I thought i'd open the discussion here to get some input and advice from experienced studio guys.
We wrapped up recording of our new album a couple of months ago, and we've started mixing. Steve and Ed (singer/guitarist and bassist) are doing all the engineering/twiddling, and i'm sitting back in more of a "co-producer" chair, listening critically and offering input as we go along. It's the first time i've really sat in on most of the mixing sessions, so i'm coming at it as a bit of a neophyte.
From where i'm sitting, i think we're currently struggling with our mixes. We've done rough mixes on about half a dozen songs, and while parts of the rough mixes sound good, things aren't really "gelling" in the mix, and the guitars in particular really lack weight.
One thing i notice is that there seems to be a LOT of time spent EQing and compressing everything. I can understand having to tweak things to remove hash from the cymbals, etc. but it seems like they're doing this to every track... boosting a narrow band and sweeping it around to find nasty resonance, then notching that out, when at normal listening levels, there's no nasty resonance to be heard (at least not to my ear). Is this a normal way to go about mixing? It seems like a LOT of time is being spent on something that's producing an unsatisfactory result.
The raw tracks sound really good. We spent a lot of time getting good sounds when recording, and i just feel like we're not doing justice to our own sounds.
I understand the idea of carving out "spaces" in the frequency spectrum so the kick, bass guitars and vocals aren't all stepping all over each other, but what i've been hearing so far in OUR execution of this is that everything sounds stiff and unnatural, instead of breathing. Bass is lacking punch, guitars are lacking depth, and nothing just sits right. The seven-string guitars are particularly troubling, as i really feel like the bottom end is completely lacking.
Granted, we are in the initial stages of mixing and we're still trying to find which compressors and EQs (all plug-ins) work best for what we're doing, but i have this feeling deep down that there's something inherently wrong in our process, not in the software or the recordings.
Any thoughts or tips on the subject?
If you're EQing and/or compressing that much, you're overdoing it. I had to learn that while mixing the new Division record. Compression and EQ used judiciously can really make a recording come alive. Over use them, however, and you can easily end up with a muffled, disjointed mess. I know this, because I did it.
A question for you: Have they ever mixed anything before? If not, use this rule of thumb: Use about 1/3 of what you think you need for compression and EQ. Seriously.