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Looking for mixing/mastering feedback

Akarin

digitalcomposing.com
Hey all. Not sure if this is the right place to post but it didn't seem to fit the "members composition" forum.

I've made a short 20 secs track to practice mixing and mastering. I'm quite new to this.


Could you please give me some feedback on the sound (not the composition, it took me roughly 30 mins to make)? I've been using several apps to train my ears, and I don't think I can hear more than what I've done here. Been using Cubase stock plugins on this one (and Spaces 2) to get a working understanding of compression, EQ, limiting, etc.

What do you hear that I don't and that could be made better? My goal is to submit to places like Audiojungle but all my orchestral and hybrid tracks have been rejected so far (although my shitty 16 bars EDM loops have mostly been accepted). I'd like to reach a point where it sounds "professional".

Thanks!

EDIT: Here's a link to a 320Kbps MP3: https://www.dropbox.com/s/7mbowk1g8y4zqb9/Mix and Master.mp3?dl=0
 
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aaronventure

Senior Member
I'd ask you to post a link to either a 320kbps MP3 or a WAV in Dropbox (or a similar file sharing service).

Also, what are your references? What do you want the mix to sound like? John Williams/Shawn Murphy, Hans Zimmer?
 
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Akarin

Akarin

digitalcomposing.com
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I'd ask you to post a link to either a 320kbps MP3 or a WAV in Dropbox (or a similar file sharing service).

Also, what are your references? What do you want the mix to sound like? John Williams/Shawn Murphy, Hans Zimmer?

Thanks, I've updated the post with a 320Kbp MP3 link.

Ideally, I'd like to sound like me, so I didn't use a reference track for this one. But if I had to say, I'd like to go towards something like the orchestral pieces of Thomas Bergersen (non-hybrid) such as American Dream.
 

aaronventure

Senior Member
The very first thing I'd do is reduce the compression. Whether it's limiting, your master compressor or units on busses, cut the GR by half. It's really not necessary and just ruins your audio by pumping.

Then you have this massive buildup at 200Hz. Is that a continuous drum roll? If you want that, move some of the frequencies to the sub region (just EQ it) and bring it down a bit.

I also think you're missing 2dB of high end. If you think that the hits are coming in too sharp with that amount of gain, use a multiband compressor to handle the peaks in that band (don't have more than 2dB GR, since that's what you just added).

Here's a 5-minute take this short snip of yours to have an idea of the direction I'm talking about. Mind that it's mp3 into another mp3 conversion.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/o334vqlmqu1blay/Akarin.mp3?dl=0
 
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Akarin

Akarin

digitalcomposing.com
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The very first thing I'd do is reduce the compression. Whether it's limiting, your master compressor or units on busses, cut the GR by half. It's really not necessary and just ruins your audio by pumping.

Then you have this massive buildup at 200Hz. Is that a continuous drum roll? If you want that, move some of the frequencies to the sub region (just EQ it) and bring it down a bit.

I also think you're missing 2dB of high end. If you think that the hits are coming in too sharp with that amount of gain, use a multiband compressor to handle the peaks in that band (don't have more than 2dB GR, since that's what you just added).

Here's a 5-minute take this short snip of yours to have an idea of the direction I'm talking about. Mind that it's mp3 into another mp3 conversion.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/o334vqlmqu1blay/Akarin.mp3?dl=0

Wow... I'm floored. This is really awesome feedback. Yes, it's a continuous low taiko roll in the low end. Back to the drawing board right now! Most of your feedback is on things I can't hear, though so I know what to train as well.

Thanks a lot.
 

robgb

Inspiration is for amateurs
I hear a lot of space, but no individual space between the instruments. To my mind—and this is my opinion only—when mixing orchestral work we shouldn't necessarily be looking to imitate the sound of an actual onstage orchestra, but treat the instruments much as we would in a pop or rock recording, giving them more definition and a space of their own. For example, the percussion in your piece just sounds like a wash of low rumble in the background and has no real presence otherwise. A lot of the lack of clarity may well be due to the shit ton of reverb you've put on everything. I'd definitely dial that back by at least half. If the libraries you're working with have baked-in reverb, you may be out of luck, but it's something to consider.
 
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Akarin

Akarin

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I hear a lot of space, but no individual space between the instruments. To my mind—and this is my opinion only—when mixing orchestral work we shouldn't necessarily be looking to imitate the sound of an actual onstage orchestra, but treat the instruments much as we would in a pop or rock recording, giving them more definition and a space of their own. For example, the percussion in your piece just sounds like a wash of low rumble in the background and has no real presence otherwise. A lot of the lack of clarity may well be due to the shit ton of reverb you've put on everything. I'd definitely dial that back by at least half. If the libraries you're working with have baked-in reverb, you may be out of luck, but it's something to consider.

Thanks for this. I'll dial some of the reverb down and see what happens as well. I used Spaces 2, filtered around 160 Hz (hard to tell exactly, Spaces 2 doesn't show values), instrument specific ones. So I may have sent a bit too much to them (-15 dB on the strings, for example).
 

Beat Kaufmann

Senior Member
Hello Akarin
I have allowed myself to compare Bergersen with your example.
Over 200Hz everything is very similar in sound (also concerning the reverb and the wind instruments)
Under 200 Hz. Everything is different compared to Bergersen.
There is a kind of bass-garbage sound. If you listen to this separately, it sounds like this: Mix and Master_Muell.mp3
So you have to pretty much "clean up" the mix in this frequency range.

I also have another tip:
Instruments should also be staggered in depth. If you simply put Space II over the whole orchestra, everything just sounds closer or farther away in the currently selected venue. It is better to simulate a few different room depths and then to provide the appropriate instruments with the correct depth of space. This effect may even be exaggerated!
See / oder All the best
Beat
 

Lassi Tani

Senior Member
Nice piece! Though you could use the percussion more sparingly. Many times a mixing/mastering issue is actually an orchestration issue. Do you really need that taiko roll in the background? Couldn't you use the roll just for highlights, so that it won't cover other instruments?

I try to use percussion mostly for accents, not for grooves. In your piece you've got plenty of rhythm in strings.
 

pderbidge

Senior Member
Thanks, I've updated the post with a 320Kbp MP3 link.

Ideally, I'd like to sound like me, so I didn't use a reference track for this one. But if I had to say, I'd like to go towards something like the orchestral pieces of Thomas Bergersen (non-hybrid) such as American Dream.

You will always sound like you, there is no way around it, so don't worry about that. Using a reference track has nothing to do with sounding like someone else but rather getting your "mix" to sound the way a pro would mix it. Find a reference that is closest to how you would like that particular piece to sound and use it. This will only help you to get closer to the sound you want.
I'm not a pro mix engineer by any stretch but have learned a ton from some very good mix engineers as well as a LOT of online resources so I would recommend, if you haven't already, to look up some of the free stuff on Youtube by these guys:

The Recording Revolution
Musician on a Mission
Produce like a Pro
Pensado's Place
Waves has a lot of good tips and tricks on their website as well.


Even though these guys aren't mixing orchestral mockups, there is a lot you will learn about the tools you have in your DAW and once you understand how to work with your mixing tools you will start to listen to your track and identify the tool that will get you the results you're looking for. Mixing is tricky because it's all about subtle tweaks that add up to a the final result and you do have to train your ear to hear the subtle tweaks. The biggest difference in mixing orchestral mixes vs a pop/rock track that you'll see these guys work on is that you would use a lot less compression than they do to spare the dynamics that are necessary in an orchestral piece. There are exceptions as always and if you really put an extra focus on learning to master your compressor you will figure out when you need more compression or less compression.

I know I'm not supposed to comment on the composition but... I like it. It seems just as worthy as anything else I've heard being promoted by libraries.
 
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Akarin

Akarin

digitalcomposing.com
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Hello Akarin
I have allowed myself to compare Bergersen with your example.
Over 200Hz everything is very similar in sound (also concerning the reverb and the wind instruments)
Under 200 Hz. Everything is different compared to Bergersen.
There is a kind of bass-garbage sound. If you listen to this separately, it sounds like this: Mix and Master_Muell.mp3
So you have to pretty much "clean up" the mix in this frequency range.

I also have another tip:
Instruments should also be staggered in depth. If you simply put Space II over the whole orchestra, everything just sounds closer or farther away in the currently selected venue. It is better to simulate a few different room depths and then to provide the appropriate instruments with the correct depth of space. This effect may even be exaggerated!
See / oder All the best
Beat

Hello, fellow Swiss :-p

Yes, the "bass garbage" comes from the low taiko rolls. I went a bit heavy on this one. As for Spaces, I didn't put it over the whole orchestra. I used the instrument specific reverbs on different busses and sent the relevant tracks to them.

Thanks for taking the time to review. Very helpful.
 
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Akarin

Akarin

digitalcomposing.com
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You will always sound like you, there is no way around it, so don't worry about that. Using a reference track has nothing to do with sounding like someone else but rather getting your "mix" to sound the way a pro would mix it. Find a reference that is closest to how you would like that particular piece to sound and use it. This will only help you to get closer to the sound you want.
I'm not a pro mix engineer by any stretch but have learned a ton from some very good mix engineers as well as a LOT of online resources so I would recommend, if you haven't already, to look up some of the free stuff on Youtube by these guys:

The Recording Revolution
Musician on a Mission
Produce like a Pro
Pensado's Place
Waves has a lot of good tips and tricks on their website as well.


Even though these guys aren't mixing orchestral mockups, there is a lot you will learn about the tools you have in your DAW and once you understand how to work with your mixing tools you will start to listen to your track and identify the tool that will get you the results you're looking for. Mixing is tricky because it's all about subtle tweaks that add up to a the final result and you do have to train your ear to hear the subtle tweaks. The biggest difference in mixing orchestral mixes vs a pop/rock track that you'll see these guys work on is that you would use a lot less compression than they do to spare the dynamics that are necessary in an orchestral piece. There are exceptions as always and if you really put an extra focus on learning to master your compressor you will figure out when you need more compression or less compression.

I know I'm not supposed to comment on the composition but... I like it. It seems just as worthy as anything else I've heard being promoted by libraries.

Thanks for the resources. I know most of them and yes, they are great. I'm currently training my ears too by using a bunch of iOS apps, so I hope to hear more in the future.
 

pderbidge

Senior Member
Aren't we all. It's a neverending battle. Even when your ears are trained they become accustomed to it so it's important to take a break and come back with new ears. No matter how good your ears are this will happen. Trying new things and screwing up your mix is how you learn though so always save multiple versions of your mix so you can go back.
 
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