Quantcast
why does my mix sounds weaker after each additional tracks? - Gearspace.com
The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
why does my mix sounds weaker after each additional tracks?
Old 12th September 2012
  #1
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
why does my mix sounds weaker after each additional tracks?

Hi,

Ive been noticing that every track with instruments in it I added, the whole mix sounds weaker. Its like they dont pop out really good every time there one more track added and it gets weak.

Example I have my first track with just kick drums on it. I compare it to the kick of my reference commercial mix, just easy process , a little EQ and I can make it sound both the same. Then here comes my piano track, then bass track, then guitars, etc. then the overall mix gets weak.

Compare to the commercial mix, all intruments pops out real good, even theres a lot of intruments going on, theres even part that some intruments gets stronger.

There are no processing at main output channel.
only some EQ's and Comp on each intruments/tracks.

Any ideas? summation process needed?
Old 12th September 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Welcome to the wonderful world of mixing! This is why the craft of mixing is more than simply summing signals together. You're probably experiencing a number of things β€” phase cancellation, masking, wrong choice of attack/release times, inaudible peaks in some sounds interacting with compressors in a counter-productive way etc etc. The result is a limp, muddy mix.

I'd suggest that you start by looking into phase relationships, and the art of subtractive EQ β€” removing frequencies in some sounds that clash with/mask the sound you want to hear.

Sounds like the SOS Mix Rescue series might be a good education for you.

The guy who writes most of those (Mike Senior) has done a really good book β€” Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio β€” and made free multitracks available to practice on. Well worth a read/listen.

Meanwhile, check out this Top Ten Mixing Mistakes feature, which might set you on the right track.
Old 12th September 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
i've come to the conclusion mic placement has a lot to do with this as well as what mixedup says.

if you're not gettng a focused sound recorded at the source it's very hard to fix later.

the other conclusion i've come to is that mixing is an art form itself.
Old 12th September 2012
  #4
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Forgot to say that all the instruments comes from a high end synthesizer Yamaha MOTIF so Im recording through direct line input.
This maybe a synth sound but they still are recorded from true intruments.

All the processing are software plugins, no hardware processing during tracking.
Old 12th September 2012
  #5
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
ok well forget what i said.
Old 12th September 2012
  #6
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Could it be that you don't have a limiter on your master fader when comparing to commercial? If you compare just a kick drum, you can crank it up and compare a loud single kick to a kick in a mix. The more stuff you add, the quieter your mix has to be so you don't distort your master fader. Maybe use a limiter so that you can have a fairer comparison.
Old 12th September 2012
  #7
Old 12th September 2012
  #8
Lives for gear
 
kraku's Avatar
It's all about mixing and sound design / arrangement.

You can think of mixing roughly as two separate areas:
1. Frequency separation of instruments.
2. Dynamics between instruments.

The first point on the list means that if two or more instruments have their fundamental frequencies (or most of their overall frequencies) too near each other, they blend together. Sometimes this is a desired effect but usually this just makes the mix muddy sounding and you can't tell the difference which instrument is playing. Tweak the sounds to use different frequencies so you can hear them all in your mix. Use EQ to cut out nasty clashing frequencies and to limit their high & low frequencies to clean up the mix. You can also go the otherway around: if your mix sounds too empty and/or the instruments sound too separate from each other, tweak the sounds so that they use more frequencies which makes the instruments sounds overlap more with eachother.

The second point on the list means that if everything is loud, you'll lose your dynamics and punch from your mix. Think of the following example:
You have only a kick drum playing. It sounds punchy and full. Now add a loud and full sounding electric guitar which plays at the same peak level as the kick drum. The result is that the kick drum isn't punchy anymore. The relative volume between the kick and the guitar specifies the punchiness of the kick. The less guitar there is playing, the louder the kick sounds like compared to the guitar. If the kick was playing as softly as a whisper and the guitar was playing with the loudness of a jumbo jet turbine, you'd hear nothing of the kick even thought the kick sound would be full sounding when listened closely enough without the guitar. To make the kick sound punchier, you have roughly three choices:

1. Volume: Make the guitar play in lower volume.
2. Timing: Play the guitar notes when the kick isn't playing, ie. off beat.
3. Frequencies: Remove the punchy lower frequencies from guitar so the kick can make full use of them.

There are lots of more or less creative ways to play with those three things (volume, timing, frequencies). Most traditional ones are the volume slider and EQ. Sidechain compression is also commonly used to temporarily reduce the volume (and thus the lower frequency volume of the compressed signal) when the kick hits. This makes the kick come through with more punch since the relative volume of the kick and the compressed signal is temporarily much higher. So basically what you want to do is to make sure the most important frequencies of each instrument don't clash with each other.
Old 12th September 2012
  #9
Gear Guru
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
What kraku said.
Also- What you're describing sounds like an arranging problem as much as a mixing problem.
You have to think in terms of space. Space can exist as a function of timing, rage, EQ, level, density, etc. The more things have a defined space all to themselves, the clearer the picture.
Old 12th September 2012
  #10
Lives for gear
 
KRStudio's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Are all of your sounds stereo? Try finding only one or two elements that really need to be stereo and the rest capture in mono. Now mix L,R,C and you will get a much wider mix, and more punch.
Old 12th September 2012
  #11
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Imagine you had a jam session in a club with two guitars, bass and drums.

Now a third guitarist shows up with his amp, plugs in and starts to play.

the whole thing just got louder by one amplifier's worth of sound.

in a mix, you are probably already hovering near the limit of your master fader. If not, you soon will be. Volume is ONLY relative. To add that 3rd guitar, you have to turn some other instrument down, or conversely turn everything down by 'X' amount. There is no way around this.

When too many instruments are equally sharing the volume, everything is as you say "weaker". Of course arrangement should be tackled first. Make sure these 'additional' tracks are really necessary in the first place.

But to make your mix sound more powerful, pick the important instruments, probably including bass and drums, and make them loud as if they were carrying the whole mix and then 'squeeze' your 'extra' instruments, all the little fiddly synths and pads and shakers and what-not, in there LOW.

I mean low as in 'disrespectful' heh - I mean low as in = if the part was played by a specific individual band member, he would be insulted at how low you mixed him! I mean low as in the only way you can tell the part is even there is if you mute it and you can 'sorta' tell that it was turned off. Don't be afraid to just kill the track altogether at least in parts of the song.

A mix is NOT a democracy!
Old 13th September 2012
  #12
Moderator
 
psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerberson12 ➑️
Forgot to say that all the instruments comes from a high end synthesizer Yamaha MOTIF so Im recording through direct line input.
This maybe a synth sound but they still are recorded from true intruments.

All the processing are software plugins, no hardware processing during tracking.
So basically, you're using fake everything, and wondering why it doesn't sound as good as a record where at least some elements are real?

Some a/b examples would be helpful here.
Old 13th September 2012
  #13
Lives for gear
 
popmann's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
It's easy to make less tracks sound better. You don't have to make space. You don't have to know how to use a compressor as more than effect. You don't really have to know how to mix.

Think about the extreme. Just a voice. How hard is it to make a voice sound huge a beautiful? Now put a bass guitar on there. Whoa...why did the vocal get thinner and brighter sounding? and now you can hear some of the passages as well. Masking. Conflicting dynamics.

The more you add, the more you have to know how to manipulate it. Want to "mix" an acoustic guitar and female vocal? Anyone could do it. No significant range or frequency overlap...no need to do anything to the voice except whatever frequency spitshine it need...now add drums and bass. We just got harder. Now add a string section with Cellos and violins. And a piano. It's just the way it works. The more stuff...the more work to make it all heard and find it's own space.

If only there were experienced people you could hire to make this happen for you.
Old 13th September 2012
  #14
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Spectral traffic cop one ; Composer

Spectral traffic cop two; Mixer


IN THAT ORDER



( in other words one can make twos job near impossible)
Old 13th September 2012
  #15
Gear Guru
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Here's another thought- if adding a track makes the mix sound weaker, don't add it.
Old 13th September 2012
  #16
Lives for gear
 
uncle duncan's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If you're playing all the parts yourself, there's your problem. In a live setting, each musician is playing off the other musicians, leaving space, reacting in real time. The music breathes. In the overdubbing scenario, each part attempts to fill up all the available space, so that by the time you get past the bass/drums/rhythm instruments, there's no space left. It's all been filled.

I was doing a session for a client recently, just bass, drums and a pilot guitar for a vocal tune. The client wanted the bass player to play "more stuff" because the client thought the track sounded too boring. The bass player (a seasoned studio pro) explained that he was leaving space for the other parts that would be added later. It's a foreign concept to the inexperienced.

Once you get your song fleshed out, consider going back and re-tracking some parts to thin them out. While you're doing this, try to hear what parts should be featured, and which parts should be supportive. If it's a vocal tune, figure out what supports the vocal and what conflicts with it. You want to play "around" the vocal so the listener isn't bombarded with too much sonic information competing for their attention.

Listen to the Beatles music. Every part is there for a reason. Remove one part and the whole arrangement collapses. Whether or not the Beatles music relates to your genre, the concept remains valid. Music is made up of parts. Choose wisely.
Old 13th September 2012
  #17
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
This is a very tricky ordeal. I find that mic placement, stereo field placement and subtractive EQ are key to strong mixes. But everyone here are making excellent points.
Old 13th September 2012
  #18
Lives for gear
 
filipv's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
There's a fundamental difference between playing live and recording.

Air doesn't have upper volume limit, so more instruments always mean louder sound.

Recording medii do have upper volume limit, so more instruments mean lowering master fader or limiting the volume in some other way. So more instruments mean lower overall volume.

"Less is more"
Old 13th September 2012 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
ForgottenG's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by PRobb ➑️
Here's another thought- if adding a track makes the mix sound weaker, don't add it.
+1 I think we have all learned a powerful lesson here.
Old 13th September 2012
  #20
Lives for gear
 
filipv's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
One of my favourite quotations:

β€žPerfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.β€œ --Antoine de Saint-Exupery
πŸ“ Reply
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearspace Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…

Forum Jump
Forum Jump