Getting that full sound

Discussions on sound production outside the synthesizer such as mixing, processing, recording, editing and mastering.
User avatar
ninja6485
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 2769
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:13 pm
Gear: Virus Ti, Jx-8p, Juno 60, Radias, Maschine, 101,303,606,707,727,808,909, odyssey, mirage, akai s5K/s2K/s1k, drumtraks, E6400ult, M1R, rx5, fizmo,d50
Band: Subliminal Sea
Location: Exton/ westchester
Contact:

Re: Getting that full sound

Post by ninja6485 » Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:01 am

ok, i have a technique idea for you. get an isolated clip or whole song of something that you think has the full sound that you are looking for that was made with instruments that you own. listen to that on your monitors. then, create something that sounds similar, and compare back and forth between your track and the professional track, making small adjustents as you get closer and closer to the sound. pick up steinburg wavelab if you don't have it or something equivalent and use the tools it has to analyse the professional track, and then analyse your own and note the differences. keep in mind that the people that recorded mixed and mastered the professional tracks paid alot of money to have other people with years of experience work on the tracks with equipment that costs as much as a house, and you're trying to do it for free with little to no experience comparitively. and also keep in mind that every track is an individual with individual needs. still, i believe that if you know your starting point is non-different then theirs ie - the same instruments, and you monitor both through the same source ie - your monitors, with the clear goal in mind and available for you to refer to, you can have a better framework for advancing in your sound production skills then you would if say for instance you were to listen to a professionally mastered track of an arp 2600 through your home stereo, and then try to get the same sound with a VA and a pair of $200 monitors with no eq and sotware compressor presets (not that you do that, it's just a rediculous exaple). the more time you spend listening to professional tracks through your monitors (thanks stab frenzy) and the more you analyse the specifics of professional tracks(imo), the greater your sense will be for when and how your track differs. good advice, bad advice, idn - take it for what it's worth.
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...

User avatar
th0mas
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1349
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2005 5:27 pm
Gear: oakley tm3030/mopho keys/midibox sid/tr-707/tama techstars/monotron
Band: GRAVITRONIC
Location: Ontario
Contact:

Re: Getting that full sound

Post by th0mas » Wed Jun 30, 2010 4:02 am

ninja6485 wrote:ok, i have a technique idea for you. get an isolated clip or whole song of something that you think has the full sound that you are looking for that was made with instruments that you own. listen to that on your monitors. then, create something that sounds similar, and compare back and forth between your track and the professional track, making small adjustents as you get closer and closer to the sound. pick up steinburg wavelab if you don't have it or something equivalent and use the tools it has to analyse the professional track, and then analyse your own and note the differences. keep in mind that the people that recorded mixed and mastered the professional tracks paid alot of money to have other people with years of experience work on the tracks with equipment that costs as much as a house, and you're trying to do it for free with little to no experience comparitively. and also keep in mind that every track is an individual with individual needs. still, i believe that if you know your starting point is non-different then theirs ie - the same instruments, and you monitor both through the same source ie - your monitors, with the clear goal in mind and available for you to refer to, you can have a better framework for advancing in your sound production skills then you would if say for instance you were to listen to a professionally mastered track of an arp 2600 through your home stereo, and then try to get the same sound with a VA and a pair of $200 monitors with no eq and sotware compressor presets (not that you do that, it's just a rediculous exaple). the more time you spend listening to professional tracks through your monitors (thanks stab frenzy) and the more you analyse the specifics of professional tracks(imo), the greater your sense will be for when and how your track differs. good advice, bad advice, idn - take it for what it's worth.
Good idea, although I suggest you start with not analyzing an entire track but just instrument VS instrument. IE find an isolated bass drum on a track you like, compare in an EQ with your bass drum. This was a technique mentioned by Foamo in his "Computer music" Producer Master Class video.

User avatar
Stab Frenzy
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 9723
Joined: Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:41 pm
Gear: Eurorack, RYTM, Ultranova, many FX
Location: monster island*
Contact:

Re: Getting that full sound

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Jun 30, 2010 5:08 am

ninja6485 wrote:the more time you spend listening to professional tracks through your monitors (thanks stab frenzy) and the more you analyse the specifics of professional tracks(imo), the greater your sense will be for when and how your track differs. good advice, bad advice, idn - take it for what it's worth.
Yeah, we used to have to do this to a different track each week when I was studying audio production, the class was called 'critical listening' and we used to have to listen to the track, list as many instruments used as we could detect, where they were sitting in the mix, the panning, reverb, any other production like delays etc. After months of this class it completely changed the way I hear everything, I hear a level of detail in things I never heard before. Maybe I was just c**p at listening before, who knows. :D

The only thing with learning how to listen like this is that you can't go back afterwards. You'll find yourself listening to the mix when you just want to listen to the music, which is pretty annoying sometimes. Still I think it's worth it if you want to mix your own tracks, or anybody else's.

User avatar
th0mas
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1349
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2005 5:27 pm
Gear: oakley tm3030/mopho keys/midibox sid/tr-707/tama techstars/monotron
Band: GRAVITRONIC
Location: Ontario
Contact:

Re: Getting that full sound

Post by th0mas » Wed Jun 30, 2010 5:25 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote:
The only thing with learning how to listen like this is that you can't go back afterwards. You'll find yourself listening to the mix when you just want to listen to the music, which is pretty annoying sometimes.
In an interview from like 1993 Richard D. James said this is why he listens to music while high on pot.. it's the only way to get his "critical ear" to turn off.

User avatar
RD9
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 536
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:24 am
Location: NY/NJ

Re: Getting that full sound

Post by RD9 » Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:44 pm

I think part of the challenge in starting out is you don't have a good sense of the complete range of possibilities in the character of sounds. In the beginning you think that volume is the only thing to tweak between instruments, but eventually you learn of the other things. You learn that a drum kick doesn't always have to have so much bass, or that a hi-hat doesn't always have to sound so tinny. A snare can sound warm, or it can be more more of a neutral quality, like the difference between white and pink noise. Or that reverb can spatially set a sound further back, and leaving it dry it will make it sound more in the foreground, etc. I think all these different factors can contribute to a good mix.

The more you listen, the more you realize what's possible. Eventually you realize that professionals tweak sounds so much even in just subtle ways, just to make it fit better in the mix with the other instruments. There's so much you can do to make a specific sound fit better with others, like manipulating the envelope and frequencies beyond what it sounds like out of the box. However, this doesn't mean that you don't have to make sure melodies are complementary, that instruments don't compete for attention, or even that the notes themselves are not dissonant.

Personally for me right now, the only way I can learn and grow is by playing with every parameter to try and get different characteristics from a sound (thickness, color/dullness/brightness, shape, spatiality, etc.), and also listening to a lot of different songs to see how other people do things.

Sometimes though, I feel like I need to get a dedicated EQ since I don't feel like I'm in complete control of mixing right now with just the onboard synth EQs (two band only) and the simple three band on my Mackie. Granted that I'm only after a simple oldschool sound and I'm not really after an uber-surgically-polished sound like how today's pop stuff is mixed and mastered, I still feel like I'm lacking something.

I wonder if anyone can recommend a good, affordable EQ for mixing.

By the way, I love this article about the production of Kiss by Prince.

User avatar
Joey
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 1885
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 10:13 pm
Gear: 18u Eurorack, Octatrack, Pro2
Band: BLUSH_RESPONSE
Location: Berlin
Contact:

Re: Getting that full sound

Post by Joey » Wed Jun 30, 2010 10:52 pm

I think one of the most important things in music is Knowing Your Tools.

In the case of computer mixing and production: there are a ton of free plugins (and even more if you pirate), and having that abundance of software makes it hard to narrow down what is really good and what is bad, and even harder to get a tool you are familiar with.

My best advice to you, purely from a tool standpoint is, find a couple plugins you like, I.e. the basic EQ in ableton/logic/cubase/etc, some kind of free compressor like audio damage rough rider, a reverb or two, etc... and just spend time learning how they affect things at different settings. this knowledge will help you clean up your mixes because when you pinpoint a problem, you know what tools you can get to to help fix it, be it an EQing issue, a phase issue, or dynamics issue, etc...
No one cares, no one sympathizes,
so you just stay home and play synthesizers.

http://wearereplicants.com

multipackvitamin
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 174
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 3:23 pm

:):)

Post by multipackvitamin » Thu Jul 01, 2010 9:19 am

:):)
Last edited by multipackvitamin on Tue Jan 14, 2014 12:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
factual35
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 213
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 12:02 am
Gear: Korg EA-1,Korg ES-1, Korg Monotron, Alesis Micron, DSI Evolver Desktop
Band: Mike Rochip
Location: Edge of Civilization in Georgia, USA
Contact:

Re: Getting that full sound

Post by factual35 » Fri Jul 02, 2010 2:26 am

So much good information here, I really do appreciate all the tips and help.

New monitors are still out of the question financially, so I've found the best way to get the most honest sound of them is by running the Micron into my mixer, and then cutting High and Low EQ down to -15, and then bring up the Mid-range to about -7.

BUT I simply cannot mix on those monitors at all, and I have no intention of doing so. The stereo field is so messed up and it's such a bass trap in this corner. I basically do that when I would actually like to hear my music over them, and it usually sounds pretty awful compared to headphones.

Which brings me to my new headphones I picked up for really cheap at the local flea market! :mrgreen:

They're a pair of Califone 3068AV's. They're completely closed ear, with seperate level adjustments on right and left. I've never owned such a badass pair of headphones in my life.

With the whole comparsion between professional music and what I'd like to do with mixing really broke through the day I bought them and put on Fading Colours - I'm Scared Of.. and was completely blown away with how the album truely sounded over headphones, which I had never really been able to do because for some reason I could never make that album sound right on my old Sonys.

To try and sum up that entire experience[it's a very personally signifcant album in a way I dont even want to get into, at all.] I was really blown away with the manner in which it was mixed, with beautifully layered vocals, delays on pads, and some of the best panning tricks I've ever heard.

What really got me was nothing on that album is really "all that complex" in the sense it's Vangelis or something like that. They dont layer up a ton of different instruments or anything like that, it's usually as simple as bassline+drums+pads+vocals[and of course during instrumental parts some really killer keyboard licks] and then very frequently, and sparingly, samples, generally tribal horns and ethnic voices and that sort of thing. Really simple, but so insanely powerful just because of how it was mixed.

It's the perfect point of reference for me, and being the giant nut I about the band and everything those three people have been involved with, I have a pretty good idea what's being used on the album, which is really just Access Viruses, some really really good fully digital sampling workstations of some kind, and a bunch of really good Roland drum machines, probably newer things with just samples of the 808s 909s etc.

Nothing on there really screams ANALOG to me, except the processing gear which I'm so insanely sure involved about 1000 vaccuum tube everythings, especially whatever was used on De Coy's vocals, which are the warmest, best layered vocals I have ever heard on any album.

Ok well, I went on and on for a bunch of paragraphs about that, and believe me, that needed to get out so damn badly. I havent been able to prattle on about that album with anyone, at all lately, so please excuse the insanity.

As far as my computer goes, I'm not even bothering to really track any of the things I've been doing lately because I still don't have anything worth tracking it on. I'm waiting till Sunday when my buddy comes over with his stuff before I bother doing anything like that.

Thanks for the head-ups on all the plug in and things like that. Cubase is certainly what I want to use, as that seems like the best for what I'm trying to do. And I know it's the most plug-in friendly DAW I can wrap my head around, and afford. :mrgreen:

I'll be sure to wave lab Fading Colours and theyre other projects like crazy once I have the ability to do. Just want to save my badass terminal first by gigging up the RAM and putting new drives in the gorgeous thing.

User avatar
Stab Frenzy
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 9723
Joined: Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:41 pm
Gear: Eurorack, RYTM, Ultranova, many FX
Location: monster island*
Contact:

Re: Getting that full sound

Post by Stab Frenzy » Fri Jul 02, 2010 3:53 am

If your new headphones make your mixes sound better then your new mixes are going to be even worse. You want to be monitoring on something that lets you hear what's wrong with your mixes, not what's right with them.

User avatar
pflosi
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 3620
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:14 pm
Gear: more than 150 characters...
Location: zürich
Contact:

Re: Getting that full sound

Post by pflosi » Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:04 am

I wonder how much longer it will take till stabby makes a sound production sticky:

NEVER MIX WITH HEADPHONES

User avatar
Stab Frenzy
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 9723
Joined: Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:41 pm
Gear: Eurorack, RYTM, Ultranova, many FX
Location: monster island*
Contact:

Re: Getting that full sound

Post by Stab Frenzy » Fri Jul 02, 2010 2:47 pm

Well DJ Shadow mixed Endtroducing on headphones and that came out alright, but that's the exception rather than the rule.

In studios when the label people come in and want to listen to rough mixes you play them back on headphones, not on the monitors. There is a reason for this.

User avatar
RD9
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 536
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:24 am
Location: NY/NJ

Re: Getting that full sound

Post by RD9 » Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:36 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote:Well DJ Shadow mixed Endtroducing on headphones and that came out alright, but that's the exception rather than the rule.

In studios when the label people come in and want to listen to rough mixes you play them back on headphones, not on the monitors. There is a reason for this.
Hey, speaking of studio speakers... I just saw this interview with Tony Dawsey where he talks about mastering. There are some pretty good moments towards the end in the Q+A where he talks about Genelex speakers, the unbeatable warmth of analog consoles, and not working for too many hours at a time. Good stuff.

User avatar
Automatic Gainsay
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 3962
Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2007 12:22 am
Real name: Marc Doty
Gear: Minimoog, 2600, CS-15, CS-50, MiniBrute, MicroBrute, S2, Korg MS-20 Mini, 3 Volcas, Pro 2, Leipzig, Pianet T, Wurli 7300, Wurli 145-A, ASR-10, e6400.
Band: Godfrey's Cordial
Location: Tacoma
Contact:

Re: Getting that full sound

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:37 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote:Well DJ Shadow mixed Endtroducing on headphones and that came out alright, but that's the exception rather than the rule.
The trick with that is knowing what the headphones are telling you in reference to what is actually happening... but that requires a huge amount of experience, skill, and awareness. A person who knows the very precise difference between what their particular monitors are telling them and what their particular headphones are telling them could conceivably mix with headphones... but why would they?

Never mix with headphones unless you're absolutely certain your audience will ever only hear your music in headphones. :lol:

P.S. I do often use headphones in mixing so that I can hear what is happening in them. Sometimes they give more accurate portrayals of various levels, but that's only in conjunction with monitors, never alone.
‎"I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." -Charles Babbage
"Unity and Mediocrity are forever in bed together." -Zane W.
http://www.youtube.com/automaticgainsay

User avatar
balma
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 2851
Joined: Mon Oct 27, 2008 3:52 pm
Real name: Mauricio
Gear: DSI Tempest/Prophet 08/Roland V-Synth/Ensoniq Fizmo/E-mu MP7-XL7/Electribe ESX1/Radias/Waldorf MicroQ
Location: Costa Rica

Re: Getting that full sound

Post by balma » Fri Jul 02, 2010 8:17 pm

Automatic Gainsay wrote: Never mix with headphones unless you're absolutely certain your audience will ever only hear your music in headphones. :lol:

I constantly go from monitors to big speakers to headphones while composing. Last checkpoint, is a car stereo....


A good beginning, is imitation. Get a song with that "full sound" you mention, and try to imitate its mix and textures. When you try to emulate, you find certain things that you do not discover until you try to do them on your equipment.


now a wide variety of sounds available at the moment of composition is very useful.

Sometimes a patch alone sucks. add another patch over it, or some notes replying to it, and suddenly that patch rules!

Sometimes that "full sound" description can be tricky. A MONO sound, can be very powerful, if you make companion with stereo sounds.

That hi HPF filter mono sound, that has no low gains bud is pure hi gain, can make very good companion with a stereo sound with massive chorus on it....


Tryh to balance the frequencies. I mean, the human ear have its range of audible frequencies. Travel through them. Balance them, sometimes, some sounds cannot be appreciated very well, if there are a lot of stuff in the same frequency.

A sound on the left, replies a sound in the right, while another one huge goes on both directions, and another one has the LFO linked to the panning. there are so much possibilities on improvement with a careful panning balance.

Combine LO-FI sounds, with HI-FI sounds. Try to separate sometimes, the kick bass from the bass....

But sometimes, the case can be different. The problem? 1 + 1 = 3. Sometimes the interaction of two sounds produce an unexpected result.

Sounds, when placed inside a song, are not just sounds any longer, but just a part of a dynamic structure.

Mute all the sounds, then start with the most two relevant sounds of the mix, and balance them. I mean, work on the VOLUME, the PANNING, the effects over them, and the sound outputs.

Then, add another two, and do the same. balance them with the others. Try to intercalate this kind of mix, working on melody sounds, then, add two drum sounds, then add a melody and a drum, then. add an SFX sound..... there are several paths to go, not just this one I'm describing, but sometimes, is useful to MUTE.

hear very carefully what are you doing. Is this bass, too muddy? Why?.

TUNE your drums. Yes, your drums also have their tonality, make them fit with the other pitch scales, so they won't sound out of place, and detuned.

there are so much ways to work, there is no Atalaya or perfect mix. A "full sound" is not always the best option. At the end, frequencies, amplitude, sounds, directions, are all the same thing when yoo compose a song. They are just small portions of a big picture.

Mixing is a very careful and detailed process, that must be done before, during, and after the composition process.
His sex dungeons are rumored to hold hundreds of people in secret locations around the world.
https://soundcloud.com/balma

User avatar
ninja6485
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 2769
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:13 pm
Gear: Virus Ti, Jx-8p, Juno 60, Radias, Maschine, 101,303,606,707,727,808,909, odyssey, mirage, akai s5K/s2K/s1k, drumtraks, E6400ult, M1R, rx5, fizmo,d50
Band: Subliminal Sea
Location: Exton/ westchester
Contact:

Re: Getting that full sound

Post by ninja6485 » Sat Jul 03, 2010 1:39 am

pflosi wrote:I wonder how much longer it will take till stabby makes a sound production sticky:

NEVER MIX WITH HEADPHONES
+1 - i was thinking the same thing when i read factual's reply! lol.
Joey wrote:I think one of the most important things in music is Knowing Your Tools.

In the case of computer mixing and production: there are a ton of free plugins (and even more if you pirate), and having that abundance of software makes it hard to narrow down what is really good and what is bad, and even harder to get a tool you are familiar with.

My best advice to you, purely from a tool standpoint is, find a couple plugins you like, I.e. the basic EQ in ableton/logic/cubase/etc, some kind of free compressor like audio damage rough rider, a reverb or two, etc... and just spend time learning how they affect things at different settings. this knowledge will help you clean up your mixes because when you pinpoint a problem, you know what tools you can get to to help fix it, be it an EQing issue, a phase issue, or dynamics issue, etc...
if you don't believe joey or stab frenzy, check out their work. it shouldn't be too hard to access wile surfing vse, and i think you will find it speaks for itself. i would be careful with AG's advice however: too much good beer and i hear he's an ignorant slut, but that's just hear-say! :dancer: ;)
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...

Post Reply