The Official KSAND Kent Sandvik Web Site

Producer, guitar player, composer and maker of noise.

Mixing-Mastering and Layers of Sound

Posted on | May 8, 2007 | 2 Comments

dramatic_sky.jpgOne case where the combined mixing/mastering pays off is when analyzing what tracks work together in specific parts of the song. If multiple tracks compete about the same frequency ranges, for example mid-range, it will sound very muddy and its hard to hear the individual tracks. If possible each track should operate in its own well-defined frequency domain. Even then, too much is just too much, the listener can’t separate all the instruments playing.

This is typical for the producer, as we could hear all the nice parts we added together, as we know the track inside out. While for a new listener, they don’t have that background, so the layers of sound will just confuse them. Usually two-three main musical lines is most what they could easily separate — it also depends on the level of musical interest and talent to separate lots of various instruments playing together.

Now, there are sometimes cases where layers and layers of reverb/delay-heavy tracks is exactly what it needed. Ulrich Schnauss is a good example of a producer who could pull of such walls of sound. Even so, there’s a lot of careful planning that needs to go in already in the mixing stage in order to avoid a big mid-range mush of sound that just confuses.

Anyway, check out Ulrich’s web site — he has downloaded material for free there, too.


2 Responses to “Mixing-Mastering and Layers of Sound”

  1. Simon Mills
    June 12th, 2008 @ 12:13 AM

    I completely agree with you on this, it has been a weaker point of mine until a few years ago – I call it “pub head”, i.e. the average person in a pub will only hear the main parts of a song, and after years of releasing heavily layered music, I’ve got more confidence to not “Dress it up”. Ulrich’s music is fantastic and I think that the reverbs create one huge simpler sound that’s more digestable for the average listener; it basically makes the track sound like drums, bass and huge chords, with a melody or vocal to sit on top! Great website, only discovered it yesterday and it’s fantastic. :-)

  2. Kent Sandvik
    June 13th, 2008 @ 9:10 AM

    Thanks. Yes this is one of those things that everyone learns over a long time of work. Same with Beethoven, Mozart et rest, their earlier compositions had, I think, issues with instrumentation that they perfected over time.

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