Might as well...not shit else going on here. I'm pretty sure I've posted this song before, but the mix has come a long way I think, so tell me if you think its any good. After a thread over at the reaper forums it was suggested that I was cutting too much bass/sub-bass out of the mix, so I made a version that added a ton of that back in at the risk of muddying things up. So here's that version & the one right before it that brought on that suggestion. Which sounds better? Oh, I had put some compression & a limiter on the master to bring the volume up but I'm pretty sure it was crushing dynamics and causing too much static, so I took them back off because I don't REALLY care if the tracks are a little quiet right now.
Hmmm, I like the one with less bass better.
Here's what I'd do. Keep that second mix with less bass, and add in mostly just some sub lows (between 50-80 hz). Nothing else. Either add it to the entire mix, or just the bass guitar. High pass everything else, maybe even the kick drum at around 80 hz. This sometimes can retain some clarity while still adding depth to the mix, and enough bass that when you're listening to it you can hear a little bit of a "shake" without it being all boomy.
Also, something I've learned. You always hear "it's not the gear!"...but to some degree, it is the gear. You sound like you might be a little limited with your drum sounds and Pod tones. I'd consider investing in some drum sounds (Steven Slate, Superior Drummer with some add on, LSD drums...something popular that is mix ready). And work on making the drum sounds more human. That'll be a huuuuge step in the right direction. Then, either figure out how to use some free amp sims, or really sit down dial in a tone with your Pod (you have an HD, right?). The HD is cool, and sounds good live, but it hasn't been until a little more recently that I realized it's slightly lackluster. You can get just as good or better with the free amp sims available.
How are you recording bass? It's actually quite simple: record it DI, and make sure you're using your interface properly and plugging into with a DI box, or depending on your interface, selecting an "instrument" setting. Night and day difference when your DIs are recorded correctly, not subtle cork sniffery at all. I didn't know this until a few months ago, now I feel like an idiot for recording with a muffled tone all the time and wondering why my bass tone sucks. Messing with too many bass cabs/complex bass tones I find makes you get further away from what the bass should be doing, and gives you more complex frequencies that are harder to mix with. Just a straight DI bass tone with some distortion is all you need--try the free TSE BOD bass overdrive plugin on your DI. Turn up the drive and mess with the blend knob. Pick hard and you have an exceptional bass tone for any use.
Let me give you some god damn REAL TALK. Unless you're happy with these demos, they aren't going to get any better unless you get at least decent quality gear and learn how to use it (which isn't hard, I could show you some of the basics). That drum tone is laying the foundation for a fairly boring sound production wise, and your guitars are kind of centered and lacking detail. The playing and writing is awesome, just need to up the ante and research a teeeny bit harder on how to get some better sounds.
Yeah this was recorded with the PodXT, since I got the HD I haven't had enough time to dial in real tones and record with them and currently my guitars are still in Afghanistan while I'm living transient in Qatar & flying all over the place waiting on my apartment in Dubai. The drums are Steven Slate, SSD3.5. I'm not a huge fan of them, but I got them for 20 bucks on sale. I might eventually get superior drummer but don't have 300$ for it right now. The bass was also recorded through the Pod, didn't know about DI recording at the time. I don't play with a pick, tried it for a while when messing with the HD but I think I'll go back to fingers. I spent a good amount of time going for a clankier/grindier/more 'metallic' tone out of the bass but every time I got what I thought I wanted, I still liked the smoother/rounder tone that I've had from the start better. When I get going with the HD I will be recording a dry signal for all the instruments alongside the wet.
Trust me, I'm quite aware of what you're saying in the second half of your post. The guitar tone I have to work with in these recordings is what pisses me off the most. I've gotten to a point with the drums that "I" like them, they have definitely come a long way from where I started. I haven't taken the time (and honestly don't understand drumming technique well enough) to try and humanize the midi at all, and neither has my drummer. So there are SOME velocity changes and things like that, but overall its just a perfect drum machine throughout the track, which adds more to your 'these don't sound human' point. Personally it doesn't really bother me, and by that I mean I barely even notice that effect.
The guitar tones are hard-panned left & right, each double-tracked. The tones are different, but similar enough that they still overlap eachother in a lot of spots. Once I get the chance to build some better tones on the HD and record with my Agile rather than the 7321 with shitty stock pickups a lot of that should be corrected and easier to mix.
Also should have noted, I didn't take a lot of time figuring out where to add & cut bass for the 'way more bass' mix. It was in the midst of discussion at the reaper. There were a couple mentions of not having enough low-end moving around making the mix very flat even it is bright and clear. So I went through and 'rough-drafted' this version with boosted lows. I dropped all the HPF's on my cymbals from around 500 to around 120, dropped the master HPF from around 80 to 60, put a boost right at 60 and also used the HPF to put a slight boost around 60-100 before it slopes off. I reduced the HPF on the bass from around 180 to 80, but boost on the kick around 60, and brought the guitar HPF's up from 180ish to 300ish. Might have done a few other things but you get the picture...I didn't scientifically go about any of this, I just went through the track and adjusted all this shit to whim to see a difference between high-passing everything and having almost nothing going on below 80hz and very little beyond the kick drum between 80 & 160 VS pushing the shit out of the low end all over the track. I personally am divided on the two mixes, but in that it served its purpose. I know I want more low end moving around the track, so now I need to fine-tune it more and figure out exactly where I do & don't want that low end to come from and how much of it I want there to be.
So some god damned REAL TALK, I haven't been in the same country for more than a week at a time in the past 2 months or more. Working on these mixes passes the time and the more I tweak them the more I learn about the process in general. I absolutely know I need to redo the recordings with better equipment and with a different approach to almost all of it. And I can't do much more than come to terms with the fact that my drums are going to sound like a machine and until I'm ready to fork out more money or scour the internet for free samples and figure out how to make them interact with my Kontakt library (or do away with the SSD kit all together and use all free samples, which I don't really feel like dealing with) they really aren't going to sound MUCH better than where they're at right now. The EQ will continue to get tweaked, and I think re-recording the guitar & bass will allow a better drum tone in the mix, but they're pretty much what I have to work with for a while. I AM happy with these tracks in that I've impressed myself with how far I've come from where I started and that I have music recorded that I can enjoy listening to and not be embarassed by the quality when I show other people. However no way in fuck-all would I ever call these a finished product no matter what I do with the recorded material. The pod tones suck way too much for that not to mention I'm still not finished tweaking the material itself to be more interesting. It would be like turning in a rough draft for your final thesis.
defensive post aside, I get where you're coming from and appreciate the input. I'll definitely be giving what you mentioned in the first paragraph a try. For right now I've switched from having kontakt send each drum to a separate track in reaper to leaving all of the drums inside kontakt and editing them there. Limits me a lot on how deeply I can edit each drum, but makes the whole process a fuck-lot easier especially for sending back & forth to the drummer. Honestly I think doing that (which in turn forced me to delete the compressors that I had on every fucking piece of the drum kit, which I'm sure was the underlying issue) was probably the biggest step I've made recently toward a better overall sound. If you go to my main soundcloud stream and listen to the oldest mixes on the list...I think the difference is night and day overall.
Aaah, makes sense. And yeah, sounds like you got a handle on this. And, last night I couldn't listen to it very loud--now that I'm listening at full volume it's definitely not bad in the slightest. Still like the not-bassy one more, but with just a teeny bit of sub lows it'd sound sweet.
Thanks, I didn't mean to sound like a dick, just one of those posts that rambled on I guess. I can definitely see the strengths of the older clip vs the bassy one...more clarity & more separation between the instruments & whatnot...I'm just trying to get to where I can retain some/all of that but also have the bass/sub-bass freq's to drive it all a little harder.
However...I'm still liking the way more bass more :P I'm messing with it right now though, hunting the 'correct' frequencies down to boost & cut is already making a difference. I had both the kick and the snare boosted where there wasn't really shit going on.
That said, I'm playing with a SLIGHT (ok not really, 1.7dB) boost at 40hz and large (4.4!) at 70hz on the kick (edit: Removed the 40hz boost, it was a bad idea. Brought the 70hz boost down to around 1.5). I re-did the high end of the kick as well, a little less of that death-metal click that I still love, but overall better I believe. In the OP I had like a 60hz wider-q boost on the kick and then 125 for the snare, which is now at 165hz. Etc etc etc...I also completely re-did the toms & I think they're much better now as well. Had all 4 of those fuckers boosted at like 60-90hz with random boosts in the high-mid section, now they each have a frequency notch between 140 (and a small bump at 75 on the floor tom) and 205 in ascending order. The cymbals I don't fuck with, they've each got a HPF but its not very strong on them (I don't notice much difference wherever its set) and thats it.
Granted, with these samples it seems to take some rather large boost & cut to get anything anywhere. I know everyone says SSD is 'mix ready' but I find that it really takes a lot of experimenting with layering kick & snare samples and then EQ'ing the shit out of them to get what I want.
And I would probably totally agree with you at lower volumes...I'm not sure if its just the way I have/had everything mixed or if its just natural (haven't really compared it to 'real' music for this particular thing) but at lower volumes the bass definitely takes the fuck over.
Oh I also put more of the high-end back in the guitars, I had LPF's on each around 5k, bumped them back up to 6k. I also brought their HPF's back up to 200 from the 100 I had them at in the OP.
I only have my sennheisers on me at the moment though. I can't tell if they give SUCH a clear representation of the low-end that I'm not used to it and can't interpret what its going to translate to on regular speakers, or if they just don't push as much low-end energy and so I don't hear just how loud the lows are. But either way I have a harder time setting the bass guitar level with them and making sure there's not too much low end. I usually check against my regular apple earbuds and/or a car stereo after I mix with these but right now I'm not inclined to go through the trouble...its time to pass out.
I've tried uploading 3 times now, its taking forever and either won't process or won't save/publish, so I give up. I'm taking it as a sign that I need to revisit it tomorrow and adjust something before posting again :P
edit: Alright, changed a few more things (hi-hat was too loud but only when played on the 'semi-open' notes so I dropped the velocity on those and tried 6% humanization of the velocity on them as well. Brought the bass HPF up a slight bit more to around 160-180, changed the sub-bass boost on the master eq a bit etc etc. Right now I'm thinking this is a pretty sweet mix. It sounds to me like I've managed to bring in a lot of power in the low end while keeping clarity throughout the mix. If it sounds different to you tell me (and what type of system you're listening on).
Admission: I'm starting to hear (and subsequently be annoyed by) the non-humanness of the drums, but only in the cymbals. The kick doesn't bother me being machined, I dig the consistency there honestly. The snare, to me, doesn't sound TOO terribly machined, I think the dynamics settings in Kontakt are doing enough for it. But the cymbals....identical sound, every hit, it's starting to bug the shit out of me.
you win this round Kirk...
I'm pretty damn happy with the overall mix at this point, maybe just need to brighten the guitars back up a bit if I can, but I dig the tone there enough as is and they don't honestly have a lot of useable high end anyways.
So I guess now ill focus my attention on trying to intelligently humanize the drums (i.e. Not just select the track and hit humanize)
edit: if you read the previous post before I edited it, hit read more again, I uploaded a new mix with a much better low end.