First time doing all the mixing.

wflkurt

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So a friend of mine that I went to high school with asked me if I would contribute drums to an EP of his as he wanted to complete the RPM challenge where you complete a project in a month. Not only did I agree to play drums and also add some keyboards, I offered to take on the whole task of mixing everything. I have wanted to push myself into doing something like this for a while and this was the perfect way to get myself motivated. It's definitely not perfect by any stretsch but it was a lot of fun to do and I learned a lot in the process. We did 7 songs and my friend, along with a few of our other friends sent me tracks. I saved all the tracks for each song in designated folders, dumped the tracks from there into Logic and went from there. My friend is actually a bass player/singer who has been writing a lot on guitar. Most of the tracks I played drums to were him playing and singing to a click track. From there the other guys would send me parts and I would add them in. I added some organ or synth where needed and even used a loop in the song Never Enough. I only had roughly three weeks to get this completed so my friend could make the challenge a success. I don't think i ever want to try and mix 7 songs like this on such short notice again but I'm pretty happy how things turned out. Nobody is winning a Grammy for sure but it was fun to be creative and just do something because we can. The best part is that none of this cost anyone a cent.

Something like this would have easily cost us all at least a few hundred dollars. I certainly hate some things about technology but I thought this was pretty cool. We were also able to video chat about ideas which I liked as my friend currently lives in Chicago and I am in New Hampshire. I used my mid 70's Gretsch set to record this as well as a SSB Chrome snare for most of it. I was very happy with how well the set recorded as it was a breeze to make it sound good. That snare just did a great job. I used my classic maple 5x14 on one song and a 1959 trans badge Ludwig 13" piccolo on another. I started the project with Zildjians and then switched over to paiste Giant Beats. Hopefully I will continue to improve so that I can make recordings for future stuff. I have a long way to go but this is a start. The stuff I did was the Whirled View project.

https://soundcloud.com/david-whalley
 

bassanddrum84

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Sounds pretty good the drums are a little background but overall great. Reminds me of petty.
 

hsosdrum

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Great job! I agree with bassanddrum84 about the drums being a little far back in the mix. I'd also see about using some compression on the vocals so you can get them to sit a bit better in the mix — the instruments all occupy one acoustic space but the vocals occupy a completely different space on top of them.
 

wflkurt

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Thanks for the responses and feedback guys. I appreciate it. I definitely struggled with the vocals as they probably were not done on the best microphone for sure. I tried using some compression but probably could have done more. Unfortunately I had to work with the tracks that were sent to me and try to make them work as best as I could. I struggled with the volume on the drums too. I agree that they should have been louder but I didn't know if I was thinking that because I am a drummer that loves drums. I always like drum to be prominent in the mix and maybe I was just trying to be a little more arbitrary to the other instruments. It was tough to try and deal with parts recorded from other people that had their levels set at different outputs. Some of the guitars and such needed to be compressed kind of hard to get them to come up in volume as they were a little weak. My gretsch set sounded pretty good. I use a presonus fire studio and I just set levels until everything peaks then I back off until I can get things were nothing peaks at my hardest hits. I'm definitely not a pro and have a lot to learn and as for now am just trying to trust my ears the best I can. Sometimes I worry about EQ as I have played drums for so long now that I worry about the tinitus I experience daily messing with my perception of the sound.

I would also not recommend trying to take on this many songs in such a short window of time. I realistically had three weeks to record my parts and mix the whole thing once everyone else sent in parts. I still have my full time job that takes up the week and times on the weekend are limited as I try do other things to that need to get done. While it's not recommended, I ended up doing a lot of mixing while using headphones as that was the most ideal for me. I could at least get in the ball park then go down to the basement where the monitors are to adjust things better. Doing this much in a short time also plays tricks with your head as one minute, it sounds god and the next you think it sounds terrible.

For the future I am asking my guys to make sure their levels and dynamics are on point. I had to mess with vocal levels in a few songs as they would trail off or get lower in some places. I had to go in line by line and adjust the level so that the words could be heard. I don't think my friends thought I would put in nearly this much effort but I wanted to try and make it sound decent. My wife actually started giving me a little crap towards the end as she was asking why I was putting so much effort into it. I told her that it was going out into the world and potentially (but not likely) anyone from here to the middle of Russia could hear this and I wanted to make it sound as good as I knew how. If this were not part of some challenge with a deadline, I would have been able to focus on each song with a better head for that song.

This is just a beginning for me anyway as I have never taken on this much of the process before. I have been in the studio numerous times going back to the early 90's and have recorded my own drum parts to share but I have never taken on a whole project like this. it was a good learning experience and I am grateful for the feedback. I definitely know this is not perfect but it is feeding my creative side and getting me behind my drums as this pandemic killed all my indoor gigs and I'm going crazy!

Thanks again!
 

wflkurt

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You guys have also really got me thinking in terms of where drums should sit in a mix volume wise. I certainly love a nice up front drum mix but I also know that my feeling come from a biased opinion. once I started really getting more into recording myself, I would hear songs in a completely different way going forward. It's tough to know where they should sit but I also feel like a good solid drum part glues everything together just right. I have made recording before in my other bands where I had zero control over a mix and what was going on. I did an album with one of my bands back in 2013 and I had to fight with the engineer to get my cymbals to come up. In the first mixes, they were barely audible and I was using mostly 2002's which really cut through. It frustrated me to the point that it made me wonder why any drummer would spend any kind of money on good cymbals if that's all that was going to be heard.

I try to listen to other albums but sometimes I have to be careful as I grew up in the 80's where a lot of drums sounded big and processed. One album that sticks out to me is the first album that Matchbox 20 put out. I have always thought the drums sounded criminally low in the mix yet that album sold millions of copies. Stuff like that makes think what do I know?

I would be curious to see what most people here thought about the levels on drums in mixes. In the future I will more than likely take the advice bassanddrum84 and hsosdrum and bring the drums up a little more in future recordings.
 

bassanddrum84

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I’m a drummer who just loves everything to be nice and right there. The tones were great the tunes were very cool. Reminded me of petty. With given what you had to work with and time frame it’s great. The drums were there but a little bump up would make them a little more prominent. It’s hard to mix specially in a short time frame. It took me weeks to mix one song once I had to keep walking away and refresh my ears. I always burn it to cd or mp3 and listen in a car. And through messy headphones all the way up to really nice headphones and studio speakers. I had a guy who did mixes in Kansas tell me he does the car listen and crappy headphone because 90% of people will be listening to it through crappy headphones or in a car so if you can make it sound good through them then it’ll be even better through studio speakers. Keep posting stuff you do I love listening to others music. Thanks!!!
 

wflkurt

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I’m a drummer who just loves everything to be nice and right there. The tones were great the tunes were very cool. Reminded me of petty. With given what you had to work with and time frame it’s great. The drums were there but a little bump up would make them a little more prominent. It’s hard to mix specially in a short time frame. It took me weeks to mix one song once I had to keep walking away and refresh my ears. I always burn it to cd or mp3 and listen in a car. And through messy headphones all the way up to really nice headphones and studio speakers. I had a guy who did mixes in Kansas tell me he does the car listen and crappy headphone because 90% of people will be listening to it through crappy headphones or in a car so if you can make it sound good through them then it’ll be even better through studio speakers. Keep posting stuff you do I love listening to others music. Thanks!!!

Thanks so much for the words of encouragement. It's crazy when I go on youtube and see what some of these people do. Especially with vocals and stuff. Plus a lot of these people seem to know what DB range a specific instrument or voice sits at. I know i will improve but I don't know anything about stuff like that. It really is a lot of fun though. I will definitely do more of this in the future. probably not so much at one time though. It's easy to see why real records can take so long to make.
 

wflkurt

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Mix sounds good. I'm enjoying listening. Band sounds good.

Thanks so much for listening. we aren't really a band. Most of the guys and I were in a band years ago but the bass player (the guy singing all the songs) lives in Chicago now whereas the rest of us are in New Hampshire. Thanks to modern technology, we are able to record all of this stuff remotely. In fact my firend in Chicago had a bass player friend of his do a few of the tracks on bass and I have never met the guy. It seems weird and while I definitely like human contact, I thought it was pretty cool that we could work this way. I think one of my next projects will be to get the guys from this in their proper roles when we were a band back in the early 2000's and record some new music. I think that would be fun and it won't cost us anything.
 

drummertom

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Mix sounds pretty good Kurt. I agree with the previous comments that the drums could come up a little. I'd also think about how the bass and kick play together. Bass guitar seems to dominate leaving the kick a little small. Good job though!
 

DamnSingerAlsoDrums

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I pretty much have the same comments as the others, Vocals could have benefited from a little more compression, or maybe just a different compression setting on your mix bus could've done the job. Maybe a bit of tape saturation to round things off just smidge. Overall your mix is a little on the bright side, reminiscent of certain americana rock albums of the late 80's early 90's. Mixtape and Shores of gold stand out, both mix-wise and performance-wise. Good honest Rock tunes. Solid first effort. ;)
 


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