Old 06-29-2010, 08:22 AM   #1
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I'm not really a metal guy, but I'm close friends with a local metal band so I thought I'd do 'em a favor. It's turned into a bit of an "if you give a mouse a cookie..." situation, heh. Lots of pickiness about the guitar tone, which I recorded direct and am re-amping with Shred. I'd like to get some outside thoughts, especially from people who are more into the genre than me, and confirm that my ears aren't actually broken when it comes to guitar tones. =D

http://analogy.cupofnoodles.com/alation/Aflame.mp3
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Old 06-29-2010, 08:43 AM   #2
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Man, without even listening to the song, I can tell you that metalheads are so anal about 'their' guitar tones it's ridiculous... Even though they're all pretty much ripping off one of three sounds: Slayer, Killswitch, or Lamb of God.
Now, I am a huge metalhead, I love metal, but I can also see it for what it is, and there is a lot of me-too-ism and "using influences".

Listening to the song... I think the guitar tone is one of the better things about it. I don't think a little more gain would go amiss, but that's preference obviously. And to have the guitarists actually play all those little fills and solos cleanly certainly wouldn't hurt.
The autotuned clean vocals and flabby kick don't stand out to me as particularly great, but those are both (hopefully) correctable.

It was good of you to offer your service to these guys, for what I assume to be either cheap or free, but remind them that they get what they pay for; if you're working for free, then you can drop their little 'project' at any time, for any reason. Then see if they don't shape up and start being a little more helpful and a little less prima-donna-esque.
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Old 06-29-2010, 08:58 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by DuraMorte View Post
And to have the guitarists actually play all those little fills and solos cleanly certainly wouldn't hurt.
This is probably my bad... They were monitoring through latency when tracking guitar. Next time I record guitars direct I'm gonna see if I can figure out a zero-latency solution.

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The autotuned clean vocals
Aww man, I really really tried to make it subtle, I really did. =( This is the "singer isn't hitting the notes" sort of pitch correction, not the "Believe was my favorite Cher song" pitch correction.

Quote:
and flabby kick
=( I've tried a million things but can't get that "metal kick" sound. At the moment what I've got is this: I took a few different samples of the guy's kick, split it to two tracks, one lowpassed and the other highpassed, added some distortion to the highpassed track, some EQ on both, blended to taste, and round-robined them back in my main project. No idea what people usually do.
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Old 06-29-2010, 09:01 AM   #4
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Hats are too loud for me.

Kick is indeed not easy to get - EQ is not hard (add lots of 10-12k, cut mids slightly, tiny boost around 50-150 Hz), the compression is. Check out how my kick sounds here (drums&keyboards only, though, so it's clearer to hear). I used Addictive Drums, Tama Starclassic kick.

Guitars could indeed use a tiny bit more gain, but this sound they have make it more unique. There are not many metal bands who know how to play good with lower gain, so kudos to the sound achieved here.

But yeah autotuning is rather obvious

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Old 06-29-2010, 09:13 AM   #5
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This is probably my bad... They were monitoring through latency when tracking guitar. Next time I record guitars direct I'm gonna see if I can figure out a zero-latency solution.
A little bit of latency won't kill a guitar track performance, I promise.
It sounds more like "we're rushing to get this done/we can't play this part forrealz, so we're gonna fake it and hope no one notices".
If you need a no-latency solution, direct boxes with parallel outputs can be used with small combo guitar amps for monitoring.

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Aww man, I really really tried to make it subtle, I really did. =( This is the "singer isn't hitting the notes" sort of pitch correction, not the "Believe was my favorite Cher song" pitch correction.
If he's off by that much, then tell him to take some vocal lessons and come back when he can sing. Or have him scream everything. But the auto-tune has GOT to go.
It's not your responsibility to repair his flawed technique. Studio magic will only get you so far.
(btw, does anyone actually like Cher? :P )

Quote:
I've tried a million things but can't get that "metal kick" sound. At the moment what I've got is this: I took a few different samples of the guy's kick, split it to two tracks, one lowpassed and the other highpassed, added some distortion to the highpassed track, some EQ on both, blended to taste, and round-robined them back in my main project. No idea what people usually do.
That sounds like a lot of work when you could just... y'know... use a different sample. XD
Seriously, kick is too hard to get right to bother with 'his' kick sound. Kick sounds are easily replacable, there are tons of awesome samples, and there's no good reason not to use them. That's my recommendation.
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Old 06-29-2010, 09:16 AM   #6
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I thought that was a female singer!
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Old 06-29-2010, 09:19 AM   #7
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I thought that was a female singer!
Sounded like a 16-year-old dude to me... I don't even know, man.
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Old 06-29-2010, 10:52 AM   #8
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I have uploaded a new mix at the same link for your thoughts and consideration!

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Autotune
I have embarked upon Operation: Transparent Pitch Correction once again. Just tweaking the painful notes. You know what, I think I like all the little wobbles in pitch more, it makes the performance a bit more compelling. Woo, lesson learned.

Harmonies in the bridge are staying though. They liked those. =P

Female singer btw. Not a band of teenagers either, the lead guitarist is the youngest at age 20, drummer's the oldest at mid 30s.

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Hihats
Overheads. =/ They just came out really loud for some reason, I think he just played them really hard. Lowering the fader on the left overhead seems to work as a bandaid.

Quote:
Kick
Bear in mind that I switch to the actual kick mic in the bridge and bring out a bit more of a standard "rock" sound. The sound in the rest of the song is completely different and a lot closer to nailing "teh sownd!!!11"

10-12k eh? I never really thought to go that high, I'm used to boosting 2-4k when I need a sharper attack from the kick. Heck, I usually lowpass at 6k or so to keep cymbals and snare bleed out of it. Metal is weird. =/

I went through that process to arrive at the samples I'm using because I don't have a sample library for drums. No use for it till now.

Quote:
Gain
Funny enough, that's the feedback I keep getting back from them, but I'm resisting because more gain robs definition from the picking work. I want all those little technical things to stay really crisp and defined. My latest avenues of attack have been to get that bright crunchy sound using EQ instead of more gain.
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Old 06-29-2010, 10:59 AM   #9
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Yep, all the "metalness" of a heavy metal kick is in 8-12k range. That's that snappy click all the bands use.


BTW, don't change the kick sound throughout the song in any way, ruins the flow. Kick and snare should be the most prominent parts of metal drumkit.
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Old 06-29-2010, 11:09 AM   #10
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BTW, don't change the kick sound throughout the song in any way, ruins the flow.
And breaking down into a ballad feel in the middle of a blasting metal tune doesn't? =D
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Old 06-29-2010, 11:12 AM   #11
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Nope, that's a metal standard!
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Old 06-29-2010, 02:08 PM   #12
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not bad. Kick isn't too bad in the new mix (I missed the first mix). Defininely more gain on the guitars, especially the triplet lick parts. The Rhythm tracks are mostly ok IMO but I'd load them up also

Vocals sound ok to me. I like it. Nice and clear.

The middle slow break seems a little muddy to me. I would high pass and/or brighten up the rhythm picking part, add some light stereo flange maybe too?? But that's just me
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Old 07-01-2010, 01:30 AM   #13
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I'm at least mostly sure that the mix that's up right now is pretty damn close to final, or I'm just gonna walk away from this... I went over to their house yesterday with my laptop, audio interface and monitors to get them to dial in a guitar tone that they liked. It's a bit thin for my taste, and I boosted a titch of low mid as much as I thought I could get away with and not be noticed... but for comparison, go to myspace.com/alationmetal. Same room, (mostly) same mics and recording techniques (I added an extra overhead and bottom snare). I'd say they got their money's worth out of me.

They asked for stems... I have a feeling they're gonna try and take my drums and vocals and do their own guitars. Good luck duplicating my master bus processing though.
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Old 07-01-2010, 08:16 AM   #14
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I have a feeling they're gonna try and take my drums and vocals and do their own guitars.
Don't give them the stems.
If they don't like the guitar tone, then that's too bad. They had a chance to dial it in themselves; I'd say that's more than enough concession on your part.
You're the professional. You have the final say in every mix decision, because it's your responsibility to make the mix work.
If your guitar tone's not "good enough" for them, then that's just too bad. They can do it themselves, from scratch. You don't owe them anything.
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:17 AM   #15
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As long as I only get engineering credit and not mixing credit on any mix they make themselves, I don't really care what they do with it. Honestly, I'd rather they be happy with what they get than have them tell their friends "Analogy mixed it, but we don't really like it." Everyone I talk to about my band's latest album gets to hear about how unhappy I am with the mix, I'd rather avoid being on the receiving end of that myself.
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:30 AM   #16
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IMO the mix sounds great... esp the vox! Rhythm guitars sound pretty good until they do some riffing, then it's a little thin, and solo sounds great. That triplet riff still sounds weak but I think it's more the playing. Kind of a sloppy muting going on there. But hey, if they can't get a good guitar sound on their own and they don't like what you offer, I say let them try themelves. I don't think they will get it much better.

My son is in a similar situation with his band. They record parts and ask me to get the guitars to sound all crisp and perfectly synchronized, like <insert pro metal band here>. Then I tell them to go home and practice. lol
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:41 AM   #17
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As long as I only get engineering credit and not mixing credit on any mix they make themselves, I don't really care what they do with it. Honestly, I'd rather they be happy with what they get than have them tell their friends "Analogy mixed it, but we don't really like it." Everyone I talk to about my band's latest album gets to hear about how unhappy I am with the mix, I'd rather avoid being on the receiving end of that myself.
The thing is, I'm pretty sure anything they do themselves is not going to sound as good as what you can do.
You're the one with the engineering and mixing experience, and the proper equipment, etc. etc.
I just hope that if they do get those stems and then try to record their own guitars, they don't blame you for any of the other tracks not 'sounding good enough' because they can't dial in a guitar tone to compliment them.

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I don't think they will get it much better.
They won't. XD

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My son is in a similar situation with his band. They record parts and ask me to get the guitars to sound all crisp and perfectly synchronized, like <insert pro metal band here>. Then I tell them to go home and practice. lol
Exactly my thought. You want it to sound crisp and perfect? Then your rehearsals should sound crisp and perfect.
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Old 07-01-2010, 02:44 PM   #18
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Honestly, if I was getting paid I'd edit the guitars into time... but editing drums was a several hour job by itself (you should have heard it before edits and before I triggered the kick) and I really just wasn't interested in spending more time fixing timing. I already fixed a few of the more obvious places where guitars lose sync, but couldn't be bothered quantizing everything.
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Old 07-08-2010, 10:27 AM   #19
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You did all you could with what you were given. I don't think it sounds terrible. I think I'd add some verb and delay on the guitar fills. I'd take about 3db off of too. It's just too loud. Probably 100% sample replace the drums.
This might work: use reapitch to add guitars at one octave below the norm to help thicken things up. Just render the guitar bus and add the plug. Adjust to taste.
The toms seems lacking also. If you can't use drumagog or Trigger or something to replace try to use waves MaxxBass or equal on the toms bus. Maybe some some sort of stereo widener on them as well.
I A/B'd with a mix I just did (not that I'm good at all!) and your song seems awfully quiet compared. Limit the shit out of it.

Just a couple thoughts. Keep rockin!
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