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Recording & Mixing Pimped rig but got no mojo? Learn from the experts here

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Old 22nd September 2010 , 10:41 AM
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Default Space in the mix

Hi, ok so this might be a hard one to answer, but my friend and me have been writing and recording songs in his home studio for some years now with Pro Tools (and still can't get that elusive pubishing deal!), and we always have the same problem - the mix always ends up sounding like one lump of sound with everything on top of everything else. We've tried EQ, panning, compression, stereo widening plugins, but still can't get that effect that the professionals get where you can hear each instrument in its own space. Listending to tracks on the radio, CD etc., you can always seem to be able to hear each instrument clearly, even if its low down in the mix and a lot quieter than everything else. Are there any basic techniques that you can use to achieve this - or is it just the case of spending hours tweeking EQ, compression and plugins?

Thanks,
Frustrated of Essex!
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Old 22nd September 2010 , 11:50 AM
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What are you monitoring with?

Any audio samples?
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Old 22nd September 2010 , 12:08 PM
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Without hearing samples of your music, the most common reason for not having enough space in your mix is due to having too much *in* your mix. I know that sounds obvious, but sometimes just giving your arrangement a critical listen and being brutal about chopping out parts that don't really add anything to the end result means you boil your arrangement down to its essence leaving much more space in the mix.
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Old 22nd September 2010 , 01:30 PM
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Well, I don't think there's too much in our current project. It's an up-tempo dance track with a Motown feel, kind of similar to what Marc Ronson was doing with Amy Winehouse. But we've just got sampled drums, bass, a thin guitar, a mellow electric piano and of course vocals. There are some harmony 'oohs' and 'ahs' here and there and fairly thick harmonies on the choruses. But this seems to happen on all our tracks - they sound ok, but we can't seem to emulate that separation of the instruments that you get on professional tracks. The forum isn't allowing me to upload an MP3 sample and the zip file is too big, even with just an extract from the song!
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Old 22nd September 2010 , 01:52 PM
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Grab yourself a free SoundCloud account and upload some examples on there, you can then use the Soundcloud doohickey when posting to this thread to include your track.

http://www.soundcloud.com/

It does sound like you have a very sensible arrangement of instruments & vocals, so it's probably best to post an example so the various members here can give suggestions based upon some specifics.
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Old 22nd September 2010 , 01:57 PM
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Hi, I remembered we had an eSnips account, the link below should work - it's an extract of our latest song up to the chorus:-

http://www.esnips.com/r/hmfl/doc/20c...ords-(extract)
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Old 22nd September 2010 , 02:41 PM
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Well, my initial thoughts (after "damn, that's good music") would be to try being extreme with the panning of some elements. The further back you go in the history of modern pop music, the more extreme the panning of tracks was, mostly due to the limited tape and mixer channels offered on the studio gear of the time. I'd suggest playing with ideas like panning the guitar wide left and the keys wide right and then employ some sort of stereo widener of the vocal reverb return. Employing a much wider soundstage on a track like this could yield a much more detailed sound and give the sense of space you are after.

But that's just a personal opinion, of course, YMMV!
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Old 22nd September 2010 , 03:01 PM
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Caveat first, I haven't listened (my daw isnt on the internet) and never personally use stereo widning plugins (though I may occasionally use a stereo widening or up-down widening trick). It all comes down to the arrangement and tracking as you said. There are some obvious places people go wrong though:

1. Tracking is an obvious one. Great tracks recorded in a great space using great gear is important. Read the stickies on microphones and preamps. Cheaper gear (particularly preamps) tend to lack 'focus' smearing the track across the stereo image;

2. Mixing, try using the LCR approach (all tracks should either be hard left hard right or up the centre - nothing in between)

3. Work hard on placing the instruments in their own space front to back and up and down as well as left to right.

4. Play around with your time domain effects, a bit of predelay on a reverb can make all the difference.

5. Keep working at it!
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Old 22nd September 2010 , 03:38 PM
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Glad you liked the track Dave. I'll definitely take on board your comments. I'm planning to do a remix in Cubase and will play around with the panning and try out some more stereo effects. I'm guessing that EQ could sort out some frequency clashes perhaps. I'm very new to EQ and am just playing around with it at the moment, not quite sure what to do with which instruments!
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Old 22nd September 2010 , 03:44 PM
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Thanks for the comments Trev, yeah I'm guessing that it really is a case of trial and error and spending a fair bit more time on the mixing. I need a lot more experience working with EQ and probably need to master the combination of EQ, compression and panning to get the results I'm after I expect.
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Old 22nd September 2010 , 03:46 PM
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As Trev mentions, the best treatment for any sound is to record it well in the first place. The best EQ treatment for any instrument is "as little as possible" unless you're doing something radical for artistic purposes, other than that, these days I tend to only use EQ to treat clashes between instruments if it can't be first sorted out by panning or arrangement.
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Old 22nd September 2010 , 10:40 PM
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Dave, just wondered if you ever experienced what I'm getting with the 01x. I keep getting a click or it could be described as a 'pop', which is happening about once a minute and sometimes the audio drops out. When I've got Cubase running and it happens, the ASIO indicator spikes - any idea what this could be?

Thanks.
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Old 22nd September 2010 , 11:22 PM
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Yes, I did used to get the odd pop and click with the 01x. There were several things to check for with the mLan drivers, the first would be to ensure you have the IEEE1394 networking option disabled on your 01x firewire connection. I'm sure you already know about it, but if you don't, checkout the 01xray.com forum for specific advice on using the 01x and associated mLan gear.
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Old 23rd September 2010 , 11:01 AM
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Hi y'all.. back from m'summer hols and first thread I read suggests a sticky Great advice from 'the boys' and will be useful for all no doubt..
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Old 24th September 2010 , 08:59 AM
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I'm still convinced that we're not using EQ properly - does anybody know of a guide that shows what EQ range should be cut or boosted for different instruments - the common ones like drums, bass, elec guitar, vocals etc.?
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