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Leaving A Good Thing Alone
Old 25th November 2009
  #1
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Leaving A Good Thing Alone

Every so often this happens to me....

I do a quickish rough drum mix (recorded, not samples) with minimal eq on each channel
just focussing on finding a balance (lots of bleed) between the eight or so tracks when suddenly I find a balance that has a certain great energy , then I move on bring in the other tracks, quick balance and bounce out a reference rough mix...sounds good enough

fat forward to prepping for the real mix...bring up the same song, start working on the drums...start carving away at each track maybe do some gating/strip silencing..even things out with automation, limiting, whatever, compress, saturate etc...work for a couple of hours....taking the honk outta things... thinking I'm making this kit pop..

then I bring up the rough mix and realize that the drums sound way more effective (but the engineer in me is saying "yeah but the kik is a little cloudy and there's too much 250")...so I go back and work for another two hours on the individual drum tracks...more compression to glue it...fatten the snare...saturate the overheads....guess what...sounds even worse.

My point...when you get it, you get it. It can happen in 5 minutes or take three days. If the drums sound good from the rough, then use them that way, bus them out and treat it as a single stereo instrument (eq, compress to taste)...nobody has to know it only took 10 minutes to get that very effective sounding drum kit.

Why can't I learn my lesson already?
Old 25th November 2009
  #2
Vum
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Vum's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
It sounds like you are not at a meeting of the minds with whoever is critiquing your mix. If another engineer criticizes how you're mixing without offering a solution then you should re-evaluate their motivation for telling you their opinion.

If it you're happy with the sound then the next time he critiques, ask him directly how he'd solve it and move on.

If he's your boss, then he'll want you to solve it and keep moving. If he is the client, then get a reference track. If he is a colleague, ask yourself what their motivation is and move on from there.

Also, it sounds like you're doing a lot of processing. In the future if you're relying heavily on saturating individual drums, you might want to run that effect in parallel so that the clean image is retained as other instruments are added.
Old 25th November 2009 | Show parent
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vum ➑️
It sounds like you are not at a meeting of the minds with whoever is critiquing your mix. If another engineer criticizes how you're mixing without offering a solution then you should re-evaluate their motivation for telling you their opinion.

If it you're happy with the sound then the next time he critiques, ask him directly how he'd solve it and move on.

If he's your boss, then he'll want you to solve it and keep moving. If he is the client, then get a reference track. If he is a colleague, ask yourself what their motivation is and move on from there.

Also, it sounds like you're doing a lot of processing. In the future if you're relying heavily on saturating individual drums, you might want to run that effect in parallel so that the clean image is retained as other instruments are added.
no one is critiquing the mix at this point actually...maybe I rambled a bit...My point is that once you get something GOOD (whether it takes 5 mins or 3 hours)...leave it be. We seem to have a tendancy as engineers to want to make something "better"....sometimes it's already as good as it is going to get.
Old 25th November 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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musicbydesign's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by glissando ➑️
no one is critiquing the mix at this point actually...maybe I rambled a bit...My point is that once you get something GOOD (whether it takes 5 mins or 3 hours)...leave it be. We seem to have a tendancy as engineers to want to make something "better"....sometimes it's already as good as it is going to get.

I agree, Ive never liked over-produced music that sounds too 'polished'.
It actually makes it less attractive to my ears AND easier to forget. If a quick
mix moves you then keep it and save it and if you tweak it then keep the early
mix saved and if you can better it then fine but I find the
more you listen over and over during a session can make us change things
that doesn't need changing. Enough rambling, but I agree. The human ear
dislikes perfection and favors subtle variation. At least imo.

Daniel
Old 25th November 2009 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Tricky one that, isn't it? lol Almost like you feel a strange guilt of some sort of deranged 'properness' that compells you to start carving out the 250 and whatnotelse.......when the **** is actually rockin as is........

I think other than listening in context (obvious one) rather than carving into separates at will, the only real thing that cures this is time. Or so it seemed to me. And the fact that I no longer deal with the paying client dynamic either most definitely has something to do with it, as I do no longer need justify anything to anyone. Bit trickier that, if you know the client is on the 'expensive production' chase and there you are, wondering if you should leave the drums uncarved....lol But that's just the problem these days I think! Clients want (or think they want...) 'expensive' sounding. In the end everyone really only wants 'good' sounding, but the clients are in the fear chase of 'is this proper enough' as well as you, so you kick each other until that **** is carved to death and clean and shiny like a new car. And dead as one, too. Boy do I love not having to participate in that lark anymore.......heh

On that topic, best thing I ever learned was when a very big name singer asked in a very bad mood for 'more mids' in his vocal/cans when starting a vocal session. I thought, no way, there's too much already, carved a little out and asked "How's that?". He goes "Great! Let's go!".........they may ask for blue, green, warm, bold, whatever....they mean 'good'. And if good is with the drums left alone, dig it and swing to it heh
Old 25th November 2009 | Show parent
  #6
RTR
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RTR's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by glissando ➑️
no one is critiquing the mix at this point actually...maybe I rambled a bit...My point is that once you get something GOOD (whether it takes 5 mins or 3 hours)...leave it be. We seem to have a tendancy as engineers to want to make something "better"....sometimes it's already as good as it is going to get.
I useusaly have to have some one actually stop me man, I will have a great mix and still be focused on the springs rattling from the snare drums bottom mic, so I back off the comp, and then.blah blah blah..it's never ending man!!
Old 25th November 2009
  #7
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
That's the whacked thing about it, because no matter how your rough mix sounds (and it may be the best one), one's first inclination is always going to be to attempt to improve it and unless you go through the time consuming process of internal dialog and tweaking cycle, you'll never really know which way it's gonna go. Even if 4 out of 5 times, the un-messed with mix may have historically proven better...you have to know.
Old 25th November 2009 | Show parent
  #8
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Either way its always a good ide to put down 'roughs' as you go. Definitely not always the last mix is the best......
Old 26th November 2009 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 ➑️
Tricky one that, isn't it? lol Almost like you feel a strange guilt of some sort of deranged 'properness' that compells you to start carving out the 250 and whatnotelse.......when the **** is actually rockin as is........

I think other than listening in context (obvious one) rather than carving into separates at will, the only real thing that cures this is time. Or so it seemed to me. And the fact that I no longer deal with the paying client dynamic either most definitely has something to do with it, as I do no longer need justify anything to anyone. Bit trickier that, if you know the client is on the 'expensive production' chase and there you are, wondering if you should leave the drums uncarved....lol But that's just the problem these days I think! Clients want (or think they want...) 'expensive' sounding. In the end everyone really only wants 'good' sounding, but the clients are in the fear chase of 'is this proper enough' as well as you, so you kick each other until that **** is carved to death and clean and shiny like a new car. And dead as one, too. Boy do I love not having to participate in that lark anymore.......heh

On that topic, best thing I ever learned was when a very big name singer asked in a very bad mood for 'more mids' in his vocal/cans when starting a vocal session. I thought, no way, there's too much already, carved a little out and asked "How's that?". He goes "Great! Let's go!".........they may ask for blue, green, warm, bold, whatever....they mean 'good'. And if good is with the drums left alone, dig it and swing to it heh

glad to see I'm not alone...I know it but I just can't seem to lay off it...I'm getting a little better...but as someone else said, you have to go there to get here..I'm glad you've freed yourself of it...for me it's more self imposed than client imposed.
Old 26th November 2009 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by glissando ➑️
glad to see I'm not alone...I know it but I just can't seem to lay off it...I'm getting a little better...but as someone else said, you have to go there to get here..I'm glad you've freed yourself of it...for me it's more self imposed than client imposed.
I really think time is the best one for the self imposed part of it. There is a curve to engineering I think. First you know nought and gulp up the very basics and all else is mysterious. Then you get the hang of it...sort of....but quite a bit is still mysterious.....then not much actual method is mysterious anymore, just how the same methods yeild better results for some than others. From then on time is your best friend. At that point you're still likely to want to tweak 'the perfect kick drum' and such for way to long, focusing on the tiny things to the max. Kind of has to work like that though, I think now, as that period gives you minute insight about the tiny level of things which is superbly valuable later. But ultimately you slowly move away into the 'whole view' again....which is uncannily where you started. Only now you have a sort of subconscious arsenal of behaviour to go with it, which kind of engineers for you....while you are finally able to hear 'music' again lol

Phew....lol...rant.

I think your 'problem' will sort itself out on this timeline.......enjoy all the stations heh
Old 26th November 2009
  #11
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Saudade's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by glissando ➑️
My point...when you get it, you get it. It can happen in 5 minutes or take three days. If the drums sound good from the rough, then use them that way, bus them out and treat it as a single stereo instrument (eq, compress to taste)...nobody has to know it only took 10 minutes to get that very effective sounding drum kit.

Why can't I learn my lesson already?
I am currently mixing a song of mine. I am into my 5th week, 7-8 hour days, 6 days a week. Just getting the low end kick to work with the bass and the whole rhythm section sounding right took me 3 weeks.

I guess the problem you encounter is different from mine. I have a sound in mind that I want, but don't have the skills to get it fast.

You sound to me like you don't know what you want in terms of sound (of the drums), that's why you approach it from the angle of improving the "sonic quality" instead of how the drum works in the context of the song, or it's "sonic style".

I find I can quickly enough get good sounding drums when I solo the drums, but to get a drum sound that works with the song, and supports it, well that takes me a long time heh

Last edited by Saudade; 26th November 2009 at 01:12 PM.. Reason: spelling
Old 26th November 2009 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saudade ➑️

I find I can quickly enough get good sounding drums when I solo the drums, but to get a drum sound that works with the song, and supports it, well that takes me a long time heh
Seems to reinforce my view on the engineering trajectory....best kick drum in the world is easy......best kick drum for the song a little harder......heh
Old 26th November 2009 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
The Beatsmith's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
just make sure you save different versions of your project is all i can say...
Old 26th November 2009 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Addict
 
pongmaster's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saudade ➑️
I am currently mixing a song of mine. I am into my 5th week, 7-8 hour days, 6 days a week. Just getting the low end kick to work with the bass and the whole rhythm section sounding right took me 3 weeks.
hi heh! thats about 150hours!
for mixing the bass & rhythm section,,
dear, i know of someone who built a complete small studio, 2 rooms, very good treatment, new floors, everything, in the same time time...
Old 27th November 2009 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saudade ➑️
I am currently mixing a song of mine. I am into my 5th week, 7-8 hour days, 6 days a week. Just getting the low end kick to work with the bass and the whole rhythm section sounding right took me 3 weeks.

I guess the problem you encounter is different from mine. I have a sound in mind that I want, but don't have the skills to get it fast.

You sound to me like you don't know what you want in terms of sound (of the drums), that's why you approach it from the angle of improving the "sonic quality" instead of how the drum works in the context of the song, or it's "sonic style".
not really...I know something good when I hear it...the whole thing is being able to commit at that point and move forward..talking more about the urge to make something "better" and how that can bury you if you are not careful...5 weeks on one song???? I think you've come to the right thread.
Old 27th November 2009 | Show parent
  #16
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 ➑️
I really think time is the best one for the self imposed part of it. There is a curve to engineering I think. First you know nought and gulp up the very basics and all else is mysterious. Then you get the hang of it...sort of....but quite a bit is still mysterious.....then not much actual method is mysterious anymore, just how the same methods yeild better results for some than others. From then on time is your best friend. At that point you're still likely to want to tweak 'the perfect kick drum' and such for way to long, focusing on the tiny things to the max. Kind of has to work like that though, I think now, as that period gives you minute insight about the tiny level of things which is superbly valuable later. But ultimately you slowly move away into the 'whole view' again....which is uncannily where you started. Only now you have a sort of subconscious arsenal of behaviour to go with it, which kind of engineers for you....while you are finally able to hear 'music' again lol

Phew....lol...rant.

I think your 'problem' will sort itself out on this timeline.......enjoy all the stations heh
Nice post...yes it'll work itself out I'm sure..
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