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Old 01-16-2018, 09:52 PM   #1
tdintbl
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Default Fresh album. Enjoy. Looking for critique, future improvements.

First off the album:
https://theditmeyers.bandcamp.com/al...-days-of-water

All original. (I'm the organist/mandolinist/pianist/one of the singers on a few tracks.) Lots to love here. We were a damned good band if I may so myself. Shame it folded.

Obviously I'm also the mix engineer here. Not the tracking engineer though.

What I'm hoping to get out of my peers here (and elsewhere) is a critical ear towards what I should be focusing on in the future to up my game. I put somewhere around 700 hours into this mix (mostly on the premix end of things, long story, in short there was some damage control going on. ) and there's a lot of care and detail. I have a few ideas of mine on as what to hone next, a few weaknesses to address. Nothing quite like other opinions though.

So lay it on me. Thoughtful as can be.

Thanks all!

(I'll go back to my daily lurking at lunch break and occasional posts.)
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Old 01-20-2018, 08:43 AM   #2
Henshaw44
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Default good mixing!

I listened to River Stop Calling - whoa that is great mixing! Well done!

The one lead guitar just seems a bit out of place - and I notice it a lot near the end when it pans slowly back and forth around 5:26 mark etc. I guess maybe it's sort of like a Leslie effect but it somehow sounds too obvious - there's probably a trick to make it more subtle... these effects are supposed to kind of hit you without you noticing them obviously. Maybe too high in the mix? Maybe some glue type compression to sit them in the sound bed more? Don't mind me - I really really love the mix and actually listened through the whole song, which doesn't always happen when people post their music...

I'm no mixing genius by any means! I love the mandolin, the acoustic, etc. everything else the vox etc sound perfect - it's almost like the one guitar part is too in the middle and fighting the bass. And it just a tiny bit that takes you out of the song.

I looked at your album credits - it was mixed and mastered at Pyramid - but you did this all in Reaper? I haven't used Reaper in ten years and am coming back into it after using other DAWs - solid solid solid solid work man. Your band has a good sound and would be popular here in Ontario, Canada - it's a little bit like our Tragically Hip and your band would do well here!

Why did you guys fold? Mend those fences - you guys have a good sound. Man up and bury the hatchet fellas - you're a good team and you make good stuff. Hope you guys keep at it! Sean, great work on the mix!
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Old 01-20-2018, 08:56 AM   #3
Henshaw44
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Default great album!

I listened to Attention Please since you co wrote it. At the beginning some of the intro parts sound really spaced out, far apart, like it's a giant floor space. Really panned far out. Thankfully, once the track gets going, the instruments all sound much tighter and cohesive. Near the end it suddenly hit me that the drums seem kind of low in the mix - almost like on that track Tony wants to say, "hey, I'm the vox and lead guitar on this track - don't you all forget it!" Not the overheads. The main drums. They sound really subdued. The organ riff midway felt just a bit flat like it needs some sort of more dynamic effect on it - it's like it's just kinda there. I know that type of keyboard isn't as expressive as other synths, etc. but it just needs something more like when Ray Manzarek did his Doors stuff...

The mixing is so good - I listened to this. I'll probably listen to the whole album. I started to listen to Halo and like how you guys mix it up with the heavy sax to start things off - so good musical/arranging choices for sure.

I love the mix overall and really enjoy the production. Just one or two elements from time to time seem a little overdone or extra, but maybe that's a preference/deliberate choice and an aesthetic choice. Very solid work, Sean! Amazing work when I get home later tonight I'll listen to the other tracks - thanks for sharing.
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Old 01-20-2018, 08:04 PM   #4
tdintbl
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Thanks Henshaw, this is the kind of nitpicking I was hoping for!

Re: River. The swirl panning was deliberate, but that doesn't necessarily mean the execution has no room for improvement. To my mind it served two purposes. One, to obscure that a 2nd simultaneous solo take drops in. Two, to keep the mix from becoming static. Without something changing, to my mind it started becoming "yeah, alright, here we go with the extended guitar wankery. laaammmee."

Of your suggestions, playing with a glue compressor strikes me as the most interesting.

Also, these extreme psychedelic pan gimmicks fill the album, and highlighted that I need to spend more time with the overall pan law of my projects.

Re: Attention. Attention was by far the hardest for me to mix, and the least satisfying final mix for me. I just literally ran out of skill to execute what I had in mind. Mainly what got me in trouble was reverb. I suspect I had my plate send way too diffuse and thus had to use way too much of it. Also, drums were hard to balance out without destroying other things going on in this mix. In all regards I really struggled on this one. (The little organ stabs going into the guitar solo, well, I was feeling a little Girl from Ipanema at that moment. )

And yes this was done all in Reaper. With almost exclusively stock fx. I can literally list the non-stock effects used: PoorPlate by Vacuumsound, Saturation Knob by Softube, Devil's Spring by... forget his name, vb3 by GSi (for one Leslie-fication that had to be done after tracking had ended), AUMatrixReverb that comes with Mac OS, and LUFS Meter by Klangfreund.

I just love the amount of power in finesse with Reaper stock plugs. Not that we don't have amazing payware on our ProTools side of things, but I'm new and struggle with ProTools so I knew my workflow would just be better in Reaper for this project.

Thanks again for the critiques so far, and look forward to hearing the rest of them.
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Old 01-20-2018, 09:29 PM   #5
Henshaw44
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Default thanks for updates

very informative discussion... I got home later from a work party function tonight (our annual gala thing pre NAMM) so will take a listen to the other tracks tomorrow with proper attention.

But I really got to hand it to you. You've really gotten amazing mileage out of reaper with your mixing and use of stock plugins. It's a great testament of course knowing that in capable hands, the tool is only as good as the one using the tool - you've really helped demonstrate some amazing abilities right out of the reaper swiss army knife!

plus, i really think different genres can be harder to mix - i'm into synthwave right now and it's fun to hear how actually part of copying that eighties aesthetic is to, well, not mix as surgically as modern day production standards warrant. certain genres do get away with a certain amount of being less surgical. You've really cut your teeth on this work and I have to say you've done a great job. my comments are meant strictly as constructive and trying to give the feedback. I'm not a big follower of this genre but will listen and offer what I can from that casual listener/outside listener perspective... cheers! feel encouraged, sean! it's a bang up mix you've got there. well done!
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Old 01-20-2018, 09:54 PM   #6
Henshaw44
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Default listened to Halo... love the sax...

Sean, love the sax on Halo and really smart to put that so prominent in the track, and to have that the second track... otherwise so easy to peg the sound of the band as being a sort of "one trick pony" and listeners going in order might tune out after track 4 or 5 due to "genre fatigue."

Listening to the 3 tracks I've heard so far, it suddenly struck me hearing the panning guitar part in "Halo." - it gave me an idea: try this one on for size...

Your album was recorded *live* it sounds like - the band all playing together, all jamming together. All plugged into the soundboard and maybe isolated in a setup but recording altogether, right? Overdubs sound minimal. It's not an overdub studio album. It's like a Mudhoney album where they all go in an record it in two days - and you can hear it in the way the mix comes out, the production etc.

It sounds like a band playing in a room. Altogether. So your ears as a listener tend to identify with sounds and mixing typical of that sort of environment.

So, as a result, strange guitar pans where it suddenly sounds like the guitar is "flying around the room" left to right, up and down, across and back and forth - jump out to the listener and sound "artificial" - to what otherwise sounds like a very natural sounding, live-off-the-floor recording.

If you listen to something like INXS, they have lots of guitars etc, especially on some of their biggest hits - but you rarely sit there and say "oh that sounds like they're altogether in one space at the same time laying these down." Maybe only certain songs and it was more on their very last album Elegantly Wasted they had this. Listen to "Kick" album for instance from 1986..87? 88? It's a studio album but the studio is an instrument in itself, a la Sir George Martin or Phil Spector.

Your reverb, aesthetic etc is capturing a sound of a band in a space playing altogether. It needs to ring true and be consistent with that setup. So guitars suddenly panning hard left and right - it's not like the guitarist is running laps around the studio space like the Flash to really achieve that - it's not that it's wrong it's that it's just inconsistent with the aesthetic/character of the record. That's why the pans stand out and seem "odd" - because they don't seem natural because you're going for a "natural" aesthetic...

will continue to listen... cheers!
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Old 01-20-2018, 10:34 PM   #7
tdintbl
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I do follow. Makes a lot of sense. I'll be keeping that frame of mind, well, in mind in the future.

Though I'll take it all as high complement that I really have done my homework on space building with the use of reverbs, delays, and EQ choices.

Nothing was live tracked. Well, the bass and drums were, and that's where it ended. Absolutely everything was done by way of overdubs. Limitations of small space studios. Like I said, that it fools so well, I'll take it as highest compliments! Thanks!
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Old 01-20-2018, 10:49 PM   #8
Henshaw44
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Default great job on the aesthetic

well excellent kudos to you for really creating in the mix that sense that it's all "live off the floor" - an easy fix would be to double track those guitars, have the same part left and right from the get go, then when they move around - it sounds like the same part is being played identically by two different guitarists in the room rather than one part floating around like it's on a mini-helicopter bandying about the space... that will make it sound more consistent with the sound scape you've created...
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