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Unread 12-22-2011, 11:46 AM   #1
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Riffy Rock mix up on Soundcloud

Well, here's my latest little ditty I've been working on for practice with the Axe-fx II and SD 2.0.

riff rock mix without bass guitar by Speculum Speculorum on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free

My bass guitar had to be sent back to Ibanez with a hairline fracture in the neck, so until that whole situation is resolved (new neck or new bass) there will be no bass mixing in any of my projects. The next mix will be something a little more in depth, longer, and feature some synth stuff as well. But I'm building this up one step at a time to learn as much as I can.

Any advice, constructive criticism, or even kind words are appreciated. If you have any questions about any aspects of the mix, just ask. Music work has been a little slow on account of working retail for the holidays (joy of joys) so once January is here I'll have a lot more time to pump more stuff out. Thanks for the listen!
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Unread 12-23-2011, 05:02 AM   #2
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It's really hard for one to give advice due to the lack of bass..

Anyway, I think you should focus on learning the secrets of processing your drum kit since that's what engineers do in metal. Start off with the compression of your individual drums - If you're not using the Multi-Out function, you should. Open the manual and google for it, it's worth it I promise. It's just that the SD mixer sucks, end of story.

Try different chain orders. Compression before EQ or compression after EQ has a tremendous difference. Spend some time on this and don't just go with something that works, try to nail something that sounds wonderful.

Good mixes don't happen without good gear. If someone says "it's in the player", kick him in the face, that's bullshit. Ok, player has his role, but that's not something you can change in a short period of time. And I'm not talking of your hardware, I'm talkin' of your software. Search Google for good plugins, free or not. Try out some trials, see if Waves plugins work for you. I just can't praise enough Stillwell plugins so maybe you should check em out if you haven't already. They have unlimited trial, but if you got some cash, buy them.

Also if you want to come good in mixing anything, you'll have to start listening to music more analytically. Listen to the kick drum in your favorite bands album. What does it consist of? What is a work of compression and what is a work of EQ when you listen to some overcompressed metal in the Roadrunner Record youtube channel? Trial and error is the key in the whole process.
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Unread 12-23-2011, 10:07 AM   #3
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Joel,

I was using multi-out in SD but I'm pretty sure I've been doing it wrong for the last little while. I was using a blend between the mixer in SD and the mixer in Logic. Now I've pretty much zeroed everything in SD and set most of my volumes/panning in the DAW (the exception being the OH and ambient channels, where I'm keeping the L+R panning set in SD). The difference is turning out to be night and day.

I'm actually hearing a lot more what I'm doing with the EQ and compression. I had funky compression settings (don't know how it happened) on my floor toms, and I've found that I needed a little more EQ work to really get them to pounce once I had the volume controlled in my DAW. In some cases I've found I like compression before my EQ, and in other cases I'm liking it after. The toms speak a lot more if I compress before I EQ, but I am finding the snare and kick sound better if I EQ before I compress. Go figure. I still have a lot of work to do in getting the ideal snare EQ'd up, but you live and you learn. I've also worked on the OH (compression) and my reverb busses a lot more. The cymbals are sounding more focused and smooth rather than clanky and in your face. I will post an update tonight after work.

I'd love to be using Stillwell, but I'm running 64 bit and they only open in 32, so it involves opening a bridge which is crash city. Granted, I was only trying the trials before I switched to 64. Do you know if when you purchase them (once again, I'd love to) they are actually 64 bit compatible? It's either that or Waves, I suppose. But there are so many options. Are any of the bundles worth really looking into? Or just hand pick a few that you like?
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Unread 12-23-2011, 11:01 AM   #4
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Well honestly I don't really know what would one do with BIG bundles since you're not running a big studio or anything. You don't have to mix different pop and rock genres which means that you don't have to have a lot of different EQ's or compressors.

Try to stick to a few EQ's (I use only two EQ's, one for broadband and the other for narrow scooping), three different compressors and two different limiters. Try to find out if some compressors work better for toms or overheads or guitars or whatever. That's why you should look for trials and all.

I thought all 64-bit DAW's are able to use 32-bit plugins. I'm not an expert on this subject since I've worked with only one DAW myself...

BTW, one thing I really like in SD mixer is the 'transient'. Give it a try on your snare and see if works for you.
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Unread 12-23-2011, 02:24 PM   #5
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I like the mix pretty well but look forward to any of your improvements.

The signature is a lie!
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Unread 12-23-2011, 10:50 PM   #6
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New mix is up. I realized that some of my buses to my reverbs weren't properly sent to my drum bus and that my drum bus wasn't sent to my output. Ah, stupid mistakes make my brain hurt!

However, I hope you guys all think this mix is a little more gelled and together sounding. The panning with the drums has turned out a lot cleaner as well. Here ya' go:

Riff rock mix no bass v2 by Speculum Speculorum on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free

- just so everyone is clear, I was totally shooting for the sound zone of A Perfect Circle on this one. My amp choice, lick choice, etc. was all pretty much a throwback to Sleeping Beauty and Thomas. Anyway...
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Unread 12-24-2011, 04:01 AM   #7
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The guitars are just perfect, you just gotta train your ear for the drums. One key thing to do would be drum bus compressing. Find out what that means and try it...
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Unread 12-25-2011, 09:18 AM   #8
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So I worked a bit more yesterday and this morning. Unfortunately, Soundcloud is seeming to be having some upload issues, so it might be a bit before I can put up the new version.

The transient designer (Enveloper in Logic) sweetened up the snare to a really high degree. I used it to heighten the initial attack and rid myself of some of the transient. The result is an uber-thick snare that cuts without sounding tinny. I also used it on the OH's to smooth out the cymbal crashes. Works like a charm. I think I've found a part of the snare arsenal, for sure. I'm going to try sending my snare to a couple AUX channels specifically for transients on my next piece to look into a tip from metal forums.

I did have a drum bus compressor going, but my settings were all screwy. I had the threshold set way too low and was overcompensating with gain makeup. I made the drum bus compression a lot more transparent and everything evened out a great deal. It's improving.

Oh, and the issue with running 32 bit plugs in Logic 64 bit gets a bit hairy. Yes, it will open your software. But it opens the 32 bit plug-ins through a bridge, meaning you have a 64 bit and a 32 bit version of Logic running simultaneously. Which is what I mean by crash city. It just dumps two SD 2.0 onto one core and bam! It shuts her down.

Scott from Stillwell Audio posted in early December that 64 bit versions will be released with the next update, but considering it's been a year since the betas were released, God only knows how long it will be before the 64 bit versions are up and running. I'd love try out the betas, but my computer won't unzip 'em. I have resigned to simply using the plugs from Logic for now, which I'm finding are actually damn good. I just need to up my chops on understanding audio processing, but it's getting better every day. Thanks again, and as soon as I am able, I will load up the latest tweaked version.
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Unread 12-26-2011, 02:13 PM   #9
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Alright duders (and ladies if it applies),

These are the final adjustments I'll be doing on this lil' mix test. It's time to move on from it and learn from what I've done. I think there's a great deal of difference from start to finish here, and I am happy with the progress, understanding that there's a lot more learning to come. Thanks for the pointers, Joel, and anybody who cares to chime in, please do so.

Riff rock mix no bass v4 by Speculum Speculorum on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free

That said, I just went down to Guitar Center (got a small amount of Christmas cash) and they had a killer freaking deal on both Metal Foundry and New York Studio Legacy SDX's ($99 a pop - couldn't believe it), so I will be going bonkers on my Drum Sounds for the next oh... 3 months or so!
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Unread 12-26-2011, 02:18 PM   #10
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Sweet, metal foundry is not my favourite though. I highly recommend using the snares from Avatar and the kick from MF (the kicks in avatar are so bad and recognizable that I'm going to kill myself if I hear one more mixtest with them...). Rest is up to taste really, they both have really good cymbals and tom samples.
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Unread 12-26-2011, 02:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurkkuviipale View Post
(the kicks in avatar are so bad and recognizable that I'm going to kill myself if I hear one more mixtest with them...)
Yes, they are really quite obvious. I think you can do some nice stuff with them, but they do kind of stick out as your OBVIOUSLY PROCESSED KICK DRUM sound. When I hear them, what I hear is "dumb dumb dumb dumb" - because that's the sound they make. That said, how do you feel about the changes I've made? I know that low end in the kick is still an issue, but it punches through a bit more than before. Like I said before, I'm a LOT happier with the way it's sounding now than in the beginning. God... I listened to that riff so many times I think my wife was considering divorce.
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Unread 12-26-2011, 03:55 PM   #12
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Well what would tighten it up still would be compression. Trust me, even if it sounds ridiculous outside the mix it might still be really punchy and nice in the mix. Your cymbals seem to be a little out of hands to my ear so maybe work on your overheads in your next mix. This is definitely getting better every time. Just so that I won't mislead you.. what kind of music are you going to do in general?
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Unread 12-26-2011, 04:56 PM   #13
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Yes, the cymbals are a bit loud, aren't they?

Eventually, I will be writing all kinds of music. Everything from singer/songwriter pop to extremely hard rock/metal. For my first big project, I am looking at a pretty dynamic hard rock/metal vibe. I know that when it comes to compression, I tend to shrink back like a wilted ninny. I should be more courageous, but I'm such a stickler for maintaining dynamics (basically I need to learn automation - duh, right?) I worry about over-compressing audio. I need to realize I won't break anything (haha!) and just go for it.

Since it's very difficult to sum up what exactly my thoroughly composed music sounds like (which is why I'm going to work on a serious example here for the next few weeks), It's kind of like these following composers got together with a bunch of hard rock and heavy metal bands and genetically engineered one incredibly screwed up baby:

Steve Reich:


Giaccinto Scelsi:


Roger Briggs (the man who taught me):
Chamber Music (1987) [fl. cl. vln. vcl. pno] by Briggs, Roger on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free

Joseph Schwantner:
Unfortunately there are no publicly available great recordings of either "Music of Amber" or "And the Mountains Rising Nowhere" but if you can find 'em, listen to them. Crazy, amazing music.

Arvo Part:
Arvo Part. Fur Alina by misspaq on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free
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Unread 12-26-2011, 08:09 PM   #14
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You shouldn't try to mix metal like traditional music or vice versa. Metal/rock/pop in general are genres where you really, really (I mean it) want to compress more and traditional music is where you don't compress at all. So separate your mixes to rhythm music and classical recordings.

The cymbals are a little loud but that shouldn't be your thing to worry. High pass filter @ 400hz (also, take a lot of the snare and all of the kick out of them from SD2.0 mixer), a little treble boost before compression (ratio high 2-4, medium thresh, long release and attack as much as the cymbals start to breathe). That should do the trick, or at least it does for me.
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