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


Weevil wrote on 3/13/2004, 3:33 PM
I totally think you should record music rather than create performances as much as possible.

The big project that I am finishing up now was comprised of a five piece band plus two additional musicians all playing live in the studio to two inch. It was exhausting and we did some edits and recorded a bunch of overdubs to tools but very much the essence of each song was a fully live performance...And that is a 100K+ major label release, so I think it is certainly possible (and preferable) at any level.

I think there are too many records where the timing is almost correct to the ms and the pitch almost correct to the cent, there is an ocean of bland sterile and lifeless music out there.

I’m not zealously against editing at all; I just think it goes too far and it makes people lazy. Rather than pushing and pushing to get that truly great, charismatic, spine chilling performance people just bung it down and chop it up later. I think you can chop up a bad performance and make it passable, probably even good. But great?...or even memorable?

You’ve just finished listening to an album...would you prefer to say ‘that was great, those performances were amazing and inspiring’ or ‘that was great, those performances were all perfectly in time and in key’

...I know cosmo was asking for mix advice, I wasn’t even really talking about his track so much, just that fix it in the mix mentality.

...But if you are going to shake your thing in public you gotta be prepared to take the brickbats as well as the bouquets. If you are not prepared to take the heat then you really don’t belong in the kitchen.

With that in mind I’m more than happy to put some of my stuff up and air some of my dirty laundry in public...(Wow, am I on a roll with these clichés or what :-) )

Technically this is one of the worst/best I could find. It’s a demo recorded in a band practice room with some 57s straight into a sound card. No preamps, no compressors no nuffin.

I could, and I’m sure red will make a long list of all the problems with it (did somebody say top end). But technical shmechnical, it’s not pretty but it’s about creating a vibe and getting the song to sound as good as it can.

I really like the idea of people posting mixes, more talk about actual music, less about numbers!
PipelineAudio wrote on 3/13/2004, 4:28 PM
I agree 100%, Id take a crappily recorded old Misfits album vs a perfect Green 182 disc, but thats not the reality of the "working "situation for us right now. No working bands around here, their jobs were exported, we have rich kids now for the most part who cant play one lick twice in a row right. Every note, every drumstick has to be put where it belongs. Top it off witrh their insistance that it sounds like the technically perfect Charlotte Kids up the Block whatever, and you got some editing on your hands! There IS no performance to record in this case, it must be created.

cosmo wrote on 3/13/2004, 4:39 PM
So it looks like we've reached a happy resting place, joy! So all this performance talk - getting theband, the vibe, getting it all together.

What if you're just ONE guy, as in with me?!!! Don't answer that!!!! Just citing a pertinant fact to bring up the the most important point in this thread - it's all relative-) Oh how I wish I could simultaneously play drums, guitar, bass, sing and play keys but alas - I'm forced to do it one track at a time. Damn human body...

As for the Weezil track - THANKS!!! Great man, I like that song. I've just listened to it on my new MONITORS guys(thanks to this thread) and compared to the other "pro" releases sitting here I think it sounds pretty damn good. I'll leave the picking to the others. Also, you kind of alluded to me not crying about people picking at my work and the heat in the kitchen schpeal etc. let me just say - that ain't me. Didn't you read my schpeal about learning and growing? I meant it. I wouldn't post my songs if I didn't expect someone to shred them -) Which, I don't think you did. These comments have been technical in nature. Now if someone were to say - "hey cosmo - I went ot your web site and listened to some songs and your songwriting sucks!" - THAT, might, just might, offend me to small degree. But even then I think I'd manage -)

stakeoutstudios wrote on 3/14/2004, 2:16 AM
If I have a day off coming up I could track some live drums for you in Vegas, over here in the UK :o) It definitely needs a bit more life, and I'm a pretty hard rock drummer who owns a recording studio!

Shouldn't take me too long, but it'd have to be a day next month.

I could supply you with with a mixed stereo wav or the full multitracks.. though I'd probably have to post instead of FTP those!


Weevil wrote on 3/14/2004, 6:15 AM
Yeah Pipe I totally know your “working situation”. I feel like I’ve heard every (small to medium sized) studio owner/operator I know complain bitterly about exactly the same scenario. I really feel for you guys, I know you gotta pay the bills, but I could never work that way myself, just couldn’t do it.

I am so lucky because I can pick and choose the stuff I work I only ever work with talented people with great attitudes. [sigh] :-)

The only reason I jumped up and down in this thread was to remind everyone about the way this whole recording music stuff ‘should’ work.

And cos mate, it’s cool. I wasn’t alluding to you crying, I was actually replying to what red wrote. Also believe me; I’m talking about my emotional reaction to your recording. I may try to explain that with a series of technical reasons, but I’m only doing that based on the way the song or the part makes me feel.

...And one guy can totally create a vibe laying down one instrument at a time. Soon as you start saying stuff like ‘I can’t do this because I’m only one guy, I can’t do this because I don’t have all the flash gear’ you are setting yourself up for mediocrity. It is way too easy to start using those excuses as a crutch.

Keep on rockin’.
cosmo wrote on 3/14/2004, 9:30 PM
I'm with you weevil. You won't hear me saying one guy can't do it, I think that's understood at this point. I'm one guy and I do all I can...and with next to nothing comparitively speaking.

Webpuppy...what's up dude. Drums from the UK? Tear it up man, that'd be killer. Should I keep them you will certainly be credited(not that anyone is listening ! ). Let me know if you'd like a cut with no drums or a click track or something. Whatever you prefer, I'll post it. As for sending it back - stereo mix is fine but split is better -) You know how it is! if you need anything else. Thanks man.
Rednroll wrote on 3/15/2004, 8:38 AM
Do you have another email address? The one you posted is a hotmail account and I believe that will only let you receive a file up to 1 Meg in size. I have a few tracks to send you if you'ld like to post them. BTW, the music was all composed by 1 person.
cosmo wrote on 3/15/2004, 8:47 AM
Sure, hit that email and I'll hit you back with a better one. Shouldn't post it here.
MrPhil wrote on 3/17/2004, 8:55 AM
Jeez... the guy recorded this in his living room, and asked for advice to get the mix better.
What's the big point in calling his drums a turd?
Your opinion is your opinion, and maybe what you consider good drums sounds like turds in someone elses ears...
Weevil wrote on 3/17/2004, 6:24 PM
Yep Phill, if you don’t want your work criticized, I’d strongly advise you don’t post it in a public forum.

Did you actually read the thread, or did you just skim along till my post and then write the first thing that came into your head?
cosmo wrote on 3/17/2004, 9:02 PM
NIiiiice! Let's not go in that direction, eh?

Weevil has a point MrPhil - though I will most definately THANK you for coming so quickly to my defense(MrPhil). Believe me, that's much appreciated and also a very worthy point. This was all done in a regular old extra bedroom, lacking much real studio gear. Therefore, a little slack is to be cut, a little.

This thread, in my opinion, has been quite a good thread. Especially if you judge by the end result like I am. My original mix sounded waaaay different then the current mix out on my site. Why? Because I got great advice from some very knowledgable individuals. I also decided it was time to upgrade my studio and mixing environment. Since this thread started I have aquired new reference monitors and about 50 square feet of acoustic absorbtion tiles(plus 12 linear feet of bass traps and some diffusion panels as well) and my mixing environment is better than it everhas been for me at home.

So you see - not only did I learn a few things about mixing, but I also realized what a priority it was to get monitors and treat the room. In addition - Red and I managed to get on much better terms, tmrpro and I discovered we're nearly neighbors and I got a tour of his amazing(!) studio, and I've made a new friend in the UK - webpuppy - who is going to track some live drums for me. Need I say more?

It's all good. This forum is an excellent, excellent resource and all round informational paradise for people like me.

Rednroll wrote on 3/18/2004, 10:10 AM
"if you don’t want your work criticized, I’d strongly advise you don’t post it in a public forum."

In light of that Weevil, I'll give my 2 cents criticism on your mix. Also, to be fair, me and Cosmo have just about gotten our details worked out and hopefully, we'll have one of my mixes up for criticism within the next day or two if you want to take some shots at it.

The reverb on the main vocal is way too much. This is the kind of thing that would be expected from someone just starting to mix as an engineer, in adding too much reverb. I could almost go along with that overly emphasized reverb if that's the "feel" you where going for, except it doesn't match the rest of the music track. The music and the main vocal sound like they're being performed in two different rooms. Not to mention that the reverb blurs the image of the main vocal. I've done my fair share of advertisement work, where there's a lot of canned music CD's with splits, to put behind a commercial spot. So I'm willing to go out on a limb and say this sounds like a canned music mix that had the main vocals recorded over it. The background chorus vocal track matches the music much more than the lead vocal and the fact that the background vocals don't have any words and are just sung notes, further backs up my canned music idea. The reverb on the main vocal, doesn't even tonally match the rest of the track. It basically sticks out like a sore thumb and takes away from the whole mix. As far as feel, the feel I got from this track was the same feeling like when I go to a small bar and am listening to Karoake all night, where they crank up the reverb on the vocal to make the bad singers feel like they can sing. Then the vocal is totally seperate from that background music. So if it's the karaoke "feel" you where going for on this mix, then you totally hit it.

The mastering is aweful too. This is a sure sign of overuse of a Waves L1 compressor, or a similar Sony Wavehammer plugin. If you're trying to compete in the volume wars, then you're in the ball park, because this mix is definately loud, but getting a mix loud is not hard with todays software tools. Getting it loud without the side effects is the tough part. I'm not sure why you need the mix this loud, because it's a rock track and a lot of rock tracks have not entered into that volume war, but I can easily say that the RMS level on this mix is much higher than an overly compressed Eminem hip hop track that I compared it too, which tends to run much higher in RMS levels than the norm. The problem is, if you listen to the high frequency highhat parts in the chorus, you can hear distortion due to the overuse of a L1. After hearing this, I confirmed it by looking at the mix on a spectral curve. You can see a flat line from 7.5Khz to 15Khz, due to the limiting done on the high frequencies during the chorus. You're totally distorting the highfrequency transients of the highat and everything else in this frequency range. I'm sure this limiting distortion goes well above the 15Khz and sounds much worse on the uncompressed .MP3 format, but I couldn't see or hear that due to the .MP3 frequency cutoff.

This performance is definatley not a polished turd, but it's a performance that was turned into a turd.

cosmo wrote on 3/18/2004, 10:36 AM
You have one detailed ear my friend. I'm listening to this mix again also and this time it isn't on my home stereo. I definately hear some of the things you're talking about Red. Actually it sounds like some of my recent stuff - where I pumped up the gain during mastering. I backed it off though before distributing and weevil didn't...I can hear that.

We should probably keep in mind that this wasn't 'ideal' in weezil's eyes either. Maybe weevil could hook us up with one of his best/best!

Also - there are probably some very current threads in Sounforge dealing with mastering eh? I use Steinberg's Wavelab and not Soundforge...but I'm interested still to learn what people generally like to do in the mastering how hot the level is going in to mastering; how much they boost/compress(kind?)/densify etc etc. That would be pretty useful.
RichMacDonald wrote on 3/18/2004, 11:43 AM
>The reverb on the main vocal is way too much.

First thing I noticed too, although I'd read red's review beforehand :-)
I could go along with the amount of reverb if you changed its timbre. Its just too "boomy" (I may be wrong on that; I'm listening with crappy speakers) and as red says "doesn't match the rest of the music track". I do *really* like the background vocal (good voice and well sung) and would like that enhanced somehow. You probably can't make it any louder with respect to the main vocal, but perhaps duping the track a few times and mixing each track to a different location in space with different EQ and FX? Dunno, but the background vocal is the best part of the song, IMHO.

On the high hat issue, I'd just like it turned down, distortion or not. At its current level it forces me to focus soley on it (and its not that brilliant a high hat to keep me interested for a whole song :-) I suspect there are some other nice sounds in that frequency range, but I can't hear them. I really liked the first bridge, but part of the reason is that it gave my ears an escape from that darn high hat.

That percussion thing to end the song should be removed. Its just a surprise and makes me think "First time I've heard this instrument. What is it doing here?"

I liked the intro effect. Original and different, yet simple.

...ok, and I've been replaying the song as I write this and its starting to grow on me :-) Better on the 5th listen than the 1st. Fix the high hat and vocal reverb and you've got a really good one.

I'm afraid I don't have anything of my own to put up for shooting down.
cosmo wrote on 3/18/2004, 11:54 AM
We'll forgive you Rich! Let me say cause I forgot to - I really dig that song. After about 3-4 listens it surely does grow on me. Good vibe.
Weevil wrote on 3/18/2004, 7:28 PM
Red, Red, Red, mate, mate, mate, the whole freaking thing is distorted to the max, it’s distortion city man. :-)

[Weevil breaks down and cries] That’s the whole point. It is supposed to be an example of a mix where the music works on an emotional level despite the obvious technical problems with the recording and the mix itself. [Shakes head] some of the things I did to those poor renascence compressors...

I totally agree with the points you raised, but I just wasn’t in that headspace at all.

This is the band’s original version and mix of the same demo.

I got them to track some different parts that I thought made the track work much better and then I was -extremely- cavalier about the mix. I deliberately maxed things out to try to shake the band out of their ‘politeness’. Cosmo nailed it, I was only interested in the vibe.

I didn’t want to make it all neat tidy and proper, I thought the band was going way too far in that direction already. It’s supposed to be very rough around the edges...

I did get just a little obsessed with that hat didn’t I. I was just trying to bring out the bits that made the song really work. I think it’s all about the hats and the acoustic guitar...But -maybe- not quite as much about the hats as I made it.

Bring on your mix baby; I’m keen to get stuck in! ;-)
cosmo wrote on 3/18/2004, 10:47 PM
You see man, you should have posted the whole story in the first place and it would have been as clear to us as it was to you that:

The original track was good but kinda too clean, to neat, almost cheesy. The second mix, on the other hand, left me with a totally different feeling than the original. A much better one -) The dirty mix is waaaay better, dirt and all. Sometimes I like dirt in my vocal track. I've found I can scratch up my AT consenser and it's pretty smooth(see site, rectify).

Looks like Weevil found the perfect illustration of the power of good mixing - mixing with your eyes closed even has it's place in our world! Tell me though, is that the same performance in both mixes, or did you have them track it again?
Rednroll wrote on 3/18/2004, 10:47 PM
Lol!!! So you intentionally did these things to the mix?, I can respect that, afterall my personal taste in music is along the industrial side (ie Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Bile) and with all these high bit resolution equipmentment/tools, I'm always in search of a good ole noisy tube amp, distortion pedal/ low bit rate/over compressed signal to dirty and distort things up a bit. I just don't anti engineer something though for a client, because their performance isn't getting the feel that I feel it needs. I guess my only question is, that later on when they realized you F'd up their mix, did they come back for their next album?

I actually, have another mix by the same artist that I'ld like to post, but I have to finish up the mastering on it yet. I usually don't write music for clients, but I was writing some of my own stuff one day and came up with a guitar riff on my keyboard using a distorted guitar patch that I was planing on only using as a reference to later overdub real guitar. Well, I was flipping through my keyboard guitar patches, and put a spanish guitar on, where I realized this actually sounded pretty cool for a client I was working with at the time. This artist was a rap act, that had a spanish vibe to their music. So I endend up playing the part for the groups producer. He loved it and it evolved into one of their tracks. So not only would you get to criticize my mix, but you can criticize my musical performance if you like. The only thing, I'm a little disappointed with, was that I had my partner track the musical parts, and he used a different guitar patch, instead of coming to borrow my keyboard with the original patch I had in mind. It's grown on me none the less, and I think it's kind of cool, where basically an intended rock track evolved into a rap track.
MrPhil wrote on 3/19/2004, 5:04 AM
Well, it doesn't say anywhere around here that this is a place to review music.
He only asked for advice in getting a better result in the mix.
He didn't ask for advice or critique (sp?) in how to create the perfect music, or the perfect "feel", which is totally subjective anyway. What sounds like perfect and "the way to go" in your ears, can be equally wrong in mine.
So yes, I read ...
And I've listened to your work too.
And it sounds ok. But definitely nothing that rocks me. I hate the hihat, but I like the ride that comes in the last sixth of the song, although it's too loud.
The snare you lost somwhere... I found it in the original mix. Lots of ghostnotes that are lost in your mix.
Eh... what more...? Is it really the same recording? The vocals sound different, and I can't really find those acoustic guitars in the original.
If your aim was to get it more rough, you should have kept more electric gutars, and added som low mid to get more body in the original very thin sound. You made the new mix sound "more" but not really rougher IMO.
And the "feel" you talk so much about.... just isn't there... at least for me.
But I come from the musical direction of Yes, Dream Theater, Liquid Tension kind of music... so it's just my OPINION.
The technical stuff and details I guess Red took care of.

But did you get my point?
You asked for opinion about your work that you thought was an example of "how to do things", and you dared everyone to review it.
Cosmo didn't. He just wanted advice in how to get his mix better.
My point is that you do have the right to post your music here without getting it critcized, if that's not why you post it.

Peace to everyone!

Weevil wrote on 3/21/2004, 4:48 AM
Coz, the guts of it are the same performances. The drums, the bass, the acoustic guitar and plenty of other bits and pieces.

I think the performances sound better because we got rid of the things that were getting in the way of them.

Gated the snare to get rid of all those ghost notes. They weren’t quite in the right feel. When you listen to them you can hear how they actually drag the energy out of the song. When you get rid of them you can suddenly hear the acoustic guitar which is exactly in feel and drives the song along much better.

Same thing with that huge wall of overblown guitar, it just smothered all the vibe out of the instruments below it. Found some other parts that conveyed the energy but didn’t get in the way.

It was all about finding the bits that made the song really work and bringing them to the fore.

If the parts themselves are good and work together well then the recording and mixing is the really easy part. Believe me the first two parts of that equation are much more important than the second (even though all four are important).
Weevil wrote on 3/21/2004, 4:49 AM
Phil, this is a public forum, I have the right to state my opinion, even if you don’t happen to like it. You do not set the rules here. I called it as I saw it. I’m not going to run around sugar coating my opinions because they might offend your sensibilities.

I’m really not all that interested in traipsing along this line of conversation anymore with you. It’s all over red rover, the fat lady has been screaming her wotsits off for a while now, can’t we just lay this to rest?
Rednroll wrote on 3/21/2004, 7:41 AM
"I totally think you should record music rather than create performances as much as possible."

On the explanation you gave of what you did, it certainly sounds like you worked more on creating the performance, rather than recording it. You criticized Pipeline for doing this type of thing and recommend against it. I actually agree with you 100%, because I have lived those scenarios and now also I have that luxuary not to create the performance. To me though, you're really contradicting yourself because, although Pipe had a different approach, it sure sounds like you're creating that "feel" rather than recording the performance.
Weevil wrote on 3/21/2004, 3:05 PM
...It’s the ‘as much as possible’ line that is important here. :-)

I think once I dropped the ‘T’ word all my comments in this thread started sounding a lot more forceful than originally intended...You know how it is Red, ya make one little comment and everyone starts getting their knickers in a twist. :-) ...I didn’t think I was criticising Pipe, I thought I was having a discussion with him.

Anywho, for the record I gated the snare, I comped the vocal and did a few other ‘macro edits’ but that is about it. Certainly worked hard on ‘creating good performances’, but did that before I hit record, not after...
Rednroll wrote on 3/21/2004, 6:18 PM
gotcha....maybe the word "criticize" wasn't quite the word I was looking for.