Monosynths and Composing/Mixing

Discussions on sound production outside the synthesizer such as mixing, processing, recording, editing and mastering.
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Re: Monosynths and Composing/Mixing

Post by tekkentool » Thu Dec 30, 2010 2:05 am

I know i've already said it, but i'm saying it again. LAYER LAYER LAYER. Treat patches as if they're only going to be a single section of the sound and they'll fit better. Especially true of leads, basses and wobbles.

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Re: Monosynths and Composing/Mixing

Post by tallowwaters » Thu Dec 30, 2010 2:38 pm

Learn where your fundamentals and other ordered harmonics are and you'll be well on your way. Remember, it is a science, but just concentrate on what sounds good, and remember to listen to your mixed in places away from your work space, even just as background music. Just like hanging an unfinished painting on the wall, you'll notice what needs to be done when you are paying the least attention.
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Re: Monosynths and Composing/Mixing

Post by ninja6485 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:39 pm

a lot of the time when i have a sound production goal, i'll make a "coffie break" song. the coffie break song doesn't have to be the best song in the world: just something simple to practice eq or sound design on, or to learn about a new piece of gear, etc. then i pick a reference song, and try to get my coffie break song to sound acceptable when played against the reference song on a few different sound systems. if i were you, i'd start small. get one mek patch to sit with some drums, then get one mek patch to sit with drums and bass, then two mek patches, etc. it sounds more tedious than trying to eq whatever song your writing for artistic purposes at the time, but it's really not. plus, simplicity in composition is a virtue all the same.

if i were you, i would look at these areas, many of which have already been stated, but should be stated again:

a. 250-800hz muddyness range

b. highpass filter to keep non bass parts from competing with the things you want to be clear & low. if you want, you can even high pass filter practically everything, mix it down, check it out, and then pay attention to what needs bass, and then go in and un highpass or roll off the hp

c. check to make sure you're not recording stuff too loudly, or trying to mix stuff @ high volume, both your individual track volumes and your monitor level. if you have colored meters, i think you should be good if you keep your tracks at the top of the green, the yellow area is head room, and red is when you need to turn it down, but i'm not sure if different companies use different standards for their colors. on my mixer, the individual track meters have green dots that stop at -48, but the master's green stops @ -18. i still use it this way, although i do record my tracks into the first yellow occasionally. either way, you'll know you need to turn stuff down when the eq cuts that you know ususally have an effect have no effect.

d. panning

e. if you have say 3 or 4 pad/lead/ w/e sounds that are all competing for the same frequency range, what i've done (may not be ideal) is mix a stem of all of my background stuff, and then mix the lead sounds that i want to be really defined to that background stem/stems. so if i want my kick, 303, and lead to be really prominant, i'll leave those as individual stems and then mix them in with either one background stem, or possibly into frequency-range based stems or what have you. for simpler songs i just mix it all and export.

f.take th0mas's excelent advice (i think it was th0mas) and try equing wile listening to only a specific frequency range. so like just to make sure stuff is tidy, i'll filter out everything but 200hz-5k. then, if it sounds clear hearing only 200-5k all the way through, you're in pretty good shape.

if you cut in the mud range, high pass the non-bass stuff, pan things to a nice even stereo image, mix at a moderate level, listen afterward to 200-5k, and then handle a complex mix with stems if neccissary, and you still have difficulty mixing too many mek patches together, it's time to make better patches!
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Re: Monosynths and Composing/Mixing

Post by Shreddie » Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:18 am

I agree with most of the comments so far, this one put's it most simply though...
Stab Frenzy wrote:You need to:

a) Get better at programming so all your patches don't sit in the same space spectrally.

b) Get to work with the EQ cutting stuff out.
But there is one thing we're forgetting... Alot of earlier synth tracks (think 80's stuff) are actually pretty simple... Ans that's not without reason. Synths are often so powerful in a mix that you really don't need much if you use them wisely... And generally in music, what you leave out is often more important than what you leave in... Don't try and stuff too much into your tracks at any one time!

Personally, I use what I call the rule of three... And that is never to have more than three melodic elements going on at the same time... Fro example, bass, chord bits, melody... Got a vocal coming in? Drop the melody. If you listen to the structure of alot of commercial tracks, you'll find that alot of them follow this rule

That's not to say you can't layer things up... Say an arp that ties in with the chord bit, that'd still be three elements because the arp and chord bit are complementing eachother and the mind interprets them as one... Obviously, drums and incedental background sounds (bleeps 'n farts as I call them!) are on top of the three melodic bits as they're classed as percussion in this 'rule' even if they're tonal.

The reason why this works is because the mind often can't handle more than three bits at the same time... Any more often gets fatiguing and can sometimes lead to the feeling of 'muddiness'. That's not to say you can't get away with four or even five different melodic parts from time to time... Just as long as you do that very sparingly.

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Re: Monosynths and Composing/Mixing

Post by Cumulus » Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:44 pm

This is a great thread.

Also, it's a good problem to have - too much of a good thing.

I am definitely in favor of using what you have and EQ'ing/processing it to sound different and sit better.

I recently pulled up and older song I had recorded adn was thinking I would have to re-do the bass guitar. On a whim I routed it out, through some distortion, and back into a new track and it sounds 100% better. The original is still there but the distorted track is adding some edge that makes it sound realy good.

Because of this, I was able to move on with the piece and it will be done soon.

Good luck.

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Re: Monosynths and Composing/Mixing

Post by RD9 » Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:59 pm

Shreddie wrote: But there is one thing we're forgetting... Alot of earlier synth tracks (think 80's stuff) are actually pretty simple... Ans that's not without reason. Synths are often so powerful in a mix that you really don't need much if you use them wisely... And generally in music, what you leave out is often more important than what you leave in... Don't try and stuff too much into your tracks at any one time!
I kind of agree with this. A lot can be done even pre-mixing just by choosing the right octaves, filtering the right way, using proper reverb/ensemble/chorus, so that the bass, pads, rhythm, melody, are distinct and do not get muddy. Newer VAs even have EQs built in so you can save EQ settings with the patch.

There's so much you can do for example to separate sounds, such as:
bass: use a low pitch + filter to allow it to recede
rhythm or pads: use mid to mid-high octave + ensemble or chorus to "spread" it a little away from the lead
lead: use a mid to high octave and make it sound sharper to set it in the foreground more, possibly even use a ring mod or even a narrow pulse width (basically anything that will make it stand out)

There are so many different combinations and it all depends on your composition. I think you can get about 80% there even without EQ, and even with just a simple three-band EQ you can get 95% there for most songs. Using better EQ equipment and additional processing just adds the finishing touches (although there are some exceptions to this).

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