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Microphone Month 2

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Mixing Tips??


I am looking for different mixing tips that people have picked up over the years. Anything that would help give it that professional sound. I can usually make it sound good, but when I reference it to a professional CD it always sounds so much different.
Also, throw in gear specific tips. i.e. I love the Dual Shift setting on the Eventide H-3000 for vocals. That kind of stuff could be very helpful.
Thanks in advance.
August 18, 2001 @07:28am

are you having any particular problems with your own mixes, or are you just looking at getting some great ideas ?
August 21, 2001 @03:57pm

You say different but is it better? The hyper-compression that is found on so many of today's recordings would be my initial guess without additional information as recordingpro indicated. Remember this will move the RMS of the recording much higher than yours and if you don't level match it can be easy to be fooled that the loud one is 'better'. It rarely is.
Aside from that, it could be many factors. Do the CDs you like sound fuller? more spacious? interesting effects? clearer? Take one aspect that you like from those CDs and work at getting your own to sound that way. Once you are close move on to something else. After some time and experimentation you will learn what can help and what doesn't.
August 21, 2001 @05:06pm

Excellent point.
If I could boil down all of my experience, and all the advice I've recieved from others I think it would come down to Every track needs to have it's own SPACE in a kind of 3 dimensional field.... It's own frequencies, it's own space leff to right, and its own distance from the listener. By paying attention to these things, a mix will really "open up" and will be clear, with good depth and stereo image.
Aside from this, i'd be more than happy to list specific tips on achieving whatever effects you are interested in. Just let us know what you feel your weakness is.
August 21, 2001 @05:44pm

A nice little way to see if something is sitting in the mix the way you thought it was is to turn the monitor level WAY down. You may be surprised to see what still cuts through even at that level.
This helps you identify instruments that could potentially be mixed too loud/soft if you thought at louder levels that they were at the same level as everyone else. This has helped me see where my lead vocal level is and snare specifically.
•before you do this make sure you mark your monitor level so you don't lose your initial frame of reference.
August 29, 2001 @10:34pm
David Klausner

Matt is right on in what he says about separating instruments and parts by frequency (EQ), left/right (panning) and distance (often reverb). Perhaps the most important method of keeping parts clear and distinct comes during the arranging process, before the first track is ever recorded. This is separating parts in time, and choosing proper timbres so things won't get in the way of each other. A very quiet part can be heard distinctly (and make a big difference to a track) if it comes on an off beat, where there is no other loud sound. Similarly, before trying to fix things with EQ during the mix, think about what instruments may be competing with each other. For example, that kick drum that sounds huge on its own and that monster bass tone may not be able to co-exist. If you decide before laying down the tracks what you're going for, by choice of which bass and how it is to be recorded, tuning of the kick drum and mic choice, etc. you can create an overall sound that is big but has enough room for all the instruments and lets the parts remain distinct. That type of thinking can be applied across the whole selection of instruments.
August 29, 2001 @11:02pm

I'll build on what David said about instruments competing and huge things not sounding so huge when mixed in with everything else. Someone once made an analogy that has stuck with me as I've mixed through the years. Think of looking at a huge mountain through a window you're standing back a ways from. The only way to see how huge it is it to make it smaller...in other words, if you're twenty miles away you may be able to see the whole mountain and how huge it is, but if you're only ten miles away it may just fill up half the window and you won't be able to see how big it really is. The only way to make it "seem" as large as it is it to make it smaller. Make sense? There may be a tree next to the window that's only 13 feet tall, but it may fill the whole window while the huge mountain only fills two thirds. But looking at it you know the mountain's bigger. Trying to cram a bunch of "huge" stuff into a mix is like trying to look at a bunch of things too close.
It's actually quite natural, if you think about it...when you whisper, you move up real close to a microphone. When you yell, you move back (there are of course exceptions...and then there are differences in technique). What you're doing is similar to moving your window closer to the tree (with the whisper) and farther from the mountain (for the screaming). The same type of thing can apply in mixing...if you've got 100 Hz pumped up 10 dB on your kick drum and on your bass guitar, you'll likely have mush. Thin one out a bit...make it "smaller"...and even though it won't sound as thunderous when you've got it soloed, chances are the two will sit together better and you'll be able to hear both distinctly.
August 29, 2001 @11:38pm

great analogy Ted. The "MUSH" that you mentioned is such a huge problem on most novice, (and even some pro) recordings. You really have to pay a lot of attention to the low end, because mixing in a home studio can be so decieving anyway. And KUDOS to Dave for pointing out that a good mix really starts out before you even begin recording...this is where a good producer or forward thinking artist can really make a differance. If you haven't planned out your mix in advance, and you find yourself working with a big, cluttered, kazillion track mess, you should get back to basics...cut everything except the core beat, bass line, and vocal, and work from there again.
Does anyone have any specific tips or tricks to share ? How to fatten up a track? make it sit in the mix? make it sizzle ?
August 29, 2001 @11:48pm

I guess I'll build on...let's see...who's comment was it now? =)
Ted mentioned yelling... I'll build on that. Think of standing at one end of a football field with your eyes closed. If someone is at the other end and they are yelling at you, most people will be able to detect at least two things #1 you know they are yelling and #2 you will have an idea how far away they are. But how? let's consider what is happening here. We know that the closer you get to a sound source the more apparent the low frequency material becomes. Same holds true for the high frequencies. So using deductive reasoning, that must mean that the further you get from a sound source, the less sensitive your ear is to the bass and highs. Good O'l Fletcher Munson curve. Also, even though the volume of the persons voice is quite low, you can tell by the strain in the persons voice that they are working much harder to get the sound out, thus, distance perception.
Let's compare this all now to a lead guitar solo. Basic logic would have you think that if you want the guitar to sound monsterous (yep, this is the same thing Ted was talking about) that you would add a ton of full, tight low end and that you crank up the volume so it shines above everyone else... WRONG.. The more you do that the less of an impact it begins to have. The result is that instead of feeling like you're at the back of a stadium experiencing the hugest solo of your life, you are now uncomfortably up on stage with the guitarist standing right in front of his amp. Hmmmm..
Try rolling off the low end and high end a bit and actually pull the level back a little bit. What this makes your ear think is "Man..if he's that far away and I can still hear him, he is a Wailing Wall O Sound"
Next time you get a chance, pull out an old 'Chicago' recording or the like with a huge dance ballad. You only think those toms are rich and full sounding...what you'll find is that they sound like a high 'click' a mid 'click' and a low 'click' But the same psychoacoustic principle applies. It's all an illusion. But then in a word, that's what multi track recording/mixing is all about. Recreating something that probably never really happened....at least the way you think. Pretty cool.
August 31, 2001 @02:03am