boji

Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« on: September 16, 2018, 11:18:15 PM »
In light of the very informative thread on "Mastering Techniques for LOUD" I'd be curious to hear any of your methods to get instruments to sit well in the mix. For example I am not that well versed on using M/S techniques to make things stand out, or subtle uses of 'Surfer EQ' type sidechain eq's / expansion which purport to be good ways to get stems to pop while not fighting other stuff in the mix for space.  Other than the old 'give each instrument it's own slice of frequency', what are some of your tricks for making room for everything? 


scott2000

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2018, 11:25:26 PM »
Setting Levels is a pretty big one actually.........


ruffrecords

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2018, 04:24:32 AM »
Arrangement is a pretty big one too - giving instruments space in time.

Cheers

Ian
www.customtubeconsoles.com
https://mark3vtm.blogspot.co.uk/
www.eztubemixer.blogspot.co.uk


'The only people not making mistakes are the people doing nothing'

craigmorris74

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2018, 10:28:14 AM »
Before you get to the mix, mic selection and placement is a biggie.  These two things, when done correctly will make things pop in the mix better than anything.

Assuming you've got the first part right, as mentioned earlier, volume is your friend.  Especially with the automation available when using a DAW, if there's a part of a song where you want something to pop out, make it louder.  If an element not a featured part, pull it back, or consider muting it.  The more spare your arrangement is, the more what things are there will stand out.

I'd also recommend using LCR panning (panning almost everything hard left, center, or hard right).  This will give you a wide open canvas that has more room for elements to be featured.  If something isn't standing out on the left side, try it on the right.   The frequency blend on that side might let the part stand out more.

Since this is Group DIY, I'd assume you've build some cool analog EQ's.  If you have a high track count grab those things and really boost things until it sounds right.  People who do modern mixing for a living aren't shy about using EQ in crowded mixes to make things happen.  If you have a spare mix, this won't be nearly as necessary.

If you want clear and not atmospheric, don't slather everything in reverb.  Maybe one element in the mix.

The last thing I'd recommend is if you want a kick or snare (or anything really) to stick out in a dense mix, run it hot through a tasty device (transformer coupled mic pre, 1176 with the compression off, DIYRE Colour, etc) to get a bit of nice distortion.  Blend the distorted track with the clean track so that you can't hear the distortion, but the drum moves forward in the mix.

Have realistic expectations, only 3 or 4 things can be forward in a stereo mix at a time, and that may be pushing it.

CM

boji

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2018, 02:45:45 PM »
Thanks gents for the replies.  If I hear you, dynamic mixing seems to be the watchword.
It is also no secret that modern pop has perfected the art of negative space in bumpy beats.

Less is more, until it bores. :)

scott2000

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2018, 03:15:32 PM »
A really big help is getting some good low end in your room....  To be able to really hear what's happening down low.  Not really as easy a task as I had really ever thought...... it's easy to get comfortable with low end monitoring to only realize it's really not there where it needs to be....... I'm sure familiarity can take the place but, it's helpful.......

Then the high pass can make much more sense....

john12ax7

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2018, 04:44:50 PM »
The frequency balance is a big part of it,  but not necessarily the fundamental frequencies.  Things like bass and kick drum need a lot of select mid and high end to poke through.  Don't worry too much about what things sounds like soloed.  Adding 15 dB at 4k to a kick drum might be just the thing in the context of a full mix.

Everyone likes HPF,  but LPF is underutilized,  and quite effective especially with digital.

Compressor sidechaining can help things not step on each other. Use the kick to feed the bass compressor,  so the bass ducks a bit giving the kick room.

Saturation can bring out harmonics increasing perceived clarity.

Heavy parallel compression can even out levels while still having some transient.

Stereo imagers can bring things in or out of focus.

There are some top mix guys doing tutorials now,  some of them I've found rather insightful so worth looking into.




DerEber

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2018, 05:31:47 PM »
A really big help is getting some good low end in your room....  To be able to really hear what's happening down low.  Not really as easy a task as I had really ever thought...... it's easy to get comfortable with low end monitoring to only realize it's really not there where it needs to be....... I'm sure familiarity can take the place but, it's helpful.......

Then the high pass can make much more sense....

Getting things sound great in the room is definitely  most important for clarity.
Best Mixing technique ever.  ;D

leitmo

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2018, 01:22:30 AM »
Arrangement, musician placement, mic selection, mic placement.

Don't record until it sounds perfect. You have 90% of the mix done at that time.

Recently had the chance to be in one of the big name studios and this is how they work on many projects.

Acoustics and accurate monitoring is a must.

I was able to check my home studio made mix (HPF, eq, compression, reverb, saturation, parallel processing, mixbus comp etc) vs rough mix done on console only cutting 2dB at 300Hz on one track and I was blown away about how much clarity and separation got!

Everything was hard paned left and right in mixing because you commit panning on mic placement: want wide overheads? Spread them on cymbals; want them narrower? Use XY mic technique and move on.

Disclaimer: it's not about summing in the console that we get clarity. It makes a difference vs ITB but not that dramatic, more subtle. And I'm talking huge Neve console

BluegrassDan

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2018, 02:02:35 AM »
Good instruments that are set up well. Good musicians that play with taste and dynamics. Good placement with good mics in a good room.

In mixing, I like to eq and compress each instrument to where they fit well using my Adam monitors. Then for volume automation, I mix exclusively through these little tiny speakers (an iPhone docking charger) at low volume. Throw it back to the big monitors and it will knock your socks off.


ruairioflaherty

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2018, 02:50:07 AM »
Arrangement.

Everything else is a band-aid.

(Spoken as someone who applies band-aids daily, sometimes long after the patient has already died :-)
« Last Edit: September 19, 2018, 02:53:37 AM by ruairioflaherty »

boji

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2018, 10:56:17 AM »
Quote
long after the patient has already died
lol

Enjoying all of your perspectives.  I think I'll prepare a bit more next time I track.  Of course playing to the sound of the room is critical. Wish I had better rooms!  I'll have to build a field rig at some point.

Seeker

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2018, 05:09:38 AM »
A few techniques I love, assuming you are already at the mixing stage...

Parallel harmonic saturation, decapitator, softube saturation, izotope trash, etc... the right combo of source + sat can do wonders to all kinds of things...

A mono mix cube... its the single best improvement i've made to my mixes, the perspective that using it added was priceless, at least for me.  I set panning and balance on larger speakers, then flip to the mix cube, re adjust balances, eq etc, and then back...
"Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.” - Miles

boji

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2018, 03:20:33 PM »
Nice. Yeah caved and bought the Grace monitor controller. The mono and -L are indispensable. 

What does having the mono cube impart over mono-ized stereo drivers?

Seeker

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2018, 03:24:01 AM »
I'm using the avantone, its a small speaker, and essentially all midrange,  because its so small and midrangey it feels like stepping back from the mix a bit, and helps me maintain my perspective.  Its helped me a lot with translation to small systems, and most of the decisions I make on the mix cube tend to hold up on my mains. 
"Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.” - Miles

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2018, 09:23:10 AM »
Not to state the obvious but arrangement and quality of recorded signals play the biggest part, imo!

fazer

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #16 on: October 04, 2018, 09:35:50 PM »
Quote
arrangement and quality of recorded signals
 

I would add and performance quality. 

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #17 on: October 09, 2018, 10:36:44 PM »
More subtracting and less additive EQ.  Making room for certain frequencies is more effective than sh!t on top of Sh!t.  Identifying what aspects you want  dominant before diving into the mix is helpful. And can change throughout the mix as well. Michael Brauer used the metaphor of being backed into a corner, which lead him to the frequency based mix bussing.  It’s easy to get backed into a corner if the artist is unclear of the arrangement. Hell, it’s easy to get backed into a corner even in straight forward arrangements.  Save along the way and take notes.

Whoops

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #18 on: October 25, 2018, 11:10:15 PM »
Using the Pan knob plays a big part in clarity on dense and complex arrangments

Seeker

Re: Mixing techniques for CLARITY
« Reply #19 on: October 27, 2018, 02:41:25 AM »
Using the Pan knob plays a big part in clarity on dense and complex arrangments

I agree good choices in panning can be critical, but if you rely on panning too much for clarity in a mix the result will vary based on the  listening situation... ie most phones and laptops are basically mono, as are alot of tvs and boom boxes...
"Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.” - Miles


 

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