Poor mix quality - hints please!

Hi all,

I’ve been trying to emulate some tracks by State Azure (made with hardware synths and Eurorack), but my sound is very thin compared with his. Lacks body/depth/richness.

Wondering if this is a limitation of VCV modules, or just my incompetence? Hopefully the latter, in which case, any hints appreciated.

I’m using some decent modules, including Vital VST and Rings for sounds and Valhalla Room for reverb.

Thanks, Chris.

Could be anything. I’d guess it would be post processing via hardware effects or software FX in a DAW like use of compressors, EQ etc, but maybe it’s a mastering chain he has in VCV itself.

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It’s hard to tell from just reading your words. Maybe you can post a bounce of your mix and an example Track you would use as a reference and then we might be able to pick out certain things.

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this is a substractive way of thinking This is good in this case

This sounds more like a mixing issue than a limitation with VCV modules. Broadly speaking, a good mix is the product of critical listening skills, composition and production considerations.

As others have replied, the best thing to do is to post your track and examples of what you’re aiming for.


I recommend watching others showing start to finish production.

Here’s Jonas Saalbach using Ableton Live, that I think was really good, and I could use in my learning.

Maybe others can recommend some start to finish tutorials using VCV ?

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Thanks all for the suggestions.

As requested. Here are

The original

My attempt

My setup

Thanks, Chris.

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I know nothing about mixing or mastering, but there are many differences between these two recordings that are independent of the nuances of mixing:

  • Yours is at half the volume!
  • The original has a lot more going on in it - more voices doing a wider variety of things.
  • The original has at least three different high-frequency percussion instruments, while yours has almost nothing in the high frequencies.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, the original has a strong deep bassline with rests in it, whereas the bass in your piece is purely ambient.
  • The original spreads its voices around the stereo picture, while yours (partly because there’s less going on) is mostly central.
  • Many of the voices in the original have sharper attacks than yours, giving the delays and reverbs more to work with.

So I think yours “lacks body/depth/richness” as you put it because it lacks variety, in frequency (add bass and high-frequency percussion), stereo position (spread out what you have and what you add), time (add rests and increase attack), and instruments.

(For what it’s worth, I think what you have there is a very nice ambient piece. It’s different from the original, but in no way inferior.)


Hey Richie,

Thank you. That’s very helpful! It’s great to get an external perspective. I’ll work on those.

And thanks for the compliment. Always nice to hear positive things!

Best Regards, Chris.

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Maybe I am not the best person to give advice to anyone, cause my mixes are also not perfect… But I’ll give you my perspective anyway!

Let’s ignore the original, just imagine that there’s nothing to compare it to. Let’s also imagine that it is mono, so no stereo image. Riiight. So I hear a huge space in the mid lows. It’s just empty. I hear a very far low rumble like from the suboscillator or something and the mids are there, but the mid low is just empty. I like to imagine that low lows are the ground and the mid lows are body of your track. Mids are face, high mids are hair and highs are the skies. So there’s no body, the whole track is floating above the ground. You probably have the mid lows, it’s just too far in the mix. So add an equalizer maybe or\and add some gain to your mid low-ish sounds. Also add some overall gain… Maybe with a compressor. Which is my another tip! Add some compression to the drums and maybe to… this plucky bell thing. Just to add some attack to it.

But let’s see what more experienced people would say! I am interested as well

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I like your track.

In VCV you can try mindmeld mixmaster as a mixer if you want to. It has an EQ expander which works wonders on a mix. It also pairs well with Squinky Labs compressor for dynamics. Bogaudio mixers are cool though, I find them handy for sub mixes.

Airwindows is also in VCV now which is perfect for mixing.

I would not recommend mixing loudly, as this sucks up all your headroom. Rather mix around -12 dB and you can boost the volume once you’re happy with the mix. You can even slap a limiter on.

One more thing I would like to add. If you feel your track is a bit cold and clinical, try adding some noise in at a very low level. A tape (or other organic) sample works better than white noise.

Have fun and don’t give up. Mixing is a whole different ball game to composing. And takes time and practice to get right. But it’s worth the effort.

But most importantly, enjoy it.

Saturation will make your signal more “square”,so will rise the “integral” value…So more loudness. Use it with parcimony

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What are you using to monitor your mix? If crappy speakers then you have no chance from the get go.

Hi shofb

Some half-decent headphones (Beyer DT900 pro)

Best Regards, Chris.

I am totally against mixing with headphones. Do you not have decent speakers? I am not saying that is all of your problem but it sure doesn’t help.

I do, but not in my “studio” (i.e. office).

Interesting! As someone who knows nothing about mixing, I’d like to learn more. What is the reason you advocate against using headphones?

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HRTF + interaural delay time (together with vertical response and “feeling” bass response) + headphone responce (it’s less but still make an issue sometimes)…I wish to change this thing over time (since I already have my own vision (two years testing!) and curves and files and etc to fix this (make sound like speakers in the room) but I’m ain’t no coder and it’s harder to say without testing with other people is that purely a personal thing or it can be applied to other guys as well. By the way - any other commercial software that claims to do the same thing absolutely not convincing me at all (too much reverb, too much bass, or too much highs, too phasey and etc)

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HRTF (Head Related Transfer Function) is a fascinating topic. I was involved in an experimental psychology research project about 7 years ago that involved using VR to study the role of hearing in visually impaired test subjects for such things as “crossing the road”. I did all of the VR part of the project whereas the HRTF expertise came from our research partners in France and Germany.

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A followup question on sound design and mixing: I’ve been looking at one of Omri Cohen’s patches (Vangelis tribute) and note that he uses multiple copies of effects (chorus, reverb) per voice, rather than using sends from the mixer for this. Is there anything to be gained by this approach, or is it just personal preference?