Issue with mixing drums

Quotec

Active Member
Messages
259
Likes
36
#1
I was wondering if somebody could lend a helping hand on the following issue.

So I have to leave -6dB headroom on a master, some sources state that you don´t want your elements to cross that line(slight crossing is still allowed as these spikes will be handled during mastering). Okay, got that. Working on a tune I notice a strange pattern, when my drums are not peaking over -6dB I can´t hear them in context of a mix. My other elements are perfectly below -6dB(still some spikes going thru) but my kick and snare can´t cut through(carry the mix) when they are below that headroom threshold. EQ-wise it doesn´t seem as I am not leaving enough space for kick and snare so I thought maybe wrong compression and improper layering(phasing) are contributing to the problem. Okay, I tried to take a solid drum loop from a great sample pack, made it to peak at about -6dB, some EQ and still - my drums are not there, everything else takes the power away from them.

Okay, thought maybe during DIY mastering drums will pop up. Not even close. But doing the opposite which is letting drums peak about -3dB will result in excessive limiting(given that other elements peak at max -6dB) and thus squashing them too hard. What the actual fuck? I might be doing something really wrong as I am still learning how to produce on a professional level, maybe somebody can give a solid advice? I think I am fucking up with the concept of individual elements dynamics sum up.

Many thanks
 

RUSSLA

Technique
VIP Junglist
Messages
6,495
Likes
1,095
#2
seriously dont worry too much about numbers and shit man, its unecessary. But anyways all you need to do is put have a nice decent and tight sidechain to the mids bus and fx bus, maybe even verb buses etc. kick and snare obviously. also sidechain washy rides to snares etc .. basically that will help
 
Last edited:

miszt

BASSFACE Royale
VIP Junglist
Messages
2,944
Likes
360
#3
forget about the -6db, its irrelevant until the final mixdown (and you can always reduce the gain on the master anyway if its too loud!), forget about limiting and all of that, just go with the basics: volume levels, panning and EQ...heres a few tips I wrote up a while ago...

http://dnbforum.com/showthread.php/120686-Mixdown-Tips

Essentially you just need make sure that every sound has its space in the mix, the simplest example is your Sub bass, if you high pass every other sound in the mix (except the Kick) at 100Hz, then your sub has plenty of space to come thru, apply the same principal to everything else, so if you have a lead which is screaming out between 500-1000hz, then you need to check your other sounds, to make sure that they are not overpowering that frequency range, use a bit of EQ to reduce those areas if so, then you have given your lead the space it needs...just apply that principal to everything in your mix, and it'll sound fat as fuck. (its not a quick process to learn, you have to tune your ears up to know what needs EQ and what needs volume adjustments - best tip in regards to mixdowns, if something seems to quiet, then it probably means that other stuff is too loud...turning things down is often better than turning something up)
 

Skuff

Well-Known Member
VIP Junglist
Messages
1,040
Likes
72
#5
Spot on advice here. Get yourself a decent Spectrum Analyzer, Span is good and free, and check where everything is roughly in the mix. Visually this should help a lot, but always go with your ears. Sometimes cutting frequencies from a sound can kill it if you over do it, so you need to priorities each sound. Also don't add stuff just for the sake of it, especially with drums, as this can cloud the mix.

Everyone has a different way, but maybe try lowering the volume of the parts that overpower the drums and don't really look at the numbers. Adjust levels by ear, without even looking. Could even be that the drums aren't fully suited for the rest of the sounds. If everything else works OK together, than that's a possibility

forget about the -6db, its irrelevant until the final mixdown (and you can always reduce the gain on the master anyway if its too loud!), forget about limiting and all of that, just go with the basics: volume levels, panning and EQ...heres a few tips I wrote up a while ago...

http://dnbforum.com/showthread.php/120686-Mixdown-Tips

Essentially you just need make sure that every sound has its space in the mix, the simplest example is your Sub bass, if you high pass every other sound in the mix (except the Kick) at 100Hz, then your sub has plenty of space to come thru, apply the same principal to everything else, so if you have a lead which is screaming out between 500-1000hz, then you need to check your other sounds, to make sure that they are not overpowering that frequency range, use a bit of EQ to reduce those areas if so, then you have given your lead the space it needs...just apply that principal to everything in your mix, and it'll sound fat as fuck. (its not a quick process to learn, you have to tune your ears up to know what needs EQ and what needs volume adjustments - best tip in regards to mixdowns, if something seems to quiet, then it probably means that other stuff is too loud...turning things down is often better than turning something up)
 

Know One

Living A Lie
Messages
309
Likes
41
#6
forget about the -6db, its irrelevant until the final mixdown (and you can always reduce the gain on the master anyway if its too loud!), forget about limiting and all of that, just go with the basics: volume levels, panning and EQ...heres a few tips I wrote up a while ago...
Why does everyone worry so much about their headroom when making a track then? Like, everyone turns down the track volumes dramatically to insure plenty of headroom for the mastering stage.

So your saying we should just make the tune as loud as we can without clipping, then turn the master volume down when rendering out the final to send off for mastering?

I've always kinda wondered this myself, but wasn't sure if it had some negative effect to the "big picture" I was missing. Most people seem to wanna make a tune starting as quite as possible to end up with at least 6bd of headroom instead of making it as loud as they can (without clipping or limiter on master), then just turn down the master volume in the end to get the headroom.



:: sent from android with tapatalk ::
 

Skuff

Well-Known Member
VIP Junglist
Messages
1,040
Likes
72
#7
Essentially yes. Although I never touch the master volume. Only the separate channels and final buses at the end. If something is badly clipping while making the track I'll adjust levels as and when though.
 

miszt

BASSFACE Royale
VIP Junglist
Messages
2,944
Likes
360
#8
don't turn down the master fader, turn down the gain of the master channel (depending on your DAW, you may need to add a gain control to the master bus), its not the same thing as dropping the master fader (or better still drop all the channel faders down...even better still, don't have them up so loud in the first place)

why give yourself lots of headroom when mixing? because the more headroom you have, the better you are able to judge the mix and the more room you have to add things in

its also good practice (in the professional sense), if you ever find yourself in front of an analog desk pushing everything to the hilt, the sound engineer may decide your session is over and you can leave
 
Last edited:

RUSSLA

Technique
VIP Junglist
Messages
6,495
Likes
1,095
#9
There are no hard and fast rules, Rockwell and Annix and probs lots others run everything red and their tunes are heavy.

People deffo seem to forget the golden rule: if it sounds good, it sounds good.
 

Dark Lizardro

The Lizard that has a hammer
Tribal Leader
VIP Junglist
Messages
4,415
Likes
1,161
#10
I know this doesn't add to the thread, but am I the only one who find a little bit funny the terms "master bus" and "master fader"?
 
Messages
42
Likes
1
#11
I agree, it sounds like you need to sidechain your subs and midbasses at least and maybe any splashy noisy cymbals. I guarantee this will help your drums cut through. use a low threshold, high ratio, low attack and release times and some lookahead if possible.

- - - Updated - - -

Oh sorry, i forgot to say... use the kick and snare level to trigger the sidechain. In FL studio, I make a track with no output to the master, and name it "sidechain trigger". Then I route my kick and snare busses there, and sidechain this trigger track to the busses i want to compress.
 

miszt

BASSFACE Royale
VIP Junglist
Messages
2,944
Likes
360
#13
There are no hard and fast rules, Rockwell and Annix and probs lots others run everything red and their tunes are heavy.

People deffo seem to forget the golden rule: if it sounds good, it sounds good.
this is a bit misleading, you cannont run the master bus into red and then render a 16/24bit file, without it clipping - its not the same as running an analog mixer in the red, which is what allot of producers do, in order to get the character and warmth of a hot analog signal

even if Rockwell and Annix run their DAW's mixers in the red, you be sure that they either turn it down before rendering, or they render at 32bit so that it can then be run thru analogue equipment to get that hot sound, but by the time it is mastered into CD format, 16bit 44.1Khz, the signal will not be running in the red at all, it will be running below 0db, otherwise it will be clipped

there is no value to running a digital mixer in the red, it doesn't add character to the sound in the same way that a hot analog signal does, certainly you can push your Audio Interface harder, but unless you are running it thru an analog system to record a master, its pointless, coz the DAW renders the audio before it reaches the audio interface

What you could do, is run your hot digital signal into a bunch of preamps (if you have preamp microphone inputs on your audio interface), if they are half decent analog preamps, then you can get some extra character and warmth by doing this, but then you need to reroute the audio so it goes DAW > Output > PreAmps > DAW - serious risk of feedback loop, dead amp, headphones and ears if you don't do this correctly however (IE. make sure that you are not Monitoring the DAW output, the PreAmp Input and the DAW input all at the same time, you should only monitor either the PreAMP input or the DAW input - how/if this can be done, depends on the DAW and audio interface settings)
 
Last edited:

Know One

Living A Lie
Messages
309
Likes
41
#14
I know black sun empire will make their tunes as loud and close to zero DB as they can. They stated they used to leave headroom for mastering as everyone says, but when they ended up getting the master back it wasn't as good as they had hoped for. So they send the final out to mastering as loud as possible so the mastering house can't change much of its original feel and sound. If they left a ton of headroom, the mastering engineer would be able to make all kinds of changes to the overall tune that wasn't necessary flattering to it or what they had in mind.

But, that's black sun empire. Those 3 dudes could be just as famous and make just as banging of tunes by doing everything themselves.

:: sent from android with tapatalk ::
 

miszt

BASSFACE Royale
VIP Junglist
Messages
2,944
Likes
360
#15
I know black sun empire will make their tunes as loud and close to zero DB as they can. They stated they used to leave headroom for mastering as everyone says, but when they ended up getting the master back it wasn't as good as they had hoped for. So they send the final out to mastering as loud as possible so the mastering house can't change much of its original feel and sound. If they left a ton of headroom, the mastering engineer would be able to make all kinds of changes to the overall tune that wasn't necessary flattering to it or what they had in mind.

But, that's black sun empire. Those 3 dudes could be just as famous and make just as banging of tunes by doing everything themselves.

:: sent from android with tapatalk ::
lots of seasoned producers do this, but its only a good idea if you know what you are doing, BSE have been doing it long enough to know exactly what they are doing, NOISIA do aswell, but their sound is heavily dependant on their own style of Master Bus Compression, which took them years to develop

they still don't push it over 0DB tho, that's the important thing to remember, +0.00001DB = clipped
 

miszt

BASSFACE Royale
VIP Junglist
Messages
2,944
Likes
360
#17
That being said, Noisia tunes have great mixes but most BSE tunes have shit mixes
I guess you are talking about older BSE stuff, the mixdown and mastering style has changed dramatically in that time, I wouldn't say that Noisa's mixes are better, but they certainly are different, many would say that Noisia's music is massively over compressed and fatiguing, where as BSE lets the dynamics do the work, its all about taste, not quality imo
 

miszt

BASSFACE Royale
VIP Junglist
Messages
2,944
Likes
360
#20
haha we must have really different ears than
well sure we do, that's why people have different tastes, and why different styles of mixing and mastering exist, none is better than the others, unless you want to talk about the technicalities...in which case, all styles have their limitations, Noisia has less dynamics for eg, but that's not the point of their style, that's not what they are looking for in their music, doesn't make it better than other styles - infact for many producers, recording artists and bands, Noisia's style of mixing is completely wrong and wouldn't work for their sound.

learning the differences between mix and mastering styles, and understanding when/why/how to implement them for the sound being mixed is a very important aspect of sound engineering
 
Top