I started a new project recently and for the first time after months of praticing I'm finally happy with my drum loop intro. Since I started producing, I worked very ward on my drums processing and I could find several information out there. My bass mixing is ok, still have a lot to learn but it's listenable. Problem is when I add my lead synth. It sounds rather dull and very poor if I compare to my drums. I first thought it was my melody/chords but even if I add midi from a popular song it's still not as punchy/fat as I would like.
I would like to attempt something like Steve Angello's SLVR or Payback. I can get the groovy drums part but that's it.
Any tips on how you would layer/mix the synths?
Edit: I just uploaded my loop on soundcloud and it doesnt sound as good, I got some glitch here and here (on white noise hit). I get the glitches when I play it with Itunes. Weird?
Post a clip of your mix so it's easier to give some relevant feedback. It's hard to give generic mixing tips. First tip though is to start at the source. Begin tweaking your synth until its as close as perfect as possible before adding compressors, eq and stuff.
Ok.. I'll do my best to walk you through what you're looking for.
First of all, don't misunderstand pure volume for quality. Many commercial artists compress their songs quite a bit to get everything as loud as possible.
What you want to do is basically make a supersaw. Most synths with have an option for doing super-saws, usually the option is called multi, s', or simply something like supersaw. You'll want one oscillator of this, probably in either the c3 or c4 range.
Then, you may or may not want another regular saw or supersaw that's an octave below this one. If you do add this, it should be at a low level.
Then carefully consider if you want the synth to be in the middle of the stereo field, or seem like it's off to both sides. This might be what you mean by phat. Anyway, I've had good experiences with making things wider by sending one supersaw (the first one you did) to the left speaker, and another to the right. Then you detune between them slightly.
From there, you need to add a filter with an envelope over both oscillators. Some synths give an option for saturating the filter. If this is possible, set the filter to cut off just a little below where you want it to, then set the filter to just begin to saturate a bit.
Then from what I can hear, you want to add a slight delay, probably with minimal feedback, mixed at a very low level. After this delay, you need to add a reverb.
The reverb is probably gated a bit, meaning it ducks under the signal it is processing, and then comes on. You'll have to look up gating separately, it varies by DAW. Mix this reverb so that it has a slight but noticeable tail.
Then, you'll probably want to compress the synth to bring out the reverb a little. Set your compressor ratio to as high as it goes, then set a fast attack, and probably a medium decay. Bring the ration down from the top, and find the point where it starts to bring the reverb and delay out ever so slightly. Then, set your ratio way down. Probably between 2:1 and 4:1. Then bring the treshold down just a bit more to get a more even compression.
- What you want to do here is to squash the transient ever so slightly, when you bring up the gain after, it will make the reverb seem bigger.
After all of this, make sure that you highpass your synth appropriately so that it doesn't mess with your bass. Judging by the songs you referenced, you can go at least 100hz, probably more like 200. There really isnt much low end on these leads.
And finally, a lot of the heft of these leads isn't from the lead itself. If you pay attention closely, there is a heavily saturated bass playing roughly the same rhythm as the lead. More importantly, the bass is playing the root note of the lead.
Assuming you're not doing any chord inversions, the root note should be the lowest note of the chord.
From there it's all about mixing. Keep in mind that it's not about getting everything to sound good on it's own. Sometimes things don't, it's about trying to get them to mix well together that's key.
Yeah, it's tough to get a lead to be forward and exciting, without it sounding too dry or hard, and making sure there is enough "space" and effect around it and behind it to give it depth.
Anyway, I feel using little or no compression, sequencing the velocities really well, and using the right kind of distortion so it gets a little "cut" can help.
Also experiment a bit with:
Reverb, (try gating it so it goes away tightly when the lead is not playing)
And of course, distortion
Some really great info in TheWizar's reply as well.
Hope that was helpful,
Oh, and sometimes the lead actually needs to be a little extra stereo to fit right, try adding a tiny bit of chorus to spread it, or a doubler type pitch shifting effect. Great way to add a sensation of space without using reverb.