Djenty Periphery-ish Mixtest--Low End & Mastering Problems

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Tokonuk
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I'm having major problems with the feel and low end of my mixes. Usually, I get a mix I'm pretty satisfied with, but once I get to the mastering stage, it becomes apparent that the low end is all over the place, and there's usually too much of it when I compare it to reference tracks in iTunes.

In this particular mix, I'm going for a PIII-esque mix. While too much low/uncontrolled low end is likely a major contributor to the problem, my weak mastering skills aren't helping. I also think my drum mixing is iffy on this track, partially because I'm new to NI Modern Drummer, and mixed the drums with only the built-in mixer.

So I'm really not sure where to start to fix these problems, but any advice would be greatly appreciated.

https://soundcloud.com/trevor-okonuk/ni-modern-drummerdarklgass-b3k-metal-mixtest

https://soundcloud.com/trevor-okonuk/ni-modern-drummerdarklgass-b3k-metal-mixtest

The master chain consists of a HPF around 40 Hz, ReaComp (use subtly), ReaXComp using only the low band, and a free mastering plugin with a compressor, limiter, hf limiter, and clipper.

johnny shnizz
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the built in mixer of Modern Drummer is definitely quite limited. i can only ever get a rough old school sounding mix with it. to get a modern style you need more control over everything (EQ, compression, parallel compression, reverb etc.). so you might have to multi-channel it. just a heads up, it´s a huge pain to set up Kontakt for multi-channeling. i made a tutorial on it on my youtube channel.

that said, i think your mix in itself is not bad. there actually could be a bit more low end, if you ask me. i´d also give the guitars a little dip around 400-500Hz, they are a little honky there. and the snare could be a bit more present. sometimes you can almost only hear the reverb on it.

Tokonuk
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Yeah I will definitely check out that tutorial tonight. I only avoided multi-channeling with Modern Drummer thus far specifically for that reason (hearing it was a pain to do with Kontakt).

I guess drum mixing is where I need the most work then. I can definitely get a beefier kick sound using plugins outside of Modern drummer, which would fill more low end. And I already went back to try that dip in the rhythm guitars and a little cut at around 480 Hz was very pleasant!

Thanks for the reply Johnny!

Isotropy
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Low end is a monster and it's very subjective. too much vs not enough is really more a matter of taste. There can be a point where too much definitely causes clarity issues, but again a matter of taste/style. I don't think your low end is an issue in this track. It sounds quite tame.

Mastering is a time for dynamic control, subtle eq, and maybe some sweetening, but really low end should kinda be taken care of by the mix. Mastering isn't a step for fixing problems with your mix. Again I don't hear any particualr issues with this mix, I think it's good! But just trying to help you get out of that mentality of the Mastering phase being a contributor to your problems. Mastering has a much smaller role than people think (if the mix is done right).

If I could critique anything it's just that the guitars are not tightly in time with the drums. It's kind of distracting actually. I'd do some retakes on those rhythms to get them more in sync with the drums, but other than that, great job!

Tokonuk
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I guess I meant more specifically dynamic range IN the low end. When using a limiter plugin to get things louder, I run into "pumping" a lot, and then find myself removing low end to try fixing that, but that might not be the best way to tackle it. It's just frustrating to reference my mix with one of Periphery's or Tesseract's and just here how not-close mine is haha. Maybe I should start referencing pro tracks before I get to the mastering stage.

I went ahead and multi-channelled Kontakt with the help of Johnny's tutorial, and made a whole new mix today. But I think I'll retrack the rhythms before I upload anything new.

Thanks Brian!!

Isotropy
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What limiter are you using? TBH Periphery gets their masters crushingly loud (especially the older albums) and a lot of it is the fact that they're using better than average plugins. I know for example, Johnny uses the Ozone mastering suite and honestly while you don't need that to get a great master, I feel you won't be able to get the tasteful dynamic control + loudness without it (or somehting like it).

Tesseract on the other hand puts out very dynamic masters. It's refreshing to hear.

not to discourage you though. I think your instinct to try and pull out low end to prevent pumping is a good one, since low end takes up most of the spectrum, but taking it too far can hurt your mix. Best result I get personally is just going for a non-constant 3-4 db reduction on the limiter.

So basically the limiter kicks in only when the kick/snare hit (maybe a little more on the hottest part of a song). Of course in your mastering chain, having some compression and mild saturation helps as well.

Tokonuk
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For a long time and on that track, I used a free plugin called Limiter No6 (https://vladgsound.wordpress.com/plugins/limiter6/). It has a compressor, peak limiter, high-frequency limiter, clipper, another peak limiter. I have a few plugins before that (ReaEq, ReaComp, ReaXcomp, but only using the lowest band of the multiband compression), but Limiter No6 does most of the work.

But I recently discovered Limited-Z and ClipShifter by LVC Audio. They might be a little better, but they're also free plugins and I've only been playing with them for a couple days. I definitely agree that when it comes to mastering, quality of plugins makes a bigger difference.

I'll definitely keep that 3-4 db gr on kick and snare hits in mind though. Another thing I run into often, is snare hits clipping much harder than kick hits though:/

Tokonuk
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Ignore this post....I messed up the embedded player, sorry

Tokonuk
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Here's my revised mix with retracked rhythms:

https://soundcloud.com/trevor-okonuk/ni-modern-drummerdarkglass-b3k-djenty-mixtest-2

Lemme know what you think! I used a different Bias Fx patch on the guitars this time too, just to try something different. This master might be a bit quieter than the original, but I think it sounds less muddy and cleaner overall.

Also, I've come to realize that overall dynamic feel of mix/master is what I need to work on. The way it feels to hear the kick hit in a Tesseract mix is just something I cannot mimic in my own mixes.

Isotropy
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Sounds so much tighter now man. Really really cool. Drums are punching me in the face. Love it.

Tokonuk
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Thanks so much dude! Multi-channelling the the drums was definitely a must.