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Snap You Up - Rock Track

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Snap You Up - Rock Track

Postby myeggsareboiled on Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:17 am

Hey folks, I had a local rock band in for a guinea pig experiment session. Its the first time they've tried recording, and the first time I've had a band other than my own in my studio, so I'd really appreciate any mix feedback you might be able to offer me. The singer's mic technique was a bit terrible, so I've had to compress the crap out of the vocal. Other than that, any feedback you could offer would be greatly recieved, no matter how harsh. :-)

I'm on a nightshift tonight, but I'll get on tomorrow to return the favour to a few folks looking for reviews.

http://soundcloud.com/rickthedick/snap-you-up
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Re: Snap You Up - Rock Track

Postby EnlightenedHand on Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:08 am

As a relatively novice effort it's not terrible. I actually think the style of compression on the vocal fits the vocalist and sounds nice.

The drums and guitars are tracked poorly. It's obvious that you're tracking in a smaller, non-acoustically ideal environment. With the guitars it's obvious that the mic-ing was not effective for delivering a clear, big, lively guitar sound. I also suspect that your monitoring environment and positioning is compromised because the stereo imaging of the piece is a bit narrow, almost like it was mixed on headphones. Then there is the relative lack of clarity and definition throughout the drums and guitars.

It's difficult to know exactly where things can be salvaged and where they must be re-tracked without hearing the raw, unprocessed tracks. It's also difficult to say exactly what the sonic problems to be overcome with each of the elements are without hearing the piece in the raw. In general a great mix comes from great performance, arrangement and tracking and you only know you have great tracking if the raw tracks sound excellent.

I did a thread a while back on this very idea and I have a copy of the raw tracks for you to hear how your tracks should sound in general while totally raw.

-RAW RECORDING.

Here's the info on what was used to record it:
Enlightened Hand in another thread long ago wrote:...This selection is TOTALLY RAW. There is NO processing whatsoever. No outboard on the way in. No mixing done at all. All of the faders are set to unity and I just let it play back, though I did pan the instruments. You'll have to turn it up because there is no volume adjustment made on the output bus so it's all just what came in. There was no clipping at all. The master fader didn't even approach 0. The highest point was somewhere around -5dBFS. All I did was dither it down to 16bit. I tracked at 24bit/44.1kHz with a Presonus "Firestudio 2626" and a Presonus "Digimax FS". All of the tracking was done in the foyer and living room of my house. The drums had sm57s on the snare top and each tom and MXL 991s in ORTF for overheads. There was an AKG d112 for the kick and I also had a couple Digital Reference DRHX-1 SDCs for the ride and hat. The guitars were tracked through Mesa amps. One was a "Stiletto" and another was a "Lone Star". I used an sm57 to mic the cabs. The bass is running through quite a beautiful Ampeg rig that costs quite a bit but I mic-ed it's cab with an AKG d112. All of the guitars were also DI-ed for later re-amping but we haven't felt the need to do so. Basically what you hear is what you get.

Now again what's the point of me posting all of that? Well the idea is that you go back and listen to your raws, with all faders at unity and hear how they sound. Is it how you want it to sound? Is it close to the finished product? Could you have done something to get more out of what you had available?

Since you're the one tracking the project you have tremendous opportunity to make the end results what you want them to be. Usually I'm given a project that someone else recorded and so I have to deal with what they give me and compromise as I can. But if you're tracking there's no reason to not have an excellent end result for a mix and it all starts with the raw tracks.
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Re: Snap You Up - Rock Track

Postby clkonkol on Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:23 am

Even though I don't always know technically what Liz is talking about, I really respect her opinion (on many, many things). Before she posted, I listened and was going to say it sounds 'narrow and boxy'. Wow that was enlightening, huh? I have followed your thread on the studio build you've been working on and feel you've come to the point where you should be able to get a better sound in that space. Maybe it's just the instruments and players. The drums especially sound so tight and dead to me and maybe, since this is an outside band (not yours), there's not much you could do about it. Song itself is pretty good, but could sound so much better.
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Re: Snap You Up - Rock Track

Postby myeggsareboiled on Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:58 am

Thanks as ever for useful and detailed comments. I suspect the narrowness was a hangover from my last attempt - things got a bit messy and I salvaged something then by narrowing down the width that I'd panned the drums over. I'll certainly revisit this track and start again without any processing, and aim for a wider feel. As for having all the faders at unity to begin with, I'm having a bit of an issue with that! When I'm setting up someone's track, I ask them to play as hard as they would play at the peak of the track, but they always seem to play harder when doing it 'for real', and then I end up having to make major adjustments to balance things out. I suppose that's my own fault, for not just getting them to play the track while I sort out the gain staging. I'll do a mix 'in the raw', and put that up, and of course will have a good read of Liz' article.

As for the space, unfortunately, it's the only one I have, and am going to have for the forseeable future. I don't know how I can improve it - more treatment would just deaden the sound further. I've toyed with the idea of putting some diffusion up at the apex of the roof, but don't know if that would make much of a difference to it? Can't do any harm I suppose!

Monitors I am aware are not cutting the mustard. They are next in line for an upgrade, but that'll be a little while yet before I can rustle up the cash.
Overall, I think the majority of the issues from this track stem from me, and not the gear or the performers. Every day's a school day though!
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Re: Snap You Up - Rock Track

Postby EnlightenedHand on Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:18 pm

myeggsareboiled wrote:Thanks as ever for useful and detailed comments. I suspect the narrowness was a hangover from my last attempt - things got a bit messy and I salvaged something then by narrowing down the width that I'd panned the drums over. I'll certainly revisit this track and start again without any processing, and aim for a wider feel.
Keep in mind that when I refer the the width I'm talking about the entire piece and not just the drums. One of the problems with nearfield monitoring is that it requires the listener to adjust their understanding of the illusion of stereo width presented by the speakers. The presented width might seem wider than it is due to the listener's proximity to the speakers. That being the case the listener tends to under separate things from left to right, resulting in a "narrow" stereo field during the final mix.
...As for having all the faders at unity to begin with, I'm having a bit of an issue with that! When I'm setting up someone's track, I ask them to play as hard as they would play at the peak of the track, but they always seem to play harder when doing it 'for real', and then I end up having to make major adjustments to balance things out...
Adjusting the input gain at the preamps is a critical step in getting the raw tracks to sit right together and not clip. If a performer can't mentally go to their actual performance thinking and playing then just have the group play the song "for real" while you set the gain visually by looking at the meters.
...I'll do a mix 'in the raw', and put that up, and of course will have a good read of Liz' article.
Well it's not really a "mix" when it's raw. It's just playback with all faders at unity. If you can get that to sound great then you're in excellent shape. Of course that requires that you gain stage effectively during tracking and every other aspect of capturing the source is right as well.

...As for the space, unfortunately, it's the only one I have, and am going to have for the forseeable future. I don't know how I can improve it - more treatment would just deaden the sound further. I've toyed with the idea of putting some diffusion up at the apex of the roof, but don't know if that would make much of a difference to it? Can't do any harm I suppose!
It's important for you to realize that an overly small, dry space is always going to be compromised when tracking instruments like drums especially. The drums in reality are rarely heard in isolation or in excessively close proximity by anyone (with the exception of the drummer). So in order for you to get the drums to sound "right" you'll need a space that sounds "right". If you can't get that where you are then you can always go to the space you need. Take your computer and the rest of your gear and go where there are better tracking acoustics for the purpose of capturing drums. Alternatively, though much more expensive, you can pay a studio to track your drums and do the rest of the tracking at your space.

You can track drums in a relatively "dead" sounding space however. It will simply mean that your drums will have little reverb and little ambience. From there if you're willing you can add artificial reverb. Just remember that when you track in a muffled or dead sounding space you'll always have some of that sonic character in your drum tracks, even with added artificial reverb.

...Monitors I am aware are not cutting the mustard. They are next in line for an upgrade, but that'll be a little while yet before I can rustle up the cash...
Obviously you always want the best you can afford. But when I mentioned that I suspected your monitoring was "compromised" I was mainly referring to the potential placement of them and perhaps even the listening room acoustics. NS10s, for example, are not exactly excellent speakers for critical listening (though they do have their useful attributes) but if they are placed well and the room acoustics aren't terrible you can get some work done with them once you adjust to their sound. So if nothing else pay close attention to your room acoustics and your monitor placement to see if you're not further handicapping yourself with either of those variables.

Perhaps counterintuitively after having touched on all of that we haven't even gotten into any specifics of mixing. So you see how heavily weighted the tracking is when trying to get a good sounding mix. When I say "good raw tracks are everything" I really mean it. They are EVERYTHING. Some people have adapted their recording style towards working at capturing "good enough" raw tracks and then going from there. To some degree and in certain situations I can accept that given particular limitations at play. But in general I think that the raw tracks ARE the recording. Everything else is just makeup and/or trickery for the purpose of enhancing things. Just like a person's face in a photograph.

Take a naturally good looking face, with no makeup, in great lighting, captured at a good angle, with the right pose and that picture will look great. It just so happens that naturally good looking people aren't always in abundance. It takes knowledge and experience to find and set up the right lighting. You have to develop an eye for the right angle to get a shot of and you have to know how to coach the subject into the right pose. That's the art and skill of it. The same holds true for recording audio.

If you can get your ears to know what "right" sounds like and you can develop the skills to know where to place mics, which mics to use, how to dial in tone from the instruments and how to coach performers into the right performance and how to deal with location acoustics, how to gain stage, etc, you'll produce excellent raw tracks and subsequently have an INFINITELY easier time mixing and coming up with great mixes.
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Re: Snap You Up - Rock Track

Postby DaveyDouble on Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:12 pm

Hey Eggs,

I'm going to jump straight in. The mix is lacking impact. But it's a snowball effect of a number of things I think -

-The drums sound bone dry and lack weight. The kick and snare need to snap and have some bottom end too.
-The rythmn guitar sounds very small. It needs to be fuller. More bottom, more presence.
-The bass needs consistency. Hit it with a compressor and limiter, hard. EQ some 6k area in for definition.
-The vocal treatment works fine for this style of music I think. I generally compress and limit front/lead vox to keep 'em front and centre.
-The mix leans to the left quite a bit. I would put at least another take of rythmn in the right side during the choruses.

A good mix to shoot toward for this song would be The Strokes 'Last Night' I think.
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Re: Snap You Up - Rock Track

Postby Massive Dog on Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:50 pm

Hey eggs,

sorry I've got to this one a little late.

I'd be interested to hear if you've made any revisions to this mix and how it's sounding now.

I guess measuring how much of a success the mix is depends on your (and the bands) ambitions for it.

Could the band send this recording out to pubs and promoters to try and get gigs? Yes.

Could they get it played on the radio? No.

I seem to be echoing Liz in damning you with faint praise, but I think it's a reasonable demo.

I like the vocalist and think you've processed him well... sounds a bit like the lead singer of Cube (I doubt if anyone has heard of them... it's a bit of an obscure reference I must confess!)

I think DD has pretty much nailed all of the points that I'd make so I'll not repeat them but I shall add that I think the solo kicks in well. I'm certain you can squeeze more out of the recording without burning down the eggbox and re-tracking everything. Keep plugging away but reconsider your recording strategy for the next one.
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Re: Snap You Up - Rock Track

Postby myeggsareboiled on Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:17 pm

Just a side note to this - I thought I'd popped a speaker last night - the one the left had been farting from time to time, but was now only playing stuff through the tweeter. After checking all the cables, I pulled the speaker to bits - I have no money for new ones, so I thought I'd at least check out the insides. I found a loose wire, and resoldered it, and whadda ya know, it was fixed. I played some of my mixes through it today, and suddenly I can hear what everyone is meaning about all my mixes leaning to the left. I suspect only part of the signal was getting through the dodgy connection, so I was over-compensating. Hopefully I can try to get more of a balance on the go now!
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Re: Snap You Up - Rock Track

Postby Ken J on Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:49 pm

myeggsareboiled wrote:Just a side note to this - I thought I'd popped a speaker last night - the one the left had been farting from time to time, but was now only playing stuff through the tweeter. After checking all the cables, I pulled the speaker to bits - I have no money for new ones, so I thought I'd at least check out the insides. I found a loose wire, and resoldered it, and whadda ya know, it was fixed. I played some of my mixes through it today, and suddenly I can hear what everyone is meaning about all my mixes leaning to the left. I suspect only part of the signal was getting through the dodgy connection, so I was over-compensating. Hopefully I can try to get more of a balance on the go now!


Poop Happens. But you got it all fixed now.

Now about this song. Dude, your eggs are fried!~ Where the hell did you come up with those awesome lyrics? That song rocks your ass off. The mix is OK and not something that is super but those lyrics cash the checks! Nice punk attitude!
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