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Ben Mcmillan

Something not quite right with mixes energy etc..

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Hi guys and girls 

I've attached a sample of a song I'm about to released. I'm on spotify etc..  It seems that all my mixes are missing something sonically? some sort of space or energy when compared to commercial releases and I can't put my finger on what I need to do...  I'm not talking about the composition itself.  but my mixes... just wondering if some helpful people would give some constructive thoughts.... It seems to me to do with stereo width / lacking compression / or reverb something just isn't quite right.. I play the guitars and those and vocals are always recorded mono and all virtual instruments / drums are programmed...  I typically use universal reverb across my entire mix.... 

Any feedback would be much appreciated. 

Ben Armistad. 

Soldier's Prayer 3 .Mp3

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I'm listening with headphones and I find it's a nice stereo depth of field, Guitars sound real good, mix of instruments are good,, but is there supposed to be a bass? I don't hear any bass or kick for that matter. Seems the low end is there on the guitars. It's not that you have to have these parts if that was what you wanted, but leaving out Bass and kick might be what you are missing. 

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Hi Cact

1 hour ago, Cactus Music said:

I'm listening with headphones and I find it's a nice stereo depth of field, Guitars sound real good, mix of instruments are good,, but is there supposed to be a bass? I don't hear any bass or kick for that matter. Seems the low end is there on the guitars. It's not that you have to have these parts if that was what you wanted, but leaving out Bass and kick might be what you are missing. 

Hi Cactus. The bass and kick are there... or at least on my monitors, headphones might be called in to check my end on the low end... I'm more thinking into the overall sonic sound, I find my releases always seem a little one dimensional or something compared. I just can't place what it is.... Thanks for your feedback about the low end though. 

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I agree with cactus, bass is lacking, there is no centrally placed bass, it seems to me the bass and kick drum more centrally placed will give more dynamics to the song. Both the bass and the kick drum are sinking into the instruments, fine if that's the sound you want but I think it might sound better separating the kick and bass drum from the instruments a bit more frequency wise. A more cutting kick and up the frequencies of the bass, so it can be heard. The stereo sound of the instruments is fine.

I can't hear what your saying, I'd like to hear more passion and effort in the vocals to impart more feeling, more emphasis on the meaningful words. You probably need to put a bit more compression on the vocals to pull them up in the mix, use a longer attack time so the front of your vocal stands out. Not too much reverb, that will sink them back down.

I don't think it's that bad at all, some nice sounds, a bit of work on the bass and vocals should polish it up nicely. Listening again, I think it is your enunciation or accent when you sing, the words are not separated enough I really cannot understand at all what you are saying. It gets better when you lift your voice, yes I can understand you easily in the higher range.

Lastly, it needs a middle eight or something to lift it a bit more, I feel it is going somewhere but it doesn't quite break, you lift your voice later, perhaps too late.

 

 

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Yes the sound is certainly pleasing and enjoyable to listen too.  But thats using good headphones.  If I don't hear the bass on my studio headphones then I will say the majority of listeners will also not hear it on ear bubs or cell phone speakers.  

 I just turned on my monitors and now I do hear a kick thump and a droning sort of bass but if you want to stand side by side with commercial releases you need your mixes to sound right on all listening systems. My guess is your studio monitors are of the bass heavy type.  

There is almost too much low end on my monitors. Its a sort of drone as I said. I can't hear the bass notes, there's no defining "pluck"   the kick might sound OK but it's not going to come through on all systems.. It's all below 100hz. Give it some mids.   Once again , if this was the sound you like nothing wrong with it, but to my listening taste I want to hear good bass. 

Edited by Cactus Music

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1 hour ago, Cactus Music said:

Yes the sound is certainly pleasing and enjoyable to listen too.  But thats using good headphones.  If I don't hear the bass on my studio headphones then I will say the majority of listeners will also not hear it on ear bubs or cell phone speakers.  

 I just turned on my monitors and now I do hear a kick thump and a droning sort of bass but if you want to stand side by side with commercial releases you need your mixes to sound right on all listening systems. My guess is your studio monitors are of the bass heavy type.  

There is almost too much low end on my monitors. Its a sort of drone as I said. I can't hear the bass or the kicks attack. It's all below 100hz. Give it some mids.   Once again , if this was the sound you like nothing wrong with it, but to my listening taste I want to hear good bass. 

Ok thanks you very much for continued feedback... I can get your thoughts regarding the drone like , i've been unable to separate the bass from itself if you like. I'll try giving it more mids and less low end. ..  it's "plucked mutes" preset in studio instruments bass guitar...  

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1 hour ago, Tezza said:

I agree with cactus, bass is lacking, there is no centrally placed bass, it seems to me the bass and kick drum more centrally placed will give more dynamics to the song. Both the bass and the kick drum are sinking into the instruments, fine if that's the sound you want but I think it might sound better separating the kick and bass drum from the instruments a bit more frequency wise. A more cutting kick and up the frequencies of the bass, so it can be heard. The stereo sound of the instruments is fine.

I can't hear what your saying, I'd like to hear more passion and effort in the vocals to impart more feeling, more emphasis on the meaningful words. You probably need to put a bit more compression on the vocals to pull them up in the mix, use a longer attack time so the front of your vocal stands out. Not too much reverb, that will sink them back down.

I don't think it's that bad at all, some nice sounds, a bit of work on the bass and vocals should polish it up nicely. Listening again, I think it is your enunciation or accent when you sing, the words are not separated enough I really cannot understand at all what you are saying. It gets better when you lift your voice, yes I can understand you easily in the higher range.

Lastly, it needs a middle eight or something to lift it a bit more, I feel it is going somewhere but it doesn't quite break, you lift your voice later, perhaps too late.

 

 

thanks Tezza. Much appreciated. I understand you regarding some of the words.. I'm a kiwi. That might be it,haha. i'll have to sort the bass and kick out a bit though... thanks again. much appreciated. 

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OK that would explain a lot. I used to use SI bass but it tends to lake definition which is what I'm hearing. Donload the Ample P bass lite, it is free with the only limitation of just one sample library and it doesn't go below low E. https://www.amplesound.net/en/download.asp   

See if that helps, I've tried a lot of bass VST's and this one is very close to a real P bass.

My set up for it is this  Keep the velocity below 115 or it will add slaps. I'm at around 108 vel. I set the volume knob at 1.0  I assign it to it's own Buss.   I hi pass filter at 80 hz.  

You might want to hi pass your guitars to get them out of the way, you might have to much low end build up happening. Try 130hz  

I put hi pass filters on every buss. My reverb buss it is set at 230hz.  Vocals at 150HZ etc. 

Edited by Cactus Music

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1 hour ago, Cactus Music said:

OK that would explain a lot. I used to use SI bass but it tends to lake definition which is what I'm hearing. Donload the Ample P bass lite, it is free with the only limitation of just one sample library and it doesn't go below low E. https://www.amplesound.net/en/download.asp   

See if that helps, I've tried a lot of bass VST's and this one is very close to a real P bass.

My set up for it is this  Keep the velocity below 115 or it will add slaps. I'm at around 108 vel. I set the volume knob at 1.0  I assign it to it's own Buss.   I hi pass filter at 80 hz.  

You might want to hi pass your guitars to get them out of the way, you might have to much low end build up happening. Try 130hz  

I put hi pass filters on every buss. My reverb buss it is set at 230hz.  Vocals at 150HZ etc. 

all excellent stuff Cactus. I've probably gone about it sightly wrong in that I've put high pass on individual tracks a bit much instead of buss... thanks for all the help. You've got some sound knowledge for sure. 

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Busses are a great way to organize you mix into parts. And they do make it easier to globally deal with certain details.  Having to adjust each track is a lot of work. I set up a mix  and save it as a mix scene.  I proof the mix in the car, ear buds,  ghetto blaster, home stereo, laptop speakers and in mono.  I make notes then go back to re mix if needed  and mostly I'm only adjusting busses, not tracks.  We each have our own system and you'll want to have your own. 

I have a Master Buss where all the sub busses go to. I mute this buss to check this has happened. On my master I have the BT Brickwall limiter set at - 0.4db for Wave masters  or ? depending on it's final destination. Lower peaks are required for MP3 etc. 

I then have the following sub busses:

Bass 

Drums  

Midi instruments

Guitars

Vocals 

Reverb 

Delay

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To me it seems there is a problem in the lower end of the mix. Bass is rumbly, drowning out other stuff. Also missing the Kick. Would Clean up the bass with EQ'ing, and sidechain the Kick to the Bass for presence.

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4 hours ago, iRelevant said:

To me it seems there is a problem in the lower end of the mix. Bass is rumbly, drowning out other stuff. Also missing the Kick. Would Clean up the bass with EQ'ing, and sidechain the Kick to the Bass for presence.

Thank you irelevant.  Side chaining is something that would help for sure. thanks so much for your input. 

cheers

Ben Armistad 

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Two words: room treatment. 

I'm  surprised no one mentioned that yet.  Until you have an at least somewhat accurate listening environment to mix in, it's like starting the marathon an hour after every one else does.

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Cactus and Tezza already hit what came to mind for me, but I did want to reiterate the comment about lesser playback mediums. Cell phone speakers can be brutal, but are a good analysis tool.... It will collapse a track to mono and point out poor crossover band choices, but won't reflect bass well at all due to speaker size. However, it is a good litmus test for a mix, and potentially how your song could be heard/shared with others. Try listening to the mp3 in your OP on a cell phone speaker and see what stands out to you.

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I believe this is much ado about little.  This is a fine song that, to me, is vocal driven, therefor, the words need to pop out of the mix and tell the story.  The vocals are well performed so let them shine.  Yeah, the bass and/or percussion could be boosted and cleaned up a bit, but this isn't a hard rock or pop song, so they don't need to hold quite as much weight.  Try a few alternate mixes with the vocals, bass, and percussion boosted a bit and see if this doesn't satisfy.  Also, this post belongs in the song section where the great CW producers and mixers live.  If you never touched this song again, you should still be proud of a fine song.

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6 hours ago, Lynn said:

I believe this is much ado about little.  This is a fine song that, to me, is vocal driven, therefor, the words need to pop out of the mix and tell the story.  The vocals are well performed so let them shine.  Yeah, the bass and/or percussion could be boosted and cleaned up a bit, but this isn't a hard rock or pop song, so they don't need to hold quite as much weight.  Try a few alternate mixes with the vocals, bass, and percussion boosted a bit and see if this doesn't satisfy.  Also, this post belongs in the song section where the great CW producers and mixers live.  If you never touched this song again, you should still be proud of a fine song.

Thanks for your feedback Lynn. I'm aware of it needing to be in a another thread but it was more about a technical question regarding production. I'll try to save a few alternative mixes along the way in times to come to give me a better understanding across multiple devices too. Thanks again for your feedback. It is much appreciated. 

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7 hours ago, Byron Dickens said:

Two words: room treatment. 

I'm  surprised no one mentioned that yet.  Until you have an at least somewhat accurate listening environment to mix in, it's like starting the marathon an hour after every one else does.

Thanks for your feedback Byron. Yes, that's one of the issues I have. My bedroom is a poor shape and my speakers aren't placed right. It's just the way it is sadly.  I'll endeavour to change things up. Thanks for your feedback. 

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