Show 189 – Metal Mix Autopsy and more!

This week Jon dissects a recent metal mix he did for The Muted Pitch. We also answer a ton of your questions and Ryan talks about going to Henson Studios.

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20 thoughts on “Show 189 – Metal Mix Autopsy and more!

  1. seein’ as how the angry men in the example come from the east coast … here’s some more endput … if one were to treat one’s chicken as one would treat a muppet, would the chicken still be a fun ride? is there an appropriate cymbal that would represent this accurately? combining your divided anal retention seems like a money making venture, just do it : no fowl if it doesn’t fly… though if it doesn’t perhaps being handy with both a chicken and a muppet will give two quite different results that could be recorded for future posteriorarity. when in doubt, always try Direct Injection … and i can’t thank you both enough for what you’re doing without sacrificing a turkey, though one day i may be able to send some cash instead of stealing a turkey (i always return the slightly used chickens). as i continue drinking, it is this arsehole’s most heartfelt wish that you guys just continue… thanks!

  2. To whoever it was asking about using your computer to control your guitar effects:

    Native instruments makes a piece of hardware specifically for what you’re asking about. It’s called “Guitar Rig Kontrol” and is set up to be a stand along pre amp/converter/controller for stand along guitar rig software. I forget who it was but I did watch a web documentary on some big name touring band that used that as their effects system. I personally opted for the Line 6 HD 500 though because that sucker won’t crash and you never know what could go wrong with a computer set up. Just imagine playing a show then all of a sudden your automatic updater starts and next thing you know your entire rig is down and you have to do on stage tech support.

    For someone new to effects I’d say stear clear of multi-effects systems though until you actually know what everything does. I’ve played lead guitar for everything from old school church music to progressive metal and I’ve never needed more than the following effects chain: tuner -> compresser -> overdrive -> distortion (or fuzz, depending on the gig) -> wah -> delay -> reverb.

    Buy some used gear on craigs list and you can get up and running with that full board super quick and fairly cheap. Using each individually will teach you so much more about how to actually control your tone much more effectively than multi-effect systems ever will and honestly I end up getting way more creative with my stop box board than I ever do with my multi-effects board because it’s all laid out in front of me, shiney with blinking lights, and there are no menus to enter.

    Ryan and Jon (Jon and Ryan?):
    During that mix breakdown I found myself thinking “wow, jon uses a ton of the same mixing techniques and tricks as I do…” then I remembered that I learned these tips and tricks in the last year of going through the HRS library. I loved that mix autopsy and would love to hear more of these in the future. I can’t say thanks enough for equiping me with tons of great info that I constanty impress (or tick off) my musician friends with. That mix honestly sounded better to my ears than most of the big name metal/hardcore albums I’ve picked up.

    Ride the lightning,

  3. Fabulous show, not a metal fan but appreciate the genre. It was so great Jon, for you to demonstrate your craft, often the things we all talk about are so subtle that it is hard to appreciate. This was not the case, the improvement was like night and day! Donation coming!

    • 100% agree! I really enjoyed “peaking behind the vale” and hearing the before / after of a mix and specific parts. Really educational and I hope this segment continues. Ryan, are you going to do a Mix Autopsy next?

  4. Hey guys – if you’re looking for a multi band transient shaper, look no further than Izotope Alloy. Both versions one and two have transient shaper modules that can work in multi band mode. Keep up the good work.

  5. GSAA

    I had a hard time figuring out why the mix ended up so lopsided… Then i realized my new car’s right speakers went out. All my music seemed oddly different as of late…

    Im going to have to give it another listen in glorious stereo and make my notes. I really enjoyed this one. When you are mixing do you bounce down all the individual tracks to stems before applying all the plugins or do you use routing to conserve processor power… or is that even an issue?

    I had to do some reverse cymbal style stuff to distract from signal noise in my current project. When i first started tracking it i thought my mackie CFX had clean preamps… and it wasn’t until way after tracking that my ears finally developed enough to hear the terrible sound they had. It made the vocals pop very unmusicaly at the beginning of the song. I took a chunk of the vocals, slowed them down, reversed them and put a long envelope on them and buried it in the mix and it pulls a slight of hand on my ears. Im glad to know that my band-aids can be rationalized as music production techniques. To what degree do this type of activity happen in professional mixes to add the excitement and dynamics? I know yall did a show a while back where you talked about adding some of this but it seems like it was used quite a few times in this mix. What are your go to sounds when doing this type of stuff as well.

    ride the Muppet chicken

  6. Hi guys!

    Thanks for your opinions on drum micing techniques, I found it really interesting!
    Lately I’ve been using Glyn Johns with a LDC over the snare and a SDC behind the kit and found it works really well for jazz (in a good room).

    I wish I was going to be able to meet Slau when I’m in the US next month but I’m only there for two weeks, I’m visiting Eric Openshaw, we met through 🙂 although I’m hoping to go back next year and visit a couple more engineers!

    Hope everyone who’s been to AES has had a great time, wish I could have gone!

    Katie xxx

  7. hey guys,

    cool mix breakdown. end results were night and day – very successful rescue!

    I’d offer two small critiques: First, the vocal seemed excessively dry in context – especially given how much compression/distortion ended up on it. I understand that the mix was pretty dense, but some light delay and a little verb may have helped it to find more of a home in the mix and obscured some of the tracking flaws a little more.

    second, the excellent job separating out the instruments exposed some of the flaws in the guitar tuning. not sure if there’s a way to correct that at the mix stage given the source content, but it made those issues more apparent than in the demo.

    those are minor though, that was great work overall.

    Question: did you end up finding that guitar tone in advance of the mix, or did you look through the various amp models in context with the rest of the song? Guitars were clearly the biggest challenge in the mix, and I don’t know if I would have approached them first or last for that reason.

    nice work as always.

  8. Pingback: Metal Mix Autopsy | the Muted Pitch

  9. Hey guys,

    First off, I want to thank you for the effort that went into examining Burnt Touch. I appreciate the criticism and will use the feedback to work on a variety of things. Being self taught in home recording, sometimes it’s hard to know if I am doing things right or wrong until someone gives me a truly honest opinion. Podcast 189 was exactly what I needed. Thanks!

    Secondly, I wanted to shed a bit of light on our long distance setup and the equipment used in tracking that song.
    The home studio, the bass player and myself (guitar/vocals) reside about 400kms away from the drummer (For the US listeners…That’s about 300,000 miles …kidding).
    We meet once per week over webcams via google hangout and work on new music. The drummer plays an Alesis dm10 kit plugged into a PC running Reaper. We ship tracks back and forth using the sync client. I pull his midi files into the main studio PC which is also running Reaper. We use Addictive Drums and the Metal Pak expansion. Guitars are recorded with a Schecter 6 string detuned to around c or c# and run through a Randall RG75D. I used the distortion built into the amp (as I typically hate software based distortion) and line out from the Randall into a Tascam US-1800 that is attached to the PC. Generally I use Guitar Rig to model the cabinet but have also used LeCab and Boogex. The Bass is an Ibanez plugged into a Crate BX160. This amp is also lined out into the US-1800. Cabinet modeling is done the same way as the guitar but with different impulse files. Vocals are screamed through a Sennheiser e835 direct into the phantom powered XLR channel of the US-1800. Keyboards in Burnt touch were played on a Yamaha keyboard via midi and rendered with Native Instruments New York Concert Grand. (although in the future, I will use Addictive Keys)

    Thirdly, I would bet that many people who listen to the HRS podcast and who are into home recording are probably working on some sort of setup similar this. I feel that HRS is the right forum to discuss making these types of setups sound as good as possible without totally bashing the equipment used. If we all had loads of money, we would all have million dollar studios and this podcast would be called the Million Dollar Recording Show Podcast. Since this is the HOME recording show and many of us are on tight budgets, I would ask that you guys keep that fact in mind when talking about gear and software that we should all use in our next project. (just my opinion)

    Thanks again for the hard work on the podcast and I leave you with some devil horns. \m/ \m/
    Jason Freake (yes my last name is Freake)
    screamer and string plucker for the muted pitch

  10. About berhinger compressors. There is one that is really good on vocals. You can compress it heavy without destroying the signal to much. It’s called composer pro and is really cheap. But nowadays I think that RNC models is far more superior. But the composer was used by many engineers inclusive pros in the day(what day? No idea).

  11. Oh. My. God. Jon, brutal mix. I am with Ryan on this, those guys scare the bejeezus out of me, and they sound even scarier thanks to that killer mix. I seriously love segments like this. It helps give a sneak peek behind the curtain to people like me who are thinking of taking the dive into mixing. It’s nice to hear what the rough sounds like versus the final product, and what to really expect in terms of what you normally get from clients. Anyway, great segment, and kudos to Jason Freake and the rest of The Muted Pitch for letting you post their music before and after mix. You guys are braver than I. Ryan and Jon, thanks for all the work you guys do, and bleed the chicken, then melt his face off.

  12. Hey guys. Regarding the show, Jon, you killed both with the mix and with your analysis.

    It was really great to finally meet Ryan at AES in San Francisco, among others (Matt McGlynn, Randy Coppinger, Slau, and Mark Fouxman). I was nervous if I’d hit it off with Ryan; but when I told him I didn’t like his SM7B and he landed an elbow-shot to my teeth, I knew we were gonna be friends. Thankfully Ryan has better taste in whiskey than vocal mics. (just kidding Ryan, please no more beatings). Jon, you’ll be glad to know that Slau provided the Who scream (Won’t Get Fooled Again) at point in the conversation that Ryan drifted into inappropriate territory. On the cab ride back to our hotel, Slau commented to me that his throat was a little hoarse. Make of that what you will.
    Keep up the great shows. Truth in gear reviews is rare and precious.


  13. Jon, that mix was the balls (in a good way).

    I was most impressed with the guitars and drums. Drastic improvements. I hope those guys tipped you, because you took a truly mediocre mix and brought it to life. The extra samples you brought in made sense with the rest of the song and really added nice dynamics.

    Overall did you find you were using more subtractive or additive eq?

  14. Hey Guys, Great show as always… But now I’m FINALY all caught up and have heard every episode…. Shit! Now I have to f-ing wait for each new one from here forward… But on the upside, maybe now I can get one of those coveted diplomas…

    But I digress…

    That metal mix brought back memories, good and bad…

    A few years ago, when i was first getting started, i I tracked a metal band, blissfully unaware of what I was getting into….

    I’ve since “upped my game” and gear considerably, as mentioned on my earlier comments, but my style of music experience, while somewhat eclectic, could not have prepared me for these guys…. I’ve worked in genres from Stuff like the Eagles to Pink Floyd, but a Lennie Kravitz cover was probably the heaviest thing I’d done up until then …

    I set up the drums, as usual, with, at that time, a Samson 8kit.. As I had the whole band in one room (the loft above my garage) I ran the GTR amps downstairs, pointed at two different woodpiles (redneck diffusion) mic’d each with a 57 and a borrowed set of 414’s (careful to keep the diaphragms aligned for phase). The bass was DI’d via a Korg TP2 (not ideal I know, but all I had at the time) and as I was going to redo the vocals anyway to get rid of drum bleed, I just set up a 58 for the scratch track…

    My goal was to get as much isolation as possible, but preserving the energy of all the musicians in the same room…

    Their intro was heavy, but not out of bounds… It’s when the singer came in that nearly shit my pants…

    So we did a couple of takes, and while just weekend warriors with day jobs, they really had their shit together… So it didn’t take long..

    So when it came time to redo the main vox, I put one of the trusty 414’s in front of him and while it had never failed me before on anything, this guy nearly blew it up!

    I was stumped! Those borrowed 414’s were my GOTO Mic’s! I tried Marshall 414 wanna-be, but again…. It just wasn’t working…

    But I’d recently heard some guys talking about how hard core metal screamers often use a 57.. It didn’t make sense to me at the time, swapping a 414 for a 57, but I figured, why not try…. And to my surprise, it worked marvelously…

    The mixing went fairly easily… I had my GOTO plugs, some automation and editing.. Some copying, pasting and volume dropping to get the exact delay effect i wanted, and analog mix down via the Mackie 8bus… The band stuck around, but they “let me work” without interjecting…

    Here’s a link to the final result

    Flash fwd a few years…
    I’ve more experience, better Mic’s, better gear, and a similar style metal band asks me if I could “mix” their home recording…

    Based on my previous experience, I thought it would be relatively easy… But I quickly learned that when your not the guy who tracked it, mixing it can be a Major Challenge!!!

    They double mic’d the kick, the GTR amps were double, sometimes triple mic’d, and to say there were phase issues would be an understatement..

    Had they not been looking over my shoulder, I would have simply picked one mic for each, and ditched the rest… But the band was Adamant that I find a way to keep it all in…

    “That’s my sound Man!”

    The song had potential, but with a the phase issues, it was like trying to polish a turd… Which we all know is impossible… Especially with the band directing my mix, effectively tying my hands…

    I tried to suggest they leave for a while, and come back later… So I could work so mojo, but no dice… So I politely said… “We’ll, I’ll do the best I can buy I don’t think I’m your guy”

    I referred them off to a Mutual friend with more experience in the genre and washed my hands of it…

    It was kind of a bummer to have to let the project go, but I learned an important lesson…. Going forward my motto is now: “let me work on it my way, while you sit quietly, or let me work alone for a while, and I’ll call you when I’m ready to let you hear it!” Since adopting this policy, things seem to work better… I typically take on ONE song first, earn their faith, and from there, it’s easier for me to say “I appreciate your ideas, but shut the F-up and let me work!” (I’m paraphrasing for dramatic effect of course!)

    I dont really have a question, just sharing a story, but A few analogies come to mind that I believe in…
    -too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the broth
    -don’t ask to see how the sausage is made…. Just eat it!!! . M

    For what it’s worth, their final mix with the other guy came out “ok” but having known and respecting the other engineers talent, I’m guessing they tied his hands as well…. As I know either of us could have done better if left to our own devices…

    Anyway, that’s my rant!

    Your fan as always,

    Rob Crewe

    PS. I’m sending another 5 bucks with this comment, and I know it’s not a lot.. But I got laid off from my radio gig last month and have yet to catch a bounce… Once I get back on my feet, I’ll send you something more respectable and/or buy some shot via your amazon click through…

    In closing, I’d try a “Ride the chicken” joke, but I think that chicken’s been beat to a bloody pulp! So I’ll close with a quote:

    “Audio Engineers Do it with Frequency”


  15. Thank you for a very interesting episode. If possible, it would be great if you did a similar dissection of a mix from another, dissimilar genre, possibly even a mostly acoustic mix. The one thing I have to disagree with is that the music sounds scary, it sounds way too professional and well mixed for that. If you want scary, listen to Norwegian black metal, for example Darkthrone, scary and crappy sounding. Which is awesome, although possibly not in very large dosages.

    • Yeah, not bragging, but this is mainline metalcore, standard fare and quite tame compared to what I usually listen to. The best part of the show and this discussion is the bunched panties of apparent Celine Dion and Bieber fans.

      I have Ampltiube but still cannot get the tone Jon got .. I’d pay him for a copy of that setting .. any chance he could upload that into the IKMultimedia Amplitube preset exchange ???? Pretty please?

  16. I agree with everyone – this was a truly great segment. More of these, and in different genres would be awesome!

    What about a segment on getting great guitar tone with recording in mind? Kind of like a fundamental “for dummies” segment? I think it would help speed up the trial-and-error process tremendously which I know I have in front of me…

    “too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the broth”
    I seriously read this as something totally different the first time i saw the comment. Let’s just say I thought “Kitchen” was “chicken”, and “cooks” was a word synonymous with “roosters”…… Too much HRS…

  17. Hey Guys

    In reference to my question about getting good guitar tone, I was actually thinking about what goes on BEFORE slamming a mic on the cab – or in my case, connecting the speaker simulator. So basically, what should one look for when tweaking the amp, pedals, tone and volume controls on the guitar, etc.. I may be wrong, but I don’t think you’ve covered this in previous shows?

    If I am wrong, do I lose the diploma…?


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