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Author Topic: Bad mixes ad nauseum  (Read 21513 times)

T. Mueller

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Bad mixes ad nauseum
« on: July 28, 2009, 08:27:32 am »

I've apparently been really, really blessed with mixes up until the last client.  Home basement recording, I think.  Zero stereo image, vocals piercing at around 6k, muddy guitars; think of a problem, and it's got it.  Needs noise reduction, de-essing...

Client loves the original mix.

Not really venting or anything, just saying that I've been trying to battle this mix for the last day, knowing that the client loves the original, and not knowing how to give him a "good" master.

I think I've made a positive impact, but I just know he's going to say he wants it louder...
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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2009, 08:54:28 am »

Welcome to the wonderful world of basement recording....

Most of the stuff I get in from the basement/bedroom artists is severely boosted at 60 to 90 Hz as well as all the problems you mentioned. It HAS to be the monitor speakers. Most of these clients must be using speakers from their computers or something with no response below 100 Hz.

Best of luck!
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Thomas W. Bethel
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Greg Youngman

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2009, 09:51:49 am »

T. Mueller wrote on Tue, 28 July 2009 05:27


Client loves the original mix.


Sprinkle some Holy water on it and call it a day.
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Viitalahde

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2009, 09:58:31 am »

"It sounds like crap but at least it's loud"
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Jaakko Viitalähde
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Waltz Mastering

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2009, 10:45:23 am »

Greg Youngman wrote on Tue, 28 July 2009 09:51



Sprinkle some Holy water on it and call it a day.


+1 --- I had performed an exorcism the other day as well, cut a huge low end bump, a few other adjustments and made it some what listenable.  Client loved it.

Anything else and you will drive yourself crazy.

It's the  out of phase shit that really drives me up the wall.

bblackwood

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2009, 10:51:14 am »

Knowing when you've done all you can with bad mixes is equally as difficult as knowing when to stop with great mixes. Really, it just takes time.

Nowadays, I find that I spend about the same amount of time on a track regardless of how good or bad it is - most of the time the things you do after 20-30 mins aren't necessarily 'better', just 'different'.
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cass anawaty

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2009, 02:16:09 pm »

Waltz Mastering wrote on Tue, 28 July 2009 15:45

Greg Youngman wrote on Tue, 28 July 2009 09:51



Sprinkle some Holy water on it and call it a day.


+1 --- I had performed an exorcism the other day as well, cut a huge low end bump, a few other adjustments and made it some what listenable.  Client loved it.

Anything else and you will drive yourself crazy.

It's the  out of phase shit that really drives me up the wall.


Same here--especially when it's done on purpose--fake hard panned guitars.  The worst.

If anyone has any remedies, I'm interested.   Smile
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Patrik T

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2009, 04:24:59 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Tue, 28 July 2009 16:51

Nowadays, I find that I spend about the same amount of time on a track regardless of how good or bad it is - most of the time the things you do after 20-30 mins aren't necessarily 'better', just 'different'.


This is logic to me.

I can't understand why one track would need 10 minutes and another would need hours when one is supposed to treat everything with an equal objectivity.

The more time spent, the greater chance of bad decisioning, no matter the quality of the mix.


Best Regards
Patrik
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T. Mueller

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2009, 09:12:20 pm »

Yeah, I like Brad's point, too.  My experience level is such that my average is around an hour per track, but some of that is backtracking and such.  Thanks to all for the support.

I got it to what I think is listenable, and as mentioned here, a lot of the decision-making centered on whether to spend significant amounts of time to either 1) try something that might not work or 2) try something that will work, but will make MAYBE 0.01% difference.  So I'm still learning my groove, I guess; but I was REALLY frustrated yesterday.

Turns out that the holy water is a cabernet.  But you're supposed to drink it, not sprinkle it.  Who knew?
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cass anawaty

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2009, 09:45:09 pm »

T. Mueller wrote on Wed, 29 July 2009 02:12

Yeah, I like Brad's point, too.  My experience level is such that my average is around an hour per track, but some of that is backtracking and such.  Thanks to all for the support.

I got it to what I think is listenable, and as mentioned here, a lot of the decision-making centered on whether to spend significant amounts of time to either 1) try something that might not work or 2) try something that will work, but will make MAYBE 0.01% difference.  So I'm still learning my groove, I guess; but I was REALLY frustrated yesterday.

Turns out that the holy water is a cabernet.  But you're supposed to drink it, not sprinkle it.  Who knew?


I say if you've got the time, try it all.  There will be a time when you'll just know what works for you in a situation.  It's part of the fun of starting out....  

And remember to take lots of breaks, so you'll realize that hour you spent tweaking landed you in a spot where the fix sounds worse than the original mix.   Laughing
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turtletone

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2009, 10:21:49 pm »

I love crap mixes.
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Taproot

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2009, 09:50:05 am »

Patrik T wrote on Tue, 28 July 2009 14:24



The more time spent, the greater chance of bad decisioning, no matter the quality of the mix.


Yup. I tend to work very fast and go with my first thoughts. The longer you "fiddle" with something, the more you lose perspective and that's when you tend to over do it. IMHO.
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Greg Youngman

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2009, 11:17:49 am »

This thread got me looking back at some of my early 64 bit code.  I'm thinking of throwing out a beta version of two commercial mastering plugs.  "Holy Water" and "Fairy Dust" -
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djwaudio

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2009, 01:41:06 am »

Unusual mixes should still receive a great mastering job.

I had one recently where the drums and voice was panned hard left. The bass and all other instruments were hard right. The client was unaware of his panning decisions and said "that's just the way it comes out of my machine".

This was not a happy accident. I dusted off the Quantum, narrowed the stereo field and then mastered as usual. I thought it was the biggest leap in quality I've made in a long time. It's a good feeling to save someone's record.

I just keep thinking less is more in these situations, but you've got to do what's needed.
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Respectfully submitted,
Dana

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Greg Reierson

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2009, 09:55:13 am »

djwaudio wrote on Thu, 30 July 2009 00:41

Unusual mixes should still receive a great mastering job.

I had one recently where the drums and voice was panned hard left. The bass and all other instruments were hard right. The client was unaware of his panning decisions and said "that's just the way it comes out of my machine".  


I didn't know you worked on those Beatles records..... Smile


GR
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TotalSonic

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2009, 09:58:39 am »

If I have the time I sometimes like to use "crap mixes" as good places for a little "r&d" to see what combination of processing can be pushed harder to get things to a place where the client is happier with the end result than they thought could be even possible.  Other times some of the mixing "mistakes" are actually very deliberate on the part of the mixer so that dramatic reshaping is not what they want at all.  Simple good communication is all that it takes to find out which of these approaches is what that they want.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

djwaudio

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2009, 03:04:46 pm »

Greg Reierson wrote on Thu, 30 July 2009 06:55

djwaudio wrote on Thu, 30 July 2009 00:41

Unusual mixes should still receive a great mastering job.

I had one recently where the drums and voice was panned hard left. The bass and all other instruments were hard right. The client was unaware of his panning decisions and said "that's just the way it comes out of my machine".  


I didn't know you worked on those Beatles records..... Smile


GR




Well you know all the new remasters are mono Wink
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Dana

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tweakman

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2009, 12:00:39 am »

The best part is when the client asks you (with a big smile on his face) . .
Which song did you like best?

Do you think this should be the first single? . . .


Confused    (mastering engineer scratches head . .)
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Tomas Danko

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #18 on: August 05, 2009, 08:09:49 am »

Thomas W. Bethel wrote on Tue, 28 July 2009 13:54

Welcome to the wonderful world of basement recording....

Most of the stuff I get in from the basement/bedroom artists is severely boosted at 60 to 90 Hz as well as all the problems you mentioned. It HAS to be the monitor speakers. Most of these clients must be using speakers from their computers or something with no response below 100 Hz.

Best of luck!


A very common thing in private bedroom studios is to purchase a pair of "studio monitors" that roll off completely above 60 Hz or so. This makes them not hear the fundamental of the electric bass (and similar sources) and instead try and balance the bass sound and low end by listening to the harmonics which are, of course, a lot lower in level compared to the fundamental.
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Waveburner32

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Re: Bad mixes ad nauseum
« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2009, 01:40:29 pm »

Let's not forget the room modes that exist in the standard American ranch-style bedroom and the manner in which they exhibit themselves in a bedroom studio production.

A typical 14'x9'x7.5' bedroom is going to have significant modes at 60Hz, 80Hz and 120Hz, approx. If the interaction is destructive (i.e. canceling in nature) you're closet engineer is going to be reaching for those bass knobs as a matter of habit.

I always ask for room measurements of spaces used in home recordings. It's nice to know what not to expect.
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