Constructive Criticism?

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by GunpointMetal, Oct 9, 2018.

  1. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    So I recorded and mixed two albums in the last year and I'd like some tips, point out glaring issues, suggestions going forward, etc. I already know the music sucks, so I don't need to hear it. Unfortunately for me (and my sanity) both of these ended up more or less "mixed by committee" meaning that they were mixed, and remixed, and remixed until everyone else was content, which left some things, uh, not as I would have liked.
    Anyways, on to the music.

    and
     
  2. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    First things that stand out in the first song:
    - The bass sounds like it's mostly clank and not much low end. Maybe it's a taste thing. Could be the headphones I'm using though (m50x).
    - The mix is very busy/dense. It sounds like everything is competing to be the primary focus at the same time. The guitars are mostly winning.
    - The toms are panned too wide, in my opinion.

    Impressions from the second song:
    - Kinda sounds like a really loud 8 string being played over a drum machine. I don't hear any bass.
    - The drums don't sound bad, but they've clearly taken a back seat to the guitars.
    - Drums here are still a tad wide for my taste, but better than the previous one.
    - Actually, everything has taken a back seat to the guitars. There's too much guitar here.
     
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  3. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    Thank you. It's funny about the guitars, because I was getting yelled at to bring them up in both cases, which was amusing to me since I'm the guitar player.
    Edit: the bass in the first track is tuned down to E00. Any thoughts on keeping it "fuller" without it getting super muddy. My initial thought was to let the bass hold down the sub-lows and put the punch of the kick more around 100Hz vs the normal 50-60Hz, but that didn't seem to sit well with the rhythm section guys, and the bass is kinda ALWAYS going, so it made for a semi-constant low-end rumble underneath everything.
    I also just realized I only posted the intro track for the second one.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
  4. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I find that's kind of the result you'll always get when taking the direction from someone who plays on the track. They want to bury everything but themselves. I guess cases where every instrument is played by the same guy would be the exception? I don't have much advice for super low tuned bass - I don't think I've had to mix anything that low before. Most of the time, with bass, it's almost always something else getting in its way.
     
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  5. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    I gave this all a quick listen. Not really my cup of tea genera-wise, but the compositions were creative and interesting. My two major critiques would be:

    1) overall, there are a lot of lows and low-mids in much if this. I probably would have done a lot more low-cutting and notching at between 200hz-500hz across much of the individual tracks to get the 'mud' out. That said, I realize this genera often has more low-end than much of the mainstream/proggish stuff I listen to, but it's still very low-mid heavy even for the style.

    2) in 'Past Mistakes' there seems to be a lot of pumping in the master buss compression. Especially when the bassiness of the guitars are coming in and out hits the buss. Less so on the other tracks, but you still hear it there in spots as well.
     
  6. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied Arium Addict

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    Did I read this correct? The bass player is tuning to 10hz? Below the range of human hearing? LOL! even @ 20hz you're just cracking the range of our hearing. Only like 10% of people listen on actual hi-fi speakers give or take. Now, an extremely small percentage of those people will have a system to produce notes that low. I think he should reconsider tuning so low if they actually want mixes to sound good. *shrugs*
     
  7. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    I hit an extra 0, lol. Its E0, one octave below standard-tuned bass. It is very low, but that's how he wants to do it, so I'm probably gonna try to solve the problem rather than eliminate it in this case.
    Thanks. That low/low-mid area is definitely an issue for me. In once case with it being instrumental I want to fill up as much space as possible, but I probably need to be a little more surgical in those areas with individual instruments.
     
  8. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Except that a bass is not just one wave, and that's not how hearing works. The fundamental might be at 10hz, but that doesn't mean you can't hear the instrument. The sound is not JUST that 10hz, there's a ton of content above that point, or there could be. And a lot of times the brain is able to easily fill in the blanks when the fundamental is not literally there. I find it pointless to mix things based solely on what you think the fundamental frequencies for the instrument are - or really doing anything in a mix strictly by numbers. Who cares if the fundamental is buried? Mix for what you hear, not the theory. All of my best bass sounds came from cutting out a spot usually well above the fundamental for the bass to come through and say it's piece, as well as spending a lot of time on making the high end of the bass pleasant to hear - since people can easily hear that part.
     
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  9. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied Arium Addict

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    I mean, if that's what the bass player wants to do. Sure.
    You're still better off nailing the sound during recording than making it work in the mix. Cutting so much low end is going to mess with the phase of your bass signal as well. You don't want to be correcting phase issues during the mixing phase. That should all be taken care of during the recording phase.
    Great mixes start with a great recording. Tuning to E0 is way more doable than what I thought he was saying.
     
  10. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    Regarding the bass, you can split (copy) it into 3 tracks and on each track try to isolate 1) lows 2) highs, and 3) maybe a distortion track, then blend them all back together into a single buss to create a single unified bass sound that makes sense for the mix.

    For the guitars, I'd probably notch cut lot at ~350hz, high pass at ~200hz, and use a high shelf at around ~225hz-250hz to control the amount of bass on the guitars. IMO a graphic-style VST interface is a way better way to accomplish this (like this image below), moreso than a traditional hardware style interface.:

    [​IMG]

    This is just a stock image from the net and not something I screen captured to describe your specific situation, but we can use it as a starting point for discussion.

    In the case of the image above, I would first take EQ point #1 and cut at (mildly narrow band) ~350hz, and then work the high-pass and low shelf around the 200'ish range to dial in the right amount of bass/low end. I typically keep the low shelf just to the right of the high cut (within ~50hz or so).

    For mid-highs, I would typically add a broad bump to the guitars in the ~1k-~3k region, depending upon the mix of course. My approach on the very high end would be similar to the very low end, using the high-shelf and low-pass (not shown in the image) between 4k-8k, depending upon the frequency profile of the guitar track.

    The point of all this is to kill the mud, kill the ice-pick highs, get your guitars sharp and focused in the mid-highs, and make the lows a lot easier to manage in relation to the rest of the mix. None of this is gospel, and others here may have different approaches that work as well, so YMMV.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
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  11. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    Final piece of advise, if you're not doing this already.... don't mix into the master buss compressor until you're 90% of the way complete with your mix. It can warp your observations related to the gain staging of the individual tracks. Add the master buss compressor once you feel like to you have a great mix and then fine tune from there.
     
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  12. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    This is more or less similar to my approach already, but I'm definitely not high-passing as high as 200Hz, maybe 120-140.

    I don't run anything on my master buss when I'm mixing. I'll throw a limiter on just to get the level up when I bounce out for the drummer and bassist as they don't really understand why mastered stuff is louder, or apparently what the volume knob on their stereo/car does. In the Disgunt example I didn't do any of the final mastering, but again, nothing on the master buss during mixing.
    Thanks for the suggestions!
     
  13. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied Arium Addict

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    Hey, man. I highly recommend you watch this video:

    Also check out CreativeLive Periphery Studio Session. Grab it when it's on sale or wait for when it's streaming all day and watch it. Nolly gives a ton of amazing info and explains why he makes those decisions well.
     
  14. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    In terms of an overall mix, for anything except bass, kick, and maybe floor tom, I generally don't find there's a whole lot of valuable audio information below roughly 200hz. Again, YMMV.


    BTW, I really dig the artworks on the samples you posted.
     
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  15. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    Cool man, thanks. We got pretty lucky with some connections and got Ashley Witter (Marvel comics cover artist/Squarriors/Anne Rice Graphic Novels) to do the last couple of The Unnecessary Gunpoint Lecture EPs. And Travis Anthony Soumis to do the Disgunt stuff. They're both on IG and have some really SICK artwork. If you ever need anything done hit 'em up, and tell them Ian referred you, lol.
     
  16. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    Thanks. Is it safe to say these guys aren't cheap? ;)
     
  17. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    Ashley is not cheap, lol, and she's usually booked out a 6 months on commission work. Travis, I couldn't say. He came to a couple of our shows and really enjoyed it so he offered to do a few pieces for us. His quality is also top-notch, so I'd expect the cost is comparable.
    Ashley also did my profile picture image.
     

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