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"Mix fashion" for the home and/or inexperienced project studio?
Old 5th April 2003
  #1
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
"Mix fashion" for the home and/or inexperienced project studio?

Does this sound like a more realistic approach for the fledgling "studio"?

If you don't have good monitors and/or a good acoustic space to mix in;

1) Try to track as "flat" as possible sans effects, EQ, etc.
2) After the background tracks and/or BGV's have been
"processed" in mixing as little as feasible, rely on simply
dropping the volume to put the lead vocal forward.
This would be in lieu of "EQ"ing any tracks as a primary
priority.

Thinking in terms of the "mix fashion" of, for example, "Ol Blue
Eye's effortlessly crooning in front of a whole orchestra.
Or Al Green's R&B hits to make another.
Kind of a "less is more" style approach for those who lack the
judgement and equipment for first rate results.

The goal is to create good sounding artist demos or publishing demos BTW.


Comments?

Thanks
Chris
Old 5th April 2003
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I would recommend that approach. Spend the bulk of your efforts on mic placement and instrument tone production (player, strings, heads, getting the sound you really want in the room, and then finding the mic position that best captures it).

It's a bit of a zen discipline not to use the EQ- you will learn a LOT about mic placement if you put in the effort.

I agree that it's dangerous to go EQing things if you can't really hear what you are doing!

The thing that will allow you to get good results without EQ, other than what I've mentioned above, is ARRANGEMENTS that distribute the various voices and instruments all around the frequencies. That and not using a whole lotta tracks. If the instruments aren't stepping on each other frequency wise (did you say two guitars and three male vocals, all at once?), you won't have to get into carving everyone a space with the EQ.
Old 5th April 2003
  #3
Gear Addict
 
Curious G's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
On the other hand it's wonderful and dangerous to commit to a sound with EQ and compression in tracking and mix with the limitations of that vision.
Old 5th April 2003
  #4
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Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
It's gotta help if you can hear what the hell you're doing- sounds like the original poster can't, really- a situation I'm too familiar with.
Old 5th April 2003
  #5
Gear Addict
 
Curious G's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
True... part of the fight... that's why God created Take 2.

Sometimes the performance trumps the engineer though and then you gotta suck it up and allow the song to BE...
Old 5th April 2003
  #6
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Hear no evil, print no evil.

My way around this has been to use any spare tracks for such noodling. Also to use a separate headphone mixer and running compression, EQ, reverb, you name it, to the performer, rather than printing direct.

Chris
Old 5th April 2003
  #7
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Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
BTW, about the ol' blue eyes era, oh boy did they get it right in front of the mic. If you got the performers, oh yeah...
Old 5th April 2003
  #8
Gear Addict
 
Curious G's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I don't know... printing to tape or disc makes you think about what you're doing, why you're doing it and what your final is going to sound like.... maybe not so bad a thing afterall.

In any case, it's not a bad plan for a small studio with basic hardware (like mine).

I'm still mixing "in-the-box" so getting the beneits of hardware is a 'concept and tracking' thing. The mixdown is a realization of tracking.

That may change, but in the meantime I enjoy the limtations/challenges.
Old 5th April 2003
  #9
Lives for gear
 
davemc's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
You might want to invest in a better set of headphones as a cheaper optiopn, as If you cannot hear it you cannot mix it...
A pair of sennheiser HD580/600's are quite cool to listen to.

No problems in recording flat, but recording and mixing blindheh
Old 5th April 2003
  #10
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I like printing with EQ and compression but I usually know what I'm doing. I think there's three schools of thought.

#1 Print flat, hack later.
#2 Hack out what you know you don't need with EQ, use minimal compression on things that need it.
#3 Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead. Commit to the sounds and the record.

I used to live by #1 but then I got my ass kicked by a band because they thought the roughs were better. Then it happened again with another band. After the second time I changed my approach and started using #1 or #2 and my recordings have improved.
Old 5th April 2003
  #11
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Re: "Mix fashion" for the home and/or inexperienced project studio?

Quote:
Originally posted by chessparov
Does this sound like a more realistic approach for the fledgling "studio"?

If you don't have good monitors and/or a good acoustic space to mix in;

1) Try to track as "flat" as possible sans effects, EQ, etc.
2) After the background tracks and/or BGV's have been
"processed" in mixing as little as feasible, rely on simply
dropping the volume to put the lead vocal forward.
This would be in lieu of "EQ"ing any tracks as a primary
priority.

Thinking in terms of the "mix fashion" of, for example, "Ol Blue
Eye's effortlessly crooning in front of a whole orchestra.
Or Al Green's R&B hits to make another.
Kind of a "less is more" style approach for those who lack the
judgement and equipment for first rate results.

The goal is to create good sounding artist demos or publishing demos BTW.


Comments?

Thanks
Chris
How about choice #3...send it out to someone else to mix it for you?

As simple as the Al Green stuff and Sinatra's stuff sounds, they were also mixed by a pro.

If you can't afford the right monitors/mics/acoustic space, than how do you expect to recreate the "Capital Studios/Muscle Shoals" sound?

By the way most artist/publishing demos nowadays sound like finished records.

I was just in a meeting today with some A&R's and all of the demos sounded like they were on the radio. The old"just put a guitar and vocal down" days are over. If you want to compete, you are going to have to step up.

Old 5th April 2003
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
"I was just in a meeting today with some A&R's and all of the demos sounded like they were on the radio."

What sucks is the albums, if made, will probably also sound like they were on the radio, and when they get to the radio all the squashing will be resquashed.... <shudder>.

I wonder if the original poster is going to be sending this to A&R, or alternatively doing something halfway sane with his work. I say that, in part, because he says "inexperienced/home".

You could definitely learn a lot by tracking it at home and then taking it to somewhere with a really good monitoring setup, and mixing would be an obvious thing to do while you're there.
Old 5th April 2003
  #13
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Ted Nightshade
[B>.

I wonder if the original poster is going to be sending this to A&R, or alternatively doing something halfway sane with his work. I say that, in part, because he says "inexperienced/home".

. [/B]

The goal is to create good sounding artist demos or publishing demos BTW.

This is what he posted earlier.

I gather its for label work of some sort(either artist or publishing).

I hear it all the time from the A&R's, nowadays with PT and all of the other home digital formats, there is no excuse for a "sh*tty demo".

They take it as a personal insult or that the person submitting it is not serious enough for them to waste their time.
Old 5th April 2003
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Whoops!

Doesn't seem that likely if you can't hear what you're doing.

I don't think ol' blue eyes could get signed today on the basis of one of his classic recordings.

And all the PT and home digital is very very likely to produce a "****ty sounding demo" in my estimation. Lacking a very well qualified engineer who can hear what he's doing.
Old 5th April 2003
  #15
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Ted Nightshade
Whoops!

Doesn't seem that likely if you can't hear what you're doing.

I don't think ol' blue eyes could get signed today on the basis of one of his classic recordings.

And all the PT and home digital is very very likely to produce a "****ty sounding demo" in my estimation. Lacking a very well qualified engineer who can hear what he's doing.

Most of the A&R's are young(in their 20's). So they go with what they know(which isn't much anyway). heh

They know PT(its the "Buzzword"right now).

I think it be difficult for Frank at first, but I think his talent would win out in the end(maybe on American Idol or something).

I disagree about the last comment though, the one benefit with the digital home stuff is less noise. Man that is one thing I don't miss...hisssssss!!!!!!!!!!.
Old 5th April 2003
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If low noise is the "one benefit", maybe we don't disagree after all? =)

Now if we put ol' blue eyes in PT, autotuned him, and ...

OK, OK.
Old 6th April 2003
  #17
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks everybody for all the input.
Many excellent points and suggestions.

Yes I believe the most logical thing to do is to take any important tracks to a pro engineer for mixing, mastering, etc.

I had sent out a (cheesy) cassette vocal demo tape, made on a 8 track 1/2" reel to reel, for two different record producers around 12 years ago, and as much as I cringe when I hear it now, they both called me and were interested in discussing a "deal".
It was done by a $10(!) an hour "studio" which was located in an apartment in Hollywood. Vocal mike was a MD421 BTW.

So that helped me buy into "it isn't the arrow, it's the Indian" kind of thinking regarding musicianship/equipment.

Perhaps it's more realistic for me to consider vocal tracks done at home to be of the "scratch variety", and if they're good enough, then that's lucking out.

I have a nice selection of dynamic vocal mikes, like the Beyer M88TG, that don't pick up much of the "room" that work well
on my voice BTW.

Chris

P.S. How many of you have done #3 on Jay's list?
Have to admit the "no guts, no glory" method
has a certain appeal-though not right for me.
Old 6th April 2003
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I wonder, Chessparov, what you're up to and where you really want to go. It may be, if your avatar is any indication, that the people you are trying to interest are not on the PT/big-modern bandwagon. Probably at Alligator Records they would be interested in ol' blue eyes if he sang blue too.

It is the Indian, not the Arrow. I don't think we can let the status quo box us in if we take a longer view- all this squashaholism and android perfect thing will pass. I am taking a classic minimalist approach myself, and while my goal is more to have a calling card for my live gig, I'll be trying to get radio play and banking that different will be refreshing for someone. I can't beat the conformists at their game, they're too good at it and too into it.
So what are you up to, anyway?

PS I regularly commit on bass EQ when tracking, 'cause I like to do it before the DI/amp where it sounds natural. I do it judging by what's coming out of the amp in the room, just to get all the notes even. Also commit to submixes as in our analog world we only have 4 tracks, and I don't like to bounce and I like to get everything including vox down at once. Tape is all the compression I want or need tracking.
Old 6th April 2003
  #19
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
I hear it all the time from the A&R's, nowadays with PT and all of the other home digital formats, there is no excuse for a "sh*tty demo".

They take it as a personal insult or that the person submitting it is not serious enough for them to waste their time.
Then why do so many demos and self-released products sound like poo? You don't have to answer that if you don't want to. We know the answer.

A friend of mine said that I should offer consulting services to home studios. I've tried that in the past without much sucess. #1 It's pretty hard to find clients unless you stalk them at GC all day. #2 Most of them don't believe that they're the ones at fault for the bad sounds. They'd rather spend money on some new toy then a lesson from an AE.
Old 6th April 2003
  #20
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
Then why do so many demos and self-released products sound like poo? You don't have to answer that if you don't want to. We know the answer.

A friend of mine said that I should offer consulting services to home studios. I've tried that in the past without much sucess. #1 It's pretty hard to find clients unless you stalk them at GC all day. #2 Most of them don't believe that they're the ones at fault for the bad sounds. They'd rather spend money on some new toy then a lesson from an AE.
Well Jay,

A good portion of my everyday mixing business is those guys. The producers who bought tons of gear(all digital from GC or Sam Ash Pro) but realize after a while they can't mix for crap. And they have a deadline to submit something to the record labels. Or they are way over budget(after buying all the gear and a car of course!!).

It does work by the way, I have friends that work at both and refer my services all the time.

Sometimes word of mouth can do wonders.
Old 6th April 2003
  #21
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by chessparov
Thanks everybody for all the input.
Many excellent points and suggestions.

Yes I believe the most logical thing to do is to take any important tracks to a pro engineer for mixing, mastering, etc.

I had sent out a (cheesy) cassette vocal demo tape, made on a 8 track 1/2" reel to reel, for two different record producers around 12 years ago, and as much as I cringe when I hear it now, they both called me and were interested in discussing a "deal".
It was done by a $10(!) an hour "studio" which was located in an apartment in Hollywood. Vocal mike was a MD421 BTW.

So that helped me buy into "it isn't the arrow, it's the Indian" kind of thinking regarding musicianship/equipment.

Perhaps it's more realistic for me to consider vocal tracks done at home to be of the "scratch variety", and if they're good enough, then that's lucking out.

I have a nice selection of dynamic vocal mikes, like the Beyer M88TG, that don't pick up much of the "room" that work well
on my voice BTW.

Chris

P.S. How many of you have done #3 on Jay's list?
Have to admit the "no guts, no glory" method
has a certain appeal-though not right for me.

Chess,

That was 12 years ago. The game has changed. Labels and producers just don't have the budgets to develop people anymore(unless you look like Britney Spears or Xtina Aguilera). That's why so many people do it on their own(hopefully they do it well) and if they makle a little noise a label will come looking. This actually works better for the artist because they have more control over their product. Of course the negative is that they have to flip the bill at first.

I don't think most guys even own cassette decks anymore.

Except maybe the old timers.
Old 6th April 2003
  #22
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Ted, the prior Beatles avatar was "retired" as one of the other
members was also using it-and he's from...Liverpool.

From a listening and inspirational context, music that has a
"roots" element, be it in the blues, folk, or country genres,
usually has the most impact on me.

When you sing in front of other strong singers who critique you
every week, that tends to make you more realistic on where
you're at in terms of performance level/technique.

As such, I'm presently best suited for melodically based material
rather than blues, despite my great love for that genre.
Beginning the necessary training to eventually compete for an
annual quartet acapella world championship BTW.
(estimated time 3-5 years prep)
There has been considerable (constructive) peer pressure for met
to improve my vocal technique in order to do this eventually.
The great thing about acapella music is that I'm forced to be more
creative on interpretation, rather than trying to learn by performing
covers, where you can "lean" too much on the original recording.
Other plans too, like learning more about lyric writing and collaborating
with someone who creates melodies...

Thanks for reading this long post!

Chris
Old 6th April 2003
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Still wondering what you want to do with it, what kind of opportunities you seek with these demos.

Succinct huh? you got lucky.
Old 6th April 2003
  #24
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Ted, at this phase in my life, the term "vanity demo" sums it up well.

There's a certain satisfaction with helping to create something
well done, regardless of the outcome in terms of commercial success.
This includes recording other singers too.
Maybe there's a bit of the Lomax blood in my veins...

Thrill, not only do I have multiple cassette decks, also enjoy recording
on a (gasp!) Tascam 244. The personal museum of obsolete technology
also includes a 4 track mindisc recorder, along with an "orphaned"
Vestax HDR6 SIX track HD recorder. Pretty respectable spec's on the
HDR6 BTW, compares well to a Tascam DA-88 for example.

Performing while self-recording seems reminiscient of patting your head
and rubbing your belly at the same time.
So much easier to have someone else hit record!

Chris
Old 6th April 2003
  #25
Lives for gear
 
Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Well in that case, I think the track it all without EQ and move the mics around until it sounds like you want is the ticket. You learn a lot that way, and learn to get it right in front of the mic, which is to say getting it right in a real world performance, that's a great skill to have and one that gives a unique feeling of accomplishment when you nail it.

A minidisc is incapable of any kind of subtlety or richness, but it sure seems to take the room issues and mic placement stuff out of the picture if all you're after is "polaroids". I know an instrumental band that has several albums all recorded live to minidisc, usually on stage, and they get taken pretty dang seriously, as they are awfully tight and play hundreds of gigs a year.

So have a ball with your "vanity demo"! And who is that in your avatar?

I recorded myself for a long time, but recently I found an engineer I can actually work really well with! He came out of semi-retirement (he also does the ebay and builds speakers and repairs stuff) and restored his old 4 track reel to reel for the occasion. It's great to work with this guy, but I would not be able to do what I want to do in most studios. Combining my new gear with his old gear and our instruments, his analog knowledge with my digital knowledge, such as it is, and hey, we really got something here.

Enjoy!
Ted
Old 6th April 2003
  #26
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks Ted.
That avatar was picked out of the "inventory" here at gearslutz.
Will try to figure out who that is, I think that picture is in one
of my books on blues.

Chris
Old 6th April 2003
  #27
Lives for gear
 
pounce's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
well, you initially mentioned problems with the room and the monitors. so before i would even address eq, how the hell would you even know if you should eq it or how your mixing translates? you can make your own gobos or other sound treatments that can be movable and not permanently attached to the walls and such to help tune the room. an affordable weekend project if tackled creatively. even the low tech approach...some pice of wood with a piece of bedfoam on one side and bare wood on the other. you can turn them either way to make a room more or less reflective. vocals probably dead sound, guitar probably the live wood side would make a better sound.

second, get better monitors. i like the m88 as a mic, so that and a decent set of ears can do you just fine. but the monitors is not a place to skimp. i don't want my answers to be about money, but you can't mess with monitors and room tone. i use dynaudio acoustics, but afordable monitors are out there. just get the best that you can. from there, i _do_ believe you can cross the finish line ok.

and i use what was called approach number two. i'll throw on a low cut or something like that when tracking, but i leave almost all of it for the mix. hth.
Old 6th April 2003
  #28
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Most peoples' concepts of demos have always seemed strange to me.

You need to always ask "what exactly am I demonstrating?" The last thing anybody looking at investing in you cares about is engineering and production. They can easily hire a better job than most people could hope to do without having many years of experience.

What you need to demonstrate is:

1. that you can communicate well with an audience and perhaps even already have an audience of fans!

2. that you perform music that is worth listening to repeatedly

3. that there is something memorable about the way you come off.

4. that you seem to have your head on straight about business and clearly understand what is required of an artist.

What nobody really cares about is:

1. that you are a great musician or singer

2. that you are clever or bright

3. that you are a great producer or engineer

4. that you spent a lot of money.

At this point a video is probably far more important than a sound-only demo and a great one could probably be made at a gig using just a camcorder.
Old 6th April 2003
  #29
Lives for gear
 
Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Bob sez (and thank you, Bob) "What you need to demonstrate is:

1. that you can communicate well with an audience and perhaps even already have an audience of fans!

2. that you perform music that is worth listening to repeatedly

3. that there is something memorable about the way you come off.

4. that you seem to have your head on straight about business and clearly understand what is required of an artist."

I would love to hear more about #4- what IS required of an artist?

I'm glad to hear #2 is a real issue. Put a lot of work into that part, too often that gets glossed and "first impression" is stressed so heavily. As we all know, a lot of what makes a bangup first impression doesn't survive repeated listening...

I've been thinking a lot about the video demo, and blessedly my friend who has a gift for really capturing the mood in video has just moved into town and called me yesterday. Our act is not big on the jumping around, but the vibraphone is awfully videogenic I do think, and the interplay is for real. I'll have to ask for permission to film our act at our next styled opening gig.
Old 6th April 2003
  #30
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
pounce, eventually I may get something like the KRK V4's.
99%+ of any recordings will be "acoustic", rather than rock or (especially) R&B where a woofer would be mandatory.

Presently using;
1) Sony MDR-V6's (7506's in sheep's clothing BTW)
2) AKG 240 DF's
3) Rat Shack Minimus 7's
4) Various and sundry home stereo/boombox speakers.
5) (don't laugh!) Large walk-in closet seems very "dead".

For mild vocal compression (1.8:1), an RNC during tracking,
2-3 dB reduction.
Two parametric EQ's-Aphex 109 and dbx 242 mono (sleeper!)

Great post Bob, however, being one of "those" singers who has suffered from great stage fright (much better now), the relative
anonymity of a musical demo was somewhat of a security blanket.
That's what I always liked about certain genres like opera or blues, where either Pavoratti gets to play a twenty-something romantic lead(!) in La Boheme, or that most blues musician's come into their prime after 50 (if they live that long!).

I think the "artist demo" element in this thread deserves a "spin-off" thread of it's own-so it will be posted shortly.
Learned a lot here already!

Chris
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