Posted in : Forum : Mixing , Mastering And Production Techniques
Youve created a track but how do you give it that polished edge ? Discuss the art of mixing and mastering and swap production techniques.
I've found the perfect example of something I've been ranting about for a while.
I'm always trying to learn about mixing. 50% of the time when I hear about tips and tricks for me to learn I stumble on this:
Go to 2:24 and try to hear a change in the kick.Go to 1:47 and try to hear a change in the snare.
I've heard it in every system I own (Bad, average, Good), yet I cant hear any change.
I come from a family of musicians, I know other musicians, and no one I know, even someone who records and mixes for a couple years can hear a change in the sound. I got the sharpest ear out of them, and I cant hear jack.
I've done my research and pretty much anyone who isnt a music engineer will focus on the quality of the musical arrange first, and mostly everything else as long as is not terribly sounding gets lost in the beat.
People want to feel the emotion, and dance to the groove of the beat. How are little details like the ones in the video gonna make me better:
1- If I cant hear it I cant learn it.2- If people cant hear, then why bother?
Does anyone know the guy in the video? I dont know if his videos are for a very specific niche or to teach people to impress specific people in the musical industry. If thats the case, then I was in the wrong place.
I often end up more confused than anything after watching some of his videos lol...
I've already learned about the 'annoying' freqs while EQing and how to remove them in another post, but in this case there is nothing annoying. Just an 'improvement' so slight its irrelevant at least for me. I bet no one will be able to notice if I did it or not after I release a song unless I asked them to focus on that specific issue, and have trained ears to hear what nobody else can hear.
I just wonder why train your ears to hear something most people cant hear if they'll still buy your album regardless?
It is because the music will vibrate differently for some reason and your body will be able to feel vibrating more or something?
This is not a rant. Im just trying to know whats the secret behind this if there is any.
Ah, Pensado. He is a very wise engineer. Looking at the video now.
If you listen closely at 1:47, the second snare playthrough has a more rounded-out punch that provides for a bigger-sounding snare. It is a subtle change but it does effect the overall presence of whatever track it's accompanying.
The second kick drum is more purified - he cut away a little bit of the high end and pushed up the mid-frequencies to give the kick a little more punch. Again, a very slight change in the sound, but serves to purify the low-end and give a better, cleaner, more concise kick drum. It's tiny details like these that makes great engineers great haha.
In a perfect world everything is done to perfection and tweaking of mixes can be explored to the nth degree and mused over endlessly.....does it matter in the long run,is a certain kick increment going to make or break your track?...hardly but people love to obsess over things and in the music world this is the audio engineer's domain..and why wouldn't they their professionals getting paid,listening to videos like this might help some people but it's always going to be a case of different strokes for different folks.
It deffinitely sounds like transient mastering to me, which is very coincidental coz I was trying to explain it to someone earlier this week.
A transient is like, the first initial peak/spike in a soundwave (i'm not sure how to explain it). When you use a transient master on percussive sounds it's generally to sharpen up the attack of the transient, thus giving the sound (in this case, the kick/snare) more velocity, which in turn helps it cut through the track to make it feel "punchy". And if used on normal instruments it'll make them feel closer to the front of the mix.
It's supposed to be used as a VERY subtle effect because overdoing it will absolutely ruin your track. But because it's applied so subtly you won't notice much of a difference unless you know what you're listening for (kinda like sub bass, but EVEN MORE subtle).
You'll probably need a plugin for it, you deffinitely can't achieve what it can do through EQing and I imagine it would be very difficult to do manually. I've put a link to the one I use but it's pretty overpriced imo, luckily it came free when I bought Maschine but I'm sure there are cheaper ones out there.
The inability to hear a difference on the kick and snare, especially considering the drums are all that is being played back, makes me question the ability of the speakers or headphones which you are listening on, or even the condition of your ears/hearing. I'm not joking there, as it sounds pretty obvious, and my ears have been abused quite a bit in the past.
The main change is a taming of the attack portion of the kick and snare, which is usually the peak of the amplitude of the drum sound... this equates to buying some headroom on the channel and usually within the entire mix. It allows one to increase the volume of a snare or kick without the extreme peaks which the attack or transients can insert.
Before I listened to the video, my first thought was to tell you not to rely very much on listening for detailed subtleties on a youtube video... the quality of sound is really not the pristine. Upon listening for myself, I could definitely hear the changes though.
You also may want to make sure that you don't listen at full volume when hearing stuff like this. If your system is being pushed that hard, things may already sound squashed, and you may not notice dynamic changes.
I realize I came off a little offensive there, so I apologise for that.
Another thing which came to mind, is that you should remember that even when a change is subtle when a single channel or bus is involved... subtle changes throughout a mix can add up to a very good sounding final product. Many changes probably shouldn't be done so drastically that the listeners find it obvious. An exception may be minimal styles, where there aren't huge numbers of layers all fighting for frequency ranges and volume.
Beautifully said, Spiv. ^^
Heh, yeah, except for that "the pristine" thing... not so eloquent.
What I was getting at is one of the big reasons to not make big mixing decisions with soloed tracks, but rather in the context of the mix, or at least groups of tracks.
I got bad, average, and good speakers, and in each one of those I couldnt hear the difference. I've tested my ears a couple of months ago and I scored averagely like most normal ears.
I dont think the problem is my equipment lol. I think the problem is about focusing on something specific. Its like when a person begins working out the first time.
I did rows for 6 months, then suddenly one day I realized by accident that I was using the wrong muscles, and maybe I could work it more efficient by using less weight, but targeting the right muscle, by using my mind power to ignore my arms somewhat and focus on the inner upper lats.
I still saw the same gains, but the difference was that I didnt have to use as much weight, and i targeted the muscles I really wanted, and had more energy to keep exercising after that exercise.
I realized that no matter which way I did it people were gonna see the same results on my body, so I just did it depending on how I felt. I was the only one, and people who knew what I was talking about, that knew how it felt to do it each way.If I had lots of energy that day I would use brute force and use a lot of weight engaging all the xtra muscles. Otherwise I would just engage the right muscles while using less weight.
I think this might be one of those cases where 'my red is not your red'. Some experiments have shown that some of us might perceive things differently. What I'm perceiving with my ears might not be what you guys are perceiving, even though the change is there.
I tried focusing really hard for the past 20 minutes on different aspects of the snare, and I think I finally found something. What I hear is the equivalent of using a compressor on that snare to lower the peak of the transient, adjust the gain to return at its original peak db, and increase the attack, lower the release of the compressor.
To me its sounding as if the transient is very very very tinily punchier, and the noise of the snare that comes after the initial hit has been increased, and as a result it sounds punchier/louder.
However in the scale of 1-100 its a change of about 5-10. If this is the change you guys noticed, and I am finally on the same page, then now only me and you guys know whats going on lol.
But what about the public? They will probably never know what they were listening to.
Ok you guys might be pro sound engineers, but im a bedroom one. I understand the thing about being a perfectionist, since I am that way for the musical arrange, and its your realm.
Im more of a musician that makes arranges with my main focus on the arrange, thats at the same time learning how to make a decent mix for his music.
I mean listen to my music:
Do you really have time to focus on the snare details with everything thats going on?
I got 3 samples of 3 songs there. While im not done mixing and mastering, im close.
And guys im not bashing on anyone or techniques. Im just trying to build my sound identity, and sometimes I have to get into this kind of arguments even if I come across the wrong way sometimes, but I mean no harm.
Thanks for the replies.
Could I benefit from the benefits of this techinique? What do you think? If you wanna criticize my sound please do as well. I've rarely had any criticizing of my stuff.
It seems like a couple of your samples could benefit from this technique, but it won't make you all of the sudden pop. To be honest, I rarely use dynamics processing on my snares, or really kicks for that matter. If I want them to be a focus in the mix, I make them a focus in the mix. Putting dynamics processing on every track, to me, is akin to "fader creep," which I try to avoid at all costs.
I really think that music like you are making is not about focusing on details for the listener, so, no listeners may not notice the difference. Just because some professional says this or that, does not mean you need to follow their rules. You need to decide what you want, and then find out how to do it.
And, no, I am not a pro sound engineer. I actually don't like the term "professional" in relation to art. I was paid to mix live sound for a while, but it was mostly for fun and experience. I do not get paid to mix or master people's recorded music, so not pro.
i read this in an hour coz im at work..cant play music but can read these forums and i just kept getting disturbed,daym!!
so i know Pensando and what ever,he is really ill with his mixing techniques,but bro-there is no rules in mixing,just basic steps and then its a space adventure out ther,do what ever sounds good to you in the end,knowing that a million people might listen to it,mix it for them too,dont be selfish.so in regards to transients,im glad a proper explanation came out coz i wasnt sure how to pin point it..they make a difference all these plug ins or what ever,but personally "if you think a million people wont have a problem with ANY aspect in your mix,it should be good"thats usually my motivation for better mixes.its not thaaaat hard to get a decent mix,just arrange all your stuff,feel the music,the beat AND THEN open your mixer,let the individual tracks tell you what they want,after that,let the other tracks tell you what the other tracks want,transient or no transient,compressor or no compressor,EQ or no EQ...they MUST do the talking.if you do the talking for them,you will lose the debate..all you have to do is agree...agree and bop your head to the music and say YES..THERE IS A NICE ROUND SNARE AND DEEP PUNCHY KICK
plus my shift is over whooo hooo!!!time to go home and make a beat!!
Thanks for the replies guys really. I forget sometimes about the whole 'mixing has no rules' lol...
Yep, there are some things that work for some that don't work for others :P And personally, I think that little sample you uploaded sounds pretty great by the way :P Has a lot of energy; you should upload that song to Looperman if you could honor us with it :) I'd love to give it a full listen!
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