#1
Ok, so my band just put out an EP, and in the studio it sounded great on our engineer's pro speaker setup, but the more we listen to it on less sophisticated soundsystems (headphones, laptops, etc.) we've noticed that the snare is a bit buried in the mix. It's not the biggest problem ever, because it's still audible, but I feel like our songs are loosing a bit of oomph because the snare needs to be that little bit louder.

Would it come off as unreasonable or unprofessional to call up our engineer again and be like "can you go back to our tracks if you still have them and crank up the snare just a little?" I mean, we actually did the recording about a month ago, and I know sometimes that's the sort of thing where people are like "Well you should've thought of that in the studio".

We've worked with this guy twice and snare issue aside we're really happy with everything we've done with him. On the other hand, I don't think he particularly likes dealing with us. So I'm hesitant. Also, would it be expected that we pay for more studio time for him to fix this problem?

Basically we'd love to get that fixed, but if it's just not worth it the EP's still listenable and still sounds decent (it would just sound that extra bit better).

What do you guys think?
#2
Being one that puts on the engineer hat sometimes I can say that we can be sensitive about our work. Of coarse it is your music so you should get what you want as well. Be absolutely sure about what you are asking and make sure the engineer knows that you ABSOLUTELY LOVE everything else about the tracks. The fact that you have discovered this problem only on crappy speaks may be what saves your from some engineers wrath.

Ask him to boost the snare by like a decibel and make sure he knows you feel this is needed for clarity on crappy speakers, also be sure to ask him to do it when he has some time. Don't rush for it and he probably won't mind doing it at the end of another sessions without charging you but remember that it will likely take half an hour to an hour so he is doing you a favour. Mention your next up coming project so he can think about his future pay check from you.

Peace
#3
It doesn't hurt to ask, you sound like a nice guy.

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#4
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Ok, so my band just put out an EP, and in the studio it sounded great on our engineer's pro speaker setup, but the more we listen to it on less sophisticated soundsystems (headphones, laptops, etc.) we've noticed that the snare is a bit buried in the mix. It's not the biggest problem ever, because it's still audible, but I feel like our songs are loosing a bit of oomph because the snare needs to be that little bit louder.

Would it come off as unreasonable or unprofessional to call up our engineer again and be like "can you go back to our tracks if you still have them and crank up the snare just a little?" I mean, we actually did the recording about a month ago, and I know sometimes that's the sort of thing where people are like "Well you should've thought of that in the studio".

We've worked with this guy twice and snare issue aside we're really happy with everything we've done with him. On the other hand, I don't think he particularly likes dealing with us. So I'm hesitant. Also, would it be expected that we pay for more studio time for him to fix this problem?

Basically we'd love to get that fixed, but if it's just not worth it the EP's still listenable and still sounds decent (it would just sound that extra bit better).

What do you guys think?


L2Engineer
#5
We actually listened to the mix in progress on a car stereo when my old band recorded an EP (I say EP, it ended up being 8 songs). The engineer mixed on the console with the good speakers too, we just checked the final product there when we were done.
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#6
Ask the question. Different engineers have different policies but ours offers 1 free remix on a fulll project recorded with him. He also stresses bringing in a reference track of a favorite pro recording with a mix similar to what you want so he can do A/B comparisons and get it right for you.

Make certain your snare sounded great in the original track though. If it was poorly tuned or was ringing like the liberty bell he did you a favor by dialing it down. An ugly snare drum is nearly as bad as out of tune vocals.
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Last edited by Cajundaddy at Jul 11, 2014,
#7
Just talk to him. Most studios have a pair of 'crappy' speakers for just this purpose. They need the monitors to pick out the detail they need for mixing/eq etc. but know the recording won't be listened to on anything like the studio monitors.

You said you were happy when you left so this is a new job for him. It wouldn't be unreasonable to have to pay for a couple of hours to fix the problem. Remember too that crappy speakers all sound different. If you optimise for one pair then you might find another pair push the snare too far forward. I'd try a range before diagnosing the problem. You probably have but it is worth saying.

Studios should always keep the masters, for at least a couple of years. usually they keep them forever pretty much. Who knows which band is going to become famous.
#8
A pro engineer once gave me some great advice. He pointed out that the two most common ways people listen to music is in the car and on headphones. So he told me that after you mix something, play in a car, and then play it on an iPod with ear buds. That way, you know what to tweak for when it's not being played on great studio speakers.
#9
Yeah, I used to love playing my stuff in the car, also through a computer speaker system with sub, as most people have that crap hooked into their computer.
#10
In my experience it's extremely common to do touch ups on the mix after the studio time is over. Just ask. You may incur a fee or may not.
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#11
Lots of good advice here. Nothing I disagree with, really. But to add to the discussion....

Leveling can be a snail race. Once you turn up the snare, all of a sudden, the vocals would be perfect if they were just a smidge louder... and then once that's done, the guitars would be perfect if they were just a smidge louder... and then....

In other words, everything is a compromise. Maybe there is a reason the snare is where it is.

Second.... you're calling this an EP, which suggests to me that it is going to be "released" in some capacity. And you recorded it a month ago. Has this stuff been mastered?

If yes, maybe the problem is not the mix, but something happened in the mastering process to make the snare seem a little more buried where it wasn't before. Also, if the studio guy tweaks the mixes, then you'll have to go back to the mastering guy/gal and see what kind of position this puts you in with them.

If no, then you're best to fix this now before it does go to mastering. It may be something the mastering engineer can fix, but it may also be the kind of thing that inadvertently is made worse during the mastering process.

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

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#12
If the tracks haven't been mastered, then it should be as simple as opening the files, turning up the snare, and then exporting again, which theoretically I'm sure wouldn't be a problem.

However if they have been mastered, then you'd be getting back unmastered tracks, which would then need to be mastered again, and almost certainly some things in the mastering stage would have to be changed, so you'd almost certainly have to pay for the remaster.