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Topic: I Need some help!

  1. #1

    I Need some help!

    This is quite a bit off subject, but alot of you guys give me good advice. I was wondering if there is anything out there that can add more sparkle and warmth to my mixes without sounding so \'digital\'. I mix everything on my Mackie HR824s through a Mackie 1202 and everything sounds great, but when I listen to my songs on different systems, they sound muffled on some (mostly car systems).
    Is there any software out there that can add some of those frequencies that the human ear can\'t normally hear but adds presence and sparkle? What are those frequencies anyway? I need some kind of a finalizer that can do this work for me since I am not an engineer if there is such a thing that will help me. I\'m going nuts writing music I like, but then it sounds like dooky on other systems. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

  2. #2

    Re: I Need some help!

    When you play commercial mixes on your Mackie do they sound incredibly bright?

    Have you tried mixing YOUR music, using a commercially mastered CD which you KNOW sounds good as a reference?

    If you pick something that sounds similar to your stuff as a reference, then do a mix to the point where you reckon your approaching a similar spectral content and dynamic range, yours should sound as good as the reference CD when you play it in the car.

    Don\'t forget compression. So much stuff for radio is compressed to ***k, which has the effect of not only making things sound squashed, but also louder and brighter.

  3. #3

    Re: I Need some help!

    I assume you have a computer based recording system. Waves C4 plug in can go a long way in adding that sparkle and presence you are looking for. Also, are there any particular instruments which habitually lack the presence you are wanting? If so, you probably need to do some compression and or EQ tweaking on those individual tracks before your final mix down to two stereo tracks. You may want to consider looking into purchasing Waves Gold Bundle which would give you the very best of all of these plug ins if you do not already have it......Rennasaince compressor, EQ, reverb, C4, L1, plus much more.

  4. #4

    Re: I Need some help!

    Thanks for the replies guys. You\'re absolutely right Chadwick, I get so thrown off when I compare my stuff to what is playing on the radio in my car. It seems the radio stuff does indeed have more brightness and punch.
    I relistened to my mixes of some orchestral stuff through my AKG K240 headphones which are supposed to be pretty damn flat and the mixes sound great. On my friends car system and my other friends home system, the music sounds fine too. I guess it must be my crappy car system, it just doesn\'t have enough power and my rear speakers are pretty shot in it as well. My girlfriends AC Delco system just has way to much bass making everything sound so bass heavy. I swear I wish I could just make music and not have to do all of this mixing stuff. I\'m really no engineer, just a musician!
    I guess I just worry and obsess that when I send my demos off, the other person might have a crappy sound system that they listen to stuff with.
    I just wish I knew those magic frequencies that make music sound good on any system.
    I\'ve noticed the Advanced Orchestra strings seem hard to EQ right. I always take the \"less is more\" approach. I usually add a little bit of high end (3 dbs-12 k) and maybe a touch of bass with strings, but the trouble I run into is when I add some of my TC Native reverb, it also adds high end coloration if needed, so then I back down off of the coloration because that seems to make the strings sound very \"digital\", not warm at all. I need some kind of tube amp or tube amp plug-in that can warm things up and add those rounder frequencies instead of those all-digital square ones.
    My Mackie HR824s are powered all ready, so would I even need to buy a tube amp? Is there a way I could somehow go into my Mackie 1202 board back into my computer. I\'m using a Delta 1010 soundcard as well.
    Would I benefit from doing this, or would my sound quality degrade even more? Everything I do now is done completely within my DAW.

  5. #5

    Re: I Need some help!


    I have a friend who has built three or four of his own studios over the years, and his latest sounds fantastic. He recently came close to just about shooting a client who insisted on remixing and remixing and remixing any stuff which didn\'t sound right in his own car.

    These mixes had also been mastered by the premier mastering engineer in Sydney! Hank was really tempted to ask the client if he should simply trash his studio, buy a big station wagon and put in a nice Kenwood car hifi! (Incidentally, the original tracks sounded fine everywhere BUT in this guy\'s car.)

    As far as EQ goes, I\'ve seen engineers do something I never thought of when trying to make an instrument \'fit\' in a mix. They find the \'sweet spot\' frequency for a particular sound and then back that frequency OFF in any of the OTHER tracks which don\'t need it. It kind of makes room for the target track, rather than trying to make it fight everything else for the same sonic space.

  6. #6

    Re: I Need some help!

    I\'ll tell you one thing I\'ve noticed, reverb really makes a HUGE difference on your sound quality. I just remixed a song with TC reverb and boy does it sound great! I din\'t even have to add any EQ except a small bit of low end to the tablas.
    I think the NFX reverb makes everything sound muddy. I just wish there was a way Nemesys could add direct-x support along with Gigastudio. It would make the creative process so much sweeter.

  7. #7

    Re: I Need some help!

    Producing and mixing is a science. One that you don\'t master in a month or a year. I am totally amazed by the producers of stuff like Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears (and Mike Oldfield isn\'t bad either). I think one of the things you have to do is remove some of the midtone and make the bass very precise, to be able to use more of the signal bandwith (volume?) for the high end, to make it \'spark\'. However, not everything will sound cool mixed like BSB. Madonnas music is not as polished and shiny, but still very well produced. It\'s a matter of what kind of music too - you can\'t treat orchestral music in the same way you treat pop.

  8. #8

    Re: I Need some help!

    2.5k to 3k EQ boosted will add some presence, compression will maximize levels while killing dynamic range (soft to loud), pop is mostly pumped to us at the same level on radio/TV, so compressing pop is not as critical as other forms of music. Thin out your reverb, this brings things forward in your mix (think no reverb equals sound up front and bright / lots of reverb equals sound in background and dark). Just keep using your ears and comparing your mixes to other things you know are mixed great (Steely Dan comes to mind for alot of engineers to test out systems). This is just one of those things that keeps requiring listening and adjusting, soon you will trust your ears and gut feelings. One last thing is to take breaks, ears need to be fresh to do their best for mixing. There are no magic boxes out there though every gear ad claims to be the holy grail, its just experimenting with the gear you have / speaker placement / recording methods / etc....... Good luck on the remix.

  9. #9

    Re: I Need some help!

    As stated, mixing and mastering are sciences. It takes time to develop your ear. Its like practicing an instrument, after some time you are able to define some of the values that go into playing a certain piece (in this case its mixing/EQ/sound design)

    thekey to monitoring on different systems is to reference material ON THOSE SYSTEMS, its fine to check the mix on other systems, but make sure you know what that specific system sounds like with other material...so you have refeerence point....not a reference point from what it sounds lie on another system.

    As for EQ, Most people generally dont boost with Digital EQs, you tend to create unwanted artifacts and overtones. Cutting on the other hand is the way to go. A Chadwick said, doing it on other instruments to make room in the mix is th4e way to go. It tightens up the sound, and things dont try and clamour over each other. Also jsut because an intrument sounds good solo, doesnt\' mean it\'ll sound good in a mix. On some instruments its quite the opposite in fact (depending on music). Sometimes to get something to sound really nice and \"phat\" solod you need it to fill up a lot of the spectrum,...when you put it in the mix it swallows up other sounds or hides them too much.

    It takes time to learn how to EQ and mix....and generally you\'ll always be learning somethign new about it.

    For Mastering, thats a comletely other science in my book. Its totally dependant on the material being mastered (mixing is too :P), but it taes alot of time to learn to use compressers and EQs on full mixes as well.

    Generally for Rock stuff, \"radio ready\" songs are both compressed and limited very hard, usually with Multi band compression and all sorts of gear from vintage comps and amps to the latest plug-ins, to home built stuff.

    For orchetral stuff, many people shy way from compression. I think it depends on teh application as well as content. If you\'re doing a film score thats HEAVY on action, maybe a bit of multiband compression/limiting is needed, and then riding the fader to correspond with the score (Sound design team should do this anyway). If its a CD, then maybe none or very light compression and noise reduction is needed and peak limiting......which doesn\'t apply to Media venture stuff lately ...pretty much like a Rock album Slammed purty hard...but I like that sometimes

    for Sparkle you might try boosting ultra highs with a graphic EQ, say the 15k-22k region, it brings a sense of \"air\" to mixes

    Really...I am an Idiot

  10. #10

    Re: I Need some help!

    Thanks for all of your replies guys. they have been very helpful. I finally got my mix on a small string quartet finished and I am pleased with it. I realized before that I added to much 16k and it made the strings to bright and sonically painful. I instead remixed the song and added 2.4 dbs of 12k for some highs and 2 dbs of 63k for some lows. I am now pleased with the mix, now I don\'t have to obsess anymore
    Very true about the 2.5k and 3k for presence. I experimented some with those frequencies and it does add more presence, but not to heavy with those frequencies.
    Thanks again guys.

    [This message has been edited by Damon (edited 03-09-2001).]

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