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Mix Challenge - General Gossip Thread

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tumewor
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2020 10:46 CET

Re: MIX CHALLENGE - MC063 March 2020 - Mix Round 2 until 30-03-2020 11:59pm GMT+2/CEST

#151

Post by tumewor »

hello everyone, CeZar and mister fox thank you for listening to our mixes and also for your effort to keep this awesome mixing game going
and congrats to our top 10 mixes, yall sounded amazing.

Sadly my mix didnt make it to Round 2, but its all good its learning experience for me. i have faith in @RJR mix, im loving it we have the same vision with this song, my spirit carries on his mix. @RJR you have my vote

i have question to mister fox, as for the rules its quite missleading, it says

> export in the sampling rate and bitrate the material was provided.Bar minimum in 24bit however. e.g. Source Material provided in 16bit, please provide a 24bit mix. If source material was provided in 24bit, please submit a 24bit mix, etc

this example showed us that we can convert a provided 16bit material into 24bit. And in the next clause says

> please be reasonable with your release - 44kHz or 48kHz source material does not need to be released in 96kHz or even 192kHz, unless otherwise stated

implementing the example from previous clause, isn't that mean we can convert a 44khz to a 48khz? the reasonable sample rate is clearly stated 44-48 khz.

i hope mister fox can clear up my muddy thought of this clause.

Thank you, and once again congrats to all top 10 and good luck

CeZar
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Location: Bucharest, Romania
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Re: MIX CHALLENGE - MC063 March 2020 - Mix Round 2 until 30-03-2020 11:59pm GMT+2/CEST

#152

Post by CeZar »

viewtopic.php?p=7077#p7077
Read the point about "adhering to the same sample rate".

Now, let me clarify something related to the work a song provider will do for any given challenge.
You provide the files in a certain sample rate, when you get to evaluate the mixes there will be around 100 mixes to evaluate per challenge. How much time do you consider a mix provider would waste if we need to convert half of the tracks we get to evaluate to the same sample rate as the one required? It's not like we can know which one's which before hand, we literally download, put all the tracks into a DAW session and notice that some of them have a different pitch and tempo. We're talking about 100 tracks here, 100 tracks that need to be listened to and to be paid attention to. MrFox is not participating in the evaluation stage, and he's right to do so, because he's the forum owner and he needs to stay neutral. Put yourself into my shoes or anyone else providing tracks for the mix challenge and the work we have to do in order for this to work, and do remember, it's a free, educational forum.
I hope I've clarified some stuff here...
CeZar

Chriswilson83
Posts: 50
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Re: MIX CHALLENGE - MC063 March 2020 - Mix Round 2 until 30-03-2020 11:59pm GMT+2/CEST

#153

Post by Chriswilson83 »

CeZar wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:26 CET
GaryRegnier wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 02:27 CET
Mistake 5 - Not enough compression or too much compression (A few files were mastered, others were even severely burnt, some of them had almost no compression), I've used Levels by Mastering the Mix to monitor everything here)

Really? You used a plugin and not your ears?

Feel for you being faced with so many entries and good luck to the those through to next round.

Gary
I've definitely used my ears to know that you've submitted a 48khz file instead of 44.1.
Rules allow for a mix to be submitted in a higher sampling rate. I hope you didn't disqualify solely for that....

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Mister Fox
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Re: Mix Challenge - General Gossip Thread

#154

Post by Mister Fox »

Important Information:
All posts from #146/Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:43 am until post #156/Thu Mar 26, 2020 6:35 pm have been moved from MC063.

I will collectively respond in a bit - I need time to sort through the comments first.

rawdrewage
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Sep 17, 2019 19:39 CEST

Re: MIX CHALLENGE - MC063 March 2020 - Mix Round 2 until 30-03-2020 11:59pm GMT+2/CEST

#155

Post by rawdrewage »

This issue of 'mastering' and loudness confusion goes on in all of these competitions and even in professional life.

II have worked with mastering engineers, back when budgets used to allow for it, and I think the only way you can say "no mastering' and get an objective result might be to specify a target level in LUFS or RMS...otherwise it's subjective and the technical gets in the way of the art.

It also eliminates the need to for the judges level match the mixes. You can use something like SOUNDCHECK to verify the files offline and disqualify those that aren't in compliance.

Anyone have any other ideas to eliminate the grey areas on this? Any mastering engineers in the room please pipe in.

I think the end result will be higher quality mixes for everyone involved

Thanks for listening.

White Punk OD
Posts: 146
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2018 23:58 CEST

Re: Mix Challenge - General Gossip Thread

#156

Post by White Punk OD »

Here is the way I see it. All comments are appreciated, confirming or digressing.

Naturally, the song provider, who is a "virtual client" in this game, is given the right to define the specs, and declares what is sought for, to deliver by the applicants.
It is a good thing, when this becomes quite different from episode to episode.
But I would beg for a very direct and literal statement at the thread start, saying for example:
Allowed resolution: 24 or 32.
Allowed sample rate: 44.1k.
Project has 33 tracks to mix.



Also, it is not the normal daily audio business life to check a hundred mixes. Consequently, provisions and invest in infrastructure to do this, are hardly to expect.
Therefor, thanks to CeZar in the first place, I support his way of handling the MC63. I may not be able or willing to fulfill, but the consequences are accepted and fully at my side.

That said, I am using a DAW that detects input formats on-the-fly, and if required, will convert transparently into temporary files. The hardware is a high-class gaming notebook, but no clock-dependend hardware is connected.
Opening the song with all mixtracks, takes perhaps 10 seconds longer, when there is auto-conversion.
So in my case, I would not have a problem with stuff rushing in from every corner of the planet with a ton of different sample formats.
But OTOH, it is not a professional studio system.

My contribution is, anyone interested in influence by sample rate can check it out. For some projects it can make a difference. #111 is what it sounds like, when everything gets converted from the beginning, and things happen fully at 48k level. To convert back to CD or whatever, is a whole different story.
(I did not use the auto-conversion though, because I wanted to test myself, if there is any difference. I converted everything to 48 before starting work on the mix. I deem this the most cleanest way with the safest outcome.)
Also, a mastering engineer works by song or by album, and will of course never complain about an 48k mix, and he is the target to send to. The artist gets a copy that is somewhat more compressed than what the mastering studio will receive. But these things are a matter of the direct, professional relationship that has to be negotiated. It depends on who the executive producer is, and what s/he wants.

That's one of the little caveats here, there cannot be a hundred relationships for a project that holds no money.
Thus, little misunderstandings will happen frequently, and are part of the experience.

White Punk OD
Posts: 146
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2018 23:58 CEST

Re: Mix Challenge - General Gossip Thread

#157

Post by White Punk OD »

@rawdrewage, are you here?

we ought to discuss the dead horses no more in the contest work threads. :roll:
I had the honor in a team to work with an established and probably quite wellknown mastering engineer of Berlin, and he seemed quite affordable.
The artist who was the executive producer as well, had no issues with his fees. And we had quite some retries.

A rule that says "no mastering", to me makes sense only with the following logics:
The game is simulating some industry standard process, where everything is sent to the mastering engineer chosen by the label.
"No mastering" means to do nothing that makes the job by the mastering engineer more difficult, or would restrict and narrow down his ability to create the optimal ready product.

Coming from there, it takes a good headroom, it must not be squashed to death by compression, and it must never be brickwall limited.
LUF is heuristic experience became standardized, together with the peak headroom, it helps the checking to become faster.

I have this Expose/Mastering The Mix. I see it as very useful to give hints, it does not tell whether it sees a good mix, or any acoustic issues.
But when it redlines a section in the song, we can listen twice, if it is really too squashed. Because most times the mastering engineer would say the same, and ask for a change in the mix, if he sees potential for audible improvement.
Many bands mix on their own, and will receive a lot more comments, than the well-known mainstream mixing engineer, whom the mastering guy knows since long.

As we have no mastering engineer in the contest, we must resort to some heuristics, to enforce results that at least in theory should be acceptable to the average mastering engineer.



-----
TL;DR on my stance on sample rate should be 48k:

Many mixes start with beautiful acoustic guitar and great, clear vocals, but when the band starts, clarity breaks down, and at the chorus once more.
I may have created a very humble, incomplete mix, but clarity in technical terms does NOT break down. To the contrary, I can afford to do it the old way, and by design create not too much separation at all.

tumewor
Posts: 6
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Re: Mix Challenge - General Gossip Thread

#158

Post by tumewor »

hello again , this is my 3rd post now please bear with me

i never intended to intervene with the evaluation stage, like i said earlier my spirit with this competition carries on with @RJR mixes, i truly appreciate for your time listening 100mixes, i wouldnt have the chops to do it.
also i read up the topics from up until "Switching sampling rates per project is not an issue anymore as it was 10-15 years ago".
CeZar wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 18:10 CET
viewtopic.php?p=7077#p7077
Read the point about "adhering to the same sample rate".
CeZar
my point is we have been instruct to read the rules. Like i mention in my post earlier about the 2 clauses, its contradicted with the methods you use, or not i dont really know it's to blurry for me.
tumewor wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 17:31 CET
i have question to mister fox, as for the rules its quite missleading, it says
> export in the sampling rate and bitrate the material was provided.Bar minimum in 24bit however. e.g. Source Material provided in 16bit, please provide a 24bit mix. If source material was provided in 24bit, please submit a 24bit mix, etc
this example showed us that we can convert a provided 16bit material into 24bit. And in the next clause says
> please be reasonable with your release - 44kHz or 48kHz source material does not need to be released in 96kHz or even 192kHz, unless otherwise stated
implementing the example from previous clause, isn't that mean we can convert a 44khz to a 48khz? the reasonable sample rate is clearly stated 44-48 khz.
in this case taken from your post
CeZar wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 21:55 CET
Mistake 1 - wrong sample rate at mixdown export(I've asked cubase to automatically convert everything to 44.1khz if it needs to, some of them were down tempo, lower pitched, some more than others);
i dont know how many mixes has been eliminated with this, probably none i dont know. But thats not my point.
White Punk OD wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 20:38 CET
But I would beg for a very direct and literal statement at the thread start, saying for example:
Allowed resolution: 24 or 32.
Allowed sample rate: 44.1k.
Project has 33 tracks to mix.
completely agree with this, looks like Admin need to invest more time writing.
So my last question is are we all suppose to follow the rules or rules are meant to be broken ?
all these are for the good of this community, just trying to bolds some of the blurry lines.

Peace out

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Mister Fox
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Re: Mix Challenge - General Gossip Thread

#159

Post by Mister Fox »

I'll now start to comment on the barrage of comments and opinions. Please bear with me.



White Punk OD wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 13:53 CET
The DAW and masterclock do shape the workflow.
There is a studio (where I worked for some weeks) that took 5 minutes or so to switch between 44.1 and 48 and it was cubase and the masterclock required some buttons get pressed, and the whole system had to be restarted. There were songs recorded this way and others that way.
There are studios where hardware doesn't adapt, or where you basically have to switch out settings to have a synced recording.

However, the reality is that there is a difference between "recording at the studio", "working for a specific project" (TV/Movie) and client projects. 44kHz and 48kHz are still a thing. And if the client delivers 44kHz, he expects 44kHz back.

You can't overrule that just because you think "it sounds better". If you have an issue with 44kHz, use tools that can be oversampled, or run with "internal oversampling". I've mixed (and still mix) content in 44kHz which was then later released/exported for commercials, TV and cinema - I have never had any complaints other than "this/that instrument could be a bit louder".


White Punk OD wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 14:03 CET
The mastering issue is way different from the sample rate issue.
When a song provider is not ready to accept anything else but 44.1, this should be declared in red capitals.
It has influence on the sound. Things will sound "modern" (as in global mainstream) no way. Perhaps by a major hitech studio that won't ever be seen in a mix-off. (Talking Weiss-Saracon SRC etc.)
a) pointing out the definite final resolution yet again will happen as of MC064 - even though that has been made clear for quite a while now

b) we do have high-tech studio users joining the Mix(ing) Challenge at this point

c) I can not confirm that 48kHz sounds "more modern". Please stop spreading this.


White Punk OD wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 14:03 CET
The good streaming sites have a higher sample rate and it is audible.
Can not confirm. Tidal, Spotify, Youtube, iTunes... they all deliver 44kHz unless otherwise stated.
DAB (Digital Audio Broadcast) and DVB (T/S/C/I) is a completely different topic.


White Punk OD wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 20:38 CET
Also, it is not the normal daily audio business life to check a hundred mixes. Consequently, provisions and invest in infrastructure to do this, are hardly to expect.
Correct - this is not the business of an audio engineer - but the business of the song provider. This is what is meant with the "Client to Business" scenario. The Mix Challenge is basically a "mass audio engineer shootout" - something that songwriters actually do on occasion - only that the Mix Challenge also offers interaction from other participants, and basically learning by doing.

It was never advertised as something else.

This is a mixing competition. Not a mixing and mastering or straight up mastering competition. Completely different areas and ground rules. Please stop mixing that up - which you continue to do.


White Punk OD wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 13:53 CET
BUT - My notebook works best at 48k and I will never upload anything else unless getting paid for that.
I then think we should stop the conversation right now in this case - you've been pushing the "we need to go 48kHz" for quite a while. You also continuously seem to mix up mixing with mastering, and the other way around.

If you can not agree on the given Rules and Guidelines - then maybe the Mix Challenge is (sadly) not made for you.



tumewor wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 17:31 CET
i have question to mister fox, as for the rules its quite missleading, it says

> export in the sampling rate and bitrate the material was provided.Bar minimum in 24bit however. e.g. Source Material provided in 16bit, please provide a 24bit mix. If source material was provided in 24bit, please submit a 24bit mix, etc

this example showed us that we can convert a provided 16bit material into 24bit. And in the next clause says

> please be reasonable with your release - 44kHz or 48kHz source material does not need to be released in 96kHz or even 192kHz, unless otherwise stated

implementing the example from previous clause, isn't that mean we can convert a 44khz to a 48khz? the reasonable sample rate is clearly stated 44-48 khz.

i hope mister fox can clear up my muddy thought of this clause.
There is nothing "muddy" about this. The second paragraph is from the very first days of the Mix Challenge still, pointing out that (for example) a 44kHz mix does not, and should not, be released in 88kHz - just because you "work that way".

Since this is coming up over and over... I think I do need to re-word this for MC064. I do not know yet "how", but I definitely will.


:arrow: Else, it is simple: export in the sampling rate and bitrate the material was provided (bar minimum 24bit)

Unless otherwise stated (if people actually read the "rule additions" in the second post): If the source material was in 44/16 - provide in 44/24. If the source material was in 44/24, provide in 44/24. If the source material was 48/24, provide in 48/24. If the song provider asks for 48/24 mixes, but provides the material in 96/24 - then provide in 48/24. Else - absolutely no dithering down to 44/16.

Since MP3s are also not a must anymore (Logic Pro X for example does an auto sample rate conversion and bitrate truncation to 44/16), that negative side effect has been eliminated. If you provide in the wrong sampling rate/bitrate - you're out of the game.

I have to think about higher bitrates and whether or not they should be a disqualifier.



rawdrewage wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 16:36 CET
How can one tell if a song is 'mastered? What level makes it mastered? I think there needs to be some guidance here. I typically mix between -14 and -13 LUFS but it isn't mastered.
The Rules and Guidelines clearly state the following:
Rules for participants of the Mix Challenge wrote:
Fri Mar 31, 2017 20:41 CEST
Rule set for mix participants
  • This is a mix challenge, NOT a (pre)mastering challenge (unless declared otherwise). The main focus is to create a balanced mix, which can later be used for a possible mastering process
  • ...
  • It is allowed to use plugins on the summing bus, as long as they are for broad/general sound shaping (e.g. console emulation, "print to tape" sound, "mix through a compressor" trick, etc) or metering tools, but not for mastering purposes (see thread Rules and Guidelines Addendum: Summing Bus Treatment)
  • It is recommended to work with a certain reference level. We recommend to work at -18dBFS = 0VU (EBU R68 alignment level, see Wikipedia entry on Peak Programme Meters)
  • ideally, the final mix shall be anywhere within the the following range: -21dB RMS realtime to -15dB RMS realtime on average, alternatively -16LUFS ILk, while the maximum digital signal strength shall ideally not exceed -1dBTP (True Peak)
  • ...

So the "guidance" is (or "guidelines" are) already there. In fact, there has also been a thread (that I will pin after posting this long post) on gain staging and "reference levels" (using a VU/Digital Meter combo). Plus a thread on "Loudness Normalization" (granted, that could see an update, considering tools like Mastering the Mix "EXPOSE" or the free Orban Loudness Meter are easily accessible at this point).

Generally speaking. exported audio edits at -14LUFS to -13LUFS ILk (Integrated Loudness) and not SLk max (Short Term Loudness) could be considered "too loud". This would actually convert to something like -10dB RMS avg, if not higher in places (depending on a lot of factors). Even if the track doesn't clip, or signal overs have been prevented with a safety limiter/clipper, this would be considered "running a bit hot".


While this hasn't been a strict knock-out criterion - chances are that there might be future Mix Challenge song providers/clients out there that check on values first (the tools are out there), maybe take a quick listen still, but ultimately decide "no, sorry - too densely mixed - this entry is out".

Before there is yet another uproar - let me make this crystal clear: This has nothing to do with mastering.

It is a possible indication of a too strong summing bus treatment, maybe borderline going into mastering territory. An actual mastering engineer would still be able to work with this (I speak from experience). But it might put you in a disadvantage down the road.


rawdrewage wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 20:37 CET
This issue of 'mastering' and loudness confusion goes on in all of these competitions and even in professional life.

II have worked with mastering engineers, back when budgets used to allow for it, and I think the only way you can say "no mastering' and get an objective result might be to specify a target level in LUFS or RMS...otherwise it's subjective and the technical gets in the way of the art.
We have that clearly specified in the Rules and Guidelines since (actually) Mix Challenge 005/Year 2014, which was then refined by MC010/Year 2015. I still remember getting a lot of flack for this, but most people adapted quickly. Apparently this is still an issue.

Again - please check the official Rules and Guidelines - it can't get any more detailed. The "rule book" is mentioned/linked to several times per Mix Challenge thread. There are no excuses to be made.


rawdrewage wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 20:37 CET
It also eliminates the need to for the judges level match the mixes. You can use something like SOUNDCHECK to verify the files offline and disqualify those that aren't in compliance.
This is what actually happened with MC062 - where I stepped in regarding a plethora of clear rule violations and issues with mixes.

My post on this can be found here:
Mix Challenge #062 - Post #93 - on the topic of enforcing rules


rawdrewage wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 20:37 CET
Anyone have any other ideas to eliminate the grey areas on this? Any mastering engineers in the room please pipe in.

I think the end result will be higher quality mixes for everyone involved

Thanks for listening.
There is honestly nothing more to do or to add. If people don't adhere to the Rules and Guidelines (or bend them as they seem fit), yet clients then go by the actual established rule set and start to mass exclude entries according to pure technical analysis before they even start listening... in all honestly, what should I comment on that?

If this would have been a Mastering Challenge which even more strict parameters - where even small mishaps can result in a lot of problems for the reproduction plant - would there be such an elongated discussion as well? Would you dig through hundreds of entries and try to find excuses? The Mix Challenge will only grow form here on out. Now imagine 200 or even 500 entries with people doing whatever they want instead of sticking to the set fundamentals for everyone. You have to draw a line somewhere - and that line exists for years at this point.

It is only now that the clients/song providers are finally are more strict. And so am I as host (I have to be fair to everyone!)



Chriswilson83 wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 18:35 CET
Rules allow for a mix to be submitted in a higher sampling rate. I hope you didn't disqualify solely for that....
Please check in with the Rules and Guidelines again. There is no mention of "or higher" - this has been removed since last Q4/2019. The second paragraph does not mean "you can submit at a higher sampling rate".

As mentioned - I will (re)address this with MC064.




And finally:
tumewor wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 22:40 CET
White Punk OD wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 20:38 CET
But I would beg for a very direct and literal statement at the thread start, saying for example:
Allowed resolution: 24 or 32.
Allowed sample rate: 44.1k.
Project has 33 tracks to mix.
completely agree with this, looks like Admin need to invest more time writing.
Oh I already invest way more time for writing than I hope for.

The problem is, that people are then commenting (again) that "this is too much to read" and "nobody will join because the rules and additions are scattered all over the place" (you know who you are!). I can definitely point out once more what is allowed and what not in the " Rule Summary / Add-On Rules" (second post, below the "Words by the Song Provider/Staff"). But if people do not read and adhere to that, I can not help it.



tumewor wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 22:40 CET
So my last question is are we all suppose to follow the rules or rules are meant to be broken ?
all these are for the good of this community, just trying to bolds some of the blurry lines.
You are supposed to follow the established ground rules. There is still plenty of room to be creative without being overly limited.

This is what the Mix Challenge is all about:
learning by doing, spread your horizon (even with given boundaries), trying something new, gathering some experience, interact.





:arrow: SUMMARY:

I will take some of the criticism to heart and edit/overhaul certain things for Mix Challenge 064. I won't do any broad strokes, more like minor fine-tuning in certain places. The "foundation" is (in my opinion) well laid out, there are already plenty of add-on threads and commentary.

I'm investing a lot of man-hours per month for the community, and I will continue to do so. I want participants to enjoy this experience and not feel irritated (or similar). I try to be as accommodating as I can - but please keep in mind that we do need to have certain ground rules for everyone. This is not your "go to competition" community after all.

I also have certain limits. For example - handling such a topic like this, is costing me hours on end (in this case, roughly 2,5 hours). And the more I have to explain things, make thing seven more clear, explain that certain points can't and won't be changed (over and over even), the less my patience.

Thank you for your understanding.

GaryRegnier
Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Jun 03, 2017 22:15 CEST

Re: Mix Challenge - General Gossip Thread

#160

Post by GaryRegnier »

Fucking shambles. The whole rule set should be written in simple terms and in stone
There should be no doubt and or discussion threads about it
Mister Fox fix it now before the next challenge
Thank you
Gary

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