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 Post subject: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 12:25 pm 
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unsure
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The first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have a problem, right?

Welcome to SMA- Shit Mixes Anonymous.

I have developed a whole host of bad habits and generally a lack of knowledge/best practices - I think I'd like to start again with learning how to mix.

Has anyone found a super cool resource for learning how to mix dance music?

I've looked through the "classics" subforum here and there are a few posts with some golden nuggets that have highlighted some issues I'm making for myself. First thing I'm going to do when i get home is remove the limiter from the master...

Any 'must read' resources more than welcome...

Happy to post a work in progress track if anyone fancies lending some ears, but i'm mainly here to try and find some things I can take away, read and try out myself.

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:29 pm 
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pregnant

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search for gain staging, through this forum, I found that this is the first step in increasing the quality of your mixes. big help


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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 3:03 pm 
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Start with looking at conventional music.
Classical music and then 4 piece bands.
And traditional recording techniques of them.

This will teach you that good mixes beginning good sound choices.
Each instrument has a place in the mix and EQ begins by sound choice.
The right sound in the Right place needs less EQ.
A bass guitar doesn't overlap too much with a lead guitar.
Contrabass and violin take up different space.

Then learn subtractive EQ.

Levelling.

Gain staging.

Stereo placement.

These are the basics of a good mix.
All of which has been discussed here.

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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 3:24 pm 
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unsure
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Cool - thanks guys.

I understand levelling and gain staging - I think - so I'm going to try and make a "clean" mix of a track tonight.

I think a big issue I have is not knowing where to use saturation in a mix. I have it all over the place, means I end up chasing my tail lots with EQ and the sounds come out thin and artificial.


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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 3:48 pm 
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I think people have a habit of going back to change something they were originally quite happy with when they go to next sound to adjust or when they add a new sound.

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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 3:51 pm 
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I have trouble with stereo placement. Are there any rules or suggestions I should be aware of?

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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:00 pm 
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Stretchy Bingo
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One thing that really improved my mixes is exactly what Steve said. That a band can make great music with only 4 elements.

So I learned bit by bit. I unlearned the typical noob thing of putting in lots of sounds that you think you hear, but really just overlaps and ends up in a mess.

I learned how to mix 4 elements. Kick, bass, synth and hat, using simple eq hp/lp to make sure those things all sat in their own space. Once I was happy with that I slowly added more element, carefully using a spectrum to make sure nothing overlapped. If it did, then eq.

It's taken years, but the hard part was going back to absolute basics. It felt like a massive step back, but it worked.

I'm still not great, but better than I was.

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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:06 pm 
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I think I used to be heavy handed with my subtractive eqing. I've relaxed a bit and people say my mixes have gotten louder.

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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:48 pm 
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Onions
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10 000 hours. after that u 'll be great :D

so they say xD.

It 's all about experience and monitoring your influences I guess.
those 10k hours mainly is a joke. but it 's expected that after that amount of hours u gained all the expercience u need.

Know this: we 're all in the same boat on this.

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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:56 pm 
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I think critical listening is the most important thing. When someone like Steve listens and gives you a list of what needs to be adressed, fixing the mix is quite easy. The hard part is really hearing what's wrong. Listening and critiquing tons of tracks here has definitely drastically improved my critical listening skills, you start you really noticing the common problem areas after a while and you start paying attention to them in your own tracks.

I also think mixing is a bit overrated in the sense that a lot of people seem to spend 80% of their time on a track mixing, when really, production makes at least 80% of the track. If you have nicely designed sounds well arranged, the track will almost mix itself. Meanwhile faulty, mediocre production will probably even take a seasoned engineer a lot of time to make it sound good.

My personal protip is, never spend more than 1-2 hours in a row on mixing. Not only is it a waste of fucking time, your ears start fatiquing and you start going in circles and possible even make the track worse. You aren't a professional mixer, you have all the time in the world to finish a mix. Five quick 30 Minute sessions with fresh ears in the morning or when you get home from work is a billion times more effective than sitting down a whole night mixing a single track.


Last edited by dubdub on Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:58 pm 
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unsure
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jordanneke wrote:
One thing that really improved my mixes is exactly what Steve said. That a band can make great music with only 4 elements.

So I learned bit by bit. I unlearned the typical noob thing of putting in lots of sounds that you think you hear, but really just overlaps and ends up in a mess.

I learned how to mix 4 elements. Kick, bass, synth and hat, using simple eq hp/lp to make sure those things all sat in their own space. Once I was happy with that I slowly added more element, carefully using a spectrum to make sure nothing overlapped. If it did, then eq.

It's taken years, but the hard part was going back to absolute basics. It felt like a massive step back, but it worked.

I'm still not great, but better than I was.



yeah, so I think this is what I had in mind. Glad to hear it worked for you. I'm going to give it a go tonight on a track I made.


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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:00 pm 
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Onions
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I couldn 't agree more. one needs to develop his ears to master the art of mixing x)
it 's the one tool that does come for free that is most essential.

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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:26 pm 
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Gnasher

Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2012 7:55 pm
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This EQ video series was posted one here a while ago. It starts of with the very basics of EQ and then moves on to a more in depth video for specific sounds in the frequency spectrum (kick, bass, snares, hats).

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... kxK83r9PpZ


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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 8:56 pm 
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quasi-public

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Yeah but before immediately reaching for an EQ, you can go such a long way with common sense, the right sound source choices and 'intelligent' composition. I know this is Techno & some aspects of sound design require all sorts of tools and sometimes you gotta force things but just in the normal sense of a bare bones compositional perspective, you can get a mix that is really well balanced.

I'm certainly no mixing guru and my room isn't ideal but I know I make my life easier by incorporating the actual music into the equation as well as the sound design aspects. I quite like ambient & atmospheric stuff and this usually involves some pads, chords or even just stabs and I know it's one of the first areas I usually run into issues with when thick chords of 7ths, 9ths and 11ths start filling up the lower mids and upper bass areas. Rather than immediately reaching for the HP filter to carve some lower end away,evaluate the actual notes of what's going on which could be ( in my case ) causing the lower muddiness. If you like using chords, it helps an awful lot to try out inversions. You might play a Cm9 chord ( C/Eb/G/Bb/D ) and often the one octave is a little too high, the next octave down, it gets rather murky and with a C note in the bass following the root of the chord, you have quite a lot of low information going on. So you could think, 'Hey, I don't need that low 'C' note in the chord as the bass references it', so you could take it out and play an EbMaj7 with that instrument, with the 'C' in the bass, it's still a m9th. It could clear up a little bit of room but then, you can invert it instead and take the lower 2 notes and move them up so you'd have Bb/D/Eb/G. Same chord but you've created more of a gap between that low chord and the bass area. When you start thinking about the way you actually lay down your parts and their voicings, it might not be something that is immediately apparent but it can really open things up when looking for certain solutions and just something to think about when you approach the writing process.

Also, sometimes I have noticed that it can often be something simple like my levels are off and my ears need 're-calibrating'. I often run a pink noise loop on a spare channel when I think it's my levels just to check each tracks against it. I'm only talking about a ballpark thing to find some sort of starting point when I have got a bit messy,not trying to follow a pink noise curve itself.

Sometimes, I have noticed things that are not immediately obvious too, like certain harmonics. I recently had this square Juno type bass and I happened to play the jam I was doing through some multimedia speakers which cut off around 90hz and there were these horrible clashing resonant sounds that just weren't there in headphones and my monitors. Turned out it was the 3rd harmonic of the bass. The 3rd harmonic of a square waveform is essentially a major 3rd of whatever the root is playing. So if you were in C minor, you're getting quite a prominant 'E' note every time you hit a 'C' note in the bass.. I didn't EQ it out or anything but I did alter the waveform to a pulse and changed the width so there was a stronger 2nd harmonic which, when filtered down a bit again, came across much better. Sometimes, depending on context, it's worth checking stuff like that which can easily get overlooked


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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:15 am 
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reverse genius

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All the main points have already been covered. I'll add some things I've been thinking this year.

I think an important thing to keep in mind is that a good mix comes from many small steps done well that are cumulative. Don't expect one plugin or processor to change everything.

Also look at it like this, if you can get everything good and working at the source, then any extra processes you use are going to be enhancing things rather than covering up shit.

I would go through all the suggestions and spend time on each one, gain staging and eq for example, practise and read up on each and the pieces will start fitting together. Maybe a week where you just focus on eq, the next gain staging... Then you'll naturally get better at the initial parts of making a song or making sounds, then your not fighting poor sound choice and you can focus on making your good sounds even better in context of the mix.

Here's a site that has some really well written articles that discuss some fundamentals of mixing like overall balance, gain staging and eq

http://www.nodoughmusic.com/productionblog/


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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:43 am 
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Some final points I have to had.

Don't overthink it. A good mix will come together naturally.

When doing commercial mix work, the jobs I have the most trouble with are when the elements are fighting each other for space due to bad choices.

So if you are fighting with something, it's probably not right for the mix, either get rid of it, or only have it in the mix when then part(s) it conflicts with are not.

Finally, take time away. If you have your final mix, or you are close to it, stop working. Move on to your next project and don't listen to the tune for a couple of weeks (or longer)

Then sit and listen critically, you should be able to be a little more objective with some time passed, and make a better assessment for those final tweaks that take your mix up that final half grade.

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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 9:23 am 
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unsure
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Thanks for the further wisdom and links above, all appreciated.

Last night I took everything off everything and did a "clean" mix - this sounded good and clinical, a bit sterile. I just used EQ, gain staging and levels/panning to get it all to fit.

That was a good exercise, but the track sounded characterless. When I went through and added back the saturation I had to try and get the sound I wanted things went a bit wonky again.

Better, but still wonky and shite. The buss tape saturation does the most damage, but when you turn on that tape simulator on the drum buss it sounds so crunchy and grooving. I guess the next step is to figure out how to retain that aesthetic while having a track that doesn't sound shit.


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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 10:24 am 
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Hey Plyphon,

the point at which my mixes got so much better was when i stopped trying too much at once. Compressing too much, EQing too much, driving too much. This state of mind helped me develop better ways of tackling issues. If i need more bass in a source I don't try to EQ the shit into it. Instead I rather layer something below.

Once you've traded all your transients for boom and loudness your mix goes down the drain. So yeah, another vote for gain-staging mindfully.

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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 10:36 am 
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If a bit of tape saturation makes your track sound shit your problem is likely in the production stage, maybe you've packed the mix too full to begin with.


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 Post subject: Re: My mixes suck. I need serious help.
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 10:57 am 
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unsure
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Maybe. It's possible!

For what it's worth, I'm after a mix that feels like these tracks:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QafWm-AskKY

or

https://soundcloud.com/10-pills-mate/dj ... llsmate003

So a bit rougher round the edges, but not full on lofi. Just not "clean" tech house basically. The 4th track on that DJ Plant Texture EP is particularly appealing to me.


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