Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
My main goals here were to smooth out the top octave and to add a little bit of drama without interfering with Skelpolu's signature sound. The synth tracks and drums seemed like they could use a little bit of warmth and character, so almost everything got a high cut and somewhere between a little and a lot of saturation.

Skelly likes to apply automation to his tracks before he prints them for mixing, so rather than fight it I used the same sort of tactics to subtly alter the sonics between passages. So in a few places I've added aggression to the drums with compression, other places dropped in some plate reverbs and delays to liven things up a bit, and automated some buss sends to a bright Lexicon impulse to give it some shine.

I gather this subgenre of D&B is supposed to be a little less intense than what I'm familiar with, and the tracking pointed in that direction as well, so this is mixed and "mastered" with a home listening environment (as opposed to a club) in mind, so it's not as loud as most of what's out there... ITunes normalizes to around -16 LUFS so that's the target.

Kudos to Skelly for this... it's a great song.

.mp3    Entwine Master.mp3 --  (Download: 11.11 MB)

I'm grateful for comments and suggestions. Thank you for listening!
I love it, Pauli!! I think you've done an outstanding work here! applying a high cut to some of the tracks have worked out very well. Now the song has more interest in my opinion. Also the crescendo in the beginning was a good idea!
mixing since April 2013
Thanks, man. There's a high cut on basically every track except for the hi hat, but I still wound up shelving that a little. For me the amount of treble doesn't make sense for the music... I don't have any concrete reason for this that comes to mind, but this song wanted to be a little darker and smoother. If nothing else it gives you enough room to let the drums get nasty here and there.
I'm grateful for comments and suggestions. Thank you for listening!
since giving feedback to Alan and Sano, and then later hearing your vision/version, i thought i was missing something and pulled it from the MDL to check out the raw material at Goods Inwards Inspection.

not only does the artist print the automation, he's printed the compression, EQ and reverbs. additionally, ALL TRACKS except one (sub bass), are stereo. there are 6 synth parts, and a lot of the time they all seem to be playing together. do the math on all that spectral material, coupled with compression it's no wonder to me that things sound flat overall....and heavily congested. it's also easy to see how the treble range can be overlooked with so many instruments all contributing to this range (synths thrive between 20 and 100,000Hz lol); the spectrum stacks up and it's "Hello messer's Fletcher and Munson". even the kick has an odd sound and is also contributing to the treble; it seems to have had white noise added to it on the side channels to replace the traditional attack of the beater.

i don't feel this multi is mixable if my observations of the inherent issues are correct. observations of the 3 mixes also suggests this.

the compression applied to the synths (complete with attendant artifacts!!) has helped rob them of their individual dynamics and of course with this loss comes the loss of emotion. and this is why Sano's mix, Alan's and indeed yours too, are sonically flatter than a pancake but i can at least now understand the issues confronting us. anyone who thinks of using a compressor anywhere on the synths or even the Master Buss is asking for trouble for example, other than perhaps some choice dynamic EQ in places where a sporadic resonance needs attending to. if anything, perhaps some choice depolyment of expanders to try and open the dynamics and get the stuff to breathe a bit more might help, but expanders can get you into a lot more trouble. prevention is the cure - don't compress in the first place (with 24bit, there's 144dB of dynamic range which is enough for anyone; yeah, compress to prevent errant peaks from clipping for sure, but there's no reason otherwise). but to be quite honest, given all the processing that's been prior-to applied in this project, i think it's a hornet's nest. this is a shame because there's something in the music here that's wanting to get out!

i think your strategy was on target, at least as far as rounding the trebles is concerned. what worries me however, is that his choice of timbre at the time of capturing the patch in a recording, is based on it's original spectral composition. i'm not quite sure how this artist is making his sonic assessments and judgement calls at the time of recording, given his preponderance to track bright in the first place. furthermore, the minute we have to apply high cuts, and where we need to apply them in heavy doses, the original intended sonic character and audio print of the instrument(s) is lost and a degree of spectral ambiguous skew then ensues, thus presenting the instrument in a different timbral shape.

one of the good things this artist has in his favour, is an inherent ability to find melody. however, stacking more melodic elements around the core instrument if overdone, can lead to fatigue and a subsequent loss of engagement - we can only focus on a few things at the same time, not lots; we can't multi-task well as a species. if we put too much material into an arrangement (i consider 6 synths to be over-indulgent), the listener won't enjoy it because it floods their senses and the brain doesn't know what to focus on. the other side of this issue, and a good example herein, is the drums......listening to them banging relentlessly the same way for over five minutes isn't going to empower the listener's emotional engagement. neither will noodling a synth (several synths on top of each other) melodically without a break. i could mute my butt off here and help give the remaining instruments some space. importantly, i could place key moments/instruments/emotion of the song right in the ear of the listener without them having to try and define which is the key instrument(!). while this might make the audience happier, the musician is less likely to be sympathetic with such a vision, especially if half his material has been removed, and especially if half his life was spent obsessing for weeks over the timing of the muted parts!! lol

i played your mix to my partner and just watched her reaction. no head bobbing. this is banging along at a hot tempo of 171bpm, why wasn't it bobbing? it's because there's no emotion here but i can understand why. most multi's that greet us in the MDL haven't had the luxury of a Producer on board to help provide some impartiality as well as to help the artist to build further on their creative process. simply doing a "Vanilla mix" on such material cannot be expected to connect as fully emotionally with an audience as perhaps it's inner musicality, melody and beat would suggest. the problems we are confronted with herewith, cannot be effectively addressed at the mixing stage, no matter how keen we are with the mute button.....but muting can be a darn site more constructive than simply doing a vanilla job. ideally, the composition and arrangement would take into account the needs of the mixing process. unfortunately, most musicians don't understand mixing which causes the kind of constraints and direct negative impacts of this class of material. and this is why Producers were invented. a good mixing engineer will wear two hats....incorporating a partial role of Producer, including some creative processes that add synergy at the mixing stage, and importantly, incorporates IMPARTIALITY. or should include impartiality. the problem with impartiality, however, is that a guitarist cannot be impartial because of instrument bias more often than not. for example, it's easy to spot the drummers in the forum.....and the bass guitarists......acoustic guitarists....etc. a mix by a drummer will have the kit right up front, the kick pounding and thumping (even if it doesn't suit the genre!), the snare will be slamming but the guitars and vocals will be highly mediocre! with the Skelp' musician, his core skill is finding and developing melody and noodling the keys to deliver it. unfortunately, i think he gets a bit too carried away (easy to do, if it's your passion) and the tracking becomes overly dense instrumentally. his weakness is drums and developing a rhythm around the synths, helping to change the pattern of emotion as the song journeys from beginning to end. drums are an important flag to transitions, but unfortunately we can't mix least not when approached from a vanilla-mixing perspective. i do find his hi-hats lacking rhythm support and they need to be very present in this sort of genre, for example, but being a multi-talented musician can be a challenge in the DIY scene. but all these points when addressed, will help the mixing process become something which adds value, which it can't do currently as far as i am concerned, for reasons already touched upon above inherent in the raw materials. this chap would do well with other musicians.....where his skills are not quite as forthcoming as he would like. then again, that's one reason why Ableton was invented! stunning software for developing the creative processes, if i may say, but a bit uncooperative in a true mixing scenario in my experience.

i liked your treble treatments, the only one which tended to stand out somewhat was the cymbal for me. i think the cymbal needed replacing with a sample...the original had an odd decay, i noticed. i also thought the kick was odd too; in place of the attack from the beater, we had white noise. this was yet another contribution to the troublesome trebles overall in the raw state, in stereo over the side channels, with an unusual bass fundamental in the mid. this guy opts for a hi-hat pattern which isn't rhythmic to my ears....but not much can be done about that, at least not in a vanilla mix.

anyway, break over, must get on. i've not been in the forum much for a while other than fleeting, occasional distractions, and i'm aware that i still have to address your comments; sorry for being slack. some of the points i've mentioned herein are relative, however, both directly and indirectly.

Beware...........Cognitive Dissonance!
forgot to mention...just remembered:

can i ask that you keep your posts up to 320kbps CBR? VBR introduces further degradation and it's all i can manage just putting up with mp3 at 320kbps. yeah, call me a snob if you want...but my ears are fussy, and my brain is even more so. lol

thanks in advance...especially if you only do it for me Smile
Beware...........Cognitive Dissonance!
Hey Dave, thanks for your comments and thoughts. No need to worry about being slack on commenting-- between my real job and my project studio work/hobby, I barely have time to mix for the forum and comment like I should. Fun fact, though... I'm working on some original material. The goal is to see if Mike wants to host it so you guys can mercilessly hack at it until it sounds something vaguely like music.

You're on point as usual and agree completely... to get this thing working the way we'd both like to hear it there'd need to be a lot of fader riding, automation, and arrangement tweaks. I feel like there's a lot of room for transitions and fills. With this tune in particular, a lack of suitable reference material was a struggle... D&B is virtually nonexistent in the US as far as I can tell so I only know about it what I've learned here and from listening to what I assume is popular on (gasp) Spotify, but I can't find anything helpful.

I thought your comment about compression was a little odd (just based on memory) so I pulled the session open just to look and see if I could work out what you were referring to, and there are literally three compressors on the entire mix... one on a rather uneven pad, a parallel drum comp in a few places, and one on the stereo buss that's really only reacting to the kick. However, I saturated or re-amped the hell out of just about everything to give the instruments a little more character, which unfortunately also reduces dynamics. Then of course I'm not a mastering engineer, so homing in on a target loudness for the sake of posting to the board is tricky and I probably did a little damage on the way out.

You're right, though, this and many other tunes in synth-based genres need a little more production than I usually take the time for... until a couple years ago when I started to learn mixing for the sake of my own recordings, electronic music was a complete blind spot, and I'm still learning.

I'm grateful you've been willing to ruffle my feathers to bring things like that to my attention, though. Thank your partner for taking the time to listen, also.

Re: 320 kbps.... Just checked and I've got my encoder set to 320 kbps, so I'm not sure if the artifacts you're hearing are related to data compression, a rendering issue or a fault in the mix. I'm encoding as I render... could that be the reason? I can safely rule out aliasing because that's an eventuality I'm very diligent about heading off during the mix. I'm applying noise-shaped dithering before rendering, but I can't speak to the quality of the dithering algorithm.... it's my understanding that virtually all of the dithering built in to modern DAWs is sufficient for pro-quality renders, but there's always someone on Gearslutz or similar forums that simply swears he can hear the difference between what comes with the software and the 500 dollar dither he got kicked out by the wife over... I honestly can't. I'm probably just using a lame (pun intended) encoder Tongue what's your perspective on that?

I'm grateful for comments and suggestions. Thank you for listening!
Nice mix Pauli, I like this a lot. My only really 'ouch' moment is with the cymbal crash - I reckon you could hi-pass it or apply a fairly hefty cut around 800Hz to get rid of some of grotty mid-range, and also drop it in the mix quite a bit, it only needs to be a little accent.

Other things to maybe try - looking to get some more width / modulation on the pads? Like maybe sending them to a modulated delay which is panned to the opposite side of the stereo spectrum. Maybe some automated delay on the leads as well to accentuate a few notes here and there, just to add some interest occasionally. Overall though it's really nice, great background / chill music despite the high tempo.

BTW, re Dave's point about the mp3, he was asking you to use Constant Bit Rate rather than Variable Bit Rate when you convert to mp3 as CBR is higher quality than VBR for the same kps - you should have a check box somewhere in the options for converting to mp3 in your DAW. In Logic it's set to CBR by default, presume you're using something different? Hope that helps.
Hey Matt, thanks for commenting. It sounds to me like you're hearing what I was envisioning, which was a smoother, more fluid overall sound. I dunno how I missed the cymbal.... mix myopia is a sonofab***h. I'll have to try your modulation idea on the pads... I do that all the time actually, with a stereo vibrato on really low settings. Didn't think to try that here, though! Good idea Smile

Thanks for clarifying CBR versus VBR... I was just operating on the default setting and never really looked into it further, since I really only deal with MP3 for the purpose of posting mixes here.
I'm grateful for comments and suggestions. Thank you for listening!