Some questions about my mixing

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Ukho
Posts: 13
Joined: 30 Jun 2021

Post 26 Jul 2021

Hi everyone! :)

I have some questions about my mixing:
Most of the time, I use VST plugins; mostly Sylenth 1, Diva, and Dune 2/Dune 3.
I use presets, or modify them, or create my own.
I mention this, because I read that there is quite a difference between mixing digital and analog recording/tape recording.

I always turn down my master channel to -23 dB to give enough headspace for the sound engineer.
I always keep the bass and the drumloops dry.
I always duplicate my other instruments/channels, and turn one of them completely to the right, and one of them completely to the left.

Surgical EQ:
Whenever I try surgical EQ, I lose some volume. (I don't know if volume is the right word?)
How can I avoid that?

Am I on the right track with the way I am mixing?

PS: My goal is to give the mixing engineer a proper mixdown, so he only has to work on mixing the song, and not fixing the song.

Thank you!
Chris
"Music is a place to take refuge. It's a sanctuary from mediocrity and boredom. It's innocent and it's a place you can lose yourself in thoughts, memories and intricacies."

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LABONERECORDINGS
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Location: UK

Post 26 Jul 2021

REgarding your levels - 23dB is ample space for sure, in the digital realm you have up to 0dBFS (ideally if using digital based plugins and not analog based you could go as far as -6dB). Analog plugins normally have -18dBFS as the equivalent of 0VU, so for example if you had Slate or Softube Tape running on your master buss and you went in at -18dBFS, you'll be around the point where the tape analog saturation starts to kick in. Being around -23dB going in you may get some of the analog tape tones / textures, but not to the extreme of the classic tape saturation (soft clipping). You might introduce more noise too when you go -23dB in > tape plugin > bounce to audio, then turn up to say -3dB, you could hear the tape noise more than going in at -18dB > tape plugin > bounce to audio, because you increased the distance from noise floor to max peak. All depends on what you're trying to achieve though

Surgical EQ. Now depending on how wide/broad and how much gain you are pulling down, plus the frequency/ies you're pulling down affect the final sound - ask yourself 'why am I using surgical EQ?' - is it because of ringing, or are you doing the old 'sweep EQ' trick to pick up frequencies you don't like - if so, check this video as this is quite a revelation to some.



This guy has some pretty cool videos too, which may help you a bit more with some decision making relating to your mixing. 3min onwards is the sweep technique done wrong

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Ukho
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Joined: 30 Jun 2021

Post 26 Jul 2021

Thank you very much!
Gonna check it out right away!
"Music is a place to take refuge. It's a sanctuary from mediocrity and boredom. It's innocent and it's a place you can lose yourself in thoughts, memories and intricacies."

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Ottostrom
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Post 29 Jul 2021

Ukho wrote:
26 Jul 2021
I always duplicate my other instruments/channels, and turn one of them completely to the right, and one of them completely to the left.
This is not a great way to create width in a mix (which I'm assuming is the goal).
It works great when you double a guitar track IF you actually use different recordings for left/right, since it is the small variation between the tracks which gives it the width.
But if you only duplicate the exact same source you're either gonna end up with no difference or worst case you'll mess up the stereo field with phasing issues (if some of the duplicated devices have a slight variation in how they process the audio).
You could go for a Haas type effect, which is when a duplicated signal is slightly delayed on one side which then creates the variation needed to be heard as separate tracks, but I would HIGHLY advice against using that on all instruments cause it will not sound good at all (I use it from time to time on something like a shaker to give it some width).

I actually tried mixing like this as well when I started out cause I wanted wider mixes, but learned later on that it's all about how you pan different elements to complement each other!

PhillipOrdonez
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Joined: 20 Oct 2017
Location: Norway

Post 29 Jul 2021

Let the engineer actually mix your song. Fixing is an essential part of mixing... You doing eq things and pan things that are totally unnecessary only makes things more difficult for the engineer and creating more problems than you're solving.

Don't bother about anything mixing related, not even levels, that's all the job of the mix engineer.

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Billy+
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Post 29 Jul 2021

It's old but well worth the watch



Hopefully it's the whole series in one ;)
VST 2.4 MIDI It's definitely on the list of todos
What MIDI tools are you itching to use

ˁ˚ᴥ˚ˀ Time for a good long sleep ˁ˚ᴥ˚ˀ

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Ukho
Posts: 13
Joined: 30 Jun 2021

Post 30 Jul 2021

PhillipOrdonez wrote:
29 Jul 2021
Let the engineer actually mix your song. Fixing is an essential part of mixing... You doing eq things and pan things that are totally unnecessary only makes things more difficult for the engineer and creating more problems than you're solving.

Don't bother about anything mixing related, not even levels, that's all the job of the mix engineer.
Thanks for the reply, so Surgical EQ, etc. can be done after I finished my song?
I never do complex EQ, because I do not understand it, so it is just really basic EQ.
"Music is a place to take refuge. It's a sanctuary from mediocrity and boredom. It's innocent and it's a place you can lose yourself in thoughts, memories and intricacies."

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Ukho
Posts: 13
Joined: 30 Jun 2021

Post 30 Jul 2021

Ottostrom wrote:
29 Jul 2021
Ukho wrote:
26 Jul 2021
I always duplicate my other instruments/channels, and turn one of them completely to the right, and one of them completely to the left.
This is not a great way to create width in a mix (which I'm assuming is the goal).
It works great when you double a guitar track IF you actually use different recordings for left/right, since it is the small variation between the tracks which gives it the width.
But if you only duplicate the exact same source you're either gonna end up with no difference or worst case you'll mess up the stereo field with phasing issues (if some of the duplicated devices have a slight variation in how they process the audio).
You could go for a Haas type effect, which is when a duplicated signal is slightly delayed on one side which then creates the variation needed to be heard as separate tracks, but I would HIGHLY advice against using that on all instruments cause it will not sound good at all (I use it from time to time on something like a shaker to give it some width).

I actually tried mixing like this as well when I started out cause I wanted wider mixes, but learned later on that it's all about how you pan different elements to complement each other!
And indeed, I discovered phasing issues. Thanks for telling me!
"Music is a place to take refuge. It's a sanctuary from mediocrity and boredom. It's innocent and it's a place you can lose yourself in thoughts, memories and intricacies."

PhillipOrdonez
Posts: 2485
Joined: 20 Oct 2017
Location: Norway

Post 30 Jul 2021

:clap:
Ukho wrote:
30 Jul 2021
PhillipOrdonez wrote:
29 Jul 2021
Let the engineer actually mix your song. Fixing is an essential part of mixing... You doing eq things and pan things that are totally unnecessary only makes things more difficult for the engineer and creating more problems than you're solving.

Don't bother about anything mixing related, not even levels, that's all the job of the mix engineer.
Thanks for the reply, so Surgical EQ, etc. can be done after I finished my song?
I never do complex EQ, because I do not understand it, so it is just really basic EQ.
Certainly can be done after finishing your song. A mix engineer will mix your multitrack and fixing all the errors is part of it.

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selig
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Location: The NorthWoods, CT, USA

Post 30 Jul 2021

Ukho wrote:
30 Jul 2021
PhillipOrdonez wrote:
29 Jul 2021
Let the engineer actually mix your song. Fixing is an essential part of mixing... You doing eq things and pan things that are totally unnecessary only makes things more difficult for the engineer and creating more problems than you're solving.

Don't bother about anything mixing related, not even levels, that's all the job of the mix engineer.
Thanks for the reply, so Surgical EQ, etc. can be done after I finished my song?
I never do complex EQ, because I do not understand it, so it is just really basic EQ.
I try to address tonal issues at the source long before reaching for EQ as much as possible. This can include moving or changing microphones, tweaking filter settings in synths or samplers, or swapping out or layering additional samples to achieve the desired results.

I find that final EQ settings are only going to work in the context of the final mix, and until you have ALL the tracks in place you can’t really judge context! As for “surgical” EQ - you’re unlikely ever to need it with synths or samplers using decent sample libraries. I approach surgical EQ just like real surgery - do it as a last resort when there is no other option. But I’m not a doctor, so I probably shouldn’t be doing surgery on my own…
Selig Audio, LLC

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Ukho
Posts: 13
Joined: 30 Jun 2021

Post 30 Jul 2021

selig wrote:
30 Jul 2021
Ukho wrote:
30 Jul 2021


Thanks for the reply, so Surgical EQ, etc. can be done after I finished my song?
I never do complex EQ, because I do not understand it, so it is just really basic EQ.
I try to address tonal issues at the source long before reaching for EQ as much as possible. This can include moving or changing microphones, tweaking filter settings in synths or samplers, or swapping out or layering additional samples to achieve the desired results.

I find that final EQ settings are only going to work in the context of the final mix, and until you have ALL the tracks in place you can’t really judge context! As for “surgical” EQ - you’re unlikely ever to need it with synths or samplers using decent sample libraries. I approach surgical EQ just like real surgery - do it as a last resort when there is no other option. But I’m not a doctor, so I probably shouldn’t be doing surgery on my own…
Well, a song of mine was mixed and mastered by a sound engineer, because he knows what to do and when to do it. I do not. I guess I have an idea.
I am also figuratively speaking: as my music is also a reflection of myself, my goal is to sound as mature as possible, letting my issues shine through as little as possible.
And of course, I want to create a basis/educate myself, so I am able to have a conversation with sound engineers, being able to adress properly what I want.
Hope this makes sense at all?
"Music is a place to take refuge. It's a sanctuary from mediocrity and boredom. It's innocent and it's a place you can lose yourself in thoughts, memories and intricacies."

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selig
RE Developer
Posts: 9490
Joined: 15 Jan 2015
Location: The NorthWoods, CT, USA

Post 30 Jul 2021

Ukho wrote:
30 Jul 2021
selig wrote:
30 Jul 2021

I try to address tonal issues at the source long before reaching for EQ as much as possible. This can include moving or changing microphones, tweaking filter settings in synths or samplers, or swapping out or layering additional samples to achieve the desired results.

I find that final EQ settings are only going to work in the context of the final mix, and until you have ALL the tracks in place you can’t really judge context! As for “surgical” EQ - you’re unlikely ever to need it with synths or samplers using decent sample libraries. I approach surgical EQ just like real surgery - do it as a last resort when there is no other option. But I’m not a doctor, so I probably shouldn’t be doing surgery on my own…
Well, a song of mine was mixed and mastered by a sound engineer, because he knows what to do and when to do it. I do not. I guess I have an idea.
I am also figuratively speaking: as my music is also a reflection of myself, my goal is to sound as mature as possible, letting my issues shine through as little as possible.
And of course, I want to create a basis/educate myself, so I am able to have a conversation with sound engineers, being able to adress properly what I want.
Hope this makes sense at all?
Yes, totally, and in that case I would consider it essential you learn to solve the issues at the source as much as it is possible for you - less fixing = more mixing, time wise. Just like a tracking engineer needs to learn to deliver reliable tracks (not over processed, not under processed) to the mix engineer, composer/arrangers need to learn to do the same if they are not going to mix themselves. A well arranged track is also SO much easier to mix, a well recorded track can save hours of mix fixing, same for a well organized track etc.

Nothing worse than starting a mix with 2-3 hours of cleaning, fixing, and organizing - hardly sets the mode for creativity IMO…this is true even when "I" am the one recording AND mixing. I try to be nice to my "future" mixer by putting in the work early on...

And BTW, don't be afraid to ask mix engineers for feedback to be applied to future projects - that's how we all learn!
Selig Audio, LLC

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Ukho
Posts: 13
Joined: 30 Jun 2021

Post 30 Jul 2021

selig wrote:
30 Jul 2021
Ukho wrote:
30 Jul 2021


Well, a song of mine was mixed and mastered by a sound engineer, because he knows what to do and when to do it. I do not. I guess I have an idea.
I am also figuratively speaking: as my music is also a reflection of myself, my goal is to sound as mature as possible, letting my issues shine through as little as possible.
And of course, I want to create a basis/educate myself, so I am able to have a conversation with sound engineers, being able to adress properly what I want.
Hope this makes sense at all?
Yes, totally, and in that case I would consider it essential you learn to solve the issues at the source as much as it is possible for you - less fixing = more mixing, time wise. Just like a tracking engineer needs to learn to deliver reliable tracks (not over processed, not under processed) to the mix engineer, composer/arrangers need to learn to do the same if they are not going to mix themselves. A well arranged track is also SO much easier to mix, a well recorded track can save hours of mix fixing, same for a well organized track etc.

Nothing worse than starting a mix with 2-3 hours of cleaning, fixing, and organizing - hardly sets the mode for creativity IMO…this is true even when "I" am the one recording AND mixing. I try to be nice to my "future" mixer by putting in the work early on...

And BTW, don't be afraid to ask mix engineers for feedback to be applied to future projects - that's how we all learn!
Well, today my vacation started, so it is 18 days just about music! :D
And thanks very much for your feedback!
"Music is a place to take refuge. It's a sanctuary from mediocrity and boredom. It's innocent and it's a place you can lose yourself in thoughts, memories and intricacies."

PhillipOrdonez
Posts: 2485
Joined: 20 Oct 2017
Location: Norway

Post 30 Jul 2021

Put in the work in the early stages, be kind to future you.
Wise words, Selig. So true.

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