Mix Question

Recording engineering discussions and questions. Also a great place to discuss software, plugins, and computer based recording/arranging.
rparker
Musically Insane
Posts: 5495
Joined: December 18th, 2003, 6:12 pm
Location: Sunny North Carolina
Contact:

Mix Question

Post by rparker » July 27th, 2009, 7:11 am

I've recorded a couple of Guitar Pro songs' rhythm sections. Alone, they don't sound too shabby. When I play over them with guitar, the end result sounds pretty bad. Doing some level adjusting makes it better. I was wondering if shifting some of the guitar towards the right and the rhythm section to the left is something that I should be doing in addition to adjusting the sound outputs. (Is this called "panning"?)
Roy

"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin

jwmartin
Guitarnoise Denizen
Posts: 1440
Joined: November 10th, 2006, 12:11 pm
Location: Nashville, TN
Contact:

Re: Mix Question

Post by jwmartin » July 28th, 2009, 3:16 am

You could definitely give it a shot. My panning depends on how many instruments I plan on having. If it's just 1 guitar/bass/drums, I'll usually place the drums in the center and then pan the bass about 30% to one side and guitar the same to the other. For the stuff I'm doing w/ my band (2 guitars), I'm placing the guitars one left and one right, w/ the drums center and the bass almost center. I'd say the "standard" is to keep the drums centered, but rules were meant to be broken. Listen to Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man" for a great example of drums being panned to one side. I think everything in that song is hard panned to one side or the other.

rparker
Musically Insane
Posts: 5495
Joined: December 18th, 2003, 6:12 pm
Location: Sunny North Carolina
Contact:

Re: Mix Question

Post by rparker » July 28th, 2009, 4:33 am

Thanks JW! I'll give that a whirl today. I did a 4 track recording yesterday and was told that the the lead/fill track was way too loud. Lowered it quite a bit. I'll play with some panning later on today.
Roy

"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin

dogbite
Musically Insane
Posts: 6354
Joined: July 14th, 2005, 8:06 am
Location: Coulee country, WI

Re: Mix Question

Post by dogbite » July 28th, 2009, 7:44 am

Roy, the trick is having a space left to right and forward to back for all the instruments; voice included.
I used to go wild, panning hard left and hard right and using the spac4es between. the mix got very confusing.
the real trick, I am learning, is isolating the frequencies of each instrument. then , they stand out apart for one another.

the level of your recording, you should simply try panning a bit left and abit right. the volume of each part also can be adjusted.
try all kinds of things.
getting the guitar played right is an art.
getting the guitar on a track is an art.
getting all the tracks to work together is an art.

dang, that's alot of art.

rparker
Musically Insane
Posts: 5495
Joined: December 18th, 2003, 6:12 pm
Location: Sunny North Carolina
Contact:

Re: Mix Question

Post by rparker » July 28th, 2009, 9:54 am

Thanks for the tips, dogbite. (and thanks again, JW)

I just spent some time and went back to my recordings and made some changes based on yours and JW's posts. What an amazing difference. I recorded 4 or 5 things last week and fiddled with all of them. No question, doing the things you guys suggested as well as doing some experimenting has made everything sound much better. Too much in one "space" sounds like clutter.

Also, I'm certain that I will export more bass and drum tracks from GP5 just to mess with, but never on the same track. I'll do seperate exports from now on. One of the songs, Dead Flowers of course, was just begging to have a bit more bass and a bit less drum.

"forward to back"? Is that volume?
Roy

"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin

dogbite
Musically Insane
Posts: 6354
Joined: July 14th, 2005, 8:06 am
Location: Coulee country, WI

Re: Mix Question

Post by dogbite » July 28th, 2009, 12:04 pm

rparker wrote: "forward to back"? Is that volume?
yep. as best I understand it.

jwmartin
Guitarnoise Denizen
Posts: 1440
Joined: November 10th, 2006, 12:11 pm
Location: Nashville, TN
Contact:

Re: Mix Question

Post by jwmartin » July 28th, 2009, 2:06 pm

Yep, you can control forward/back w/ volume to a degree. If you want to get fancy and make it really sound more or less distance, you can add light delays or compression to the "further away" instruments. Just a millisecond or 2 on the delay, though. Each millisecond of delay "moves" it 1.07 feet away.

Like dog said, EQing is where you really get instrument separation. Boosting particular frequencies on one instrument and cutting the same frequency on others carves out a space for the boosted one. But that's a whole 'nother thread (or book).

I'm "engineering/producing" my band's EP right now. In fact, the guitarists are coming over tonight to record a couple more songs. Mixing is like black magic. Most advice you can find simply says "listen and do whatever sounds best." It's like telling someone the best way to learn guitar is to just randomly place their fingers on the fretboard until it sounds right. But, it is the truth. There is no secret formula to EQing a guitar track. There are so many variables that make up the sound: guitar, amp, playing style, pick, mic, etc. It's a lot of fun though!

I listened to your cover of Dead Flowers and you did a good job. I'll let you in on a little secret, there's a project on my hard drive of me trying to do it acoustically. It won't ever be heard by anyone but me! I thought I could sing it, but I couldn't. One thing I noticed that might help, if you could lower the volume of the high-hat on the drum track. I think you got the beat right, but that high hat is a lot lower on the original and it makes it feel rushed.

rparker
Musically Insane
Posts: 5495
Joined: December 18th, 2003, 6:12 pm
Location: Sunny North Carolina
Contact:

Re: Mix Question

Post by rparker » July 29th, 2009, 6:52 am

Yup, just scratching the surface for sure. I'll stick to the basics for now, but I now understand why some recording software is loaded with functionality. Something I'll develop an ear for as time goes on.
Roy

"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin

rparker
Musically Insane
Posts: 5495
Joined: December 18th, 2003, 6:12 pm
Location: Sunny North Carolina
Contact:

Re: Mix Question

Post by rparker » July 30th, 2009, 9:10 pm

Well, I didn't do a whole lot today. Storms all in the area. My head could only take one shot at the vocals. Paid the price for a few hours. D'oh!

I did three tracks from GP yesterday (piano, drums and bass). I did probably an hour worth of takes today for the rhythm guitar track. That's where I learned something. The piano and guitar tracks fought each other for space. I ended up with one panned left 50% and one panned right 50%. So, do you ever run out of space?

I've going to add a lead track tomorrow for the brief intro and the instrumental/solo that's right before the final chorus. The final track will be the fills. Only real reason for splitting those up is so that I can learn some more about fitting tracks into the limited space. I'll even to some small fills in between my lead phrasing. That ought to make things interesting, mixing wise at least.
Roy

"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin

kent_eh
Guitarnoise Denizen
Posts: 1884
Joined: February 20th, 2006, 6:39 pm
Location: Winnipeg

Re: Mix Question

Post by kent_eh » August 2nd, 2009, 5:07 pm

rparker wrote:Also, I'm certain that I will export more bass and drum tracks from GP5 just to mess with, but never on the same track. I'll do seperate exports from now on.
If you pan one hard left, and the other hard right in GP5 before you export, you can split the stereo channels into separate tracks in Audacity.
Saves having to re-align the tracks in time.
I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep

rparker
Musically Insane
Posts: 5495
Joined: December 18th, 2003, 6:12 pm
Location: Sunny North Carolina
Contact:

Re: Mix Question

Post by rparker » August 2nd, 2009, 11:14 pm

kent_eh wrote:
rparker wrote:Also, I'm certain that I will export more bass and drum tracks from GP5 just to mess with, but never on the same track. I'll do seperate exports from now on.
If you pan one hard left, and the other hard right in GP5 before you export, you can split the stereo channels into separate tracks in Audacity.
Saves having to re-align the tracks in time.
Kewl! Thanks, I'll try that. 8)
Roy

"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin

Chris C
Guitarnoise Addict
Posts: 3528
Joined: July 30th, 2005, 5:33 pm
Location: West Australia
Contact:

Re: Mix Question

Post by Chris C » August 7th, 2009, 7:46 pm

Hi Roy,

I'm just dipping my toes into this too and, as the others have pointed out above there's a fair few things to take into consideration when it comes to providing the required 'space' for everybody.

As far as I can see, one of the biggest factors is plain old 'arrangement' - i.e. simply organising the music so that everybody isn't blasting away at the same time. I noticed that my first attempts really had no 'arrangement' at all - just a drum track banging away at the same level throughout, bass and rhythm doing much the same, etc. And when I watched a live local band contest the kids nearly all had the same fault - everybody whanging away at the same time with nobody leaving any space for anybody else. Result - lots of overcrowded and muddled noise...

It's instructive to listen to a CD of somebody with an older voice, that doesn't have the power or range that it once had, and hear how the music seems to magically open up whenever they sing. The ear tricks you into believing that the band is still blazing away, but in fact they're not. Some instruments only appear quite sparingly throughout the track and share frequencies and spacing quite subtly, some stay but pull right down both in volume and musical complexity once the all important vocalist starts warbling, and so on. I feel like every time get near to the bottom of one can of worms then music delivers another carton of cans... Good job I like worm wrangling...:mrgreen:

Cheers,

Chris

Scrybe
Guitarnoise Addict
Posts: 2259
Joined: October 14th, 2007, 5:03 pm
Location: Liverpool, England

Re: Mix Question

Post by Scrybe » August 9th, 2009, 4:13 pm

Can I just say yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes to Chris's post above please.

This tends to be a problem more among would be producers who haven't studied an instrument well before sitting down to record, but having a good arrangement is the key to having a good finished product. If it isn't there to start with, it wont be there at the end. If there's one thing I appreciate most from my music lessons in school, ti's the hours spent examining classical scores. It got drilled into there and then that any good tune has space between the notes, and doesn't just cram every instrument into one small range. Even now, when I sit down to write or to record, I have a mental image of a score with separate staves for different instruments and a range different clefs on that score. I'm thinking about how the musical space is (going to be) occupied while I'm writing, so there's less to do once it has been recorded.

This cannot be stressed highly enough - if the final mix sounds bad, it is worth going back to the notes themselves and looking for problems there.

(Not directed at Roy per se, but a general observation/polemic I felt worth adding to this thread)
Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe

rparker
Musically Insane
Posts: 5495
Joined: December 18th, 2003, 6:12 pm
Location: Sunny North Carolina
Contact:

Re: Mix Question

Post by rparker » August 12th, 2009, 9:13 am

Everyone, thanks again for the wealth of knowledge, tips, advice and insight not to mention the time taken to write all these posts.

I took on a pretty good challenge for myself the past couple of days. U2's song, One. Guitar Pro bass and drums, my rhythm, singing and lead fills. The song progressively adds instruments making the timing a key issue, both starting the rhythm and having the rhythm dead-on spot when the bass kicks in a minute later. I did miss the timing a slight bit, like about 1/10th of a second off on the intro, but got it back on track by the third bar. The guitar starts the song off, so no cue but a visual seeing the line on the track hit about the spot a second before the drum waves show up. I will say, though, that I NAILED the rest of the song's timing perfectly including the bass a minute later.

I followed it up with some stellar deep octave vocals that has no similarities to Bono what-so-ever. Oh well. We can't all sing like him. Still, not too shabby. I finished things off with a fill track that didn't turn out too badly.

Mixing and panning was a breeze. I was feeling pretty good about myself. I'd say the three major blemishes on the song were the slight timing issue at the beginning that I'm not quite sure if anyone would notice unless they really knew the song, some very slight clipping on the rhythm guitar that was nearly un-noticable and the ad-lib vocals were weak. I was going to re-do the first few bars of the rhythm and the ad-lib vocals at the end before introducing it to the world. I decided to make an MP3 at that point pretty much just for kicks.

Then I learned something else. What one hears in Audacity is NOT what one hears when exporting to MP3. First, my fills were much louder than I had settled on. Second, and this one was a doozy, any slight bit of clipping I heard was magnified 100X when turned into an MP3. It was as close as I come to getting ticked off with this stuff. Went outside for a smoke. Now I need to do the whole rhythm guitar over again. I like playing guitar and all, but I conquered a timing issue on my very first take that got past the first few intro bars. Ugh! I don't know if it's Audacity or the general MP3 platform, but it bit me good.

Oh well. Back to it, I guess.

Oh, I did make another project out of Dead Flowers. I've got all the tracks done and even added the piano track from Guitar Pro. Six tracks altogether. Been done since maybe Thursday or Friday. I go back to it every day and try to make the mix sound decent. My latest effort this morning was to bring all the pannng in closer together. Seems like if you pan too much that sometimes things don't even sound like they're supposed to be together.

Well, thanks for reading this if you got this far without wanting to doze off. :)
Roy

"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin

User avatar
Laz
Guitarnoise Addict
Posts: 2576
Joined: June 15th, 2002, 3:16 pm
Location: West Chester PA
Contact:

Re: Mix Question

Post by Laz » August 12th, 2009, 11:28 am

Set up a "click track" that runs a few bars before the intro. You'll remove it from the mix, but that way the timing is right when the drums come in.

Digital processing hates clipping. I don't know the best combination of giving up overhead, using compressors, and other processing magic, but clipping is hard to manage in the digital world.

Oh - and great job!!! It takes a lot of work and frustration.

Post Reply