Random house, playing around with a different approach to place things


I was playing around the last weeks, trying to find a way to make my songs sound less shite. Main issue for me is always: I create a song and I like it. Then comes the stage where I add all the effects, the eqs, compressors, the reverbs, especially the reverbs. And that stage I call “butchering”. Things become a loud, harsh sound soup where nothing is really visible.

So, in this song I’m experimenting with a different approach:

  • Predominantly mono effects with panning processed and clear signal to opposite sides.
  • Guitar amps as return effects on almost everything.
  • Heavily cutting below 350hz to decrease the mud, cutting the high end on far away instruments to decrease the “sharpness”.
  • Only Waves effects and Arturia instruments with a few exceptions to maybe get a bit more consistency.

Well, it’s still shite but in some parts better than what I’m used to. It’s still a sound soup and also the drums and the rest of the song seem to play in very different universes. But at least some instruments seem to have a place and are not just drowning somewhere in the centre, and it feels like I can have quieter moments. Overall it feels like I’m still doing it wrong but also like I’m going into the right direction.

Hey there @kuchenchef

First thing first I like the track, it’s a pleasant chill / ambient track with the addition of a nice groove that gives movement to it :wink:

I think it’s more mixing issues than anything else that’s causing the final mix to be a bit muddy, also a few choice of sounds & levels ( like this kind of rim-shot / clave percussive sound ) . You could probably still cut off some low end on the bass and reduce some low mid range and increase the top end but then you’ll need to control that percussive sound I just mentioned.

I took the fancy to record the SoundCloud stream output onto an audio channel inside Live and went to a quick EQ Eight, Multiband Dynamics and Saturator processing. Nothing drastic, just trying to bring back some clarity and space to the elements in the Mix and it’s mostly the EQ that does the main job. Again, that was quickly done on the fly by ears using headphones and Sonarworks ( bypassed for the render ), so I’m not sure how that will sound by your end but I will PM you a link to the the rendered audio files ( I need to upload it to Dropbox before, so gonna take some time ).

I can’t remember for sure if you’re working with Live, sorry I have a fish memory… LOL. But that was done in Live 10 and here is the Audio Effect Rack. So if you’re using Live, just try to drop this on your Master channel as the final effect in your chain ).

But again nice & easy listening track :wink:

Audio Effect Rack.adg (5.8 KB)

Ay, muchas gracias. That helps a lot. The eq curve is very interesting. You decrease the low end and it sounds really better for the melodic instruments. One step in my “butchering” process is always to have no idea how loud kick and bass should be. One day I move the volume sliders up a few db, next day down a few db, and in the end I have no clue what is right. Seems to depend on the time of the day and how the weather is.

I assume the cut at around 350 hz area is for removing more of the “stereo soup”.

What I don’t understand is the rather deep cut at around 3 khz. What is the function of that frequency area? The only thing I know is that it’s somehow important for clarity of vocals. I played around with a fabfilter eq to check what is happening in that area. There at 3 khz and even more at around 2 khz the sound is quite resonant, squeaky or whatever the English term is, probably from all the guitar amp distortions. Is the cut for this problem?

You should use a reference track and try to match the same levels + a visual analyzer like the free Voxengo
Span. And yes you’re right, we don’t perceived & react to audio the exact same way all the time and it’s a tricky one.

There were lot’s of harmonics in this area, so yes, it was quite cluttered & busy and this cut helped to remove some muddiness

This one is a rather deep cut with a narrower Q factor because it aimed at taming that percussive sound that I found to loud and quite resonant. Not taming this frequency and then going to the Multiband Dynamics comp & the Saturator devices would have cause problems. You can activate/deactivate each device ( assuming you’re using Live ) in order to A/B what they do to the track.

All of this was done very roughly of course. You can’t fix everything on the Master Channel :wink: but hopefully it gives you more visual elements on some possible issues and will allow you to go back to each channel & make some adjustments, but again it’s good to use a reference track for things like levels, frequency spectrum & curve across the all Mix and a visualizer like Span is also quite handy then.

For the bass, you might need to go back to the preset/sample and check things like initial level and the cutoff filter ( if synth preset ) and then any soft-synth internal effect or post effects you added yourself like comp, distortion or saturation. Then EQ it to get rid of the unwanted low frequency range. I had to cut and tame quite a lot in this area and the Multiband Dynamics device I added after the EQ was mainly to bring back punch to the low end. You’ll hear this if you bypass it.

So in the end, it’s more about mixing issues per track, right from the start. It’s important to pay attention to levels and to use EQs and filters to get rid of unwanted frequencies and to adjust the sound right from the start. If you apply kind of the same broad cut under a certain frequency on each channel you won’t really solve issues, the sounds that were maybe fighting in a certain frequency range will just have less space to fight but will still be dueling if you get the picture. You need to be a bit more chirurgical per channel and when cutting or taming frequencies, it’s also good to compensate the loss by boosting the pleasant harmonics in an upper range freq. of the same sound.

Hope this can help and it’s a nice easy listening track :wink:

Cheers !

Thanks. It really helps a lot. The issues with the percussion sound and the bass are connected because a prominent part of that percussion sound is coming from the bass (or the upper part of the three bass layers). I played around with some guitar effects and suddenly that sound was there. Already had a feeling it will bite me in certain body parts because it creates a dependency where one instruments is responsible for two very different types of sound. I guess the best thing to do is to make a copy of the bass group and treat one as bass only and one as percussive only.

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You might have been over-complicating thing IMO. Bass should be bass, if you need to make some layering, then yes treat those in one bass group. If you come up with interesting things while adding effects to the bass ( or any other sound in general ), then it might be more easy to record the result onto a new audio track and process that new sound on it’s own taking care of some filtering and EQ adjustments if the sound was created by an harmonic or resonance from the bass.