why does my stuff sound under-produced?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
radiance
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why does my stuff sound under-produced?

Post by radiance » Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:55 am

Hello

When I listen to techno records, they sound PHAT even if they contain just a few sounds. When I produce my own music, it sounds under-produced in the end, even when I have plenty of tracks going on.
My equipment is good though, so am I missing something?
Studio Electronics ATC1, Access Virus TI, Roland TR-8, Mackie Onyx 1220i, Novation SL mk2, Midisport4*4 AE / amd ryzen 1600x, 16gb DDR4, windows10 64bits

Komplex
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Post by Komplex » Wed Apr 12, 2006 11:00 am

I bet its something to do with mixing, and then mastering. in that order...

post up some samples man!

radiance
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Post by radiance » Wed Apr 12, 2006 11:29 am

I never know when and where I have to add some EQs during mixing.
Regarding mastering, all I do is add a limiter.
What plugins should I do to achieve all this?


Here's a track if you wanna check my sound out:
http://s63.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=36QI ... U9SQJYFY1U
Studio Electronics ATC1, Access Virus TI, Roland TR-8, Mackie Onyx 1220i, Novation SL mk2, Midisport4*4 AE / amd ryzen 1600x, 16gb DDR4, windows10 64bits

spiderprod
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Post by spiderprod » Wed Apr 12, 2006 11:38 am

try out the BBE sonic maximiser , that's what everyone uses to make house or techno records .you can download it from cakewalk .

Patch
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Post by Patch » Wed Apr 12, 2006 11:39 am

Nice composition... I've got the same problem. So much of the stuff I make sounds like a demo song from a casio keyboard. I'll be interested to see what suggestions you get regarding phattening up your sound. Suggestions like "add compression" and "add a touch of reverb to the x part" will be coming thick n' fast. Some instructions on deciding how much and what type of compression would be nice...

Angstrom
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Post by Angstrom » Wed Apr 12, 2006 12:04 pm

forget the maximiser for now.

things I noticed - nothing has a defined role. define the roles of the components

everything is very central, there is no 'bigness' from sounds that should be massive. you can fix this without breaking the mono mix (rig mix)

what I would do - on either the pad or the wibbly noise that comes in : split off everything from 200hz up to another channel and put a 20ms delay on one side a 'wide stereo' effect (I use a simple delay 100% wet L=1ms r= 20ms no feedback). pop a little short reverb on it to give a little life. the bass will stay low and mono. now combine those two tracks to a group for mixing.

which ever you choose - wibble or pad - both need a role, I sould give the wibble the phatness and set the pad back so reverb it to give depth.

get the high frequencies on the pad only and put a lot of shimmer on (probably a phaser) with yet more reverb. it will give the pads a role as 'this is the scene', 'the environment' . I can remain central but should have the width provided by the live phaser with verb to 'confuse' the basic lfo pan that gives.

right, other stuff could do with a role too - but I'm bored of that.

EQ carving - once you have your sounds sorted, get the groups and make sure that the low mid of the pads isn't right on top of the low mid of the wibble. Choose which one gets precedence. you can switch in an eq just at the point the wibble comes in if you want.

do the same for the kick and things , choose what is having the frequence. It becomes more crucial the lower you go. Low bass to low mid is only 50hz to 250hz range .. a mere 200 cycles to play with , too many instruments competing in there spells doom for clarity and punch.

after all that crush the fuck out of it with the multiband compressor of your choice! ;)

radiance
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Post by radiance » Wed Apr 12, 2006 12:38 pm

I'm glad I posted a MP3...thanks for the advice, very constructive. :idea:
I'll try all of that right away.

Angstrom, what plugins do you think I should add to Live? All my sound sources are hardware, but regarding effects I use software, but never really found what I wanted...
Studio Electronics ATC1, Access Virus TI, Roland TR-8, Mackie Onyx 1220i, Novation SL mk2, Midisport4*4 AE / amd ryzen 1600x, 16gb DDR4, windows10 64bits

rbmonosylabik
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Post by rbmonosylabik » Wed Apr 12, 2006 1:01 pm

Check out this thread

http://www.ableton.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=36056&

I usually mix as the track develops, pulling out the sound I want as I work, then do a final mix revision when the tracking and arrangement is finished. For this do a pre mix without effects, just setting levels. This mix should be done at different levels because perception changes depending on the volume.

For this I usually have 3 reference levels. Normal, Low and High. Normal is the level at which you do the editing comfortably. Low is used to notice if something is to loud in the mix. To do this, listen to your song at normal level, then drop the volume to 0, get used to the 0 reference, then move the volume up until you can barely hear the loudest part of the mix. If the 1st thing that comes up is the Hi Hat, then it may be too loud. Same with the kick, snare, bass or any other instrument.

High is used to check the quiet part of the mix (Instrument and other noises). Move gradually from Normal to High level and take note of what changes as you go up. Maybe there is noise in the higher end of the kick for example. This way you'll know what to cut out from an instrument with EQ.

Kick and Bass must be one. What this means is that they have to work together supporting the rest of the instrumentation. If they fight for the same frequencies or their rythms don't complement each other, the song will sound weak or just plain bad.

Also, kick and bass should form a brickwall. They are the first things you'll need to compress. The amount of compression you'll need will vary depending on the feel of the song, and maybe they won't need it, but most of the time they will. Start with a 4:1 compression and adjust from there.

Distribute your sounds in the stereo field. Picture where you want each sound to come from and distribute accordingly. I usually start with drums and bass. The kick goes dead center most of the time with the bass just slightly to the left. You can invert them (bass dead center with kick to the left) depending on their soinc characteristics.

Now, imagine you're seeing the front of the drum kit. The snare is to the right of the kick, the hi hat is slightly further right, the ride is far to the left (not too far), the crash is usually further right than the hi hat, but it may vary and the toms go from slightly right to far left. Then proceed to distribute the rest of the instrumentation from there.

Notice that the things that sound most of the time are panned center or right (hi hat, snare, kick and bass). This may lead to your mix getting too charged to the right. When you distribute the rest of the instrumentation try to balance it out. Use your master meters to see if one side is more active than the other and use your ears to move things around.

With experience you'll learn when and how to EQ and compress the rest of your instrumentation and how to make your mix as loud as needed. Start with these tips and develop from there.
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Tarekith
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Post by Tarekith » Wed Apr 12, 2006 1:01 pm

It's called 'practice' :)
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forge
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Post by forge » Wed Apr 12, 2006 1:11 pm

I didnt listen, but looks like Angstrom said alot of what I was going to say - but from your comments
"they sound PHAT even if they contain just a few sounds. When I produce my own music, it sounds under-produced in the end, even when I have plenty of tracks going on."
that is probably EXACTLY the problem - with mixing it sounds have the MOST power when they have their own space in the mix - if you cram loads of sounds together and dont EQ them all so that they fit together then they will all take power away from each other

I'll bet these tracks you talk about with just a few have bass and kick that dont compete (ie not the same frequencies) and so on

wavejumper
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in the mix

Post by wavejumper » Wed Apr 12, 2006 1:14 pm

only listened to that track on crappy headphones so i can't comment on sound quality...what struck was that there wasn't much happening. i understand techno and minimal and what have you but the elements didn't seem to really lead anywhere or to groove....in fact the groove wasnt, in my opinion, there.

happens to me often enough, i find the best thing to do then is to come up with the strongest possible bass/perc/drums combination, something that grooves and then just jam all the elements using live in session mode, i record the jam, sometimes 10, 15 minutes of it and then i open this jam in an editor and start cutting and pasting until i have a track that has a the strongest possible start, middle and end.

even if you don't like using jams as the basis of your track i'd suggest using it just as a tool to improvise to test the strongest areas in your tunes and to build some sort of tension and release combination...

apart from that I liked the pace and the sound selection, as tarekith said, you gotta practice a lot, things will happen. good luck

forge
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Post by forge » Wed Apr 12, 2006 1:14 pm

I just had a listen at low volume on NS10s and didnt actually think it was mixed badly at all - no there isnt much going on and so I dont think there is really a problem there at all in the mix

listening now through DT250s - I'm very much thinking now your question is more from a compositional standpoint - as in where could it go, what could make it more interesting etc - provided anything else you bring in doesnt clash frequencies with anything else (especially that any bass sound doesnt try and co-inhabit the same freqs as the kick) then it should sound fine

definitely think a hypnotic but groove oriented bass line could really move it along - but now your getting into "personal taste" territory

nice vibe and sounds to it though, stick in a bass line then go with where it leads you and you'll have a nice deep house tune
Last edited by forge on Wed Apr 12, 2006 1:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

rbmonosylabik
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Post by rbmonosylabik » Wed Apr 12, 2006 1:18 pm

t3h double post!!!
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markaugust
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Post by markaugust » Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:19 pm

you have monitors?
that is one of the things that changed my music from amateur to phat.
and on the way how loud the lfo pad sounds I am guessing you don't.
and you are really sparse on effects
it all sounds dry as #$%
use delays, phasers reverbs whatever in different settings to get every sound a little more lively.
panning effects always work as a charm also.
soundchoice is nice; but as you are finding out now; and so many before you (that is why so many wannabe producers buy all that equipment and find out "it is not their thing" and then sell it again)is that making a phat track which doesnn't bore you after the 5th hundred time around (or how ever many rounds it takes to finish a track)is really a little work of art.it takes so much more time then I would have ever thought when this hobby started. so push on, and keep on trying to make it more interesting with every track.
one day you will make one that is right up there with those fat productions you were talking about. it might just take a bit more experience the you first forsaw.
so many friends that thought that they wanted to make music, but after seeing me for a few years totally reviewed that opinion and said that it was so much more detailistic and more work in general then they ever would have imagined that they not wanted to do it anymore.
and about having just a few sounds,that all sound awesome and that rock is the ultimate art in house music.
having every sound just spot on is something that just happens once in a while.
like every artist has its juwels and its so-so's

Spikee
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Post by Spikee » Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:31 pm

radiance wrote:I'm glad I posted a MP3...thanks for the advice, very constructive. :idea:
I'll try all of that right away.

Angstrom, what plugins do you think I should add to Live? All my sound sources are hardware, but regarding effects I use software, but never really found what I wanted...
Have you tried the Waves bundles?? They're quite something... :)

It's already been said but you have to EQ things properly to get a large sound. You can do it the lazy way with Compression but too much chops off your head room to where you have the volume but absolutely no dynamics and sparkle in your stereo field. If you're using more than a 2:1 ratio to get the juice you want, you're not eq'ing your tracks right.

Think of your mix as a 10 pound bag. You have 15 pounds of food but you have to get it all in the bag, right? Equalization with help you lose the 4.99 pounds of that food you don't need and it's up to you to figure out what to do with a .01 pounds leftover. Look at your tracks and prioritize them. Your bass has to cut all of the way through to the top so what's the first thing you should be looking at? Well, that is determining that none of your pads or other instruments are throwing crap into your low spectrum. Chop off their low shelf. Then you have to look at mid-range, your 1k and 2-2.5k... how many of your instruments are pushing signal in that range? get them all to balance and there's another total signal increase. Do you sing on the track? Chop everything off at 500hz -- that's where your vox are going to reside. Eventually though when everything starts to sit pretty, you can just turn it all up with the faders and there you go -- a song with a ton of prescence, but has an enormous sound.

Good luck!

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