Mixing/Mastering help

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iSpiritus
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:33 pm

Mixing/Mastering help

Post by iSpiritus » Mon Dec 26, 2016 12:13 am

Hi,

I've been working on some tracks and have come across some issues while mixing/mastering. I'm confident it's a mixing problem but as a beginner I have no way of knowing for sure. The track I'm using as my example is a Future Bass track I made. My problem is that the track sounds ok up until the drop. For some reason when the drop hits it doesn't sound as loud and sounds less present and less clear. Just to clear up some things so I don't get the obvious did you high pass x responses. Everything is high passed at least 100hz except for the sub and kick. There is a healthy amount of sidechain compression on everything to let the kick punch through. Percussion and some of the layers and most fx have been panned and/or widened to make room in the center. And lastly everything has been eq'd to bring out important elements and cut unnecessary frequencies. I'm lost at what else it could be. I could have eq'd some of the drop elements poorly or it could be a volume problem. I need more experienced ears to help me. Any advice pertaining to the problem or any other advise about the track is much appreciated!

Here is the track
https://m.soundcloud.com/spectretech/fo ... ds/s-oS0Vk

fishmonkey
Posts: 4243
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 4:50 am

Re: Mixing/Mastering help

Post by fishmonkey » Mon Dec 26, 2016 1:25 am

iSpiritus wrote:Hi,

I've been working on some tracks and have come across some issues while mixing/mastering. I'm confident it's a mixing problem but as a beginner I have no way of knowing for sure. The track I'm using as my example is a Future Bass track I made. My problem is that the track sounds ok up until the drop. For some reason when the drop hits it doesn't sound as loud and sounds less present and less clear. Just to clear up some things so I don't get the obvious did you high pass x responses. Everything is high passed at least 100hz except for the sub and kick. There is a healthy amount of sidechain compression on everything to let the kick punch through. Percussion and some of the layers and most fx have been panned and/or widened to make room in the center. And lastly everything has been eq'd to bring out important elements and cut unnecessary frequencies. I'm lost at what else it could be. I could have eq'd some of the drop elements poorly or it could be a volume problem. I need more experienced ears to help me. Any advice pertaining to the problem or any other advise about the track is much appreciated!

Here is the track
https://m.soundcloud.com/spectretech/fo ... ds/s-oS0Vk
it's hard to say exactly without hearing the unprocessed audio, but after a quick listen and based on what you wrote above, i would guess that you have sucked the life out of things with too much processing. after the drop the mix sounds strangled and thin.

if you bypass your compression and EQ, what does it sound like? if it still sounds lifeless, then it suggests that your source material or arrangement might need rethinking. if the mix is okay without processing, but needs taming, then start gently with the processing. use level-matched listening comparisons to work out if the processing you are adding is really helping the mix, or hurting.

level-matched listening is really important. most processing will change the apparent loudness. if you don't adjust the volume levels to account for this, you can easily be fooled by the results. for example, the exact same thing played a little bit louder tends to sound better. there are some plugins available that make this process easier, e.g.

http://www.meterplugs.com/perception

if you are serious about learning to mix well, then establishing a number of fixed listening levels is also a pretty good idea, as this also helps you make more objective comparisons.

http://www.aes.org/technical/documentDo ... m?docID=65

also, i would be wary of applying a "mixing by numbers" approach. don't add processing just because you can or because some tutorial says you should. use your ears to determine whether a specific technique is helping or hurting your mix...
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

iSpiritus
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:33 pm

Re: Mixing/Mastering help

Post by iSpiritus » Mon Dec 26, 2016 3:39 am

fishmonkey wrote:
iSpiritus wrote:Hi,

I've been working on some tracks and have come across some issues while mixing/mastering. I'm confident it's a mixing problem but as a beginner I have no way of knowing for sure. The track I'm using as my example is a Future Bass track I made. My problem is that the track sounds ok up until the drop. For some reason when the drop hits it doesn't sound as loud and sounds less present and less clear. Just to clear up some things so I don't get the obvious did you high pass x responses. Everything is high passed at least 100hz except for the sub and kick. There is a healthy amount of sidechain compression on everything to let the kick punch through. Percussion and some of the layers and most fx have been panned and/or widened to make room in the center. And lastly everything has been eq'd to bring out important elements and cut unnecessary frequencies. I'm lost at what else it could be. I could have eq'd some of the drop elements poorly or it could be a volume problem. I need more experienced ears to help me. Any advice pertaining to the problem or any other advise about the track is much appreciated!

Here is the track
https://m.soundcloud.com/spectretech/fo ... ds/s-oS0Vk
it's hard to say exactly without hearing the unprocessed audio, but after a quick listen and based on what you wrote above, i would guess that you have sucked the life out of things with too much processing. after the drop the mix sounds strangled and thin.

if you bypass your compression and EQ, what does it sound like? if it still sounds lifeless, then it suggests that your source material or arrangement might need rethinking. if the mix is okay without processing, but needs taming, then start gently with the processing. use level-matched listening comparisons to work out if the processing you are adding is really helping the mix, or hurting.

level-matched listening is really important. most processing will change the apparent loudness. if you don't adjust the volume levels to account for this, you can easily be fooled by the results. for example, the exact same thing played a little bit louder tends to sound better. there are some plugins available that make this process easier, e.g.

http://www.meterplugs.com/perception

if you are serious about learning to mix well, then establishing a number of fixed listening levels is also a pretty good idea, as this also helps you make more objective comparisons.

http://www.aes.org/technical/documentDo ... m?docID=65

also, i would be wary of applying a "mixing by numbers" approach. don't add processing just because you can or because some tutorial says you should. use your ears to determine whether a specific technique is helping or hurting your mix...
Thank you for the quick reply! I went back and listened to the unprocessed track and I discovered that the drop doesn't have quite the impact it should even without the processing. I have no idea why I didn't notice it before, perhaps after listening to it so much I had just grown used to it. I'll put a link to the unprocessed version to see what your opinion might be on how to solve this. The low end sounds alright to me but the high end is missing something. I can't tell if it's a leveling problem or an eq problem. Possibly both? There is nothing on the master bus so it's entirely dry.

https://soundcloud.com/spectretech/for- ... ed/s-1BGM1

Tarekith
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Re: Mixing/Mastering help

Post by Tarekith » Mon Dec 26, 2016 9:00 am

To me it sounds the biggest issues are that when the drops happen, the synths are the same volume as before. And while you introduce the drums, they're a bit quiet in the mix. So the drop suddenly has drums, but they lack impact being buried behind the synths. Sounds like you're trying to compensate for that in the master by boosting the highs quite a bit, which is making the overall master a bit harsh sounding (at least compared to your mixdown).

And since the synths are basically the same as they were before the drop, there's not much impact. There's no contrast with the synths being exactly the same before and after the drop I mean.

The mix itself sounds a touch muddy too, there's still a good bit of lower mids in the 300-600Hz range lending to that.

I'd recommend maybe a slight 2-3dB reduction on the main synths around 450Hz to bring those a bit more into focus and sharper sounding, and to keep them from overlapping with the bassline so much. I'd also try raising the all drums a couple dB's, which will mean you have to do less EQing of the overall mix. Possible even boosting around 1kHz just a dB or two on the kick, to bring out more of the clicky part of the kick helping it cut through the mix a bit more too.
Tarekith
Ableton Forum Administrator
Inner Portal Studio - Professional Audio Mastering

iSpiritus
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:33 pm

Re: Mixing/Mastering help

Post by iSpiritus » Mon Dec 26, 2016 9:40 pm

Tarekith wrote:To me it sounds the biggest issues are that when the drops happen, the synths are the same volume as before. And while you introduce the drums, they're a bit quiet in the mix. So the drop suddenly has drums, but they lack impact being buried behind the synths. Sounds like you're trying to compensate for that in the master by boosting the highs quite a bit, which is making the overall master a bit harsh sounding (at least compared to your mixdown).

And since the synths are basically the same as they were before the drop, there's not much impact. There's no contrast with the synths being exactly the same before and after the drop I mean.

The mix itself sounds a touch muddy too, there's still a good bit of lower mids in the 300-600Hz range lending to that.

I'd recommend maybe a slight 2-3dB reduction on the main synths around 450Hz to bring those a bit more into focus and sharper sounding, and to keep them from overlapping with the bassline so much. I'd also try raising the all drums a couple dB's, which will mean you have to do less EQing of the overall mix. Possible even boosting around 1kHz just a dB or two on the kick, to bring out more of the clicky part of the kick helping it cut through the mix a bit more too.

I took your advise and WOW there is a huge difference. I ended up increasing the kick level by a few db and also boosted some of the highs to get the click for present. I also turned up some of the percussion elements too. You suggested for the synth I cut around the 450hz area, I did that but after being able to rest my ears from listening to it I noticed some clashing in the low end with the saw bass I have underneath it so I also moved the highpass up to 150hz to make room for the bass. The synth itself is made up of multiple layers and I went in and readjusted some of the levels and then increased the volume of the synth overall so it would be louder than the synths in the other parts of the track. There was also a low vocal pad that I had layered underneath that seemed a bit loud (also wasn't eq'd either) that was causing some of the mud in those lower frequencies so I fixed that. But mainly it was the kick that really helped not only is everything in the drop much more present and clear but the entire track seems to have a better frequency range where the kick is at causing it to sound brighter. You were correct when you mentioned that I ended up trying to fix this in the master. I hadn't purposely tried to add more but that's what my ears told me to do during the process. Thank you for the help!

With that aside I can't tell if I'm fatigued from listening to it but it still sounds like there's something more I can do. The drop still doesn't seem to sit properly compared to the other parts of the track.

Here's the new mix
https://soundcloud.com/spectretech/for- ... unmastered

Also just for fun here is a comparison of the track now versus then.

https://soundcloud.com/spectretech/for- ... re/s-Fu6pv

iSpiritus
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:33 pm

Re: Mixing/Mastering help

Post by iSpiritus » Thu Dec 29, 2016 5:02 pm

Anyone else able to provide feedback?

Khazul
Posts: 3185
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Re: Mixing/Mastering help

Post by Khazul » Thu Dec 29, 2016 6:13 pm

[nm - deleted]
Nothing to see here - move along!

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