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Michael Martinez

Help suggest improvements to the mix on this song

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2 hours ago, Michael Martinez said:

By the way, there's no guitar on this song. It's all vst synths.

You're missing the point.  It's  a figure of speech.  See,  what separates Eric Clapton's guitar  playing  from mine is not that he has his own Fender Custom Shop signature model and I only have a Made in Mexico Strat. No, what separates Eric Clapton's guitar  playing  from mine is that he's  Eric Clapton and I'm not. 

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I can't really speak to the vocals so much;  what I'm most familiar with tends to have them kind of buried anyway. 

 

Try this: go back to your drum track.  Lower the velocity of the hi hat  on every other eighth note a very small amount.  Then raise it just a tiny bit on the one of every measure.  Then select all the snare hits and nudge them just barely to the right so they are just behind the beat. Now, take the bass part and nudge it slightly to the left so it is right on the leading edge of the beat.   Try it and see how that sounds. 

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I'm playing around with the Sonintus Reverb and Delay that comes with Cakewalk. What I like is for the vocals to sit back, be more airy as if they are floating in a wide open space. What are some ways to achieve this? I thought more reverb, but that only distracts and makes the lyrics less clear. Would a long delay be appropriate?

HEre's the more recent revision if anyone wants to take a quick listen: https://soundcloud.com/mwtzzz/the-forever-lament

 

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12 minutes ago, Byron Dickens said:

Try this: go back to your drum track.  Lower the velocity of the hi hat  on every other eighth note a very small amount.  Then raise it just a tiny bit on the one of every measure.  Then select all the snare hits and nudge them just barely to the right so they are just behind the beat. Now, take the bass part and nudge it slightly to the left so it is right on the leading edge of the beat.   Try it and see how that sounds. 

Thanks I will give this a try.

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The more reverb you put on, the more the vocals will disappear into the back of the mix, try to mix the vocals dry first, with no reverb, just equalization and compression. When that sounds right then try a shorter reverb like room or plate. If you want to extend the sound of her voice which might be necessary in this song and given her style, try using a short delay to do that after you have the eq and compression right, just sit the delay sound very soft in the mix. Then put a shorter reverb on that.

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Also, make sure you keep a copy of the original song you posted here so you can hear the differences. Please also do something about the long intro, it should be half what it is, the vocals are what everyone wants to hear, they should come in 2 or 4 bars after the start. You can't reinvent the wheel here, if you have a vocal in your song, that is the most important part.

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Tezza I haven't been using compression at all. Does Cakewalk come with a built-in compressor? Can you recommend a compression patch to start with on the vocals?

Another question: in Cakewalk's track view for a single instrument/vocal (the vertical track strip), there is the area for the Sends. If I have two sends there - one for reverb, one for delay - I'm assuming a copy of the dry signal is sent independently to each bus, and those busses are routed to master, so one signal gets reverb, the other gets delay. Is that how it works?

If so, is that how it's customary to set it up, or should the dry signal be sent to one Send buss that has Delay on it, and then that buss sends to a Reverb buss before going to the master?

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If you are not using compression then that might be a major reason why the sound lacks professionalism, why the sounds seem dimensionless. You will need to learn how to use compression maybe youtube? Yes there is one on the Prochannel, just learn how to use it well, you can google things like "compression on vocals" to find many articles, you just need to know what the different parts of it do. Stick to a standard compressor with ratio, threshold (or input), attack, release etc (like the one in Cakewalk) and learn what those do. Best to learn the Cakewalk one. Use it on the vocals by themselves (dry) so you can really hear what the changes in various knobs are actually doing, the theory part will tell you why it is happening. When you understand this you can apply it to the other instruments accordingly. Search each instrument on google to see what the best compression settings might be for a starting place ie "compression on piano" This can really change your sound.

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Tezza - thanks for the info. I am both pleased and disheartened. Pleased because it seems compression is one of those things that will help. Disheartened because it's yet another rabbit hole I have to go chasing down (learning curve). Thanks for the tips. I'll either make the effort to learn about it, or I'll just farm these songs out to a mix engineer.

If I decide to have a mix engineer do it for me, in Cakewalk, if I choose Export > Audio > Files of type "Broadcast Wave", Source Category "Tracks", Preset "Entire MIX No F/X" this is what an audio engineer expects?

Other choices are "RAW broadcast", "raw track no f/x"

Edited by Michael Martinez

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The song has to be rendered in stems which are usually raw tracks, so you will end up with one .wav file per track. I do this in Studio One have not yet done it in Cakewalk so someone else might be able to tell you how this is done in Cakewalk. There are differences in what people believe stems should be, my view is that stems should be "raw" waves with no FX on them and not run through FX buses, only the editing manipulations you have done to the track.

If you are giving the stems to a recording engineer then that engineer will not want your compression, equalization, reverb or delay etc burnt to the stem, just the raw recording of the instrument as it was captured to the DAW with any track specific manipulations from non-fx editing you might have done. The exception might be when people are using track specific plugins that are part of the instruments sound that they want to keep, as with synths and VST's, it's up to you to make these decisions.A professional mix engineer is going to have much better plugins than you have and will know how to use them but will charge for that.

What you have described sounds about right as long as you end up with a single broadcast .wav file per track without fx on them.

I would encourage you to learn the Cakewalk Prochannel though, you only need to learn about equalization, compression, reverb and delay, that's it really, if you want to go further then that's up to you. You really need to learn these 4 though, the sound of your productions will be much better.  There are plenty of free/paid courses out there that can get you started.

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Tezza,

I'll definitely be learning about mixing with Prochannel in my spare time. For now I've decided it's too many rabbit holes for me to be chasing at the moment, and so for this batch of songs I'll be sending them to some engineers. I exported wav files (one for each track in a song, timestamped) with eq off, everything panned Center, levels at 0, reverb off, all the Sends off except for certain Delays that I want to keep  - and I'm pretty sure this is sufficient for an audio engineer.

I already had a fellow in China, of all places, offer to do a mix for free. I told him I wanted an 80s style sound. He sent me his mix - it's a bit unusual, not what I was expecting, but the vocals sit way, way better than any of my attempts. I've also had a couple other offers from random people, so it'll be interesting to hear each person's different take on things.

I appreciate all your info, it's definitely helped improve my understanding of the mixing process.

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VOCAL MASTERING TUTORIAL Here is a youtube vid" that will help you with Sonitus Compression and a few other Cakewalk plugins...

The frist two plugins he used are not in Cakewalk but the rest of them are. I use this set up when i record my vocals. it will get you in the ball park..

The girl who is singing  has a killer voice so it's nice to listen to......

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Old Joad: just watched that youtube tutorial you recommended. It was informative.

Now I've got a couple questions:

For reverb/delay, I'm assuming this is done on a track-by-track basis, depending on where you want to place the instrument in the front/back space, so most if not all tracks will have different amounts of this.

For compression, is this also typically done on most/all tracks? Or is more customary to do it on certain types of tracks only?

Any other youtube videos that show mixing of a song in Sonar/Cakewalk? That first video dealt with the vocal track only. It'd be helpful to see the process done on an entire song, all the tracks.

-

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