Here’s how I killed then resurrected my song

As some of you know I have posted a few times about my mixing woes. Long story short: I’ve been going round and round trying to mix and master a fusion rap song.that is frankly unlike anything I have ever heard. Once I get the bass right, the treble is wrong. Once I get the treble right, the bass or mids are wrong. Or, once I got all the levels right, it’s not loud enough, so I put the limiter on it and all the parts I have attenuated come back up again sigh. Vicious circle.

So, today, I decided to start all over. Removed every plug-in on every channel, returned all clips to 0db, removed all EQ, and stemmed every track dry to a whole new project. I then painstakingly cleaned up every audio track (I know - should have done that in the beginning) and found a lot of little issues (that add up to bigger issues).

Then last night I read an interesting post that stated when you’re working with a lot of elements in a beat oriented song, and you know it’s song is gonna need to be 12+ LUFS, it’s best to route all drum parts to a drum bus and compress the beat significantly before it hits the limiter on the main bus. This, said the genius, will essentially mellow the drum peaks in advance so they don’t dominate the final limiter and cause it to overwork and cause all kinds of other issues. So I remixed the whole song with all this in mind.

Right out of the gate I was surprised to hear all the instrument tracks again with no processing: they were huge and warm and fat originally, but through all my mixing and remixing I had eq’d and processed the soul out of them. I was reminded of my initial excitement about this song and how slowly over time, as I chiseled and cut and carved it began sounding brittle and cold, and I got so lost in it that I didn’t know how to breathe life back into it.

(By the way I realized it was time to remix when it hit me that I had 8 plugins and a warped and contorted dynamic EQ spaghetti mess on my main vocal and it still sounded like shit) :joy::rofl::crazy_face:

I did as the guy said and put a very light limiter on main bus as I mixed. I also compressed drums with a FET compressor before sending them to main bus. I doubled vocals and used parallel compression with light doubling (waves doubler);to fatten them. I also was very careful not to carve up the instruments too much. I kept hearing the voice of CLA from a mixing video I watched a ways back where he was talking about EQ and said “There’s room for everyone (all the instrument parts) ! You will not have to EQ them to death if you know what you’re doing.” I’ve learned he’s right: the best sounding songs have lush and full instruments, not hollowed out, brittle toy sounds! So I only carved what was absolutely necessary and when I encountered competing frequencies I gently dynamic eq’d one to make a little space. Also sidechained bass and kick. Oh, and I also used sends for the first time (question should sends be pre or post and why?). I didn’t know sends effectively double the track volume if send is at 0db. But if I turn down send the effect can barely be heard ? Not understanding how this works yet (I’ve always used inserts)

Suffice to say the rough mix I completed tonight is BY FAR the best mix of this song to date. It’s still a little muddy here and there , but it sounds twice as dense and interesting than it did before. Next step is to clean it up tomorrow snd pray I don’t mess around and start tweaking too much and fall back into that vicious wack-a-mole cycle. I pray I can finally finish it tomorrow.

That’s it for now

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Ahhh, the moment of recognition that less can indeed be more.

Well there isn’t really a right or wrong as it will depend on what you are trying to accomplish.

Consider having a Send to a reverb on a vocal Track. If the Send is Post Fader then as you decrease the Fader level it will also reduce the signal to the reverb because the Send is using the signal after the Fader has reduced it. This is your classic fade.

But if instead you had the the Send Pre Fader then when lowering the Fader it won’t change the signal level from the Send because that is occurring before the Fader. So even when the fader is all the way down you’ll still hear the reverb from the vocal. This will sound more like someone moving into the distance as you lower the Fader.