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Color Me Red - jtbStudio
05-11-2016, 11:40 AM
Post: #1
Color Me Red - jtbStudio
My first thoughts after loading everything up and taking a listen was that while the tracks sounded good, with a great performance, there were a few issues with the arrangement.

I kinda got what they were trying to do with the intro (I think), but it didn't really work for me, so with a bit of judicious editing, I came up with something more traditional, which IMHO works better.

The other big thing I noticed was the ending, after the second break. This song is all about the driving groove, and while the energy is there after the second break, it's lost with the feedback guitar break, before everything picks up again. I was loathe to cut the song, since it was already a bit on the short side, but I took that part of the song out, and I think the ending is a lot stronger now; it's balls to floor out of the second break, all the way through to the end of the song. Again, a more traditional thing, but I think it suits this song more. A solo would fill the song out nicely, either before or after the second break, perhaps...?

Finally, even with the breaks, the song felt like it had a similar kind of sound all the way through, so I really wanted to find a way to bring some variety to the mix. While it has a full rhythm section and electric guitar, it still felt kinda like an acoustic kind of a song at it's heart, so I really wanted to bring out the contrast between the quieter parts of the song, where the acoustic guitars dominate, and the other parts of the song that rock out hard. Other people have slammed their mixes pretty hard, and they sound good if you're after that kind of feel, but I was looking for something a bit more subtle.

I usually dislike mixes that put the snare front and centre, but this is one of those songs where it's appropriate, and since the recorded tracks really didn't cut it for me, I blended in some samples (and ditched the SnareDown track completely Smile).

I've been experimenting with Melda Production's MAutoAlign, and it made a massive difference to the tracks here. It time-shifted the tracks by (what seems to me) a lot, but the sound was significantly better, so I guess it's all good.

There were an impressive number of backing vox tracks, but I found they muddied things up quite a bit, so I ditched a few of them, which helped a lot. No R+B here Smile

Interestingly, nearly everything I've mentioned so far has been about non-technical stuff. I guess this was just one of those songs, and the technical side of the mix was pretty much par for the course for me; it was mostly about carving out space in the EQ spectrum for each part. Keyboards always seem to have a lot of useless crud at the bottom end, so I high-passed the Rhodes at ~400 Hz. I also added a bit of mid-side EQ, to push it out to the sides by cutting the middle at ~550 Hz, and boosting the high-end on the sides.

I wanted a longer tail on the banjo hits, so I automated in some extra reverb, although I'm not sure if it made a big difference. I also had to add some extra EQ and volume automation on the guitars during those bits, to control the resonance.

All in all, a really fun track to mix. You always know when you've nailed a mix when your head keeps bobbing up and down, even though you've heard it a million times Smile And it was a pleasure to mix a short song; I've been doing some 10- or 12-minute monstrosities recently, which are a bit of a drag to review each time Undecided


.mp3   Color Me Red (jtbStudio).mp3 --  (Download: 5.8 MB)



Mixing and mastering at jtbStudio.com
My music at JazzTeddyBears.com


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05-11-2016, 01:01 PM
Post: #2
RE: Color Me Red - jtbStudio
(05-11-2016 11:40 AM)jtbStudio Wrote:  My first thoughts after loading everything up and taking a listen was that while the tracks sounded good, with a great performance, there were a few issues with the arrangement...

Not 100% on the arrangement edits. Don’t think they hurt. But also didn't find the song lacking in the dynamics and forward movement. The breakdown really requires the bass guitar to be prominent to carry the grove through that section.

(05-11-2016 11:40 AM)jtbStudio Wrote:  A solo would fill the song out nicely, either before or after the second break, perhaps...?

Agree here!

(05-11-2016 11:40 AM)jtbStudio Wrote:  Other people have slammed their mixes pretty hard, and they sound good if you're after that kind of feel, but I was looking for something a bit more subtle.

I'll be guilty on that one (but enjoy listening to the more acoustic takes on the song also!)

(05-11-2016 11:40 AM)jtbStudio Wrote:  I've been experimenting with Melda Production's MAutoAlign, and it made a massive difference to the tracks.

I started using SoundRadix AutoAlign about a year ago. Agree with you on the massive difference time alignment makes. Less need to use EQ or other processing subsequently, a huge difference.

(05-11-2016 11:40 AM)jtbStudio Wrote:  All in all, a really fun track to mix. You always know when you've nailed a mix when your head keeps bobbing up and down, even though you've heard it a million times

A few comments on the mix (all very much a matter of personal taste):

Like the acoustic guitar on the intro and the vocals.
Echo spins on lead vocal are good, but a little distracting on the top end. (An HPF would work)
Lead vocal sounded a little thin in places. Perfect in others.
Background vocal levels/intelligibility maybe could be improved.

All sound is a distortion of silence / soundcloud.com/jeffd42
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05-11-2016, 01:44 PM
Post: #3
RE: Color Me Red - jtbStudio
I agree with pretty much everything that Jeff said. Personally, I think the acoustic has a bit of amid range DI quality but I think this is matter of taste as opposed to being "wrong". I think I just have developed such an aversion to that kind of sound that it jumps out to me.

I agree about the intro to this song. Each mix I've done for this song has downplayed it and I dropped it totally on the last mix I did. It's kind of a honey pot for mixers and we start to think "what cool thing can we do here?" but the possible trap is a sound gets set up that lays the impression for the rest of the song. It's fine if one goes for a big contrast in volume or eq but when the intro is too effected it just sets up different expectations for what's to come. So I think you had the right idea in simplifying it. Maybe consider louder crashes? Especially at the OD cymbals at top. It might add more excitement to the top of the song.

I will say the l/r delays are distracting. Especially on the vocal. It might work if it's darker. I think it works on the guitar in the heavier sections but might distract from the guitar fills on the quieter sections. [I dunno. After a few listens the delays grow on me. Maybe have less feedback/repeats?]

I like the banjo effect and it does help extend the notes.

The BGVs feel ok. It's an artistic choice. In this mix they are back a bit but it adds to the evil, ominous quality of the part.

The floor tom sounds a little tubby. At least as I noticed on a later fill.

I'm not sure about the rhodes (a helpful comment I know). I never liked it in this song. I just was boring part/sound in general. I think if I did a mix of this again (no!) I'd try editing out every other note and maybe an interesting delay to fill in the missing notes. Oh maybe a triple delay to add more of a galloping feel. On this mix it sounds fine but even with the eq you've done to it it feels too 'in your face'. But in the end that's just the nature of that part.

I honestly don't even notice the section you edited out. I think I've heard this song so many times that I don't miss it. Ha. The song has a bunch of different sections so it can take an edit like that.

I think that's everything that comes to mind. Sorry to be so wordy/unhelpful. My coffee hasn't kicked in yet.

Cheers.

I only have earbuds to listen and mix with at the moment. Take everything I say with a grain of salt.
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A mix doesn't have to be good, it just has to sound good.
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05-11-2016, 11:39 PM
Post: #4
RE: Color Me Red - jtbStudio
(05-11-2016 01:01 PM)jeffd42 Wrote:  A few comments on the mix (all very much a matter of personal taste):

Like the acoustic guitar on the intro and the vocals.
Echo spins on lead vocal are good, but a little distracting on the top end. (An HPF would work)
Lead vocal sounded a little thin in places. Perfect in others.
Background vocal levels/intelligibility maybe could be improved.

Thanks for the feedback. I got my ears tested a while back and can only hear up to about 12kHz, so I'm just guessing at anything above that Sad The background vocals, I deliberately didn't want to have them too forward, I wanted them just as another driver for the groove, rather than be a front-and-centre thing.

Mixing and mastering at jtbStudio.com
My music at JazzTeddyBears.com


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05-11-2016, 11:51 PM
Post: #5
RE: Color Me Red - jtbStudio
(05-11-2016 01:44 PM)RoyMatthews Wrote:  Maybe consider louder crashes? Especially at the OD cymbals at top. It might add more excitement to the top of the song.
Yah, I originally had them louder but it just sounded a bit artificial (since there isn't any other cymbal work going on), so I just pushed them back a bit, still audible but not as obvious.

(05-11-2016 01:44 PM)RoyMatthews Wrote:  I will say the l/r delays are distracting. Especially on the vocal. It might work if it's darker. I think it works on the guitar in the heavier sections but might distract from the guitar fills on the quieter sections. [I dunno. After a few listens the delays grow on me. Maybe have less feedback/repeats?]
I tend to do this a lot, so I might just be used to it Smile

(05-11-2016 01:44 PM)RoyMatthews Wrote:  I like the banjo effect and it does help extend the notes.
I really liked the banjo part, it adds a lot of character, but the other guitars are hitting the note at the same time, so I needed to find a way to make the banjo more prominent.

(05-11-2016 01:44 PM)RoyMatthews Wrote:  The BGVs feel ok. It's an artistic choice. In this mix they are back a bit but it adds to the evil, ominous quality of the part.
Cool, that's exactly what I was looking for Smile

(05-11-2016 01:44 PM)RoyMatthews Wrote:  The floor tom sounds a little tubby. At least as I noticed on a later fill.
Yah, normally I'd replace them, but I got a bit lazy with those Rolleyes

(05-11-2016 01:44 PM)RoyMatthews Wrote:  I'm not sure about the rhodes (a helpful comment I know). I never liked it in this song. I just was boring part/sound in general. I think if I did a mix of this again (no!) I'd try editing out every other note and maybe an interesting delay to fill in the missing notes. Oh maybe a triple delay to add more of a galloping feel. On this mix it sounds fine but even with the eq you've done to it it feels too 'in your face'. But in the end that's just the nature of that part.
I quite liked the part, it's a completely different sound to the rest of the song, but I found it muddied things up horribly. Those parts of the song are quite dense already, so I just kept the top-end of the Rhodes and pushed it out to the sides.

(05-11-2016 01:44 PM)RoyMatthews Wrote:  I think that's everything that comes to mind. Sorry to be so wordy/unhelpful. My coffee hasn't kicked in yet.
It's all good, thanks for taking the time. I think it's easy to get caught up in the technical side of things, but a lot of what we do are artistic decisions and ultimately, they have a much bigger effect on the final mix.

Mixing and mastering at jtbStudio.com
My music at JazzTeddyBears.com


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21-11-2016, 08:34 PM
Post: #6
RE: Color Me Red - jtbStudio
Well, you're certainly not afraid to wield the editing scalpel! I can see where you're coming from here, in that the riff is such a strong element of the arrangement that it feels a shame on some level to interrupt its relentless groove in Outro 1. Even in that context, though, I think I'd still have left Mid-section 2 in there, as that provides crucial musical variety -- you could still have cut straight from that to Outro 2 without dropping the beat. I like that you kept the ElecGtr04 part from Outro 1 in there, though, as it'd have been a shame to lose that!

The blend of acoustic and electric guitars in the main riff section is also pretty cool, making a nice balance between lively dynamics and rock attitude. When it gets to the Mid-section, though, the cleaner guitar layers seem rather understated, which feels like a bit of a wasted opportunity in terms of differentiating the song sections. Could the bass maybe have a bit more bite in the midrange too overall, so we hear its nice little fills and slides better?

The overall tonality does seem rather clouded and middly on the whole, partly because the sub-100Hz region feels underplayed to me, and partly because the lead vocal's pretty much the only part that's contributing much above 5kHz -- there's a bit of energy from the acoustic guitar strums and snare transient, but there's not much besides. I can see the argument for clearing away some high end to reduce vocal masking, but I think that needs to be weighed against the danger that the mix will then sound a bit woolly whenever the singer's absent, which it quite often is here.

In some cases, overall-tonality issues are quite simple to remedy with a bit of buss EQ -- it's rare that I do a mix without buss EQ myself, in fact, because I usually end up giving my first-draft mix a bit too much of some frequency range or other, and then my ears get used to it so they don't notice... I get slapped round the face with it at the referencing stage! Smile However, in this case I think you'd need to rework the lead vocal sound, because if you simply boosted the highs on your mix buss as things stand, the vocal would become very harsh -- even without buss EQ, in fact, the vocal's already on the bright side, and discourages me from turning the listening volume up, which probably isn't good for a song like this. I do like the vocal delay effect, which gives a feeling of room boundaries without overtly distancing the singer, although I'd perhaps low-pass filter the return, as the consonant 'ricochets' get a touch distracting in the verses.

Hope some of that's useful. Thanks for posting!

Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio | Recording Secrets for the Small Studio
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22-11-2016, 12:49 PM
Post: #7
RE: Color Me Red - jtbStudio
(21-11-2016 08:34 PM)Mike Senior Wrote:  Well, you're certainly not afraid to wield the editing scalpel!
Yeah, I'd rather have a shorter song where every section is 10/10, rather than a longer one that had a few 9's Smile

(21-11-2016 08:34 PM)Mike Senior Wrote:  I think I'd still have left Mid-section 2 in there, as that provides crucial musical variety
It was a tough decision, but I felt it made the song better (although I was definitely wishing there had been a solo somewhere in there). I think the proof of the pudding would be to ask someone who hadn't heard the original arrangement, or let them hear my cut first Smile

(21-11-2016 08:34 PM)Mike Senior Wrote:  I like that you kept the ElecGtr04 part from Outro 1 in there, though, as it'd have been a shame to lose that!
TBH, I didn't really like that part - I thought it sounded a bit odd and out of place - but yes, it added variety, so I left it in, albeit buried a bit.

(21-11-2016 08:34 PM)Mike Senior Wrote:  The overall tonality does seem rather clouded and middly on the whole, partly because the sub-100Hz region feels underplayed to me, and partly because the lead vocal's pretty much the only part that's contributing much above 5kHz -- there's a bit of energy from the acoustic guitar strums and snare transient, but there's not much besides.
This is something I'm going to be focusing on over the coming months. I've spent so much time trying to figure out how to manage the bottom end, and I think that I'm starting to get a handle on it, but anything over about 5kHz is still a mystery to me Rolleyes

(21-11-2016 08:34 PM)Mike Senior Wrote:  However, in this case I think you'd need to rework the lead vocal sound, because if you simply boosted the highs on your mix buss as things stand, the vocal would become very harsh -- even without buss EQ, in fact, the vocal's already on the bright side, and discourages me from turning the listening volume up, which probably isn't good for a song like this.
That's a good point. I'm in a small apartment right now, so I can't test my mixes super-loud any more Smile

(21-11-2016 08:34 PM)Mike Senior Wrote:  I do like the vocal delay effect, which gives a feeling of room boundaries without overtly distancing the singer, although I'd perhaps low-pass filter the return, as the consonant 'ricochets' get a touch distracting in the verses.
That's FabFilter's Timeless - I usually tweak one of their presets, but they're probably a bit wet, by default. People keep complaining about the delays bouncing around all over the place in my mixes, and I'm starting to be able to hear that, yes, it's perhaps a bit much.

(21-11-2016 08:34 PM)Mike Senior Wrote:  Hope some of that's useful.
Absolutely. I'm chuffed that your criticisms have been about fairly subtle things; I must be starting to get the hang of this mixing lark... Thanks!

Mixing and mastering at jtbStudio.com
My music at JazzTeddyBears.com


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