@Simeon feel free to type forever! Great suggestions and all good points. As @photofractal mentioned mid-low frequencies sent through delay/reverb (which I do and need to get away from!) will make it sound muddy as well as too much LPFs. All things I didn’t think about, thanks for the good ideas.
Something else that I really want to try is using some kind of side chain compression or ducking within the modular. The Intellijel Jellysquasher has a side chain input but you can also achieve a similar effect by sending your signal through an envelope follower, then an inverter, and then to a VCA. Now one signal will attenuate another creating more space in a mix!
Awesome-- will try this! I have a maths so I’ll look to see how to accomplish this.
Yes Maths can act as an envelope follower and spit out an inverted signal!
This is one of those things where I know it’s gonna be an issue later when I put multiple things together, but I do it anyway (coz things typically sound better to me with the highs rolled off). I will try to do better!!
Thank you for these tips!
a huge tip a friend of mine passed along was the importance of high passing any signal whose low end information you don’t need - this idea was probably my first big step towards being a better mixer. in your case (everything straight into a level-only vca style mixer) I would guess there is significant muddiness being created by the low end present in your non-bass voices. I’d start by either getting a couple small filters that can high pass, a fixed filter bank of some kind, or a couple EQs, then experiment with high passing or subtractively shelving the low end to reduce the frequency masking that’s causing the muddiness.
Like most folks have said, good eq is going to be your friend. I have 104hp 12u ~5 voice modular. I send each voice to a mixing console (used to be a 1202vlz, no Soundcraft epm8). I do heavy eq’ing/ shelving at this point to make sure each voice sits in its own general space. Record the mix into Ableton, and keep sculpting from there.
Most of my mixing level up moments (pun intended) have really been around thinking about the individual sounds and how I want them to sit. Similar to working with panning. Its really easy with a modular to have a single voice cover the entire spectrum, in a way that a lot of traditional instruments don’t. Thinking about the space for those sounds is almost as important as designing the sounds themselves for me now.
You’ll regret ever typing that!
+1 on the ducking / sidechain and eliminating messy low-end. For the latter I have a Bastl Propust in my rack, which I use to slim down messy distorted signals. It has 3 different fixed HP, BP, LP filters in 2hp and while you don’t get any control, for cleaning up multi-part patches on the fly it’s great. And if it’s your reverb that’s messy in the mix you can put that through a bandpass filter and it’ll take up less space …but if you don’t have a similar module that includes buying gear, which I hate to offer as a solution to something which I’m sure you’ll work out without more toys.
My only other piece of advice is to ask yourself if everything needs to be in the mix to the level that it is. Sometimes we want to give parts equal prominence, but that doesn’t necessarily mean giving them equal amplitude.
Everyone’s brought this up but I’ll +1 with something I am slowly learning:
sometimes, things that sound good solo don’t sound good in a mix, and vice versa: often, high-passed sounds might sound weaker when you are staring at them on their own… but they might just fit better as an ensemble. This is especially the case when you’re looking at modifying something you built earlier in the patch - patches get built over time and we often don’t go back and modify the first bit we wired in.
I’m enjoying see all the responses to this for sure.
Yeah I hit this all the time. Ill mute everything to work on a voice and get it to a point that sounds totally badass, then I un-mute everything else and its just garbage.
I think panning is really worth keeping an focused ear on - placing different elements/voices around in their space. So placing with panning + amount of reverb is a good starting point. With Xoac Praga you can dial in both for the four voices with panning control and aux send (with the reverb on a send bus).
Other than that the EQ/high pass tips are gold.
Great advice! Thank you! I already started looking at fixed filter banks and EQs that might help with this.
Yes, I experienced this last night! I had some great sounding things from my initial voice and then when I tried to add things, I just couldn’t get anything to fit around it. So I left it as a single voice and posted a clip to instagram and walked away with how it sounded on it’s own.
I definitely need to be more selective of what gets the attention. I create all these cool sounds and I want them all to be noticed, yet they just get in each other’s way. Good advice.
ugh, I have a Rose as my “out” and that doesn’t have stereo despite the Praga having left/right panning. grrrrr.
Are you totally opposed to getting a small mixer? You can get a 4 channel mackie with basic EQ and pan pots fairly cheap.
Also, another great tip I received once was to always start your mix in mono and don’t start planning until later. This will force you to get great frequency separation without the help of panning. If every part of your mix is audible and sounding great together before you pan it will only be that much better after!
A big second on having a small outboard mixer for a lot of this stuff. being able to eq and shelve stuff outside the modular is pretty key to my workflow.
Maybe I misunderstand this sentence, but Rosie does have stereo out. You just need to use a TRS stereo cable.
When I’m working on something, I find that it helps to have some sort of visualizer to correspond with what you’re hearing (usually use the ones in Logic or the MOTU software - xy plot, phase analysis, and FFT). This trains my understanding of which frequencies are muddy. I tend to use them quite often, even when listening to the music of others.
The problem of having too many cool sounds that are competing with each other is a nice one to have. A topic related to mixing is arrangement. Use a cool sound here, and a different cool sound later. Give everything plenty of breathing room. Find graceful transitions between them. Now you’re starting to write a song, not just noodling!
Absolutely. My Ableton template has a frequency analyzer on every track and I keep a more advanced analyzer on the master channel to check for phasing issues. Incredibly helpful and as you said, an excellent learning tool as well.
I use this plugin a lot and it’s amazing:
I would love to see a module that does this!
Cheating. Beautiful, beautiful cheating. I love cheating by making a solid bass not with solid bass sounds but with multi band compression. I love creating interesting stereo fields not with good panning, doubling and complete stereo signal flows, but with Nugen Stereoizer. And I love love love cheating.