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Full Version: The_Metallurgist mixes Enda Reillys Cur An Long Ag Seol
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tuff one. i mixed this in analogue in order to control the blatant peaks and ear-blistering frequencies captured by the digital domain. a Mandolin is especially troublesome, so too an acoustic guitar (the fiddles less so herein because they weren't mic'd up according to convention). clearly, as concluded by the presence of abundant resonances plaguing the tracking (vocal and the big bass especially), the room was far from ideal. the vocal had more notches than a fir tree to try and contain the moles and i was a bit worried that by the time i'd whacked most of them there'd be nothing left! the big bass was impossible for me to shape properly so the outcome is a compromise between control of the bass response, dynamic (which the room had a major role in exaggerating) and tone. probably one of those super examples where "You can't fix a bad room in the mix". but i did my best.

adding further to the challenges, it sounded like some of the tracking was bounced with automation running; a change in the mandolin's levels are quite obvious, for example.

there is one point in the mix which took some care to negotiate. at about 2:08 the mandolin was edited out (you can tell by the unnatural fades in the supplied track), which meant the bleed from the acoustic guitar was no longer present. this, if left unattended, would cause a skew in the stereo field and make a bit of a nonsense in perspective. editing out the mandolin was obviously a post-recording idea rather than an advanced plan within the arrangement. if it had been planned, the acoustic bleed could still sit nicely in the mandolin's microphone which would make the mixing task far less onerous!! naturally, the acoustic bleed in the mandolin tracking was time-aligned to avoid the consequences of comb-filtering in the mix from said instrument by moi. i used only one of the mandolin mic's and ditched the other.

for those of a technical bent, consider the ramifications of automating the level of the mandolin with it's not insignificant bleed from the acoustic contained within it's tracking.

the skin's level automation bore no relation to the groove of the song, which struck me as odd. i have, however, automated it so it will drop back or come forward depending on my vision. i ignored the vagaries of it's tracking in order to preserve my sanity though. and also note i muted out the brushes, one place quite hard; the idea being to remove some monotony and introduce a subtle change in song dynamic.

not a straightforward mix by any means. show me one that is....but it makes for super experience, eh? a lot of love went into this so please go easy on me Wink

thanks in advance for checking it out.
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UPDATE:
new master in post #17 (no changes were made to the mix), following Niel's (aka Voelund) suggestion.
Very nice!
Hey Dave,

not bad mix. Only missing little bit of air... maybe 2-3 curtains less... ;-)
Good stuff
Always an exciting experience seeing what you pulled out and sonically changed and nor least what ambient tricks you pull from your sleeve when you post a mix.
This bein no exception the first thing I noticed were the rather thin vocal tone, fitting the instruments eq well when the surprise had turned to "hey he sants it to sound that way, shut up and listen"
Your work on the bas paid off, it sounds like another bas than what I mixed.
Guitar and mandolins blend beautifully and even accordion and violin fine their space, not to mention I actually hear the drum in your mix.
It takes guts to change a recordin that much, and vision and skills.

I noticed also the after trackin mutin of the mandolins third verse. Choose not to bother makin artificial leakage, its unclear to me if you did ?

Great mix and respect for the lot of work you put into printin and presenting your vision.

To my ears the number of curtains are just right Big Grin
Yes, a tough one indeed. I've been attacking this one and his other song (Ang Nasc Nua) furiously in short spurts for weeks now and haven't been able to get as much as a rough balance to use as a mixing guide. So take my comments from that perspective... I'm fully, painfully, agonizingly aware of the challenges in this one. Even recorded in an expensively treated live room, acoustic music (with mic spill!) like this is the hardest of all mixing challenges in my opinion.

So for me, this mix is 100 percent believable. If that was your primary intention, ignore the rest of my opinions, because you win. Dave, 10 points. Herculean mixing challenges, 0. I like the approach with the ambiance quite a bit... nice, soft, with a good deal of treble rolled off. To me it feels like I'm listening to live music in a big living room, sitting on a big comfortable couch. Very cozy, homey, warm.

Now from a more critical perspective, the mix is midrange heavy for my taste, and it's possible that the reverb is feeding into that perception, though I think much of that might be due to the inconsistent midrange presence of the upright bass. You've wrangled that bass a good deal better than I was able to, but the level inconsistencies between the different strings create "lumps" in the sonics that are distracting for me. It may be that while you've dialed in a very tight sound in a treated room while seated in ideal position, the level inconsistencies may be exaggerated by me less controlled environment. Still worth pointing out, though (in my opinion) as most people would likely be in an even less controlled listening situation than mine, and will most likely move about the room as they listen. Not really a criticism so much as an observation... there's only so much you can do with a double bass.

The other instruments sound very nice and blend well to my ears. Comb filtering between the acoustic guitar and mandolin is admirably controlled. The only "issue" that stands out for me there in this regard is that they could use a teeny bit more definition in the attack. As they sit in the mix currently, it sounds like they guitar and mandolins need new strings, because the tone is just a teeny bit dull. To my ear, it almost sounds like midrange cuts would do the trick? Or possibly the sounds I'm missing were lost in the process of filtering out resonances, which of course would be difficult or impossible to remedy without reintroducing the resonances.

Great work, man. What processing did you use on the bass?
THese tracks had plenty of fixing challenges as you very well know. You have nicely fixed lots of problems, balances are good, blending nice etc, as others have mentioned. I agree with them on that point. But still I think that overall sound is not that good.

For example, there's nothing wrong with the vocal sound technically, but it doesn't have any more that sonic hook that made me listen very carefully singer's voice in the first place although I didn't understand a word of it.

You have very nicely tamed the bass, but it doesn't sound like a double bass to me anymore. In this song I would prefer an unbalanced natural bass sound over a balanced but unnatural sound.

Similarly the string instruments have no harshness anywhere, but on the other hand they lack all the sparkle altogether. So which one should one choose: dull mandolin and guitar without comb filtering effect, or sparkling mandolin and guitar with some comb filtering effect?

So, I think something is lacking. I'm saying this for I know that you can do much more pleasant sound that this. Maybe you have concentrated too much just to eliminate the negative things, and in the process forgot to make the positive things shine.
(29-07-2014 01:18 PM)Olli H Wrote: [ -> ]Maybe you have concentrated too much just to eliminate the negative things, and in the process forgot to make the positive things shine.

That's a good way to put it, and I agree... though he did basically admit to this in his post in his comments on resonance control.

Prefix to my comments: the harshness is the main issue in the raw tracks for me... you did right to eliminate it. No criticisms there.

I might be wrong as I often am... but my gut tells me this mix could benefit from some sort of delicate high end enhancement to "recover" from the attacks on harshness early in the mixing phase.

So in the interest of furthering discussion... I have a few main ideas. All of course are "in the box" because I prefer the flexibility.

You mentioned an HF exciter on one of my threads... might not be a bad idea in parallel. Problem I see with this approach though is that the fiddle might go all nails on a chalkboard if it's applied broadly enough to sound natural.

First thing that always comes to my mind is distortion... that MIGHT work but in acoustic music... well. The consequences could be as problematic in a different way, but I think the music really could benefit from thicker harmonics north of the mids. Obviously this'd have to be in parallel also with lots of low cut, and care would have to be taken to make sure it wasn't affecting the decay of the affected instruments. Or influencing the phase in a bad way. I think a tape-saturation type distortion would be best for this tactic.

Final idea... what about easing off the standard EQ high shelving cuts a biton the mando and guitar and enhancing them with a dynamic EQ high shelving cut? Keep the attack time long enough to allow the the strings a momentary bit of brightness so they don't sound as dull, but without the excess HF stuff carrying into the sustains and delivering fatigue?
Havin heard it on speakers today I kind of agree with Olli. You tamed the room resnances and double bas but lost a lot of sparkle and excitement in the proces.
Maybe Paulis suggestion is the solution, maybe its proof there are things we cant fix in the mix, maybe its doable with more hours on the drawin board or maybe its time to move on to another mix.
(29-07-2014 01:18 PM)Olli H Wrote: [ -> ]You have very nicely tamed the bass, but it doesn't sound like a double bass to me anymore. In this song I would prefer an unbalanced natural bass sound over a balanced but unnatural sound.

thanks for coming in Olli, your perspective is important.

the bass was a compromise, sadly. Pauli found the lumpiness a distraction, which is yet another view. already there are contrasting thoughts about what should be present and what should be dealt with. i think this only illustrates further the challenges with the tracking. had i removed the lumpiness (let's call it dynamic, eh?), i'd have really lost the instrument and added to the low-end congestion. there were certain frequencies which the room was over emphasising which i had to nail. but let me say this...there's nothing natural about a room that contributes modal issues in the tracking. if you're playing a live gig, the people act as bass absorbers, so the thing doesn't get up to mischief. but in this setting, no audience....no bass absorbers....not a good outcome. it's my argument that we shouldn't be trying to fix such issues in recordings. the more we try and fix a mess, the less motivation the musician has in doing the right thing. critically and crucially, we can't fix it in the mix...that's the point and that's what the musicians need to understand.

Quote:Similarly the string instruments have no harshness anywhere, but on the other hand they lack all the sparkle altogether. So which one should one choose: dull mandolin and guitar without comb filtering effect, or sparkling mandolin and guitar with some comb filtering effect?

i listened to your mix, which i presume you were happy with in that regard? personally, it offended my ears. that's NOT a criticism of your mix because i understand the constraints, but it does reflect the differences in your approach to the task of mixing, and mine. and i'm sure the fact that you play acoustic had some sway in your approach. my bias was towards listenability and comfort; but that's 4 decades of audiophile speaking. but in a normal situation, we wouldn't be having this discussion....because the tacking would be "Fit for purpose" and neither of us would need to make compromises.

to be clear, we can't filter out odd harmonics (distortion) from the consequences of cheap condenser microphones with presence peak intact(!) without there being repercussions. my decision was to give priority to the listener and make it comfortable to listen to. your mix wasn't comfortable for me and on occasion i had brief moments of pain in my HD560 headphones. and playing over my notebook speakers? let's not go there, it was horrible.

and that's the difference between our mixing approaches. yeah, i could have brought some harmonics in, but they weren't natural harmonics. and we can't take out the unnatural harmonics and leave only the good ones that are pleasing to the ear. i'm still waiting for that plug-in!

Quote:So, I think something is lacking. I'm saying this for I know that you can do much more pleasant sound that this. Maybe you have concentrated too much just to eliminate the negative things, and in the process forgot to make the positive things shine.

the thing that's lacking here is decent tracking with appropriate mikes and a good room. without these, how can you find the shine? and this is why your mix is difficult for me to engage in...but at least i can listen to mine without suddenly feeling a need to jump out of the nearest window. most mixes of this song had me wanting. i took a fresh approach which hopefully would please a wider audience.

we were confronted with some difficult and interesting challenges. no outcome would be ideal........because we can't fix it in the mix. but at least we can have some fun trying! Big Grin But give me a warm mix as opposed to harsh, brittle audio any day of the week, yeah?

cheers Olli
(29-07-2014 05:16 PM)pauli Wrote: [ -> ]Prefix to my comments: the harshness is the main issue in the raw tracks for me... you did right to eliminate it. No criticisms there.

i'm glad about that Wink

Quote:I might be wrong as I often am... but my gut tells me this mix could benefit from some sort of delicate high end enhancement to "recover" from the attacks on harshness early in the mixing phase.

unlikely. the problem is the distortion in the original tracking; we can't take it out. this distortion is also present in the lower spectral range, of course, but it's less apparent because of the proximity of the fundamental. my mix is already well saturated, having used 2 tape decks on the acoustic and mandolin in order to try and smooth them out and lose the harsh, brittle sonics which the mikes presented us with. any attempt at fixing the upper spectrum would be futile, as other mixes of this project testify perhaps. for those who are interested, i used a Studer A800 emu on the first insert, and the Ampex 102 at the end. i kept adjustments to their minimum for the task....just enough to get the job jobbed. i don't usually like talking about plugins in the forum because on the whole, it's irrelevant what we use - it's the outcome that's important. but given my uncharacteristic approach and especially the deviation from the norm with my mix, i thought it might be educational.

Quote:So in the interest of furthering discussion... I have a few main ideas. All of course are "in the box" because I prefer the flexibility.

You mentioned an HF exciter on one of my threads... might not be a bad idea in parallel. Problem I see with this approach though is that the fiddle might go all nails on a chalkboard if it's applied broadly enough to sound natural.

an exciter only works well when there's good harmonics present originally. another problem with exciters is that you have to be careful on which instruments, and how much otherwise the spectrum can get a little flooded and turn a mix the other way.

Quote:First thing that always comes to my mind is distortion... that MIGHT work but in acoustic music... well. The consequences could be as problematic in a different way, but I think the music really could benefit from thicker harmonics north of the mids. I think a tape-saturation type distortion would be best for this tactic.

i did this already. but note my comment on harmonics here. what i had to work with in the higher spectrum sounded really bad with very little tweaking. so my conclusion was to low-pass my way out of the mess with a minimal cut as possible, thus avoiding the spectral impact on my nerves, along with associated stress and discomfort.

Quote:Final idea... what about easing off the standard EQ high shelving cuts a biton the mando and guitar and enhancing them with a dynamic EQ high shelving cut? Keep the attack time long enough to allow the the strings a momentary bit of brightness so they don't sound as dull, but without the excess HF stuff carrying into the sustains and delivering fatigue?

nice try, but no go. before taking the tape route, i tried dynamic EQ and it was a disaster. i then dropped the Studer into the respective inserts followed by dynamicEQ. similar mess.

thanks for your contributions here, but i'm already moving on. i'm way over budget on this one! is it doable? Niel's post offers relevant wisdom......

thanks to everyone who's shared in here. greatly appreciated.
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