Reply To: ABIS – Q&A
You’ll probably hate me for this, but I’m taking the chance. It’s a bit long winded, I won’t be offended if you can’t answer it all 🙂
My biggest issue right now is the mud range. No matter which way I split the frequencies of the sub bass to mid bass, it always seems to give me trouble. The sub sounds flabby and large, it’s harmonics merge together, especially with the kick hitting at the same time one of those harmonics will merge even with a bit of sidechain, their is some noticable distortion. They say loudness can be achieved in the mix but when I push the limiter hard, I can hear those subtle frequencies masking and distorting.
I want other sounds to have their weight in the track also but if I cut them too high to remove mud, it just leaves me with a weaker sound. Everything seems so delicate in that area that even when I have dealt with it surgically, it still presents a problem under limiting.
Q1. Is there a proper way to keep the clarity of other sounds without cutting all of it’s lower frequencies out (even around the 3rd octave)? Or is there a specific sort of range that we cut sounds out and leave to our bass (all sounds cut around 200hz)?
Q2. Is there a right balance/crossover point for frequencies between the sub and mid bass that will mix better? My sub usually has 3 harmonics and then I’m not sure whether the mid bass starts after those or it is apart of those.
My queries partially relate to loudness because I noticed that when I try to limit my mixes, they break down between -6 and -7 LUFS, I can’t seem to get over that which professional tracks seem to do effortlessly. They say it’s in the mix, so I’m investigating all the possible reasons. I don’t want to limit the crap out of my music, not even to be competitive, but if my music has masked frequencies that hard limiting is revealing, I want to know how to fix that to make my sound better at all levels.
I believe you said before that I need proper phase/stereo alignment, gain reduction and the low end taking up most of the information.
Q3. Could you go into a little more detail about this? If possible, could you think about any tunes you may have tried to make in the early days where you were seeking to achieve the same thing and what the crucial realisations you might have had.
Also about the overall quality of finished tracks. I consider you as one of the top producers currently, so I can confidently ask you. The overall tonal shape of your tunes sound very clean and there are no harsh spots. It sounds like there is a creamy high cut on the top, for example, getting rid of the fatiguing frequencies. Everything pops, nothing is in the way. I can feel that the mix is solid but is there additional mastering that is giving everyone that clean, expensive sound.
Q4. Is it analog gear or summing unit, do the ac convertors have anything to do with it? Is it a specific understanding of knowledge or the use of processing? Why do all professional tracks have this magical smoothness to them. I’ve seen even Noisia say they sometimes render out with just a software limiter. So it leaves me to think it’s more in the mix, I can’t disagree, but my own attempts and knowledge on the subject don’t quite meet up.
Q5. In your mixdowns, how do go about separating the drums from the musical elements and making them stand out. I will duck the kick from the sub and the snare fundamental out of sounds in that range, and I will also have a sidechain just for the transients. Sometimes however, I feel as if it’s just not giving me the transparency. I can audibly hear the sidechain even on it’s quickest release times. It sounds like a little warble. Even a sidechain on a dynamic EQ cuts too much away or still sound cloudy and I can hear the snap back.
Q6. About subs, I’ve tried giving them movement using all various methods but it makes the sub levels inconsistent even with a limiter. Almost like reese detune movement, chorusing or additional voices. The only issue with that is doesn’t mix well as subs are better with constant level. It sums to mono fine using the right approach. How else can I make a sub interesting, or do professionals literally just use clean sine subs?
Q7. This kind of relates to Q1 but is there a proper way to process the sub to make it fit the mix better. I’ve saturated, compressed hard and other things. It’s just that when searching for answers, you get a lot of conflicting information. My subs seem so large and flabby, they read -6 on my spectrum analyser but the peak could be much lower. The levels of the sub frequencies around 40hz reach to the top when limited and don’t correlate to it’s actual level, making it harder to mix. That just confuses the hell out of me. It’s not necessarily the sub but the first few harmonics and up to 200hz that sound muddy just being present. Are they supposed to be present but much lower?
Q8. Lastly, when I process more mid range sounds like the fillers and background sounds or fx, say with a little distortion and a bit of reverb or delay. Eventually they begin to sound really distorted or harsh, or really resonant and piercing. I might try to solve the issue by cutting of the high end but it just doesn’t sound how I want it to by doing that. It only seems to be more of an issue with higher sounds. There is times where it is really pleasing but other times the sound will unexpectedly sound broken up and low quality even though the original sound was fine. Is there an EQ technique to keep this under control or are we talking just scoop them frequencies out? I just feel like this puts the sound in a different place in the mix.
I know that’s a lot of questions and maybe some of it is very confusing, it is late at night and I want to make sure I get this in before you’re done answering questions. I’ve just tried to force them out a little bit so I hope it doesn’t come across as dollop.
I’m extremely passionate about gaining control over the problems I have described, so again I apologise if it’s a bit much.
Thanks a lot Mark, I think your music is fucking great.