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People's approaches for overall balancing/mixing?

Posted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 5:19 pm
by meegosh
Hey, just wondering if people have specific ways of approaching volume control when they compose, particularly regarding Square waves in relation to the Triangle wave. I've had a few different approaches over the years to help achieve a good, consistent balance with minimal heartache but I've recently revisited my approach and I'm wondering if there are any useful techniques I might be overlooking. Just to clarify, I'm not wondering how to use any of the volume functionalities in Famitracker (and I'm well aware that the volume of the Triangle wave can't be adjusted) - I'm just wondering how people approach mixing their tracks (e.g., do you most often tend to compose everything first and worry about levels later, mix as you go, avoid certain volumes altogether, etc.).

When I first started with Famitracker I tended to have the Square waves around full volume but noticed that that often drowned out the lower octaves of the Triangle wave. I ultimately decided on the approach that I would only use values 1 through 9 for Square wave volume (for 99% of the time...there are always exceptions). I followed that approach for years and rarely had major balancing issues. The only downside to this approach was that using only nine steps limits how cleanly I can fade things in and out as well as the depth of echo/reverb effects.

I've recently been trying new approaches. I'm currently trying one out where I've marked at which volume step (1 through F) a particular octave of the Square wave just seems too loud in comparison to the Triangle. The idea being that I can be like, "okay, I'll never play anything in this octave at a volume over X", etc. But this seems like it might be frivolous micromanaging that's doomed to failure. I also haven't ruled out the possibility that this level of volume control is unnecessary since the limitations of Famitracker are what give the songs some of their character and keep things creative.

Any thoughts or approaches out there that people find useful? (For conversation's sake let's maybe assume we're not using any DPCM samples so we can rule out the impact that would have on the Triangle/Noise waves - just straight up Square and Triangle balance.)

Re: People's approaches for overall balancing/mixing?

Posted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:06 pm
by ZeroJanitor
i usually just start around a mid-volume range then play it by ear

so i generally mix as i go, but often once i'm finished tracking the song i'll listen to it and see if there's any adjustments that need to be made in regards to how all the parts of the song go together (like, if an instrument sounds good in one section but it's too loud in another)

Re: People's approaches for overall balancing/mixing?

Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:28 pm
by Xyz
I never go above D for pulses in usual mixing.
If you want to go full bassy like the Follin Brothers, if you study their nsfs they usually don't go above 7. Giving tri loads of room.

If your want your tri to be doing mid-register solos, then you can afford louder pulses, up to D usually.

Though tbh most of my mixing comes down to working around DPCM and triangle. Set those going first and mix everything else around that.

Re: People's approaches for overall balancing/mixing?

Posted: Thu May 10, 2018 4:10 am
by PinoBatch
Keeping your pulse sustains at 5-6 or less, peaking around 12 for attacks, also leaves room in the mix for sound effects if you're making the music for a game.

Re: People's approaches for overall balancing/mixing?

Posted: Sun May 20, 2018 11:46 pm
by Gamma
I always balance it around the Triangle channel or the DPCM channel. They operate at fixed volumes, and I want to be able to hear both. This does reduce dynamic range a bit, but I'd prefer to have audible drums and bass.

Re: People's approaches for overall balancing/mixing?

Posted: Mon May 21, 2018 4:51 pm
by meegosh
Thanks for the responses. All good advice. Unsurprisingly, shortly after my post I gave up on the whole master chart of what-volume-for-what-note-at-what-octave approach. It was doomed from the start. At least I can scratch it off my list I guess.

Re: People's approaches for overall balancing/mixing?

Posted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:35 am
by Gamma
Yeah I don't really have any special rules about volume for particular octaves. I give it a few listening passes and make adjustments as I go if something sounds too loud or too quiet. v0v