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How to identify problems with my mix
Old 3rd March 2014
  #1
Here for the gear
 
SinisterP's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
How to identify problems with my mix

Hello,

I'm wondering if there is a tool, plugin, or general method of identifying where a mix is having frequency issues.

For instance, in my little home studio, my rap vocals sound pretty good over the beat when played on my monitors/headphones... but once I play the mix in a car or something, the track seems to fall apart at higher volumes.

So my question is: Is there an easy way to identify which frequencies are "clashing" or causing the issue?

I would also like to note that I'm only mixing 2 tracks (vocals and beat). The beats are not separated and have already been released/mastered. Using Studio One.

I would post an example of a mix in question.... but not sure if that is permitted...?
Old 3rd March 2014
  #2
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frans's Avatar
 
10 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
The general method is to listen - as plain as that may seem. There's a catch: you got to have the experience to judge a mix, that comes with time and experience. Another thing would be a monitor system which you know and can rely on. These two things, allthough innocent in text, may require a few years to get right, just as playing a drumset or learning how to play piano. It's not the fastest route to try to learn every skill under the sun - depending on how much time you want to spend in your live with mixing it may be better/faster to team up with somebody and share skills.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #3
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SinisterP's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Thanks frans.

This is what I suspected... unfortunately.

I think teaming up someone is a great point you made. I'm on the lookout.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #4
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matucha's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Experience and great room and speakers .

But you can get quite analytical even with lesser setups and good headphones (cost effective and rules out your room).
Take a bunch of reference tracks you really like the sound of (in your car and everywhere). Get a plugin that lets you hear M and S separately (brainworks has one for free). Listen to these tracks through this plugin. Than add lowpass and hipass filters from your EQ of choice, gentler slopes are better for this (~12dB) and listen to those tracks when you lowpass at 100hz, 200hz, 300hz... than add hipass too and listen to other ranges... like 200-1000hz, 500-3000hz, 1000-5000.... Listen to how the drums, vocals and bass and other elements sound like in those ranges and combine that with M and S so you hear how wide or mono these elements are. You can also add osciloscope after all the processes to see the dynamics.
Then take your track and shape it so that it's not very different from your reference. Don't forget the references were mastered/limited and that you have to take that into the account too.
You'll learn a thing or two about mixing this way and perhaps then you can forget about this method and mix normally.


Good luck.
Old 3rd March 2014 | Show parent
  #5
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Bullseye's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by frans ➑️
The general method is to listen - as plain as that may seem. There's a catch: you got to have the experience to judge a mix, that comes with time and experience. Another thing would be a monitor system which you know and can rely on. These two things, allthough innocent in text, may require a few years to get right, just as playing a drumset or learning how to play piano. It's not the fastest route to try to learn every skill under the sun - depending on how much time you want to spend in your live with mixing it may be better/faster to team up with somebody and share skills.
Not far from what I was thinking however, I would add this. Critical listening is a skill. It is a learned skill. When you listen to music do so analytically. Start with understanding the music principles at work. Then move on the production principles and so forth and so on. Reverse engineering I believe is the applicable term.
Old 3rd March 2014 | Show parent
  #6
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SinisterP's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by matucha ➑️
Experience and great room and speakers .

But you can get quite analytical even with lesser setups and good headphones (cost effective and rules out your room).
Take a bunch of reference tracks you really like the sound of (in your car and everywhere). Get a plugin that lets you hear M and S separately (brainworks has one for free). Listen to these tracks through this plugin. Than add lowpass and hipass filters from your EQ of choice, gentler slopes are better for this (~12dB) and listen to those tracks when you lowpass at 100hz, 200hz, 300hz... than add hipass too and listen to other ranges... like 200-1000hz, 500-3000hz, 1000-5000.... Listen to how the drums, vocals and bass and other elements sound like in those ranges and combine that with M and S so you hear how wide or mono these elements are. You can also add osciloscope after all the processes to see the dynamics.
Then take your track and shape it so that it's not very different from your reference. Don't forget the references were mastered/limited and that you have to take that into the account too.
You'll learn a thing or two about mixing this way and perhaps then you can forget about this method and mix normally.


Good luck.
Thanks! I'm going to try this to the best of my ability today. Very informative matucha.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #7
Here for the gear
 
SinisterP's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Also, here is the song I'm working on that sparked this thread:

https://soundcloud.com/sinister-p/test-fade4


I'm going to try what matucha suggested and hopefully it will uncover the issues.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #8
Moderator
 
psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by SinisterP ➑️
Hello,

I'm wondering if there is a tool, plugin, or general method of identifying where a mix is having frequency issues.

For instance, in my little home studio, my rap vocals sound pretty good over the beat when played on my monitors/headphones... but once I play the mix in a car or something, the track seems to fall apart at higher volumes.

So my question is: Is there an easy way to identify which frequencies are "clashing" or causing the issue?

I would also like to note that I'm only mixing 2 tracks (vocals and beat). The beats are not separated and have already been released/mastered. Using Studio One.

I would post an example of a mix in question.... but not sure if that is permitted...?
There's a thread at the top of this forum entitled "check out my mix" and a whole forum further down the list for the posting of mixes, FYI.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #9
Gear Addict
 
Sgalb's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Just sweep your EQ with a somewhat high Q setting, there's no need for any new tool/plugin.
Old 4th March 2014
  #10
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Realziment's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Yea pretty much experience is key here. A quick way to learn finding problem frequencies is what the guy above said. ^^ Sweep trough to find the culprit then pull back on said frequency. Seen as your working with a 2 track and vocals you will be limited to what you can do anyways but you should be able to get somewhat decent results.
Old 4th March 2014 | Show parent
  #11
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by SinisterP ➑️
Also, here is the song I'm working on that sparked this thread:

https://soundcloud.com/sinister-p/test-fade4


I'm going to try what matucha suggested and hopefully it will uncover the issues.
song is dope and beat... whats wrong with it lol.. i mean could be a lil clearer but playing it on my little speakers i cant hear anything that stands out and says fix me... good mix good editing good beat nothing wrong wit it to me
Old 4th March 2014 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by light ➑️
song is dope and beat... whats wrong with it lol.. i mean could be a lil clearer but playing it on my little speakers i cant hear anything that stands out and says fix me... good mix good editing good beat nothing wrong wit it to me
Overall the mix lacks a bit of depth. The low end lacks a bit of punch. I would enhance the transients in the kick a bit so it sounds a tad more prominent, and use some automation if necessary to make sure the kick remains easy to find throughout the mix. The finer details in the vocal could stand to be slightly more intelligible against the rest of the mix, again automation can help out there. I would personally do some more EQing or something else to the vocal too, it sounds a bit dull for my liking, but I can't quite put my finger on what thing I would use at the moment. That's all that really jumped out to me on my first couple of listens.
Old 4th March 2014
  #13
Here for the gear
 
SinisterP's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Although I now see this topic has been covered to death on here, this specific thread as actually helped me to learn something... I think...

Here are two things I've noticed in my mix now:

1) my vocals seem to really peak at around 500 - so I'm going to take of about 2db from the beat in this same range. Then turn down the entire vocal track to make it fit in there better.

2) the beat seems to be really "hot" at around 60 - so I'm going to reduce by a db or so.


Does this sound like I'm on the right learning track? In Studio One, I found this plugin called "PAZ Analyzer" that seems to break down the entire spectrum.

Anyway, I plan to burn the mix trying different several things you guys mentioned and see which one translated best on other systems.

Old 4th March 2014 | Show parent
  #14
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SinisterP's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by light ➑️
song is dope and beat... whats wrong with it lol.. i mean could be a lil clearer but playing it on my little speakers i cant hear anything that stands out and says fix me... good mix good editing good beat nothing wrong wit it to me
Thanks for the motivation man! The problem is on larger speakers like in a car.
Old 4th March 2014 | Show parent
  #15
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SinisterP's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by PettyCash ➑️
Overall the mix lacks a bit of depth. The low end lacks a bit of punch. I would enhance the transients in the kick a bit so it sounds a tad more prominent, and use some automation if necessary to make sure the kick remains easy to find throughout the mix. The finer details in the vocal could stand to be slightly more intelligible against the rest of the mix, again automation can help out there. I would personally do some more EQing or something else to the vocal too, it sounds a bit dull for my liking, but I can't quite put my finger on what thing I would use at the moment. That's all that really jumped out to me on my first couple of listens.
You seem to be on a higher level with this stuff. I'm just now learning about automations. Thanks for the tips.
Old 4th March 2014
  #16
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Sgalb's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
What I suggested above is going to help your mixes 400%. Set the Q setting kinda high, boost a bunch of DB and "sweep" from one end of the frequency spectrum to the other. You'll hear problem frequencies that you know you don't want in, now lower these and adjust the Q to taste.
Old 4th March 2014 | Show parent
  #17
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SinisterP's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sgalb ➑️
What I suggested above is going to help your mixes 400%. Set the Q setting kinda high, boost a bunch of DB and "sweep" from one end of the frequency spectrum to the other. You'll hear problem frequencies that you know you don't want in, now lower these and adjust the Q to taste.
Can you please clarify on when you say "set the Q setting kinda high"?

I wish I could see an example of what you mean in Studio One. I have the WAVES Gold Plugins.
Old 4th March 2014
  #18
Gear Addict
 
Sgalb's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
It will be labeled as "Q" and is referring to bandwidth. Bring up your EQ..the Q setting should be low by default. Now bring up the DB on whatever frequency you want and play with the "Q" knob. This will enable you to pinpoint certain frequencies. A search on google or youtube about sweeping an EQ should do you wonders.
Old 4th March 2014
  #19
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Sgalb's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
As a general rule: *Cut narrow boost wide*

Good luck to you.
Old 4th March 2014 | Show parent
  #20
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by SinisterP ➑️
Can you please clarify on when you say "set the Q setting kinda high"?

I wish I could see an example of what you mean in Studio One. I have the WAVES Gold Plugins.
Use any of the REQ plug-ins as an example. You will see a setting "Q" under each EQ band. That setting controls how narrow or how wide the EQ change will be around the chosen center frequency for that band. The tip he was giving was just a basic one for when you are attending to each sound and need to "zoom in" on very specific frequency ranges.

It's useful, but wont help much until you learn what you are even listening for when it comes to problem frequencies in a sound, and that comes with experience, and experience comes from just doing a lot of mixes day in day out. You will get everything down soon enough. You seem to be on the right path toward that.
Old 4th March 2014
  #21
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhwpYw6I2aY&safe=active <---- Cool tutorial for the curious.
Old 4th March 2014
  #22
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
PS, Your track ROCKS and the mixing is almost perfect, just a little tweaking here and there might help.
Old 4th March 2014 | Show parent
  #23
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apartment dog's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by matucha ➑️
.....Take a bunch of reference tracks you really like the sound of (in your car and everywhere). Get a plugin that lets you hear M and S separately (brainworks has one for free). Listen to these tracks through this plugin. Than add lowpass and hipass filters from your EQ of choice, gentler slopes are better for this (~12dB) and listen to those tracks when you lowpass at 100hz, 200hz, 300hz... than add hipass too and listen to other ranges... like 200-1000hz, 500-3000hz, 1000-5000.... Listen to how the drums, vocals and bass and other elements sound like in those ranges and combine that with M and S so you hear how wide or mono these elements are. You can also add osciloscope after all the processes to see the dynamics......
Allthough I have heard about comparing the low end and the high end of a mix with a reference track, you really got me going.
Thanks a lot!!!
I discovered the weakest link in my mixes is in the area 200hz-1k.
There hardly wasn't anything happening compared to the reference.
(Besides this I had a bit too much sub and the vocals needed more 10k hi-shelf than I thought.)
So Matucha, thanks for this big step up for me !!!!
Old 4th March 2014
  #24
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
i just listened to the track just the beat is a little overpowering the clearity of the vocals. Also I think a boost in the 3k range would give it some clearity.
Old 4th March 2014
  #25
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matucha's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Great to hear it works for you so far... I've certainly learned a lot doing exactly the same thing. It's useful even without the reference as it lets you concentrate on a problematic region without "distractions" of healthy parts .
Old 4th March 2014
  #26
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I like the track, I disagree that it's almost there, I think you have a good beat and a great vocal performance, the mix just isn't there. Not to discourage you, I just have to be honest that the mixing could use work, as can mine.

As many said, it's going to be very hard to replace a good monitor setup combined with a well treated room. You will inevitably mix better when you can hear everything well. I still struggle to mix songs but with beat, just by switching out my monitors and treating my room (and I am not done), the quality of my work went up so much. I rarely actually need to reference my mixes on something else, I still do but I am not guessing anymore.

Unfortunately, most of us start mixing kind of "backwards". We don't have a great room or great speakers so we are constantly guessing, sometimes more that we would ever know until we upgrade that part.

Referencing can be extraordinarily helpful. This is 2 stages. First, you want to reference other music. This will give you a comparison of how it sounds vs. how your music sounds. It also may be telling where your room/speakers have issues. The second thing is play it on a lot of systems. I keep a really bad boom box type speaker around, and have saved some old computer speakers that I have not hooked up. It's often hard for me to believe anything can sound good on these but great mixes do. It really gives me an idea of what more the track needs. Car stereo and other systems you are really familiar with are good too. It kind of sucks running back and forth though but it can really help out so it's worth it.


The other option is to pay people to mix songs you really want to put out, but mix all the other songs yourself. Not only do you get a good idea of what is possible, you still are mixing all the time an you will inevitably get better.
Old 5th March 2014 | Show parent
  #27
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3rd Degree ➑️
I like the track, I disagree that it's almost there, I think you have a good beat and a great vocal performance, the mix just isn't there. Not to discourage you, I just have to be honest that the mixing could use work, as can mine.

As many said, it's going to be very hard to replace a good monitor setup combined with a well treated room. You will inevitably mix better when you can hear everything well. I still struggle to mix songs but with beat, just by switching out my monitors and treating my room (and I am not done), the quality of my work went up so much. I rarely actually need to reference my mixes on something else, I still do but I am not guessing anymore.

Unfortunately, most of us start mixing kind of "backwards". We don't have a great room or great speakers so we are constantly guessing, sometimes more that we would ever know until we upgrade that part.

Referencing can be extraordinarily helpful. This is 2 stages. First, you want to reference other music. This will give you a comparison of how it sounds vs. how your music sounds. It also may be telling where your room/speakers have issues. The second thing is play it on a lot of systems. I keep a really bad boom box type speaker around, and have saved some old computer speakers that I have not hooked up. It's often hard for me to believe anything can sound good on these but great mixes do. It really gives me an idea of what more the track needs. Car stereo and other systems you are really familiar with are good too. It kind of sucks running back and forth though but it can really help out so it's worth it.


The other option is to pay people to mix songs you really want to put out, but mix all the other songs yourself. Not only do you get a good idea of what is possible, you still are mixing all the time an you will inevitably get better.
I agree with this. i listen to a lot of my mixes on crap after i listen to it in the car, because if it sounds good on crap it will sound good on good system. I have numerous references to hear any thing that the end user might hear listening on different equipment. I do think the vocals need to be more clear and the beat is good but overpowering the vocals.
Old 5th March 2014 | Show parent
  #28
Gear Maniac
 
clark_savant's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bullseye ➑️
Not far from what I was thinking however, I would add this. Critical listening is a skill. It is a learned skill. When you listen to music do so analytically. Start with understanding the music principles at work. Then move on the production principles and so forth and so on. Reverse engineering I believe is the applicable term.
Thanks for that nugget of knowledge.
-Clark
Old 6th March 2014 | Show parent
  #29
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by trevon ➑️
I agree with this. i listen to a lot of my mixes on crap after i listen to it in the car, because if it sounds good on crap it will sound good on good system. I have numerous references to hear any thing that the end user might hear listening on different equipment. I do think the vocals need to be more clear and the beat is good but overpowering the vocals.
OP needs to step into the realm of using automation now. Unless you want to compress the heck out of your audio and have no dynamics, automation will help a vocal recording to sit where it needs to be at all times. In this case, the vocal can also use a bit more EQ too though, and a mixture of good effects to add some more dimension so it doesn't sound so flat up against everything else in the mix.
Old 6th March 2014
  #30
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
I recorded a track last night put some reverb over it and it was like blah put some delay on a stereo bus and then drew some automation on certain words and it made a big impact to the vocals and mix. Automation with effects, filters, volume, panning can do wonders. I hate drawing automation, but i love the outcome of it.
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