Mix Feedback for 3 Jingle Tracks
Below are 3 tracks produced, recorded, and mixed by an anonymous producer who contacted me looking for mix feedback. You can listen to the first mixes he did, followed my feedback about this mix, and then his revised mixes after implementing some of my suggestions.
‘Magnolia’ Mix Feedback
• I think the harmonic instruments sound a bit dull, like they aren't EQ'd with enough top end or they are tucked too quietly in the balance. Namely: keys, bass, guitar, BGvx, synths. I think you can open the stereo field by panning these instruments in a more interesting way, everything sounds a bit blandly mono, not really hearing much spacial spread. Trying panning some mono instruments somewhere between 0 and 100 on your panning knobs. Or just turn them up a pinch.
• Are you using any reverb or delays on instruments aside from the lead vocals? Not hearing much 'depth' - some of those quirky synths could have some delay or verb, maybe the guitar too... they all sound pretty dry.
• Something about the tambourine and woodblock bothers me, sounds a bit canned and stiff. Maybe in the future you could use some line handheld percussion and record those parts live, that will help it feel a bit ore human.
• The word 'waltz' pops out at me as loud, which makes me think it's not compressed quite enough. Or just automate that word to be softer.
• Boost that bass a little and bump the low end up, 50-75 hz... needs a little more umph to it.
• Raise the level of the kick and snare a bit. Maybe try a transient designer on both to get some more smack and punch.
‘Fisherman’ Mix Feedback
• vocals sound good, nice tone... I'd say the vocal sound is the best part of the mix. Try a de-esser, maybe like 10-15% on the threshold, a few words sound a little 'spitty'
• If you want to go for the vintage sound, try downloading a real sample of vinyl noise, maybe from freesound.org - the sound you have doesn't immediately sound like a record, just sounds like crackling. Or if you're feeling like a ninja, sample it yourself from your record player.
• I'd say beef up the piano sound so it sounds less like a keyboard. Did you filter out a lot of the low end? Maybe put it back in and drop some reverb on it, cuts some highs to make it sound a bit more warm and natural.
• Snaps - The left channel of snaps sounds a lot louder than right. Maybe even these out and pan them inwards a bit so that they blend with everything else better.
• Add a kick drum sample with the bass syncopations to beef up the low end
‘Stella’ Mix Feedback
• This mix sounds a little wimpier than the other two. It's quieter overall, the vocals are softer, doesn't sound as wide. Mainly it's a gain issue it sounds like.
• I think it should be more rhythm section heavy. Let me hear some bass and drums. Ultimately, you want these tracks to be fun and danceable, because that will excite customers, even if the songs are short... so as you know this will be accomplished through the rhythm section sounding thicker. More kick, more snare, more of your live bass lines that you recorded. Put it in my face!
• And I would say the same mix comments as Magnolia re: panning, levels, dullness. Same comments regarding canned/live percussion also. Also this mix sounds really dry as well, like there's no verb or delay being used.
I think you can try being a bit more aggressive with your processing, compression, and EQ. Use more limiters in your mix chains on individual tracks to add gain and saturation. Boost more highs, boost more lows. The tracks sound a little 'small' or reserved, in the box, and not so modern. I think you should try to mix them in a more ballsy way that's louder and has more attitude, more like a pop song. This will probably make your customers more happy. In fact, you should listen to more modern music and pop music. Only listen to records to have come out since 2015. I know you know what older records sound like... but do you know what newer records sound like? Use more FX, have more fun with it, expressive yourself a bit more... don't worry about 'what's correct' or 'how to mix.' Use your ears, try to make the records sound good in a way that you think records sound good. Mixing is about trusting your taste... trusting that the way you think records should sound is the way that records should sound. You already have awesome taste and ears... so that's your best asset when mixing. Entrepreneurs have a saying that applies well to mixing: 'Move fast and break things.'
And maybe this is harsh, but I know you paid me for the truth! .... Overall I think many of your sounds are a bit corny and low quality... not sure if you're choosing corny sounds or if you just don't have nice hi-fi sounds in your library. Where are you pulling your sounds from? Software synths? Hardware synths? Stock synths in your DAW? Also, lower quality sounds make mixing much harder... The better sounds you're able to choose, the less work and tail chasing you need to do in the mix. If you feel like you're banging your head against the wall with mixing, this is probably a strong reason why. With some sounds, you won't need to mix them hardly at all, they sound right from the jump. These days with my Love Science tracks, I'm mixing really quickly because I've gotten really good at selecting sounds, and my instrument tracks all fit together before I even get to the mix... the sonic palette has already been crafted so I just need to put some icing on the cake, some lube in the tube. This is a skillset that takes some developing, but it's truly the necessity to a good mix... I don't view sound selection as separate from mixing (although I do them at separate times) so that's important to think about and maybe invest in if you're going to get deeper into this. PLUS, nicer sounds will absolutely inspire you to write more music for other creative pursuits.
Also, it sounds like you could do some more master buss processing to get a thicker sounding mix. This could come from opening a few UAD plugins on the master (like Pultec EQ, Neve 1073, Fairchild, etc) to get some tone. Also add a trace of buss compression (SSL or API Comp), saturation, or limiting (Waves L2, Fab Pro L). Gain wise, your final mixes/master should be clocking in around -13 to -9 on the LUFS. Bring the ceiling on your very final limiter in chain down to -0.2 to ensure that the bounce won't clip.
And I would say to correct these mixes from my notes, don't spend TOO much time on your revisions. Try to incorporate my notes within an hour per song for the revisions. Don't go down a black hole of changing everything and getting discouraged... you want to alter what you've already done, not do a new mix... save that for the next batch ;)