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  And there's even more Q&A!?!  

Q) I've always aimed for recording with flat EQ on most things. -Ulf (from Sweden)

That technique is very good, so long as the source itself sounds excellent (and you don't mind double-eq'ing at mix time). I'd done everything from cut flat to use double parametric eqs. My preference is that when anybody hits "Play" on the multitrack, it sounds really really good.

The most frequent suggestion [I've heard] is to listen and compare with commercial CD's.

It's a good one, but it takes time for many trials and adjustments. You still will want to go listen in the car and on several consumer systems - keeping in mind to not be concerned about how loud some commercial CDs are. Just listen to tone and balance.

[But when I do that] it involves a bit of heavy eq'ing.

Not a bad idea, if it sounds good.

[I then] took a look at a spectrum analyzer to actually "see" what was going on.

A good step in research, but your ears are telling you the same thing. Every pro I know ignores spectrum analyzers - this makes you rely on your ears - but again, if it's helpful you should use any tool that works.

Whenever I try to brighten the sound it gets too thin.

That's the teeter-totter effect. Any eq will displace another aspect of the sound. You just have to be careful at what frequency you're adjusting so that you don't teeter-totter out the good stuff. I don't know about you, but it took me 10 years on incredible speakers to finally feel that I knew what I was doing.

Am I'm better off leaving it up to the mastering engineer?

Best to be very very happy with your mixes right out of the studio. My pages on eq suggestions will be helpful and there's no shortage of other ideas here

I'm always mixing at a very, very low level.

That's ok, but not always ideal. I tended to mix at a variety of levels, but I looked for some excitement in volume. I also used very low-fatigue monitors and Class A amplifiers which are very low in distortion and allow you to use hotter levels and survive to hear another day.

I have a couple of JBL 4406 fed from a Quad 520f amp, and I like the way they sound together with a subwoofer, but they don't seem to transform very well to other systems. I've tried the Genelec but they're to harsh in my opinion and I'm afraid that these would boost my problem (lacking mid's) even more. I also have a couple of Auratones, but they're also a little bit squeaky. I have the opportunity to try Event, -Do you have any opinions on those?

I'm not a fan of standard studio monitors. If I was in your shoes, I would get a pair of Dahlquist DQ-10's, an excellent sub woofer, a good pro audio crossover and excellent amps. Look on eBay or go here I used DQ-10's for 18 years and they were unsurpassed by anything I've heard, next to my own mastering system.

However, you must be willing to trying something different than everybody else. Everyone I've turned on to these speakers LOVES them. You must be able to sit back 6 feet from them and work with the balance of the subs. It's not plug-and-play - it's set up, be amazed, and tweak. You will discover amazing things about how different (and not always great) records sound. You cannot skimp with this system, because if you use a cheap amp, the speakers will sound bad. Why? Because the amp is bad. If you use a great amp and great cables, they will sound great. They reveal exactly what you give them. For much less than the Genelecs, you will have a system that has stood the test of time for over 20 years.

You also may want to check out the monitor module and analog summing mixer that I am manufacturing.

Q) Am I best off converting to 24-bit and mixing in 24-bit (in Cakewalk Pro Audio 9) - Brendan

Yes. Even a 24-bit version of a 16 bit source sounds better.

Or am I better off just keeping it in 16-bit and doing my mixing in 16-bit (in SAW Plus32, which I love, but which only supports 16-bit)?

"Love" adds a whole new dimension to your question. If you love what you're getting, I'd stick with it. The added smoothness of going 24 bit probably would hamper some of the aspects of your process that really truly work emotionally and/or creatively for you. The essence of the music and creative process which gives you better music is, in my opinion, more important than a hair more silky (closer to analog) sound.

Q) I boost little bit those frequencies which appears to be the highest peaks on every instrument. -Jarno

That's cool if it works for you, but I haven't used that approach. Usually if there are peaks or surges in a bass, I try to make them more even with compression or multiband compression, so that it stays present and punchy but doesn't overwhelm anything else.

Very often many instruments have the same peak positions and I don´t know what to do with those.

Usually I try to shape each instrument in different areas so they have their own place in the mix without covering up something else. So I might add 2.5k to one guitar and 1.2k to another one so they have a slightly different flavor.

I mix with spectral analyser is that recommended?

To quote Stephen Marcussen "I use two spectrum analysers - one on each side of my head." - but if it works for you, that's all that matters.

I use a subwoofer when I mix, but when listening thru normal speakers and other systems the kick and bass are too low.

Turn down your subwoofer a little at a time, till you're getting the same result in the real world.

(and my woofer is not too loud with commercial cds)

Your room is interacting with the sub, possibly giving you low end room reflections or standing waves that add to the appearance of lows, but not a directly accurate amount. You also may be too close to the speakers when you mix - it takes distance to build up the real low end because the wavelengths are longer. It may not be practical, but try moving back from your speakers, keeping the subs right under or right next to them.

When I try to achieve brightness of commercial stuff I have to boost highs in some cases up to 20dB! (cymbals mixed low) Is this normal?

No. Try cutting in other areas, like around 400hz to 900 Hz. you may have some mid range build up. Keep in mind digital eq's give about half the result of an analog eq. 20 dB on a digital eq is about the same as 10dB on an analog unit.

I've tried very hard to copy the frequency structure of commercial CDs with variable success.

It took me at least 10 years till I felt I was right on target with my monitor system. I was always adjusting them as I went, not to mention my ears evolved over time. It just takes time and refinement - one must trust the process to uncover the formula that works for your combination of components.

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed with all the goals I want to achieve.

Shift from goals to intentions. Here's how I put it into words (but just to let ya know, really knowing this is a distinct feeling that boosts your confidence 150%). Here goes:

Goals are targets you shoot for - you may hit them, you may not. They can be very specific and timed. They can feel great to achieve, but they can also limit things down to a specific, rather than being unlimited in potential. Intention is when you have decided to make something happen (with a knowingness of your unlimited power of creation) and nothing in the world will stop you in it's actualization. It can be specific or it can be an umbrella covering an overall result that encompasses many goals. The process of the intention (with no regard for time) is as fulfilling and motivating as the achievement of the outcomes.


Created 03/04/03 • Modified 03/13/03
Solutions for how to avoid mix problems!
Must we analyze digital sound under the microscope when a 13-year old won't know the difference anyway?