautiful country, so if you buy a McMansion today chances are it does not have a hardwood floor, and if it does it is not of the same quality as a hardwood floor of a home built pre-1960's.

Mine was built in 1927!

Even cheapo rent homes had inch-inch and a half thick hard wood back then. Solid plaster walls, etc.

Gypsum board does not respond as well as solid plaster. It actually robs bass!

So think about these things when you choose a place to live. If you can simply record your music in a room with high cielings and hardwood floors you are WAY ahead of the game. Screw VST's!

I haven't even looked at VSTs for reverb because I don't need to.

Using natural reverb as a "Plug-in": You can use an existing architectural space (your apartment, or if your RA is passed out in a puddle of puke on the floor, a dorm room) as a "plug-in." Play the sound of whatever you want to add "reverb" to into the room. Listen to it.

Does it sound good?

Move the speakers around, mess with EQ, whatever you have to do to make it sound the way you want it to sound.

Now mic the room with a pair of condensers (matched if possible, but not necessary).

Test it. You'll want to play the sound into the EMPTY room at as high a volume as realistically possible. I'm talking painfully, ridiculously loud.

Natural spaces have noise, and the louder the sound in the room is, the quieter the background noise will be in your track.

Noise is ADDITIVE!!!

So spend a few minutes setting up, play the sound back at (I'm serious!) 120dB - to where it kind of hurts. (Again, assuming it's legal and you won't get expelled, arrested, divorced, stabbed, etc. for doing so...)

Make sure your mics are set to a level where they don't clip.

Set the track back about 15-20 seconds and LEAVE!!! Make sure the sound of the door closing behind you is recorded BEFORE the track starts playing.

Stay gone until the track has played in its entirity, wait about 10 seconds and re-enter.

Done!

Now you have a natural acoustic reverb "plug-in" that, done properly, defeats any VST or outboard reverb unit anywhere!

..granted there are political, logistic, relational, social barriers to doing this, and like I said there may be people (neighbors) who would have legitimate reason to hit you over the head with a tire iron for doing this. Clear that kind of stuff up first!



Do it at 10 in the morning when everyone is at work.

As you can see there are many ways of using science to enhance your sound. There is nothing like adding a touch of compression and a wee bit of natural ambience to a mix. These two things will take a good mix and make it GREAT - assuming you have a good mix to begin with.

You'll go from "Hmm.. okay" to "WOW!"

Of course you can always add reverb from a VST or piece of outboard gear, but it's just not the same. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a beautiful piece of architectural history, then you, my friend, have GOLD!!

All you need is two condenser mics and a good mix.

As for dynamic effects, that brings me back to compression;

STEP TWO (compression) is squashing an individual signal to make it behave in a mix. Generally things like guitar leads and vocals will be compressed a lot, and things like the bass will be compressed less, but it all depends on the style.

The more compressed a signal is the more continuity you'll experience moving from your mixing table to your car to your iPod, etc. You also run the risk of compressing too much in which case you degrade your signal and raise a red flag that you don't know how to mix.

Keep in mind that there is a STEP THREE in the compression process, so resist the temptation to compress the bejeezus out of your track at step two.

Compress it enough to where you can hear the quietest note above the mix. I generally bring in the snare track to gauge how loud my guitar lead or vocal should be.

The snare and your vocal or guitar lead should be within the same dynamic ballpark. They also occupy the same frequency range (roughly.)

It's like the Rain Forest analogy. Your vocal might be a bird calling for its mate, the snare might be a cricket rubbing its hind legs together... for whatever reason it is that they do that.

One is steady, sustained, melodic (the bird = your vocal), the other is essentially noise, and is percussive, rhythmic (the cricket = your snare). They can coexist because one is sustained and has melodic direction. The other pops in and out in a determined rhythmic pattern.

So with snare, rhythm guitars and vocals called up, you should be able to hear every word and ideally even catch the little breaths you take (or your vocalist takes) in between words. The louder and more dense the music gets the harder this is to accomplish, so far too many metal mixes are simply squashed to oblivion, which is BAD MIXING.

It's also laziness.

You can always compress BEFORE you mix by miking at a distance. A signal heard at 1 mile away is a compressed signal. You'd be deaf right now if the sound of fireworks weren't compressed by the air in which they explode.

Many, many things can be done before you track, which is why good recording practice makes for good mixing, which makes for good mastering, etc.

Each step compliments the next step. If you do a jacked-up job of recording, then mixing will take forever.

Whatever the case, STEP TWO is about making the mix work dynamically. Nothing is too loud or two quiet.

STEP THREE of compression is the bit of compression you throw on the mix at the end. I suggest about 3:1 here, but bring the threshold down to where the compression is happening the majority of the time. This is light compression applied broadly.

In actuality you have compressed each track as much as you would have by grabbing that ratio and cranking it to 12:1, and the threshold down to where it's squashing that sound the entire time, but you've done it IN STEPS!

And the vocals are compressed a bit, the leads are compressed a bit, the snare is compressed a bit...

And your mix is gently compressed, just a bit, before it goes "on tape" or out to MP3 - whatever format you choose. CD, whatever.

I actually recommend tape because you can gently compress and then drive a tape into the red, and this will bring out harmonic overtones that will enrich your sound. Guitars will sound fatter and warmer. Drums will sound grittier and deeper.

Like cooking, each of these techniques is like a spice. When I was a kid I used to just drench my food in Tabasco sauce, and of course it tasted good! It tasted like Tabasco sauce...

Now I add a touch of Cayenne, a bit of salt, some garlic, crushed black pepper, a squeeze of lime. All together it is a much more complex symphony of flavors, and it draws out different aspects of the flavor with nothing overpowering or taking over the dish.

Your mix should be a rich stew where each ingredient has its place. As with good cooking, ALLOW YOUR LISTENER TO ADD SPICE OF THEIR OWN! That is to say leave room for a bit of bass-boost. Leave room for THEIR eq, their speakers and room, and whatever they have that enhances the sound for them.

Your mix should be a bit naked. It should take your listener about 95% of the way there. If they want to turn on the sub bass, then it will BUMP!! If they want to add some sparkle at 18kHz then there is some 18kHz for them to boost.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

#31
Quote by Bubonic Chronic


The most important piece of the puzzle is your ears, and your ears connect to your brain. You can't fix your ears - which, by the way, aren't flat either.





human ears tends to me more sensitive to the mid-range frequencies, as the human voice tends to be in that particular range too. yes each person will have a different sensitivity but general rule is mids.

So mix with that in mind.
#32
Quote by ShevanelFlip
human ears tends to me more sensitive to the mid-range frequencies, as the human voice tends to be in that particular range too. yes each person will have a different sensitivity but general rule is mids.

So mix with that in mind.

+1

But different frequency ranges tell the brain different things. Mid-highs (5-10k) give information about direction.

Highs (10-20k) can give information about 3-dimensional shape!

That's why I'm an advocate of binaural recording.

If, let's say, you place a pair of condensers on either side of a foam-rubber ball, or better yet a manikin head, then you are adding information. The stereo sound becomes more real, more 3-dimensional.

The difference is immeasurable, like going from 2D to 3D movies.

Real binaural recording is fairly complicated and expensive, but it can be approximated for next to nothing - heck a trip to the kid's section of Wal-Mart can score you a cheap rubber ball.

Mount it and use it for your drum overheads. Won't hurt you to try it!

Cost you about $3.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."