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Mixing Problems

 
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Freddy V-C
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Joined: 17 May 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:08 pm    Post subject: Mixing Problems Reply with quote

At the weekend my band went into a studio to record three songs, and this time we decided to take all the individual tracks home to mix ourselves. I've just about finished mixing the first track, but I've run into a bit of a problem.

I use Sony Acid Music Studio 7.0, which has a helpful little thing near the bottom right which tells me when something clips. At the moment the song peaks at 2.7 dB above the 'limit' in the left ear and 4.1 dB in the right ear, however, when I imported a .wav of it into iTunes it was quieter than almost everything in my iTunes library. Basically what I'm asking is, should I try to keep under the limit or should I try to match the volume of the rest of the music I listen to?
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Reece
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

you're mixing it, not mastering it yet.

get it sounding good while it's not hitting the limiter and worry about "loudness" later on.
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Al_
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, it's because it's not compressed or limited to all hell like most modern music is. Keep everything below 0 dBFS on your digital meters; if you're getting overs that means it's clipping and could sound harsh when translated by D/A converters in consumer gear. What you're hearing is the difference between peak and average (RMS) volume/levels. Your peaks are hitting at or above the top of the meters, but your average volume level is likely lower (I'd hazard a guess of around -12 to -15 dBFS). To get the average volume up, you need to start compressing things to get the peaks tamed down; at which point you can raist the overall level without clipping. But what this is doing is tamping down the dynamic content of the material; so if it's done inartfully it can butcher the sound in the process. Most commercial music these days as an average volume level aroudn -4 to -6 dB FS; and in some cases even higher. Welcome to the loudness wars.
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Freddy V-C
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, thanks.

Acid doesn't have a compressor built in, not that I can find anyway. Am I gonna have to export each instrument individually, import them to Audacity and use the compressor in there?
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James
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You should be mixing to peak a few dB under 0 on the your master fader, -4 or so.

Mastering is the point where you'll make it sound a similar volume to other songs but if you're clipping at +4db and it's still very quiet the problem is in your mix. My suggestion would be to listen very carefully to the balance of instruments and see if the one that is clipping (assuming it's primarily one) is too loud and either compress or lower it. Then try things like mixing the core instruments very quietly. Balance the vocals and guitars with the volume as though you're listening at 3am with someone else in the room who is asleep and you don't want to wake. Also try listening to the mix from the hallway. Leave the door to the room with the speakers open but be a fair distance away. Anything way out of propotion will stand out with simple tricks like that.

You're going to need to use some compression on some instruments. Certainly the vocals. It doesn't have to be a lot, but if you just try to do all of the compression to the mixed stereo wave file it's probably going to sound shit.

Maybe post up a 30 second clip so we have an idea what you're working with?
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Freddy V-C
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll upload a clip when I can.

I've now found a compressor on Acid (I was confused because it's called 'Dynamics' and not Compression) so I'll see if that helps.
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Doog
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aye, try using the compressor in Acid, there'll probably be a hard limiter preset (certain is in versions 4 and 5) that'll cut off the spikes, allowing you to push the mix up without it distorting OR sounding overly squashed.

I actually just use the Hard Limiter function in Audacity because it seems to yield better results for me, having visual feedback in the form of a waveform gives you a better idea how much your dynamics are going to get fucked up. I normally stick it to like -4 or -5; the right setting will make it barely noticable but will allow you to bump the volume of the track riiiiiiight up using the Amplify function with the "allow clipping" box unchecked.

You may wanna balance the mix a little more also, so that the L and R channels peak at about the same volume.
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Freddy V-C
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tried to compress the tracks which seemed to be causing the problem (vocals, snare and kick drum) but that made it sound really choppy. I guess the compressor in Acid isn't brilliant. I did Doog's idea of using the Hard Limiter in Audacity and then amplifying it and now it sounds perfect Very Happy

Thanks guys! I'll upload a clip at some point.
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Doog
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Freddy V-C wrote:
I did Doog's idea of using the Hard Limiter in Audacity and then amplifying it and now it sounds perfect Very Happy


Excellent!
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Doog
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

James wrote:
Balance the vocals and guitars with the volume as though you're listening at 3am with someone else in the room who is asleep and you don't want to wake. Also try listening to the mix from the hallway. Leave the door to the room with the speakers open but be a fair distance away. Anything way out of propotion will stand out with simple tricks like that.


I do both of these, how odd!
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Sloan
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SMASH IT TO HELL.
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Freddy V-C
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I took people's advice and got the songs sounding awesome! They're on MySpace now:

www.myspace.com/frontierpsychiatry

(the top three songs on there)

Doog might notice the Art Brut 'pastiche.'
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James
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a quick listen through the tracks. It seems like almost all of your problems are in the lower mids. That could be exagerrated because of the limiting though. If you go back to them consider trying to tame the low end before going for the dynamics, it should also make the dynamic processing a bit easier.
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omari
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Joined: 11 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

considering how crappy the myspace player sounds, i say good job! i think the lead vocals are loud but i say that about most mixes.

you can tweak something to death until you can't stand to hear your own songs anymore or you can quickly just get it out in the world for others to hear. i usually (but not always) pick the latter.
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ace
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote



That was awesome!
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