Am I going in the right direction...Red?

cosmo wrote on 3/9/2004, 12:15 PM
That thread was getting messy so I've started another. I just did a remix at lunch and I'm interested in if you think I'm started in the right direction yet. I stripped everything pretty bare and eq'd a bit at the track level to get back some of those missing frequencies. I mixed NOT in headphones, but through my large consumer stereo(all like high grade sony components) instead. And I encoded at 192k for the mp3. Link isn't tested but should work.

Remix 1

I think it sounds too mid scooped as is...maybe.

For others: the original mix(done in headphones) Red pointed out had a LOT of holes in the frequency spectrum(? right terminology?) and noted specific areas that needed work. He was soooo right!

Thanks much.


I think a big problem with this mix is the guitar sounds like crap. I'll fix that later. Meantime, I ran my stripped remix through Freefilter and Spectralizer and the result is maybe a hair better. I'm too close to it at the moment...takin a break.



And here comes remix #3.


tmrpro wrote on 3/9/2004, 2:06 PM
A couple of very important things to always take into consideration when mixing:

1. Always mix with your ears and not your eyes.... *Before the waveform days this wasn't possible.

2. Make sure that you acclimate to your mixing environment and speakers.

Frankly, if you mix all the time in an environment that is less than perfect, eventually you will be able to tell where the problems are and you will learn how to compensate to make your mixes right.

Obviously a perfect listening environment with really good reference monitors is going to be your best bet...

BUT, if you're use to mixing on a home stereo with consumer grade speakers and you've acclimated to that..... then jumped into a really good room with really good speakers and tried to mix without tuning your ears to that listening environment through acclimation, the result would be undesirable as well.
cosmo wrote on 3/9/2004, 2:13 PM
True as rain. My plan was kinda to start there(remix1) since I know I'm slightly more balanced on the bottom and top....and let my ears go to work. That mix was way too rushed.

Weevil wrote on 3/9/2004, 3:32 PM
As tmrpro says mix with your ears.

Do you think the drum sound (in either mix) fits in with the whole concept of what the song is trying to do?

Sounds to me like you are trying to do a loudish, driven kinda riff rock thing, but those drums sound very polite to me. Shouldn’t they have some attitude and drive?

There are a million technical things people could suggest here but I don’t think any of them will be of much benefit to you until you develop your musical ear further.

I wouldn’t be thinking of this mix too much in terms of holes in the frequency spectrum...I’d be thinking much more along the lines of ‘what is this song all about’ and how do I make all the different elements express that.

Mixing is 90% feeling and 10% science.
cosmo wrote on 3/9/2004, 4:45 PM
Agreed. I'm trying to set up a session with a live drummer, that should help.
Weevil wrote on 3/9/2004, 6:06 PM
It’ll help if (in order of importance) they play the right sort of thing for the song, they play it well, and you record it well.

...Both of you using good gear can kinda be important too... :-)

Get any one of those steps badly wrong and it probably hurt more than it helps.

Sorry, I’m probably labouring the point here...I’m not trying to be a wisearse, or stomp on your feelings...

Just that it is a very easy trap to fall into, looking for that magic bullet that is instantly going to make your recordings killer.

Using a live drummer might help, but it could just open another big can of worms for ya.

But the only way to learn is by doing it...lots...
cosmo wrote on 3/9/2004, 9:37 PM
no biggy dude...I like all feedback, bad, god or otherwise. I've mic'd kits before. I've worked in studios before for that matter. It's only my current situation that's limiting. If this were my business I'd have the proper equipment and time to soak into it. But since this is just what I do in my spare spare time my collection of quality gear is growing - but at a slow pace.

To be quite frank - this mix and this song sound great to me on all of the systems I listen with. Knowing that others do exist in the world besides me(!) just makes me want to make it a little better. Hearing someone with really good gear say it sounds like crap on their stuff just makes me want to fix it. I can be a perfectionist at times. My problem is that I'm just a hobbyist and don't have allll of that nice gear yet.

As for that bullet - for me it's the song. For me it's the fact that 2 years ago I had a guitar and my voice. In two years time I've gone from nothing to what you hear now and I've actually amassed like 40 tunes written, performed and engineered by me at home in my spare time. I'm not on a marathon as some may say....just cranking crap out to say I've done it. Not like that at all. For me it's about the experience - that moment when the song connects in your head and three hours later your mixing.....and when you drive to work the next morning you're listening to another song you've produced. That's the bullet for me my friend. Honestly - going back to mix so much and analyzing and on and on like I've been doing with this song is starting to just kill it for me. I guess I'm more musician than engineer -)

Thanks for the input.
Rednroll wrote on 3/10/2004, 6:58 AM
This mix is much better....I felt like's able to breath again. The drums could really use some work. One thing that I'm really noticing about your mix is that it's lacking the 3 dimentional aspect alot. In other words, you have the left to right seperation, but you just don't have any depth. The cymbal crashes sound like they're right next to the singers head. There's 2 kinds of things that will create distance within a mix. One is Volume and two is reverb. Obviously the louder something sounds the closer it is to you. Also the more reverb something has, means again it's futher away from you. You need to be able to create the whole stage of the performance. In other words, let's say the guitar player is to the right of the singer, but he also me be a few feet back. The drummer is behind the singer, but also about 10 feet back away from him. You need to work on that depth aspect of your mixes. Start playing around with different types of reverbs. Then listen to other peoples mixes and you will start to recognize those reverbs and start to apply them to your own mixes. So you basically start to develope your listening ear, and soon you will be disecting other peoples mixes and being able to tell what sounds good on each instrument to get that 3 dimentional aspect. On drums I recommend something short, like a plate to start you off.

Also, when you're mastering this, don't even bother with the waves Q10. I can tell you backed it off quite a bit and it really helped the song. You need to find a multiband compressor as it's replacement. This will make it more loud and slamming yet, allow things like the transients of the snare and cymbals to breath quite a bit. Using a multiband compressor, you can compress the mid band pretty hard (6-12dB gain reduction). You usually don't hit the the high frequencies that much, maybe (1to3dB gain reduction. The Low end you can also go on the lighter side, but maybe a little more than the high frequencies, so (2-5dB gain reduction). You could probably find a multiband compressor that has some good starting point settings for mastering and as you learn more about them, be able to tweak them properly to fit your mix. I think once you try a multiband compressor over a standard compressor it will be quite the ear opener for you.
cosmo wrote on 3/10/2004, 7:48 AM
I'll assume you're talking about Remix2 as I don't care much for Remix1.

THANKS!!!! GREAT ADVICE! A lot of what you say jogs my memory quite a bit from working in studios years ago. I've become lazy and too trusting of bad monitoring equipment. Monitors are going to have to become a priority for me.

Drums - YES, I so agree. Drums have always been an issue with me since I don't have a kit. I can play them OK if I had 'em but room for them at the moment. That said, the best I've been able to come up with so far that's plausible for me is Reason. I've heard smoe nice drum tracks out of reason but it takes a lot of work. It sounds to me like I could mix the drums better, with better reverbs to put the kit spatially in the right place.

I'm going to visit a real studio with real monitors today and will probably get to listen to this mix through real monitors. I'm imagining it will be ear opening -)

Thanks again.
RichMacDonald wrote on 3/10/2004, 8:02 AM
Red, regarding the depth issue: Once you settle on the reverb type, would you apply that same type and settings to everything you want to reverb, or would you use different reverb types on different instruments? Under normal circumstances, I'd use different reverb settings for different instruments, (e.g., the snare is its own creature) but if you're trying to create a "stage" feel, you'd probably want to keep the reverb similar, yes?

>Also the more reverb something has, means again it's futher away from you.

Oversimplification, but you know that of course. Perhaps if you detailed this some more, discussing the use of pre-delay, direct reflections, diffuse reflections, decay, etc :-? I, for one, would appreciate any and all discussion.
cosmo wrote on 3/10/2004, 8:03 AM
Hey - mee too! I was just wondering that...if anyone has a regular way they like to do reverbs. Like plates for snares, what for crashes - or one for the kit and if so what kind? Predelay? Decay? I'd be interested in hearing about all of that.
Cold wrote on 3/10/2004, 12:57 PM
Cosmo, try running a mix of the drums out through your home stereo and mic the room, do this several times if you wish for a stereo room sound. When you have these tracks back in vegas phase align the to taste, try some hard to mid pans, high pass filter what you have to, to presserve low end clarity.
You will still need more verb, especially on the snare and cymbals. Add a touch of plate to the snare, add a decent room verb to the full kit and possibly even the room tracks, be gentle. Add a touch of this same room verb to your vox and gtr and a touch of the plate to your vox. More room verb to your bg's than lead.
Try cutting some of the lows off the guitar and some of the highs off of the cymbals.
Steve S.
cosmo wrote on 3/10/2004, 1:20 PM
Indeed I will try all of those things! Interesting idea on the reverb with the drums...I still need to retrack guitars too.

Thanks Cold.
PipelineAudio wrote on 3/11/2004, 5:28 PM
You would have fun on this tune trying out my drum samples that are multisampled to be drumagog ready. Im not sure who's hosting them right now, but I might be able to stick them on my ftp. At least to add to the kick and the snare, even with 24 samples per drum, tom rolls can be tricky
cosmo wrote on 3/11/2004, 11:02 PM
enter Pipeline...and with a whole new place to go. I hadn't even thought about drumagog in forever. I've never actually used it either though...tried once, got bored and didn't invest any time in it. I know it's amazing though...

And just when I got a satisfying least it sounds like that right now.
Updated track I think this mix sounds a bit better. I'll be making a monitor purchase immediately...and lots of foam...-)
MrPhil wrote on 3/12/2004, 7:28 AM
Only listened to original and remix#3, and you are definitely making progress.

Me personally would pull down the lead vocals a tiny bit, and push the drums a tiny bit up, not the hihat tho.

usualy I find myself telling people to crank the vocals up, but not this time.
Lead guitar could go up a bit to.

The overall sound is much much better than the original mix, tho I find the production a bit boring soundwise... maybe play with the effects somewhere? Something that makes you go: "Oh, what's that??"
But that's just me. You are you, and you're in the right direction!
cosmo wrote on 3/12/2004, 8:19 AM
Cool, thanks. I usually mix vocals a little heavy...this time I started backed out a bit. Maybe still can come up a little. Bring up the drums too you say, hmmm.

As you say, I think it's all relative at this point. Given what I have to work with I think it came out pretty good. I listened to this against several other studio releases and each one has it's fine points. Linkin Park, for example(Somewhere I Belong), the drums are way low in the mix - it's all guitar and vocal. That surprised me. After reading so many posts and opinions about mixing I'd be curious t read what people think of the label releases out there. I'd bet when scrutinized, all are not created equally -)
Rednroll wrote on 3/12/2004, 12:33 PM
I think Pipeline's suggestion is a good one for the drums. They might not necessarily have to go louder, they just seem like they need to have a little more impact. I use this same kind of technique for live drum recordings. Sometimes the live drums just don't hit hard enough for you, so what you end up doing is add some drum samples and either mix the live vs. sampled sounds, or do a complete replace. You can hear this technique used in all kinds of rock mixes today. Listen to those Linkin Park and Godsmack recordings really close and pay attention to the kick and snare drums.....You'll here it. I haven't ever used Drumagog to do this, I actually use my sampler because I have thousands of drum samples in it and picking the right one that blends with the original drum sound becomes very effecient, when you have 72 different snares spread out across a keyboard to choose from.

"After reading so many posts and opinions about mixing I'd be curious t read what people think of the label releases out there."

Well the one thing about audio you'll soon find out, is that it is very subjective. What one person thinks is the best mix they've ever heard, you'll equally find someone else say it's the worst thing they've ever heard and unbearable to listen too. That's what is wrong with this advice: "Mixing is 90% feeling and 10% science." In most cases I would agree with that, but it enters you into that highly subjective area because what you may feel, the person sitting next to you may be feeling something totally opposite. So I'm willing to say my mixes are 90% science and 10% feel, because I listen to the rough tracks and come up with a feeling I'ld like the mix to take, but to get it to take on that feeling I need to understand the science behind it to create that feel. So in doing so, when mixing I spend about 10% of the time figuring out how I'ld like the mix to feel, and then spend the other 90% of the time using the science I know to create that feel. I'm sure that's where your lack of experience is and why you're asking these questions, so you have a better idea to get the feel you're looking to achieve. You're a musician, I'm sure you already have the feel part in your head, but now you just want to have some general guidance on how to get there. The whole reason I went down the path of lending you advice in more the science area is because you can't argue with science, but you sure can with the feel and since I didn't know the feel you where going for, it's really a waste of breath other than suggestions that I think of how it should feel in my opinion.

PipelineAudio wrote on 3/12/2004, 1:56 PM
drumagog is pretty much responsible for getting me to the PC. I have every hardware drum and sampler replacement/enhancement tool you could imagine, but with drumagog, (the early versions, the new ones can do even more) you have 3 random sounds at 8 different velocity levels, giving you 24 sounds, so even snare rolls can sound real. It can be a real pain to get the samples to work right, as you have to make each set of three equally loud, which even with rms and peak meters and all sorts of PC analisis is still pretty tricky. Anytrime a REALLY nice drumset comes into the studio, Ill have them make me the 24 sounds of each drum at the end of the drum session. "Hey give me some hits so if we have a problem anywhere down the line, we can fly these in " :)

It is an AMAZING tool, but there are some problems where if you arent VERY careful about how you make the "*.gogs" ( drumagog's native file format) you can end up with samples cut off too early before and after where you want them. They need to adress this. But it is VERY easy and certainly worth a try. Last time I checked, drumagog had a MAJOR crashing issue running on vegas' track inserts, but I would just do the triggering in sound forge. Harder to audition in context that way, but not too hard. You keep right clicking the drum in question in vegas, render em in sound forge then you can Shift-T to your hearts' content
ibliss wrote on 3/12/2004, 4:50 PM
Cosmo -
Only just listened to all four versions - please please please do something about that lonely crash cymbal at 0:24 in :)
Never ever* have a crash on it's own - back it up with either kick or snare. In this instance I think I'd be tempted to ditch the first crash and replace it with a single snare hit, or flam if possible.

* I'm sure there are exceptions, just not here :)
Weevil wrote on 3/12/2004, 5:58 PM
...Again I don’t want to sound like a prat here but I really do wonder about you guys sometimes. I feel that everyone around here is so technically obsessed that they totally miss the point of what this music stuff is all about.

I’m sorry to be so blunt, there is no nice way of putting it; the drums in this track totally, utterly suck. I’m not trying to have a go at cosmo here, but I’m using these drums as an example to talk about a broader point.

The drums are so clearly so poor that no amount of drumagoging is going to make them sound ‘good’. They might go from being really woeful up to being just plain bad, but these drums will never actually do anything but have a negative effect on the track.

Loads of people have put forward very valid ideas on how to incrementally improve the sound of the drums. There is absolutely nothing wrong with what anyone has suggested in itself...

The thing that worries me is that everyone here always seems so completely locked into the ‘fix it in the mix’ mentality that no one ever seems to twig to the idea that going back and doing it right in the first place might actually be what has to happen. Come on guys really...this should be a no brainer.

Ask anyone with any amount of success in the real world and they will tell you that vibe and performance are massively more important than ‘mathematics’. And anyone with any ears at all would be talking about the musical problems going on here way, way, way, before they even mentioned the sonics.

You can take a musical ‘turd’ and tweak it to your heart’s content. You can spend hours, even days, furiously working away at it. Polish and polish it, getting that thing is as shiny as you can.

And in the end you are left with a very polished, very processed, very shiny turd.

...Not trying to have a go at anyone in particular here, just having a discussion.
cosmo wrote on 3/12/2004, 10:40 PM
weevil...what's up man, yeah let's have a discussion. you obviously aren't hostile, and you know you are swimming on the edge of hostility in here-) Let me offer you a little advice there - just say what you want and don't worry about it. And don't contradict yourself. You can't say in one sentence that everyone is too technically obsessed - and in the next tell me how god awful my drums are. As if everyone missed that! Sounds to me like you're obsessing over the technical dude. I mean...seriously - I've heard MUCH worse drums before. I'm using what I have, and that's Reason. If I had room for a drum kit I'd have one, but I don't. Say they're boring - that's accurate. I didn't take enough time to really program the sequence yet, I'm lazy. I work 8 hours a day - sorry! So for sanity's sake, you're just gonna have to get over the drums. You deal with things that you can effectively handle. There's no point in obsessing over the f'n drums when I can't do jack about it - and I've said that like three times in this thread alone, I think.

Now, if anyone thinks there is a higher point to all of this, it's me. No one can really preach to me on that one. This is a place to discuss the technical aspect of bringing that part of my being to life in a manner that doesn't land me in a state of mental disorder. That's why we're talking technical. The musical part I've got. Go to my site and you find 38 songs written by me and recorded all by me. All kinds of'll hear piano, complex harmonies and orchestrations, cello, banjo, all kinds of synths, quiet acoustic tracks and heavy stuff like the one in this thread. And it's really there just for me, because I can't stop it from coming out of me. It's online cause I'm tired of handing out CDs to friends who want them. Writing music is what I am dude, believe me - I get it. I come to this forum BECAUSE people like Rednroll, Pipeline, tmrpro and others really know there sh*t.

And what came out of this "technically obsessed" thread - I think my final mix(with ibliss's fix, btw) is WAY better than the first. You'll hear agreement on that from the others. Also - I woke up on this thread. You have no way of knowing it but I have worked as assistant in three good sized studios in three different cities and have always had some home stuff. Since getting into PC recording I just got lazy and forgot how important good reference monitors are. Problem solved, bought some today and I'm really glad I did.

So A LOT OF GOOD came out of this non-musical discussion. I could say I'm not trying to intentionally pick at you Weevil - but I am picking at you. Alls fair though! You picked at my drums after scoldingthis thread for being too technical -) Slam. If you wanna have a discussion about MUSIC, start a thread...I'll happily post all kinds and I'd LOVE to listen to what other users are creating.

Red and Pipeline, thanks as always. I've always thought the drumagog would be cool, I might try it out. I think first though i'm going to revisit the drum track - I've really only spent like 15 minutes on it, really. It's not supposed to be any good as is....just no time yet to get back to it!!!!
PipelineAudio wrote on 3/12/2004, 11:43 PM
Today, we dont record music, we *create performances*

There isnt a musician in the world good enough to perform up to the standards we expect on pop records now. If a drum is 1 mS out of time that is unacceptable. No vocal note maybe 1 cent off from its target pitch.

Bends? Vibrato? thats yesterday man

I exagerrate, but thats how it is for the most part now.

Just to get back the spirit of recording music, we did a 3 day thing where we set up a drumset and miced some cabs and every band around could come in and record one song for an hour for free. This was RAW, this was a madhouse, but this was REAL

I feel your point about the drums, and the technicality, but on the other hand I can honestly tell you I can make a million dollar drum track out of that no problem, with Vegas, Ultrafunk gate, drummagog and accoustic mirror
Rednroll wrote on 3/13/2004, 1:02 AM
I agree with what you're saying, but the thing is he asked for comments on his mix first and for most. So if you'ld like to start another thread on stating the performance is key before even getting to the mix, I'll be there agreeing with you 100% otherwise like you say you're just polishing a turd. We've all had learning curves starting off and we're here to learn from one another, and you're really showing you offer nothing to learn from, unless "the drums suck" is your idea of advice. I think it was pretty brave of Cosmo to put one of his mixes up for all of us to critique and for doing so he got some constructive criticism. Why don't you put up one of your mixes and we'll tell you how bad things "suck" too? Come on I dare you, I'ld love to disect one of your mixes and point out every little imperfection in the performance and the mix. Got a link to post too, I'll put one of my 90% science to 10% feel mixes up against one of your "10% science 90% feel", and we'll let everyone decide if they can tell the difference.
cosmo wrote on 3/13/2004, 11:00 AM
Thanks guys, Pipe and Red. We're all on the same page. In my opinion, the only thing I can do repeatedly, every time I ever try, is to grow and learn. All experiences, good and bad, are in my opinion completely necessary ofr me to grow as a musician, an engineer and a person living in this world. Therefore I thank you guys forhelping my eyes to open.

I gotta tell you Pipeline, your 'stubborness' (I quote b/c that isn't really the right word but oh well) about the drums is inspiring! I'll just throw this out there - if you'd like me to FTP you the drum track(split or stereo) I'd love too. Work your magic and come back and tell us all how you do it so we may try something like that in the future. I realize that's a lot to ask, so I'm really not asking but offering. If you wanna show off this bewildering technique, we'd all probably love to hear it. So there's an offer.

And my offer to Red - I'll put up a track for you if you want. Just email it to me(5-7mb or less). I'll post it for you.

Weevil - rock on dude...