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After reading Chrons Eric Prydz post I've been thinking a little about what he said.
As everyone knows mixing and mastering are two very complex things in music. There are hundreds of tech terms you learn over time and knowing how to use them correctly is just as hard as remembering them. At the end of the day each artist, song, and track all have very distinct sounds pre and or post mastering. Alot of it is based on the synthesizers you chose and the reverbs/delays you put on your send channels. Though the end result will usually come out to be a mix you want to achieve or somewhere near it.
Genres can play a big factor on the mix you are trying to create be it a Trance or House song the mix can sometimes define the genre that you are creating. Do you want a clean mix? How about one that is super atmospheric? Maybe tech-house is your style and you chose to make a very clean mix with short reverb that really only widens the synthesizers and drums.
Either way I'll try my best to explain what I'm getting at. There is no perfect mix but I still find it interesting how complex music is and would like to bring it up discussion on the little niches that make up electronic music and many other genres.
Aaren San - Apes From Space (Dirtyloud remix)
I found this song on the frontpage of beatport. It's kind of addicting I'll admit, the mix is fairly clean and booming. The most reverb I hear is based on the clap/snare and other drum elements. The synthesizers are very clean and don't generally have any delay and very small reverbs on them. So the mix is the main drive of this song right? If the mix was atmospheric it would be very dirty and lack the clarity the bass needs to keep a strong and driving melody. There is a lack of a "distinct" melody like... say you would hear in twinkle twinkle, you wouldn't be humming this song on the sidewalk on your way to school. It's a great tune to dance to but the mix and bass just don't seemingly have room to create a melody we can remember.
My Opinion: It's a very nice mix, I enjoy listening to it and the bass draws me in. There is nothing memorable about the song though except the clean driving bass. So in this case mix > song?
Next song (still clean)
Wolfgang Gartner - Bounce
This is not as clean as the last one, the FX used has more reverb but still the synthesizers are fairly unaffected by reverb. Once again the drums feature most of the reverb (including FX). The bass again is the main attraction keeping a beat and something to dance to. Maybe that's what drives some mixes, the lack of an outstanding melody and focusing more on the beat.
My opinion: The song I feel isn't as good as the first one, the use of reverb on more of the synthesizers keeps some of the song from standing out. Of course that could just be youtubes quality getting in the way.
Signalrunners - Meet me in Montauk
The single runners have a very interesting mix. They only put reverb and delay on things they feel need it. The song ranges from VERY clean to VERY atmospheric. This song probably would sound fine being atmospheric but during the breaks, if it were too clean it would lose it's draw. It's hard to say though. The use of reverb is still a very clean reverb and the drums never get lost.
My opinion: The clarity really draws me into this song but also the long atmospheric tails on the synthesizers and FX keep me listening. 9 minutes is alot to ask from a song but somehow they keep me interested.
Still in between clean and atmospheric
Tiesto & Sneaky Sound System - I will be Here (Tiesto Remix)
This song I would like to say is the best example I can give of a song still having a decent melody and featuring a driving bass that keeps the interest. The bass is very interesting and features the little changes that the previous clean mixed songs had. So it is possible to feature a "less then normal" bass in a mix that isn't as clean as the usual. There is more focus on melody rather then beat though.
My opinion: The song features a melody you can hum but I feel the main draw is the bass which causes the mix to be in between clean and atmospheric.
I know same song and a repeated artist but I feel it proves a point
Tiesto & Sneak Sound System - (Wolfgang Gartner remix)
Why the same song and Wolfgang again? Well it helps show that artists who understand how one mix work and add that style of mix to another and turn a song into something "different". The synthesizer plays a roll on the atmosphere but the drums stay fairly clean. The reverbs don't have huge tails and the use of delay is limited. The most atmosphere is placed on the vocals to give it a large "space" in the mix.
My opinion: I like this song more then any of the other versions because of the synth selection and new melody. I am a tad biased of course though.
Deadmau5 - Strobe
You had to know this song would be an example. Without the use of reverb and delay the mix and atmosphere of this song would be boring. It is 10 minutes long but still the dynamics of the reverb and delay on the synths seem to keep the song interesting and moving forward. While the production is still clean the song has a large focus on making the mix atmospheric rather then energetic.
My opinion: 10 minutes is alot to ask but it keeps me interested because I want to know what could possibly be added to make this song better.
Glenn Morrison - Contact
Large focus on reverb and little to no reverb on the drums. The synthes in this song are the biggest factor and the reverb has quite a long tail. The song is cleaner then an uplifting trance song because of fewer instruments but, the mix still causes some sounds to meld together.
My Opinion: Little goes on in this song but still manages to keep me interested. The use of reverb and delay keeps the mix filled rather then empty.
Mat Zo - Lucky Strike
This song melds many sounds together with the use of a very wide reverb and delay. The mix stays fairly clean until multiple synthesizers are added. The atmosphere created though is what draws me into this song. The bass is unique in its own way but also manages to keep the song melodic.
My opinion: After the break the song takes on a different form and its almost breath taking (I'm stupid i know). The synthes used would have to be very different without reverb or delay.
So I'm running out of room in my post and what I would like to discuss will be left open.
The way I see it is the mix you chose to make is driven by multitudes of different factors. Some factors may include but not limited to; Genre, Melody, Bassline, Drums, and the overall focus of the song. I myself find each style of mixing uniquely drawing but usually I'll be attracted to the in between or atmospheric tracks. It is most likely because they feature melody over beat. I only described a few mixing styles and I'm sure there are more for each respective category but I'm limited on typing room.
Discuss? What mix style do you prefer and what attributes about it cause it to be the way it is?
I definitely feel a little intimidated to post in this topic, and I'm probably not alone in here. I'll try my best to explain what it is that I admire most in mixing/mastering, or even the selection of synths used.
In electronic music, I really love when natural sounds (or real instruments) are mixed with synths, countermelodies, engaging bass lines, and flows so well, that you'd have to listen to the song a hundred times to appriciate how well everything works with it together. I absolutely love when any style of electronic music has vocals in it. I feel like the lyrics are an instrument of their own. And how it flows with the music, or contradicts it even, brings entirely new elements to the songs. I guess that's partly why I tend to use lyrics in my songs. They say the best form of flattery is immitation, and I'd be lying if I were to say I don't take what I like from what I hear, and apply it to whatever I'm working on.
Sorry for that tangent. Back on to the topic of mixing and mastering, I definitely love a clean, memorable sound. Any song that has a distinct, original lead, and a catchy original melody will keep me coming back to it. The best example I can think of off the top of my head is:
The Prodigy - Voodoo People (Pendulum Remix)
I feel like this song has such a raw element to it, the drums are almost lost within themselves. I love how it blends genres of rock/metal/electronic. I've always admired when a song can aptly be labelled as two different sounds.
I know I didn't do any justice to your reviews/insight, but maybe someone out there can take something from what I've said.
This is probably one of my favourite tracks of all time. This tune is fucking legit. And it's definitive proof that you can get a dancefloor moving with just a kick and a snare. Production wise there is nothing particularly special going on, it has a massively stripped back vibe.
Another favourite of mine. Ridiculously phat and tight production. It's all about warm yet crisp analog-style tones. Really love NAPT's rubbery/bouncy basslines.
Love their kicks and snares too, as well as their judicious use of TR-909 crash cymbals ;D.
Their production style seems pretty simple, but I bet there's a lot more going on that first meets the ear.
A few mentions of Wolfgang Gartner so far, but I was surprised to see that this song wasn't mentioned. That bass sound at 1:27 is what does it for me. Sinister, twisted analog stylez.
This is probably my favourite WG tune. It's almost like French House had an evil cousin that no one knew about.
Like the rest of the productions I've mentioned, it's very VERY dry. Kicks and snares have no hint of reverb, which I tend to favor.
I saw Pendulum mentioned in this thread too. They released a new album recently, and this is probably the most stand out track IMHO. I've been listening to this song on repeat for about the past two weeks. It's fucking heavy, filthy electro at it's absolute best.
Plus they're bringing the hoover back into style, and that's something that I respect massively, because the hoover is my favorite synth patch of all time.
This mix is a bit wetter than the rest, but Pendulum have always been known for their tendency towards the ethereal.
Also, the buildup and subsequent drop starting at 1:50 is masterful.
Fucking awesome australian producer. Mostly does progressive and tech house, which I'm not a massive fan of, but this is one of his wicked sick bouncy electro tracks. Super minimal vibe, but this tune is guaranteed to get your booty shaking. Bass Kleph knows how to work bass and drums, which are the two MOST important elements in dance music IMHO. Dude knows how to work a fucking crowd as well.
As far as what I prefer goes, it depends on the song I suppose. Different styles and vibes demand different approaches to production.
I suppose I tend towards minimal, punchy and crisp though.
Its fun to think about how a mix is influenced by more then just technical turnings of a knob. How personal preference plays a huge roll. I've noticed with most my songs I love heavy reverbed synthes because they just make the mix sound full. I also enjoy good drums though lately, I've been trying to make mine better and a larger part of the mixing process but still have trouble with them.
Possibly could lead to new subgenres being formed by taking into account the mixing process rather then arrangement. The choice of synthe levels and clarity are all part of the mixing process of a song.
Modern dubstep wouldn't be the same if it wasn't for the massive production value. It's one of those genres that relies less on melody and harmony, and more on production, processing and studio trickery. I find this massively appealing.
Admittedly, I don't really care for melody. I find that it can turn a good song into a cheese fest. Alot of people get spine-tingly when they hear a good melody...that's the way I feel when I hear a well produced dancefloor killer :)