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Mixing with depth?

Discussion in 'Studio Techniques' started by jayfolland, Jun 1, 2010.

  1. jayfolland

    jayfolland Member


    I can't seem to figure out how i get to that stage where everything seems to be on there designated planes (1 through to 4). Im assuming its no one trick but lots of littler %'s adding up together to make the whole mix sound spaced right.
    So i was wondering if anyone knew of some great DVD's on going through and mixing a track?

    Also any tips would be great as well, Thanks.

  3. SubBlack

    SubBlack New Member

    That's a big question with a lot of different answers. What kind of music are you mixing? What gear are you using to mix? And could you give more detail about what you mean by 'planes 1 through 4?'

    For a basic rock mix, compression and eq can go a long way. As a starting point, start with mixing just the drums and bass, and mute any other tracks. Let's say your bass musically solid but sonically weak. Put a compressor on the track, and turn on the track eq. With just these two plugs, you could go two ways:

    1. Compress, then eq. Use the compressor to dial in a good sounding level on the bass. Then use the eq to fine-tune, or shape the sound of the bass. This might bring the bass more forward in the mix.

    2. Eq, then compress. Use the eq to perform steep cuts or boosts on the bass, and then use the compressor to control the overall level of the bass throughout the track. This might move unwanted noise from the bass to the background.

    Occasionally turn the rest of the track on/off to see if your song is improving or getting worse. Like anything else, achieving these balancing skills take practice. There's one place to start, maybe someone has other suggestions?
  4. Jay Asher

    Jay Asher Senior member

    If you using a lot of stereo audio tracks, the Direction Mixer plugin is your friend.
  5. SubBlack

    SubBlack New Member

  6. jayfolland

    jayfolland Member

    Direction Mixer, Thanks for the tip both Jay and Sub

    In class the other day my lecturer was refereing to planes, he was mentioning how the kick, vox and bass might be on 1, other drums on 2 (maybe) etc etc. I was under the impression it was a convention but seeing you asked maybe it was something he made up to explain it to us in a way that we understood him, I'm not sure?

    Im only using plugins on logic to mix, and interms of gear just a keyboard/stage piano, drum machine, digi 003, Monitors and some SRH840.
    I probably do a different track everytime so i can't give an exact genre but i can say that i do like music where sounds do occupy there own space, and instruments aren't fighting each other.
    So i gues if i use dance music as a reference (i don't make dance music though) when i listen to a dance track the kick is in it's own space the bass is nicely in front of the kick or behind, and all the other instruments are in there own space.
    Thanks for the Steps on the Bass "Subblank" highly appreciated.

    Direction Mixer
    I read that article, it's quite interesting, i did not know that.
    I listned to some of JayAsher's tracks and that is what im talking about, the space.
    I do get a bit of space in my tracks but not as much, there is something that is not quite the the same, Tightness and clarity in the space with out sounding over Effected/proccesed?
  7. mark Ainsworth

    mark Ainsworth New Member

    I was listening to a foo fighters track today on my monitor headphones and the mix was amazing. As you say everything had it's place and no instruments were fighting for space. But what I want to know is how do you get the vocal track to sound like it's slightly behind you.
  8. Pete Thomas

    Pete Thomas Administrator Staff Member

    I would ask him what he means. When thinking about "depth" I would not think of kick or bass as on the same "plane" as vocals. It actually sounds like he meant panning, as conventionally the bass, kick and vox are bang in the middle and other tracks panned around - so maybe he means plane 1 is centre, plane 2 is a bit left or right, plane 3 is quite a lot left and right, plan 4 is hard panned.

    If this is the case it makes some sense, but I would not call it "depth" but stereo image.

    I think of depth as placing things close or further away and I would do this primarily with room reverb, but as mentioned above EQ and compression can also come into play.

    One thing I learnt is that if you want to give instruments the impression of being further away, then obviously more room is useful, but also a bit less top and possibly less predelay on the room.

    The way to visualise the latter is imagine sitting just in front of a stage. You hear the dry signal straight away, followed by the first echoes off the wall at the back of the room. This is predelay.

    But if you are sitting at the back of the auditorium right by the back wall, the sound from the band reaches you at practically the same time as the echo off the wall just behind, so no or little predelay.
  9. jayfolland

    jayfolland Member

    Hey Pete, thanks for that much appreciated.

    BTW, that sponge bob track you done is cool as, i like.
  10. SubBlack

    SubBlack New Member

    Oh I get you, that makes sense. I don't know if that's a common convention or not, but it's a good way to explain it. So here's another good question for ya: Do you imagine the sound of the music from the perspective of someone in the audience, or do you imagine it from the perspective of someone on stage in the middle of it all?

    I work on a lot of surround projects that are supposed to occur in different spaces, so I would imagine my audio field to be a particular 'shape' based on the project. For example, my mix of a live rock show would have a totally different spatialization than a radio or dvd mix. But more often than not, I imagine most of my mixes to be contained in a sphere.

    Hmm...two separate issues there: 1. Clarity 2. Space

    Clarity might come from the basics, like making sure all your tracks are relatively tight. Zoom waaaay in on a point in your song where you expect instruments such as bass/drums/gtr/vocals/etc to come in at the same time. Zoom seriously far in, if they're off, start snipping or read up on FlexTime (I'm loving FlexTime, btw).

    Space might come from any number of places such as compression, eq, short delays, reverb...Here are some FREE plug-ins that might help you achieve space:

    1. Can't say enough about the fine folks at Brainworx. They make an eq with a pretty sick M/S section (that actually works!). There are two free dl's here, one called bx solo and bx cleansweep, check it here:

    2. And here's one that is simpler but a little heavier, sounds good on dance music:

    That last one is easy to over-use, I can't count the number of times I've listened to a mix the next day and had to go back in and dial that one down a notch. Anyway there are some ideas, hope that helps.

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