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Author Topic: IMP7 discussion.  (Read 20514 times)

rankus

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Re: IMP7 discussion.
« Reply #60 on: September 20, 2006, 06:35:12 pm »

I for one would like J's thoughts on each of the mixes.... I feel that everyone that expects a critique should pay for that service by contributing their own.... that is what we are all here for... I personally didn't have time to write my critiques, but I made time, because I would feel like I had not equally contributed to the process otherwise. My comments are always to pick the point in the mix that needs the most attention, the part that sticks out as it were...  in most cases I stick to technical comments.

Although due to J's family situation (new baby) I did not expect (nor do I) that he would have time to comment on every mix (although it would be cool).

J.  Are we not supposed to critique the tecnical elements of the mixes?  I am confused... I thought this was the intention. The IMP's need more "guidelines", if you want them to remain within certain boundaries we need to know where those boundaries are.

PS: My studio RTA's out relatively flat, But due to time constraints I must listen to  mixes here at home. (A real world environment I would argue...and one in which I have listened to hundreds of commercial releases)  

I would also note that all of us being Indie, in one way or another, we cannot afford designed-tuned rooms for listening to IMP in. If we had such rooms we would likely not be here in an Indie forum... Just doing the best we can with what we have... "Indie" IMO.
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spoon

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Re: IMP7 discussion.
« Reply #61 on: September 20, 2006, 06:35:43 pm »

j.hall wrote on Wed, 20 September 2006 16:22


this is supposed to be a real world situation where you pretend there is a client you'll have to answer to, while still expressing yourself.

here is the critique.

no one has done a mix that makes me want to keep listening to the song.  your job as a mixer is to sell the song.  no matter how amazing the song is, you can always kill it.  you have to make people want to listen.  find the lelements that truly speak to a listener and exploit them.


I took it abit differently.  Since we could not contact the writers, I took the position that this was my song.  So how would I want it mixed.

I disagree that the mixer's job is to sell the song.  I feel the mixer's job is to deliver what the artist(s) wants to hear.  The artist's vision (of the song).  That may or may not "sell the song".

I would be great if it did, BUT I have never heard a mix KILL a song (extreme examples of amatueur mixing aside.)
If a song is good (aka you like it) then you like it.  Would you like this or that different, sure but you either like it or not.
IMHO.

chrisj wrote on Wed, 20 September 2006 17:05


I love it as much as I hate it when I get just slammed with criticism in these things, but it has to be detailed, it has to be a conversation. That's why I joked about 'nice crit', because saying either 'nice this' or 'horrible that' is nearly useless- you have to describe what is happening that you like or don't like, always within the context of your own limited understanding.

I'm really looking forward to hearing your criticisms but only if they aren't 'nice/sucks'. It sounds like you can bring a different level to the crit table. Please do. I had a guy in a CaPE mastering wanting more 'wind and sea', or was it 'beach and tides'? I'd love to hear someone get funky like that with the IMP entries.

I'll do my best- struggling to find time to listen to all the entries. I'm up to DMXR100, alphabetically.


That is the issue.  TIME.  I would love to provide details but there are 24 some odd entries.  And I have a full-time job.
All I can provide are observations, and whether I liked something or not.

Such is the nature of the beast.

Regardless, I still think this is educational.  Both in mixing other's material AND the discussions that ensue.

Best,
David
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chris carter

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Re: IMP7 discussion.
« Reply #62 on: September 20, 2006, 06:41:52 pm »

j.hall wrote on Wed, 20 September 2006 14:22


this is supposed to be a real world situation where you pretend there is a client you'll have to answer to, while still expressing yourself.

here is the critique.

no one has done a mix that makes me want to keep listening to the song.  your job as a mixer is to sell the song.  no matter how amazing the song is, you can always kill it.  you have to make people want to listen.  find the lelements that truly speak to a listener and exploit them.

......

all i see is engineers, engineering, for other engineers, to geek out about engineering.


I think the thing about making a record people want to keep listening to is important.  But in the context of the IMP, I think some things make it harder than it should be.  

1) Not being able to talk to the artist or producer makes it really hard to be on the same page with what they are going for (as evidenced by the extreme contrasting mixes presented).  I think there has to be some kind of understanding there.  

2) Not hearing anything else from the artist also makes it hard to get the right vibe for the record.

3) The nature of this thing requires that we be hypothetically hired for the gig.  The reality is different mix folks have different sounds and an artist/label/whoever is going to try and find a good match.  Many of us probably are not a good match.

I think those things are all important, especially #3 when you consider the target consumer market.  I sent my mix to a handfull of friends (not saying that I mixed it!).  For some of them it just wasn't their style so they said stuff like, "technically it sounds great, but it's not my vibe".  But for the handfull of people who DO like that kind of stuff I actually had two people ask who the artist was so they could track them down.  My point is only that when you know what kind of consumer the artist/label is going for, it helps to deliver the right mix.  I guess I'm just saying you have to know what the folks who chose you to mix their song are going for, or that they picked you because you, by default, mix exactly the way they hear their record alread so you don't have to ask.

Insofar as my participation is concerned... I didn't do it so much for general feedback list with two sentences thing.  I did it so that I could hear how other people might approach the same song.  And I might (and did) hear some cool things I didn't think of.  And the opportunity to ask that individual what exactly they did or find something I hate about my mix, but I like about theirs, and be able to get _specific_ help.  Or just see a different thought process being used and being able to get more info about it so I have more ways to think about mixing in general.  Overall, I think this is a great experience for me, but it requires taking it for what it is.

I will say that it is MOST helpful to hear someone's mix in context with what they say they were trying to go for.  And to that end, I'd like to ask these individuals what their GENERAL PARADIGM in approaching the song was:

a) J. Hall.  (bonus points if you talk about how you chose to replace the drum sounds and how you chose what to replace them with).

b) Dikledoux.  Although not particularly thrilled a couple decisions like the 2nd verse piano, this mix was probably the most enjoyable to listen to for me.  And specifically, I personally was fighting like mad with those strings and I noticed you took an extreme approach with the long delay so bonus point if you fill me in on your thought process on that.

I probably have more questions to ask, but it's hard to wade through all the mixes...
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NelsonL

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Re: IMP7 discussion.
« Reply #63 on: September 20, 2006, 06:44:42 pm »

iCombs wrote on Wed, 20 September 2006 15:04

I also think, if I might piggyback on j.'s comments, that there's not a whole lot of discussion regarding WHAT about the song made you make the mix decisions you did.  Was the bassline so irresistably funky that it had to get pushed up?  Was there some crazy hi-hat pattern that glued the drumkit to the rest of the song?  I know that, for me, the macrodynamics of this song were what interested me.  There are 3 or 4 distinct dynamic levels if you look at it in terms of verses, choruses, breakdown, and the last chorus (which was like a regular chorus on steroids in my head).  I wanted to make those levels very distinct and apparent.  The sheer amount of instrumentation in the chorus made the "big" thing really easy to do in terms of deciding HOW I wanted to do it...all I had to do was find a spot in that wall of stuff for each instrument.

(if I'm reading into j.'s comments correctly...this would be ther place where you'd normally insert technical discussion as it pertains to HOW you did what you did)

also, and I mean this with no offense to anyone, but I heard a lot of mixes that had TONS of tracks stripped out.  I'm not any kind of genious, but I think that for the most part, if they sent it to mix, they want it in the mix.  Granted, when stuff gets doubled and tripled and stacked, it can make for a muddy mess where one or two tracks would have done just fine, but I heard a few mixes (need to organize all the files I dl'ed and see whose is whose) where there was no accordion.  There were plenty of mixes where the breakdown was cut.  That's a pretty ballsy call for a mix engineer to make without at the very least the producer's involvement, IMO.  Seems like something that would be a no-no in a professional environment without the consent of the artist.


I probably left out the most stuff-- certainly no offense taken here.

To be honest I really don't think the majority of the midi tracks have any place on this song. They remind me of my own failed overdub experiemnts in this age of DAWS and nearly unlimited tracks.

I like the organ and piano though, they add something without having an artificial quality that distracts from the sincerity of the song. But that's really just taste-- I realize that.

Sometimes strong opinions will put you over the top with a client, other times they'll completely torpedo you. But I do think it's a valid choice to mute all those tracks-- I think they undermine a very heartfelt and organic performance, click track be damned.

If this were the real world I would try to broach the subject gently before delivering the mix.

But since IMP is done in a vacuum I just go with my gut for better or worse.

If I were working with absolutely no client contact, and there was real income at stake then you're right--I might not be so brash. But I frankly don't see much reason to soften my opinions when it's just an exercise-- I'd rather put my best foot forward.
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scott volthause

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Re: IMP7 discussion.
« Reply #64 on: September 20, 2006, 07:04:25 pm »

I had a 3 hour time window to do this thing front to back, and I see (hear) now that I missed a few things entirely... like the f'kin accordion and bells. Geez. They aren't even in my folder. Although they are in the .rar file. I'm not sure how I lost them.

My opinion on the critique of everyone's mixes, it seems to me like a waste of time. Sorry, but just to listen to everyone's stuff is enjoyable. I see a lot of different approaches. I think the only time I would comment (and I may yet) is when I hear something that isn't a matter of personal taste i.e., something went wrong. Like, the vocals are buried to the point that I can't understand or hear them. Everything else just seems like ego stroking. If you want to argue the semantics of me or anyone compressing the snot out of the mix, snare, guitars, whatever, I'd happily engage in a discourse over PM about it, but it's a matter of taste and/or style and a lot of people here aren't ever going to see eye to eye on it.

Now, my opinion on taking these songs and mixing them, is that, in this particular case (personally speaking) it didn't seem like much of the ancillary parts were 'produced'. In other words, the chorus starts up and everything hits you at once. I didn't think that was a good way to build a chorus, and to build tension. Perhaps that was bad... very, very bad.

I'll be standing in the corner holding the dictionaries above my head.
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ATOR

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Re: IMP7 discussion.
« Reply #65 on: September 20, 2006, 07:25:43 pm »

To me the commenting part of the IMP is of minor importance. What makes IMPing great is to be able to listen to other guys doing their thing with the same raw material. A mix says more than a thousand words comment.

I pick out the mixes or ideas I hear that captivate me most and figure out what it is I like in them. It usually starts with a gut feeling but with studying I try to bring it down to cold hard technical facts. This way I can improve my own mix and learn to do better. Maybe one of the mixes would make me jump out of my chair and bang my head but if I can't translate this to a technical why, I'll never be able to reproduce it.

My comments are mainly technical but do have an emotional basis. 'I can't connect to the singer' could translate in a "too much reverb on leadvocal" comment and 'The drums don't make me move' could end up as "too much compression on the drums."


When I comment a mix there's a thin line between something that's wrong and something that I don't like. I'm not a big fan of reverb and compression so I'll comment on that if it's used too much for my taste. I do like to hear peoples personal opinions of what they do and don't like about my mix, maybe I should say I especially like to hear 'taste' opinions. Those are the ones that will make me look outside my box and try new things.

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chrisj

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Re: IMP7 discussion.
« Reply #66 on: September 20, 2006, 07:35:34 pm »

Chris's Last Mad Scramble- Electric guitars are nice Very Happy big crunching drums. Sometimes the attack of that is too harsh to be natural. The acoustic guitars are getting lumpy in the low mids, which I'm not pleased with. Also, when the pitch was changed, the automation DID NOT FOLLOW ARGH! as it was TIME based and not sample based. OY! Well, something to remember for the next time. The entire outro is mis-timed automation and was supposed to be happening over the last chorus Very Happy glad people enjoyed it...

ATOR- Bit of autotune artifacts. I like the synth kick feel. Arrangement is trimmed to tighten it- I can see doing that. I'm liking the swing and bounce of this one. All the sounds sound kinda small though- this feels like one of the 'hey, no EQ needed! entries. I differ Wink also, I'd swear that some of those things like pizzicato and banjo are like Quicktime Musical Instruments or something, and I can't see putting that much weight on them unprocessed. Those sounds are very dead and dull. Lots of re-arranging. Reminds me of the mastering problem- do you change the mix? In this case it is, do you totally ignore what came out of the tracking? You did. I'm not convinced you were right, but it's a pretty persuasive attempt. It needed to be better, not simply different. It's maybe a _bit_ better but should have been way better to justify the big song structure changes. It's not worse, that's for sure.

Calvin- I'm going to cool off the superhot ones until they don't hurt Very Happy wow, that's a really resonant bass. I'm hearing the screaming BGVs this time. Much less of a groove because the kik is clicking too much and the snare is too hot and the hat isn't obvious. In fact the overheads and the sustaining cymbals are missing. Banjo sounds more convincing this time. Aren't the guitars intended to be stereo? Fade to avoid the funny ending. This one feels like it's trying to be really pro, but is a bit stiff.

cerberus- Almost seems like a hint of telephone effect on the lead vocal, which seems a bit small. I'm hearing a lot more Hammond this time and I'm getting a good sense of that grinding shimmering quality. There are the pizzicatos (which I sorta hated) and they feel sort of plausible, which is a nice trick. I almost hear a steel drum? This is a Jeff mix, so not even God knows what's happening in there, you just have to register the feelings without trying to understand. The electric guitars feel like they're gating on and off. The banjo is _quite_ good, feels convincing. I'd find the song more impressive if the lead vocal felt like it was the most important bit- it wants more presence and star-quality and whatever it has isn't adding presence or making it seize your attention.

Chris Carter- Ow. (turns down) (yes, it's still playing louder than the others) Dude, when everything kicks in you can't hear anything. I'd better analyze that because it's masking problems- it's not just the limiting. If mine was slammed like that, everything would still poke out. Here's what's happening- a bunch of drum reverb, verb on the pizzicato, verb on a lot of things and it's not super-great verb either. The basses are very resonant and they eat up their frequencies completely. The guitar hooks are blowing through the limiting and they're not that important. The balance is probably best in the electric rhythm guitar section before the mandolins return. The electric drums are not good- dull and weird- pizzicato, also dull and getting in the way- some of these things are contributing to the big logjam of the extreme limiting. I don't mean to be a dick more than necessary but someone should say more than 'oh limiting, sounds terrible'. There are reasons why this smash level isn't working and if you didn't have the limiter, the balance problems would be a lot more obvious. I would really recommend working without a limiter and making things balance with level and EQ, it just doesn't feel as if that is together.

Dikledoux- Hey, nice organic feel. I'm liking the kick and snare, nice and beefy. I hear some autotune artifacts on the vox, I think. The echo thing is a neat thing to do with the pizzicatos, and you're getting use out of the piano. It feels very rootsy. Actually it feels very happy and bouncy. The guitar parts are real heavy though. Electric guitars are a little boxy. This is a likeable version. Sort of guy-next-door version.

DMXR100- Feels clean. I like the swing of the kick drum. When it gets bigger it sort of squelches outward into reverby accordion over on the side, and that seems awful weird. Switching back out of it is cool though. The cymbals are sort of glittery and not part of the song, and there's a real tendency to have stuff carrying this weird mid-low blur, like the guitars. Everything goes 'whummmm' sometimes, with cymbal tinsel on top. The sparser bits worked better.

iCombs- This really feels like an 'everything' mix. I'm liking the drum sounds, though something is lacking as far as cohesiveness- the mix has plenty of separation but I'm looking for the merging of it all and it's hard to find- there's always something sticking out saying 'Hi! I have lots of separation!' like the kick or the banjo. Feels like tracking.

JHall- "Nice mix with too much compression!" Wink Seriously, what's coming out for me isn't so much the compression, it's the struggle making the lead vocal be the most important thing. The drums really step on it for the sparser bits, not so much in choruses. It's not that they are much louder, they're just bigger and more compelling. When all those BGVs come in, it fixes it because they are very demanding of attention. I still don't think that guitar hook is worth the attention paid it, and I'm surprised the pizzicato riff stayed- some people really liked it, me not so much because it has nothing to do with the flow of the song unlike the guitar hook. The general feeling I had from the mix was drums, band, gang chorus vocals, lead vocals, wacky overdubs in that order. All good except that lead vox has got to seem more important than that. I probably should have cranked it harder myself.

Mario I.- Damn is this cranking. I like the feel of the drums. Actually I'm liking this quite a bit though I think the drums are simply too hot relative to the lead vocal. One thing about it is I'm not getting badgered about with overdubs- it's like 'banging rock background, lead vocalist who's not really turned up enough'. Don't think the distorted guitars came out all that great, it's the sparser bits that are working for me, and I want the lead vocal to have as much presence as the rest of the band.

Maxim- Relaxed. Everything is really, really subdued, with a total jukebox bass throbbing away, but the great thing is for this one, the lead voice is the most important thing. It stands out very clearly against everything else, and it feels like you're supposed to be paying attention to it. That's good because if you were supposed to be digging on the glockenspiel and hi-hat mic this would suck Very Happy if _everything_ got a little more interesting it would help this, but don't lose the priority list here. And I like the jukebox bass, it's fun to me Smile

Nizzle- Another lead voice that means it- loses a bit of focus on the chorus. Some arrangement changes. Some jarring details like a kickdrum that goes POK Very Happy (stop where you are, or we'll turn on the kickdrum that goes POK!) The feel is of stuff punching out in a gutsy way, thank God that includes the vocals or it would be pretty silly. I'm liking the banjo treatment, it does give things a rootsy feel. Bizarre end.

Rankus- Spacious, but with solidness to it. I'm hearing the voices on top of everything, but maybe a little subdued. Better in the sparse bits. There's a quality here where the wacky overdubs aren't too irritating, and things are built out of stuff like drums and banjos which feels right for the song. The distorted stuff also feels right but it feels completely muffled- shouldn't everything be blowing past the vocals at that point so they're shouting to be heard? It's a contrast change after all. Much too similar to the banjo sections in character.

Rattleyour- Natural-feeling. Wow, this version really likes the vocals, even to the point where I wonder how the backing instruments are doing. I really really don't feel that guitar hook rates that much attention Very Happy wow, that was loud. This feels like it has its priorities straight but steps on the unimportant stuff too hard. And come on, glockenspiels more important than the stereo guitars? But the vocals are really big- I would just want the lead vox to be bigger than those backing vox, because I don't like them as much.

Shakes The Clown- We're trying to clean up the pitch I see. Here's another big trashy room-snare, that's what I did too. The swing of the track seems sort of tentative, it's not always real clear. That said, I like the way things balance amongst each other, good stuff with the acoustic guitars and with the entry of the hammond being highlighted. Stuff is all at the proper size, it would appear- this is good, I _really_ like having the dirt guitars big and the glockenspiels/mandolins clear but little.

soliphant- Another one that's trying to punch the beat up a lot. Very hard banging feel with the kick and the snare, sort of punky. Not a lot of other stuff going on to add lushness to it. I'm liking the way the Hammond swells and does volume surges, and this is sure propulsive, it's just lacking any relaxedness. The double espresso mix? As expected, it rocks for the dirt-guitar section.

spoon- Drum treatments, huh? Against a good strong lead vocal which feels like the focal point. More drum treatments. Then woohoo, more drum treatments! It feels sort of experimental- if the voice wasn't consistent and upfront this wouldn't really work. It always sounds like the only thing we care about is the vocals and the snare.

starscream2010- Well, this is polite. Nice and clear and very produced, in particular I'm hearing the bass working with the drums in a peculiar way that must have been hell to create. Rather than jukebox bass it's like big bouncing balloons bass Very Happy the whole thing is bouncy as hell, in fact, the bounciness is more obvious than the words of the song. Everything sounds very nice. Definitive 'nice', all the details are sculpted artfully. It's the way they combine that gives that super-bouncy feel.

Thierry- Loud enough to turn down (still louder than the others, mind you). Feels sort of banging and smashing. I'm not getting that much sense of the vocals- more like I'm getting a sense of 'yay, what a cool drum reverb!'. I shouldn't exaggerate, the vocals do have a degree of emphasis, but they are definitely not coming off as a focal point, they're 'just one of the guys' and other 'guys' like the snare-verb are quite a bit more attention-getting. Portrait of a mix detail that is gorgeous, compelling and wrong Smile also, the bass seems to be grunging out at times.

TomC- Why is the vocalist in a shower stall? Very Happy This one isn't really making it, why? Partly the vocal, but partly because things aren't really holding together rhythmically. Isn't this the one where tracks were getting delayed in undesirable ways? Looks like that's a problem that needs to be fixed. Apart from that, the tone-shaping could be more colorful and some things like gates on the guitars kind of stick out. I'm sorry I couldn't find more things to like but the timing stuff really hurts, can't get past it.

UnderTow- Sparkly! Stuff has loads of glitter all over it. The vocal reverb is more important than the vocalist is- whoa, questionable. I hear a banjo sticking out but it's sticking out in the low-mids- huh? Things that are supposed to be sparkly sound lovely, though, like the hihat and acoustic guitars. Also, there's a nice punch to the kick/bass which I truly like- has a nice articulation. Where'd ya get the 'zwwwwweeeep!' track? I assume not an overdub. Lotsa reverb tricks. In fact, "stupid verb tricks" Very Happy fun sounding but they have nothing to do with the song. And I'd swear that zwwweeeep was an overdub except it could be automated. ...HA! Funniest ending!

Urick- Boy, that's a weird vocal quality. It is produced as hell, though- it does make you hear the vocal on top of everything else. Vocalist's mix, everything else is just killed, except the inevitable snare. Sounds autotuned, but not enough to be sweet. Also, we have some excess sparkly here too. And re-arranging which isn't significantly better than the tracking arrangement. Strong in banjo but it sounds sort of outer-spacey techno-ey, perhaps because of the sparkle.

VKorehov- This feels more earnest because of the way the voice sounds and the way the backing tracks are put together. Something about the boxy sound, whumphing drums and hissing cymbals doesn't totally sell me, though. I do like the way the voice sits on top of everything and sounds like a human being with feelings, though- I _really_ like that part and it forgives many things for me. The balance of the banjo is good too- seems like it's good to have that part clear. The dirt guitar section doesn't work very well, possibly because of the bass. Where the HELL did that bass come from? I have a feeling it might be an overdub because of how totally unfamiliar it is. If so, bzzzt outta the pool! Laughing

volthause- A heavy music guy! I seriously love the feel of these drums. Only thing I'm missing is a bit more crack on the snare, except it's already there, just DEEP. Vocals have some obvious tuning-ness and sit on top of things cleanly. Playing games with reverbs I see, but in this case it's in the background, it's not obnoxious at all. Really deep powerful guitars for the dirt guitars, but I want a lot more snarl out of them for that part. This is almost a dub mix in that everything comes off a solid bass without coming out and distracting from it, but it's important for some things to distract from it, it's not a dub song really.

I'm sorry for the gripey quality of my crits this time- J's got me thinking rather ruthlessly about what helps the song and many of the nice things I can always say about mixes have to do with sonic details that the mix author attempted. If you have to ask 'but did it sell the song' very often the answer is no. I had a snare echo I was in love with, I've already been asked about it, and what you heard was sort of buried because my wife pointed out that it didn't help the song at all... it's more easily heard in the last rev because the automation went awry and exposed that echo sound in a place where it should have been muted again.

This should be an interesting learning experience and, I hope, far from the last.

starscream2010

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Re: IMP7 discussion.
« Reply #67 on: September 20, 2006, 08:34:01 pm »

chrisj wrote on Wed, 20 September 2006 18:35

starscream2010- Well, this is polite. Nice and clear and very produced, in particular I'm hearing the bass working with the drums in a peculiar way that must have been hell to create. Rather than jukebox bass it's like big bouncing balloons bass Very Happy the whole thing is bouncy as hell, in fact, the bounciness is more obvious than the words of the song. Everything sounds very nice. Definitive 'nice', all the details are sculpted artfully. It's the way they combine that gives that super-bouncy feel.




Is "bouncy" good, bad or weird?

By bouncy are we talking about the sonics of the mix? Like... the way the compressor pumps at times or is it just a term being used to describe the feel kind of like 'happy' or 'poppy'?

Thanks for the critique  Smile
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chrisj

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Re: IMP7 discussion.
« Reply #68 on: September 20, 2006, 08:56:13 pm »

starscream2010 wrote on Wed, 20 September 2006 20:34

Is "bouncy" good, bad or weird? By bouncy are we talking about the sonics of the mix? Like... the way the compressor pumps at times or is it just a term being used to describe the feel kind of like 'happy' or 'poppy'?


It's the overall feel of the mix, everything. That's also a very hasty judgement, but those can end up being very important sometimes. If I was making a CD for a dance party and had ten seconds to pick between yours and another one that was like a Pink Floyd mix with a super slow heavy weight behind the bass and kick, it wouldn't take me even two seconds to pick yours. Of course, is the song really about being a dance mix? Wink

starscream2010

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Re: IMP7 discussion.
« Reply #69 on: September 20, 2006, 09:20:01 pm »

chrisj wrote on Wed, 20 September 2006 19:56

starscream2010 wrote on Wed, 20 September 2006 20:34

Is "bouncy" good, bad or weird? By bouncy are we talking about the sonics of the mix? Like... the way the compressor pumps at times or is it just a term being used to describe the feel kind of like 'happy' or 'poppy'?


It's the overall feel of the mix, everything. That's also a very hasty judgement, but those can end up being very important sometimes. If I was making a CD for a dance party and had ten seconds to pick between yours and another one that was like a Pink Floyd mix with a super slow heavy weight behind the bass and kick, it wouldn't take me even two seconds to pick yours. Of course, is the song really about being a dance mix? Wink


Gotcha Wink
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Nick Evans

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Re: IMP7 discussion.
« Reply #70 on: September 20, 2006, 09:23:19 pm »


Well well ... some hard opinions here. Smile I'll join in with my own:

In contrast to what J. says (who btw is just projecting HIS vision of the song), most great albums and musical pieces have loads of stuff stripped and/or redone/replaced out before the final mix is approved.

I have no belief in any kind static vision. I don't believe _most_ composers, producers, whatever, know before hand exactly where a project is going because only the very greatest have that kind of vision and they are usually changing and revising as they go along. And lets be honest here, we are not dealing with Mozart or Bethoven here. They could write a whole symphony on paper and it worked but most musicians can't do that.

I don't believe the job of a great mixer is to be a dumb engineer that just sums track so that they give a nice frequency plot. The great mixers add magic to the mix. And that is our role especially in something like the IMP where no one suffers if one of the mixes doesn't fit the artists' original idea or musical vision.

J, the way you explain it, it seems that what you want is just a
straight mix of what is delivered. In other words, a technical job. Not an artistic job. That to me is very boring. That doesn't mean that one _always_ has to change stuff. Some material is just great as it is and doesn't need any adjusting. But those are exception rather than the rule. At least in my limited experience. Smile


This is how I approached the song and did what I did:

First up, I did some very basic cleaning up and a very basic mix to see what was available and where to go. Straight away I noticed that alot of instruments just kept playing through out the whole recording (or alot of it) and all came in at the same time. I had two explanations for this: 1) They were intended to play throughout the whole track 2) They were played throughout the whole track for practical reasons.

By practical reasons I mean that if you are in the studio, you have everything miked up, the musicians are there and ready to play, why not just record too much and cut out the superfluous stuff later on? It only takes a couple of minutes extra to keep recording at this point while having to add stuff later would take an immense amount of work comparatively. This was tagged as a project on a budget. To me that means maximizing time and resources.

So, as my mix obviously shows, I chose option 2. Smile

Also, no way was I going to just leave a bland wall of sound each time the chorus hit. I want musical dynamics. Not just on the coarsness level of verse-chorus-vers-bridge-whatever but within each section and between similar sections.

I much prefer to highlight each instrument at the right time so that the listener can actually hear the instruments and be kept entertained as the sound canvas evolves over time like a little sonic story with its own twists and nuances.

so step one was to choose which instruments to highlight at which point in the track. Cutting things up and muting various clips at various times gave me the arrangement as you hear it.

The next step was to really clean things up. I started by phase aligning all the kick and snare tracks. I might even have phase aligned the over heads but I can't remember exactly.

I had major difficulties with the way the drums were played. It seems that the drummer was intent on killing the drums each time the chorus hit with the resulting sound and mic/preamp/converter clips. So I had to use loads of automation to bring thing up and down at the right time without changing the sonics of the drums too much.

There is loads of compression on the kick to try and keep it under control. At  least steadier than played.  One compressor on each kick drum track, then again on the combined kicks then again on the drums bus. This was not done for the sound. This was just done to tame the dynamics.

After alot of work on the snare, I muted all those channels. The same problem with the dynamics here. So all the snare you hear comes from the overheads. The Hihat is gated so that I could also control its dynamics with automation without affecting the overall drum sound too much.

Unfortunately, Sonar was having trouble with all the automation and it is actually too low in the first section. Part of the rythmic groove is lost because of that.

All other drum tracks are muted. I considered replacing some sounds with samples but it would just have been too much work untill I get Sonar 6.

Next come the basses. The accoustic bass was so out of time most of the time that I muted it entirely except for a small passage during the break. (And hand tweaked some of the timing in that section).

I had some difficulties with the punch of the electric bass. I would have prefered it to be unprocessed. Most importantly though, this track's automation envelope also played tricks on me in the bounced version. I think the volume automation didn't engage untill somewhere half way through the first chorus. So yes, it sounds too loud at the beginning. It is also heavily EQed. Mainly boosting highs, cutting out mud and hipassing to poke through the mix. I don't like it when the bass gets lost under a mix.

Next, electric guitars. I added distortion to the solo guitar as I felt it lacked a bit of balls. Again, heavily EQed. (I'm talking 8 dB boost in the high-mid/highs. Stuff like that). The rythm guitars are actually unEQed. They allready fit in nicely with the rest. (I knew how things would fit as I had allready done a rough mix).

Accoustic guitars: Muted track 3 which was too out of time Panned track 1 and 2 hard L/R. Panned Guitar 4 a bit to the right and sent them all to their own bus with some compression and a highpass on it that should have been automated. It seems like the hipass didn't come down properly after the first chorus which means that the guitars lack some weight and don't groove as well as they could with the bass/drums in that section.

Main vocal: Heavily compressed to give an in your face sound. Added some saturation for more balls. De-essed some of the crap that the processing had introduced then EQed to fit in the mix. Loads of gain riding and volume automation to keep the main vocal just above the rest of the mix at all times. (I sometimes find it too loud even ...)

BG Vocals: Compressed and mixed so that they sit below the main vocal. Some channels needed to be pushed down in the mix because of timing and clarity issues. One channel has a delay on it to add some depth. One channel is copied and has a Waves Ultra-Pitcher on it for some fun. Smile Unfortunately the voice is a bit rough and the pitch shifter turned it into a smurf. I decline all responsability! Wink

I copied one of the BG track to the end of the song, put a big fat dub delay on it which is bounced and trimed so that it stops exactly when the last drum rythm change starts as that is the new element and thus the new musical focal point. I like to keep bringing the attention of the listener to the new elements when possible.

Later in the mixing process I added quite a bit of reverb because things were sounding quite popy by now and I thought it worked better like that with this in mind. I probably added too much.

Accordeon: Either these were not L/R channels, I accidentaly shifted something or something was very weird in the recording. I moved the right channel a bit earlier so that the two channels would form a more cohesive rythmic front while still keeping a nice stereo seperation. (panned hard L/R).

Organ: Basicly band passed with a center Fc of 700 Hz. Set it back in the mix as padding.

Piano: Again heavy EQing. 10 dB boost hi-shelf starting at 2.8Khz. 5.9 dB boost at 3.8Khz wide Q Everything below 400Hz hipassed. 5 dB reduction at 460 Hz with wide Q. (You could translate this to a 20 dB boost above 2.8Khz. Wink.

Mandolin: Tried many tyhings with these but ended using track 2 and 4 panned 10 and 2 O'clock with a hipass.

Banjo: I never thought I would ever mix anything with a banjo! But it was cool and fit in the song. The usual heavy handed EQ. (12 dB cut at 800 Hz, 5.5 dB Cut at 1.6Khz. Hipass @ 270 Hz). In retrospect, I should have just hipassed at 700 Hz or so ...

Pizza slice: Compressed, hard-panned, 8 dB reduction of Mid channel (M/S), delayed and reverbed. No EQ.

Special FX: There is the usual reversed reverb trick on the vocal
leading into the last chorus and the same on the whole song at two points (with heavy EQ) just to drag the listener kicking and screaming into the next musical section.

There is also a huge cathedral reverb bounced and flanged at two points. Carefully timed so that the frequencies go up and down in the right way for more kicking and screaming. This is bounced 100% wet then heavily EQed to keep only the resonant frequency and not muddy up the mix.

At the end of the song I took one of the snare hits and EQed/compressed it in such a way as to make it sound a bit like a rim shot and then added a delay to it.

General notes: There is loads of volume automation on most tracks to make sure that everything keeps its place in the mix and things grow to a final climax.

I considered fixing some of the timing issues but in light of the fact that Sonar 6 should drop in the mail soon and it has AudioSnap features (Beat Detective on steroids) I just couldn't be bothered doing it all by hand.


Thats it in a nutshell. Wink

Alistair
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NickT

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Re: IMP7 discussion.
« Reply #71 on: September 20, 2006, 10:17:01 pm »

I missed this IMP. I didn't see the post until it was to late. I have read this whole thread and find it interesting how everyone reacts to the comments.

I did start a mix on this, but with only 2 hours to deadline I stopped. I was spending a ton of time trying to make the vox sound right. I don't think I ever did. I noticed a  lot of distortion in the vox, not just grit, but something unpleasant in the 4-5k range that I just didn't have time to clean.

Here are a few thoughts:

J Hall - The lead vocal sounds great. What did you do to that track. I need to know. Kit was punchy. Nice hook using the edrum in the break. I liked the crunchy guitars.

Undertow - I liked how tight you got the heavy guitar part. Great contrast to the rest of the tune.

Scott O - Your mix was a dry mix. Very even and pleasing. Gave it a nice feel.

Nizzle - Great intro! Drums a bit squashed but still there. You excelled during the softer passages.

iComps - Another dry mix. Smooth. Could have used a little more "air". Lead Vox fell behind the BGV's in the chorus. An even mix.

Vlad - A very full bodied mix. I did like the focus on the banjo in the breaks. Not sure about the added distortion in the heavy guitar part.

Randy - A pretty Balanced mix. I thought the vox washed out the music in the chorus. This is a problem I was having also. Low mids seem like they could use a little carving.

That's all I have so far. I will try to get to the rest.

In response to J Halls comments:

I don't think everyone is mixing for engineers. My imp6 submission would prove that. If I thought I had to impress anyone here, I would not do these. I think the IMP Project gives everyone a chance to produce, not just mix. As a producer, I should be able to sell you the song. Engineers sell studio time, producers sell songs. I think it is great to be able to mix to the song...not the artist.

Thanks,

NickT

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Re: IMP7 discussion.
« Reply #72 on: September 20, 2006, 10:32:55 pm »

these are harsh reviews... very stream of conciousness and written before the comments between this and my previous post on this thread.  so i may want to comment on some aspects further after i absorb what j. and others have said about how we are approaching things...

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VKorehov -  any time i hear reverb on vocals, i think it's too much... but this is a very nice one... but i think it would be better to start the song with a more intimate feeling and work up the "room size" as it moves along... snare sounds a little flabby...  the bass solo in the break is a nice surprise... vocals are really well done here... and there is not a lot of ringing from eq, or a sense of compression... which i think shows you are in control... but imo it could rock harder.  nicely done.

nizzle - it seems "happier".... i think because the snare is lighter, and the cymbals are allowed to fill up the top.. the electronic drums are emphasized to create a "more colorful than life" kit, the edits help the song move along.. cutting the "vamping" parts that i felt were a bit slagging occurred to me, but i did not have time, but i agree that it is better for radio edited this way. nice touch of psychedelia on the coda... many of us couldn't resist dipping into that motif it seems. i wish there were more of that in the body of this mix.

icombs : this is like my mix... in a sonics sort of a way, and we both didn't stray too far from the basic arrangement that the recording suggests.  it seems like in the choruses  that the snare is too soft feeling, but in the verses its really nice. i like the attention you paid to the background vocals... i like the harmonies that you highlighted and the general fx here, and the overall tonal and dynamic balance..  sort of like mine, so i like it... could use more hammond perhaps... and the mandolins got to sounding more like guitars than mandolins... but then the real acoustic guitar isn't very present here... i wonder why you didn't like it?

randy hansen -   i'm not a big reverb  fan.. it feels swimmy.... but tonally and dynamically it's very alive....  the verb just drowns the kick and snare... it works on the hard guitar break... but the levels here are a bit shaky feeling just before the banjo solo..... at the end it all seems to come together.. so it suggests that some "subtractive paring" leading up to the climax could help build it up to there better. fade out ending is not working for me.. what is the thinking when there is an ending to the song and the mix engineer or mastering engineer decides to do a 1970's  hotel california style fade ?

dikeledoux....  great start... nice and clear...     hmm hammond is gone from the first verse... this is a bit thrashy until the guitar comes in to fill in the mids some...... what is going on in the second verse... the piano in front inverts the chords... i know it works in places... but does it work ?  only further listening without hearing so many others will tell me... it shows some very interesting musical ideas... from there it is not surprising... you stick to the chords that seem to naturally dominate.. which to my ear sound more major, so the rest gets disappointing because the musical adventurousness does not follow through, imo even though it is very competent....e.g. i am starting to wonder by the third chorus...where did the piano go?

maxim -  i love bass so this gets off to a good start for me... but then.. oh no...the bass overwhelms like a big down jacket.....    this mix is quite rough.. the re-amped guitar riff is very sweet, but so loud....      a few cut out the acoustic bass... here i see you have made something of the other bass.. not just from lack of time or ideas what to do with it.  i think it's a mistake to put the bells on the right side... it's possible that left handed people hear different, but generally i find "commanding" lead parts go over better if they do not exist only in the right speaker.  then after the bells... i think my software is bad... silence?  weird!  in tv, they never go to complete black... it's always around 10% gray so the viewer doesn't think there is a technical problem between commercials..etc.... i feel it's kind of the same prinicple for music.. if you want to go to silence, you've got to set it up so the listener's attention doesn't jump away from the music when there is nothing to hold it.

i guess you need to finish balancing this mix...  oh... another fade out, fadeouts sound trite to me, this one was executed well i guess.. so fast... i guess quick fade outs  are  like the "unsatisfying goodbyes" that the lyrics suggest... but perhaps too literal here!

rankus - i enjoy the stereo here..... i like the filtered bass treatmenta little... it leaves room on the bottom for all the rest of the instruments' bottoms, which is natural.. but the bass itself is not so natural sounding.. it works on the "hard guitar" break, and other places where it is not so naked,  and there, i think the filtering serves it's function better.  

rattleyour -  nice groove... swingin'... but  just before "feelin' just fine" in the first verse, it feels a little skeletal.     the reverb is ok... i like that the band sounds more like a rock band and not an huge mob.... you keep the arrangement very controlled... i do like the "simplicity"... the music can breathe... not the frantic pressure... like relaxed, like.... copacetic..... and the sonics are great.  imo, it's a superb mix.

tomc -    house of the rising sun!   snare is late...  or is it the kick? .... timing is awkward...whaddupp?   it has a somewhat mopey feeling....  i like the ideas you went for here... and some of the sounds are lovely... but it seems a bit ham fisted..not delicate... i think you could make this a "sad" mix that is like a counterpart to nizzle's "happy" mix, but imo, first fix the timing issues.. it's really hard to connect the musical ideas... they sound so disjointed.  

urick - "airy" feel.... very upper emphasized.... but that does put an edge on the vocals, i really like the snappy feel... the acoustics guitars that articuate..but this sounds like a rough mix... the edit you made sounds a bit sudden... going right into the bridge without much of a setup.... some of the more interesting break sections seemed to be cut....sounds  rushed towards the end.. not enough ebb and flow, imo,  but maybe someone hearing it for the first time would make easier sense of the simpler song structure...  but impressivly controlled sonics on many of the parts.

chris carter -  mastered?  it's ok on sonics and dynamics balance....   wow the vocals get smashed real fast.... i know i said i like contrast and counterpoint, but!     on the positive tip: like the vibra-textured bass a lot.. it allows the bass to be heard without needing to unnaturally filter other instruments... works well here for me..  very deep, but at times the delay effect on the lead vocal seems loose... it  only works for me as a "tail effect" at the ends of phrases, but even then the timing on this delay seems questionable.  i have a difficult time "feeling the song" through so many time-based and filter effects.

shakes the clown -  the acoustic is so lovely... the hammond however does not sound that nice, and it is dominant a lot... the mandolins are a bit like a telephone ringing on the left side...an instrument sound i like in other mixes is torture here!  the panning is not very flattering to the song, imo...there are level changes that seem like mistakes...or the mix is not finished. sonics are uneven for me... excellent in places and some parts like the acoustic, the cymbals too, and then not so sorted, like the when the compressor begins to suck the cymbals,  sorry, i didn't feel this one.

starscream  - verses... perfect.. choruses.. drum compression smackdown... the kick gets to much attack, can't even tell it from the snare..  however you have got a real headbanging rhythm emphasis going on... i mean.. this mix brings it on at the climax...  the trippy ending.. i dunno!   but i really like the high impact, high energy feeling that seems as brignt and sunny as it is aggressive. if one ignores the drum sounds in the choruses.... however, these comments assume that the mix was rushed or not quite finished, like many (including mine) there are some levels issues however relating to the basic topography you chose:  the final chorus seems lower in volume than the others, for example, and it's just when the song should be loud.

Mario - mastered, and very badly, imo!  lay off that stuff...  oh jeeze sucking and pumping city... i can't take this.  the snare's envelope has had it's timing shifted when the compressor kicks in.. i can't think i've ever heard a better example of how to use compressors wrong. sorry but this is just about everything i rant against all rolled up into one... a compresssor cannot make a mix.    on the positive tip:  the chords that the "heavy guitar" break and the break sections that follow make a really nice relief from all the sucking and pumping... and the hammond sounds reasonably like a real one even despite all this, but can i pick out other individual instruments in the loud parts?  no...  i like the ending with the hammond though, perhaps use it as a reference for the rest of the insts!

volthause -   the bass sounds a bit weird like it is stereo? i love your analog sound dude..  i forget if you use analog, but i do like your sound.. notice that the transients on the top end, such as vocal sibilants, where harshness can easily creep in... it's very sweet on top... sweet sound all over in fact... full dynamics, full range of the spectrum, nothing is muddy or smeary...interesting break treatment.......  oh no, not another fade out... a longer fadeout is just longer agony for me!   but  what is the main identifying characteristic of your unique sound here?   even order harmonics ? tubes ?

chrisj -  i like "right speed" better than "frantic". i find the groove is compelling. which is so important to me that i don't care to comment on what is wrong with this mix. now i'd like to hear the steppenwolf version just to know your intention for the top end. and did the sample rate error actually help the groove in this case?  that would be interesting...

th1 (and any who posted later...) - pending.. i made these reviews before your submissions were posted.

jeff dinces

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Re: IMP7 discussion.
« Reply #73 on: September 21, 2006, 12:16:35 am »

Had time to listen to a few; (will try to do others tomorrow)

Here are some brief comments:

Chris J - I think this real nice, nice feel, good overall. Good hook, I wanted to listen to more. Cool snare, great guits (that's what I going after)

Maxim - Good balance of instruments, but a bit bass heavy?

Rankus - Gooood mix - it works for me, well balanced, but maybe a bit to much banjo?

Chris C - Nice power, good vibe, but too much echo? I think maybe a bit too busy?

Starscream - Smooth intro is nice, I felt like it captured my attention. But hearing too much delay in background on the vocals. I liked the vibe, but it was lacking a bit of fullness.

Under Tow - Good beat, well done. Accordian too loud for me. Nice Bass!

Cerberus - Vocals didn't do it for me. Everything seemed disant. Overheads were a little to much, too much organ not enough guits. Good balance overall though and I liked the ending.

Ator - Too much low end? Vocals need to be clearer. NICE snare, present, but not too loud. Good groove and I like the solo.

I Combs - Good feel and vibe, snare is nice, but too much echo.

My mix - well for a 5hr jobie including transfer - not my best mix and realized it after posted, but didn't want to go mix again and repost, it was 10pm at that point. (Probably shows I've had to work on Metal music for the past 2 months and my ears are sore)..I went for good drum sound trying to get a rock feel, but went a bit overboard. Vocal started off well, but lost it's glue. Too much Organ and distortion guits were a little too much. I muted certain intruments during loud parts but used them tastefully when they fit. Wish I would've had time to start it last week cause I found it a bit overwhelming opening it to finf 49 tracks and having to go through assigning everything to an output...some mistakes crept up in there...

I also found it a little difficult not having spoken to the artist to get a final vision of his song, cause it was a little on the folk side, but had the rock heaviness...

I mixed on an analogue console to 1/4" tape (old tape though) and used mostly outboard comps.

Thanks for all your comments pos and neg, I had time to do a quick remix tonight and fixed a few things up. Sounds much
better.

Mario
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Randy Hansen

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Re: IMP7 discussion.
« Reply #74 on: September 21, 2006, 02:03:25 am »

Just a quick post to follow j.'s request on where I was ansd what I thought when I mixed this.  

First, since I thought I had more time to play on this IMP, and having missed the previous 2 for deadlines, my intention was to submit 2 mixes.  One done at work on a Sony DMX-R100 and a hybrind Pro Tools Mix^2/plus system and a second on the home system through Nuendo.  I wasn't even listening to the mixes in the other envioronments.  And, I was only able ot finsih the DMX-R100 version before the cut off.

When I first heard the track I immediatle thought of Crash Test Dummies, a very busy CTD, but it had the feel of tracks from "The Ghosts That Haunt Me."  So, I thought I would take that kind of approcah.

I didn't think I'd get the hyper stereo that album had, and reading some other things in the "Whatever Works" forum, I decided to pull out some old tricks I haven't done in a while.  I limited myself to L-C-R for positioning, and then used effects to fill the opposite speaker.  Also, in buiilding the mix, I monitored in mono, so as I panned and crossed effected trying to build my depth that way.  When I did finally get my levels feeling good I flipped to stereo, and heard how wet the mix was.  I then backed down the effects levels, and then flipped back into mono, which then brought everything to the same level.  So a couple lmore jumps back and forth trying to find a happy medium.  I guess I didn't succeed too well.  Sad

As for the fade out, it was my only time to submit, and the ending balance was out of whack with the insturment/effects levels, so I faded out and then posted.

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