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First after many years away
09-01-2015, 12:48 AM (This post was last modified: 13-01-2015 08:48 PM by jmullis.)
Post: #1
First after many years away
Hello,

Not only is this my first mix in over 12 years, it is also my first mix for any work other than my own compositions. I do not do this professionally but have a strong affinity for all creative arts. Don't get me wrong, I do know the correct end of a mic stand, but I've only ever recreationally composed and arranged my own material, save for a few months in a top 40 band in the winter of 1988.

I am short on time at the moment (very demanding work responsibilities), but will elaborate in a follow-up post on a breakdown of what I did to get the snare to sound good (to me), paint a wide vocal panorama, and a few liberties taken removing a few notes/bars from some of the accompaniment. I mostly worked with headphones with occasional limited play on my JBL LSR308's, laptop, and computer desktop speakers. Unfortunately have not tested yet in my vehicles or the home theater. I used reference tracks from Seal, Quincy Jones, Coldplay, Steely Dan, Toni Braxton, and several others of which I don't recall.

I would like to start doing this semi-professionally, perhaps next year (2016), once I get about 50 or so of these under my belt, as well as some contest participations.

I kindly welcome your criticism and look forward to constructively understanding your comments, suggestions, and complaints.

Thanks for giving my mix a listen.

Respectively,
Jim

[Update] Below is a descending chronological list of posted mixes with the most recent at the top. As suggested by a forum member, it allows listeners to experience the evolution of the mix.


.mp3   Back Home To Blue 2.mp3 --  (Download: 9.44 MB)


.mp3   Back Home To Blue.mp3 --  (Download: 9.44 MB)


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09-01-2015, 06:33 PM
Post: #2
RE: First after many years away
Hey!

Any follow up on the snare soon?Smile
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10-01-2015, 03:11 AM (This post was last modified: 10-01-2015 03:17 AM by jmullis.)
Post: #3
RE: First after many years away
(09-01-2015 06:33 PM)Caboney Wrote:  Hey!

Any follow up on the snare soon?Smile

Hi Caboney,

Thanks for giving my mix a listen.

I don't have Steven Slate Drums just yet, so I worked with the source material. I'm using Pro Tools 11.3.0, and I'll start off with what I did. I am learning, so please be constructive in your criticism as I am not coming from a position of authority. I'm only an enthusiastic neophyte that is having fun.

1. After first importing the audio tracks to a new project, I listened to the raw tracks all at once to catch a vibe for the song and get a 30,000 foot overview of what we had to work with.

2. I then normalized all of the audio clips (AudioSuite->Other->Normalize) to a Peak Level of -.3 dB to make the raw tracks easier to work with, and adjusted the placement of a few of the tracks as they where slid out of time.

3. Next was getting the drums to sound good, where I'll now continue focusing only on the snare.

3. I inserted a Fabfilter Pro-C instance for the first insert, and after listening and tweaking over the course of the entire song, I arrived at the following settings:

Band1
-----
Threshold: -23.62
Ratio: 9:1
Range: 100dB
Style: Clean
Attack: .180ms
Release: 239.1ms
Hold: 98.59ms
Knee: 2dB
Lookahead: .2ms
SideChain: In
Gain: 0dB
Filter Low: 99.92Hz
Filter High: 933.2Hz
Wet: 0dB
Dry: Off
Oversampling: Off
No Automation

4. The second insert is a Fabfilter Pro-Q2:

Band1
-----
Type: Bell 12 dB/oct
Freq: 731.34
Gain: -1161dB

5. The next insert is a Waves CLA Drums plugin:

Preset: Snare - Pop2
No alterations

6. The next insert is a Waves Scheps 73

Preset: Dirty Snare
Mode: Stereo
Input: 0dB
Output: -4.4dB
Preamp: On
Preamp Mic: -20M
Drive: Off
Drive Mic: -20M
High: On
High Freq: 12K
High Gain: +4dB
Mid: On
Mid Freq: 10KHz
Mid Gain: +7.3dB
Low: On
Low Freq: 220Hz
Low Gain: +2.9dB
HP: On
HP Freq: 160
Phase: Off
EQ: On

7. The next insert is an SPL Transient Designer:

Attack: +4.6
Sustain: +5.2
Output Gain: -5

8. And the last insert is a Waves NLS Channel:

Console: Nevo
Drive: +8.3
VCA Group: 1 (my Drums bus)
Output: -1.6dB

9. The Sends are as follows:

Send 1:
Output: REV-Room
Output Level: -1.7dB

Send 2:
Output: REV-Plate
Output Level: -12.9dB

10. The FX Bus channels referenced above:

REV-Room:
Insert 1: Lexicon PCM Native Room
Category: Medium Room
Preset: Ambience
Default settings, nothing modified

REV-Plate:
Insert 1: Lexicon PCM VintagePlate
Category: Instrument Plates
Preset: Just Plate
Default settings, nothing modified

11. Additional Notes:
The only plugin on my 2busses are NLS Bus instances set to their corresponding VCA group: 1 for Drums, 2 for Percusion, etc. using the "Mike" setting.
The only plugin on my Sumix bus is a Waves L3-16 using the stock "Enhance 2" preset, except for an Out Ceiling set to -.3dB.
I worked on the kick first and then tried to get a good snare level based on what I felt a good complement in the context of the musicality of the song.
I did perform a few Volume automations to bring out the snare in a couple of spots to emphasize the relevent song change.
I A/B'd all kinds of settings and compressors, et al, including reference tracks using the Sample Magic AB plugin that one of the Dave Pensado ITLs mentioned. I did this with track, chorus, and lyrical context.


To reiterate, I'm learning and trying to listen not only to the sound field but also to what I hear creatively in the music. As I mentioned in my first post, I removed a few "extra" chords played by different guitars in a few places to bring out what I believed the song wanted and was tring to communicate. I also took a few liberties with a couple of the guitar tracks to complement the aural interest, such as doubling (quadrupling) the opening/closing hook line, adding a tremolo/gating effect to another in the verses, and emphasizing a couple of unison complementary chord embellishments that, to me, wanted to come out. I can give more details if anyone is interested.
Some may feel the vocals are too loud or too soft. I felt the lyric was the message and needed to be expressed clearly and effectively using the vocalists timbres. I tried to keep them a little in front with nice wide choruses, but to still work as a team with the instrumentation. Additionally, I tried to find the unique musical nuances that each vocalist brought to the production and let them shine through. I made a few mixes with louder/softer snares, kicks, basses, etc., but settled on this one as a listenable first draft. Unfortunately, I have still not had a chance to listen to this mix on our 5.1 home theater system or in any vehicles, or even the old boombox in the garage for that matter. So, I am admitting this may sound terrible on those devices and welcome your comments on how it sounds on your listening equipment. I mixed for a stereo experience, so headphones will bring out some colors that will perhaps reveal a more comprehensive sonic panorama that I was striving for. Please let me know where I missed the mark.

For me, mixing is an experience where I become part of the band and collaboratively complement the original artists intention where the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Many of you, including the artists, may see a mixer's job as primarily a work-for-hire. I understand and appreciate your point of view and you are correct, but that is not the role I want to play in the process. For me it is an opportunity to help lift something to a greater height, but obviously not at the expense of either disappointing or offending the artist and/or listeners. My hope is to bring something to their effort where they hear even more in their music as the result of some unique perspective I may have on their work. Perhaps I'm injecting a little bit of "producer" into my mixing.

I welcome your interpretations and approaches to help mature my ear and technique.

Thanks,
Jim

P.S. I had the most fun painting vocals on the sound canvas. If you are interested I am happy to post details of those, as well.
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10-01-2015, 01:55 PM
Post: #4
RE: First after many years away
I think it is, in some way, maybe better to mix with only the souce material just so you don't learn to depend on other sources to get a mix to sound good. If we're talking about mixing for learning and not if you're about to do a job for someone else. But ofcourse, if you have some good suff you should use it to get the best sound possible.

I like the effects on the guitars. A little too much for my taste on certain parts tho.
I didn't think that the leadvox was to high. Atleast not in my soundsystem. Maybe a little in the chorus, with the backingvox coning in.
I like the snare, maybe a little too compressed for my taste. But since I know how the snare sounds originally I thing you've done a great job.
These inpus are just my opinion thoSmile

CheersSmile
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11-01-2015, 04:11 AM (This post was last modified: 12-01-2015 08:14 PM by jmullis.)
Post: #5
RE: First after many years away
Thank you Caboney. I have worked on another mix the past few days when I had time.

Here is a new one. (Posted at top of page 1)

-Jim
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12-01-2015, 08:33 PM
Post: #6
RE: First after many years away
All-

I'm just learning this forum and realized I should only have one song posted which should be placed at the top.

Thanks for checking out my mix. Please, any critique is welcomed.

-Jim
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13-01-2015, 02:10 PM (This post was last modified: 13-01-2015 02:28 PM by HbGuitar.)
Post: #7
RE: First after many years away
hey jmullis, welcome to the forum!

listened to v2 - pretty nice mix overall - especially if you've been on sabbatical for 12 years!

The things I'm really noticing is a frequency build up at around 250hz - giving you an occasional bloated resonance. Same for the bass ~120hz....

you can post as many mix versions as you like - and useful to fellow users as they can track mix revisions and hear differences. Some people have them all in first post, some have them chronologically, some do both. what ever floats your boat.
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13-01-2015, 05:39 PM
Post: #8
RE: First after many years away
This was a mix I took out in the car today to listen too. I really liked it while listening at home and it translated nicely to my car's stereo. I spent so much time there, know exactly what it sounds like.

I like the effects on the guitar, as a different approach, and they are well done. The only thing I'd change is the 2nd solo. Right now, it comes in pretty loud.
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13-01-2015, 08:35 PM
Post: #9
RE: First after many years away
(13-01-2015 02:10 PM)HbGuitar Wrote:  hey jmullis, welcome to the forum!

listened to v2 - pretty nice mix overall - especially if you've been on sabbatical for 12 years!

The things I'm really noticing is a frequency build up at around 250hz - giving you an occasional bloated resonance. Same for the bass ~120hz....

you can post as many mix versions as you like - and useful to fellow users as they can track mix revisions and hear differences. Some people have them all in first post, some have them chronologically, some do both. what ever floats your boat.

Hi HbGuitar and thank you for the critique.

I'll try to take some time later today to listen in my vehicles and also the home theater. I'll pay particular attention to the freqs you identified. I will also run it through some more freq/spectral/etc. analysis to see what my ears are hearing but have filtered out.

Additionally, I'll post the mixes in descending chronological order in the first post to make it easier to listen to the evolvement of posted mixes.

Thanks for taking a few minutes to help me to a better mix.

-Jim
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13-01-2015, 08:58 PM
Post: #10
RE: First after many years away
(13-01-2015 05:39 PM)whoosh Wrote:  This was a mix I took out in the car today to listen too. I really liked it while listening at home and it translated nicely to my car's stereo. I spent so much time there, know exactly what it sounds like.

I like the effects on the guitar, as a different approach, and they are well done. The only thing I'd change is the 2nd solo. Right now, it comes in pretty loud.

Thanks Whoosh. I re-listened to this latest mix and hear exactly what you are saying. I didn't notice it before, but something was bugging me about this particular section. I'll revisit it later today and incorporate this, as well as some other helpful suggestions, perhaps by this evening (Eastern Time).

Thanks again for taking the time to help.

-Jim
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