General Mixing and Mastering

The place for musicians to share their knowledge and ideas about music and remixing, and to post WIP snippets and feedback. Also suggest tunes for remixing, here.
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betelzeus
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General Mixing and Mastering

Post by betelzeus » 10/08/2014 - 7:41

Hey Guys,

Didn't do so good with my last remix there , just wanted to say thanks for the shouts and the honest feedback , i do appreciate it. Kinda hard to take it sometimes , but it's all positive in the long run :)

Anyways , with that said , I was just looking for some mixing and mastering 101. A search on the net comes up with an abundance of things , but i was just wondering if anyone had any suggestions and could point me in a good direction.

Thanks,
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Re: General Mixing and Mastering

Post by Commie_User » 10/08/2014 - 9:54

Well first things first, what's your direction? It'd be no good, say, our rambling on about having a smooth-sounding valve and tape master, if you're after something to literally just punch up or line up among other songs.

A lot of recordings don't even need it these days. Mastering can be as much artistic as technically necessary.

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Re: General Mixing and Mastering

Post by Chris Abbott » 10/08/2014 - 17:11

I think if you get the ideas and detail right, then the mixing and mastering are a lot easier. Good mixing and mastering won't save a track which is short of ideas or inspiration. The most successful remixes come from when someone gets an idea of how a tune should sound, then realises it.

It's also always a mistake to release the first draft. After you think you've finished, leave it on your hard drive for a couple of weeks, then come back to it as a fan rather than as the creator. That should give you a reality check that enables you to take it forward with more ideas. On my CD Back in TIme 3 Shadowfire went through around 8 different versions over many months, and Zoids went through almost as many versions.

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Re: General Mixing and Mastering

Post by betelzeus » 11/08/2014 - 13:05

Hey Commie and Chris , thanks for the replies guys ,

Hmm... so where do i start exactly. I had to think about that one for a little while. And honestly , i still don't really know how to answer. I was thinking last night also about my original post , as in , what exactly was i asking (i.e. Did i just ask a stupid question? hahah) anyways ... and what exactly am i looking for by posting/asking that. Still don't know exactly.


Anyways , hmmm ... now what's my direction? .... hell if i know hahah ... seriously though ... I'm not really looking to write a "hit" or something popular just for the sake of it, or ya know , emmm ... or change the style that i write in (what ever that is btw) to make it more popular or something like that. (Hopefully that came out right) ... I guess i'm just looking to write stuff that sounds good , and hope that other people get something out of it too (i'd imagine that's pretty normal).

Style-wise ... doesn't really fit into one genre or another i suppose , but i always , mostly anyways , have classical / orchestral as a foundation (b/c that's what i grew up with) , but i try to mix that with well Electro / Ambient / Other ... I'm not really looking to emulate one group or artist per se , i mean , I guess I'd rather add to what's out there (hopefully anyways) rather than just be another someone else (again, i suppose that's pretty normal)....

Right ..back to direction (i get distracted easy , if you couldn't tell already haha) i guess i see myself as a writer/composer , well i like to see it that way anyways. hmmm... I guess what i mean is I'd like to think that I'm at least half-way decent at composition... With arrangement however , well i think I'm alright at that ..although at lot of my ideas are all over the place (like my mind hah) .... other than that though .. mixing ... sure i can pan stuff and mess with volume levels here and there ...(on that last one i had to mess with vol levs quite a bit to try and smooth some of the instruments out or something like that (which is one of the things i'm not so good at) ....and production/mastering/ post production or whatever ...well .. most of the stuff after composition and arrangement is frustrating for me ... b/c it takes me forever , b/c I'm not so good at it ... i mean .. i can use some reverb and delay ... somewhat effectively sometimes ... well i think anyways .... compression and eq ... i can honestly say i don't really touch it ... sure i can play around ... but to use it effectively is a totally different story ...

I guess I'm getting a bit side-tracked now (again) ... emmm ... One of my weaker point (besides all the above stuff haha) , I would say , is turning those 30-sec to 1:30min sec ideas into 3:30min-5min songs ... which yeah i guess that is the hard part isn't it hahah ... I mean i literally have 100s of those short ideas just sitting there ... some 30sec , some 1:30 ... some maybe ever 3mins ... but none are songs as such (a lot are years old also)... and yeah ... not all are good either hahah ... a decent amount have potential ... but it's weird for me b/c part of me doesn't want to "ruin" the original idea (which i know is a bit silly) by changing it too much, partly b/c most of the short ideas came from just pressing record and just start playing ... rather that thinking about it too much ... which seems to be what i do when i go back to it ... well sometimes anyways ... ok well maybe most of the time ... hah ....

Just as a side note ... on that last one i did have a bunch of different revisions , i'll admit though some not so different than others , but probably mostly b/c of the changing bit as mentioned above. And i do tend to listen to things i write over and over again ... most of the time just to listen ... not really to change anything ... but yeah i did have some ideas about what i wanted to do with the song ... but just didn't know how to implement them ... and yeah ... i do tend to release stuff earlier than it should be ... however with that said ... i suppose i do that b/c for one it doesn't feel like i'll ever finish whatever particular song i happen to be working on ...

Freaking fraka firecracker ... it's time for bed ... didn't realize how late it was ... and i got work tomorrow :(
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Re: General Mixing and Mastering

Post by Commie_User » 11/08/2014 - 13:55

Well, what to say to that flow of consciousness?

Would you like to post a link to something you've already done? Then tell us what you think is sonically wrong with it?

Maybe all you need are a few technical hints to explore, which can then bring some creativity out. Or to try some completely different sample or miking technique for the next mix. If you 'smooth instruments out', they may not actually be gelling.



And one thought occurs that you might be good at medleys, even basic symphonics. If you've got odds and ends flying around in all directions, try and sew them together in a common beat, tempo or sound. And have themes repeat later. When you focus better in the recording session, you just know what (if any) thing to do in the master effects, editing and programming.

Just a suggestion.



This aborted basic track of mine started out as a few different bassline ideas. I was going to put some other patchwork stuff on for the melody but I've completely forgotten now.

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Re: General Mixing and Mastering

Post by Doddsy » 11/08/2014 - 19:03

That snippet sounds very punkish commie_user maybe use it as a springboard to a punk C64 track!

@Betelzeus just producing a c64 track from start to finish can be an achievement because most sid tunes are minimal and raw sounding which can be a challenge for any remixer. I always thought of an idea to put a WIP diary of a sid remix much like people do when writing retro games but in summary these basic steps are how I tend to approach a remix.
1. I either want to remix a sid tune that I know well or I have a remix style idea and I get a sid tune to fit that style - sometimes it happens both together but most importantly create it for yourself and if you like it then you may be surprised who also likes it
2. Once I got the basic chords and melodies together I begin constructing the tracks until I'm happy with it. Some remixes may be only a minute long or even 10 minutes long - break a few rules I'd say and as a guide the sid tune tends to dictate how long it should be.
3. After the tune is written I tend to mix it all together and there are tutorials on the remix64 site about this and more. But I would add that you need to take your time with this as mixing can really enhance your track and it's something I'm learning about all the time.
4. Mastering is a separate art to mixing and again you need to take your time with this too. The ideal thing is to leave the mastering to someone else with a fresh pair of ears. If you can't do this then leave the track and work on something else (about a month) so you can have a fresh pair of ears I'm guilty of not doing this when I should. I guess I worry in case my PC crashes and I lose my remix besides I want to get it out there!

Hope this helps.
:)

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Re: General Mixing and Mastering

Post by betelzeus » 12/08/2014 - 10:32

Hmm... trying to think where to start again ... or i guess continue (a bit earlier start tonight) now if i can only remember where i was going with my last post hahah ... maybe my music is kinda like my posts ... just rambling on , kinda coming together here and there , but still jumbled a bit hahah ... anyways...

Before i forget again ... one thing I intended to mention in that last post was .. with the volume thing (smoothing out instruments ect. ) ... most of that was done on the vocal to try to hide the not so nice transitions ... and well .. now that i think about it ... i guess using a sampled vocal for a lead ... emmm ... not the greatest i suppose ...(although that's how i envisioned the song)... as the lead should be out front , even though in the middle there , are parts where the vocal is a bit hidden and/or on par with another instrument to hide it's "samply-ness" (or try to anyways) ... and transitions on some of the stings .... i suppose i should have messed with the instruments themselves a bit more to help with that instead of trying to fix it with fading in and out ... or something maybe ...

Anyways ... side tracked again hah ... first off ... thanks for the suggestions Commie and thanks Doddsy for the tips ...

@Commie ... I'll have to think of what to post ... and to be critical of one's own work hmm ... everyone likes their own stuff right? ...hahah ... i guess that's the ego that does that.... seriously though ... i can go back and listen to stuff i wrote when i first started and yeah ... a lot of it was crappola ... i would be horribly embarrassed to post anything like that .... i can definitely be critical of those hahah .... but yeah i know what you mean... listening with a critical ear ... and yeah i can hear stuff with this last one that could be better , but i suppose that's where what i envision for a song surpasses my abilities ... or something like that ... In general though ... i guess i can say a lot of my music sounds ... emm .... tin-ey ... for the lack of a better word ... or small ... emmm ... hmm dunno how to say that really ... not professional i guess ... which i suppose is ultimately what most people are going for (i imagine anyway) .... to sound professional ... or at least something along those lines ...

I'm kinda starting to question all kinds of stuff now ... --instrument choice-- ... yeah i guess that could use some work ... --song construction-- ... yeah dunno at the moment ... (and yeah maybe working on a medley would be a good thing to try ) ... --composition-- i still tend to think i'm decent at that ... but then again ... i suppose that's what most people think of themselves ... which is where that other set or sets of ears come in ... a peer review i guess ... which is one reason why i post here i guess ... (hope that came out right) ... and the thought had occurred to me ... maybe i'm just getting to old ...(not that i'm really that old ... although i feel like it :shock: .... anyway i know i'm probably just rambling now ... but i'll see what i can find to post and see if i can listen to it critically ... although it probably won't be a finished song ...

@Doddsy ... Hey man ... thanks for sharing that ... excellent insight into how you work ... stuff like that is always helpful ... i know not everything works for everyone all the same ... but heck it's a good starting point to try and develop my own set of steps to help find what works for me ... and yeah i know what you mean about worrying about the PC ... i had mine crash on me years ago and i lost all of my work (and i swore that was it ... no more music ... i quit ) ... glad i didn't stick to that one hahah .... and yeah ... for me the closer a remix is to being finished the harder it gets to not upload it somewhere.


@All ... one thing i did think of earlier and forgot to mention(brain is swiss cheese) ..commie when you mentioned about a maybe use a different miking technique ... hmm ..yeah no mics here ... i have a pair of headphones , midi controller keyboard thing hah ... and a couple of guitars(one electric , one classical) ... ironically enough though ... a lot of the stuff i write and 99% of the remixes are step entered note by note ... i guess that's another reason why it takes me so long to finish something ... well that and lack of concentration/focus hahah ... i guess maybe that's another thing to look at ... no step entering and more of the press record start playing approach .... musically ..hopefully i'll get where i want to be in the end ... sooner rather than later i hope ... well ... a man can dream right :)

thanks for reading the ramble rant thing ... hopefully some sense was made somewhere in there hahah ....

man i must be getting old ...takes me so long to post something i have to log in again ....
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Re: General Mixing and Mastering

Post by Doddsy » 12/08/2014 - 19:52

betelzeus wrote:a lot of the stuff i write and 99% of the remixes are step entered note by note ... i guess that's another reason why it takes me so long to finish something ... well that and lack of concentration/focus hahah ... i guess maybe that's another thing to look at ... no step entering and more of the press record start playing approach .... musically ..hopefully i'll get where i want to be in the end ... sooner rather than later i hope ... well ... a man can dream right :)
I think step recording is an absolute no no these days so many people have access to music tech it's basically the work of an amateur. I'm not saying we shouldn't do it completely - it has it's uses in certain situations but I've found that step recording leads to a dull and often bland performance - best not underestimate yourself and learn that part and play it in real time - it can take some effort but it's worth it - the performance is more human and sounds more personal with your style.

I'd also recommend you get those guitars you mentioned in the mix!

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Re: General Mixing and Mastering

Post by AndyUK » 13/08/2014 - 2:56

One part of the post you made betelzeus is this "i guess i can say a lot of my music sounds ... emm .... tin-ey ... for the lack of a better word ... or small "..

You know what, it took me 3 remixes and similar comments in the remix/comment section to get to the point where I realized that i was mistaking 'Brightness' for the lack of bass..I spent a long time adding treble thinking it'd make the sounds cleaner yet all the while it drowns out the bass and middle. Practice for me recently has been reigning myself in on that crispness cure and trying to balance the song as a whole. If that makes any sense?

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Re: General Mixing and Mastering

Post by Commie_User » 13/08/2014 - 7:54

That's a good point, Andy. I've been in that situation a good few times, pulling the 'ends' of the spectrum back again when it suddenly hits my brain how overcooked the EQ is. A good, even sound is what you need, with maybe a sprinkle, one end or the other, of boost.

Although, if it's an 80s-type sound you're after, that trademark brightness and empty bass end of 80s production could just land in your lap that way. Just turn DOWN the bass and level the other frequencies.

And I agree with Doddsy on the guitars. My own taste would be to showcase anything 'real' against the backdrop of sounds obviously 'samply'.

Also monitor through speakers. That can't be emphasised enough as headphones give you a false perspective and tonal balance. They're great up close when listening for noise or something though.

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Re: General Mixing and Mastering

Post by Commie_User » 13/08/2014 - 17:07

And if it helps the flow, try WEBSID - the (slight latency) overlay for the 21st Century!



Image
http://www.igorski.nl/experiment/websid

For Google Chrome.

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Re: General Mixing and Mastering

Post by betelzeus » 14/08/2014 - 8:43

Hmmm ... maybe I will try recording again (it's been a long while )... like me playing something I mean ... as opposed to just writing / arranging it ....

Ahh and i think i've thought of the right word now .... 'thin' ... and/or 'not full' maybe .... although i think a lot of my older stuff .... suffered from too much stuff going on and/or too many notes .....

And yeah that does make sense Andy ... I probably don't look at projects as a whole as much as i should ...

and as Chris implied earlier i should maybe practice a little patience and listen to it critically first and maybe i just tried to fit too much stuff into that remix in some parts ...

also i guess a little more practice listening to my own projects critically will help ...

hmm and unfortunately headphones might have to do until i get a man cave hahah ...

Anyways ... here's one of my older original projects ... (one where i still played and recorded at the same time hah)

https://soundcloud.com/betelzeus/across ... reams-2002


now ... critically ... hmm ... well i still like the song ...so it's hard to say ... the first thing that pops to mind though is the didgeridoo echoes ... just the initial breath out (the part of the bass drone is the didge also) i couldn't circular breathe (still can't ...through a didge anyway) .... maybe some of the echoes are louder than they should be ... hmmm let's see ... no breaks in sound / drone ... could be annoying for some i guess ... emmm ... dunno really ... the timing might not be so great in some parts ... although I'm thinking there wasn't really any timing for this song in the first place hahah .... hmmm ... not too much variation ... which i guess isn't necessarily a bad thing ... ...hmm ... maybe i do need more practice at analyzing my own stuff ...

or maybe i'm just thinking too much :confusion: ...... [EDIT] ... Speaking of which ... I've been thinking lately about all of this .... i think i've come to the conclusion that ... i've become confused about why i write ... or ... i think i lost focus of why i started writing in the first place ... so hopefully i can find my way back there and focus on that ....

Just wanted to say thanks guys for helping me come to that realization ... :cheers:
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