Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Brock » Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:48 pm

Patanjali, thank you for the feedback. I will work on the things you suggested and post an updated mix.

Up until this point, I've spent a majority of the time working on getting the instruments to sound amazing. Can you provide any feedback in that regard?

__


@Norbury Brook -- I hear ya. I wish it was like that for me -- really! It would save me so much time and effort to be able to reach out to competent musicians, throw charts at them, rehearse a couple of times and record in a great sounding studio. Unfortunately I don' t have the resources to do that. All those things cost money. And A LOT of it! A while ago I realized I had two basic choices: I could pay thousands of dollars for studio time which is a one-shot deal (an experience that only happens once), or I could invest that same amount of money into gear which I get to keep and use over and over again, on album after album. I chose the latter path. So now, for me, it's making the best of that choice.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby iBM » Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:29 pm

a) Musical weight - As in balance ;)
b) Musical story - As in arrangement ;)

Don't need so many words more than that IMO.

Other than that, I agree with Norbury Brook:

Norbury Brook wrote:A good mix starts with (not in any order)good musicians, good song, good engineering ,good room.


If you've got those then your mix will be easy. If it's recorded well, with good musicians playing together in a good room then it will have a natural 3'D depth that's hard to replicate when layering in a project studio.


Also good musicians self balance: I spent 20 years working with Mark Knopfler and his whole studio thing was; if things are working well then the faders should just be level on the mixing board, no or very little automation as it's not needed when you've got great musicians/songs/arrangements.

All that said, musical genre's vary greatly and if you're into EDM for example then there's no such thing as the band and therefore you'd have to take a different approach, and usually people who mix EDM generally aren't mixing country records :)


So my point:

Your mix starts the very beginning you start recording.




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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Audiocave » Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:07 pm

Norbury Brook wrote:A good mix starts with (not in any order)good musicians, good song, good engineering ,good room.


And also a good arrangement. :) The "space" in a great big and wide mix is partially the arrangement. There's engineering, songwriting, and arranging (as in tonal arrangement, parts not stepping all over each other, but supplementing each other) and if you get that part wrong it will hamper everything else.

You can usually tell a relatively "poor" musical arrangement because it needs a ton of EQ to separate tracks. You can always tell a great musical arrangement because you push all the tracks up to mix and you can distinctly hear everything before you even start to mix it.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Norbury Brook » Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:10 pm

Indeed, arrangement is VERY important.

I suppose I didn't mention arrangement as good musicians will self arrange as well as self mix :)

And those are the things that separate a good MUSICIAN from a good PLAYER.



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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Buchanan » Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:46 pm

A good place to start for big sounding mixes is Phil Spector. But he wouldn't know about pan law as he always worked in mono.
I guess all the advice given points to "if your mix still sounds big in mono it is actually that big." VERY fine attention to detail of voice balancing and the least amount of compression you can get away with while still recording a strong fundamental signal from the instrument in the first place.
Basically, and I'll probably be proved wrong, if you record a mouse squeaking you'll have a lot on your plate making it sound like a lion. There are many ways of making it sound like a big mouse though.
Pan your strongest voices (usually the mid range; boning up on orchestral instrument typical pitching, if you work with "normal" instruments would be a good idea) in the material towards the centre, and the listener, and group all other weaker material out of it's way, either more centred or more out to the edges. I wouldn't worry too much about pan law unless, like the other contributors here, you are aiming for a specific purpose like broadcast, games or movies where the listener might have less than optimum speakers but that signal needs to get thru without artifacts or distortions being introduced at their end.
And first always ask yourself what you would do if you wanted something to sound small. Then do the opposite. :mrgreen:

And this:
audiocave wrote:And also a good arrangement. :) The "space" in a great big and wide mix is partially the arrangement. There's engineering, songwriting, and arranging (as in tonal arrangement, parts not stepping all over each other, but supplementing each other) and if you get that part wrong it will hamper everything else.

You can usually tell a relatively "poor" musical arrangement because it needs a ton of EQ to separate tracks. You can always tell a great musical arrangement because you push all the tracks up to mix and you can distinctly hear everything before you even start to mix it.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Patanjali » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:29 am

Brock wrote:Patanjali, thank you for the feedback. I will work on the things you suggested and post an updated mix.

I suggest that rather than act upon each respondent's advice in isolation, take the time to integrate those parts of the advice that gel with you, and think through an integrated approach to the piece, to the level that works for you and your available resources.

Perhaps plot out your musical play, work out what each instrument/vocal is to do in the play and THEN make them sound right within the context of the play.

Brock wrote:Up until this point, I've spent a majority of the time working on getting the instruments to sound amazing. Can you provide any feedback in that regard?

If you want to hone a particular skill, avoid having too many other distracting variables. I find that I am not interested in looking at how 'amazing' an instrument/vocal has been tweaked when I am distracted by my confusion about its musical context. To me, something cannot be tweaked until it is almost in proper relation to its context. That is because it only takes a slight change to its context to need a lot of tweaking, or perhaps its abandonment altogether.

If you were just following an established musical paradigm/genre/groove, then all the relationships of all the instruments and vocals would be pretty well final, so you could fine tune each.

However, you are being an active producer here and you are still not close to the final placement of the different participants so that you can tweak them for each context they are in. Again, my opinion.

Also, an 'amazing' result is not automatically born of the sum of 'amazing' individual parts, but a symbiosis of what can be quite mundane and understated parts.


Brock wrote:It would save me so much time and effort to be able to reach out to competent musicians, throw charts at them, rehearse a couple of times and record in a great sounding studio. Unfortunately I don' t have the resources to do that. ... So now, for me, it's making the best of that choice.

Of course, you have to work within your abilities and available resources, and along the trajectory of where you want to be going with your musical career. Also, there are several valid ways of doing something, and at least one of them will be more suited to your circumstances.

With using other musicians, you have to be VERY clear about what you want them to do in relation to the song, otherwise they will take over (at least their part) and do it how they see fit. With those that are used to being studio musos (that is, they are OK with having their pieces 'messed' with), they will limit themselves to their arena, but would probably appreciate being given some free reign within that 'ring pass not'.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Patanjali » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:34 am

iBM wrote:a) Musical weight - As in balance ;)
b) Musical story - As in arrangement ;)

Don't need so many words more than that IMO.

As I was writing for the OP, and not you, I elaborated on things. Given the piece as presented, I am not sure 'balance' and 'arrangement' mean the same thing to them as they may to you.

Despite the illusion given by dictionaries that words have fixed meanings, for each individual, they are totally dependent upon what they have inferred from their own experience.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Patanjali » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:56 am

@Brock
To get some empowering advice (that is, suitable for those of us on restricted budgets as well), I suggest you get Michael Paul Stavrou's Mixing with your mind.

There is always the thinking in this technological age that whatever we want done requires the latest fancy and expensive technology to 'solve' our problems. But we are dealing with acoustics and our ears here, and understanding them better can go a long way to owning the solutions to our own recording and mixing issues. Michael's book goes a long way to doing that.

Three techniques in the book were direct enablers for our tracks.
Last edited by Patanjali on Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Patanjali » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:17 am

Buchanan wrote:A good place to start for big sounding mixes is Phil Spector. But he wouldn't know about pan law as he always worked in mono.

I cannot remember where I read it, but the suggestion was to do one's tweaking of individual instruments/vocals on a single speaker, and not mono in two speakers.

The single speaker makes it easier to concentrate on just the quality of the sound rather than being distracted by effects from the space between two speakers. It makes the quality of the sound less dependent upon the level and room effects.

Phil Spector was an expert in rich tapestries of sound. However, his material is rather dense for inexperienced people to de-construct enough to get an exploded view of the tracks. I think the 60s had many examples of simpler constructions that are much easier to decode.

However, if one is trying to hone one's tweaking skills, it may be better to reduce the number of variables and mix for a spatial arrangement that matches a conventional band layout, with which one can compare similar well known mixes of the genre.

A good book about how many of the effects in some early hits were done without high-tech is Mark Cunningham's good vibrations.
Last edited by Patanjali on Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Patanjali » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:27 am

To me, for 99% of tracks, worrying about pan law is a red herring, as wherever a mono signal is placed and at whatever level that is set by that adjustment, you can adjust the level afterwards.

Really, the only situation where it will be critical is if you are capturing the real-time 'spatial' movement, in which case you want the level to appear the same if it is meant to be same. In surround, even more so. Otherwise you have to smoothly tweak level AND pan in real time or by automation.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Patanjali » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:48 am

Brock wrote:I was looking at the Stereo Ambience Recovery Plug-In, but many reviews turned me off to it.

Funny, except for a couple, most were very positive.

With UAD, you can try it out for 10 days to see if it suits you.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Brock » Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:21 am

Once again, thank you for the thorough feedback. I looked into that book and it seems the only place it's available is on that website -- for $78 Australian (which is ~$71 US). Kind of expensive. Makes me feel like I'm back in the college bookstore. ;) Is the book a tome, or is it more the author is that proud of his work?

RE: the Stereo Ambience Recovery Plugin - how do you feel it compares to the Cubase Stereo Enhancer? The latter, as it turns out, was creating phase issues for me. And, ironically, what it seemed to do (at more extreme settings, e.g., 178% width) was bring up the center for a stereo track.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Buchanan » Wed Mar 19, 2014 4:06 pm

patanjali wrote:I cannot remember where I read it, but the suggestion was to do one's tweaking of individual instruments/vocals on a single speaker, and not mono in two speakers.


That works for me. Radio stations (to go a little OT) have long fed stereo signals to a mono broadcast because that's mainly what they have to broadcast at their end and yet radios are mainly mono at the other end. Probably a radio mix article is where you read that from or an engineer required to do several mixes for different media which is not uncommon.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Patanjali » Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:53 pm

Brock wrote:Once again, thank you for the thorough feedback. I looked into that book and it seems the only place it's available is on that website -- for $78 Australian (which is ~$71 US). Kind of expensive. Makes me feel like I'm back in the college bookstore. ;) Is the book a tome, or is it more the author is that proud of his work?

Yes, it is only available from one place. He has been inventing stuff and designed a rather novel mixing desk.

The book is all stuff he got over his years in Air Studios in GB and elsewhere. You may not use it all but it is worth it if you want to learn some really novel ways of looking at the mixing craft. One comes across tips and things from many places, but it is rare to get so many significant ones in one place. Only 300 pages. Don't be distracted by the 'secret'. It's all along the way. Oh, and the mono speaker bit was from his book.

I sent an email to him a few years ago, with some comments about the book. He thought I had better meet with him so he could just make sure I wasn't suffering from some misconceptions. We had a good little chat over some hot chocolate. When we started doing our music last year, we had an email laugh about how daggy :oops: we looked in our videos among other aspects of our stuff.


Brock wrote:RE: the Stereo Ambience Recovery Plugin - how do you feel it compares to the Cubase Stereo Enhancer? The latter, as it turns out, was creating phase issues for me. And, ironically, what it seemed to do (at more extreme settings, e.g., 178% width) was bring up the center for a stereo track.

Actually didn't know C had one, or I possibly looked at it and bypassed it. If it is just creating more anti-phase between the channels, you will get phase effects when pushing it.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Brock » Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:51 pm

Patanjali wrote:Actually didn't know C had one, or I possibly looked at it and bypassed it. If it is just creating more anti-phase between the channels, you will get phase effects when pushing it.


I'd be curious to hear your comparison of the two if you have time.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby MrSmith » Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:33 am

Brock wrote:Just got my UAD-2 today. See if you can hear the difference.

Here are the mixes:

NO UAD-2 https://www.dropbox.com/s/py7ykhi2a72jv ... %20OLD.mp3

WITH UAD-2 https://www.dropbox.com/s/uc4rlypweu11c ... %20NEW.mp3

Constructive feedback on the mix is appreciated. Thanks, guys!



0:00 - Guitar sounds good, just a few dB too loud. Vocal is boxy and doesn't cut thru the mix (cut mud and boost 1.5-4k ; not the entire range, just where the 'power lies'. might need to SC and/or scoop the same feq. the acous. rrhythm guitar for the vocal to have a spot
0:30 - Flat vocal note
0:40 - The bass sounds out of tune? Or is it the guitar. The kick needs a little 'weight' to it. A little roominess on the drums might help the vibe
0:58 - Same thing about the male vocal applies to the female lead vocal. I think a short reverb and/or delay would really help here too
1:59: Great drummer, but those toms are up a little too much.
~2:15: Something in that acoustic guitar is causing my ears to fatigue. Attenuating that freq. will probably help bring out the vocals. Add some space too it too, to give it some more texture if you find that attenuating the hi-freq takes away some of the 'prettiness'

all IMO, obvious. You already did the majority of the work, as the rhythm section and the guitar are mostly there.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Frog » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:02 am

Brock wrote:I looked into that book and it seems the only place it's available is on that website -- for $78 Australian (which is ~$71 US). Kind of expensive. Makes me feel like I'm back in the college bookstore. ;) Is the book a tome, or is it more the author is that proud of his work?


:?: :?: :?: $8.34 on Amazon
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Patanjali » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:24 am

Frog wrote:$8.34 on Amazon

Que? They list it, without a price. They don't actually have it to sell. It is only available on his website.

Actually, I might actually read it again, just so I can get anything I missed first time round.
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Half of the folk music duo, DevaKnighT. Music available from CD Baby (MP3/FLAC) and the usual culprits. All recorded and processed on Cubase 7.x at 192k.

Comp: i7-4930K : Asus P9X79-E WS : 32GB : GV-N750OC-2GI : SSDx4+2 : UAD-2Q : Dell S2340Tx2 & Samsung UA55HU9000W 4K.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Brock » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:34 am

Updated the mix. https://www.dropbox.com/s/uc4rlypweu11c ... %20NEW.mp3

I appreciate the continued feedback.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Frog » Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:05 am

Patanjali wrote:
Frog wrote:$8.34 on Amazon

Que? They list it, without a price. They don't actually have it to sell. It is only available on his website.

Actually, I might actually read it again, just so I can get anything I missed first time round.

I clicked on the link in your post above which brought me here:
http://www.amazon.com/Good-Vibrations-S ... 1860742424

Used of course, but there are some listings for new.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Patanjali » Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:18 am

Frog wrote:
Patanjali wrote:
Frog wrote:$8.34 on Amazon

Que? They list it, without a price. They don't actually have it to sell. It is only available on his website.

Actually, I might actually read it again, just so I can get anything I missed first time round.

I clicked on the link in your post above which brought me here:
http://www.amazon.com/Good-Vibrations-S ... 1860742424

Used of course, but there are some listings for new.

The book being discussed, against which you posted the $8.34 price, was the Mixing with your mind, not good vibrations.
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Frog » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:00 pm

Patanjali wrote:The book being discussed, against which you posted the $8.34 price, was the Mixing with your mind, not good vibrations.


My apologies.
I missed that link while skimming through this very informative thread.
As a reader, let me say Thank You for sharing your insights.

If I might add, the Internal Mixing book and DVDs helped me sort out much of the process of mixing. http://www.tischmeyer-mastering.de/pwde/?lang=EN
Mixing with Your Mind looks like a book I need to read.

Cheers
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Norbury Brook » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:15 pm

I would say, unless you're an experienced mix engineer stay well away from any kind of Stereo enhancement.



Those things can do more harm than good in inexperienced hands.


If needed let your mastering engineer widen your mixes.


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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Brock » Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:01 pm

@MrSmith - thanks for the comments. They were posted just as I posted my updated mix. Some EQ stuff was changed. Regarding notes out of tune, I'm singing a D on an Asus2/4 down to a C# on a F#min11/A chord - the notes might sound weird to you, but the pitches are correct.

@Patanjali and anyone else who's interested in providing constructive feedback, I updated the mix.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/uc4rlypweu11c ... %20NEW.mp3
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Re: Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

Postby Patanjali » Fri Mar 21, 2014 3:41 am

Brock wrote:@Patanjali and anyone else who's interested in providing constructive feedback, I updated the mix.

First thing ---> Fan-bloody-tastic. Night and day. Sounds like you have the story worked out and pretty much the shape you want it in. What an immersive experience! Congrats! :D :D :D

Now to some specifics:

a) Vocals are not clear, and sound smeared in with the rest so much that it is hard to make out the words.
For vocals, if you want them to be understood, you do need to leave some space around them, typically by:

__ i) Sculpturing other things around them. If you want guitar up loud to be driving things along, you need to use ducking or automation to drop the notes down, including the one immediately before a vocal line starts, and fading back in at the tail of vocal lines. Guitar notes during significant vocal pauses in the line can be brought back up.

I typically set the vocal level and sculpt everything else around them. But then, our music is sparse. Your mileage many vary!

__ ii) Don't apply the same effects to them that you are using heavily for everything else. Perhaps use a different reverb (plate) just for them so the quality of their space stands out from the rest.

b) My opinion, but the first time the female vocal appears, I suggest starting at the centre, just so we know that she is important. Then you can move her around to show her confusion.

c) I feel the male and female vocals are meant to be equal, but the male is more out from the centre and mixed back. Sort of takes a bit away from the beautiful blending of their short duo lines.


Again, beautiful! You are close, and may not need much more to be getting something out the door. I am impressed with your creative producing skills. They will carry you into areas others could only dream of going!


Brock wrote:Regarding notes out of tune, I'm singing a D on an Asus2/4 down to a C# on a F#min11/A chord - the notes might sound weird to you, but the pitches are correct.

One thing I learnt from tech writing. If a reviewer mentioning difficultly with something, it usually meant something wasn't quite flowing right, so I would usually make a change, mostly minor, but it improved the flow.

Just because the notes may be right, does not mean they sound right. Here, it is not the overall note pitch, but the flow of the pitch during the note. It sounds like the note pitch is wavering a bit too much in the wrong way.

Cubase has some neat stuff to change tuning. You can chop the note up and flatten variation in a section, or change the slope of the pitch variation. Might be time to learn a couple of Cubase tricks?
Last edited by Patanjali on Fri Mar 21, 2014 4:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Half of the folk music duo, DevaKnighT. Music available from CD Baby (MP3/FLAC) and the usual culprits. All recorded and processed on Cubase 7.x at 192k.

Comp: i7-4930K : Asus P9X79-E WS : 32GB : GV-N750OC-2GI : SSDx4+2 : UAD-2Q : Dell S2340Tx2 & Samsung UA55HU9000W 4K.
HW: Nmn U87 Ai : JA251x2 : YRG : Korg padKontrol+uKEY2 : RME FF400+800 : M-Patch-2 : Tannoy Reveal Active+TS-12.
SW: Win 8.1 Pro 64 : Cubase 7.5.20 64 : iC Pro : RX3Adv : Ozone5Adv : Goliath/SO PP/Pianos/Gypsy : Sup.Drum 2.0 : AT7.
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