Sometimes knowing what not to do is more helpful than learning a new trick.
So in this episode, I (Benedikt) want to break down the biggest home recording mistakes I've seen from working with self-recording bands this month. So you don't have to make these same mistakes.
Book a free feedback call with Benedikt, the host of the show!
I get to work on a lot of different songs every month and many of them are home recordings. So, naturally, the source tones often have problems. I always try to optimize at the source and coach the artists I'm working with, so that we get the best results and so that they can deliver better recordings more easily next time.
This week we start sharing these things with you, too, because that will increase the overall quality of self-recorded records and hopefully make producing your next DIY record an easier and more enjoyable process for everyone.
By the way:
These things are not only important when you're working with someone else. If you mix yourself, you don't want to self-sabotage, but give yourself the best chance of creating an awesome mix and make it a more creative, straight-forward, less frustrating experience.
Also: Note that none of these have to do with not having expensive gear, or anything that would cost you lots of money. They are all things you can control and fix with the tools you already have.
So here is my list of recent home recording mistakes that we're discussing on the show:
- Submitting tracks, knowing that you're are not completely happy with what you got and then, after the project started, deciding to resubmit parts of it.
- Delivering stereo tracks (like drum overheads or rooms) in mono
- Not reimporting your exported tracks into an empty session to double check if it all makes sense
- Not thinking about whether a stranger would understand your vision and the way you've organized your tracks.
- Cutting into the transients of guitars when cleaning them up
- Not cleaning up guitars at all, resulting in buzz and hum in between chords/notes
- Not cleaning up vocals, especially gang vocals/backings and leaving in conversations, noise, etc.
- Ignoring ground loops, noise, hum, interferences in your guitar DIs
- Ignoring squeals, scratch noises, etc. in guitars that bother you (can't be fixed easily)
- Recording vocals in an uncontrolled, untreated environment
- Recording the same source differently in different parts, but wanting the same consistent result.
- Not aligning doubles and harmonies with the lead vocal, or not paying enough attention to detail when doing it
- Bass does not lock in with the drums
- Ignoring backing vocals intonation
- Not recording DIs (unless you're 100% sure)
- DIs and amps don't match
- Drum programming is too dynamic
- Drum audio and MIDI don't match
- Not planning in advance
TSRB 157 - Automatic Episode Transcript - Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy
Benedikt: When you have your exported files that you're gonna send over, open up an empty session, drag 'em all in, check if it all lines up. Stereo, stereo. Mono is mono labeling makes sense, and all of that. A lot of the things that we go like back and forth on would be solved if people just did that. Hello and welcome to the Self Recording Band podcast. I'm your host, Benedictine. If you are new to the show, welcome. Thank you for hanging out with us. If you are already a listener, thank you so much for coming back. We wanna break down the biggest home recording mistakes or like. At this time, it was basically my idea. I wanna, I wanted to break down the biggest home recording mistakes I've seen, uh, from working with self recording artists this month. So this is all like recent projects and I wanted to dive into these and, and tell you about them so you don't have to make the same mistakes. And as always, I'm not gonna do this alone, but with my friend and co-host Malcolm Owen Flatt. Hello, buddy. Hey, Benny. How you doing, man? I'm doing good, thank you. Uh, fantastic. Yeah, it's like I've been better, I have to say that I wanna be honest, like it wasn't the best weekend, but I feel better now. . Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Yeah, it's like a little, some personal things that like we got it out of the way. Um, Uh, but, uh, I just don't wanna do the typical, you know, everybody always says everything's fine when you ask
Malcom: them. Everything's been great for three years. . Yes, exactly.
Benedikt: Sometimes it's just not. And that's totally normal. And this was one of those weekends, but back on track and, uh, all good .
Malcom: Yeah. Pushing through, pushing through.
Um, that's actually one thing I love about doing this podcast is like every Monday I've gotta just like show up and. To it with you . It's like, all right, I gotta show up and, and have a positive mindset and talk about some cool shit. Um, so , yeah, it is a good thing for me. Um, but yeah, man, same here. My car broke on the weekend. Oh, God. Didn't, you know, didn't really break, but my, my breaks finally just gave up the ghost and really disintegrated . Um, it was like, everything's fine. And then all of a sudden it wasn't . Oh God. But
Benedikt: no, like accident or something because, no accident,
Malcom: but, uh, but unfortunately I left it too long and there was some damage to, uh, the caliper's and so a little more expensive than it needed to be if I had just gone to the shop earlier. Um, but, uh, oh, well, uh, learned my lesson. .
Benedikt: Yeah, totally. Yeah, that's, sorry to
Malcom: hear that . It's annoying, but whatever.
Benedikt: Whatever. Yeah. Stuff like that happens. Stuff like that happens. Yeah. On a, on a positive note, I have one thi oh, like it's positive and negative. I have a confession to make. Mm-hmm. Um, it's both exciting and also I feel super bad about it. Uh, I've told you before a couple of times that I have a, a precision base that I've been using for, I don't know, 10 years or so, and that I love and it's my instrument. And I, every other base that I had like didn't sort of. Wasn't as good as that one, although it was like the cheap Mexican made vendor thing. Right. But I just love it. I think I have to retire it for now. . Oh, you found happen because, yeah, because of something very unusual and I kind, I feel super bad about it, first of all, because I feel bad on my base. Um, and, and all because I just love it. And then second of all, because it's kind of unusual choice for my genre, but thing is my, my dad gave me like a while ago actually, he gave me a super nice Warwick five string, um, neck through, um, bass, A thump, Warwick thump, which is a very, very nice base, super expensive, super good. Uh, those bases are, they built qualities insane. They sound great, but. Uh, and it's a five string, and like, it wasn't, it's not the typical base you would use in a punk rock band like I am or in a hardcore band. And I kind of didn't touch it for a while other than like just playing around a little bit with it. But now I decided to set it up properly and actually shoot it out against my precision base. I just wanted to try something new because we tuned down super low and with the four string, the tuning was always kind of difficult, even with thick strings. And so I gave the, the fire stringing a shot. And turns out it sounds freaking phenomenal, , and it sounds better than my precision base. It plays super well. I just have to get used to how it looks. I mean, it looks beautiful, but it's like the style and the genre and it's like different, right? Yeah. But it like it plays better and it sounds so much better and. I think I can't justify sticking with my precision base at this point. And, uh, the, the sad part is that like, I feel so bad for my, for my bass. I don't wanna retire it. Like, I, I don't know, like I got an emotional attachment to that instrument. And then also I have to relearn the songs now that I'm, if I wanna play them on a five string fifth string , because we tuned down, like it was a down tuned sort of drop C thing on the four string. And now I go to regular five string tuning, which is completely different. So I have to relearn the songs. Hmm. But I think it's gonna be worth it because it sounds so cool.
Malcom: Yeah, man. Uh, it, it'll be worth it for sure. Those are really great instruments. They, I haven't seen them around. Like my scene in Canada much, um, for many years, for whatever reason. I don't know why that was. They, they used to be pretty popular back in my metal band days. Mm-hmm. . Um, but, uh, yeah, I've always really liked them. The, I understand you liking them because you and I are both kind of like aggressive mid-range, uh, fans when it comes to bass tone and the ground. Warwick always had that growl, like built in. It just came out of the box that way. Even acoustically, they sound mean . Yeah,
Benedikt: totally, totally mean. And uh, and I always thought of it as like a, a more tamed, you know, like less exciting instrument, like a better built quality of course. But I always thought this is something that, I mean, metal guys use it, but I always thought this is like, you know, a cover band or somebody who plays blues or chess or whatever. Like more sort of quote unquote boring, don't get me wrong to say that, but like, uh, genres then like less, less aggressive sort of thing. Slower stuff. I always thought of that. Um, But it's not true. It's, it's actually meaner and like more aggressive and it has a consistency also in the low end. It's like, uh, it's just there and it sits so much better in a, in a mix immediately. Like you can almost grab it and it's like, you know, the, my p bass just can't, can't, that doesn't come close. There you go. And, and obviously the low tuning doesn't help too. I think it would be better in a standard tuning maybe, but in the low tuning, no chance against the Warwick. Like
Malcom: yeah, different tools for different jobs and now you gotta, you know, you bring the, the fender along as your, your, your backup base. Keep it handy, which was, I guess not ideal because you'd have to all of a sudden remember how to play it the other way again.
Benedikt: Cutting crazy. Yeah. Yeah. Not that kind of genius. Uh, like some people can't absolutely do that. I'm having a hard time with that because honestly, I mean, I know music theory and I know our songs. It, it sounds silly. It's muscle memory. I really, yeah. I really use muscle memory when I play. I don't even have to look at it at this point. Yeah. Um, and so, yeah, I don't think of it as like notes and like it's muscle memory, and I don't think that's
Malcom: abnormal. I think, I think most people use muscle memory to take care of business. It, it lets you free up to like, do other focus on other things, like making sure you're communicating with your band, clicking on the right pedal at the right time, you know, rocking out, performing, um, . Yeah. It'd be tricky just to swap.
Benedikt: Totally. But I, yeah. We'll,
Malcom: we'll see. I've done that. I, I've, it's bringing back memories of when you forget to like tune, you know, you're meant to go to drop B for a song and you don't, and you all of a sudden you have to like just improvise and come around yeah. Make it work. Yeah. That sucks. .
Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. Totally. Totally. Well, we'll, Uh, and also I'm glad that I get to use it because like my dad played this thing and he decided to, that he didn't have time or didn't wanna play bass anymore and he wanted to give it to somebody who actually uses it. And I haven't used it for like two or three years and now I get to use it, which feels good.
Malcom: So Yeah, I bet, I bet he'll be happy to see that in use.
Benedikt: Yeah, totally. Although different than he would've used to. distortion of bass is not his thing, but like, uh, okay. Yeah. But interesting. Anyway. And oh, oh, did I tell you that I also got the dark glass infinity that we talked about a while ago on the, like last week on the
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you mentioned it was coming, I think. Um, so it was shown up. It's, yeah, it's shown up
Benedikt: and it's awesome.
Malcom: what a, what a week for bass tone. . Yes, exactly, exactly. Germany's grumbling. Yep,
Benedikt: exactly. That really got me excited and now I kind of have. Like, also like it's my dream rig, honestly.
Malcom: It's like, it's perfect. You, so you're loving the, the dark
Benedikt: glass, uh, pedal 100%. I tried it before, so I knew it was great, but now I had got more time to play around with it and it's still
Malcom: phenomenal. That's awesome, man. I'm excited to hear what you make with it. Um, so Warwick's a German company, right? Yeah.
Benedikt: Belongs to fr uh, Ramos. Yeah. What about,
Malcom: uh, dark glass? Where are they based out of? Do you know?
Benedikt: I'm not a hundred percent sure, but I believe it's Scandinavian. It's, it's Sweden,
Malcom: apparently, I think. Oh, it's Sweden. Okay. And isn't, uh, neural DSP out to Sweden as well? I think they're, yeah, could be. Yeah. There's, yeah. So much cool stuff over there. Kes, they're German. Uh, they're German. Yep. Yep.
Benedikt: Great stuff. We take forever to develop things and like, and then, but when they, you know, but they also last long and like, we're not the fastest to put things out, but like we over, we tend to overanalyze and over-engineer things too. So that's the downside
Malcom: probably. Right. You know, I'm gonna use this as a segue into our episode topic today. Yes. Because taking your time and doing it right, like the, the Germans do. Uh, Yields better results than maybe just rushing through. Uh, and those who rush and don't take their time to double check the work, end up making some pretty common mistakes. And today, Benny and I want to talk about the mistakes we've seen in our mixing projects because ultimately we're the person that it lands on. Um, So we wanna talk about the mistakes we've seen when we receive tracks from bands to mix and, and the ones that we see time and time again and just wanna address them because we think it will help, uh, you, the listener, understand why you, why it's important to not make these mistakes and maybe get a fuller picture on. Uh, the things we suggest, like the best practices we suggest, what happens if you don't follow those because it can lead to pretty bad results.
Benedikt: Yeah, absolutely. And this is a real list that I just came up with this weekend because, um, like I just went through the list of songs that I mixed in January and I'm ex I mixed more than ever. Like right now, it's like pretty crazy. Thomas and I just looked at our list like three or four weeks ago. I, we looked at the, at the pipeline basically to like, and they talked about this, a couple of things. And it turned out we had like 90 songs in the pipeline to mix, which is like Mix and edit and all of that, which made us improve our systems and all of that even more.
And like, yeah, it's like, it's good. It's good. Um, that's a lot of songs. It's a lot man. It's a lot of songs.
Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. And, but yeah, like you were saying, this is just from like, you just looked at the one month. Yeah. Yeah. And like as soon as I opened up the outline, Talking before recording this, I was just like, oh, I got this idea. This thing's always happening, . It's like all of these mistakes are constantly happening. Yeah. And you're just nodding your head every time I say something , it's like, yep. Yep. So, uh, I think if we can catch these, uh, chances are if you are sending your mixes to get mixed by, uh, Benny or I, or anyone for that matter, you're making one of these. So hopefully we can help you with that and uh, save you some time, money, and
Benedikt: embarrass. Yeah, absolutely. So, and, and a couple of things I wanna say before we get into it. Um, like I, first of all, it's totally normal that when we work with like self recording bands, that those tracks are not perfect. I don't expect that, and I don't wanna, like, I'm not mentioning any names or I don't wanna talk shit about anyone because this is completely normal. I've made the same mistakes when I started, and I, I expect that, but again, if I, I, I just thought if we tell you about these, you don't have to make the same mistakes maybe. And, uh, so just, just know that this is normal and it's not a problem at all. And I'm not mad at any of these artists. No, no, no, no. Not a contrary. I'm, I'm, I'm coaching them when that comes up, I try to help them and teach them so that we get the best results at the source. So I don't, yeah. I also don't ignore these. I try to fix them at the source before I start mixing, and only if that's not possible, I'm gonna go fix it in the mix. Yeah. So I'm not mad at all that this happens. I just, I'm just all for the best, like result and outcome in whatever it takes to, to get there. Right. So,
Malcom: totally. Yeah. I, I've, I've only been angry with a band once because of repeated mistakes. Like, it's never something that's upsetting, it's just like, oh, this is wrong. Email the band real quick. Yeah. Uh, can we get this again? Um, yeah. One time they repeatedly just ignored. The same mistake every time. They sent me a song for like over a year, . It was just, oh gosh. Every time. .
Benedikt: Yeah. When they ignore the thing, when you wanna help them and they ignore it, that that just doesn't feel good.
Malcom: Yeah. It just didn't understand cuz it was like, you have to repeat the job every time that I bring this up as well.
So it's, it's. Wasting your time too. I don't get it guys. .
Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. I absolutely, I, I can relate. Yeah. Um, so the other thing I wanted, I wanted to say is that these things are not only important when you work with someone else, when you get your songs mixed by someone, but also if you mix yourself, you don't wanna self sabotage, right? And you wanna give yourself the best chance of creating an awesome mix and make it a more creative and straightforward, um, and less frustrating experience for yourself. So just, you wanna avoid these mistakes, even if you mix yourself, because you have to fix them at some point, or you will. Or you can also ignore them, but then the end result will not be good. So you wanna right address those even if you're mixing yourself. And, and also note that none of these have to do, like, I just noticed that after the fact, but none of these have to do with not having expensive gear or anything that will cost you lots of money. They are really all about things you can completely control and fix with the things you already have. Yeah. So I found this to be interesting. There was not a single thing where I was like, oh, if they just had this piece of gear, then it would be better. No, not at all. It was all things you can easily fix regardless of your doll or your preemt or interface or whatever you have.
Malcom: Yeah, yeah, you're right. Uh, yeah, I kind of worded it as if it was like all kind of delivery based stuff to an like an external mixer like you or I, but you're right, it's also just kind of, kind of basic engineering stuff that can go wrong. Um, digital workstation stuff. There's, there's a lot of silent killers in audio production where you might not even realize that you've done something that's gonna affect the end result. Um, cuz you just don't know to look for it. You don't know how to check for it. Uh, your ears just aren't up to like, aren't familiar with the process to notice you made these mistakes sometimes. So all in all, this is just gonna be a really helpful episode. I can guarantee everybody listening to this has made at least one of these, including
Benedikt: Benny and myself. Yeah. Let's dive into the list. Let's go through these things. Uh, here is the list of things that my artist and I had to work through this month and we did it, and so you can too. So the first one, I'm just gonna go. Top to bottom, and then we'll just exchange our thoughts. I think so the first one I wrote down was submitting tracks, knowing that they are, that the band was not really completely happy with what they got. And then after we started deciding to resubmit parts, so not being able to commit and like resubmitting stuff after the fact. I get that quite a bit and I can understand that. I think that goes back to the whole, you have to be the producer, you know, kind of thing. And you gotta know what you want and commit. And that's hard for self recording bands. Uh, but that's really something that can, uh, that's not a good, good, good thing to happen for the whole process. Like depending on how far I already am with the project, I have to completely redo things, you know? And, um, so I don't know. What are your thoughts on that?
Malcom: This Yeah, I totally agree. I, I'll just note for our listeners that these aren't in any particular order. Yeah. Um, and like we said, most of them aren't very serious as far as the big picture goes. Um, but when they are something that might. Get you to have to pay more money. , I'm gonna mention it. Yeah. And this is one that I might tell you, okay, this is going to, like, you're, you're making me redo a bunch of the work I've already done, so this is gonna cost you some more money if I've already gone through and tuned a lead vocal and edited all these backing tracks to that lead vocal and you resubmit the lead vocal. I'm not gonna redo all that work for free. It's just not fair. Right? And, and I'm not gonna be mad with you about it, but it's just gonna be like, okay, we just have to have a conversation now. So when you submit your tracks, you gotta be done. It's really important. You should be totally finished. And even when it's like a really innocent thing and , and I would argue that you should do this, like, so here's an example for, uh, that I did recently. Um, I did a, a song for a podcast listener recently where they submitted, uh, an organ after I had already started Mixi. And I'm glad they did because the organ helped the song that is awesome and worth doing. It's worth the disruption, but, Maybe the, I would've gone about mixing the organ differently if I had it earlier. You know, now I've gotta add it into this existing mix, which is different than building the mix with all of the instruments. In that case, it's like, yes, gimme that extra instrument. I want it to exist as well. It's gonna help the song, but if you can get ahead of that, it might yield a better result because it's already there.
I'm making decisions around the whole picture in that case. Does that make sense? Benny? Did I
Benedikt: explain that? It does make sense. I just had a hard time not laughing because I just heard the word organ all the time and I was thinking of like a liver or kidney or something
Malcom: like that. Yeah. If you need a liver or a kidney, definitely get on that.
Don't wait. . They submitted an
Benedikt: organ after they set the track, so I was like, I was thinking about that all the time. . Like . Yeah. Well I know what you mean. What do you mean? And to Totally, yeah. Uh, there's different scenarios. Not everything is the same. And if it really needs to be there and like, you know, that's a different story than just like resubmitting something that would've been fine, but now you want it different for some reason and Yeah. And I,
Malcom: I would argue that it's always worth doing like so again. Yeah. Yeah. Like if, if it, you do think it needs to be redone, send it it, but just be aware that it's not fair to expect your mixer to do all of this work again because you
Benedikt: changed your. Totally agreed. Yeah. And the thing is, it does not only cost you extra money, it can also mean that you miss your deadline, for example. Oh yeah. Like if, you know, I was talking about like, you know, professional mixers are typically busy, and I was saying earlier, I'm, I'm mixing a lot of songs and I have like slots in my calendar and the timeline that I follow and like I wanna prioritize based on who, like booked first, then all of that. And if I'm, I have to wait for new tracks, or if you make me redo things and I take way longer than I planned it to, to take, then this could mean I have to pause the project, do another song first, and then get back to yours. Just, yeah, to be fair
Malcom: to everybody in bumps to the end of a 90 song list, ,
Benedikt: that probably won't happen.
But like still, uh, you know, it's like this is, this is the reality. Like, and, and, and also there's a way to solve that if you're not sure Bec, I mean, I don't know if any, if everybody does that, but I do for sure. And I think you would do too, Malcolm, when in doubt you. You can like send a part of a song, a demo, pre-production or like the actual tracks a rough mix, like snippets of it. And, and you can send that to me before we start and ask me my opinion on it. Yeah. And if it's like bad for some reason, I will tell you and then you have the chance to, to get it right before we actually start the project. So when in doubt, just ask either the one, the person you're mixing, uh, you're working with, or like somebody else who you, you trust. So yeah, get feedback and, and make sure that it's right before you start the project. That's what I'm saying. And then you absolutely. And absolutely avoid this. Yeah. Yeah. Great. Great advice. Now the next one, delivering stereo tracks like drum overheads or rooms in mono. This is one that only happens to me when people program drums, really, because when they track it with mics, they usually have one mono track per mic. And then I don't have that issue, but I got it. Um, on two projects actually this month where people program drums and they exported the individual outputs of their drum sampler. And uh, they. It was probably because they understood some of. Guidelines the wrong way, maybe because I always tell people to not send me a bunch of stereo tracks, but like, export them in mono from the doll, right? Because most tracks are mono and maybe they just click the mono button on the export and then it turned everything mono. But you know, there are stereo tracks, like, and it's, uh, to be fair, it's, it's there in my checklist too, but maybe they've overlooked it. So it, it just happens that, uh, sometimes people send a bunch of like drum tracks and then the stereos, uh, overheads or the rooms, like there is one track that's called overheads and one that's called rooms that I get. And those are monos sometimes. And that just happens when they accidentally do it. Or the other reason, uh, that people told me is sometimes they just don't panic inside the, the sampler. They just leave the paning center. Right. And then even if you exported a stereo, it's still mono. It's still mono. Yeah. So you wanna make sure that if you don't have individual tracks per mic, like usually a stereo, like an overhead pair is a stereo file and in rooms too. And I had to go get back to, to two artists and tell them, Hey, please deliver these in stereo because, you know, Gotta be serial . Okay, beautiful. One of drums.
Malcom: Now to expand on this, I actually thought this note, um, like that, that note that you just explained was about people sending like overhead left as a mono track and overhead right as a mono track. So you received two more that mono tracks. That would've been fine, but yeah, I agree. I agree. It's like, if that happens, it's totally fine. I, it's labeled clearly as long as it's labeled that that helps. Um, and so not a big deal, but I think in the ideal world, your mono tracks are mono and your stereo tracks are stereo tracks kind of thing. Um, so if you can do that, try to do it that way. It's just save some time. Yeah, to totally.
Benedikt: But yeah, but I can really deal with the, like one, one thing per mic.
I do that the same way. I don't consolidate them to, to stereo, so that would be fine. But like if, if I only have one track that's called overheads and that's a mono track, then I, I can't, like, that doesn't work because if we want the stereo image right, left and right
Malcom: of, so yeah, we, we need that information for sure.
Yeah. Um, now the other, just to play off this one I think is relevant. Um, the other very, very common mistake, and this plagues all mixing engineers around the globe is getting sent all of the tracks as stereo files. Um, yeah. So , I think logic's the most guilty of this one. Yes. I, it seems, uh, but it seems to like default or something to bouncing everything out as a stereo wave file. So you've got a monofocal panned up the middle. It's obviously just one channel of audio. You record it through one microphone, right. And then you export it and you drag it back into your do. And it shows up as a left in a right. Like it's a stereo file. It just, but it's not, it's really still a monofil.
Um, it's like a false stereo. There's software that I use that deals with that. I'm sure you probably use that too. Benny Stereo Mono .
Benedikt: Uh, no, no. I, there's a shortcut in Cubase. Oh,
Malcom: Cubase says everything. I'm getting so frustrated. Um, but why this is a big deal, because I wanna give context to, uh, our listeners because. If it sounds the same, what's the what's, what's the big deal? Right. But it's because we can't drag that into our mixing template anymore. So I've got like pre laid out tracks for everything. My guitar left, my guitar right. It's got all everything grouped, our plug-ins sitting there ready to go and let us get to mixing your song faster. Right? But I can't drag a stereo file onto a mono track in my dog. That's just not possible. So it just is a workflow disruption that leads to us spending more time doing file management rather than actually mixing your song.
Benedikt: Yeah. And it's twice the upload size and all of that too. Yeah. So right. Okay.
Yep. Agreed. Um, now a way to avoid this or to make sure you avoid this is the next point actually. And that is, like, that solves most of these things on the list actually. If you do that, and for some reason a lot of people don't do it. Uh, so the mistake is not reimporting. The export attracts into an empty session to quickly double check if it all makes sense. Like if people would just do that one step, that will eliminate most of the problems. Um, because like at least the technical problems, just when you have your exported files that you're gonna send over, just open up an empty session, drag 'em all in, and check if it all lines up. If stereo is stereo, mono is mono, if labeling makes sense and all of that, and, uh, then you good, you're good to go. And a lot of the things that we need to get you go, like back and forth on, uh, would be solved if, if people just
Malcom: did. Yeah. Um, if there's one thing, like it has happened multiple times where somebody who does listen to this podcast, uh, has sent me a song in the mix. And I'm not talking about one person.
I'm talking about multiple people here. Um, and then there's been an issue and I've said, Hey, uh, like, these don't line up or whatever. Like, there's multiple mistakes that could be caused by not checking, right? Uh, so then I ask them just like, you know, bounce 'em out, import 'em into your own session and make sure they're good. And they're like, ah, I knew I should have listened to your advice in the podcast. Cause we, we've mentioned that multiple times on here, . It's like everybody knows that. I think because we've said it enough on this podcast, but they just still skip that step and then they get called out on it and they're like, ah, , I really actually have to do it.
Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. There's no way around it. Like, just do it.
Malcom: Um, yeah. Yeah. And, and you know what, for, uh, for you and me, Benny, the advice of always listening to the bounce of the mix before you send it to make sure that. Is like, you've got your mix, uh, export region set up correctly, or you've selected the right output. Even, uh, just like going and finding that file on the computer before you upload it and making sure it's all there is just as crucial. That's like the mixer equivalent Yes. To, to what we're asking you to do. It's . Yes. It's just, you gotta make sure it's there because some, you know, if you use offline bounce, it's really easy to just have something wrong and you don't, you, you bounce out an empty file and send to the client, your mix is done.
Let me know what you think. It's just blank silence for three and a half minutes. . Oh, sorry, .
Benedikt: Yeah. Yet, absolutely. That's quality control. That's part of it. And I have to admit that I, sometimes I'm guilty of that. I, I usually, I usually. Yeah, I do, I do check it, but like it's the small things that sometimes happen. Yeah. And I had this happen this month actually, uh, Flo, I can say the name like Flo. He's a, um, a member of the self recruiting syndicate. So a coaching student of mine and, uh, everyone who's in the program gets one song fully mixed by me also, plus their personal, uh, mixed walkthrough of their song. That's part of the program too. And I just did that for Flow and the song was amazing and I mixed it and I sent it over, and then he was, Yeah, I like the mix, but I think, I can't hear the specing vocal screams. Um, and I was like, sh I, I don't know. Like, I'm sure they're there. And then I double checked the session and yeah, they were there, but for some reason when I exported it, I just turned them down and I probably was listening to something else and I forgot to turn 'em back up again. Yeah. And I, I checked the mix, but I didn't listen for those particular, like moments where the, the screams were. Yeah. And so I, yeah, that, that I was just telling myself, man, you gotta just listen through it probably just completely, which I don't always do, to be honest, because it takes up a lot of time if you're doing a record. But that's quality control. You just have to just Yeah. It's part of it. Right. and I do it with finals before it goes out to the streaming services, of course. But like if I send out the first mix, I don't necessarily listen to it again all the way through after bouncing it, but I probably should because every once in a while stuff like this happens, stuff
Benedikt: gotta check. Yeah, exactly. Okay, so, um, sorry, flow for that, but we've sorted that already. . Now, next one, not thinking, uh, it kind of goes along with it not thinking about whether a stranger would understand your vision and, uh, the way you've organized your tracks. So meaning that it, it all makes sense to you, right? And you know what you want and you know why things are where they are and the way you've organized everything and you know what it's supposed to sound like. But does a stranger know too, like, meaning if you don't have the tones that you actually want, do you have, did you include any info so that the mixer knows what, what you don't like about the tones, right? Or did you Um, worst case you just submitted DI's without any ent, no guidance. Like I can only guess what you want, right? Um, So that is the vision sort of part where also like where things go, if you have a clear vision of what is left and right and you don't tell me I can, you can only hope that I get the panning exactly like you wanted it. Um, so these types of things. And then also how you've organized your tracks and labeled them. So I don't, for example, I don't know the necessarily know all the names of the band members all the time. And if you just label the tracks with your band members names, I don't know. Like I would rather know what is on that track, like which instrument, which, what's the function of it in the song and, and all of that. So just think about how someone who doesn't know you and doesn't know the, wasn't in the room when you produced it. Would those people know what's going on? Would they, um, no. Yeah. Would they find their way around the, the session basically? Um, it's, yeah.
Malcom: Yeah. Like the name's a great example. I think that we can explain where this gets confusing because say two people in the band sing and there's a, a Ben track and uh, a frank track, for example. We don't know which one of you is the lead singer. Necessarily. Right. Um, so we could mix the whole song in the wrong context because of that. Just because you've enabled, enabled something vaguely, we just then mixed your song based around the wrong person. It's a pretty big mistake. Right. Um, uncommon. It's probably obvious who's the lead, but not necessarily. Um, so , so, and also there there might be, uh, two Franks and one's a guitar track and that's gonna like , right? So, uh, that's, that's even worse. The, the name's not that helpful for us. I'm not opposed to names actually, but if they're, uh, like the last thing in it, so it's like Guitar one left Frank, that is useful. Yeah. Because you can mention, Hey, can we have Frank's guitars up? And I'm like, yeah, I know who Frank's guitars are, you know? Yeah. Because that's the thing that the other, the, the flip side that happens without having a name is, can be a Frank's guitars up Is Frank Guitar one or Guitar two? I don't know.
Benedikt: Yeah. , right? Yeah. To totally agree. And, and then, um, The other thing is if you mix yourself even then it makes sense to think about that because while you're producing, you might remember like what those numbers or like these randomly labeled tracks are. But like let's say you, like, you close the session and a week goes by and then you open it up and wanna mix it again. Are you sure? You know, like which of those 12 guitar tracks goes where? And like what is Rhythm Left and rhythm Right. And lead and all of those things. You're mixing so much faster and more intuitively if you immediately see if it's color coded and labeled and you immediately see, okay, this is my left rhythm guitar, this is the right one, this is center, this is a double, this is a harmony. So if you don't do that and you only have like audio one, two, one hundred and thirty four, uh, it's, even if it's your own song, it's very hard to navigate the session.
Malcom: Very. Yeah. Yeah. It's crucial. Naming and color coding. Do it . Yeah. Cool.
Benedikt: Do you ever get the next Oh, I'm sure you do, but like the next, those next ones that have to do with like editing or like basic editing, consolidate even if you let someone else edit, but like the basic sort of prep, prepping of the tracks and consolidating all of that. So there's two, two opposite, like two extremes there. One is like when people clean it up a lot and cut into the transients or the sustains of things like with guitars. I got it this month where like people were, wanted very tight edits and they cut into the transient and it sounded really weird and unnatural on the attacks. Yeah. Uh, and then the opposite of that is not cleaning it, cleaning it up, which I also got, which means in between notes and chords you could, you could always hear the buzz and some noise and stuff and, and it was not intentional because if it is, it's cool, but it was not intentional. And then if you're, if you're supposed to mix and you have to stop every couple of seconds and get rid of a tiny part, that's annoying.
It's not really a good workflow and it's not really part of mixing. So you want to clean that stuff stuff up, but when you do it, you don't wanna cut into the actual useful part.
Malcom: So, It, it does happen. Th this is kind of one of the things where I think people do need to educate themselves and, and what that thing is editing essentially. Mm-hmm. , um, becoming pretty proficient with editing is a technical skill that takes some experience and practice and, uh, and you're gonna make some mistakes along the way. Um, So stuff like understanding the transient of a guitar signal, uh, and not chopping that off. Uh, it might take you a while to even like hear that. Um, but it make, it makes a huge difference. Like cutting the transient of a guitar off could be as simple as just not knowing how to select in between the, the grid of your da Right. You might be on grid mode and not know how to get off of it. Yeah. And you're trying to edit that way, which is of course gonna lead to you the leading stuff. You don't want to. Um, there's kind of like just a, a basic amount of editing that you need to know how to do in your do to avoid causing damage to your files. So if you haven't got that figured out, some education's probably
Benedikt: in order. Yeah. Yeah. And totally agreed. And one thing too where, um, when you, so some people don't listen to. Solo, they just listen in context, which is often fine because all that matters is what it sounds like in context. But in this case, it could mean that you added a guitar and together with the drums and bass, you think it's fine because you don't have the experience to actually hear that the transient is weird. Yeah, but we hear it and it, you can hear it and the, and as soon as the mix more po is more polished and more cleaned up, it gets more obvious. So, uh, you might think it's fine because you're listening context, but it's actually not, and it, it becomes apparent later. So when in doubt really, um, especially in like busier sections, just listen in solo too, just to be sure.
You, you have everything you need there.
Malcom: I usually crank up my waveform display while I'm working, like, kind of all the time actually, so that I can see all of the quiet stuff. Mm-hmm. really clearly. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Um, so what that does is kind of makes everything looks like bricks of noise, except for where there would be silence. It looks like a normal waveform, and I know that those little normal looking waveforms don't actually need to be there. . Yeah. Um, so those are, you know, like the, yeah, like the kind of waiting to play sections where their hands just resting on their bridge and it's making some weird boom boom kind of noise or on a vocal track, they're just breathing, having a sip of water being like, yeah, okay, here comes like little talking things and stuff. Stuff that will once mixed and compressed become more loud and audible and potentially an issue. Um, and just don't need to exist at all. So I'm like constantly kind of clearing out those sections. There are ways to automate that process with like strip silence and stuff, but generally I'm just like, as I'm working, I'm just chopping out little sections and cleaning it up.
Benedikt: So the next part was like, kind of about that, like when, when people have with vocal tracks, uh, when people record backing vocals, especially I find that they often kind of don't clean them up for whatever reason. Like, and this was the case this month too, where the Lee vocals were perfectly cleaned up and, and everything was good, but the gang vocals, the backings, it, it seemed like they didn't do anything to them. And they had, like, you could hear the click, you could hear room noise, you could hear people talking, um, you know, you could hear the playback from the headphones and maybe they didn't hear it because they, this is probably the last thing they did in the session and everything was like loud and then they just exported it the way it was because they didn't hear it. But as you said, yeah, these things can come up later. And so, um, this is pre a pretty common one too that I had where. Yeah, I had to go in and clean up those gang vocals when it would, would would've been really easy to just do that while you were producing. Totally, totally. Yeah, I agree. Um, the next one is a little different. I don't mean the editing part, but the next one, uh, I put here was ignoring ground loops, noise hum interferences. And your guitar eyes. And I don't mean the cleanup, but like, Remove, like preventing that to happen in the first place where, yeah. Uh, I had a, a session this, this, uh, month where there was a clean guitar and, and with distortion, sometimes you can get away with it. It might be annoying in between the chords, but maybe it's, it's being masked when it's loud. But this, it was a clean electric guitar that just had a constant noise floor that I couldn't get rid of, and the artist asked me to basically remove that or tame that. And it's not as easy as just as you think. Yeah, you can't get rid of that entirely without also causing damage to the actual signal. And there's some things you can do depending on the situation, but usually it's very hard to do that. And so if you have like a, a, a ground problem, um, try to try to isolate the problem and, and fix it at the source. This is just problematic. And I like also very common, like a lot of people have their pedal boards plugged into the wall, uh, together with some, you know, lamp or whatever that's causing the issue or could be all kinds of things. Um, but, uh, yeah, ,
Malcom: if you're like me, you are going to the next time you plug in your guitar to record and you listen for a buzz, you're gonna like go through this huge process of unplugging appliances around your house to see if that makes a difference. Yeah. Yeah. And messing with lights. Dimmers di turn off any light that has a dimmer, um, you'll, you'll, you'll totally hear a difference. They're, they're terrible .
Benedikt: Try to plug all of your, everything in the chain into the same power outlet. That's also a big one. If you use two different circuits, that's gonna cause a ground problem oftentimes. Yeah. Yeah. If you have a ground loop switch, try that. Like, try both positions. Yeah.
Malcom: Um, that's a, a huge like proponent for why we say get an external di is because they have a ground lift button where the high Z on your interface probably doesn't. Yeah.
Benedikt: Yeah, true. I never thought of that, but true. Yeah.
That's a big probe for di Huge makes it, it's so worth it. Yeah. So yeah. Cool. Just don't ignore that stuff. Uh, try running, even if you just have a clean tone or you like the thing is quiet in the mix or whatever. Or if you just really listen to the di I don't know if anybody does that, but like in case, just run it through an amp and listen to what it sounds like when it's distorted, because sometimes you don't hear, it seems like it's very minimal, but as soon as you run it through a crank dam, it gets super loud.
So just check for those things and, and avoid them. I'd say. Yeah.
Malcom: This does make me think of something that's not on our list though, and that would be to listen to the di uh, or listen to anything that you're recording, that you don't want to listen to . Um, because in modern recording, especially DIY recording techniques, like we suggest here, recording a di track for guitar is like crucial, I would say. But you don't wanna listen to that because it doesn't sound. Music necessarily , but it's super important that you do because amps can save a di from crazy things like weird buzzes, uh, like even like distortion. So I would say one common mistake that I get is overly clipped di tracks. Mm-hmm. , which an amp can do a really good job at fixing, but you should just have a listen. Make sure that the di track sounds normal.
Benedikt: Yeah, absolutely. One side note, totally, like I just have to bring it up. Um, one thing that also happened this month though was a band sent me a very, very, very clipped basey eye. Mm-hmm. And we talked about that before and they were worried about it and they couldn't solve it. And they tried different a boxes, but it was clipping all the time. And I, we couldn't get to the, the core issue. And because they even used like a passive one with a lot of, uh, headroom, but it's still clipped. And so maybe the output of the base, maybe there was something wrong and it clipped, like on the base itself. I don't know. I've never heard it like that. Like, like it was really obvious clipping. Um, But they kind of, they said like, we tried it with like am sims and an amp, and we kind of like how it sounds, and so I think we, you should just use it. And I was like, okay, if you like it, let's try. And honestly, this is one of the best sounding bass tones I've ever gotten. So it was accidental. They didn't want it , but it turned out super awesome. It's like crazy clipped on the di already, but it's like so great. Um, the, not the, not the norm though, so you should follow Malcolm's advice and listen to the di and check that this doesn't happen. But in this case it was a happy accident, sort of sweet wear.
Malcom: That's great. .
Benedikt: All right. Um, cool. Yeah, but you're right. Listen to that, check that stuff. Uh, the, the amps can, can mask that kind of thing. And you, you
Malcom: don't realize. I got one more thing we gotta mention. Yeah. Uh, on the topic of like buzzes and stuff in your guitar chain and then they ask you to take it out. There is some misinformation out there, . Um, because I think most people have probably seen some kind of like noise repair ad mm-hmm. or plugin and videos like, like Isotope RX is a really popular one. Waves has started doing some pretty good stuff too. Um, for, for taking out stuff like that intelligently. And it is incredible software. I own a lot of that for television stuff. Um, and it's great, but those videos are always like the best case scenario and it rarely works out that way. Um, in fact, I would say generally, Like less than pleased with what it, what it's able to do in the audio repair. I'm like, okay, hopefully it works. Like that video showed and it's gonna be able to completely remove this buzz or that background noise. And generally it's like, hmm, you really can't do much before it sounds bad. .
Benedikt: Totally. And it's a different story if you're doing that on like, the typical application of, uh, you know, content creators who would like, remove ambience or noise when they do a podcast or YouTube video when it's not like about the maximum, like audio quality. It, it's totally fine. People listen on their phone anyways and there's background stuff and the video and whatnot and like for that. Very cool and works music too. You can fix some things, but like if it's a guitar, especially if the guitar is solo, there's nothing else and it's a clean tone and there's a loud buzz.
No way you can get rid of that. Causing like serious artifacts to that guitar tone. Like, it's not gonna happen. It's, it's very different to just making a voice over sound. Okay. Yeah. Um, this is different to making, uh, to getting rid of noise and, and keeping the audio quality, um, at a high standard, at a high, high level.
Malcom: yeah, I, I had a cl a client send me a track, a vocal track that they had forgotten to mute their, their speakers while recording. So it had quite loud, like instrument bleed of the song. And unfortunately, , it'll make it even worse, the drums on the song that they were recording to weren't the drums that they ended up on. So it was like a different drum performance in the vocal mic. Um, and. He was like, I love the vocal performance, but there's this shit alternative drum track in it. , can you try and fix it? And I was like, I can try. Um, so like I tried to use all these isotope tools that did remove it amazingly. Um, I was able to isolate the vocal, but it was like, now your vocal sounds, they just got artifacts that aren't musical. Um, and , it's like, is it still the perfect vocal now that this has happened? No, it's not. We gotta redo it,
Benedikt: you know? Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's too bad. Um, yeah. And, and, and people think, you know, and you can't blame them, but they think it's easy to fix. Right. Or that's not a problem. But it's, it, yeah,
Malcom: it's a problem. It's
Benedikt: a problem. for sure. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Good, good. You glad you brought that up? So, um, oh yeah, right. So the next one is, has nothing to do with like ground noise or like stuff in the background, but ignoring squeals scratch noises, um, et cetera in like a guitar. Track the performance that, that, um, that bothered you and can't be fixed easily. What I mean by that is, I kind of worded that a little weird, but what I mean by that is, uh, I had someone send me guitar tracks and he didn't like some of the part, like how the performance turned out in a way, or how, how he hit the strings. Like there were some squeals and scratch noises from the pick. And, um, I didn't mind as much, like, I, I thought it was still like, it was sounding like a guitar performance and that was just part of what it sounds like to play a guitar. And yes, it was a little loud, but not super distracting to me, but he didn't like it, which is often the case, but he just ignored it and thought that I could just tame that. And that's similar to like getting rid of the noise. If I have a very squeaky sort of guitar tone, um, or a guitar part or if there's like this pick attack scratches. Um, it's not that I have a button to just remove that you can do, I mean, I can figure out the, the frequency of the squeal squealing thing and um, Tame that a little bit with an eq, I can use sooth or dynamic tools for that. I can use a transient designer and try to mess with the attack, but I can't really just delete that or remove it from the sound. Right. And so if there's anything in your performance that you don't like, Before, like just ask if there's a way to fix it. And if, if not, then you gotta fix it at the source. Use a different pick or like use a different angle. Try to play it differently because, uh, yeah, it's just not, not that easy, unfortunately. And I, I could tame it a little bit, but I couldn't get rid of the, of the squeals that were bothering him. Right,
Malcom: right. Yeah. Uh, to bring this to other instruments for, just so people kind of get an idea of like those kind of performance related heirs, uh, would be like the drummer resting their sticks. Uh, in a pause in the song or something. Um, and the, or, or the squeak of a pedal. You know, like if they haven't oiled their kick drum pedal and it's got like a really loud squeak that's like stuff we, we can't really fix. Um, you're kind of stuck with it. Um, uh, for vocals it could be handling noise or bumping the mic stand in the middle of a phrase kind of stuff. Um, I just bumped mine, so maybe you heard that . Yep. Um, so, so stuff like that, you know, it's just like, don't assume that we can fix that. If you can hear it and it's bugging you, try and solve it. Now. The next
Benedikt: one is also when we talked about a lot, but still happened again, um, recording vocals in an uncontrolled untreated environment. And in this case, it was a whole record where all of the songs sounded fine. And then there was one. Where Thomas, my, um, former podcast editor and, and partner engineer at the studio, he prepped the session for me and he sent me a message, like, and, and was like, Hey, um, I think they, there was an export error or something. This one vocal track sounds way different than the rest and it sounds like there is a plugin on or something and, but it doesn't sound cool, so maybe ask what happened. And I get back to the band and it wasn't the plugin, they just recorded that in a different room and in like some small closet, but that wasn't treated. And so there was very close walls that were untreated and all kinds of reflections and it almost sounded like underwater or something or like, uh, very, very weird boxy kind of sound. And, um, yeah, a lot of problems. There. There, apparently there was no other way in that situation. They had to do it there, but. This is, it takes too bad because you can't really fix it. And we turned it, I, I just took the approach of like, how can we turn this into something that sounds like it's intentional? So just, just pretend it was intentional, make some cool effect out of it, or like change the vocal sound to the point where you don't recognize this anymore. And like, you know that because it was, there was no way to hide it. So instead of hiding it, I was trying to make it the character of the song. But still this is really important that you pay attention to this, that, especially the vocal, it's very important that you do that in a, it doesn't have to be a super well treated room, but just a corner of the room that has some, you talked about that at length, like that has some absorption that has, that is not too, too lively. That has no like close reflections. Um, go back to our episodes on, on those topic. But it's like very, very important because one of those things again that you don't necessarily hear right away because you might not have the experience or, uh, you don't compress it very hard. So the room doesn't really come up, but as soon as you compress it, all that stuff becomes very, very apparent. Um, so just, just make sure you have a kind of controlled environment and again, when in doubt submitted for feedback before you commit and before you do the whole session there. Uh, because I would've been able to tell them in this situation that this is a bad.
Malcom: With vocals. When in doubt assume more treatment is better.
Just, yeah, just kill it. Mattresses, couches, blankets, whatever you have, whatever, get it done. And I just wanna clarify, you said Thomas is the former podcast editor, which is true, but when you, it was kind of a run on sentence into, uh, your assistant engineer, um, which he is not your former assistant engineer. No. . Now you're right. Still, still, you're right. Still still part of the team and kicking ass. Absolutely.
Benedikt: Absolutely. Totally. And I, I don't even consider him an assistant at this point anymore. He just works on sessions with me and he's like, but the amount of songs that we have on, on our plate is he, he does the beginning of the mix basically, um, up to a certain point and perhaps everything so that I. Move very intuitively, creatively, and do my thing without having to do, do a lot of the purely technical setup stuff. Yeah. And that is really, really exciting and he's doing a great job. He's also so valuable revamping and, and printing samples and he's got great taste and yeah, it's super cool to have him on the team. Yeah, definitely.
Malcom: Yeah. You kind of mentioned this next point in that, like you said, that it was one song was different than all the rest. Mm-hmm. , but that same thing can happen part to part as well. Um, so maybe you're recording vocals and then you decide to put pause on it and we'll start again tomorrow. But you set up in a different place or forget to put, put up the treatment again and all of a sudden, like one part of the vocal sounds really different. Yeah. That's again, not ideal. Um, there are situations where I'm like, yeah, just go for it. Like if you're touring and recording and you're just using hotel rooms, it's gonna be different yeah. Just do your best. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. But, but uh, it's something to watch where consistency is part of the job. Yeah. In
Benedikt: this case it was particularly painful in the mix because they were, uh, it was a guitar micd with two different microphones. Oh wow. And they had 'em on two stands and they wanted a blend of both. And they, they really liked their tone, but unfortunately they. Ran into those stands a couple of times during recording and they, they put it back where the, where they were basically, but not exactly the same spot. So they just keep kept bumping the mic stands and that caused different sounds in different parts and they were never quite the same. Um, and, and this was really hard to deal with be I I I got it done. But it like Yeah, it's, it's a, it's a
Malcom: pain . It's another point for Di . Yeah.
Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. And then what they had sounded great, and I, I wanted to keep that because they really, they told me that they loved it and it was cool, but I would've loved to have one consistent thing throughout the whole song per mic and the same distance between the mics. But this was not the case. They just ran into it and their comment wasn't, that was funny because I mentioned the difference in parts and they were like, yeah, sorry. We know, like it was too late and there was too much beer. And I'm like, okay, I got, got it. too
Malcom: much beer. Yeah, . Ah, that's really funny. So if
Benedikt: they're listening now, they know who they are, but I just thought it's funny. And I was like, yeah, I mean, What can I do? Um, yeah, let's, let's get it done. , um, buddy. So, yeah. Uh, what can you do too late? Too much beer. , um, been there. Yeah, ex. Exactly. And that was really the only comment, like these two lines, nothing else, . And I was like, yeah, that's all I need to know. Um, the next one. Uh, not aligning doubles in harmonies with the lead vocal or not paying enough attention to detail when doing it. So that's also very common where you think it's lined up. Um, it's the same timing. You recorded a bunch of doubles in harmonies, um, do your lead vocal, but it's actually not tight enough. And this just comes with experience. Um, sometimes they don't do it at all and sometimes they do it, but they don't, um, pay enough attention to detail. And then you what I especi. I have problems with is it doesn't have to be, depending on the genre, it doesn't have to be super exact all the time. But what I have problems is with is when there is semblance and consonants, like coming from left and right. When you do like the doubles and you have headphones on and you put one left and one right, and the lead up the center. And then it basically lines up, but then you get these moments, or like the tees coming from everywhere, and this is very distracting. So make sure you, you properly align that if, if that is what you want. Especially if the band wants it to be basically like an invisible double that just makes things a little thicker and wider. Especially in that case, it has to be super tight because otherwise you can tell that it's like three voices and they're not together. Yeah,
Malcom: it's, it's just like guitars. When we're doubling guitars, we want it to be very tight, so the pick attack needs to be in time so it doesn't sound flay. Um, and, and it's the same with
Benedikt: vocals. Um, next one, similar bass does not lock in with the drums. Um, this is something that just doesn't, if that is the case, the whole song just kind of falls apart. It doesn't really work. And as soon, and sometimes you can't immediately tell. So I, I totally give you that. And I think it's like, it's understandable that people miss this, but sometimes I'm mixing a song and it was the case, um, also like this month where I was mixing a song and it was. Everything was, was where I thought where it's supposed to be. But it, for whatever reason, the groove did not happen. It, it wasn't there. And then, um, I looked at, I took a closer look at like the bass and the kick drum together, and then I just moved the bass a tiny bit and all of a sudden it like locked in and there was the song and it, it was moving completely differently and it solved all the problems that I tried to solve otherwise. And sometimes you just, you just have to make sure that the groove is really right and sometimes close enough, like close doesn't, is not like close enough. It's not, doesn't do it. Sometimes it has to really lock in with the drums. That can also mean it has to be intentionally a little, you know, late or whatever, whatever the song needs. But like, it has to be right fully, the song. And, and I get this quite a bit where the idea is great, but the execution of it is not really doing the song trust. This is, it's not sounding as good as it could basically. Yeah. Yeah,
Malcom: it, uh, it's again, a kind of an experience thing. Mm-hmm. , sometimes you just play it and you're like, I guess that's how it sounds.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, but that, yeah, it, it has to be really tight again. It's like, it's probably, if you're getting started and you're new to recording, it probably needs to sound tighter than you expect, because by the time there's, you know, three more instruments on top of it, at least it's gonna sound really loose if it's not pretty spectacularly tight.
Benedikt: Yeah, absolutely. The next one, ignoring, backing vocals, intonation, or like, pitch problems, basically, this is also huge. Um, sometimes I listen to the song and the lead vocals sounds great and the harmonies kind of sound great, but there's something that flows me off or something sounds distracting. And, uh, in this case it was like one of the backing vocal layers. There was just a note that was always off, like in all the choruses. and, and they just didn't catch that. Uh, but yeah, this just happened. So again, yeah. Attention to detail when editing or correcting or even singing, performing, like, you know. Yeah.
Malcom: There is a thing, this is kind of fascinating. There's a, a kind of idea, misconception maybe, where it doesn't matter as much cuz it's gonna be in the background mm-hmm. Um, so it can be a little bit out. It's not gonna be a big deal. I think the opposite is true. Yes. I think your backing vocals need to be bang on all of your guitars. All of those foundation instruments, your bass guitar need to be bang on and then your lead vocal can be a little out tune. That can be 100 is weird and like, go listen to Skynyrd. Go listen to any classic rock album vocals are all over the place. Stones especially. Yes. Uh, it sounds awesome. It's like everybody else is bang on so that he doesn't have to be .
Benedikt: Yes, 100%. In fact, I do the opposite, like, and like yeah, like you said, I tune my harmonies super accurately so that they sound ridiculous when you listen to them in solo. Yeah. But that lets me put them. In the background and really blend well with the mix without getting distracted, without stepping on something else. They are just there, they're doing their job, but the lead vocal can really shine and Yeah, exactly like you explained. So yeah.
Malcom: Yeah. The lead vocal gets all this play. They can be outta time. They can be ahead of the beat, behind the beat, and that is, feel like it brings vibe and same with like a league guitar line, you know, but you want everything else under it to be rock solid so that they have that foundation to stand on.
Benedikt: Totally, totally. Think of it like, um, almost like you would, uh, put in like a, a synth pad or something that just blends with the background and sits there super nice. Like that's how I treat my backing vocals oftentimes, like my harmonies, um, you know, depending on the part, but like, yeah. The next one, this is polarizing because I know a lot of people just don't, don't wanna do it and I get it. I, um, you know, it's, but um, the mistake here is not recording di and I put, put in brackets unless you're a hundred percent sure. So I have. Um, songs every now and again where they tell me they don't have the eyes because they don't want to, and they'll love their tone. Great. If you commit and you know what you want, awesome. You put your producer hat on, you commit it. That's what I'm gonna use. We're gonna make it sound awesome, but if you are not a hundred percent sure and you just a hundred percent. Hundred zero. Yes. And you, you, uh, you just didn't think of recording guitars. You just forgot, uh, like the eye guitar is not guitars in general with the eyes , then, uh, we're something Yeah. then this is, this is a problem because oftentimes people don't really know what they want or they don't know how to get it. And then, and they didn't think about like recording a di or they didn't know how to do it. They didn't talk to anybody before, like in preparing for the session. And then you are, you just, you have to deal with whatever they give you. And it could be so much better. Would there be a di that I could reamp or layer or, you know, uh, and I, that's almost, you could say that's not part of mixing it's production, but I, I consider it part of like modern mixing, being able to take a di. Add an additional layer if you have to, because that will give you so much better results than trying to fix it with EQ and, and as a mixer, I don't mind that and I don't chart extra for that. It's just part of mixing. It's easy and, and fast to do if you've got a good workflow and set up and uh, I just love to have that flexibility and I will of course, always. Give you the, the tone that you want, like or respect, if you like your source, source tones. And I will ask what you're going for, and I will not completely change it. It's your production, but oftentimes I can get you way closer to what you actually want by revamping it or by adding an additional layer. So not recording the eyes in most cases. is a mistake to me.
Malcom: Yeah. I would argue that even if you are a hundred percent sure, you still should. Mm-hmm. . Um, because like shit happens, uh, tube amps, they change how they sound as they get warmer. People always forget that. So they start somewhere and end up somewhere else. Um, or worse yet your tubes start to die and all of a sudden your tone sucks by then. Or maybe you've got a battery in one of your guitar pedals and it's dying. Like, there's a lot of variables. So you might be totally happy when you start the song, but by the end of it, you don't have the same tone anymore. Um, a di is the
Benedikt: solution to that. And, and, you know, if you got a good di or you do it properly, like there's no, no reason not to. It doesn't hurt, you know, it doesn't cause any problems. So, cool. Now, but if you do. The next problem can come up, which I also had. Um, I realized I had a lot of problems this month, but like, these are like tiny things, but they just happen a lot and all of that, those could be solved. I think that's just the, the price of like, doing yourself. You're not a pro, so you make mistakes and you know. Um, so the next one is like, if you record the eyes, it could happen that the DI's and amps don't match, which was the case in one song. And in this, like, this could be two different things. This, the first scenario is the more common one, but this didn't happen to me, which is that you just accidentally comped wrong and then the di didn't match the the amp. This happens sometimes, and then usually it's easy to figure out the problem, export it correctly. Um, but this is not what I mean in this case, in this case, it was that the person recording didn't record one take. Into two tracks, but they recorded a guitar through the emp and then they recorded the di Oh no. Because they thought they should deliver a di but they recorded in two separate takes. Uh, and I mean, I could use that as a double, but I can't, you know, I can't layer it because it's not the same take. It's like, yeah. The intention was good about, like, it was poorly executed. Right. Yeah. And also understand that though, saved yourself a lot. Yeah. And you could have saved yourself a lot of work too, because you, you, you could have recorded half of that and it would
Malcom: be fine. . Yeah. It make like, I, I totally see how that could happen though. Cause we're always like, record a di and they're like, I guess I should go back and record it. . Yeah. It's like, no, exactly.
It's a, it's a simultaneous parallel process. Yeah. . Yeah.
Benedikt: Yeah. Whoop. So, and you gotta, you gotta know the difference. We sometimes tell you to record a double and not copy paste it. And now we're telling you to use the same take. So. I can understand if you're confused. So one thing, if you want double means you need two performances. One goes left, one goes right, or they can be mono, whatever. But like a double is two performances put together, uh, to create a certain sound. Yeah, recording a di as a backup or as a way to layer an additional sound is a different thing. It's one take. You put it, you plug into the iBox, you split the signal, or you record directly into your interface, uh, with an Epsom. But regardless of the, the way you do it, the result should be one performance that has both an AMPK and a clean I track. And those are exactly the same. And if you put an amp on the di track and blend the two, it sounds like one performance, it's not two, it's like one, it's not stereo, it's a mono thing. Um, the, the purpose is that you can take the di and replace the original sound if you, if you can do it better. Or you can take the di reamp it and layer it with your original if there's something missing that you want to add. It's not the, like, it's different from doubling. So in this case, when you recorded the eye, you don't have to do it again. You just do it once and record two signals.
Malcom: This is, uh, okay. Perfect. Little segue to pitch, taking Benny up on his coaching call, um, which there's a link in the show notes to this, I'm sure. Um, yeah, or, you know, reach out to him directly. He'll get him, uh, it's like if you are confused about this stuff and you're unsure, it's confusing, you're not able to like discern the differences between what we're describing, just. Shadow on a call with them and he'll show you . Yes. It's, uh, it's the perfect solution.
Benedikt: ab. Absolutely, absolutely. The link is the self recording bant.com/call, but you'll also find it in the show notes or the description if you're watching on YouTube. Yeah. So the eyes and apps don't match. Make sure they match, because otherwise we can, you can use either or, right? We, the, we, we can't use both unless you want it to sound like a double. Yeah,
Malcom: and I think this is where I'll mention that a mistake that I've had a couple times in the past few months is, Uh, actually the, the guitar performance is matching too much. And by that I mean that they've accidentally copied and pasted the same performance onto the left and the right. So I've got, you know, a double guitar performance, but at certain parts, they're the same performance that, uh, there's no way of fixing that. I mean, I can like delay one side a little bit and get like a fake . It's just really not ideal. You really want to be careful that your left and your right are, uh, individual isolated performances.
Benedikt: Yeah. But now you're talking just to confuse people further, you're now talking about, like, you're not talking about doubling and not the de ice scenario you're now talking
Malcom: about. Yeah, yeah. No, no. This is, uh, it just felt like a natural segue, but I realize that by having them so close, it's actually more confusing. Just get the coaching call with Benny. It'll all will be clear. , you talk about doubling all you want.
Benedikt: Yeah, but that's a common one too. It's not on a list, but that's a common one too, where they want, they deliver two different performances because they doubled it. They want one left and one Right. And then there's one section where they collapse to mono because it's exactly the same. Yeah. And that can be accidental. That can be due to various reasons. Uh,
Malcom: try to avoid that. Another YouTube idea coming up here. explaining double track. Make
Benedikt: the most confusing guitar tutorial ever. Yeah. lose five IQ points by watching this video. Yeah, yeah. Like go to my YouTube
Malcom: if you want to learn. Become less prepared. Yeah, exactly.
Benedikt: Um, great. No. Um, so the next one is, that's an uncommon one actually, but I had it. It's drum programming is too dynamic. So usually drum programming is sounds when people make a mistake there, it's often too static and sounds robotic and not natural enough. This time I had it where it was too dynamic where they probably wanted to sound, wanted it to sound more natural, but the, the velocities were all over the place and like hard snare hits were super quiet. And then, Some ghost notes were allowed and, and others were quiet and some crash hits didn't really come through. And Yeah. But the high headss were crazy loud. And so like, the velocities were all over the place. And it was very dynamic, but it didn't seem intentional. And I don't know why that happens if, because if you listen to it while you record you, you'd think you'd catch that. But again, it's probably, they probably think it's fine. Um, or they, they wanted it to be dynamic and natural, but they overdid it. I, I don't know. Or they used, I don't know, maybe they had a setting in the sampler where it like, um, normalizes all the velocities or something, you know, that it didn't actually trigger like that on their end or Right. I don't know. But it was like, uh, very, yeah. Was, took a lot of effort to go in and, and clean all of that up and make it, make it sound like an actual performance.
Malcom: Yeah. It could be also a result of monitoring too loud, where you're just not hearing dynamics properly.
Benedikt: Oh, yeah. Properly. Good ones. But even a quiet sna, it hits you hard.
Yeah. Mm-hmm. . Ah, that's a co, that's a good one. Have you ever talked about that? Like, because that's totally true that you can't hear dynamics as well in general, when you hear, when you
Malcom: listen out loud. I mean, what we've mentioned is how important it is to mix as you go, even though it's not the final mix.
Like every time you click play, it should sound good and balanced. Right? The importance of balance, because the balance of the rough mix, what you're hearing as you track is gonna affect the decisions you make. It's gonna affect how you play, it's gonna affect the tones you decide on. Um, so having a good balance is really important, but you can't have a good balance if your speakers are cranked , because you won't be able to balance
Benedikt: Yeah. So, yeah, absolutely. Totally. I didn't even think of that as like, I, I, I know that phenomenon, but we have never talked about it and it's so Right. Yeah. Yeah. It's
Malcom: actually thinking about it probably like the, the monitoring too loud thing probably leads to many things, like, like missing the little quiet parts of vocals. Like, like not cleaning up your tracks. You're probably not noticing that stuff with it cranked up too loud. Absolutely, absolutely sounds backwards cuz you're like, well, it's louder, I should hear more. But it just doesn't work that
Benedikt: way. Totally. Totally. Interesting. Yeah. The next one is actually related to, or like similar to the DI's and AM stone match thing where the drum audio and the mid doesn't match.
I had a song that the audio sounded fine, but then I looked at the mid that they also delivered. They programmed the drums and. Sent the mid over. And I usually use that, and I'm thankful for that because if I wanna layer my own samples, the mini's already there. I don't have to generate it. So when people program drums, I always ask them to also give you the midi to save us that step, basically, and to get to the original performance. But then it turned out that there were kick drums in the audio that weren't in the midi. And I was, that made me wonder, and basically, well, Thomas wondered, uh, in this case where like he was, he was like, is the. The right, correct one or is the media the mid, the correct one? And so should I just add additional midy notes where the, those kicks are missing? Or do we ask for new audio tracks because there's too many kicks or, I don't know. And so, and we actually, this one we couldn't really solve at the source or find out the reason for like why? Because I told the artist and he was like, I don't know, I programmed it and then I exported both and they're the same and I didn't change anything. So he doesn't know why those kicks disappeared, turned out the audio was correct and we just added the couple kicks that were missing. But whatever the reason was, maybe accidentally deleted it. I don't know. Um, just make sure the audio and midi matches if you export those and Yeah. Yeah. It's,
Malcom: yeah. Can happen maybe.
Yeah. That, that's a hard one to even check for, but, uh,
Benedikt: yeah, exactly. But it's worth flagging. Yeah, exactly. And then the final one, not planning in advance. And that is just something that was not really a, a problem, but it could have been better, which means. They have the song ready and then they contact me and ask me if I can mix it. And they don't tell me in advance, but they wait with like contacting me. They wait till the last moment, like until they are ready and then they wanna submit it and then they want their mix done in like two weeks or so. Mm-hmm. And if you're very lucky, it can work, but in this case, it didn't work because of the amount of songs that we have, and we could get it done in time for the deadline, but that caused us to, to charge a rush fee. So, because I had to like, move things around on my calendar and ask other people to cancel appointments and, you know, and, and like, I made it work and nobody was upset and it, it worked. But it's definitely more effort and most people charge a rush fee if you do it like very short notice. So if you know you're gonna release a song anyway, and most people know that there's a song that you've written and you wanna release it sometime soon, just get in touch early with a mixer, um, or any collaborator and let them know in advance so that everybody can plan. That can just save you money and, and frustration and, and all of that. So don't wait until you're done and then submit it and, and make the first contact basically after the song is completely done recorded. Yeah, yeah. Great note. Those were my, uh, my thoughts. And, uh, let us know if you like these type of episodes, because, you know, things like that come up all the time. And as I said, it's totally normal. Totally fine. I'm, I'm fine with all of those and there's a solution for everything. Um, but I'm happy to, to share these every once in a while and, uh, yet, you know, give, uh, give you these, this growing list of things not to do like this do not do list that will hopefully help you avoid those mistakes.
And after a while, you should be. In a better position, you will avoid all the common mistakes. Yeah.
Malcom: Should listen, I, I feel like we're usually telling people what to do. Mm-hmm. Like, you should do it like this. So flipping it on its head and being like, Hey, don't do this. I hope gives you a fuller picture of, uh, kind of both sides of the coin. And it helps you kind of understand more comprehensively why we're saying to do certain things a certain way. Um, because if you don't, some of this stuff
Benedikt: could. Yeah, absolutely. All right, um, now if you got any value out of this episode or any other episode that you've listened to, please share this podcast with your friends. Screenshot the current episode, post it to socials. Tag us at Malcolm own flood at Benedictine on Instagram. Uh, send us a message. Tell your friends about it. This helps us reach more people like you and we, when we see it, we will respond. We will share it. We're happy to see those things. Um, super cool to see the growing community and, uh, so yeah, appreciate all of you. Thank you so much for.
Malcom: Yeah, please do. It's been great. I feel like people have been taking us up on that and reaching out on Instagram and stuff more often these days, which is really nice just connecting with the listeners out there because there's a lot of youth that we've never, ever talked to before, so it's great to know who you are.
Benedikt: Absolutely. Like at the, after the base episode, I sent out my, uh, base tone workshop that is usually just inside a paid product that we have. I promise to send that out to people if they hit me up and like if they tell, ask for it, and a couple of people did and reached out and I sent them this, this, uh, free course basically. So just reach out. Yeah. You might get cool. Free stuff. Absolutely, please . All right. Uh, thank you so much for listening and talk to you next week. Okay,
Malcom: take care. Thanks.
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