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Full Version: Woodfire_Animals [mixing diary #1]
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Hi everyone, it's me again, Mattia.

I think I'm getting better at mixing, they're starting to sound more like I visioned them. I'm pretty happy with this mix, but not on all points. I don't really like my guitars, they don't have weight and it's a shame as they're the only harmonic element in this song. I also feel that nothing is happening, the mix is pretty flat, this is because I'm procrastinating my encounter with automation. Damn, they're the best way to add movement in a track. Next time I promise I'll face automation!

Have a nice day,
Overall it feels ok. The guitars are kind of lacking but that's partially the nature of the guitar tracks. I can't say I'm a fan of the choices they made in recording them. But, oh well, that's what we have to work with. I can't say whether it'd work for these tracks but an exciter might be helpful to add some "je ne sais quoi" to the guitar.

I've mentioned this before in another mix of a WoodFire song but dynamics are really the key to these songs. At least I think. For the most part mixers (and anyone in audio) have only two physical dimensions to work with. Time and volume. And since these guy's songs are pretty consistent in the time domain, meaning all the elements play pretty much all they way through, the dynamic portion could be expanded to help create a dynamic interest in a song. Most bands would stack more guitars in the chorus to create a push in volume and intensity. They chose to keep it as a trio. Which I respect and that's a clue to what they want to project as a band and in a mix. These tracks have always recalled to me the work of Steve Albini and specifically his band Shellac, also a trio. You may be familiar with him/them but if not check out their stuff for some perspective. I've always been partial to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fXwbFxenC0 It also has my favorite opening to a CD though it means I'm old enough to get the reference. Also, check out his analog mix tutorial https://youtu.be/_VUqKWpRYzo.

So dynamics are important to this band which brings up automation. I get it, automation is kind of annoying and imposing to have to deal with. I still have trouble dealing with it because I never grew up using it, it wasn't an option on the small boards the studio had. And then when I got into ProTools (pretty early on) it seemed time consuming to deal with. I didn't move faders. All automation was a multistep process as opposed to a natural movement. I've only recently 'forced' myself to get into automation more and it really helps. I don't know what system you're using but it really is helpful to get into the habit of getting a static mix and then going through a mix and making moves on the fly. Put tracks in a "latch" or "trim' mode, let the songs play and when you hear a change you'd like to make rewind a couple of bars make the move and continue on. If you screw up just "undo". Though it overall is a pretty forgiving process. When you get the hang of it it's both really fast and also feels musical. It also keeps you as the mixer a bit more involved and invested in a mix. At least mores than drawing moves in an edit window.

Barring automation you could always mute and unmute tracks and add and ride effects to create movement and interest.

In this particular mix the balances seem fine and all work. It's kinda flat as you say but that's just as much an arrangement issue as a mix issue. As much as automation could help I think what also is needed is sonic contrast to define sections more. Especially in the instrumental parts. Find a way to keep the interest of the listener when the vocal isn't there. It sounds pretty good overall. Ok I think I wrote too much and didn't really say anything. I just woke up.

Good job and good luck.
Thank you very very much, I really appreciate your feedback. I didn't ever expect such a detailed reply I don't even know what to say ahah.

I will make a treasure of your advice.
As a musician I know pretty well how dynamics can make or break a song.

Thank you again, have a nice day.
... Dynamics ? This song doesn't have any dynamics. They're playing loud every section, there's no part where the guitar takes a lead, or the bass suddenly is more extra, ... it's a live-performance style recording, there aren't any timbre changes, it's a one-shot straight-thru dedal if they wanted a bunch of overdubs or je ne sais quois they would've tracked it. There's nothing that automation would bring to this mix imo, it isn't flat, it's loud, really squashed, brickwalled and kind of tiring to listen to. Don't "master" it so much. Good stereo separation though