Old 05-07-2017, 02:05 AM   #1
SymboliC
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Default Analyzing the values of a waveform?? Need advice...

Hi,

Currently I'm trying to improve in and learn the aspects of mixing & mastering dept. in a more mathematical and "visual" way.

For this occasion, I throw some tracks in Reaper for reference purposes and also insert Voxengo SPAN in the master channel.

I have a couple of questions... Most of them are related to analyzing professional records and audio works to get hints.

1) Is there any information that can be read/extracted/figured by simply listening to a pro-quality audio file and also looking at the waveform itself? I'm not talking about the numerical values that present in SPAN or any other plugins. Could you people out there, tell what sort of approaches one has used by looking at the waveform? I mean, the punchiness, clarity, low end and so...

2) What is Max Crest Factor in SPAN? I have read some information on the web but couldn't exactly get the idea... I see it as a value measured instantaneously(the point at where you start to play the song) instead of the overall song? If it is so, is it the difference between the peak point and the one closest to 0 dB?

3) This one is for people who are on the louder side of the so-called "loudness war". How do you people manage to preserve the punchiness, energy, of the songs you mix? I know that arrangement and the composition itself have a huge role with this. Especially arrangement. But, other than this, mix-wise and mastering-wise especially the latter?

4) Can you formulize a song's audible structure/identity/clarity with only RMS and Peak values? I mean, can you just say "if you keep them close you get this, if you keep them apart enough you get this" etc... There are lots of variables in the formula I know but just to round-up things in a more simplistic manner...

5) Proper reading of Reaper's Master Meter. This one is actually related to the previous question. When I do my mixes I usually keep individual tracks' meters below the yellow bar/area and pay attention to individual tracks and the master meter not to clip BY ONLY LOOKING AT the PEAK value. I keep total peak value between -6.0 to -5.0 dB. But, what are the sided bars on master meter? Are they RMS? If so, is there a genre-specific general thumb of rule or ratio that I should be tracking when doing my mixes? What is the relation between Peak & RMS values?

Am I sacrificing total loudness potential of the whole mix by just paying attention to peak values?


Any thought, correction or help is appreciated!

Thank you all,
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Old 05-07-2017, 01:09 PM   #2
kevinwayne
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Sounds like I'm not the only one who's having similar issues, if I read you right? It's down to the thing of the "Red" peak indicator that stubbornly shows up on the Master track without much gain boost. Making it difficult for me to master at a very loud volume at all.
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Old 05-07-2017, 01:56 PM   #3
SymboliC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinwayne View Post
Sounds like I'm not the only one who's having similar issues, if I read you right? It's down to the thing of the "Red" peak indicator that stubbornly shows up on the Master track without much gain boost. Making it difficult for me to master at a very loud volume at all.
Actually I'm not quite sure if we're on the same track. =D

Indeed my meters never go "red" nor my mixes clip. But maybe this is the thing I'm missing... Since, in some sources I've read that tolerable amount and very small periods of clipping is OK...

do you mean if you're using the full potential of loudness of your mixes? Or to put it this way, do you mean if the meters are over-conservative(?)... =/
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Old 05-07-2017, 01:59 PM   #4
kevinwayne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SymboliC View Post
in some sources I've read that tolerable amount and very small periods of clipping is OK
Would you care to cite those for me? Thanka.

Quote:
do you mean if you're using the full potential of loudness of your mixes? Or to put it this way, do you mean if the meters are over-conservative(?)... =/
Not sure what you're asking, here?
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Old 05-07-2017, 07:52 PM   #5
Tod
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Hi again SymboliC, I think you might be reading a little too much into this, maybe putting a little too much emphasis on these important factors. I call them important, because they are all good things to learn and know, along with many other important factors. However, non of them are magic bullets, either individually or collectively.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SymboliC View Post
Currently I'm trying to improve in and learn the aspects of mixing & mastering dept. in a more mathematical and "visual" way.

For this occasion, I throw some tracks in Reaper for reference purposes and also insert Voxengo SPAN in the master channel.

I have a couple of questions... Most of them are related to analyzing professional records and audio works to get hints.

1) Is there any information that can be read/extracted/figured by simply listening to a pro-quality audio file and also looking at the waveform itself? I'm not talking about the numerical values that present in SPAN or any other plugins. Could you people out there, tell what sort of approaches one has used by looking at the waveform? I mean, the punchiness, clarity, low end and so...
I use reference material all the time, but the main thing important to me, is that the levels match what I'm working on at the moment. About the only thing the waveforms mean to me, is that if they are all hitting the top in a solid mass, then I know the recording has been compressed to death. Of course a really pro-mix will probably not be like that, and if it were, I don't think I would have chosen it for reference material.

If a reference track shows me punchyness, clarity, and the low end, it's going to be primarily in the sound, and maybe a little Span.

I do use Span a lot, not only on my final mix but almost on every audio track or output. For myself, Span offers me a lot of important information.

Quote:
2) What is Max Crest Factor in SPAN? I have read some information on the web but couldn't exactly get the idea... I see it as a value measured instantaneously(the point at where you start to play the song) instead of the overall song? If it is so, is it the difference between the peak point and the one closest to 0 dB?
I've actually never paid much attention to the "Max Crest Factor" in Span. It is in the manual and I've read it, but that was some time ago. I use a program called the "Orban Loudness Meter" to give me the important output information I need, the LUFS and overall peak readings.

Quote:
3) This one is for people who are on the louder side of the so-called "loudness war". How do you people manage to preserve the punchiness, energy, of the songs you mix? I know that arrangement and the composition itself have a huge role with this. Especially arrangement. But, other than this, mix-wise and mastering-wise especially the latter?
Heh heh, I'll stay out of this one, I'm not one of those guys.

Quote:
4) Can you formulize a song's audible structure/identity/clarity with only RMS and Peak values? I mean, can you just say "if you keep them close you get this, if you keep them apart enough you get this" etc... There are lots of variables in the formula I know but just to round-up things in a more simplistic manner...
No, at least I don't beleive so. RMS and Peak values can tell you the nature of your songs output, but it has nothing to do with how your mix sounds, which is really what it's all about.

Quote:
5) Proper reading of Reaper's Master Meter. This one is actually related to the previous question. When I do my mixes I usually keep individual tracks' meters below the yellow bar/area and pay attention to individual tracks and the master meter not to clip BY ONLY LOOKING AT the PEAK value. I keep total peak value between -6.0 to -5.0 dB. But, what are the sided bars on master meter? Are they RMS? If so, is there a genre-specific general thumb of rule or ratio that I should be tracking when doing my mixes? What is the relation between Peak & RMS values?

Am I sacrificing total loudness potential of the whole mix by just paying attention to peak values?
I use my track meters all the time, to help get a a good balance on what ever tracks I have going. However, I don't have an pre-determined levels for anything, it's all done by ear.

The first thing I do is get some kind of a balance (pre-mix) of all my audio tracks, without any compression or limiting on my pre-master and master tracks, making sure my master tracks stay at a -1db or lower. This is a good starting point. From there I can start adding FX and making finer adjustments.

Although that last sentence is a good one and a lot of audio engineers do the same thing, in all honesty that's not exactly how I do it. My position has always been as a producer, so I'm working on these songs form start to finish. The truth is I'm basically adjusting levels, adding FX, and mixing as soon as I get a couple of tracks laid down, and do this all through the process until the song is done.

So to summerize your questions, the best I can, all the questions you ask are good to know, but just try to understand what they mean and then put them in the back of your mind, so that the knowledge is available when you need it.
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Old 05-08-2017, 04:45 PM   #6
Philbo King
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The crest factor is the ratio of a given peak to the rms value of the surrounding sound (nearby the peak). RMS is a form of averaging where a number of samples are squared, then added, then the square root of the sum gives the RMS value. The number of samples used may vary; it is usually specified as the number of samples in a given time period, such as 50 mSec. It's used because it matches the perceived loudness better than peak values do.

As more and more compression is added, the peaks reduced, allowing you to use makeup gain to bring up the quieter elements of the mix. This also brings the RMS value closer to the peak value. (the crest factor will become closer to 1)

Overall, IMHO, you're over thinking this. Use your ears. Like EQ, compression is best added sparingly. Add a little at a time, listen to it carefully, compare it to music you like the sound of. If you have too much compression it will sound squashed and flat, and will bring a certain fatigue if you listen to it too long.

Last edited by Philbo King; 05-08-2017 at 04:55 PM.
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