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References, References, References!!

How to do this / that, Mixing Techniques, Sound Design, Music Theory, etc. Share, learn, teach - there are no stupid or embarrassing questions!
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OctopusOnFire
Posts: 150
Joined: Thu Apr 20, 2017 14:28 CEST

References, References, References!!

#1

Post by OctopusOnFire »

So, I was listening back to my mix for this month and I noticed some overall mistakes on the tone that could've been easily spotted while mixing if I had used some references.

Using references is both one of the most helpful and overlooked "mixing techniques" (?). At least for me. When I start a mix I want to start doing stuff, moving faders, turning knobs, get my hands on it. I don't want to start thinking "what could I use as reference for this mix?". Later in the mix, I have that feeling that I'm guessing many of us have, and don't want to put my mix to the test against pro mixes because ego.

Anyway, the point of this thread is having a list of references at hand, and include a little info, mostly to help rookies and not so rookies to get good mixing habits.

I'll start the list with some recommendations from Warren Huart (Produce like a Pro) and I'll be updating it as people share their own go-to reference tracks.

Feel free to reply with your favourite references, and most importantly, references that you know well established mixing engineers use. Include a little info if possible (genre, mixing engineer, reasons for referencing the song). If the list grows and people contribute, I'll organize it by categories.



Song: Hey Soul Sister
Artist: Train
Mixing engineer: Mark Endert
Genre: Modern Pop-rock.

[quote]Outstanding vocal sound sitting in the mix very well, very good space, starts with ukelele and voice and ends up with the whole band.
[/quote]


Song: Woman In Chains
Artist: Tears For Fears
Mixing engineer: Bob Clearmountain
Genre: 80s Pop-rock.

[quote]Not modern mix, 80s feel. Awesome space and use of reverb, very clean sound. Awesome guitar tone. Male and Female Vocals.
[/quote]


Song: Uptown Funk
Artist: Bruno Mars
Mixing engineer: Seban Ghenea
Genre: Modern Funk-pop.

Uptown Funk - Bruno Mars - Seban Ghenea

[quote]Super Up-front with a funky, groovy 70s feel. Slamming and in your face while mantaining openness and depth.
[/quote]

Song: Slave to the Rhythm
Artist: Grace Jones
Producer: Trevor Horn
Genre: 80s R&B.

[quote]A masterpiece for detail and depth. 80s Sound.
[/quote]

Tbase2000
Posts: 119
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2017 00:38 CEST

Epic Reference Tracks for Mixing

#2

Post by Tbase2000 »

Reference tracks are a huge part of mixing as has been pointed out in various other threads. Finding songs that fit your specific style your working on can be a little tedious but nonetheless very important to a "pro sounding" mix. I have two questions...

1) Since we are working in the "mix" period of a song, pre-mastered...assuming that you gain stage for equal volume comparison...how do you know when your highs and lows are equal to a mastered reference track which is always shiny and beefy. When you compress the 2 buss and add that extra sparkle and "master" the track, it changes the dynamic of the mix and brings highs louder. When and how exactly are you confident that your mix sounds as good as the "reference mastered" track when its not possible really until your mix is mastered? Are you visually eq comparing the two waveforms and listening for an overall dynamic between the levels of the tracks? 1-10, where do the most important instruments sit level and spatially?

2) There are general genres out there. Rock. Metal. Pop. Rap. Are there any tracks that you think are just epic, best mix ever that you continuously go back to as benchmarks or do you try new reference tracks every mix?

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Mister Fox
Site Admin
Posts: 1693
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2017 16:15 CEST
Location: Berlin, Germany

Re: Epic Reference Tracks for Mixing

#3

Post by Mister Fox »

[moderate=Mister Fox]Threads fused due to topic similarities, originally posted in the Mix Challenge sub-section.[/moderate]




Since I don't have much time to answer...
Tbase2000 wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 02:52 CET
1) Since we are working in the "mix" period of a song, pre-mastered...assuming that you gain stage for equal volume comparison...how do you know when your highs and lows are equal to a mastered reference track which is always shiny and beefy.
Short answer: Experience.


The idea of mastering is not to "blow things up even more" (unless you really got a faulty track to begin with - been there, done that), but to add so called "fairy dust" - neutral/minimal touch ups. Keep in mind that strong compression/limiting also adds to the placebo effect of "loud = better".

So in other words - it's down to your experience how close you get to a finished/mastered/released mix with the tools you have at your disposal. The closer, the better, the less work for mastering needed.


Tbase2000 wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 02:52 CET
2) There are general genres out there. Rock. Metal. Pop. Rap. Are there any tracks that you think are just epic, best mix ever that you continuously go back to as benchmarks or do you try new reference tracks every mix?
See first post. Which is why I fused the threads.

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Mange
Posts: 39
Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2017 07:21 CET
Location: Sweden

Re: References, References, References!!

#4

Post by Mange »

Remember two reference mentionings from Mike Seniors book Secrets of mixing

All four seasons by Sting. Very even bass.

Torn by Natalie Imbruglia. Vocals this sibilant is too much.


Personally I often go back to How Long by Eagles. Don´t really know why.

Last I used some track from Keith Urbans Ripcord. Can´t remember wich, it wasn´t Wasted Years, that one is a bit too smiley to my taste.

HerbFelho
Posts: 57
Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2017 13:15 CEST
Location: Munich

Re: References, References, References!!

#5

Post by HerbFelho »

mange wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 15:47 CET
Remember two reference mentionings from Mike Seniors book Secrets of mixing
Best book on mixing in my opinion, you should also check the newer "recording secrets..". Simply fantastic.
He´s also a great guy, already ment him twice since he´s also based here in Munich.

Most of you probably already know his great site cambridge-mt but for anyone who´s interested in audio podcasts, he also has one on patron, which is great and he recently had a guest appereance in Lij Shaw´s Recording Studio Rockstars podcast (Episode 124). Now I listened to hundreds of podcasts already but this episode the best I ever heard. So much to learn and so entertaining. Highly recommend it!

HerbFelho
Posts: 57
Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2017 13:15 CEST
Location: Munich

Re: References, References, References!!

#6

Post by HerbFelho »

Here´s an interesting video on how reference tracks can be used in depth and effectively while mixing.
There´s also a link in the shownote for a free guide to referencing which is great.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za0FJQORogw

there a also some more videos on referencing directly on Understandin Audio´s YouTube channel.

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Benedict Roff-Marsh
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri May 01, 2020 01:43 CEST
Location: Gold Coast Australia
Contact:

Re: References, References, References!!

#7

Post by Benedict Roff-Marsh »

Be cautious with referencing if that means that you are flipping back and forth between [insert track name] and your track - or even worse, using a plugin to "steal" that freq profile to overlay on your abomination :baytins:

This means that you are not really mixing your track at all. You are trying to turn it into that other track. Sure that other track my be the octopus' left testicle of coolness but it is not your track.

Mixing is about presenting and selling the Story of the track. If you focus on how it needs to sound like another track then you are at best looking for technicalities to tick off your list, but it is never about how to tell/sell the Story of the track you are working on. This may make for a mix that ticks technical boxes but it cannot make for a track that shines.

Remember that once the Song exists it is your idea to serve it not the other way around :hail:

I am all for Referencing but this is part of your general learning about how your speakers/room sound and how music in general works. Listen to great music of all kinds as you type in forums, as you read in bed... Let the magic of how it works sneak into you sideways. This is referencing done right.

:-)
Benedict Roff-Marsh
https://benedictroffmarsh.com/

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