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Creating space in your mix for others

posted on #1
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I often don’t contemplate who might overdub an add
when composing, though I might compose with the thought
to upload to wikiloops.

By the time i’ve got something and spent time as I’ve deemed,
then comes some rumination about how to mix in space for others.

I might imagine player A, B, or C jamming over it while contemplating the mixed
track, but don’t know in terms of fader adjustment, or fx levels, what to do?
Lately, I’ve just been adjusting adjusting melody tracks down some, and
then turning down the rhythm just a bit.

Wondering how other loopers solve this problem.
Michael Bender
posted on #2
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Good topic and nice thought Mike !

I'm only speaking for myself and my approach might not fit other loopers who are often contributing templates or early adds (the kind that might leave room for further adds) ...

Templates can be very different from one looper to another but personally i like to leave ALOT of space for imagination so other players can fill in the gaps (or not whether they decide not to) with stuff i possibly never imagined myself :) ... in fact i often do my best to leave as many options available as possible !

For the template mix that also means that consistency is what i'm after most times : unless a real variation of intensity is planned from the start i won't really move a fader up and down. I'm leaving that for when i can do a full mix !
Edited by OliVBee on Juli 22 2021 21:10
clusters Clusters CLUSTERS !!!!!!
posted on #3
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I guess I'm fishing for something I can use immediately, without the hell of trial and error, or snorting up commercial advice on search engines until your basically thoughtless. Something like, 'yeah, I just pan the drums to about 14 degrees L or R depending on how it sounds, bass usually center, and then put some boost +/- modifier on tracks after coming up with a mix that sounds allright. For example, maybe two tracks of your creation come down a certain number of db based on overall track loudness that match the overall db's expected from over dubbers.

You do that, and that can become a 'production path' like using reverbs a certain way, or to compress or not to compress.
Edited by MikeB on Juli 23 2021 23:18
Michael Bender
posted on #4
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Hey Mike,

I think 'leaving space in the mix' can be interpreted in two ways here: musically, and from a technical level.

I'm afraid there is no simple formula, but if there's a Rhodes "booming" around, or a jumbo bariton guitar or something, then I often think to add my bass in a higher register (soloing?), if at all.

And yes, like Oliv said, the mix is the second last (technical) process, and sometimes it also helps to highpass your single track with the final mix in mind - I even do that for my own bass tracks.

Not that easy to give general recommendations tho - the music calls for a certain way to handle it normally...

Cheers,
Wolfgang
Edited by wjl on Juli 24 2021 18:06
posted on #5
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Joined: 30.01.21
I would like to add a general technical note for bass players - no reverb please. :)
OK, maybe a little bit of very short "room". It'll be enough.

IMO you can't go too far wrong if...
Kick snare bass and lead vocal in the centre, but anything else, pan it somewhere and don't worry if the mix sounds unbalanced at that point - someone will add something panned the other way to balance it out.

Balance the volumes listening in mono is a good tip.

Doh! - I didn't know this place even had a forum until 5 minutes ago.
posted on #6
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LittleWing wrote:
When prepping a track for future adds , alot of times its actually EQ frequencies that bleed into the stereo image and cause people to pan to get away from them rather then eliminate them and have a clean song canvass without frquencies bleeding everywhere.

When prepping something I think others can add to, here is what I generally do and I have a sample track down below....

Using an EQ cut the following on the entire track
Cut 250 hz with a Q of 1 around -2.5 db
Cut 134 hz with a Q of 20 around 13 db
Use the HI pass of the EQ to chop off everything below 80-90 hz if no bass
Chop everything under 40 hz if there is bass on the track.
This eliminates a good majority of mudiness and track becomes clear and defined sounding.
First get that out of the way.

Ill usually pan drums L 1-2%
Pan vocals R 1-2%
You dont need much and they will still sound "centered" but you will hear a difference for the better and you created an offset so the kick doesnt interfere with bass coming up center.

Now if you are having problems with drums and bass take an eq on the entire track without the bass added. You will only CUT 80 hz around 1 db and also 120 db cut around 1 db.
When kick and bass clash , its those two mostly.

Now on the bass part boost 80db and boost 120 db by 1db. Or if no bass at all , the next person will have an easier time recording and not fighting the kick drum.The key frequencies for a full bass body are 80 hz and 120 hz...same as the kick. By cutting one , boosting the other , they dont compete.

You could get into side chain compression which automates all that for you but its a little more involved but if you do a track and want to do some creative panning and equing, you can pretty much give others room with just those very basic tricks.

Also , every instrument in your mix should have a hi pass filter to cut off all the junk bass frequencies.

A clean mix eliminates alot of mix conflicts that people use panning to solve when they should be Eqing.

An example if you listen with headphones....

On this track, #224811...everything I mentioned is used. Shi is panned 2% left and drums are 2% right but yet both sound centered.Shi is not clashing with the drums.Being panned , neither is truly center. There is a hole right up the center 4% wide . Perfect.

Acoustic is two tracks ...one 100% left other 80% right. The two tracks are blended to make acoustic sound far right bottom of track.Even though double tracked...again I have a hole right up the center mix.

EVEN THOUGH I HAVE 4 INSTRUMENTS ,THE ENTIRE TRACK HAS A BIG GAPING FREQUENCY HOLE IN THE CENTER IF SOMEONE WANTS TO ADD.
THAT HOLE IS CLEAN AND FREE OF OTHER FREQUENCIES THAT BLEED FROM THE OTHER INSTRUMENTS WITHOUT DOING ANYTHING EXCESSIVE ,WHACKY OR EXTREME.

There really wasnt any excessive panning except for the acoustic. The two tracks add together to give the audio illusion the acoustic is underneath Shis vocals. The entire track with four instruments is panned in a "V" shape if that makes sense. If you close your eyes and listen to the example mix you can "see" the hole up the center of mix.


That's all quite specific and dependent on the recordings?

If I may comment on the track you linked to as your example, what I hear in my monitors is the vocal is too quiet and masked by the keyboard which overwhelms every other instrument. I barely even hear the guitar.

And so to the main point - We all love what we play ourselves or we wouldn't have played it, but some self control and respect for the overall effect of the mix is required. We need to take a deep breath and turn ourselves down sometimes. The overall mix you created is a keyboard showcase (great keys and lovely backing btw!) but when Shi added her vocal, this track moved on and the keys needed to step back a bit.

Did you mix this in headphones? I'm forced by circumstances to mix in headphones - apologies if I'm teaching granny to suck eggs but a quick check even quietly on some monitors often shows up this kind of volume discrepancy.

For any headphone users:

For headphone mixing/checking there are a lot of helpful softwares available in the last year or two. They take the mix out from your head and put it in front of you much like speakers do - kind of - nothing is perfect. DSoniq Realphones, Acustica Sienna, Waves CLA Nx to name a few. Realphones has a generous 6 week free trial, Acustica Sienna has a free forever basic edition at the moment, worth checking out if these things are new to anyone reading. https://www.acustica-audio.com/pages/specials/sienna-free
Edited by zedders on August 25 2021 09:59
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