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Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by Arsenu,, Apr 10, 2013.
there aren't any rules but there are big definite avoidances and recommended techniques.
Sorry to piggyback onto this thread.......I like FreeG too, but the only thing that annoys me is that it doesn't constantly monitor the peak and RMS levels of my signal and then refresh the values displayed within the plugin.
This is an issue because I could hit my strings really really hard and cause a huge peak which then hides my 'true' peak from standard/normal playing.
Does anybody know anyway to get the values to periodically update, or is there another gain/level setting plugin that could do this?
This is excellent advice.
I normally just did it for drum room mics which cleans up cymbals and more so the ride cymbal, and also the fizz in high gain guitars.
Last night, after watching that youtube clip with old mate and the piano, I went through all the acoustic guitar tracks in a song and did the same, found about 4 resonant peaks in each recording (probably a symptom of room treatment too) and removed them. Each track sounded a bit stuffy on its own, but together it really opened up the mix.
--GET IT RIGHT AT THE SOURCE (for the nth time)
Not only the tones (which you'll be EQ'ing anyway) but the PLAYING. Make life simple for yourself. You don't want to quantize. You don't want to pitch correct. You can't polish a turd...attempting to do so metaphorically will actually be even more disturbing than doing so literally.
Parallel compression on skins; the answer to the question "where's the beef?"
-BASS (made easy)
Plugins = Voxengo Tube, Compressor (~4:1 if you're a consistent player, much more if you're not), Ampeg SVX (FTW), HPF ~60 Hz, small boost ~70-90Hz, deep cut around 200Hz, HPF ~4kHz
[I really can't say enough good things about Ampeg SVX; getting a great sound is just so easy. Best $200 out of the thousands I've spent on plugins/gear.]
In some instances, it can be helpul to copy the bass line w/ high LPF+ low HPF+Tube Screamer. Slowly bring up the volume and blend with your original bass tone - use your ears when bringing up the volume.
Get it right at the source, then:
Cut the bass
LPF ~6kHz (or lower); the tip above about piercing snare applies here, too. you really just DON'T need as much presence as you think you do. That's what your hi-hats and cymbals are for.
--BUY/READ ERMZ'S SYSTEMATIC MIXING GUIDE ($20)
It really teaches the whole process in an easy-to-follow guide. Useful to noobs and the experienced.
Deep narrow cuts first at resonant frequencies
Wider, less narrow cuts at other locations
If it looks like you're going really deep, try to use a linear phase EQ to avoid phase issues
If you really truly must boost, never exceed +6dB (I never go above +3dB) personally. Boosting is a sign of weakness in your personal life as well as your mix. Cowboy up.
--LEARNING TO MIX...
...takes years of practice -and there are no shortcuts to this. The learning process never really stops (if you're doing it right).
sorry, but the post above this is nonsense.
do what needs doing, and don't do what doesnt. the post above basically says do this the same every single time. EQ advice without hearing the source? righto. parallel compress the drums? you got it. track bass before guitars? if you say so.
treat every band differently and learn how to react to different situations.
do what needs doing, and don't do what doesnt
C'mon, Ed. That's like a girl telling you to "just be yourself"...which is exactly what ISN'T working. A totally unhelpful platitude. I've given clear starting points here. My apologies if that unspoken caveat confused you. Allow me to also apologize for not saying "each mix is different", "use your ears", "there are no rules", or a plethora of other banalities....NONE of which helped me improve my mixing skills.
advice like "use this plugin" and then "this EQ" followed by "compression like this" doesnt really help me at all. when I'm reading or watching interviews with producers I look up to, I don't really care what gear they are using any more. I'd much rather know the philosophy behind why they are doing what they're doing. when I'm saying "do what needs doing", I mean "listen to the songs and parts and assess what you need to do". how do you know you're going to have to distort/EQ/compress things if you dont know what the part is like and how it fits in with the song. you've just given specific mixing advice as general advice.
its so easy to fall into habits with mixing, and its always best to keep that simple advice in the back of your head.
and the longer I've done this, the more the simple obvious things strike me as being right. when things arent working for me in a mix its because I'm trying to force it.
some more tips:
try and edit and tune as little as possible. be careful not to overlook the times when the timing or tuning being slightly off MAKES the part what it is. if the drummer has a nice groove with a section of the song, why fuck with it? and often with singers you can have times where it just sounds better leaving the tuning as it is. -> this goes back to use your ears. use your judgement to decide whether a section needs fixing/tightening up/etc.
while im talking about groove: try making the grid slightly swung. this will again depend on the song/riff/groove, as will how much you do it. it can really make sections PUNCH through when certain beats of the bar are slightly later than being dead on the grid. quantising drums at 50% but to a swung grid can be really nice to make the groove pop a bit more.
make sure the musician is as comfortable and familiar as possible. have them play through the song a few times before tracking and make sure they are really chilled out before recording. its SO easy to forget what its like being in their shoes, especially when you feel in a rush and just want to steam through things. before I'd go straight into tracking guitars, and I'm getting things done SO much faster now as they are relaxed and ready.
aim for performances that have character. any old robot can edit a riff together so its "perfect", its way more interesting to hear HOW something is played rather than WHAT. try and achieve musicians playing something that no one else can do like they can. if they are struggling, see my previous point.
granted its very common to have musicians where this isnt the case, and you have to make do with things, but this job should always be about striving to improve. its up to us to push people the extra mile and make them achieve more than they could ever dream of without you.
Like I said, these are starting points. This IS the "short tips" thread. I can explain my reasoning behind each and every single choice I make as a starting point but that defeats the purpose.
As for gear and plugins: you'd be a fool not to pay attention when Andy Sneap says "start with a 5150 and a Tubescreamer", "I think Ozone 5 limiter is the best", or "I use Autotune on vocals and Melodyne on bass". Do those recommendations really do nothing for you?
Again, starting points -not ending points.
Using the same settings? I don't use a distorted mid bass on every song. I don't apply the same compression settings on every song. I don't apply the same reverbs, EQs, widening, or limiting. Every song of mine has a different set of plugins and settings; however, there are many which I don't necessarily "fall back onto" but rather "come back to". I experiment all the time but there are indeed some tried and true plugins that I find to work best (and others may as well). My recommendations above are based on that experience.
So, I switch between the SVT and SVT4 models on the bass BUT I stick with the Ampeg SVX plugin because it just sounds better than anything else I've tried and someone else might find that useful as a "short tip". This is one of them and I'm pretty sure that I was quite clear that it was MY preference.
There are a number of things that I put in my post because they are -as general rule- followed.
High-passing the bass SHOULD happen every time. I put starting frequencies in there as a baseline (a tilde (~) indicates "approximately"). You do this so that your kick and your bass aren't interfering. Lowpassing the bass clears room in the all-important midrange. Sometimes I start at 5kHz for a more Tool-like effect; other times down to even 3kHz. Voxengo Tube is a great saturation plug-in; you can try it and realize it's not for you but knowing that a saturation plugin can be helpful is something you can check into. Compressing the individual bass track? I've never seen a single producer/mixologist/engineer/whoever recommend NOT putting compression on the bass. Not one. 4:1 is a fairly mild ratio and a good starting point for a consistent bass player (as I already said).
Tracking the bass before the guitars is the same exact point you just made: it establishes the groove of the song. Frankly, it helps in tracking the guitars to give a better feel. It can also reveal the pitfalls of your composition and/or drum track (sometimes the drummer just needs to emphasize certain beats). It is indeed a general rule to track the bass before the guitar and you have to know the rules so that when you break them it is a conscious decision.
Parallel compression WILL beef up your drums. Your decision to use it or not is obviously discretionary but the fact itself is immutable.
Really, I'm trying to figure out what else you find objectionable about my post. Categorizing as "nonsense" a number of good rules/starting points as well as some recommendations on plugins seems a bit hyperbolic and more than a little unhelpful.
I think you're missing my point. Why you do something is infinitely more important than how. The things you've said are all things I've done before but I find its was more useful and educational to understand the desired effect than just saying "cut this" and "squash that".
And sure, its nice to know what amps were used where and particularly distinctive sounding gear. If Andy has worked on something, it would be very surprising if it wasn't one of the usual suspects. Good equipment is good equipment. For years I'd always look into that stuff and its nice to know how stuff sounds. There's so many variables that I don't see the point in trying to recreate it, far better off to spend time learning to create something of equal quality.
I don't think there are any secret bits of gear or particular plugins that are MUST use. Beyond what can be done with editing I don't think there are any secret techniques either. There's tons of big names getting great work done with whatever is around and have done so with all sorts of good (and bad) gear.
Negative, Ghostrider. The pattern is full. I got your point - you just keep missing mine.
Additionally, if people want more of an understanding as to "why", they can follow another of the recommendations from my "nonsense" post and buy Ermin's Systematic Mixing guide.
Something I find helps when EQ'ng guitars. Have another radically different guitar mix placed at the end of the project. Different amps & cabs, the greater the difference the better. Jumping to that guitar mix every now and then helps 'flush' my ears of the tracks I'm EQ'ng. Simply bypassing the guitar EQ, while helping get back some perspective, doesn't do enough flushing for me. After listening to the other guitar mix for a few seconds and returning to the tracks that will be used I can hear the tone's qualities and issues instantly.
Well we're only both trying to help so I guess we should draw a line under it.
Highly disagree with this one and I'm sure you'll find most of the forum would, as well. Mix order changes for me all the time, it always depends on what the focal point of the song is (usually vocals; why mix them last?). But tracking order? Bass after guitars 99% of the time.
you can edit the fuck out of everything and still preserve the drummers style by editing everything to be tightly in the way and dynamics he would play it. that means tightening the hits to the grid, fixing bad hits and adjusting dynamcs to the places he fucks up. it takes more time doing this than what it would take just editing the way you would like.
mix as much as possible in your free time, whatever you can get your hands on for practicing. (being good requires dedication)
try experimenting with whatever you can imagine, even if you think it ain't going to work. (i found quite a few tricks with that)
edit in the grid before starting mixing. if it turns out impossible to get a tight performance don't even bother mixing.
Here's a real one:
It doesn't work as much in metal as it does in rock/punk/hardcore/whatever, but using the grid as a polite suggestion rather than a strict rule will make your life a lot easier and your mixes sound more natural.
Never mix when you are "HIGH"
ctrl + S all the time.
And why not?
cause every perfect step forward would do the opposite!!..