Questions About Mixing On A 'Non-Tracked Out' Instrumental

Discussion in 'Audio Help & Tips' started by Pete Wurthy, May 21, 2009.

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  1. Pete Wurthy

    Pete Wurthy The Rap Mechanic

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    Those that have known me for a while know about my mixing woes. I'm getting closer to getting better so I need just a little more (or possibly a lot more) advice. Here it is...

    Like most emcees on the internet, I buy leases on beats to record tracks but they do not come tracked out. So, I am faced with the disadvantage of not being able to get the best mixes possible. However, I know it is possible to get a decent mix given my situation. At any rate, I need some advice.

    First, my gear:

    Neumman T103 Anniversary Edition Mic (Bigger Diaphragm)
    Avalon 737 SP Preamp
    Monster Cables
    Auralex Acoustic Panels
    Emu 1212m Soundcard
    Yamaha HS80M Monitors (Pair)
    Sony Headphones (not sure the model, but $100 version)

    As you can see, my equipment is great!

    My DAW of choice for the moment is Adobe Audition 1.5. Here is my usual process for creating songs:

    1. Record the song's vocals in its entirety.
    2. Cut the vocal tracks where necessary.
    3. Apply EQ to the vocals.

    My first question...I know that vocals need to have all frequencies even in this step, so how do I know when the frequencies are even? What exactly am I listening for and how can I make sure I'm good here? I have a high pass filter around 100 Hz on the avalon (everything below is rolled off). I currently have been playing with shelfing high and low frequencies and leaving the mid range unchanged.

    4. Apply compression to vocals (a 4:1 ratio with a threshold range of -10 to -12 Db depending on the vocal and a fast attack with a slow release to avoid pumping).

    5. I hard limit the vocals (with a ceiling on -6.5 db, with a small 1-2 db boost to make volume levels more consistent and less dynamic for clarity and evenness in the mix).

    6. Apply a small amount of reverb (15% wet) to the 800-2000 range to only effect the body of the vocal and leave the higher and lower vocal frequencies dry.

    7. I use a parametric eq on the beat, finding which frequencies to attenuate in the beat to allow the vocals to shine through and sit in the mix.

    This is the step I have the most problem with. From what I understand, you're supposed to see which frequencies compete with the vocal and then only cut a small amount from the beat, but how much cutting is too much? I tend to cut a low range value 400-800 hz, a mid range value 800-1600k, and a high range value or two above that so that there is breathing room for all vocal frequencies. Would yall recommend cutting more highs than others for clarity purposes? What do I do here? I'm clueless.

    7.5. I level the vocal volume accordingly to achieve a vocal mix that isn't too dominant or too soft. I pan dubs and adlibs to leave center space for the lead vocal.

    8. I bus all of the tracks to a hard limiter with a ceiling of -.03 to avoid clipping and I boost the overall volume (a premaster if you will).

    Any help or advice would be crucial. I know it all involves listening and using my own ears, but I'm not sure what my strategy should be.

    Thanks in advance!
    test
  2. P Grizz

    P Grizz PGrizz.Com

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    *Don't cut from the beat.


    the #1 thing to do is find the beats w/ better mixes...don't get "bad" beats or beats u won't be able to work with....without trying to alter them...it usually does'nt work out too well w/ soundclick beats. Its usually an anything goes...u won't be able to do the same freq. cutting to each beat.

    Pretty good mixing steps tho. Use delays!!! you'll love. Experiment more w/ the reverb, you'll find that u don't need to do the same thing everytime...or even remotely close to the same thing. IMO you're compressing your vocals too much.

    HTH
    test
  3. Pete Wurthy

    Pete Wurthy The Rap Mechanic

    Joined:
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    I thought that eq'ing instruments in your mix to make room for others was the point of mixing. Also, I know that cutting is better than boosting to conserve 'head room'. Either way, the beats I use aren't too crowded or outrageously loud in their melodies. They're pretty clean, just need a little tweaking. Thanks for the tips though man.

    I use delays and other effects sparingly. Only where they make sense to use them.

    And can you tell me how I should compress my vocals? I know 4:1 is a good ratio to use and I try to set the threshold to where it just 'kisses' the peaks of my recorded levels. Give me some insight.

    Upping for more input.
    test
  4. Mr. ROUSH

    Mr. ROUSH WWW.SOUNDCLICK.COM/ROUSH

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    This is actually a preatty easy answer though there are some underlying suggestions I would make based on some of the other things you mentioned.. at any rate I'll stick to the point.. #1.. using pre made beats you can only ever expect the mix to sound as good as the beat already does.. so choose wisely.. don't necessarily look for the beats that already sound good.. look for the beats that aren't mastered that will leave you headroom to work with.. since obviously you can't do any real mixing to the beat itself.. your only real option is to hopefully improve it in the mastering stage.. if a beat is already mastered to be as loud as possible.. you can't do this.. there is no headroom to master with and good vocal mixing is the only thing that will save the overall effort.. if you get a beat that sound farily good but has obvious headroom.. record and mix your voals.. then apply a mastering chain to the whole song and really work the eq to bring out the sound you want to aim for as much as possible.. when you're leasing beats they should be providing you with a a raw mix that is unmastered.. good producers will give it to you tracked out so you can mix it against the vocals accurately.. hope that helps.
    test
  5. Pete Wurthy

    Pete Wurthy The Rap Mechanic

    Joined:
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    Wow, that actually helps a lot MR. ROUSH. Thanks a lot man! Can you give me the other suggestions you were going to tell me too?
    test
  6. Mr. ROUSH

    Mr. ROUSH WWW.SOUNDCLICK.COM/ROUSH

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    There is quite a bit I could suggest.. One thing I will touch on now is your EQing.. The most important thing is this.. don't try to make each vocal track sound it's best.. make a combination of all your vocal tracks fill the whole range.. so for example.. let's say you do a high end boost with a shelf or curve.. (pretty common to do this on lead vocals) .. but if you do that, then you'll want to do something diferent if not completely opposite on your doubles and ad libs. So maybe you would do a high end cut on your doubles.. and then a bandpass (all mid range / roll off highs and lows) on your ad libs.. make sense? As far as how much to cut or boost.. do this in stages.. it's best to have too little and room to add then it is to have too much and have to start all over.. look at your curve.. if you raise the highs and lows for example.. your mids will sound scooped out and that will make your vocals sound thin.. everything should be relative to all other frequencies so that the curve isn't such that you loose the frequencies you aren't boosting.. hope that makes sense.. if you have more questions hit my email.. Roushy1@gmail.com
    test
  7. _-Nick-Knox-_

    _-Nick-Knox-_ WWW.NICK-KNOX.COM

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    test
  8. Mr. ROUSH

    Mr. ROUSH WWW.SOUNDCLICK.COM/ROUSH

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    also, it might be a good idea to roll off lower.. you might be cutting into some realestate anything over 85hz typically.. this is where you'll really want to trust your ears, but good things usually happen around 120hz, I'd hate to think you're losing those benefits.. this isn't universal of course.. if you have a high voice you could be right on.. one other thing on cutting and boosting.. don't expect to hear some drastic change from your steps.. you won't hear much if anything from boosting .6db for example, but the idea is that you miss it when it's not there.. you really make them pop when you mix the stereo vocal sub group and the mastering.. there are commonly two stages if not more where eq will be added.. if you crank up at 4k until you hear a drastic change it will sound like shit when you master the high end... the first step to the next level is to fully grasp the concept of doing the mix in stages and layers and alway leave room to master..
    test
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