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Hey guys, I was curious as to how you get things to sound up front and others to sound way back in the back. Like guitars up front and drums in the background, does that have to do with parametric eq or what? Obviously I have no idea how to give all of the intruments their own "spot" in the mix. Need some advice to clear things up in my recordings.
 

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hey...i wish i could help..i suck at mixing...i heard that ksdb is pretty good at mixing... :toothless
 

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Article from Digitech

I'll start this topic out, a bit easier, than the rest and we can delve into as you folks see fit. When you're mixing your tracks, the goal is to get the content of the tracks spread out so that nothing interferes w/ anything else. By paying attention to how instruments are placed in the musical mix, you control the overall clarity of the mix and, ultimately, how the thing sounds.

First, let's look at a few things. Tracks, today, ARE NOT STEREO! True stereo means that you are using two, or more, mics to record a SINGLE element and panning those mics to reflect their place in the stereo sound field. To record this way would be insanity, to say the least.

The technique that we use to record is, really a "mono" technique and each mono image is panned somewhere in the stereo field. If everything were recorded, tracked and produced in stereo, we'd end up w/ mixes that have no clarity, whatsoever.

Now, let's talk a bit about "position" within the mix. Visualize your mix being in a rather large room (high ceilings, walls a good distance away from you, etc. Now, visualize various instruments in that room, some placed at the far wall, some left, some right, some up in the air...

When each instrument plays, you get a directional queue from several sources... 1) The direct sound from the instrument itself. 2) The reflections off the walls... 3) The actual frequency of the instrument... 4) The distance the instrument is away from you.

Now, take this image a bit further and map it to two speakers located on the L/R walls of the room. The woofer of the speakers is at the floor. The midrange in the middle of the wall height and the tweeter on the cieling.

High frequency sounds, coming from only the left speaker will appear to be at the "top" of the room. High frequency sounds from the right speaker will appear to come from the top right of the room... High frequency sounds emanating equally from both speakers will appear to be at the top-center of the room. This is what is called a "phantom image".

If you visualize your mix, a bit, in terms of Left and Right, Front to Back and Top to Bottom there are a few things you can get out of this.

High Frequencies appear to be "higher" in terms of elevation in the mix. Lower frequencies end up at the bottom of the mix. Midrange stuff in the middle, etc.

Your high-hat, acoustic guitar and certain rhythm elements will live at the "top" of the mix. Cymbals, shakers, etc.

The guitars and vocals will have their predominant elements in the middle of the top-to-bottom approach of the mix. However, some guitar elements (especially acoustic guitar) are going to live on the "top" of that mix. The "sizzle" in vocals will live there, too.

Bass Guitar, Bass Drum, etc. are interesting. The bass guitar has fundamental elements starting at 40Hz (bottom of the range)... with some really neat directional, timbral and melodic overtones in the 1.5kHz range.

The bass drum has energy that actuall spans the ENTIRE 10 octaves of the spectrum so it, in essence, will have some boosts in each of the musical octaves.

Based on the musical type, then, keyboards, tom-tom's and other instruments will live up/down the spectrum, low-to-high. However EACH INSTRUMENT MUST HAVE ITS OWN SPACE! And that's where it gets hard.

Let's say you have two distorted guitars, both playing rhythm. Both setup the same way, you're not going to be able to differentiate the differences between each, accurately. Even panned hard left and hard right they're not going to "separate". So, you boost 1 guitar, say, 5dB at 2.5kHz, 1 octave wide, and the other at 2.2kHz, 1 octave wide. Now, they occupy different sonic space (low to high)... and they both stand out EVEN IN MONO!

The volume of the instrument actually determines whether or not the sound image appears to be coming from directly in front of you (really loud), from the speakers themselves (moderately loud) or from behind the speakers (soft). If you mix every instrument at the same volume, then they'll all appear to be coming from somewhere, but all in the same place. What that translates to is that your mix will lack a certain amount of depth. The closer all instruments are, to each other, in level the less "depth" you're going to have, overall. The key is to have a balance of loud and soft elements of the mix.

If you want something to sound more distant, rather than cranking up a cave echo, which will "wash out" everything in the mix, try dropping the level of that something, 5-6dB. This will remove some of its competing sonic elements from the forefront of the mix, still allow it to be heard AND make it sound more distant, all at the same time.

Panning... panning is interesting. In real life, if you go and see a band they're spread out all over the place aren't they? Drums at the rear of the stage - dead center. Bass guitar player on the left w/ his/her amps... rhythm player and keyboardist are over on the right someplace w/ their equipment... lead singer dead center... and the lead guitar player over there on the left w/ their equipment.

When your ears hear this sound, the bass drum is at the dead center of the mix. If you'll look at the drum set, though, the snare, high-hat, cymbals, etc. are all left, or right, of the center line!!!! Directionally, you're going to percieve them in an L/R fashion, you're just not paying attention to where they're at, really, when you're enjoying the music.

Because bass freqencies, below about 300Hz are, substantially omni-directional, the bass guitar appears to be coming out of the center of the room, too and, of course, the singer being center-stage is doing the same thing.

The rest of the band/instruments appear to be coming from their respective locations, as well. Rhythm and keyboards on one side... lead guitar on the other, etc.

When you're approaching your sound space you approach the mix much the same way as you'd do the band. Your high-hat will be close to, but not dead on the center... the vocals will hit the center of the mix... bass guitar and bass drum live there, too. That's about it. The snare will be about where the high hat is, but slightly closer to the center... cymbals panned L/R (crash) and the ride somewhere a bit further out in the stereo field.

Essentially, then, this leaves the "center" of the mix wide open for the crucial parts that MUST live in both speakers... i.e. the vocals... and, possibly, the solo parts (sax, guitar, etc). Everything else lives off in other space!
 

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OK...

This next topic is going to address something that was invented by a guy named "Haas". It's called the "precedence effect" or "law of the first wave"... and the "Haas Effect". Very interesting stuff, this.

First, let's look at something. You have, on a generic little mixing unit, what is called a pan pot. You roll the thing counterclockwise and you notice that the "balance" of the track moves toward the left. Roll the thing clockwise and your track moves right. Put it smack in the middle of the console and, voila, sounds like it's coming from between the speakers - this effect is known as the "phantom image" cuz you know, for a fact, that there's no speaker there, but it sounds like there is.

NOTE: If you can't hear phantom images on your setup you're A) Not sitting in the center of an equilateral triange w/ your head and speakers... B) You have too many reflective surfaces in your mix area that is distorting/skewing the stereo image... C) You're not paying attention! :)

OK... panning has limited use! What, you say? How dare you? Here's why. When you move from the center position to either hard left, or hard right, you're changing the "level" by ONLY 3dB. Most folks can detect changes in level at about 3dB but not much less than that, unless they're well-trained in the ears and perceptive skills. Even a lot of recording/mixing engineers have a hard time w/ changes less than 3dB UNLESS you're a "Mastering Engineer". According to them, they can hear level differences as much at 1/10,000 of a dB... or even the difference in sound between two self-similar cables w/ the same specifications made by different manufacturers out of the same batch of metal on the same fabrication machines! :)

If you do a double-blind test of normal human beings and not super-ears mastering engineers, and pan a signal from center to left and center to right, most folks have a VERY hard time distinguishing where, in the stereo field, the pan pot is until it gets hard left, or hard right (try it sometime, you'll be amazed).

BUT, there's another way... there are some that mix hard left/right/center only. Then, they use another method to change the position of the object in the stereo field (enter Carvin Sonic Holography, Rolands RSS units, and other "spatial" enhancers). You, too, can do this, here's how.

Pan a single track hard left, or hard right. Then, feed that track into a delay unit that's panned the opposite direction! Start out w/ a delay of 1mS and start moving the delay in 1mS increments. Keep the delay output at about 100%... no feedback... no pre-delay... and adjust the levels accordingly.

OK... now you're going to find something interesting. As you increase the delay time the sound gets more and more and more left. In fact, to the point where it sounds as though it's coming from a point WAY beyond the left speaker... You can switch the direct and delayed sounds and try, again... now the "direct" sound seems more right. Neato, huh? By the time you get to about 50mS, however, there will be a noticable separation and the delay becomes apparent.

Now, for more fun... turn the delay on and take a listen for a bit... notice how you start to actually "tune out" the delayed channel and only "hear" the direct channel... now, turn of the delay WITHOUT turning off the direct! Notice how quickly you notice the delay going away... turn it back on and it "disappears!"

I use this method all the time to actually "place" my instruments in the mix, especially when I have a mix that's more sparse. For example... on the song I'm currently working on, I have an acoustic guitar (rhythm). I mic'd the acoustic and ran the piezo output direct to the console. Mixing these two together created a nice, subtle, chorus effect. As I moved in front of the mic, I changed the "delay" between the direct tone (which never changed) and the mic'd tone - constantly changing.

I then took and panned each hard left and hard right. The "main" acoustic (mic'd) was turned up and not delayed w/ a parametric EQ emphasizing 2.5kHz (pick noise). The "direct" tone was dropped 12dB in level and delayed 15mS and panned the other direction w/ no EQ. I then layered an electric guitar (fill in) over the top of the delayed-direct acoustic. The acoustic track served two purposes. 1) It provided a directional queue (Haas effect) for the acoustic I wanted everyone to pay attention to. 2) It provided a "pad" for the "holes" in the electric guitar playing (i.e. when the guitarist laid out and wasn't filling). The level was low enough for the acoustic direct not to be "heard" but enough to "fill" the mix.

I also did this w/ the piano pad... and backup vocals... this is a very useful way to "widen" the mix WITHOUT a stereo image enhancer. You can subtlely, or not, EQ either the direct, or the delayed channel to further widen the mix AND draw attention to one part, or the other, that's more important.
 

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Dude, most folks on here have the attention span of a gnat. Anything more than a few lines is ignored :lol:
 

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No Kiddin'.... But he wanted info, and it's not simple. What he wants to know is in there.
 

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Oh yeah, I almost forgot, if you don't want to take the 10 min to read and learn something... Just turn the red dial on your amp that says "Make me sound Cool"
 

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stingx said:
Dude, most folks on here have the attention span of a gnat. Anything more than a few lines is ignored :lol:
hey...that's a good one...i've actually got A.D.D...it stands for attention deficit disorderrrr...hey...who wants gum???....look...there's sasquatch...!!!...yeah, i bet a lotta cops smoke dope...i'm sorry...did you say something...???...oops...i've got A.D.D....i might have mentioned that earlier....mgf cfytx....(incoherant)........... :doh:
 

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I just read it on Digitech today and happened to see this question. Just forwarding some info.......
 

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theupsguy posted a lot of good info. There's stuff in there that I wasn't familiar with, but it's very helpful and I hope to study it carefully. As far as my mixing, I mainly go by ear. The tough thing is finding out that what you mixed on your computer doesn't sound as good in another environment, like a car stereo. I do a lot of trial and error before settling on a mix, so it's probably better to learn as much of the technical stuff as you can and use that.
 

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here is good simple basic way to look at it. for drums, you normally want to keep your kick and snare straight up the center. to give it more stereo feel you can pan cymbals/hi-hat to left or right.
also for bass you normally want to keep that in the center.
guitar is different. you can keep it in the center if you want, or you one on both sides, just depends on what sound you want. i normally put one rythm on each side and keep lead parts up the middle. same way for piano and keys.

theres really no right or wrong way to do it. like said above the goal of mixing is give each instrument its own space with them interfering with each other.
about the parametric eq...it is normally used to change the sound or temper of an instrument and is complicated to use. if you need to eq something i would just use a 3 band eq or graphic eq for now. i wouldnt worry about using it right now.
 
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