Melodic minimal

Pretty simple song. It’s supposed to be quiet and deep and unobtrusive. So I tried to not too cut too much in the low end, which I was lately doing too much. There’s also quite some hi-passing and de-essing to avoid that sharp, metallic sound my songs usually get. Also less compression. Instead I use rather light compressors + limiters to keep things under control.

Reverbs and delays are hi-passed as well, lo-passed, again with a de-esser to soften the attack, and sidechained and a bit distorted.

So far it sounds ok-ish, I think. Maybe too low, and the room is weird, and the drums could be more sophisticated.

The quiet & deep listening mood is there for me, nice atmosphere created by the synth sounds as well as the vocals. To my listening there’s a balance issue between those elements and the drums & bass. Everything synths, atmo & vocals is much louder than the drums & especially the bass. If you have enough head room, I would try to level up the bass & the drums, if not, then take the issue the other way around and level down synth, vocals & atmo sounds.

Agree that the drums could be more sophisticated but it’s more obvious with the bass line for me, same pattern all over the track, no part with variation or no bass, while a repetitive bass pattern it’s an important element to bring that kind of hypnotic feel to the listener in such track, I think it’s a bit too much, could be more interesting to make some variations.

Kick is maybe a bit too bright & sharp for the track, you could try to tune it down or use another one but try to get that overall mix balance right first.

Hope this helps :wink:

Cheers !

Thanks. Makes sense. Some weeks ago I took some songs to a friend who has a more professional sound system (well, I have headphones). And it all sounded awful, the techno, the synthwave, everything. Pretty much agreeing with the eq setting you sent me for a previous song: too many highs in that ugly 3khz area and lows weirdly too much and too little at the same time.

Later I made this song, paying mucho attention to those higher frequencies, and took it again to my friend’s techno-hut. His verdict similar to yours: less annoying than before but the drums&bass section could be even stronger. I guess my current technique is suboptimal: first I try to fit the snare/clap to the kick, then the bass to the drums, and in the end I set the combined drums&bass to a volume where the snare/clap compared with all melodic instruments is present but partly disappears when all melodic instruments are at their loudest. It’s still a mystery.

Another thing he said is that I have “too many synths”. Usually, when things get too boring for my taste, I tend to add another melody. In this song I tried to avoid that synth and melody stacking, but now, as you say, it becomes quite obvious that the bass is just a loop. Not sure if it’s a skill problem or a problem of not having the patience to do more than just loops. Probably both.

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I don’t know what’s your own opinion about the progress you made so far, but to me, as a listener, I think you improved a lot. I remember older tracks posted here for feedback that where sounding quite muddy, with a lack of clarity & definition and suffering from frequencies masking. This has changed a lot since in my opinion. Maybe it’s time to ask yourself about your monitoring now. I know that most of us don’t have the luxury to build the perfect setup in the perfect room, but it’s important to find a solution that at least you can “trust”. If you can’t do otherwise than mixing on headphones I think that getting a “trusty” model really helps. Models like the Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 250 Ohms are very affordable now, the only draw back with such closed-back headphones is the lack of stereo imaging and lesser space definition, open headphones like the Sennheiser HD 600 are better for this, they belong to older models from the brand now, so they are also less expensive than before and still very praised. One or the other coupled with Sonarworks Reference is defintiely something that will help a ton. Adding monitors is also something to think about, I won’t see myself mixing 100% on headphones ( I used a closed back model ), I like to have that notion of space & stereo imaging and I find listening on monitors is the right solution for that. Have you heard about the brand Kali Audio and their LP monoitors series ? They are very affordable and seem to be a reliable solution, and again used with Sonarworks Reference, it can drasticly changed the way you’re monitoring and what you’re listening.

I’ll be honnest, it’s kind of weird to start using Sonarworks Reference, but it’s a matter of time and listening to tracks that you know well and you’ll then start to see the benefits of it.

For mixing thecnique, well there’s no secret, it’s a kind of art and it takes a lot of time and practice to get it right. What I think is good to keep in mind is the audio workflow in any DAW : first is your source, then your effect chain on the channel, then your channel fader and finally your master fader. Many times it’s not enough to adjust channels faders to get a good balance, it’s sometime more efficient to act on the source gain ( sample level, soft-synth output ) and it’s also good to use a gain utility on the channel instead of tweaking too much your channel fader. DAWs faders are based on logaritmic scales and they also tempt to measure peaks levels rather than average levels such as RMS or loudness.

Check this video.

So in the end they are more accurate when used around 0 dB, if you start to have your DAW faders all over the place accross channels and with huge values either up or down, then there’s somethng wrong with the source material level, so that’s where adjusting the source level and also using a gain utility before the channel fader makes sense.

And there’s also other things than just levels, for synths for example, as your friend mentioned “too much synths” it can simply be that the sound is already too huge, taking too much space in the mix, and many times it’s just a matter of closing the fliter or reduce the spread or the intensity of the synth plugin built in effects like chorus, delays, compressor, reverb…

I think I already mentioned this, but do check Phil Johnston’s course on Fundametals of Mixing

For the arrangment part, progression and things like bass line and drums parts variations, it’s mainly something you’ll get better at if you use reference tracks and if you take the time to deconstruct many reference mixes.

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Listening to this song now with some days distance, si, there is clearly some progress. The drums are indeed too quiet and the kick has too much “tok tok”, but it doesn’t seem to suffer from my usual problems: a metallic, harsh sound and being overly loud. I changed many things over the last months and it looks like it’s finally going in the right direction. Seeing that eq you sent me once and understanding that one needs to pay attention to the high end, and combining that with at least trying to make it fit in mono and a softer approach to compressors/limiters somehow solves the biggest problems. It’s nice.

With regards to me using only headphones, it’s really not ideal. I cannot buy speakers because I’m moving every few months and they won’t fit into my pairs of suitcases. The headphones I have are not bad, but my ears are not 16 anymore. There is some clear hearing loss in the higher frequencies and wearing headphones for hours is not healthy at all. Well, it is what it is. Let’s see what the virus is doing and if I’ll get me a real flat next year.

This Sonarwork Reference, I had a look, but is it like the eq match function in Fabfilter Q or Izotope Ozone?

Btw, thanks for the video. I’m using Voxengo Span for years and like so many other plugins I never spent much time on trying to understand its functions.

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Ah yes, of course if you’re moving quite often, monitors are definitely not a suitable option. Headphones aren’t ideal either but I believe it’s possible to get very decent work using them, as long as they are reliable. That’s why I suggested the previous mentioned Beyer Dynamic DT-770 pro.

For Sonarworks, no it’s something different than EQ matching. In your case, it will be the Headphones edition ( you can demo it BTW ) and you then have 2 options : buying or sending your headphones in order to get a dedicated calibration profile for it or using the “average Model” calibration profile : you need to use a headphone that’s in their supported models list.

What it does in both cases ( with more stereo definition & calibration correction curve accuracy for the custom calibrated models VS using an average calibration profile ) is applying a corrective EQ curve before the final audio output based on a previous “custom” or “average” headphone model calibration. So if your missing low end it will be increased, if you have too much mids they’ll be lower down…etc in order to match the flattest response curve as possible.

You set the plugin as the very last effect on your master and you need to disable/bypass it before rendering yuour final audio of course. Next to the plugin, they also have a “system Wide” application that you can use as your default audio system output and will allow you to listen anything ( from local audio files to Spotify or whatever internet audio source ) with headphones correction on.

You can download a full 21days demo here ( you just need to select the headphones version during installation, not the “Reference Studio” install which is for monitors and measurement mic.

Turns out my headphones are an older model of that beyer dynamic dt … pro. Thought it was some no-name brand. ^^ So far it looks pretty interesting. I listened to some songs on Youtube and switching bypass on and off, it makes sense. It’s basically telling me that my headphones push lots of high frequencies down and adds a wide boost around 100hz. If this is correct, it would mean that my corrections would lead to a weaker bass instrument and a overall harsher, brighter sound. Which is kind of what I was observing when I listened to my songs on my friend’s sound system. I’ll do some mixes and visit him again. If it really works, boy… Thanks.

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