Are friends Electric - Mix Challenge voting thread

What's Hot
poopotpoopot Frets: 8196
edited September 2021 in Making Music
Right then peeps,

Time to listen and cast your votes.

You should now be able to download the WAVs hand have a listen at your own leisure without soundcloud getting in the way:

https://soundcloud.com/thefretboard/sets/are-friends-electric-mix

1st place gets 5 points
2nd place gets 3points
3rd place gets 1 point

have a listen, post your thoughts and cast your votes below

Voting closes midnight on Friday sept 24th.. the winner will be announced shortly afterwards and they will be expected to buy every other entrant a beer.


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Comments

  • poopotpoopot Frets: 8196
    @Stuckfast cast your votes in this one fella.
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  • Sorry, yes, jumped the gun! Here are my non-scientific thoughts once again...

    Bezzer: Very aggressive mix. That suits the song up to a point, but it's overcooked in the mid-range, and having saturation on absolutely everything gets a bit wearing after a while. Rather bass-light. I wonder if the drums are a bit too prominent in the balance.

    poopot: Yikes, even more distortion! Sounds very garage-y and lo-fi, which is an interesting take on the song but gets tiring quite fast. I like the mix balance, which has the vocals and lead instruments very prominent. Rhythm guitar is a bit relentless though.

    springywheel: Quite a boxy-sounding mix, especially the drums, which sound very 'knocky'. Tons of delay on the synths which tends to muddy the mix. Not as fatiguing to listen to as the first two! Kick drum gets lost.

    Andy_k: Quite similar to Bezzer's mix in that it's brutally aggressive. Everything's quite distorted and pushed even harder in the upper mid-range, so the mix as a whole sounds brittle and the bottom end feels weak. Think I prefer the mix balance here, though. It brings the lead parts into the foreground a bit more.

    Siejen: Think this mix probably has the most balanced frequency spectrum, it hits hard in the mid-range without losing the bass. Once again things are distorted to the point of feeling a bit fatiguing. I like what you've done to add variety to the rhythm guitars which are a bit samey in most of the other mixes. Some parts seem a bit out of whack level-wise and the mix sort of comes and goes in strange ways but definitely the most interesting take on the song to me.

    So, for me: @Siejen five points, @poopot three points and @Springywheel one point.


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  • poopotpoopot Frets: 8196
    @Stuckfast are you listening on your phone?????
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  • BezzerBezzer Frets: 489
    edited September 2021
    I’m actually glad I didn’t get any points since I’m not an entrant … rather the starting point

    will listen to the entries tomorrow when I’m home. Looking forward to it.
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  • :) poopot said:
    @Stuckfast are you listening on your phone?????
    I think @Stuckfast makes some excellent points and is clearly a very learned judge !!  =)
    I’ll get my listening hat on before the deadline. I’ve heard AFE quite enough this week  :)

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  • poopot said:
    @Stuckfast are you listening on your phone?????

    No, on a fairly good pair of headphones, why?
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  • poopotpoopot Frets: 8196
    Stuckfast said:
    poopot said:
    @Stuckfast are you listening on your phone?????

    No, on a fairly good pair of headphones, why?
    I’m not hearing the massive distortion you are… was curious to see what you were playing back on…

    actually, would be good if everyone mentioned what they do listen on…
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  • Well I just gave it a listen on studio speakers just to check that I'm not going mad.

    There is definitely massive distortion on the vocal... Obviously that's an artistic choice, but to me it feels a bit overdone and quite fizzy.

    However, there's also distortion that comes from overloading things in the mix somewhere. You can hear it for instance on the very first note of the lead guitar at about eight seconds in. And the mix as a whole comes across as being a bit edgy and brittle to my ears. It's not 'distorted' in the sense of sounding like a fuzzbox but it is quite harsh and tiring to listen to. Could it be that something on the mix bus is being clipped or driven too hard?
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  • poopotpoopot Frets: 8196
    Nothing is clipping on mine at least… I’ve not imported everyone’s wavs into a project yet… will have a listen later… :)
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  • I guess it could be a Soundcloud artefact?
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  • BezzerBezzer Frets: 489
    Morning all!  Apologies for taking a while to come to this but I wanted to a) come at it with fresh ears and b) mentally prepare myself for listening to myself for 20 minutes or so .... intently enough that I can add my critique as it were.

    For point of reference I'm calling the "chorus" the spoken word part because it doesn't really have one in the real sense.

    @poopot - Overall I really liked this mix, it all hangs together pretty nicely buuuut, it was very bright, or sharp. This is causing a few issues on the vocals, where they've been stacked (and I had the same problem here) it becomes very sibilent and the bright EQ is accentuating that further.  That is then dragged out across the vocal by the reverb, pulling those SSSSSS sounds out over the next half bar or so.  The synth "leads" are possibly a bit too dominant, they sort of come from no one and slap you across the phase with their cock, a dB or 2 down would have been better there I think, or some creative EQ to sit them more IN the part.  Really liked the phase effect on the synths.  Really good job though, just a bit too bright overall and lacking some thump in the subs.

    @springywheel - This is more like the original which is absolutely fine, depends whether you look at this as a mix challenge based on performers intent (we will come to this later with entrey number 4 :) ) or a re-invention. Both valid but obviously as the performer my intent will maybe lead some of these comments.  So yeah, the synths are the driving force in this version, luckily I think you've treated them really well and got that vibe the original had, impressed with that, I find synths tough at times.  The vocals feel a bit dead / flat, I think some more time was need here EQing them to fit the tone you've aimed for with the instrumental side, the reverb I did like though, while stille pretty dominant for my tastes it does glue more into the mix rather than wash over it.  Until the chorus that is where everything seems to become heavily washed in reverb and it blurs the mix.  Mostly it's a decent mix balance wise for the style you went for but I think the EQ is off as it feels low mid dominant with little to no air / top end making it quite boxy.

    @Andy_k - Wow, this is SUUUPPPER bright, I thought Poopot had taken that crown but no, you pipped him to the post :) That said, I think this was closest of all to my intention when starting.  I really like the vocal treatment in the verses, again more 'verb than I would go for but it feels like you've ducked it a somehow as it blooms out of the vocal rather than washing over it.  Not so sure about the chorus vocal though, the effect on it (I think some sort of doubler?) is going a bit like an auto-tune correction ... which is really jarring on a spoken part.  The guitars here sound great though all balanced really nicely.  There's a weird "chirping" sound going on through the whole thing which MAY be a compression artifact but I have a feeling is pick noise accentuated due to the very bright mix.  The bass seems to be struggling to get through a lot of the time as well.  Again, overall I liked the mix, the issues is with balancing that EQ.

    And finally, @Siejen - well here we have the dub mix.  I mean this is about a million miles away from my intent ha ha.  I do like it though overally and conceptually however I think you built yourself a mountain to climb here.  Obviously we've got no issues at all with low end so I'll move on from that!  The vocals in the verses from verse 2 onwards seem really dry and disconnected from the track as a whole because of it, this better in the chorus where it glues through the reverb choice but here they are pulled out because of the massive volume hike.  Chorus guitars ... using the DI (I assume that's why it's so "clean") on the right felt odd to me and became quite jarring against the distorted left, I think if using ultra clean and dirty you need to blend them so use the doubles of both and mix together.  The sound on the whammy guitars was ace though, really like that.  Back to the verse guitars, there's a "hurdy gurdy" tremolo going on that's really distracting on the left.  Causing a weird sort of panning effect.  Not so bad on monitors but on headphones its really distracting.  Outro sounds great, like the treatment of that.  Final thoughts, I like it conceptually but I think there are some issues need tweaking to make it sounds as good as it can.  Main one being volume levels, it's jumping around all over the place, get that balance more consistent and I think it would sound very cool.

    So who do I give points to after all that.  I think it's going to come down to understanding the INTENT as this is a mix challenge ... in a remix challenge it may have been different.  And it'll be based on glue.  I think Andy_k and Poopot got closest to the intent I was going for and while Andy_k I think got CLOSER to my "vision" I think Poopot's gelled together overall a little better. Then springywheel who's an EQ curve away then Siejen who I think could have had a banger with a little more level work. So.

    5 points : @poopot ;
    3 points : @andy_k ;
    1 point : @Springywheel ;
    A pint and a scotach egg : @Siejen ;

    Hopefully no one is offended by my comments there!  Can see the amount of work in all of them, and really appreciate you spending that much time listening to my awful singing :)
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  • andy_kandy_k Frets: 604
    Some weird shit going on in this forum, a post with 11 replies is showing only 6 views?
    I hope these votes aren't going to be rigged, I have 3 points in the game.
    First round of listening done (monitors), second round (headphones) will be done tomorrow, with votes to follow.
    TBC.
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  • andy_kandy_k Frets: 604
    edited September 2021

    I had a lot of fun with this one, and tried hard  to do it justice - clearly a lot of effort went into the track and the video that accompanied it.

    First impressions were, wow, what a big project, but once I got over the shock to the system it was a pretty smooth process.

    I approached it in a few 3 or 4 hour sessions, lost count really, and took a break between mixing and finalising-which was probably a mistake- but I am pretty happy with my final version.

    I took a few liberties with the track, considering the midi was supplied, and I took full advantage of the fact that all the Di’s were there.

    When I did my first rough balance, I realised there were a lot of unnecessary, or rather, extra, drum tracks, and I like to start with a pretty stripped down drum mix, so I began with the basic shells and only a couple of the overheads.

    The guitar elements were mixed left and right, and bass was kept centred, following the usual ‘rules’, and at this point something was bugging me about the timing,or feel, of the track.

    I felt that there was a disconnect between the drum performance and the guitars, was this what was behind the ‘ tracking’ comment Bezzer made in his introduction to the track?

    Seeing as the midi was included, I added my own drum bus, which is a mix of SSD5 and a few others blended how I like them, and bounced out a separate stereo drum stem of my blend with Bezzers elements, with the aim of working towards a final mix from fewer stem tracks.

    I did the same process with the guitars, a single stem was mixed from the various sections and panned doubles, and when I was at this stage, with the bass stem created I think I found the root of the ‘disconnect’ I mentioned earlier. By nudging the guitars forward a small amount, they seemed to gel with the drums much better.

    In my mind, and ears, this seemed to just bring the parts together and I am not sure whether it was a tracking problem that was maybe masked by having so many drum room mics, or whether it was some form of recording latency with the guitars, but there was definitely something to it.

    I will have to go back in to get a time amount, but it was corrected by shifting the guitar tracks forward, I hear it as a weird ‘swing’ to the feel of all the other submissions, and maybe the way I broke the track down I exaggerated it for myself?

    Now I felt the whole thing felt more locked together, I decided to have a go at making the most of the multiple guitar parts, and the generous Di’s, with the intention of just using some of it as accents, so I created a couple of stems with my own patches in THU Overloud, and these were mixed in, I kept most of them as I felt they added some ‘bite’ to the rhythm sections, and I used some timing effects on the lead sections.

    Most of this work was done on my reference headphones (HD650’s) and I was using a basic mix of the vocals as a guide.

    I spent less time on the vocals, as I liked my early balance, and must have got lucky with the first couple of compression stages, so I just tried to make sure the ‘chorus’ sections stood out distinctly - something that was lacking in both the original mix, and the 2 earlier submissions.

    Time was marching on, and after I had taken a break for a week, I came back to the mix with a view to getting the damn thing done, so I had a couple more sessions which involved some bus automation, to help parts build, and I added my own synth parts from the midi that was included.

    I felt the synth had to be there-it is a synth track after all, but there were so many guitar parts, there was not much space to allow them to shine. I think this also has an effect on the ‘swing’ that seems present in some of the other mixes, I’ll call it ‘swing’ instead of timing issue.

    By now, I had done a few sessions on my less than perfect monitors ( ILouds), and was happy enough to do a seperate mastering session and final render, in this case to 44k 16bit MP3 @320,

    Which is how I usually present to Soundcloud.

    Now, onto voting.

    I don’t really see it as a competition, we are all ‘winners’ when we get to work on somebody else’s music, so this is really just a few observations, with an order of preference.


    @Bezzer, if this is the benchmark reference, we have some work to do to improve it. It is not included in the points, by his request, which makes the competition fairer I suppose. A lot of work went into the track, and only a couple of small things needed ‘fixing’ really. I can understand a lack of confidence in the vocal would mean it gets buried in the mix a bit, so as somebody impartial I can improve on that maybe? Overall, a great rock / metal version of a classic.

    Nil Points.


    @Poopot, faced with the same mountain of tracks, and the same brief- to try and improve on the reference, I am not in a position to critique anothers decisions, although I do feel opportunities have been missed in enhancing the vocals, some nice harmonies though. Not much to criticize, this is a dense track and it all balances well. I can see attention has been paid to the ‘rules’ and like mine, the loudness has been pushed to the accepted limits. I use SPAN to check the spectrum and there is a slight dip in the mid range which takes some of the ‘meat’ out of the sound.

    Tre points


    @Springywheel, a more adventurous take on the mix, with more emphasis on the synth elements, which I feel only add to the odd ‘swing’ I am hearing. Again hard to pick ‘faults’ as such, it’s all subjective right? I have reviewed these tracks from the Wavs, in my DAW through monitors, and via my headphones through Soundcloud, so some things stand out. This track is substantially quieter than all the others, and it is quite dynamic which makes it difficult to compare fairly. I can tell a lot of effort has been taken to make sections stand out, the guitars seem to jump in in parts, which is possibly to try and allow the synths to have more space.

    Un point


    @Siejen, this was a brave one, and obviously a lot went into it. I can’t help thinking some of it can get lost in translation though. The choice to have such a big bass presence does work, it allows a lot of the clever panning and imaginative use of tracks to shine, but I felt the idea was taken a slight step too far. I can see a huge low end bump in SPAN, which is a bit of a warning sign, and this track is mixed considerably louder than all the others, coming in at -8.5 Lufs, where Springys comes in at -15 Lufs, so to be fair, they should both be adjusted to allow comparison. All the others seem to be pushing the limits of convention of -14 to the max by being around -12. It is something we need to always be considering, although it doesn’t really come across on Soundcloud ( do we know what they do yet? )

    There is a risk that this track could blow up a powerful system, not completely joking here- it might sound good on small speakers, but decent monitors will show the bass monster for what it is.

    I’m going to award this one max points though, for sheer adventure, 

    so Cinco pointos.

    This was another great competition, and I am a bit glad more did not take part, there was a LOT to consider here, and I was happy to spend far too many hours trying to do it justice.

    I think my capacity to learn mixing is catching up to the rate of deterioration in my hearing, so it is always good to know that my mixes have been boosted to compensate, some of that might be down to equipment though, it’s all about learning to live with what you’ve got, and actually doing something.

    On to the next.

    (13 posts, 6 views ??? )


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  • BezzerBezzer Frets: 489
    andy_k said:

    I felt that there was a disconnect between the drum performance and the guitars, was this what was behind the ‘ tracking’ comment Bezzer made in his introduction to the track?


    That's interesting, I never noticed that ... I was suffering from some MIDI lag at one point, I wonder if the export from Superior did something.  There's an intentional push in the verses to add an urgency to things but I don't think it's to the point of "swing".

    For interest what was refering to were discrepencies in the double tracking of what I call "The Temple of Love Riff", it was surprisingly difficult to record that seemingly so simple part.

    Really enjoyed reading your breakdown, plenty of things in there to look for in the future.  Thanks for spending SO much time listening to me ... you poor soul.  Delicious beverages all round I reckon for all entrants!
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  • Hi, the votes from the Coventry jury.... Bass heavy Dub mixes or not, thanks to Bezzer and Stuart for organising and sharing. 

    I really enjoy these as a chance to get detailed feedback and a chance to learn, so it's all good (although I'm slightly alarmed I missed the original artists intention in my mix.... sorry 'bout that!).

    Ref timing, I noticed the odd swing effect, and played about quite a lot with many of the tracks, but never got it fully under control. I might try re-timing the guitar parts as suggested. 


    Comments and feedback from me then: (and please take anything positively; I mean well even if I sound like I'm being rude)

    @Bezzer s reference mix: Really solid as mentioned above. The choice of lots and lots of saturation on particularly the vocals does make it very Industrial, or maybe a bit fatiguing, but thats a choice. I think the drums, particularly the kick were just a dB or so too loud, meaning they stood proud / disconnected slightly (this was mostly noticed in the car, for some reason). Great blending of guitar and synth parts, with the different parts all clearly discernible. The Vocals were a little back in the mix, but for reasons outlined by Bezzer himself.

    The sounds themselves didn't change much or evolve during the mix, which meant that there was limited sonic interest or dynamics. It was consistent, but at over 5 minutes some sonic variation would keep things interesting. I note without irony that this sonic restlessness is at the root of some of the issues with my mix ;)


    @springywheel mix: From the opening bars I felt the drums lacked enough punch to carry this, the kick could do with more weight and no cymbals heard. Sung vocals were drenched in reverb which places them backward in the mix. There was a big reverb on the arpeggiated guitars as well, boosting them in level over the spoken vocals. Bass and rhythm guitars were clear and nicely balanced. Chorus chord guitars lifted nicely for the chorus. 

    Just following the multi-tracks there is limited movement in the track, so everything becomes a bit 'relentless'. Overall eq of the mix has an odd notch (also noted by Andy above) at about 7.5KHz, and rolls off quickly under 100Hz. Playing about I found filling in the notch and a low frequency shelf brought the mix eq closer to the reference material I was listening to (and Bezzers mix).


    @Andy K Really thin mix, my friend. A quick look at the overall curve shows you several dB down under 400Hz from everyone else. There were also some either compression or limiting artefacts audible as clicks and jumps in the final mix, particularly in the 'whammy' section (about 2min10sec). This was the only version downloaded as an .mp3 from soundcloud (everything else was wavs). Playing around I thought a low shelf of +4dB finishing at 450Hz made the whole track better balanced. 

    Anyway, with the 'cold' overall EQ, the hats were a bit far forward and (even though it's a guitar forum) the guitars were sharp bordering on fatiguing. The main 'sung' vocals were well done, but the choice of vocal processing on the 'spoken' vocals (doubler, ADT??) is distracting

    Anyway, with a bit of EQ, I actually thought it went well; with a bit more 'life' and interest throughout in the mix and good balance of the instruments.


    @Poopot mix: Big sounding opening, sounds nicely balanced. Vocal choice is very thin though (lots of saturation?), meaning it’s quite back in the mix. The layers of the voice I thought were very well handled, the separation adding interest. On my home  speakers I thought the kick was a little boxy, but this wasn’t an issue in the car. The balance of guitars to synth to bass was well done, and there was separation of the sounds between the sections that stopped some of the ‘relentless’ feel of some of the other mixes.

    If I’m being super critical, there was some separation between the bass frequencies and the mid-range, so sounds a little discombobulated, and a slight cut at 2-3KHz smoothed out the harsher edges of guitars and vocals.



    Just for interest, following this exercise I’d re-eq my track as well! I had a range of reference material, and had reduced the bass levels on my track to within a dB of Bezzers (still above Gojira levels), before listening to Billie Eilish (honest!) the EQ on her stuff is mental; mental bass presence above 100Hz (and nothing below) and a seriously massive cut between 2-5KHz. I tried a 2-5KHz 2-3dB cut on my track and it reduces some of the harshness of the distorted guitars. But I stand by the bass mix :)


    Anyway, as presented well done to @Poopot for 5 points, @Springywheel for 3 points, @Andy K for a point, and a pint for Bezzer for sharing. And please do let me know if I blew up your speakers. I'll be so proud.


    Iain

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  • BezzerBezzer Frets: 489
    Siejen said:

    Anyway, as presented well done to @Poopot for 5 points, @Springywheel for 3 points, @Andy K for a point, and a pint for Bezzer for sharing. And please do let me know if I blew up your speakers. I'll be so proud.


    Iain

    He he ... not my speakers no, but in the room I first listened there is a bit of a bass boosting acoustic which made my eyes bleed :)

    Appreciate your comments on my mix, and I understand where you're coming from.  Yes it is an aggressive vocal and fairly relentless but that was intentional.  In the context of the songs that will go around it at some point I think it'll make more sense.  Have Wis'd accordingly though as again, reading your comments on ALL mixes gave me stuff to think about.
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  • Thanks Bezzer. I love these because of the sets of ears on my mix to point out what I’ve missed. I had missed some of the collapsing and expanding on my mix that you highlight because I tend to listen to the mix in short bursts against reference material. So I need to listen through more…. 
    Just need the votes from the rest of the entrants and look forward to the rest of your tracks to hear in context! 
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  • andy_kandy_k Frets: 604

    A couple of further thoughts following initial feedback.

    I have been struggling quite a lot with low end in my mixes, I’m using less than perfect monitoring ( ILouds ), in a far from  perfect environment, so heavily rely on my HD650’s to make decisions.

    I’m not working as often as I like on full mixes, so as far as bass goes, I may be a bit overcautious.

    I have tried @Siejen’s kind suggestions, and do hear an improvement -maybe, not sure.

    Most people are commenting on the ‘brightness’ of my mix, and I will have to pay close attention to this, probably due to my own hearing deterioration, and this will be something that I can address with reference tracks.

    When I mixed the track, I didn’t actually reference against anything except the original, (@Bezzers ) and the early submissions, and it is interesting how @Siejen mentions using something like Billie Eilish as a comparison, you have to admit that her stuff did tend to break the mould with a lot of mix rules, and with @Bezzers track, you could pretty much pick anything after the 80’s to use as a reference, it is originally a track recorded with drum machines and synths, so mixing a re-recording using full double kick drums and multiple panned heavy guitars is quite a different style.

    As part of my review process for judging this, I played through all the submissions on my monitors to make comments, then immediately after I played through some of my ITunes library, the same system, at the same volume- as a kind of palette cleanser.

    It was certainly an interesting process, Adelle, Aerosmith, Alice in Chains through to Ghost, quite revealing in the range of loudness and production, so I think a good lesson here would be-choose a reference wisely, and stick to it.

    A couple of the comments about ‘chirping’ sounds, and ‘clicky’ artifacts, in my mix, may be simply some of the synth or delay things I tried, to add some fairy dust, or may genuinely be faults, my tired old ears do seem to miss a lot of the finer stuff.

    Another thing I didn’t consider was the fact that this track may be intended to be part of a larger collection of songs, which is certainly something that would influence choices in a mix situation. I hope we get to hear more material soon.

    Laters.


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  • poopotpoopot Frets: 8196
    Chaps… life got in the way a bit so I’ve extended the voting deadline to the 24th…

    get your votes in peeps
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  • No worries. I thought you might be distracted with needles and eye stories…. 
    <shudder>
    Hope all is going ok with you
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