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It's very hard to get clear/powerful low mids in metal !

Discussion in 'Andy Sneap' started by Sly, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. Sly

    Sly Member

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    Here is something that remains a big interrogation for me : when listening to my favorite metal productions, I always notice it sounds "thinner" than my own mixes ; I mean thinner but better : the low mids are there (snare, guitars, bass...) but they never clutter the mix.
    "Professionnal mixes" tend to sound very tight and thin in a good way. Actually I think very good metal drum sounds for example have tons of high end and very "controlled" low mids to really pop so everything is clear : the low end and low mids of everything is there, but it seems to be very controlled (I particularely think about the resonant frequencies between 100 and 200 Hz).
    When I try to achieve a good mix, I always end up with too much low/low mids especially in the 60-300 Hz area. Do you notice the same thing ? I thought about this a thousand times and I found the source of the problem can be multiple :

    - Monitoring environnement ? a very good monitoring environnement means that you exactly hear what you're doing and the excess low mids frequencies

    - Lack of "ambience" in the mix (too dry) ? I think this can be linked to the low mids problem as if you create the right "ambience" around your mix (I mean the right reverbs, room mics, delays on vocals, lead guitars, drums...) everything should glue better, else it sounds flat and boring.

    - Not enough high end/air ? for example when listening to drum samples taken from great metal releases, it's incredible how the low mids are tight, but that may be because of the insane amount of high end and air. I tried to achieve that with EQ but it seems to thinner things in a bad way and completely change the "place" of my drums in the mix.

    - Lack of compression ? When I compress my drums/bass I always try to keep a bit of dynamics in there, if possible. Compression helps to tighten things so maybe that's what I'm missing. I tried to compress more but then it pops too much, so I guess it's definitely a frequency problem there. Also the release and attack times set too "quick" can be a part of the problem ?

    - Mixing ITB ? Twice in my life I mixed on a Mackie 32 channels console with a good amount of outboard processing. Strangely the low end/low mids became much more tight (I mean there but not flat sounding) and everything sounded clearer, more open and more agressive in a good way. Mixing ITB surely doesn't help in tightening things, even with high quality plugins. But Andy Sneap does it very well so...

    - Critical EQ in the low end I'm missing ? I have the feeling that the 60 to 300 Hz area is tweaked A LOT in metal. Maybe that's what I'm missing because I can't hear those frequencies in a sufficient audible way ? (I'm using Genelec monitors with a good converter, so it maybe my room...)

    - Samples on drums ? I find that when mixing drums, I generally start to mix the real tracks. Those tracks seem to sound "in the right place" much easier. When I add raw drum samples it's very difficult to get them not too fat in the mix so it sounds clear and defined and leaves place for guitars, bass and vocals. I guess that's why pro engineers have their own samples that they constantly use on their productions.
    ...

    I think there is a lot more reasons for this tightness in metal profesionnal mixes, like the mixing engineers just use their ears in a different way that I do, they understood how to make things sound thin in a good way etc.

    What do you think of all this ?
     
  2. greyskull

    greyskull Member

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    I know what you mean...
    It's all to easy to try and make everything as FAT and BIG as possible, but at the tempo that most modern metal is payed at, there just isn't the space for that.

    Listen to Andy's mixes, He NAILS the low end for metal.
    It's still present, and it's still fat, but controlled.
    All I can say is to just watch the low end. Listen to things In context, as a whole and not on there own.
     
  3. ratsapprentice

    ratsapprentice God can gtfo

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    The way of all flesh.
     
  4. Charles J

    Charles J New Metal Member

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    ^^^^ FUCK YES
     
  5. Soundlurker

    Soundlurker Member

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    Don't forget the importance of the raw tracks' quality. If for example the room used for recording has introduced a muddy/resonant sound to the instrument or cabinet then you can only try to hide it at the expense of the energy and musical information that is fighting with the mud.
     
  6. Morgan C

    Morgan C MAX LOUD PRESETS¯\(°_o)/¯

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    If you're using real drums, that won't be helping. When the drums are gated, there's still a little bit of noise (unless you completely gate it, which is quite uncommon I think..?), and lots of resonance from all the toms through the close mics. This builds up into a lot of low end 'mud' that in a rock mix is awesome and makes the kit sound real, but in metal it might not be what you're looking for. Try taking samples of your own drums and using those, rather than Slate or whatever, if you want a sound that's closer to being natural.
     
  7. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    The guitar low mids always slay me. Always. It's never easy.
     
  8. Sly

    Sly Member

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    Yes guys, I found out that a critical area is 80-200 Hz on everything, this can kill you :(
     
  9. Sly

    Sly Member

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    I think the first thing to get right is the drums. If the drums are in the right "space" I think everything should go better. It happens sometimes that I overEQ the drums and then it sound flat and boring, then I go back and try to get a more natural sound, and they are too spikey in the mix...
     
  10. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    Mixing for 14 hours straight now.. few more to go.

    Whatever issue you think you have, ive experienced it over the last week. Balancing doesnt help the stress levels.
     
  11. Deadstar

    Deadstar Member

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    you just wrote what i have in mind haha, the more i listen to my mixes with fresh ears the more i think that is some muddiness coming from guitars. I still can't get that tight/clean low end i hear from professional recordings. It would be nice to hear some opinions about "Low end handling"

    P.s. I'm about to record from scratch a full cover of July by Katatonia, it would be cool to work with multitracks from that session and use them as case study, let me know what u think (if someone can provide a good bass di, it would be even better)
     
  12. Sly

    Sly Member

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    Ahah I knew I wasn't alone of course :)
    But each mixin day is a window for improvement !
    Low end is so difficult. Low end balance = depth
     
  13. Deadstar

    Deadstar Member

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    completley agree, even if sometimes, without decent monitors and without treated room , it's a big pain in the ass:D
     
  14. vespiz

    vespiz Mixing!

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    I'm stating the obvious, but a (very) good signal chain helps so much.

    And get your room treated! :D It really is the best and cheapest way to improve your work.
     
  15. TheSoulsRemain

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    It's very difficult, but not impossible.

    When I go back home to mix, the first thing I do when I'm mixing, is to shut dow the screen. (CRT)
    It sounds better for me when they are shut down. :Smokin:

    By the way, since 2 years I 'm asking If it's not time to buy a sub.....

    C4 always help me on low mids. As I have already sais that on your previous thread about bass and kick.

    Try to use otb comp and compare your low mids I think You should ear a difference.

    On ne te vois plus sur AudioAddict ?
     
  16. Emdprodukt

    Emdprodukt Member of Dude Castle 69

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    I really start to hate lowmids/lowend. I don't seem to find the middle when balancing the lowmids.
     
  17. Emdprodukt

    Emdprodukt Member of Dude Castle 69

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    mixing for 14 hours? how can you still judge your own work?
     
  18. KBMoser

    KBMoser Audiophile

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    well for metal mixes, i like my kick dominant around 40-50 hz. for bass i like it between 70-100 hz. for guitars i love 100hz - 200 hz, but tight, not bouncing all over the place on certain notes, if you experience this then your tone is fail, use a pre eq or ts or something similar. when i start mixing i cut annoying frequencies, such as the ringing in a snare drum, or grit in a bass drum, 2-3k on guitars et cetera.


    i believe for metal/rock mixes that the kick should be dominant in the sub. cuz if you throw on a metal cd you want to hear the damn kick. i dont want to half-way feel it and just get an ear-full of constant annoying bass. i like the thump, so this is why 40-50hz for me. that 70-100 for bass is for the thickness of your lowend. guitars just sound best with that 100 hz -200hz beef.

    I shelve my kick around 300 hz and cut any where from 3-10 db, i stop cutting when i can barely hear that chunk is still there just turned down becuase i think its important to have a balance between a kick and stare, if you took all of that out you wouldnt have a balance imo. now this creates lost of room but i can still hear this region as i leave enough to interact with my mix. then i beef up the subs on the kick. i give it enough for a nice solid sound.

    i follow the same guide lines for my bass as i have for my kick except opposite. i shelve 60hz down and boost 70-100hz but only enough to have a good relationship with the rest of the mix. once i have applied compression i see how the kick and bass sit, and adjust if i need to. from here i bring in the guitars to an appropriate volume. give the whole song a listen and compare my foundation to a pro mix.

    from here i generally am in a good ballpark.

    something i notice i have to do alot is cut a lot of 300 hz on guitar. it may be my guitar or my room or whatever, but i hate that area on guitars it just dominates the low mids and masks my real tone. on my last mix i made one eq adjustment on guitars, i cut 300 hz but about 6-7db.

    to make room for low/ low-mid instruments i high pass overheads at anywhere from 500 hz to 1500 k, high pass rooms at 200 hz, high pass my kick and bass at 30hz, highpass my stare and guitars at 90 hz. i also like a small hump of thump around 180 hz on my snares, 2-3db and 5-6 db around 230 hz - 280 hz just enough to interact with the rest of the bass in the mix.

    the most important part of finding a balance, not in just the low end but the whole mix is deciding how little or how much you can get away with. try not to cut a frequency just because it sounds bad solod. justify your actions by creating just enough space and letting instruments dominate a specific band of frequencies.
     
  19. Megin

    Megin Member

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    True. And if you try to make everything fat, nothing will sound fat. That's like putting a cake on a cake. Something can only sound fat if something else is thinner in the mix. e.g. make the kick thin and the snare can sound fat-huge.
     
  20. Megin

    Megin Member

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    You can get away with a less good mixed bass, guitars etc. and still be at least a okey mix. But if the drums sounds bad everything else will sound bad.
     

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