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Unread 09-12-2010, 07:55 AM   #1
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Where does a mix become "BIG"? Mixing or Mastering?

Ok, so everyone should atleast be familiar with my mixes by now, if not take a peep at my soundclick. I'm fairly comfortable with my mixes now frequency and compression wise, BUT I listen to modern mixes such as... Bulb of course! Veil Of Maya's TCMC... Holy shit those mixes are huge and almost surround you. Then I listen to mine.... Flat ....ing tires, 2d all the way. I've recently messed with stereo seperation in my last two mixes on my soundclick but it's still not sounding right and then I start running into problems like my snare stops popping because when I set the guitar stereo seperation it over powers. Then I turn down my volume and when I go to master it all sounds like muddy poop. So I started to wonder "well maybe massiveness comes in mastering..." So I went back to my original mixes and pushed them to be mastered. I have used sonic maximizers to seperate multibands pushing the bass out farthest the mids in the middle and keeping the treble centered and slightly seperating the Master track. It sounds nothing like these pro mixes I stated above, SO WHAT THE .... AM I MISSING HERE!!!!!!!!! .
oh btw just in case you're too lazy to move you're mouse a 1/2 inch down farther here is my soundclick link.
SoundClick artist: Hand Of Taurus - Gangster Fresh Experimental Metal
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Unread 09-12-2010, 08:21 AM   #2
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i know your frustration, man! it really is all in the mixing. the mastering just polishes it and gets it ready for use. it's where the "finished" sound comes in.

you need to make sure all the different parts of the mixes have their own space to play out on. that means not having too much lows in the guitars, and not drowning the snare with the mids. it means letting the bass make it all massive sounding. it means a whole lot.

just keep aiming for one thing at a time. start by getting a good basic drum sound. compare with pro mixes and stuff, see what the drum mix really sounds like. then add guitars. make sure the guitars and the drums are at good levels. you're supposed to be able to hear the drums and guitars really well, with both having the same priority in the mix. do what you can to get a good basic guitar tone. do a low pass at around 7 khz-10 khz. then do a high pass at about 100 hz. then figure out where the tone of the snare is, and do a dip in that frequency area in the guitars, so the guitars aren't overstepping the snare. then get the bass going. add low mids (between 100 and 300 hz) to make it audible in the mix, and make it blend with the guitar. find the main "kicking" frequency of the kick drum (usually like 60-70 hz), and do a dip to remove some of those frequencies in the bass, so it doesn't drown out the kick drum.

that's the basics of it. just use your ears, and keep trying it again and again. as long as you're never satisfied, you'll always keep progressing. so i hope you're never satisfied for too long at a time, because that's waht makes you better.

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What will metal be doing in ten years? What ever Meshuggah will be doing in two.
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Unread 09-12-2010, 02:01 PM   #3
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Words wise as hell MF_Kitten. +1!
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Unread 09-13-2010, 07:30 PM   #4
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Thanks guys! I totally understand the EQ and freq aspect of what you guys are saying but I mean Wide when I say BIG. These mixes are beyond panning the guitars 80% LR and even doing fancy Quad tracking with 75% and 100% LR and panning the drums to fit their "places" in the recording. I mentioned using Stereo sepration to push my mixes out bigger before, but like I said even when you bring down the volume after seperation it still eats your mix up and it loosens up your guitar playing. So Does anyone know how to acheive more WIDTH out of their mix and again does it come when mixing or mastering?
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Unread 09-13-2010, 07:45 PM   #5
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i think i can answer that as that was something i had issues with. ( if you remember)

i ended up boosting the low mids and that widened up my guitar sound, but brought everything a little closer together as well, so that when i added the bass, the mix felt MASSIVE.

keep in mind this is a RECENT discovery.

i'd say fiddle with your tones more than everything. and quad-tracking will not make the actual track massive, but it will make the guitars themselves sound massive.

i single track.
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Unread 09-13-2010, 08:26 PM   #6
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Have you tried or are you using a expander on your master track? I found this really helps when mixing/mastering. I also would recommend using minimal post EQ if at all possible. I found that the more time spent on fixing and or forcing a track to blend with another just made my mixes feel 2D. When you do your mixes do you listen thru a headset or studio monitors? If you use monitors, what volume level do you listen to your mix at? I've listened to your stuff quite a bit and I honestly think it's great, although I can see what you mean when you say 2D. Hang in there though your not the only one who is still trying to achieve professional quality mixes.

Cheers!
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Unread 09-13-2010, 08:42 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Gameboypdc View Post
Have you tried or are you using a expander on your master track? I found this really helps when mixing/mastering. I also would recommend using minimal post EQ if at all possible. I found that the more time spent on fixing and or forcing a track to blend with another just made my mixes feel 2D. When you do your mixes do you listen thru a headset or studio monitors? If you use monitors, what volume level do you listen to your mix at? I've listened to your stuff quite a bit and I honestly think it's great, although I can see what you mean when you say 2D. Hang in there though your not the only one who is still trying to achieve professional quality mixes.

Cheers!
Gus
First off thanks a milly for the kind words bro! I use a mix of head phones and Moniters. I always listen with a low volume so I can hear it all without the bass bomming in out just plain out fatiguing my ears too bad. Later when I'm trying to get the whole feel of the finished product I will turn my moniters up just to see if the bass is gonna blow me away! I have done work with expanders but I honestly have no idea where to start with them. I almost want to treat them like a multiband comp because it has compression and three bands but when you throw the expansion into the mix I have no idea where to pan the seperation! I've tried panning the bass the widest and working my way in to finally having the treble centered and a slight bit of seperation in the master but it still sounds off. Any suggestions?
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Unread 09-13-2010, 09:38 PM   #8
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Do you have any reverb on the master?
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Unread 09-13-2010, 09:42 PM   #9
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Do you have any reverb on the master?
not a bit
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Unread 09-13-2010, 10:15 PM   #10
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put it on there.
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Unread 09-13-2010, 10:22 PM   #11
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explain this to me because I have no idea why or where to apply reverb to my master.
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Unread 09-14-2010, 06:44 AM   #12
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Just try a subtle reverb plugin on the master bus if the mix feels dry. It creates more of a sense of space.
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Unread 09-14-2010, 07:11 AM   #13
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anne has a good point in there. It does not only create a sense of space, but also glues the mix together. Remember to be extra careful with this, and remember to use room reverbs.
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Unread 09-14-2010, 10:10 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gameboypdc View Post
. I also would recommend using minimal post EQ if at all possible. I found that the more time spent on fixing and or forcing a track to blend with another just made my mixes feel 2D.
Gus

I would even go so far to say that EQs are bad all together and should only be used when you cant obtain the exact tone you want from the source no matter what. Exceptions being filters. I just repeat to my self, "source tone, source tone, source tone" when I am recording.

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Just try a subtle reverb plugin on the master bus if the mix feels dry. It creates more of a sense of space.


Leaving reverb off of the individual tracks lets you put them all in the same space during mastering. I understand, that you will still want different types of reverb for different parts but I find that its not to the extent I would have thought.

I got serious about recording when I found this website. Even then, I am still an amateur and are just trying to share ideas. I dont want to come across like I actually know how studios do it.

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Unread 09-14-2010, 10:51 AM   #15
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With regards to EQ in general (and I suppose all tasks in mixing for that matter), I believe there are 2 scenarios in which you employ it. One being technical/corrective, the other creative. Corrective eqing would be using filters (high/low-pass and notch) to remove unnecessary content and troublesome resonances. I think this kind of stuff is best done to tracks individually before you even start mixing, although there's no harm in doing it at the start of the mix. From then on EQ decisions should purely creative and experimental:

"Maybe the snare could benefit with some extra body with a boost around 250Hz...but that seems to get in the way of the bass...maybe if I cut some 250Hz from the bass and use less of a boost on the snare...that seems to work. I think it could use some extra snap too, I'll try a boost around 6-8kHz...ah that doesn't really work, but was worth a try."

I would advise caution with putting plugs on the master bus. Remember that what you're hearing through your speakers is the master bus itself and has been guiding your mixing decisions thus far. To stick plugs on it half way through a mix can be like switching to a different set of speakers altogether - not a good idea. Compressors and EQs on the master bus will change the balance of everything and you could end up going round in circles. For compressors, either stick it on the master bus before you start mixing, or wait until you get to mastering. I would never stick an EQ or reverb on there during mixing, only in the mastering stage.

To me, the 2 golden rules of music production are:

1. Less is more.
2. You can't polish a turd.

Al Schmitt, who mixed a lot of Steely Dan records, used compression and EQ very conservatively, and I think they're the best sounding records ever made, but they benefited by being record by Roger Nichols who is an amazing recording engineer. I know metal is a different deal but the same rules still apply.

Kinda straying off topic a little here so I'll stop.

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Unread 09-14-2010, 08:08 PM   #16
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some things you might try ...

Ozone's mastering stereo widener, or one that can widen separate freq bands, what you want is to widen the highs, never, ever widen the bass freqs. This is not going to instantly make the mix huge but it does make a subbtle difference.

and thats what the 'huge' ness you are talking about comes from, it's subtle differences in the waveforms of your guitars distortion, the stereo verb on your snare, the OH's panned hard LR, and of course TONS of compression to bring out the details. Obviously you probably know that so i don't know why i typed that

it's not like i dont have this problem ever but recently i rarely ever think my mix .. isn't 'huge'

i just listened to your TSE x30 test.. from what i hear it's either the guitars not being panned hard LR or there is some stereo reverb on them ... hard to pin down. But yea that track is definatley not 'huge'

ive never panned guitars anything other than 100% L/R. if you quad track, stop doing that

umm and i disagree with putting verb on the master, thats a really really bad idea. good mixing, and especially limiting wil glue things together, not reverb


but yea i would avoid stereo wideners on everything, exept a multiband one when you master the track
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Unread 09-15-2010, 04:37 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MF_Kitten View Post
i know your frustration, man! it really is all in the mixing. the mastering just polishes it and gets it ready for use. it's where the "finished" sound comes in.

you need to make sure all the different parts of the mixes have their own space to play out on. that means not having too much lows in the guitars, and not drowning the snare with the mids. it means letting the bass make it all massive sounding. it means a whole lot.

just keep aiming for one thing at a time. start by getting a good basic drum sound. compare with pro mixes and stuff, see what the drum mix really sounds like. then add guitars. make sure the guitars and the drums are at good levels. you're supposed to be able to hear the drums and guitars really well, with both having the same priority in the mix. do what you can to get a good basic guitar tone. do a low pass at around 7 khz-10 khz. then do a high pass at about 100 hz. then figure out where the tone of the snare is, and do a dip in that frequency area in the guitars, so the guitars aren't overstepping the snare. then get the bass going. add low mids (between 100 and 300 hz) to make it audible in the mix, and make it blend with the guitar. find the main "kicking" frequency of the kick drum (usually like 60-70 hz), and do a dip to remove some of those frequencies in the bass, so it doesn't drown out the kick drum.

that's the basics of it. just use your ears, and keep trying it again and again. as long as you're never satisfied, you'll always keep progressing. so i hope you're never satisfied for too long at a time, because that's waht makes you better.
I must say that in my 6 months of recording this is probably the most useful post I've ever read!!!
Thanks a lot sir
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Unread 09-15-2010, 05:27 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilC View Post
some things you might try ...

Ozone's mastering stereo widener, or one that can widen separate freq bands, what you want is to widen the highs, never, ever widen the bass freqs. This is not going to instantly make the mix huge but it does make a subbtle difference.

and thats what the 'huge' ness you are talking about comes from, it's subtle differences in the waveforms of your guitars distortion, the stereo verb on your snare, the OH's panned hard LR, and of course TONS of compression to bring out the details. Obviously you probably know that so i don't know why i typed that

it's not like i dont have this problem ever but recently i rarely ever think my mix .. isn't 'huge'

i just listened to your TSE x30 test.. from what i hear it's either the guitars not being panned hard LR or there is some stereo reverb on them ... hard to pin down. But yea that track is definatley not 'huge'

ive never panned guitars anything other than 100% L/R. if you quad track, stop doing that

umm and i disagree with putting verb on the master, thats a really really bad idea. good mixing, and especially limiting wil glue things together, not reverb


but yea i would avoid stereo wideners on everything, exept a multiband one when you master the track
Thanks For this. I'll upload my progress I've made from using a multiband widener on my mastering. I think I've made some pregress. Alot of the advice I've received from everyone else hasn't exactly helped me much, although all of it is good advice! I hope everyone who is starting out with mixing and eventually working towards mastering gets to read this thread.

as far as the TSE X30 test track... I've got it quad tracked (not my cup of tea btw!) with two guitars panned 100% LR and two more at 75% LR and then I tried to widen them in the mixing stage with stereo separation which made them looser and gave me a headache and I said ".... this GOD DAMN SHIT!!!" and threw it out to make a hasty mastering job on it and uploaded it .

I'm starting to believe the wideness of the track that I'm looking for though is definately coming from using the GMulti plugin in my chain during mastering, and good use of panning during mixing. I do have the question of why not to widen the bass freqs and are there some standard do's and don't's when it comes to Multiband Wideners?
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Unread 09-16-2010, 01:26 AM   #19
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Lightbulb

Ok Dudes heres Two Comparison Clips! My Original attempt and the latest one. Tell me if they suck balls.

Original:
http://soundclick.com/share?songid=9571958

Stereo Enhanced Mastering:
http://soundclick.com/share?songid=9652350
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Unread 09-16-2010, 01:38 AM   #20
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man that expansion has so much more power behind it then the original. I think you did a good job. that's a sic riff too. Overall great job.

"Blink and you're dead" ~The Doctor

First it was like "dun dun dun dun"
Then it was all "dun dun dundun dun"
And I was like, "Woah, brutal." ~ The Armada
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Unread 09-16-2010, 03:33 PM   #21
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Thanks! it seems alot fuller, It still needs alot of work but I think I may have laid a decent foundation! Anyone got any words for improvement?
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Unread 09-17-2010, 05:36 AM   #22
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Sounds better enchanced sir, you're doing it well!
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Unread 09-17-2010, 07:30 AM   #23
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its getting there. Like somebody said, you want to add reverbs. Even very subtle delays. Listen to devin townsend and you will get a feel for how he mixes things to be so huge. I can get a huge guitar sound. It is about...lets see. Left and Right, a separate take for each, panned Left 80% and Right 80%. Left and right reverb, panned 100% left and 100% right. Left and Right delay panned 100% and 100%. So thats 6 tracks just there. Then within those, i EQ. EQ the delay to be more midrangey so that it doesnt muddy up the bottom end too much and leaves room for bass. Same with the verb for a more airy sound. All these effects I do are 100% wet. No sense in blending signal.

I feel like when you do seperate tracks for each effect, and then fit them in using a digital slider for the volume, you get a much more organized sound than if you have a left and right track with effects on them. Do this...

Take your left and right tracks and break them down. Take off all their effects. Than duplicate them both twice. Pan your distorted tone to 80% left and right. Then on one duplicate of each add just reverb. You dont even have to have distortion, so long as its the same duplicated track used. Just reverb the clean guitar tone. (assuming that you are recording with a VST or something). Then pan those reverbs 100% left and right. And same with the delay.

Im sure thats confusing, and you may not be recording with a vst, but hopefully you can find your own way of doing things that will get your sound.
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Unread 09-17-2010, 07:32 AM   #24
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ooh! another cool trick is to put a clean guitar track in the center at a low volume. adds a nice element sometimes, so try experimenting with that.
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Unread 09-17-2010, 07:37 AM   #25
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in the mix. a lot of it has to do with the content too. the stereo spreads are cool but I wouldn't rely of them entirely.

Typically the lows are in the center and highs are on the outside. try bring the drums in a little bit. all of it. toms, hats, OHs, rooms. Try the OHs at around 70%. give the guitars some room. Now with those room mics (if you have them) make them 85-90%.

try monitoring at lower volumes if you aren't already. bring down your control room level to almost a whisper. now play with your levels (guitars, drums, bass, vocals, everything really) you want to hear them all fairly distinctly. of course there are things you want to be a little lower in the mix but this will give you a good staring point. now bring the crl back up to your normal level.

also peep dis Pumping with less caps! it's not very heavy but it's still tight shit to check out. I think you may be more interested in the last clip.

as for the reverb on the mix, use a tiny bit. this will definitely give it some sense space, but it will also smear your mix in the process. plates are usually pretty good on most things.
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