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Fingerspasm
So here is the first of 5 songs that I have finished recording and mixing and adding a little bit of mastering. I did not play in this song. I just did the recording etc. I am looking for any tips on what might improve the overall quality and any comments about what is lacking would also be appreciated. If you have some suggestions on how to improve what is lacking that would be even better. smile.gif I am already aware of the problems with the playing as far as being out of time here and there and the fact that the playing could be tighter. The kids who are playing in the song are between the ages of 15 and 17 so they are still learning. Be warned that this is Metalcore so be ready for Screaming Vocals! This type of music is hugely popular in this area. Anyway I am dragging this out. Here is the track.
Click to view attachment
audiopaal
QUOTE (Fingerspasm @ Oct 1 2009, 02:38 AM) *
So here is the first of 5 songs that I have finished recording and mixing and adding a little bit of mastering. I did not play in this song. I just did the recording etc. I am looking for any tips on what might improve the overall quality and any comments about what is lacking would also be appreciated. If you have some suggestions on how to improve what is lacking that would be even better. smile.gif I am already aware of the problems with the playing as far as being out of time here and there and the fact that the playing could be tighter. The kids who are playing in the song are between the ages of 15 and 17 so they are still learning. Be warned that this is Metalcore so be ready for Screaming Vocals! This type of music is hugely popular in this area. Anyway I am dragging this out. Here is the track.
Click to view attachment

My first impression is that the guitars sound "confined" if you know what I mean..
It's a bit hollow and back in the mix.
I'm really not sure what to suggest you do to get them to sit well in the mix I'm afraid.
If you want you can send me an Mp3 of the guitars (one left and one right, two files..),
and I can see what I come up with and let you know how to fix it (if I can make it better that is) smile.gif

I'd also make the drums (at least the kick) a bit punchier, maybe with a transient modulator plug-in..

But it sounds pretty good though, good work mate smile.gif
Ivan Milenkovic
Very good song! I like it. Here's my thoughts:

- The first and foremost thing that I believe should be done is recording all the guitars again really tight. This will ensure that you have the proper material for editing.

- Regarding distorted guitar tracks, record two takes of rhythm, and pan them in stereo to leave space in the middle for the vocals, otherwise it will all be in the middle clashing with each other. Leave out some of the distortion when doing this.

- Achieving tight and focused bottom end with metal songs is very important, otherwise it will sound bassy, muddy and flubby in the low end. It sounds pretty bassy because of the inproper EQing of the guitar track. Too much flubby bass made it really unprecise. Try to lower cut the bass of the guitar track completely with a good hipass filter, and focus yourself on accenting the low mids that are not clashing with the bass and kick drum. Scoop the higher mids to your convenieces, and don't overdo with distortion, there isn't really need for that. Lower down the distortion.

- Kick drum needs to be more focused, and drums have to be compressed in general. Accent the kick with an high Q EQ dot somewhere in the lower mid are to give it attack and presence. Put all the drums on a group track and add a good compression to them. From there EQ the drums with a slight accent on presence of that track, since I believe the 4000Hz and above are a bit choked and muddy

- In general vocal should be slightly louder, and guitars need to be slightly more less louder, but it's a very delicate balance. Try to EQ the vocal so it doesn't clash with the guitars. Normally if you have guitars in the range of 100-500Hz, there's no point in accenting the vocals presence in the mix there. Same goes for all the tracks.





Fingerspasm
QUOTE (audiopaal @ Oct 1 2009, 02:58 AM) *
My first impression is that the guitars sound "confined" if you know what I mean..
It's a bit hollow and back in the mix.
I'm really not sure what to suggest you do to get them to sit well in the mix I'm afraid.
If you want you can send me an Mp3 of the guitars (one left and one right, two files..),
and I can see what I come up with and let you know how to fix it (if I can make it better that is) smile.gif

I'd also make the drums (at least the kick) a bit punchier, maybe with a transient modulator plug-in..

But it sounds pretty good though, good work mate smile.gif


I know what you mean about the guitars. I had problems with them. Not as much as drums. But still it was frustrating. I have them panned hard left and right. I can send you an Mp3 as soon as I get back to the house. Had to drive out to Illinois today and left my big external drive at home. Will be back on Saturday. What's the best way to send it to you. Thanks for the input and the offer to help. biggrin.gif

QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Oct 1 2009, 03:35 AM) *
Very good song! I like it. Here's my thoughts:

- The first and foremost thing that I believe should be done is recording all the guitars again really tight. This will ensure that you have the proper material for editing.

- Regarding distorted guitar tracks, record two takes of rhythm, and pan them in stereo to leave space in the middle for the vocals, otherwise it will all be in the middle clashing with each other. Leave out some of the distortion when doing this.

- Achieving tight and focused bottom end with metal songs is very important, otherwise it will sound bassy, muddy and flubby in the low end. It sounds pretty bassy because of the inproper EQing of the guitar track. Too much flubby bass made it really unprecise. Try to lower cut the bass of the guitar track completely with a good hipass filter, and focus yourself on accenting the low mids that are not clashing with the bass and kick drum. Scoop the higher mids to your convenieces, and don't overdo with distortion, there isn't really need for that. Lower down the distortion.

- Kick drum needs to be more focused, and drums have to be compressed in general. Accent the kick with an high Q EQ dot somewhere in the lower mid are to give it attack and presence. Put all the drums on a group track and add a good compression to them. From there EQ the drums with a slight accent on presence of that track, since I believe the 4000Hz and above are a bit choked and muddy

- In general vocal should be slightly louder, and guitars need to be slightly more less louder, but it's a very delicate balance. Try to EQ the vocal so it doesn't clash with the guitars. Normally if you have guitars in the range of 100-500Hz, there's no point in accenting the vocals presence in the mix there. Same goes for all the tracks.


Are you suggesting to record the guitars again to get them more in time or to improve the sound. If its for the sound I have a dry track that I was going to try and run through some programs like Guitar Rig3. If its for the timing I can try.. but the kids that I am dealing with already think its good and are giving me a hard time about overdoing it. So its hard to get them to record anymore. I am still working on it for my own learning and experience. Plus I want to be able to use it for future references. Lots of these type bands want cheap recordings that sound good enough to sell at their shows for 7 or 10 bucks for a 5 song CD along with their T-shirts etc.

As for panning I do have the tracks panned hard right and left. I will try and dial back the distortion on the dry tracks. The tracks in the recording now are the wet tracks. I could try and EQ those.

Kick Drum.... Where to start. Man I have spent hours and hours on the drums. I finally used drum tracker and replaced all the drum sounds except for the overheads. I replaced them with drums in Superior Drummer 2. I will try and tighten up the kick some more. I had to use 5 kick tracks to get the sound up to where it is now. I do have them compressed and have an EQ on them but I used presets for a kick in Logic 8. I will try and tweak it using the suggestions that you mentioned.

I will also play with the vocals some more. Thanks for the input it has been very helpful. I have about 30 hours into this song right now over about a 3 week period. It has been a great learning process. I am hoping that the next 4 songs will go much easier with everything I have learned on this song. One thing I realized toward the end is the importance of taking notes on what you do to each track. That way you can just repeat the process on the next song since its with the same band using the same gear.
Ivan Milenkovic
Sure take your time with the mixes, they should be better and better as the days go by. After a month you can do a much nicer mix of the existing tracks that you have, simply because you have greater experience. Just keep experimenting, and making various different mixes, trying them out on various playback gear.

One piece of advice that I can give you now is take it simple and easy in the beginning. You won't make a better recording by adding 6 tracks of kick, it's a lot more important to have one track but properly placed in the mix. The placing is considered and art by many, so just take your time and listen, listen, listen over and over.

About guitars, if you have them panned, I don't hear them panned, did you move one track 20-30ms off relative to another? (adding 10-20ms 100% wet delay on one track will do the same effect)

Don't be afraid to make various mixes of this song, go over the edge, put something wild in why not! Make 10 different mixes and write down all the stuff you like in them. Then try to combine the good stuff and sum it up again.




Fingerspasm
QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Oct 2 2009, 02:28 PM) *
Sure take your time with the mixes, they should be better and better as the days go by. After a month you can do a much nicer mix of the existing tracks that you have, simply because you have greater experience. Just keep experimenting, and making various different mixes, trying them out on various playback gear.

One piece of advice that I can give you now is take it simple and easy in the beginning. You won't make a better recording by adding 6 tracks of kick, it's a lot more important to have one track but properly placed in the mix. The placing is considered and art by many, so just take your time and listen, listen, listen over and over.

About guitars, if you have them panned, I don't hear them panned, did you move one track 20-30ms off relative to another? (adding 10-20ms 100% wet delay on one track will do the same effect)

Don't be afraid to make various mixes of this song, go over the edge, put something wild in why not! Make 10 different mixes and write down all the stuff you like in them. Then try to combine the good stuff and sum it up again.


Sounds like good advice smile.gif
The reason I had to have 5 kick tracks was to get the volume level back up to match the rest of the tracks. Not sure why I could not do it with one track.

As for the guitars I took one guitar mono track and panned it all the way left then took another mono track of the same guitar and panned it all the way right. Is this not the proper way to do it? From what I understood this is also the same effect as having it as a stereo track. Now I am worried that I have done something wrong with the guitars or I do not understand the proper way to pan them....
tonymiro
Had a quick listen today and some of the things that occurred to me that you might want to consider:

1 - the overall mix is a bit muddy - for me there is particularly too much going on in the lower frequencies and so the recording lacks definition. To me it sounds like you've boosted the low end @ 100hz or so. Most eq'ing works best (with a few small exceptions) by attenuating rather than gaining/boosting frequencies.

2- There seems to be a weird crossover boost at about 80hz. A lot of speakers have their crossover here - particularly any that have a sub bass - and so its a bit of an odd area and more often than not people boost too much at this point.

3- to me there's quite a bit of congestion in the mid frequencies. A lot of instruments and the vocals are all taking up the same frequency range and the whole thing sound very busy. You might want to add some more panning and some eq attenuation/cut to increase separation.

4 - the drums lack a degree of crack. A small amount of eq boost (one of those times when it's good smile.gif ) at around 220 and 4800 (but sweep to find the sweet spot) could help.

5 - general lack of high end - the cymbals, to me, don't have any fizz and I'd guess that you've rolled off the hi frequency range. For the cymbals you need to look at the frequency range above 6000Hz and don't cut so much to allow them to ring out.

6 - I'd put the vocals back through mid/side and re eq them.

7 - to me the synth lead is 'thin' and a bit harsh. Maybe double track it with another synth.

8 - might just be me but there sounds like there is a resonance frequency around 240hz. Might be worth checking for future recording and mixing.

9 - if you can remix then maybe check the tracking as the levels are nearly there but don't seem totally consistent. If you can't re-track then look at compression on the drum bus.

10 - the recording seems to be hot and compressed. On my sequencers the meters were red lining in places and the spectrum looks clipped and compressed and sounds distorted in those places. That's a pity as there is otherwise some nice dynamics in the recording. Also because its recorded hot it leaves little room for any processing at mastering.

audiopaal
I'll PM you my email mate, and you can send me something if you like smile.gif
Fingerspasm
QUOTE (tonymiro @ Oct 2 2009, 02:46 PM) *
Had a quick listen today and some of the things that occurred to me that you might want to consider:

1 - the overall mix is a bit muddy - for me there is particularly too much going on in the lower frequencies and so the recording lacks definition. To me it sounds like you've boosted the low end @ 100hz or so. Most eq'ing works best (with a few small exceptions) by attenuating rather than gaining/boosting frequencies.

2- There seems to be a weird crossover boost at about 80hz. A lot of speakers have their crossover here - particularly any that have a sub bass - and so its a bit of an odd area and more often than not people boost too much at this point.

3- to me there's quite a bit of congestion in the mid frequencies. A lot of instruments and the vocals are all taking up the same frequency range and the whole thing sound very busy. You might want to add some more panning and some eq attenuation/cut to increase separation.

4 - the drums lack a degree of crack. A small amount of eq boost (one of those times when it's good smile.gif ) at around 220 and 4800 (but sweep to find the sweet spot) could help.

5 - general lack of high end - the cymbals, to me, don't have any fizz and I'd guess that you've rolled off the hi frequency range. For the cymbals you need to look at the frequency range above 6000Hz and don't cut so much to allow them to ring out.

6 - I'd put the vocals back through mid/side and re eq them.

7 - to me the synth lead is 'thin' and a bit harsh. Maybe double track it with another synth.

8 - might just be me but there sounds like there is a resonance frequency around 240hz. Might be worth checking for future recording and mixing.

9 - if you can remix then maybe check the tracking as the levels are nearly there but don't seem totally consistent. If you can't re-track then look at compression on the drum bus.

10 - the recording seems to be hot and compressed. On my sequencers the meters were red lining in places and the spectrum looks clipped and compressed and sounds distorted in those places. That's a pity as there is otherwise some nice dynamics in the recording. Also because its recorded hot it leaves little room for any processing at mastering.


Hey Tony thanks for taking the time to listen and giving such great feedback. Just a few questions on your recommendations. I will go through and number them in the order that you gave them.

1. This sounds pretty straight forward I just need to go into the EQ and play with backing off some in the range you suggested.

2. Not sure what you meant by the crossover at 80hz. If I had to guess it would be the hum that appears in the first half of the song when the guitar is going pretty hard. This hum is from the guitar player hitting the low E string and letting it ring while he is playing. I tried to talk him into re recording and muting it after he hits it but he insisted that "That is how its done in Metalcore so I just needed to figure it out" I tried to reduce it hum but ended up always messing up other important sounds. Now that you have mentioned 80hz maybe I will concentrate in that area.

3. Congestion in the mid frequencies. What would you suggest I should try panning first. Right now I have guitars as mono tracks doubled one track hard left and one track hard left. Ivan mentioned that he thought the guitars were still in the center. Is this not the proper way to pan guitars one mono track hard left and one mono track hard right? The drums are center the bass is center as well as keys and vocals. After typing this I can see that something should probably be panned. What would you suggest? keys, vocals or bass first?

4. Drums lack crack. I agree. I have worked on the drums what seems like forever. I will give your suggestion a try.

5. General lack of high end. I will give your suggestion a try.

6. Vocals. What do you mean by mid/side? And what would you suggest as far as re EQ?

7. Synth is a bit thin and harsh. Instead of recording a new synth track could I use the same track and double it only change the sound a bit on the existing track? If not I will talk to the keyboard player and see if he is game.

8. Resonant Freq at 240hz this could also be what I talked about on line 2 If I was to have a guess at it.

9. I can remix. So I will try what you suggest. As for the compression on the drums I used a drum compression preset in logic. Maybe I will play with the preset some. Is it a bad idea to use compression on individual tracks like the kick track and snare track etc. And then use compression again on the final output of that track?

10. Sounds hot. Thats probably because I used T-Racks and used one of the mastering presets that had a brick wall limiter at the end of the chain. I know how you feel about that so please do not hold it against me. In my defense I can say that on the meter that compares my track to the current levels on modern metal tracks I was still just barely on the edge of the green and not even close to red. But I did notice that 75% of the waveforms had the fresh mown look across the top and bottom.

Any answers you could give are greatly appreciated and I hope that I am not wearing out my welcome with all the questions.

QUOTE (audiopaal @ Oct 2 2009, 03:00 PM) *
I'll PM you my email mate, and you can send me something if you like smile.gif


Sounds good. I am still in Illinois in a hotel. Will be heading back home tomorrow and will email them to you then. Thanks for the help smile.gif
Ivan Milenkovic
QUOTE
Sounds like good advice smile.gif
The reason I had to have 5 kick tracks was to get the volume level back up to match the rest of the tracks. Not sure why I could not do it with one track.

The volume of a kick drum is something that you can handle in a much nicer and sophisticated way. The low end of the mix is too crowded, you have to make "room" for the kick to be actually audible. By boosting lots of the same frequencies you get what is called "artificially loud mix". Try to cut all the other components there, cut the gutiars bellow 100Hz, but the bass bellow 65Hz a bit, cut everything else that doesn't need to be heard there. Then slowly EQ the kick so you accent it in that "free" area around 40-70Hz. This is the thumping of the kick. Then add definition and and "dot" somewhere in the low mid area, again watching so you don't clash with other instruments.

QUOTE
As for the guitars I took one guitar mono track and panned it all the way left then took another mono track of the same guitar and panned it all the way right. Is this not the proper way to do it? From what I understood this is also the same effect as having it as a stereo track. Now I am worried that I have done something wrong with the guitars or I do not understand the proper way to pan them....

You did half of the job here. If the both mono tracks are the same, then you will get mono again, cause mono means basically "same thing happening on both speakers/everything is in the middle". If you want to achieve stereo width, you should make these tracks different in some way. There are several techniques for this, but the easiest would be to displace one track by 20-30ms off max. This will leave the impression of two guitars playing in parallel.

Best way to do this is to actually record two rhythm guitar tracks, same playing but two different takes, and record them tight. Then pan them, and it will sound great.
Fingerspasm
QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Oct 2 2009, 03:41 PM) *
The volume of a kick drum is something that you can handle in a much nicer and sophisticated way. The low end of the mix is too crowded, you have to make "room" for the kick to be actually audible. By boosting lots of the same frequencies you get what is called "artificially loud mix". Try to cut all the other components there, cut the gutiars bellow 100Hz, but the bass bellow 65Hz a bit, cut everything else that doesn't need to be heard there. Then slowly EQ the kick so you accent it in that "free" area around 40-70Hz. This is the thumping of the kick. Then add definition and and "dot" somewhere in the low mid area, again watching so you don't clash with other instruments.


You did half of the job here. If the both mono tracks are the same, then you will get mono again, cause mono means basically "same thing happening on both speakers/everything is in the middle". If you want to achieve stereo width, you should make these tracks different in some way. There are several techniques for this, but the easiest would be to displace one track by 20-30ms off max. This will leave the impression of two guitars playing in parallel.

Best way to do this is to actually record two rhythm guitar tracks, same playing but two different takes, and record them tight. Then pan them, and it will sound great.


Very good information Ivan. I am looking forward to getting back home tomorrow and implementing all the great information I am receiving from everybody on this thread. Thanks again for taking the time to give such good detailed explanations I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. biggrin.gif
Ivan Milenkovic
QUOTE (Fingerspasm @ Oct 2 2009, 10:47 PM) *
Very good information Ivan. I am looking forward to getting back home tomorrow and implementing all the great information I am receiving from everybody on this thread. Thanks again for taking the time to give such good detailed explanations I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. biggrin.gif


No problem man, we're glad to help. If there's anything else, just let us know.
tonymiro
QUOTE (Fingerspasm @ Oct 2 2009, 08:14 PM) *
Hey Tony thanks for taking the time to listen and giving such great feedback. Just a few questions on your recommendations. I will go through and number them in the order that you gave them.

1. This sounds pretty straight forward I just need to go into the EQ and play with backing off some in the range you suggested.

2. Not sure what you meant by the crossover at 80hz. If I had to guess it would be the hum that appears in the first half of the song when the guitar is going pretty hard. This hum is from the guitar player hitting the low E string and letting it ring while he is playing. I tried to talk him into re recording and muting it after he hits it but he insisted that "That is how its done in Metalcore so I just needed to figure it out" Not my genre of music so I can only take his word smile.gif . Is he thinking of 'sub drop' though where you get a very low deep bass note?I tried to reduce it hum but ended up always messing up other important sounds. Now that you have mentioned 80hz maybe I will concentrate in that area.

Cross over frequency here is the frequency point on a speaker that has a tweeter and a bass cone where the signal switches from one to the other (more or less). On most domestic systems this is particularly noticable if it includes a sub bass (ie 5.1 systems) as this is at about 80hz. The issue is that the cross over is often not done particularly well and so people then over compensate or undercompensate for it. In your case I think there's too much low bass at 80 and so it sounds boomy.

Don't think the low e is 80hz here. IMO the best way to get rid of the low e open string ringing is to notch filter it out. ie set up a band pass filter that will let all frequencies above and below low e through and just stop low e.


3. Congestion in the mid frequencies. What would you suggest I should try panning first. Right now I have guitars as mono tracks doubled one track hard left and one track hard left. Ivan mentioned that he thought the guitars were still in the center. Is this not the proper way to pan guitars one mono track hard left and one mono track hard right? The drums are center the bass is center as well as keys and vocals. After typing this I can see that something should probably be panned. What would you suggest? keys, vocals or bass first?

Generally yes but it isn't just the guitar/s here. Also all the individual parts of a drum kit don't sit in the centre but are panned across part of the stereo field to image the drum kit. If vocals are the main focus I'd put vocals in the middle. The field really wants to replicate how you would position the group if you clsed your eyes and heard them on stage and that is more or less how you place them. However as some instruments/bits of kit occupy the same frequencies as others just panning will not clear a congested stereo image. You also need to think about the frequency ranges that are shared and do something about that. Your main vocalist sits in the low/mid range and so you might want to increase the amount of space around him by attenuating out some of the bass/drums/guitar that are congesting the vocals centre stage.

4. Drums lack crack. I agree. I have worked on the drums what seems like forever. I will give your suggestion a try.

5. General lack of high end. I will give your suggestion a try.

6. Vocals. What do you mean by mid/side? And what would you suggest as far as re EQ?

it's a mastering technique for separating out the side parts from the centre/middle of a stereo recording to let you work on only one or the other. That way you can re-eq the vocal of a stereo main by re-eq'ing the mid if the vocals are mixed mainly centre stage.

7. Synth is a bit thin and harsh. Instead of recording a new synth track could I use the same track and double it only change the sound a bit on the existing track? yep smile.gif If not I will talk to the keyboard player and see if he is game.

8. Resonant Freq at 240hz this could also be what I talked about on line 2 If I was to have a guess at it.

9. I can remix. So I will try what you suggest. As for the compression on the drums I used a drum compression preset in logic. Maybe I will play with the preset some. Is it a bad idea to use compression on individual tracks like the kick track and snare track etc. And then use compression again on the final output of that track?

just my opinion - use compression as little as possible as it's very hard to correct once it's done. Level adjustment is better off done by tracking, followed by some careful eq.

10. Sounds hot. Thats probably because I used T-Racks and used one of the mastering presets that had a brick wall limiter at the end of the chain. I know how you feel about that so please do not hold it against me. Don't worry I don't - it's a symptom of the times we live in. TBH an awful lot of commerical cds/mp3s are clippedIn my defense I can say that on the meter that compares my track to the current levels on modern metal tracks I was still just barely on the edge of the green and not even close to red careful how you set up and use meters - digital sequencers often let you change the apparent 0db fsd. One reason why e may all eventually move to k metering. But I did notice that 75% of the waveforms had the fresh mown look across the top and bottom. laugh.gif nice way of putting it. The two main things here though - 1- once you've clipped and induced distortion it is very hard to correct. 2- by recording hot you leave little, if any, room for subsequent processing including mastering. Even if you don't want to do any more processing you should still leave a small amount of headroom for the final dithering and rendering so that the final cd has a peak of -0.1dB.

Any answers you could give are greatly appreciated and I hope that I am not wearing out my welcome with all the questions.

Fingerspasm
Great stuff tony. Like I said on my post to Ivan. I really appreciate all the detailed information you guys are giving me. It has given me some enthusiasm again for working on these tracks. Hope to be posting a new version in the coming week. I could ask several more questions but I feel it best to use what I have so far and see where that leads me. Do not want to go into information overload. smile.gif
tonymiro
NP - best way to learn mixing and mastering is by doing it and experimenting cool.gif
audiopaal
QUOTE (tonymiro @ Oct 2 2009, 11:25 PM) *
NP - best way to learn mixing and mastering is by doing it and experimenting cool.gif

Very true smile.gif
Ivan Milenkovic
QUOTE (tonymiro @ Oct 2 2009, 11:25 PM) *
NP - best way to learn mixing and mastering is by doing it and experimenting cool.gif


Best advice that can be given! It really narrows down to this.
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