New to Mixcraft Help an old guy out

Support and feedback for Acoustica's Mixcraft audio mixing software.

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Rolling Estonian
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Re: New to Mixcraft Help an old guy out

Post by Rolling Estonian » Thu Sep 15, 2016 8:06 am

Mark Bliss wrote:My tip for today, when you "test drive" a plug in, turn down its output until the level sounds the same when you toggle the plug in on and off. (level matching)
If theres no noticeable difference in sound when the level is matched (it happens more than expected.) Now try different settings and rechecking the level, matching as needed. Pause and reconsider what its doing there.
What are you trying to do with it?
This is one of the best bits of advice you can get regarding plugins! I'll only add that I've taken the approach of 'less is more'. Meaning that I'm trying to learn all the capabilities and limitations of a few plugs rather than trying new ones all the time. That and trying to learn as much as possible about the process before even getting to plugins. Just my .02 $.

M

Brewsir
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Re: New to Mixcraft Help an old guy out

Post by Brewsir » Thu Sep 15, 2016 12:06 pm

Mark Bliss wrote:OK, I went back a re-read some of the thread to see where we might pick back up, and it occurred to me I missed a cue for an important tip on "effects" that may have answered part of one of your early questions Brewsir.

Similar to the loops being loud, the vast majority of effects plug ins do a dirty trick on you by being set by default to increasing gain when inserted.
This increase in loudness tricks the brain into thinking there's an improvement, when the "improvement" is often really just a matter of mostly being louder.
That's fine if that's what you want it to do, but often..... that's NOT what you want. And as you may be learning, it often causes a problem or two.......

As I suggested above, experiment! Try some presets. Learn what twisting all the little knobs does.
But in the end, learn to use them with purpose. Knowing why you are adding it, not just exploring and guessing until you get lucky. (Maybe. Probably not.)

My tip for today, when you "test drive" a plug in, turn down its output until the level sounds the same when you toggle the plug in on and off. (level matching)
If theres no noticeable difference in sound when the level is matched (it happens more than expected.) Now try different settings and rechecking the level, matching as needed. Pause and reconsider what its doing there.
What are you trying to do with it?
I discovered this actually, early on I was just blowing through content, trying to learn. I'd put down some loops, grab a plugin, immediately turn the gain slider down, 8) (and I figured out, there's more to it than just turning down the gain slider :wink: ) mess with it a bit, and move on, grab more loops, repeat. Anyway, at some point I decided it was time to slow down, and try to make something better, much better. That's when I dug into those damn plugins. I can't recall which plugin(S) it was, but, I just wanted to get to the bottom of it. It was after I got the Metal pack, don't laugh, I sent my grandson a song, and now he wants Mixcraft. I had a new weapon in my arsenal, dry guitar parts. Now, I thought, I'll show those old farts on the forums what I can do, right? I load up some loops, place my "extra special, I'm a badass, rockstar dry guitar loop, watch this, I'ma show you!", Then I load up my "extra special doomsday nuclear distortion amp", and hit play, and holy badassery, does that sound sweet!

So now I'm laying loops down and creating audial bliss (you don't have that trademarked do you?) I'm having a grand time, but, as a perfectionist (trust me, that's not a good thing) I just didn't like the fact that my awesome new guitar sound, wasn't all that great, by itself, it requires the matching "enhanced" guitar part. That's when I took a deeper look into the plugins. Once I got the extra gain out of the plugins, my awesome shredding axe sounded like, wait for it.......... a juiceharp :lol: Ever since then, I've been on a quest to get at least an acceptable, modern rock sound out of the damn things. I know someone will ask if I've tried the presets, hell, I've damn near got em memorized (not really) I don't know, but, to me, most of them sound like they came from Corky the Clown. I mean, come on, when I ask for a metal guitar sound, don't turn on a Norelco razor.

Full disclosure, I haven't bought any plugins. I downloaded Span, and one other freebie. I've been experimenting big time. What I like to do, is to load several plugins, experiment with each by itself, and then check/uncheck every possible combination of boxes until I get a sound I like, then I remove any unused plugins, and begin to fine tune what remains. I know that probably sounds nutty, but, it's doing some good things. For instance, I had a general idea about the different effects like, chorus, flanger, EQ, but, some were new to me, compression and some other techno gizmos, so, I'm getting acquainted. It's been Funstrating. Created a new word, better get back to work while the juices are flowing

Brewsir
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Re: New to Mixcraft Help an old guy out

Post by Brewsir » Fri Sep 16, 2016 3:57 pm

Ok, I updated Blues Ballad. I noticed at a couple of points, almost a skip sound. I heard it while mixing, but, it didn't sound like that. I've moved on a bit, included some panning, used sub tracks, and put in a couple of key changes. I'm just hoping someone notices some improvement, even if I did maybe mess it up a bit with pans and key changes.

https://youtu.be/Nxhkc7pmk2M

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Mark Bliss
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Re: New to Mixcraft Help an old guy out

Post by Mark Bliss » Sat Sep 17, 2016 5:52 am

Sounds pretty good, good tones. Mix might be slightly bass heavy, but its not far off.

Its largely a matter of taste and preference probably, but to me, it is just too "busy".
Like too many lead instruments trading licks or playing over each other constantly with little pattern or structure. I would prefer some breaks between, and buildup to a lead section personally. Reminds me of jamming with musicians who lack the insight to pause, listen, allow others to find their place, listen to the groove, know where the measures and sections are and come in when its their turn. Its not supposed to be a non-stop riffing competition.
Unless that's what you are going for.

The panning is probably a bit exaggerated and overdone still, I would try to be a little more subtle. Especially with the automated panning movement. And I would never recommend automated drum panning personally.

And there's a little tail or blip right at the start that needs to be cleaned out.

But its progress and some of the frustration has turned back to fun right?
Stay in tune, Mark

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Brewsir
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Re: New to Mixcraft Help an old guy out

Post by Brewsir » Sat Sep 17, 2016 6:22 am

Ok, discovered something new. Never work on something for hours, then post when done......wait until the next day, then listen again, because chances are, you don't want anyone hearing that. I just listened to it again, after seeing your comments and, bleh. It's like every time I go back to an earlier version of a song and listen, and think, "that's cringy". When I was finishing it up, I listened to it several times, and each time, I turned the bass slider down, 'cause I was thinkin', "Mark is gonna say, the bass is too strong". Guess I didn't quite get there 8) .....and, I'm obviously still lost when it comes to vocal-less music.

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Mark Bliss
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Re: New to Mixcraft Help an old guy out

Post by Mark Bliss » Sat Sep 17, 2016 6:55 am

I wouldn't say "lost" by any means. Its practice. Gaining experience.

And best of all you are open to input and putting an effort into developing an ear and a skill and applying it to your efforts. No one picked this up and instantly got great results. I am working on a project right now that is strongly reminding me of something I already know.
I have a lot to learn! Hope that never changes because the learning is my favorite part of this.

Judging by ear. I listened on headphones. On YouTube. No metering and no method of reference. I think the bass might be slightly high. And if so, its not far off. Small stuff.

Oh, and yes, its always best to re-evaluate after giving your ears a break. Judgement can be compromised due to either ear fatigue or lack of a reference point.
Stay in tune, Mark

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Re: New to Mixcraft Help an old guy out

Post by Mark Bliss » Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:47 am

Revisiting the basic loop tutorial project, I found the kick drum to be lacking.
Well of course it is Mark, you emasculated the thing with EQ as shown early in this thread!

That brings me to the reminder to not get ahead of yourself and assume a project needs some "typical" EQ and to mix in context.

By mixing in context, I mean listen to the whole project playing, not tracks in solo. what sounds good in solo, or as I did earlier, with a few tracks soloed, often isn't the best way to go. In fact, what sounds best in context often sounds pretty butchered in solo.
Or, put another way, if you make your tracks sound great in solo, they often don't work together very well in a project.
Make sense?

Mix in context.

So I removed the low cut from the bass loop, and guess what? Still a weak kick. Nice snappy snare, wimpy kick.
I could try some fancy trick to pull more kick out of the loop, but it isn't really the easiest thing to do, if even possible.
Lets keep to basics and use another method.

I found a kick sample in the library that seemed to fit the song, and added them to a new track, aligned with the kick hits in the original loop. They drop right in snapped to the eighth note grid, but I shortened the second hits tail so it didn't overlap and create any issues. Starting at the intro, I also increased the volume envelope of the first hit (on the downbeat) by 25% to create a bit more emphasis on that note.
I then copy/pasted the measure throughout to the end of the outro.
Kick 1.png
Kick 1.png (146.08 KiB) Viewed 3546 times
I then added some subtle variety by muting the second sample of each bar in the verses-
Kick 2.png
Kick 2.png (32.81 KiB) Viewed 3546 times
And the same, but every other bar in the chorus.
Kick 3.png
Kick 3.png (32.4 KiB) Viewed 3546 times
We will come back to some EQ at a later point. 8)
Stay in tune, Mark

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Re: New to Mixcraft Help an old guy out

Post by Mark Bliss » Sat Oct 01, 2016 6:33 am

I rewrote the paragraph about mixing in context, I made that post in a rush and re-reading it, realized it was jibberish. (technical term.) 8)

And that is but one of many ways to layer drum tracks, I just felt it was the best "beginner" method to show at this stage.

Continuing on the theme of "personalizing" the project outside of the song kit in the loop library, I added a few more elements, starting with throwing a crash cymbal sample in a few locations. These are usually used by the drummer to identify a change of song section. A simple example:
Crash.png
Crash.png (132.25 KiB) Viewed 3498 times
I also created a little "fill" in a few locations with a couple of clap samples, working similar to the method I used for the kick samples:
Claps.png
Claps.png (25.65 KiB) Viewed 3498 times
And shakers are always a good way to add an interesting element. I found some in the loop library I liked and added a section:
Shakers.png
Shakers.png (121.42 KiB) Viewed 3498 times
Stay in tune, Mark

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Re: New to Mixcraft Help an old guy out

Post by Mark Bliss » Sat Oct 01, 2016 6:47 am

Next up, (extra points if you saw this one coming!)
Cowbell. Because we could always use more cowbell. :D

I created a measure of samples on the 1/4 note grid, duplicating as needed:
Cowbell.png
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And added a few sections:
Cowbell 1.png
Cowbell 1.png (178.17 KiB) Viewed 3496 times
As some may have noticed by now, I also have added a submix for the drum and percussion portion of the project:
Drum submix.png
Drum submix.png (98.92 KiB) Viewed 3496 times
This isn't critical for a small project like this, but it can be useful in several ways.
One would be simply that once you get your relative levels set where you want in your submix tracks, you now have a master level adjustment available to use relative to the rest of the tracks in the project.
We probably don't need to do it here, (Due to the use of pre-processed loops and samples) but it can also be useful for adding one effect or process to the set as a group.
You could also use it to automate a parameter for the group.
Stay in tune, Mark

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Re: New to Mixcraft Help an old guy out

Post by Mark Bliss » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:29 am

A few final notes and I think we can move on from arranging the project.

I used a different crash in the ending that was too loud, as it is almost in solo at the end, so I used the envelope tool to reduce the clip level 25%
Ending Cymbal.png
Ending Cymbal.png (45.67 KiB) Viewed 3494 times
And faded the level to make the song end more smoothly:
Ending Cymbal2.png
Ending Cymbal2.png (7.96 KiB) Viewed 3494 times
And if we remember the part where I reduced the guitar level and made the organ more prominent, I thought the ending of the organ section kind of needed a minor boost:
Organ swell.png
Organ swell.png (16.69 KiB) Viewed 3494 times
And here's a sample of where we are so far:
https://soundcloud.com/mbliss01/v6mixdown/s-237kk
Stay in tune, Mark

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shakin_fingers
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Re: New to Mixcraft Help an old guy out

Post by shakin_fingers » Mon Oct 03, 2016 3:03 am

I wish there was a way in phpBB to "like" posts (maybe - hint hint - convert to something more 21st century like https://www.discourse.org/?). Then I could like the heck out of mark's posts above...

:D :) :wink: :) :D

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Rolling Estonian
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Re: New to Mixcraft Help an old guy out

Post by Rolling Estonian » Mon Oct 03, 2016 8:55 am

Agreed! Thanks Mark, awesome stuff!

M

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Mark Bliss
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Re: New to Mixcraft Help an old guy out

Post by Mark Bliss » Mon Oct 03, 2016 4:07 pm

Thanks guys, I appreciate the supportive comments. I will continue to add more segments in spare moments.

And FWIW, I don't think we need a "like" button personally, but I encourage anyone who is willing, please participate constructively in the forum and encourage others to as well.
This is an exceptional resource that benefits all. Newbies, novices and the more experienced alike. The potential for information exchange is large and it's an asset for us all.

Carry on and make some noise! 8)
Stay in tune, Mark

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King Windom
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Re: New to Mixcraft Help an old guy out

Post by King Windom » Tue Oct 04, 2016 2:50 pm

Just found this thread. Great stuff. I have read through the whole thing and have been following along. I learned a lot. Looking forward to future installments. Thanks Mark and thanks to Brewsir who started this thread. Dan

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banzailoco
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Re: New to Mixcraft Help an old guy out

Post by banzailoco » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:50 pm

Now I understand why you said not to used the Track Pan. :)

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