This thread is getting more and more interesting; nice mixes.
Here’s mine. It’s been a long time since I used logic plugs but I decided to do everything within logic, even a little bit of mastering, so if you like the mix you can download the session filehttp://www.edcmusic.it/tacotemp/test.mp3 http://www.edcmusic.it/tacotemp/mix.zip
Thanks for all these mixes so far, interesting to hear how you’re approaching the material – I’m going to get a mix done myself and post up tomorrow.
One thing I’m noticing in all these examples is a heavy cut on the low end which I think is really necessary as the stems are very bass heavy which highlights how accumulative the low end is on unmixed samples!
Alright, here we go!
First I listened to all tracks separately and applied a quick EQ when deemed necessary.
I either took some frequencies off or cranked some, depending on the specifics of each instrument family.
I modified the pan on most tracks to get more spacing.
I tried to keep the strings spaced out , yet somehow together with the brass on the other side of the spectrum.
I even added more space with some stereo imaging on the percussion and electronic rhythm tracks.
I added some compression here and there and bass enhancement on the bass/cello track and the percussion track to get that “in your face” effect. I finally added a quick and subtle mastering chain on the master channel.
Obviously, my mix seems to be the “bassiest” of them all, which is my preference. I feel like some of you guys cut too much of the low end, but again, this is totally subjective.
By the way I made sure I would not listen to any of the other mixes before I made mine so I was not influenced.
Finally, if I had done it with a little more time, I would have probably added a reverb bus with a nice subtle hall reverb, although all tracks individually almost had enough reverb already to my taste.
Hope this helps!
Here’s my attempt. I spent about 2 hours on it.https://gareth-coker.box.com/s/0iwu3131vqg7l9jykthb
It’s worth pointing out that I made some small edits that seemed necessary to make. With the exception of the additional cymbals, none of them are particularly creative edits, just a lot of chopping and muting to make things clearer. I’ll be more specific in my notes below. So you can visually see the edits I made, here is a picture of my arrange window.
High pass filter removing everything below 150 Hz. Boost at 600 Hz for a bit more bite. Boost on the very high end for more air.
Widened the stereo image to better separate the high instruments. After this, then panned to the left though for most of the piece.
Eastwest Quantum Leap Spaces for reverb. Preset Southern California Hall – Violin/Viola (3.4 seconds reverb that doesn’t dominate mixes and has a very fast decaying tail).
Acoustic Percussion (originally labelled Snares/Taikos,etc…)
I chopped this up into 3 sections, the first (before the electronic section), 2nd (electronic section), and 3rd (final ‘big’ section)
First section. I boosted the bass EQ around 60-80 Hz, cut around 300 Hz with a medium ‘Q’, and got rid of a lot of high end stuff because the snare drum is so dominant.
Second section. Got rid of ALL the low end (high pass filter up to 150 Hz). The low end booms just don’t add anything and get in the way of the electronic/distorted drums, which are far more interesting and do a lot more. I realize this radically changes the sound of the drums here, but what was there before just didn’t work with the electronic drums.
Third section. Got rid of all the low end in this part as it competes with the electronic drums and there’s just too many low drum hits. However, you do have a good boom at 0:32, which I have copied and pasted on the downbeat every 2 measures. This helps fill out the sound without getting in the way of the electronic drums. I also toned down the snare drum in this section by making numerous cuts.
Boosted around 80 Hz. Cut around 300 Hz. SLIGHT gain on the high end using a shelf EQ.
Used Eastwest Quantum Leap Spaces reverb. Preset Southern California Hall Vc/Db (cello/bass). It’s a 3.4 second reverb but it doesn’t dominate.
High pass filter set to cut of anything below 80 Hz. Boosted 80-110 Hz. Cut around 300 Hz to remove muddiness that is prevalent in almost all brass samples. SLIGHT gain with wide ‘Q’ on 5,000 Hz.
Widened the stereo image a little.
Used Quantum Leap Spaces reverb. Preset Southern California Hall Brass (3.4 seconds).
Additionally, in the first section, there are some staccato brass that seem to come in a little late. I nudged them slightly back a little to tighten things up.
String Ostinato (originally labelled CelloOstinato)
High pass filter removing everything below 100 Hz. Big cut at around 1,000 Hz with a super-narrow Q (something odd was going on here with some overtones). Boost on the high end with a shelving EQ.
Run through same reverb as Bass/Cello stem.
Panned to the right a little most of the way through.
Additionally, in the third section of the piece, I copied and pasted the first 8 bars to the last 8 bars to fill out the sound a bit more. Otherwise the high end stuff lacks support at the end.
I separated the vocal stem from the cymbals.
I also separated the electronic/effects/glitched part of the vocal from the ‘smooth’ part.
On the ‘smooth’ vocal, I EQ ’ed out all the low end up to about 150 Hz, also a small cut around 300 Hz to remove mud from the vocal. I boosted the high end significantly to make this moment shine a bit more.
Put a big long special effect reverb from 2CAudio Aether on the ‘smooth’ vocal.
For the glitched vocal, I moved things around slightly as the timing of this seemed odd. I also copied and pasted a small part of it onto the downbeats of every 4 bars for the final section just to supplement the transitional moments.
I removed everything below 150 Hz. No other edits for the glitched vocal apart from volume and panning.
Cut all low end below 150 Hz.
Boosted the high end significantly for more shimmer.
Run through 2CAudio Aether ‘Cathedral Warm’ reverb.
As you can see from my arrange window, I added in a few more cymbal swells/hits. None of these are my own, I just copied and pasted the material that was given to me by tacomusic.
Electric Perc (previously labelled Distorted Rhythmic)
High pass filter up to just 30 Hz. Significant boost at around 60-80 Hz. Cut with a wide Q around 350 Hz. Boosted the very high end with a shelf EQ.
I also edited out some of the electric percussion in the final section of the piece so it would give the boom from the acoustic percussion track that I put in more room to shine. You can see this in the picture of my arrange window up top.
High pass filter up to 50 Hz. Boost around 90-120 Hz. Cut around 250-350 Hz (this is a pretty muddy piano). Cut around 3,000 Hz with a fairly wide ‘Q’ to darken the piano sound.
Run through Quantum Leap Space reverb preset ‘ACME Storage’ – a 0.8 second reverb.
I significantly boosted the reverse piano element as I thought it was cool, and I also copied and pasted it at the end just before the final boom.
High pass filter on everything below 20 Hz (no-one will hear it.)
Small cut at 9,000 Hz – something odd was going on here and I think the mix has a little too much high-end. Not so sure though. I’d have to come back and check another day. It’s not intolerable, but I might ‘darken’ a bit more in the mix if I did it again.
Izotope Ozone 5.
EQ – Boost of 3 dB at 113 Hz with a Q of 0.68. Cut of -2.5 dB at 450 Hz with a Q of 0.53. Boost of 0.5 dB at 2700 Hz with a Q of 0.3.
Multiband compression (3 bands – 0-161 Hz, 161 Hz to 2.52 kHz, and 2.52 kHz and beyond) – numerous setting which I can’t be bothered to write down. Basically, I was generous with the compression on the low end for the mastering, less generous on the mid and high.
Stereo Imaging – using the same 3 bands as above. Narrowing the width of Band 1 (the bass). Widening the width of Band 3 (the treble)
Maximizer – gentle loudness maximization for the first and third sections, more aggressive for the synthy/electronic section (I used automation).
Output of Ozone 5 run through Fabfilter Pro-L to ensure no clipping.
SOFTWARE /HARDWARE and PLUGINS USED
Mixed/mastered in SONAR X2 Producer.
Monitored on Yamaha HS50 -M (not the greatest but I trust them) Headphone check on AKG K702 headphones.
Fabfilter Pro-Q. (mixing and mastering) Fabfilter Pro-L (mastering only) SONAR Channel Tools (mixing – panning) Quantum Leap Spaces (mixing – reverb) 2CAudio Aether (mixing – reverb) iZotope Ozone 5 (mastering only).
SUMMARY / NOTES
I did not use any compressors for mixing. I don’t really care for them! Most of the electronic stuff in this had already been compressed anyway and most of the problems I found could be dealt with EQ and judicious use of volume/panning.
I might approach this differently if I did it again. I’d also have preferred to have the percussion stems separated for more flexibility (particularly the bassy percussion and the snare).
I could have mastered it more aggressively, but I am cautious with mastering aggressively on synth orchestral stuff because it can really highlight the ‘quality’ (or lack thereof) of the samples.
Hope this was useful.
Wow, what a cool Idea. Here is my take on this. Of course I first read all the helpful info at the beginning of Tacos thread. I Think I learned a lot. Normally I’m not very good when it comes to mixing my stuff – but I think it also depends on the material you compose. Tacos piece is quite good. Oh, and I probably mixed it without the influence of having it composed myself – i was not biased so to speak. Have fun listening. Regards, berlinsoundhttp://www.stevenhofmann.de/AJ/TacoMix_Test.mp3
Some notes: It took me app. 90 min. incl separate mastering. I was mainly following suggestions of this thread + general mixing rules.
Great to hear all these mixes and thanks Gareth for such a detailed post. I took some of each of your points into account in my mix, although again, I can still hear differences i’d like to improve on in my mix compared to yours for sure. I think my room needs treating based on some resonances I heard when doing a sine sweep test…
To keep this thread from turning into a ‘post-a-page’ kind of thing, I’ve put my comments and methods into a pdf here:
And you can hear my mix here (I used the stems that already had reverb in them – I originally used one of Logic’s Space Designer convolution reverbs called ‘1.7s Nice Hall’ which is part of the Medium Spaces group):
Let me know your thoughts and be brutally honest as the point of this is to learn how to mix better (I promise not to cry….too much).
I see you’re mixing in Logic. Here’s a few of my thoughts on mixing in Logic:
Summing Engine – Logic doesn’t sum tracks together very well, or (to be more specific) very clearly. Usually isn’t a big deal for 5 – 10 tracks, or pieces that aren’t very dense. But, if you have a session with a lot of tracks that fill up the frequency range and then some, you are going to working extra hard trying to achieve some sort of clarity. Things start sounding more and more like Soundcloud (which sounds awful due to their conversion process). In the process of trying to achieve clarity, you’ll use a bunch of plugins that will, little by little, degrade the sound so it’s almost like a double-edged sword. Using better mixing plugins well help, as long as you use them appropriately.
Stereo Imaging – Logic handels stereo imaging poorly, or again, things aren’t as clear. But, unlike the summing engine thing, there are a couple things to try and improve this. First, I turn the pan law to ‘0’ (project settings/Audio/Pan Law). At this setting, it seems to me like it’s easier to get tracks more into the left and right channels so everything isn’t overlapping as much in the center channel (which makes since when you set a pan law to ‘0’). Second, use Logic’s directional mixer plugin or even better, download the Stereo Tool from Flux plugins to use for panning. It’s free and, in my opinion, an absolute must to have for anyone mixing. By the way, mono tracks pan well in Logic. It’s only stereo tracks that I feel have this issue.
The actual ‘Sound’ of Logic- This one is a big one. All DAWs sound different. It’s not very noticeable with just a handful of tracks but becomes more apparent as you add more and more tracks. It’s a subtle thing but it might be the thing you are fighting with in your mix. Logic has a very ‘rounded’ sort of sound. It’s hard to get bright mixes out of Logic without sounding harsh in the highs and high mids. The bass and sub bass isn’t as clear compared to other DAWs. Low mids seem to have a lot presence in the balance of frequencies. Upper highs seem ok. A good EQ and proper EQ’ing will help. DMG Equality is a nice EQ for around $160.
I mixed in Logic for a long time struggling to find clarity and getting mixes brighter without becoming harsh. I always wondered how this mixer I knew got really clear mixes that were bright but not harsh. The main difference between us was the DAW . He was working in Pro Tools. I switched over to mixing in Pro Tools and found I didn’t have to work as hard to get the mix I was looking for. That’s also when I noticed a difference in sound between the two programs.
Another mixing DAW to try is Mixbus. DAW based entirely on the sound of a Harrison console. Not great for editing and no midi capability last time I checked but, it sounds great.
Logic doesn’t sound bad. It’s a choice and it’s all in how you work with it. The points I mentioned are subtle things that I feel added up to a point in my mixes that I was fighting the way the DAW sounds. I struggled with getting clarity and tolerable brightness out of it so I mix in Pro Tools now.
Not sure if this whole thing helps and maybe some might think I’m a bit looney for thinking DAWs sound different. But, that’s been my experience.
Lmz saidNo, you are not looney! About 7-8 years ago, I used mostly Cubase for all my mixes. I then switched to Pro-Tools and noticed quite the difference. In fact, I mixed a track with the exact same parameters in both DAWs and the results were chocking. The mix in Cubase turned out way muddier. Ever since, I never looked back. I have always used Pro-Tools.
Not sure if this whole thing helps and maybe some might think I’m a bit looney for thinking DAWs sound different. But, that’s been my experience.
Cubase might have improved throughout the years but it doesn’t matter, I am just more comfortable mixing in Pro-Tools anymore.
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