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New 5.1 mixes - looking for critique

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edisonbaggins

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@popshop these are sounding very good to me.

The one track that didn't work for me as well as the others was #2 (of the 5 song set) "While We Can".
I feel the heaviness of the guitars isn't balanced by other heavy elements.

There are other tracks where heavy guitars show up as a brief accent, and that works better for me, as-is.
If a heavy part is going to be a mainstay, I'd like if it had some heavy support.
 

sjcorne

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oh boy, I think I went a little out of control when I recorded that one. 24 guitar tracks! Just a bass guitar in the middle and bass synth in the rears to battle with them, so I hear what you mean. CHUNKA CHUNKA :rocks :rocks :rocks :rocks :rocks
Wow! I'd love hear more about the recording/mixing process if you're willing to share - I can honestly say what you achieved here in both sound and mix quality rivals many pro recordings from the major labels.
 

popshop

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The honorable @neil wilkes has taught me so much it would be foolish to start with anything else. I was raised on Fugazi so DIY is everything for me, but I guess DIY after learning from everyone you can. Mostly Bob Ferbrache and Neil for me. I've never had a budget for anything so it's always been about the best for cheapest.
The main answer is hitting a good pre-amp before hitting the D/A converter. In my case I have two Universal Audio 710 solid state/tube hybrid pre-amps, but there are plenty of good options. I have two Blue Baby Bottle mics. Fine but not great.
A few years ago I started using a Kemper - a computer/amp that stores amp clones. A bunch of bands have been using them for live DIs for the past few years and they are good for quick solid tones.
A big part of my sound is taking organic sounds and manipulating them. In the past couple years I've used a lot of backwards steel drum mixed with ebow. So I'll play each note in chord changes separately, backwards order, and then reverse them all. It takes forever but I love how it sounds. I tend to mix/mimic synth and organic sounds - so something that sounds like X is 10 tracks of various things with varying tones. I think the Graceland album was a good lesson in that.
For a DAW I use Nuendo. I think Logic is amazing but I've barely used it. Nuendo is fantastic for surround and film scoring.
Gear is fun - mostly old guitars - but I think time is the most important aspect.
Out of time but I should discuss arranging for surround, more important - -
Also, thanks! I appreciate that.
 

The56Kid

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The honorable @neil wilkes has taught me so much it would be foolish to start with anything else. I was raised on Fugazi so DIY is everything for me, but I guess DIY after learning from everyone you can. Mostly Bob Ferbrache and Neil for me. I've never had a budget for anything so it's always been about the best for cheapest.
The main answer is hitting a good pre-amp before hitting the D/A converter. In my case I have two Universal Audio 710 solid state/tube hybrid pre-amps, but there are plenty of good options. I have two Blue Baby Bottle mics. Fine but not great.
A few years ago I started using a Kemper - a computer/amp that stores amp clones. A bunch of bands have been using them for live DIs for the past few years and they are good for quick solid tones.
A big part of my sound is taking organic sounds and manipulating them. In the past couple years I've used a lot of backwards steel drum mixed with ebow. So I'll play each note in chord changes separately, backwards order, and then reverse them all. It takes forever but I love how it sounds. I tend to mix/mimic synth and organic sounds - so something that sounds like X is 10 tracks of various things with varying tones. I think the Graceland album was a good lesson in that.
For a DAW I use Nuendo. I think Logic is amazing but I've barely used it. Nuendo is fantastic for surround and film scoring.
Gear is fun - mostly old guitars - but I think time is the most important aspect.
Out of time but I should discuss arranging for surround, more important - -
Also, thanks! I appreciate that.
Incredible, Ian! Did you record all 52 songs with the Kemper?
 

popshop

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Generally, yes. I mentioned best for cheapest but also in the case of these 52 songs it was best/fastest too. Some songs were written and recorded in a day, some were written, recorded, and edited over months and months. In the middle I suppose is most of the songs taking about a week. I just didn't have time to mess with guitar tones for hours. I used (within the Kemper) a '62 Fender, Dumble, Vox, '72 Marshall, Bogner, '74 Champ, and almost always used an Ampeg (with a Ric) for bass. I really like Godin guitars, and used them a lot with SGs for doubled and quadrupled rhythms, and then I have a really lovely '52 Gibson and a Brian May that I tend to use for solos, often doubled or harmonized. I love being in the moment/down the rabbit hole/fully focused so it's really nice to just grab a different guitar, flip a switch for a new amp, and record a guitar harmony rather than having to go warm an amp up and move a mic for long enough that I forget what I'm doing. Silly, and sort of cheating, but eh!

The 10 songs on From the Light were the first 10 of the year, so all were done in their running order each Thursday from Jan 3rd to mid-March, 2019 (Three-minute Thursday was the initial idea - all "traditional" pop songs). Somewhere in that time I was also sending the next 10 to my buddy Chris Fogal so that he could get them in his system for recording drums. Then I finished those 10 for the 10 weeks between mid-March and the end of May, and so on.

While I was going fast, I was also writing and arranging with surround parts in mind, so things took way longer than they should have with certain things. I mentioned the steel drum layering, I was also doing that with steel rhythms so rather than playing 4 notes in a row, I would record them separately so that each would have clean decay and could be coming from a different spot. Same with percussion and drums. The song-a-week thing makes people assume they are all simple demos, but they turned out to be much more layered than stuff I normally write or work on. It would be fair to say that my quarantine/isolation started in late 2018.
:LB
 

The56Kid

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Generally, yes. I mentioned best for cheapest but also in the case of these 52 songs it was best/fastest too. Some songs were written and recorded in a day, some were written, recorded, and edited over months and months. In the middle I suppose is most of the songs taking about a week. I just didn't have time to mess with guitar tones for hours. I used (within the Kemper) a '62 Fender, Dumble, Vox, '72 Marshall, Bogner, '74 Champ, and almost always used an Ampeg (with a Ric) for bass. I really like Godin guitars, and used them a lot with SGs for doubled and quadrupled rhythms, and then I have a really lovely '52 Gibson and a Brian May that I tend to use for solos, often doubled or harmonized. I love being in the moment/down the rabbit hole/fully focused so it's really nice to just grab a different guitar, flip a switch for a new amp, and record a guitar harmony rather than having to go warm an amp up and move a mic for long enough that I forget what I'm doing. Silly, and sort of cheating, but eh!

The 10 songs on From the Light were the first 10 of the year, so all were done in their running order each Thursday from Jan 3rd to mid-March, 2019 (Three-minute Thursday was the initial idea - all "traditional" pop songs). Somewhere in that time I was also sending the next 10 to my buddy Chris Fogal so that he could get them in his system for recording drums. Then I finished those 10 for the 10 weeks between mid-March and the end of May, and so on.

While I was going fast, I was also writing and arranging with surround parts in mind, so things took way longer than they should have with certain things. I mentioned the steel drum layering, I was also doing that with steel rhythms so rather than playing 4 notes in a row, I would record them separately so that each would have clean decay and could be coming from a different spot. Same with percussion and drums. The song-a-week thing makes people assume they are all simple demos, but they turned out to be much more layered than stuff I normally write or work on. It would be fair to say that my quarantine/isolation started in late 2018.
:LB
The convenience of the Kemper makes complete sense. It’s an invaluable recording and performance tool. I noticed that Bruce Soord had one in his studio during his recent Life In Surround interview.
 

popshop

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@J. PUPSTER haha, yep my little red bean hasn't been used in a while. But hey those are really fun too.
@The56Kid yep I noticed that and Cubase too. In his home video from this week I noticed he has the really cool footswitch, volume, and expression pedals. Fancy!
I bought mine because I was touring with the Auto Club playing upright, and also playing in Cooke band doing Queen/Bowie songs, so I needed an Ampeg, Vox, and Marshall and I didn't want to carry anything. Kempers are great because they weigh next to nothing. I have a case for mine (rackmount) and it feels empty. I can carry it with one hand and something in the other and be set for the gig.
They are most commonly used for live theater/festival/stadium bands because the sound is consistent every night for in-ear monitors, the FOH engineer, and the audience. A lot of bands started using them because it was more difficult to find rental gear in certain countries. Many use dummy or backup cabinets so it still looks loud, but really it is a glorified DI box.
One disadvantage is if it gets unplugged, it has to start up again for a minute or so like a computer. Not great if it happens in the middle of a show. Heyo!
 
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jimfisheye

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I had a quick listen.
There are the mixes revered by most and then there are the surround disasters you'll see panned around here by most on the extremes. The short version is your mixes are closer to the real ones than the disasters. :)

Not my style musically so I wasn't drawn in by that. Although one of the tracks had a little bit of psychedelia which perked up my ears for a moment.

Critiques: Kick drum is buried. There's a dry sound in general with sounds crammed into the speakers and not really jumping out at you but then an artificial reverb sound on top of that. Getting the kick in the mix and finessing that reverb component (and perhaps with some delay reflection work) would cross some of the last t's and dot the last i's.
 

humprof

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Chiming in belatedly, Ian--I don't know why this has been sitting on my "get to this" stack for so long.

I agree with @sjcorne: this is totally pro. @jimfisheye may be right about the i’s and t’s (especially about the kick, which could pop a little more--although on the other hand, this is a voice-and-guitar record, not a garage-band record). But even so I think this is ready for prime time. We can all think of plenty of people we’d like to see hire you to mix their stuff. (And that includes plenty of big-timers whose existing surround mixes would benefit from a do-over.) Anyway, I think your overall approach is great. Good balance, imaginative use of the rears. Wonderfully layered. I love that you were writing with surround in mind.

The title track is a high point for me: beautiful and spare. Great balance between lead and harmony vocals, percussion and guitars clean and distinct and nicely distributed, etc. Perfect.

To Be: I like the occasional subtleties like the jangly guitar accents in the right rear. I might give the steel pan (hang drum?) a little more prominence.

While We Can: not my favorite tune, but I dig the way the many different guitar parts are spread around (and occasionally move around) the four corners. (I didn’t catch the first version, but I think you’ve got the “heavy” balance just fine on this one.)

Still: the bass circling around the room in the opening bars--cool, not gimmicky. (I love the arco bass in the rears on "For the Future" and “Where We Go,” by the way. Also the call-and-answer guitar on the latter.)

Ghost: my least favorite tune on the album. But also kind of rears-heavy?

Light: intricate percussion interplay.

Thanks for sharing this. Put me down as an enthusiastic buyer!
 

popshop

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Thanks! Yep I think I kinda missed my window between the Tidal of all pandemic things happening ;)
I just retreated further into my rabbit hole and have been mixing and writing more songs.
I have also been tweaking things here and there on From The Light... in general adding a bit more kick presence, and a bit less synth/bass activity in the rears, thinking of small rear speakers being fairly common.
I had to take a break too. It's a bit much being surrounded by so many layers of myself for too long.
:SB
I appreciate the comments and support! I would love to be hired, and am working on another band's 5.1 mix currently.
Surprises in due time ;)
 

Ranasakawa

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My girlfriend and I finally sat down to have a good listen. The surround sounds are excellent especially the use of instruments. We feel that the vocals are the weakness of these tracks.
 
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