#1
Hey guys,

thought I would ask some experts about how to make a good sounding track out of my recordings.

Set up:

Running a SM57 mic through a Steinberg Ci1 $100 interface into a program called "Sequel LE 2", recording my VOX Ac30C2 with high-bass sendings to get a thick, zeppelin/queens of the stoneagey stoner rock tone.

Now the recording isn't going too bad- I've found the best way to get good sound out my amp into the program. The problem is- no matter what I do, the guitar just sounds a bit tinny.

Also, once I've recorded I'm kind of lost. I'll record 2 seperate tracks playing the same thing, then blend them together, one a little bit left, the other right, giving a central sound- But it just doesnt sound that great.

What should the volume be? Should guitar go left, right? What effects? What about bass, should it go in the centre, and how loud should it be?

I'm just really new to this and no matter how hard I try nothing sounds as good as I want it too. Any tips or info would be appreciated. Here's a pic of what one of my tracks I'm working on now looks like:

#2
The bass and drums are supposed to thicken the guitars so until you have them recorded I wouldn't judge. I usually filter out guitar at about 80hz anyway to make room for kick and bass.

Try double tracking guitar and panning hard left and right, usually works. Then put a reverb aux bus with room reverb and the left panned guitar pan its verb aux hard right and do the opposite for the hard right guitar, so you have the left panned guitar echoing only to the right and vice versa, try maybe room reverb, usually you'd find a setting that says Studio A or B on most reverbs.
Bass and kick should be dead centre.
#3
As for how loud things should be, that's what reference tracks are for. Find a track of a similar production style to what you're after, maybe a qotsa or zepplin track as that's the guitar tone you're appropriating. Then use that as a reference for how loud instruments should be. Otherwise you're mixing in the dark with no reference to frequency balance.

As was said, bass and kick straight down the middle. Guitars usually panned hard L & R.
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#4
First of all, turn your master volume TO THE MAX before mixing. That way as the mix builds and the sound gets louder overall you can bring the master down little by little, it will slowly drift down as the other faders move up bit by bit, if that makes sense.

So how loud for the bass?

Well, that depends on the type of bass reproduction you have available. Are you monitoring this on studio monitors? Probably not.

If you are mixing with a home stereo system, which is possible, pick a track that has the kind of bass-treble balance that YOU like, and set you EQ to that first. I use two tracks:

"For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica
"No More Tears" by Ozzy Ozbourne

I turn the volume up and crank those songs, and adjust everything to my liking. If that bass just pounds my chest, then I'm ready to mix. Then I take an ear break. 20 minutes is good. Grab a cup of coffee, whatever.

When you mix, bring that kick up. Get it to where you can feel it. Now bring the bass in, at least that's the way I like to do it. The bass and kick should work together as a unit.

As for when to bring in guitars, snare, drum overheads, etc., that's a matter of opinion as well. Just try it and see how it turns out. If you're not happy with the results, try again bringing instruments in a different order.

It also helps to "sub-mix," that is mix the bass and drums as a unit. Then mix the guitars as a unit. So on. Also known as "Grouping."

I generally do not group the lead guitar or the vocal, and I boost a specific frequency for both of those. 3.5 kHz works well. Filter (notch filter) that same frequency on everything else, so you've got a notch for the leads and the vocals. You can use the same notch as your vox and your lead probably do not happen at the same time.

Guitar you can generally low-pass filter below 250 Hz, with a gentle "shoulder" so you're not totally cutting out the low end. Guitar only goes to 160 Hz anyway. Mid-shelf the 400-800 Hz range as well as this will "muddy" the mix. You might as well add a mid-shelf to the bass also. Mud is not good!

The thing about overdubbing instruments is that lower frequencies will build. Two guitars is 3 dB louder on the low end than one. Four guitars is 6 dB louder than one, etc. Only at the low end! This is why you can just cut around 250 Hz or so because the low end will be plentiful anyway, and you want to make room for the mid-range of the bass, which is important for knowing what note is being played.

The low-mid bass is CRITICAL! This is the note which defines the chord, the tonal center of everything, so you want it heard. It will be in the 160-250 Hz range on the bass, generally, an octave of the fundamental of 80 Hz, 100 Hz, whatever.

Another secret to getting "balls" out of your sound is to turn your guitar amp up! In many professional studios the guitarist will play through an amp that is located in another room, acoustically isolated from everything. The amp is LOUD!!!

At home I use a 40 watt amp so I can crank it. Cranking the amp brings out all of the character of the pre-amp, post-amp (the tubes if you've got 'em) and gets the most out of your speaker. I have a 6" speaker, and battering the bejeezus out of it sounds great!

Every little thing you do will make for a little better mix.

Best of luck!
#5
I'm too tired tonight to pick apart every last point as it's 4:30am, but there is quite a lot wrong with this post. I know you're only trying to help but please don't try and give specific instructions when it is seemingly apparent you are repeating stuff you've mis-understood or mis-read.

This sounds harsh even to me saying it, so I don't mean to be a dick, it's just... well, I don't agree with quite a few things in there. I'll list a few things though.

Quote by FrettieMercury
First of all, turn your master volume TO THE MAX before mixing. That way as the mix builds and the sound gets louder overall you can bring the master down little by little, it will slowly drift down as the other faders move up bit by bit, if that makes sense.

I don't see how that will help - if it gets loud you use your monitor controller (if you use one) or the output volume on your interface. If you mean track gain levels, I'd say leaving master fader set to 0dBFS is the best thing to do so people aren't messing with one more level and instead learning how to mix to unity gain without clipping before any compression or anything else is added to the master bus. Only then would I advise people play with it, and to me that means when experienced people mix into a compressor on the master bus for example.

So how loud for the bass?

Well, that depends on the type of bass reproduction you have available. Are you monitoring this on studio monitors? Probably not.

If you are mixing with a home stereo system, which is possible, pick a track that has the kind of bass-treble balance that YOU like, and set you EQ to that first. I use two tracks:

"For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica
"No More Tears" by Ozzy Ozbourne

I turn the volume up and crank those songs, and adjust everything to my liking.

Reference mixes are great, when comparing a (nearly) finished mix with a commercial release, but I wouldn't say putting up a reference track and then trying to match one aspect of it with your completely different mix is ever a good idea for newbies to try. Besides, if you're doing that on a hi-fi how on Earth would you tell that it's accurate to do so?

If that bass just pounds my chest, then I'm ready to mix. Then I take an ear break. 20 minutes is good. Grab a cup of coffee, whatever.

This bit is good, at least the ear break is. The feel of the mix... that's something you learn with time, so potentially good advice.

When you mix, bring that kick up. Get it to where you can feel it. Now bring the bass in, at least that's the way I like to do it. The bass and kick should work together as a unit.

Not everything requires the same thing of each element. Feeling the kick in something with a lot of fast kicks is just asking for mud and for excess low end energy. Or it might be a stripped back track. Sometimes you want subtle and defined, not thumpy and punching hard.

As for when to bring in guitars, snare, drum overheads, etc., that's a matter of opinion as well. Just try it and see how it turns out. If you're not happy with the results, try again bringing instruments in a different order.

It also helps to "sub-mix," that is mix the bass and drums as a unit. Then mix the guitars as a unit. So on. Also known as "Grouping."

Not bad really, can agree on that generally, although I tend these days not to mix in stages of introduction but to work on the instruments with the whole mix playing, or you're in danger of mixing yourself into traps by not hearing what your changes make to the balance of the other instruments.

I generally do not group the lead guitar or the vocal, and I boost a specific frequency for both of those. 3.5 kHz works well. Filter (notch filter) that same frequency on everything else, so you've got a notch for the leads and the vocals. You can use the same notch as your vox and your lead probably do not happen at the same time.

But often you'll have a few lead tracks (harmonies) and several vocal tracks, so it makes sense to group them too. I would not say you can boost or cut specific frequencies as a rule because it changes in most cases for each mix. Why 3.5kHz?

Guitar you can generally low-pass filter below 250 Hz, with a gentle "shoulder" so you're not totally cutting out the low end. Guitar only goes to 160 Hz anyway. Mid-shelf the 400-800 Hz range as well as this will "muddy" the mix. You might as well add a mid-shelf to the bass also. Mud is not good!

250Hz is a rather high HPF (I know you said LPF, but you mean HPF) or if you compensate with too smooth a roll-off it'll be far less effective than a steeper one at 125-150Hz ish. Where does this 'guitar only goes to 160Hz anyway' comment come from? That's not true; the fundamental frequency of a low E on a standard 6 string guitar is ~82.4Hz, the octave below the one you suggest.

400-800Hz = mud? Since when? If anything, I often find myself keeping 450-600Hz relatively present in the rhythm guitars for midrange definition and body. Not muddy to me!

The thing about overdubbing instruments is that lower frequencies will build. Two guitars is 3 dB louder on the low end than one. Four guitars is 6 dB louder than one, etc. Only at the low end! This is why you can just cut around 250 Hz or so because the low end will be plentiful anyway, and you want to make room for the mid-range of the bass, which is important for knowing what note is being played.

This just simply isn't true, frequencies accumulate with increased volume and it isn't isolated in the low end - if you duplicate your mono guitar track and pan one hard left and the other hard right, you increase the volume but you aren't only increasing the low end... you get exactly the same sound, just louder.

The low-mid bass is CRITICAL! This is the note which defines the chord, the tonal center of everything, so you want it heard. It will be in the 160-250 Hz range on the bass, generally, an octave of the fundamental of 80 Hz, 100 Hz, whatever.

Again, the fundamental frequencies you're on about are an octave lower - standard low E on a bass is ~41.2Hz. I agree the range you mention gives body to the low end but I wouldn't say tonal centre of everything. Our ears are far more susceptible to pitch accuracy in the midrange area where vocals lie as our auditory system developed around/in sync with the human voice and it's frequency spectrum.

Another secret to getting "balls" out of your sound is to turn your guitar amp up! In many professional studios the guitarist will play through an amp that is located in another room, acoustically isolated from everything. The amp is LOUD!!!

At home I use a 40 watt amp so I can crank it. Cranking the amp brings out all of the character of the pre-amp, post-amp (the tubes if you've got 'em) and gets the most out of your speaker. I have a 6" speaker, and battering the bejeezus out of it sounds great!

Not always the case, and the good amp sims available these days prove that. When miking up an amp, sure volume can help but you can get good sounds out of quiet amps as the alleged sweetspot is not always gonna be near max volume. 40w all valve would be deafening when cranked in a home studio, so I'm surprised you'd say that. Cranking an amp will not bring out extra character from the preamp, turning up the master volume just increases the power amp gain, leaving the preamp however you had it before but louder. As for speakers, get too close to max volume and depending on what speakers are in the cab, you'll be shortening their life considerably and might even blow them.

Every little thing you do will make for a little better mix.
As long as you're making smart decisions
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