Non-professional studio mixing and mastering sound problems for metal! Help Please!

#1
Hi guys!

My band and I have been trying to produce our first ever metal album, and since we are independent and dont have much money we hired a non-professional studio to do the job, and we've come accross some problems now that we have finished the recording process.

The first problem is that all the tracks lack clarity, the tracks sound quite thud, thump, clogged (English is not my native languge, so i might have problems describing this). The sound to me is very like dark, like it needs to be brighter. How can you fix this is it an equalization problem? do you fix it when you are mixing or when you are mastering?

Second problem is it lacks strength, i think the drum bass and bass guitar need some more bass on the equalization, and the guitars need more treble and mids? but i am not sure! I was thinking maybe in the mix point he needs to rise all the volumes? What are the recommendable gain/volume levels that you should have when mixing? Again how can you fix this?

Third problem is that even though he showed me that all tracks where at the same volume level after he mastered them, they dont sound like they are at the same level, some sound more powerful than others, again how can you fix it?

Here are some of the tracks so you can check them out:
http://soundcloud.com/damienro0

I know i cant attempt for my band to sound as if we had recorded in a professional studio, but i was expecting I could do something to make it sound much better than that, i was compering our recording sound to bands whose recordings sound, power and strength i like, such as lamb of god, as i lay dying, killswitch engage, cancer bats, trivium, messugah, devildriver, inflames, diecast, etc, and the sound we have has still a long way to go!

I hope you can help me improve the sound we have to at least try to make it sound a bit more like these bands, i've mentioned! thank you people!
#2
its sounds mid scooped to hell...
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#3
we hired a non-professional studio to do the job

Surely if they're putting themselves out for hire and charging for it, that makes them professional? If you wanted a 'non-professional' job, you could have clubbed together and bought the kit to do it yourselves.

At the end of the day, if you're wanting a professional job, you need to get a professional to do it for you. Did the studio you used provide any examples of their work? What made you think a 'non-professional' studio would be worth paying for?

If they've really done that bad a job*, you should try getting a refund.

Also, if you got the master tracks from the studio, there are some guys on here who may be prepared to remix it for you. I've seen a couple of threads in the past started by people who are looking for people who need help with that sort of thing.

* I'm not going to comment on the actual quality itself, it sounded OK on my laptop but it's speakers are terrible so I wouldn't know if it was bad or not!
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Last edited by GaryBillington at Oct 17, 2011,
#4
1) Those tracks are nicely balanced and there's a decent amount of clarity, you really don't need any more bass. If it sounds too thick/muddy, that's probably your arrangement.

2) I think the mixing sounds pretty damn decent actually, nothing amazing but much better than the average demo.

3) If you're on a tight budget, don't record a full album! Do a couple of tracks in the highest quality you can afford, and release an EP/Maxi-Single.
#5
Slight cut between 600hz - 1khz is a good start to clearing some mud on mixes.
A slight boost around 8khz may give you a more bright sound.

Other than that I mean its really not to bad. I have heard much worse. Just go to the original recordings or covers section of UG, and you will see a lot worse.
#6
Quote by GaryBillington
Surely if they're putting themselves out for hire and charging for it, that makes them professional? If you wanted a 'non-professional' job, you could have clubbed together and bought the kit to do it yourselves.

At the end of the day, if you're wanting a professional job, you need to get a professional to do it for you. Did the studio you used provide any examples of their work? What made you think a 'non-professional' studio would be worth paying for?

If they've really done that bad a job*, you should try getting a refund.

Also, if you got the master tracks from the studio, there are some guys on here who may be prepared to remix it for you. I've seen a couple of threads in the past started by people who are looking for people who need help with that sort of thing.!


Thats the thing, it would have been too expensive to do it ourselves and buy the whole equipment and also we have not got much experience either, the person who helped us is not a complete begginier, but he doesnt know it all either, i'm just looking for advice as in how to improve what i've already got!! I dont think its completly terrible i just want to make it sound as best as we can! and as close to pro as possible!
#7
Quote by FireHawk
Slight cut between 600hz - 1khz is a good start to clearing some mud on mixes.
A slight boost around 8khz may give you a more bright sound.

Other than that I mean its really not to bad. I have heard much worse. Just go to the original recordings or covers section of UG, and you will see a lot worse.



Thank you this is the type of advice Im looking for!
#8
Any thoughts on average volume/gain levels at the point of mixing?

Any ideas on how to make it sound with more strength?
#9
I think you want a bit more guitar. I think it's not bad for non-professional. I personally would be the vocals down a bit.

Look up "Kalmah-the blind leader demo version" after listening to it, listen to "the blind leader" CD version. Kalmah's demo qaulity is about the same as yours, definitely not bad!
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#10
The mixes aren't terrible, but I'd expect better from a 'studio.'

The mix is definitely lacking in the mid range, which is why it lacks clarity in the guitars and bass. For this style/vibe, I'd definitely have nasty, distorted bass guitar grit filling up most of the mid range (check out In Flames bass tones). The bass guitar is also all over the place volume wise and needs a lot more processing to even it out. There's also a huge build up of energy from the guitars and bass around 150-200hz that resonates way too loud in all the songs. The punch of the kick is also totally lost as a result.

I think the mixes seem so dark because the overheads from the drums are so low, which is where a lot of that sheen comes from, as well as from the lack of definition in the guitars.

As for the mastering that was done, just because each track is the same level, doesn't mean they all have the same perceived volume. Also, based on the mixes alone, these weren't ready for the mastering stage any.

If you have stems I'd be willing to remix one of the songs. Here's a sample of the closet thing I've done to melodeath: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16210823/melo.mp3
#11
Quote by Odirunn
There's also a huge build up of energy from the guitars and bass around 150-200hz that resonates way too loud in all the songs. The punch of the kick is also totally lost as a result.

I think the mixes seem so dark because the overheads from the drums are so low, which is where a lot of that sheen comes from, as well as from the lack of definition in the guitars.

As for the mastering that was done, just because each track is the same level, doesn't mean they all have the same perceived volume. Also, based on the mixes alone, these weren't ready for the mastering stage any.

If you have stems I'd be willing to remix one of the songs. Here's a sample of the closet thing I've done to melodeath: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16210823/melo.mp3


What would you do to fix the build up energy from the guitars you mention??

How would you fix the perceived volume thing? what would be a good volume at the mix? cause i think at the mix, this guy was working with 40%-50% at the most when it came to volumes on all the instruments

I do have the stems if would be awesome if you could help me with that? We worked all this in logic, how could i send it to you?
#12
I'm going to go for the complete opposite of everyone else here... I think they sound pretty sub-par. IMO, you could've gotten better results from home using a Line 6 TonePort and programming the drums.

There's no definition to the guitars in most of the songs and most of the time, they just mix into the rest of the instruments so much that you can't even hear anything from them.

The vocals sound muffled, and I feel like they were just mixed in there with pure volume, rather than making them actually fit the mix.

The kick drum has way too much click and not enough body to cut through on most of the song. It almost sounds like a lower volume version of the snare, it's that clicky

I PM'd you
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#13
Quote by damienro0
What would you do to fix the build up energy from the guitars you mention??

How would you fix the perceived volume thing? what would be a good volume at the mix? cause i think at the mix, this guy was working with 40%-50% at the most when it came to volumes on all the instruments

I do have the stems if would be awesome if you could help me with that? We worked all this in logic, how could i send it to you?

Either multiband comp or EQ scoops on both tracks. For the guitars you could try a higher HPF.

For perceived volume the engineer needs to use his hears, likely combo'd with RMS/VU meters to make everything even between tracks. There's nothing wrong with mixing super quiet.

I'm not familiar with Logic but I'm sure there's some sort of batch bounce option in one of the menus that will allow you to bounce each track individually; just zip those up and upload them somewhere.
#15
Quote by MatrixClaw
I'm going to go for the complete opposite of everyone else here... I think they sound pretty sub-par. IMO, you could've gotten better results from home using a Line 6 TonePort and programming the drums.

There's no definition to the guitars in most of the songs and most of the time, they just mix into the rest of the instruments so much that you can't even hear anything from them.

The vocals sound muffled, and I feel like they were just mixed in there with pure volume, rather than making them actually fit the mix.

The kick drum has way too much click and not enough body to cut through on most of the song. It almost sounds like a lower volume version of the snare, it's that clicky

I PM'd you


I would appreciate if you could give me some advice on what you would do to fix it man! Thanks!
#16
Quote by Cullie
The kick sounds like a typewriter. Just sayin'.
That's the sound of clinically soulless modern metal, my friend. I personally hate it, but it's what the kids want!
#17
Here are my thoughts...

First, not everything can be big. We determine size based on comparing objects to those around it. In a room full of kittens, a poodle is fairly large. In a room full of horses, it's quite small.

Whoever mixed this went for "big guitars" instead of "big drums and bass." You can't really have both. We can talk more about that in more detail later if you want to pursue it, because it is, admittedly, a bit of an overgeneralization.

Your mixes that you got sound, IMHO, quite good for a project studio. To be critical, I thought they all sounded the same. That's partly your fault, and partly his. It sounds like he is a "preset" guy. This is evident in the fact that the songs all have the same sonic fingerprint, and in his approach where he wanted them to "all be the same level" as opposed to listening and judging each on its own merits.

The mixes lack space. Here is your catch-22 though. Space in a mix lives not within the parts themselves, but in the space between the parts. If you record just a drum set, say, you won't say that the snare sound has a lot of space to it. It doesn't. The kit sounds spacious because there is space between the drum hits - "time" space in that they are not all hit at the same time; "frequency" space in that a floor tom occupies a different frequency space than a snare drum; and "dynamic" space in that the snare drum and kick drum sound really loud because the toms and cymbals do not, and especially because when a snare is hit, it is a HELL of a lot louder than it is when it is not hit. Then there is "physical" space - the sound from a drum kit is captured with many mics because the sound comes from a large space.

When you make a "guitar heavy" mix, especially in the metal genre, there is no space.

Consider:

"time" space - this is where you get the most room for a guitar heavy mix. Guitars playing are a hell of a lot louder than guitars not playing. Those little breaks between those fast triplets allow the rest of the guitar parts seem louder all of a sudden, because they follow a space with no guitars - even if just for a quarter of a second. It's when you just chug through the entire song that there is no space between any of the notes.

"frequency" space - two guitars riffing and chugging on the bottom two strings are using very little frequency space. Compound that with the bass being not far off from there, and you get muck. Now you DO have some guitar parts occupying higher frequencies. Notice how much brighter some parts are that have those parts a little more prominent, and then when those parts disappear that you're back to muck? There's your frequency space. Try to have your guitars and bass EQ'ed (or even better, dial in those tones before recording, and arrange the parts within the composition) so that they are not competing for the same frequency space.

"dynamic" space - distorted guitars have very few dynamics. Look at the visual representations of the wave files and you basically see a brick when the guitars are playing and nothing when they are not. Now look at a wave for a clean guitar part. You see all sorts of peaks and valleys. The attacks on the notes jump right out. With a metal mix with that much gain, your only chance at dynamic space is to write that into the song - quieter parts and louder parts. Parts where the guitars lay back, allowing the drums and bass to be huge - even if just for a few moments - and then back to big guitars. (this will also fool the listener into believing the drums and bass are bigger than they really are....)

"physical" space - you got one mic on one 12" speaker. 'Nuff said. You can make this bigger by having two mics on two 12" speakers, and that would be bigger. There's your double-tracking. (careful, though, because too many layers means even less "other types" of space) Panning guitars wide separates the parts so they are not occupying the same physical space. (but going too far can sound artificial)

Here's a comparison:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5ceLnaxWmw&feature=related

Metallica - Master of Puppets
-huge guitars - everything else, even the vocals are small
-drums not as big as they sound - only the snare drum is loud, and it cuts easily through the guitars because of frequency space
-bass guitar practically non-existent - if the bass was louder, it would be fighting with the bottom end of the guitars, and the kick drum (the kick drum isn't louder - it just has more frequency space to live in because it isn't fighting for space with the bass)
-quiet part comes in at 3:40 - less bottom on the guitars means the kick sounds more prominent; clean guitars covering a lot of frequency space; altogether makes this part sound very spacious
-heavy part comes in at 4:55 - dynamic space - this wouldn't sound near as loud if it weren't for the quieter part before it
-6:45 - single guitar alternating between full band hits = dynamic space.

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#18
Quote by damienro0
I would appreciate if you could give me some advice on what you would do to fix it man! Thanks!

Check your PMs, I'd be glad to help you, but it's hard to tell what all can be done to fix what you have, without seeing the files
Quote by Dave_Mc
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#19
Quote by axemanchris
Here are my thoughts...

First, not everything can be big. We determine size based on comparing objects to those around it. In a room full of kittens, a poodle is fairly large. In a room full of horses, it's quite small.

Whoever mixed this went for "big guitars" instead of "big drums and bass." You can't really have both. We can talk more about that in more detail later if you want to pursue it, because it is, admittedly, a bit of an overgeneralization.

Your mixes that you got sound, IMHO, quite good for a project studio. To be critical, I thought they all sounded the same. That's partly your fault, and partly his. It sounds like he is a "preset" guy. This is evident in the fact that the songs all have the same sonic fingerprint, and in his approach where he wanted them to "all be the same level" as opposed to listening and judging each on its own merits.

The mixes lack space. Here is your catch-22 though. Space in a mix lives not within the parts themselves, but in the space between the parts. If you record just a drum set, say, you won't say that the snare sound has a lot of space to it. It doesn't. The kit sounds spacious because there is space between the drum hits - "time" space in that they are not all hit at the same time; "frequency" space in that a floor tom occupies a different frequency space than a snare drum; and "dynamic" space in that the snare drum and kick drum sound really loud because the toms and cymbals do not, and especially because when a snare is hit, it is a HELL of a lot louder than it is when it is not hit. Then there is "physical" space - the sound from a drum kit is captured with many mics because the sound comes from a large space.

When you make a "guitar heavy" mix, especially in the metal genre, there is no space.

Consider:

"time" space - this is where you get the most room for a guitar heavy mix. Guitars playing are a hell of a lot louder than guitars not playing. Those little breaks between those fast triplets allow the rest of the guitar parts seem louder all of a sudden, because they follow a space with no guitars - even if just for a quarter of a second. It's when you just chug through the entire song that there is no space between any of the notes.

"frequency" space - two guitars riffing and chugging on the bottom two strings are using very little frequency space. Compound that with the bass being not far off from there, and you get muck. Now you DO have some guitar parts occupying higher frequencies. Notice how much brighter some parts are that have those parts a little more prominent, and then when those parts disappear that you're back to muck? There's your frequency space. Try to have your guitars and bass EQ'ed (or even better, dial in those tones before recording, and arrange the parts within the composition) so that they are not competing for the same frequency space.

"dynamic" space - distorted guitars have very few dynamics. Look at the visual representations of the wave files and you basically see a brick when the guitars are playing and nothing when they are not. Now look at a wave for a clean guitar part. You see all sorts of peaks and valleys. The attacks on the notes jump right out. With a metal mix with that much gain, your only chance at dynamic space is to write that into the song - quieter parts and louder parts. Parts where the guitars lay back, allowing the drums and bass to be huge - even if just for a few moments - and then back to big guitars. (this will also fool the listener into believing the drums and bass are bigger than they really are....)

"physical" space - you got one mic on one 12" speaker. 'Nuff said. You can make this bigger by having two mics on two 12" speakers, and that would be bigger. There's your double-tracking. (careful, though, because too many layers means even less "other types" of space) Panning guitars wide separates the parts so they are not occupying the same physical space. (but going too far can sound artificial)

Here's a comparison:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5ceLnaxWmw&feature=related

Metallica - Master of Puppets
-huge guitars - everything else, even the vocals are small
-drums not as big as they sound - only the snare drum is loud, and it cuts easily through the guitars because of frequency space
-bass guitar practically non-existent - if the bass was louder, it would be fighting with the bottom end of the guitars, and the kick drum (the kick drum isn't louder - it just has more frequency space to live in because it isn't fighting for space with the bass)
-quiet part comes in at 3:40 - less bottom on the guitars means the kick sounds more prominent; clean guitars covering a lot of frequency space; altogether makes this part sound very spacious
-heavy part comes in at 4:55 - dynamic space - this wouldn't sound near as loud if it weren't for the quieter part before it
-6:45 - single guitar alternating between full band hits = dynamic space.

CT


Thank you for the info on space! The thing is I dont really understand somthing, are su saying that you can either have deep sound coming from bass and drums, or thick and big guitars? Why cant you have both, cause the latest lamb of god record for instance I think It all sounds awesome bass and drums deep and thick as hell, and awesome clarity for guitars, and everything else! Any thoughts on this?
#20
Quote by MatrixClaw
Check your PMs, I'd be glad to help you, but it's hard to tell what all can be done to fix what you have, without seeing the files


What are the PMs?? What do i need to aim for?
#21
go to your profile page, it wills how that you have Private Messages (PM's). They are messages sent directly to you, on this website.
Guitars:
LTD Alexi-600 White & Black
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Jackson DKMGT
Squire telecaster

amps:
Bugera 6262 212 loaded with WGS veteran 30's