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.
Ok lol I always try to mix things myself no matter how many hours it takes me to mix, but this would have to be an exception.
The DSK Grand Piano sounds nice when I'm playing for fun, however I got no clue how to mix this monster for my track.
I Think it has too much mid-low freqs and its clashing with my strings which I hold dear (contrabass & cello).
I could easily make the space for the strings by cutting some of the piano low's.
This is where the fun part began. Reducing the piano lows made some annoying sound freqs more visible and I did my best to eliminate them.
My goal was to make the piano more clear or brighter by cutting out some lows, and fix some artifacts that were revealed as a result, and make it fit with my track.
1-Fit=check2-Brighter=Not sure3-Fixed annoying freqs=Not sure
I need help with 2 and 3. Have I accomplished this?
Here is the piano with no EQ:https://soundcloud.com/zergmazter/piano-no-eq
Here is the piano with EQ:https://soundcloud.com/zergmazter/piano-with-eq
Please help I've been stuck at it undecided for about 10 hours now.
I should mention this is not a perfect arrange. I just put that arrange there for the sound of the EQ.
Oh and I also compressed a little to give it fullness since it lost some pressence due to the low cut.
Bah also forgot to mention I have a stereo shaper, and enhancer plugin on the EQed version. I just toggled on and off the effects button on the channel track.
Buddy, what do you expect when you use three of the bassy'est instruments ever. Yeah you can chop up frequencies, but it's better if you replace the sustained contrabass and use it as a staccato'd bass line and replace the cello with a violin..
hey, I had similar problems when working with piano plugins (PianoOne, JazzBaby, Kontakt acoustic sample-based pianos and stuff like that). I do not think you will find any rational formula for this - it's just a matter of taste.
That first version sounds to me a bit more like a close recorded piano, the eq-ed one will probably remind more a piano with closed lid but the sound is brighter at the same time... Do you know https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdtOCG8zMpU ? As far as I remember the story this acoustic piano was not a best quality piano - he had to use the substitute for some reason on the concert (but it is not a plugin haha).
Anyway I always found playing plugins from the keyboard quite tricky, you know: correcting midi notes and so... haha. I was wasting time for eqing them as well...
Also I do not understand what you mean by 'annoying freqs' exactly. When playing the real instruments you will probably have a chance to adjust instantly your sound to the others. If you do not like particular low piano notes from this plugin I would recommend avoiding them and finding a keyboard range when it sounds better (or key change). Do you have a keyb. controller with weighted keys? It might be a matter of how the plugin reacts under the fingers. All in all I suggest you to explore this piano plugin as it was a real instrument instead of tweaking the post-effects.
Hope it helps.
Honestly, I like both. The no EQ sounds more natural. The EQd one sounds just like promenade said and I like that one too. It depends on what sound you're looking for here. How do you want it to mesh with the other sounds? Is it a front runner? Is it just an accompaniment? Think about the goal before EQing it, because sometimes if you know what you want to do with the instrument before you start toying with it, your work may be a lot easier than you first expected. At this point, its all in your discretion, my good zergzmaster. :P
By your examples, it seems as though you are trying to work on the sound by itself, when it would be more beneficial to work in the context of the mix. Your examples have only the piano, so there is no reference to the frequency relations to the other instruments. You mentioned contrabass and cello, if those instruments are clashing with the piano, and you wish the piano to be more prominent, then there are some options. Maybe do a much more gentle low shelf on the piano for the contrabass, while transposing the cello up an octave. You could even notch the piano then around the fundamental of the cello part. Instead, for a more natural sound overall, you could do a gentle cut in the mid range of all the instruments to clean it up.
One thing which you may be neglecting regarding mixing these instruments is volume. You can't have everything at the same volume and expect something to really stand out. Keep in mind panning as well. If everything is centered, even if it is stereo, it will still clash more than when separated.
A balance of those aspects would be the best option.
Thanks for the replies.
I couldnt post a sample with the other instruments because I havent recorded it into the arrange itself lol. I was just playing, but when I heard it the piano bass was getting in my way.
I will record it now then post both versions of the piano. My initial thought on the unmodified piano was that the bass was too strong and it was making the higher keys sound as if they were being played from a mile away when in comparison to the rest of my music.
I was using the nexus grand piano before, which was so bright that it matched my song, but I didnt like that it sounded to me like if it was a bit over compressed always sounding as if I was hitting it harder than I actually was.
Anyway just give me a second to record it into the arrange and I will post the song.
Oh and promenade there was a weird high pitched sound that sounded more like a quick xyliphone hit, or something fake lol I dont know how to explain it.
And also the piano itself since I slightly compressed and then applied gain had some frequencies there were a little too loud in my ear.
It sounded like a very hard resonating vibration that you just feel your ear resonating into your brain lol thats the best I can describe it. It was a very narrow cut so I dont think it affected the sound negatively. I just basically lowered it.
A very narrow cut will often sound more artificial or pronounced, so that may be worth looking into.
I've usually felt that compression should be avoided on an instrument like piano. It is a hammered string instrument, and thus relies heavily upon the attack plosive. It can of course be a special effect to compress so that the sustain will be pronounced... though it is not exactly what people listen for in a piano.
hey zergmazter, thanks for more detailed explanation. For sure piano plugins get easily overboard especially when played from midi keyboard controllers. Fixing the very performance issues is a kind of an artificial activity for sure considering that you can't really change the original message too much at that point - getting rid of unwanted frequencies is not a way at all (in my opinion).
But anyway the real acoustic piano can generate very strange frequencies depending of the weirdness of your performance (including all preparation techniques, playing directly on strings and like). So from my experience with plugins over these last few months I can only recommend you to handle the piano plugin (played from any type of keyboard) as any other real piano or any real instrument. Piano plugin is an musical instrument anyway... I guess when comes to record a real acoustic piano there's no problems at that level - there's just recording. All the rest is a performance quality.
But still you need to put your piano recording into a context of a concrete song...
Ok I got a rough draft of what my piano arrange could be like in the song:
This one is with no EQ on the piano:https://soundcloud.com/zergmazter/piano-no-eqsong
This is with EQ on the piano:https://soundcloud.com/zergmazter/piano-with-eqsong
I personally thought there was too much humming with the unEQed piano so thats why I was by itself outside the mix trying to lower the bass to then put it back in the song and then adjust the EQ in the context of the song.
While in the whole mix it was just impossible for me to lower the humming without destroying the sound of the piano itself so thats why I had to solo it, then add, and adjust.
But what do you think? Is the version with no EQ on the piano too bassy?
Is the version with EQ more clear within the mix?
I really think the whole value of the piano is lost when the other instruments come in, and I mean in both examples. It doesn't seem the frequency has a lot to do with it either. The other instruments sound far too loud.
Alex said - "Fixing the very performance issues is a kind of an artificial activity for sure considering that you can't really change the original message too much at that point"
I somewhat disagree on this point. If you are using a virtual instrument, then that is one of the few benefits that route can provide - it is non destructive. If you play in midi notes with a keyboard, or place them in by hand, then you have midi information which can easily be changed or rearranged, before any processing is applied.
I would recommend you look into scaling of velocities, at least on the supporting instruments, if not the piano itself.
You speak about humming, and that is strange to me. It sound like a fault of the samples used to make the rompler VSTi plugin. Otherwise you shouldn't be getting hum within a DAW without recording external instruments. Just what it suggested to me.
Ok here is my 2nd attempt. I adjusted the levels, I double tracked the piano panned 70% left and right. The velocity is not finished I know, and I gotta scale the volumes down but with the same relation to each other.
I think the piano is more relevant now when all the instruments come in. What do u think?
Non EQed piano ver2:https://soundcloud.com/zergmazter/no-eq-piano-ver2
EQed piano ver2:https://soundcloud.com/zergmazter/yes-eq-piano-ver2
Thank you spivkurl for the replies and everyone elso on this post.
I had a different idea of what I wanted the piano to sound like when the instruments come in, but I think a more visible piano sounds better now that i've tried it.
haha definitely I would prefer the higher freqs for sure (2nd version!) but for some reason the piano get completely lost indeed when other instruments come in. Perfectly blended!
I think it is because you played the other instruments... It's just a matter of orchestration - I mean... it's overlayered! It has nothing to do with your piano (which is really good performed!)
My work in here was all about midi notes but as I figured out the annoying limitations of the midi 'action' and the very interaction of midi controller (driven by my fingers) with the actual instrument (piano plugin) I decided to leave MrRay22 and PianoOne once and for all! The only ultimate solution remaining is still real acoustic piano recording or considering getting good piano hardware...
Are you talking about the recent update which i named 'ver2'
I dont get it. I purposely made the piano to play simpler chords while the strings take the lead on the melody, and when the strings are on legato on the same note, then the piano does a little movement which should be visible musically.
Did you click on the 'yes-eq-piano-ver2'?
Listen closely when the instruments join in the piano is tamed, but with more velocity even tho my velo needs some fixing, but when the strings tame down holding a legato on the same tone, then the piano begins to move a little more and so on.
How could it be overlayered? What do u mean? There are only 3 instrument sessions O.o
Thanks a lot for the reply.
It's not to say that there's something wrong with other instruments at all. As I said before I really like both piano versions. Still looking forward for a complete track from you so I can say whether I like the piano or not anymore lol.
All is relative. I am not too much into velocities and articulations and stuff... Just trying to share my very subjective opinions and my former experience with piano plugins. Try for yourself.
I clicked on both versions, do not worry.
No thank you for the replies.
The reason I ask is because if there is a problem I am not aware of I'd like to fix it, but yea I guess you couldnt give me a definite answer until I get the whole song ready and uploaded.
I also gotta replace that string plug-in, and the piano Direct wave instrument hasnt convinced me 100%. There are like pops every time I hit a key, but its not a pop. Its something else.
Maybe its the stroke of each key if it was recorded form a real grand piano? Who knows, but unless its supposed to sound like that, then i might replace it to the nexus piano and w/e.
as soon as you are not aware of the problem there is no problem.
no need to eq the piano then.
I see that your question is more about arrangement matters, it's not really a mixing thing. I mean: you can make the space for the contrabass by applying rootless voicings. Here's the idea: http://www.earlmacdonald.com/jazz-piano-lessons/rootless-left-hand-piano-voicings.html
maybe you only double notes of other instruments on the piano. that's why I said your orchestration is probably 'overlayered' already.
You can't fix this by tweaking the freqs but playing right piano notes (on strings as well)
basically you are very annoying with all what you're saying but I do not mind anyway and am happy that you really want improve your work. That's a good thing. Go man!
No need to thank but somehow I guess you're again quite annoying saying this...
Anyway there's a kind of a drum sound at 0:22 on your 'teaser'. That orchestral thing coming in around 0:16 is already overlayered. I can hear flutes as well.
Be sure that you start only by defining the proper chord progression first, I had an impression that you're only looking for shortcuts. Sadly there's no any.
P.S.I only post this to bump up this thread (and myself).
I think Alex's recommendation about voicings are quite appropriate for this situation, and it should be taken into account.
After listening to your newest examples, it has only reinforced my idea that you haven't decided what instrument should be a focus. Since your piano is playing solo in the beginning, it seems natural that it would be the focus, but it is still lost when the other instruments come in. I think you should leave the piano EQ out or be more gentle with it, and cut more from the other instruments, mainly the low to mid area. Or at least turn them down. I find myself wondering why you did the double track equal panning thing on the piano... is it a mono instrument? If not, then you are probably causing more problems than you are solving by doing this. The only reason I could see to want to do what you are doing is to add effects to one side for enhanced stereo impression.
As far as the "pop" goes when you hit each key, I would guess that either the samples used to make the direct wave instrument were chopped poorly (ie not at zero crossings, or after the attack started) or what you are hearing is the action of the piano in the samples (ie the mechanisms and hammer which make a piano work).
I really get the impression that these teasers you are giving us are "mastered" in some way. If I am correct, I would recommend you forget all that and go back to getting things right before you go that far.
promenade2239 'basically you are very annoying with all what you're saying but I do not mind anyway and am happy that you really want improve your work. That's a good thing. Go man!
No need to thank but somehow I guess you're again quite annoying saying this...'
Well sorry about that this is just a wall of text and txt cant translate emotion very well a lot of times. What might sound like I might be saying something with a straight face could just be the total opposite, but let me fix it :D lol
I also read what was on that site, but the concept is very foreign to me. And I dont think I really undesrtood it well, but let me give it a shot.
Voicing= If you are playing a this chort G4-C4-E4 on your piano, then your strings need to play E4-G5-C5?
Spivkurl also I havent mastered lol. Its just loud as crap because im still in the arrange section. I just have a habbit of pre-EQing somewhat instruments that I like, but that I didnt think went so well with my other instruments to get a small glimpse of what it might be like once I start mixing. I added minor details just so I could get a glimpse of whats to come once I started mixing.
Anyway Im posting the original song my parents made that im trying to remix:
My clip begins from 0:26 of this song.
I will post in a sec my whole remix with this voices layered on it so u get an idea and, then tell me if voicing is really relevant or not since this is not gonna be an instrumental song after all. One sec...
the concept from the site is strictly a jazz concept but I think you can apply some ideas to other genres...
I guess the C4 is simply a SUS4 chord on C http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suspended_chordand C5 would be only a root and fifth of the Cmajor chord...
Layering the midi notes is not a way at all as you may only come up with strange results applying the instruments automatically...
As for the pop or cinematic genre I do not think there are any strict rules on contrepoint and voicings. Whatever works! If it sounds good it is good.
I can only recommend you to develop the piano playing further and study the piano progressions in the manner of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tthUAdRTJk also listening to piano music a lot to figure out the concepts for yourself and get even more into the very mechanics of piano playing.
In a way this 'Stay with me' song is quite similar to the Jarret's song as he really played country/gospel based music.
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