[Music] Looking for some feedback on a mix

Hello all,

I’ve been doing a project with a local band and thought I’d put up a mix for some comments. Young band, kind of a rock genre. Friends of mine so I’m doing the recording for free (and to get some experience with this style of music).

Recorded everything in the basement of my house. The only VST instrument is a piano track so Cubase is being used here as purely an audio recording/editing/mixing platform.

A fun tune that came out pretty good (IMHO) so I thought I’d share it. Have another tune that I’m almost done with that I’ll post in a few days (I really like this one).

Let me know what you think…


Hi Karl

During the verses, when that rhythm guitar is not playing … the drums, bass vocalist and the guitar off to the side are providing clear and punchy melodic and rhythmic energy. The centre rhythm guitar, though, when it comes in with its rhythm stabs, rather than adding octane and support with its chops, smashes through as if a fellow member of the audience … someone sitting in the seat just in front of me … is noodling his own chops. It disconnects from the rest of the band and when it stops to let the next verse happen, the echo of its over-dominance renders what follows pale and wan. Centre rhythm guitar needs to be taken down in volume. Should it be panned a little bit to the side opposite the present ‘side guitar?’ I don’t know. When, in the earlier parts of the voice it is interspersing, then the vocal and guitar sharing centre-stage focus feels good … the sledgehammer is hitting the rock at the same point and therefore adds to the impact. The end of the verse, however, the guitar and voice MIGHT be vying and obscuring each other - though I say ‘might,’ since the problem might dissolve with the reduction of volume alone.

Vocals and harmony vocals are very much in my face during choruses … I like this, because it give a feeling of full on harmony group with choochoo train impetus. Drumkit has kind of gone into the background, and maybe that’s the sacrifice that has to be made however, the kick/snare have lost too much of their beef. Rhythm and impetus is being retained, because the rest of the band is smokin’, but the drums turn into tin and sizzle. This is partly because they were, in my opinion, beautifully balanced for the ‘sound environment’ you created for the verses, in which the one voice was ‘in’ the band. The sound-stages for the verse and chorus are so different that, if you wish to keep this very strong contrast, then I reckon snare/kick and bass-punch need to be re-thought and that the rhythm section needs to be made ‘big enough’ to support those power-harmony-vocals. Vocals should be ‘riding’ the band like on a horse. At the moment, the horse is a very little one.

Lead Solo guitar: The heavy reverb does not obscure the bum notes and timing issues, but rather serves to add a second ‘noodler’ to the band … this time, s/he’s sitting in a nearby bathroom with a small combo. That lead - I was wanting it to pounce like a wolf. I wanted the cherry to be on the top of the cake rather than left on a side-plate in the kitchen. I’ve a worried feeling that the lead guitarist him/herself chose most of that, including the distortion which, though in my own music I’d rather take mendicant holy orders than go below eleven, in the band you’re working with, needed to provide, at most, crunch rather than oversaturated sustain, because the lead’s very notes and phrases were closer to attack-heavy high-energy country-rock solo than ‘Wheeeweew’ Rawk. I’m thinking toward driven Fender Pro or Twin.

When I think of the contrast between the two sound stages, I would do the following mixes as an experiment:

Verse-form ‘band’ = reduce vol of centre rhythm guitar and move it to the side slightly. During choruses, add a bit more volume to lead vox and bring in harmony voxes slightly less vol than lead vox. Then nothing would be in my face, but I’d see a tight harmony vox standing on a stage. I’d lose the chorus ‘wall of vox’ - would that loss ruin the energy of the song? Would

Chorus-form ‘band’- let the ‘squashed’ feel apply also to the verses - maybe copy the lead vocal a few times with micro time-displacement [or something ?] to thicken it up, so the homogenous band is still be ‘led’ by the voice, even when there is just one of them. Then in choruses, the harmony voxes wold slip in either side.

Verse-form band would feel like a ‘democratic’ instruments&singers band
Chorus-form band would feel like a ‘Vocal Group’ & backing band ‘with’ guest lead guitarist.
Thus there would be two different production concepts - two ‘personalities’ for the band. Each would be very strong and unified, and I’d use this ‘Binocular’ perspective as a tool with which to ‘Triangulate’ this song to its next level.

Karl, I’ve tried to describe two visions and how I see them contrasting or fitting, and, re-reading what I wrote, realise however, that I did so at the expense of pointing out the many things I like, and wish therefore, to conclude by affirming that quality is dripping throughout this, but that having had opportunity to experience some of your other works, I took it for granted, for which I apologise.

Best wishes

My thoughts too.

Glyn, no apology is needed. I was looking for feedback and you gave me an excellent and detailed bit. I hear exactly what you’re describing and I’m thinking through it now.

The distortion rhythm guitar is something the band really wanted. It’s proven real tough to work with for multiple reasons…as you note, the tune has more of a wheehaw kind of feel and the dist guitar kinds of fights with that. Second, because it’s a distortion guitar it occupies a lot of frequency bandwidth and kind of wants to take over the soundstage…trying to get it “hearable” in the mix without it dominating is tricky.

I tried moving it to a side but it makes the mix heavy on whatever side I put it on. Also tried centering the accoustic gtr and putting the dist gtr to the side but the part that the dist gtr is playing doesn’t provide a nice balance against the piano part (panned slightly right). Similar problem if I put the piano center, acc gtr to one side and dist gtr to the other. the guitars dont quite balance each other so the mix feels heavy on side or the other depending on which gtr is playing at the time.

As for the solo…yeah…that needs some work I know. I think the guitarist might be hearing two versions of the song in his head. One has the more country rock/big vocal harmonies kind of sound, the other is more of a hard rock…maybe almost metal type of sound and he goes back and forth between these. We worked for quite awhile trying to get the existing solo and I suspect it didn’t come easy because the sound and style he’s hearing in his head really doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the song.

Perhaps I’ll suggest just dropping the distortion rhythm guitar entirely and replace the solo with something, as you say, with some crunch but not the oversaturated sustain.

Your description of verse-form and chorus-form bands was very interesting. My thoughts had been running towards something like the verse-form…kill the distortion rhythm guitar entirely, the accoustic and piano drive the rhythm section entirely well in the verse section. Maybe thicken the lead voc’s in the verse just a bit.

Kick into the chorus section and pump up the dynamics of the tune by adding the harmonies and drive the drums a bit harder…maybe just emphasize the snare (lot’s of stuff nails the downbeat, the two beat has some space around it that the snare could fill without getting in the way and this might help put “the beef” back into the drums during the chorus).

As usual, good suggestions! I appreciate you taking the time to listen and throw some ideas at me.

Many thanks!


I’ve listened three times now.

IMO, the mix is pretty damn good as it is. Yes, the drums are getting lost a bit when the full ensemble is playing, but in this case I don’t think it’s critical, because the rhythmic essence of the tune is maintained by the strumming choices of the guitars and the bass is still there providing a solid underpinning. If you DO decide to bring the drums up a bit, I’d be interested in hearing that, but you might able to achieve the same result by bringing some of the other elements down just a tad… I suggest this because with this type of tune, “openness” is preferable to “wall-of-sound”

I strive in my critiques of Cubase-user tunes to avoid making suggestions that the artist/recordist adhere to certain widely-embraced conventions, unless I really think such strict adherence will improve the tune. Take both the opening guitar tone and solo guitar tone, which Glynn discussed. Frankly, I didn’t have any problem accepting either. Yes, they’re a bit outside “normal expectations” for this style of tune – convention would dictate that the opening rhythm guitar have a clean tone with a bit of breakup in it (like a twin or a Vox with a pedal in front of it) and same with the solo. But for me, they work how they are — if THAT’S how the artist wanted/heard it, I wouldn’t change it.

Regarding the acoustic “stabs” – I concur they’re just slightly too loud, but only slightly. They don’t obscure the vocal – they’re strategically placed between phrases, afterall. I actually think it SHOULD panned center.

One thing I might suggest trying: mix this dude in MONO. I rather think this song would sound wonderful in that format

Hi there Karl :slight_smile:

I think it sounds cool as it is but there is some “buts”

1: When the chorus (at 1.06 etc) comes the mix gets a little too intense/squashed.
It’s like you mixed/pre mastered with the verse in mind and then the chorus thingy comes in and it has too much sonic energy for the pre mastering chain you have set up here.

2: I would really like the drums to have a bit more prominent part of the mix.

The sounds of the individual intruments and the vocals sounds good to me.
Good band!

All the best, Kim :slight_smile:

Ok…I made a number of changes (if you’re interested in specifics, here’s the change list from the project notepad)…

sorry, I forgot to include a link to the new version… :blush:


Mix version 8, multiple changes…
V8 Mix

  1. Modified the Rhythm gtr track/Ribb…decrease room verb send by about 5 db, increased low shelf eq freq to 517 hz, dec vol from -4.30 to -6.71, fading down after the intro
  2. Increased compression on both Layton and Meg’s bac voc chan’s. Put de-esser on bac voc group chan. Turned down Room verb send on bac voc grp chan, turned on doubler send in the bac voc grp chan. Dec vol on bac voc grp chan, reduced to -2.73
  3. Added eq on the drum grp chan, 3.7 db boost at 4.96k, q=0.2
  4. Increased drum track vol by 1 db (trimmed up the vol automation track)
  5. Took the drum overhead track and did a gain increase on the track of 1.5 db
  6. Modified several params on the amp sim on the bass track. Basically, reduced low bot, tried to take some tubbiness out of it.
  7. Reduce solo gtr level from -6.33 to -8.43 db
  8. Reduce Alt/End Bac voc vol from -.2 to -3.48, turned on Doubler send, set doubler send lvl to -9.06, turned down room verb send to -13.721

Take a listen and let me know what you think. Thanks again to everyone!


Hi Karl

To my ears, this is a definite improvement.

I know that my ‘taste’ choice now would be to use what I called the ‘verse’ mix as a reference and to look for how components in the chorus can be adjusted to be on the same ‘stage’, however, this is very different from what I’d call ‘mix necessity’. Well done on what you’ve done here :slight_smile:

Doug … hi … it was only on the actual Lead solo that I had a problem with the tone of the guitar wetness and saturation. Elsewhere, I was only concerned about guitar volume or positioning :slight_smile:

Still sounds great

One of the better productions I’ve heard here lately. It has a nice “live” vibe to it, without being “roomy” and is nice and open without being too brite.

I wouldn’t mind a tad more bass


Yes sounds pretty good. I don’t have a problem with the guitar solo sound/style. Seems to work as a break to me. Really like the groove the band has.

My only nit would be that rhythm guitar cluttering the centre stage but I see you’ve already been fighting that. I don’t suppose you have a di track to work with.


Dave, do you mean a DI for the strumming acc gtr (panned slightly left) or the distortion rhythem gtr (panned center but brought down in the mix)?

The acc gtr had two mics on it, I think I had an AT4030 on the body and a Sennheiser e914 condenser pointed at the 13’th fret. The dist gtr had 2 mics on the cabinet, an SM57 and a Fathead2 ribbon mic. I’m not at the studio right now but I think we ended up just using the Ribbon mic.

What are you thinking?


I meant the distorted electric guitar. If you have a di’d track for that you could re amp with a plug in. Maybe make it cleaner in places but you could leave it as is where it is prominant/featured.