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My Orchestral Mixes Sound Two Dimensional

Digital Perfomer in the context of television/film scoring and post-production.

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My Orchestral Mixes Sound Two Dimensional

Postby KenNickels » Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:01 pm

I'm using Proverb on the mix buss from sends on the audio tracks. But man, I must be missing some basic methodology for putting the instruments in a believable space. Most everything I hear sounds ten times better than mine. I am hoping you can advise me here. Help!
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Re: My Orchestral Mixes Sound Two Dimensional

Postby Gravity Jim » Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:08 pm

My first questions would be:

What monitors are you mixing with?

Are you using the East/West orchestral VIs?
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Re: My Orchestral Mixes Sound Two Dimensional

Postby mikehalloran » Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:19 pm

How many instances of your VIs are you running?

Are you using reverb on the mix only? individual instruments? groups?
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Re: My Orchestral Mixes Sound Two Dimensional

Postby KenNickels » Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:30 pm

Thanks for the reply. I had forgotten this post ...
I have several issues against me, I know. I use Behringer two way 8" speakers. They are not that great. The room is square-ish without much acoustic treatment to speak of. I've taken to EQ-ing minimally, because the more EQ the worse it sounds, and most everything sounds good out of the box (EW Hollywood strings, for example.) Five Plays, 1 Kontakt. I have some hearing loss, so I'm probably mixing with louder highs than I should. Lately I've been mixing with Sennheiser phones because of all this.

I try to get a good balance where I can hear all the parts in relation to each other, using basically using the modwheel for brightness and CC11 for volume. I'd like to know what a more experienced VI orchestral mixer does and doesn't do, regarding getting that open natural breathing space.
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Re: My Orchestral Mixes Sound Two Dimensional

Postby mikehalloran » Wed Sep 06, 2017 4:17 pm

Reverb can be used to create depth in a mix back to front just as pan pots can be used to set R/L. I am talking small amounts on your instruments and/or groups.

Remove any reverb from your Master buss for now.

Brass is generally in the back unless you have a large choir behind. Apply just enough to hear it. Apply half that to the woodwinds. Don't apply any to the violins and violas, a small amount to the celli and a little less to the double-basses than the brass. If there is a choir, double the amount you used on the brass. Soloists should have no reverb but, if present, add a little bit to the fiddles to place them back in the mix.

I am not saying what to use here but it should have a fairly short tail and not be too bright or dark — I use a small hall setting for this.

Assuming that you have panned things properly, there should now be a 3-D aspect to your mix that was missing before.

Only when you have this sounding the way you want, should you add a Master reverb for general ambience. This will flatten your mix a bit so you can remove it and tweak the settings to compensate if you like. Now try again.

I generally add too much, wait a day, listen with fresh ears and dial it back some. YMMV.

Yes, you should have better monitors but I'll leave that alone for now.
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Re: My Orchestral Mixes Sound Two Dimensional

Postby KenNickels » Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:20 pm

I understand what you're saying, but wouldn't sends accomplish the amount of reverb going to each instrument? What is different?
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Re: My Orchestral Mixes Sound Two Dimensional

Postby mikehalloran » Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:33 pm

KenNickels wrote:I understand what you're saying, but wouldn't sends accomplish the amount of reverb going to each instrument? What is different?

It's the amounts you apply in the various layers that give you depth. How you add it isn't that important.

You can play with the amounts to move a layer front to back in your mix.

Choir - most
Brass - noticeable
Double-basses - less than brass but not 1/2
Winds - 1/2 brass
Celli - a little less than the winds
Fiddles - none unless there are soloists, then add a little
Soloists - none

Once you have your depth, add reverb to the master for ambience. Use your soloist or violins to gauge how much.
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Re: My Orchestral Mixes Sound Two Dimensional

Postby KenNickels » Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:40 pm

Thanks Mike. In any case, I've been adding too much reverb. I'll keep your guidlines in mind when I mix next time.
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Re: My Orchestral Mixes Sound Two Dimensional

Postby terrybritton » Wed Sep 06, 2017 6:35 pm

mikehalloran wrote:
KenNickels wrote:I understand what you're saying, but wouldn't sends accomplish the amount of reverb going to each instrument? What is different?

It's the amounts you apply in the various layers that give you depth. How you add it isn't that important.

You can play with the amounts to move a layer front to back in your mix.

Choir - most
Brass - noticeable
Double-basses - less than brass but not 1/2
Winds - 1/2 brass
Celli - a little less than the winds
Fiddles - none unless there are soloists, then add a little
Soloists - none

Once you have your depth, add reverb to the master for ambience. Use your soloist or violins to gauge how much.


Thanks, Mike - nice guidelines to have on a card pinned somewhere in the studio! I've put it in my Evernote for now. :-)

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Re: My Orchestral Mixes Sound Two Dimensional

Postby KenNickels » Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:30 pm

Mike, what kind of speakers would you recommend?
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