Tracking out instrumentals questions - please help

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Music Afficionado
Member Since: Aug 12, 2008

I am in the process of tracking out a lot of instrumentals that I made (mostly from samples). I isloate each sound from Fruity Loops to its own track and load them into my DAW so I can apply plug-ins. However, when I mix them I usually end up liking the original non-tracked out version better. I thouht one of the main reasons to track out instrumentals was to get everything to sit its in own place. Thererefore, I "generally" do the following:

Bassline - EQ & compression
Kicks - EQ & compression or limiter - add some reverb
Snares - EQ & compression or limiter - add some reverb
Hats - add some reverb
Crashes - compression and maybe some EQ
Strings/pianos.synths etc - add some reverb, sometimes will do some EQ or compression but never have much luck here
Samples - add some reverb and maybe some EQ.

I feel like Im wasting my time.

I know there is no easy fix, and it takes practice, but I know there has to be some pretty good guidelines to start with. My goal is to have clean mixes thwhere eveything sits in its own pocket and the kicks hit hard, snares pop, etc.

My questions are as follows:
If my drums are sampled sounds - should I leave them as is EQ and compression wise? or should I still be applying FX?
Am I right in applying reverb to all of these drums?
Should I be applying reverb to basslines?

I feel like I'm missing some steps. I know most everyone else tracks their stuff out and it sounds clean. When I start messing around with mixes - it sounds cluttered or cloudy to me. Maybe I am doing too much?

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Since: Nov 27, 2007

Mar 02, 2010 05:44 am

on the drums it depends on what proggie you have and what options you have.

no reverb on kicks mostly, depending on the music.
same with hats. Verb on toms, none on o/h's or room mics.

None on bass lines generally. Reverb will sink things back in your mix. if you have it on the whole kit and or the wrong pieces it will sound muddy with no clarity.

eq and compression wise.
i dont really go to town on the eq with anything, same with compression, unless its needed. just enough to take out the muddiness eq wise, or to tame the peaks with big variations in volume, compression wise.

rule of thumb is mostly, your stuck with the tone you have recorded or what you have in a program, eq and compression are to spice it up a tad or to take out muddiness or add sizzle.
but only in relative doses, or when it comes to mixdown its overdone.

this is my way of looking at it.

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