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How do I keep guitar Volume/level/output even?


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Hello, currently when attempting to mix a round of tracks Ive been running into numerous issues, mostly due to the fact I pretty much have no idea what Im doing, first of all my set up is just a mac book pro 4 gs of ram, 2.16 core2duo processors, the only external interface I use is a M-audio fast track pro box with 2 inputs, one used for a condenser mic and the other a Fender strat.

 

In the past when I mixed i pretty much didnt really have any issues, most of the music I listen to is Lo-fi like sonic youth, silkworm, pavement and bands in this vain which have some pretty rough mixes as is, so i never really aspired to doing things properly, however with these new tracks for drums ive been using the indie live kit with overdrive set to 13.75 and 4.0 which is giving me the perfect hard drum sound I have been looking for and for bass ive been using the synth bass "basement bass" all played with my apple keyboard, so its a pretty ghetto set up.

 

It seems this time though doing how ive done it in the past has caused the the songs to sound heavily distorted when bounced to mp3, ive heard some people talking about turing the graphic equalizer off in itunes but even with that off the tunes are still distorted, and frankly people actually do buy the music I make and Im not interested in putting some crazy disclaimer telling people to turn off the itunes GE to play the tracks, I mean who does that??

 

I heard something from someone having a similar issue who said that he had too much sub bass coming in that his monitors wouldnt pick up, Im not sure if that is my issue, but with me not knowing anything about mixing, he mentioned cutting off everything below 40hz whatever that means can anyone expand on this? So further exploration on these forums mentioned when mixing you should have your highest level at 0, I had been maxing certain things all the way to +6 and in the past it worked out ok, but now it is not the case.

 

So Ive began remixing everything to have the highest level at 0, I think this might be a solution, but now because of all the extra headroom or whatever you call it, the dynamics of the the songs are way off, i mean its even one second and jumps the next, so this brings me to the title of this post, most of these jumps seem to come from guitar parts and a bit from vocals ive recorded, which in the past due to my blunt and ignorant methods seemed to clip and compress everything into proper evenness.

 

So basically, can someone please tell me in an in depth manner how under this new mixing method im adopting I can keep the guitar even instead of having bad and inappropriate jumps in volume, which plugin or compressor to use and how to use and read it, oh and the guitar inputs ive been using are the ones that are used in the Rock composer template, Im not at home right now so I cannot see the exact names and as a final note, im talking about guitar parts that have already been recorded, any help would be very greatly appreciated!!

 

Justin

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Are you / were you mixing with a limiter or compressor on the 2 bus? If so, you have probably gotten used to that flattening out your mixes for you. If not, you must have got used to heavy digital clipping (what you may have heard on bounces you described). Either way, a pretty bad scene AFA sonics.

 

Try placing the snare drum (probably the loudest single element in the type of stuff you describe) so it peaks at around -9dBfs on the 2 bus, with nothing else playing, and then mixing in the other elements relative to that without moving the level of the snare. Do this mixing by ear, don't look at how low or high you are moving the individual faders or how high the sounds are or are not in the channel meters.

 

Once you have done this, you can use compressors or limiters to up- or down- compress the mix without drastically changing how it sounds.

 

Hope that helps.

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if there are just a few sections (on the guitar part for example) that are a bit too loud then you could try simply moving those sections to a new track and adjusting it's volume to match that of the rest of the track.

 

Other than that compressors are the way to go. Below is a link to a compressor tutorial on youtube. That is just part 1 of 2 from the same guy ... this is just the basics really, but it could get you started if your not really familiar with compressors. Using compression is kind of an art on it's own, so plan on tweaking the settings 'til you get good results.

 

As far as itunes .... I never use it's EQ settings at all. As a general rule, I never try to worry about how the listener may or may not have their audio system set-up when I'm mixing. I mix so that it sounds good to me, on my system, and I check it on a few other systems to make sure that there's nothing hugely wrong with it.

 

So further exploration on these forums mentioned when mixing you should have your highest level at 0, I had been maxing certain things all the way to +6 and in the past it worked out ok, but now it is not the case.
Do you mean that's where you had your virtual faders set, or what your meters were telling you?

 

on a side note, I'm really into Pavement .... I'd be interested in hearing some of your stuff.

 

video link =

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Hi Guys,

 

Thanks for the help, and for the link to the youtube tutorial, I will surely check that out, I guess I really need to learn more about compression. Yes that is what I meant by have the levels set to 0 (in reference to the individual faders for each track) for example I would often have a midi instrument like the Orchestra Celestia set to like +6 because it was so quiet and hard to hear, but after reading this lesson about having the highest at 0 i would select all the tracks at the same time and move the highest down to 0 and start from there, my main issue is trying to compress vocals and guitar to make them even sounding instead of the inappropriate jumps in volume.

 

It seems like this is a very difficult thing to do, Ive even began looking into paying someone to mix for me but im getting quotes like $8500 to do all 17 tracks, which is far above and beyond my means, maybe I can find some student fresh out of school or something looking to get more on the portfolio who will do it for next to nothing, this is my dream currently haha, other than that I guess I will have to buckle down and learn how to mix.

 

To m-m-m you can check out some songs at either myspace.com/u326 or on the music page of the official site universe326.com, do you write as well? If so perhaps I can in turn check out some of your stuff if you have any available, seeing as how you are also into Pavement I would surely be interested. Anyhow thanks a lot for the insight, any other guidance you can offer would be very much appreciated.

 

Justin

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Hey ...

 

I liked the songs that you had up on myspace. After listening to a few songs I started to read through your influences ... some of the things I was hearin' were listed there. Pretty cool. Although, I'm not sure were the Mojo Nixon influence fits in ....

 

I'll send you a PM a bit later ...

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Hey, the mojo nixon thing is a bit of a joke, he was on a label sampler I had before, really just a sort of running inside joke. It looks like im going to end up mixing all those tracks myself, the money people want to mix is way beyond my means, I think I can handle it once I get a better grip on compression, anyway I shall await the PM, great talking to ya.
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