Latest portfolio mix... would love some crits! Rock n Roll

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by schwiz, Feb 6, 2018.

  1. schwiz

    schwiz Lefty

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    Hey guys... me again! :) I've been working on this URM portfolio track and feel like its in a good spot to post. Would love a crit on this rock mix if you could lend an ear.

    Some things to note about these tracks are that I was not provided any DI tracks for the guitars. I would have preferred to use different tones, especially for the rhythm guitars, but you can only do what you can do. I also had a fkin hell of a time bringing out those ghost notes in the snare - I struggled hard. They still sound a bit over compressed, but that may be a very minuscule detail.

    Anyways, here it is!

    https://soundcloud.com/schwizbeats/rival-odds-jes-schwartz-mixmaster

    Thanks!
     
  2. will_shred

    will_shred Wannabe audio engineer

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    I hear some distortion on the clean guitars at the start, kind of a soft clipping in the back. Is that deliberate?

    The whole thing sounds very well balanced, but overall lacking in a low end punch. With a bit too much emphasis on the high mids. that's just what i'm hearing on both my bose speakers and focal headphones. Did you say you were mixing on KRK Rokits?
     
  3. schwiz

    schwiz Lefty

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    There is a texture synth in the background that pops and cracks at the beginning and then again towards the bridge... kinda emulates a record player.

    I really thought I was pushing the low end a bit, especially the kick, so I ended up dialing the kick and sub bass back a touch.

    I am mixing on Rokit 8's. Thanks!
     
  4. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied :: 2077 ::

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    Sounds like I have earbuds on and I'm listening on normal speakers. Good balance but yeah definitely needs some oomph!
     
  5. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Mix sounds kinda... smashed, really. It's almost like it's pumping on the snare and tom hits...? Overall it's making the bigger sections sound smaller than the small ones, it's kind of disorienting. I don't know how much of that is just Soundcloud, though.
     
  6. Guitarmiester

    Guitarmiester Awesome-O

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    Currently listening on my laptop and will give another go through monitors later. Everything is balanced and fits together nicely. The only thing I'm not sold on is the intro with the crackling. It doesn't really fit the song and takes away from your production work since the rest of the track is well edited and very clean. Are you able to take that out? I wouldn't mind hearing it without the crackling since the rest of the instruments have no sound degradation. If the entire mix (for the intro and bridge) sounded like it were going through a record player then it wouldn't sound out of place. Odd to hear such a clean mix with a vinyl sound going on behind it.
     
  7. schwiz

    schwiz Lefty

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    Is that a good thing? lol. Thanks for the feedback.

    It probably is. I know you prefer a more natural sounding mix, where as I'm a bit more on the opposite side. However, yeah, it probably is a touch squashed, but if anything the drums are the least squashed thing in the mix compared to the vocals, guitars and bass.... so maybe some of that is SC?

    I can definitely take it out. Listening to the original mix of this song, the mixer added in those crackles a bit more tastefully than I did and really chopped the low and the high end off of it so it didn't pop out as much. I should try that, or just take it out all together. Thank you for your input and feedback!

    Sounds like I need to go back and add in some more low end on the bass - just a touch. Revisit the intro synth and determine if I should just re-eq it or take it out all together. Lastly, check my overall compression levels as it could be a bit squashed.

    As always, thank for you listening and providing some feedback. Much appreciated!
     
  8. Andrew74x

    Andrew74x SS.org Regular

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    At 1:03 or so the snare needs to be bigger and more powerful.
     
  9. schwiz

    schwiz Lefty

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    Really thinking about it, I think that Drew is pointing out something that I'm struggling with - something that is holding me back from taking my mixes to the next level. I can EQ. I can balance. However, at the end of the day my mixes will only be 80% of the way there if I can't create dynamics and feeling. My problem is (right now) that I just don't know how to get there. I'm not smashing the limiter on this mix at all, so maybe I need to ease up on the overall compression on my busses. I don't know. However, really critically listening to this mix, I get what Drew is saying and agree.
     
  10. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Well, I think there's a difference between dynamic processing for individual elements within the mix, vs dynamic processing for the mix as a whole. This COULD be soundcloud having its way with your mix, but to my ears and from my viewpoint, the differences in style and philosophy you're talking about would be largely manifest in dynamic processing to individual elements in the mix, whereas what I'm hearing is dynamic processing on the mix as a whole. Two things in particular.

    The one I think you can fairly push back on, is overall dynamics from section to section. I'm of the mindset that if you have a section of the song that's sparse clean guitar, synth, and vocals, and you go from that to distorted guitar, bass, drums, and vocals, then you should expect the perceived loudness to increase in the "heavier" section, since part of what you're doing in the arrangement IS trying to up the intensity by throwing more/louder instruments at the listener. Alter Bridge is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine, but I think that's the big difference between the first two, andf ABIII (which got crushed in the master), is that when the band kicks in after the opening clean guitar/vocal section on the opener, it's totally anticlimatic, because the mix doesn't actually get any "bigger."

    The second, though, is this may be soundcloud or this may be your master, but I hear audible pumping on the big drum hits. That isn't the drums being overcompressed; rather, when a big snare hit sounds, the rest of the mix kind of ducks around it. That's not a product (directly, at least) of your drum compression, but your master bus compression, if you're using one during the mix, or your compression in your mastering signal path, if you're adding it there. Essentially, it sounds like you're throwing more compression or limiting at this mix than it can really handle without audible artifacts, and I think backing off a couple dB would help the mix breath a little more and get rid of that disorienting "air being sucked out of the room" sound you're getting from your drums.

    ...aaaand just saw this. :lol: I think we've talked before about the merits of mixing into a compressor on the master bus, right, and I'd advocated against it? I've warmed to the idea a bit since then, but only as something that I'll engage every once in a while to see how things are sounding, and then bypass again. I think the risk of leaving it on all the time is it can obscure some dynamics problems that could be fixed more directly, and I'm wondering if that's the issue you're running into here. If your snare drum and toms are causing the compressor to pump audibly enough that you can hear the rest of the instruments ducking around them, then I suspect that be revisiting your drum compression without a compressor on the master bus, you might be able to get the mix to balance better and get a master that requires less compression to sound full and even.... and, as a nice byproduct, get more pronounced intensity changes between the quieter verses and the louder, busier choruses.

    I agree with your self assessment, though, otherwise - the actual mix itself, aside from the overcompression I'm hearing, is totally workable - critiques on the rest of it would mostly come down to stylistic choices more than objective good or bad, I think.
     
  11. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    ...by the way, I'm probably at least a year from the point of having mixes ready to share for feedback for my next album (though actually there's a project I'm working on with my dad and uncle that I might post a mix or two from here), but I fully expect, and give you my blessing, to rip them apart just as thoroughly when I do! :lol:
     
  12. schwiz

    schwiz Lefty

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    When I post my mixes for critique and opinions, I fully expect people to tear them apart and tell me exactly what they think. When I first started doing this, I would get offended and defensive if someone told me my mix wasn't great because of X, Y, and Z. Doing this requires thick skin and I totally understand that. I've come so far in the past 2 years, but I know I'm still learning, and most importantly, I want to continue to learn. Addionally, I don't expect you'd tell my mix is smashed if it isn't. And while I don't think this one is completely smashed, I do think a trained ear can pick out the compression flaws. But my point being - you wouldn't just say its over compressed to say it. You obviously listened and make an assessment based on what you heard.

    I was just reading an email from Jordan Valeriote this morning on the difference between amatuer and professional mixes. He pointed out that a friend was sending out bids asking for mix tests, and the main problem he heard from the people that sent him mix tests were that the mixes had no dynamics. They were over compressed and a complete wall of sound. Jordan pointed out that it is a fine line between an above average mix and a great mix. This resonated with me, and with reading everyone's responses. I know I've been told this before (a few times by you), but it didn't really click at the time.

    Anyways, again, much appreciated. Going to go back and work on this tonight.
     
  13. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Actually, I think it sounds great, I'm just making shit up to crush your self-confidence. :D Um, I mean, the lower mids are a little murky around 427hz, and I'm hearing some phasing in the cymbals around 11.7khz that's really just inexcusable in professional work...

    :lol:

    Out of curiosity, how much limiting are you throwing at this? I usually "master" stuff I'm sharing first with a normalizer and then with a limiter set with a threshold around -4.8 to -5db and an output just a hair below -0db, which I'll admit is pretty conservative, but then again I love dynamics.

    Also, I think maybe doing some active listening to bands that do dynamics well, and those that don't, might be thought provoking. I actually really like the first two Alter Bridge albums, and I think spinning Blackbird (which is a GREAT sounding hard rock record) back to back with ABIII is pretty illuminating. Also, Tool is still about the best heavier band I can think of when it comes to using dynamics musically. The heaver bits get that much heavier when you set them up so well with quieter bits.
     
  14. schwiz

    schwiz Lefty

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    You know I'm delicate, why'd you have to go there??? :ugh:

    During the hard parts of the song, my limiter is limiting by around 3.7db and on the softer parts its limiting around 1.8-2db. My damn bus compressor was spiking on the kick and snare hits to almost 5 fuckin dB. Here's to overlooking the most important compressor in the chain!! :steve:

    I uploaded the new version: https://soundcloud.com/schwizbeats/rival-odds-jes-schwartz-mixmaster-1
     
  15. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied :: 2077 ::

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    kinda harsh around the 2-3k area i think and I would cut clean up the sub lows.
     
  16. schwiz

    schwiz Lefty

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    Lol, you said add more sub, so I did! All I did was raise the sub bass by .5db haha
     
  17. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied :: 2077 ::

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    I said it needed oomph haha. I think you have too much in the sub 60-hz range that might be eating up your headroom.
    What is your mastering chain like?
     
  18. schwiz

    schwiz Lefty

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    Actually, this version has less sub bass than the original. I ended up raising the sub bass by .5dB, but then lowered all the instruments by 1dB to let the vocals cut through more. I think the sub region is fine - I have plenty of headroom. That bass sub is only active until up to about 230hz; it's not loud enough or taking up enough frequency space to be eating up my headroom.

    Mastering chain:
    1. Slate VMR adding 1-2dB of air
    2. Q2 with a high pass at 30hz on the mid-side band
    3. SSL bus compressor only doing about 2-3dB of GR
    4. Slate tape machine
    5. Ozone 5 - spatial, imaging and very small EQ moves to taste
    6. FF ProL doing 2-4dB of limiting
     
  19. Guitarmiester

    Guitarmiester Awesome-O

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    If you're having issues with your kick and low end feeding your bus comp, try side chaining an EQ and filter or shelve your low end. I sometimes shelve everything below the high mids if it ends up sounding the way I want it to.
     
  20. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Bingo, that would definitely do it. :lol: I'll try to listen tonight, on my monitors. :yesway:
     

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